Vero

Writing very short fiction is like having sorbet between courses.  It is a palate cleanser for my brain, an opportunity to create something tight and still entertaining.  Lately, my writing has been of the non-fiction variety, essays on history as I begin work on my Masters in History.  Unfortunately, that means less time to work on my fiction.  Sometimes I envision my characters being very impatient with me as they wait for their next move.  At least I like to think that I have that much control over them.  I know what’s really happening is I’m waiting for them to tell me their next move!

Anyway….this came to me on my commute to work, which seems to be when I find myself the most creative.  Too bad I can’t write while I drive!

So I thank you for your patience and I hope this little palate cleanser can hold your interest, while I get ready to introduce some new characters to the world of Johanna Edderle.

Enjoy!

Vero

He noted her the first time she came into the café.  Long dark hair pulled into a ponytail.  When she handed him the money to pay for her coffee and bagel, the smile in her eyes sent an electric shock through him.

She didn’t come in every day.  But when she did, she ordered the same thing: decaf iced mocha, skim, no whip, and a bagel, plain with cream cheese on the side.  Not toasted.  $5.01. Every single time.  If he knew when she would be coming in, he would have it ready for her.  But the only consistency was in her order.

She always had her copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, the unabridged version, all 1,276 pages.  One day, a slow day, he was wiping the espresso machine and saw her absent-mindedly cross her legs.  The hem of her jeans rode up slightly and she was wearing loafers with no socks and the brief flash of ankle skin stopped him.  He decided then that it was time for his break. He didn’t see her leave that day.

His attempts at conversation were clumsy.  The first time he tried, he said “Decaf iced mocha, skim, no whip, bagel, plain, cream cheese on the side.”  She gave him a half smile and cocked one eyebrow and said, “Exactly.” He was in heaven the rest of the day.

Three months and he watched as she drew to the close of her book.  The next time she came in, she had a smaller book.  “You finished,” he said, pointing to her new book.

“Yeah, it was for a class.  This is pleasure reading.” She held the title up for him to read.  9-11 Descent into Tyranny.  Alex Jones.

He grinned. “You don’t believe that stuff, do you?”

She stared at him with the eyes that had haunted him for months.  “You don’t?” she answered.

And as he felt his entire body deflate, he noticed the pimple on her cheek and the way she loudly slurped when she took a sip of her coffee.

 

My Interview with Michael Brooks from The Price of a Pearl

I had an opportunity to do a character interview for the site https://historyimagined.wordpress.com/. After much procrastination, I decided to interview my favorite character Michael. It was actually a toss-up between him and Davis, but I think Michael is more aware of what is going on in the lives of my characters. There is a mention of Johanna, Davis’ sister, who is living in Virginia at the time of the interview (December 1776). Book Two focuses on Johanna and her life in what will become the United States of America, but which is right now a rag-tag group of rebellious colonies. I will be introducing new characters as well: Stephen Gleeson, an idealistic small town attorney who dreams of a life with more adventure; his sister, Nola Gleeson, whose value to the war effort is in how underestimated she is; and Julian Malcolm, the son of a Loyalist shopkeeper, in love with Nola, but determined to keep his family safe from the rebellion that destroyed their lives. Tentatively titled Among the Lilies, I explore both sides of the conflict, the ultimately victorious rebels and the Loyalists whose lost property, homes, and sometimes their lives because of their loyalty to the king.

So please check out https://historyimagined.wordpress.com/gettingintocharacter/laura-carroll-butler-interviews-the-8th-earl-of-wickingham-lord-michael-alexander-brooks-from-the-price-of-a-pearl/ and keep checking my site as I move closer to finishing Johanna’s story.

Marionette

Tomorrow is the Awards Luncheon for the HOLT Medallion. Here’s a little story that helped distract me a bit today.

Marionette
It is fortunate that I was born handsome. I shudder sometimes, when the dark of frustration, late in the night, grips me. I remind myself what happens to the désagréable boys. They are sent to the country. They become laborers and their hands are studded with callouses and scars. Their faces are burned by the sun or the forge or ineptitude, their own or someone else’s. My hands are soft, my face unblemished. I am touched by tender hands that shackle me to the position I am desired. If my face was not handsome, I would not be displayed. I would be hidden from sight, free to live a life of obscurity.

C’est mon destin. It is my destiny. To be displayed, anonymously for others to view. They will see me as a modéle, a subject. We both know that I am his marionette. True freedom belongs to the one who pulls the strings. I will not be allowed to visit the places my image is displayed. It is his conception and he will call it what he desires. And I will be remembered for my beauty and he will be remembered for his skill.

HOLT Medallion Finalist for Best First Book

I am very pleased to announce that The Price of a Pearl is a finalist for the HOLT Medallion award in the category Best First Book. The HOLT Medallion is awarded by the Virginia Romance Writers, the state chapter of Romance Writers of America. This is an international competition and past winners include Sherrilyn Kenyon, Irene Hannon and Debbie Macomber. The award luncheon is June 13 in Richmond.

Surrender

Today’s challenge was to write a story with the theme of defeat inspired by the picture. It’s been a while since I’ve tried my hand at Flash Fiction, but something about this just spoke to me.

Each morning I wake and I think “One more day, one more hour, one more minute.” I will eat my breakfast, I will go to work, I will smile because that is what is expected of me. In the evening, I will go home and fix our dinner, numb myself to sleep and escape in my dreams. If I keep the cycle going, I keep the darkness away.
When the days are sunny, I try to trust what he tells me. We are building something wonderful together. He needs me to smile and I need to believe. The darkness is behind me, I think. But I know it’s not; it’s inside me still, waiting for a cloudy day when I’m too tired to fight.
One more day, one more hour, one more minute. He doesn’t know that the dark is stronger and I am tired of building. I want to crush the delicate fabrication that binds us and let the darkness win. When it’s dark, I don’t see my hand in front of me. I don’t see him. I want to lay down and disappear. No more days, no more hours, no more minutes. Just sleep.

The Dance

How often do I wonder if I have any more stories? Every day. I think that’s it, I’m out of ideas. And then the idea hits me if I will only be quiet and listen. This is today’s Flash!Friday entry:

We danced under the light of the moon that first night, the music a background to our burgeoning love. It was just the two of us and our dreams. Our dance floor was the path we walked learning each other’s steps. He twirled and dipped me with the confidence of the young and hopeful.

Soon we were three. Our love changed, but still we danced. We held our son between us and rocked to Springsteen, laughing at our joy and silliness.

Then there were four. Our dances were less complicated and more open. When they were young, they danced with complete abandon. Then they matured. When it was just the four of us, we still danced holding hands, three of us taking turns to support the one who was most tired and carrying them until they regained their footing.

Four became three, then two so quick it took my breath away. They have their own dance partners. They will return and we will have our dances again, the circle bigger than we could have dreamed the night we first danced alone. For now, though, it is the two of us again, swaying a little slower under a bright moon, no less hopeful, no less dreamy.

Defiance

Last week’s story “Nonna” was my first Flash! Friday entry in a bit. It earned an honorable mention so I’m pretty pleased. This week, the photo prompt and the required story element (man v. man) made me think of toddlers and what goes on in their heads when faced with change. They don’t have the vocabulary adults have so often all we hear is “No!”. And so I present “Defiance”.

I will not give up anything else! No amount of pleading, cajoling, promises of a new toy, games of hit the cheerios in the toilet will work. Already I’d given them the bottle, the binkie, now they want the diaper. Wear big boy pants like Da, she says. What was next? Cuddles in her lap? It was because of what kicked me while I snuggled in her soporific arms, drowsily listening as she read Goodnight Moon. There should at least be compromise, right? No more naps! A later bedtime! I know the fun begins when I’m tucked in.
She talks to Zack’s ma at the playground while Zack and I move the dirt around with our backhoes and front end loaders. Zack’s mother tells her no one ever graduated from high school in diapers. They don’t think I’m listening, but I am. They’re taking my bed away with the jungle gym bars that are so fun to scale. I’m ready for a big boy bed, they say and the new baby can have my old one, isn’t that nice? No! My bed! My lap! My story!
Aren’t you excited to be a big brother, they ask. No!

Nonna

We saw her with her bicycle our first day at the beach. It was really too cold to swim, but it was our Spring Break, our first vacation with friends, no parents, and we resolved that we would enjoy it to the fullest. We jumped out of the water as quickly as we jumped in. She laughed merrily, muttered something with a deep smile, and rode away.

The next day, she waved. We waved back. The third day, she brought almond cookies, crisp and sweet. We gestured to our blankets and she sat with us. We talked, she in Italian, I suppose, wildly gesturing and we understood each other despite the language barrier.

We did not see her the next day, but she returned to the beach on our last day, bearing more almond cookies and strong, fragrant coffee. We were back to wearing jeans and sweatshirts, too chilly for swimsuits and ready to admit it. She waved her arms at us and laughed, pointing to herself and her feet. It took us a bit, but we understood, finally. We stripped our shoes off, myself, my friends, and the old lady and walked hand in hand into the ocean, the cold water tickling our feet.

December already?

The Kibler Library fundraiser at Wisteria Vineyards was a great success for the library and personally. It was wonderful to celebrate with my good friends and family. Both boys were able to be there, along with my husband, of course, and friends old and new. Good wine, good food, good company; who could ask for more?

The next signing will be at The Virginia Gift Shop in Luray on Saturday, December 13 from 1-3. This is the same day as the Luray Christmas parade and a wonderful opportunity to come see how fabulous our downtown businesses are. I will have copies for sale that day, but if you’ve already purchased yours on Amazon, bring it along.

Pictures from the Wisteria event should be up on the novel’s Facebook page: Facebook. If you haven’t already, please hit “Like”. Also, check out my Author page on Amazon author page.