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SUNDAY SPECIAL: Time to Honor One of Our Own

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

Victoria Slotto, fellow poet and blogger, had her first novel – Winter is Past – published last year. Her second novel is in progress as is a poetry chapbook. Victoria is a gifted writer and poet, and I am proud and delighted to feature her here. Victoria and I have much in common in terms of values and life experience. It was gratifying to see how well she incorporated important insights and ideals into the narrative flow of her novel. You will fall in love with and not soon forget her heroic character, Claire. Jamie  

“See! The winter is past; the rains re over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth.” Song of Songs: 2:12

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420Enter a world where achieving inner strength and surviving the odds are possible

With a talent and voice unlike any other, Victoria C. Slotto captures the reader’s heart and mind with a tale of overcoming personal hardships and struggling with one of life’s most difficult questions, “What if…?”

What does a woman—a fearful woman—do when all she holds dear is in danger of being lost? Victoria C. Slotto’s romantic drama, Winter is Past, explores the depths of joy and sorrow women face and the paths that women find through fear.

Winter is Past explores Claire’s story, a woman with a perfect life—a husband she loves, friends, and meaningful work. As life changes around her, she shows us the strength of her spirit, as well as her belief.

Victoria C. Slotto, a former hospice nurse and a kidney transplant survivor, speaks from experience as she writes Claire’s story. But Winter is Past is not a memoir by any stretch; it is a story written by an accomplished poet and essayist.Victoria’s poems and short stories have been published in several magazines and journals since 2005.

The Plot of Winter is Past

After receiving a kidney from her best friend, Claire has a renewed delight in life. This newfound happiness is put on hold when she discovers Kathryn has cancer in her remaining kidney. To cope with a possible loss, Claire is forced to face a source of fear that has haunted her from early in life. Throughout her journey she will uncover an inner strength and survive the unthinkable. Claire’s fear is every woman’s fear. Her question is every woman’s—can she survive?

Critics Weigh In

Critics have already weighed in with reviews. Jean Davenport describes the novel as “A beautifully written and purposeful exploration of the meaning of life through love, loss and rebirth. The journey of Claire makes us all appreciate the fragile string our lives are attached to and how each event makes all worth living. A great read!”

Winter is Past was released December 2011 and is available in both print and e-book formats via most online retailers, which are listed HERE.

© 2012, 2013, photographs, Victoria C. Slotto, all rights reserved

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto

Victoria C. Slotto attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Having spent twenty-eight years as a nun, Victoria left the convent but continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying, Victoria has seen and experienced much. Because of her experience, Victoria is able to connect with her audience on an intimate level. She resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California. Winter is Past is her first book published by Lucky Bat Books. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger, sharing her fine poetry with us HERE.

The Rrroarrs


With a nod to Phillip K. Dick, author of the canine short-story RoogGrandkitty Gypsy decided that felines need their own such story. Hence, as dictated telepathically by Gypsy, here’s one for the kitties.

They made her shudder, those big-rig delivery trucks passing along Pacific Avenue, a busy stretch that runs parallel to the street on which the new apartment is located. They  – a good three or four at a time – stopped at the grocery directly across from Py’s building. Given the trucks’ mighty roar and intimidating size, she was amazed to see the humans gathering round, diving into the back of the truck and moving boxes on pallet jacks.

Py tried – dare we say it – doggedly to alert her human to the potential threat. She looked pointedly at the scene unfolding outside the window and bobbing her head up and down she growled “rrroarrrrroarr.” Unfortunately her human doesn’t speak Feline. When the human finally did take a look, she didn’t appear at all perturbed by the frightening perspective, though Py recognized it as abject terror. Soon though she began to feel her terror give way to interest. Food! She could smell food in the air, food that disappeared into the store’s receiving area.

Pensive, she studied the humans swarming about the trucks. One thought lead to another as thoughts are want to do. Suddenly she realized why feline foods are so poor: dry, boring, tasteless, “scientifically formulated nuggets” recommended by Dr. Annie. “For weight control,” she says. Humph! Ffffup! thought Py. The truth is we have to substitute good flesh food for dry prefabricated crunchables because the rrroars make sure the good stuff is hidden away in the humans’ grocery store. Her nose told her there was fresh fish to be had and – Bastet willing – some of that fish would be hers.

Pywacket (Py)

Slowly a strategy began to form in Py’s mind. Her dear but scattered human was forever forgetting something when she left for work. It was her habit to leave the front door open while she ran back into the apartment to find her misplaced keys or to grab her almost-forgotten lunch. For once, Py decided, I’ll take advantage of that. High stakes call for high risks.

Her chance came the very next day. When her human so predictably left the door open, Py escaped. She did her best to stay out of sight and for a while camped out behind a dryer in the laundry room.

Time passed slowly, Py slept, and then waking with a start, she listened to the stillness. She sensed all the humans in the building were gone for the day or settled down to watch their soaps on TV. Now’s my chance! She shot across the street like a Roger Clemens‘ pitch and scooted behind some bushes to assess the situation. It was there that she met a handsome red-coated fellow of her own kind.

At last the rrroarrs were empty and gone and the humans disappeared into the store. Py and her new-found friend, Fluffernutter, high-tailed it into the store’s receiving room.  They maneuvered past the stacked boxes of canned food and cleaning stuffs, their sensitive noses tracking the sweet scent of wild Alaska salmon in the fish monger’s section.

Fluffernutter (Nutter)

Once out of receiving and into the store they knew they were vulnerable. They decided Py would be the distraction while Fluffernutter went in for the kill. Py wrapped the luxury of her softly furred self around the leg of the fish monger. She purred seductively. Naturally he bent down to pick her up. Who could resist? The man immediately adored her and fed her a scrap of sea scallop in gratitude for her attention. As planned, the fish monger was so taken with Py that he never noticed the theft in progress.

Fluffernutter nabbed a hunk of salmon and made his way unobtrusively back to receiving and on to safety. When the monger gave Py another bit of sea scallop and regretfully set her free outside, she headed straight for the apartment house where Fluffernutter – whom she soon came to learn is more nutter than fluffer – was waiting for her. What a feast they had and it turned out to be just the first of many …

* * *

It’s been almost four weeks now. Py and “Nutter” – as she calls him affectionately – have their routine down. The silly fish monger is still deeply enamoured of Py and has no sense of her cunning. It’s hard to tell who is more devoted to the little feline goddess, man or Nutter.

Earlier today Py went with her human to visit Dr. Annie, who chastised the human for overfeeding Py and not keeping her safe inside. She’s now up from a petite eleven pounds to a voluptuous thirteen and pregnant to boot.

Pywacket & Gypsy

© 2012, story, Gypsy Rose and Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved * Gypsy blogs at The Cat’s Meow

© 2012, Pywacket (Py), from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

© 2012, Pywacket and Gypsy, from the family album, please be respectful – Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo credit ~ rrroars and Fluffernutter by Junior Libby, Public Domain


SEPTEMBER 26, 2012: Announcing New Website for Poet Mary MacRae


The deeper I go into Mary MacRae’s poems the more spacious my own world becomes. Anne Cluysenaar

The English poet Mary MacRae died of cancer in 2009. Were it not for the love and commitment of her poet-friends at Second Light Network, we might not have the gift of her poetry to savor in our quiet moments. Poet, teacher and consultant to Second Light Network, Myra Schneider  wrote and asked me to let you know that they have established a website for Mary.

The wide range of poems in Inside the Brightness of Red includes poignant work written when she was terminally ill but also beautiful lyric poems about childhood, youth, relations with parents, marriage, friendship and her responses to art and nature. Dilys Wood

Mary’s love of life … of nature, birds, flowers, gardens, art and family and friends are evident in precise multicolored layers of her work. She was published in several prestigious literary magazines.

Her enormous warmth and zest for life were balanced with a sensitivity and deep compassion that invited many to confide in her, came into play in her perceptive and incisive criticism and pervaded her poems. Lucy Hamilton

Mary won two poetry prizes: Scintilla magazine’s Long Poem Competition and a joint first prize in the Second Light Poetry Competition. Her work is included in the second Poetry School Anthology, Entering the Tapestry (Enitharmon Press 2003) and in Four Caves of the Heart (Second Light Publications, 2004). Second Light published two collections of Mary’s poems: Inside the Color of Red and As Birds Do. 

To read a small selection of Mary MacRae’s poems – of special note is Jury – link HERE.  You can buy Mary’s two poetry collections through the website.

With permission I published the following poem before on this blog and I post it again as an example of Mary’s work. Please enjoy, but remember that it is copyrighted with all rights reserved. It belongs to Mary’s estate. This poem is from Inside the Color of Red. 

Note: I have also put a link to Mary’s site, Myra’s site, and to Second Light Network in my blogroll under Poets and Friends, which a new and developing section of my blogroll.


by Mary MacCrae


A breathing space:

the house expands around me,


unfolds elastic lungs

drowsing me back


to other times and rooms

where I’ve sat alone

writing, as I do now,

when syncope –


one two three one two –

breaks in;


birdcall’s stained

the half-glazed door with colour,


enamelled the elder tree

whose ebony drops


hang in rich clusters

on shining scarlet stalks


while with one swift stab

the fresh-as-paint


starlings get to the heart

of the matter

of matter


in a gulp of flesh

and clotted juice that leaves me


gasping for words transparent

as glass, as air.

© poem and photograph, Estate of Mary MacRae, all rights reserved


WHAT WOMEN WANT: I just finished reading a sampling of poems that British poet, Myra Schneider just sent me. They’re from her newly published collection, What Women Want, from Second Light Publications.

The collection focuses on the ability of words and women to effect change. Myra explains:

“The booklet is in two sections. The main section has poems that examine the lives of women. The central poem in this section is a ten page narrative about Caroline Norton (1808-1877). She was the grand-daughter of Sheridan, the famous British playwright. Carolina was a beautiful society lady in London and a writer who had a dramatic life. Her brutal husband took away her three young children and gave them to his hard-hearted sister to look after in Scotland far out of her reach. Caroline’s difficulties led her to fight for women’s rights. She was the first woman reformer in Britain in the nineteenth century. Her pamphlet, Separation of Mother and Child by the Laws of Custody of Infants Considered (1837) is a work of art. With years of persistence she achieved some changes in the English law. These paved the way for later reforms.
“The poem, Carolyn Norton, ends by referring to the fact that many women in today’s world are denied basic human rights. It is followed by two poems which look at this situation. Other poems are about the frustrated life of my mother, also my mother-in-law, a stalwart refugee from Hitler. The last poem takes an upbeat look at women. The booklet begins with a section of general and lyrical poems which cover a range of subject matter.” Myra Schneider.
 Included in the collection is also this wonderful poem, posted here with permission…



Myra Schneider

after Picasso: Deux femmes courant sur la plage


Look how their large bodies leaping

from dresses fill the beach, how their breasts

swing happiness, how the mediterraneans

of sea and sky fondle their flesh. Nothing


could rein them in. The blown wildnesses

of their dark animal hair, their hands joined

and raised, shout triumph. All their senses

are roused as they hurtle towards tomorrow.


That arm laid across the horizon,

the racing legs, an unstoppable quartet, pull

me from my skin and I become one of them,

believe I’m agile enough to run a mile,


believe I’m young again, believe age

has been stamped out. No wonder I worship

at the altar of energy, not the energy huge

with hate which revels in tearing apart,


in crushing to dust but the momentum

which carries blood to the brain, these women

across the plage, lovers as they couple

and tugs at the future till it breaks into bloom.


Order through Second Light Publications or directly from

You can link to Myra’s website that includes information about her other poetry collections and her schedule of poetry classes and other events HERE.

© 2012, cover art and poem, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ Carolyn Sheridan, public domain


“You’re here to have fun …”
RAY BRADBURY (1920-2012)
American Author
fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery
twenty-seven novels
six-hundred short stories
eight million copies sold
thirty-six languages
Video posted to YouTube by  
Photo credit ~ U.S. Government, Public Domain