Archives for posts with tag: Reading

by Danni Matthews

For tortuous hours I raged methodically,
plucking with hope at edges and seams,
dashing both in fruitless swoops,
my eyes wild and raving.

I knew it was nestled in somewhere,
cosy against worthless items,
its value hiding in shadows
of a suddenly-vast hoard of Things.

Doubt crept in as hopes were dashed;
my mind rattled with paranoia
and imagined hands plucked my prize
from its unrecalled stowaway home.

I raged less methodically now,
tearing around the room rapidly
and cursing unseen thieves,
dreams of big-spending ashes.

The search is abruptly abandoned,
and hand and heart reach for book,
that familiar comfort
to lessen the loss.

A book removed petulantly from shelf,
and all imagined thieves vanish
as my birthday money reappears,
and the room breathes, relieved.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Apparently no images of me exist at the time of the Birthday Money Scandal of 2003, but this was taken about a year afterwards.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was given the princely sum of £60 total for my sixteenth birthday, and nominated a “safe place” in which to keep it. The safe place proved too safe, and I tore up my bedroom looking for it for quite some time before good old books prevented me from an irate breakdown. Afterwards I could laugh, but I do remember being especially incensed because my bedroom was so small it seemed impossible to lose anything!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danni Matthews is a published writer from Manchester, UK. She has received awards, television opportunities, and recently attended a poetry residency in Portugal, courtesy of the Bread Matters Foundation. Danni is a self-confessed Word Nerd with a love of literature, and is currently working on her first solo poetry collection. She lives with her vast collection of books, and they’re all very happy together. You can find out more at Facebook.


by Clive Collins

I lost our car key somewhere on the sand at Governor’s Beach, or if not there, then coming or going along the forest track that led it.

Governor’s Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches along the Freetown Peninsula, a long white curve with a winding, shifting river that emptied out of the mangroves into the Atlantic Ocean. There was seldom anyone on the beach, and so it was a favourite, but we had been stopped and robbed before on our way to it, and so it had become our routine to leave everything locked in our Renault 12 and go down to the beach in our swimming clothes. The single key to the car stayed in the pocket of my shorts.

Except that afternoon, it did not.

It was our fifth year in Africa, and our last year there as a couple. We had quarreled that morning and during the afternoon at the beach, scarcely exchanged a word. Late in the day, thirsty, tired, hungry and each of us still nursing our own private grievances, we got back to the car and I found I no longer had the key. We looked everywhere there was to look: it was pointless.

Finally, my soon-to-be-ex-wife in her bikini and me in my shorts, we walked up to the paved road to try to thumb a lift back to our house. We felt exposed, and we were. The light was gathering. Night would soon fall. Afraid, for the first time in a long time, we held hands.

Someone or something blessed us. A car came. The people in it were our close neighbours.

Back at the house, I burgled my own home. We were quiet that night, but also sad. Perhaps we understood that more than a key was lost.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, somewhere in Sierra Leone, 1978.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this a challenging prompt because, it seems to me, the things we possess and then lose are never simply what they are, but all the myriad associations that we as possessors invest them with either over a long period of time, or at the moment they are lost or found, or even after that moment.

Collins 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins has spent the greater part of his life working as a teacher in Ireland, Sierra Leone, and Japan. He is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/ Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. More recently his work has appeared in online journals such as Penny, Cecile’s Writers, The Story Shack, and He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. A chapbook of his short stories is to be published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2017.


by Laila Simon

Without my permission, my mother signed me up to take the AP French test. I took three years of French class with Madame at Wilson High School but at this point I could say all of five sentences in correct French. I could say that I would like something, specifically steak and French fries, an assortment of clothing pieces, and who I was in a basic way: age,  dix-sept; name, Je m’appelle Laila; country of origin, USA. A typical class period included repetition, verb conjugation, and mass amounts of free study time. Madame liked to keep us on our toes and decided one afternoon that we were watching Not Without My Daughter, starring Sally Field. Then comes the morning of the test. I saw three girls standing outside the outdated library. They were all discussing French home-stays and a fourth girl soon joined in. Oh my god. Before I turned I could see them all wearing black turtlenecks and berets, eating baguettes and talking about how stupid Americans are. I stayed in the bathroom until there were only four minutes left until the test began. When I returned to the library the other girls had taken their seats in desks complete with thick booklets and to my horror, bulky machines that looked like tape recorders. Five of us total in the room, and all of them except for me had lived in France. I doodled a giant wolf’s head on my page until it was time to move onto the third and final task which was the speaking portion. Somehow I got through, speaking low into my tape recorder so that there was no chance that the other girls nor the proctor would be able to hear me making up words and cursing my mother.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at 17 in Norway for the summer. July 2010. Twirling Selfie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I adapted this piece from a series I am working on where I write on small moments from my life at different ages. This is the second one I wrote as I am jumping around in my own timeline.


Laila Simon
is a writer based out of Portland, Oregon. She works promoting Scandinavian culture and is looking for her next adventure. Previously published in St. Olaf’s The Quarry, on the Rain Taxi: Review of Books website, and on the Thank You for Swallowing website. Visit her online.

PHOTO: The author at the Portland State book wall, downtown Portland (Fall 2016).


One Thing Led to Another
by Marion Tickner

At age 17 I received a phone call that I believe changed my life.

Our church’s Christian Ed Director wanted to talk about Vacation Bible School. At first I thought she was inviting me to attend a class for teens . . . until she said she’d get the lessons to me. It turned out that I was to help teach a class of four- and five-year-olds. What had I done? I had already said yes and didn’t want to admit that I had misunderstood her. But that year I discovered that I loved working with children.

In college I majored in Christian Education and worked with children in the church setting for more than 25 years. Also volunteered to read to a class in a public school.

I became involved with Pioneer Girls, a scouting club similar to Girl Scouts . When PG Headquarters announced plans to publish a magazine for girls, I wrote a short story and submitted it as a contribution to the new magazine. Imagine my surprise when it was accepted and I received a check.

With a new interest in writing, I have since been published in several magazines for children, both on line and print. My stories also appear in some anthologies.

As I look back over the years, I believe that one thing led to another. Elsie Auringer has since passed away, but I still thank her for introducing me to the joys of working with the little ones.

PHOTO: “Fountain Pen On Typewriter Keys”  by Garry Gay. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I hadn’t had my eighteenth birthday yet, so I was still 17 when I graduated from high school. It was that year I got a taste of working with children when asked to help out in Vacation Bible School. I think that one thing led to another and an interest in writing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marion Tickner has been published in several magazines for children, both print and online, as well as other publications. Her stories also appear in a variety of anthologies, including  Mistletoe Madness, Summer Shorts, When God Steps In, The Christmas Stocking, Treasure Box, One Red Rose A Valentine’s Day Anthology, Nightlight A Golden Light Anthology, God Still Meets Needs, Gingersnaps and Candy Canes, To Love Deeply (Kindle only), Blizzard Adventure (Kindle only), Nancy Drew Anthology, and A Celebration of Mothers.

PHOTO: The author reading her story from Mistletoe Madness to a second grade class at Porter School, Syracuse, New York.


Author Sam Silvas will read from his short story collection Stanton, California (Silver Birch Press, 2016) in a series of California appearances — date, times, and locations below.

Thursday, March 2, 7 p.m. — Orinda Books, 276 Village Square, Orinda, CA, 94563

Friday, March 3, 6:30 p.m. — Face in a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd, Suite. 113, El Dorado Hills, CA, 95762

Saturday, March 4, 7:30 p.m. — The Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis, CA, 95616

“Stanton, California is the best collection of short stories I’ve read in a very long time. Sam Silvas writes with enormous skill, deep empathy, and a ferocious commitment to the truth.” LOU BERNEY, Edgar Award winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

“Stanton, California, Sam Silvas’ short story collection about working-class families in the Sacramento area, evokes the feel of Hemingway’s short stories in that they are poetic and vital in their representation of hope and brutality.”
JERVEY TERVALON, best-selling author of Dead Above Ground andMonster’s Chef.

In this inspired debut 174-page collection, Sam Silvas examines the claustrophobia that comes from growing up in a small town and the enigmatic search for happiness inside and outside of it. Whether a man settles for life in Stanton or attempts to escape it, the choice is fraught with unforeseen consequences as the outside world butts up against the ways of his hometown.

In “Buck Stew,” a raffle prize of a Glock handgun suddenly offers heartbroken, long-time Stanton resident Jack Dixon new means to solve old problems. In “The Pottery,” the town’s clay pipe and tile plant physically towers over the town and looms large emotionally for the main character Danny Padilla, who has come to believe his significance can be measured in inches, be it a bullet from his beloved Weatherby .270 or the placement of a tile. In “Eat the Worm,” Todd Randle has been gone from Stanton for ten years when he returns home with his outsider bride. Within days of moving back, Todd finds his past glories may very well threaten his future happiness. He sets out to find answers in a sad and bizarrely touching encounter with his father over a Monday Night Football game. The signature piece of the collection is the novella, The Unluckiest Man in the World. Set near Stanton on the Sacramento Delta, it is inhabited by a family of glaziers, as fragile as the glass they install. The unnamed narrator has aspirations to move beyond the history that every male in his family appears destined to repeat. When he meets and falls in love with Katie McPherson, a fellow denizen of the Delta, all his bad luck seems to be behind him, but the past is as dangerous and powerful as the current of the river that he lives on, threatening to pull him under.

The town of Stanton is a character in all these stories, one that proves to be both a sanctuary and a prison to its inhabitants. This distinctive collection rightfully takes its place among great regional fiction.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Silvas received his MFA from St. Mary’s College, and lives in Claremont, California, with his family. In life and in writing, he strives to be deceptively honest. This is his first book.


In the World at 17
by Rowan Johnson

At seventeen, he stayed at the Polana Hotel in Mozambique, with swinging palms and the biggest and bluest swimming pool he had ever seen; and then the desperation of the streets outside—rusty old vehicles covered with all kinds of garbage, strewn all over and stinking. Old and weathered women who could barely walk, carrying barrels of water for twenty kilometers every day, just so their children could have a drink.

The next day it was Austria, simply trying to find a toilet. The helplessness of not knowing German; the exhilaration of being a foreigner, a stranger asking directions—a child, knowing nobody, with an intense fear of peering over the edge of that mountain outside. The simple peasant girl who led him back to her room in the dead of the Austrian night, after more than a few too many Jagermeisters; a potent combination for a young boy. Her hair was fantastically black, longer than his arms.

And so he had his memories: the discovery of new, untouched lands, new faces and places, the feeling of real snow, the taste of Alpine water from fresh streams. This was his world—this was the life that he had always known.

PHOTO: Polana Serena Hotel, Mozambique.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rowan Johnson holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee as well as an MA from the University of Nottingham, England. His work has been published in Two Thirds North, 4ink7, Passing Through Journal, Wordriver Literary Review, GFT Press, and the Writers’ Abroad Foreign Encounters Anthology. He has also written numerous travel articles for SEOUL Magazine.


by Shoshauna Shy

It wasn’t like sleeping with the friend of a friend’s friend (which translated means sleeping with a stranger), because we knew each other, occupied the same circles, half-flirted now and then. But not enough spark on either of our parts to get a flame going, let alone a blaze. Then we found ourselves in sleeping bags away from the others, and in our chill half-sleep, moved closer together. We went skin-on-skin, and soon hit our heads against that cellar ceiling called No Chemistry, No Appetite, No Combustible Lust. I wouldn’t say I was offering myself, but more that I was borrowing from his better future. Borrowing him from the throes of some sweet lady. One day, she would want him very much.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece of flash fiction is 122 words. I was 17 during the Sexual Revolution of the late 60s-early 70s when you did not wear a boy’s ID bracelet while going steady, or even go on dates.


ABOUT THE THE AUTHOR: Shoshauna Shy is the author of four collections, the most recent having won an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poetry has recently been published by RHINO, Main Street Rag, Carbon Culture Review, and First Class Lit. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was a finalist for the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid poetry prize sponsored by Winning Writers in 2015. Her flash fiction has been published by 100 Word Story, Fiction Southeast, Literary Orphans, A Quiet Courage, Sou’wester, Thrice Fiction, Crack the Spine, Microfiction Monday Magazine, Every Writer, Red Cedar, and Prairie Wolf Press Review. Read more at


We are honored and pleased that Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will host a reading for the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016). East Coast authors featured in the 212-page collection of writing & art — Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols — will read their work included in the anthology. Details below.


WHERE: Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02140, 617-491-2220,

WHEN: Friday, 2/24/17, at 7 p.m.

WHO:  Kathleen Aguero, Jessica Purdy, Ellen Cohen, Kristina England, and Sarah Nichols will read selections from the Nancy Drew Anthology.


by Zoë  Ramsey

When I was 17, I secretly defied my father and boarded an airplane bound for Turkey, where I spent one amazing month of the summer before my final year of high school. Ten years later, he still doesn’t know.

I never considered myself particularly rebellious. Independent is how I’d describe myself. My parents split when I was quite young, just two years old. If you knew my parents, you’d wonder how they even got together in the first place. I spent the school year with my mother on one side of the country and visited my father during the summer holidays on the other. As I got older, I realised my summer holidays could be used for things I wanted to do, rather than just the obligatory family visit.

So at the age of 16, I participated in my first foreign exchange. I spent the summer in Brazil, a decision my father supported both eagerly and financially. I was always going to be a traveller and he was happy to encourage my dream. It was my first taste of travel and I latched onto it and never let go. So when the opportunity presented itself to go on another exchange the following summer, I jumped at it. Dad wasn’t so pleased. Turkey was different from Brazil. It was farther away, more dangerous. I remember the phone call perfectly.

“I…don’t plan on sending you,” he had said.

I remember exactly what my mother said when I repeated his words. ‘So just go and don’t tell him,” she had said with a shrug.

So that’s exactly what I did.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at seventeen (my eyes most unfortunately closed) with my host mother and host brother standing in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first saw the “Me, At 17”  prompt, I racked my brain for something I did at 17 and was disappointed that I was coming up with nothing. Then I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was the year I took my secret trip around the world and knew immediately that’s what I was to write about.


Zoë Ramsey
attended the University of Edinburgh and received her MSc in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she’s working on her first novel. She can be contacted via twitter @zoe_writes_.


The 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) are sending photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.”  Author Kathleen A. Lawrence provided this photo of herself standing in a snow drift in Central New York at the junction of NY Route 81 and Cortland Route 13 in front of the welcome sign to Cortland, New York. Kathleen contributed the poem “Detecting Nancy Drew,” featured below, to the collection.

detecting ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen A. Lawrence is an emerging poet who especially likes the challenge of the abecedarian. She grew up in Upstate New York and is from Rochester, the home of the Garbage Plate, Kodachrome, and Cab Calloway. She has been an educator for 30 years, remaining in Central New York in the shadow of the seven hills as a communications professor at SUNY Cortland. Five of her abecedarians recently appeared in the HIV Here & Now poem-a-day countdown.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I live in Homer/Cortland, New York — a couple of hours by car to just about anywhere else in the state! SUNY Cortland, the college where I teach, is just about five minutes from where I’m standing.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at