Oct 16 & 17 – A New Home and The Red Door

Here’s another double edition. We lucked out with the weather this past weekend and were able to successfully perform A Spot On the Hill outside for all three shows.

Prompts, A New Home and The Red Door.

“Wait! Stop, stop right here!” Richard’s reanimated corpse commanded.

Gregor begrudgingly agreed, but he was secretly thankful for the break. His calves were killing him. “What is it? We have a long way to go to get to my house.”

“I know that road.” Richard struggled to point to the dirt path to his right, Gregor’s left.

“That’s not a road.”

“It’s a road, trust me. I live down there.”

“Nice attempt to lure me off onto a dark road, but we’re going to my place.” Gregor tried to move again, but Richard started to struggle.

“My house is down there!”

“I’ve been to your house, and it’s not in the deep, dark woods,” Gregor argued.

“I moved a few months ago. I wanted more privacy.”

Gregor huffed. “All the stuff we need is at my house.”

Richard rolled his eyes. “We’re both chemists, Gregor. I daresay whatever you have at your house to dispose of my body, I have at mine.”

They compared notes and soon Gregor was steering them down the dark road.

“At least I’ll get to see my house one more time,” Richard sighed. “I do love it. Lots of windows. It is my dream house, and I only got to live in it two months. That’s irony, right?”

Gregor pedaled even harder and soon lights began to come into view. Sure enough, a stately house appeared on the horizon. It was ostentatious. Of course it was. It had dozens of windows, all lit up.

“You leave your lights on when you’re out?” he inquired.

“Security feature,” Richard replied.

The front of the house had a beautiful red door and it was standing open, swinging in the night breeze. Gregor brought the bike to a halt. “Do you also leave your front door open?”

“That I do not do.”

Well, crap.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 14-15 Conkers & A Torn Flag

I’m a bit behind. My cemetery play A Spot On the Hill went into production this week. Here are my entries for Thursday & Friday.

I am playing Betsy Cooke in the show this year. I’ve heard so much about her & her work in the library. I hope I am doing her proud.

The prompts for this edition are Conkers (look it up) and A Torn Flag.

“Did you say he killed you?” one of the other members in the group asked.

“I didn’t kill him!” Gregor protested.

“He was going to kill me, but someone beat him to it.” Richard’s corpse struggled to sit up. It was a rather revolting site to watch.

“Dude, how many people don’t like you?” asked a man dressed like a jester.

“Gavin, what do you have to say for yourself?” The woman gestured to the friar.

“I’m sorry, okay, Sheila. Tristan was going to check the bottles for me,” Gavin explained.

“Are you really going to blame Tristan? He had to go to his grandmother’s funeral tonight.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt your petty squabble here, but what I am supposed to do with that?!” Gregor pointed to Richard.

“You can take me to the hospital so they can fix me,” Richard fired back.

“Oh, no, that won’t work, dude. You’re dead, like so dead.”

“Yeah, the spell will wear off in about five hours,” Sheila informed them. Richard was crestfallen. “But maybe you can get justice against your murderer before the clock runs out?”

They both perked up at that. “It’ll be much easier to get you back to my place now.” Gregor stood and tried to help Richard up, but his legs were less than cooperative. “Get your feet under you.”

“If someone hadn’t slammed my body into every rock and tree, this would be much easier!”

Gregor huffed and looked at the group. “Can any of you give us a ride?”

“We don’t drive here. We ride our bikes,” Gavin replied.

“How old are you all?” Gregor wanted to know.

“How are we supposed to get on a bike?” Richard asked from the ground.

Several minutes later, Gregor was sitting on a bike with Richard strapped to his back. Since his legs were already broken, they folded them up. He was fastened to Gregor with conkers on strings, of all things. Apparently, the game was good for relieving stress and Gavin was British. Richard was still having trouble sitting upright, though.

“Do you have anything else? It’s hard to keep my head up.”

“What do you need to see? You’re dead,” Gregor remarked.

Gavin stepped forward. “I have something.” He produced his flag and started to tear it.

“No, Gavin, not your sigil,” one of his friends bemoaned.

Gavin would not be dissuaded. “No, this is my mess, it’s my job to make it right.” He ripped the flag into multiple pieces and secured Richard’s corpse to Gregor’s back. With fond wishes, the unlikely duo road off into the night.”
These are conkers, also known as horse chestnuts. Apparently the point of the game is to break your opponent’s conker.

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 13 – Color Blind

Something weird happened today. My mom’s work number rang around lunch. Caller ID said it was me calling her, but I have never called her on that number. I do have that number in my phone, but my phone didn’t even show a purse or pocket dial. She says she answered and it sounded like someone was crying on the other end. She kept saying my name, but no one answered and then the call cut off. She called me in hysterics, and I had to talk her off the ledge. I have no way to explain this except to say that maybe my number was spoofed. I’m sure there is an explanation, but a tiny part of me is worried it might be some sort of premonition. There’s a short story where a woman keeps answering the phone at home and hears someone crying. It happens for a year, and then her husband dies and in her distraught state at the hospital she calls home and she answers, but in the past. She realizes then she’d been calling herself from the future. Anyhow, now that’s kicking around in the back of my head. If it happens again, I’ll definitely write about it.

On to today’s prompt in my fictional story. The prompt is Color Blind.

“Gregor watched as the group, all dressed like they were from Medieval times, put their instruments aside and gathered in a circle. The one dressed like a friar raised his hands in the air. “The time is at hand, my friends,” he announced. He produced a large apothecary bottle full of blue liquid from behind his back. 

“We should get going,” Richard’s ghost pointed out.

“Yeah, yeah, in a minute.” Gregor shook his hand at the ghost and kept his eyes fixed on the group. They reminded him of his LARPing days. Oh, how he missed those days.

“Repeat after me, my friends. Quod semel avulsum est, iterum totum est.” The rest of the group followed his lead. When they were finished, he tossed the bottle into the flames. The glass shattered and the air filled with blue smoke.

“Did it work?” the friar asked.

“No, my limited collector’s edition figurine is still broken,” another member of the group replied.

“I said, we need to get going.” Richard tapped Gregor on the shoulder, but Gregor felt it. He looked over to see Richard’s reanimated corpse. He screamed. The corpse screamed.

Richard reached out and tried to wrap his hands around Gregor’s neck, but it didn’t work very well considering he had several broken bones. “Why are you choking me? I thought you were over it,” Gregor gasped.

“Turns out I’m still mad. You were going to kill me!” Richard shouted.

The two of them fell through the bushes into view of the group. Everyone screamed. Richard had to give up his choking effort. “Alas, my poor broken body,” he bemoaned.

Gregor sat up. “What do you expect, you’re dead.”

“Dead?” a woman in the group spoke up. She looked at the friar. “Gavin, did you mix up the bottles again?”

“No, I tossed the green bottle in the fire,” he defended.

“Damnit, Gavin. You threw the blue bottle. You haven’t mended our broken stuff, you reanimated the dead.”

Gavin winced. “Sorry, y’all. You know I’m color blind.”

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#Halloween #spooky #writingchallenge

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Oct 11-12 Grandfather and Folk Music

I was a little under the weather yesterday since I got my flu shot, so I didn’t write a blog, but I’m back today. Also, get your flu shot. It’s important, especially this year.

Halloween tree at my doctor’s office.
Rehearsal continues for A Spot On the Hill. Show opens on Friday!

Today’s prompts, Grandfather and Folk Music.

“Gregor knew he should get up and press on, but he couldn’t muster the energy. He kept staring up at the stars. “My grandfather told me not to go into higher academia, you know, told me it was cutthroat and ruthless. This coming from a guy who spent half his life in the military, but he kept on insisting. I didn’t listen, obviously. No, I was going to cure some major disease or make some huge discovery and win a Nobel prize, but where am I?” Gregor glanced over at the body tangled up in the tree limbs.

“I did admire you, you know, until you stole my research and thwarted my publishing attempts, and I know you did it to me because someone else did it to you. Guess my grandfather was right.

Gregor took a shuddering breath. It felt like the weight of the last 20 years was pressing down on him. “That same grandfather, he was Jewish, and he told this story from the Old Country about a king and his servant. The servant came to the king one day, all upset because he had seen Death in the garden and knew he was going to die. He asked the king to borrow his fastest horse so that he could travel to the next town ten miles over and escape Death. The king lent him the horse, and the servant rode off. The king went out to the garden and Death looked really confused. ‘What’s the matter?’ the king asked. Death replied, ‘I am supposed to kill your servant today in a town 10 miles from here, but unless he rides on the fastest horse, I do not see how he can get there.’ Then my grandfather said it was fate, and you can’t fight fate. Maybe this is fate, right here, right now.”

Gregor fell silent and the night was enormous around him. “Are you kidding me?” a voice spoke up and Gregor almost screamed. “Get your sorry ass up. Get my body up, and get moving.”

Gregor looked over to see Richard’s ghost hovering nearby. “I thought you wanted Dr. Hozier to kill me?”

“I may hate you, but I hate him even more. I’ve thought about it, and that asshat does not get to win. He couldn’t even manage the department’s budget properly.”

Gregor sat up. “Right?!”

“I may not be able to help you physically, but I know how to motivate you, Gregor. If you get to your apartment and dispose of my body, I promise to tell you something, something I should have told you a long time ago. And then you’ll take Hozier for all he’s worth.”

“Obviously.”

“Now get up and get going!” Gregor sprang to his feet and removed the body from the limbs. “Can you not hit my body on every branch.”

“I’m doing my best. I hadn’t planned for a giant tree.” As Gregor finally managed to extricate the body, a strange noise caught his ear. It wafted along on the night air. It sounded like a song his grandfather would have played, a song from Eastern Europe. “Do you hear that music, or is it in my head?”

“I hear it,” the ghost confirmed.

Gregor lay the body back down and slowly crept to the thicket of bushes ahead of them. He peeked through to see some sort of ceremony taking place complete with lutes and lyres. “My grandfather was right about something else. The woods are weird at night.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

I guess I need to figure out what conkers is.

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Oct 9 & 10: A Special Birthday and Branches of a Tree

I was able to get away for a little bit this weekend and make a trip with some college buds to the Carolina Renaissance Faire. It was good, but always too short, as it always is. Here are some pics from our adventures.

Playing catch-up tonight. Prompts, A Special Birthday and Branches of a Tree.

“Gregor had found the car key, and now he found himself crammed into the wayback of an SUV with Richard. “Thanks again for the assist, man,” Kevin said. Not to Gregor’s surprise, there was booze in the car. Kevin took a swig from a mystery bottle and offered it to Gregor, who declined. “You really saved my birthday,” Kevin concluded.

“Happy birthday,” Gregor said. It was more of a reflex than anything else.

“Thanks, man. I’m 22 today. Can you believe it?”

“And you wanted to dress up like a zombie?” Being a researcher, Gregor was genuinely interested in this bit.

Kevin got a little teary eyed. “My buddies here got me the greatest gift of all, the chance to overcome my greatest fear. I am terrified of zombies, but now I am a zombie, and I’m hanging out with a bunch of zombies. They signed me up for the dash, we got dressed up, we rolled up and yeah I freaked out. . .”

“But then we took him to drink in the woods and now he’s fine, and he’s ready to party with some zombies!” one of the others shouted.

“Zombie birthday fun! Zombie birthday fun!” they all began to chant. Kevin looked at Gregor expectantly, and he joined in.

“This is the best! This is the best!” Kevin crowed when the chanting stopped. “Man, your friend is really out of it. You sure he’s all right?” He reached out and poked Richard. Gregor really wished he wouldn’t.

“He just needs to sleep it off,” Gregor assured.

“Once you conquer your fear of the undead, Kevin, maybe you can conquer your fear of the dead,” one of his friends spoke up.

Kevin visibly cringed. “You don’t like dead people either?” Gregor probed.

“No, man, if there were a dead body in here, I’d jump out of the car now.”

“Imagine that.” Gregor couldn’t help but laugh.

“What about you, man, what are you afraid of?” The question caught Gregor by surprise, as did the intensity on Kevin’s face. Gregor was suddenly at a loss for words.

The car slowed to a stop. They were close to the main road now, thank goodness. Soon Gregor would be home with his charge and he could do what needed to be done. He saw flashing lights ahead.

“Look at this traffic,” one of them bemoaned.

“Cops, cops, hide the booze,” another instructed.

Gregor’s heart fell into his stomach. As soon as the car had stopped, he was opening the trunk. “Where are you going?” Kevin asked.

“Thanks for the ride. My house is real close. I’ll go the rest on foot.” He pulled the body out after him, closed the trunk, and carried Richard back into the wood line.

He was at least closer to his house. He just needed to get around those cops. Gregor was pretty familiar with this terrain, but there had been some heavy rains lately. His foot slipped on an incline and before he could stop it, he and Richard were tumbling down a bank.

They landed in the branches of a recently felled tree. As he regained his faculties, Gregor gazed up at the stars above him. “Is this where you saw your life going when you were in undergrad?” Gregor wasn’t sure who he was asking. Was he asking the heavens, God, Richard?

“That’s my greatest fear, you know, that I’ve done all this for nothing. Years and years of schooling, endless research and writing, and what has it all been for? Where do I find myself, tangled in the limbs of a tree with my dead mentor. Really makes you think, doesn’t it?”

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I hope you all have a good week. #writingchallenge #Halloween #spooky

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Oct 8 – A Lost Key

Happy Friday! Tonight’s post will be short. The spouse and I are with friends for our annual, 2020 not withstanding, trip to the Carolinas Renaissance Fair. This is the first time we’ve been away overnight since early 2020.

Today’s prompt, A Lost Key.

“Gregor and his charge pressed on through the night. How was he supposed to get back to his place before sunrise at this rate? “Don’t suppose you have any ideas,” he quipped to the corpse.

“You killed me. You’re on your own,” Richard’s ghost replied from somewhere. Gregor couldn’t see him, but he was colder all of a sudden, so he knew the ghost was there.

Gregor rolled his eyes. “Were you not paying attention ? I didn’t kill you, Dr. Hozier did.”

“You were planning on killing me. Now you’re aiding and abetting.”

“If you’re not going to be helpful, go away,” Gregor griped.

“I hope he kills you, too,” the ghost remarked and then it was gone.

Gregor took a breath and stopped. He really needed a plan. Before he could think too much, he heard voices. Suddenly, a person crashed through the bushes. He was followed by two others. Gregor shouted and dropped the body. The first person screamed, too. The light from his flashlight illuminated his chest and face. He was pale and also kind of green and had gashes on his face. His clothes were also in tatters.

“Oh, man, I’m sorry. Did you lose your car keys? I came over here to piss and dropped ‘em.”

“Kevin, did you find your keys?” one of the others asked.

“No, I found these other guys.” Kevin looked down at Richard’s body and Gregor’s heart almost stopped. “Oh, man, your friend is passed out. Gnarly make up job. Are you all in the Zombie party, too?”

The annual Zombie Midnight Run! Gregor was saved. “Yeah, we were, but this idiot here can’t hold his liquor.”

A thought occurred to Kevin as he swayed on his feet. “Dude, do you all need a ride?”

Gregor truly was saved. “Yes, yes we do.”

Kevin swayed some more. “Awesome! Find my keys and we’ll take you along!”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky






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Oct 7 – Professor

Watching all the Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons. This Halloween tradition is much easier thanks to DisneyPlus. (Not a paid advertisement, just appreciation.)

Somewhere in season 13 or so, of over 30.

Today’s writing challenge prompt, Professor.

“Gregor whirled around. A loan figure slowly stepped out of the shadows and into the only light. It was a dingy streetlight, and it bathed everything around it in this sickly, yellow glow. It made Dr. Hozier look paler than usual. Richard’s ghost was suddenly nowhere to be found.

“Dr. Hozier, but why?” Gregor managed to ask.

The former head of the department cocked his head and considered his colleagues for a moment. “I’ve watched you idiots ruin my department for years now.”

“We were cleaning up your mess.”

“You convinced me I was crazy, turned the students against me, took my tenure.”

Oh, yeah, they had done that, or at least some of it. Dr. Hozier had done plenty of it himself. “Richard there was the worst offender.” The Professor pointed to the body. “You were further down the list. I figured framing you for Richard’s death was enough, but it’s become clear to me that you had planned to off him yourself.”

Gregor sputtered. “I never . . .”

“You have the worst poker face, spare yourself. You wanted him dead. I wanted him dead. He’s dead. The question is, who gets the blame? I’ll cut you a deal, Gregor. You dispose of this body for me, and I’ll put in a good word with that journal for you.”

“The Anals? But Richard shut me out.” Did Gregor dare to hope?

“Again, Richard is dead. You have until sunrise, just to make things dramatic.”

“Wait, how are you going to know what I do?” Gregor’s eyes narrowed.

“I know a lot of things, and I’m always watching. Maybe I made a deal with the Devil tonight? Maybe I made a deal with Death itself?”

That struck a nerve. “And if I fail?” Why had Gregor asked that? His therapist was right, he really was his own worst enemy.

“You go to jail for Richard’s murder, or I kill you. I haven’t decided yet.” Dr. Hozier turned to go.

“If you gave me a ride, it’d be much faster,” Gregor pointed out.

“Yeah, I’m not getting any DNA in my car.” With that, Dr. Hozier was gone, swallowed up by the night.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky #kindofabsurd

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Oct 6 – Over A Bridge

Welcome back for another installment. Fall is my favorite season where I live. And even though the temperatures haven’t quite reached fall level yet, the leaves are changing and that smell is in the air. Fall always makes me feel like there’s magic in the air, dancing just around my fingertips.

As seen outside the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center. #onlyinjonesborough

Today’s prompt, Over A Bridge.

“Gregor waited for hours. His phone kept track of the minutes as they crawled by. He heard the others finally get in their car and leave. And yet, he still waited. He guessed Death wasn’t coming back, and maybe that was a good thing. 

Gregor pushed the ladder back out. He didn’t know what else to do with the body, so he shoved it out of the loft. It hit the ground hard. Good thing Richard was already dead. Gregor climbed down the ladder. He almost made it to the ground, but his foot slipped on one of the bottom rungs and he fell hard on his backside. He was all right, after a moment, but the same couldn’t be said about his phone. It was smashed.

Gregor managed to drag the body back to the clearing, but he was worn out. He retrieved the blanket and wrapped the body in it. Finally, the blanket’s purpose had been fulfilled. He noticed his coworkers had raided the picnic basket, taking most everything, including the drugged wine he had planned to give Richard right before he was going to jab him in the eye. Oh well, he’d worry about that later.

Gregor dragged the wrapped body down to his car. The blanket made it a little easier. When he got to the parking area at the bottom of the hill, he found that their coworkers, in their infinite kindness, had let the air out of the tires on both his and Richard’s cars. He really did work with jerks. Gregor hoped they did drink the drugged wine and died in a fiery car wreck. Maybe he could take out the whole department?

With a curse, he pulled Richard’s phone back out. His was dead, but he figured he could guess Richard’s password and call AAA. If he could just get back to his house, Gregor could stick to his original plan. And even though he hadn’t killed Richard, he could still dispose of the body appropriately. Unfortunately, Richard’s phone had just enough juice left to flash at him once before going dark.

Gregor wanted to scream into the night, but he swallowed it down. Without knowing what else to do, he pulled the body on. If he got back to the main road, maybe he could figure something out. He heaved Richard onward into the woods. They crossed the old bridge over the creek. Richard’s head hit every uneven plank, and that gave Gregor some satisfaction.

“This is all your fault,” he told the body. “If you weren’t such a jackass, not everyone would want you dead, and I wouldn’t be out here dragging your corpse around.”

Richard’s head hit another board with a thwack. “Hey, take it easy!” a voice spoke. Gregor knew that voice. He looked up and there was Richard, or the ghost of Richard, standing before him. Gregor did scream this time, and the ghost screamed.

“You killed me!” the ghost accused.

“I didn’t kill you!” Gregor protested.

“No, but I did,” came another voice from the shadows.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 5 – A Ladder

I love a good, spooky short story. Whether this will turn out to be one, time will tell. I love Edgar Allen Poe and his brilliance when it comes to horrific short stories. I’ve written some spooky shorts of my own. You can read two of them in Haints and Hollers, a compilation of horror stories from Appalachia, published by Mountain Gap Books. You can pick up a copy via Amazon.

Image by Jeanne G’Fellers
Image by Jeanne G’Fellers
Image by Jeanne G’Fellers

Now it’s time to check in with Gregor and his ever growing misadventure. Today’s prompt, A Ladder.

“Gregor sprang into action. He pulled the body aside, spread the blanket out, and did his best to cover the blood stains. He placed the picnic basket on top of the blanket, and with a strength he didn’t know he had, he dragged the body of his expired colleague into the woods. 

Gregor didn’t stop once the clearing was out of site. He kept going, his arms straining and sweat poring down his face. Now the blasted jacket was too hot. He could hear when the others reached the spot. “Wonder where they are?”

“The basket’s right here.”

“You think they ran off into the woods?”

“Gross. Richard has higher standards than that.”

“Any wine in that basket?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Grab a bottle and let’s go looking.”

Panic gripped Gregor’s throat. What was he doing? Where was he going? Also, why was Death still hovering around him?

“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” Gregor huffed through gritted teeth. Death just shrugged, very noncommittal and very annoying.

At least the answer to where he was going presented itself to Gregor. The old, abandoned barn appeared before him. Why it was here in the middle of the woods, he wasn’t sure, but he was glad it was. The old, creaking ladder on the side of the building led up to the loft. Gregor made his way to the ladder, his arms about to give out. Wait a minute. How was he supposed to get the body up there? No way.

As if anticipating his query, Death plucked him from the ground and placed him in the loft, him and the body both. It was like flying on a large, frigid cloud. “Why did you do that?” Gregor wanted to know.

Death shrugged again. “Because I could. I’d get that ladder, if I was you.”

Gregor scrambled over and pulled up the ladder. Just in time, too. He could hear the others approaching.

“Wonder if they’re making out in that barn?”

“Richard! Gregor, where are you?!”

“Onlly, olly, oxen free.”

“Text Richard, see where he’s at.”

Gregor managed to pull Richard’s phone back out and silence it before it could chime. He refused to breathe until the others decided to go back to the clearing.

“Whatever, let’s go back and eat that fancy cheese.”

Gregor drew in a long breath. “What should I do now?” he asked Death.

“I don’t know. This is your mess. See you later.”

“What does that mean?!” Gregor didn’t like the sound of that at all.

Death smiled. It was not comforting. “Take it how you like.” With that, Death was gone, leaving Gregor and the body all alone.”
This is actually one of the ladders inside the 1913 Washington County Courthouse on the way to the clock tower.

#Halloween #WritingChallenge #Spooky

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Oct 4 – A Thin Jacket

Happy Monday. It’s a full week of work and rehearsal for me as we put my annual cemetery play together. Our historic cemetery is one of my favorite places to be. It’s so peaceful on top of the hill. I understand why that spot was picked. It’s an honor, too, to tell the stories of the people who are buried there. (Insert Hamilton lyric line here.)

Rehearsal this evening in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery.
If you’re in the area, get your tickets now at www.Jonesborough.com/tickets

Now it’s time for another edition of my short story. Where will the prompt take us today? Let’s find out. Prompt, A Thin Jacket.

“Gregor ran up to the body lying on the hill. He’d never seen a dead body before, at least not in real life, but this guy had to be dead. There was blood everywhere. Gregor had never anticipated so much blood. Without thinking, he fell to his knees before his felled colleague and wrapped his hands around his neck, as if trying to stop the flow. It was pointless, though, for many reasons. He’d wanted this to happen, right? Yes, but at his own hands. Gregor pulled his hands back. They were covered in blood, the blood he’d wanted to spill. 

Now he was angry. Who had done this? Who had cheated him of his moment? Gregor’s eyes scanned the wood line, but it was getting dim. Dusk had descended. Without thinking again, Gregor wiped his hands on his jacket.

“Bad mistake, that,” a voice spoke from his right. Gregor screamed and jerked. He looked beside him and there stood a tall, thin figure dressed all in black. It had sunken eyes and sallow face. It had to be . . .

“D-d-death?” Gregor dared to ask.

“None other,” the shade replied.

“Why are you still here?”

“This seemed interesting.” Death pointed a boney finger at the body on the ground. “If you plan to get away with murder, you shouldn’t wipe your victim’s blood on your jacket.”

Gregor winced. “I didn’t kill him,” he protested.

“But you’re the one here,” Death observed. At that moment, the dead man’s cellphone chimed. “You going to get that?” Death asked. Gregor hid his hand in his jacket and wrestled his colleague’s phone from his pocket. He didn’t need to unlock it to see the message on the screen.

“Dude, we’re coming to crash your picnic with Gregor. That little creep is always good for a laugh. We’re parking now.” Just then, Gregor heard the sound of car doors closing down below. His fellow coworkers, they’d be on him soon.

Gregor’s blood ran cold, and even though it was a warm evening, he was suddenly freezing. He wished he’d brought more than a thin jacket.”
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See you all tomorrow! #Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 3 – Something Witnessed at Sunset

Today, I got to watch some stories through the virtual National Storytelling Festival. Hopefully they’ll be back in person next year. My spouse and I watched the ghost stories, and they were on point. I especially loved Tim Lowry doing The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Those stories put me in the perfect mood for part three of the Halloween writing challenge.

Tonight’s prompt is Something Witnessed at Sunset.

“Gregor climbed to the top of the hill. The blanket was draped over one arm, and he carried a laden picnic basket in the other. The sun was setting, painting the sky a deep, rich red. Yes, this was the perfect time. Ahead, he could see the other man waiting for him, his victim, completely unaware. There stood the man who had made his professional life a living hell for the past ten years, but no more. It ended this evening, here and now. Gregor knew that all he had to do to lure his nemesis out was to stroke his ego, invite him to his favorite observation spot, bring his favorite wine and expensive cheese and present him with the opportunity to ramble on and on about his brilliance. Given his plans, Gregor supposed he could have skimped on the cheese, not bought the expensive stuff, but looks were important.

The picnic basket was getting heavy, and Gregor struggled to pull it up. “Need a hand, gimpy?” the other man called down. For once, Gregor was gleeful to hear the accursed nickname. Soon he’d never have to hear it again.

“I’ve got it,” he assured the man. “You just wait, enjoy the sunset.”

“Oh yes, enjoy the sunset,” Gregor thought. “Enjoy the sunset before I jab this corkscrew in your eye.”

Gregor was drawing near to the top, practically giddy, when he heard it, or thought he heard it. A small, sharp whizzing noise, like a supersonic insect. It whizzed through the air from the clump of trees to his left. It hit the other man with a thwack, striking him straight in the neck and passing right through him, disappearing into the night on the opposite side. The man barely reacted before he fell straight to the ground, blood gushing from the bullet wound in his neck.

Gregor dropped the picnic basket.
https://unsplash.com/@mullins

That’s it for right now! Tune in tomorrow for another installment. #Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 2 – A Blanket

Went to NC today for a long overdue visit with my spouse’s parents. Covid19 has kept us apart for periods of time this last year and a half, but thanks to negative tests we were able to go up this weekend. (We’re also fully vaccinated.) It was a lovely day of sharing, fig picking, and flower admiring.

A happy bee
All the figs!

Here’s my writing challenge for today. It will be shorter because we’re in the car, and I have a limited amount of time before I get carsick. Hopefully this will help to build the tension in the story, though. The theme is “A Blanket.”

“Gregor wondered what type of blanket one brought to a murder. What sort of blanket was required for wrapping a dead body in? Probably something sturdy. He supposed he couldn’t ask the employee at Bed, Bath, and Beyond that. He asked about camping instead. What sort of blanket stood up to the great outdoors? If a bear attacked his campsite, what type of blanket would fair best? He was relatively satisfied with his purchase when he left the store. The blanket was even a pleasing color, but that hardly mattered. It would be red, stained crimson before the trip was over.”

https://unsplash.com/@jontyson

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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Oct 1st – Turning Leaves

Happy October! This is my favorite season, and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Usually the month kicks off with the National Storytelling Festival that fills the streets of my town Jonesborough. For the second year in a row, the festival has had to go virtual, thanks to Covid19. I miss the festival. I hope they’ll be able to be back in person for their 50th in 2022. Still, there is something pleasant about watching the stories on my TV with a glass of wine. Their production quality is top notch.

Me watching my favorite Storyteller Donald Davis with my glass of red.

My first novel The Summer Between is now three years old! This book will always hold a special place in my heart. You can still purchase it through Amazon and directly through Mountain Gap Books.

Graphic by Jeanne G’Fellers

As promised in my last blog, I am about to embark on an October writing challenge. I hope the story will come together in the end and that each piece will stand on its own. You can never tell with a challenge. The first prompt is Turning Leaves.

“He stood on the hill, looking down at the valley below. This was his favorite spot in the fall. The leaves were changing, and some trees looked like they were bleeding, their crimson leaves falling to the ground, almost like blood dripping from an open wound. The trees knew the benefit of letting things die. Some people could take a lesson from that. Some people needed to take a lesson from that. And he was going to make sure those people learned.”
https://unsplash.com/@coleito

Tune in tomorrow and every day after for a new piece of the story. Let’s get our October on!

The Challenge

#October #WritingChallenge #Halloween

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Things That Scare Me

Hello, world. How are you? I’m all right, I suppose. It’s October tomorrow, my favorite month of the year. That’s a bright spot, and most of my usual fall activities are back in some capacity. We are doing my cemetery play again. A Spot On the Hill is back for a 7th season. Show dates are Oct 15-16 and 22-23. I’ll post a link to tickets in an upcoming blog. I’ll be doing my True and Chilling Tales Tours again this October, too. Life is busy, per usual, but it’s all about balance because the pandemic rages on around us. It canceled some of our plans, and we’ve had to change other ones. Pivot, pivot, pivot. I’ve known more people impacted by the Delta variant than at any other time during this pandemic. I’ve also known people, some in my extended family, who have died over the last month. It’s hard to know how to process it all. It’s been hard for a while. If someone has figured it out, message me.

I’ve decided to do another writing challenge for October. The last few years I’ve done it on social media. This year, I’m going to use the blog. It will give me a reason to check in every day. I promise to keep the snippets short. That’s part of the fun, and the challenge.

The writing challenge I’ll start tackling Oct 1st.

There are other things going on in my life to be concerned about, beyond the pandemic. There’s illness and infirmities. There’s upheaval and turmoil in the lives of people I care deeply about. There’s someone I’m very close to that is really struggling right now with illness, and I worry that the time we have to spend together is drawing to an end. I am nowhere near ready for that. I’ll never be fully ready, but especially not now. These are the things that keep me awake at night, the things that scare me. This poem has been kicking around my head for days. I wanted to right it down somewhere.

“I Have Never Known This Life Without You”

I have never known this life without you

Which is ironic, since we’ve spent so much of it apart

Distance in age, distance in stages of life

Me in kindergarten, you having your first child

Distance in geography, Texas to Tennessee and all the spaces in between

Distance in the form of a wall, a large, monstrous, nightmare of a wall that masqueraded as love but was anything but

I feared the wall would cut us off completely, but then the light came through

A beautiful wrecking ball saved us both, saved us all

But still there was distance, college, graduate school, work commitments

Here and there, come and go, see you for the Holidays

I’m an adult and for once we’re almost on equal footing, but not quite

We dance to the same tune, but our steps are not in sync

We’re always slightly off in different ways




I have never known this life with out you




But I’m afraid I’ve never loved you like I should have

I’m afraid I’ve never known how to love you, how to be there for you

Was the distance too great?

Did I arrive too early? Did I arrive too late?

You introduced me to the concept of souls living multiple lives

Have we always known each other? Do we miss each other in some lives, only to be reconnected in the next?

In other lives, did we travel together, did we laugh more? Were we closer in age? Did we play Barbies on the living room floor?

Sometimes, in the dark of night, I worry this life was a mistake, that our souls weren’t supposed to cross, but here we are, and that’s why everything’s off




I have never known this life without you




In the sunlight, when I look out at the garden or see your novel on the shelf, I know we’re where we’re meant to be, even if the dance is off

You are the reason I am published

You are the reason I look at the world with a tilt of my head

You are the reason I know true love when I see it

You are the reason I talk to trees




I have never known this life without you




But oh, I am so afraid

Afraid I am woefully unprepared to support you

I say the wrong things, do the wrong things

I have no answers, only questions, and you have enough of those

I am angry at the world on your behalf

I am no Samwise Gamgee

And time feels like sand slipping through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do to stop it

Why? Why after all this distance, when we’re finally in the same place, are we still so far apart?



And I

Have Never

Known

This Life

Without

You

I Am No Samwise Gamgee

Featured post

Updates from My Small Corner of the Writing World

Once again, it’s time for me to check in and say I need to blog more often and then disappear for a while only to resurface months later and say the same thing all over again. It’s frustrating, but also kind of comforting in a way. (It’s mostly frustrating when I get my annual bill and realize I’m not getting my money’s worth. And there’s no one to blame but myself.) Anyhow, enough rambling. Summer goes on here at the compound. Veggies are plentiful, as is the virus in our area, unfortunately. We’re back in semi-isolation here, which is borderline maddening. I’ve been feeling a lot like Sisyphus recently. There were two wonderful months of getting together and not wearing masks and gathering for family meals, and now it’s all been shot to pot thanks to the Delta variant. We are all vaccinated, but several members of my household are severely immuo-compromised and unfortunately breakthrough infections happen even if you’re vaccinated. I feel like this giant rock has rolled back down hill and crushed me, and there’s nothing I can do but shove it over and start pushing it back up the hill again. Will it crush me all over again? I don’t know, but I do know I can’t be the only one feeling this way.

There are still work events to do, despite the surge. Money has been invested, and it’s very hard to throw the brakes back on once they’ve been completely released. Most of my events are outside, thank goodness, but I can’t do that forever. Once again I am questioning my fall and winter events and wondering what the future months hold.

In other, non-virus news, we welcomed a new cat to our household this summer. His name is Jacob. I rescued him from work, just like I rescued Duncan 11 years ago. They’re both named after people who owned the old house I work in. Unfortunately, Jacob caught an upper respiratory infection, which he shared with Duncan. They were both sick. Duncan had had his second tumor removal surgery, which was more involved this time, and he was struggling to heal from that. He does have cancer, and the virus knocked him for a loop. He was hospitalized for two nights. He is still recovering, but he is doing much better. All of this happened the week we were supposed to go on vacation. We did not go anywhere. Maybe it was for the best? I would like a do over, though, because that was a very stressful way to use my vacation hours. (First world problems, I know. I know.)

#EternalMood
Jacob in all his glory. He’s about seventh months old. We’d forgotten what it was like to have a kitten.
Duncan is very clingy in the recovery ward that is our bedroom. He is still quarantined from the other cats. I’m very happy he’s still with us, but I would appreciate less cat snot on my face.

I’m not doing a whole lot of new writing right now. I probably should. It might help my funk. We’re having record breaking attendance at work, though, and at the end of the day I’m just tired, so I don’t write. One of the bright spots this year, though, is my original, history-based play Nancy about Elihu Embree’s enslaved woman. It’s been my goal for years now to tell her story so that she’s known as well as Embree. Embree wrote The Emancipator in 1820, which is the first publication dedicated solely to the abolition of slavery. It only had seven editions, because he died in December of that year, but you can read them all online here through the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I encourage you to read it.

While he was writing the paper, Embree was also an enslaver. He owned Nancy and her five children. The historical record is complicated. At one point, Embree owned her, sold her, and then brought her and her children back. Once he brought them back, he claims to have educated the children, provided them with a place to live, and paid them for their labor. He was certainly concerned about what would happen to Nancy and her children when he died, and the first two pages of his will are about them. It’s still not clear whether or not they were manumitted after he died. I am still actively searching for that answer. I had the honor of working with area actress Ubunibi-Afia Short to bring Nancy’s story to the stage on Juneteenth at the Embree House Historic Farm. (Elihu spent part of his childhood on that farm.)

Actress and playwright after three, sold out shows.
Afia in action. Photo by Mark Larkey.

This is only part one of getting Nancy’s story out there. We will be performing the play again at Washington College Academy on November 13th. We will also be performing the show on November 19th as a part of the NAACP’s annual banquet. It’s an honor to be able to share her story and to do so with such an accomplished actress. I’m also working on a museum exhibit Nancy, and I’d love to figure out a way to get her story into the public/private schools. (Of course, all of this depends on Covid, but I hope we’ll be able to do it.) My whole job as a historian and writer is to find these stories that have been overlooked and bring them to the light. I have never felt more accomplished in my job, and that’s a good feeling.

In other writing news, I’ll be a guest on Dan-A-Plooza’s Facebook livestream with Dan Hawkins on Friday, September 10th. I worked together in the theatre with Dan, and he’s become quite the entertainment streamer. I’ll be talking about my eBook Comes in Threes which is a collection of short stories available on Amazon.

Maybe I should write another short story for the blog? It would probably be depressing and dark. Most of my short stories are depressing and dark. Does anyone want to read that kind of stuff right now?

#writing #blogging #catmom #overthispandemic

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“Comes In Threes” Ebook Release April 27

How are you all feeling? Honestly? Truthfully, I have been better. I’m struggling to go from pandemic survival brain to pre-pandemic planning all the events for my work and museums’ brain. There’s been no time to go from one to the other. I don’t know why I ever thought there would be, but my mind is reeling in place nonetheless. Good news, my family compound is now fully vaccinated. That’s a great relief. Still, I feel sort of numb. I read a great article in the New York Times earlier this very day that described the emotion I’m feeling, “languishing.” It helped me to put a name to it. The article also had some ideas for how to overcome it, but it’s a process. You can read the article here – https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html.

In other news, I do have an exciting announcement. This time next week my latest Ebook collection of short stories is available through Mountain Gap Books. You can preorder Comes In Threes from Amazon now!

Cover art by Jeanne G’Fellers for Mountain Gap Books.

“Two boys. One girl. Three different eras. Three different short stories. One outstanding author. Whether these tales provoke heart-warming feelings or heart-palpitating dread will be up for you to decide.” (I did not write the teaser, but I appreciate the sentiment.)

Lots of things come in threes; courses in a meal, trilogies, primary colors, celebrity deaths.

Fair warning, these are not the happiest of stories, but they are good stories, in my opinion. Some of them, in fact all of them, have their unsettling moments. They also have their moments of triumph. I don’t tend to write happy short stories. I write suspenseful short stories and thought provoking short stories, but the ending is never tied up in a pretty bow. I’m especially excited because this Ebook contains a short story I wrote years ago while going to college at Mars Hill. I wrote it for a class. I’ve loved that story from the moment I wrote it, and I’m so happy it is finally being published.

Here’s a sneak peek from “The Boy on the Red Bicycle.”

The young boy peeked out from behind the wall.  He was only visible for a moment, but it was the third time the man had spotted him.  The sporadic appearances of the boy were the only thing keeping the man’s interest in the here and now.  The company at his table was warm and inviting, but only in the sense that it was required to be so.  The witty banter and conversation topics were old, and the food was by no means spectacular.  It was like every other afternoon he’d spent at the café.  The waiters changed.  The company changed, but never the scene.

            “What do you think, James?” the person across from him asked.

            “That we have every right to do so,” the man replied.  This was a good, solid answer, and it could be used for any question these days.  His company seemed pleased by this, and they responded with the appropriate nod.

            The boy appeared for the fourth time.  James watched him as the conversation stalled with routine progression.  The boy was bolder this time, and he edged himself around the corner.  With quick, stubby fingers, he reached out and tried to snatch some food from the nearest tray.  The boy was not quick enough.  One of the waiters spotted him and called out.  Another waiter hurried over and engulfed the boy’s tiny wrist in his hand.  He shook the boy’s hand until the crust of bread fell from it.  “Oh, let him have it,” James thought.  The waiter smacked the boy for good measure before pushing him out.

            “Go on!  Shew!  Get out of here!” the waiter called.  Satisfied he’d righted the wrong, he returned to his position on the sidelines.

            James watched the small, colorless figure retreat without a fuss.  “Excuse me, but I’m afraid I must adjourn for the afternoon.”  He stood and bowed to the ladies.  There was always someone to bow to.

What happens next? Who is this boy? What is his story? Purchase a copy of the Ebook and find out.

I transformed this short story into a problematic play. One day I’ll fix the play, but this is step one in getting the story out there.

Happy reading!

If you’re “languishing” like me, I hope you can find your way out of it. I’m trying. I’m trying.

Featured post

Shout Outs Part One!

So, I’ve been trying to write this post for months. I was working on it in February when my computer crashed, and I haven’t made it back to my blog since. Whoops. 2021 has been eventful so far. (Because, why not?) We had two cats that required surgery at the first of the year. Duncan had a tumor removed. Katy had bladder stones that had to be evacuated. Here’s a shot from our kitty convalescence ward.

I’m happy to report that all the cats are doing well right now. We would not have gotten through the surgeries and all the expenes without assistance from our friends and families. In the spirit of lifting others up, I wanted to shine a light on some of my talented friends in the meat of this blog. When good karma comes to you, you should help spread it around. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the talented people I know.

First up, this author and artist is more than a friend, she’s my older sister. Jeanne G’Fellers is probably the first friend I ever had. I am in awe of her skill as an author. I love curling up with one of her books. She’s also the driving force behind Mountain Gap Books. This past year, she returned to her artistic roots and has been making amazing mixed media pieces. I look forward to her homemade cards and books at every birthday and holiday. You can now purchase her oiginal art, along with her books, on her new website! Check it out!

https://www.jgfellerscreative.com/

One of her pieces will be featured on a banner in Founder’s Park in Johnson City for a year! I can’t wait to go and see it and take her picture under it. It’s nice to have exciting moments to look forward to. My sister is also an advocate for the LGBTQ Plus comunity and the disabled creatives community. She is a super star, and I hope one day to be a tenth of the force in the universe she is.

Halloween creation from my sister.
I’m always getting fun stuff like this.

The next creative pair I’m featuring I met in playwriting school at Hollins University. Their friendship helped me get through that program. Since then, we’ve driven to New Jersey for their wedding and will hopefully go on a cruise someday together. Ricky and Dana Young-Howze tackled 2020 with a ferocity that moves mountains. As theatre critics, they turned their talents to reviewing digital shows and shining a spotlight on theatres that tried and succeeded in keeping theatre going, in spite of the pandemic. You can read The Young-Howze Theater Journal here. In addition to being advocates for theatre, they are also advocates for social justice and equity.

In February, they hosted a digital theatre awards show on their YouTube channel. I didn’t see a lot of the shows they reviewed, but I watched the awards show, and it was one of the most uplifiting things I’ve ever seen in my life. It meant so much to the creative artists who have struggled so hard this past year to keep the creative flame alive and pay their bills. You can watch the awards show and Ricky and Dana’s other videos on their YouTube channel. As Dana and Ricky are first to point out, “2020 is the year theatre didn’t die.”

My creative friends on my TV!

My last feature for this blog is Cassandra Snow. They’re an author, theatre owner, and Tarot professional. I met Cassandra in college at a Halloween dance. They were a rabbit. I was Anne Boleyn. We’ve been friends ever since. I have their frst book Queering the Tarot, and I look forward to getting a copy of their second book Queering Your Craft. I really know very little about Tarot reading, but I know they’re a mover and shaker in their field, and I could not be prouder of them. Check out their publications on their website . They also has a Patreon! Cassandra advocates for the LGTBQ Plus community, dsiabled creatives, and modern witchcraft.

I really know the most amazing people, and they inspire me every day. I’ll do another of these blogs to highlight another set. It can easily be a series!

As far as my own writing goes, I am finally getting back into working on my dragon book Flying Upon One Wing. Pandemic fatique is real, and I’ve been hit hard by it recently. My goal is to have that book edited, for like the umpteenth time, by the first of May. I’ll try to post more blogs about that process as it continues. Soon, I’ll have a fun announcement about another release! We had a Mountain Gap Books meeting outside last month, because pandemic, and it was revitalizing to plan out the year. Good things are coming, including vaccines! The entire compound is almost fully vacinated, and that is definitely something to celebrate.

Stay safe! Stay creative!

Mountain Gap meeting essentials.

If you’d like to see me act out historic moments from Jonesborough’s past with my cats and other household objects, check out the “At Home Amateur Museum Theatre” series on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel.

Mood

Featured post

I’ll Take Those Odds Part Five and Shelved is Released

So, my goal of writing a story over multiple blogs in order to get myself to blog more frequently, didn’t quite work as originally planned. Oh, well. Hopefully you all enjoyed the story, though. The final part is below. You can read the other four parts in previous blogs. Maybe I’ll do better in 2021? I’m not going to make a New Year’s resolution for it. I’m notoriously bad at those.

In more exciting news, Shelved: Appalachian Resilience Amid Covid-19 was released on December 14. This anthology was specially written and curated during the ongoing pandemic and published by Mountain Gap Books. It features work from some of my favorite Appalachian authors, including Jules Corriere, Jeremy Greco, and Jean Bruce. I have three Haikus and a short story in the anthology. Get your copy today! If you get a copy, make sure to leave a review.

Order here trough Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Shelved-Appalachian-Resilience-Amid-COVID-19/dp/1732972028/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=shelved+anthology&qid=1609449265&sr=8-1

Shelved is available now!

In terms of my other writing, I finished my Lucifer (TV)/Scooby Doo inspired fanfiction. If you’re interested in reading such things, you can find it HERE.

Now I need to get back to and finish my Stranger Things ghost story sequel I sort of abandoned earlier this year. Apologies to people who were invested in that story. I’m getting back to it.

This year was A LOT obviously, for many people. Most of my writing was fanfiction because it made me happy and was a nice distraction from the dumpster fire all around me. Overall, though, I was very lucky this year. I know 2020 was harder on other people. My main goal in 2021, besides getting my Covid-19 vaccine, is to get back to my own, original writing. No hard, set dates yet, but hopefully I’ll have a new book out sometime in the coming year. When I have dates, I’ll let you all know.

In the meantime, enjoy the end of “I’ll Take Those Odds.”

Stay safe. Stay festive. Happy New Year!

Charlotte only saw Death two more times after that. The final time was years later when she died, but the second time she saw Death was in the summer of 1952. Albert was 34 years old. He was happily married with a child of his own. Little Katherine was the apple of Charlotte's eyes, and she was more than happy to spend her days with her grandchild as Albert worked and Katherine's mother completed her studies.

Polio had been going around the town, and several children had fallen ill. The disease had already crippled one child in the neighborhood and killed another. Katherine hadn't been feeling well, and Charlotte felt that old fear creeping up inside her as she watched her granddaughter try to sleep off her fever. It was a hot day in June, and what little breeze there was lightly blew the curtains through the open windows.

Charlotte looked out the window and that's when she saw Death casually strolling down the street. Their suit was a bright, summery green. Her breath caught in her throat. Without a second thought, and no plan whatsoever, Charlotte threw open the door and ran out into the street. Death's eyes flashed when they saw her, and Charlotte wanted to melt into the ground and disappear. What was she doing out here?

"Why, if it isn't Charlotte Reeves." Death smiled and Charlotte swallowed hard. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Are you here for the Price's little boy?" she asked, her voice less than steady.

"I don't believe that's any of your concern." Death cocked their head. "I gambled with you once, Charlotte, I won't be doing it again. How's Albert?"

"He's well."

"And you seem well," Death observed. "So, someone else must not be."

Charlotte declined to answer. "The Prices love their boy very much."

"Yes, don't they all?" Death continued to stare at her. "Maybe they'll be resourceful and offer me a deal, or a trade? But then again, very few people are as clever or as foolish as you."

The eerie silence grew between them. "Go home, Charlotte Reeves," Death instructed.

On numb feet, Charlotte turned and went into the house. When she looked back out at the street, Death was gone. The following morning, Katherine's fever broke. It had only been a virus. The same morning, the little Price boy was admitted to the hospital and placed in an iron lung. He did not return home.

Charlotte never looked for Death again, until they intentionally came for her.

"And that's the story of why you're still here on this Earth," Death told Albert. "Your mother bought you a hundred years."

Albert's eyes misted over. "My mother loved me so much."

"Yes she did," Death concurred. "She still does."

Albert tried to swallow, but his tongue was too thick. "Did, uh, my mother really best you?"

Death leaned in. "There are two versions to any story, Albert. In one, your mother beats me fair and square. In the other, I made an intentional mistake. Which one do you prefer?"

Albert gave a weak smile. "The first one."

Death nodded their head. "Me, too. Are you ready to go now?"

"Yes. I'd really like to see my Mom again."

Death smiled. "See her you shall." They held out their hand and Albert reached up and took it without a second thought.

End of Story


Thanks for reading! May your New Year be a brighter and better one.

Jonesborough, TN, from the top of East Main Street on a sunny day in June. This was one of my top pictures of the year, according to Instagram.
Featured post

“I’ll Take Those Odds” Part Four

It’s October, my favorite time of the year! And even though the pandemic has altered some of my holiday plans, I’ll still decorate my house and enjoy a good bonfire or two and maybe find a corn maze. I’m also really excited about all the quality, spooky TV this October. We’re currently watching Ratched on Netflix, and I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Haunting of Bly Manor this Friday. The Haunting of Hill House was so good, so I hope this next season is just as spine chilling and unsettling. It must be acknowledged that The Haunting of Hill House was nothing like the book. I expect The Haunting of Bly Manor will only borrow loosely from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. As an author, how do I feel about this? I wonder if Shirley Jackson and Henry James were still alive, how would they feel? I don’t know. I’ve never had someone borrow pieces of my work to create something else. I probably wouldn’t mind if it was as good as The Haunting of Hill House.

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

Anyhow, spooky season is back, and I’m ready not to sleep at night for reasons beyond the upcoming election and the pandemic and the overall state of the world. I’ll take fictional horror over real horror any day, thank you very much.

Speaking of horror, this is a good time to remind you that you can purchase Mountain Gap Book’s Haints and Hollers: New Ghost Tales from Appalachia from Amazon and the Mountain Gap Book’s website. It is excellent under the covers or campfire reading.

Now, on to the writing. Here’s part four of my short story in progress, “I’ll Take Those Odds.” I’ll include a few lines from part three to get us back into the story.

"Excellent. Second player bids first." Death set their glass down, indicating they'd like another pour. Charlotte filled their glass as they studied their hand. 
"I bid ten," Death decided. 
Charlotte nodded and looked at her hand. That was a high and sure bid. "Double nil," Charlotte replied after a moment.
Death laughed. "Bold, Charlotte Reeves, bold. It will be a shame to kill you."
"Bold moves are all I have left," Charlotte explained. She discarded three cards from her hand and took three more from the pile. 
Death leaned in, propping their elbows against the table. "Now the question is, did those three cards just help you or hinder you?"
Charlotte licked her lips. "Let's find out."

"Excellent." Death smiled. They considered their cards for a moment before making the first move. As they were doing so, Charlotte noticed their glass was empty and refilled it. "If you're trying to get my liquored up so I'll mess up, it won't work. I'm not mortal, so I don't get drunk."

"That wasn't my aim," Charlotte assured. 

"Being a nice hostess, then, are you?" Death took a drink and eyed her over the glass. "You wouldn't be the first person to try that trick." Death smiled again. "Your turn, darling."

Charlotte examined the cards on the table, took a breath, and made her fist move.

And so it went, as the minutes ticked on. Death would play and Charlotte would play. A glass would be drained and filled again. Albert would breathe heavily from his crib and Charlotte would fight the urge to go and check on him. At least he was breathing. All the while Death was telling her stories, stories about the people they'd bested, stories about the people who'd lost. 

"Want to know who the biggest crier was? Go on, guess," Death goaded.

"I don't have the faintest idea," Charlotte replied, her tone calm but cold.

"Alexander the Great, wailed the entire time. 'Oh, please don't take me! Please don't take me, I have so much more to live for.' He would not shut up." Death chuckled and took a drink. "Abraham Lincoln was surprisingly stoic, considering the circumstances. Maybe death was preferable to politics?"

Death played another round and Charlotte paused in her motions. "What's the matter, can't follow suit?"

Charlotte ignored them and played a spade. Fortunately for her, it was a low spade. "Looks like I win again." Death reached over and collected the cards, adding the trick to their pile.

"Careful you don't sandbag," Charlotte commented.

That seemed to ruffle Death just a little. "You concentrate on your own hand, Charlotte Reeves."

The air in the room got uncomfortably cool. Charlotte cleared her throat. "Who else made a big fuss when you took them?" she asked. "Who else would surprise me?"

Death considered it for a moment. "Napoleon, although that's probably not surprising. Men tend to cry more than women."

"Also not surprising," Charlotte added.

"Except when children are involved, of course," Death leered. They watched her for a moment. "Genghis Khan was especially fun." Death leaned back and launched into the story.

When the story was done, the game was almost over. Neither of them had reached 500 in the first hand, so they'd had to draw again, but now the end was close. "You said you don't know where husband Frank is, right?"

"That is correct. He is still among the living, somewhere."

"And you don't know what my future holds?"

"My suspicion is it ends tonight."

"But if it doesn't, you can't tell me where I'll be in a year's time?" Charlotte pressed.

"I'm not a prognosticator, no."

Charlotte nodded and they played on in silence, but it was less than comfortable. In those last moments, Death was finally starting to pay attention to the cards on the table. The liquor had run dry, and there were no more stories to be told. "Wait a moment . . ."

"500!" Charlotte proclaimed.

"That's not possible." Death scrutinized the cards. "You cheated," they accused.

"You can't cheat death," Charlotte pointed out. "But you can beat it, fair and square."

"How?" Death was dumbfounded.

"Because you and I are the same, neither of us is God. You don't know what will happen tomorrow anymore than I do. And you don't know everything about me. You said I grew up rough and tough, and that's the truth. I grew up at my Daddy's card table, and I learned everything there is to know about life and death at that table." She took a deep, cleansing breath and looked Death right in the eyes. "Albert will be staying with me."

Death laughed, high and loud. Then their face turned terribly serious and it seemed less human than ever before. "You may keep your child, Charlotte Reeves, for now. You tell no one of this night, do you understand me? No one!"

"I understand."

"Your win saves him this time, but it does not make him immortal," Death pressed on. "If he rolls out of his crib or falls from a tree, or succumbs to the next, foul pestilence, he's mine. Do you understand that?"

"Yes," Charlotte replied, her voice barely a whisper.

Death leaned back, their expression softening. They looked fondly about the small house. "Enjoy your life, Charlotte Reeves, such as it is."

And with that, Death was gone, leaving only a lingering chill behind. Charlotte sat for a moment longer, frozen to the chair. Then she sprang into action, going to the stove and stoking the fire before hurrying to the crib and collecting Albert carefully into her arms. He fussed a little. "It's all right, Albert, Mama's got you. Mama's always got you."

Copyright Anne G'Fellers-Mason, 2020

I think there’s one more portion left to this story. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Usually this time of year I’m in rehearsal for “A Spot On the Hill,” the cemetery play I do every year. The pandemic has changed that this year, but you can watch past stories from the show on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel.

Until next time, friends, get your spooky on in a safe manner!

Photo by Łukasz Nieścioruk on Unsplash
Featured post

“I’ll Take Those Odds” Part Three

I’m back! I didn’t necessarily mean to take a three week break, but such is life. I’m fighting my usual, sinus malaise that comes with the changing of the seasons, so I don’t have as much energy as I usually have. Also, my spouse and I finished The Big Bang Theory, which we have binge watched during this pandemic, and it was a nice catharsis. We watched the show late into the night as we sat up with our ailing cat Smudge. He’s gone now, at peace, and seeing the words, “The End,” after the final episode brought us both to tears.

We also watched the first part of season five of Lucifer, which may be my favorite current show. That of course inspired another story set in that universe. You can check it out at Archive of Our Own. It’s called “And I Would Have Gotten Away with It, Too, If It Weren’t for You Meddling Kids . . . And Devil,” and it’s the Lucifer/Scooby Doo mashup you never knew you needed. It contains probably my favorite line I’ve ever written. “At that moment, the side door to the church opened and in strolled the Devil with a deli tray.”

Part of me knows I should be focusing more on my original work, but writing fanfiction makes me really happy. And, yeah, part of it is the instant gratification of someone leaving a comment and wanting more. Also, I’m enjoying playing in worlds right now where the structure has already been built. Maybe that’s representative of my other fatigue or the struggle that is 2020? I don’t have an answer to that, but I do know I’ll get back to creating my own worlds someday soon.

Speaking of my own writing, here’s the next edition of my shot story, “Ill Take Those Odds.” When we left off, Charlotte was about to play a game of cards with Death. I’ve included a little bit from last time to get us back into the story.

Death laughed full and loud. “This is different. I’m so amused, I’ll entertain your little game. What do you propose, Charlotte Reeves?”
Charlotte swallowed hard. “A drink and a game of cards.” She indicated the table set up by the window.
Death followed her gaze. “That does look inviting. What are the stakes?”
Charlotte released the crib and folded her arms across her chest. “I win, you don’t take Albert. He gets better and he lives a full life.”
“And if I win?”
Charlotte swallowed again, but her voice was clear. “You take us both.”
“You would do that for him?”
“We’re all each other has in this world. I won’t go anywhere without him,” Charlotte insisted.
Death smiled. “I’ll take those odds.”

And now, here’s part three.

Charlotte walked over to the table. She didn't want to leave the crib, but Albert was safe, at least for now. Charlotte hoped her steps didn't seem as nervous as she felt. Inside, she felt like she would shake apart. 
"What game do you propose?" Death asked as they joined her. They unbuttoned their waistcoat and had a seat, eager to begin.
"I get to pick?" Charlotte was surprised.
Death smiled. "No, on second thought, I think it will be dealer's choice tonight." They picked up the cards and began to shuffle the deck. "What game to choose?" 
Charlotte refused to look Death in the eyes as they sized her up. She busied herself with pouring the drinks. She had to work hard to keep her hands from shaking. "They just outlawed that stuff, you know," Death pointed out.
"Yeah, I read something about that in the paper." Charlotte handed Death a glass, still not meeting their eyes. 
"But here we are nonetheless." Death clinked their glass against hers, and Charlotte flinched a little. "Cheers."
"Cheers."
Death set the deck down, satisfied with the shuffle. "I think we'll play a game of Hearts. Seeing as you wear yours on your sleeve, Charlotte Reeves, this game should be right up your alley."
"Fine." Charlotte took a drink and swallowed hard. The whiskey never went down any easier.
"I'll let you draw first," Death offered.
Charlotte took a steadying breath and reached out to take a card. She didn't like it. It was a bad draw. She felt her stomach tense, but fortunately Charlotte had another option. She discarded the first card and drew the second, sending up a silent prayer that this one would be better. She wondered for a second if God was anywhere in the room tonight. If He'd want any part of this? 
The second card was better and Charlotte released a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. She was going to have to get control of herself and her poker face. This wasn't poker, per se, but the stakes had never been higher.
"Lovely." Death reached out and drew a card. They decided to keep it. 
After that, they went back and forth selecting cards. "You're not the first person who's challenged me to a game for the fate of their mortal soul," Death mused.
"I didn't think I was."
"I've been challenged to cards, baseball, a foot race, a boxing match. I played a rousing game of tiddly winks once." Death smiled fondly and took a drink.
"How many times have you won?" Charlotte wasn't sure why she asked. She didn't really want to know.
"Oh, my dear, I never lose," Death boasted. They took another drink. "But I must say, you're the only person to offer yourself in the bargain. I had a bake off once with a particularly distraught mother, but in the end I took her child, and left her my rhubarb pie recipe. She did have other children asleep in the house, though. You, on the other hand . . ." Death looked around the empty room. " . . . are decidedly alone."
"That's thirteen cards each," Charlotte spoke. The deck had been divided.
"Excellent. Second player bids first." Death set their glass down, indicating they'd like another pour. Charlotte filled their glass as they studied their hand. 
"I bid ten," Death decided. 
Charlotte nodded and looked at her hand. That was a high and sure bid. "Double nil," Charlotte replied after a moment.
Death laughed. "Bold, Charlotte Reeves, bold. It will be a shame to kill you."
"Bold moves are all I have left," Charlotte explained. She discarded three cards from her hand and took three more from the pile. 
Death leaned in, propping their elbows against the table. "Now the question is, did those three cards just help you or hinder you?"
Charlotte licked her lips. "Let's find out."

Copyright Anne G’Fellers-Mason, 2020

That’s it for now. Also, I do not proclaim to be an expert at Hearts. I Googled how to play the game with two people. If I got something wrong, let me know.

To learn more about the flu pandemic in Washington County, TN, check out this virtual exhibit from the Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn Museum, “If You Don’t Watch Out: The Influenza Pandemic in and Around Washington County, September 1918-February 1919.”

Also, last time I told you I was working on a salmon gelatin mold for work. Well, I completed said mold and even ate it. To see my exploits, check out Homecooked History Special Edition Part One and Part Two.

Take care, everyone, and stay safe.

Photo by Sergi Viladesau on Unsplash

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“I’ll Take Those Odds” Part Two

Last week I returned to my blog and the writing world. I also started an in-process story inspired by the current pandemic that continues to rage around us. Here’s where we left off last week on the fist installment of “I’ll Take Those Odds.”

“Tell it to me, please?” Albert asked again. “Grant the wish of a dying man?”

Death licked their lips and leaned forward. “Seeing as you’re on your way out and can’t tell another living soul, here goes.”

And now, here’s the next part. Happy reading.

January 17, 1919

Charlotte poured two glasses of whiskey and placed them on the table by the window. She looked out at the night, but it seemed bleak and cold as ever. Charlotte took a swig out of the bottle before setting it between the glasses. She fought the urge to spit it out and swallowed against the burn. The amber liquid danced in the light of the oil lantern. The small room was hot with the wood stove burning in the center. Albert was quiet in his crib, save for the constant wheezing. At least he was finally asleep, she told herself.

Charlotte walked to the chest of drawers in the hallway. Her fingers shook as she fought to open the top drawer. The drawer started to squeak at first, and she stopped, terrified she’d wake Albert. He was still asleep, though, so she pulled the drawer open slowly and took out the well worn deck of cards. As she closed the drawer, her eyes looked up the wall to the picture that hung there. The man in his uniform stared back at her, his eyes unseeing but seemingly judging nonetheless. “You’d do the same thing,” she told the picture. “You have no place to judge.”

Charlotte took the deck to the table and placed it next to the bottle. She fought the urge to take another drink. A hoot owl called outside and she startled. Oh, screw societal norms she thought and took another drink. Charlotte gagged on the liquor. She placed the bottle back and stole a look into Albert’s crib. He was asleep, thankfully, but his breathing was uneven. He was covered in sweat and the area around his nose was encrusted with mucus. If she wiped it off now, he’d wake up, and this was the first time he’d slept soundly in days.

She took a steadying breath and returned to the table, sitting in the chair beside it, her eyes searching the darkness that waited right outside. Her hands absentmindedly picked up her knitting. She was working on new socks for Albert. He would need them soon. He had stopped growing when he fell ill, but he would get better, and he would need the clothes then. Another bird or perhaps a stray cat made a sound outside and Charlotte’s head jerked up. She almost stabbed her finger with her needle. Silence once again followed, and she took another breath.

Charlotte returned to her knitting, trying to lose herself in the task at hand. Then, she heard it, the unmistakable noise of a porch board creaking. Her breath caught in her throat, and she returned her knitting to its basket. The porch creaked again, and then she heard the screen door open. She bit her lower lip as the front door knob turned. Charlotte jumped to her feet and moved to the crib, positioning herself between the crib and the door.

The old door opened slowly. She had not locked it, but she was certain it wouldn’t have mattered if she had. In walked a person, impeccably dressed in a gray, four piece suit with a bowler hat to match. The person closed the door and turned to size the room up in a perfectly casual manner. Charlotte wrapped her hand around the top of the crib and waited. The person looked at Charlotte and the face wasn’t cruel. It was shockingly kind and extremely amused. “Well, hello,” the person spoke with a warm and open smile.

“Hello,” Charlotte tentatively replied.

“You’re up past your bedtime,” they quipped.

“Haven’t been getting much sleep.”Her hand tightened around the crib.

“Usually I sneak in unseen, much like Santa Claus.” They smiled again, but this time it wasn’t as warm.

Charlotte took a steadying breath and assumed her full, five foot two frame. “I know why you’re here, and you won’t be taking him.”

“I don’t think you have any say over that.”

“You already got the Millers down the street, took all four of ’em, and the Turner’s two boys. You don’t need mine, too.”

The person cocked their head. “Again, I don’t think you have any say over that.”

Charlotte managed to stand a little taller. “I’m his mother. I think I do have a say.”

The person laughed lightly and removed their hat. “I know all about you, Charlotte Massey Reeves. Youngest of five, only girl in a house of boys. Grew up rough and tough. Never wanted to be a wife, or mother, but you were willing to become both when you married Frank Reeves in the spring of 1917. But then came the war, and Frank had to enlist. He went to France and you stayed here, had a son.”

Charlotte was not so steady on her feet now. “How do you know all that?”

The person smiled a third time, and this time it was anything but warm. “I’m Death. I know all kinds of things.” They looked around the room a second time. “Where is Frank now?”

“You took him,” she spat back at the figure.

Death laughed and it was far from comforting. “I assure you, ma’m, I have not.”

Charlotte’s heart sank. The telegram from the Army had said missing in action, but it hadn’t said dead. But as the months had drug on, Charlotte had just assumed. The last letter Frank had written her had been concerning. Frank had not been happy with the war. He had told her that if anything were to happen to him, that she was to move on, find another God-fearing man to raise his child. Charlotte was afraid he’d gotten himself killed on purpose.

“Do you know where he is?” she summoned the courage to ask.

Death looked at their hat, moving it from one hand to the other. They looked back at her, looking her directly in the eyes. “I don’t know everything, but I know he’s not with me. Could still be unidentified in a foreign hospital, or some prisoner camp?” they shrugged.

Charlotte shook her head. Frank had run off somewhere. That was the first thought she’d had when she’d received the telegram, but than death seemed easier to accept. Frank had loved her, sure enough, but he did have a wondering eye. She’d known that and had married him anyway, despite her better judgement. He’d probably found some French girl in need of help and . . . No, she couldn’t think about that now. Albert was all she had, she was sure of it, and she was all he had. Death would not be taking him tonight, she was sure of that.

“As pleasant as this all is, I do have business to conduct.” Death put their hat back on and set their jaw.

Charlotte inched back as far as she could, until the crib was against her back. “I’d like to propose a change.”

Death laughed full and loud. “This is different. I’m so amused, I’ll entertain your little game. What do you propose, Charlotte Reeves?”

Charlotte swallowed hard. “A drink and a game of cards.” She indicated the table set up by the window.

Death followed her gaze. “That does look inviting. What are the stakes?”

Charlotte released the crib and folded her arms across her chest. “I win, you don’t take Albert. He gets better and he lives a full life.”

“And if I win?”

Charlotte swallowed again, but her voice was clear. “You take us both.”

“You would do that for him?”

“We’re all each other has in this world. I won’t go anywhere without him,” Charlotte insisted.

Death smiled. “I’ll take those odds.”

Copyright Anne G’Fellers-Mason, 2020

 

I have to hop off and go prepare a gelatin-based salmon salad from an old, Knox Gelatine cook book. It’s job related, don’t ask. Being a historian is never boring. Watch for that video on the Chester Inn Museum’s YouTube channel next Saturday. I’m sure I’ll be linking it to next week’s  blog.

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Next weekend my work will be hosting our first ever Taste of Tennessee event featuring lots of local, foodie goodness. Check it out! The full program for August 22 is available at our website here. 

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See you all next week!

Featured Image – Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

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Finding Time to Write Amidst the Chaos

Straight up, I haven’t been too good about this. This pandemic keeps going and it’s finally made its presence known in my neck of the woods in Washington County, TN. Case counts and hospitalizations are high. Schools are online right now and we’ve got a mask mandate through the end of the month. At work we continue to adapt, but I’m honestly getting tired of treading water. I had more fortitude in March/April. Now sometimes the urge to sink is overwhelming. On a positive note, my mother’s broken arm continues to mend. I’m back living in my house after living with her to help out since early March. I came back to my house in June because she was doing better and also because my oldest cat Smudge was ailing. Unfortunately, he passed away last week, but we got to spend a wonderful last week with him. Still, it was another blow in an already hard year. We lost Aldonza in March of 2019. Sometimes I feel like I’m a walking, gaping wound. I know I’m extremely lucky, though, because there are people all over the world suffering through MUCH worse. But it doesn’t make my pain hurt any less.

There’s my updated. Wish it was peppier. Here are some pictures from the last few months.

 

(First pic, the family the last time we were all together in May 2020, before we had to start distancing from one another due to health reasons and some of us having more public jobs than others. Second pic, me sporting my mask and my Victorian garb in the Chester Inn Museum. This was part of our attempt to encourage guests to wear masks before the mandate. Third pic, our bees made honey. In case I didn’t mention it, my spouse and I are beekeepers now. Fourth pic, my sweet sweet Smudge near the end of his time on this realm. Fifth pic, our four kitties earlier this year. Now we’re back to three.)

In the writing world, I did win a Haiku challenge, which I covered in my last blog. I had promised to share my other three entries then, but they have since been accepted for publication in the Shelved anthology from Mountain Gap Books. I hope to have a short story in that anthology, too. More info on that publication as it becomes available.

At work, we’ve been looking to past epidemics and pandemics to help contextualize the current one. Since I work in museums, we’ve been pouring through records for the Spanish influenza from 1918-1920. I had two short stories in mind for the Shelved anthology. This one didn’t get written in time, so I’ve decided to write it in stages via my blog. Maybe this will help me write more blogs? Here’s hoping.

 

I’ll Take Those Odds

July 4, 2020

The rhythmic beeping of the hospital machines was white noise now, and even though he was so tired, Albert found he couldn’t sleep. The oxygen cannual in his nose provided him with enough air to keep his heart beating, for now, but the rest of his energy was gone. He didn’t understand how he was still awake, even for a minute. The light from the window shone through the curtain and hurt his weary eyes. It had been night last time he’d checked, at least he thought it had been. He must have gotten some sleep, then. It didn’t feel like it, though. He felt like he’d never slept once in is 102 years.

The bustling of the hospital was a low level buzz on the other side of the door. They were trying to save someone. He was sure of it. The nurses were busy whisking a ventilator off to a soul that needed it to live. He’d told them he didn’t want one, that 102 years was long enough. It was much more than some got. Albert had made his peace with death long ago, on the shores of Okinawa. He’d survived the war, though, married and had two kids, five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren. It didn’t make leaving them any less painful, but he knew he couldn’t be greedy with time. He couldn’t cheat death forever.

Albert thought he heard his room door open and someone walk in. It must be one of the nurses, come to see if there was anything he needed, anything they could do to make him more comfortable. His eyes looked up slowly, but it wasn’t a nurse at all. This person wasn’t decked out in full hazmat gear. They didn’t even have a mask on. For a second, Albert wondered how they’d gotten in. But then they smiled, and Albert realized he knew this face. He thought he’d dreamed this face when he was young, just a little over a year old. This was the face that’d looked down on him in his crib when he’d been sick with the flu. It was a sincere face and beautiful in its androgyny.

“Hello, Albert. It’s good to see you again,” the person spoke. “It’s been a long time. More than 100 years.”

Albert felt his chest lighten. It hurt less than it had in weeks. He also found he was able to speak without those terrible, hacking coughs. “I – I know you.”

The person smiled again. “Yes, you do.” They looked around the room for a spare chair.

“I thought I dreamt you.”

“Most people think that.” The person pulled the chair from the window by the bed, unbuttoned their waistcoat, and had a seat. They were dressed in an impeccable, blue suit with a dark bowler hat to match. They removed their hat and placed it on their knee, and their brown, bobbed hair framed their face nicely.

“You’re dressed up for church, or a funeral,” Albert observed. He mulled it over for a moment. “Is it my funeral?”

The person casually observed the machines. “Not yet. Not quite.”

Albert nodded, only slightly disappointed but also slightly relieved. “I don’t remember what you were dressed like last time. I just remember your face.”

The person thought it over. “I think it was my gray suit. I’ve been around since time began, but I can’t get over the fashion of the late 19th century, it was just so dapper.”

Albert chuckled a little. It hurt, but not as much as it should have. “Have you come to take me away?”

“Eventually.” The person leaned against the bed rail and placed their chin on their slender hands. They watched Albert for a moment.

Albert took the deepest breath he was able to. “I’m ready, Death.”

It was Death’s turn to chuckle. “I’m not.”

Albert turned his head slightly to look them in the face. “Why not? It’s your job, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Death surmised. They pressed their lips and leaned back in the chair. “But you’re the first person I ever lost in a bet.”

Albert’s eyes grew wide. “My mother always said she won me in a bet. Whenever I did something reckless, she’d say, ‘Albert, I won you fair and square, don’t you go risking your life.'”

Death smiled fondly. “Your mother was the best card player I’ve ever met.”

“Will you tell me?” Albert pleaded. His mother had come close to telling him once, when she’d been near the end of her life, but she’d decided against it, told him it wasn’t a decent story.

Death cocked their head. “You don’t think you’ll be seeing your mother soon enough to ask her yourself?”

Albert shook his head. “I don’t know how it works, but even if we get to meet again, she won’t tell me. She said it wasn’t a decent story.”

Death chuckled again. “I don’t know if I’d call it salacious, but it’s a good story.”

“Tell it to me, please?” Albert asked again. “Grant the wish of a dying man?”

Death licked their lips and leaned forward. “Seeing as you’re on your way out and can’t tell another living soul, here goes.”

Copyright Anne G’Fellers-Mason, 2020

 

There’s the first installment. Tune in next week for more, and I mean that. I’m going to make myself mean that. To help pass the time, I’ll keep listening to Taylor Swift’s new album “Folklore,” which is kind of the soundtrack to my current angst and melancholy. I’m holding out for the new Killers’ album which has been delayed by the pandemic.

If you’re looking for a wonderful piece of historical, fantasy fiction to read, I suggest Striking Balance by Jeanne G’Fellers. Read more about the book on her blog! It was my first time being sited as a recourse. Historian achievement level unlocked. Also, a huge congratulations to my sister Jeanne on her tenth novel! Now that’s a huge accomplishment.

 

 

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I’m Still Here and Still Writing

Hello, all! So, I haven’t written a blog since September of 2019. Oops. My bad. I can’t blame it all on the Covid19 pandemic, obviously, but a lot of other stuff was going on before the world fell to pot. The Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance where I work retired at the end of September. I had been acting director for the organization since March when she went on extended medical leave, but I officially became the Executive Director in November. Since then, life has been busier than usual. I’m now in charge of two employees, a core of amazing volunteers, and at least five historic buildings and thousands of artifacts and documents. We had all these plans going into 2020, but then I was met with a challenge that no leader is prepared for, no matter how long they’ve been in charge. Life handed us all a pandemic. Needless to say, plans have changed.

In addition, right before the pandemic really made its presence known locally, my mom fell and broke her arm right below the shoulder. (Because we do everything extra around here.) I’ve been living at my parents since the first of March, helping take care of my mom and making sure my parents don’t have to go to the grocery store during these scary times. I’m happy to report that my mother is doing very well and on track for a full recovery.

So, what have I been up to writing wise these past few months? Well, Mountain Gap Books has pushed back the release of Flying Upon One Wing, my mid grades fantasy fiction all about dragons. It’s for the best, there’s a lot of editing work I need to do on the book. (This is what happens when you write the first draft when you’re 12.) I love the book, though. It was the first one I ever wrote. It’s my baby. I look forward to spending more time with the story and getting it out there for a 2021 release.

 

Flying Upon One Wing Cover WORKING

 

In the meantime, enjoy this working cover art featuring illustrations by my wonderful and talented friend Lauren Anderson. I can’t wait for you all to see more of her beautiful art inside the book!

So, have I been working on editing my dragon book? Well . . . Yeah, I know I need to get on it, but I have been writing. Last summer, I completed a ghost story set in the Stranger Things universe. I started a sequel for that story earlier this year, but then it went on hiatus when my mom broke her arm and the pandemic shut everything down, including my office and museums. I plan on getting back to it now, though.

In case you’re interested in getting caught up, here’s a link to Stranger Things: A Ghost Story and here’s a link to the sequel in progress “Somewhere Between Life and Death You’ll Find the Perfect Medium.”

I have been binge watching some great shows during this trying time with the rest of the country. My spouse and I recently finished Lucifer, and I was enthralled with the characters and the world. So, naturally I wrote a piece of fanfiction set in that universe. To check out my Lucifer story “Joy To You and Me,” click on the title. Obviously, I own none of the characters in any of my fanfictions, I just enjoy being inspired by them and the ability to share the work via Archive of Our Own. Writing these little stories, even though they’ll never be published in another format, makes me happy and eases my stress for a little while.

Okay, so what about original work? Well, I have being doing a lot of scripting for the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum’s YouTube page. Our museums may be closed to the public, but my WONDERFUL staff has been hard at work creating digital content with our historical resources. We’ve launched several video series, including Social Distancing with the Victorians, Amateur at Home Museum Theatre, and Homecooked History. Follow our YouTube channel and come along on our silly, historical adventures. We promise education and hilarity.

I’m also considering submitting some Haikus to the McKinney Center’s Haiku writing challenge. I haven’t written a Haiku in a hot minute or two. If I actually get it together, I’ll post them here next week. To learn more about the challenge, visit the McKinney Center’s website and look them up on Facebook! The Haikus, and you can submit up to three, are due by May 6.

Also, there’s a really exciting submission opportunity with Mountain Gap Books! Like everyone else in this world, Mountain Gap’s plans for the year have changed. Book releases have been postponed and festivals have been canceled. But, out of the darkness comes new opportunity. Submit now to Shelved: Appalachian Resilience During Covid19. To learn more about the process, visit Mountain Gap Books’ website. Submissions are due by June 14, so get to writing! (I know I need to.)

 

shelved-anthology-call

 

Be well, stay safe, and write/read on!

#writingupdate #FlyingUponOneWing #originalworks #fanfiction #ArhciveOfOurOwn #Covid19 #historyathome #Shelved #MountainGapBooks

Featured image Photo by Michel Porro on Unsplash

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Spooky Saturday – Haunts and Happenings

Well, it’s only been three months since my last blog post. Oops. I always say I’ll try and do better, and I really want to, but I also know life is REALLY busy, so I’ll do what I can do. I am excited to announce that I have two, short stories coming out in the new, spooky anthology Haints and Hollers: New Ghost Tales from Appalachia published by Mountain Gap Books. The anthology will be released on September 23rd, but you can preorder now on Amazon! There will be a launch party next Saturday, September 21st at The Corner Cup in Jonesborough.

 

Pieces and Parts Haints and Hollers

 

I’m so excited to be a part of this anthology full of authors from Appalachia. Some of them I know, some I do not. Their stories are so refreshing and spellbinding, and it’s an honor to be in such wonderful company. The anthology has all kinds of ghostly, spooky, and scary stories. I both love and hate being spooked. This is my favorite time of the year!

Here’s a sneak peek at one of my stories, “Pieces and Parts.”

 

           “Who are you?” Tucker asked, and even his voice sounded distorted to his own ears.

“A friend,” the man replied in a warmer tone.  “And, a purveyor of magic.”  He reached out with one hand and produced a large coin from beyond Tucker’s ear.

Tucker suddenly felt more at ease.  This was recognizable.  “That’s not magic.  It was hidden up your sleeve.”

“Perhaps it was,” the man replied.  He let the coin go quickly, but it did not fall to the ground.  No, it floated in the air.  Tucker gasped.  He felt the air around the coin, but there were no wires.  The coin began to rotate before him, and Tucker could not take his eyes off the spinning silver.

“What do you fear, Tucker?” the man asked.  “Death?”

Tucker shook his head.  “We’re all gonna die.”

“Then what do you fear?”

“Not living,” Tucker spoke in a small voice.

 

Pick up your copy of Haints and Hollers today! Also, for your reading pleasure, I’ve finished a new fanfiction set in the Stranger Things verse entitled Stranger Things: A Ghost Story. It totally has spoilers for season three, so be forewarned. It’s also perfect for this fallish, spooky time of year. (Here’s hoping we finally get some fall weather here in Tennessee and get rid of these 90 degree days.)

Below are some fun pics of authorly things I’ve been up to since my last blog.

 

 

Me posed in my steampunk, time travel attire for Voices of the Chester, an original play I wrote that was performed in June.

Me and my wonderful sister Jeanne repping Mountain Gap Books and selling our titles at the local Mr. K’s con in July. Also, Darth Vader highly recommends The Summer Between.

(Featured Image – Photo by Tertia van Rensburg on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 1 Voices of the Chester

I apologize for my absence from this blog. It has been a busy time at work and home. Last week I got the opportunity to perform my newspaper-based play “Things Are Changing” with my spouse for a National Youth Summit Woman’s Suffrage. We’re also rehearsing for my newest piece of museum theatre, Voices of the Chester. This unique experience will lead guests all around the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum and share the stories of the people who lived there, worked there, and stayed there during the building’s long history. (FYI, the building has been standing since the late 1700s.)

It’s my first time doing a play like this, and I’m excited about the possibilities. I also have a stellar cast that is working so hard to bring my vision to life. I’ve included an excerpt from one of the stories below.

This week (5/29/2019) I’m 29 sentences from the story of Sarah Roberts, an orphan who was bound to Dr. Chester to work at the Chester Inn. She was bound along with her brother James Roberts. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about her story, except that she was bound to Dr. Chester until she reached the age of 18. After that, she disappears form the written, historic record, but I based her story on what I knew of the building and town at that time.

Sweeping, that’s all I do, and make beds. Mornings come early, most days before first light. The mattress is small, especially now that James is all legs and arms. It’s safe, though, and warm enough, so I don’t complain too often, except when I wake up with a foot in my face. First thing I do is get dressed and then check the fires in the rooms, make sure they’re still alight. Once the guests begin to stir, James and I tend to the chamber pots. It’s our job to empty them and scrub them, put them back under beds.

Dr. Chester’s place has five bedrooms. There’s a great big chimney on either end and a small front porch that always needs sweeping. There are lots of houses in town, James says nearly 30, and there are more being built every day. All the people and the horses are always kicking up dust.

The days are full of tasks, from helping with the cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, to washing linens, to mending clothes, to tending to the horses, and always, always sweeping the porch and the main stairs. Days when court is in session are the busiest. There’s people coming and going, in and out, with their dusty, dusty boots. Some days I think I should just sew the broom to my hand.

Sometimes we help Dr. Chester in his apothecary shop. When we’re down there, he’ll read the bottles to James, teach him his letters. I know my letters, too, but James gets more time with it. A family came to call the last time we were working. They needed some medicine for their sick daughter. I could tell they loved her; by the way they were talking about her. James says it doesn’t do us any good to remember our parents. Maybe he can’t remember them. I remember, a little. I remember someone loved me, and she was warm and soft. They loved us enough to give us names, Sarah and James Roberts. That has to mean something.

I know I should be grateful for what I have, and I am. We’re not out in the streets.

Voices of the Chester will be performed on June 14-16.

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*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that. 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 10 Flying Upon One Wing

Happy May Day! I can’t believe it’s May already. It seems like time moves faster every year. Today would have been our sweet Aldonza’s 15th birthday. Sadly, she left us in March, but we celebrated in her memory. We know she’s having fun where she is now.

On an exciting note, one of my dearest friends Cassandra Snow celebrates the publication of her first book today. Get your copy of Queering the Tarot today! You can buy on IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

This week (5/01/2019) I’m sharing the first paragraph of Chapter Five in Flying Upon One Wing, my middle grades fantasy fiction. Things in Ezklick’s life are not going as expected. The young dragon finds himself in a strange place surrounded by strange creatures. To catch up, take a gander at my WIPpet two weeks ago where Ezklick met the grumpy gryphon Gordo. (Points to myself for alliteration.)

#WIPpet Wednesday Number 9 Flying Upon One Wing

 

Ezklick was awake again. Day had fallen into night. Strange shadows danced across the floor and across his paws. The young dragon jerked his head up quickly. He did not recognize this place. His panicked eyes took the room in three times before his memory began to catch up with him. He was hurt. Some large bird creature had brought him here. “It’s not home,” he lamented. “But you’re safe,” his mind suggested. Yes, he was safe, but he was not in the safety of his caretaker’s wings. That was the only safety he was willing to accept wholeheartedly.

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that. 

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

Photo by Zak Boca on Unsplash

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 9 Flying Upon One Wing

Somehow, I missed last week’s WIPpet. But I’m back on track this week.

This week we return to Chapter Four in Flying Upon One Wing, my middle grades fantasy fiction. Things in young Ezklick’s life have taken a turn for the different, and possibly worse.

This week, I’m sharing 21 sentences from Chapter Four for 04/17/2019. (4+17=21) I’ve shared a bit from two weeks ago at the top to get us back into it.

Ezklick watched as a creature, the likes of which he’d never seen, stepped into view. The creature walked on two legs. It had neither claws, nor wings, nor scales. Many long strands of something goldish white fell from its head and stopped where its legs began. For covering, it wore something brown and long that moved with the creature as it moved.

The creature smiled sweetly at Ezklick.

It didn’t seem threatening. Ezklick didn’t shy away when this new creature bent down before him and spoke in a comforting voice. “I’m sorry Gordo scared you. He was only curious.” The creature nodded its head back at the large bird. Gordo squawked quietly, as if suggesting he was more vexed than curious.

Ezklick took a closer look at the black bird and realized it really wasn’t a bird at all. Gordo had the head of a bird. He even had wings like a bird, but his body was more like a dragons. He had four paws and a tail, but he wasn’t covered in scales.

“You were lucky he found you,” a new voice remarked. A Golden Scaled King emerged from the shadows. He was a tall dragon, and he filled the space. A silver chain ran around the scales on his neck, and a tiny brown bag dangled from the end of the chain. Ezklick had only seen a Golden Scaled King from afar. They tended to live away from the Red Evening Skies and the Brown Scalers. He had never been this close to one. They were said to be the wisest of all dragons.

“Yes, I find him, bring him here, and you give him my bed,” the gryphon lamented in his own tongue. “I should have eaten him instead.” The Golden Scaled King gave Gordo a sharp look. Gryphon tongue, while foreign to most, was perfectly understood by his ears.

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that. 

Featured image is not Gordo, but it is an awesome free image of a gryphon I found by FerianMoon on DevianArt.

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 8 Flying Upon One Wing

Spring has sprung in Northeast Tennessee. This week I’m skipping ahead to Chapter Four in Flying Upon One Wing, my middle grades fantasy fiction. Things are very different for Ezklick from where he left him last week at the end of Chapter One.

This week, I’m sharing 22 sentences from Chapter Four for 04/03/2019.

   Ezklick was falling, falling down a never-ending hole. He was screaming as loud as his lungs would allow; but no one was listening. Wait, no, someone had to be listening. Ezklick could hear another sound in the darkness, like some type of bird. The further he fell, the louder the squawking noise became. Ezklick thought he would be falling forever. The instant this thought entered his head, he hit bottom.

Ezklick’s eyes opened slowly. Suddenly aware of terrible pain in his left wing, he tried to move, to lift it, but it was pinned down. Ezklick grimaced and looked around, trying to identify the blurry figures around him. There was that terrible squawking noise again! Ezklick blinked twice, bringing the world around him into focus. To his surprise, a giant black bird was standing not two feet away from him, squawking directly in his face. Ezklick yelped in fright. He tried to get up, tried to run; but the pain shooting down his back kept him firmly in place.

“Gordo, leave the poor thing alone,” a gentle voice reprimanded.

Ezklick watched as a creature, the likes of which he’d never seen, stepped into view. The creature walked on two legs. It had neither claws, nor wings, nor scales. Many long strands of something goldish white fell from its head and stopped where its legs began. For covering, it wore something brown and long that moved with the creature as it moved.

The creature smiled sweetly at Ezklick.

What has happened to the young dragon to put him in this predicament? Who and what are these strange creatures he’s found himself surrounded by?

*WIPpet Wednesday (link temporarily broken) is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that. 

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 7 Flying Upon One Wing

So, I last posted at the end of January, and even though that was less than two months ago, it seems like two years has passed. I apologize for my absence, and I’ll try to do better the rest of this year. Some good things and not so good things have transpired since last I blogged. In the good news department, my family went to Greece! The country was beautiful, the people were charming, and the history was amazing. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

 

 

On a not so good note, our sweet kitty Aldonza passed away last week. She had stopped eating again. The tumor was back, and she was tired. We didn’t want her to suffer, so we made the decision to help her on her journey. Now we are adjusting to a life without her, a house without her. She was the talkative one out of our group, and the house is too quiet. We were able to recount her many adventures before she passed, and there will most certainly be Aldonza books in the coming future.

 

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In my authorly world, Flying Upon One Wing is off to my editors and beta readers. I’m also working with a very talented illustrator, and I’m excited about the prospects.

This week, I’m sharing more from the first chapter. I’ve got 41 sentences for 03/26/2019. (3+26+2+1+9) I’ve included a little bit (in red) from my last WIPpet post to help ease you into this week’s selection, especially since it’s been too long.

 

Morning’s breath entered the cave, scattering bits of shell about, blowing a piece out of the cave and onto the ledge. Ezklick followed it. He waited until it stopped, then he dropped down close to the stone and began to stalk the shell. Walking on silent paws, Ezklick crept closer and closer. Shangalaya watched with amusement as he prepared to lunge. Ezklick jumped forward and struck his target directly on the mark. The shell crumbled into pieces. Giving his opponent one last crunch, Ezklick stepped aside so his mother could see his victory.

Shangalaya smiled and stepped fully out onto the ledge.

She walked to the center and sat down on it. Ezklick remained near the front. He looked up at the sky and blinked. The entire forest spread out before him, the many pine trees wet with morning dew. The air was warmer in the mornings now. The days were getting longer, and summer was well on its way. A bird shot out of one tree and disappeared into another. Somewhere nearby, a dragon roared a morning yawn. Ezklick roared in return but did not receive an answer.

Ezklick turned to his caretaker, a smile upon his snout. She smiled back, her soft brown eyes staring into his. He walked to her, and she closed her eyes as he clawed his way up over her snout and onto her back. He looked down into her eyes as they reopened.

“What was my other caretaker like?” he asked her. It was his usual question of the morning. “Did he look strong, like me?”

“Oh, no, he was never as strong looking as you,” she assured him.

“Tell me again what he said about the stars.” Ezklick settled himself at the top of her head.

“Every night he would fly toward the heavens. He always said he was going to pluck a star out of the sky. And when he did, he would bring it to me.” Shangalaya sighed. She’d told and retold this story several times, but it always made her sad to speak of it.

“Did you ever get a star?”

Shangalaya looked at the sky. The last few, visible stars were fading away into the dawn. “No, he never picked one.”

“Why did he leave us?” Ezklick asked. Everyday he saw other dragons his age with both their caretakers.

“I don’t think he was ready to be a caretaker to eight dragons. When I told him about you all, he flew off to be alone for a while. There was an accident, though, and he fell.” Shangalaya rested her head on her paws.

“Did he love you?”

“Very much, and he would have loved all of you.”

Ezklick could see the tears in Shangalaya’s eyes. He rubbed his scales against hers affectionately. “I’ll get you a star,” he assured her. “I’ll bring you the biggest, brightest star in the sky.”

Shangalaya smiled. “I’m sure you will, Ezklick; I’m sure you will.”

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons
Continue reading “#WIPpet Wednesday Number 7 Flying Upon One Wing”

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 6 Flying Upon One Wing

It’s quite cold here in Northeast Tennessee. I’m wishing I had a dragon of my own to keep me warm. Fortunately, Aldonza is doing well and improving every day. Her stitches and feeding tube are out and she’s getting back to herself. I enjoyed sitting on the bed earlier today with all my furbabies. The time we have together is so very precious.

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Here’s my Big Three.

This week, I’m sharing more from the first chapter of Flying Upon One Wing as Ezklick continues his journey past his siblings to the front of his cave. Sometimes the most arduous journey is the one you take every morning. I’ve got 30 sentences for 01/30/2019. I’ve included a little bit (in red) from my last WIPpet post to help ease you into this week’s selection.

 

Sarahia blinked her eyes, and they quickly grew wide with concern. “Move, you’re standing on Shing!” Ezklick looked confused. He was standing in an empty spot, but Sarahia continued. “You’re standing on Shing!  Move!  Move!”

Ezklick backed away quickly and bumped into Frickus. “Hey,” Frickus moaned as he opened his eyes.

“What’s going on?” Gallant asked as he sat up with a yawn.

“Ezklick, do you always have to get up so early?” Geneva whined.

“Geneva, do you always have to whine?” Frickus fired back at her.

The entire cave was awake, and Ezklick found himself in the middle of it. He looked up and his eyes met those of his mother. She was awake. “Come on, Ezklick,” she assured.  Somewhat sheepishly, Ezklick finished his journey to the front of the cave. “It’s all right.  Go back to sleep,” Shangalaya instructed the rest of her young. There were a few more rumblings and complaints, but most of Ezklick’s nest mates did as they were told. None of them really wanted to be awake that early. As Ezklick passed, Shangalaya nudged him forward playfully with her snout. Ezklick perked up as she did so. She wasn’t angry with him. Ezklick had always been an early riser.

Morning’s breath entered the cave, scattering bits of shell about, blowing a piece out of the cave and onto the ledge. Ezklick followed it. He waited until it stopped, then he dropped down close to the stone and began to stalk the shell. Walking on silent paws, Ezklick crept closer and closer. Shangalaya watched with amusement as he prepared to lunge. Ezklick jumped forward and struck his target directly on the mark. The shell crumbled into pieces. Giving his opponent one last crunch, Ezklick stepped aside so his mother could see his victory.

Shangalaya smiled and stepped fully out onto the ledge.

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

Photo by Tyssul Patel on Unsplash

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 5 Flying Upon One Wing

Hello, all! Life has been anything but simple as of late. (Is it ever?) Our oldest cat Aldonza had to have surgery to remove tumors from her abdomen. And yes, I did name her after one of my favorite characters ever written. Points if you can name the piece of literature she’s from. This is our sweet baby.

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She’s doing a little bit better every day, and we’re hoping for a full recovery. We know it’s not a permanent fix. We’ve only borrowed time, but we’ll enjoy every moment we have.

My spouse is currently in two plays, and we don’t see much of each other, and this past Monday our septic tank backed up into our house. So, nothing short of exciting. I thought with the significant other’s show schedule I’d have plenty of time to read, edit, and write, but that has not been the case thus far. I’m slowly getting back into it after life had other things to say.

Last time, which was many weeks ago, I shared from the first chapter of Flying Upon One Wing. This week I’ve got 23 sentences from Chapter One for 01/23/2019. I’ve included a little bit (in red) from my last WIPpet post to help ease you into this selection.

Ezklick stood and stretched.  Like all good stretches, it was accompanied by a yawn.  After the yawn came the challenge he faced each morning.  Ezklick picked up a front paw and placed it gently across his brother Gallant.  Carefully, and quietly, he did the same with his other front paw.  Ezklick continued the process until all four paws, and tail, were safely across.  The young dragon breathed a sigh of relief.  He’d crossed the first barrier with success.

CRUNCH. Ezklick looked down at the broken eggshell beneath his paw. Broken eggshells cluttered the cave’s floor. It had been a year and a half since they had all hatched. Shangalaya kept the pieces of their eggs, though. They served as a reminder, perhaps, of a time when the cave was not so crowded. Ezklick looked around to make sure no one was disturbed by the crunch. Satisfied with his stealth, he knocked the pieces out of his way and continued. Carefully, he stepped over his sister Annersten. Next, he hurtled the mountain known as Percy. His tail tapped Frickus on the shoulder as he passed. Ezklick kept his eyes on Frickus, hoping his brother would not wake. His right paw bumped into Sarahia as he continued to back up, his eyes still fixed on Frickus.

“Ow.” Sarahia opened her eyes.

“Sorry, Sarahia,” Ezklick whispered as he looked down at his sister.

Sarahia blinked her eyes, and they quickly grew wide with concern. “Move, you’re standing on Shing!” Ezklick looked confused. He was standing in an empty spot, but Sarahia continued. “You’re standing on Shing!  Move!  Move!”

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 4 Flying Upon One Wing

Sorry I’ve been out of the blogging game for a bit. I went to the beach and then I committed myself fully to the Holiday madness. But now it’s time to do some serious editing on Flying Upon One Wing. Gotta get my edits on, and then I get to have a fun conversation about illustrations with one of the best artists I know. Exciting times!

This week I’ve got four paragraphs from Chapter One for 01/02/2019. Reminder, they’re dragons who live in a land called the Pine Forests and they’ve been at war with one another for a long time.

“The sky broke its morning blessing upon the Pine Forests.  As the stars faded into memory, a young dragon awoke and grew restless.  It was hard for a young Red Evening Skies to lie still for long. Time moved too slowly and the entire day waited outside.  The tiny cave seemed crowded and dull.

Ezklick lifted his head and looked around.  Shangalaya, his mother and caretaker, slept peacefully at the entrance of the cave.  The mother and father always slept at the entrance to the cave.  That way, if something should happen during the night, the caretakers would be the first to know and first to respond.  In Ezklick’s cave, though, there was no father at the front.  There was only Shangalaya., whose red scales glistened in the little light filtering in around her.  Her face bore an expression of peace and contentment.  Sleep was one of the few times she could get some peace.  Ezklick’s seven nest mates were scattered about him, and he would need to wind his way around them to get to the front of the cave.

Ezklick stood and stretched.  Like all good stretches, it was accompanied by a yawn.  After the yawn came the challenge he faced each morning.  Ezklick picked up a front paw and placed it gently across his brother Gallant.  Carefully, and quietly, he did the same with his other front paw.  Ezklick continued the process until all four paws, and tail, were safely across.  The young dragon breathed a sigh of relief.  He’d crossed the first barrier with success.”

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

 

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 2018 was quite the ride. My first novel The Summer Between was released on October 1, 2018. I’ve been extremely pleased with its reception. Check out some reviews here and order a copy through Amazon today!

Play wise, my full length play With These Hands had its second performance, this time hosted inside at the McKinney Center. Also, my cemetery play A Spot On the Hill celebrated its fifth year and continued to raise money for cemetery preservation and museum programming.

I look forward to 2019, to continuing to share history through various mediums and to publishing the first novel I ever wrote, Flying Upon One Wing!

Summer Between Cover

SUMMER BETWEEN FLYER ROUGH

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My book release at the Corner Cup in Jonesborough! I have the great fortune of living in the most supportive community.

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A family business. We started Mountain Gap Books this year! Showing off some of our titles at Fine Art in the Park.

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The cast of A Spot On the Hill sporting our serious faces.

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The cast of With These Hands prepares for the last show.

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Sharing The Summer Between and some writing exercises with the teen group at the Bristol Public Library. This was one of my favorite moments of the year.

Here’s to 2019! Thanks for following along on this journey with me!

#HappyNewYear #yafiction #TheSummerBetween #FlyingUponOneWing #WritingGoals

(Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 3 Flying Upon One Wing

‘Tis the most busiest time of the year, for some of us. My work’s large fundraiser/Holiday event was last Saturday, so I haven’t been able to write/edit a lot lately. That will change soon, though, because I have some serious time off staring me in the face. My goal is to have Flying Upon One Wing completely edited before I return to work after the Holidays. For now, I’m continuing to share from the Prologue.

This week I’ve got 35 sentences from the Prologue for 12/05/2018. I’ve included a few sentences from my last WIPpet (two weeks ago) as an intro for this week’s entry.

 

“The dragon lunged at the Unicorn, and a fight ensued. Their cries were heard throughout the forest. At the end, the Unicorn lay dead, her horn clutched in the claw of a confused dragon. The dragon truly had not meant to kill the Unicorn but in a fierce moment he had.

In another moment, Unicorns and dragons alike surrounded him. The Dark Dwellers pleaded his innocence, the Unicorns clamored his guilt. The High Dragon Council did not know what to do. Then a plague hit the Forests, and the dragons fell ill. The only cure came from the Unicorns’ fine hairs. The dragons could not afford to lose the friendship of the Unicorns. Without them, all dragons would perish. The young Dark Dweller was executed. Betrayed by their own species, the Dark Dwellers turned their backs on the other dragons. One misfortune grew into another. Soon a war was upon the land. The Orange Dusks sought to end the war, but it was a task they could not achieve. The war exhausted the Orange Dusks and their gentle hearts.

As the war reached its twentieth year, the last of the Orange Dusks died. Land moved from one side to the other. The Dark Dwellers would be beaten back only to reform and advance once more. For a time the war quieted and there was talk of peace. The leader of the Dark Dwellers was called to meet with the King at the Court of Dragons. An agreement was not to be reached, however. An assassination attempt ended all proceedings. The Dark Dwellers were beaten back once more. Punishment upon crippling punishment was inflicted upon them, but a change in leadership led to a new energy among the Dark Dwellers, a new fervor, a new desire to triumph.

The last ten years of the war had seen the rise and fall of the Dark Dwellers. For a time, the Dark Dwellers held the Court of Dragons and were in charge, but they could not hold on forever. Starvation and ruin forced them to peace, a false peace. There was no treaty, there was no accord; there was only a pause, a break in the fighting. After thirty years of war, not a one of them remembered how normal, daily life should be led.

The forest was divided, Dark Dwellers to the East, Unicorns to the North, and the other dragons everywhere in between. Life went on and renewed itself. Winter turned to Spring.  The uneasy silence lasted a year, then two, and then three. Dragons continued to live their separate lives. The Dark Dwellers hated the Unicorns and all the other dragons. The other dragons hated the Dark Dwellers in return, and the Unicorns, tucked away in the Vale of the North, viewed all dragons as vile. This was no peace; this was only a momentary break.”

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

(Photo by Thomas Quaritsch on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 2 Flying Upon One Wing

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I have much to be thankful for this year. In fact, I heard a wonderful story the other day about a lady who sought out a copy of my book The Summer Between because she thought it might help her grandson who is starting college soon. She went all around town before someone finally pointed her to the Visitor’s Center, where she bought two copies. I appreciate her persistence,and I hope they enjoy the book.

I had the opportunity recently to perform my one woman show “A Sojourn in Jonesborough” at Jonesborough Middle School. I had two wonderful audiences of eighth graders who asked amazing questions

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I also had the opportunity to do a reading from The Summer Between and share some writing exercises with the teen program at the Bristol Public Library. Again, a wonderful group of students. The future is looking bright.

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This Saturday I get to share the Christmas story at the Jonesborough tree lighting again this year. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. Since Jonesborough is the Storytelling Capital of the World, I get to craft an original story that highlights a Christmas memory.

On the WIPpet front, I am still hard at work on editing Flying Upon Wing. This week I’ve got 21 sentences from the prologue for 11/21/2018. I’ve included a few sentences from my last WIPpet (two weeks ago) as an intro for this week’s entry.

 

“Despite their best efforts to coexist, the dragons were banished. They wandered the earth. Eventually the dwarves took pity on them and offered the dragons the haven known as the Pine Forests. It was a thick, wooded area full of caves, and it was far from the world of Man.

In the Pine Forests, the dragons flourished and their numbers grew.  Many different kinds of dragons developed: the Golden Scaled Kings, the tallest and wisest of the dragons; the Brown Scalers, the best hunters; the Red Evening Skies, who could soar to the highest heights; the Dark Dwellers, the most loyal to any cause; and the Orange Dusks, the kindest and gentlest.  When the Unicorns, driven by Man and his love for the hunt and their horns, arrived and sought shelter in their forests, the dragons held a council and agreed.  The Pine Forests were not solely dragon territory; but safe haven to any in need.  The Dark Dwellers, however, were not fond of the newcomers.  The Unicorns began to take the Northern lands; the lands the Dark Dwellers liked best.  “Move to the East,” the other dragons suggested.  “The East is filled with caves unclaimed.  The caves are dark and vast, exactly how you like them.”

“But the East is filled with sink holes and flood plains and many other dangers,” the Dark Dwellers protested.

“Haven’t the Unicorns suffered enough?” the other dragons responded.  One by one the Dark Dwellers were pushed from the Northern lands until the Northern lands became the Vale of the North, the land of the Unicorns.

One day, a young Dark Dweller wandered into the Vale.  He did not like the East.  He wanted the Northern lands back.  The young Dark Dweller came across a Unicorn drinking from a stream.  When the dragon approached, the Unicorn knew it had not come for a good purpose.  The dragon lunged at the Unicorn, and a fight ensued.  Their cries were heard throughout the forest.  At the end, the Unicorn lay dead, her horn clutched in the claw of a confused dragon.  The dragon truly had not meant to kill the Unicorn but in a fierce moment he had.”

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

 

(Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number 1 Flying Upon One Wing

Hello, November! Spooky stories are over, at least for now, and now it’s time for me to turn my attention to editing and formatting Flying Upon One Wing for publication in 2019. This is the first book I ever wrote, back when I was a wee 12 year old. I remember it well, the red notebook and the pink/purple Lisa Frank pen. This is the only thing I’ve ever written where I instantly knew the title first, no questions asked. It’s never changed, and it never will.

This week I’ve got 18 sentences from the prologue of Flying Upon One Wing for 11/07/2018.

When the universe was young and the world new, dragons emerged from the darkness.  Dragons were first to tread the Earth’s sod; first to marvel in the Earth’s beauty. By the time Man came along, dragons were ancient. Man learned to live with and work alongside dragons. In return, dragons assumed responsibility for protecting Man from the evils of the world, and, for a time, Man and dragon lived together in peace.

     Like all things, though, peace is impermanent. The dragon population grew, as did Man’s.  Man began to complain about food. “Dragons take too much food for themselves.” Man began to complain about water. “Dragons drink all the lakes dry.” Man began to complain about a space to call his own. “Dragons take up too much land. We need more room to build our villages.” Despite their best efforts to coexist, the dragons were banished. They wandered the earth. Eventually the dwarves took pity on them and offered the dragons the haven known as the Pine Forests. It was a thick, wooded area full of caves, and it was far from the world of Man.”

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.  

#FlyingUponOneWing #editing #midgradesfiction #dragons

(Photo by Evgeni Evgeniev on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! This is easily my favorite holiday. This year is a little different. We’re going to Nashville to see Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live! I am very excited. Here are our costumes. Points if you can name these characters and their iconically bad movie.

 

This week I’ve got 31 sentences from my short story Causing a Scene (tentative title) for 10/31/2018. I shared this story last weekend at Brews & Boos. I really love it and look forward to developing it further.

The end of last week’s snippet is included in maroon.

Sadie walked straight to her. “You playing hooky, little Alice?” The girl didn’t reply, which again, wasn’t odd. “Your whole family playing hooky?” No response. “Your mama out of town or something? She finds out you all laid low, she’ll bust your britches.” Silence. “Why are you in your nightgown? No one at home would dress you?”

Little Alice turned her body ever so slowly, her left hand rising and pointing back behind, back to the Keefhaver house. It was only a block down the street and you could just make out the top of the house sticking above the trees. She pointed straight up to the attic, her eyes never leaving Sadie’s. There was no emotion in those eyes. No shyness, no fear, no sleepiness, nothing. Sadie began to feel uneasy and her throat clenched tight. The part of her lunch she’d eaten felt like a stone in her gut and she wasn’t interested in the rest of her biscuit. She felt cold all over, just like she had when her father had met her here two years ago.

“Oh no,” Sadie whispered. She turned her head to see who else was in the schoolyard, who else was nearby. When she looked back, little Alice was gone. A part of Sadie had known she would be. Without hesitation, Sadie walked straight up to the nearest kid, Clara Brownlow.

“Did you see little Alice just now?”

Clara gave her a funny look. “No. None of the Keefhavers are here today. Must be sick, or dead or somethin’,” she laughed.

Sadie dropped her biscuit and headed for the school gate. “Where are you going?” Clara called after her.

“I have to go. Tell Ms. Smith I’m sick or something.”

“I’ll tell her you’re crazy!” Clara shouted.

That wasn’t the first or last time someone would call Sadie crazy.

They’d called her crazy since the mine accident, since the day her father died. They called her crazy for seeing him that morning in the schoolyard, when he was already dead underground, and they also called her crazy because she knew the truth. The mine collapse was no accident. Her father had caused it on purpose. He’d killed himself. Maybe that’s what he was trying to tell her that morning? Maybe that’s what he’d tried to tell her the night before when he’d come into her bedroom and stood at the foot of her bed? He’d been alive then, sure enough, but he still hadn’t felt right. 

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

#storytelling #scarystories #originalwork

(Photo credits, Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash) 

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Spookier and Spookier

Brews and Boos is this Friday. Here’s a snippet from the third ghost story I’ll be sharing that evening, and it’s another original. I suppose it will have a title when it’s done. I really must finish it. If I didn’t have bronchitis and a fuzzy head, I’d say more. Hope you enjoy.

This week I’ve got 24 sentences from this short story for 10/24/2018.

Little Alice Keefhaver was not the first ghost Sadie had ever seen. Her father had met her at school the morning the mine collapsed, trying to tell her something, but there were no sounds coming from his lips, only silent words. Little Alice Keefhaver didn’t try to speak, just pointed toward the house where she slept with her mother, father, three sisters, and one brother, all dead. The bloody axe that had done the deed was still sitting by the backdoor.

It wasn’t so unusual for little Alice to be silent. She was the youngest of the Keefhaver clan and very shy. It was odd for her to be alone, though, and it was definitely odd that none of the Keefhavers were at school. Mrs. Keefhaver ran that family like a factory and her five children were always at school, always. It was the mid-day break and Sadie was out in the school yard. Some children went home to eat, others ate in the schoolyard. Sadie usually went to the library. But earlier that week the library had developed a distinctive odor. It was either a dead mouse or an intentionally placed egg by one of the Fleenor brothers. Mr. Hardy hadn’t figured out which yet, and the smell remained.

Sadie was walking through the yard, ham biscuit in one hand with a book in the other when she saw a flash of white from the corner of her eye. She lowered her book and looked across the yard, and there was little Alice standing on the other side of the fence. She appeared to be wearing her nightgown. Sadie walked straight to her. “You playing hooky, little Alice?” The girl didn’t reply, which again, wasn’t odd. “Your whole family playing hooky?” No response. “Your mama out of town or something? She finds out you all laid low, she’ll bust your britches.” Silence. “Why are you in your nightgown?”

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

#storytelling #scarystories #originalwork

(Photo credit Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash)

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#WIPpet Wednesday A Spot On the Hill Number 2

My cemetery play A Spot On the Hill opens this Friday. We have three shows this weekend and then two shows next weekend. Once again I am blessed with an amazing and stellar cast. If you are in the Northeast TN area, we still have tickets available for the 2:30 matinee this Sat, Oct 20 and the 2:30 matinee next Sat, Oct 27. You can get tickets online here.

Seeing as this will no longer be a work in progress come Friday, I’ve decided to share one more story from A Spot On the Hill. These stories are about real people who are buried in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery.

In this cutting you’ll meet Robert Dosser, local merchant extraordinaire and his wife Laura who was quite the fashionista. You’ll also meet their son. Here is a picture of their grave site with the actor who portrays Robert Dosser.

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For my WIPpet math we have 21 paragraphs (10+17+7-1=21) for 10/17/2018.

ROBERT D

I know what it’s like to have a family name to live up to. My name is Robert Dosser. My father was James Dosser, merchant extraordinaire. He established his mercantile store at 117 East Main Street. In that store he sold a little bit of everything, including the latest fashions. My father built a local empire, an empire I inherited alongside my brothers. When he died in 1891, he left the store to Albert, Frank, and me. I put my heart and soul into that business, just as I’d watched my father do. My brothers married and had families, but I was too busy traveling, making contacts, expanding the business. My father had once advised me that I couldn’t love both, family and work, with my whole heart. It was family first and then the business. It could never be the other way. And for a long time, at least for me, it was just the business. She was my mistress.

Finally, in 1889 at the age of 33, I married Nellie Fain. She became the love of my life, and we had four beautiful children. But then tragedy struck, and Nellie died in 1901. I retreated into my business; sure my heart would never know that kind of love again.

(Laura D steps forward.)

LAURA D

My name is Laura Brunner, and I did not have a family legacy, or an empire. I only had myself. In Jonesborough, I lived with Mr. and Mrs. L.H.Patton. I had to contribute to the household, so I worked for R.M. May and Sons. I would usually see Mr. Dosser in the store, talking with Mr. May. Everyone knew of Mr. Dosser and his great knowledge of clothes, but he didn’t know everything.

ROBERT D

Excuse me, ma’m. Does Mr. May carry this Chevron pattern in a darker shade?

LAURA D

That’s Herringbone.

ROBERT D

Pardon?

LAURA D

That pattern is Herringbone.

ROBERT D

I’m certain it’s Chevron.

LAURA D

And I am certain it is not. See here, the break is at the reversal, which makes it Herringbone.

ROBERT D

How much does Mr. May pay you? Come and work for me, and I’ll double it.

LAURA D

I did go and work for him. We spent more and more time together. And what began as a disagreement over patterns, quickly turned to love. In 1904 we were married in the Patton family home. The Herald & Tribune announced our wedding, writing –

HERALD & TRIBUNE

“These people are too well known to our people to need an introduction from us. They are well and thoroughly known to all, and are fully deserving of all honor, and are sure to receive the congratulations of all. They go to St. Louis on a bridal tour. May peace, prosperity, and happiness accompany them all through life.”

LAURA D

We went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Lois. It was like traveling to the future. After that, we returned to our home in Jonesborough. Life was suddenly a fairy tale that had come true.

ROBERT D

In 1908, my brothers and I sold the business in Jonesborough. We had a new business in downtown Johnson City. That’s where the future was. That was the legacy I was going to leave to my children. That same year, Laura and I had a son. I knew that one day he would join his siblings in the family business.

(Dosser Boy steps forward.)

ROBERT D

Now, what has your father always told you?

DOSSER BOY

It’s family first and then the business. It can never be the other way.

ROBERT D

Good lad.

DOSSER BOY

But I never helped in the store.

LAURA D

No, and I never lived to see what it would become. The two of us died in 1908 in childbirth. We’re buried in the Dosser family plot alongside Nellie Fain Dosser, the mother of your half siblings.

(to Robert)

It was a beautiful story, Robert, while it lasted.

ROBERT D

Yes, my dear, it was.

 

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(Picture above Joel VanEaton, Jeremy Reeves, and Kellie Reeves)

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

#WIPpetWednesday #workinprogress #ASpotOntheHill #playwriting #realstories #reallives #realtombstones

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#WIPpet Wednesday A Little More Spooky

I’ve still got ghost stories on my mind, especially since I’ll be sharing original ghost stories at the end of the month at Brews and Boos. Here’s a cutting from Beep Beep, Honk Honk. I wrote this one way back in college in 2005. It’s always nice when I get to use stories that haven’t seen the light of day in sometime. Also, there’s nothing creepier than small children.

In this story, Geoffrey and Amy are moving into their new house. There’s an even larger house across the road. It’s the kind of house the two of them fantasize about living in some day, a large house where they can raise lots of kids. A young girl is sitting on a swing. They’ve already met the older lady who lives in the house, but this is the first time they’ve seen the young girl. Geoffrey decides he should do the neighborly thing and go over and introduce himself.

This week I’ve got 38 sentences from this short story. For my WIPpet math we have (10+10+18=38) for 10/10/18.

“Geoffrey stopped at the edge of the road.  A car was coming around the corner.  It was true, you couldn’t see a car coming around that corner till it was right on the two houses.  Fortunately, the driver wasn’t speeding.  Geoffrey nodded a hello to the driver as he passed.  Once the car was by, he crossed the road.  He approached the fence with a friendly smile and careful step.  The little girl didn’t run away.  She continued to swing.  “Hello there,” Geoffrey offered warmly.  “What’s your name?”  He stopped before he reached the fence.  He didn’t want to make her nervous.  The girl didn’t answer his question.  She stared at him with her big, blue eyes.  “My name’s Geoffrey. What’s your name?”  The girl didn’t respond.  “How about Shirley?  Marie?  Betty?  Jil – ”

“Beep-beep, honk-honk.”

The girl’s first response caught Geoffrey by surprise.  “What?”

“Beep-beep, honk-honk,” the girl repeated.

“That’s the noise a car makes.  Did you know that?”  Geoffrey took a step closer to the fence.  The girl gave him a small nod and a smile.  “Do you see a lot of cars on this road?”  Geoffrey pointed to the road behind him.

“Beep-beep, honk-honk.”

“Yeah, beep-beep, honk-honk.”  Geoffrey stepped up to the fence and rested his hand on one of the white stakes.  “Do you live here with your grandmother?”  The girl didn’t reply.  She looked over at the empty swing next to her.”

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*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

#storytelling #scarystories #originalwork

(Photo credits, Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash, Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday A Little Bit of Spooky

The Summer Between is out into the world now! I had an amazing launch and book signing on Monday at The Corner Cup. (I always appreciate a different sort of Monday.) I am super grateful to my friends, family, and community for all their support.

FYI, The Summer Between is Jackalope approved. Pick up a copy today!

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I made the front cover my hometown paper The Herald & Tribune. This week’s edition was very small town, my book launch, a local artist and his toaster art, and the hometown barber shop gets an update. A lovely little slice of Americana. I truly love where I live, and this is my equivalent of Rolling Stone. Read the article here.

Since I must leave The Summer Between behind in this week’s WIPpet Wednesday, I will turn my attention to October and storytelling and spooky stories. The International Storytelling Festival takes place in Jonesborough the first full weekend of October. Tents pop up all over town and stories are everywhere! It’s a busy time, but a magical time.

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This is my current view in my work parking lot.

I fancy myself an amateur storyteller, and I’ve been asked to tell spooky stories again this year at Brews and Boos on October 26.

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It’s scary stories outside after dark with beer! What’s not to like? I always try and tell original stories for this, one because of copyright issues and respect, and two because it gives me a chance to write spooky stuff. I also fancy myself an amateur horror writer. I like giving myself the heebie jeebies. One day I’ll write a really great horror story, until then I like to dabble in the genre.

Below is a snippet from one of the original stories I’ll be telling at this year’s Brews and Boos. I honestly haven’t looked at it since I wrote it way back in 2006. (There is so much editing in my future.) It’s entitled “Some Things Are Beyond Our Control.”

This week I’ve got 30 sentences from this short story. For my WIPpet math we have (10+3+18-1=30) for 10/3/18.

 

. . .Vincent couldn’t let it end at that.  No, there had to be one more punch, one more stab.  “Oh, no, no, no,” Vincent chastised as he hurried after her.  “You’re going to leave me with that?” 

Julia kept walking.  “Yep.”  She moved down the stairs, headed for the door. 

Vincent finally stopped her there.  His hand grabbed hold of the front door as she opened it.  “What’s his name?” 

It was Julia’s turn to sigh, but it wasn’t a sigh of feigned boredom or pretend superiority.  It was a sigh, an honest sigh.  “I don’t want to be with anyone, remember? But I find your jealousy incredibly flattering.” 

Vincent folded his arms and leaned against the door frame.  “I’m not jealous.” 

Julia smiled and looked at the ground.  It was a smile he’d seen only a few times before.  It wasn’t her cruel and coy smile.  This was her real smile, simple and shy.  It made Vincent stop and take notice.  It took all the brag and bluster out of him. 

“I’m spending time with my family this weekend, and there’s a lot of business I need to take care of.”  Julia raised her head and looked at him.  This was the truth. 

“And this is all going to carry on into next weekend, too?” Vincent asked.

“No.  I have to finish it now.  I’m going to die on Sunday.”  Vincent’s hold on the door faltered and Julia was able to push it open enough and slip out of the house.

#TheSummerBetween #storytelling #scarystories #originalwork

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

(Photo credits: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash_

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The Summer Between is Out Now!

The Summer Between is available now, just in time for National Book Month!

You can order the book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Mountain Gap Books!

“When I was eighteen years old, I knew everything there was to know about anything ever in the history of the entire world. I thought I was a genuine, Stephen Hawking-level genius. My entire life stretched ahead of me, and everything I’d ever wanted was going to be handed to me on a silver platter carried by admiring angels who’d ask, in dulcet tones, “Brendon, how’d you get to be so cool?”

I also thought I was immortal.

Thank God for summer break, for those ten weeks between high school and college when life took me roughly by the collar, shook me hard, and said with a deep, guttural laugh, “Buckle up, kid, ’cause I’m drivin’, and you don’t know squat.”

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After you purchase a copy of the book, please leave a review. That’s how all artists learn and improve.

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings #NationalBookMonth

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The Summer Between – The Elephant in the Room

This may come as a shocker to some of you, but I was never an eighteen year old boy. However, The Summer Between is told from Brendon’s perspective, and he is most definitely an 18 year old boy. There’s a back and forth argument I have with myself all the time – Anne, write only what you’ve experienced directly, or Anne, write to a larger truth. I like to combine both when I write, and I always try to capture the heart of my character’s story. As I’ve said before, this is Brendon’s story, and he asked me to tell it.

So, no, I was never an 18 year old boy, but I was 18 once. I remember quite well the fear of what came next, the anxiety, the stress. I remember the trepidation of leaving my friends, of leaving home. I certainly remember the anticipation that I needed to have a really good final summer because things would never be this way again. There’s a part of me in Brendon, but there is also a part of Brendon’s story that was never mine.

Some of the lessons I learned growing up are reflected in The Summer Between, lessons I wish someone had pointed out to me ahead of time, but I probably wouldn’t have listened. Hopefully Brendon listens better than I did, but we both still have a lot of growing up to do.

We’ll get there someday, in some form or fashion.

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The featured image on this blog is me at my high school graduation. The picture above is Brendon, of course. The picture below is me dressed up as the wrestler The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and giving “the People’s elbow” to my friend Nikie who was dressed up at the Undertaker. Ah, high school.

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Everyone thinks you make mistakes when you’re young. But I don’t think we make any fewer when we’re grown up .” – Jodi Picoult

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings

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The Music of The Summer Between

I always listen to music when I write. My usual go to artists are The Counting Crows and The Killers. While I was writing The Summer Between, I had Mrs Potter’s Lullaby by The Counting Crows on a continuous loop. I feel like that song really captures the ups and downs of Brendon’s summer. (Ironically, this song did not make it onto his summer playlist, but it was definitely on my writing playlist.)

My taste in music is eclectic, to say the least, as is Brendon’s. You never know what will pop up on his iPod next. His musical world is a mix of genres and decades.

Music is very important to Brendon’s life. It might even be his future career. Music is also important to his older brother Derrick, and this shared passion may be the only thing that can repair their relationship.

The Summer Between features an original band, one Sticker Fish, original songs, and extreme karaoking. Each chapter follows along with Brendon’s summer playlist, which changes names and tone with his many moods. I suggest you listen to the songs either before or after you read the corresponding chapter. You can find Brendon’s playlist here.

Track List

Chapter One – The Climb, Miley Cyrus

Chapter Two – Cruel Summer, Ace of Base

Chapter Three – 9 to 5, Dolly Parton

Chapter Four – God Must Hate Me, Simple Plan

Chapter Five – Stuck In the Middle With You, Stealers Wheel

Chapter Six – Sitting, Cat Stevens

Chapter Seven – Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down), Chumbawumba

Chapter Eight – For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield

Chapter Nine – I’m Not Talking, The Yardbirds

Chapter Ten – Secret Agent Man, Johnny Rivers

Chapter Eleven – The Best of What’s Around, Dave Matthews Band

Chapter Twelve – We’re Not Gonna Take It, Twisted Sister

Chapter Thirteen – Rockstar, Nickelback

Chapter Fourteen – One Hit Wonder, Everclear

Chapter Fifteen – It Ends Tonight, The All-American Rejects

Chapter Sixteen – I Shall Believe, Sheryl Crow

Chapter Seventeen – Desperado, The Eagles

Chapter Eighteen – Roll Away Your Stone, Mumford and Sons

Chapter Nineteen – Rock’N’Roll Dreams Come Through, Meatloaf

Chapter Twenty – To Be With You, Mr. Big

Chapter Twenty-One – Little Wonders, Rob Thomas

Chapter Twenty-Two – Closing Time, Semisonic

Happy reading and listening!

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings #music

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(Photo credits: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash, Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash)

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2009: The World of The Summer Between

I wrote The Summer Between during the summer of 2009. The story is set in that year, the final breath of the aughts. Here is a quick glimpse of that year and the world that is Brendon’s reality.

In 2009, MySpace is still king when it comes to Social Media. Facebook is open to the non-collegiate public and is slowly gaining speed, as is Twitter. There is no Snapchat or Instagram. iPhones were just released in 2007 and not everyone has a smartphone. Most people aren’t used to updating their social media status at a moment’s notice or getting news instantaneously.

iPods are still a thing, and music is stored on them and not a smartphone. Pictures, for the most part, are still taken on digital cameras. Cellphone photos are notoriously awful and grainy.

Fun fact, 2009 gives birth to the first “viral selfie.”

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(Melissa and her husband Jackson Brandts were exploring Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Canada, when a ground squirrel photobombed their timed picture. )

The Great Recession of 2008 is still going strong, but it hasn’t impacted Brendon’s immediate reality. (He’s lucky.) It will definitely impact his future, though. He’s still facing the pressure to go to college and pick a career. But should he pick a career he loves, or one that will guarantee security?

Brendon lives in the suburban mountain South I know so well and grew up in. It’s not a small town, it’s not a large town, but it’s big enough to have a downtown, and a decent mall.

Avatar is the biggest movie of the year and American Idol (pre re-boot) is the biggest TV show.

And this is the 2009 version of Miley Cyrus, which will matter when you read the book.

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Get a copy of The Summer Between and enter Brendon’s world! Order now from Barnes and Noble or Amazon!

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings #music

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number #6 The Summer Between

It’s time for the final WIPpet Wednesday for The Summer Between. For the rest of the story, you’re just going to have to buy the book, which you can do here.

This week I’ve got 33 sentences from Chapter Seven: From Sunup to Sunup. For my WIPpet math we have (26+8-1=33) on 9/26/2018.

“Derrick rolls over the back of the car and somehow manages to land on his feet. We follow him as he unlocks the back gate and runs through the yard, finally collapsing near the patio furniture, his hands stretched toward the sky. “Come here.”

“Shouldn’t we go inside, to bed?” I ask.

“No!” He shoots me down.

“I’m sticking my feet in the pool.” Glenn moseys away from us.

I sigh and join my brother on the grass.

“We’re crossing two things off your list,” he says.

“Yeah?”

“We’ve done extreme karaokeing. Now we’re staying up ’til the sunrise. Check, check.” Derrick smiles at me and points above. The black of night has already faded to blue, and streaks of orange, red, and purple stretch across the sky.

“Thanks for tonight.” I say after a moment. He’s right. Tonight’s a favor that’s chipped away at my wall of worries until it’s nothing more than a smoldering pile of rubble.

“I love sunrises,” Derrick says. “I mean, with all the shit in the world, a good sunrise is priceless. And this one—” He shakes his finger upward. “— has the makings of a great one.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s the one time of day you can look up and believe everything’ll be okay. Know what I mean?” Derrick turns to look at me, his eyes large and pleading. I’d never seen this expression on his face before, and I’m not sure how to categorize it. “Know what I mean?” he asks again, a new urgency in his voice.

“Yeah, I guess.” My answer must be satisfactory because Derrick breathes a sigh of relief and directs his eyes back to the heavens.

“Everything is gonna be okay,” he mumbles as the sun breaks the horizon.”

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

And for some perspective, here is the first completed draft of The Summer Between in 2009.  (Gotta love the photo quality of my Samsung Glyde.)

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And here’s the book today, on the eve of its publication. Never, ever, ever give up!

Summer Between Cover

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings

 

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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 6 – The Rest of the Gang

We’re less than a week away from the release of The Summer Between! Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced Brendon, his older brother Derrick, his best friend Lindsay, his good friend Glenn, and the ever straight forward Lillian. This blog is dedicated to the other characters who make up The Summer Between. There’s no way I could fit everyone in, but here are some of the other intriguing people who make up Brendon’s world and his summer.

Levi Connors Maxwell III – Brendon and Glenn’s dreaded boss at their equally dreaded summer job. He runs a tight ship in the Tri-City Mall.

“My name is Levi Connors Maxwell III. I am your manager. I have worked for The K-Nut Hut for ten years. This company graciously bestowed me with a job at the age of sixteen, and I’ve never looked back. I contemplated a military career, but the time has come and gone.’ The right side of Levi’s face, eyes, nose, mouth, the whole kit-and-caboodle, jerk upward in an awkward swoop as he mentions his former life. It’s a hell of a tick.”

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Then there are the rest of the employees at The K-Nut Hut: Thomas Jefferson, a poor soul trying to survive his first ever summer job, Samantha, who has a unique niche when it comes to sculpting, and ex-police officer Randy. There’s also Clark Smith and Kent Wilson, who may or may not be robots.

When he’s not stuck at work, Brendon is busy composing a song for Ashley Louise Alyssa Long. In Brendon’s own words, “I love Ashley Louise Alyssa Long. I have always, always loved her. I loved her in the tenth grade when she dyed her hair black and started a band with Amber and Andrea, aptly named the Triple A’s. Ashley Louise Alyssa Long is all about her music, a true artist. She’s going to get a double major in music performance and business, and then she’s going to be a talent agent. What I wouldn’t give to be her client, but I can’t get the girl to notice me. I’m just some kid in her class. That’s all I’ve ever been, but no more. On August 1, I’m going to take the stage at the annual Sinister Cyanide Lounge Singer/Songwriter Competition and blow her away.”

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Ashley’s favorite band is Sticker Fish. They’re also Brendon’s favorite band, and pretty much a musical fave for everyone in his circle. Who is Sticker Fish?

Sticker Fish is the best band ever, the sound of my generation! They’ve only been ‘on the scene’ for three years, and they’ve already had nine number one songs and two multi-platinum albums. You know their songs, such classics as ‘Monday Morning Amnesia,’ ‘Whirling Dervish Gypsy Divine,’ ‘Chew and Choke on This,’ and ‘American Rhapsody Temporarily Postponed.’ They may be big-time, but they always take time for their fans . . .”

 

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Then there is the Widow Radcliffe who lives with her plethora of small dogs in a cute, little house.

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But there’s more than meets the eye to Mrs. Radcliffe, just as there’s a little more to everyone Brendon interacts with. His summer will be filled with the unexpected, and lessons will come from all directions. Sometimes the lessons come from people he’ll never physically meet, like Bradley Simms and Lee Marcus.

How will these characters shape his summer, and maybe even the rest of his life?

Find out starting October 1!

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings #music #songwriting

(Photo Credits: Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash, Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash)

 

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number #5 The Summer Between

The books are here!

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We’re less than two weeks from release date, and that means there are only two #WIPpet Wednesdays left before The Summer Between is no longer a work in progress.

This week I’ve got 31 sentences from Chapter Nineteen: The Third Annual Singer/Songwriter Competition. How did Brendon and his brother get to this point and what will happen next? You’re just going to have to read the book to find out.

For my WIPpet math we have 31 sentences (19+9+2+1=31) on 9/19/2018.

“The show should’ve started five minutes ago, but I’m not surprised by the delay. I am surprised, however, when a hand touches my shoulder and a voice says, “Brendon, your brother needs you.” I look back to see Lillian sporting a headset. A long wire runs down her side and into a black box clipped to her belt. “Derrick needs you,” she repeats. “Come on.” I let her take me by the hand and lead the way. The crowd moves a little easier for her. After all, she looks official. I follow her up the side steps to the stage. She veers to the right, past the computer and fuse box. There’s a door at the back of the stage. It’s painted black and masked by curtains. She opens it for me, and I see a set of carpeted stairs leading down. “Go.” She inclines her head and I obey.

I hurry down the stairs to find a long hallway at the bottom. Numerous of doors branch off it. “Are we in the basement?”

“Good job, Sherlock,” Lillian brushes past me to assume the lead. We pass several rooms, and I can hear bands tuning and people singing. I wonder which, if any, of these rooms Sticker Fish is lounging in.

Lillian stops before the last door on the left. It’s cracked open. “You have three minutes,” she tells me.

I enter the room. “Derrick?” His guitar is on the sofa, but he isn’t in there.

“I told her not to get you,” a voice moans from the bathroom.

I push the dented door open with my finger to see Derrick crouched over the toilet, his head between his hands. “What are you doing?”

“Learning Tai-Chi,” Derrick remarks. “I’m freaking out!”

 

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #siblings

 

 

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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 5: Glenn Murray

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Glenn is Brendon’s close friend. Add Matt and Travis to the mix, and Brendon knows this group as “my people.” They share multiple interests and lots of memories.

 

In Brendon’s own words, “Matthew Senclair, Travis Walker, and Glenn Murray are my people. They’ve each come into my life at different times. Glenn has been there since third grade. Travis entered in the form of my lab partner in seventh grade, and Matthew found us the first day of freshman year. We’ve done lots of stuff together, like watch movies, test out the new games at that store in the mall, and gang up to kill Lindsay in World of Warcraft. We also enjoy the outdoors, and this summer we’re going on an extreme hiking and rafting adventure in the great wide open.”
But now Matt and Travis are out of the picture and Glenn is stuck working a less than stellar summer job with Brendon. Misery loves company, and at least they have each other, right? It’s not all bad, though. After all, their summer employment has introduced Glenn to a possible summer romance, the handsome young man across the way at the Smoothie King. This summer should solidify Brendon and Glenn’s friendship forever, and they should be in it together, but sometimes summer break knows no loyalties.
“But we can_t all be as lucky as you, or as self-centered.”
#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship
(Photo Credits: Photo by Yanapi Senaud on Unsplash)
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