Guest Post: Gauri Sirur

Today I am delighted to feature a guest post from Gauri. Originally from India, she now lives in America.

My Book of Memories
(Or my life chronicled through some of the books I’ve read. And the memories they evoke.)
I glimpse a paperback on a friend’s bookshelf. It takes me right back to college when you were too uncool for school if you hadn’t read the book’s author. My daughter tells me a literary classic — my mom’s favorite — is being remade into a movie. And now I hear my mom’s voice quoting from the book.
Books evoke memories. These are some of mine…

Growing up…
My Book of Memories opens with a fairytale. I am lying in the back seat of the family car, with my shut-eye doll, my fuzzy blanket, and Enid Blyton’s book of fairytales. (There were no seat belts back then.)

My little brother, Ash, rides in front with my parents. He likes to look out at this world. I like to lose myself in imaginary worlds.

I’m happy when it takes a long time to get to our destination.
* * *
At the time of my in-car reading sessions, I was five years old and living in Pune, India. Mom was an avid reader. She frequented a circulating library that offered Women’s Weekly and Women and Home magazines — along with a modest selection of novels — to its predominantly female clientele. And Enid Blyton’s books to the kids who tagged along.
Blyton’s books were inhabited by an eclectic mix of humans, fairy folk, toys, and barnyard and woodland animals. In this fantastical world, you might find a little red door set in the trunk of a very old tree. You turned the round green doorknob, stepped through, and found yourself on a railway platform. From here you could take a train to Fairyland, Goblin Hill, or Toyland.

I have to admit that although I’m far from six now, I still stare very hard at the trunks of very old trees, checking for little red doors. I’m looking at you, giant sequoia. You never know, right?
* * *
In my early teens, I devoured paperbacks. Mainly mysteries and romances. Mom spoke of Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Daphne du Maurier in hushed tones. To please her, I read Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca. And then, to please me, I read them all over again.

Dad, a naturalist at heart, got my brother and me a slew of illustrated books on birds, reptiles, mammals, and dinosaurs.

I got back from school one day to find a T-rex and a brontosaurus — both about four inches high — squaring off on top of the radio in the living room. Dad had fashioned them out of Plasticine (Play-Doh). He believed in giving us a hands-on education.

Pluto and Persephone…
Tai, my father’s elder sister, worked at the Oxford publishing house in Mumbai. Every year she gifted me a book for my birthday. When I turned eight, she presented me with two children’s books of Greek mythology. Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite, Narcissus, Medusa. I was as riveted by the names as by the stories.

During a college literature class, a professor asked if anyone knew the story of Persephone and Pluto. I put up my hand. She gazed at me with newfound respect. I thought it best not to reveal that I had gotten my deep knowledge of Greek mythology from a children’s book.

All growed-up…
After marriage, I lived on a farm with Raj, my parents-in-law, and Raj’s granddad. Our farmhouse was three miles from the nearest village. But even here, there was no dearth of reading material.

In his room, Raj’s granddad had a cupboard full of books tenderly covered with brown paper. I could take my pick from Dickens through Poe to Pearl S. Buck.

When we moved from the farmhouse to an apartment in Mumbai, half of the books moved with us. And then, over the years, a quarter of those treasures found their way to Houston, where I now live.
* * *
Some of these books are close to a hundred years old. Time has tinged their pages a light sepia. I have to turn the pages carefully lest they flake off.

I open the books, and a musty-sweet aroma wafts to my nostrils. Suddenly, I’m looking out the living room window of a certain farmhouse in India. A bullock cart rumbles past on the dusty track outside the window, heaped with sacks full of freshly harvested peanuts. Just beyond the track, row upon row of young sorghum fronds flirt with the breeze.

Coming to America…
My book memories of America, where I moved twenty-some years ago, with my husband and daughters, are a world away from bullock carts or flirtatious sorghum.

From Mumbai we flew into Cleveland, OH, where my daughters enrolled in middle and high school. My older daughter’s English Lit. syllabus included The Black Pearl, which was my introduction to American literature. My memories of this book are decidedly mixed.

On the one hand, I loved the book; it inspired me to read another Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath.

On the other, The Black Pearl remains closely bound up with that fresh-off-the-boat, disorienting sense of foreignness. With the shock of the biting Cleveland winter after the muggy warmth of Mumbai — the cold inking chilblains on the backs of our hands. The isolation — trees bare of leaves, streets bare of people. The echoing quiet. Most alien of all, the smells — the insistent tang of Lysol and wood-polish; that plasticky new-car smell.

Twenty-some years later, the country that once felt alien is now home.

And now, this…
I started my book collection in Houston eight years ago, right around the time of my grandson’s birth. The first book that I bought was Kafka’s Metamorphosis. A fitting title, I thought, for my own metamorphosis from mom to Grand Mom.

Several of the books in my collection, from Hamlet through Harry Potter, are storied in more ways than one. There is enough nostalgia here to fill yet another Book of Memories. But that’s a story, or a blog post, for another day.

Yes, books evoke memories. What are some of yours?

Here is a link to her blog. Please take time to visit, and welcome Gauri to this community.
https://gaurisirur.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Nadine Gordon On Canada

We don’t hear that much about Canada these days. Ever since the French-speaking people in Quebec stopped protesting about the British Royal Family, and Pierre Trudeau died, it seems that Canada hardly exists outside of North America. No reports of how they have been affected by the pandemic, and not even a feature on one of their ‘big freeze’ weather events. So when I read a post on the blog of Canadian writer Nadine Gordon, I thought it was only right to ask her to appear here as a guest blogger, and let us know what is going in in that vast country.

The Trefoil Muse Blog

https://thetrefoilmuse.blog/

This is a short ‘bio’ about the author, Nadine Gordon.

I began my writing career as a journalist for a small local newspaper. That’s where I discovered while interviewing several subjects that they shone while relating their own stories of how they accomplished that extraordinary feat to obtain victory or explained how to operate that new equipment prototype or even shared what the exciting idea behind the grand opening of a new store was. I thanked my lucky stars that I was the one able to capture those moments on paper through words for others to enjoy.

I have been published in Reader’s Digest, Horses All, The Violet Ray magazines and many newspapers. I write because there is a certain power in the written word that cannot be denied. Words can heal a wounded soul, teach, inspire, entertain and inform people. I also self-published a book called, “The Rose Path.”
I write because, I feel better when I do and from what I hear, so do others who read my prose.

WordPress is filled with talented, artistic entrepreneurs. It contains a wealth of knowledge if you are looking to learn. With the discovery of WordPress I began to take blogging seriously. As a Canadian author I find the WordPress community to be very kind and supportive.

I have come across many helpful sites on WordPress but upon finding beetleypete – well, I just kept coming back.
Beetleypete is very knowledgeable about the blogging world. From his site; I’ve learned what an avatar is and how to utilize the excerpt. Sites like https://www.beetleypete.com also teach blogging etiquette. I like beetleypete’s no nonsense approach.

The day he published: “New bloggers: Following Back,” I commented because even as a new blogger I’ve come across the ‘follow me back,’ phenomenon.
Be prepared new bloggers; if you comment on another site, your own may be visited. Have more than the, ‘WordPress example post’ exhibited on your blog if beetleypete visits! “Canadian Tourists always have Maple Leaf patches on their bags so that we don’t think they are Americans,” commented beetleypete. He has lived in London most of his life but has since moved to Norfork to enjoy a slower lifestyle and country ways.
Beetleypete otherwise known as Pete read, “Literally Torn,” then generously invited me to do a guest blog about Canada because they get little news about us unless it involves a Royal visit.

Upon Finding beetleypete

In Canada, we have been in short supply of worldly news. Starving the World’s population of international news is a fall-out of the pandemic!
(We did receive news in Canada regarding the Royal family’s loss of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We grieve with the United Kingdom.)
Let me begin by sharing that every five years in Canada, Canadians are legally required to participate in the ‘census’ to help paint a picture of our diverse population and where we live. We completed the census recently.
As a middle class Canadian, I get extremely annoyed when the census comes around asking questions regarding my cultural background. I have a myriad of different cultural bloodlines running through my veins. My family has been in Canada for generations. I was born here. I am Canadian! Enough said!

Even though I was born in the great country of Canada, it would be negligent of me not to mention that:
“I am not going to be reliable source for current events. I live an isolated existence on the Canadian prairie away from the masses. I do not live in an igloo or tee pee; I live in a house with four walls – sorry, for squashing that Canadian stereotype. We do have electricity; television and internet which helps me stay informed. Plus, Google is my friend – I know how research on it. I do my best to entertain those who love to read, learn and muse but there are other journalists better equipped in Canada to write about current events. So be prepared, I’m about to give you a rather satirical view of what is going on in Canada.”
“I don’t normally delve into the world of politics on my blog. However, life amid a pandemic has been frustrating even in our peace loving country thanks to the current political sphere.”

Canada is situated on the top half of North America. We are often referred to as, ‘The Great White North.’ Canada is a large country spanning from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. I have traveled Canada from coast to coast. Due to the pandemic, some of the provincial boarders are now closed.
Canada is a country with many cultures and belief systems. If you are interested in learning about another culture, the only thing necessary is an open mind and willingness to learn. Canadians are amicable, hard working, intelligent people who enjoy life. We have a great sense of humour. We value laughter. But, above all, we value what freedoms we are afforded. Most Canadians are very aware of the fact that other countries pay attention to our Democratic politics.
Canadians are also aware that our multi-coloured currency looks similar to that found within board games such as Monopoly or Stock Ticker. In our defence, we are a colourful people who deserve colourful coinage!
We are proud to be known as a Peace keeping nation which is why we display our maple leaf when travelling.
I suspect, the world sees our southern United States of America neighbours as more aggressive than those of us living in the Great White North because – they don’t have “legalized marijuana.”
We are known as humble people in Canada – even our own Prime Minister has described us as meek and complacent. Plus, most recently, he smugly referred to us as a bunch of ‘tinfoil hats!’

I find our current Prime Minister and his denigrated political ideals offensive. In my opinion, he has done nothing more than divide our beautiful country with reprehensible, arrogant viewpoints; toting incessantly that they are the “Woke.” If he actually believes that he or his party is “Woke” then they better lay-off of the ‘whacky tobacky’ they are so proud to have legalized in Canada! The “Woke” are out of touch with reality!
I am certain the Prime Minister would like to blame Covid-19 for the unrest in our country. According to the ‘Woke,’ our current madness stems from the isolation of our third pandemic lock-down.
The truth of the matter is that the Prime Minister of Canada was given too much power at the beginning of this pandemic. Too much power in the hands of the wrong person is dangerous. The Prime Minister and the Liberal party scheme behind closed doors – they are dangerous. They have been scheming to take hard fought freedoms and rights away but they have been found out! (Luckily, we still have the sharp-eyed United Conservative Party (UCP) actively working at the House of Commons in Ottawa. The UPC has alerted the Canadian public to numerous underhanded ploys attempted by the ‘Woke.’)
Regardless of what you may have seen televised on Main Stream Media (MSM); ‘meek, complacent Canadians,’ across the country have been banding together, outraged at elected officials who continue to participate in over-reaching, reprehensible acts in parliament such as abuses of power. Outrage alone should show the Prime Minister that Canadians are neither meek nor complacent and, remind him and his party that they are accountable to the people of Canada.
The ‘Liberal Woke’ members of parliament are elected officials who are not speaking, acting or representing their constituents. Instead, the ‘Woke’ party seek to promote their own dictorial ideals.
One would think Canadians actively protesting for their Charter of Rights would be enough to levy the Prime Minister and his party a rude awakening! Instead, their arrogance prevails. It seems the ‘Woke,’ merely roll up one fat doobie after another then check into fantasy land oblivious to the ensuing drama and political dissention they cause!
(Today’s politics or news broadcasts are all about denial, fear mongering & distracting the public with Covid statistics. It is absolutely nauseating! If you are looking for actual news in Canada, you have to look anywhere but Mainstream Media for it.)

Unrest in Canada is always indicated when the ‘Bloc Quebecois’ starts screaming separation. Quebec is the most vocal province we have when it comes to constitutional rights. I have always admired Quebecers for this tenacity. They are spitting mad and wanting a divorce!
Quebec – the rest of Canada is empathetic but, in light of never ending Covid-19 spikes; let me remind you to flatten the curve by quoting our illustrious Prime Minister, “Don’t breathe moistly on anyone.”
Quebec is an eastern province. If they separate, I hope they don’t take Newfoundland or our maritime provinces. Those people would give you the shirts right off of their back after filling your belly with jiggs dinner!
The Prime Minister’s fantasy land of choice is Ontario.
I never hear news about Manitoba. They are an extremely quiet province. The capital of Manitoba is Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a beautiful, extremely cold city. Many people call Winnipeg; Winter-peg. It’s still spring in Canada so the people of Manitoba could thawing their bones. I know from experience what it’s like to try and communicate when teeth chatter from the winter cold. Manitoba has its borders closed for non-essential travel.
Saskatchewan is the breadbasket of Canada.
People jokingly say that we live in Saskatchewan. We don’t but if I stood on a nearby hill with binoculars, I can see that province! From where I live, a carrier pigeon would deliver a message to someone along the Saskatchewan border in about four hours. I haven’t heard any substantial news about my neighbouring province to the east either. What I can tell you about Saskatchewan Canadians is that they are very loyal; especially to their Rough Rider football team. I mean, any people who would carve out a watermelon and wear it on their head like a helmet in loyalty to a football team is alright in my books!

I am from the Western province of Alberta.

Let me say that again; I am from Alberta. The Prime Minister would like to pretend Alberta doesn’t exist. He actually forgot to name our province when reciting the provinces of Canada! What an endearing puppet!

It is probably no secret that Canada has an upcoming election. Political posturing abounds between various parties. We have a great many things in our country to be proud of – the current Prime Minister is not one of them. Bearded or unbearded, I find him to be a complete embarrassment! The thought of an election has me on my knees praying to the Universe, “Please let Prime Minister Pinocchio and his ‘Woke’ party crickets return to fantasy land!”
So, while Quebec screams separation on the political front, a petition to unify Canada’s western provinces has emerged once again. The petition is called Wexit. It includes the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Albertan and British Columbia. I guess that bears further watching.
We started hearing the cry for Wexit again in Alberta recently when Premier Jason Kenney of the UCP, decided to flex his muscles and force our province into our third lock-down during the first week-end of May. The Premier’s tactic was to utilize RCMP members and city police forces to dole out tickets with hefty fines and/or arrest any Albertan who gathered peacefully in protest. Specifically, they were to target any Albertans defying rules which contravened Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act of Alberta – especially those who refused to wear masks even while outdoors. The facade behind the lock-down was to flatten the spiking Covid curve by jabbing as many Albertans as possible with the now available vaccines; thereby saving lives and easing the strain on our over-worked, stressed-out Health Care system.
Alberta protesters simply ignored the Premier as they were defending their Constitutional Rights such as the right to assemble and freedom of choice. I would like to point out, that peaceful protests were taking place in cities across Canada and internationally for the same reasons during that week-end.

In Alberta, rallies were held in a variety of cities including our capital city of Edmonton and in Calgary (home of the infamous Calgary Stampede), with no MSM coverage. Bowden; a town between Edmonton and Calgary, held a rodeo on private property. Why the Premier and the news media chose to zero in on the Bowden Rodeo attendees is beyond me. I’ve seen pictures and videos of the tough, healthy country folk, and cowboys who attended. They all looked healthy! Anyhow, there was quite the hoopla over this little rodeo because of their outlandish refusal to mask-up for an outdoor event.
The Premier said he felt like he’d been slapped in the face by the disobedient rodeo goer’s then closed the Alberta parliament for two weeks and ran home to sulk. He even admitted to wanting a new base of supporters.
Rachel Notley, is head of the New Dreamtime Party (NDP) in Alberta. They are the official opposition of Alberta’s UPC and close allies of the ‘Woke.’ She figured since the Premier had tucked tail and run that it was safe for her to poke her head up from wherever she’s been n-deep-sleeping and yell in all her blurry-eyed, glory; “Coward!” No doubt her munchies of choice during Covid-19 has been the orange coloured THC laced gummy bears – this heady delight, is what it would take for Ms. Notley to have found such dreamtime courage. Albertans have not forgotten what her short stint in power did to our province!

As for Alberta’s Premier feeling like he’d been slapped – better a good slap than a swift kick in the butt via pointed cowboy boots!
There have been MSM reports that Alberta is an anomaly. The Government doesn’t know what to do with us. (Political mumbo jumbo and Covid statistics are like the weather in Canada. If you don’t like it just wait a couple of minutes.)
The third lock-down in Alberta is easing.
The redneck slap brought Premier Kenney to his senses or perhaps, someone just poured him a strong cup of Tim Horton’s coffee. In any case, he returned to the Alberta Legislature Building after a two week hiatus prancing around like a proud rooster. Albertans successfully exceeded the Premiers expectations. 60% have gotten jabbed at least once with a dose of vaccination. Kenney is now dangling the golden carrot of freedom in front of his base supporters.

Beginning June 1st, Albertan’s can enjoy the more relaxed restrictions of Stage 1.
Stage 2 of regained freedom begins June 10th. We get more rewards as long as we stay diligent at flattening the curve.
Stage 3, enters at the end of June or beginning of July, with the promise of a Calgary Stampede. It appears we’ll be able to gather publicly – at least at the Stampede in Calgary. (This will be a welcome change from the gatherings held at Walmart or Costco!)
British Columbia is Alberta’s neighbouring province to the west. They too have had their borders closed for anything but essential travel. They are attempting to knock down the Covid-19 spike prior to tourist season.

In British Columbia, MSM actually reported some breaking news on May 27th.
A mass grave with over 215 First Nations children was uncovered in what used to be Canada’s largest residential school in Kamloops, B.C. This school operated between the years of 1890-1969 under a Catholic order called the Oblates of Mary Immaculate until the federal government took it over and ran it as a day-home until 1978 when it closed. Missing, undocumented children as young as 3 years old were discovered by a ground penetrating radar.
The recent breaking story by MSM is a reminder of our not so distant past when assimilation took place in our country through genocidal, prejudicial degradation of our First Nations and Indigenous people.
I am not only devastated for the families and band nations in Canada for these losses but also, for those who continue to suffer daily because of elitist, anti-Semitic beliefs. Canadians will never be able to fully rectify these injustices. Those of us in touch with reality know who the true ‘savages’ are in our society and where they hide. We must hold them accountable for inflictions of horror.
The Prime Minister has offered his feigned, contrition.

On the Federal front, the Prime Minister has also come up with an International travel strategy; this mainly due to his own self-interests. His motivation – he desires to find the magical Blue Fairy who will turn him into a real boy so he can attend the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom which is scheduled for June 11-13, 2021.
It seems a shameful to have spent so much time sharing about Canada’s political sitcom when there are many wonderful things about Canada. However, the current political sphere has me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what type of absurdity will happen next! The state of our country or, that of any other country in the world since the pandemic began is unbelievable. The news here is the same as elsewhere – it’s all politically motivated pandemic propaganda or twisted with distractions designed to hide politically motivated strategies.
Suffice to say; no news is not good news for Canada!
At the end of the day, whether we exit or we stay, our PM remains nothing more than a drama teacher puppet. That being said, this ‘tin-hat’ bulletin author finds Canadians up Schitt’s Creek without a paddle.

Thank-you for reading! Stay tuned for more Canadian political satires on the blogosphere.
Also, my humble gratitude to Pete for graciously allowing me to guest blog on his site!
For more of my creative stories, please visit: https://www.thetrefoilmuse.com

Guest Post: Abbie Johnson-Taylor

I am very pleased to bring you a fictional short story from published author and blogger, Abbie Johnson-Taylor.

SINS OF THE FATHER (Fiction)

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

“Where were you last night?” I asked my son, once we were settled at the kitchen table with coffee and store-bought cinnamon rolls. He’d shown up, unannounced, and I knew why.

He stared down into his coffee. “Like I told Carrie, I was at the hospital late with a patient. But she didn’t believe me. She let me slip into bed with her after I got home last night, but this morning, she kicked me out. She didn’t even fix me breakfast.”

I gave him my iciest stare. “Carrie called me at midnight, saying she couldn’t reach you on your cell. When she called the hospital, she was told you left at eleven. She was worried. I felt I had no choice but to tell her about your father.”

“Dad? What about Dad?”

“You’re just like him. So, who did you go to bed with last night instead of Carrie?”

He sighed. “Remember Jamie, that sixteen-year-old girl who had a heart transplant? I told you about her last week when we all had supper together.”

“You had sex with your sixteen-year-old heart patient?”

“No! Of course not! I’m not that stupid!” he spat. Then, with a sigh, he said, “Lydia was her nurse. We went out for a drink or two after Jamie died. One thing led and…” His voice broke, and he hung his head.

“Well, I’m sorry about your patient, but I’m not surprised at your behavior. It was the same way with your father when he lost a client.”

“What do you mean?”

“He was defending a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death. For years, he fought to stay the execution. At the end, a female paralegal worked with him on the case. The night of the execution, your father came home very late. I figured he had to tie up some loose ends or something after the man died. But when he slipped into bed next to me at three in the morning, he smelled of booze and sex. Apparently, he hadn’t bothered to shower after the act. In the morning, when I confronted him, he told me the truth, and I forgave him.”

“Okay, so, why didn’t you tell Carrie that? This is the first time I’ve ever cheated on her. I promised her it would never happen again. She’s the only one for me but…”

“The paralegal wasn’t your father’s only conquest. Things were fine for a while. Then, someone else came along, a secretary, another attorney. Once, it was a client’s wife. Each time, he confessed and said it would never happen again, that I was the only one for him. I didn’t want to leave him because of you and Debbie. My own parents split up when I was eleven, and I vowed my children would never be in the same boat. But now that you both are grown with your own lives…”

Not looking at his face, I stood, picked up my plate with my untouched roll and carried it, along with my full coffee cup, to the sink. As I disposed of the contents of the plate and cup and rinsed them before putting them in the dishwasher, he said, “That explains why your suitcase and purse are here by the back door. I thought you were going to a writers’ conference or something.”

I slammed shut the dishwasher door and turned to him, hands on hips. “When Carrie called me last night, frantic because she didn’t know where you were, I invited her over, and we had a nice visit. We’ve gotten along so well since the two of you were married last year.”

“I know.”

“Your father had yet another late night, and she was gone by the time he came home. Anyway, we decided to strike out on our own. For now, she’s invited me to move into your apartment with her. Eventually, we’ll find a place where we can each have our own space. I saved some of the money I made from book sales, and Carrie is removing, from your joint bank account, the income she’s made so far from her physical therapy job. That should be enough to support us for now, and my new book will come out next year.”

A look of shock crossed his face.

“Tim, I love you, but I’m extremely disappointed in you. I thought I’d raised you to be a better man than your father, but this sort of thing must be in the genes. I’m just thankful you haven’t had a chance to get Carrie pregnant yet.”

“She can’t get pregnant,” he blurted.

“That’s no excuse.”

His face reddened. “I’m not saying it is.”

At that moment, his father walked into the room. Eyeing us with a curious expression, he said, “Tim, what are you doing here? Leah, what are your suitcase and purse doing by the back door? I don’t remember you saying you were going out of town.”

Turning to him, I said, “And where were you last night? No! Don’t tell me. I already know. I don’t need to hear for the umpteenth time that she means nothing, that I’m the only one for you. Well, if I were truly the only one for you, you wouldn’t need any of those women.”

He looked aghast but said nothing.

“I’m sure Tim will be glad to explain why he’s here. All I can say is like father like son.”

I picked up my suitcase and purse, marched out the back door into the garage, got in my car, and drove away, not looking back.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir and is working on another novel. Her work has appeared in Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. Please visit her website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Please use the link above to discover more about Abbie and her writing.

Guest Post: Lucinda E Clarke

I am very pleased to bring you a guest post from Lucinda. She is a writer, published author, and a very loyal blog follower.

Here is her bio.

Lucinda E Clarke has lived an extraordinary life, in 8 countries, on land and sea, survived childhood abuse, marriage to a psychopath and many real-life adventures. She moved from teaching to the media realising a life-long dream to write for a living. From announcing on radio, she graduated to scriptwriting for radio and television and every other form of writing known to man. Movies, advertising, drama plays, street theatre, mayoral speeches, her newspaper column, company reports, tourist promotions etc. She was prepared to write for anyone who paid her – even if it meant lying through her teeth. She needed to support one husband, two children, a St Bernard, other dogs, various felines and a menagerie of small furry animals and at one time, a riding school comprised of broken-down hacks not fit for the knacker’s yard. She won over 20 awards for her films in writing, concept, direction and production. More recently she is a winner of numerous book awards – including a gold, two silvers and an honourable mention from Readers’ Favorite. Now pretending to be retired in Spain she is scribbling in a variety of genres, which she says proves her schizophrenic tendencies. If she can’t write she gets withdrawal symptoms and plans to go to the big library in the sky with her laptop under one arm.

https://www.lucindaeclarke.com/

This is her guest post.

First, a huge thank you to Pete, for allowing me to share on his blog. In particular I enjoy his daily serial and his tenacity in his daily emails – my blogging has faltered for the reasons below.
Twelve years ago, the DH (Dear Husband) and I left South Africa and retired to Spain. He may have imagined us lying on the terrace sipping sangrias overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, but within a year I was bored silly. I’d not wanted to sell my company and put my feet up, I wasn’t ready for that. I still miss the crew and the camaraderie and visiting all the locations we filmed.
So, while we pottered about our tiny rabbit hutch – you try buying a mansion with the SA Rand to Euro exchange rate and see where that gets you – I began to invite lots more people to live with us.
DH didn’t notice at first as more and more moved in, male, female and undecided, along with a few animals and African wildlife.
They were all in my head of course, but I laughed with them, cried with them, and, if they annoyed me, I popped them into a wheelchair or killed them off.
It was murder and mayhem on a daily basis. I may be an old wrinkly, but the power kick was the biggest adrenalin rush ever. I could blow up a boatload of people and no police would come knocking on the door. Atom bombs? Where would you like me to drop them? A plague? No problem, shall I start in China?
The world of the writer has endless possibilities. We can topple presidents, resurrect forces from outer space or under the ground. We can do anything we want and never, ever break the law. The worst punishment we suffer is the occasional one-star review from a dissatisfied reader.
What I need to know, before I continue on my rampage: is there a special hell for those who inflict cruelty on characters? I’m worried now I’d be a prime candidate.
I don’t write cosy mysteries where everyone is nice to each other. Oh no. My heroines are not so much stars as victims. They face insurmountable odds, lose loved ones, limbs and trust and most of the time have no idea who is threatening them. It’s me of course, but I don’t tell them that and do, please keep this a secret too. I have the odd nightmare they leap out of the book and strangle me while I’m asleep.
Amie was my first creation. I transported her to Africa and then sent the plane evacuating the expats off into the sky leaving her behind all alone in the middle of a civil war. I caused her more suffering took her on more adventures in four more books, and now she is sulking as I’ve abandoned her, at least for the moment.

Leah was my next heroine victim. I married her to an upstanding lawyer to the mob, burdened her with an out-of-control teenage stepdaughter and presented her with a dodgy best friend. What more could a woman ask for? Well, I amputated her left leg as well, for good measure.

The A Year in the Life of… series, charting the lives of Leah and her family, are psychological thrillers, but no ghosts, zombies or werewolves I’m afraid. Just the car accidents, mental homes, burglaries and unknown threats kind of thriller.
All this rambling nonsense is designed to send you rushing over to Amazon to snap up all four Leah books on sale @ $/£0.99 each including the latest one which launches on Friday 14 May.

Belinda Brand the sassy teenager – who was once a vegan, turned vegetarian for ten minutes until Leah began frying the bacon for breakfast – has won a prestigious award for her bestseller and a Hollywood film offer for her debut – and last – book. But, she has a secret. Someone has discovered it and is threatening to tell. Danger lurks in the shadows and then her best friend disappears.

Once more thanks Pete and love to Ollie, oh and regards to Julie as well.

Please use the links to check out the books, and to connect with Lucinda too.

Guest Post: Mugdha Kulkarni

I am very happy to present this guest post from Indian blogger and writer, Mugdha.

Here is her short bio.

Hello!
My name is Mugdha, from India.
I own a small website, my haven, where I occasionally write on life and love, mind and heart, books and songs and not the least, you and me. Please do visit:)
Apart from writing, I find comfort in music, paints, rains, sunsets and chai.

This is her guest post.

THE STRONGEST PERSON I KNOW

You retire to your bedroom after a long day,
the bed still unmade with the sheets long gone cold,
a sad glaze in your eye and lie down,
curling uptight to realize that
there is no warmth to hold on to
and finally, as if long-held gates forced open, you cry.
Not sob but cry.
Till eyes go red and tears prickle down your throat.
Nose running and saliva dripping down the corner of your mouth
‘Why would you tell that?’
Oh, but it’s never meant to be heartbreaking in a beautiful, cursed way, love.
Why is being kind and gentle so painful, you ask nobody.
Why do I always bite back my words?
Why can’t I for just once, not overthink and speak my mind?
Why should I suppress all of my now-fading desires?
Why can’t I just run away and start anew?
You can’t hold in your painful sobs anymore
so you let the leash go.
You cry out, scream and howl and
pull your legs up deep till it hurts in your stomach and lay awake, a mess for time unknown.
To save any confrontation you run into the shower,
night silent as scalding hot water trickles noisily on the cold bathroom floor and your shoulders alike,
finally warming a bit of your soul.
How long has it been since someone hugged me,
not said anything at all but just held;
running calming strokes down my back?
You can’t remember for sure.
So you just hold yourself,
trying to breathe and keep your eyes open
till water finally turns cold.
Sometime during dawn, you return to your room,
too exhausted to dress properly and
finally sleep on the cold bed, too empty inside to care.
I know, you have since long, fought your battles alone.
You blame yourself at least once a day, call out yourself weak
Till every emotion dissolves and you submit yourself to resignment.
I am painfully aware that everything hurts, like hell.
I know I am in no position to speak on this
as no one knows you better than yourself
but what if I say that sometimes, I am so much like you ;
you will then hear me out, won’t you?

Yes, we break down into the most real and despicable version of ourselves,
almost wanting to die.
But I know you won’t completely deny that
you do finally wake up, burned out, yes, to the first glint of sun seeping into your room in the morning as birds chirp outside
blissfully unaware of all wrong happening in the world,
and sit on the bed, disoriented, for a long time, I agree,
but then brew that coffee, and even glance at the paper to read the headline of another disastrous news.
You manage to cook something for yourself, a little burnt, yes, but definitely edible,
get ready, slowly, agreed; but what’s more;
even dare to hum a tune and nod towards the old lady
staying in front of your house as she smiles sweetly,
and wait for your bus at the stand, when you could have run.
It rumbles in deeply where you stand as if excited to take you to the hellhole again,
but you somehow manage to not cry or break down
as the doors open, and you step in and not turn back again.
And if that isn’t being the strongest person in the world, love, then no such thing exists.

Please use this link to connect with Mugdha, welcome her to this community, and discover more of her writing.
https://wordsofmugdha.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Darlene Foster

I am delighted to present a guest post from the lovely blogger and author, Darlene Foster.

Here is her short bio.

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Never Too Late To Become A Writer
by Darlene Foster

A goal without a plan is just a dream.

Many of us dream of being a writer. After all, we have tons of ideas. We spend years talking about it, fantasize about signing our books, and envision people saying, “I read your book and loved it.” But there is always an excuse. We are too busy working, raising kids, keeping a house, volunteering, looking after grandchildren or ageing parents; the list goes on. Then one day there is a bit more time and we say, “Now I’m too old to write a book. If only I had started years ago. It’s too late.” I have heard this many times.

I was one of those people. I had so many excuses for not sitting down and writing a book. I took writing courses and attended seminars, wrote a few short stories and submitted to the occasional contest, but the idea of writing a book was too daunting and I often felt I had left it too late.

Then I went on a fabulous holiday to the United Arab Emirates and decided I needed to write about it. It worked best for me to write my story from the point of view of a twelve-year-old and target it to middle-grade readers. Although I was already in my fifth decade, I was still busy working a full-time job, tutoring part-time, volunteering and sitting on a few boards. How was I going to fit in the time to write a book?

I came up with a clever plan. The plan was to write the book in three years; a realistic time frame for me. How was I going to do this? I planned to write one chapter a month by writing two hours a day, five days a week. By breaking it down into doable steps, it was not so difficult. I simply eliminated watching television for two hours every evening after work. Soon my friends and family understood that I could not be disturbed for those two hours. If I missed one day, I would write for two hours on the weekend.

My plan worked. At the end of three years, I had Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask completed and ready for submission. It took another 5 years to find a publisher, but I persevered. In those five years, between researching publishers and writing query letters, I continued to write and completed, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting. After all, I was used to writing at least one hour a day.

I now have eight books in the Amanda Travels series published and have organized numerous book signings where people of all ages have approached me saying, “I love your books. I hope you write more.” My dream has come true!

I still write for at least two hours every day and can now write a book in one year. My next book, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady will be released on May 11th, 2021. I am working on the ninth novel as we speak and have many more ideas. There is no stopping me now!

The lesson I learned is that it is never too late and you can never be too busy, to make your dream of writing, or any dream, come true – if you make a plan and stick to it. As a much wiser person than I once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

Darlene´s books can be found on most booksellers´ sites including Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=darlene+foster&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

She can be contacted on various social media sites.

website http://www.darlenefoster.ca
blog https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
facebook https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Please use the links to connect with Darlene and to find out more about her books.

Guest Serial: My Recovery (Part One)

A first for me, a guest serial from an English blogger and writer.
I am pleased and excited to host this, and I hope you all enjoy it.

This is the first part, in 720 words.

The Beginning

Shortly before Christmas, in 2016, I was unwell with a common cold and sickness. From thereafter, family members began to notice I was mis-hearing words and sentences. I went to see my GP who put my hearing, well lack of it, down to the after effects of the cold I had, and then prescribed me some nasal spray.

After using the nasal spray for over a fortnight and with no improvement, I went back to my GP. Again, she said it was down to my cold and to keep trying with the spray. I persisted until I actually noticed my hearing issues, and this was coming up to a month and a half since the issues began. My GP referred me to an ENT Consultant at Norwich Hospital, which I thought was odd as that’s not the hospital I go to for anything. Then the waiting began…

I was employed during this time, I started a new role as a Sales Assistant in a charity shop, I felt like I was in my prime as I had fought hard to overcome my social anxiety and despite having these hearing difficulties, I was happy, I was content. I felt the best I had ever felt, especially mentally.

But it was too good to be true…

Work started to treat me differently because of my hearing. I remember one shift that made me feel extremely isolated, it was lunchtime and there was about 4 of us sitting around a table, they knew about my hearing difficulties and I watched them, in disbelief, while they were talking and laughing. I spoke up and said “What did I miss?”, to which one of them made the effort to make me understand and replied with, “It doesn’t matter”.

I was devastated. I thought I fitted in well with my colleagues, but it turned out that when I needed their support the most, they were ignorant, they didn’t bother with me anymore. I thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

But again, I was wrong.

Towards the end of March 2017, I woke up one morning with blurry central vision, I didn’t think nothing of it as I assumed it was because I had just woken up. When I went into work, I felt different – I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but I tried to carry on as normal throughout my shift.

The ‘blurry spots’ had not changed, I had to rely on my peripheral vision (side vision) which was really difficult. I kept feeling ‘off-balance’, not to the extent of dizziness but I couldn’t walk at my normal pace without feeling like I was tipping over.

I had no idea as to what was going on.

It wasn’t until roughly 3pm that day, that I reached breaking point, tears filled my eyes and a colleague took me into the office so I could let the tears flow. After telling her everything that had been happening, she suggested for me to go to A&E. She was worried about me, and frankly, I was petrified. That was my last ever shift there.

I don’t like to waste doctors time and I felt guilty about the thought of going to A&E for something I didn’t feel was an emergency, I strongly felt something was really wrong but not to the point that I would have considered it to be an emergency. So, I didn’t go to A&E that night.

The next day, my colleague’s concerns kept going over and over in my mind and I spent most of the day in tears. I told Mum about what had happened at work the day before, and like me, Mum didn’t feel like it was an emergency. I became more terrified, which I didn’t think was possible, and I got to the point where I begged Mum to take me to A&E because I was thinking the worst.

But I should have guessed, they had no idea what was causing my symptoms. All they could do was blood tests and observation tests, which resulted to nothing, but they did send off an emergency referral to a ENT Consultant.

They sent me home but advised to come back if my symptoms worsened.

(Part two tomorrow)

Guest Post: Leon Stevens

Today’s featured blogger is writer, artist, blogger, and composer, Leon Stevens. Here is his short bio, and links to his work and social media. His guest post is the text of a newsletter he sent out to his subscibers. Please visit his blog to connect with Leon, or to read more about his varied work.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

https://www.linesbyleon.com

Sign-up for my weekly newsletter:
Lines by Leon Newsletter

Add me to your social links!

twitter@linesbyleon

instagram@lines_by_leon

Why I Write

I want to thank you for taking part in my writing journey. Writers write to share their ideas, visions, and emotions, and I hope that you find my weekly rambles entertaining. I write in a lot of different styles, which may or may not be the best way to keep a readership.

I think about it this way: My writing is like a box of—(I’ll stop there to avoid copyright infringement). But it is. You know the one, that assorted box that you get at Christmas, the one with the candy map. You always go after your favorites, but sometimes you take a little nibble of the one with the chocolate squiggle. Maybe you discover that you like it, or perhaps it makes you glad you didn’t buy a whole box of strawberry creams.

What was the first thing that I wrote that wasn’t part of a school assignment? Probably a song lyric, but I always scrapped it because I was never happy with the result. When I decided to pursue classical guitar studies, I began to compose, letting the music provide the emotion instead of words. I wrote many pieces, some I wrote down, still others I forgot. I recorded some, but it never came out polished. I make too many mistakes, I can never play as close to perfection as I want, I get nervous performing in front of people or a microphone, so it takes a lot of takes to get something that I am OK with. The first piece that I wrote is called Riviera Galliard, which is an homage to the Renaissance composer, John Dowland. I hope that I can record it and share it with you. There is my incentive.

I wrote a few others in the same style before turning to acoustic guitar after hearing the Canadian guitarist, Don Ross. Unfortunately, most of those pieces have been lost. Either I can’t find the scores that I wrote down, or my memory decided that I didn’t need to know those anymore. I can still dig up little snippets, but it is like reading a corner ripped out of a book.

Fast forward to my poetic journey. I ventured back into lyric writing to make sense of a difficult situation. The poems followed as some of the unused ideas became short poetic pieces. Most of my poetry is short and not too complicated. As one reader put it:

“Lines by Leon is an eclectic mix of poetry and thoughtful, personal reflection. The ideas are straightforward with an understandable simplicity. “

I wanted people to reflect on the poems and seek connections without having to try to interpret deep philosophical meanings or search for hidden underlying messages.

During my poetic journey, I started to sketch images that came to me. Some of these images evoked ideas that became my short, short stories-one or two paragraphs that tell part of a story that leaves the rest to your imagination. Some of my stories became longer, but still without conclusion, similar to waking from a dream and lying in bed thinking, what the…?

Enter science fiction: My forever favorite. If you have read my blog post, Returning to Roots (and I hope that you have), you will know that my father introduced me to this genre. We would watch science fiction T.V. shows, and he would read me stories. It was only natural that I would turn to this topic as my writing developed. I was able to cross my styles when I wrote a series of post-apocalyptic poems that are featured in my next book, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

I also want to keep a sense of humor in my writing. Some of my poems and stories will hopefully make you chuckle or smile. My blogs and newsletters give me a chance to poke fun at things, be cynical at current events, and showcase my odd sense of humor.

Some writers stick to the same formula, and their readers stick with them, which is perfectly understandable. A successful author wrote that to be successful, you have to write what your audience wants. I do want to entertain readers, but I’m not trying to make everybody happy. I’m trying to make myself happy, by hopefully providing material that can be enjoyed by others.

If you are here for my poetry, fear not, I continue to write and still have pages to revise. It took me three years to get to my first book, and I promise that it won’t take another three for the next. For my sci-fi fans, I am proud to share my short stories, which could not have happened if it wasn’t for my father. Let’s all gather to share the love of the written word—no matter the style.

I almost forgot. When I get reviews like this:

It makes me happy and lets me know that I am on the right path.

-Leon

Guest Post: Robbie Cheadle

Today I am delighted to feature author, poet, and blogger, Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle):
Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook
Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook

Middle school books:
Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas)
While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)

Poetry book:
Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland

Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Robbie Cheadle
Blog: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/

Blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

Treasuring Poetry and Poetry Treasures

I have always enjoyed poetry. From the moment I read Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery when I was ten years old, I wanted to be a poet. I spent a lot of time in my tween and early teenage years attempting to write poems and I am sure mine were as overblown and overcomplicated as Emily’s were in this memorable book.
When my children were young, the desire to write poetry and rhyming verse stories came back to me. This may have been because I spent a great deal of time reading nursery rhymes, and rhyming verse stories to my sons. Dr Seuss books and Pete the Magic Dragon were firm favourites. My natural interest, combined with my son, Michael’s, interest in making up stories and characters, lead to the creation of our co-authored Sir Chocolate series of books.
We published our first Sir Chocolate book in August 2016 and soon after that I started my first blog, Robbie’s Inspiration. I embraced blogging and the blogosphere and was delighted to discover that a huge number of talented poets regularly published their poetry on their blogs. Over my 4 ½ years of blogging, I have developed a lot of friendships among the blogging poetry and writing community.
In 2018 I met Kaye Lynne Booth of Writing to be Read blog (https://writingtoberead.com/blog). Kaye’s blog is aimed promoting writing in all forms and she shares a lot of book reviews and interesting articles by a few bloggers, including herself, about a wide spectrum of matters relating to reading, writing, and other artistic undertakings.
In 2020, Kaye and I collaborated on a new series on Writing to be Read called Treasuring Poetry. This series is aimed at promoting poetry and poetry books and providing a platform where poets and lovers of poetry can meet new bloggers and writers and have discussions about their own, and well known and famous poets, work. This series proved to be popular despite the pandemic, lockdowns, and all the related issues and drama and in December Kaye suggested we ask the Treasuring Poetry guests to contribute to an anthology.
From this great suggestion, Poetry Treasures, the first anthology in the WordCrafter Press poetry anthology series, was borne with contributions from several talented poets in the blogging community including Sue Vincent, Frank Prem, K Morris, Annette Rochelle Aben, Colleen Chesebro, Jude Itakali, Geoff Le Pard, Victoria Zigler, and myself, publishing as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.


A collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on Writing to be Read in 2020. Open the book and discover the poetry treasures of Sue Vincent, Geoff Le Pard, Frank Prem, Victoria (Tori) Zigler, Colleen M. Chesebro, K. Morris, Annette Rochelle Aben, Jude Kitya Itakali, and Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

https://books2read.com/u/3n7BDR

The anthology includes between three and five poems by each contributor including five delightful poems from Sue Vincent. Sadly, Sue passed away a few weeks before this anthology was published, and the book includes a tribute to her and her wonderful poetry. She is greatly missed in the writing, poetry, and blogging community.
Today, I would like to share one of Sue’s poems from Poetry Treasures which I read and recorded on her behalf on my Youtube site. The poem is called Poetic vision.

Please use the many links to connect with Robbie, and check out her varied books.
She has something for everyone!

Guest Post: Krish Mayani

Today I am featuring a post from Krish Mayani, who blogs at https://theconfessionsofarandomblogger.com/
His subject is the abusive control known as ‘Gaslighting’, and he explains it with reference to the film of that name.

WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?

So by now you all probably know my tradition of sitting up until 2 a.m. every night watching trashy reality shows and true crime documentaries with my mom. However, the other night we decided to be classy and watch something more sophisticated for a change.

So instead, we decided to watch ‘Gaslight,’ a 1944 psychological thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Angela Lansbury.

A very long Google search later, I discovered that the psychological manipulation term ‘gaslighting’ actually originates from this movie! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s so incredibly cool that an actual clinical psychology term originates from a Hollywood, Golden Age, romantic thriller.

I was so incredibly captivated by the film’s plot and cognitive themes, that I just knew I had to write a blog post about it!

Today, I’m going to be discussing and analysing the film, as well as talking about the psychology of gaslighting and how you can protect yourself against it. However, I am not a therapist or a psychologist, and therefore everything I will be speaking about is from my own personal opinion, experiences and research.

SYNOPSIS

Fourteen year old Paula Alquist lives with her aunt Alice Alquist, a renowned opera prima donna in a quaint London square. Paula’s mother died when she was very young, with Alice being her only surviving family.

That is, until Alice is murdered in the middle of the night during a robbery gone wrong. The perpetrator was in search of her famous, valuable jewels; until the robbery was interrupted by Paula awakening in the middle of the night.

The murderer is never found.

Now truly alone, Paula is sent to Italy to become an opera singer, just like her aunt.

The film then fast-forwards a couple of years to a now adult Paula (Ingrid Bergman). After a 2 week whirlwind romance with Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer); a man she has just met; she marries him and he convinces her to move back to the London townhouse that her aunt left her; the site of her murder just a few years ago.

However, as soon as they arrive at the house, Paula begins to notice a slew of strange occurrences. Picture frames taken off the wall and hidden, sentimental possessions that suddenly and randomly go missing, and most importantly, gas lights that dim randomly without any apparent interference with the house’s gas supply.

Gregory slowly begins to convince her that she is the one removing the picture frames. That she simply loses their precious possessions because of her growing irresponsibility, and perhaps most maddening- that she is imagining the dimming of the gas lights.

Is she careless? Is she a kleptomaniac? Is she simply insane? What other explanation is there? Why would anyone lie about the sound of footsteps late at night and picture frames being removed without any explanation? There’s simply no motive. Right?

But thank goodness for her husband Gregory! She may be slowly but surely losing her mind, but at least she still has her husband. At least he’s there to help her. Her constantly replenishing pool of “sanity.” In fact, she needs him doesn’t she?

Paula is slowly being psychologically terrorised and driven insane by her ominous menace of a husband, all the while being convinced that he’s doing her the biggest of favours. That he is simply a blessing for ‘tolerating’ her many many faults and mental incompetencies.

The question on everyone’s minds- will she be able to fight a psychological battle with her husband that she doesn’t even know she is in? However, the more important question here is why? Why is he doing this to her? There is absolutely no reason to do such a cruel thing to a person, your wife much less.

Is there a reason?

There seems to be something far more sinister at play here.

PAULA’S PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE

Soon after their arrival at the townhouse, Gregory presents Paula with a brooch, a valuable family heirloom that he claims has been in his family for years. First, he tells her the story of how the brooch “belonged to my mother, and before that to her mother, and now it belongs to you.”

He then lectures her about the importance of not losing it, as she is “inclined to lose things.” He then promptly steals it back from her, leaving her with the gut-wrenching feeling that she has indeed lost the brooch. Not only was he right about her tendency to lose things, but he was also so understanding when she told him.

However, as picture frames begin to disappear from the walls, with them later being found by Paula, he begins to berate her for her kleptomaniacal tendencies. She has no memory of ever taking the pictures of the walls- why would she? However, who else could it be? The question she begins to ask herself is no longer if she did it. But why she did it. She has no memory of ever taking them off the walls, so why is she subconsciously stealing the picture frames?

Gregory makes elaborate and extensively-detailed plans to go to the theatre, but just before they leave, Paula discovers a new facet of her ‘mental illness,’ and is forced to stay home. She believes that she has ruined their night.

However, one night, Paula is invited to a musical concert by old friends of her aunt, and decides that she absolutely must get out of the house, even just for a night, even if she must go alone. However, Gregory decides that he must accompany her.

After a nervous breakdown at this public social event, caused by yet another one of Gregory’s tricks, he convinces her that she is not “well” enough to be in public anymore, effectively isolating her from the already extremely small social circle she has around her.

The following events only escalate in psychological torture and abuse. He tells her that objects in her hands are not really there. He tells her that her mother died in an insane asylum, paralleling her current ‘symptoms,’ and later threatens to have her institutionalised.

He constantly reprimands her for her behaviour, asking her why she lies, steals, and claims to see things that aren’t there without reason, leading to her desperately trying to know the answers to these questions herself.

If not bad enough, as the gas lights constantly flicker (he switches on the lights in the attic), he convinces their maid to lie to Paula as well, telling her that she is seeing things.

An intricately planned descent into insanity and paranoia; and for what? I’m not going to tell you why. Watch the film! I’ve given you enough spoilers!

WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?
Gaslighting (noun)- is an abusive psychological manipulation tactic that when planting seeds of doubt (using denial, misinformation, misdirection, and contradiction amongst other techniques) in the victim’s mind, can make them question their own memory, judgement and perception; severely altering their sense of reality.

As we saw in this context, Gregory gaslights (verb) his bride in an attempt to gain access to her house. He manipulates certain elements of her environment, which makes her question her own sanity by distorting her reality. When Paula asks her husband to verify her perception of these changes, he insists that it’s all in her imagination. he then isolates her from the world and prevents her from having outside communication, making her dependence on him even stronger.

Make no mistake, gaslighting isn’t limited to romantic relationships. It can and has been used in varying degrees of extremity in politics, friendships, parent-child relationships, and even professional workplaces.

THE EFFECTS OF GASLIGHTING

1. THE VICTIM BEGINS TO DOUBT THEIR OWN THOUGHTS

The gas-lighter has distorted the victim’s reality to such a great extent that they can’t trust their own memory, judgement and perception of the world around them.

2. FEAR AND SILENCE

Every time the victim voices their opinions or view of a situation, they are convinced that they are wrong, and that they might even need professional psychological treatment.

This not only leads to fear- what is real and what is not? However, it can also lead to repressed thoughts and opinions. If every time you speak, you are convinced that you have viewed a situation wrongly, you later convince yourself that you should just keep your thoughts to yourself, lest you further ‘upset’ your gas-lighter.

3. ISOLATION

The victim is now completely and utterly dependent on their gas-lighter- a source of reason and sanity. So, either as another manipulation tactic or by internal revelation, the victim is slowly isolated from their friends and family. The victim is convinced that the outside world wouldn’t understand- they would be judged, or worse, pitied.

However, when feelings of isolation and entrapment later begin to seep in, the victim now has no one left to rely on, apart from their abuser. This ensures that the gas-lighter remains in power. There is no one left to rescue the victim.

4. DECISION MAKING ABILITY

The victim has now been convinced that they are insane.

They can no longer trust their own judgement. Therefore, even the smallest of decisions, like what shirt to wear have to be approved by their abuser. As their decision-making ability dwindles, the gas-lighter now has full control.

HOW TO EXTINGUISH GASLIGHTING

I’m sure I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Gaslighting sucks be careful.” Okay! However, what do you do if you’re already in this situation? How do you escape? For lack of a better word, how do you extinguish the gas light?

STEP 1- RECOGNITION

Gaslighting depends on secretly distorting the victim’s reality. However, it’s very difficult for someone to alter your perception of reality if you are aware that this is happening to you. Before accusing someone of gaslighting you, first make sure that the situation is actually gaslighting. It isn’t always so easy to recognise.

Try to find repetitive patterns of undermining, contradiction, manipulation and deception in this particular circumstance. What is the intention behind these tactics? Is it really gaslighting, or are they just voicing their opinion? Do they care about you, or do they want to control you? Find the motive.

STEP 2- EVIDENCE

Now that you know that you are being gaslighted, it’s time to collect evidence. Not only are screenshots, pictures, and written accounts helpful for legal purposes; if the situation is extreme; but it can also help reinforce your view of the situation.

It’s sort of like “retracing your steps” in a way. Just because you now know that you are being manipulated, doesn’t make you immune to the effects of it. Every time your view or outlook of a situation is altered or even flat out denied, you have your own evidence to look back on if you need the mental reinforcement.

STEP 3- DEVELOP YOUR OWN SUPPORT SYSTEM

As we spoke about earlier, one of the main manipulation tactics of a gas-lighter is isolation. Both so that you can’t escape their control, and so that you can’t have your outlook and version of events authenticated.

However, and I once again say this only because I don’t necessarily know the extent of the situation, I would also suggest figuring out your finances as well. Sure, family and friends are an amazing support system. However, we can’t just ignore the financial aspect of it as well.

Money is important. If you have to, you need to be able to escape this abusive situation at any given time.

Can you imagine going through all the work to finally discover that you’re being gaslighted, only to realise that you still have to rely on the abuser for financial support?

Thank you for reading! Especially if you managed to read through all that!

Let me know if you’ve ever seen this movie, and if you’ve ever had an experience being gaslighted by a friend, romantic partner, parent or even at work.

You can check out my last few posts here:

World Poetry Month- The Second Issue
Mirror Superstitions
My Irrational Fears
World Poetry Month- The First Issue
Borrowed Poems From An Anonymous- ‘Destiny’ and ‘Today?’
Until Next Time.