Sample Saturday, with Bonus Track: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s sample is, again, from my work in progress entitled Pompeii Fire. As always, the final product is likely to differ from the current draft.

Music was a regular part of gladiatorial games, played during and between bouts. The cornu referred to in the text is a brass instrument. You have probably seen images of them in frescoes and so on. Two examples of the instrument were excavated from Pompeii during the 19th century. The cornu in the video is a reconstructon. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to hear this ancient horn played.

After his bout ended and the cornu signaled the next event, Drusilla met Suetonius in the quadriportico. “You must come to the praedia. I have arranged for us to have the baths to ourselves, so that you may bathe and I may dress your wounds in myrrh.”

“Drusilla, this is a dangerous game for you to play. There is still time for you to change your mind.”

“I am not playing, Suetonius.”

“I will be there within the half hour, then. Kiss me, my princess, and let me count the minutes.”

Sample Saturday: “Through the Opera Glass”

Hi, everyone. Today’s sample is from my award-winning short fiction collection, Through the Opera Glass. Enjoy!

Opera Glass AlternateFrom Persia to Paris
Written June 25, 2012
Clever Fiction writing prompt: Winner/Leaving/Alone

Somewhere in the Persian Desert

Erik reined his horse around to look, for one last time, in the direction of the Rosy Hours of Mazandaran. What an odd thing to call a palace of murder, torture – and yet the Shah and his Khanoum named it as such. Erik was glad to be leaving.

“Build me a torture chamber,” the Shah had demanded. Erik had done just that; he created a mirrored room that constantly reflected a tree with a noose hanging from it. This was not torture in and of itself; the room had no apparent exit, though, and could be heated to an unbearable temperature.

Eventually, the Shah’s victims would see the noose as their only escape … which allowed the Shah to declare himself the winner in many a battle.

Soon enough, the Shah turned a suspicious eye on Erik. Perhaps he had been too trusting of the disfigured man, assuming his face would keep the women away from him. He’d treated Erik as though he were a eunuch; that was the real error, Erik thought wryly. Soon enough, the women of the seraglio had discovered Erik’s voice. Soon enough, some of them were far more entranced with him than they were with their over-fed husband.

And so, Erik must go. But where? Russia and Italy held no more appeal; only painful memories lived in those places.

Rouen? What would he say to his stonecutter father? Or to the mother who turned him out? No, going to the place of his birth was madness itself.

Paris. A man could hide in Paris. He could live alone there and no one would know, so long as he kept to the shadows. Paris it would be.

Want your own copy of Through the Opera Glass? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links.

Author Sharon E. Cathcart took up a challenge in 2012: to write flash fiction and full length short stories based on various prompts. Each story features one or more characters from In The Eye of The Beholder: A Novel of the Phantom of the Opera or its sequel, In The Eye of The Storm.

Brimming with historical detail, the stories in this collection range in place and time from 19th Century Persia to post-World War II San Francisco.

Through the Opera Glass is the 2014 runner-up for “Best Short Story Collection” in the eFestival of Words Independent Book Awards.

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Sample Saturday: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s snippet is from my current WIP. As always, this is a draft and is likely to change before final publication. Enjoy!

Suetonius could hardly believe his luck. That beautiful, blue-eyed girl from the praedia was sitting in the quadriportico. He finished his bout, took off his practice helmet, and nodded to her. The smile she gave him was modest without being discouraging, so he walked over. His skin, bronzed from the sun, glistened with perspiration from his exertions.

“Milady, I crave an introduction. I hope you will excuse my boldness. Here I am called Britannicus; perhaps one day I will share my true name with you.”

“Bold indeed,” Claudia responded. “This is my friend, Drusilla Gaia. I am Claudia Felicia. My mother is hosting the cena libra at our praedia tonight; I hope that we might see you there, Britannicus?”

“I would not dare to miss it,” he replied, his eyes locked on Drusilla’s. “It will be an honor to be received by you.”

Sample Saturday: “Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions”

M&M frt Verson 1Hi, everyone. This week, I thought I would share a little something from my memoir. Enjoy!

Through all of this, I was going to shows at least once a week at The Metropolis. The only way to learn the “scene” was to go out there and check out the bands. In doing so, I found that I wasn’t as “punk” as my high school classmates thought. In fact, I disliked hardcore punk and most of its sub-genres as much as I did heavy metal.

To me, music must have three elements: rhythm, melody and harmony. I played piano, violin and guitar, and also sang (choir and theatre). I had a grounding in classical music as a result, and a correspondingly particular ear. As I’ve said before, my taste is eclectic; I’ll give just about anything a listen in order to formulate an opinion. Hardcore, thrash, et al., were not my cup of tea. In the ensuing years, I have been able to find something to like in every genre of music except Chinese opera, but that wasn’t the case in the early ‘80s.

I loved David Bowie, Roxy Music, Human League; in other words, the “art school” performers. It was one of the things that made me such a fan of Theatre of Sheep. I liked the more cerebral sound.

At the same time, I liked a good dance band like Billy Rancher’s, the mod and rockabilly resurgence coming out of Europe, some pure pop mainstream acts like The Police; it was hard to put my taste into one simple box.

One of the bands I heard at the Met was a trio called The Van Goghs. They had an edgy, mod sound and I liked them a lot. I approached their manager about doing an interview that I would pitch as a freelancer to Two Louies, the local music paper. He and the band were amenable, so I wrote it up and gave it to them for a fact check.

What came from that interview was my first gig as a publicist. (You knew I’d get to the business part eventually, right?)

Want your own copy of Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links.

During her teenage years, award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart dreamed of working in the music business. She lived that dream for seven years, beginning at age 18.

Unfortunately, she learned that dreams can turn quickly to nightmares. Sharon found herself in a world of not only of music, but also one of domestic violence when she got involved with an undereducated youth she met during a concert. In this book, Sharon tells the unvarnished truth about experiences for which her sheltered upbringing left her unprepared.

Originally published as You Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, Sharon has updated her memoir with new information about those early days.


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Sample Saturday: Hard-Boiled Blues

Today’s sample is from “The Axe Man Cometh,” one of the tales in Hard-Boiled Blues. Enjoy!

I don’t know why y’all adults are always trying to scare the hell out of little kids.

With my Irish Granny O’Halloran, it was always the bainsidh, who would come and get you in the outhouse if you were naughty. With my Cajun Granny Broussard, it was always the rougarou who would get you and take you out to the swamp if you misbehaved or back-sassed your elders.

I think I was ten years old when I stopped to think about how stupid this was.

Wait. We don’t even have an outhouse; we’ve got indoor plumbing. And if some alligator-headed man shows up to take me to the swamp, well, I reckon I’d better go … and use my daddy’s camera to take pictures if I can. That Ripley fellow might talk about it on the radio if I can prove it’s true, and I might make a little money for the family. I’m sure those “Believe It Or Not” fellows would love a picture of the rougarou.

Plus, I grew up in the Quarter. We have neighbors who swear they remember Marie Laveau and the yellow snake she called Le Grand Zombi, even though she died fifty years ago. Every other house around here is haunted, including ours if my grannies are to be believed, and I’ve never seen or heard a thing.

Want your own copy of Hard-Boiled Blues? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links. The eBook is 99 cents across all outlets.

Two dead bodies.

Two policemen, one in New Orleans and one in Memphis.

Not all crimes have easy solutions in the Jim Crow South.

It’s enough to make you sing the blues.

Grab the final entry in Pocketful of Stories today!

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