Oct 5 – A Ladder

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

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

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

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

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

“The basket’s right here.”

“You think they ran off into the woods?”

“Gross. Richard has higher standards than that.”

“Any wine in that basket?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Grab a bottle and let’s go looking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Richard! Gregor, where are you?!”

“Onlly, olly, oxen free.”

“Text Richard, see where he’s at.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Halloween #WritingChallenge #Spooky

Oct 4 – A Thin Jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

“D-d-death?” Gregor dared to ask.

“None other,” the shade replied.

“Why are you still here?”

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

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

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

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

Gregor’s blood ran cold, and even though it was a warm evening, he was suddenly freezing. He wished he’d brought more than a thin jacket.”

See you all tomorrow! #Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 3 – Something Witnessed at Sunset

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

Tonight’s prompt is Something Witnessed at Sunset.

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

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

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

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

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

Gregor dropped the picnic basket.

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

Oct 2 – A Blanket

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

A happy bee
All the figs!

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

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


#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 1st – Turning Leaves

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

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

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

Graphic by Jeanne G’Fellers

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

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

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

The Challenge

#October #WritingChallenge #Halloween

Things That Scare Me

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

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

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

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

“I Have Never Known This Life Without You”

I have never known this life without you

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

Distance in age, distance in stages of life

Me in kindergarten, you having your first child

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

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

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

A beautiful wrecking ball saved us both, saved us all

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

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

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

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

We’re always slightly off in different ways

I have never known this life with out you

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

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

Was the distance too great?

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

You introduced me to the concept of souls living multiple lives

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

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

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

I have never known this life without you

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

You are the reason I am published

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

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

You are the reason I talk to trees

I have never known this life without you

But oh, I am so afraid

Afraid I am woefully unprepared to support you

I say the wrong things, do the wrong things

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

I am angry at the world on your behalf

I am no Samwise Gamgee

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

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

And I

Have Never


This Life



I Am No Samwise Gamgee

Updates from My Small Corner of the Writing World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#writing #blogging #catmom #overthispandemic

“Comes In Threes” Ebook Release April 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

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

Shout Outs Part One!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

My creative friends on my TV!

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

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

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

Stay safe! Stay creative!

Mountain Gap meeting essentials.

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


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

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

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

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

Shelved is available now!

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

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

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

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

Stay safe. Stay festive. Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

"He's well."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Story

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

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

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