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Cindy L. Freeman – The Bitter Joke

 I’ve never written in the genre known as flash fiction, so I decided to give it a try. What is flash fiction? you ask. According to Wikipedia, “Flash fiction is a fictional work of extreme brevity [usually around 1,000 words] that still offers character and plot development.” The idea is to hint at or imply a larger story.

    Here’s what I came up with. Let me know what you think.

    Unlike George and Stephanie, Rebecca had returned to the family home after college. Marshall Worthington trusted only his youngest daughter to run the business and manage his considerable estate.

After the divorce, Marshall’s first wife had succeeded in vilifying him to his eldest children. Rebecca–born ten years later to Lily, the deceased love of his life–scarcely knew her half brother and sister.

    Now, a mere two years after Rebecca’s homecoming, nurses provided around-the-clock care for her father, allowing her to soak up the precious hours of his final days.

    During the months since Marshall’s diagnosis, George and Stephanie couldn’t be bothered to visit or even call to check on their father. Why had they shown up now when he drifted in and out of a morphine stupor?

    Rebecca hadn’t meant to eavesdrop that day, but hearing her name mentioned, she slipped behind the half-open door to Marshall’s study. It wasn’t the first time she had caught them discussing her in hushed tones.

    “We need to find it before it’s too late.” It was Stephanie’s voice mingled with the furious tapping of computer keys.

    “Rebecca will get everything if we don’t change it. She already has the business.”

    “He’s barely conscious, George.”

    “That’s no problem. I’ve mastered his signature.”

    “Are you serious? Forgery is a felony!”

    “Sh! Not so loud. Only if I get caught.”

    “Even if we find the original, Father’s attorney will have a copy. Hurry up! Before somebody comes.”

    “I can’t crack the pass code. It’s encrypted.”

    “Great, just great! I thought you were an expert hacker.”

    Raising a hand to cover her mouth, Rebecca slipped from her hiding place. She charged on stocking feet up the marble staircase, reaching the master bedroom just as Mount Vesuvius erupted. As she collapsed onto Marshall’s hospital bed, her muffled laughter sent shivers through the mattress. Marshall started, but his dark-rimmed eyes remained closed. A pale limp hand reached to stroke his daughter’s silken hair.

    “Oh, Papa! You were right. How could I have been so naïve? They’re downstairs right now hatching a plan. But you’ll have the last laugh, won’t you, Papa? The joke will be on them.

    A weak smile lifted the corners of Marshall Worthington’s lips. Then, with one final puff of air, he lay motionless. It was over. Rebecca wept until evening shadows darkened the room.

    The next day, George and Stephanie each discovered deposits of two million dollars to their checking accounts.

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Cindy L. Freeman – Fulfillment or Destiny? 10/23/20

Have you considered what contributes to your fulfillment? Not just your enjoyment, but that deep sense of “This is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” How does one go about discovering one’s life’s purpose or destiny? Somehow, I don’t feel fulfilled unless I’m expressing myself creatively.

At one time, my destiny was to be a singer. At another stage, my destiny was to be a teacher and choral director. Then, my destiny became founding a music school. Upon retirement, my destiny was to publish a novel. Have all of these things happened? Yes. Did they fulfill my life’s purpose? Perhaps these career goals contributed, but career goals don’t necessarily equate with destiny. 

Some years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring book, A New Earth. It had such a profound effect on my thinking that I decided to read it again. In it, Tolle refers to this idea of fulfillment as “awakened doing.” He defines “awakened doing” as “the alignment of your outer purpose–what you do–with your inner purpose–awakening and staying awake.” It’s about discovering your life’s purpose and then thinking and doing life in such a way as to fulfill that destiny.

Do you think every human is born with a destiny? While Tolle describes destiny as becoming “one with the universe,” I’m convinced that true fulfillment comes from becoming one with God. Actually, that’s what Tolle is saying, too, when he writes about “align[ing] your life with the creative power of the universe.”

If one is moving through life in a constant state of awareness or “awakening,” this process of finding one’s destiny, Tolle claims, is possible. However, it is also a gradual process, even changing with different life stages. Why? Because finding and accepting one’s God-given purpose involves purging the ego. Ouch! Try accomplishing that in one sitting! Or even in one lifetime!  

Yet, it’s exactly what Jesus calls us to do when he says in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).” Who are the meek? The meek are those without egos or rather those who are not controlled by their egos.

Ego tells us that we are better than/more deserving than others, that we must be famous, wealthy, and top in our field to live a fulfilled, purposeful life. Ego wants us to step on other peoples’ toes to get where we think we’re supposed to be, to achieve what we think we deserve. Ego encourages us to boast about our accomplishments instead of supporting and affirming others. Ego keeps us focused on ourselves and seeking constant approval.

It is challenging to sort out whether one’s career goals are in alignment with one’s destiny (God’s purpose for one’s life). At my stage of life, God is inspiring me to write…not to become a New York Times best-selling author, but as another step in fulfilling God’s purpose for me. How God uses my destiny is up to God, not me.

What creative fulfillment is God awakening in you?

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of four award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com  Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

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Cindy L Freeman – Overcoming Writer’s Block 10/14/20

Let’s be honest. Writer’s block plagues every writer from time to time. For me, it happens when I’m especially busy. I still spend time writing when deadlines or other responsibilities are looming, but I find it harder to be productive–to “enter the zone.”

Here are some practices I’ve found helpful in staying on track with my writing:

  1. If the words just won’t flow, get up and do something physical. I prefer walking, but any type of physical activity can reignite a sluggish brain.
  1. If your thoughts are constantly interrupted by a mental to-do list, make a list of everything that needs to get done that day or that week. Then, set it aside until your allotted writing time is over. The act of listing other tasks seems to free your conscious mind of its nagging until you are ready to tackle them.
  1. Move from your usual writing space. If you usually write at a desk, try taking your laptop to a recliner or sofa and vice versa. Sometimes a change in venue will be enough to spark your creativity. On nice days, try writing outside on the patio or deck. In the days B.C. (Before COVID) I would occasionally spend my writing time at Panera Bread or my favorite coffeehouse. I was shocked at how well I was able to concentrate in these public places. Of course, I always ordered some food or a beverage so as not to take seating from paying customers.
  1. If you are a blocked fiction writer, stop and read a chapter or two of a classic novel. For me, nothing works better to start the creative juices flowing than reading Brontë, Dickens, Tolstoy or Steinbeck. After only a few sentences, I’m feeling inspired by the beauty of language as demonstrated by great literary masters.
  1. Freewrite like you would in a journal, without making corrections, without deep thinking. I admit to finding this practice difficult. As an editor, I tend to want to edit as I go. But I’ve tried writing a first draft without correcting and it does work. You simply write whatever comes to mind without structure. You don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation until later. This process seems to help me get past bludgeoning my brain for the perfect synonym or metaphor. 
  1. If you typically use a word-processing program, try writing long-hand for thirty minutes. Likewise, if you’re used to writing with a pen, try thirty minutes of typing into a computer. This sounds simplistic, but it seems to function like a factory reset for the brain.

If you’ve tried everything and are still blocked, consider Rachael Cayley’s advice. In her March 2018 blog she says: “Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking.” Cayley suggests that writing through writer’s block is the best way to conquer it. She recommends changing fonts to indicate that what you write next is for your eyes only and will be deleted from the paper before it is submitted. Then, write exactly what your misgivings are: “I’m worried that what I’m writing here…” followed by “To figure this out, I need to…”[1]

Have you suffered from writer’s block? What do you do to unblock? Please share your suggestions. We’re all in this struggle together.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com  Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.


[1] Rachael Cayley is an associate professor (teaching stream) at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, which is part of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey- Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12, 2020

I have chosen to reprint this blog because of its importance and relevance at a time when black and brown people across America and around the world are marching —  advocating for equality and an end to persecution. May we be reminded on this day, that ALL MEN AND WOMEN ARE CREATED EQUAL AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

Today, most people know that the legacy and achievements of the explorer, Christopher Columbus, who the nation once dutifully celebrated, depict a false narrative, honoring a man who initiated the colonization of the peoples indigenous to the Americas. Native people had lived in these lands for thousands of years before European contact.

I wonder if most people realize just how far-reaching the impact of Columbus and his voyages truly were. Within a century of European arrival, entire communities had begun to disappear. Natives were killed. They were enslaved. They died of disease. And they were brutally exploited for their land and belongings.

We cannot go back in time and change the attitudes of colonists and conquerors of a time now far away —  men who thought whatever they “discovered” was theirs to take. But we can act in a way that shows we will no longer celebrate the exploitation of one people by another.

Many cities, counties and universities have begun celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day, instead of Columbus Day. It is a way of acknowledging the truth about the past, so we can make positive changes in the present. It is honoring the achievements of indigenous peoples whose social, cultural, artistic, musical, scholarly, and literary accomplishments have contributed so much to our country.

It is especially appropriate for Virginians. On October 3, 2018, members of seven Virginia tribes gathered to celebrate being formally recognized by the federal government. They gathered at Werowocomoco, in Gloucester County, on land once occupied by their ancestors. It’s been a long time coming. The Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock, and Upper Mattaponi fought for federal recognition for decades. The designation guaranteed the tribes sovereignty to decide their own destiny. It restored to them rights that were stolen generations ago. Rappahannock Chief, Anne Richardson voiced the feelings of tribal members, “This is liberty for us. This is justice for us. We’re finally seeing the promises that are inherent in our constitution that we’ve been left out of all these years.”

Sharon Canfield Dorsey is an award-winning poet and author of a memoir, four children’s books, a travel memoir, and two books of poetry. Watch for a new poetry book, Walk With Me, out in October. Her books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, High Tide Publications, and the author.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – Seasons

Wish I had found you in the spring
of my life when we were twenty
somethings–bronzed, fearless,
rushing headlong toward the future.

If I had found you in the summer
of our days, we could have nested
together in a cozy cottage,
raised brilliant, beautiful children.

Fate introduced us in autumn,
 after beginnings and painful endings
with other partners in other places,
lives we each wanted to leave behind.

His and hers children grown, we were
free to wander – climb mountains,
hike island rain forests, return together
to the fearless spring we’d missed.

We had plans for the winter years,
reading to each other by the fire,
spoiling our his and hers grandchildren,
but it was not to be.

If I could rewrite
 just one season of my life,
I would ask that
you not leave me so soon.

(In memory of Don in his birthday month of October)

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books, a memoir, two books of poetry and a travel memoir. Watch for her new poetry/art book, Walk With Me, to be released in October. All books available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, High Tide Publications, and the author.