5 Minute Fiction

The Library – 5 Minute Fiction

Six months and four days ago, I followed him into the library for the first time. He never noticed me. His walk alluded confidence and pride as his shoulders arched up and back. As he made his way to the hold section, I couldn’t help but follow. Something drew me to him. What would he check out? Fiction, mystery, mechanics? Maybe college research books? He appeared in his mid-twenties with a thick part down the middle of his crow black hair.

Soon, I fell into his schedule. He never browsed books, only went to the hold shelf, removed his items, checked them out, and drove off in his blue Nissan. I didn’t need to wait for the library to open, but I wanted to be courteous. Once inside, I’d scan the hold shelf searching his name. If it was missing, I’d leave and come back the next day. If his name appeared on a scrap of paper, rubber-banded to a book, I’d jot down the title. I read every book he requested after he did. At first, the books were from the New York Times bestseller list. Then they grew darker and to less popular titles.

With each new visit, his stride shortened, his shoulders hung lower. Stories about true crime and brutal nonfiction occupied his list. In the last month, self-help books and poetry became his new norm. As I followed in his reading path, I felt his life shift. I knew something was wrong, as it had been with me. Some time ago, the self-help books didn’t work.

On a Saturday morning, I noted he placed another self-help book on hold. With trembling hands, I took a scrap of library paper, a miniature pencil, and wrote a name and number down. I placed it in the book and slid it back on the shelf. As always, he entered the library, went to the holds, and checked out the book. I hoped he would call the number if he needed it. I never did. And today, I’m just as invisible as when I was alive.

*National Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255)

 

Advertisements
Book Reviews

Free – Read Chapter One from Grounded in January

Please enjoy chapter one from Grounded in January – if you enjoy it, all retailers currently have it on sale. Snatch it up and find out what happens!

 

Chapter One

The chill of outside air seeping through the jetway caused Kate Wilson’s already petrified body to tense up more. She did not want to get on the plane.

A sunny but cold morning, as cold as Phoenix could be in January, only reminded her that going home was a necessity. She wanted, and needed, an honest winter. As an added bonus, winter was the best time to fly since turbulence spiked more so in the spring and summer months. Kate had learned this during her extensive research on the ramifications of flying for those with anxiety.

Kate paused and took a deep breath before stepping from the jetway onto the plane. The gap resembled a drawbridge, except below she didn’t see pavement, but a possible way out. Her mind raced. Does anyone else ever try to shove their foot into the gap and push it apart in order to squirm down onto the tarmac below? Or maybe they try to open the side door leading to the portable stairs which only employees use.

Caught up in her thoughts, Kate’s ebony boot, the right one, clipped the lip of the plane’s threshold throwing her midair.

A pilot and nearby flight attendant reached out in horror as Kate went down, face first. Her eyes just inches from their polished dress shoes. Her InStyle magazine went right, her US Weekly went left. Her unzipped faux leather purse landed in first-class while its contents rolled into coach. The mauve scarf now attached Kate to her carry-on bag.

“Oh, my dear!” a female flight attendant exclaimed. An arm locked around Kate, hoisting her to a standing position once again. Shaken from the mishap, she pushed her copper curls off her face.

“Good thing you aren’t flying this winged beast today, ma’am,” the pilot said, trying to make light of the situation.

Kate smiled, grateful that she was now perpendicular with the plane and once again on her feet. Yet her scarf remained caught on the carry-on bag. She wrestled the scarf free, as her carry-on thumped onto the plane’s floor. Kate’s face went as red as the anti-collision lights on the plane’s wingtips.

Behind her, there was complete silence. She stood, convinced that outside the gate the entire airport stood still, waiting to see what would happen next.

The pilot handed Kate one of her magazines. An attendant had fetched her purse and its contents.

“Are you okay, dear? Would you like someone to check you out?” The attendant held Kate’s purse as though it were her own.

Glancing down, she saw that her jeans were not ripped, but her knees burned. She wiggled her toes in her boots, and they felt fine. Her long-sleeve, charcoal-gray sweater protected her elbows from anything worse than being sore.

“I think I’m okay,” Kate murmured as she reached for her purse. She picked up her carry-on, smiled, and said, “Embarrassed, but okay, thank you.” She turned around to the line behind her. “However, I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to my ticket. I had it in my hand.”

The pilot, the two flight attendants, and Kate searched the floor, making sure they weren’t stepping on it. A little white piece of paper peeked out from behind where the pilot stood in front of the lavatory door.

“I think my ticket is there.” Kate pointed.

The pilot popped open the lavatory door to confirm Kate’s suspicion. Her face scrunched. Why am I even getting on this flying gasoline-filled death trap in the first place? Kate bent down to pick up her ticket at the same time as the pilot. Their heads smacked.

The ticket remained on the lavatory floor as they rubbed the pain from their foreheads.

“Here.” The pilot handed Kate her ticket.

“Thank you.” Kate took the ticket, her bag, and her diminished pride and headed down the aisle to locate her seat.

“Just make it to your seat and sit down,” Kate mumbled to herself. This day cannot get any worse.

Locating seat 13A, she stood on her tiptoes and reached up to place her carry-on into the overhead compartment. However, Kate could not get the bag over the compartment lip. In addition, the pain from the fall started to creep into her toes and knees.

“Let me help you,” a lanky, travel-chic woman said from behind her.

Kate spun around, allowing the bag to nearly fall onto her head.

“I saw what happened when you got on the plane,” the woman whispered. “You need all the support you can get.”

The travel-chic woman winked, snatched Kate’s bag from her hands, and placed it without any effort into the compartment.

Kate produced a half-smile and said, “Thank you.”

In a meek attempt to hide as quickly as possible, Kate squeezed past the seats’ edges and sat. Even without anyone else sitting in the seats, it remained a challenge to move in such a cramped space.

Kate rubbed the spot on her forehead, which felt as though it sprouted a small bump. The sunlight bounced off the airport’s windows as she gazed out. She prayed the actual flight would be far less of a mess than trying to get on the plane. Closing her eyes, Kate ran through her checklist. Dramamine, check. Motion sickness wristbands, check. Lavender oil, check. Puke bag in the seat pocket. Kate leaned forward and searched the seatback. Check. Safety instruction manual, check. Deep breath and counting, check. Plus, I hope I don’t have a seatmate who (a) got sick, (b) gets sick, and/or (c) skipped a shower in the last day.

As the plane filled up, Kate lucked out. Her seatmates consisted of a businessman who was more worried about when he could use his laptop and headphones than flying, and a woman focused on when she could get a glass of wine and read on her tablet.

The air pressure fluctuated and hummed in the cabin as they taxied out onto the runway. Kate took deep breaths and went over her mantra in her head. Remember, a real winter. Maybe she could even dig her skis out of her parents’ garage. This would be a time to clear her head and figure out her unhappiness. She checked to make sure her wristbands were in the correct spots and held her scarf to her nose, breathing in the lavender.

“You can do this,” she muttered as the plane shook with the roar of the engines gaining power. Kate closed her eyes. The plane lurched forward, pushing her firmly into the seat. She tightened the seat belt strap as the front wheel lifted off the ground. The back two were still on the runway. The plane’s nose pointed toward the sky. This was one of Kate’s favorite moments of flight. In that moment Kate was reminded of how amazing a plane can be, and how light her body could feel. She felt as though her body took a breath of freedom in that moment of weightlessness.

But then, the back two wheels came off the ground, and Kate’s stomach dropped. Her favorite moment was over. Put the wheels back down! Kate wanted to scream at the pilot. Noticing the choppiness of her breathing, she returned to her mantra. The last thing she needed was to have a panic attack at thirty-five-thousand feet.

The plane continued to climb, putting pressure on her ears. Kate attempted to fake yawn, encouraging them to pop, but without any success.

“Here,” the businessman seatmate said, and he held out a stick of gum. “I saw you trying to fake yawn. Try this, it works better.” The businessman made eye contact for half a second, before returning his eyes to the seatback in front of him.

“Thank you,” Kate said. She smiled and took the gum.

She folded the spearmint gum into her mouth and shoved the wrapper into the seat pocket. The plane began to level off, as Kate peered out the window at the brown landscape below. It had been an extra dry summer, without much monsoon rain, which set fall and winter up to fail. A few areas of green were scattered here and there. December had seen some rain, but Phoenix definitely needed the monsoon storms to bring enough moisture to make it through the dry spells. Seeing Arizona from above reminded Kate of why she still loved Washington. The state’s lush green landscape and snow-capped mountains often remained throughout the summer months.

The flight attendant came by with the beverage cart as Kate flipped through her glossy magazine pages. She ordered a glass of red wine. Even with all her checklist items checked, she wanted to be anywhere but here.

“Cheers,” Kate’s other seatmate said, reaching over the businessman to tap their plastic glasses together. Despite their toast, he didn’t lose focus on his electronic spreadsheet.

The wine and the Dramamine began making Kate drowsy. She dozed until the pilot’s voice broke through the humming of the pressurized plane.

“We are beginning our final descent into Seattle. For those of you who are visiting, welcome. For those of you coming home, welcome back. Flight attendants, prepare for landing.”

While most people find landing to be the worst part of a flight, Kate found it to be the only other thing she liked about flying. She listened for the snap of the landing gear like a child waiting to hear Santa on the roof.

The plane dipped to the left as they circled around the Space Needle. Rain skimmed across the window. It was as though the sky were crying tears of joy along with Kate. The gray clouds were so thick that it was impossible to tell where one cloud ended and the next one began. Evergreens popped into view as though they were reaching up, trying to touch the plane’s belly. The aircraft lined up with the runway as the houses below came into view. They appeared like a child’s playset, miniature and without the flaws of life. Kate envisioned a tiny toddler’s hand coming in and picking up the plane; spinning them around the room before dropping them onto the carpet.

The wheels touched down on the rain-soaked runway and the brakes worked hard to slow them. Kate yanked her seat belt tighter for safety. Once, as a child, her seat belt had not been tight enough, and she went shooting forward. The seat belt caught under her arms as her legs flailed around, soon choking her.

The brakes finally took hold, grabbing the runway with force. Then the plane bounced softly forward as it taxied toward the gate. The dampness of the air crept down the aisle from the now open door. Passengers hurried to get their bags and disembark. Kate remained seated, staring out at the rain. She hated all the shoving and bumping just to get somewhere one minute faster.

When the last passenger exited the aisle, Kate stood and reached for her carry-on. Forgetting she didn’t put it up there, she now realized she could not get it down.

The flight attendants were busy thanking and saying goodbye to the remaining passengers, so Kate placed her left boot on the armrest of the seat and her right boot on the seat. Hoisting herself up, she grabbed the compartment edge. Letting go with her left hand, she snatched the bag, yanking it toward the edge. In an attempt to climb down and take the carry-on with her, Kate’s boots tangled around the seat arm. Trying to fall forward into the row, she braced herself as she slid awkwardly into the aisle seat.

Getting to her feet, she rubbed the side of her hip. At least her carry-on was on the floor now where she could reach it. Taking a deep breath, Kate headed toward the front of the plane.

“Are you okay?” a flight attendant asked.

Of course, the attendants saw her latest mishap. Kate rubbed at the pain.

“I’m fine,” Kate said. “Have a wonderful day.”

“You too, dear,” the flight attendant replied.

As Kate turned back to give her a smile, she tripped over the airplane door gap again. She stumbled forward, but was able to catch herself this time. Kate straightened her scarf and readjusted her sweater.

With a fake smile plastered across her face, she headed downstairs to baggage claim with her head held high, regardless of the giggles she heard from behind her.

 

If you enjoyed chapter one, be sure to get the book or ebook and meet Oxnard and find out what happens!

Book Reviews

January Picture Books to Read

A new year, and a new book…books. Regardless of how many books you have set to read this year, here are a few picture books to keep your little ones feeling rather, mostly…furry, and laughing in the new year.

Image result for how tickles saved pickles

 

How Tickles Saved Pickles by Maddie Johnson: this true story picture book is full of uber cute piglet and pig photos. And even a few dogs. This story is pigfect for all animal lovers.

 

 

Image result for zola's elephantZola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve, illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski: The story and colors comes alive in this imaginative story about new neighbors. Readers will be enchanted by the story and illustrations. Kids will absolutely relate, maybe even some adults who think the grass is greener on the other side.

 

 

Image result for walk your dog the bookWalk Your Dog by Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, illustrations by Neesha Hudson: As I write this I’m still trying to decide if I liked this story or not. The illustrations are cute, but you’ll need to decide if this is a winner or not when you read it.

 

 

I Mustache You to Read with Me by Andrea Vilemont Moreau, illustrations by Clinton G.Image result for i mustache you to read to me Bowers: This book could not be any punnier! (see what I did there). Kids will love this book enough to LOL and parents won’t mind reading it over…and over…and over again.

 

 

Image result for the wall in the middle of the book

 

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee: This unique story had me hooked! Since I am a fan of the author’s other books, including It’s Only Stanley, I had high expectations. I think little ones will even pick up on the sarcastic tone of the book. A must read for sure!

 

Book Reviews

A Good Book

difdfI first “got” into books once I was actually able to read them, much later than my peers (okay, way, way, way later than my peers). The R.L Stine series and The Boxcar Children when I was younger. Then, once again when I became a nanny and couldn’t find anything worth watching on TV when the baby was sleeping.

I would pull books from the family’s bookshelf, read the back cover blurb, and then if it sounded good, would dive right in. The family that had these books was an Oprah book club member. Every book had the OPRAH sticker on the cover.

I believe the first one I read was:

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

Followed by:

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Vinegar Hill by A Manette Ansay

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

I found these books to be the center of my day, and my joy the following day (these books were so well written!!!!). I never let them (the family) know I was reading them, so I would stick them back on the shelf and make a mental note of the chapter I was on.fdfdfdf

The weekends were especially long since I didn’t work, and had to wait until Monday to get back to reading. I was at the time, and still am, a slow reader, so it would take me a good month to finish one book.

I worked as a nanny for this family just over 2 years, and when the mom stopped buying new books for the shelves I stopped reading. I was not aware of libraries and how to use them (I didn’t know they had them outside of school!!), however immature that sounds. So my reading time faded into nothing for many years, until I picked it back up again, and started reading and (funny as it is) writing and learning about libraries.

Nowadays – many years later – I am well versed in library knowledge (thank goodness). My reading taste have turned rather…pig-headed, so to speak. Most books I read, I find sub-par. The hook is weak or the hook fades off after chapter 2, or sentences go by without much connection to moving the story forward. It’s hard to please me as a reader. Even children’s literature I have grown rather picky over since becoming a writer.

So, basically the thing to note about me is this, if I recommend a book, that means a lot coming from me.

 

 

 

Random Humor, Spotlight on Writing

When Do Writers Read?

I started reading Sycamore Row by John Grisham in March. I’m still only 1/2 way done. (And it’s a good book!). My writer friends are always posting about books they are reading, and I am thinking when do you have time to read?!?

I do make attempts to read but they always go south.

  • If I sit down to read 88% of the time I fall asleep within the first 3 pages, even with the best books.
  • If I am reading my mind wanders to my TO DO LIST.
  • If I am reading I think about each sentence and scene and what I like or don’t like about it as a writer, reading each paragraph until I give up in actually moving to the next page.
  • If I sit down to read I notice my hands and that they
  • A. need new nail polish
  • B. need lotion
  • C. need cuticle care
  • D. notice more freckles which leads to thinking about aging and before I know it I’ve read to 2 pages but didn’t comprehend any of it.

So, when do you find time to read?

 

Spotlight on Writing

Mini Interview with Rhonda McCormack

photoI had the pleasure of meeting Ms. McCormack at a SCBWI get together a few years back. We have remained friends over the years, and not only is she a writer and artist, but also a wonderful lady who always has great insights on wellness and life. Her book Wildflowers was released in August 2012, and one lucky visitor will get an autographed copy!! (To enter, please leave a comment below. The winner will be picked at random next Thursday, June 6th.)

1. What is your favorite YA book?
 Oh boy.  This will be impossible to nail down.  But after a think, I do have a favorite novel about two young girls who transition through many living situations before coming into a unique arrangement with their mother’s younger sister.  The book is Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, and though it’s not officially put in the YA genre, it is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read on the young adult experience.  Another amazing (amazing!) book not in the YA genre but featuring young adult characters is Atonement by Ian McEwan.  These books have more adult themes and situations, but again, speak to the honesty of young adulthood.
As a young reader, I was drawn to authors like Judy Blume and Lois Lowry, who wrote the Anastasia Krupnik novels that still make me laugh today.  I also recall that the family’s copy of The Outsiders had smooshed corners and rumpled page edges from the many (many) reads it got.  Two others worth mentioning are The Chocolate War (Cormier) and The Last Unicorn (Beagle).
As for contemporary YA, I was deeply touched by A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, though this is more middle grade than YA.  I also felt moved by The Book Thief (Zusak) and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (Alexie), and most recently, I read Endangered by Eliot Schrefer and found the story so thoughtful and powerful that I’ve been referring left and right.  Oh, and there’s Hattie Big Sky (Larson) for good YA historical fiction, and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick My Ass (Medina) for a powerful narrative on bullying, and there’s John Green and Tom Leveen for authentic teen voices.
See how hard this is?  I could go on and on and on…
2. How does being an artist enhance your writing?

In any and every way I can think of.  The long and the short of it is that both can be meditative or generate energy, but moving away from words, sentences, structure and getting into the studio allows me perspective.  My art is less formal than my writing, and working on a painting while also working on a novel can open me up to that space where the writing flows.  It’s not always the case that I have both going at the same time, but I’m moving more towards that end.

3. Your book Wildflowers focuses on environmental issues. Tell us one change you have made within your home to be more environmentally friendly?

My interest in being a good environmental steward proceeded Wildflowers, and over the years our homes have just grown more and more Eco-friendly.  Some of the cooler things we’ve done include using insulation made from recycled blue jeans and installing a tank-less water heater, and I swear by using less toxic paints and cleaners.  I’ve also enjoyed finding product manufacturers who have an environmental philosophy outlined as part of their business model.  Room and Board and Flor are two companies I’ve found that are dedicated to using Eco-minded materials and production practices, as well as being committed to quality products and fair treatment of labor.

4.  What is your favorite thing about indie publishing?
The creative freedoms.  For writers, artists, and illustrators who would love to see the book they’ve imagined in their heads come to life exactly as they see it, Indie is a super cool option.  I’ve written a lot about the importance of quality writing, design, and marketing when deciding to enter the Indie movement, but if the creator is up for it, it’s a fascinating (and challenging) artistic experience.