Thursday, December 22, 2016

S'ayapo, I Love You

For the past several years I've made it a tradition to post this particular short story of mine because it brings out so many emotions in me. I hope you enjoy. Here's wishing everyone Happy Holidays. 

S'agapo...I love you
by Lea Schizas

The lights of the nursing room were unusually bright this Christmas Eve night. An outsider had visited Mrs. Sophia Adamopoulos earlier in the day. She brought a Greek dish, pastitsio, filling the halls with its aroma of cinnamon and pasta…a welcome change from the lingering odors of Lysol and urine.

The nurses greeted her, comforted her and explained the state her mother was in.

Armed with the latest update, Maria Adamopoulos stepped into her mother’s surroundings. Childhood memories hit her hard. The vision of her mother combing her beautiful long tresses and hugging her as she said, "Maria, s'agapo, I love you", enveloped her heart. Her mother cheering her at every track meet, making sure she was never late. Her mother’s laughter filling the house with joy as Maria practiced her words for Saturday's Greek school. All these images flashed before her as she faced the cold aberration she stepped into. No embroideries hung on the walls like in their family home. Mom's cassette player playing the cherished Greek songs she sang to, was missing, as well.

But the single picture that broke her heart was to see her mother sitting by the window, emptily staring, not outside at the panoramic garden view but at the empty walls within.
"Hello, momma." As Maria approached to hug her, Mrs. Adamopoulos flailed her arms in front of her, terrified.
"Who are you? Help me!"

The nurse ran in and immediately soothed her.

"Sophia, Sophia, calm down, you have a visitor. This is your daughter, Maria. She's come a long way to see you." Maria felt like running and shaking her mom to the present, to try and get her out of this Alzheimer stupor that gripped her.
Guilt rose in Maria. She thought, I should never have listened to my brother. I should have stuck to my guns and brought mom back to Greece. Her brother had stopped visiting. He told Maria mom doesn’t recognize me, so why bother. Maria was here to bring her mother back home.
Sophia stared at Maria as if trying to bring about a memory forever lost in this mind disease. The nurse left them alone once more.

Slowly, Maria again approached her mother. "Look, ma, I made your favorite dish." She gently lifted the tinfoil and let her mother take a look.


"Yes, momma. It's Maria."

Tears flowed down Sophia's cheeks. "Where is my memory when I really need it," she cried.

That night the dim lights magically lit brightly as if Sophia's memory and those lights were one.

Maria had entered her mom's hospital room as a stranger, but for one magical moment her mother embraced her like she used to, a long time ago, whispering the words Maria needed to hear once again.

"S'agapo, Maria. I love you."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Victoria's Visions by Jean Hart Stewart

How can Vicky reconcile the two conflicting visions that haunt her every thought? In one, she and Cabot are walking on a beautiful shore, hand in hand and happy. In the other, he is weeping beside her bedside. They can’t both be true, can they?

Happy Release Day to Jean Hart Stewart
Song of the Mages series
is now available at MuseItUp and all online retailers.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Humble Heroes Just Do Their Job

by John B. Rosenman

John Glenn died recently. I think most of us would agree that he was a national hero. To mention just a few of his accomplishments and contributions: he was a multi-decorated fighter pilot of 150 combat missions; the first American to orbit Earth; a national political figure for 24 years in the Senate; and at 77 years of age, the oldest, by far, to return to space via the space shuttle Discovery.

But I want to focus on something else. John Glenn was not only reluctant to talk about himself as a hero, he apparently didn’t think of himself as one. He said, “I figure I’m the same person who grew up in New Concord, Ohio, and went off through the years to participate in a lot of events of importance.” When referring to his Earth-orbiting mission, he was flatly dismissive. “What got a lot of attention, I think, was the tenuous times we thought we were living in back in the Cold War. I don’t think it was about me. All this would have happened to anyone who happened to be selected for that flight.”

I don’t think it was about me. I’ve noticed that many of the greatest heroes have this self-effacing quality. We see them often. A cop or fireman risks their life to save the lives of others, and what do they say? “I was just doing my job.” When asked, they say they don’t think of themselves as heroes. They habitually defer to others and avoid the spotlight. They don’t think of themselves as superior to anyone, and praise and attention often embarrass them. If I may be permitted a personal reference, this is a major quality of Turtan, my fictional hero. For God’s sake, don’t praise him or make speeches in his honor. He was just doing his job.

This description describes to a T the values of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman. She risked her life to save the lives of 2500 Jewish children during World War II. She was caught, tortured, and severely beaten by the Gestapo who tried to make her reveal the names of the children and of her comrades. Despite her agony, Irena Sandler refused to do so. She was then sentenced to death and narrowly escaped. You would think after demonstrating such courage and conviction, that this woman would pat herself on the back a little and accept a compliment or two. Not at all! When interviewed, Irena Sandler said, “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this earth and not a title to my glory.”

In other words, I was just doing my job.

I’m not saying that people who display bravery and courage are not heroes if they thump their chest and brag a little. It’s okay to strut a bit and bask in well-earned praise. And I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t like movie superheroes and men and women of action who risk their hides and do glorious and splashy deeds. It’s just that during my life, I’ve noticed that it’s often the unsung and unnoticed heroes who are the most noble and praiseworthy. They may not be as glamorous or romantic, but they shine with a truer light, the kind you may have to watch closely to see.

I’ll give you one more example. I taught for nearly forty years at HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Often the families were poor and struggled to send their children to college. As an English professor, I came in contact with single mothers who labored at two or more jobs to afford a higher education for their children. To me, they were heroes. There was no stirring, uplifting music when they got down on their knees to wash a floor, and they weren’t featured on TV shows or the covers of any fashionable magazines. Nevertheless, in my book they were heroes, and I sometimes reflected on the strength and courage they must have possessed, especially when they themselves pursued a higher education thirty years or more after they had dropped out of high school.

In a way, these women were just doing their job too and didn’t think of themselves as heroes. Yet they were, and I believe such individuals deserve our recognition and appreciation far more than the glamorous stars we so often worship.

CONQUEROR OF THE STARS, Book 4 of John’s Inspector of the Cross series releases January 2017 . . . Pre-order now $3.00.
AMAZON                                       MUSEITUP
The first three novels of John’s Scifi-Adventure Inspector of the Cross series are available at

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nude with Red Hat Paperback

Thank you to Joyce Richardson for sending us this picture of her and her newest paperback release.

Nude with Red Hat, book 2 from her The Museum Mystery Series, is now available at:

Barnes & Noble


Susan, winner of a painting fellowship from the Ridges Museum in the college town of Foothills, Ohio, finds her artistic intentions interrupted when the dean of the College of Fine Arts receives a nude painting of his wife in the mail: postmarked Mexico. His wife, Angelina, is missing, and when he receives a second, horrible painting of her a few days later, he believes she has been corrupted, big time. The dean asks Susan to go to San Miguel de Allende to find his wife and bring her home.
In this second book of the The Museum Mystery series, Susan, and later Amy, the wife of the museum director, once more haplessly try to figure out what happened to Angelina, while running head-on into art fraud, prostitution, and murder. The lovely colonial town of San Miguel seems to be more dangerous than anyone thought.

#femalesleuth #cozymystery

Sunday Musings: Holiday Wishes

Happy Sunday.

I can't believe it's that time again, the last Sunday Musings of the year. Once again Musers would like to send their wishes and holidays thoughts to you:

Moments of contentment and companionship in a chaotic world.

I wish everyone a happy, blessed Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year and extend the same heartfelt good wishes to those celebrating other holidays at this joyous time of year.

In a world that is more aware than ever, of differences, this holiday season, I'd ask everyone to look for the similarities between us. We may not always agree with other people's opinions, nor like their personalities, but if we look hard enough, there is always something that we share, that we can respect. So, whichever religious or secular festival we celebrate this December, let us forget our differences and remember our similarities, then let us celebrate those.

Thank you! Readers, and other supportive authors, you are deeply, deeply appreciated. I am grateful for everyone who enjoys a story now and then. Keep reading! Joyous Noel and a Fulfilling New Year to you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I wish for all of you and yours, very happy and safe holidays this year. And for next year, I hope that everyone has the love, happiness, and well-being that everyone deserves. See you next year!

Wishing all our Muse readers, friends, and family a wonderful holiday season. May your days be filled with love and laughter, and your nights find you cuddled up with a great book!

May all your holidays and 2017 be bright with great reading.

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.

While the holiday season is a time for celebrating and enjoying traditions, it's also stressful and hectic. It's especially bittersweet for those missing loved ones, or facing challenges and uncertainties--my heart goes out to you.

So, here's my wish for you...slow down, hug often, speak your love (shout if they're hard of hearing), breathe slow and deep when "they" test your patience, cherish the ones you love (fur-babies included) and every chance you get, Wish Upon A Star (knowing it'll come true). Wishing you and yours a joyful, magical and safe holiday.

MJ LABEFF, New Mainstream author

This has been a spectacular year. I’m grateful and excited to be part of the Muse It Up Publishing family and wish everyone at MIU a joyous holiday season and best wishes for the new year. To my fellow authors around the world, may 2017 be a year that brings more story ideas than you have hours in the day to write, many new book releases and joy shared with family and friends. To all of the book lovers and readers, glorious, wonderful readers, who connect with us on social media, take time to write reviews and share our stories, keep on reading and may you and yours have a merry little holiday and a happy new year filled with peace, love, prosperity and great health.

Dear Reader, I wish you a memorable interval of DIFFERENCE.

If you have a daily commute, I hope you may stay at home for a couple of days - if you are the domestic goddess I hope you may be removed from the kitchen to a place of pampering with a MuseItUp book and a glass of something to your taste while Another cooks dinner - if you are a person much depended on by others I hope you may secure a worry free break while someone else takes that strain - if you're an underemployed senior I hope the below generation may allow you a little responsibility...

Whatever the DIFFERENCE is that would make your Holiday I hope you achieve it. Remember that old saying, 'A change is as good as a rest'.

My holiday message would be for peace.  For the conflicts in the world to end. For people to find a way to live with each other and respect the others way of life, religion and opinions. I would love not to see the children in the world starving, or growing up with bombs exploding around them. Christmas is a time for peace.  If one person could extend the hand of friendship to their enemy, then one small gesture may spread the word to others.

To all who support MuseItUp I would wish you a very Happy Christmas and all good wishes for 2017.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Musings: Authors world voices

Hey, Sunday!

Is everyone ready for December and the fun chaos it brings? Come on, you know you love this month and you know it gets crazy. Yes, some have a difficult time this time of the year, too. And, there's some major changes coming for our American Musers. Then there's the world and the worries, fears, and heartache. Makes you want to hold on tighter to those you love, doesn't it?

Well, this is something we're wondering about today: In times of turmoil do authors owe the readers their voice?

Because authors use words to express themselves, I look at this as more how we write about what is happening around us as a way to understand. The world fuels our imagination and through that we voice our opinion via the story and characters. If we're lucky, others connect to us because they agree, even disagree but perhaps see something different than what they thought before.

A reader can easily make assumptions about an author’s politics and beliefs. But can the subject matter of a story, or its characters’ dialogue be assumed to reflect the author’s personal views? In my historical novels I portray realities I am not that keen on, such as the widespread use of prostitutes by Victorian men, gambling, the effects of war, colonialism. So the answer is probably not. But I suggest we all have boundaries which determine our own “no-go” areas which we would not portray in our fiction.

Nevertheless it is quite valid for authors to expose issues (contemporary or historical) through their fiction. Charles Dickens is an example of this. Is this different to an author speaking out in public on an issue they feel strongly about? In the first case, they expose the issue to the reader through their characters in a fictional story; in the second they “nail their colours to the mast” and speak out as a citizen, if they are fortunate enough to live in a regime where this is possible. I am not a famous author, so I doubt the few letters to the press I’ve had published would be of widespread interest. For the more famous…well, that’s up to them!

The message intended by an author may be subject to different interpretations by readers. If you belong to a book group you’ll have experienced this. George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” as a satire against Stalin. When I taught in a small central African “one party democracy”, it was one of the set books, believed to encourage students in anti-Communist sentiments. Someone in the regime suddenly realised it was also a metaphor for how their own dictator had come to power. It was banned overnight and a replacement book had to be rapidly studied in time for the school certificate exams. Ironically it was “The Diary of Anne Frank”, a true story of where autocratic power can lead.

No, not in the sense of wading into the fray, unless maybe as a voice of calm and reason if it's possible to cool things down that way.  There is always more than enough screaming and chaos live and on the various media without throwing more fuel into the firestorm.

My feelings and opinions can be found in my books, in some more than others depending on the situations in which the characters populating them find themselves, but I write to tell stories.  I've never reduced them to platforms for pushing personal or public agendas.  Please God, I never will.  Readers want my works, my characters, not my big mouth (no climbing on a soap box by the author, thank you).  May I always remain true to their trust.

No matter what we authors say about and in times of turmoil, we’re going to annoy half our audience. I write fiction, my audience enjoys a nice clean story to get away from reality for a while, or to make sure the side they’re rooting for wins, despite reality. I owe you my consistency.

Well, I'm not sure I adequately understand the question, but generally speaking, I never thought of the author owing the readers a voice during times of turmoil. Sooo, I do not think so. Now, during something horrendous such as 9/11, the author may give voice to their own thoughts and thereby provide a voice that readers can relate to. Or during a national event such as the Iraq War (2003-2011, 2015-Present), again the author may express their personal thoughts and provide a voice that readers can relate to. But, the bottom line is that I do not think that we owe the readers a voice. I believe the readers are able to express themselves, from their heart and soul, without authors "speaking/writing for them."

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at