Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)

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I moved counterclockwise through the kitchen, picking bowls and measuring cups with the same care. Everything had to work together in my head. Today, not as much. Then I opened the spice cupboard and the warm, homey smells of cinnamon and clove silenced that little voice chanting failure, failure, failure. Fresh-dried rosemary. Bundles of aromatic sage.

And the sweet licorice scent of my name—jars and jars of anise. No matter what I made, I always snuck in a few grains. The spells stuck better when I put my name in there. I carefully set each glass on the counter.


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My neat handwriting crisscrossed the labels on the mismatched bottles. Enchantments for happiness, good fortune, or love. I uncorked a triangular blue bottle and took a whiff. My seventeenth birthday. That day felt like this morning instead of more than a year ago. Mom had found the greatest present—bundles of cured vanilla beans from all over the world.

There was no point beating myself up. The leftover rice stank of refrigerator and needed a good cleansing before I added it to the pot. I lit a bundle of sage with a spark of my power. The magic usually came out a cheery red-orange, but now it flickered like dying embers, dull with flecks of gray as it half-heartedly flowed from my fingers.

Lighting a flame was supposed to be the easiest thing for a witch aligned with fire, but today my wellspring was full of ashes. My tired knees played quaked as I waved the sage smoke. Such a little bit of magic and I was already at my limit. Even the smoke wavered when my thoughts slipped off the work. I had to stick to my intention. With all my supplies set out by the stovetop, I started combining ingredients. I stirred counterclockwise, using the applewood spoon to channel my power into the mix—my kitchen witch version of a wand.

My fingers glowed and so did the pudding, but neither cast off the warmth they should at this stage of the spell. I dripped in the vanilla, trying to think happy thoughts and infuse them into the recipe. I was thinking the right words, but they echoed hollowly in my head. It was what it was. The enchantment on the vanilla was so strong, it should carry the recipe…. I stirred over low heat, and as the liquid absorbed into the rice, the strong scent of vanilla—with the teeny tiniest hint of anise—began to fill the kitchen.

The glow of my power exploded in a blinding burst. A massive craaaaaaack echoed through the kitchen. I blinked, trying to clear my eyes of the fireworks from the mini fireball. A puddle of blackness bubbled in the rice. I tried to scoop out the taint with one of the spoon halves, but it was already too late.

The white rice morphed into black tar. Instead of warm and comforting vanilla, it smelled like burnt rubber. The scent sparked my least favorite memory. Tires squealed as Dylan Claussen peeled away, leaving me stranded in the school parking lot. The secretary had trembled while she typed up the forms for my withdrawal and I wondered what I could have done to make anyone so afraid. When Mom came home, I was sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by the latest rejection letter, my bowl of rice tar, and a mountain of crumpled tissues.

I leaned against her neck and breathed in the comforting scent of her rose oil perfume. The tears were mostly gone now, but I felt hollow. I pulled away from her, giving her the full view of my blotchy, tear-streaked face.

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Instead of going there, she smoothed back the loose wisps of my dark hair. New beginnings. Should we go for a drive? But Mom usually hated that stuff. I squinted at her. Her blue eyes were bright, but she drooped a little.

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Which was no wonder, working three jobs. I grabbed the bowl of rice pudding and headed to send it to its garbage disposal grave. You have to be at the office in the morning. What do you think? Some ice cream and a drive to the overlook? With both of us this lost, it might be time to move. Finally, finally, finally! Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spellbooks in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer.

Too bad one wants witchcraft on their campus. Great Aunt Agatha owns the only magic bakery in the US, and she suddenly needs a new apprentice. Anise is so excited she books it to New Mexico without thinking to ask what happened to the last girl. Or why she became their target. But the payoff was so worth it! And Mary Karlik is a total peach for tolerating me and rerouting us back to the trail every time I led us astray. Last weekend we caught Curtis Stone filming, and I creeped awkwardly around until I could get a good pic of him.

Best show on American television! The food in Taos is also spectacular. This week, we drove out to a local brewery for a picnic in the mountains with a few glasses of the raspberry wheat ale. Also finally mailed out a whole bunch of copies of Quanta Rewind and matching bookmarks.

The whole Ink Monster team is heading to the national conference in July. Cannot wait. A scrolling carousel of books at the top of the results?! And it gets better. DuckDuckGo uses shortcut codes called bangs. The bang for Amazon is! And there are bangs for every book site you could possibly want. It is a wonderful thing. AND the reviews are coming in! Quanta continues to impress me and I really love this ragtag group of people pushed together under the worst circumstances. Simply Nicollette. A Page to Turn Reviews. I mean, how was I supposed to live if any of these fictional darlings died??

The Avid Reader. But this is the year. I swear!! Slash Urban fantasy. Click a post to read and enter the giveaway.

The Silver Dagger Scriptorium. The Rest Is Still Unwritten. Loves Great Reads. Pippa Jay. Book Lovers Life. Paging Through The Days. CBY Book Club. Thanks to YA Bound tours for hosting :. My pulse rang loud in my ears as I puzzled over the doorknob in front of me. Good question. By way of an answer, bluish timeghosts fuzzed over reality, showing me all the ways the next seconds could play out.

Letting the present bleed away, I relaxed into my power.

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I stumble over the trip wire just across the threshold. That was a start. I tiptoe over the wire. Cipher and Devan follow me into a vacant gray office. It looks empty enough, with only a few bare desks and no furnishings or working lights, but before I can wave the girls across the room to the next door we have to crack, a shooter pops out from behind the desk.

She takes a hit to the shoulder before I can shoot. Blinking back to the now, I scowled at Cipher. I tried to breathe in and out and keep my focus as I pulled out my gun. The possibility was there in the ether, if a little hazy and unlikely looking. There were only three more booby-trapped rooms between the exit and us, and I spotted at least one future where we darted through the last door grinning wide for the first time in weeks.

Lately, I spend all day every day at my desk, working on the draft and listening to ambient arctic noise …. The good news is the draft is juuuuust about finished. Hygiene is the first item to go when the deadlines hit. I got sidetracked with all this work lame! Maybe back to Thailand after the burning season is over???

Or Bali?! More updates and preorder links! Catch you on the flipside of this deadline!!! Sugar Spells Release Day!!! Sugar Spells is OUT! Something was wrong with my magic. How do you even get food poisoning from a meringue? Agatha had banned me from her kitchen until my mojo stopped its tour of destruction. Tension squeezed my ribs. Now I had Agatha, the bakeshop, and the job of my dreams, right downstairs. This room was for magic research. No fire spells or dodgy incantations while my powers were wonky. Not casting. Not baking. Research was the only thing I could do right now.

It had to be perfect if it was going to fix me. Someone tapped at the door. The cheer enchantment had me smiling around my fork. Smiling for the first time in… Days? Agatha needs me. Because Agatha wanted Fondant. Not me. My lungs popped then pooled, falling flatter than a matzah. But I was pretty sure I was fully adjusted.

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Now I was worried my trouble baking had more to do with recent events. If I kept up the trend, my next crush would be a death row serial killer. Finally alone, I grabbed my silver ladle and did a twirl. This is going to work. I scooped the liquid into a vial and dashed into the hallway. Then skidded short.

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Either way, a bodyguard was officially overkill. Or at least a way to convince him to stop following me around the house? He was driving me batty with the overprotectiveness. With every motion, I repeated the same incantation. Let my spirit be cleared and my energy purified.

I measured a teaspoon of vanilla, then dripped in exactly seven drops of the elixir. Please, please work. Washing the dishes. How could such a cranky guy look so peaceful? So relaxed? I jumped. My jaw opened wider than a black hole. Was that supposed to be a joke? By way of an answer, his breathing evened out. The kitchen filled with the scent of warm vanilla. So, there was no reason the enchanted cookies should fail. I tiptoed to the oven. The edges were the perfect golden brown and— Energy rippled inside the oven.

Not again. I let my fingertips hover over the mess. Their energy… The pure, silver feeling of clarity was nowhere to be found. A failure. But not the end. I had a whole vial of elixir left. I could— Before I could finish the thought, the glass vial cracked with a stuttering k-k-k-ke-crash. What the hell was wrong with my power? The smell. Wynn edged away from the counter like the cookies were dangerous. Maybe they were. The potion looked zero percent like the glittering original. This failure had nothing to do with the vortex.

Or with my emotions. Something else was happening. Something bad. Something I hoped could still be fixed. Keep reading! Say hello to Deadly Sweet and the Spellwork Syndicate!!! Chapter One I stared at the bank of mailboxes. In the real world? New chain store.

New city. All the same problems as before. If this letter was another rejection, my whole future looked like a dead end. No pressure though. My instincts said a letter was waiting if and when I worked up the courage to check. Can I…? I think you forgot your key? Terror was the usual reaction. Who had time for that?

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A madonna with a slanted countenance, she casts her eyes on her maiden bosom and fertility—her cheek aflush. A swath of yolk curves her oval body. Blossoms bloom on her womb. Suspended in albumin she dreams of Bleeding Hearts and Passion Flowers. I gaze at The Egg Goddess at dayspring.

She gives birth to my imagination as my mother gave birth to me. His cannonball plunging throughout the house was the most lightning form of musical criticism ever invented. Harold Schoenberg in a blur of gray fur. His dramatic dive under the couch, just high enough for him to slide home, was certainly overdone. The drama queen. It never stopped the piece from playing. Mortimer simply had to race around to find the right tone of complaint. It was amazing how he kept his dignity. Unless he was just half-kayoed. Or would you have called me a fool for trying? Directions They told me to be their son, to wear their skin, carry their blood, to live in their heart, but be restrained by their thoughts, to never speak unless it improved the silence, to never move unless it was a move towards something, to never dream unless it was a reality.

People have left me What caused that?? Became a mom Brought life into the world Made three shows Have made it through rough times In the end what did I learn?? You are not alone, you can get help, you are one of a kind and unique. Endings no door slammed, no harsh, loud words hung in the air a faint breeze whiff of change blur in peripheral vision heart turned imperceptible leakage droplets left splattered upon a sidewalk of hope wearisome slow step down the corridor of mind to find the rest of my life.

Dark Side She waits in the shadows teeth gnashing on old bones marrow dripping from wounds ripped afresh Reluctant outstretched hand touching gnarled fingers encrusted with pains of needless regret There is a horror a recoiling from that which is wholly owned unbelievably familiar Dark eyes, gray with loneliness hair, dried with the stains of forgotten bleeds forgotten lovers, forgotten needs The poisons drop endlessly into the dark caverns abysmal bowels of age endless inferno of rage. There was a bridge of mortar, steel, sweat and ingenuity constructed by humans There is a bridge constructed of human kindness, made with risk, warmth, friendship and derring-do.

She-Devil A she-devil visited me last night A red-skinned vision of carnal delight Her breasts and nipples were afire Her tail beckoned me to lie down beside her With eyes aflame and horns on her head She slithered her way to the top of my bed I felt her forked-tongue licking and caressing my ear She flashed a wicked smile as she drew her body near Stretching out her wings, she suddenly let out a scream And in a full sweat, I awoke from my dream.

But only when it picked the Daily Double right off the bat. There was no question of how it answered the questions; we already knew they could find library books and tear open our kidneys with close precision, so even our greatest surgeons marvel. The truth is, all is lost. We are office workers too focused on our last drops of coffee, the fecal runoff of yet another machine.

Chiaroscuro 1. So many angels I never thought that seraphs would move like robots stiffly crowding around me blocking out all the darkness. Those who claim to live amid luminous digits have not known the fear of their faces made garish in the light of laughing screens. I keep to the dark soft sweetness of mystery, abandoned chapels that hold the fragmented wings of angels lost, departing. Humanity in-transit Where are we on this train of chance? Ambulatory Audiology Dear Sir or Madam, you may feel munificent, Sharing your music in a manner flamboyant In our subway car, ear-phones no deterrent To your emanating noises, so very abhorrent.

You may want to broaden my musical taste, You should know, your efforts are a waste, My musical choices are much more sedate, To expand my horizons - it is far too late. Perhaps you are trying to impress me, With state-of-the-art Apple technology, Or Android device, with a trendy mod, Hate to tell you, I have a loaded ipod. To impress, try reading John Keats, And abandon ye, your killer beats!

It is his finest meal ever. Heavy rain drumming on the corrugated galvanized roof and wind wailing among trees and houses accompany the song. Snug in the same bed, we children are the audience. Lightning pierces the darkness through gaps in the wooden walls. Staccato bursts of thunder rise to a crescendo, drowning the music. Momentary silence ensues. Splat splat splat… A new and different tempo commences in another part of the room. Plop splat plop splat pop splat… Two rhythms blend harmoniously.

Father sighs and fetches another bucket. First More Love I dreamed a dream, wherein I held my girl: Priya, with the wild curls, and the scrunched-up giggle nose. Grenadine-and-orange-juice the sky colors, moving the clouds, and it seemed the expanse writhed to birth the sunset. Jesus is coming. First I was going to love You more. WHISPERS the moon now a faint wisp in the cloud-filled sky whispers cover the sidewalk and fall into the earth the green-rusted brass bell tomorrow rings into silence the dull thud of continuing empire claims so many lives from evening until night time the same expression captures the ever-receding tree-lined horizon the leaves of so many oaks maples birch and willow litter the expanse and bend into endless fields what shadows the wild tall grass aspire to contain those bright lights waiting to explode upon the sleeping hills.

I understand the gravity of words. The weight of your past. The boulders you carry. Call me friend. Brush my arm subtly. Take things slow. In the wilderness we will find a chorus. Constellations, satellites shall set the scene. This hallowed moment with you, each second discovering a new excuse to drag our feet. I will give you a timepiece with broken arms. Neither am I. Just another day another year in our present darkness, where you can barely make out the eastern star, unless you cut through the haze, but how wise is that?

Hot summer afternoons lust laden drenched in each other. As you come into me breath lost my mind wants. Moments in between clinging tight pants of coital hunger. Smooth vibrating skin electric nerves hot breath against my ear. Your brow damp after glow radiating breathing to calm yourself. As your chest rises my palm matches to feel your heart. Lingering in whispers sleep overtakes I watch as you fade away.

Cigarettes wink like fireflies. If I could leap Onto that moon, I could leap down to you. In homestead, I listen To the refrigerator hum In my kitchen. In a glass bowl Two rotten bananas lean forgotten With two impossibly yellow.

She has her superstitions. This poem inspired intentions Of reaching out to you. Then ended reminding me I spent the day with family. Notes toward an essay in poetry Is this Art? Is there a feeling of the eternal in it? An ecstatic joy or beauty, an instant of transcendent wholeness, which for a brief moment denies all sense of time?

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Certainly there is a stifling of voice. And here, his art however intentionally, underlines the impotence of revolution. And for Kantor here, it seems the gesture of revolution is the very essence of artistic expression. It is an unconsciously religious posture, his act of rebelling a secular shamanic ritual with no end The House Across the Street I love to visit the house across the street Where love and laughter abound Where wine flows freely and passion is palpable And the goodness of life reaffirms itself In the welcome cries of a newborn child A welcome reprieve From the stagnation and decline I leave behind.

I call him Boy. I had to think fast. Then she slowly nods her red head and wanders off to mull that one over. Fox Love Her pretty face, a pale moon. His lips tremble like leaves. In a dream, their dialogue swims like calligraphic tadpoles. Day breaks earlier in this city. Catching a glimpse of the bellman, he shakes a little. The tea spills. A disguise evaporates. Clouds form in distant eyes. Standing up, he raises a hand to adjust his tie.

White tufts of softness floating high. On green velvet below I lie. Smiling in pleasure this golden day, Dreaming and humming the hours away. Wishing the seasons would slow in flight, Bliss unending days into night, Dozing in the light of day And dreams that draw the night away. Benedict Lopes, former Program Director of Scarborough Arts, and I formulated two questions which facilitated a live storytelling and poetry recording session.

The wonderful efforts of six other members of Scarborough Arts made for a very meaningful experience, accentuated by a small but involved audience, as well as a power failure. It was a great demonstration of the relationships and spirit of collaboration, in addition to the writing ability, present in our community. I was enchanted by his words and began writing my own poetry.

Irving would eventually give me encouragement for my efforts, and I now have 50 years of publishing behind me. There is very little monetary remuneration if you love to write poetry, but the joy of seeing your words in print is magical. I have always found time to write no matter how busy my life happened to be. Family, teaching, no matter what. Sadly, I lost my darling David 5 years ago. My children have their own busy lives. Retirement affords me the time to totally indulge myself. Writing and singing give me incredible comfort.

Very few people can afford to devote time exclusively to the pursuit of their creative life. Most of us work for funds to live. To be truly creative is to be creative with time. I jumped at the chance. I loved teaching, eventually earning two degrees over many years of part-time study. Some people live with their artistic muse which, as I understand it, Is a bit like living with a tiger.

I was already immersed in music. The church choir and a wonderful mentoring director sent me on a life-long path. I have sung on stage every year of my life since my early teens and presently belong to 2 choral groups. In December I did 3 shows at Markham Theatre. I had already discovered the power of words, constantly writing letters to the family and friends I was forced to leave behind in England at the age of 9. When I met the love of my life — David — he gave Regrettably, I found my art slipping. Never having enough time to write when the ideas came, and when the time arose the ideas would mysteriously vanish.

It was at this point I decided to go for a different approach. Instead of having dedicated writing times every night, I began to carry a notebook and pen with me at all times. This would then allow me to scribble ideas and short pieces whenever they decided to drop into my mind.

I maintain that practice today, ever on vigilante alert for the next idea to pop in. Balancing work and art was always a very difficult task for me. While I was working, my mind would always begin to drift off to faraway lands. Opting to instead play with worlds of fantasy, over-focusing on the data entry I was doing, or the report I was writing, or the money I was counting. Stories about ghouls and goblins, dragons, time-travel, aliens and ordinary people who turn out to be extraordinary demanding to be written. Fictional characters pounding on the walls of my brain insisting their dialogue be recorded.

Yet, I reluctantly was forced to bring myself to the present and focus my full attention on the next customer. Believe in yourself. If you want to make this world a better place, begin with you. Listen and learn from everyone you meet. Share your ideas with them. Trust your own judgement when sorting the good from the not-so-good. If you like to write, let people read what you have written. If you like to draw and paint, share your art with others.

This interchange will help to improve your skills and theirs. Unfortunately, it also worked vice versa. The working day would end and I would return home, yet by that time my mind would be too tired to write anything I could consider decent work. Read whatever you can find on the subjects that are important to you. Study and listen to opposing ideas. Contrast them with your own. Adopt what you consider good and dismiss what you think is not. As long as you can do this you will continue to grow.

Enjoy your childhood. Playing and sharing ideas with friends is an important part of growing up. What you learn in the playground will be with you all your life. Play fair, and do not exclude anyone. Know that you are good enough and so is everyone else. Belonging to an exclusive group teaches you nothing. Stay on the path to your goal, even if it meanders through fog and chaos at times. Fog and chaos contain insights just as astonishing as sunshine does.

Collect and use them now, and in future. Your memories contain valuable materials. Use them whether they are pleasurable or painful. Use insights from your observations too. Teachers are not always right but challenging the teacher in the class will only make enemies, and you will find yourself spending a lot of time standing in the hall or sitting in the office.

Take it in, sort it out and keep the good stuff. Free yourself from chaos that may confront you at every turn and entangle you. An artist must have freedom to create and project truth. Create because it gives you joy; because you are driven by your instincts; and because it is a passion and compulsion. Let your creations be spontaneous, or come after reflection. Let it be sincere, natural and logical. Always remember that you are a person with rights. If you feel your rights are being interfered with discuss it with someone you trust, someone who knows you and loves you.

When you create, do it without ego and expectations.

Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2) Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)
Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2) Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)
Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2) Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)
Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2) Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)
Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2) Heartbeat to My Life (Birch Hollow Book 2)

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