Category Archives: Just Stuff

Circumstances of Childhood

Circumstances of Childhood.

By John W. Howell

Click for Amazon Kindle

Shipping on October 1st. Priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

This is a different story for John. It is in the Family Life genre and tells the story of brotherly love, riches to rags, redemption and a little paranormal thrown in. Normally John writes thrillers but this time he has stepped into a different place. This book was written with love for the story and the hope it will be an enjoyable read.

Here is the blurb:

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of inspiration, riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

Here is an excerpt.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

Author Bio.

John's Bio

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The latest Circumstances of Childhood a family life story is available as of October 1st, 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

My Girl front His Revenge Our Justice

Available on Amazon at


Pumpkin Spice Magic Happens

Got your attention, eh?


Tis the season!  And you are invited to pour your favorite pumpkin spiced beverage and kick back with the October 2017 Edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

 We have a terrific collection of offerings from a world-wide family of writers.  They were provided the following prompt words, to stir their creative juices.


Of course, I will provide the links to my articles and I appreciate that you give them a read.  This month, I added a review for a yummy new cookbook so be sure to check it out!

October Warm Up

A Seasoned Life

Signs & Seasons An Astrology Cookbook

Using Our Real Eyes

October is National Book Month

Thank you for the support and remember, we’d LOVE to have YOUR contributions to our monthly presentations. Contact Kathleen Anne McCarthy, our fearless leader, by sending her an email at kat (at) themagichappens (dot) com


Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

Questions Happily Unanswered – Tallis Steelyard

It is my extreme pleasure, to welcome that rascal among men, Tallis Steelyard, to my blog. Please, give him your undivided attention.  Cheers!

Questions happily unanswered

My sojourn in those parts of Port Naain’s hinterland less frequently visited served two purposes. Firstly, any ferment in Port Naain that might have adversely affected me had time to die down. Secondly it never hurts a poet to gaze upon new sights and see new things.

My route took me close to the mountains. I hugged their foothills, drinking in their majesty, intending to follow them until they met the sea. At that point I would travel south again, following the coast to Port Naiin and home. I’d left Woodpin and its inhabitants far behind me. I saw few people, although admittedly I stuck to minor trails and headed north rather than following the more heavily used roads running east-west.  After travelling for some days, I came to the Bottomless Lake. There is a village on its shore which is known, somewhat prosaically, as the Village by the Bottomless Lake.  The village itself was little more than a large hamlet, but it did boast a hostelry. This rejoiced, almost inevitably, in the name of ‘The Bottomless Lake Inn.’

As I entered the inn I noticed two young fellows I knew from the University. So, I greeted them and they waved me across to sit at their table.

Aluin and Oliander both lecture at the University of Port Naain, but frankly they spend as little time as they can in the city. They use the place as somewhere to rest after one expedition, and as somewhere to raise funds for the next. So, I asked them what they were here for.

Aluin poured wine into my glass. “The Port Naain Physiographical Society’ has funded us to explore the Bottomless Lake.”

Even as I listened to him I realised that there were sources of patronage in the city that I had barely tapped. Surely societies like this one should realise that having a poet commenting upon such an expedition, even from the comfort of home, can add much to the final report.

Oliander broke across my musings. “I just wondered Tallis. We were given a small sum in our budget to hire locals to help, but if you were to assist us, we could put the money towards your bills here.”

Even through seated, I bowed deeply. “I would be delighted to join your enterprise.”


The three of us went out onto the lake next day in the small boat they had hired. The lake boasts more than one mystery. The first thing you notice is the phenomena the locals refer to as ‘the veiled reflections.’ If you catch the lake on a still day, the reflection of the cliff in the water appears to show cave mouths or windows that cannot be seen on the cliff itself. The first day we spent examining the cliff face. Firstly, we examined the cliffs from the boat. Then we landed on the far bank, climbed up round the shoulder of the cliffs and lowered Oliander, who is the lightest, down the cliff face on a rope. He searched diligently but found nothing which matched the reflection in the water.

Next day was hot. After a cool start the sun came out and it was one of those glorious days you can get in early autumn. This time we rowed across the lake and Aluin went into the water. A fine swimmer he swam along the cliffs and dived repeatedly under water to check that what we assumed to be the reflection wasn’t actually the reality. As the afternoon got warmer, first Oliander and then I joined him. I can vouch for the fact that the rock face below the water is smooth and featureless.

That night as we ate in the Inn we had to admit that we had no answer to the mystery of the reflection. Still, next day we planned to find the depth of the lake, and this we all felt was a comparatively simple task.

Next morning, we loaded a hundred fathoms of rope into the boat. One end we tied to a thwart in the boat so we couldn’t lose the rope. The other end was tied round a heavy stone with a narrow waist. Thus equipped, we rowed out to the foot of the cliffs again and started lowering the rope into the water.

As we lowered away I asked, “How deep is it supposed to be.”

Aluin, who was paying out the rope hand over hand answered. “Galnwash and Wetherspeal claimed to have measured the depth; in their book, ‘Exploring the north on a budget’ they maintained it was ‘more than 50 fathoms’ deep.

I took over the unwinding of the coil as Oliander held the boat steady and Aluin paid the rope out. We’d got to the fifty fathoms knot when Aluin stopped.

“The rope’s gone slack; the stone must have fallen off.”

Oliander sighed, “I’ll tie it next time.”

Aluin hauled in the sodden rope and I coiled it carefully out of the way. Finally, he held up the end. “It’s been cut.”

Oliander and I studied the end of the rope. The end was sliced clean, and showed no sign of whipping and tying off.

Aluin took the rope end back. “I wonder if it’s somehow rubbed on a sharp edge. We’ve ten fathoms of light chain with our kit on the bank. I’ll tie that to it and see if it makes any difference.”
So an hour later, we were back in the same spot, this time lowering the weighted chain over the side. When Aluin said the chain was light, he meant that the metal that made up the links was not the thickness of a pencil. We still had to wrap it round a large stone because without the weight it’s possible a current would have caused the chain and rope to drift somewhat.

All the chain soon went in, and then the rope. As we got close to the forty fathoms knot we lowered more slowly, as if we were trying to feel our way down. I felt a quiver through the rope and Aluin cursed. “The blasted stone has come off again.”

Again, we hauled the rope back up, but when we got to the end of the chain, something had cut it. The chain was two fathoms shorter than it had been. The three of us stared at the end of the chain. I pointed to the bottom link. “Something tried to cut this one but gave up and tried lower down.”

On the chain, you could see where two cutting surfaces had been forced together, as if shears had been used.

Aluin studied the chain. “This stuff was almost too thick for it. So if we use something thicker…..”

At the bottom of the boat was the anchor chain. It was a good deal heavier than the other stuff. He knotted the lighter chain through the anchor chain. “Right, let’s try this.”

This time, perhaps because we had an anchor weighting everything down, or perhaps we were more practiced, everything went smoothly. We had reached the forty-fathom knot on the rope when suddenly Aluin fell out of the boat and into the water. The rope kept disappearing over the side without our help so I stretched out a hand to help Aluin back in the boat.

He climbed in and pointed at the rope which was still disappearing over the side at some speed. “I felt something tugging at the rope so I gripped it more tightly. Suddenly it just tugged me out of the boat.”

With one hand, I grabbed the rope. It stopped briefly but then something tugged. I let go hastily.

We watched the rest of the rope uncoil and go over the side. Finally, all that was left was the length tied to the thwart. Now the boat started to tilt.

Oliander asked thoughtfully, “Is something perhaps trying to climb up the rope, or is it trying to pull us down into the water?”

I didn’t hesitate; I drew my knife and sawed rapidly through the rope. It whipped over the side of the boat and disappeared.

Aluin looked at me, “Now we’ll never know what is doing it.”

Oliander unshipped the oars and started rowing for the shore. As he rowed he said, “I’m with Tallis on this one. I don’t want to share a rowing boat something that can snip through steel chain.”

I took up the other set of oars and started rowing as well. Aluin peered into the water and then took his seat and the third set of oars.

As we pulled for the shore he said, “Now we’ll never know how deep it is.”

I asked, “How deep did Galnwash and Wetherspeal say it was?”

Oliander answered me, “More than fifty fathoms.”

“Guess the height of whatever was cutting the chain, assume it was standing on the lake bed, and add fifty fathoms to the total.”

“How do you feel about fifty-two fathoms then?” Aluin asked.

I kept on rowing, but commented, “It’s not really my place to argue, but frankly if anybody isn’t happy with your figure, they can come and measure it themselves.”

At this point it seems pertinent to mention that the story of Tallis’s escapades continues on other blogs. They will be reblogged in what may one day be accepted by biographers as the chronologically correct order on his own blog. Thus, and so you can easily follow his gripping adventures.


Also, as an aside, the reason for this whole performance, (aside for being ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’) is that another volume of his anecdotes has been published. Containing some work that has never appeared on the blog, this is ;-


Tallis Steelyard. The Monster of Bell-Wether Gardens and other stories.

The Magic is Happening in September

We are absolutely delighted to announce that the September 2017 Edition of The Magic Happens is available for your enjoyment!

Because we have such a wide array of people and personalities who contribute each month, there is always something new to give your grey matter a work out.  So, this month, our writers chose from among these topics for the Theme Articles:


 Which did I choose?  Ah, you can find out by giving the magazine a look see and to make it easier… Here are the links to my posts and I thank you in advance, for reading and sharing!

Louise L. Hay, The Eternal Light

Lighten Up on Tomorrow

Seeds of Strength

Lighten Up in September


Announcing the Launch of Murder at the Bijou

Introducing the second “three things” serial, in novel form — Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.

Yes, that’s the cover. (I love making covers!) I kept it similar to the one for the first serial, The Three Things Serial Story.

For those of you who are not familiar with my blog serials…
Ages ago I developed a writing exercise. I asked friends to give me three completely random things. Then I would write until I had mentioned all the things. I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books), but I had the readers send me their things. I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters. That resulted in The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to this culinary mystery. However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.

About the Book
As with the first serial, Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is a spontaneously written, pantser story. I wrote by the seat of my pants and let the “ingredients” readers sent each week drive a new serial story. This is the “bookized” version of that serial.

This time the Jazz Age setting is Savannah, Georgia where our flapper, Pip, is “sentenced” to live with her grandmother and learn to cook. Pip gets caught up in a layered mystery that includes bootleggers, G-men, and the varied challenges of being a young woman in changing times. She meets new friends, including some animal characters.

If you have not read The Three Things Serial Story, be warned. This adventure contains a bit of a spoiler, but does not go into detail about it.

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I is available through and Amazon and Create Space. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon also offers a free app that will let you read Kindle books on your computer or other device. The purchase links are below.

Rutabaga Limbo
Either I woke up feeling horribly nauseated, or the queasiness woke me. I’m not sure which. I opened my eyes to complete darkness. There was no light, no sound. The way my stomach tossed reminded me of a small boat on the ocean. It was as if I sailed in a lightless limbo.

Oh… that was a bad train of thought to have with an unsettled belly.

Think of something else! Anything else, I told myself.

I stood unsteadily. The sound of a cricket came to me. Good. The utter silence had been very disturbing. I became aware of the cool moist earth beneath my palms.

Where the Sam Hill was I?

I sat back on my heels, focusing all my senses. My eyes might as well have been closed — it was that dark. Bare ground was beneath me. The air had a musty odor. A sickly sweet scent clung to my bobbed hair.

The cricket’s chirping was the only sound. Still sitting, I turned. My eyes widened and strained, trying to see in that heavy darkness. When I looked up I was rewarded with the sight of a thin line of pink light.

The faint glow allowed me to see vague outlines a few feet away. I stumbled over something and stooped down to let my hands figure out what it was. I felt a burlap bag and round lumps. Rutabagas? I felt around and found another bag. That one felt like potatoes. I moved closer to the wall and a tall shape. Yes, a ladder, my questing hands confirmed for my still foggy brain.

Gazing up at the line of pinkish light I realized I was in a root cellar.

But how did I get there?

Purchase Links
Amazon USA

Amazon UK:

Amazon Japan:

Author Bio

Image by Chris Graham

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, a southerner by birth, was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when she moved there. Now a resident of a major east coast city, she longs to return to those enchanting lands.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences in both the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes 1920s stories and Steampunk. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.

You can also visit me at:

A Public Letter to My ExHusband

Dear Dan,

Got the call last night, that they put you in the hospital again. This time, they found you lying in bed with a knife by your side. When asked what your intentions were, you told them that you were thinking of hurting yourself. Naturally, the Doctors said to bring you in at once.

They counted your meds and found that it had been over a month since you took them regularly. The hallucinations became your reality and there was no amount of logic that could convince you otherwise. You’ve allowed yourself to shrivel into a caricature of a human being, looking and acting decades older than your 67 years. Your guardians said that we wouldn’t even recognize you. But remember, we saw you at Christmas and while you did look a little worse for the wear, your mind was clearer than it had been in years and you were having a grand time.

You are in the best place possible for where you are mentally and emotionally. They will take care of you, see that you take your medications and that you will connect with people. This may not cure you but it is designed to help you regain your strength so you can live on your own, in your own home.

I cannot imagine what it is like to go through the peaks and valleys of your existence. At the risk of sounding cold, I am not seeking to imagine it either. There are things that are not ours to know. My knowledge of “why” will do nothing to change your circumstances. In fact, constantly thinking of you in your present circumstances, holds you there in my mind. That doesn’t help you either. I would much rather hold onto a happier image.

When we were married, our homes were never large but we always had two things, comfy cushions upon which to sit and one, clean, white wall to use as a movie screen. Of course, there were drinks, and plenty of freshly popped, buttered corn!

You were the proud owner of 500 super 8 films. These were the classics that people love to gather to watch. As you set up your projector for the movie night, you moved with precision and grace. Those films had been well cared for, and this is your moment to let them shine.

You chose each offering for the evening with the purpose of creating a completely fulfilling experience, much like a chef would design a 4-course meal. There would be a cartoon, a short (or two) and a full-length feature.  All of these tied together by a common theme and you educated the curious audience with trivia that left them in awe. It worked and everyone reminded you to let them know when the next movie night would happen so they could make sure they were in attendance.

This is the you I keep in my mind’s eye. This confident, happy man who was as caught up in the experience as anyone else in the room. This person who loved sharing encyclopedic knowledge as freely as some enjoy whistling. This person who devoted himself to the preservation and appreciation of classic cinema, in thought, word and deed.

It has taken your 4 suicide attempts, numerous hospitalizations and many nights and days of soul searching (on my part) to realize that you had been suffering with mental illness long before I met and married you. Perhaps, you thought life would be different with a wife and that somehow everything would sort itself out. I imagine that you were just as disillusioned as was I when we couldn’t make it work. I know that neither you, your family, my family and our friends ever forgave me for leaving.

Even in the face of what you have dealt with in the past 28 years since our divorce, it took me until your first suicide attempt, 3 years ago, to forgive myself. It was at that time that I realized that it was mental illness that robbed us of the opportunity of having a happy life together. Not knowing what to do was no one’s fault, so I forgave you as well.

While I cannot create in your world, I can create a world within me in which the happy you can live. Feel free to visit the world of my mind, anytime. I’ll make sure to have popcorn on hand, comfy cushions to sit upon and one clean, white wall upon which you can project good times.

God Bless you, Annette Rochelle

A Public Apology to Myself

Dear Annette,

I want you to know, that I am sincerely sorry for not treating you better. For not seeing you as worthy of honor and respect. For not being more supportive in those times when you needed me the most. I want to take this time to assure you that I will make demonstrating my responsibility to you, my top priority.

For all those times, I allowed you to accept the shame in the face of verbal, physical, mental, sexual and emotional abuse, I apologize.  You NEVER caused people to behave this way, even though they told you it was all your fault.  You didn’t “ask for it” and I am sorry I didn’t know how to protect you from the attacks or the resulting pain.

For all those times, I allowed you to own the guilt for requiring others to honor their contracts with you, I apologize. You held up your end of the agreements, providing the services for which you were contracted in good faith. You NEVER caused people to decide to ignore their financial obligations to you and I am sorry I didn’t know how to help you find your voice.

See, Annette, there is no reason for you to feel the shame for what happened to you when others sensed your vulnerability. They did what they did because of where they were in their lives, not because of anything you did to provoke their behaviors. And while they may never accept the responsibility for their actions, you can release the shame.

Annette, feeling guilty about not standing up for yourself will never solve anything. You were acting in the only manner you knew, at the time, and now you know better. You have a choice at this point, to continue to live with the feelings of guilt or to move forward with a new attitude.

From now on, I promise to help you realize your true worth. To remind you every day that your value is based solely on how YOU see yourself. I promise to love you just because you breathe.

I love you forever and ever!