Fantasticalities vol. 1 issue 12

picture provided by
picture provided by

We are thrilled to continue on with part 5 of Charlotte Harding‘s first chapter to her debut novel A Long Way Down. To catch up here  is  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4Part 5, and Part 6.Be sure to follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharlieHardAuth.  

If you have a poetry or short story submission for Fantasticalities please copy and paste your entry into the body of the email and send it to us at

A Long Way Down

by Charlotte Harding

(part 7)

“Annie one of the greatest gifts in dis life that I ever received was you, cher. I have devoted de last 22 years of my life raisin’ you as my own.” Auntie Vicki-Mae’s voice soften. I could make out in the multi-colored light of her office that her eyes were shinning with the first beginnings of tears. I swallowed the guilty lump in my throat. What am I doing? Auntie took a deep breath and continued.

“What am I yammerin’ about you ARE my own. You are my flesh. You are my blood. You are my sista’s first born child. You are her only child. She died givin’ birth to you Annie.” An icy cold panic began to form in my stomach. I had pushed and pushed to know, but now I doubted if I’d be able to handle any of this. What have I done?  The words continued to flow out of Auntie Vickie-Mae like a bottle tipped upside down. No sense stopping it now.



“There.” He said enthusiastically.


“What am I looking at… That firework?!” Sid chuckled at his wife’s question.


“That’s the moon.”

 Follow Sid and Caroline as the follow the moon’s light in “Oceanside Affirmation” featured in Smithing the Word By F.B. Wood.  Follow F.B. on Twitter @FrederickWoodII 


“We come from a long line ‘a strong women. Women who used everythin’ dey had at deir disposable to make a life of deir own. A free life Annie. A life that many a man or woman would have envied. I know you’ve noticed dat we live in a community of diversity. A meltin’ pot of cultures. WE are the meltin’ pot of dese cultures, Annie. WE are direct descendants of free French creole women of color. We’ve got a little bit of everythin’ coursing through our veins and honey be proud of its richness, but remember that our ancestors were forced to hide it.” I shuffled uncomfortably in my seat. You couldn’t tell hardly by looking at me, but Aunite Vicki Mae always said I was a Haitian, French, African-American, and Spanish. All this blood coursing through my veins means I was Creole.

“Voodoo, Annie, has been our greatest equalizer. Our weapon, our strength, and livelihood for generations. It courses through your blood girl. It seems dat dere is no hidin’ from it.” My heart began pounding wildly against my chest, I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. Anticipation, fear, wonderment were spilling over inside me.

“But why have you hidden this from me? Why did you think I wouldn’t understand?” Auntie Vicki-Mae’s eyes softened on my face. She stretched out a long bony hand and gently brushed it under my chin.

“I dun told you people have envied us from the day we emerged in dis land. We are a people that has blurred the lines. In a time where colored people were only viewed as slaves, no better than cattle,  we were given rights, property, businesses, money, and titles. We even bore children of prestigious titles. Honey, folks killed to have what our ancestors had. In a time when women where viewed as male property our ancestors roamed free. Free to live as they pleased, love who they wanted to love.” A distant gaze fell over her face. A trance like state lulled over me, I was torn between wanting to bat it away and wanting to hear more. Auntie Vickie-Mae took my light brown colored hands in her soft mocha ones.

“Your great-great-great granny was the most famous healer and French creole free woman of color to ever live.” My heart threatened to sputter to a stop.

“Marie Laveau herself, The Voodoo Queen of Louisiana.”  I snorted in disbelief. When Auntie shot me such a violent look I had to suppress an urge to throw up. My Auntie thrived off the connection, but I’d always  thought it was just a ploy to get people’s money. I always shied away from any similarities to the great voodoo queen. Even the voodoo queen’s daughter who carried the same name. Marie Laveaus history was shrouded in mystery. Some regaled her as a great force for good, only practicing good Gris-Gris (magic) others believed she bended the craft to her gain seeking vengeance on those that crossed her. Most of the physical history on Marie Laveau has been destroyed in public records. Her tomb still stands in New Orleans. The only physical testament to the woman left. I had gotten a wild hair a few years ago to try to look into Marie Laveau’s family history. All I managed to find were a bunch of dusty old records far too damaged to make anything out of.

“It can’t be.” I whispered, my ponytail bouncing back and forth as I shook my head. “There’s lots of Laveau’s out there! Plenty folk claiming to be her kin.” Auntie Vickie-Mae pressed one long bony finger to my lips. A look of pride blossomed on her face.

“You are the kin, cher! I am her kin! After Marie Lavaeu’s reign as Voodoo Queen of Louisiana ended with her death, most of her living children fled New Orleans and went into hiding. The only one to stay was the daughter that carried her name. She fought for the claim of Voodoo Queen. One fled here to Baton Rogue and married a wealthy land owner by the name LaFluer. That is how Bellmonte Grove Plantation was built.” I bent forward and pressed my hands to my head. I was reeling from it all.

“What do you mean, ‘fought for the claim’? Didn’t it just naturally pass to her?”

Click in next week to read the exciting conclusion of Charlotte’s first chapter of THE LONG WAY DOWN (available summer of ’14).

Thanks for reading,

F.B. & Joy

One Mark One Man Made on Saluda, NC

From left to right: Debbie Evans (aunt), F.B. Wood (me), Niece Lundgren (mom), Ray Pague, Jesse Pague
From left to right: Debbie Evans (aunt), F.B. Wood (me), Niece Lundgren (mom), Ray Pague, Jesse Pague

This post could have been written many months ago, but there are some wounds that need more time to heal before they can be talked about openly.

Whether we want to admit it or not we all want to leave a mark of permanance on this world.  We all want to be remembered after we are gone. Some of us have children.  Some of us leave behind art or some humanitarian legacy.  Others are content to leave their name carved in a tree or pressed into concrete.  Whatever we strive towards we put our all into making something happen that will live on long after we have left this plane of exsistence.

Jesse Pague (featured above on right) was a young man that lived his life completely full of life. His means of expression was not always understood, but his enthusiasm for the world around him was surpassed by none.  We are coming up on the two year anniversary of an event that took this gentle person from us.   His life celebration will go down as one of the best celebrations Saluda, NC had seen in a long time.

******************************************************************************cover1Woodchip of Wisdom: Other people’s opinions of you only matter to them.  

Find more encouragement in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdoms by Frederick and Joy Wood.


Saluda had become a town that Jesse loved to call home.  The small town and plentiful woods were an enchanted atmosphere that left his artistic soul free to explore.  He left positive impressions on many of the people he encountered.  He elated them with song from his guitar.  He humored them with his personality.  He enjoyed the written word, but very few got to read what he had written down.

He attended my wedding and there are several pictures of he and I standing beside eachother in many of the family pictures taken at the end of the ceremony.  I also had the unique pleasure of getting to know his personality a little more intimately when I offered him a temporary job as my carpenter’s assistant.  I was contracted to build a custom bar for Honking Tonkers, an art house/coffee bar in downtown Saluda.  I was also to perform various other smaller tasks, but the bar was the biggest project. His only experience in the matter was laying tile, which didn’t come until the very end of creating this custom furniture.

He was not the first inexperienced carpenter’s assistant I had every worked with .  His enthusiasm for the job made up for his lack of knowledge.  He was the first to tote the lumber and his hands were on the project every step of the way through framing and trim.  The tile was blue ceramic that had been hand painted with various artistic white patterns. When it came time to run the tile I touched the first one to set it and he ran the rest.  He set them to make sure they would fit.  Then he gingerly picked up all them, we ran the glue, and he re-ran the tiles with me only watching.  He smiled the entire time.  I asked him why he was so excited about this and he responded “Because it’s for Saluda.”  Unfortunately, his tragedy came just two days after he had completed this.

Honking Tokers is still enjoying a rousing business career.  There are many patrons who lean upon the tile top  that leisurely enjoy their coffee and paper or a conversation with the shop owner.  Perhaps they are unaware of who or what went into the making of this surface for them to enjoy. But, hopefully they all feel a little better once they leave and go about their day.  So, when you do take your chance to visit this very special place in the Blue Ridge mountains place your hand on the bar and know it is full of as much life as the man who built it.

The marks we leave on this world will not always bare our names, but our essence can never be erased from what we create.

If you enjoyed this post here is another one I wrote after having a long conversatin with myself Coping on the Road of Dreams

Thanks for ‘inter’chatting


Life’s Pendulum with its Highs and Lows

Highs and LowsIt was a hard bump. The kind that no one wants to feel, but life seems to just lay out for you nice and pretty.  It’s either so well hidden or you’re so enrapted with yourself that you don’t see it.  Whichever the case may have been bouncing back from these setbacks is a low point in just about any peron’s road.

Everyone will tell you that good times lie ahead.  That all you have to do is keep pushing forward.  That isn’t what you want to hear when your feeling low. You’re not sure what you want at that point, but it sure isn’t that.  So, if you are feeling low then perhaps an event that just came to be today might let you know there is a ray of sunshine and it will come from the most unexpected place.

***********************************************************************cover1Looking for more words of encouragment. Find them along side timeless black and white photography. You can find it here in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdoms by Frederick and Joy Wood.


As you know I have been traveling down the road to self publication. I have enjoyed an even footing until the beginning of this semester.  As part of my continuing education I have been enrolled in my minor Entrepeneurship.  It is a 403 class. I was given an override to skip 401 and 402 for now. Because of this I have spent a great deal of time playing catch up. I have toiled endlessly teaching myself and putting together balance sheets, income statements, and break even analysis. On top of writing the other twenty pages of the business proposal. All of these endless hours has been in an effort to compete in the Donald W. Reynolds Business Competition outlining my self publication endeavor.  I have been very excited as it has shown me a path at which to work towards with my and other’s writing.

Simultaneously, Joy and I both entered into the Reno News and Review Poetry Competition.  We pulled together our best, reviewed eachother’s work and submitted.  This will be Joy’s first competition and I’m really proud of her for having the courage to put herself out there.   Well, it turns out that the announce date for the winners of both competitions would be on the same day.  We waited anxiously and when the day came I was first on the computer to check all the listings.

Much to my dismay we didn’t place in either competition. Devistating as it was to lose I received comments from the business competition that let me know that my proposal didn’t even meet the average. I had been given a 3.23 out of 10. The comments ranged from “lack of experience in the field” to “poor grammar”.  I began to question my life’s work, where it was going, and even if it was worth it. This might have been my fault for letting my hopes get to high. But the pendulum came back from it’s up swing and smacked me right between the eyes.  Sometimes that’s what it takes for you to realize how far you have to go.

Joy and I resolved ourselves not to give up and if you ‘ve been following along with our blog we haven’t missed any posts.  We continued on and today the pendulum swung back up so high I burst into tears of joy.  I checked my e-mail today to see a letter from one of professors back in Spartanburg, SC.  It turns out that the paper I had written last year for the South Carolina Upstate Symposium was so well received that  it was edited and resubmitted to the Upstate Research Journal.  An even more prestigous scientific magazine published in the upstate.  This will be released within the next two mohths. Two more e-mails down I saw Writers Inc. USC Upstate’s literary magazine.  They got back to me from a submission I had turned in last October, eight months before the deadline.  They let me know I had been selected to be published in that as well. Copies to be available at the end of this month.

I burst into tears and held onto my daughter tight.  My writing had not been forgotten, nor was it unpublishable.  It was just waiting for the right audience.

The greatest journey an artist will ever go on is finding the audience for their art. 

If you liked this post here is another one I wrote after having a long conversatin with myself Coping on the Road of Dreams

Thanks for ‘inter’chatting


Fantasticalites vol. 1 Issue 11

picture provided by
picture provided by

We are thrilled to continue on with part 5 of Charlotte Harding‘s first chapter to her debut novel A Long Way Down. To catch up here  is  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. Be sure to follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharlieHardAuth.  If you have a submission for Fantasticalities please copy and paste your entry and email us at

A Long Way Down

by Charlotte Harding

(part 6)

The office was lit by strands of old Christmas lights of various novelties. Chili peppers, liquor bottles, and naked breasts for Mardi Gras were strung up around the room. The multi-colored lights caused Auntie Vicki-Mae’s beautiful face appearing sickly as she let out a heavy sigh.

“You don’t understand cher, you wouldn’t understand. ” Auntie Vicki-Mae’s eyes fell to the floor as I felt the physical tension in the office drop with her shoulders. Anger ripped through my insides, despite my fear of my Auntie’s sudden change in mood. I grabbed her wrist demanding eye contact.

“I must know. I have a right to know who this woman is!” Auntie Vicki-Mae turned her body to face mine. She clasped my wrists with her warm hands as I let go of her. All my pleading, doubt, self-loathing, and anger reflected up at her from my face.

******************************************************************************BookCoverImageLooking for a great book to relax with.  Be sure and check out Smithing the Word By F.B. Wood featuring suspense, sci-fi, and stunning poetry.       Follow us on Twitter @Inthewoodspub or Follow F.B. on Twitter @FrederickWoodII 


“You’re right child, Jesus, you’re right. Tell your Auntie what happened yesterday.” I hesitated for a second knowing good and well that this may just be a simple deflection of hers.

“Mr. Wilkin’s secretary called me, told me there was some important business to handle in his office and said I had to come in right away. I met with Mr. Wilkins. He said that my Granny had died at a hospital in New Orleans last Tuesday. He shoved the death certificate and her will into my hands. He said he didn’t have any other information. That he was strictly contacted by her executor’s lawyer. She left me everything, including Belmonte Grove Plantation.” Fear slithered across Auntie Vickie-Mae’s face.

I knew it!

“No! It’s a curse child!” She said. It was my turn to clasp at my Auntie’s wrists in shock. I was baffled. I had a feeling that she would contest this woman being my Grandmother, but – a curse? Auntie Vicki-Mae released my hands, went behind her desk, and sat down very slowly in her office chair. I watched frozen as she gently rocked back and forth. Her cold citrine eyes lost in the blinking lights.

“Sweet Jesus, it’s a curse! That place, Annie, is cursed! It will kill you, child. Chew you up and spit you out. Nothin’ good, ever came from that place.” She said. Auntie-Vicki-Mae’s voice was nothing but a whisper.

“Why? Auntie, why?! Who or what has cursed it?!” Anger was edging sharper in my voice as I stood over her. I was going to shake the secrets out of her. Even if it took all night. Auntie dropped her face into her hands; a tired whimper escaped her lips as she took in a shallow breath.

“Voodoo, cher. Voodoo.” I felt my knees give out as I let myself sink into the faded purple chair. I sat there, unblinking for several minutes. Voodoo…?! A frustrated laugh finally escaped my lips. I started to pull myself up to leave. I had heard rumors. I had heard the jokes about my Auntie. I even had my own suspicions about some of the people who sought out my Auntie. Some things she did for money, but I never believed them, never for a second. Voodoo wasn’t real. But it was why everyone in Baton Rouge thought my Auntie was crazy. She still believed in it. A few wayward folks here and there sought her out for help from time to time. I always thought it was just part of her charm, her authentic appeal. She was losing it. I looked over at the door, ready to split. Forget that I had even attempted to get a solid answer out of her. I stood to leave.

A heavy current of warm air slammed into my chest knocking the wind out of me. It pushed me back down into the chair. Ants began biting their way down my arms. I felt sweat prickling across my forehead. A wave of nausea building up in my stomach. My eyes flickered over to my Auntie’s. Neither one of us dared to move towards the other.

“I told you to sit child.” My eyes widened. What the fuck was that?! I was certain that the freakish burst of whatever that was, had come from my tall boney looking Auntie. I did what she said. I sat back down and stayed as perfectly still as I could. Voodoo although commonly associated with Louisiana, wasn’t as prevalent and rampant in Baton Rouge as it was in New Orleans. I guess that’s why my Auntie was so known in town. Attractions of the city were typically for the scholastic, culinary, or business savvy. This was the capital city, not some back alley entertainment town conning you out of your money with some Voodoo nonsense. I didn’t dare move my eyes off of hers. Something dark sparkled behind them.

“Stop acting like a damn child! Now, cher! You wanted to know! You bring dis upon yourself! Well, once I dun tell you. Once you know de truth, there is no taking it back. You hear?” I flinched at the cold hardness of her words.

“I said, DO YOU ‘EAR ME?!” Auntie Vicki-Mae shouted as she seemed to grow taller over me. Her Acadian/Creole accent grew thicker when she was angry. Auntie still knew more of the old language than I did. It came out often when she was angry.

“Y-yes ma’am.” I swallowed hard and fought to match Auntie’s dark gaze. Auntie-Vicki-Mae didn’t seem to be satisfied. She rose quickly and came over to where I sat. She drew in closer and clawed at the arms of the faded purple chair.

“Repeat, after me. ‘I will not turn my back on what I will learn.’” I gulped out a response.

“I-I promise not to turn my back on what I will learn.” It was a promise I wasn’t sure I could keep, but Auntie was terrifying me. I had never seen her so intense, so fearful. Auntie cleared her throat, smoothed down her shiny black hair, and pinched her ruby red cocktail dress straight.

Click in next week to read the exciting conclusion of Charlotte’s first chapter of THE LONG WAY DOWN (available summer of ’14).

Thanks for reading,

F.B. & Joy

Coping on the Road of Dreams

phote from
phote from

We each have a different way to release our frustrations. Some people prefer to yell or scream.  Others beat up inanimate objects. While others just curl up into a ball and cry. I prefer to walk inside my mind and sit down with a long conversation with myself. Here is one I have had recently.

Coping on the Road of Dreams

I walked upon a path I had found in the woods. It had been trodden by others with their signs laden along the way. When I felt I could walk no further I turned to find myself in front of a stone road. The rocks had been worked smooth and cut so that they fitted together in a beautiful puzzle. The road was not very long and I could see a man not too far away. I stepped out on the path and was surprised out enjoyable it was to walk upon.  The trees rustled slightly in a soft breeze. Several birds chirped as the bees’ went about their jobs over several colorful flowers. The man’s hammer clinked steadily as I approached.  I raised my hand and said

“Hello.” His hammer stopped and he nodded to me. There was a pause as we looked at one another. “It is a lovely road.  Do you see many travelers?” He shook his head and pointed his hammer at me.

“There are a few, like you,” he said. I looked at his works once again.

*******************************************************************************cover1If you would like more words of encouragment you can find it here in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdoms.



“Is it hard?” I questioned. He shook his head slightly.

“It is only molding the elements of earth. Some elements may take longer.” I marveled at his patience then questioned,

“Why would you build out here? With so few to admire your work?” He let his hammer fall to the ground and stared at me before he made his reply. He stood and turned. He gazed at the various tools laying on the ground.

“Each day I till the soil breaking rocks loose and smoothing the dirt that remains for an even foundation. Then in the afternoons I chip the rocks, I dug up, into these pavers under your feet. After dinner I get out my mop and bucket and polish the path I have already made.  There have been days and days that I have seen no one.  I have asked the same questions. I have yelled to the trees and the heavens around me.  It only rusted my tools.” I stood perplexed by the man’s response.

“Then why continue you on?”  His gaze left the tools on the ground and fixed themselves way beyond the trees that lay ahead of him.

“Because it is in my dreams. I look around me and I am compelled to continue you on. I have quit, many times, and each time I found myself sitting back down to these same motions. As if my soul knows something neither my mind nor body does.”  The man took his seat back on the ground and went back to his steady hammering.

“Did anybody come?”  The man smiled.  “You did,” he answered. “But what if no one else comes?” I retorted. “What if it is a wasted life?” The man shook his head once again. “The wasted life is the one who creates nothing.”

If you liked this post here is another one I wrote about life as a student at any age Scholastic Discomfort

Thanks for ‘inter’chatting


Mmmmm – Beef Jerky

Every time I post about our homemade beef jerky, on social media, immediately folks ask for the recipe. I usually give the brief run down, but today I’ve got pictures and simple, yet detailed guidelines for making your own Beef Jerky – right now, in your own oven – so you don’t have to mooch off mine!

Why homemade beef jerky you ask? Well, have you seen the junk they’re trying to pass off as beef jerky in the stores? Gross. Pick up the package, turn it over. Read the ingredient list. That is not food. On top of that, they charge you a whooping $9-$12 for a measly 6 oz. bag for organic jerkey and $3-$6 for 6 oz. of the other stuff. It really is much cheaper to make your own at home. It keeps well in a Ziploc baggie or airtight container. We’ve even shipped our homemade jerky across the country as Christmas presents.

*******************************************************************************cover1If you would like to see Joy’s beautiful photography you can find it here in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdoms.


Now, the first thing you’ll need is a nice piece of beef. We prefer to use London Broil. We’ve also used Bottom Round, but those cuts are fattier than the Top Round London Broil (as it is called in the picture below). You’ll get tastier jerky for your buck if you go with the Top Round. Fat is the enemy of beef jerky taste. Do your best to avoid Sirloin or Prime Rib. We usually wait until the beef goes on sale BOGO or for a promotional price at a local grocer.  Go ahead and buy extra and freeze it. Back in Greenville, SC – BILO was the place to go for the best price, here in Reno, NV – SMITH’S has the best price for the quality of meat. It is important to keep in mind that during the dehydration process your meat will shrink. So, as you’re pricing your meat take your price per lb into consideration – a 1.57 lb piece of meat yields 0.79lb in jerky when it was all said and done.

London Broil

The items you will need for your marinade base are:  Soy sauce & Worchester sauce –from there your jerky flavor options are endless! You can take just about any dry seasoning and add it to the base or sprinkle it on the meat before dehydration. We’ve done Caribbean Jerk, Italian, Mexican, Garlic but the most popular flavor has been Lemon Pepper – so I will use Lemon Pepper as my recipe example.


If you cook often the Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce will probably already be in your fridge. The Kikkoman Soy Sauce was on sale $1.89. Worcestershire sauce was $1.15 and the Lemon Pepper Seasoning was $.99. Still we didn’t top out at more then $4 for the seasonings for this flavor.

Measurements for Marinade:

1/4 Cup soy sauce

3/4 Cup Worcestershire

1 TB Lemon Pepper

If you’re making a larger batch keep in mind it is one part soy sauce to three parts Worcestershire.

***TIP: Freeze your beef before you cut it. Then let it thaw for about thirty minutes. This will soften the meat to an easy to cut consistency.***

Mmmmmmm jerky!

We like to slice our beef in 1/4 inch slices the night before and let it marinade at least 8 hours. You can let it soak longer, but the salts and worcestershire start to break down the meat rather than tenderize it.

The following day when you’re ready to cook up some of the tastiest jerky ever, preheat your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or use the lowest setting available. You can not use a gas stove as they do not have a low enough setting. If you have a dehydrator I recommend using one of those.

20140319_175340Because we have a gas stove we have to use a food dehydrator. I found this one on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond and used a 20% one item coupon. Came out to be quiet the steal.

Before you lay down your beef to be dehyradted you need to get the excess marinade off. I place a paper towel on a plate lay out my beef and then pat it dry with another paper towel.   Then you want to sprinkle on any additonal seaoning you may want to add.  I do use more lemon pepper seasoning.  Try to give your beef jerky a little space in between pieces, but it’s okay if they are touching on the pan or in the dehydrator. If you are using the stove remember to line your pans with tin foil or you will be throwing them away by the end.

If your using a dehydrator turn on your machine to the appropriate setting and check back in a few hours.  If you are using the stove you will need to leave the door open slightly to allow moisture to escape. I usually close the door and stick a butter knife in there to hold it open a fraction of an inch.   You can not set it and forget it.  You will need to check on your jerky frequently if your using a stove.  You will also have to flip your jerky every hour and a half as no air is flowing under the pieces.

I can’t give you an exact cooking time for everywhere in the world, but I can tell you my times for Greenville and Reno.  In Greenville in a stove it took almost four and half hours to make beef jerky in the stove with them being flipped twice.   This time can run longer if you use a seasoning that has no salt in it.  A dehydrator may take all day in Greenville, but you do not have to tend it. In Reno I’ve never used a stove, but because the air is so dry my dehydrator will finish up in under three hours. Voila!

I hope this has shed a little light on one of our happiest snack foods.  We would have pictures, but we ate it all before we took them.  Enjoy.

If you liked this post here is one I wrote about the thoughts I left in the mind of a man no longer with us Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading,


Concert House Rocks: Assaulted!!!

punch to the faceI have a confession to make.  I have about a fifteen minute drive to work.  I, usually, let the radio play. This leaves my mind free to wander and prepare itself for the coming events.  Almost everytime I find myself questioning what I would do when the fist comes flying. In my mind I always block the attack.  Then it is followed up with either me subduing the person, escorting them out of the venue, or breaking a bone.

It is a mental preparedness that all people go through on their way to work.  You prepare yourself for whatever obstacles you are about to encounter.  This gives you some plan of action for when “it” does hit the fan.

But there is no plan of action for a sucker punch. Period.

*******************************************************************************BookCoverImageLooking for a great book to relax with.  Be sure and check out Smithing the Word By F.B. Wood featuring suspense, sci-fi, and stunning poetry.       Follow us on Twitter @Inthewoodspub or Follow F.B. on Twitter @FrederickWoodII 


That’s why they call them that.  The crowd was particularly rowdy at this performance.  The crowd was 1,100+ and the aggression just kept rising the more alcohol they got into themsleves.  It was long before fights began to break out.  The ones in the begginning were easy enough to handle.  It was just a one on one. You rip them apart and throw them outside.  As the night wore on more and more patrons gotten involved with fights.  They escalated from one on one to five versus five.  There was another doorman on this particular evening and I was tapped to help out inside.

I made a mad dash for the door when the call went out.  I was behind one of my co-workers. He was coincidently the biggest and most experienced. Men were pushing eachother. Women were slapping one another. Fists were flying as people began to fall to the  floor. People were yelling at eachother both in agression and out of caution.  My cohort charged into the fray.  I followed suit with three more event staff behind us.  We began to pull people apart. Pushing them away from eachother. I pulled one man off and then stood between him and the man he was punching.

He turned to leave and the world exploded with momentary white light. I felt my head involuntarily jerk to the right. My feet remained planted where they were. I immediately whipped back around and stared at the man who had hit me.

I was caught in a momentary quandry. I was enraged at the fact that I had just been hit in the face. I was also shocked into immobility at the fact that I had just been hit in the face. I stared the man down and pointed my finger at him.  He began to take a few steps away from me. Fear written across his face.  I wanted to follow him into the crowd, but I didn’t want to leave my crew. I checked to see that the fight had died down.  It had. The man who hit me had vanished, but fortunately one of the other event staff had an eye on him.

We cut through the crowd and found him ducked down behind a circle of small women. They tried to say he was okay, but my partner saw differently.  I stared  and he fearfully met my gaze.  They decided to take him out the back door.  I turned and went back to my post. I didn’t see that guy the rest of the night.

For anyone interested his technique was sloppy and weak. He didn’t leave a mark on me.  I am fine and stand here to tell you all that was only one incident out of the entire evening.  I also had to tussle with a barricade jumper and took the flat of a woman’s boot to the chest as I ripped her and another woman apart. There were several other caualties far worse than mine.

When I got home I laid my head down on my wife happy to find peace at the end of one hell of a night.

The badges we wear are not always going to be made out of metal, but it doesn’t give them any less creedence. 

If you liked this Concert House Rocks post here is another one I wrote to warn parents of America about Yike-ing. Concert House Rocks: Degradation of Dance

Thanks for inter’chatting’

F.B. Wood

Fantasticalities vol.1 issue 10

picture provided by
picture provided by

We are thrilled to continue on with part 5 of Charlotte Harding‘s first chapter to her debut novel A Long Way Down. To catch up here  is  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , Part 3, and Part 4 Be sure to follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharlieHardAuth.  If you have a submission for Fantasticalities please copy and paste your entry and email us at

A Long Way Down

by: Charlotte Harding

(part 5)

9 am came sooner than I had wanted. I crawled out of my bed as quietly as I could. Then I remembered Melissa still had class today. She was a disgusting morning person. She’d woken quietly, made her bed, and even cleaned up after her breakfast. I shuffled over to the coffee pot and turned it on. The only thing Melissa wont’ do. She hates the stuff. I took the brew time to shower. I threw on some clean khaki shorts, a bright green t-shirt, and pulled my hair into a ponytail. Back in the kitchen I grabbed a granola bar as I filled up my tall travel mug with some coffee. I needed as much fuel as I could get for the day. I managed to slip out of the dorm around 10:00 am. I was on a mission.

We had spent all night researching the plantation. Trying to find any public records of reconstruction done or events that had taken place there. We managed to find very little beyond some basic upgrades made to the home over the last four decades. One search revealed old stable logs of horses that were bred. They were bought from the property in 1953, and the post was about refuting a court case. An old listing of cotton crops popped up from 1878. Nothing current came up in our search other than the usual; indoor plumbing, electricity upgrades. By the seventies, there was even an indoor pool added on what we had assumed was the back conservatory. Melissa’s hopes of the plantation being livable soared. Mine had remained realistically low. I knew my Auntie Vickie-Mae got my message late last night letting her know that I would be dropping by the salon for a visit in the morning. Today was Wednesday; I had no classes and all day to hash this estate business out with her.

I arrived at my Auntie’s salon, Sheer Illusions. My wavy hair, pulled up into a high pony tail, bounced back and forth with each determined step I took. I knew my Auntie would do everything she could to avoid a confrontation with me, but damn it I deserved answers. I was gonna get some. The stairs creaked on the front porch of the weather beaten old home retrofitted for the salon. I grasped the wrought iron handle and pulled open the glass door. The crescent moon and stars wind chime jingled melodically as my sneakers slid across the threshold. The salon’s smell of chemicals wafted over me. It’s funny how the weirdest smells can trigger the good memories. The smells of women gossiping, playing dress up, and late nights with my Auntie cleaning up. For a girl raised in a beauty salon, I couldn’t do a thing with my hair to save my life. Don’t even get me started on my nails either.

“Dare she is! My beautiful niece.” My Auntie’s soothing Creole accent greeted me from deep inside the salon. A chorus of “Hey”s came from all the other women. My Auntie always slinked around the booths like a nimble tigress. She had on one of her ruby red vintage 50’s cocktail dresses. It framed her smooth mocha skin perfectly. She had rolled her silky black hair recently. The soft curls clung around her bony shoulders. All she had to her name was a modest little salon in the downtown area of Baton Rouge but, business was booming. All of my Auntie’s clients envied her, especially the richest ones. In her younger days she had won many beauty pageant titles, to include Miss Louisiana when she was 19. She competed in Miss America, but only managed to get runner-up. It broke my Auntie’s heart. I walked over to the receptionist counter letting my hand slide across the top absent-mindedly. I started to make my way towards the back.

*******************************************************************************BookCoverImageLooking for a great book to relax with.  Be sure and check out Smithing the Word By F.B. Wood featuring suspense, sci-fi, and stunning poetry.       Follow us on Twitter @Inthewoodspub or Follow F.B. on Twitter @FrederickWoodII 


“Mornin’ Auntie, do you happen to know why I came to talk to you?” I kept my voice neutral, playing it coy. I knew my Auntie, knew.

“Now child, you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about dis!” Word gets back to my Auntie quick. She has ears everywhere. If you wanted the latest gossip or dirt, you got it in my Auntie’s salon. Her voice echoed brightly through her beauty parlor. She dragged a corn husk broom meticulously over the black and white checkered floor. The morning light from her broad front windows reflected off her shiny black hair with each sweep. Brown wicker ceiling fans turned lazily above the thin rectangular salon housing two rows of fancy booths. Each booth had an occupant gossiping, laughing, or a hair cut. A rather plump patron in a hideous floral printed dress was humming away underneath a hair dryer. A petite Asian woman, wearing far too much gold and, the worst fake nails you had ever seen was yammering away on her cell phone about her lazy boyfriend.

My Auntie took great pride in keeping her salon clean and cheerful. Everyone in Baton Rogue came through here to get their hair done by Alphonse, my Auntie’s godson. Once he came out to his family in New Orleans; they turned his back on him. My Auntie, of course, took him in without question. In the process turning her back on her best friend over it all. Who were we to judge someone merely on their sexual preference? We both loved Alphonse; he’d been in our lives since I was little. I slammed my purse down on top of a stack of the latest gossip magazines. I hadn’t come here for pleasantries. Alphonse yelped at the sudden noise.

“Yes I do, Auntie! My Grandmother is dead!” I let my eyes carry the emphasis of the word “Grandmother”. Auntie Vicki-Mae froze in mid-sweep. Her eyes changed drastically from her normal warm, cheerful honey colored eyes, to those of cold hard citrine. The air seemed to suck out of the room in a single pop, the only sound was the humming of the woman underneath the hair dryer, even the Asian woman had paused to listen to the voice on the other end of the line.

“What did you say cher?” Uh-oh. I must have hit a nerve. My Auntie practically spat out that last word. I clenched my jaw tight set my chin high and matched her cold hard stare with my own clear hazel green eyes.

“I have a Grandmother who…is…dead. I was dragged into our lawyer’s office yesterday! I had to sit there looking like some idiot. What are you-“ Auntie Vicki-Mae dropped the broom. She snatched my wrist sharply, cutting off my circulation. Before I could protest, she was yanking me towards her back office. I tried to jerk my arm back and let out a squeak of surprise at my Auntie’s sudden surge of strength. Her soothing calm demeanor shifted tremendously. She tore open her office door and threw me into the overstuffed faded purple chair. She stood in the doorway sweeping her gaze around the salon. The fat woman underneath the hair dryer was still humming away. The Asian woman obviously missed the whole little scene as she was still yammering away on her cell phone. Auntie Vicki-Mae slammed her office door. She took one long stride and closed the gap between us.

“Hush your mouth, cher! You have no Grandmother! You, understand!?” I sat frozen in the fluffy, faded chair dazed. I wasn’t crazy. Clearly the events of yesterday had happened. I had a Grandmother or someone that thought she was. I had never, in all my life seen Auntie Vickie-Mae get worked up like this.

“What are you not telling me?” I begged.

We hope you enjoyed this installment of A Long Way Down. We look forward to having you clicking back in next Friday to see why Auntie Vickie Mae doesn’t want Annie to know anything.

Thanks for reading,

F.B. & Joy Wood

Spring Break? Spring Broke!!

DSCN7070It was very flattering to see the reader turn out over the last three days.  As many of you may have seen we took a small vacation.  We managed to get away from everything (work, school, housework) without leaving our new hometown of Reno.  Joy took an extra three days off of work and my classes had been canceled.

However, getting away from everything meant getting into everything we had been putting off.   There were several items on the to-do list.  The biggest of which was to get our new in state licenses.  I am very happy to say we are now proud Nevada residents.

While my school and Joy’s work took a break my work did not. I continued to watch the crowds at several shows.  With Joy home this afforded me much needed guilt free recooperation time.  When Joy is at work, on a day after I have worked, I usually have to rest heavily on the couch while Phoebe enjoys watching T.V.  This has not been the case. Joy and Phoebe got quite a bit of one on one time in the mornings and evenings this spring break. I also had several matters to attend to at my new college.  There was two seperate trips that had to be made during business hours.  It went fairly quickly without Phoebe in tow, but it took precious time away from the family.  I also had homework that was to be turned in the day after our break ended.

Joy wanted to take the time to spurce up the house.  Which she has done quite nicely.  She went out and found some very lovely spring colors that she has begun to decorate the house with.   She has gotten new sheets and curtains for the master bedroom.  She has also found a new decorating technique where she wraps canvasses with cloth to  create wall hangings.  If you’re lucky maybe she will create a blog post detailing her process.  She has also received several prints in the mail of her photography.

*******************************************************************************cover1If you would like to see Joy’s beautiful photography you can find it here in our enlightening coffee table book  Daily Woodchips of Wisdoms.


She has placed the prints in several second hand frames which she has painted, antiqued, and begun to display around the house. Again if you request it she might create a whole post around her spring decorating.   She also found a do it yourself head board that I will be building.  I had to pick up the materials for that.

I am sad to say that we did not get to one of the items on the list which is an overhaul of this webiste.  We were hoping to make all the changes while we were taking a break, but time saw differently. Therefore, you may have to pardon our dust as we re-decorate the site one page at at time.  Charlotte Harding and myself will be getting our own author pages. Concert House Rocks, Fantasticalites, and Inside the Cube will also all get their own tabs so you can catch up on all you might have missed.

It may sound like that all we did was work our butts off.  This was not the case. There was several occassions where we got to enjoy ourselves.  We took Phoebe to Chuck E.Cheese and Paradise Cove.  She also made a new friend as we have finally found a babysitter.  She is a senior psychology major at the college and we are very happy to have her assistance in this new town.   This afforded Joy and I the longest date night we have had in Reno to date.  We also managed to find a great masseuse and we both got rubbed down as a spring treat.

With so much going on you can see why I’m just now getting to write to all of you out there in the ethers of the internet.  It was a lot, but it was all worth it. We got a lot done and even found a little rest for ourselves.

Without the body’s rest the minds measures are all for naught. 

If you liked this post here is another one I wrote about life as a student at any age Scholastic Discomfort

Thanks for ‘inter’chatting


Fantasticalities Vol. 1 Issue 9

picture provided by
picture provided by

We are thrilled to continue on with part 4 of Charlotte Harding‘s first chapter to her debut novel A Long Way Down. To catch up here  is  Part 1 ,  Part 2 , and,  Part 3 Be sure to follow Charlotte on Twitter @CharlieHardAuth

A Long Way Down

by: Chalotte Harding

(part 4)

                I kicked open my dorm room door letting the day’s frustrations fly loose. Melissa shrieked, as the door bounced off the wall, dumping her textbook to the floor and tossing notes into the air. Melissa’s high blonde ponytail bobbed up and down as the springs on her mattress reacted to her surprise.

“Annie! What on earth has gotten into you?” Her notes began landing softly on top of her text-book.

“A fucking plantation!!” Melissa jerked upright in her bed at my language. I know most people hate it, but I curse like a sailor because I enjoy it. Plus it makes me feel better.

“Excuse me?” Melissa said sharply removing her black framed reading glasses from her smooth tanned face. I began to burn off my temper racing back and forth in the space between our twin beds.

“You heard me! A damn plantation! Guess who it belongs to.” I said quickly. I was fueled by the adrenaline rush of kicking our door open.


“My Grandmother! Oh, what’s that you say? But you don’t have a Grandmother? Oh, well I found out today that I had a grandmother. But ‘oh by the way, she died last Tuesday and here is her rotting, decrepit plantation, take it!’ What the hell am I supposed to do with it?” I said, seething. I could tell I wasn’t giving Melissa a chance to take this all in. She was still tracking my angry pacing through our dorm.

*******************************************************************************BookCoverImageLooking for a great book to relax with.  Be sure and check out Smithing the Word By F.B. Wood featuring suspense, sci-fi, and stunning poetry.       Follow us on Twitter @Inthewoodspub or Follow F.B. on Twitter @FrederickWoodII ******************************************************************************

“Hold up, you had a grandmother and your Auntie Vicki-Mae never told you?” I whirled viciously around on Melissa.

“That is precisely, why I am pissed. The only relative I have ever known of was Auntie Vickie- Mae!” And my Mama, but I had been dancing around that emotion-fest all day. Now, it wanted to tango. Melissa stood up from her bed with bright green perplexed eyes.

“You mean to tell me that in all the years that she raised you, she never bothered to fill in the gaps of your family tree? No family photos?” She said with her hands braced on her hips. I let the tears start to fall. My body crumpled down on to the edge of Melissa’s bed. I hated crying, but I had needed to do it all day.

“It was just the one photo of my Mama.” I said, gasping between sobs. “I always assumed whatever happened was too painful for her to talk about.  So, I never pushed it on her. I tried to be sneaky. Don’t think I haven’t wondered what happened, but she would shut up on herself if I asked. For all I know Melissa, I could have more family out there that wants nothing to do with me.” I squeaked out. God I was a fucking mess. Melissa slid down next to me on the edge of her bed. She sat there with her arm wrapped around my shoulders, letting me have a good cry. Don’t let Melissa’s tall build fool you. She was a solid rock to lean on.

“Oh, hush now, Annie. We’ll find the answers.” She said, rocking the bed a little. I squeezed Melissa’s arm with my hand.  I wiped a few tears away with the other.

“I still don’t even know if this woman is really my Grandmother.”

“You know the best person to ask.”

“Auntie Vickie-Mae, but what if she just lies to me?”

“Show her the documents. You do have them right?”

“No.” I said. They were still sitting on that lawyers desk.

“I still think she’ll dish if you just confront her. Tell her how upset this has made you.” She said getting up from the bed to pick up her notes and book. Thank you, Psych Major.

              “I can’t help but think about that giant plantation. What on earth am I supposed to do with it? I don’t even know if she lived there. If it’s run down or up to date. Yeah, it’s paid for but-“ Melissa dropped her books back on the floor cutting me off with her flailing hands.

“Paid for?! Say no more! Don’t you see what this means? We don’t have to worry about where we are going to stay over the summer break. If it’s close enough to town than we’re good to go for when we find jobs after graduation, too.” Right, jobs. I noticed the mischievous sparkle in Melissa’s eye. The one she got when her mind was racing faster than her common sense. I shook my head.

“I don’t even know what it looks like!” I said as Melissa crouched down between our beds and dug up her laptop from beneath her nightstand.

“That’s what Google is for honey!” She looked ecstatic to dive straight into internet research at ten o’clock at night. I rolled my eyes and decided to kick off my yellow sandals. Better order some take-out. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. I shuffled over to the dorm’s pseudo kitchen and found the menu for the chinese restaurant around the corner.

“Now, what is the address?” Melissa looked at me expectantly. I grabbed my cell phone, punching in the number.

“All I got was a name from all that paper work mess on the lawyer’s desk.” She clicked the back space key loudly.

“Ok, fine. What was the name again?”

“Bellemonte Grove Plantation.” Melissa’s fingers pecked furiously at her key board. I watched her as the phone rang on the other end of the line. There was nothing you could keep from Melissa, she’d dig it up and use it against you in a heartbeat. Especially, if you were stupid enough to leave it online. I ordered our usual lo mein noodles with veggies and decided to add an order of spring rolls. I was starving.

“Bingo, it’s just an address and description, but I found it. Elaborate Greek revival and Italianate-style Plantation, constructed in 1845. Columns, pilasters, ceiling molding, the works. Dang, this is some classy stuff right here. Sounds like your Granny was well off, even if it does need some repairs.” My anger at the entire situation stung like a burning ember in my chest.

“So we’ll see.” I picked my cell phone back up and punched in the number for my Auntie Vicki-Mae’s salon. “So, we’ll see.” The phone rang five times and went to voice mail. ”Damn, voicemail.” Annie looked at her watch. “And it’s too late to go over there.” Annie’s mind raced as her Aunt’s voice informed her of what to do at the beep.  BEEP.  “Auntie Mae, I had a very interesting meeting with Attorney Andrew J. Wilkin’s today in regards to my Granny. I know you’ve been hiding things and now it’s time to come clean.” Click.

We hope you enjoyed this installment of A Long Way Down.  We look forward to have you clicking back in next Friday to see how Annie confronts her Aunt.

Thanks for reading,

F.B. & Joy Wood

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