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.

 

 

I’m Still Here and Still Writing

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

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

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

 

Flying Upon One Wing Cover WORKING

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

shelved-anthology-call

 

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

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

Featured image Photo by Michel Porro on Unsplash

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)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑