Seven Stories for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Someone I looked up to…

Longreads

Below are seven stories about (or by) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., exploring different facets of his life and legacy.

“Alex Haley Interviews Martin Luther King, Jr.” (Alex Haley, Playboy Magazine, January 1965)

King sat down for a series of interviews with the author Alex Haley shortly after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. They were edited and compiled into one interview that ran in the magazine the next year, which—according to The Daily Beast—was the longest interview King ever gave any publication.

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Freezer balls, festive logs and tobogganing is dangerous

I have nothing against new ideas. It’s just keeping up  and co-opting them that’s challenging. Take for example global warming. Not a new idea. Some even say its an inaccurate one. We’re not getting warmer, we’re just…evolving…into something else…or something. Whatever the case, the only evidence of winter I have seen so far in my Ontario home lives in my freezer. Last year, we got buried under ice. Without heating or lights for a week, we who live together swore that we’d never have another winter as bad as that again. And we haven’t. In fact, we haven’t had a winter at all. Which is why–I suppose–we keep snow balls in the freezer next to the festive log we picked up on sale around holiday time, and can still have at a reduced price. I found more in the throw out bin at the bargain mart. During January Time, old thoughts of fondue and ski shacks have given way to summer vacation dreams. Why not? Seems so close. And yet the youngsters at the local school are packing their bags for a ski trip to Quebec. Personally, I’m beside myself for them. Rumor has it, there’s snow there. Only, snow balls and tobogganing are forbidden because they’re more dangerous than skiing. The lawyers said so. Another idea to digest. I look out at the bright sun and blue sky and surrender my cynicism to the new order. In that spirit, I’m going to take my freezer ball and throw it somewhere safe.

Good Monday. Stay above it. ABF

The festive log can now be had for even less. But beware, they don't burn well in the fireplace.
The festive log can now be had for even less. But beware, they don’t burn well in the fireplace.

WHERE THE GOLD IS

Up here in Canada, there’s a whole lot of hand wringing going on about income tax splitting schemes in our august house of parliament. Seems some elected officials believe that we shouldn’t get a break because gas prices are falling and Target and Sony are leaving. One hand clapper went so far as to say that income splitting would give “money that you have not actually received yet and our country can’t afford to give you.” I guess so. If the money is pilfered at source and frittered away on a bunch of bollocks. That wouldn’t even make it a tithe; it would mean we’re working for free, which is more than the soon to be unemployed 17,000 at Target can say. Maybe our elected officials know something we don’t? Or maybe they just shop at the other place.

Good Friday. Stay Above It.

ABF

Romantic Encounters in a Bustling Market

Historical novelist Cryssa Bazos (mentioned here more than once) is an emerging talent on matters Charles II and events surrounding the English Civil War and its aftermath. But what’s history without a little romance? Check this out.

Cryssa Bazos

After offering my readers a steady diet of 17th century warfare and nearly impossible escapes, I’ve decided to change things up a bit, and tell a different story—a romantic encounter from my completed manuscript.

Click here to part the veil and slip back in time to 1650 Warwick, England, during the uneasy lull between episodes of civil war. This is an opportunity for a man to prove his mettle and apply himself to the pursuit of his heart’s fancy.

Featured Image: Louise Rayner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Falling Down in the Blogosphere

Once upon a time, I thought I was savvy.  I had a pretty decent handle on current affairs, could rap credibly along with my teenagers to the latest  gangsta, and ramble at length on the culture of Netflix, why it mattered and what impact it would have on the world at large. And then I tried to build a web site and it all fell apart. Maybe I’m pushing myself too hard. I wasn’t born knowing about widgets, or which themes supported custom headers. I really want a cool slider image on my home page, but Goran won’t let me, and I can’t figure out how to resize my fonts. What to do? It would be so easy to reach for the Kleenex box, throw up my hands, or pitch my plastic Tim Horton’s cup against the wall, but I won’t. I have YOUTUBE and hundreds of hours of “how to” videos to show me the way. Hmmm. But if I do that, I won’t blog. And then there’s the matter of the short story anthology I want to contribute to, and the blog tour I want to jump on in support of good friends at Solstice Publishing http://solsticepublishing.com/ My website can’t be that bad; I’m a newbie afterall. Mea culpa. Phooey on the videos. I’m going to call my sister, the imminently talented Cryssa Bazos http://cryssabazos.com/ who’s website is luverly, and who will teach me hands on if only to silence my desperate, neurotic yawp: Why can’t I do this? I’m calling her right now. Oh yeah, and I totally want to post her link. She lives in the 17th Century, which I think is extremely funky. http://cryssabazos.com/fiction/novel-excerpts/

Is this the same woman?

As I make ready through edits, book trailers, radio spots (in the works), interviews with the alumni magazines, and blogs to promote “The Work,” I was reminded that care must be taken when branding ‘me.’ Me? Who dat? Is it the lady who started all this five years ago, or the one tapping on this keyboard right here, right now? What photo do I use, or should I mix things up when presenting myself on social media? You know, like Dr. Who when he morphs from Christopher Eccelstone to David Tennant. *wink, wink* And what’s the better paint to employ employ: the stuff I brush on courtesy of Ma Ma Maybeline, or the one on my laptop that sandblasts the years away? Lol. I don’t think it matters. Back in mortuary school, I cut off and colored my hair in an effort to look more ‘friendly like’ for apprenticeship interviews. It didn’t make a difference. In the end, it was what I said, how I said it, and who liked it that got me on my way. So here’s looking the way I do. Whatever photo comes along, it’s always going to be me, my words, myself. Happy Friday, everybody.

ABF

A Little Light Fantasy

My friend the science giant burst my bubble last night, insisting that the Litigon hybrid, a lion-tiger combo I’d spotted on the I-net, was a photo shop creation. Once again, I’d been taken in. Stoopid me. This assertion left me vexed, causing me to down two Starry coffees in succession. How could the science giant be sure when the Liger, long celebrated and confirmed, attained legitimacy just because? I checked with Carl the Preacher. A Poncho Master and automotive technologist extraordinaire, he would know. “The Litigon,” he explained, “is like a Leopard or a rust-free Canso. It is a thing to be desired and sought, but it may never be found.” I thanked the preacher for his trouble and set to fussing over the firing of Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, whose promise to deliver a winning team was about as real as a Litigon. Or so it seemed. The science giant called me this morning, explaining that the Litigon was in fact a real beasty, but that I’d got the science side of it wrong. “The Litigon is not a second generation product of two hybrid parents, merely the result of a lion father and lion-tiger mother.” Good to know. Free at last to believe in Litigons, griffins, dragons, and a balanced federal budget, I can only hope that the next Toronto Maple Leafs coach will do a better job. Who knows, maybe turkeys can fly?

For those interested in a peek at a for real Litigon, please check the following link. I dare not reproduce the photo, lest it be unauthorized, and a grey rain of lawyers fall upon my head. Cheers.

ABF

http://pixgood.com/litigon.html

Buy It Today – The Divorce and Doom of Simon Pastor, by Pete Deakon

I’m watching this one.

Captain's Log

Simon Pastor Cover

Okay. Here it is. The Author’s Preface and Chapter One are below. Tomorrow’s post will be Chapter Two, but then you gotta buy it. Enjoy! (Click on the image to go to Amazon. Or here.)

Author’s Preface

Looking back, I am certain that in his last months with us Simon Pastor was aware that his journey’s end was nearing. Those of us closest to him have since discussed the sadness his eyes betrayed no matter how large his smile during those last few months. And I, especially, feel a heavy burden because he once told me that when I tell his story (“and tell it you must!” he’d implore) that I need to get it right, that I need to share everything. In honor, then, of Simon Pastor’s wishes I have chosen to write this book. His will granted me access to everything of his, including his laptop and phone…

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Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Cover Reveal & Giveaway

I am pleased to welcome my friend Rachael Stapleton to the site! Her first book, The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, is available now! But today we’re talking about the sequel, Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire.

Have you ever read about an ancient cursed artifact and wondered if it was true?

 

That’s just what Librarian Sophia Marcil did and then she inherited a gem set from her Great-Grandmother and was subsequently transported back in time. Now she not only knows that reincarnation is real, but so is the danger she’s facing. Just as she’s about to tell her boyfriend Cullen about it, he proposes with an engagement ring made from a piece of the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Reeling from the shock and surrounded by his family, she allows him to place it on her ring finger. As soon as it touches her skin, she feels herself being wrenched back in time.
Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members. Sophia struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves, but she fails and returns to her present-day life, to the precise moment she left, with a deep understanding that her killer’s soul is also tied to the sapphire and every life she has, he is resurrected as someone close to her. Her stalker ex-boyfriend Nick seems like a prime candidate this time but she’s convinced she’s a step ahead of him, thanks to a tip from a medium, she knows that if she uses the magic of the stone correctly she can trap Nick’s soul in the sapphire and save herself. But when Nick is murdered, she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew. Is Cullen husband material or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Pre-orders for Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire will be available February 2015. 

While You Wait…

You can read The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, the first book in the Temple of Indra Series in e-book, print, or both? Available online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as Chapters both on-line and in select stores. The e-book is available on Kobo, Kindle and Nook. All links can be found at website www.rachaelstapleton.com. Or drop by Rachael Stapleton’s Facebook page and blog. Like her Author page and follow her blog and you could win a copy of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel.

http://www.rachaelstapleton.com/

http://rachaeljacksonthetempleofindrajewels.blogspot.ca/

https://twitter.com/RaquelleJaxson

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Stapleton-Author-of-The-Temple-of-Indra/137831156290570

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18501101-the-temple-of-indra-s-jewel

http://www.amazon.ca/Temple-Indras-Jewel-Rachael-Stapleton/dp/1491702230

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Teaser

Prologue

There once lived a princess in the Kingdom of Württemberg, named Sapphira Alexandrie de Monaco. She was gifted a seemingly ordinary purple sapphire capable of wondrous magic, but at a terrible cost—a curse. The jewel belonging to Indra, the god of war and thunder, had been stolen during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

What the fortune hunter didn’t realize was that removing it from the temple triggered the release of the devil’s dark and seductive magic. It captivated a greedy political advisor who coveted the princess and the throne, condemning him to reincarnate endlessly under the foolish notion that he would someday rule. As a result, the princess was forever cursed, tied to this dangerous man who would stalk her in every life and do anything to possess her stone’s magic, including murder.

Chapter One

Dublin, Ireland

Today I would tell Cullen the truth. I swirled the champagne in my glass in an agitated fashion. I would not allow myself to be distracted. I looked down in early defeat and noticed the dark limp waves cascading past my shoulders. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t even get ready for a dinner party without being distracted. All that work curling it, and then Cullen had walked in, glimpsing my lacy black bra, and poof, my hair was flat again. Twirling a strand around my index finger, I attempted to bring it back to life. If only the jewels could work their magic on my hair.

I spotted Cullen a couple of feet away, making his way over to me. He looked handsome in his sport jacket and tailored shirt. His hair, a coppery red with streaks of blond that looked almost golden in the sunlight, was slicked back so the ends curled at his neck.

I should be over-the-moon happy right now. I was sipping Dom Pérignon in an elegant restaurant surrounded by rustic stone walls, as a soft and whimsical Irish fiddle played in the background in honor of our one-year anniversary. It wasn’t technically our anniversary. He had playfully called it that when he’d invited me out to dinner with his family, but what he’d meant was that it had been one year since we’d met. Since that ill-fated day on the Lerins Island, half a mile off shore from Cannes, when I’d rejected the marriage proposal of that egotistical lunatic Nicholas Bexx and endured his wrath. Lucky for me, Cullen had been looking up from the deck of his family’s yacht and had seen Nick push me off the cliff. Cullen dove in and pulled me to safety, and subsequently into his life.

It was hard to believe that in a full year I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth: that the fall had sent me to another time and place and into the body of a nineteenth-century princess. But what sane person would believe what had been only seconds underwater to them had been another lifetime to me? I was the owner of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. I had time traveled into my past life and uncovered my destiny—had done so repeatedly—and was always reborn, only to be murdered by the same obsessed spirit, again and again.

“Sophia, ye all right?” Cullen asked, appearing suddenly at my elbow.

“No,” I said automatically and pushed away the bothersome thoughts.

“Gah. It’s the restaurant. It’s too fancy, isn’t it? I said so, but ye know Móraí.”

“What? I love this place.” The room buzzed with mixed conversation. “I just didn’t hear what you said.”

“Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth. I asked if ye were all right and ye said no.”

“I’m fine. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere. It’s so romantic in here.”

That was the truth. The place was intimate. A combination of comfortable leather and floral high-backed chairs surrounded the long table, and almost all of them were now full with Cullen’s family.

“It is getting loud in here. I thought this was just dinner, but it looks like you rented out the whole restaurant. Will this place hold your entire family?”

“Like that’d matter. Loud-mouthed arses. Let’s skedaddle and we can celebrate alone.”

I laughed as Cullen pretended to boot one of his cousins in the rear.

His eyes met mine, and it was just like that first day in the hospital after I’d awoken from the fall. There was no denying the attraction and it wasn’t just pheromones. It was as if my soul recognized his, which was exactly why I needed to be honest about the curse. I was giving myself an ulcer and all for what? I knew he felt the same way. For heaven’s sake, I’d overheard him tell his brother of his dreams, and they sounded suspiciously familiar. There were other clues. He shared a birthmark with Graf Viktor Ferdinand of Württemberg, who’d rescued me on three separate occasions when I was the princess, and of course his ancestor had been the one to sell the Purple Delhi Sapphire to my family.

Cullen bent his head toward me, his lips brushing mine, but at the last moment I turned my cheek.

“Cullen, your grandmother has arrived with your parents and she’s staring at us. It’s probably this dress.”

“Well now, she can be after findin’ her own frock, can’t she? ’Cause ye look bloody deadly in that one.”

He playfully tugged at the clasp centered between my breasts. He’d been the one to choose this low-slung, emerald-green dress. He said it reminded him of a shamrock, but I knew he really liked it because it provided a pretty little peek-a-boo if I moved just the right way. Truthfully, it was a little racy for this evening, but you only lived once. Well, maybe some people did.

His mother, Lucille, rushed across the polished wooden floor, playfully elbowing him out of the way in order to hug me.

“Ye best be behavin’ yerself, boy.”

She was a fine-boned woman with beautiful brown eyes and curly auburn hair. When they stood side by side it was easy to see he took after her with his ruddy locks, and lucky for him because she had great genes. His father—or Da, as they called him—wasn’t too bad himself. He had a charisma that both his sons carried.

“Sophia…”

My name was said in a strange, low whisper, and for a moment I froze as hands fell on my shoulders.

“Look at ye, lass.”

I smiled and turned to see Cullen’s brother with his dark, whiskey-colored eyes and raven’s-wing hair. A touch of gray at the temples made him look dignified. “Liam, I’m so glad to see you.” I hugged him back. He lived fairly close and was over for dinner at least twice a week.

“Aren’t ye a fine bit of stuff! For the life of me, I can’t be figurin’ why ye’re still with that gobdaw brother of mine.”

“Did ye hear that, Cullen?” One of the cousins, Ewan, called out. “Liam’s after ye’re wan.”

“Go ’way from her ye bloody jealous maggot, always after me scooter growin’ up too,” Cullen called back.

“Oh, here we go,” I said, preparing myself for their playful banter, most of which was lost on me.

Liam drew me in for a kiss on the cheek and lowered his voice, practically whispering into my ear. “I saw ye first.”

I smiled at the harmless peck. They were always teasing, although I couldn’t help but think sometimes Liam took it too far, especially for a priest. He let go and looked back at Cullen, who finished hugging his aunt on the other side of the table and strutted toward us.

“Hold tight. I’m on my way to rescue ye, luv.”

“No rescue necessary,” Liam said, grinning. “I’m a man of the cloth.”

“Bit of a holy joe is more like it,” Cullen slung back.

Ewan, the youngest of the three, jumped to his feet and pretended to step between them. Both Cullen and Liam gave their cousin a friendly shove, then gave each other a loving pat on the back as they hugged.

Cullen turned to me. “Ye sure ye’re all right, luv?”

“I’m perfect,” I said, finally beginning to relax. I’d made up my mind. I was going to tell him tonight, come hell or high water.

“Brilliant.” He kissed my forehead, his lips soft and warm on my skin. “I’ll miss ye next week. Ye gonna keep busy?” He fiddled nervously with his jacket pocket. It wasn’t like Cullen to fiddle; I gave his hand a squeeze. He was traveling to London tomorrow on business. He would only be gone four days, but he was never home long before he had to jet off again.

“I thought maybe I’d go to that fundraiser—see if one of your cousins wanted to tag along—and of course the bridal shower is the next day.” Maybe that was why he was so jittery. He knew I didn’t like being without him, and he’d mentioned once or twice the guilt he felt over leaving.

Someone clinked their fork off a glass and the musical tinkling made me look up.

“O’Kelley Clan, can I get yer attention up here for a moment?” Da called.

A champagne bottle opened with a satisfying pop.

“If ye haven’t noticed already, there’s a bit of the bubbly being passed about, so set aside the whiskey and grab one.”

The table quieted and we took our seats.

“I’d like to propose a toast to the lovely lass sitting at Cullen’s side.” Da raised his glass, and all eyes turned to me.

“Here here,” Cullen said. “To my Sophia.”

My glass clinked against his. “What’s going on?” I whispered.

He’d switched out my glass as the tray went by and now gave me his best I-have-no-idea look, extending an arm around my shoulders and pulling me in tight.

“T’was a year ago today she fell into our lives from Sainte Marguerite Island—or perhaps it was the sky, ’cause surely that one there’s an angel.”

“Quit stealin’ his lines, John,” Lucille chided smartly before he could go on.

The room roared with laughter.

“Aw sure look it. I did, didn’t I? Sorry, Son. Well then here’s another stolen line while I’m at it: to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear. Not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a darn sight more sincere! Anyway, Cullen, don’t run away now.”

“Yea, thanks, Da!”

The laughter faded as Cullen pushed his chair back and stood, pulling me gently to stand with him.

“Not sure how to follow that up, but how about: to passionate people, beautiful futures, and lovely lasses who fall from the heavens,” he said, knocking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, and I smiled as he set his flute down.

Then he lowered to one knee.

He grinned up at me—so charming and gorgeous. His green eyes, as always, were mesmerizing. They had flecks of gold in them that clung to the edges and danced in the center, like they were on fire. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that it almost drowned out the “awws” and “oohs.”

“Ye’re already mine, lass, in every way possible and I am yers, but I want the world to know,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly. The black velvet box squeaked open, and his aunts gasped in unison, as if on cue.

“Will ye make me the happiest man in Ireland, Aevil, and join our O’Kelley Clan?” He kissed my fingers as I stared down at him.

The marble-sized rock in the box swirled, and doubled in front of my eyes. Deep purple amethyst with a thin frame of diamonds, set in pink gold and accentuated with a slender shank and crescent details.

I looked past the ring, into his eyes, and found him still staring directly at me. He’d removed the ring from the box and was holding it out, ready to place it on my finger.

He cleared his throat. “It was my great-great-great-grandmother’s and I thought ye might appreciate it, since ye were so intrigued with her portrait.”

I nodded, trying to smile through the confusion, but my head swam with random bursts of chatter, the fiddle, and all the thoughts flooding me at once, mostly that Cullen had just proposed to me with the missing Purple Delhi Sapphire ring. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my cheek as the ring touched the tip of my finger.

Cullen’s face began to distort. A shimmery haze had fallen over the room as if the desert were closing in. The vibration from the ring traveled up my arm, and the room began to shift and blur at the edges. Another room, a darker room, was coming into focus. I could still hear Cullen’s aunt ordering someone to get me a glass of water.

There was something I should remember. Water. Rochus said water was necessary to ease the pain of time travel. Maybe this was what it felt like without. I tried to blink away the heat, tried to stop myself from going, but I couldn’t. The edges of the room were burning away fast now, like a Polaroid scorched by flames. I could hear the trickling of the fountain in the corner. I ran for it, or at least I intended to, but it was too late.

GETTING TO NEXT

Five years ago, something wonderful happened, and I don’t mean something out of Stanley Kubrick. Dave Bowman didn’t invite me on a date and the space craft Discovery didn’t get jacked by the HAL 9000. My odyssey had nothing to do with outer space.  A great reckoning, it came in the form of a memento mori—a reminder of death—that turned out to be more inspiring than terrifying.

How could I know in that moment, a moment when I lost contact, that I would regain something bigger than myself? Allow me to digress. Like many young people, thirty years ago, I longed to express myself. Gloria Steinem, Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and others had spent the better part of their waking hours daring us to make a difference, and we were ready to take up the challenge. Trouble was, I had nothing to say. My first foray into literary excellence *laugh loudly* was a piece called Technological Advances in Bathroom Fawcetry. A great title, it had nothing whatever to do with metal things that shoot water. It was, instead, a study in big words with a few Latin terms thrown in for style and texture, along with a million appositives just to show that I knew how to use them properly. Nothing of Technological Advances survives; I have vague recollections of burning it when I realized how pompous it actually sounded. Like ice skating, writing appeared to be something beyond my purview, and I put it away along with the blades.

And then the muse appeared, and everything changed. Like monsterpause—a condition to be endured and not recommended—the muse spoke to me from a place beyond my understanding. Couched in grief, and accompanied by a bewildering feeling that I, too, was getting closer to the finish line, the muse spoke to me in verse and I begin to transcribe.

Wonky, no? I was ashamed to admit it, but it took the death of another to start a fire.  As pages filled with random thoughts, dialogue and scenes—some true, some not—I realized that I’d found what my writing teachers* call—a voice.

Loving it, learning it, making it come alive, it gave me an energy I didn’t know I had.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from my editor. The first round of edits for Heuer Lost and Found, the first of four novels with three more to go—had arrived. I had to lie down.

Getting to “yes”—that spectacular three letter word that meant I was getting published—was a joy. Getting to “next”—the edits, locked away in my hard drive, waiting—will be even better. The finish line is moving farther away from me; in its place, a new life, and a new beginning.

Something wonderful.

A.B. Funkhauser

* https://www.facebook.com/Writescape?fref=ts

* http://writescape.ca/site/ Thank you Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Sheltema.