Friday, June 30, 2017

A Tick... Where? A True Story #OurAuthorGang


Joe Bonadonna

(The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893)

Now this is a true story going back to when I was about 4 or 5 years old, so I don’t have clear memories of everything that happened and how it all started. What I do remember clearly are the memories that were not part of the normal, everyday routine, and what I’m going to tell you of what I remember are events that stick in my mind as if they happened only yesterday.

When I was about 1 or 2, starting around 1953 and up until I was about 6 or 7, my parents and I would drive from Chicago to Cuba, Missouri every summer for a week’s vacation. Always with us would be one of my Dad’s older brothers, Russel, and his wife Rose, their daughter Carmella (10 years older than me), and their son Joe and his first wife, Millie (both 15 years older than me.)  Also along for the ride was one of my Dad’s older sisters and her husband, Sarah and Jack — my beloved Godparents — and their two kids, Vivian (3 years older than me), and Jack, Jr (11 years older than me.) We’d all stay at this very cool lodge, in these quaint and yet pretty modern, individual log cabins. I can still remember the big dining hall, with the long table filled with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, fried chicken, baked ham, mashed potatoes, and all sorts of good things to eat. We’d go fishing, canoeing, hiking through the woods and through these caverns known as Jesse James’ Hideout. I always rode on my Dad’s shoulders; I remember it was always cold, shadowy and damp in those caverns. At night we’d sit around a huge bonfire, listening to folk songs and country music, and I’d play with these two huge, lovable Collies that belonged to the owners of the lodge. There was also the lodge’s caretaker, whose name I can’t remember. My Dad called him the Old Prospector, and he used to call me “Activity,” because I never ran out of energy and got myself into all sorts of things.

Now, one time — and I recall nothing of the events leading up to this moment — I must have woken up in the morning hurting “down there.” My Dad discovered that I had a wood tick in the side of my penis. The nerve of that fella — the wood tick, I mean! I remember lying in bed with my pants down, my Mom and Dad on either side of me, holding my hands. Standing around me were my beloved Uncle Russ and Aunt Rose, Carmella, Joe and Millie, my loving Godparents, Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jack, and Vivian and Jackie, Jr. They were all looking down at me, and I remember my Uncle Russ taking a huge drag on his cigarette, blowing the ash off the lit end, and then kneeling down to draw the head of the tick. And I don’t remember anything after that.

Until the day she died, my Aunt Sarah, God rest her soul, who loved to tease me, would embarrass me in front of friends and family with the story of the tick. Even my cousin Carmella, to this very day, likes to tell the story to her husband’s family, or anyone else who will listen, and I’ll yell and say, “My cousins saw me naked!” Carmella will always say, “Oh, don’t blush. I changed your diapers when you were a baby.”

I still have a brown scar where my Uncle Russell used the heat of his cigarette to draw out the head of the wood tick who dared to invade the privacy of my private parts.

Thank you, and please . . . check out my Amazon Author Page: 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Looking for King Arthur — finding Merlin! #HistFic #Arthurian #OurAuthorGang

I have a secret. No, actually I don't because everyone who knows me, knows I have a little bit of an obsession with all things Arthurian. It started when I was a child growing up near Glastonbury — The fabled Isle of Avalon — and it has not diminished with the passing of years.

Now, Arthur, the man, is as elusive as a shadow — impossible to catch and always one foot in front or behind me. Arthur's real realm is in folklore, and that is where he is most prevalent.

I could easily run with a theory as to who Arthur was, but I am not going to do that. I want to stick with the legend because that is what fascinates me. I love folklore. I also love how there always seems to be a ring of truth in it, as I am going to demonstrate today!

Geoffrey of Monmouth and King Arthur

It cannot be disputed that Geoffrey of Monmouth gave us the Arthur we know and love. It is easy to mock his work, but for hundreds of years, Monmouth's Arthur was considered to be factually correct. So for the sake of this post, I am going to pretend that what Monmouth said is historically true — you will see where I am going with this in a minute!

Let's begin...


The story of King Arthur does not start, surprisingly, with Arthur. The story begins with Merlin.

Merlin prophesies for Vortigern
 — from a manuscript of Geoffrey of Monmouth's
 "History of the Kings of Britain." 

It was Merlin that prophesied the coming of Arthur, and it was Merlin and his magic that made sure the rightful king of Britain pulled the sword from the stone. If it had not been for Merlin, there would be no Arthur.

Merlin, it is said, first came to the attention of Vortigern — King of the Britons — when he was a child. Vortigern, in his wisdom, had invited some Saxon mercenaries to Briton to fight with him against the troublesome Picts and Scots. But the problem with Saxon mercenaries is that they couldn't be trusted. Vortigern soon found himself running for his life from the very men he had paid to defend it.

To cut a long story short, Vortigern ended up in Gwynedd, North Wales. More precisely, he ended up on a hill, in which he decided to build a fortress on. Unfortunately, what ever he built, collapsed. Vortigern's magicians told him that he needed to spill the blood of a child without a father, onto the stones. Once he did this, then the fortress would stand.

Dinas Emrys with the River Glaslyn in the foreground.

There was a child, Myrddin Emrys, who seemed a likely candidate. But Emrys was no ordinary child, and he was quite attached to his life and didn't want to die. Nevertheless, he was brought to the usurped King...

"Why have my mother and I been brought into your presence?"

"My magicians have advised me," answered Vortigern, "That I shall look for a fatherless man, so that my building can be sprinkled with blood and thus stand firm."

"Tell your magicians to appear in front of me," answered Merlin, "and I will prove that they have lied."

The History Of The Kings Of Briton.

Emrys challenged the King's magicians and instead gave a plausible reason why the fortress would not stand. He said that two dragons were imprisoned at the bottom of an underground lake beneath the hill. If they set the dragons free, then the foundations of the fort would stand. All they had to do was release the dragons, which they did.

Vortigern built his fort and out of respect, he named the fort after Emrys. He called it Dinas Emrys

But here is where it gets interesting. In 1945 the hill was excavated by archaeologists, and they found an unground lake. So maybe there is a little bit of truth in Monmouth's story after all.

Dians Emrys is now under the care of The National Trust, and they welcome visitors. But walkers are warned to tread softly on the hill, for a dragon sleeps beneath it.

If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...

Read for Free with 

History of the Kings of Britain ~ Geoffrey of Monmouth
Picture of Knight ~ Pixabay
Merlin prophesies for Vortigern ~ Wikipedia
Dinas Emrys with the River Glaslyn in the foreground ~ Wikipedia
Picture of Dragon ~ Pixabay

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Small Gang of Authors: Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang

A Small Gang of Authors: Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang: Mythology and Fantasy Since I was a young child, I was fascinated by legends and mythology, especially Hun legends such as Emese's Dre...

Hun Mythology #OurAuthorGang

Mythology and Fantasy

Since I was a young child, I was fascinated by legends and mythology, especially Hun legends such as Emese's DreamKing Attila, and the legend of Turul bird
According to, the mythical Turul bird is one of the most important symbols of the Hungarians. The Turul is seen as the ancestor of Attila and is often depicted carrying the flaming Sword of God.

The legend of Emese, who was the descendant of King Atilla and wife of Ügyek, once had a dream. As the Turul bird appeared in her dream, a crystal-clear stream started to flow from her. As the water flowed, it grew into a mighty river. It was thought that the dream represented her symbolic impregnation by the Turul, and it meant that she would give birth to a line of great rulers. Emese found out shortly after the dream that she was pregnant. She gave birth to Álmos, who was the father of Árpád, the great leader of the Magyars and founder of Hungary. This legend reaffirms the Hun-Magyar kinship and the knowledge that the Magyars re-conquered Hungary as their rightful inheritance from Atilla's great Hun Empire.

In my fantasy series, The Ancestors' Secrets, I weaved my favorite legends and bits of historical facts into the story, that plays out in the present and past, with intriguing tribal secrets, magical heritage, love triangle, and an exciting and dangerous life in a secret society.

I love this beautiful video about the ancient beliefs, the mythology of the World Tree. It also mentions Attila the Hun and the Turul bird that carries the Sword of God.

Video credit to Mythology

Read short excerpts from book 1 of The Ancestors' Secrets Trilogy

I lit the sacred candles infused with herbs and then placed them in a silver candle holder on a small round table. The ancient wooden male and female figurines holding hands stood between the candles, with our delicately carved Turul bird with a crown on its head and a sword in its talons. The Falcon held widely stretched wings over the figurines as if protecting them.
The statues had been in my family for centuries, they were small and had a deep, warm brown color. The rich, shiny brown hue came from the hot herbal tea Elza poured over the statues every morning, as my ancestors had done for generations. Beside the statues was an ancient, dark leather-bound book. Its permanent place was on the Prayer table, and every Hun family had one. I had leafed through our book many times. The first few pages remained empty to me, but the rest of the book contained my ancestor’s names and achievements, written in ancient handwriting. Mom had said when I asked her about the empty pages, “The Book will reveal all its secrets to you, but only when you when you reach the age of maturity.” I wondered if I were ready; I was entering into Hun adulthood after all, so I made a mental note to check the book the next day, after prayer time.
Elza wrapped the ceremonial shawl over my shoulders as I took a deep breath and held my hands above the table. I began the prayer by reading the Hun writing, carved into the leather cover of the book of my ancestors. Following the ancient traditions, we prayed as a family in the morning to the First Mother and Father, and we prayed to the Creator at night, in solitude.

Mother and Father leading in unity,
Protected by the Turul for eternity,
Guide my soul and keep my body healthy.
Test my courage and try my patience,
Let me prove I have endurance.
Let compassion always guide me,
Make me wise to help the needy.
Challenge me on my daily journey,
And give me the strength to prove I’m worthy.

Closing my eyes, I held my hands in silence over the table for a minute and embraced the serene feeling I always had while saying the prayer. Warm energy flooded my insides, and I experienced a deep connection to something powerful, majestic and welcoming.
I was still a little angry with Elza for not letting me read her feelings. She was murmuring under her breath, as she did every morning. It was a low, rhythmic humming sound, but I did recognize some of the ancient Hun words. She refused to give me an explanation whenever I asked her about it, but I’d seen her doing the strange whispering, at Morning Prayer, ever since she came to live with us.


I turned and saw Joland collapsing on the ground in agony. He held his head with both hands, screaming in pain. I didn’t understand what was happening to him. He didn’t appear to be injured.
Elana made it clear, “It was foretold. The minute the child is born, Joland will lose all his powers.”
I watched Joland wiggling on the ground and then he went still. I thought he was dead, but then he moved. “Curse you. I curse you all,” he shouted.
He stood, climbed up on his horse, and nudging it he started galloping out of the cave. Cheers erupted, and Joland’s remaining army rode after their defeated leader. I dropped the shield and shouted, “Wait, Joland!”
He looked back with a murderous look in his eyes, “What? You defeated me, and I’m nothing but a broken man. I won’t stand your gloating.” He turned.
“I can take you to Morana. You can spend the rest of your life with her.”
He turned back to me and gave me a suspicious look, “Why would you do that?”
“Because… It just feels like the right thing to do.”
He rode closer and slid off his horse. “You would do this for me? After all I have done?”
“Yes, I would.”
He gave me a long and hard look, and then the fierce look on his face slowly softened. Tears filled his eyes and rolled down his face. He knelt before me, “Then I’m your servant,” he said.
Mundzuk drew his sword and took a step toward Joland, “You can’t trust him,” he said with a sneer.
“No, don’t hurt him. He’s an ordinary man with no powers,” I said. “He can’t harm anyone. I will take him to our timeline and unite him with his love.”
Mundzuk obeyed and put his sword back, “You are a noble person, Ilona. I would not have been so generous.”
A sudden bright light poured down from the ceiling of the cave. A 3D picture appeared before us. It seemed so real. The sacred Turul with a flaming sword descended slowly and hovered over us.
“The Sword of the Gods!” I heard Elana’s voice.
I felt a burning sensation on the side of my neck and itching under my left eye as I stared mesmerized at the lifelike image of the magnificent bird.
“Ilona!” I heard Elza’s voice, “There is a mark of the sword etched into your skin, and your Royal mark has changed.” She reached into her pocket handed me a makeup compact with a small mirror. I saw the sign of the Queen on my face.
Mundzuk kneeled, “My Queen.” He said, and the others followed. I looked around frantically and saw everyone kneeling and offering their service and life to me. The kneeling people around me had the expressions of devotion and submission on their faces. Bela knelt with the others and looked up at me with devotion, deep pain, and acceptance in his eyes.
I was stunned and automatically froze time. I was surprised to see the group of spirits still moving, gesturing and every one of them looking at me with expectation.
“Chosen by the Sword is a great honor and also a great responsibility.” I heard Tua’s voice.

This suspense fantasy takes the reader back to the life of people in ancient times.

"You are fate’s shadow or fate’s sun, depending on which way you turn." ~Terri Guillemets

A romantic suspense novella. Dark family secrets separated Emily and Daniel when they were teenagers, but fate brought them together again. Jayden, Emily’s brother, finds a leather book in his grandmother's secret room that was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes and finds out that if the family curse remains unbroken, it will bring ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries. Can they find the way to break the ancient curse? Could Emily find happiness with her childhood puppy love, Daniel?
"Szabo expertly weaves this story through both today's timeline and that of yesterday's and brings us out on the other side with an amazing ending."

I write fantasy novels, children's books, and health-related books. Visit my website:

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Small Gang of Authors: Tidbits of history I learned while traveling. #Our...

A Small Gang of Authors: Tidbits of history I learned while traveling. #Our...: My life consists of gallivanting from one country to another one.  One of the many times I have been in Barcelona, I learned about Gaudi. ...

Tidbits of history I learned while traveling. #OurAuthorGang

My life consists of gallivanting from one country to another one.  One of the many times I have been in Barcelona, I learned about Gaudi. As his birthday was yesterday, I saw it apropos to write about him.

Yesterday, June 25, we celebrated the birthday of Antoni Gaudi, born in 1852 in (unknown city) Cataluña, Spain.
Gaudi was the son of laborers and as a child lived in Reux, Cataluña.
From an early age, he showed an interest in architecture, but because he was from a poor family he needed to work to pay for his studies.
He was not a good student, his style was different from what the teachers wanted. At his graduation, the professor presenting his diplomas said: “We are in the presence of a genius or a madman”. Actually, he was a little bit of both.
To get the connections needed to acquire the kind of work he wanted, he started to dress well and to patronize the fashionable and high-class establishments of the era.
In one of those outings, he met the very rich Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell. Whom became his friend and his patron, commissioning many buildings and giving Gaudi carte blanche.
Gaudy only used the best of materials and if he did not like something after it was done, he would knock it down and start from scratch once again and as many times as needed.
Gaudi was eccentric and difficult to work with. He had a vision in his head and he expected everybody to see it as he did.
You can see most of his work all over Barcelona. Whether you like his style or not, you have to admit that he had a great imagination.
He became rich, however, he lived as a pauper. Most of the time he used to live in the places that he worked, as to no waste time coming and going. He used to put a mattress on the floor, have a few necessities and that was it.
The Sagrada Familia was his last work and he knew that he was not going to see it finish. That is why he left many drawings and explanations for the future work of other architects.
What he did not count on, was the civil war. During the war obviously they have to stop work, and the military wanted to destroy the church like they destroyed many other churches. However, the military realized that they could put the canons in the towers and shoot the attackers from there, so, they kept the church. After the civil war, the work on the church resumed.
Gaudi was a very religious man and attended mass twice a day at Sant Felip Neri Church in the Gothic neighborhood.
One day at the age of 74, as he was walking toward the church for his daily Mass and confession, a trolley hit him. The driver pushed the body to the side of the street and left it there because he thought it was a homeless man.
Two people came to his aid, and called a taxi to take him to the hospital, however, the taxi driver refused because he did not want his taxi to get all bloody by a homeless man.
Finally, he was taken to the hospital where he was left in a hallway because he did not have an ID on him, and once again, because by his attire and his poor hygiene, they thought he was homeless.
Not until the next day when everybody was looking for him, the hospital realized who he was.
However, by then it was too late. On June 10, 1926, two days after being admitted to the hospital, he passed away.
The funeral procession was attended by all of Barcelona’s residents and dignitaries.
He is buried in a crypt at the Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia  And in my humble opinion, it will never be finished, because this way it is unique and a greater tourist attraction.

Park Güell

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Small Gang of Authors: Goofy Post Day at #OurAuthorGang

A Small Gang of Authors: Goofy Post Day at #OurAuthorGang: By Erika My idea of dressing up had always been comfi, faded jeans and t-shirt since I was a very young child. My mother's idea, ...

Goofy Post Day at #OurAuthorGang

By Erika
My idea of dressing up had always been comfi, faded jeans and t-shirt since I was a very young child. My mother's idea, on the other hand, was fluffy dresses, adorned with lots of lace, and huge bows in my hair. Gosh, I hated those bows! I remember the day when this picture was taken in the photographer's studio.

I felt miserable, and it shows in the picture. No matter what my mom promised or even threatened to take away, I refused to smile.

Mom didn't give up to have a perfect picture taken of me dressed in her favorite outfit, so when we got home, she made me pose under the acacia tree that was filled with flowers. Unnoticed by her because she was busy setting the camera, I inched my way closer and closer to the tree branches.

To my great satisfaction, the hated bow got caught and tangled in the branch and when I yanked my head, the sharp thorns ripped the silk bow to shreds.

One glance at mom's angry eyebrows told me I was in big trouble, so I started running toward the front porch to reach the safety of my dad's embrace that always saved me from my mother's wrath. But in my haste, I stepped into the dog's water bowl, skidded, and fell into the muddy flower bed that dad just finished watering. My fluffy dress was ruined but the pitiful look on my face must have softened mom's anger because she quietly put the camera away and never again forced me to wear the enormous bows and fluffy dresses.

By Rick
Here I sit, all alone on our faded cream sofa. 
My feet are hanging over one of the dark wooden arms, as my hand grasps the tumbler ever tighter. 
The half-empty bottle on the coffee table speaks volumes, as my eyes shed droplets like the whiskey tears running down the outside of the glass.
Was it only last week that she packed her bags and left, clearing out the bank account on her way to meet her new lover?
Someone I knew so very, very well; my mate and my best friend. 
I really, really . . . miss him.

"I wonder what's closer. The moon, or China."
"The moon."
"How do you know?"
"Duh! I can see the moon!"

Picture credit: the author's own photos, and created by the author using purchased Adobe or Fotolia photos

Friday, June 23, 2017

All You Have To Do Is Bleed - Part 3 #OurAuthorGang

All You Have To Do Is Bleed - Part 3


Joe Bonadonna

In the winter of 2008 I gave Dorgo a dowsing rod as a tool, a divination wand to help him solve magical crimes. I began writing up a storm and was almost finished with "Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser" when the company I worked for since 1978 closed its doors. Once again my world was turned upside down. But I persisted, I became a bull dog, determined to finish the book and get it published. But a weird thing happened during the final proof for the publisher: I discovered a theme running throughout the six novellas that make up the book. That theme was loss — the loss of family and loved ones, the loss of wealth, comrades, and the loss of one's soul. This had all crept into my stories unconsciously. I didn't plan on it: I was just writing pulp fiction.

But there it was: a theme. Loss.

Since then I have published five novels and seven short stories, with a two more novels on the way, at the time of this blog. (I have also written numerous articles and book reviews for Black Gate e-zine.) But I swear — I never set out to write about loss in any of those stories. The theme just keeps creeping in: my fear of loss, my fear of growing old, of dying all alone and no one finding my body for weeks. There are some minor themes, too, such as my need to search for something that is missing in my life, something I may never find.

So I guess I had to go through some very personal pain, experience some very heavy-duty loss, before I could write anything of any substance, of any value and merit and even meaning. All this, like some cosmic or divine plan, had to happen, could not happen, until I lost my job, and more importantly, lost the two people I loved the most in this world: my parents. My writing could not take any kind of coherent shape until I had my world turned upside down a few times. Since then, besides losing my job, losing love and suffering one heart break after another, I've lost many more family members, friends and loved ones. I guess writing is way of processing all my grief, despair, fears and heartaches. It slips into my work without my even realizing it. It has helped me cope, but I still have a long way to go before I reach a place of happiness again. But this is what happens when you write, when your emotions are channeled through your words. For me, it's a form of therapy, as much as it is a need and a desire to entertain people. I was blessed with parents who always believed in me, supported me in everything I wanted to do and tried to do. They knew I'd get published one day. Sadly, it all had to happen after they were gone. I'm still searching for that kind of love, that kind of support, that kind of happiness.

In the immortal words of my Mom, “Hang up the fucking guitar and write, damn it! That's what you were born to do.”

I guess I should never have doubted her.

So that's why I write the way I write, the way I want and try to write: from and for the heart. I'll leave writing for the brain to the scholars and academics out there. I want you to feel what I feel, what my characters feel, and if I've touched even a handful of readers out there, then I've succeeded.

Writing may be easy for some . . . for me it's really hard work. But for all of us who write, it's the same:

All we have to do is bleed.

Mad Shadows:
The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser

Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers' Choice Award for Best Fantasy.
Available on hardcover, paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions

  Purchase Links

Mad Shadows II:
Dorgo the Dowser and the Order of the Serpent

Available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions.

Purchase Links

Until next week . . . goodbye and thank you!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Computer software for authors… #amwriting #amediting #OurAuthorGang

In this competitive market, your manuscript has to shine, regardless of how you hope to publish it. An agent isn't going to look twice at a manuscript full of school-boy errors, and if you are thinking about self-publishing, then your book needs to be at least as good as those produced by the big publishing houses. A Copy Editor (Line Editor) is a must, but there is also a great deal of software out there that states it can help you with the writing process, but also with the editing as well — a bold claim indeed.

So today, I thought we would look at some of the software that is out there for purchase. Please feel free to write in the comment below if you have had success with the software I am going to show you today.

*Please note. I do not endorse any of the companies or software below. The blurb under the logos are the companies own words, not mine!*

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Our software helps turn your good writing into great writing.
Improve readability and eliminate errors.

Grammarly makes sure everything you type  is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free.

Communicate quickly and accurately with Ginger Page's one stop writing shop – writing tools that help you express yourself better. 

Meet your new critique partner.

The fresh set of eyes your manuscript needs.
Instant, unbiased feedback without the hassle
Save time and take control of the editing process.
Polish your manuscript and write better fiction.

Expresso is a little tool to edit texts and improve your writing style. It will teach you to express yourself through writing more efficiently and help make your texts more readable, precise, and engaging.


Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience.

StyleWriter will make you a better writer – we guarantee it. A bold claim we know, but that’s what our users tell us. Thousands of people download StyleWriter every month and use it to edit advertising copy, business reports, contracts, manuals, newsletters or web pages. Even professional journalists and novelists use the program to polish their writing style.

If you're working on contracts, proposals, reports, technical documents, articles and books, PerfectIt saves time on copy-editing, so that authors can pay more attention to what matters most: the words and their meaning. 

Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. It's like a spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that your readers will focus on your message, not your pose.

So there we have it. A list of software that claims they can help you with your writing and editing. Which software, if any, do you use? Let me know below.
Thanks for reading!