“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
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“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.)

 

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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!

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#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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#WIPpet Wednesday A Spot On the Hill

I’m taking a momentary break from The Summer Between on this Work in Progress Wednesday to share a bit from my upcoming play A Spot On the Hill. The Heritage Alliance sponsors A Spot On the Hill every October in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery. The performances help to raise funds for the tombstone restoration and preservation in the Rocky Hill and College Hill cemeteries. This is the fifth year we’ve done A Spot On the Hill. It is one of my favorite parts of my job. Every year we try to feature nine-ten new stories of people who are buried in the cemeteries. The play is heavily researched, and whenever possible, I use quotes from the person or directly about the person. Our tagline is “Real stories. Real lives. Real tombstones.”

Below is the story of Lucinda Jackson (9/26/1843 – 6/27/1898). To help with the reading, stage directions are on the right, character names are in the center, and dialogue is to the left.

For my WIPpet math we have 40 sentences (9+12+19=40) for 9/12/2019. Note, stage directions do not count in the total, only dialogue.

LUCINDA J

I’m here because of laundry, and my husband. My name is Lucinda Jackson, but most people know me as Cynthia. My husband is Giles Jackson, but most people called him Jack. Giles belonged to the Colored Peoples Cemetery Society of Jonesborough. He was one of the trustees who helped establish College Hill Cemetery in 1890. I was buried there just eight years later. Giles was a character, loved to talk. He was always talking. He was a barber, said it was part of his profession. Everyone knew Jack and his stories, especially the one about how he’d been kicked in the head by a horse. That story always started the same . . .

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Let me tell you how I got these scars!

LUCINDA J

Sometimes I wish that horse had kicked him a little harder. But I loved Jack’s stories. That’s part of what attracted me to him. I was his second wife. We married in 1894. Jack had his barber shop in the basement of the courthouse, and I had my laundry in our house on Woodrow. Jack was always complaining that I was too quite. “Look at you, just standing at that tub and saying nothing.” But I was thinking, always thinking. Jack was used to everybody telling him his business in his chair. I knew everything about everybody, too, but they didn’t have to say a word to me.

(Carter D brings her a bundle of laundry.)

LUCINDA J

This shirt is not her husband’s size.

(William M brings her a bundle of laundry.)

LUCINDA J

That’s a lot of blood, and it ain’t hog killing time. Someone needs to check on that.

(Jennie R brings her a bundle of laundry)

JENNIE R

Would you mind, uh . . .

LUCINDA J

(finishing her thought for her)

Destroying that awful shirt of his so you never have to see it again? Don’t worry, laundry accidents happen all the time.

JENNIE R

You’re a good woman.

LUCINDA J

Laundry’s not as solitary as you’d think. But I liked the peace, when it came. I liked to stand at the tub and look out the window and think about how much had changed in my lifetime, and how much would change in Nannie’s lifetime. She was Jack’s granddaughter, but I like to think of her as mine, too. What would the world look like outside her window?

(pause)

Then Jack would come in and tell me I was being too quiet. What he didn’t know, though, was I was solving all the world’s problems.

LAURA D

“Cynthia Jackson, wife of Giles Jackson, dropped dead while at the wash tub Monday morning. The doctor pronounced the cause of her death, apoplexy.”

LUCINDA J

If only I’d lived to solve those problems, or see the world Nannie got to see. But at least I got a break from that horse story for a while.

Cem After

(The picture looks pretty bleak, but it was taken in the winter. That is the view of College Hill from Rocky Hill. Rocky Hill was the traditionally white cemetery and College Hill was the traditionally African American cemetery. They were segregated by society and nature. Thanks to programs like A Spot On the Hill, we’ve been able to break down that natural barrier and share both cemeteries as part of one whole. Lucinda Jackson is buried in College Hill.)

If you’re in the Northeast Tennessee area and want to see A Spot On the Hill, we have performances on Oct 19, 20, and 26 at 6:30 and Oct 20 and 27 at 2:30. Find out more about the play and how to get tickets by visiting the Heritage Alliance’s Facebook page

*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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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 4: Lillian Simms

_And one day you_ll forgive yourself, too. I_m still working on that one myself._

Meet Lillian Simms, co-owner of The Sinister Cyanide Lounge, the nightclub and music joint that keeps Brendon, Derrick, and all their friends hopping. Lillian is a force and fiercely independent. She’s also a firm believer in second chances, as long as a person is willing to work for it.

“She’s an intimidating figure, almost Derrick’s height with stormy hazel eyes. Her electric purple hair is pulled back in a sharp ponytail. Two slender, black boots and a pair of fishnet stockings accentuate her long legs. Her dress, made from the same material as her boots, clings to her figure. It’s a nice figure. The name Bradley is tattooed, in beautiful script, across her right wrist.

‘Lillian’s the boss,’ Derrick drops his arm from my shoulder. ‘This club is her brainchild.’

‘Nice to meet you.’ I hold out my hand, and she takes it. She has a strong grip. In fact, it’s borderline painful. 

‘Lillian’s also the bouncer,’ Derrick adds. That explains the death grip.

‘Only on nights you work,’ Lillian counters.”

The Murphy brothers will need Lillian’s strength this summer. In fact, it might be a matter of life or death.

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

(Photo Credits: Photo by Connor Limbocker on Unsplash, Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash, Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash)

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The Summer Between Book Launch and Signing!

If you’re in the Northeast Tennessee area, I’ll be hosting my book launch and signing at The Corner Cup in downtown Jonesborough! I’ll be there from 2:00-4:00 that afternoon. Books will be for sale for $15.00, a lovely little discount for people who’d like to purchase the day of. The Corner Cup will have coffee, tea, all kinds of fraps, and treats. Swing on by and say hello, then cozy up with a new book in Jonesborough’s Living Room. Stay tuned for more events to come.

SUMMER BETWEEN FLYER ROUGH

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Talking The Summer Between with Marcello Rollando on Charlottesville This Week

My first radio spot for The Summer Between! I had the privilege of chatting with Marcello Rolando about The Summer Between, history, playwriting, and much more on Charlottesville This Week. Marcello directed my ten minute play Stealing Lincoln a few years ago. He is one of the best directors I have ever worked with, and I hope we can work together again in the future. The show is broken down into three, six minute segments. Happy listening!

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number #4 The Summer Between

I intended to share a snippet from this year’s edition of A Spot On the Hill today, but I’m still in the research stage of my annual cemetery play. I’ll be able to share from it next week. This Wednesday I’ll be sharing more from The Summer Between. There aren’t too many weeks left to share from the book, seeing as it will be released on October 1. (Less than a month away, OMG!!!!)

This week I’ve got a quick look into Brendon’s summer job at the K-Nut Hut. Believe me, it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds, but at least he’s sharing his misery with his good friend Glenn. This is definitely not what Brendon had in mind when he pictured his perfect summer.

For my WIPpet math we have 18 sentences (9+1=9, 9+9=18) from Chapter Five: Brendon Murphy, This Is Your Summer! on 9/5/2018.

“Monday comes, as Mondays always do. My alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. I shut it off but stay in bed for another fifteen minutes. The day ahead and all it entails hovers like some horrible specter above me. Is this how a person feels on their morning of martyrdom? I don’t dwell on the thought too long before it occurs to me it’s probably the most morbid fancy I’ve ever entertained. After all, there are no starving lions waiting for me at the mall. Unless the fryer comes to life and douses me in boiling peanut oil or there’s really a zombie invasion in the works, I’m going to be fine, at least physically. My psyche is another matter.

I shower, don my uniform, stuff a toaster pastry in my mouth, and leave the house to fetch Glenn. I wait in his driveway for five minutes, and when he doesn’t show, I begrudgingly make my way to his door. I’ve only taken a few steps when said door opens and there stands Glenn, in all his pink and brown glory. I’m painfully aware my appearance is just as abhorrent, so I return to my car, keeping my eyes on the driveway as I go. Glenn closes his front door and walks solemnly to the passenger side. Neither of us speaks as we settle into the car and I pull away. The silence persists all the way to the Tri-City Mall.

Sometimes there are no words.

After a ‘motivational’ speech and a pop quiz from Commander Maxwell III, The K-Nut Hut opens for business at 9:00 a.m. alongside most of the other shops in the mall.”

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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.

#TheSummerBetween #YAfiction #teenlit #teenfiction #teenlife #friendship #summerjobs

(Photo by Dieter de Vroomen on Unsplash)

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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 3: Lindsay Beckingham

 

“I mean it. The test is bogus. Mail it back and forget it. You_re much more than four categories on a piece of paper.”

It’s time to meet the women of The Summer Between. Meet Lindsay Beckingham! Lindsay and Brendon have known each other since the second grade. They actually started as enemies but became fast friends. They’ll be going to the same university in the fall, but whereas Brendon has no clue what he wants to do with his life, Lindsay seems to have everything figured out.

In Brendon’s own words, “Lindsay’s had her whole life figured out since she was eleven. She’s going to be a doctor. It’s both impressive and daunting how sure she is about everything.”

Lindsay is driven and goal oriented. Her multiple summer jobs will be keeping her busy, but she’s always there for her friends when they need her, especially Brendon. The two of them share a special connection, one that will be tested as they try to survive the summer and all its many hurdles.

Here’s a look into what’s important to Lindsay and Brendon’s friendship.

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Will their friendship make it through the summer intact?

“. . .I’m really, really stoked you’re coming to Rye with me because after ten years, I’d be lost without you.” – Brendon M

For Brendon’s sake, let’s hope so.

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

(Photo by Stephan Seeber on Unsplash, Photo by Arya Meher on Unsplashhttps://goo.gl/images/NrgVXehttps://goo.gl/images/f9O5AV, Photo by Benjamin Dickerhof on Unsplash, Photo by Jéssica Oliveira on Unsplash)

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday Number #3 The Summer Between

Summer is coming to an end. That means it’s time for all my fun, fall stuff, including A Spot On the Hill. I’m currently working on the script for the fifth anniversary of my cemetery play. I’ll share some of it next week. This week, especially since it’s still summer, here’s another peek into my soon to be released novel The Summer Between.

Aw, summer crushes, where would adolescence be without them? In Brendon’s case, his summer crush is more of a since elementary school crush. I’ll be introducing the women of The Summer Between in upcoming blog posts, but here’s a first look at the girl who’s got Brendon’s heart doing flip flops, Ashley Louise Alyssa Long. Brendon is determined that this summer will move him out of the crush zone and securely into the relationship zone.

For my WIPpet math we have 2+9=11, so 8 sentences from Chapter Eleven: The 18th Annual Lindsay Fest, on August 29, 2018. Who’s Lindsay? You’ll find out soon enough.

“’You gonna hang around to hear us play?” she inquires with an enticing smile. Yeah, she knows I’m looking, and I like what I see. “We’re a good time.” She runs her tongue across her glossy lips.

‘Hell yeah, I’m stayin’.” I have no idea what I’ve said, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve forgotten where I am, too. All I need to do for the rest of my life is stand here and watch Ashley.”

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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.

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

(Photo Credits: Photo by Leonardo Sanches on Unsplash, Photo by Francisco Moreno on Unsplash)

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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 2: Derrick Murphy

“This is going to be a good night.” (1)

Meet Derrick Muprhy! Derrick is Brendon’s older brother. He’s ten years older, to be exact. Their relationship has always been dictated by their age difference, but they were close when they were younger. Derrick loves music, and at the age of 21, he set off for California to take a chance on the music industry. Time and distance fractured his relationship with Brendon, and the Derrick who returned home three years later was not the Derrick who left. Different hair color, new tattoos, and a whole new attitude.

Derrick is loud and outgoing, in the right social setting. He’s a party animal with a very particular set of “friends.” He’s completely self absorbed, without a care in the world, except when it comes to antagonizing his younger brother. . .at least that’s how Brendon sees him. Brendon’s perception of his brother is best summed up with the following thought, “You know those posters, the ones about everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten? Yeah, well I learned everything I shouldn’t do in life by watching my older brother.”

The Summer Between is told from Brendon’s point of view. Here’s what he thinks Derrick is interested in.

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There’s a lot Derrick isn’t saying, though, and a lot Brendon isn’t aware of. Their summer together will either reunite the two brothers, or destroy their relationship forever.

Pre-Order the Kindle edition of The Summer Between now on Amazon!

The Summer Between will also be available in paperback on October 1, 2018! Learn more about The Summer Between and all of Mountain Gap Books’ titles at https://squareup.com/store/mountain-gap-books/. 

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

 

(Photos credits: Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash, Photo by Alexandre Godreau on Unsplash, Photo by thom masat on Unsplash, Photo by jurien huggins on Unsplash )

 

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday #2 The Summer Between

This is my second Work In Progress (WIPpet) Wednesday for The Summer Between. It’s another peek into Brendon’s unconventional summer break. He’s experiencing all the joys, or pitfalls, that come with growing up. What happens to your childhood friends when you transition to college? Will you stay in touch, or drift apart? Brendon is struggling with the answer to these questions in this week’s WIPpet.

For my WIPpet math, we have 9 sentences from page 22 of the book (1+8=9), for August 22, 2018. This is from Chapter Two The Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men (AKA the Patronizing Phrase People Will Quote When You Least Want to Hear It)

“Now, when I sit in my dorm room and Matt texts, I will reply with, what, “How was ten hours in the mini-van?” That’s not a conversation starter. That’s a conversation willingly taking a cyanide pill.

Without these stories, we’re four people who shared the same school system and the occasional class or group project. Okay, so we share a love for internet gaming. So what? Lots of people game with complete strangers.

If we’re nothing more than that, then how do we…how do we exist without class schedules and lunch periods to bring us together?

The answer is simple and terrifying: we won’t.”

Summer Between Ad #1 Twitter Sized (2)

*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

(The Summer Between add designed by Jeanne G’Fellers, images from Unsplash.)

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The Summer Between Meet the Characters Number 1: Brendon Murphy

I_m terrified and nauseous but overjoyed all at the same time, and I think that_s how living is supposed to feel.

It’s time to meet the characters from The Summer Between. Introducing Brendon Murphy. A very recent high school graduate, Brendon is set to attend a local university in the fall. He’s a good student, makes good grades. He’s outgoing, but he has a close knit group of friends. Brendon is big on music, and there’s not much music he doesn’t like. He even dabbles in writing his own music. Brendon enjoys the outdoors, and he has a slight obsession with calendars. At 18, he’s over confident, even if he’s not sure what he wants to do with the rest of his life. (Despite this confidence, he wears his heart and his emotions on his sleeves.) Brendon knows one thing for certain, though, he will not be like his older brother Derrick.

The Summer Between is told from Brendon’s point of view. It is his summer break, after all. But a break from what? High school? Yeah, it’s a permanent break from high school.

Brendon is sure his break will be filled with all of his favorite things.

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Unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes the summer of our dreams turns into the summer of our nightmares and all we’re left with are . . .

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How Brendon survives the summer will determine the type of person he really is.

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

(Photo credits from Unsplash – Photos by Austin Pacheco, Photo by rawpixel,  Photo by Rachel Lynette French, Photo by Chris Holder,  Photo by Ihor Malytskyi,  Photo by Radu Marcusu)

 

 

 

 

 

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#WIPpet Wednesday

This is my first Work In Progress (WIPpet) for The Summer Between. I hope you enjoy. The book is in the final stage of editing and will be available for purchase on October 1, 2018. It is available for pre-order now on Amazon for Kindle.

The core of the story is about family, specifically siblings, specifically brothers. I’ll be introducing the characters in coming blogs, but suffice to say Brendon and his older brother Derrick are very different. The last thing either of them wanted was to spend their summers together.

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The story is told from Brendon’s point of view. In keeping with WIPpet math, I am sharing 15 sentences from Chapter Eight: Sunday, the Perfect Day for Secrets and Lies.

“Derrick never talks about California. We’ve asked, of course, but he won’t divulge much. He failed to make it on his own. We know there’s more, but he’s mum on it. His current attitude is enough of a distraction. Here’s my chance to see what California was like. Mom and Dad visited him his first summer there, but I was at summer camp. I thought I’d never forgive them, but then they came back so angry and hurt I didn’t push the issue. Soon after, Derrick refused to come home for the holidays. He was too busy, and his name was mud in our house until he moved back.

I look over my shoulder. Stop being stupid. Derrick hasn’t rolled over yet. There’s no way he’s going to appear in the attic. I take a deep breath and pull the tape from the top of the first box.”

*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.

(The Summer Between add designed by Jeanne G’Fellers, images from Unsplash.)

 

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The Summer Between – Coming Soon!

Coming in October of 2018, follow the adventures of Brendon Murphy as he navigates the trials and tribulations of the summer break between high school and college.

“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.”

Pre-Order the Kindle edition of The Summer Between now on Amazon!

The Summer Between will also be available in paperback on October 1, 2018! Learn more about The Summer Between and all of Mountain Gap Books’ titles at https://squareup.com/store/mountain-gap-books/. 

 

 

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Welcome, Readers!

Hello, all! This is my first blog post on my first, professional website, so bear with me. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Anne G’Fellers-Mason, and I live in a small town in Jonesborough, TN. My mother is a librarian, principal, teacher, and perpetual scholar. I was surrounded by books from an early age. In fact, I spent most of my summers at the middle school she worked at, stamping new books for the classrooms and school library. I loved it!

The summer after sixth grade, I sequestered myself in the spare room upstairs and wrote the first chapter of my very first novel. I can distinctly remember sitting there, etching the title into the front of the red notebook with my Lisa Frank pen. (It changed colors between purple and hot pink.) That was the first time I ever started with the title. Usually, I write half the story and then try to decide what I’m going to call the darn thing. I finished my first book that summer, and it was magic. As I was writing, I felt completely in place. Every part of me knew that I was born to write, to create worlds. Of course, as I grew older, the book went through many revisions. It’s about to go through its next revision and will be published next November, but more on that at a later date. I won’t reveal too much about my very first book, but I will say this…dragons.

Since then, I’ve started many different books. My hard drive is filled with multiple stories. I’ve completed short stories, poems, and plays. My studies have taken me to Mars Hill University, East Tennessee State University, and Hollins University. In my day to day adult life, I work as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Heritage Alliance. We’re a small non-profit that specializes in history, museums, and preservation. I get to play with history every day. I’m very lucky that my job lets me combine my three degrees in theatre, history, and playwriting. I get the chance to research the people who once lived in Jonesborough and share their stories in my plays. It is an awesome responsibility.

Work keeps me busy, and unfortunately I don’t get to read or write as much as I’d like to. Still, there’s nothing that makes me happier, except maybe my spouse…and our cats. I am surrounded by a sister who writes and a mother who writes in a family compound. Future blogs will cover some of my inspirations, influences, and more humorous anecdotes. For now, I just wanted to say hello. Thanks for following me on this author journey.

Oh yeah, and most important part, my first published novel is coming out this October! The Summer Between is my second, completely finished book, but it will be my first published. Lots more on it to follow.

Here are some places where you can read other works of mine.

Great Expectations: Eight Short Plays About Teens Under Pressure (Published by YouthPLAYS)

by Nicole B. Adkins, Will Coleman, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Laura King, Wendy-Marie Martin, Marshall N. Opie, Jeri Weiss, and Ricky Young-Howze

Please Say Yes: Short Plays About Promposing (Published by YouthPLAYS)

by Nicole B. Adkins, Will Coleman, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Megan Gogerty, Neeley Gossett, Adam Hahn, Laura King, Samantha Macher, Wendy-Marie Martin, and Ricky Young-Howze

You can visit YouthPLAYS online at https://www.youthplays.com/.

A Mourning Hollow (Published by The BookPatch LLC)

by Liesl Ehmke (Author), Eric Eidson (Author), Kevin D. Ferguson (Author), Anne G’Fellers Mason (Author), Taylor Gruenloh  (Author), Laura King (Author), Wendy-Marie Martin (Author), Caitlin McCommis (Author), Shane Strawbridge (Author)

You can get a copy of A Mourning Hollow on Amazon.

And you can read a fabulous fanfic I wrote about Sherlock (BBC). I only write quality fanficiton. My professional wrestling fanfics used to get requests, all the way from Germany. I also wrote an amazing episode of the X-Files once. Too bad that computer crashed and the floppy disk fried. Sad times.

More to come!

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This photo, courtesy of Charlie Mauk, is the cast of A Spot On the Hill in October of 2016. A Spot On the Hill is a new play I create every fall that shares the stories of those buried in the Old Jonesborough Cemetery. We perform the play inside the cemetery. I really do love my job!

Headshot at top courtesy of Cassandra Snow.

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