Lovingly He Held Her Head Underwater

A Guest Blog by Juliet Nubel.kjb.png

For the last few Sunday mornings, when Jenny’s Scribble Challenge email lands in my inbox after a short flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I have opened it and laughed.

What would I possibly have to write about A Mother’s Twisted Love when my own mother unquestionably loves every square inch of my body and soul? An hour later, after getting my shoes out of the cupboard under the stairs I had the creepy idea of a child being tied up and locked away.

Phobias? I don’t have any phobias, I boasted to the cats, the only ones who actually listen to me around here. Bang on cue, a wasp flew into the kitchen through the open door and my declaration flew out the window. I don’t just have a phobia of wasps, I have a debilitating and ferocious fear.

But when I opened the third week’s Scribble email I actually snorted in disbelief. hjvA six word story with a twist? For heaven’s sake Jenny, we’re not miracle workers! But my brain doesn’t know that, so it got down to its current job of scrabbling around in the heaps of words living up there and it finally found something that I was happy with. As happy as an unknown, unconfident, part-time, baby writer can be: “Lovingly he held her head underwater.”

The fact that we were at that precise moment on holiday on the beautiful Italian island of Sicily, that there were two monstrous, sparkling swimming pools on the complex, edged by two sandy beaches, both lapped by the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, may have helped my hand a little.khb.pngSo that done and dusted, wiped around the edges (which doesn’t take long when there are only six words to wipe) I posted it and promptly forgot all about it, as we went off to play.

When we returned to our room much later that evening I found my pet iPad waiting patiently by the bed, proudly showing me a comment from Hugh’s Views and News in response to my entry.


“I wonder if he was doing it for goodness, rather than for evil?” he asked innocently.

And that, Hugh, is when you had me. How could I possibly not answer your question? A vague idea of why my character was doing this was swirling around when I put together the six words for the challenge. But you deserved a longer and better explanation. So my brain started its digging again. All the way back in the coach from a wonderful historical day trip, it poked around and pulled out words to string together to complete the story.

The result is below. It is for you Hugh, and for anyone else who may be interested in reading the follow-up to my one-liner. It is nothing like my usual chatty blog style but hey, I can wear a new hat if I want to.

And it is for you too, Jenny. You who, for some inexplicable reason, started following my blog one day, a couple of months ago. When I clicked on yours it was admiration at first sight. Thank you for inspiring me with your words and thank you for inciting me to write my own.

Lovingly He Held Her Head Underwater

hand-2262740_960_720His large, work-roughened hands shook hard, however, as he pushed down on her grey-tinged hair until the bubbles from her nose and mouth finally stopped rising. The flash of gold from his wedding band shining up through the ripples, reminded him of what he was actually doing – wilfully drowning his beautiful, beloved wife.

He would have preferred to see her eyes one last time instead of the back of her head, but he knew that if those clear, grey jewels had been looking up at him through the water he would never be able to go through with it. He would pull her out, gasping for breath, cover her with kisses and swear he had made the biggest mistake of his entire life.

Her eyes. They had melted his heart all those years ago and they still did. They seemed to change colour without warning, wavering between gold-flecked green and pale Caribbean blue. Sometimes when the weather was bad they turned to flint, reflecting the clouds racing overhead, the tiny gold specks changing to light silvery sparkles.
For almost a year now they had also betrayed her mood, becoming a dark, secretive hue he had never seen before. A colour he disliked and mistrusted. This sombre shade brought on by another man, surely. Someone she saw regularly who made her return home to him as flustered and perturbed as a teenage girl.

He had followed her one day when his doubts had gotten the better of him, and had watched her walking through a high, wooden door in the centre of town, using a code she must have been given for quick, easy access. The sight of her guilty step made vomit rise in his throat and hot tears run down his weathered cheeks.

And now she wanted to go. She had told him everything. Every last detail, every sordid secret she had held for months was now revealed in a bright, blinding light.

‘I will never accept!’ he had screamed at her, louder than ever before during the thousands of days they had spent together.

‘You must’, was all she replied, her pastel eyes now begging like a hungry pup.

For weeks he had tried to dissuade her. At times he used sweet, gentle cajoling. At others deep, unbridled anger. Neither worked, and slowly he realised that she really meant what she had said. She needed to go, desperate to be set free at last.

bedroom-1082262_960_720.jpgHis decision finally came one night as he lay beside her in bed, his arms wrapped around her frail body like thick chains.

‘I have always respected your wishes’, he announced. ‘You can go now.’

The depth of gratitude in her tired smile broke his heart into a thousand pointed shards, each one piercing his body and soul as he inhaled her scent deeply to memorise it for the rest of his life.

‘Thank you, my love’ she answered, her cancer-ridden voice much quieter now than before. ‘And just promise me that even if I start to struggle, you will keep pushing down as hard as you possibly can.’

Did you know?

pabloThere’s still time to participate in the FINAL Scribble Challenge of the season! Head on over to #SSC 15 to submit your response to the prompt for your chance to win a guest blog here, on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins.

Hey, YOU!

Don’t forget to pop by DanAlatorre.com this Sunday for a whole NEW guest blog from Juliet Nubel.

Mayor Maynot

Guest Post by Ward Clever

Hi. I’m Ward Clever, a blogger type person.

According to my About Page that I just read, I’m a work of fiction come to life, a whore who can touch unicorns, a ghost manifest, a sensitive empath with a dark side, a watcher of the skies, a healer of healers, a lovable asshole, a guy who writes a nice bio.jhv

Welcome to this thing. I am a little teapot, and I put my whole self in and shake it all about. That’s what it’s all about.

I’m a struggling romance addict, lover of visual kei, and I occasionally speak in other languages. Sarcasm, metaphors, hai, yatta, ayamachi ni obore. Oyasumi,  oiche mhaith, tsai chen, bon nuit, buenas noches, and good night. I won’t explain myself, and I won’t stop ’til I get enough. But that’s all, because enough is plenty.

Here’s a little story about Mayor Maynot, called Mayor Maynot. He had an adventure, I guess, and this is it:


There once was a woman named David. But that was only once, so why bother talking about it? You know?truss-2355992_960_720

There once was a town called Malice. The town hated that name, and preferred to be called Sharon. And the town down the road was called Bob, which it liked, so it was cool with being called Bob. Well, it wasn’t long, like 15 minutes, before a town sprung up between them called Alike. This town wasn’t anthropomorphic, so it wasn’t sapient enough to give a shit what it was called. I think it would have enjoyed being called Alike, though.

Alike had a mayor. The mayor was Mayor Maynot. He spoke sort of like a pirate. Once people from Sharon came into the office and asked him “Who is in charge of this town?”

He said “I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town.”

“Well are you, or are you not, in charge of this town?”

“Aye, I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town Alike.”

“You can’t just be in charge because you like it.”

“Alike, it, this town, that I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of.”

“Well, whether you like it is irrelevant. All we want to know is who is in charge of it.”

“Alike, the town?”martin-luther-617287_960_720.jpg

“I think so. You just said you did. Who is in charge of the town Alike.”

“I don’t be knowin’ what town you like, but Alike, this town, aye, I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge.”

“So if… but you said… I didn’t tell… aw, fuck it. We’re claiming this town in the name of Sharon!”

“Who be Shar-”

Just then, or maybe a few minutes later, actually, because Mayor Maynot paused to get a drink of something that Mayor Maynot be callin’ grog, there were some people from Bob who barged in the door. This was quite difficult, because the nearest water that could float a barge was 47 miles away, and that was just in a parade that celebrated the Loudest Cupcake Firecracker Rhubarb Turnover. But somehow, they managed.

“What is the meaning of this?”

“Well, it is a specific pronoun denoting something close to the speaker, as opposed to ‘that’, which would denote something a bit less clo-”

“No, I mean, or we mean, depending on how many people from Bob there are in this part of the story, this, denoting the fuck that is going on here.”

“OH, that. Well, we are from Sharon, and we have claimed Alike for our own. So, good day, and have a nice life.”

“Not so fast!”

“Fine. Oh…that. Well… we… are… from… Sharon-“rovinj-2254575_960_720.jpg

“No, your speaking speed was fine. I mean, your actions are premature. Who is in charge of this town?”

“I, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of this town, Alike.”

“It’s good that you like the town, but you should be a bit more definitive on who is in charge.”

“Alike, I said, I, aye, Mayor Maynot, be in charge of.”

“Crap. Has he been saying this all day?”

“Yeah, I can’t get anything else out of him. Anyway, we the people of Sharon claim this town. We’re annexing it. That means joining it with ours.”

“I thought ‘annex’ was that thing that holds up your head.”

“Nope, definitely the taking over thing. It’s ours. It belongs to Sharon.”

Just then, Mayor Maynot realized that there was a barge, and being a pirate, he got a bit of the sea in his shorts.

“I be givin you the town Alike on two conditions.”

“Okay, what are they” both sides asked him without a question mark. Wow, that is a fucking good trick!

“One, Bob, ye be giving me that barge, so that I may once again set sail or whatever ye set with a barge, what, a pole?”

“Yes, something like that” said the person or people from Bob. “But what’s in it for us?”
“Me second condition be fer ye.”

“What’s your second condition?” asked the people from Sharon.

“Sharon, share Alike.”


If you like that, then visit my blog for depressing poetry. And a few more things like that, of course.


And maybe buy a friend’s book? Not to be all promotional. Here’s that:

Edward Hotspur – Scenes From A Hundred Morning Drives


aWard won the opportunity to guest blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges. YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the final prompt for this season. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

Flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.

So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.


It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

Guest Post by Allie Potts


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

No, I am not referring to a tale of two cities. I am referring to the last days of the school year. The time of year when it takes more than my usual powers of persuasion to convince my children it is bedtime on a school night when we all know full well that lessons are wrapping up and the sun still shines outside. But wrapping up does not mean over and it would seem my son’s teacher was not yet done with him. quotescover-JPG-95

The written word is a lovely form of communication under normal circumstances, but I don’t believe I can accurately describe exactly how hard I am laughing now at what would later be classified as ‘fun.’

The school would host an economic fair. Each student was then tasked with creating a product, setting a pricing strategy, and creating a marketing campaign including a sales poster. The only limitation was the products couldn’t just be bought and resold. They had to be painstakingly crafted. Okay, so the assignment didn’t specially say painstakingly, but this wasn’t my first school project – there would be pain.

2 weeks before due date

Kiddo, my eldest son, pondered and pondered what his product might be. “Bookmarks!” he declared.

Ah, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. “Okay, let’s make a prototype,” I offered. We flipped through a book of origami designs (a hobby of mine). “How about this one?” I asked, pointing at a fairly basic braid-looking design. Kiddo got to work while I tried making one too.

Kiddo looked at his. Kiddo looked at mine. “Mine doesn’t look like yours.”

“That’s okay. That’s why we practice.” I picked up my bookmark. Though my fold lines were crisp and clean, the paper braid was already coming undone. There was no way the kids in his school were going to buy either sample. “Or we pick something else to try.”

Kiddo nodded, but promptly ran off and forgot all about it.

1.5 weeks before due date

1weekI’d finished tucking in LT, my younger not-quite-school-aged son, and was coming to check in on Kiddo. Normally he reads to me before bed, but this time, rather than being in bed as I expected, I found him on seated by his father on the floor, engrossed in a library book on robotics. It was the picture of cuteness. What can I say? The geek flag flies high at our home.

Later, Kiddo announced that he’d figured out his product. He’d build scrubber bots. Even better, his dad would help. I shared a look with my husband who grinned and agreed. All they needed was some toothbrushes, some vibrator motors from old cell phones (it’s the part that shakes your phone when it is on mute), and a battery. It would be easy. Whatever you say…

1 week before due date

I came home to find an excited Kiddo and a functioning scrubber bot. Consider me shocked. I guess it was easy after all. “You are going to sell out of these.” I looked at my husband, who was as proud of himself as he was Kiddo. I guess they wouldn’t need me after all. “I hope you have enough parts,” was all I could say.

And parts they had. Our dentist office donated toothbrushes. Our friends and family donated old phones. Soon my dining room table was covered in bits of scrap paper, wires, and electrical tools. The Potts guys had taken the assignment and run with it. No mom required. A first. Not wanting to stand in their way, I went out and purchased poster supplies.

48 hours before due date

The glue on the poster proclaiming the availability of the next must have toy of the century had long dried when the tone in the dining room shifted. A series of unfortunate events during assembly had rendered more than half the components non-functional. We learned the hard way that while there are half a dozen arts and craft stores within a five-mile radius, there are very few places to purchase electrical components except online. It’s almost as if there isn’t a market anymore for tinkers and hobbyists.

14 hours before due date

IMG_2406Kiddo greeted me at the door. “We’ve decided we need to come up with something else.”

And like that, we were suddenly on MOMCON-2.

Navigating my way through the debris that was once my dining room table, I found the hubby scrolling through Pinterest. Stand aside soldier, I thought. We’ve long since passed the point of Pinterest. Jumping to my barked orders, the poster board was cleared as Kiddo changed his branding and slashed his pricing strategy. Googly eyes, plastic cups, and bits of wire shaped by Kiddo’s hands, becoming Helper Holder Bots (for those times you need to keep your toothbrush out of the sink).

Would this be a thing of engineering wonder? Absolutely not! But failure was not an option. Not today. Not on my watch. Kiddo would have a product and it would be ready for the fair on time, and he’d learned more than a lesson or two beyond basic economics.

Such as:

  1. Homework doesn’t stop until the last bell rings.helperholder
  2. Just because you were successful once, doesn’t mean it is guaranteed again.
  3. Always plan for things to go wrong – they often will.
  4. Don’t make promises (or glue down your poster), until you know for sure what you will be able to offer.

 And last, but far from the least, never, but never, forget to appreciate your mother (or father). They’re doing the best they can.

About Allie Potts

When you are just over five foot tall you learn quickly how to appreciate the little things in life.

A self-professed geek and author of An Uncertain Faith, a women’s fiction novel, and The Fair & Foul a speculative fiction novel, Allie Potts also writes at www.alliepottswrites.com on topics such as the joys and challenges of being a working mom and growing as authorpreneur and the occasional bit of fiction, tip, or non-review review, but mostly about life lessons gleaned from everyday experiences.

You can also follow her at:

Books are available at www.amazon.com


aAllie won the opportunity to guest blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges. YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the prompt for this week’s challenge. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

Flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.

So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.

Guest Post by John Clifford

Finding a Voice

By John Clifford


This post is a departure from my norm. My wife and I have a parenting blog, in which we write about all of the ups and downs or parenting from both the mother’s and father’s perspectives. However, left to my own devices I would not write exclusively about parenting. I love my child, and my wife; they are the lungs and the soul that breathe purpose into my life- an unshakeable, unquestionable purpose. This post, though, is about everything that came before. Before purpose, before happiness, before peace.

I don’t mean to bore you, or begin this post in a pathetic voice. I am not lamenting anything, nor am I subtly imploring you for some sympathy and pity. I am just stating circumstances as they were, factual and without any shred of emotion (unless irreverence is an emotion). I’m just setting the stage, so to speak.

And so we begin about 27 years ago, give or take…

All of my happiest childhood memories were made when I was alone. To maintain my solitude I would ride my bicycle, faster than my little tag-along brother could possibly pedal, for hours on end. quotescover-JPG-11.jpg This was back in the day when child sex predators were not a staple of sensationalist news and fodder for hushed dinner conversations. They simply were not on our radar, and we were all the freer because of it. I would ride miles away from my house, equally through wild wooded lots, as well as across the paved streets and sidewalks of our little metro-DC shitsplat city. I had no destination in those days, and in some ways I wouldn’t know what it meant to have a destination until I was in my mid-twenties. But I was maybe seven at the time, give or take, and free as a bird.

In this regard, I grew to love my solitude. I was a withdrawn child, practically a mute. I was asked in equal measure “are you okay?” and “what are you thinking about?” People often remarked that I looked lost in deep thought. That was okay for a child, almost commendable. Adults were undoubtedly projecting promise onto me, hoping to have met a child that might someday achieve all that they had abandoned.quotescover-jpg-85 There’s just no way to be sure after so much time has passed. Nowadays, when I go blankly to someplace else in my head it draws criticism and judgement. Adults should be raising the next generation of thinkers, not ambling through adulthood pensively hoping to still become something. But that is neither here nor there.

I grew further withdrawn after my parents split. We were never well-off to begin with, but we fell hard and fast into poverty in short order. We spent some years in a cycle of evictions, about every three to six months we were forced to move, that were followed by one more sympathetic landlord who couldn’t bear to turn away a mother and her five children. My mother was great at plucking the heartstrings of suckers. She had no way to pay rent, but that didn’t stop the cycle, not for a while.

And then, one day, the cycle did stop. My mother ran out of suckers, and we got turned out with no home. We were homeless for a little while, staying in hotels until they got wise to the lack of money, and then staying in the basements of family friends. I will not drill down deeply into the details, since that is not at all what this post is about. It isn’t about how hard my childhood was, or how I managed to make a woeful few meaningful friendships in any of the five high schools I would end up attending; I’m still learning proper social skills, even now into in my thirties. This post is about how I was turned inside-out, or rather back outside-out, after years of turning inward and seeking refuge and escape in the limitless expanses of my mind.

It was, and is, a slow transition. To write that it was just a matter of “letting others in” is a gross oversimplification. I never had issues letting others in. Rather, I just had issues with sharing the words which reverberated between my ears. Hence, the mute.

quotescover-jpg-71I had no audience, and fittingly I let my words dissolve and fade. I had to get them out of my head, so I wrote as a way to quiet the noise. But once they were out, exposed and open, I relegated them to the trash can, or shredder, or to moldy notebooks. I had no audience, and didn’t care.

I have forgotten far more than I have ever saved.

This trend began its metamorphosis, practically overnight, during my time in Colorado. I initially moved to Colorado from Virginia when I was 21, chasing a business opportunity presented to me by my brother-in-law. He had a kiosk selling knock-off Nokia cell phone covers to tweens in a mall in Denver. His kiosk flopped in short order, and he and my sister moved back east to pursue newer knock-off sales opportunities while I stayed in Colorado.

quotescover-jpg-62I wasted a year or so in this manner, but for one thing- I found an audience, and I found writing for my audience very rewarding.

I have no clue what it was that I wrote, but I suppose that is irrelevant. At my bar, or the bar to which I referred as mine, I spent a great deal of time. It was my preferred watering hole, where I went to accomplish the second and third steps of my routine. Over time, and through over-tipping, I grew pretty close to the bartenders there.

One night, I left behind, quite apropos for this guest blog, some scribbles on a cocktail napkin. I left it there on the bar, assuming that it would get swept up by a bar rag or tossed in the trash. Instead, the bartender, Krissy, read and kept my scribbles. And then she asked me every subsequent night to write her something more. I did so in exchange for vodka and gin.

And that’s it. Just like that I found an audience. Just like that, I found some level of comfort in turning back outside-out. There was nothing profound about that moment, nothing out of the ordinary, it was nothing more than an accident. The atmosphere inside the bar that night was unremarkable. It was likely as empty as any other weeknight (I was often the sole denizen of the bar), and undoubtedly smelled of mildew, bar-funk, and loneliness. But not everything life-changing needs to arrive grandiosely in a flash of brilliance. quotescover-jpg-77

And from then I decided to write more often, to keep what I write, and to share it with whomever might respond to the content.  I hope one or two of you experience some kind of reaction, anything that upsets the inflectionless equilibrium state of a soul at rest, and feel something in the words you read.

You can find me at bothsidesofthebed.com, where my wife and I blog about haphazard parenting from two perspectives, and at jaclifford.com. The latter is barren at the moment, but I fully intend to contribute more writing in the future. Sending vodka and gin may help to speed up the process:)john

untitled.bmpThanks, John!

For those of you don’t know, this guest post is long overdue.

John won the right to blog on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of my favorite Sunday Scribble Challenges . . . first posted all the way back in MAY!!

If you can’t remember that far back, take a second look at the prompt and his response:


The summer had been particularly harsh this year; an immeasurably minute amount of rain had fallen, the tall grass had long ago turned brittle and sun-bleached, and the hot dry earth was scorched and broken along an infinite number of cracks and crevices. He ambled closer still to the last watering hole for miles, slowly, taking his time to conserve what little energy he had left in his tired muscles, and what little resolve he had left in his hunger-maddened head. The lion drew nearer still, and was met with a scent carried aloft on a fiery breeze: the nauseatingly metallic smell of sweat, cotton, and fear quickened his nerves and pulled taught his muscles, and he knew in that instant that he was one last pounce away from either death or survival in this harsh, unforgiving prairie.

–John Clifford


Please take a moment to congratulate John for a great submission AND an inspiring guest post in the comment section below.

He certainly deserves it!

Guest Post by Jennifer Shelby

055-002The best advice I’ve ever received about writing is just to write, and to read. The writing part’s up to you, but I’m happy to supply you with something to read, so here’s a fun experiment in throwing together a few characters who would never have met without a liberal twist in time…


by Jennifer Shelby

The door flew open as if by magic. The paper bag enclosing the take-out in her arms crinkled as Candace shifted. No one stood there. The smell of hot cassoulet mingled with the scent of steamed brown paper.

Candace rolled her eyes and readied herself for whatever creeper was waiting inside the squat, grey house.

As she stepped across the threshold it looked as though she’d entered another century. The walls were painted dark colours and swaths of dried plants and roots hung from the ceiling. Strange contraptions popped and smoked at random. One or two rough wooden chairs offered the only comfort Candace could see.

She glanced back at her Vespa parked in the driveway, as if to reassure herself she hadn’t left her century behind.

It was mid-afternoon but the room was dark, the windows covered by three moth eaten tapestries. The first showed a wizard stalking fairies in a moonlit glen with a glittering net. The second depicted a knight releasing a woman who appeared to be on fire from a dungeon. In the last, the dungeon burned while the wizard looked out from the bars. The knight and the fiery woman rode off on a horse.

“Hey, your food’s here.” Were they waiting for her to rob the place? She had to admit the tapestries would hide the holes in the walls of her crappy apartment. “Is there anyone here?”

A wizard whirled around and stared at her with some surprise. An actual wizard. He had a grey beard that grew past a swollen belly and he wore a dark blue velvet gown with white stars printed all over it. In his hands were two beakers; one empty, the other half-full with a bubbling blue liquid.

He looked her over a moment. “Are you the cook’s daughter, then?”

“No, I’m the deliverance engineer.” She held up the package. “Your lunch?”

“Marvelous! You must have ridden the swiftest steeds in the kingdom to have arrived so quickly!”

“Yeah. Sure. That’ll be twenty bucks, Gandalf.”

There was a time when Candace may have warmed to a wizard; back when she thought LARPing and cosplaying was fun. These days she didn’t have time for that sort of thing. Wizards were frauds, magic was dead, and she was tough as hell. She spent her free time striking a punching bag she hung in her closet. She dyed her hair black and spiked it when the occasion called for it. Spikes were good. Spikes were the jagged shards of her broken life. She dressed in dark colours and had enough piercings to horrify the majority of the people she saw from day to day.

“Will you accept a gold sovereign my lady?”

Candace shook her head, the chain running from her nose to the top of her ear kissing her cheek with a cold touch. “I don’t carry change. Do you have any plastic?”

“If you remain and return with this unusual trencher to your master after my feast, the change is yours. I know life can be hard for peasants.” The wizard handed her an uneven coin of golden colour.

Candace stared at it, unsure if it was real and unwilling to bite it in case it was the dorkiest roofi attempt ever known. She decided she didn’t care if it was real or not. It looked cool. She pocketed the coin and handed the wizard his lunch.

016 She looked around the room. The only light came from a lantern perched on a wooden pedestal carved with runes. The lantern was built of filigreed pewter and encased in a strange, uneven glass. It looked old and expensive, but what was inside was far more interesting.

A tiny woman bathed in flame looked back at Candace. The woman put her palms on the glass. “Help me!” The flames that engulfed her flickered with orange and red.

Candace squinted at the creature. Were those wings? “Do you have a fairy locked in this lantern?”

“Hmmm? Oh yes, of course. A fire fairy, they’re the best for long term lighting.” The wizard held up the Styrofoam and tucked into his meal with his fingers. Bits of duck dribbled down his beard.

“Isn’t her habitat rather empty? There’s nothing but her in there and it’s so tiny. She doesn’t look very stimulated.” Candace didn’t believe in fairies, but she didn’t condone inhumane treatment either.

“It’s a fairy. Who cares?” The wizard continued munching at his lunch.

Candace frowned. The fairy’s flame brightened and she stared at Candace. “He put a spell on the lantern so that I can never leave.”

“Why not break it? Aren’t fairies supposed to be magic?”

The fairy shook her head. “It’s too powerful! It is twice as strong as a person’s power and three times as strong as their magic!” Her flame dimmed. “I am doomed.”

The wizard laughed. “You’re mine, fairy. After so many centuries, you should be accustomed to it.”

“I’ll never be yours, you ridiculous buffoon.”

“What if someone had no power and didn’t believe in magic?” Candace asked.

The wizard and the fairy, engaged now in some strange sort of staring match, didn’t answer.

Candace opened the door to the lantern, reached in, and pulled the fairy out.

The fairy blinked, her mouth agape, as she stared at Candace. “What magic you have in nothing!”

“Yeah. Whatever.” Candace resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

The wizard jumped to his feet. His cassoulet splattered onto the floor and along the hem of his gown. “What have you done?”

The fairy clenched her fists, her flame changing from orange to a deep and simmering blue. Candace could feel a fierce heat emanating from the tiny creature.

The fairy turned to Candace. “You should wait outside. I’ve some vengeance to take care of.”  vespa

Candace nodded, and stepped outside. She closed the door behind her and looked around. Her Vespa waited in the driveway. She drove it over to a bus shelter on the sidewalk nearby. She parked it there, facing the house, and waited.


She heard a lot of strange curses raging within, several crashes, and the sound of a large flyswatter in use. A bit of smoke hung in the air. This went on for several minutes, the smell of smoke growing ever stronger. Twists of smoke began to escape beneath the front door and a few windows that were cracked open. Soon she spotted flames licking at the tapestries.

A few people stood and watched with her until their bus arrived and whisked them away.

The curses stopped and the flames began to gnaw at the roof. It wouldn’t be long before it collapsed.

The fairy appeared and sat on Candace’s shoulder. She was breathing heavily, covered in soot and sweat.

“Done with the vengeance?”


“I’m Candace.”

The fairy held out a tiny hand to shake Candace’s. “Incendrance. Thanks for helping me, Candace.”

They stared at the fire a moment. “Too bad about those tapestries. They were kind of cool,” said Candace.

Incendrance grinned and they sat in comfortable silence a moment. From somewhere far off they heard sirens.

“Might be a good time to leave.” Candace sat on the Vespa and toyed with her helmet. “You got some place to go?”

“Not sure.

“You can stay with me if you want.”

“Thanks.” Incendrance’s wings fluttered a moment. “Wanna go on a quest or something?”

“Sure, but let’s take the Vespa. I’m not a horse person.”


Thanks for reading, and thanks for having me here J. A. Allen!

Want more? Follow Jennifer on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/writerJenniferShelby/, twitter @naturemummy, her blog, https://thedailystory.wordpress.com/, be45b193d1caa6824eae276c0ae9e17dand on her website, http://jennifershelby.ca/,  where you should definitely check out her book, The Incredibly Truthful Diary of Nature Girl, for the middle-graders in your life.

paintThanks for sharing this great story with everyone here at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins, Jennifer! 

DID YOU KNOW: Jennifer Shelby won the opportunity to share her work at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges. YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! The Sunday Scribble Challenge picks up again in September. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. So, see you back in in September! Unleash your writerly self.


“Confidence,” Guest Post by: A Momma’s View

It’s all about Confidence, isn’t it?

What do you write about when you win the chance to guest blog for an amazing blog like this? It’s one thing to come up with one post after another about my life and my thoughts if it is for my blog. It’s my place and I can pretty much do with it what I like, right? But this here is so different.

This here is so much more.

I usually don’t take part in writing challenges. I will tell you a little bit more about the why in a little moment. This time though, after reading Ah Dad’s guest post, I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted to participate and after reading what was the task it all started coming together in my head. I have moments like this, believe me!zzz

So in one of those moments, my kids actually left me alone to think for longer than 5 minutes (yes, it happens…), I did it. Just did it. Just wrote. And the words kept flowing. It’s a good feeling, you know.

It reminded me somehow of the day I started my blog, when I simply decided that I’m ready for the blogging adventure. I sat down and wrote. Wrote my very first post and didn’t stop then and there. It’s been a great journey so far. One that I enjoy so very much.

It’s not just the blogging and all the fantastic connections I’ve made over time with people from all over this world. It’s also the fact that my confidence grew and I managed to actually write two novels. They are sitting here, fully edited, with covers ready, waiting to be formatted and finally published.

Again my confidence, or better the lack of it, took over and I let them sit there rather than working on the formatting and getting it all done. And then the writing challenge happened. I got chosen as the winner and it gave me this huge boost. So rather than telling you all about my blogging journey or who I am in general I’d like to tell you this:

Writing has so much to do with confidence. Of course you need to have the ability to put your thoughts into words but honestly, I think we all do. I agree, you need to enjoy writing in general in order to sit down and put your ideas, your stories on paper (or on the screen). Some people simply don’t like doing it. Some people really don’t care about it. And that is totally fine. Not everyone wants to be a writer. There are many different outlets for the creativity that hides in each and every one of us.

I still owe you an explanation why I do not take part in writing challenges: I simply lack the confidence to do so. They make me nervous and I feel my English and writing is not good enough.

But where was I? Oh, yes, I remember, I was talking about confidence!zz

For those of us who do enjoy writing and play with the idea of creating stories it all comes down to confidence. We can type as fast as the wind, making no spelling or grammar mistakes (I wish…) and come up with the most amazing and mesmerizing stories ever, but unless we actually have the confidence to do something with it, the stories will just be our own.

Blogging helped me. It helped my confidence grow back to the point I felt good enough to take on NaNoWriMo and actually write many many words. It helped me get the confidence to actually decide that I want to turn these words into a novel. Actually two. Well, actually it’s meant to be a trilogy, but the third one is still a work in process. Writing blog posts on a daily base and all the comments and likes I received for them gave me the boost I needed to get my friend to create covers for the novel and other friends to actually read them to give me feedback. It gave me the confidence to pass it on to another friend of mine to edit them.

I never thought that blogging could have such a huge impact on my confidence. But it does. It’s my outlet, my way of connecting. Or better another way of connecting with people. I’m not shy. I socialize quite a bit. But this here, in the blogosphere is different. It’s inspiring, sometimes intimidating and for sure motivating.

Writing this guest post somehow sums it all up. It’s like my blogging journey. It’s intimidating, inspiring, motivating and it gives me an intense boost of confidence.

Now, I really forgot what I actually wanted to write about. Oh, it was about confidence , wasn’t it? Well, I hope I manage to bring across how much I believe blogging can boost your confidence. On so many levels.

Oops… I think my time is up. The kids are done with (home)school and my husband, who teaches them, needs to get back to work. As I’m in charge of being the entertainer for the rest of the day, I need to take over now. The dogs want to go for a walk, I should get my exercise done and then take my daughter to her dance class, then it will be time for dinner and I have actually no clue what to cook tonight. There are no left overs to cover it tonight. At one point I need to finish some stuff I have to do for the volunteer position I took on and it can’t wait for much longer. And there are those novels… waiting to be published and another post I should finish to be up on the blog later today…

zBut I’ll see you later, I know I will. Just keep up the writing and the reading, the liking and the commenting. You have a huge impact on someone else. You might not realize it at the moment, but you do. Your posts do, your likes do and your comments do. And always will…

paintThanks for sharing this motivational guest post with everyone here at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins, Momma!  Your journey into the world of a published writer is going to be fun to watch. Finding confidence while writing can be tough, and confidence while writing in a second language is nothing short of inspirational.

DID YOU KNOW: Momma won the opportunity to share her blog at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges? YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the prompt for this week’s challenge. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

These flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.

So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.


Why Blog?

bPhoto credit: Javier Domínguez Ferreiro via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I never thought too much about the blogosphere. I’d read some of my favorite author’s blogs now and again; I had a mom blog called, Amalah, that I adored reading, but I just never thought I would had enough to talk about.

When I began researching what it would take to become a professional author, the words, “Have a social media following” and “Have a platform” kept coming up.

What did that mean? A platform?


Photo credit: Jason A. Howie via Foter.com / CC BY

I dug deeper. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were a few of the popular social media sites to be on. I was already on a few, but not as a writer. I went back to Facebook and created a Facebook Fan Page. I went to Twitter and started a new account there as well. I had already created an email meant to be used for all of my writing endeavors, so that is what I used when creating the social media accounts. My Instagram account, I switched over from being under my personal name to my author name, because I posted the same sorts of things before the switch that I planned to post after. I would just be adding more about literary things: books I’m reading, projects I’m writing, etc.

All of my social media sites were settled prior to participating in National Novel Writing Month 2015 (NanoWriMo). I posted each day throughout the month making sure to hashtag #nanowrimo, and acquired a great start to my follower base during that month alone. It was difficult to keep up with writing, social media, and a two-year-old, but I managed (see post on Finding Time to Write).

The next suggested step, was to start a blog.

Where would I begin? What would I have to write about that others would want to read?

A suggestion was made in one of the many hours I spent researching blogs, that I should write about something that was in my book. What I mean is, if my book included a lot about cooking because the protagonist was a chef, then I could start a cooking blog. No doubt, if I were writing about a chef, I would have had some knowledge or love of cooking myself. That was the reasoning behind such a statement. My character wasn’t a chef so a cooking blog was definitely out.


Photo and art credit: J. H. Winter

My character, Adeline, is creative. She has an imagination that allows her to mend her hand-me-down dresses into beautiful albeit quirky creations, she can crochet with the best of them, sew, and knit, and always has a piece of parchment handy for the times when she needs to draw something. In a sense, she is an artist and creator, just like me.


I had been making up my own amigurumi patterns for years (see my Portfolio to take a look at my geeky creations), but I wanted to steer away from making other people’s dreamed up characters (from movies, anime, and video games), and begin making up my own. I wanted to write how to crochet amigurumi books and teach others how to crochet as well.

For non-fiction books, such as craft books, you must be able to prove that you are an expert of whatever it is you’re writing about. One of the best ways to do this, again, is to have an author platform.

A platform is a group of followers who love to read what you write, and follow you because of it. They will be your advocates when you get your book published. They will buy your books and tell their friends.

bbbbbIn February of this year (2016), I started writing my posts for my blog, Ink & Stitches – The Writerly and Creative Life of J.H. Winter. “Ink” was to represent the fact that I am a writer of books and an illustrator as well. “Stitches” stands for all of my creative endeavors: crocheting amigurumi, knitting, sewing, and crafting.

This “Artistic Variety” as I like to call it, became the theme for my blog. With all of my interests in mind, I felt I had enough to write about that I could really warrant having a place online to share my work. Other people might even want to listen and check back to see what I’m up to.


Ink and Stitches logo photo credit: J. H. Winter

Since starting my blog, I’ve created an Ink & Stitches YouTube Channel where I have begun teaching lessons on how to crochet amigurumi; a logo to help with branding everything Ink & Stitches; an Etsy shop which I hope to have open for business soon (InkandStitchesArt); I’ve participated in the A to Z Challenge for bloggers during the month of April which was exhausting (26 posts in a month) but a lot of fun; I’ve begun creating patterns for characters from my story about Adeline; and now that things are quieting down a bit, I am getting back to editing my first two books.


Why do I blog?

jhwinter2-150x150In a nutshell, I’m creating an author platform. I’m proving that I’m an expert of amigurumi. I’m talking in the hopes that people will listen and get something out of my words.

Aside from all that, I’m blogging because I love to make connections with people. I have had so much fun getting and answering comments (and I always answer them); being able to strike up Twitter and Instagram conversations back and forth about fun topics with some amazing people; and feeling the camaraderie when sharing experiences with like-minded individuals.

I treat keeping up with social media as part of my workday, but I’ve never felt it to be work. Posting and conversing on social media is often the most fun part of my day! That is why I blog, and will continue to do so. To share ideas and thoughts and making virtual friendships because of it, is something you won’t get anywhere else.

Now I’m curious, why did you start blogging?

J.H. Winter http://www.jhwinter.com

paintThank you for another terrific guest post, J. H.!

Did you know YOU can win the chance to guest on Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins too?? Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the prompt for this week’s challenge. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to procrastinate interact with your writing peers. 

These flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.

So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.