Gifts from the Sheep Shed

by Robin Magaddino

I like short sentences.  I like to listen to the silence between them.  Taking a pause between one-word sentences can be bliss.  Truncated, that’s what they are, and they can create tension and urgency.  The other parts of the sentence are left to your imagination, so…

Gifts from the Sheep Shed

by Robin Magaddino

Its  five o’dark on February eighth, fourteen degrees, no wind, gentle snowfall, perfect.  I snuggle down to await the annual miracle. Lambda already claimed the private spot behind the hay manger.  Other ewes chew cud and steam up the dim barn with hot breaths.

Birth from a sheep’s point of view–Walk in a small circle.  Circle, circle, circle. Lay down. Wait. Stand. Circle. Stand and stare.  Breathe a hard blast of steam in the frigid air. Murmur a question, “mmmur?” Look down.  Lick lips and murmur. Lay down. Hold breath and strain. Leap up, spin around and search.  Lick wet straw. Murmur a question. Lick lips. Stand and pant. Circle, circle, circle. Lay down with back to wall.  Hold breath, dig in hoofs and strain, tighten, stiffen, push. Jump up and flip around. A lamb is snorting, lifting its head, kicking free of the protective amniotic sac that was home for 5 months.  

Lambda licks and murmurs garbled questions—are you alive? are you healthy?  Lamb answers with a sweet “baaa”. Lambda licks more vigorously after hearing the answer.  Lamb leaps up into a staggering search for survival. Her fluffy curls are dry within 20 minutes and Lambda gently shoves her down into the corner where she rests in a stupor.

Lambda circles once, lays down, takes a quick inhale and pushes.  Out pops a smaller lamb followed by another the same size. Lambda rushes back to lamb One.  Two and Three kick, sneeze and bleat. Lambda abruptly leaves One to begin licking noses of Two and Three.  Their heads bobble up and they bleat in unison. She leaves them for bleating number One. Two and Three protest their isolation with ear splitting bleats and kick to stand up.  Three stands, shaking like a wet dog to rid itself of the slimy coat. Lambda spins to lick its umbilical cord and tail, pulling off the sac in long strips, eating it. She quickly licks the tissue tangle from the umbilical cord and legs of number Two and up it pops.   She gives Two and Three a mere spit bath and returns to number One.

On it goes until the afterbirth is expelled and all the mess is eaten and licked up.  The lambs are directed toward the nipples and, in a few minutes, all is quiet.



February Book News

feb 2019 bk news

Marie F Martin’s new novel is now loaded on Amazon and is available on both kindle or paperback.


A simple game of chance results in Corinne Cooper’s best friend’s death and set her on a collision course with a detective still nursing hate from the past.

Three years of lonesome widowhood leads Corinne Cooper to a simple need. She wants a man. She cons her friend Edgy Brewster into helping her find just the right guy. They visit a honkytonk, the biggest church in town, and a bingo parlor looking for an eligible bachelor. Nothing goes as planned. Now Corinne is the prime suspect in a murder and must prove her innocence. Any of the four men she has met could have committed the heinous act. But which one?

Here is a short link to the amazon page if you want to have a look see.

Marie F Martin 

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: So happy to share the news that my first historical short story, “All God’s Sparrows,” has been nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Originally published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May-June 2018), it features real-life historical figure Mary Fields, aka Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, who was born in slavery in Tennessee in 1832 and moved to Montana Territory to care for the ailing Mother Superior at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade in 1885. In “All God’s Sparrows,” Mary and a young nun encounter a young mother and her daughter whose plight requires an inspired intervention. Read it via pdf on my website. The second Stagecoach Mary story, “Miss Starr’s Goodbye,” will appear in Alfred Hitchcock later this year. The Agatha Awards are given by the Malice Domestic mystery convention in early May.





By Catherine Browning

Have you ever seen a tiny white-haired woman shuffling along with a cane or walker and thought, “I’ll never end up like that!”?

But what if you win the ‘little old lady’ lottery?

Yesterday was my annual physical exam to determine how far along the ‘little old lady’ road I have traveled. The first test is the height and weight test. We will gloss over the weight test and skip directly to the height part. My adult height was 5 feet 10 inches. A number of years ago I was in a tobogganing accident. The result was a compressed disc in my lower spine. Height: 5 feet 9.5 inches. Years of hiking and jogging along with regular living further eroded the height I had down to 5 feet 9 inches.

Shock doesn’t begin to describe my reaction to yesterday’s measurement: 5 feet 7 inches. And I now have to carry a cane when out of doors. People have started helping me out of chairs. Sleeping the night through is a thing of the past.

Never say never! But don’t give up either. My second novel is in the works and it doesn’t have a height requirement.

Hang in there, Baby! page: Catherine Browning Books@cbbooks76, or

Books Are Life, Books Are Soul


By Rose Ottosen

I thought I had decided to become a minimalist. I was delusional, apparently.

In this stage of my life, I crave order and simplicity. I want my house to look like the inside of a home decorating magazine—a place where I can move from room to room without distractions taking me on mental detours. I want a sanctuary with eye candy in every corner. No dust bunnies. No cobwebs. No disheveled shelves of books. However, recently, as I moved from room to room, boxes and bags in hand, scrutinizing my possessions with the hawk’s eye of a Ms. Sherlock Holmes, I encountered a personal Waterloo—my library.  Purging my overstuffed library of the books stacked six and seven deep on shelves and desktops, I discovered, is not the same thing as discarding long-held garments from an overflowing closet.

Getting rid of last year’s fashions is easy. I can buy more.  But, for example, I cannot part with my scruffy 1918 copy of Joyce Kilmer’s Poems, Essays and Letters, or my 1828 tome Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. Surely, all writers understand this dilemma. Once books are gathered in our arms, held in our hands, carted home and placed on our shelves, they become like friends and family members. They are not disposable commodities, inanimate objects made of paper and ink. Books are life—books are soul.

Each early morning when I slip into my office library holding a cup of steaming coffee, I enter my home’s sacred place. Though the rest of the house is as silent as a tomb at this hour, as an avid reader, researcher and aspiring writer, I can almost hear the welcoming, whispering voices of my ever-burgeoning community of books. Each volume seems to have a greeting, calling me to insight or adventure.  I hardly know where to start, which one to choose! I walk from shelf to shelf, pen and clipboard in hand, moving quietly back and forth between my desks, savoring the opportunity to review what I know and to satisfy my curiosity for learning something new. A large library affords me a daily threshold to grow.

Though the shelves and desks in my current library, now groaning under the weight of  many thousands of books, are a continual source of inspiration, they have often been a source of embarrassment for me, as well. My embarrassment took root, decades ago, when my previous library of a few hundred books occupied a mere hole in the wall (my pantry). One afternoon, my mother-in-law startled me by asking a simple question, “Have you read all of those?”  Read them?  Until then, I didn’t think I had to have read them all—not yet. Many of them were encyclopedias, dictionaries, commentaries and how-to tomes, books that were not meant to be read, exactly, but only visited, now and then, with my usual cup of coffee in hand, as one would query an old friend over the back fence for a bit of advice, or listen to an acquaintance share an interesting story or two.

I would venture to say aspiring writers are all bibliophiles, to a certain extent. We love words on the printed page and savor even the sound of words. Further, we want to create word portraits that showcase  life as it is and as we hope it will be. We want to learn and to share what we learn. Writers are curious people, and as long as we have an inkling of unsatisfied curiosity, there is need for and room for one more book in our library. No matter that we have books that have been waiting for years to be read. No matter, either, that, at times, our libraries may look like proverbial rats’ nests.

As authors, our passions to read and to write are unstoppable. We want to join the conversation of writers across time and add our viable voices to their dialogue. We want to synthesize threads of thought throughout all the generations and present new possibilities. We want to write the books that bring insight, hope and joy to our generation—and beyond. And because we want to make that positive difference, each new book we add to our library, whether it is read right now—or not, represents potential for the birthing of our books.

The Writing Calendar

By Kathy Dunnehoff

I’m a cheater, and I bet you are too.

I hope you’re still reading after that. Let me explain… Humans, all of us, have a great capacity to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing better than we are. Did you eat enough vegetables yesterday? Uh, yeah, pretty sure I had a salad. Well, maybe that was last Tuesday.

You see where I’m going with this? As a person wanting health, this inaccurate recollection of how we’re doing can have some serious implications. If your goal is to exercise four times a week, you may think you came close with three times, but the reality may be that you worked out three times this month.

As a writer, this questionable ability to kid myself was not helping me at all, so I decided to hold myself accountable in a new way. I used one of those free calendars everyone gives you in January, and I made a writing calendar. It sits where I write, and at the end of a writing session, I record how long I wrote and what I accomplished. writing calendar

At a glance, it becomes very clear to me how I’m doing. Sometimes when I think I’ve only skipped one writing morning, I’m shocked to see that it’s been two or even three, and I get back at it.

I think a calendar, whether a lovely freebie from a local florist or an electronic version, can become a twelve-month accountability partner in whatever you want to accomplish. Try making one for a habit you’d like to nurture. Exercise? Playing your ukulele? (I need one of those), cooking more meals at home?

I think you’ll find, as I did, that you’re a cheater, but with a little accountability, you can be true to whatever goals are near and dear to you.