The Tree

Here’s another one from Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds challenge of the week: write about a tree. I had a hard time with this, because I’m writing about a tree in my current novel. I wanted to share some of that novel, but I’m intent on having it published some day. At first, I thought I’d bypass this challenge, but this idea came to me. I hope you enjoy.

The Tree — 924 words. 

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Running. Feet pounding the ground. Ashton ended up where she always did, in front of the great big oak tree. The branches spread out like giants’ arms against the clear blue backdrop of the Southern sky. She placed her hand on the trunk and felt the warmth of the tree.

When she had been just a girl, her dad had strung a tire swing to the big horizontal branch. She had swung, laughing, and pushing her head back against the wind. She looked up at the green leaves as they danced in the sky. The tree held life. Her life, a memory of her fleeting childhood existence.

When she and Deke married, they took over the land. Then her dad got sick—lung cancer from too many cigs smoked as he herded cows into the dust. He held on for two weeks after the doctor diagnosed him. Ashton’s mom moved to the back room. She let Ashton, Deke, and their clan of little children take over the house. Ashton liked to listen to their bare feet on the wood floors. It reminded her of her childhood where there was always too much noise and clatter in the small farmhouse.

Ashton held her hands up to the tree. She rubbed the silkiness of the green leaves.


“You know, Ashton, this could all be yours one day,” her father had said, one day when he pushed her on the swing.

Ashton had laughed her high-pitched little girl laugh, tossing her blonde curls into the wind, feeling like she could fly away.

Her father stopped the swing. He kneeled down in front of her and took her small, soft hands into his rough, calloused ones. His blue eyes twinkled in the fading light of day. He smelled of Old Spice and cow manure, the smell of Ashton’s childhood.

“I mean it. You’re the one. This is the place.”

A rustle of wind blew through the tree, and it seemed to wave at Ashton. She looked up at the tree and could almost feel it wrapping its life-giving warmth around her. Her dad squeezed her hands, then hugged her. He started pushing the swing again.


“I want to put a tire swing up for the girls,” Ashton said.

“There?” Deke asked, pointing to the tree as they walked toward the wind.

The girls had stayed home with Ashton’s mom. The memorial service had been two weeks ago already. Ashton’s mom had taken to wearing only black and making pies: peach, apple, pecan. There were more pies than they could ever eat. The sting of Ashton’s father’s death still took her breath away. The tree gave her the air she needed to breathe again, to feel again.

“I was thinking about selling off this acreage to the Boyers’,” Deke said.

“Oh,” Ashton said. She looked at the tree, and it seemed to bow its head in sadness.

“We could make some money. Put it in a college fund for the girls. This farm just don’t produce as much as it used to.”

“You can’t.”

“Why can’t I?”

“Because that tree is important,” Ashton said, pointing to it. The tree seemed to stand up a little taller, the leaves danced against the bright light of the midday sun.

“Don’t be silly, Ashton.”

After dinner and the girls’ baths, Ashton sat in the living room with her mother while Deke read to the bouncing girls who had wired themselves up, slap-happy before bedtime. Ashton knitted while her mother ate a piece of peach pie a la mode. They conferred and agreed. Ashton kissed the urn on the mantle before heading off to bed.

The next morning, Ashton ran to the tree. Running made her feel so alive. She hugged it and swore it hugged her back.


“I met someone,” she said.

“Who?” her father asked.

She sat on the tire swing, holding the worn ropes, her keds firmly planted in the dip her bare childhood feet had made on the ground.

“His name is Deke Malloy.”

“Irish, is he?” her father had joked.

Ashton, in the full throes of adolescence, rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m in love, Dad.”

Her father smiled, held her hands, and gave her a kiss on the forehead.

“I think it’s about time we took down the tire swing,” he said.

“Oh Daddy, I love this old thing.”

They both looked up into the branches of the old oak tree. It had seen so much on this land for the last hundred years, so many people coming and going. Ashton could feel its spirit. The next day, Ashton’s father removed the tire swing. Five years later, Ashton and Deke married.


In the afternoon, they all dressed up. Ashton and her mother wore blue, the color of the sky, and her father’s favorite.

“I guess I didn’t realize how important the tree was to you,” Deke said.

Ashton’s mom held her hand. The little girls followed along, picking daisies they would later make daisy chains with. Ashton could almost see the outline of the tire swing. She looked at the tree, and she thought she saw her dad there waving at her. She smiled, and held up her hand. The tree waved back.

Under the tree’s shade, she and her mom struggled to open the urn.

“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” Ashton said.

She poured her father’s ashes into the dip her childhood feet had made. The leaves of the tree waved in the wind, and the ashes swirled a little then settled into dust. Ashton smiled, imagining her daddy standing there, her hand securely in his. She put her arms around her mother’s waist and around Deke’s squeezing them close to her and looking at the wonder of an old oak tree.

“Now about that tire swing…”

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Pride Cometh Before the Fall

Today’s story is another flash fiction piece for Chuck Wendig’s blog over at TerribleMinds. The assignment was to write Good vs. Evil in whatever genre we chose. I chose Southern Fiction. I had a hard time coming up with an idea for this, as I don’t believe in purely good and evil. Walking the dogs today, I thought about this character Henny who I had been thinking of writing, and the story came to me. Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought! Thanks!

Pride Cometh Before the Fall (795 words)

Henny bent down to pick up the pecans that had fallen from the trees. She loved pecans, hard on the outside but soft on the inside, just like Papa. Papa’s hands had calluses and his face felt like leather, but he had a soft kind spirit that made Henny prideful.

Mama always said, “Pride cometh before the fall.”

Henny knew it was a Bible verse but whenever she thought of that phrase she thought of Mama’s hard, grim face and puckered lips.

The bag of pecans rustled against the tire of her bike as she pushed it through Mr. William’s pecan grove. She almost had enough.  When Mama baked pies with Henny some of her worn-outness disappeared. Sometimes Mama would soften like the dough, laughing and smiling as they kneaded it, creating something out of nothing.

“Henny, you run out now and get some pecans from over at Williams’ place so we can have a sweet pecan pie tonight. Shoo—go along now,” Mama said.

Henny knew she had been sent away because it was her little brother’s nap time. Mama said Henny could make more noise than a heap of Indians. Henny couldn’t sit still either—that’s what her teachers said. She had an abundance of energy she somehow could not deplete. Papa liked to tease her and would say, “Henny, it’s a wonder your battery ain’t never run out.”

Henny heard a rustle on the far side of the pecan grove. She rolled her bike through mountains of nuts stepping gingerly to avoid crunching any pecans underneath her feet. What she saw made her eyes grow big. The Klan—just about six or seven of ‘em. Her heartbeat sped up making her feel light headed. She put the kickstand down, and hid behind a big pecan tree.

Two men with white pointed hats held a black man by the arms.

“Don’t do it,” the black man screamed. “I din’t do it. I promise. Lemme go. I got a family.”

The Klansman leaned close to the black man and whispered in his ear. The black man looked like he peed himself. Henny stood still with fear. Another man came from the distance carrying a length of rope. They all looked like little toy soldiers. Dressed all in white there was no way to tell who was who. The black man wept. His eyes were red with tears.

He prayed out loud, “Dear God, please save me.”

Henny repeated his prayer. “Dear God, please save him.”

The men switched places, and the tallest Klansman made a loop in the rope. He cut a piece of it with a knife and tied the black man’s arms behind his back. The black man began to shuffle, hysterically trying to get away. The tallest Klansman dropped the knife but kept a strong grip on the rope. He pushed it over the black man’s head and tightened the loop. By this time one of the other Klansmen had climbed the tree. They hoisted the black man up and tied him there. The Klansman in the tree jumped down. There was noise in the distance, like a gunshot. The Klansmen looked around, but Henny couldn’t see their eyes. All seven of them stormed off into one direction, probably looking for the source of the distraction.

Henny’s eyes filled with tears. The black man was not dead. He hung there, struggling for breath. His hands remained tied behind his back. He gasped for air, the rope slowly digging into his neck, and turning his face as red as a tomato. His whole body swung with the effort to escape.

Henny made sure the white-robed men were gone. She tiptoed out from behind the tree.

She grabbed the knife the tallest Klansman had forgotten on the ground. It felt familiar in her palm, but she had no time to think about it. She shimmied up the tree as fast as she could. The black man’s eyes finding hers as he struggled to breathe against the tightness of the rope. She started sawing into the rope as fast as she could. Harder and harder until clunk, the black man was on the ground.

He coughed, grabbing at his neck. Henny looked down from above. She could see a red ring around his neck. She wanted to throw-up.

“Thank you, little girl. Thank you.” The hoarseness of his words made him hard to understand.

“You better run,” Henny said.

He nodded, rubbing his neck, and took off.

Henny climbed back down the tree turned the knife over and saw the inscription.

“To Papa. Happy Birthday. Love Henny.”

She sunk down to the ground and began to cry. The wind rustled in the trees as pecans fell to the ground like bullets. Fall was coming.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I’m a procrastinator and as such, I waited until today to download all of my files for The Devil Within from Booktrope. I have been okay with Booktrope closing. There’s no other way to be. I haven’t let it hold me back, but I haven’t exactly let it drive me forward either.

Today I’m feeling a little sad about the whole thing. I put a lot of time, effort, and pain into writing the book. I spent hours editing and proofreading it (and yes, there were still mistakes–there always are). I spent hours thinking about William, his family, their lives. This book meant a lot to me. It took me in a different direction from my previous book, and I felt like I’d found my niche in dark Southern literature, if there is even such a genre.

The Devil Within Cover

I learned from The Devil Within how to give my characters depth and voice. And I’ve taken that into my other writing, finding the spirit of the characters to make them come alive in my books. The truth is, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it at this point. I debated self-publishing. I debated putting it on Wattpad. What I really want to do is find a traditional publisher for my other works and then beef up The Devil Within. Maybe take it a step further. I’ve already started writing about Lily (Tommy’s girlfriend), a minor character in The Devil Within, because I felt like I still had a connection to the book. This is strange for me as I’ve consistently said I would not write sequels. It doesn’t seem so much like a sequel, more like a continuation of the timeline that I started in the book, sort of like Faulkner’s characters from Yoknapatawpha County.

At any rate, I’m stewing and trying to figure out what to do.

The Devil Within is still on Amazon for the next few days; however it could be removed before the 31st, or so we’ve been told.

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PS: The Devil Within is only available until May 31, 2016. Don’t forget to get your copy while you still can at Amazon.

Persistence in the Face of Fear

Hey Lovely Readers! I’m fessing up as a slacker once again. With this short and busy week, I feel like I’ve been behind the 8-ball. But before I get to the point of this post, I don’t want you to slack and miss the opportunity to get The Devil Within for 99 cents! The sale ends on October 17th, so there’s not a lot of time! If you like Southern literature and coming-of-age novels with some grit then you’ll like this book.

The Devil Within Cover

Enough of my shameless plugs. Now back to slacking. Over the weekend, I started writing a new piece. Yeah, I know. I was supposed to stick to rural Alabama and Anna Kate. But I was stuck–seriously stuck. And then I wrote a short for the class I’m taking through University of Iowa (Go DUCKS!), and it begged to be expanded. And people in the class really liked it. And as a writer, I seek to serve my readers.

I also ran a lot this weekend, and when I run I think. And sometimes I overthink. As we all know from the post that’s circulating around Facebook, overthinking is a sign of being a creative genius (or so some article says, and I’d like to believe that over just thinking I’m nuts). Overthinking can also cause some issues. My thought process revolved around solving problems in both books when I ran, but pretty soon it turned into: Why am I writing? Does anyone even want to read my books? Why does it have to be so hard to land an agent? Will I ever finish editing Little Birdhouses? Can I even write a query letter? Is it worth it? And fifty thousand other rhetorical questions I could throw out of you. Rhetorical questions are a no-no in writing too, but if you know me you know I LOVE to break the rules.

Every writer questions themselves and what they’re doing and whether it matters. They want to hide behind a rock in the face of fear. Instead of facing the wolf, they’d rather curl up in their bed and be eaten. Do the brave thing and write the words, because if you don’t you’re going to be more unhappy than if you do. If you’re a writer then you have to write for sanity. If you’re a writer then you have a driving force and you need to write. If you’re a writer, I’m here to tell you DON’T GIVE UP! I have thoughts that my writing sucks and no one wants to read it. Everyone has those thoughts. Taking this online class has boosted my confidence as a writer ten-fold. I’ve received such great and positive feedback on my work. It’s nice to receive that after receiving tons of rejections for agents, because at least I know if I keep trying I will some day make it.

And what does making it even mean? It means making writing a priority in my life every day, editing my stuff, putting it out there and making a few bucks. Sure, I’d like to be rolling in the dough like Stephen King, but I know it’s not realistic. Maybe some day–we can all hope to dream. But the important thing is: Don’t give up! Don’t give into the fear. If you give into fear you’ll never know how far you can go (I even wrote a blog post about that not so long ago).

Now, if you want this same post with more colorful language go read Chuck Wendig’s post over at Terrible Minds. He knows what he’s talking about.

And I promise I’ll stop slacking (maybe). And I’ll write a blog post tomorrow morning before I succumb to fear in the Maze of Terror (that’s another story).

What do you do when you’re slacking or procrastinating (in anything, not just writing) and how do you get back to the task at hand? I play Civilization or binge watch Netflix.


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The Devil Within is $0.99!

The Devil Within Cover

The Devil Within ebook is 99 cents between October 3rd and October 17th!

When nine-year old William loses most of his family in a car accident, he is left alone with a religious zealot of a father. As a result of his father’s abuse, William blames himself for his family’s death and becomes convinced the devil is leading him astray. The backdrop of life in a rural town in the 1960’s sets the tumultuous scene as William struggles to cope in a world no child should have to face on his own. Will William be saved, or will he succumb to the devil within?

What People Are Saying About The Devil Within:

5.0 out of 5 starsPop are so wonderfully described that they remain etched in my mind on August 4, 2015

The characters came alive for me in this novel. Will, Lulu, Miz Leigh, Pop are so wonderfully described that they remain etched in my mind. In fact, since I finished the novel, I continue to think about them. Aptly titled, this novel is heartbreaking and tragic but I found, curiously, that this novel sends a positive message about the triumph of a little boy’s spirit over unspeakable grief and abuse. This is a very good book and I highly recommend it. Looking forward to the next novel from this author.

Well written and strong descriptive characters, most of whom I wanted to strangle. It was not my usual read. The abuse this poor boy endured after a traumatizing event was torture! I felt broken for him. I wanted to hold him and comfort him. I could totally relate to how this boy felt consumed by the devil. The words people say to us get burnt into our minds and as a child we are so moldable to these perceptions that others imprint on us. I recommend this book but carry some tissues!
I couldn’t put this book down. I just had to know what happened to William. I love that one of the characters had a health condition that was practically unheard of in the period this book was written. The author makes it as common as freckles. Well done! I want to take this child home with me and just love him. There was definitely a devil in the midst. Well written and I am looking forward to the sequel.

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Reddit Author Spotlight on The Devil Within

Talk about a busy weekend. I reserved a little section of Sunday afternoon to figure out how to do Reddit and to blog so I could post a Monday blog tomorrow. Well, you know, in life things never go as planned. I woke up this morning, went for an amazing run in 55 degrees weather (I love Fall), and came home to boot up the computer so I could watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother, before taking my kids to church. Guess what? WiFi didn’t work. Hubby investigated. The box shorted out, and I won’t have working WiFi until Tuesday. This is like an author’s biggest nightmare! I mean, how will I let the world know what I’m up to and that I have a Reddit Q&A on The Devil Within coming up this Sunday, September 20th?

I took a nap after the church picnic, and then I came to Starbucks so you lovelies would have a chance to read my Monday Blog. For some reason, Pandora won’t play and I’m stuck listening to people’s conversations and the elevator music in the background, but hey, at least I have WiFi!

So I hope you will all be able to make it to the author event on September 20th. I will answer any questions you may have about The Devil Within. For those of you who haven’t read it, you can find the book on Amazon I ebook for $2.99 and paperback for $11.95.

Here’s the blurb:

When nine-year old William loses most of his family in a car accident, he is left alone with a religious zealot of a father. As a result of his father’s abuse, William blames himself for his family’s death and becomes convinced the devil is leading him astray. The backdrop of life in a rural town in the 1960’s sets the tumultuous scene as William struggles to cope in a world no child should have to face on his own. Will William be saved, or will he succumb to the devil within?

I hope to see you all at the Reddit event at /r/ books at 1 PM on Sunday, September 20th! Make sure to come up with some great questions for me, and I’ll try my best to answer them.

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A Bedtime Fairy Story

Yesterday,  I worked a little bit on my newest Southern Fiction piece. I wrote a story within a story, because the main character Anna Kate told her brother and sister a bedtime story. Last night, I told my daughter Anna Kate’s story and it made her cry (yeah, I may need to work on it).

At yoga, while doing Savasna, where I’m supposed to be focusing on my breath, the story came to me. At the beginning of yoga, I talked to my awesome yoga instructor and my co-workers about how writing is cathartic for me. Earlier in the day I was lamenting that I had no idea what to blog about, and my story seemed to be going nowhere. And then, right as my body sunk into deep relaxation, and my brain cleared this story came to me:

Here it is, in all it’s glory, totally unedited:

“Once upon a time there was a fairy princess name Lucy. And she lived in a big castle with her brother, Ben—”

“That’s my name,” Ben said, bouncing up and down on his knees.

“Shh—” Lucy snapped at him and Ben stuck his thumb in his mouth sucking vigorously as he blinked away the brewing tears.

“Lucy’s wings had been snipped, and more than anything she wanted to fly. She wished so hard she could fly, but every day she tried and she couldn’t. Her brother, Ben, flitted around the castle and every day Lucy grew more and more jealous of his ability to fly. She wished with all her might that she could fly like Ben, but when she woke up each and every morning to try, she failed.”

“I don’t like this story,” Lucy said with a pout.

“It’s getting to the good part,” I said. “Just listen. Where was I? Oh yes, one day Ben flew far away, and when Lucy went to find him she could not. She walked out of the garden gates, and down a twisting path, and deep into the woods. The woods were dark and eerie, but Lucy, being the brave girl she was, walked on in search for her brother.”

Lucy and Ben stared at me, all eyes in the darkness of the room. I swallowed and continued the story, kicking the sheets off of me in the muggy room.

“Finally, Lucy came upon a stone house…”

“Oh, I know—it’s like Hansel and Gretel. Mama used to tell us that story all the time,” Lucy said.

“Let me finish, Lucy. It’s not Hansel and Gretel. Okay—Lucy came upon the stone house, and she turned the doorknob, but it was locked. She knocked and a kindly young woman with hair the color of chocolate answered the door. ‘Yes, child, what do you want?’ ‘I’m looking for my brother, Ben,’ Lucy said. The woman invited her into the comfort of her home, and Lucy was relieved to see her fairy brother sitting in the corner eating a bowl of porridge.”

“With brown sugar,” Ben added.
“Yes, of course, with brown sugar and warm milk,” I continued, patting Lucy on the head. “The lady told Lucy she had put Ben under a spell, and he would stay there forever, but she had a choice and could possibly save him. She could have her greatest wish granted and be able to fly—her one and only wish–or she could have her brother back. She couldn’t have both. She had to choose one. And what do you think she chose?”

Lucy yawned and looked at me. “She chose her brother, of course, but if I had really been there, I would have chosen the wings. Who needs a stinky brother anyway?”


It still needs work, but I like the concept. And when I told it to Hailey at bedtime last night, she was absorbed with the story. I added details, changed the main character to her and both her brothers played a roll too. And when I came to the end I told her she could have wings to fly or she could have her brothers back, but she could only choose one. And she started crying and said she wanted the wings but didn’t want her brothers to disappear forever! Poor thing. I comforted her and told her the point of the story, then she hugged me hard and went to bed.

I think there’s an important lesson in the story for all of us. Family and friends are so important, and they can often be overlooked for our wishes/wants. We get so caught up in the corporate grind, the business of life, in wanting things, and in wishing for our greatest dreams to come true that we often forget the most important thing in our life is the people we love.

What are you writing right now?


Next Sunday, on September 20, 2015, I will be doing a Question and Answer session on The Devil Within over on Reddit! Make sure you stop by to ask me a question!

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Working Toward Better

I meant to blog yesterday, but instead I worked on my Woodley Road story. I wrote 1,000 words, and I feel like it helped to drag me out of my funk. The story is Southern Fiction set in the 1920’s and takes a ton of research, but wow, I’ve found out loads of information about cotton farming and life in rural Alabama in 1920s. Research can be fun. I like becoming a mini-expert on these topics. My goal over the next few weeks is to get out to Ramer to see the area I’m writing about. I’ve been there before, but it’s be awhile. I’d like to walk in Anna Kate’s shoes and feel the soil underneath her feet.

I sat down to write this blog several times over the weekend, and it unintentionally became a Monday Blog. Hubby and I were busy going on dates galore. Then we had people over yesterday. We were social butterflies, and it’s fun but I’m exhausted.

Plus, my five year old daughter is still out of sorts. She’s adjusting to starting her new school. I’m adjusting to her temper tantrums. I’m bad at dealing with tantrums. I need to bring my yoga into it, practice my breathing and just let her go through the ebbs and flows of her feelings. I’m good at writing emotions, but not great at dealing with them in real life. I need to practice, just like my writing, to make sure she knows anger is a feeling and it’s okay to feel it. Unfortunately, both hubby and I were (maybe still are) tantrum-throwers, so our natural inclination is to yell. And that’s the wrong thing to do.

As I lay in bed last night, I thought about how I’m ruining my child’s life forever, by not responding to her tantrums in an adult-like manner. I had that big overwhelming emotion of, “Oh God, because I lost it while she lost it she’s going to be depressed and emo and a mess as an adult.”  I’d like to give her the tools now to deal with her emotions so maybe it won’t take her as long as it took me to get it. I want her to be able to feel her emotions, recognize them, work through them, and then let them go instead of bottling them up.

As I deal with these things with my daughter, I’m reminded of the influences they may have on my work.  I should be able to write a Mommy Meltdown pretty dang good by now. And if Everett (Anna Kate’s little brother) throws a temper tantrum, I’ll be able to write it realistically too. It’s hard being a parent.

What have you been up to lately in life and/or writing? What are you trying to cope with/get better at dealing with? 


 

Don’t miss out! There’s still time to win a free copy of The Devil Within. Click below to enter to win!

 

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The Devil Within

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Funk and Whine

I’m in a writing funk again. I know it’s not a horrible funk, because I’m still writing. I’ve been writing mostly flash fiction and not focusing on my current novel-in-progress. I think I’ve pinpointed when these funks happen, during times of transition. My baby did just start Kindergarten after all.

Anyone who has had a small child knows how hard transition can be. Your kid is happily playing with Thomas the Train at Barnes and Noble and you say, “Okay Tommy, it’s time to go,” and he turns from a peaceful angel into a squalling monster. Transitions are inevitable throughout life, but even so they throw an emotional monkey wrench into our plans.

So, yeah, it should be no surprise to me that transition times wreak havoc on my creativity. Yet every time I delve into a funk I feel wholly unsettled. Like my skin is itching and no amount of scratching will fix the problem. The solution is easy: Just write, right? But it seems every time I power up Scrivener I stare at the words and Anna Kate, though she speaks to me throughout the day and begs me to finish her story refuses to show me the way the story should flow. And then I sigh, power down the computer and feel like the world is ending because I can’t write. I’m pretty sure every author has felt this way at some point or other. Maybe that’s why so many of them are driven to drink, that, and alcohol is pretty damn good!

Lately, instead of writing I’ve been reading a lot more but I haven’t finished any of the books I’ve started either. I’m struggling through Cold Sassy Tree, a Southern fiction book I loved when I was a kid. I’m loving Bird by Bird, but it’s slow going because I have so darn much on my plate. Instead of focusing on what I feel I can’t do this week, I’m going to take up all my pent up energy and use it on the treadmill, at Zumba, and maybe even attempt an Insanity class. Maybe working out my body will give me the motivation to tackle my project again and get some much-needed editing done on Little Birdhouses.

How do you dig yourself out of a funk? In life? In writing?


There is still time to enter the giveaway for The Devil Within! See what people are saying about the book over on Amazon! It now has TEN five-star reviews!

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The Devil Within by Lauren Greene

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Wind of Change

Today, because I’m still not ready to review my current Southern Fiction book, Cold Sassy Tree, I’m putting up a piece of flash fiction I wrote for Alissa Leonard’s Blog the other day. I took Special Challenge winner on this piece (a prediction had to be included). And I had a lot of fun playing with voice in this story. Enjoy!

Wind of Change
499 words
@laurenegreene
Special Challenge accepted

The seller of marmalade arrived just after the tornado. In fact, Grandpa’s house had been smashed to bits and poor Lily Blue’s body weren’t even found yet. But don’t worry your pretty little head about her. She was just a cat.

Grandpa had predicted it would be a big ‘un, and he was right.

“Right as rain,” he said, stroking his whiskers.

I rolled my eyes, because everyone knows rain can’t be right.

The marmalade man must have thought we had a boat-load of money, because he showed up and set up a wooden stand packed with jars of jelly. Sign said: 2 for $0.10. But Grandpa’s cash was gone with the house. Grandpa said I should have said Gone With The Wind, on account of it being a tornado and all. I ain’t read that book, and I probably never will ‘cause I hear it’s for girls.

I took to standing ‘round the marmalade man as Grandpa hammered nails and tried to fix us up some shelter.

“You from these parts?” I asked.

“No. I’m from New York.”

Darn Yankee, I thought, but I had ‘nuff sense not to say it.

“Do people buy marmalade?” I asked.

“More than you think.”

“You travel ‘round the world selling this here stuff?”

“Last year I sold Bibles, but then those Gideons started giving them away for free. Imagine that.”

“I’ve lived here my whole life. Just me and Grandpa,” I said.

“Where are your parents?” the man asked.

“Up’in left when I was just a babe. Grandpa says, ‘Good riddance, never needed them nohow.’”

“You have the world in your heart, I can tell,” the seller of marmalade said.

I looked at him real funny-like, cocking my head to the side. “What’cha mean?”

“You look like a traveler. How’d you like to be my sidekick? The road gets awfully lonely.”

Grandpa done predicted that I wouldn’t stay in this here valley town my whole life. I looked over my shoulder at him, and I picked up a jar of marmalade running my finger ‘round the silvery-looking top. Grandpa was busy nailing two four-by-fours together. He wouldn’t live forever, and there weren’t much for me in the pile of wood that remained.
“I think I’d like it right fine. When we goin’?”

“Tonight. You be here by the light of the moon.”

The marmalade man packed up his table and jams quicker than you can say, ‘my dear aunt rose,’ and all but disappeared. The thought of the world filled my ‘magination as I worked beside Grandpa. By the time the sun set, we had a shelter.

“I reckon I was right and you’ll be moving on.”

“How’d you know?”

“I’m smarter than I looks,” Grandpa said. “You go on and git. Nothing here but a dead cat and a pile of bones. But never forget where you came from, you hear.”

By the light of the moon, I left. Like Grandpa always said, “Storms be bringin’ the wind of change.”


What do you think about the main character? Did I do his voice justice?


Don’t forget No Turning Back is on sale for $1.99 until August 21st! You can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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