Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Recommended book!

River Bend
By Barbara Shepherd
Historical - Belle Strong expected her husband to meet her when she stepped off the ferry in north Texas, but she was in for a surprise—her husband is dying. Pregnant and alone, she faces challenges along the Red River where her world includes fur trappers, Indians, and a rugged sea captain.
Jacob Owens spends most of his life on the high seas and is a self-proclaimed bachelor. But when a green-eyed beauty enters his world, he finds his thoughts drifting in different directions. Why can’t he stop thinking about her, and why is he trading fine beaver pelts for exquisite fabrics to surprise Belle to use in her quilting?
Can she protect her son in such an uncivilized country? Or will she be forced to rely on a complete stranger?

Monday, November 13, 2017

FCB Excerpt

If a woman asks you if you think another woman is pretty, the answer is simply “no.” I don’t care if a multitude of angels are singing the other woman’s name because of her glorious beauty, you say, “No.” If you can convincingly add, “She’s an ugly hag,” things will go even better.

But don’t get cute on this. A friend of mine and his wife went to a cocktail party, and afterwards, as they drove home, his wife casually asked if he thought a woman at the party that they knew from college was pretty.

He immediately said, “No. She has aged so badly.”

“Now, don’t be rude,” his wife said, slightly smiling and resting her hand on his knee.

Warmed by her approval, he stupidly continued, "It’s obvious she’s had her boobs done. They’re so perky and round.”

Poor guy.

-- From the forthcoming book Floozy Comes Back, copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

FCB Excerpt


"Many people are horrified the Pilgrims practiced pillorying, the act of fastening someone in a wooden framework in a public area so the Pilgrims could insult and demean them. You should remember this was long before Facebook and Twitter. The Pilgrims had to make do with what they had. And it was better to be pilloried in the New World than in the Old World. In the latter, they would throw rotten vegetables at the pilloryee. The Pilgrims had no food to spare for such fine sport and had to make do with mud, rocks, and—wait for it—dung. On second thought, it wasn’t better at all."
-- From the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

FCB Excerpt

"Pumpkin spice is a powerful movement these days. You can find that spice in lipstick, candles, lotions, body sprays, perfumes, bath salts, shampoos, potpourri, air fresheners, facial tissue, toilet bowl cleaners, deodorant, sachets, dog biscuits, toothpaste, lip balms, and much more. And that doesn’t count all the pies, cakes, coffees, tarts, fried pies, muffins, and other desserts. There’s really something quite uncanny about it. It’s entirely possible that zombies want pumpkin spice brains, and vampires want pumpkin spice blood."
-- From the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Perfect for Halloween!


Blackbirds Second Flight 
Perfect for Halloween! 
Featuring thrilling stories and poetry from Stephen Bagley, Wendy Blanton,
Gail Henderson, Ken Lewis, 
Jean Schara, and Heath Stallcup!

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

A bit about the Blackbirds

The anthology Blackbirds First Flight featured stories from Stephen B. Bagley, Kent Bass, Wendy Blanton, Gail Henderson, Jean Schara, and Tamara Siler Jones.

To quote Pru Simmons: “Blackbirds First Flight is an anthology of stories and poetry with a dark, sensual twist. The stories run the gambit from thrilling Gothic adventure to modern urban fantasy to fantastic encounters with the macabre. The poetry is uniformly excellent and tells dark stories of its own, many related to mythology.”

Here's a bit about the authors:

Stephen B. Bagley wrote Tales from Bethlehem, Murder by Dewey DecimalMurder by the Acre, Floozy & Other Stories, and EndlesS and co-authored Undying with Gail Henderson. His works have appeared in Writer's Digest, Creations 2014, Creations 2013, Creations 2012, ByLine Magazine, Free Star, Nautilus Magazine, OKMagazine, and other publications. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. He is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Visit https://stephenbbagley.blogspot.com for more info.

Kent Bass enjoys writing Gothic action/adventure stories. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and from the University of Oklahoma, with a Master of Science in Accountancy. He and his family live in Dallas, Texas, where he works for the nation’s leading tax software company. Blackbirds First Flight was his first publication.

Wendy Blanton published three fantasy novels, The Dragon’s Lady, Rogue Pawn, and Sword and Scabbard under the pen name Elizabeth Joy with co-author Scott Carman. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management from the University of Mount Olive and served in active duty for the United States Air Force for eight years. She is an apprentice bard and tells Celtic folk tales at Scottish Highland Games and other venues. Visit https://wendyblanton.wordpress.com for more info.

Gail Henderson co-authored Undying with Stephen B. Bagley. She collaborated with noted Oklahoma photographer Michael Duncan to produce Bare, a book of poetry and photography. Red Bird Woman, a collection of her poetry, was published in 2013. Her work has appeared in Creations 2014, Creations 2013, Creations 2012, and ByLine Magazine. She holds a Masters of Education in English and Social Studies from East Central University. Visit https://redbirdwoman.blogspot.com for more info.

Tamara Siler Jones is a wife, mom, writer, quilter, and cat-wrangler from rural Iowa. She has numerous novels in print/eBook, including Ghosts in the Snow, winner of the Compton Crook Award for best first novel of the year in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre; Threads of Malice; Valley of the Soul; SPORE; and the newly released Morgan's Run. Visit http://www.tamara-jones.net for more info.

Jean Schara retired from a 28-year career in the United States Air Force in 2008 and took up residence in Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and of the Troy State University with a Master of Science in Adult Education. She has had several book reviews published in the Air Power Journal and several articles published in Vision: A Resource for Writers. Visit http://pmtoo.jeanschara.com journal for more info.

Blackbirds First Flight is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, and other online retailers. Visit https://blackbirdsflights.blogspot.com for more info.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Perfect for Halloween!

Enjoy stories and poems from authors 
Stephen B. Bagley, Kent Bass, Wendy Blanton, 
Gail Henderson, Jean Schara, and Tamara Siler Jones
in this dark, thrilling anthology!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Interesting idea

Apparently, Walmart is testing a program where it delivers groceries to your fridge even when you're not home. As long as it pays for them, too, I could support this. And what about cooking the food, too? Come on, Walmart, step up!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Autumn come quickly

I am so looking forward to that first hard freeze of autumn...that nip in the air, the changing leaves, the crunching sound made by the tiny frozen bodies of mosquitoes as I walk down the lane...autumn...time for you to come now.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Horse to water...

You cannot help people who don't want to be helped. Why is it so hard for me to remember this and to accept it? Maybe it's the sheer illogical thinking that I rebel against. Why would someone choose ugliness instead of something better? My brain refuses to comprehend it.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

We're all in this together

I think it's important in this day and time to remember we're all part of the United States. We're one family going into the future together. And most importantly, you're completely wrong.

Friday, September 01, 2017

I do

I want tacos. The sheer ridiculousness of wanting them at this time of night.... But I do want them. Three of them. Maybe four.

And no, I'm not driving to Taco Bell at midnight. My diabetes nurse would lecture me within an inch of my life. Not that I would care as long as my mouth was stuffed with tacos!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Visiting the Pope

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer met the Pope on Sunday. One assumes it was for an exorcism....

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cafe Stephen

The weather was so pleasant last night. Cool. Calm. The only sound was the slurping noise as the mosquitoes sucked my blood...and the smacking noises as they licked their tiny mosquito lips...hmmmmmm good blood, they buzzed.... I think I might be delirious from blood loss.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Misinformed

Hmm. I thought the eclipse was supposed to make people go crazy and strip off their clothes and run up the streets, shouting, "Bumpdabump my baby woogie woogie." Well, now I just feel awkward....

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jungle creatures

      Tomorrow morning, I will get up, and despite personal failures, diabetes, family tragedies and illness, rotten health, global warming, riots in the streets, the sun burning out in five million or so years, I'll still be right here.
      Praying, hoping, believing against all intelligent thoughts otherwise, striving, writing, dreaming unreasonable unlikely things, losing, winning, loving for all the wrong reasons...
      Living.
      Still here.
      I'll still be here.
     You be here, too.
Eleanor: We're jungle creatures, Henry, and the dark is all around us. See them ... in the corners? You can see their eyes.
Henry: And they can see ours. I'm a match for anything. Aren't you?

(From The Lion In Winter by James Goldman)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Turn the page

Closing The Book
By Stephen B. Bagley

It surprised me when I swept off
all the books on the shelf. I thought
I had long since spent my passion
in purchasing your faithless heart.

You feel uncertain of our life,
you tell me. What you mean is your
better love than me may still be
out there. Why settle for less here?

So go. Leaving is how you show
how little you care, how little
you understand the rarity
of love in this non-fiction world.

If this were a story, you would
come back broken, and I would let
you love me or even better
introduce you to my new love.

Since this is not, I will pick up
the scattered books and set them back
on the shelf, being careful to set
yours to one side to box later.
.

Excerpt from Undying by Stephen B. Bagley & Gail Henderson. 
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Places I'd Rather Be"

Places I'd Rather Be 
By Stephen B. Bagley

On a beach --

No, on a beach with white sand --

Wait, on a beach with white sand and the only sound the ocean --

Hey, on a beach with white sand and the only sound the ocean and a tall cold fruity umbrellaed drink in my hand --

Yes, on a beach with white sand and the only sound the ocean and a tall cold fruity umbrellaed drink in my hand as I lounge in the shade beneath palm trees and you walk toward me, smiling, the sun glistening on your wet skin as you rise out of the waves ...

In your arms.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. From the forthcoming book "Eternal." Thank you for reading.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weary

Do you ever feel inexpressibly weary of this world's stupidity? Or really just the stupidity of man? No, I'm not throwing in the towel on us yet, but I remain astonished and dismayed by the utter and complete disregard for true science and true faith that is rampant these days. We have set ourselves up as little gods, and the reckoning will be terrible. God really doesn't have to do anything for us to destroy us in an apocalypse; we'll do it all on our own.

We'll blame Him, of course. We always do when bad things happen, even though many of these disasters are the result of our bad planning and bad decisions, but we won't take the blame for not installing tornado shelters, for not moving populations away from earthquake and tsunami zones, for not following safety standards in food and buildings, by not addressing inequities in food and wealth so that children don't starve to death, for letting hate-filled demagogues win our political offices, for not stewarding our environmental resources so that we can be sure our children's children's children will still have farmland and forests.... You can easily add to this list of disasters. They're all our decisions. It's easier, cheaper, faster to make bad decisions now. After all, we can always blame God later on.

I think the biggest tribute to God's love and mercy is that He hasn't swept us off this earth already. If I were God, I know...as I watch the news about North Korea, Charlottesville, Burkina Faso, Wisconsin...I know I would be sorely tempted.

And this is why I rarely watch the news, Alice. Now you know.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A religious ramble

A good friend of mine has said that she has reached the age where she doesn't have to associate with people she doesn't like or simply doesn't enjoy. I understand this. I think time and self-respect do the same for most of us. However, it does mean when I don't hear from her in a while, I wonder if I'm in that group now. :)

The danger in this may be if you're basing your choices on skin color or race or other superficial qualities. There's much to be said for going outside what you usually enjoy. We grow in that way. She isn't basing her choices on that so don't think I'm taking a potshot at her. In fact, in many ways, I've done that, too, in my life, but I try to ensure I'm including a diversity of friends in who I'm keeping.

One subset that I've been dropping is people who blame the world and circumstances for their problems instead of realizing their decisions have consequences. I want to point out a common error in so-called Christian thinking--the Bible never says God will rescue you from the troubles caused by what you did on this earth; He promises to be with you throughout and will welcome you into His care after your life is over, but He's not a genie granting your every little wish.

I call such thinking "The Gumball God." We put in a prayer, and we expect a blessing as easy and simple as that. Just like putting a quarter into a gumball machine, out pops our blessing. We're busy in attempting to make God into something we can control or at least understand. We keep trying to put Infinite into the Finite and are frustrated when God just doesn't fit.

One of my ways of looking at God is He is the ultimate artist. He made this beautiful world filled with mountains, oceans, forests, humans, animals, and so much more. Like any artist, He doesn't like it when people destroy His art. A good way to make decisions might be to ask yourself if what you're doing is making His art more beautiful or if it is marring His work. It's how I try to live my life. I fail often, but it's what I aim for.

Yes, I've wandered all over the place in this. Hope you enjoyed the ramble.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I'm a tree

My diabetes nurse has this chart where she logs your weight and then figures out how tall you should be. Apparently, I should be a Redwood.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Unsent Letter

Dear Diet,
Our relationship is in terrible trouble. You're bland and boring, and I can't stop cheating on you with Little Debbie.
Worried,
Me

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My inner voice

My diabetes education nurse says we all have an "inner fatty" who talks to us. Mine talks all the time, and I must say he has many tasty ideas.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Seriously

Autocorrect is a terrible nuisance. The other day I tried to order "salad" and autocorrect changed it to "four tacos and an order of nachos." They really need to get that drive-in microphone fixed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Doctor's orders

Well, my doctor told me that I cannot host dinners for six people. Unless, of course, the other five people are actually there eating their share of the food. Spoilsport.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Problem

So sad. I saw my coffee cup by my desk and I thought maybe there was coffee left in it because I usually take it to the sink when I finish the cup so I raised it up and it was empty.... Sigh. It's actually too late to be drinking coffee if I want to sleep--and I do despite what you may have heard--but I thought a swallow or two wouldn't hurt. But it was empty. Then I thought I would share this because the world is facing real problems and so am I. I should probably do a Facebook post, too....

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Good Advice

It's hard to find a friend who is intelligent, handsome, funny, charming, humble, and kind...so y'all shouldn't misplace me. Who knows when you'd be lucky enough to find someone like me again?

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Wish someone would try

Listen, you can't buy my love, really you can't...but you sure can buy a whole lot of liking from me

Friday, August 04, 2017

Wednesday Night Writers Discuss Aging Characters

"What I want to know is why every older person in a book either has to be filled with wisdom or is decrepit," Faraway said. "What's wrong with having a mature person who is just like the other characters in the book -- messed up and passionate."

Divine looked startled. "Passionate?"

Faraway frowned at her. "Don't tell me that you believe old people don't have sex."

"I believe they do, but I try not to think about it," Aromance muttered. She shuddered.

"America is aging," Faraway said, glaring at Aromance. "The Baby Boomers are going to be in their sixties and seventies soon. They won't be content to wither away quietly. Books should reflect that, and they don't. Instead, books feature young people. TV shows feature young people. Movies feature young people. Listen, kiddies, I don't worship in the cult of youth. I never met a teenager yet that could carry on a decent conversation about anything important."

"The blueberry muffins I brought have fiber added," Cookbookins said. "And we each get two. TWO. No more, no less." She held up two fingers.

"Did you say two?" Realer asked, with a smirk. He waggled three fingers at her.

"I think fiction will change to accommodate an older audience," Begenre said. "I've recently read several mysteries that feature sleuths in their sixties and seventies. I think fiction overall will reflect an active maturity as we see more vital people in real life who are in their sixties and seventies. Remember, it's only been in the past few decades that medicine has allowed people to live longer and healthier lives."

"TV is to blame," Eongo said.

The others sighed.

"Even I can see that TV isn't the greatest evil on earth," Divine said. "And I write letters protesting that degenerate MTV all the time."

"No, listen to me," Eongo said. "Advertisers want to buy advertising on programs that target young people because young people spend more on disposable items."

"Like bling," Faraway said.

"Exactly," Eongo said. "So networks and television studies make shows that feature young people because those are the ones that make the most advertising revenue. Remember what happened to Murder She Wrote when it was placed opposite of Friends?"

"I saw those shows on NetFlix, I think," Teenwriter said, uncertainly. "Don't any of you watch Game of Thrones?"

"That was more of an audience decision," Begenre said. "More people wanted to watch Friends than Murder She Wrote. You can't blame the networks for that. They're only giving the public what they want."

"I can blame them and do," Eongo said. "They create the demand for the shows. They only show us programs with young people so people are influenced by those shows to want more shows with young people. They create the demand for youth-oriented shows and so they produce youth-oriented shows and that creates more demand for other youth-oriented shows. It's a vicious circle."

"If the choice is between older people and hot young people like Matthew Perry, the hot young people are always going to be the audience's choice," Aromance said.

"Angela Lansbury was just as hot as Courtney Cox," Eongo declared.

Realer spewed muffin across the room as he coughed. Begenre thumped him on the back.

"Seriously, do any of you watch Netflix?" Teenwriter asked. 'And who is Matthew Perry?"

"Just because you wasted a good muffin doesn't mean you get another one," Cookbookins said.

"That's my point," Eongo said, pointing at Realer. "We've been conditioned to think youth people are desirable. What's wrong with showing older people who are desirable?"

"I'm not sure that has anything to do with fiction," Begenre said. "I think it has to do with babies."

"Babies?" Eongo asked.

"Throughout history, men have wanted younger wives because they could produce more babies," Begenre said. "If you believe in evolution, then we have a biological need to reproduce, and so we orient toward young people because they can have more babies than an older person can."

Divine frowned at the mention of evolution.

"Then you saying fiction will continue to feature young people," Faraway said. "That's unacceptable."

"I agree," Divine said. "We are more than biology." She looked at Begenre. "Much more. Fiction doesn't just reflect reality; it can also shape reality. As writers, we have a responsibility to write books that uplift the readers and change their values in a positive way. To claim that you're only giving the public what it wants is to cater to the lowest common denominator. It's using your writing gift simply to profit yourself and not others. Great fiction challenges the reader. It helps them grow."

"It's like chocolate-dipped pineapple chunks," Cookbookins said, shaking the crumbs of a muffin off her dress.

The others looked at her.

"See, I was dipping strawberries in chocolate for my niece's wedding reception," Cookbookins said. "But I didn't have enough strawberries because the store was out. So I looked around my kitchen and saw several cans of pineapple chunks. I drained the chunks and then dipped them in chocolate." She smiled at the group.

A pause.

"I don't quite follow you," Begenre said slowly. "How does that relate?"

Cookbookins sighed. "Isn't it obvious? I wrote in my newspaper column about using pineapple for dipping, and several of my readers wrote in to tell me that they had tried it and liked it, too. I wrote about it yesterday. Doesn't anyone read my column?"

"I haven't had a chance," Faraway said. "But I will as soon as I go home."

"I don't take the paper," Begenre muttered.

"My point is that by writing what I did, I influenced my readers to do the same," Cookbookins said. "So I -- how did you put it? -- shaped reality."

"Ah," Begenre said. "I get it."

"That actually made sense," Realer said with wonder.

"And it related to what we were talking about," Aromance said.

"Of course, it did," Cookbookins said. "I always make sense. You just don't understand me."

"We'll try to do better," Realer said. He exchanged bemused glances with the others.

"Since we can shape reality, we need to careful to portray mature characters in an active and interesting fashion," Faraway said. "Old age is not the same as useless and uninteresting."

And on that note, we were out of time.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.)

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Whispers

Whispers
By Stephen B. Bagley

He whispered as he held her:
This could get messy --
this thing between us.
We could lose everything
for a stolen moment.

Stolen from this empty world
that breaks everything
eventually. We will break
too, you know.

A cross word, a sideways glance,
a silence at the wrong instant.
I'll be cold, you'll be hot,
timing is everything and all 
clocks wind down.

We shouldn't. It's not wise.
It's beyond stupid. We're 
risking battered hearts.
We might not survive.

So we walk away now.
We forget. We go back.
We do the smart thing.
The smartest thing.

She whispered:
I'm sure you're right
but if it's so,
why then am I
still in your arms?

He didn't reply
and held her close
as the moon sailed toward
the shores of morning.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. From the forthcoming Many Rivers Harbor book Eternal.)