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The Charons

This is a true story, although it’s not mine. It is a story of betrayal, malice, and harassment. It’s a story of family poison and co-worker acid.

It is the story of the experiences of blogger and author Sharmishtha Basu, who has just released this book entitled the Charons. I asked her a few questions about the book and how she works as a writer.

David: Is this a true story?

Sharmishtha: It is more of a journal than a story. Everything that is written has happened, but in a lot more horrible way. I just don’t have the mental strength to bare my soul to everyone.

D: When did you first decide to write this story?

S: In 2001, after returning from hell. I decided I would share my experience to warn others in crystal clear words. In the next ten years my tormentors made that decision a resolution.

D: What was the hardest part about writing this book?

S: The pain. Reliving the memories of those ghoulish tortures and betrayals, memories of monstrosity that dwells inside human beings, it was such a shock for me, someone who believed in humanity so very much.

D: Do you have a set place and time when you write?

S: No. I sometimes discipline my muse but she breaks free.

D: Do you have any insights or words of inspirations for other writers?

S: If you believe you want to share your works, don’t let anyone stop you. Createspace and kindle are absolutely free sites, all you will need is friends who will give you the well needed publicity or you can go for paid services. If a publisher refuses your work, that does not makes it bad. Listen to your heart and friends.

The Charons is on sale now at Amazon.com or Createspace.

New York Mayor Grants Health Insurance for Cats

Do cats work hard? They sure don’t act like it. After all, they’re rated the 9th laziest animal by pawnation.com, who should know a thing or two about all things pawed.Notes newspaper

Of course, we know that cats do work hard, just in their own way. They kill enough mice and rats to keep us from swimming in vermin and that’s no small thing. I don’t think the title of this post will be seen in the New York Times anytime soon, but that’s not saying it shouldn’t be. Maybe they could pay taxes in rat tails or something.

Let me tell you about one cat who worked hard. Her name was Maya. She was more than a cat though: she was a lady. She had a job but had to keep out of sight because of health inspectors. She had an infuriating owner, a high-classed friend named Puccini, and a rakish tomcat brother named Gloves. She was also a writer, who tapped out her memoirs, one paw stroke at a time. These memoirs are collected in a small book called Notes from a Working Cat, by Susannah Bianchi. I recently interviewed her about the book.

David: First of all, let me say I enjoyed this book a lot. Where did you get the inspiration for it?

Susannah: Maya was an actual cat on the Avenue where I live. I first met her sleeping in the window after hours. She was the prettiest kitty amid the apples and oranges.

D: Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

S: Maya, of course, with Puccini as a close second for her glamor . . . pearls instead of a collar. If I come back as a cat, I’d want to be Puccini, the Liz Taylor of Pusses.

D: What was the hardest part about writing this book?

S: Not making a full-fledged book, thinking less would be more.

D: Do you have a set place and time you write?

S: I like writing at first light, when all is quiet and I have the world to myself.

D: Finally, do you have any insights or words of inspiration for other writers?

S: Just forget about fame and fortune. All that will come doing what you love.  8-)


Notes from a Working Cat is on sale now at Amazon.com. Go check it out.

Notes from a Working Cat

100 Nightmares by K.Z. Morano – Cover Reveal!

I don’t know if you’ve heard of K.Z. yet, but she is the queen of the short fiction horror genre (and yes, such a thing exists, because she’s the queen). I’ve known K.Z. for over a year since we are both faithful Friday Fictioneers and I’ve probably read every story she’s posted there in that time. I look forward to reading hers every week, since they’re always amazing.

She has a new book out, coming in April, although the exact date is not announced yet.

100 NIGHTMARES by K.Z. Morano is a collection of horror stories written in exactly 100 words and accompanied by a few illustrations.

It takes a brief encounter with death to cause enduring nightmares.

A single well-placed blow could maim you for life…

One well-placed word could haunt you forever.


Microfiction is a blade—sharp, swift…

Sometimes it goes for the jugular, killing you in seconds.

Its silver tongue touches your throat and warm blood hisses before you could scream.


Sometimes, the knife makes micro-cuts on the sensitive sheath of your sanity, creating wounds that would fester throughout eternity.


Take my 100 words like prescription… a slow-acting poison.

Or read them all and die of overdose.

Your call.

It’s your suicide after all.

 Here’s the cover. Pretty scary, eh? If horror’s not your thing, then it’s probably best not buy this, but if you like it, definitely get K.Z.’s book when it comes out.

copyright KZ Morano

copyright KZ Morano

The Author

K.Z. Morano is an eclectic eccentric… a writer, a beach bum and a chocolate addict who writes anything from romance and erotica to horror, fantasy, sci-fi and bizarro fiction. Over the past few months, her stories have appeared in various anthologies, magazines and online venues. Visit her at http://theeclecticeccentricshopaholic.wordpress.com/ where she posts short fiction and photographs weekly.

For more updates on the story collection like K.Z.’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/100Nightmares

4 (un)necessary evils in The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug

I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last night and for the most part, I really liked it. Maybe not as much as the first one, but it was a good movie. I say that up front because you may have assumed from the title that I didn’t like the movie and that this post is going to hate on it, but that’s not the case.

Just so you know, I will not give any specific spoilers of the movie (“there was fighting” should not be considered a spoiler). I will make references to the book, which was written about 80 years ago and is a little past the spoiler range.

You know it's an epic movie, when the poster for the Hobbit doesn't even have the hobbit on it.

You know it’s an epic movie when the poster for the Hobbit doesn’t even have the hobbit on it.

4. It rushed things

This is understandable, I know. Although I’ve heard many people say that this relatively short book should be easily made into one movie, there are a lot of long, drawn out scenes that would take quite a long time to show onscreen if everything was done strictly by the book. A sentence like, “They wandered for days” could make for a long, boring couple of minutes/hours. The editors have to pick and choose what they want to put in the movie and some things they need to pass over quickly. Still, there was some scenes that I was really looking forward to that got about five minutes of screen time. Which leads to the next point.

Beorn? Big guy, turns into a bear, yada yada, next scene!

Beorn? Big guy, turns into a bear, troubled past, yada yada, next scene!

3. They added whole sub-plots

This one is a bit harder for me as a big fan of the book. I can understand cutting things to save time but then why add whole scenes and characters that are not in the book at all? It rankles me.

I understand, to a point, and ironically, the reason they need to add material is because they’ve cut or rushed parts of the story (not because the movies are too short by any means, although I think that when it comes to Tolkien-based movies, the longer, the better). The book has its own rhythm and if you were just to cut or rush parts, some of it would just seem like a frantic rushing from scene to scene with no development. So, they inject development into places the movie needs it because it has a slightly different flow from the book.

But still . . . holy cow, there are a lot of intertwining sub-plots. Almost every character gets their own little tangent.

This chick gets about as much screen time as Bilbo.

This chick gets about as much screen time as Bilbo.

2. Fighting . . . and more fighting

The book, The Hobbit, had a fair number of action scenes, although not a high body count beyond the fight with the spiders and the Battle of the Five Armies. The movies, however, have a higher body count than some war movies.

I get it. It’s a movie and it’s a lot more exciting seeing cinematic fighting and insane elf moves than just watching Bilbo trudge through Mirkwood thinking about how he wished he was back in his own house by the fire (not for the last time!). And I honestly enjoyed the fight scenes, for the most part. The fighting outlasted my interest by about five minutes, which in a 3-hour movie, is not that bad, I guess.

Watching it 3D, you're guaranteed at least a dozen arrows right through the heart.

Watching it 3D, you’re guaranteed at least a dozen arrows right through the heart.

1. Characters know way more than they should

This is something that bugs me in other movies too, but especially so in this one, since it happens several times. A character will look at someone and say something like, “Ah, I see by your expression that you are planning on going to the Lonely Mountain to regain your lost kingdom” or “You’re wearing a belt. You must be in the party of Thorin Oakenshield.” What? Characters display almost preternatural levels of intuition and knowledge. This especially bugs me because it occurs in places where the plot of the book revolves around those characters not knowing some very key information. And in the movie, they know it in a second.

(Deep breath) Fine, it’s a movie. They don’t have time to . . . well, for character development, it . . .

No, forget it. This is not a necessary evil. This is something that I really didn’t like about the movie.

I know all: I have a paperback copy of The Hobbit under my throne.

I am all-knowing: I have a paperback copy of the book under my throne.

I realize that this post has been incredibly vague with specifics in some parts. So, go watch the movie (if you haven’t already) and let me know if you agree with me. If you disagree, we’ll fight it out with bow and arrows while riding down a river in barrels.

(BONUS TIP: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, but are planning to, watch for a quick, walk-through cameo by Peter Jackson in the very first shot.)

I Should Have Brought a Book

(The following story is true. Only the details have been changed because the real story wasn’t interesting enough.)


I really should have brought a book. Of course, now that I think about it, you should always have a book with you. Even a small volume about nineteenth-century Indonesian politics, written in Arabic is better than nothing. A book can save your life.

On the day when I realized this life-truth I was at the garage, getting my car looked at. It had been making a strange sound whenever I pushed on the gas pedal really hard, sort of like a bird being thrown against a wall: thump-squawk, thump-squawk. I tend to be a bit of an automotive hypochondriac but still I thought it best to get it checked out. They had magazines and a TV there. I won’t need a book, I thought.

The first hour was okay. I watched some inane political chatter on a news channel and read a fascinating article about the spread of the Andorran zap-beetle in a copy of National Geographic. Finally, they drove my car in and a few minutes later, I was called in for the obligatory here’s-what’s-wrong-and-how-much-you-owe consultation.

“We found the problem,” the mechanic said gravely. He had a compassionate look and a bedside manner that rivaled the best oncologists.

Please God, not the transmission, I pleaded silently. “What is it?” I asked aloud.

“There was a loose wire,” he said, holding his thumb and finger three inches apart. “We’ll have to tighten it up for you. Here, I wrote up an estimate.”

I looked at the paper he proffered and for a moment, my mind fogged over, unable to comprehend that the dizzying columns of numbers were supposed to represent money.

“Can I just tighten it up myself?” I asked, helplessly. I might as well have asked a doctor if I could do my own appendectomy and I got a similar patronizing smile.

“No, it takes a very specialized screwdriver. They’re pretty expensive.”

I looked down the estimate sheet again. $3526.43 for labor, $2450.01 for parts, $7209 total. Something didn’t seem right. “Why are there parts listed here?”

The mechanic glanced over at the sheet. “Oh, we didn’t have the special screwdriver either. I have a guy running out to buy it now.”

“Well, can I keep it when you’re done?”

He looked affronted. “No.”

“Oh. Well, alright then.” I tried to look business-like as I scanned the paper again and then signed my name at the bottom. “So when will it be ready?”

“About an hour, maybe three.”

“That sounds great. Thank you so much,” I said, wondering vaguely why I was being so obsequious.

I decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful day and suddenly it seemed like the only logical thing to do. The sun was shining brightly and the clouds were drifting lazily across the sky like anesthetized marshmallows. I crossed the road and followed a dirt road that wound back into the forest. After a couple hundred feet, the trees ended in a sea of high, yellowing grass. As I moved into it, I began to see the rusted, derelict shapes of abandoned machinery rising through the stems of brown vegetation. It was like stumbling into the hidden graveyard of elephantine John Deere creations.

The grass was over eight feet tall and I couldn’t see anything around me, so I decided to climb up on a rusty oil tank to get my bearings. I was just admiring the view when I heard a screeching, rending sound and the tank I was standing on collapsed. Before I could even think about catching myself, I had hit the bottom with a resounding clang and a sharp pain in both my feet.

The tank was completely dark except for the ragged hole I had punched in the top of it. I was just trying to think what to do when I heard a most terrifying voice coming from the darkness. It was raspy and a little squeaky, but what made it mind-bogglingly frightening was the fact that it wasn’t mine.

“Who are you?” the voice said and I almost jumped clear out of the hole again.

“Mother of mercy!” I shrieked, most embarrassingly. “You scared the daylights out of me! Okay, okay.” I put my hand on my chest and tried to calm my breathing. The voice had been quite close to me. “Don’t do that again. You don’t know how much of a fright you just gave me!”

There was a measured pause, like someone waiting patiently. “Are you done?” the voice said finally.

“Yeah, I’m done,” I said. “Just give a person some warning before you sneak up on them.”

“What do you want, me to bang a drum or something?” the voice replied sarcastically. “Say something like, ‘Excuse me, I’m about to speak? Commencing speaking in T minus 5, 4, 3—’”

“Who are you?” I interrupted.

“You can call me Pick,” the voice, evidently named Pick, replied. “Even though it’s dark in here for you, I can still see you fine. Pick sees you quite well. I happen to live here, you know. You might not care, but you just landed on my house. I was just coming home from work. Ten seconds later and I’d be jelly right now. Luckily I was fumbling for my keys.”

There was an expectant silence. “I’m glad I didn’t kill you,” I said at last, though I was having trouble mustering enthusiasm. “I actually didn’t mean to come down here at all, so I guess I’ll just be going now.”

“Ha! That’s what you think,” Pick said. “Actually I was also just bringing three thousand of my friends over for a party. They’re here as well.”

“Three thousand,” I said slowly, desperately trying to make my brain catch up and accept my current reality.

“Oh we’re here alright,” another voice off to my right said. “We just didn’t have anything to say before.” A swelling murmur rose and fell around me in the distressingly accurate way three thousand voices might sound.

There was another pause. “So . . .” I said after a moment, not sure why I felt compelled to keep the conversation going.

“So we’re going to kill you,” Pick snapped. “We’re all armed and now we’re very mad. See?” I felt a stabbing pain in my forearm, as if I’d been struck with a Lilliputian branding iron.

“Ouch!” I cried. “Quit it! That really hurts, you know.”

“Now you will die,” Pick said quietly. “Any last words?”

“I should have brought a book,” I mumbled bitterly.

To my extreme astonishment, a howl of fear and anger erupted in the darkness all around me. I looked around me, realized it was futile and then looked back to where Pick’s voice had come from. I held out my hands in a what-did-I-say gesture.

“You have uttered the accursed words,” Pick said and he sounded scared. “You have said the words from hell!”

“No I didn’t!” I protested. “All I said was—”

“Don’t say it! Don’t say it!” Pick screamed and the other voices all murmured in agreement. “How can you not know about the evilest, most diabolical words in the whole world?”

I thought for a moment. “I don’t know what to tell you. I just haven’t come across them before.”

“Really?” Pick’s whole demeanor changed instantly. “Oh, well in that case, let’s all sit down and I’ll tell you about it before we kill you. Come on, sit down. You’ve already demolished the house; crushing the wreckage to powder won’t make a lot of difference now.”

I sat down gingerly and heard a shuffling sound that I could only imagine came from three thousand tiny little people sitting cross-legged on the bottom of the oil drum around me.

“Long, long ago, there was a man named . . . well, actually I don’t remember his name, so let’s call him Jimmy,” Pick said from the darkness beside me. “So Jimmy is a plumber, right, but he doesn’t make a lot of money. One day he’s working and the devil comes to visit him. He offers Jimmy all the riches and power in the world, for free. Jimmy accepts the offer gladly.

“‘All you have to do is come to my office tonight and at midnight I’ll give you everything you could ever want.’ He gave Jimmy directions to his office and then left.

“Late that night, Jimmy followed the devil’s directions and went to a cave deep in the forest. He found the secret door and descended the seemingly endless staircase until he came to a small room. It was square with a few chairs and another door at one end. On it was a note that said, ‘Wait until midnight.’”

There was a clock on the wall that said 11:59, so Jimmy knew he was just in time. He sat and waited for a while but no one appeared. The clock still said 11:59. He started to look around the room to keep himself occupied. There was a coffee pot, but it was empty. A vending machine had cold drinks, but it only took drachmas. A TV on the far wall showed static and there was no remote. Jimmy picked up the only magazine there and found that it was all about mammograms and menopause.

“After a while more, he looked at the clock and saw it was still 11:59. Upon closer inspection, he saw that the hands were welded in place. He turned to leave but saw that the door had been slowly closing and was almost shut. The last words that were heard before the door slammed forever, the words that haunt our dreams, the words from hell: ‘ashudda bradda buk.’”

Pick fell silent. Suddenly I realized something. “Hey, you just said it yourself. I thought it was really bad.”

“I was just telling a story,” Pick said, a distinct note of defensiveness coming into his voice. “It’s not bad if you’re just repeating it. Anyway, now that you know the grievous evil you’ve committed, we’ll kill you for squashing my house. Come on, on your feet.”

“I should have brought a book,” I said, in a flat, experimental sort of way. Sure enough, there was a wave of screams and moans from all around. “I should have brought a book,” I said a little louder. I said it again and again until the whole oil drum was echoing with a cacophony of fear and outrage. Then with a sudden lurch, I leapt up and clawed my way out of the hole. It was a tricky maneuver, considering all the jagged, rusty sheet metal that was pointing down at me around the hole, but I dodged it all and escaped.

As soon as I was clear of the oil tank, I leapt off into space, hitting the ground running. From behind me, I could hear the buzz of small, angry things as Pick and three thousand of his closest friends followed me in hot pursuit. I weaved and dodged through the grass. They were getting closer.

I broke out the grass and sprinted down the dirt track, playing suicidal dodge-car as I crossed the road to the garage.

“Is the car ready yet?” I asked the man behind the counter, as I arrived sweating and panting.

“Oh, the Sonata? No, we haven’t touched it yet so it’ll still be a while. Hey, why don’t you take a walk? It’s a beautiful day out there.”

I really, really should have brought a book.

Tao Talk

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