Sample Saturday: “Two Days in June”

Two Days in June V2Hi, everyone. Today’s sample is from Two Days in June, my two-part short story about the June Rebellion in Paris. The event started 189 years ago today and, honestly, if Victor Hugo had never been caught behind one of the barricades, we probably wouldn’t know much about it. Hugo commemorated the events in Les Miserables. In addition to Two Days in June, I touch on the events in Bayou Fire, as Evangeline is in Paris when they occur. I hope you enjoy this sample.

They called themselves the Friends of the Abaissé, an adjunct of the Society of the Rights of Man. To Grantaire’s cynical eyes, they were just another Sorbonne fraternity: wealthy young men playing at philosophy and high-flown ideals of revolution and war without having the slightest idea of the true cost of either. Each time they agreed to meet at the ABC Tavern (“I’ll see you at the Abaissé”), they reveled in their own cleverness at making a pun.

If Combeferre was the group’s guide and Courfeyrac its center, as they’d all often opined, Enjolras was its Chief. When the other men spoke of their mistresses, Enjolras claimed that la Patrie — the Republic — was his only woman.

Of course, Grantaire thought that was another glorious pun. Enjolras’ love was the plump, delightful Marianne, whose parents had named her for the spirit of the Republic. She shared a flat with Olympe, who had nearly as much a hold on Grantaire as his beloved wine.

Wine. Yes, he needed more wine. Perhaps a lengthy toast to the people’s general would be in order once he got to the tavern.

Want your own copy of Two Days in June? Here are the cover copy and purchase links:

Starvation. Fear.

Fighting in the streets.

It’s June 1832, and Paris is once again at war. The students of the Sorbonne rise up against those in power, believing that right and the people are on their side.

But King Louis-Philippe has other plans.

Read Two Days in June, the latest edition of Pocketful of Stories, and enter the world of Les Miserables.

Just 99 cents USD (or equivalent) at these fine booksellers:

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Sample Saturday, A Day Late: “Yellowjack and the River Man”

Hi, everyone. Things have been a tiny bit off-schedule at my house, but we’re slowly getting back to our idea of normal. That’s why my sample is late this week. It’s from the title tale in Yellowjack and the River Man, the second book in my Pocketful of Stories series. Enjoy!

Yellowjack V2Marie Laveau had passed so many houses with yellow tags on the door that she no longer paid them any mind. The writing was irrelevant; she couldn’t read. Besides, the color of the card told her everything she needed to know; someone inside was dying of yellow fever.

Still, seeing a card on the Devereaux house drew her up short. There wasn’t a person of color in the Quarter who didn’t know about Michie Alcide’s work on their behalf. In fact, there were no small number who had gone North with his help, some with forged free papers or new identities that allowed them to pass.

Marie was one of the few who knew what they called the steamboat pilot turned lawyer on the Underground Railroad: River Man.

Marie knew the latch would be open; eventually, undertakers had to get the bodies out of fever houses. So, she wasn’t shy about opening the door. She’d gone to the house many times to fix Madame Evangeline’s hair before the poor woman passed, and knew her way around.

Both the men’s and the women’s side of the house were empty, so she went out to the courtyard. The stove in the cookhouse was still warm, although the fire was almost out. There was a stack of good wood to stoke it, should the need arise, but there was no one in the yard.

A low moan issued from another little outbuilding; Marie didn’t hesitate to walk in.

Might have known there’d be a garçonniere. Works good as a plague house, too.

She pushed the mosquito barre aside, and didn’t even bat an eye. Neither Alcide’s near-nudity nor the stench of the sickroom were a deterrent.

“Michie Alcide, it’s me, Mam’zelle Marie. I imagine you don’t know me right now, but you will.”

Want your own copy of Yellowjack and the River Man? Here are the back cover copy and buying links.

Yellow fever. Voodoo queen Marie Laveau. A long-lost relative’s homecoming. The Underground Railroad.

All of them are part of Alcide Devereaux’s (Bayou Fire) continuing story. See what adventures come his way in Yellowjack and the River Man.

The second in award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart’s Pocketful of Stories, this edition contains a sample chapter from Bayou Fire, the book that started Alcide’s tale.

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Sample Saturday: “Pompeii Fire”

Pompeii Fire v 2Hi, everyone. Here is a scene from my current work-in-progress, Pompeii Fire. The main character, Drusilla, and her best friend Claudia are standing at a thermopolium, which was essentially a fast food stand in ancient Roman times. They’ve been talking about Claudia’s unhappy marriage when Stephanus, the fuller, joins them.

As always, since this is a draft, the final scene may change. Enjoy!

“Drusilla Gaia! Claudia Felicia Nicia! How delightful to see you.” Stephanus approached the two young women. “Surely you will let me pay for your repast today. It would be my honor. You must not refuse.”

Claudia asked for some snails, and Drusilla some duck stew. Stephanus tossed a few asses on the counter for the shopkeeper, who put the food in clay bowls and handed them off to his customers.

“Let me escort you back to the praedia,” Stephanus insisted. “We can talk for a while. Claudia, as a married woman, you will chaperone Drusilla and me.’

Drusilla cringed. Her father’s friend made her skin crawl. His thinning brown hair always needed cutting, and his breath smelled of cheap wine. “As you wish, Uncle.”

“Surely you are too old to call me Uncle now. You are a beautiful, grown woman.” Stephanus licked his lips in a way that reminded Drusilla of Invictus after he ate. “Tell me, Drusilla, what news of your father? As you know, I stood him some funds in order to open a food stand in Herculaneum. He writes seldom, and visits even less these days.”

Sample Saturday: “Les Pensées Dangereuses”

penseesHello, everyone. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think I’ve been pretty straightforward about some of the challenges I faced in this area, including the fact that I had a full-on breakdown in 1996 and my mom had to come and live with me for a while. So, today I’m sharing an essay from Les Pensées Dangereuses that talks about something I experienced a number of years ago. This may be hard reading for some, but I think it’s important to put an honest face on things.

So, the sleep disturbances have evidently started again.

Every time I woke up last night, I found myself thinking about work. I used my CBT techniques to stop it and kept trying to do something I’ve never successfully been able to do: build a “safe room” inside my head.

Lots of people who have been through psychotherapy probably recognize this technique. You build a room with things in it that are specific to you: things that you love, and make you feel good. The idea is that you create this space and then are able to go there whenever you need to in order to feel mentally okay.

One of the frustrations I’ve had is that I’ve never been able to create such a space. I’ve been able to briefly use real-world places where I’ve felt good, but never with the degree of success that you might hope.

I got a couple of things accomplished mentally over the wee hours: a solarium with polarized glass and an ivory damask chaise longue with dark wood accents. (Apparently, this fabric has one heckuva Scotchgard, because I want my animals in this “safe room.”) My symphonium is there too … and I can have any song disc I want, not just the ones I own.

Other than that, nothing is made or put in place. Stopping the racing thoughts and thinking about what would go in my room did help me go back to sleep twice, but when I was still awake at 4:15 after the latest odd/scary dream, it didn’t seem to make sense to try going back to sleep any longer (I arise at 5).

It’s raining outside right now. My calico cat, Abigail, is in the computer room with me, washing her pretty little face. She has spent the majority of the past 4 days on the bed with me. Seamus, my big grey tabby, is still on the bed where I left him, cuddled up next to where I had been sleeping.

I know this sounds peculiar to non-animal people, but Seamus and I have a particular connection, and I sometimes get what amount to messages from him. One day, I quite clearly received “I am afraid the ‘sad place’ is going to make you die.” The ‘sad place’ is that place I go every day and come back from sad. That would be work.

I wish I didn’t have to go to the ‘sad place’ ever again, because it seems to be getting sadder by the moment. Unfortunately, my continued search for alternate employment has been unsuccessful. So, I’ll go back to the ‘sad place’ today and do my best to get through it.

If you would like to obtain your own copy of Les Pensées Dangereuses, here are the back cover “blurb” and purchase links. Thank you for your consideration.

Part autobiography and part inspiration, Les Pensées Dangereuses (French for ”dangerous thoughts”) is a series of essays on friendship, spirituality, education, bullying, animals, clinical depression and more. Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder) shares her thoughts, including an unfinished autobiography, ”Unmasking My Phantoms: My Dance With Madness,” in this new book.

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Sample Saturday: “Hugs and Hisses”

Guinness World Record-holding surf dog Abbie passed away today. Abbie was adopted from Humane Society Silicon Valley, where I have been volunteering in one capacity or another for a little more than a decade. Today’s sample is in Abbie’s honor. Purchase links are below; all proceeds benefit HSSV. Thank you for reading.

In 2010, I started a journey about my life purpose work; I even wrote a book about it. I was fortunate to have life coaches around me whose tools I could use, and I looked seriously at what gave my life the most meaning.

All of the resources I used told me that we, every one of us, knows deep down what constitutes our purpose. However, many of us bury it because of discouragement from those around us or circumstances that we see as beyond our control.

When I started doing this work, it all came back to the top.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I read James Herriott’s All Creatures … novels incessantly; he chronicled his own adventures as a Yorkshire vet in those pages. My clinic would be called Hillcrest, and I would help animals.

What I didn’t know until I was an adult was that I suffered from dyscalculia: similar to dyslexia, but involving numbers. If I could see how something worked, as was the case with geometry, I could do it. Algebra and trigonometry were beyond me and, thus, so was veterinary school. I learned to type so that I could get a good job. College went on the back burner; I went back as an adult and often joke that I may finish my anthropology degree by the time I’m ninety.

Anyway, I’ve had pets whenever I could, ranging from fish and birds to cats and dogs (with aspirations toward a goat and a horse). The animals in my life were generally my best friends.

I volunteered with the SPCA in my city as an adoption counselor in the early 1990s, but when I moved away during my divorce I couldn’t work out the logistics.

I volunteered at the Josephine D. Randall Museum in San Francisco during that time as well, teaching inner city kids about the rehabilitated wildlife in the Animal Room.

I wrote articles for local animal magazines.

But that was a long time ago.

When I took Lulu for her last kitten shot, I saw Humane Society Silicon Valley for the first time. It was, and is, one of the nicest facilities I’ve ever seen. Everyone was smiling and nice, especially the young man dressed as Santa.

“Oh! A kitty,” he cooed as he held Lulu for her photo; it was the annual craft fair, unbeknownst to me when I made the appointment. Lulu was one tiny kitten among many dogs waiting to have their photos taken with “Santa Paws.”

I had been trying to find meaning from many things, including volunteering as a museum docent, doing social justice work, my writing, and returning to church with a progressive congregation.

However, the life purpose work that I did always brought me back to animals. I thought about how I had socialized our grumpy little Gigi and our shy calico, Abigail, and realized that I had something to offer the homeless cats at Lulu’s alma mater. My life purpose work did not have to be what I did to earn a living.

Want your own copy of Hugs and Hisses? Back cover copy and purchase links are below.

Award-winning author, animal communicator, and Reiki practitioner Sharon E. Cathcart shares tales from her humane education work in this new memoir. Sharing stories of both happiness and heartbreak, Cathcart brings us into the challenging world of animal rescue. All proceeds from the book will benefit Humane Society Silicon Valley.

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