Short Story: Darius Figgaro, Legends of the Shoemaker

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I wanted to share a short story out of my book Shirley’s Short’s and Flashes. It is a fantasy/mystery story. It’s not long and I hope you enjoy it.   Shirley

***

“I swear it’s true, every single word.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Giorgio, I’m unable to accept your statement. What made you think a story so far-fetched, would be believed?”

“Why would I lie about something that could cost me my life, Detective Johnson? That man died just as I said he did. I’m an honest man, and I do not lie.”

Detective Johnson got up from the table and walked from one corner of the room to the other. He couldn’t get his brain around the story that Mr. Giorgio was telling. “Do you care if I smoke, Mr. Giorgio?”

“No, I don’t care, Detective.”

“Thank you. Now let’s stop the formality. I’ve known you all of my life. You call me Peter, and I’ll call you, um, um. I don’t know your first name. I’ve never called you anything but Mr. Giorgio.”

Mr. Giorgio smiled as he listened to Peter. “Peter, my first name is Tony. Actually, it’s Antonio, but everyone calls me Tony. I guess it’s easier to remember.”

“May I call you, Tony? I’m sure I will fall back into old habits and call you Mr. Giorgio, but I’ll do my best to call you by your name. Ok, let’s start from the beginning, once again. Don’t leave anything out.”

“I haven’t left out anything, yet. Peter, there is more to this world than what’s here in Summerton. Things people have no idea is happening in this world. Have you ever heard of Darius Figgaro?”

“No, I can’t say I have. Is that the guy’s name we found in your shop?”

“No, I don’t know who that man was. Darius was from the third century BC and a shoemaker as I am. He lived in a small village, in Armenia. He was known everywhere for his excellent shoes. In fact, he was so talented he was chosen to make shoes for the God’s as an offering, when the festival happened, in a few months. Aramazd, and his attendant, Grogh were made boots. For Aramzd’s son, Mehr, he made the softest, kid, leather shoes, and finally for the Goddess Anahit, he made slippers from a new shiny material from China created by worms. Nothing was finer in the entire world.”

“If anything was going to bring the town prosperity, it would be Darius Figgaro’s shoes. The God’s would certainly think of Artashavian as their favorite place. The village leaders were so confident in their plan, they already had a sign made for outside of town. In large red letters, it read: Artasavian, home of the God’s shoes.”

“You’re kidding, towns back in the third century BC didn’t put up signs.”

“How do you know, Peter? Were you there? People are remarkably resourceful, no matter when or where they lived. Think about the pyramids in Egypt, or the great lighthouse in Alexandria. All through the ages, people have accomplished exciting and beautiful things. Now back to my story. Are you going to interrupt me anymore?”

“I’m not planning to,” remarked Peter.

“The time for the great festival of the gods arrived in Artashavian. You could palpate the excitement in the air. Everyone was happier and looking forward to the three days of fun and homage to their gods. Darius’s excitement ended abruptly when he went to gather his offering and found the shoe cupboard empty. I know I put those shoes in this cupboard. What am I going to do now? Darius sat on his cobbler’s bench and prayed to the gods to help him find his offering. A loud booming voice sounded in Darius’s head.

“Darius sweep the floor using your new broomstick.”

Darius stood as he thought a moment where his new broom was located. Once he thought of the location, he walked to his back porch and grabbed the broom. “Ok, god, I have the broom, and I am obeying you even though I don’t know what good sweeping the floor will do.”

Sweeping the dirt floor was not an easy thing to do. You had to sweep but not stir up the dust and yet sweep aggressively enough to remove the debris on the floor. Sometimes Darius would place a course woven material down on the floor is he could buy the yardage at a cheap enough price. It’s been awhile since he purchased any, so his floor was bare.

He swept the center out of the floor but then decided he’d best do the corners. There’s a box here. I don’t remember this. When Darius looked inside the box, he yelled aloud, “Thank You, thank you.” There were all of the god’s boots and shoes. Tomorrow I will present them as my offering to the gods.

Before sunrise, the next morning, Darius gathered his box of shoes and headed to the temple. He felt fantastic and had extra energy. It was a glorious day. There were other people gathered at the temple also. Sunrise was the appointed time for giving of gifts. If your gift was accepted by the gods, you received a special blessing. Darius was hoping they would give him continued good health so he could continue to make his shoes.

Just as the sun was coming over the horizon, Darius placed his offering on the altar. The ground shook and lightning streaked the sky. Woman were screaming and running away, but Darius stood his ground. He looked at the altar, and his offering was gone. Everyone else’s was still there. What does this mean? Have I displeased them with my offering?”

“You have not displeased us, Darius. You have used your talents to make a personal offering to us. Because you have pleased us so much, we are going to bless you for each pair of shoes you made. Kneel Darius facing the sun.”

Darius was on his knees with the sun shining brightly on his face. He heard a female voice call his name. “Darius, my slippers are magnificent and feel glorious on my feet. For this, you shall have eternal life. You will continue to share your shoes with all you meet. Everyone will want a pair of your shoes. My child’s feet are protected with the soft leather of his shoes. Because you have given him protection, I shall keep you safe.”

“Thank you, Goddess, for your blessing. I could not ask anything more. I will continue to work and make my shoes”, Darius said.

“You shall prosper through your work,” Grogh commanded. “You shall never go without food or beautiful housing.”

Aramazd asked Darius if there was anything else he desired. Darius declined. “Then go, Darius, knowing you will be protected, have a long life and will be sharing your shoes with the world for all time.”

Darius bowed his head as the bright light was removed from his face. He stood, not quite believing what occurred. “I’ve been blessed. What more could I want in this world.”

When Tony finished his story, he looked at Peter and asked, “Do you understand now?”

“Understand what? You told me a fairy tale that has nothing to do with the man’s body in your shop.”

“You are no different than the thousands of other people I have told my story to. You go through this life thinking you know everything, and you actually don’t know anything at all. I can’t explain it any further than what I already have. You have to open your mind, and actually listen to what I said.”

“I don’t have enough evidence to hold you for the man’s murder. I’m going to let you return home but do not try to leave town.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Peter. I will be at my shop working on some shoes. I have a particular order from the Pope. He likes his kid, soft leather shoes.” Tony left the room, heading back to his shop.

Peter kept running Tony’s story around in his mind. Maybe when I hear from the Coroner’s office everything will fall into place. Returning to his office, Peter pulled out the evidence folder on the dead man. It was empty, not one thing to go on so far.

“Peter, the Coroner’s Office is on line 1.”

“Thanks, Sam. Hello, Doc, what do you have for me? You are kidding me, not one thing. What was the cause of death? Heart failure, so it’s natural causes. Sure, I’ll let the prosecutor know about the findings. Thanks, Doc, for the info.” Shaking his head, Peter couldn’t believe it all meant nothing. He knew he wanted to talk to Tony again about the Legend of the shoemaker and to tell him about the findings.

When Peter opened the door to go into the shop, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The room was empty. Not one shoe or even a sign anyone had been in the building. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling corners, with thick dust on the windowsill. A desk sat up against the wall. It was polished to a brilliant shine and had a paper lying on top. When Peter walked over to the desk and looked down at the paper, it made him take in a deep breath, before reaching down to pick it up. His name was printed on the folded paper. He opened the document, and he knew his world would never be the same. It read I am Darius.

 

Writing Fiction? 10 Common Writing Errors That Make You Look Like a Newbie

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This is an article by Sarah White that I thought I would share with you. It’s always a good thing to read advice that can help improve our writing.  Shirley

You’re about to work on your first big writing project. Whether it’s a novel, memoir, or short story, you don’t want everyone to know it’s your first (even if you’re shaking in your boots, just a little).

Many first-time writers fall into traps that can decrease the quality of their piece, and these newbie blunders can diminish their credibility.

New writers fall into these habits for all kinds of reasons: putting pressure on themselves to write something enormous and profound, attempts to mimic other authors, and probably in the most common occurrence, a bad case of writer’s block during their first big project of their career.

The pressure is on and your brain has gone into panic mode, resorting to comfortable cliched phrases.

Not to worry: these writing pitfalls can be easily sidestepped with some awareness.

Here are 10 of the most common writing errors that new authors should strive to avoid.

1. Including too many cliches

Just because it’s the most popular phrase doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. Consider your personal experiences before plunking down a common saying or phrase — those unique reactions are what give you an edge as a writer.

Even when writing fiction, use your own perspective to your advantage as you play with metaphors and other ways of developing your story.

2. Writing inauthentic dialogue

Suspending disbelief is easy when the dialogue in your story universe sounds natural. Dialogue is extremely hard to do well, but can also make or break your story.

Listen to conversations around you; take note of verbal ticks or idiosyncrasies that appear in normal human speech.

3. Rushing the plot

Getting your characters from Point A to Point B is certainly important, but not so much as providing a solid foundation for these transitions.

Whether you decide as you go or map out your character’s story beforehand, ask your editors or critique group if they can name the cause and effect of each major event. DIY MFA’s mapping technique can help you organize the interwoven events that take place over the course of your story.

4. Choosing a cop-out ending

“And then he woke up” is a perfect example of a cop-out: an ending that negates all other given information that the readers have been led to believe is useful in analyzing the plot, characters, and ending.

After fully engaging with the universe you’ve created, your readers don’t want to feel tricked!

5. Abandoning or using your characters

If a character suddenly makes an “exciting” choice that makes no sense with his or her aforementioned stable traits, your readers will instantly question your motivation for inserting that choice into your story.

To avoid this pitfall, take special consideration when choosing your point of view. An event in your character’s life that might read as mundane in a typical third-person scenario might come across as more significant in a first-person voice.

6. Repeating syntax

An entire paragraph — let alone an entire novel — of “The [adjective] [noun] [verb-ed] the [adjective] [noun]” sentences will not hold the attention of your audience, no matter the reading level.

If you’re cranking out a first draft, don’t spend too much time worrying about this. But if you’re ready to have a colleague review your work, scan each page for this predictable repetition.

7. Not trusting your audience

Over-explanation can be just as harmful to your work as under-explanation. As mentioned earlier, your audience does not like to feel deceived, and they certainly do not like to feel belittled, either.

Much of the joy of reading is discovering your connection to the author’s writing. Remember to let your readers dig into your story independently.

8. Changing the setting excessively

Unless constant shifts in space and time are essential to your piece, you need not create pauses after every event. Connecting to a piece of writing is challenging when there isn’t at least some sense of fluidity.

While there can be many settings, timelines, or universes — and creating an unusual format is always an interesting feat — consider whether every shift is a necessary one.

9. Not doing your research

Even if you “write what you know,” it’s critical to verify your information for factuality, especially if your story is heavily based in realism.

Say that your story’s villain is a world-renowned scientist; you’ll lose your readers with the first innacurate algorithm. No one is scared of a mad scientist that can’t even do the math for his own experiments.

Figure out how to access the databases at your local public or university library to locate journals, documents, and other research to support your story.

10. Forgetting your audience

“You can’t win ‘em all,” they say, but you can win over the hearts of yourparticular demographic. Know who you’re writing for and who you plan to reach, or you risk reaching nobody. If you’re in love with your historical fiction piece, don’t write to please the romance enthusiasts.

If you find a couple of cliches or other common errors after your first draft, don’t sweat it!

We’ve all come across at least one of these holes in our own writing. In the end, a good portion of creating fresh, interesting work relies on trusting your own instincts.

Keep an eye out, use good judgement, and most importantly, write from your own experiences and your own heart.

What to Put in your Author Media Kit

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shirleymclain930:

Here is another useful blog for us writers that intend to sell our masterpieces of literature :) It’s always a good thing to be ready if someone asks you for a press conference or a synopsis of your book. Enjoy. Shirley

Originally posted on :

Having a ready to go press release kit is something every Indie author should have. It’s also a good idea to have it on a static page on your website or/and blog. Rather have everything in one place than have to scramble around when it’s called for. Having it on your website means that anyone who would like to post reviews of your books on their own sites can just grab what they need without the need to try and contact you first. I’m working on my website at the moment so the link here is down, but if you want great examples, just do a Google search of some of your favourite authors.

Include your author photo – a nice size and quality image. Some authors change their photos regularly. Danielle Steel has a new picture of herself in extravagant gowns on the backs of each of her books…

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How to Use Pinterest to Get Massive Amounts of New Readers (Guest Post)…

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shirleymclain930:

I thought Pinterest was mainly for posting recipes and pretty pictures. I did not see how it could help me as a writer. When I read this on Chris’s blog I knew I had to pass it forward. It never hurts to have more knowledge. Shirley

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

A reader was confused.

After reading a persuasive blog post about the value of Pinterest, he inquired of the writer, “Is it possible for authors to use Pinterest to get attention to their writing.

I only have one word for this reader and anyone else wondering.

Absolutely!

Pinterest has great value for writers and anyone looking to grow their readership due to the vast amount of people using Pinterest.

More than 60% of all consumers get information visually, by looking at pictures. Pinterest is comprised of these graphics, or pins, displayed on virtual bulletin boards.

The answer for writers looking to use Pinterest to grow their audiences is simple—use Pinterest bulletin boards to get interest in snippets of your writing.

How to Use Pinterest Boards to Create Interest in Your Writing

The diagram below shows a basic plot structure. If you make a Pinterest board for each element of your…

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Sara F. Hathaway in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF WITH NONNIE JULES?”

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Originally posted on Rave Reviews by Nonnie Jules:

Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules!  Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf.  A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories.  Here on this “SHELF,”  we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask.  We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them.  WE get personal!  Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF,” YOU are an open book!

Today, I have with me on the “SHELF” a Past “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Sara F. Hathaway!

Sara on the lake

NJ:  Before we get started, how does the “shelf” feel to you? Is it comfy?

Sara:  The shelf feels…

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How far does your #audiobook #narrator go for authenticity?

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shirleymclain930:

I just published my audio book for Dobyns Chronicles and I used a gentleman by the name of Clay Lomakayu. My story is narrated by a Oklahoma man in his 80’s. Clay did a marvelous job of doing Charley has the old man as well as the young man.

Originally posted on GALLO-ROMANO MEDIA:

Oscar Sparrow has recently recorded an audiobook for the great British journalist of cycling – Les Woodland.  It’s called Tour de France: The Inside Story and is a 9-hour feast for anyone who loves cycle racing, bikes, France and wants to know the history and background to the world’s greatest cycle race – and some would argue the world’s toughest athletic competition.

He’s also produced this video to explain to Les’s fans just how he went about researching and preparing for the narration of this audiobook.

The audiobook lasts just over nine hours and is available on Amazon USAAmazon UKAudible and iTunes.

There is currently an offer to get the book free if you sign up for a 30-day trial membership on Audible, saving $19.95 (£12.50)!

You can also win a copy of the brand new audiobook here:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Cecil the Lion

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Cecil the Lion

It is amazing to me how people get into an uproar over the death of a lion and don’t do the same thing about people.  Don’t get me wrong, I think hunting for sport is wrong. If you want to eat it then that’s fine. It is a waste of life to go out and shoot a beautiful, majestic animal, such as Cecil.

The words below are a repost from the Conservative Tribune.com and they do make sense so I want to share them with you.  Have a blessed day.  Shirley

***

Both social media and the progressive mainstream media have been in an uproar over the past few days about the death of “Cecil,” a 13-year-old lion in Zimbabwe.

Cecil was killed in an organized licensed hunt by a big game hunter, Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer, who has now gone into hiding after receiving numerous death threats from outraged animal rights activists.

However, it would appear that the outrage surrounding the death of Cecil is what is commonly known as a “First World Problem,” as residents of Zimbabwe were mostly unaware of, and really don’t care about, the death of just another lion.

“What lion?” was the response of acting Information Minister Prisca Mupfumira, after being asked about the death of Cecil.

Though the government had yet to give an official response to the lion hunt, local authorities opened an investigation into whether the professional guides who led the hunt abided by the rules and regulations in place for such things.

According to Yahoo News, that hasn’t stopped angry animal rights and anti-hunting activists from ruining the life of Dr. Palmer, with some calling for his arrest, extradition and even death for hunting the lion with a bow and arrow and finishing it off with a gun.

But most people in Zimbabwe don’t care about the dead lion, as they have much greater problems to deal with, such as an 80 percent unemployment rate, insane monetary inflation and a hugely corrupt government.

“Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,” said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare. “What is so special about this one?”

The truth is, most locals in Zimbabwe actually look forward to the big game hunts that Westerners engage in, as the high price tag for the hunts means money pumped into the local economy, not to mention the meat from such hunts is required by law to be given to local tribes and villages.

“Why are the Americans more concerned than us?” said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father of two. “We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.”

Lions and other large animals are typically viewed as dangerous by the local population, and if these animals are not hunted, their populations will explode and bring about all sorts of other issues, like rampant disease and increased attacks on people.

If only as much outrage over a dead and dismembered lion were directed at those who kill and dismember hundreds of thousands of babies per year, our society might have a moral leg to stand on.

#RRBC Spotlight Author Blog Tour with Sara F. Hathaway

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shirleymclain930:

#RRBC Spotlight Author Blog Tour with Sara F. Hathaway
by Charles Yallowitz

Originally posted on Fiction Favorites:

I am very pleased to welcome Sara F. Hathaway Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for this week. You can visit her schedule here.

Day After Disaster: A Letter Home

To whomever finds this letter,

I sit here writing you now, hoping that this letter will be useless. Hopefully I have found my family still alive in this wreck of a world I must now navigate with only my horsey companions, Artaz and Kit. They were gifts given to me by angels. Good people who still exist and cling to a reality we all inhabited just months ago.

When the Great Quake hit I was at work. Just another day and another dollar. Nothing unusual to heading down into an old bunker that existed beneath the restaurant I worked at. Its constant cool temperature made it a perfect place to store the wine that the restaurant boasted from the local…

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How Important Are Book Reviews?

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shirleymclain930:

This is a great blog about the two sides of book reviews. I can’t make myself not want to get 5 star reviews. I want my book to be enjoyed when it’s read. That’s bottom line for me.

Originally posted on A Writer's Path:

Thumbs up

A few days ago, this articlecame out on Consumerist.com. If you don’t want to click over and read it right this second, allow me to summarize: there are companies that sell five-star reviews to authors, and Amazon is suing these companies.

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The Heat Monster

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heat-shimmering

This blog was originally published in Southern Living and was written by Rick Bragg who is a Pulitzer Prize- Winning writer and author of several best selling books. I identified with it so much I wanted to share it with you.

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When I was a boy, when monsters were real.  I would see it in the distance, hovering just above the hot, almost liquid blacktop.  It had no form, just a thing shimmering, indistinct.  Now I know it was the heat itself, distorting the very air.  How odd, to see the heat. But when I was small, it was easy to see more in it than that.  This was the creature that came in the worst of summer, the boiling eye of it.  It was the could in a white-hot sky that gave up no rain.  Aristotle knew it, and the Romans, and then us, in the American South.  That thing of glimmering heat from my imagination did not have a name, truly, but its season did.  We called it the dog days.

The Greeks and Romans believed Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Great Dog), ushered in an evil season in late summer, one that boiled seas and soured wine and sent people and livestock into fits.  In that season, the DogStar and our sun hung together in the heavens, one rising, one setting, which, they believed, produced more heat than the planet could stand.

Now, of course, we know it is the tilt of the planet, closer to the sun, that brings the heat, but my grandmother knew better.  Ava Bundrum knew there were more things than heaven and earth, and spoke of the dog days the way she would any unnatural thing.  She would motion me close, as if the clinging air were listening, wave a cardboard funeral home fan at me like she was giving me some kind of blessing, and tell me to stay out of the pasture, stay out of the woods.

It was more than myth.  Dogs went mad, or lay panting, glassy-eyed, and you could not rouse them to play.  Food went bad in the dog bowls.  Cats, through, did not seem to care.  Cats don’t ever care.

I can remember children crowded around a rattling box fan, as if it were telling them a story.  I remember strong men going white as chalk, trying to catch their breath.

Bulls went mad and tore through fences.  Cows would not give mild, and when they did, it went sour, or tasted of sulfur or onions.  Birds flew in the house, a bad omen.  It meant someone was going to die.  Chickens perished in the coops  Rabies resurfaced, in foxes, usually, and men shot them from the porch.

The gardens withered. You got either quick, violent storms or no rain at all.  Mudholes vanished into pieces of hard clay, like someone had smashed a pot on the ground.  Grogs perished, which made my grandmother sad; the more frogs, the healthier the land.  (Everyone knew that.) Only the insects reveled.  Flies and gnats swirled.  Mosquitoes danced. and there was nowhere to hide.

Air-conditioning was myth. We put a man on the moon before my family had a window unit.  But when we did, when the air blew cool in August, it was like the mean season became myth itself, just another story, like the ones that old people told of the Depression.  I guess I am the old people now.  I think of the dog days when I see that glimmer on the distant asphalt, but when I there, it is already gone.

ZfdfdStar and our sun hung tog