Thursday, 22 February 2018

Bottom Tales and Others (Collection of Short Stories) by Loretta Moore

 

 Bottom Tales and Others
(Collection of short stories)
    by Loretta Moore
                                      Softcover: 126 pages
                                      Language: English
                                                  ISBN-13: 978-1-941157-05-3
                                     Product Dimensions: 5.5 X 8.5  inches 
 A lost world revealed: the bottom, an African American community that once existed in the city of Philadelphia 

Imagine a community where neighbors all know and assist each other, where they never have to lock their doors. A myth, a pleasant dream? No, this once-vibrant African American community existed as part of Philadelphia. The Bottom, also known as Black Bottom, was located roughly between 33rd and 40th streets east and west and to Lancaster and University Boulevard in what Philadelphia city planners called Area 3. It was a place that transcended the physical infrastructure of the city. This community existed from the early 1900s until the mid-to-late 1950s before state and federal urban renewal displaced its residents. It was in 1984 that the first reunion of former Bottom residents was held, and later this lost community was honored by the City of Philadelphia. In 1999, the city declared the last Sunday in August as “Black Bottom Day,” as a tribute to the legacy and the history of this lost community. It is through Bottom Tales and Others that this vanished community of over 5000 residents again lives. Like raising Lazarus from the dead, author Loretta Moore brings this once-thriving community back to life for you to experience, along with the edifying journeys the Bottom inspires.

  
BLURB

THE BOTTOM



The Bottom , also known as Black Bottom, existed as an African American community in the City of Philadelphia. Located roughly between 33rd and 40th streets east and west and to Lancaster and University Boulevard, The Bottom existed from the early 1900s until the mid-to-late 1950s. In 1999, the city declared the last Sunday in August as “Black Bottom Day,” as a tribute to the legacy and the history of this West Philadelphia community.

The Bottom during the 1940s and 50s, while I was growing up was a place spreading encouragement and hope, and was astounding with productions of myths and glory. Because of its texture and fertility, no amount of sophistication could have provided better than the Bottom, for it was an excellent, bejeweled poetic excursion nothing could drain from my memory; it endued the Writer I am today.


 Excerpt


THE BOTTOM
By: Loretta Moore

     The Bottom was a lowly place inhabited by the working class, and just as much by the poor. Nevertheless, throughout, my childhood flowed with precious, valuable humanity. A principality of longing and invention, The Bottom introduced glimpses of the brilliant light of inspiration sparkling wonder. A location of dim surroundings during the 1940’s 50’s, The Bottom was for me a place deep mystery, intrigue and discovery with astounding productions of myths and glory, spreading encouragement and hope. Because of its texture and fertility, no amount of sophistication could have provided better than The Bottom for it was an excellent, bejeweled, poetic excursion nothing could drain from my memory; it authorized the Writer I am today.   
      Ostensibly, The Bottom was so called because it was wedged in the lower portion of West Philadelphia. (The ascription, “The Bottom” could also have meant that most of the residents lived at the low end of society.) Lowly, brick row houses banked many of The Bottom’s mostly little and narrow streets. Some apartment buildings along with some impressive, stalwart homes, and avenues and boulevards were also in the area. Over the many years the working-class community had existed, The Bottom had been inhabited by many ethnic groups: Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Dutch, Polish, plus others. However, The Bottom in which I grew up during the l940’s and 50’s was composed of a majority of Negroes, with only a sprinkling of its’ earlier residents.
      The Bottom’s inhabitants were largely poor. People were employed in factories, plants, as domestics and in other service-type jobs: city workers, garages and filling stations, restaurants, hotels as well as in other skilled and unskilled jobs across the City.  Nearly everyone in the community worked for a living and in spite of the struggles and misery faced by all, The Bottom was incorporated by a caring, cooperative spirit.    
       In those times, many living in The Bottom were among that enormous flow of Negroes who were abandoning their southern homeland for big northern cities. My parents and a slew of my relatives were a part of that huge migration abandoning the south. They were romantics, adventurers, young dark pilgrims clothed in innocence and immaturity, leaving behind the burden of poverty and racial segregation and injustice, for a life in the North they assumed promised shelter, and was better. Northern-bound, the southerners traveled on trains, Greyhound and Trailway buses, and by automobile. Traversing rails, highways and roads, with their projections dented by doubt, and visions ushered by burgeoning loneliness, they were wrapped in the strength of an idealistic dream, and hope.  (Traveling in the summer months meant days of relentless, burdensome heat and blazing sun with images of solemn countryside and burning seas of prolific fields, while nights swelled with the sweet aromas of honeysuckle and magnolia, and the pure magic of soundless, smooth darkness looming with mystery and intimidation over long tracts of landscape. Autumn and winter travel presented cobalt, somber skies, cold rain and vast vigils of stark, lonesome woods. And, there were the sights of lifeless pasture, and empty fields stretched by stubble and isolation. Some areas of countryside bore gracious manors, or tiny, tarpaper houses shackled to silent, leaden landscapes). 
      The announcement was affectionately spread of ‘newcomers’ throughout the community more rapidly than a runner passes a baton.  Habitats in the northern cities were enriched by the arrivals of southerners, for they brought a tender message: the melodious song of the south. Sadly, the new implants were separated from a place that they never left with finality, and seemed always to long for their southern roots. (An association, a bond had been broken, leaving a cherished memory of their southern past nurtured in their reflections, and in the familiar accented phrase used by all, “Down Home,” which when said was by description, a badge of honor and/or courage.     
       Separated as it was, The Bottom somehow appeared to be entrenched in the aftermath of the progressive activity of the city of Philadelphia. There seemed to be a muted, gray, solemn atmosphere with shadowy clouds, formed by fallout from city smokestacks hovering over the area. And, incredibly, within certain boundaries sometimes The Bottom was capable of inducing spirits, and of producing unsettling images, and would seem to have fallen under a mythological spell. (The darkened heavens would erupt into dim, shadowy images of horrific Homeric and other ancient Greek allegories. However, more often the placid image of Aesop, of fable fame, with quill in hand and tablet, would glide across the sky on an opulent, white soothing cloud. The phenomenal transcendental occurrences of The Bottom were not always aloft, or of epic proportion or associated with legend and mythology. Transformations on the tiny streets sometimes were the canals of Venice or Holland. Once, seemingly in commemoration of Good Friday, all of a sudden thunderous, dark, ominous clouds dominated the continuous rows of lowly dwellings, masking everything in the small lane in which I lived. And then, almost shattering my composure, the Crucifixion appeared as a fresco, and remained an amazing presence until dark clouds were lifted away on the day of Christ’s Resurrection, and brilliant sunshine poured into the little narrow street).    
       The Bottom was overpowered and rendered helpless on this unrelenting broiling summer day so hot, the atmosphere incorporated the sulfurous stench of melting asphalt and abound with dizzying waves of heat.
     I lay on the parlor floor against the fading flowers on the worn linoleum, my eight-year-old imagination captured by something transporting me from an idle spirit which straddled the plain, uneventful surface of The Bottom. I was supremely in the presence of magic encasing every trickle of life, fashioning everything and bulging my thoughts with everything around me. I was standing on the platform of life, lifted from my tepid environment toward pleasant, cheerful, glowing, comforting episodes and passages, to picturesque pictorials, and images and places cultivated by a universe of magic and mystery beckoning me.
    


                                                           “A Bottom ‘Fourth’”

     My family and I were among the throngs of people returning home from the Fourth of July celebration held in Fairmount Park. The City Park where we’d spent the day picnicking with relatives, friends and crowds of people was not far, maybe a four-block walk from Mt. Vernon Street. The Fourth of July was the fulfillment of the summer weeks and days I had spent anticipating it. The day began early with the delicious aroma of fried chicken and the sound of my mother downstairs in the kitchen, preparing an enormous picnic lunch our family would carry to the park. At that very moment, all of my expectations for Independence Day were released.
     A blazing, hot day framed thousands of celebrants and Fairmount Park. The exciting day had seen me and others through: there’d been lots of fun and games and great-tasting foods, and much romping about on the luscious green grounds for which Fairmount Park is exemplary. Even the Fourth of July program that had been echoing throughout the day from a platform across the ocean of enthusiastic picnickers had been entertaining and interesting. On Independence Day the lush, pantheon grounds of Fairmount Park served the public at large in a patriotic sense and in a social context as well. (During all of the levity and celebration, a hallowed, patriotic spirit presided over the surroundings: a permanence and intransigence parlayed and transposed the serene park grounds that a hollow strain inhabited. There were emanations from the American Revolution and from other wars fought in the preservation of our country’s freedoms. George Washington’s Troops at Valley Forge-Revolutionary War; the War of l812; Gettysburg; Manassas; Appomattox; the Civil War; the Mexican/American War; the Great War; World War I; Normandy; D-Day-World War II).
      The affect of wars on our community was extensive. My family knew personally men who while fighting in World War II were injured or lost their lives. One very sad case involved a young man, who returned from the war with Japan, hopelessly shell-shocked. Another situation concerned a very notable action on the part of an employer at the factory where my mother worked. It seems that he was one of the three soldiers to place the American flag on the hilltop at Normandy, a brave act indeed. Nevertheless, he contracted a physical condition fighting in the jungles that left him with an incurable odor. A very young mother we knew was left with a toddler to rear alone when her young husband was blown to pieces by German forces. And, of course there were others, some even relatives who courageously contributed to the war efforts of our nation. I was among my family and others in the park’s natural setting. The lush, green floor was fertile ground, reconnecting the past and me. (As I listened, images and transformations of my ancestors hovered over the intimate conversations of my relatives, recreating the source of my background. The experience was comforting, encouraging, and inspiring, even elevating). A long day of excitement ended with the beauty and splendor of fireworks shattering the violet night sky.
     Now, the plenteous, fulfilling experience was over and families and others were returning to where they dwelled in the Bottom. I was lost to longing and regret as I stood on the corner at the top of Mt Vernon Street.  (A concentration of darkness and gloom saturated the lifeless rummage and plumbing fixture businesses and other businesses at that location. The darkened sky floated with stars and cloudy formations-some of it vestiges of exploded fireworks. A volume of sadness and disappointment infiltrated the darkness magnifying the solemn retraction that normally clung over the Bottom, with the concentration overflowing into Mt. Vernon Street.)  With a deep sense of regret and reluctance, I climbed down into the canyon of Mt. Vernon Street. The spectacular, explosive day was over, my spirit and I would have to wait for next year’s ‘Fourth.’



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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Women and Alchemy - Plus an excerpt from "A Knight's Enchantment" by Lindsay Townsend

Miryam and the alchemists, from 'The Khamsa', a 12th. century series of Persian poems by NizamiEveryone knows that alchemy is the art of turning base metals into gold. It was also seen as a pursuit of divine knowledge and immortality. From its very beginning in the ancient world, alchemy was seen either as a glorious search for truth or as a means for charlatans to hoodwink money out of gullible patrons. Such dabblers in the art were known unkindly as 'puffers' - from the bellows often used in alchemy in the heating of substances - and were despised by the more serious students of alchemy.

In my "A Knight's Enchantment" the heroine, Joanna, is an alchemist. From earliest times, when the strange ‘science’ of alchemy developed, women became alchemists. They were as respected as men in this profession and several were particularly revered. Many powerful and influential women studied alchemy, including the countess of Pembroke Mary Sidney, Queen Christina of Sweden and even Marie Curie.

Why were women drawn to alchemy? Famous and successful alchemists tended to be long-lived - usually far longer than the average life-span. That and the prospect of riches may have drawn some, though alchemical thinking also attracted the religious and mystical such as Hildegard of Bingen. In part, too, women may have been intrigued by alchemy because they were accepted and respected in it. The feminine principle was acknowledged in alchemy - many saw nature itself as female and today doctors still used the alchemical symbol for copper, a soft, malleable metal, for woman.

Women were also given credit for their alchemical work and inventions. One of the most famous, called the 'Mother' of alchemy, was Maria the Jewess, who lived in the first or second century AD, possibly in Alexandria. She recognized the importance of changes in color in chemical and alchemical reactions and is credited with inventing a still used for distillation and also the balneum mariae (bain-marie); a water bath that is kept at a constant heat via a kettle or cauldron. A contemporary of Maria was Kleopatra, who likened the growth and progress of alchemical work to a baby growing in a womb.

Woodcut of Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel (pic: Wikimedia Commons)Women could also be married to alchemists and help them in their work. Nicholas Flamel, a famous medieval alchemist who lived for a time in Paris, was assisted in his work by his wife Perenelle and, when their experiments in alchemy brought them wealth, they jointly founded hospitals.

When so many professions were closed to women in the past, perhaps it is not surprising that some chose to pursue this most secret and at the same time most fascinating of arts.

[Colour picture from The Alchemy Website, others from Wikimedia Commons.]

You can read an excerpt from my medieval romance novel "A Knight's Enchantment", with my female alchemist here

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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

"The Maze Effect: Finding Mr Right". Contemporary Romance by Majel Jay

The Maze Effect: Finding Mr. Right
by Majel Jay 

Every woman wants the perfect man... or at the very least, a decent man.

“Mr. Right”
How do you find him?
What does he look like?
Is there a formula to know who he is?

Just ask Kimberly Kay Nezda, a successful young diva with a budding career in a big city. She had it all or so she thought. She had many encounters and was confident she had finally found Mr. Right.
A rich, handsome, suitor, the mark of perfection, but did she let him walk “The Maze?”
Was it the perfect love story or the perfect storm?

The Maze Effect is a steamy, riveting, short story about dating, sex and falling in love. You’ll be captivated as you read Kimberly’s story of an epic life-changing journey into love and finding Mr. Right.

Excerpt:

“Yes, yes, very sweet and endearing, now please leave, the dog is drinking up all the milk and I gotta go!” I began pushing the door close with him on the other side. Damn, it wouldn’t move. Did he have his damn foot stuck in it or what? That’s a serial killer move!! Shit, what did I get myself into now and where is my damn rape whistle!!
 
The Maze Effect: Finding Mr. Right
by Majel Jay 

ASIN: B0792656KC




Friday, 5 January 2018

"First Crush, Last Love," Contemporary Romance by Elizabeth McKenna

Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie's still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

Excerpt

Jessie flipped on the foyer light and her nerves relaxed until she saw the rug at the bottom of the stairs. It was askew. Her eyes darted over the space in front of her. Everything else was in its proper place. Besides the inability to pick faithful husbands, she and her mother shared the rarely appreciated trait of compulsive neatness.
She thought back to when she had left the house earlier. Maybe in her haste to meet Sarah, her foot had slid the rug out of place as she came down the stairs. But she would have straightened it. Unless she didn’t notice . . . but she would have noticed . . . because that’s how she was.
She inched into the kitchen and picked up the phone. She’d call the police and ask them to search the house. Because of a cockeyed rug? Even in her paranoid state, she knew it would sound crazy. Their first question would be, “How much did you have to drink tonight, Ms. Baxter?”
She shook her head. For all the bravado she showed in front of Lee, here she was acting like a scared twelve-year-old, alone for the first time while her parents were on a date night. Her mom had offered to cancel her trip to London when Jessie told her the date of the class reunion, but Jessie had insisted she go. Since retirement, these trips had become her mom’s main source of entertainment.
She rummaged in her purse until her fingers found her pepper spray. With the canister at arm’s length, she circled each room on the first floor, testing the locks on the windows. Everything seemed in order. She let out a breath and grasped the banister leading upstairs with her free hand while her foot straightened the rug.
The steps to the second floor creaked under Jessie’s weight. She shuddered at the eerie feeling the empty house gave off. Still clutching the pepper spray, she checked the windows upstairs before collapsing on the bed in her childhood room. The house was too big for one person. She didn’t know how her mom stood it. Maybe tomorrow she’d move to Sarah’s. They could have a slumber party like old times.
Old times. Lee Archer. Wow. Her smile turned into a yawn. Something itched at the back of her mind, but after seven hours in a car and a few more in the bars, she gave into heavy eyelids and fell into an uneasy sleep.
At three in the morning, her eyes flew open and she clutched the comforter to her chin.
Underwear. A pair of lacy, black underwear hung from the top rail of the desk’s chair. No way in hell had she done that.





Love a book that has a Happily Ever After?
Then check out my alter ego, Elizabeth McKenna:
Novels are available in e-book and paperback format.