WELL READ Magazine April 2023

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TheEchoofOldBooks by BarbaraDavis

Anovelaboutthemagicallureofbooksandsummoningthe couragetorewriteourstoriesbytheAmazonChartsbestselling authorof TheKeeperofHappyEndings and TheLastofthe MoonGirls.

Rare-bookdealerAshlynGreer'saffinityforbooksextends beyondtheintoxicatingscentofoldpaper,ink,andleather.She canfeeltheechoesofthebooks'previousowners-anemotional fingerprintonlyshecanread.WhenAshlyndiscoversapairof beautifullyboundvolumesthatappeartohaveneverbeen published,hergiftquicklybecomesanobsession.Notonlyis eachinscribedwithastartlingincrimination,buttheauthors, HemiandBelle,tellconflictingsidesofatragicromance. Withnotraceofhowthesemysteriousbookscameintothe world,Ashlyniscaughtupinadecades-oldliterarymystery, beckonedbytwoheartsinruins,whoevertheywere,wherever theyare.Determinedtolearnthetruthbehindthedoomedlovers' tale,shereadson,followingatrailofbrokenpromisesand seeminglyunforgivablebetrayals.ThemoreAshlynlearnsabout HemiandBelle,thenearershecomestobringingclosuretotheir lovestory-andtotheunfinishedchaptersofherownlife.

"InnovativeUseOfBothDuologyAndStory-Within-A-Story. Thereissomuchtolikeaboutthisbook,butIsuspectthatlater reviewswillhitallyouneedtoknowaboutjusthowstrongat leastoneofthetworomanceshereis-oneisclearlyoneofthose life-alteringonce-in-a-lifetimeloveswhichwemostlyseeplay outviatwobooks,theotherromanceisamorecontemporary(40 yearsagoanyway,whichisstillmorerecentthanthe80yrsago

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forthefirstromance)taleoftwopeoplecomingtogethervia unusualcircumstance.Butitistrulytheduology/story-within-astorystructurethatIwanttohighlighthere,asthisiswhattruly propelsthisbookandmakesiteverythingthatiteventually becomes.I'dneverseenthisparticularapproachdone-yes, thereareotherbookswithstories-within-stories,butthiswas trulythefirsttimeI'deverencounteredaduologydonethisway, andDavismanagestomakeall*three*books-theduologyplus thisactualbookwe'reactuallyreading"inreallife"-truly compellingduetothenatureofhowshehascraftedthis.Simply superb,andtruly,trulywellexecuted.Andyes,theactual romanceaspectsofthisarewelldone,asaretheheartwrenchingdramatics.Youwantabookfor"MostAnticipatedof 2023"?Thisverybookhadbetterbeonthatlist.Verymuch recommended."

–JeffVRSexton,BookReviewer

“Wovenwithintriguinghistoricalelements,TheEchoofOld Bookscelebratesanenduringromancethatovercomesall obstaclesandthetransformativepoweroflovetohealthepain ofpastsecrets.Abig-heartedgemofanovelsuretodelighttrue bookloverseverywhere." –ChristineNolfi,bestsellingauthorof TheBrighterFlame

BarbaraDavisistheAmazonCharts

bestsellingauthorofeightnovels,including TheKeeperofHappyEndings and TheLast oftheMoonGirls.Shespentmorethana decadeasanexecutiveinthejewelry businessbeforeleavingthecorporateworld topursueherlifelongpassionforwriting. OriginallyaJerseygirl,Barbarahaslivedin Florida,NorthandSouthCarolina,andNew Hampshire.Shehasrecentlyreturnedto Floridawithherbubby,Tom

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Tell-TaleBonesby CarolynHaines

PubdateMay,16th -pre-ordernow!

CarolynHaines’s Tell-TaleBones marksthenextnovelinthe seriesthatKirkusReviewscharacterizesas“StephaniePlum meetstheYa-YaSisterhood”featuringsassySouthernprivate investigatorSarahBoothDelaney.

PrivateInvestigatorSarahBoothDelaneyandherpartnerTinkie areinSheriffColemanPeters’soffice,askingColemanabout coldcases,whenElisaReddstormsinwithacaseherown.She wantsColemantoreopentheinvestigationofhermissing daughter,LydiaReddMaxell,theheiresstoalargefortunewho disappearedalongwithherfriendBethany10yearsago,while thetwoofthemwereworkingashumanrightsorganizers.Now Lydia’shusband,Tope,issettoinheritthefortune,andElisa suspectshe’sbehindthedisappearance.

ArmedwithapileofmysteriousnotesmailedtoElisaoverthe years,SarahBoothandTinkiefollowanincreasinglytwistytrail alloverSunflowerCounty,leadingthemtoatreeandanempty graveinthecountycemetery.Agravethat’ssaidtobe haunted… “HainesshowsSarahathermadcapbestbackinherhometown inthiscleveradventure.Thisiscrazycozywithalittle somethingforeveryone:paranormaldoings,plentyof Evanovichzaniness,andacastofeccentrics.”

―Bookliston BonetoBeWild

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Enjoyable…Jitty,theheadstrongghostwhosharesSarah Booth’sfamilyhome,isjustoneofthemanywell-drawn characterswhohelpbringthisSoutherntaletocolorfullife.”

―PublishersWeeklyon Rock-a-ByeBones

"Distinctivecharactersandanatmosphericsettingelevatethis paranormalcozy.Seriesfansandnewcomersalikewillbe satisfied."

―PublishersWeeklyon GameofBones

"Adarkmystery,effectivelyframedbyitswell-drawn MississippiDeltasetting." ―Bookliston GameofBones

"Asurepleaserinboththemysteryandtheromance department.IfyoulikeasatisfyingcozySouthernwhodunit, CharmedBonesfitsthebill."

―RTBookReviews

CarolynHainesistheUSATodaybestsellingauthorofthe SarahBoothDelaneymysteryseriesandanumberofother booksinmysteryandcrime,includingthePluto'sSnitch paranormal-historicalmysteryseries,andTrouble,theblack catdetectiveromanticsuspensebooks.Sheistherecipientof theHarperLeeAwardforDistinguished Writing,theRichardWrightAwardfor LiteraryExcellence,andtheMississippi WritersGuildLifetimeAchievement Award.Sheisaformerjournalist, bartender,photographer,farmhand,and collegeprofessorandlivesonafarm wheresheworkswithrescuecats,dogs, andhorses

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HELLOREADERS! 7 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 SCAVENGERHUNT 11 APRIL’SFEATUREDAUTHOR LANGUAGEANDLAUGHTERwithCarolynHaines 13 WELCOMETOTHEHOLLEYHOUSE MURDERCREEKWRITINGRETREAT 32 THISHOUSEbyHollyHartShirley 37 WHATAREYOUREADING? TOADDTOYOURTBRLIST 51 INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney 69 WELLDONE!PROSE,POETRY,ANDART WAITINGFORASIGNALbyJeffreyDaleLofton 77 OBITUARIESbyRebeccaKlassen 83 WHATWEKEEP,WHATWETHROWAWAYbyPhyllisGobbell 89 WHATSHETHINKSABOUTWHENSHETHINKSABOUTSHOESby EllenNotbohm 105
THEWATERHOLEbyEileenCoe 117 INTHECITYOFLOVEbySusanCornford 123 GINIAbyJ.B.Hogan 129 EPIPHANICBLISS(PLURALITYINMOTION)byScottThomas Outlar 133 PHOTOGRAPHYbySherryRoberteenCarter 139 CALLFORSUBMISSIONS! 147 ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell 149 MARKYOURCALENDARS 157 NETWORKING 165 WHAT’SYOURSTORY? 173 OFFTHEPAGEWITHRIVERJORDAN 175 WELLREADMAGAZINE 8
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onFacebooktofindoutmoreabouttheauthors

andcontributorsyouseehere.Lotsofgreat extraslikereviews,events,personalstories, thingstocelebrate,andopportunitiestowinfree booksdirectlyfromtheauthorsineachissue!

RulesfortheScavengerHunt: Findthisimage somewhereonthefollowingpages: PostW

oin WELLREADMAGAZINE’S
J
goodnewsgroup
OWLET’SHAVESOMEFUN!
N
INNER! ina newpost onthegoodnews
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group.

Tagme(MandyHaynes), andyou’ll wina hardcover,personalizedcopyofBarbaraDavis’s newnovelTheEchoofOldBooks!

I’llannouncethewinnerinthegoodnewsgroup andconnectyouwithBarbara!

Allweaskisthatyouleaveanhonestreview andtelleveryoneyourgoodnews.

SCAVENGERHUNT 11 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

“You'reonlyasgoodasthelastthingthatyoudid,andIfind thattobealittlescary,andalsoagoodinstructionfordoingthe bestyoucanwitheachbook.”

66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666 6666666666666666666 APRIL’SFEATUREDAUTHOR WELLREADMAGAZINE 12
MandyHaynesinterviews CarolynHaines

LANGUAGEAND LAUGHTER

CarolynHainesistheUSATodaybestsellingauthorof overeightybooks.Sheisthe2010HarperLeeAward winningfictionwriterandwasinductedintotheAlabama Writers'HallofFamein2020.Shewashonoredbya

LifetimeAchievementAwardwiththeMississippiWriters Guild.Carolynwritesinanumberofgenresincluding crime,mystery,southerngothicfiction,psychological thriller,shortfiction,andhorror.

Let'sstartwithhowCarolyngotstartedinherwriting career.

“Myparentswerejournalists,andIgotmybachelor's degreeinjournalismfromtheUniversityofSouthern Mississippi.Iworkedasajournalistforadecadefor paperslikethe GeorgeCountyTimes,Mobile-PressRegister,MississippiPress,HuntsvilleTimes and HattiesburgAmerican.Mamakeptabearcatscanneron theironingboardandshe’dsendmeoffwithmycamera

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andnotebookwhensomethingcameup.Wekeptupwith everythingsoanythingthatcameoverthescannerand soundedlikeastorywewereonthescene,whetherI wantedtogoornot,”Carolynlaughs.

Theymadequiteateam.OnetimeCarolyn’smamasent herouttocheckonacallaboutabuzzardflyinginto treetops.ItwasAugustandhotandCarolyntookoffwith fortypoundsofcameraequipmentathermama’s insistence.“Ididn’twanttogo,butMamaknew somethingwasn’tright.WhenIgottothesceneIquickly realizedthebirdwasn’tabuzzard,butabaldeagle,andit wasindistress.Thementherewerereadytoshootitand didn’tcarewhatitwas.Itoldthemiftheyshotit,I’dsee themallinFederalprison.”

“DidyoucalltheGameWarden?”IaskedbeforeI realizedthatthiswasbeforecellphones,butitwouldn’t havemattered–oneofthemenwasthegamewarden. LuckilyforCarolyn,amanthatlivednearbystoppedto seewhatwasgoingonwhowasonherside.Heagreed thatitwasabaldeagleandofferedtowingittobringit downsoCarolyncouldgetittoavet.Itwasagamblebut likehetoldCarolyn,“Youcan’tstayouthereforever. Eventuallyyou’llhavetogopeeandwhenyoudo,these menwillkillit.”

Carolynsaidbringhimdown.Bonnyhadbeena sharpshooterinthearmyandhewasabletoshootthe

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eagle,whowasflyingblindlyintothetrees,inaspotinhis wingnobiggerthanthesizeofaquarter.Thebirdfellinto apondandBonnyswamouttogethim.Carolyn convincedBonnytoholdhimwhileshedrovetothevet’s officewhereitwasdiscoveredthebirdhadaninfectionin hiseyesduetoparasites.Thevetwrappedhiswing,put antibioticsinhiseyes,andCarolynwasinchargeof findingfishandotherfoodtofeedhim,andcleanhiscage.

Carolynlaughs,“Iwouldgethimoutofthecageto cleanitandchasehimaroundwithabroomforexercise.

Hewashuge,butheneveroncetriedtohurtme.Oncehe wasreadywetookhimtoahawktrainerforrehaband thenfinallywhenhewasreadytobesetfree,wehadabig celebrationwithanagentfromtheDepartmentofInterior onthebankofthePascagoulaRiver.

Whoknewacallaboutabuzzardwouldturnintosucha goodstory.Carolynhasamillionofthem–andshewas justasadamantaboutmakingsurepeopleweretreatedas fairlyastheanimals.She’sfiercewhenitcomestotaking upfortheunderdogandasajournalistsheusedher camera,pen,andsharpwitasweaponswhenneeded—just asherparentsdid.It’snowonderthatCarolynwould decidetobecomeanauthor.

“Idecidedtowritefulltimeandstartedwritingshort fiction.I’dstoppedwritingforthepapersandstarvedto deathquickly,”Carolynlaughs.“That'swhenIsawthat

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someHarlequineditorswereinMobilehavingaluncheon. Aspiringwriterscouldattend,soIgotdressedupandI went.TheyhadjuststartedtheIntriguelineandexplained whatthebookswereandwhattheywerehopingtofindin newbooks.Ireallycouldnotwriteastraightromance—I justcouldn'tkeepthefocus—butwhentheyletmekilloff somepeopleIwasreallyhappy.

“Ipublishedmyfirstromanticmystery,titled ADeadly Breed, withHarlequinIntriguewhenIwasthirty-four. ThatwasthebeginningandIreallydohavetosaythatI learnedsomuchaboutwritingbyworkingwiththe Harlequineditors.TheywereterrificandHarlequintreats theirauthorswell.”

“Howmanybooksdidyouwritewiththem?”

“Aboutthirty-sevenandseventeenofthemwereabout Familiar,theBlackCatDetective.Familiaristhe forerunnertothemostrecentcatbooksthatwedidasan authorcollectiveaboutTrouble,theBlackCatDetective, whoisthesonofFamiliar.”

“Wow,thirty-sevenromanticmysterieswith Harlequin—thatisimpressive.Whatwasyourfirstbook outsideofthat?”

Carolyn,“In1994Ipublished SummeroftheRedeemers withDutton(animprintofPenguinRandomHouse).It’sa SouthernGothicfictioncomingofagestoryaboutayoung girlinMississippiwhoishorsecrazy.BekkaRichliveson

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areddirtroadcalledKaliOkaRoad,whichisactually hereinMobileCounty,butIjustpickeditupandmovedit acrossthestatelineformyliterarypurposes.”

“Oh,Ilovethatbook!Itwassuchasubtlecreepygood readthatsneaksuponyouandstayswithyoufora while.”

Carolynlaughs,“IlovethelegendofCryBabyCreek, whichisin TheSummeroftheRedeemers.Thereisa true—well,alegend—aboutKaliOkaRoadwherethey saythatlateatnight,ifyou'redrivingacrossthebridge youcanhearababycrydowninthecreek.Thereare severaldifferentversionsofthestoryofthecryingbaby. Oneisthatitwasnotwanted,anillegitimatechildthat wasdrownedthere.Theotherversionisthatduringthe CivilWar,whensomeUniontroopswerecomingthrough, ayoungmotherhadfledtothecreektohidefromthe troops,andwhenshewastherethebabystartedcrying. Shewastryingtoquietherbabyandaccidentally suffocatedit.Thereareseveraldifferentstories.Afunone thatinvolvesmehappenedaboutfiveyearsago.Myniece, Jennifer,andIdecidedtogotoKaliOkaRoadtoCry BabyCreekandseeifwecouldhearthebabycry.We discoveredthattheyhadbuiltanewbridgeanditwasa reallysteepdropdowntothecreek,”Carolynsaidand laughed.“Oh,butwewerenotgoingtobedeterred.We weregonnatakeourphonesandphotographspirits!

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“Wefinallygetdowntherescootingandslidingand looktoseeifwecanfindanything.Whenwedecidetogo backtoourcar,Ican'tgetupthesteepclimb.I'mtooold!” AnothergreatCarolynHaineslaugh.

“SoJennifergetsundermybutt,andshe'spushingand liftingmeuntilfinallywegetcloseenoughtothetopthatI cangetahold.Shepushesmeuptothesideoftheroad justasacariscomingon.I’msureIscaredthemhalfto death–theyswerved,probablythinkingtheghostofthe creekhadcomeupforhim.JenniferandIalwayshavea goodtime.”

CarolynhadatwobookcontractwithDutton,soafter TheSummeroftheRedeemers,shewrote Touched.Later came JudasBurning,partthreeintheJexvilleChronicles. Eachbookcanbereadasastandalonenovelbuttheyall includemembersoftheMcVayfamilyoverroughlynine decades.CarolynalsopublishedthePluto’sSnitch Mysteryseries,severalbooksinthehorrorgenre (Carolyn’sdarkside),someshortfiction,andhas collaboratedwithdifferentauthorsinseveralanthologies.

“Ireallyliketoscarepeople,andI'vealwaysloved scaryshowsandmovies.Mywholefamilydid.Goingto see TheExorcist wasafamilyouting,”moregreat laughter,“that'sreallysad.”

Oh,andlet’snotforgetherSarahBoothDelaney Mysteryseries.Shejustfinishedthefirstdraftofthe

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twenty-seventhbookintheseriesandCarolyngets messagesfromreadersjustabouteverydaywhowantto knowwhentheycanexpectthenextone.

IaskedCarolynwhatshelikedmostaboutwriting.Her answer,“WhenIgetsodeepinthestorythatreallife dissolves,andI’mlivingthestorywiththecharacters. That'swhatIreallyenjoy.Itdoesn'thappenallthetime, it’soneofthosespecialkindsofthingswhenyou're writing,whenthewaythatyouplottedthestoryoutand imagineditallcomestogether.”

“Doyouhaveagroupofspecialbetareaders?”

Carolyn,“Ido.They’revolunteers,andthey'revery, veryhelpful.Ihavedifferentonesfordifferentbooks, becausesomepeopledon'tlikethescarybooks,andsome peopledon'tlikethemorehumorousbooks,soItryto givethemwhattheyreallylike,sotheycantellmeifit worksornot.They'renoteditors,butthey'regoodjudges ofwhatworksandwhatdoesn'twork,andthenI’llsendit totheeditor.

Ifrequentlyhavetimelineissues,whichiswhenI’m writing.Ittakesayeartowriteabookandtherearestops andstartswhenlifeintervenes,asmyfriendEugene wouldsay.You'regoinghotandstrong,andthen,you know,there'sasickanimalorsomethingthatneedstobe done,andyougetknockedoffthatforwardmovingpath ofthenovel.Youhavetopickitbackup,andsometimesI

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don'tpickitupascleanlyasIshould,butIliketohave thingsascleanaspossible.Mytheoryonpublishingisthat it’sabusinessandItrytoturninthemostprofessional manuscriptIcan.Ihavebeensoluckywiththeeditors I’vehad.Theyaretrueprofessionals.Onceit'sintheir hands,I'vecleaneditupasmuchasIcanandhopefully theycan,youknow,dotheirmagiconit.”

Carolyngoesontosay,“You'reonlyasgoodasyour lastbook,andthat'sjustastrueofalmostanyotherjob. You'reonlyasgoodasthelastthingthatyoudid,andI findthattobealittlescary,andalsoagoodinstructionfor doingthebestyoucanwitheachbook.Myjobistomake myeditor'slifeaseasyasIcanbecausetheyhavealotof authors.

Havingbeenajournalistthere’salevelofyoudon'tget tobeaPrissyPot.Youknow,you'reaworkingjournalist. Youhaveaneditor.Theyworkeveryday;theycleanup yourstuff.Youdon'tcomplain-youmakeitbetterthe nexttime.”

“That'sreallygoodadvicetoalotofnewauthors.Let's talkaboutagentsbecauseIknowalotofnewauthorshave questionsaboutwhyoriftheyshouldqueryagents.”

“Well,I'vehadthesameagentforthirtyyears.Her nameisMarianneYoung.Sheisaterrificagentandavery ethicalprofessional.Shereadsthecontracts,she understandsthelanguageofthecontracts,andshekeeps

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meoutoftroublebecauseyouknow,thingssoundgreatto me,becauseIdon'tknow.Butthenshe'slike,letmeseeif Icangetabetterdealonthat.Shenegotiateswiththe publisherstogetmethebestdeal.It'snotjustherreading thecontractsandsaying,signthemordon'tsignthem,she putsinawholelotofworkandefforttryingtogetthings likeforeignrights,audiorights,orwhateverwecanthat benefitsbothofus.

Ican'timaginesigningacontractwithoutanagent goingoverit.Shealsosellsthebooksbecauseshehasthe contactsinthepublishingworldwhereshecancallupan editoratDutton,orRandomHouse,orSt.Martins,and say,IhavethismanuscriptIthinkyoumightbereally interestedin.Ithinkitfitshere.Thepublishinghousesare huge-someofthemhavemany,manyimprints.”

“Howmanydifferentpublishershaveyoubeen publishedwith?”

Carolyn,“Let'ssee.Well,firstofall,Harlequin,which isamajorpublisher,St.Martin's,RandomHouse,Leisure, RiverCity,Pegasus,F&WMedia,TyrusBooks.SoI've publishedwithsomemediumandsmallerpresseswhich I'velovedworkingwith.I'vealsoself-publishedbooksfor me,justbooksthatIwanttowrite,andI’vealsogottenthe rightsbackofsomeofmyearlierworkthatI’vereissued throughGoodFortuneFarmRefugebutIdogetthem editedprofessionallyandIpaysomeonetocreatethe

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coversbecauseIhavenotalentatallwithgraphicsor images.”

CarolynisoriginallyfromLucedale,Mississippibut she’sbeeninAlabamaforoverthirtyyears.“Iliveon GoodFortuneFarmRefuge.Wehavecats,dogs,horses, andthefewassortedwildcrittersthatshowupfromtime totime.I’vealwaysbeenpassionateaboutthefair treatmentofanimalsandGFFRisonewayI’vebeenable tocombinemypassionforwritingandtakingcareof animalsinneed.”

WhenyoupurchaseCarolyn’sbooksyouaresupporting theanimalsonherfarmandmakingitpossiblefor Carolyntohelpothers’petswhenshecan. Here’salink formoreinformationaboutGoodFortuneFarmRefuge.

Carolyntaughtgraduateandundergraduatecreative writingclassesattheUniversityofSouthAlabamaand hadseveralstudentsgoontopublishwithbighouses.

“Ibetyourstudentslovedyou.”

Carolyn,“WelltheythoughtIwasfun,andIthinkthey didcare.I'mintouchwithmostofthemstill,becauseI careaboutthemandIwantthemtohaveawonderful career.Youknowsomeofthemhavehadtodropoutof writingtoholddownajoborraiseafamily.Butwestill talkaboutwriting,andthey'llgetbacktoitanddo somethingreallygreat.”

“DoyougetalotoffanmailforSarahBoothDelaney?”

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Carolyn,“IgetabitandItrytoanswereachone,you know,andIdogetsomeunfanmailfromtimetotime.”

“Seriously?Likewhat?”

“Well,oneladysaidthatSarahBoothwasaslut.”

CarolynandIlaughedsohardwehadtotakeaminute.

Carolyn,“Myfirstreactionwaswell,youknow,don't readabouther.Butthenmaybeherhusbandhadcheated onherwithsomebodythatlookedlikeSarahBoothinher mind.Whoknows?Peoplearestrange,whichisgood.”

SpeakingofSarahBooth,Carolynjustfinishedthefirst draftofthenextbookintheseries.

“It’scalled JawsBones.Youknowit’satruefactthata bullsharkcanliveintheMississippiRiver,soit'sabouta bullsharkthathasgottenuptoGreenville.Ithinkit's goingtobeafunbook.I'malsoworkingonthesynopsis forthenextSarahBoothbook,whichisgoingtobesetat theElvisImpersonatorscompetitioninTupelo, Mississippi.It'scalled TenderBones.”

IaskedCarolynifshecameupwiththetitlesfirst,orif shechoosesthemaftershe’dwrittenthestories.

“Iliketohavethetitlefirst.Ithelpsmefocusthebook andit’salotoffuntocomeupwiththetitlesfortheSarah BoothDelaneymysteries.

“I'malsoworkingonacollaborativethrillerwithadear friendofminenamedMandyHaynes(that’sme!)it'sa kindofadifferentbook,setin1970,anditisa

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psychologicalthrillersetinasmallsoutherntown.Idon't wanttogiveitaway,andIdon'twanttotalktoomuch aboutit,butI’mreallyhopingthatitisasmuchfunfor readersasithasbeenforusworkingonit.We’vehada goodtime.”

Iagree.We’vehadsomuchfun,we’vealreadycomeup withideasforotherstoworkononcethisoneisfinished.

“Somepeoplemightthinkwe’recrazy,butyouknow it'sfun.Thiswasnotanythingweplanned,itjust happened,andyouknow,insteadoftalkingittodeathor notdoingit,wesatdownandstarteddoingit.Andsowe'll seewhathappenswithit.”

“It’sreallyexcitingformebecauseI’veneverwrittena thrillerandwouldn’tknowwheretostartbutwe’vegota greatstoryandyouareawonderfulteacher.I’msolucky.”

Carolyn,“Well,you'reafinewriterandit'sjustamatter oflearningdifferentpacing,astretchedplot.Theplotand thestructurearethehardestthingforanywriter.AndI’ve neverwrittenastorywheretwopeoplewritedifferent charactersandcombinethem,sowe'rebothlearningand I'mhavingagoodtime.Whateverhappenswe'vehadalot oflaughssoit’salreadyawin.”

IhadsomanymorequestionsforCarolyn,butmy dogs—theterrors…Imeanterriers—weregettingrestless andIstilldon’ttrustthemwiththecats.

We’reallhereatGoodFortuneFarmRefugewriting,

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working,tryingtokeepalltheanimalshappy,and laughinguntilourfaceshurt.LifeisgoodinAlabama.

DoyourselfafavorandjoinCarolyn’snewsletterforall kindsoffun,monthlygiveaways,andmoresurprises. www.carolynhaines.com/subscribe

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WATCHTHIS! WELLREADMAGAZINE 26 HITPLAY Authors MarkChildressandCarolynHaines intervieweachotheratthe HernandoPublicLibrary onMay5,2012

TheDarkSideof CarolynHaines

WATCHTHIS! 27 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
HITPLAY
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SUBSCRIBETOWELLREAD’SNEWYOUTUBECHANNEL!
BETWEENTHEPAGES-INTERVIEWS,READINGS,ANDMORE 29 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
TheMurderCreekWritingRetreat kicksoffitsdebuteventonLabor DayWeekendattheHistoric HolleyHouseBedandBreakfast! LaborDayWeekend2023 HELLOWRITERS!

HELLOWRITERS!

ThefirstannualMurderCreekWritingRetreatwillopen forsubmissionsonMarch15,2023throughJune1,2023.

Spaceislimitedandtheretreatisopentowriterswho haveaworkinprogress.Thisretreat,organizedbyHolly HartShirleyandMandyHaynesandsponsoredinpartby WELLREADMagazineandthecityofBrewton,is gearedtowardwritersofallbackgroundswhohaveawork inprogress.

Nomatteryourwritingexperience,you’llleavethe MurderCreekWritingRetreatwithimportantinformation includingthecraftofwritingdifferentgenres,what publishersarelookingforandhowtosubmityourwork, theprosandconsofself-publishingv.traditional publishing,howandwheretofindaudiobooknarrators, andlotsoftechniquesandtipsabouttheartofstorytelling thatarebeneficialtoauthorsofallgenresandwillhelp strengthenourvoiceonthepage.

RetreatDates:

September1st -4th

Allinterestedparticipantsareencouragedtoapplyassoon aspossibleduetothelimitedspaceavailable.

MURDERCREEKWRITINGRETREAT 31 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

RetreatRates willrangefrom$995to$1495per participantbaseduponaccommodations.

Costoftheretreatincludesthefollowing:

Dailybreakfast,snacks,anddinner,atthehistoricHolley HouseBedandBreakfast.

Twodaysofin-personworkshopsaswellasafewvirtual classesledbysomeofthemostentertainingandwellestablishedauthorsandpeopleinthepublishingbusiness.

SwagbagsfromTheHolleyHouseandWELLREAD filledwithuniquegiftsandtreatsfromlocalbusinesses.

Groupactivitiesinclude: Fridaynightmeetandgreet barbeque,amoonshinetastingfromtheMurderCreek Distillery,storytellingsession,alowcountryboil,anda concertputonbylocalmusicians.Wewillalsohavetime setasideattheendofSaturdayandSundayfor participant’stohaveinformalcritiquesessionsand readings.

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Confirmedfacilitatorsfortheeventinclude:

CarolynHaines- Carolynwillbespeakingonthe importanceofhavinganagentandhowtofindtheright agentforyourproject.

SuzanneHudsonandJoeFormichella. Theywillbe speakingonthepitfallsofthewritingbusinessandhowto avoidthem.

LaineLawsonCraft. Lainewillbespeakingonhowto marketyourbookandpodcastonlineandtheimportance ofpublicrelations.

LisaDianeKastner. Lisawillbespeakingonwhat publishersarelookingforinawriter,howtosubmitto anthologies,andhowtocrafttheperfectquery.

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Hosts:

HollyHartShirley isthefifthgenerationofherfamilyto havelivedandworkedatTheHolleyHouse.Sheisan NCIDQcertifiedinteriordesignerwhocameoutofthe closetasawriterafewyearsago.Holly'sblog DeepSouth Ramblings hassteadytrafficandthedisasterrelief Facebookpagesheadministeredhad27millionpage viewsthefirstweekitwaslive.Shehasspokenallover thecountryabouthowtoleveragesocialmediaintimesof disasters.HollyiscurrentlywritingforWELLREAD Magazine andisworkingonamemoirentitledBlackwater Birthright. SheispastwinneroftheStardomeComedy Club'sOpenMicNightcontestinBirmingham,Alabama whereshecurrentlyresideswithherhusbandJimbo.

ShehasbeenapartoftheYaleWritersWorkshopmultiple yearsandisaprofessionalscreenwritingmemberof WritersBootCampoutofLosAngeles.

MandyHaynes writesliteraryfictionwithasouthern drawl.She’stheauthoroftwoshortstorycollections,one novella,andtheeditorofseveralanthologies.Mandyis theownerofthreedogswritepress,llc,andthecreator, publisher,andeditor-in-chiefofWELLREADMagazine.

She,herthreepups,andoneturtle,haverecentlymovedto AlabamafromAmeliaIslandandarelovingit.

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ABOUTTHEACCOMMODATIONS:

ThehistoricHolleyHouseBedandBreakfastwill accommodatefourteenauthors.Withthreelivingareas,a diningroom,aneventroomwithtentablesandample placestoplugincomputersandchargers,highspeed wirelessinternetthroughoutthehouse,eightporches,and achapeltoclearyourhead,the15,000squarefoothistoric BedandBreakfastwillbeyourhomeawayfromhome whileyoulearnfromawardwinningauthors,workshop withyourpeers,putwordsonthepages,andreviseyour manuscript.

Eightsuiteshavequeenorkingbedsandprivatebaths, whilethetwoupstairssuiteswithmultiplebedroomshave sharedbathswithaccesstoakitchenandtwolargeliving areas.

Everyroominthe5starbedandbreakfasthasluxurious bedsandcomfortablerobestospoilyouwhileyouwork onyourmanuscript.DeborahGeorge,InnKeeperof HolleyHouse,willprovidehomecookedmeals(including herfamouschickenanddumplings)plusplentyofsnacks forattendees. TheapplicationprocessfortheMurderCreekWriting

Retreatisnowopen.

MURDERCREEKWRITINGRETREAT 35 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

“…thisdamnedhouse,thatdamnedhouse,512hashadso manydifferentnamesovertheyears,butit’salwaysbeen there,justpatientlywaitingonanewcoatofpaint.It’sthe oneplacethathasalwaysbeenhometome.”

WELCOMETOTHEHOLLEYHOUSE WELLREADMAGAZINE 36 WELCOMETOTHEHOLLEYHOUSE

ThisHouse

HollyHartShirley

Thishouse-it’stheonefamilymemberthathasnever betrayedanyone.Ithasalwaysbeentherewhenwehave neededapermanentaddressoraplacetocallhomefora while.512Douglashasnevermadeusfeelunwelcome,it hasalwayspaiditsownway,ithasrarelymadeuspay rent,andhasworkedeveryoneofusinthedirtbecause we’vehadtoearnourkeeptoliveatHolleyHouse.

Iwon’tsayit’snevertriedtowhipusorthatwe’ve neverfoughtwithit,becauseuntilyou’veremodeleda hundred-andfifteen-year-oldhouse,you’veneverbeenin arealfight.OnceMothercommittedtorestoring512,she didnotrelent,andshedidn’tcutanycorners.Mymother’s inheritancehascosthernearlyeverythingshehas,andit gotfouryearsofmylifeaswell.She’shadtodipintoall herno-touchyfunds,andweprobablywouldhaveeach soldakidneyifoursweren’tsotrashedfromtakingthe diureticsLenisgaveusourentirelivestodropthoselast fivepounds.

TheHolleyHouse,theapartmentbuilding,theold

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hospital,theoldfolks’home,thisdamnedhouse,that damnedhouse,512hashadsomanydifferentnamesover theyears,butit’salwaysbeenthere,justpatientlywaiting onanewcoatofpaint.It’stheoneplacethathasalways beenhometome.Without512,IthinkIwouldbelostina waythatisunexplainabletoanyonewhodoesn’thave sevengenerations’worthofhistorywrappedupinonepile ofboards.PeoplewalkinandseeaGeorgianmansionand Iimagineold,paneledwallswithspaceheatersandthe smellofnaturalgasandfriedchicken.

GrandmaHenley,mygrandmother’sgrandmother,lived atHolleyHouseattheendofherlife.Shelivedherlast daysatTheSweeneySuitebeforedyingofpneumonia.

Peoplesay“Sevengenerations?Butthehouseisn’tthat old.”IguessIneedtoexplainthatwearefromsouth Alabamaandarebreeders,that’sallI’vegottomakethe mathwork.

Allthewomeninourfamilyweremarriedandhadtheir firstchildbythetimetheyweretwenty-twoandthenwent ontoconquertheirfieldsofchoice.Wearepioneer

women.Wecouldprobablydropababyinthefield,go insideandrest,andgetbacktoworkjustlikeGrandma Cookwhohadseventeenchildrendidit.Mydaughterwas eightdaysoldwhenIpaintedandremodeledwhatisnow theKennedySuite,andthenIgotupandcookedbreakfast fortwelvepeople,bathedababy,andmadeittoschoolby

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8a.m.Youcanmakeexcusesinmyfamily,butyou’llbe quicklycalledalazyliar,soit’sbettertojustgetyourbutt outofbedandgetwithit.

Aftertheymarried,WillieFredstartedworkingat HolleyHospitalformygrandparents.Shetaughtushow tobekind,frychicken,tricksomeoneelseintopolishing thesilver,andlaughandlovehard.Today,herdaughter DianewhoismaybeoneofthebeststorytellersIknow, workswithMothermakingWillieFred’spoundcake recipeforguestsandkeepingMotheronhertoesand makingusbellylaughuntilourfaceshurt.

OnWillieFred’sfirstdayworkingatHolleyHouse,she sawmymotherwalkinghomefromschool,comingdown thesidewalkinadressfromtheFairStorethatwasway toolong.WhenWillietoldmymotherandmethestory, forthemillionthtime,aboutseeingmotherthatfirstday, shesaid,“Ilookedoutthewindowandsaid,Lawd,whatis thatchildwearing?Herdressbedraggingtheground lookinglikeshethrowedaway.Whyain’tnobodyhem herdress?So,Igotmesomethreadandsaid,comehere, Baby,Williegonefixyodress.AndIfixedit.Itlooked alright,didn’titDeborah?”

Mothersaidshehemmeditalright—aboutasix-inch hemwithtwoinchnavy-bluestitchesthatwerecrooked andlookedlikeamorsecodepattern.Motherknewshe hadafriend—afriendwhocouldn’tsewverywell,but

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whoendedupbecomingsecondmothertoallofus.

MymotherwantedFrenchfriesoneafternoonafter schoolwhenthekitchenwasinwhatispresentlythe Cameliasuite.Williehadtoleaveearlyforthedayand toldMother“Iain’tgotnotimetobemakingnoFrench friesforyoutoday,andMissHolleysayyoutoofatand don’tneed‘emanyway,Baby.”AssoonasWillieleftfor theday,Motherputfrozenfriesinhotgreaseandcaught thekitchenonfire.AccordingtoLenis’stellingand retellingofthestory,thereweren’tanyFrenchfriesinthe houseforawhileafterthefiredepartmenthadtobecalled.

It’sthehousewhereI’msuremyUncleAlwas conceived,wherehewasborn,wherehehadepichunch punchpartiesincollege.IwastenwhenhebecameSGA Presidentatourlocalcommunitycollege.My grandmother,Lenis,promisedhimthatshewouldfund hispartyifhewontheelection.

Iremembergoingtotheoldliquorstorebytherailroad tracksinher1977LincolnContinentalthatlookedlikea bluefuneralhomelimousineandloadingcasesof

Everclearandrumandvodkaintohertrunkandbuying thegrocerystoreoutofcannedfruit-cansandcansand cansoffruit-andHawaiianpunch.TheSundayafterthe party,myfeetstucktothecarpetwalkingthroughAl’s apartment-heofferedme$5tocleanupthatmess.I startedcleaning,andthentoldhimhecouldkeephis$5.

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Afatherofthegroomwhowasintownforawedding lastweekendasked,“Wherewasthatepichunchpunch party?Wasthatintheeventroom?IwasATthatparty.”

Shortlyafterthehunchpunchthrowdownof1981,I waswatchingtelevisiononenight-homealonewhilemy parentswenttodinner—andmyunclewassupposedtobe babysittingme.Nothingbutadoorseparatedhis apartmentfromoursandhisjobwastolistenoutforme. Hecalledmebreathingheavilyonthephoneandsaid, “Littlegirl…Iknowyou’realone”.Irantohishouseand wrappedmyarmsandlegsunderhiscoffeetableandwas terrifiedtogobacktomyroom.Iknewamovieofthe weekserialkillerwascomingforme!Iwentbackhome andnosoonerthanIwasonthesofa,hecalledagain.By thetimemyparentsarrived,Iwascryingandscreaming andwouldnotgetoutfromunderneathhiscoffeetable.

MydatepickedmeupformyseniorpromatHolley Houseandwedancedonthemarbletablethatisinthe livingroomtoday.Someonespikedthepunchwith ecstasy,andwehadnoideawewerehighasGeorgia pines,butIrememberdancingwithnomusicandlosing trackoftime.

It’sthehousewhereDaddyforgotMother’sthirtieth birthdayandshethrewusbothoutofthehousefor forgetting.Ihadbeensavingupmymoneytogethersome newwheelsforherrollerskates,butmyDaddywas

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workinginCalifornia,soIdidn’thaveanyonetotakeme totheskatingrink.I’msurenoonecanimaginethis,butI wasonrestrictionformakingaCinconductforrunning mymouthallthetimeandwasonlock-down.

MothertoldmetotakethemoneyI’dbeensavingand gotoLeon’sandgetthatbathingsuitI’dbeenwantingso badly.Shehadalreadythrownabroomlikeajavelinthat morningandwaslivid—soIdidwhatshesaid,andI boughtthebathingsuit.Hugemistake.IknewIwasinbig troublewhenMotherreviewedmypurchase,soIcalled mygrandmotherandsentmymotherrosesfromthe Flowershop,whichhappenedtobelocatedinthefuneral home.Again,hugemistake.

Whentheflowersarrived,Mothersaidshedidn’twant anydamnedfuneralhomeflowersforherbirthday, becauseshewasthirty,notdead.Istayedinmyroomthe restoftheday.Daddycamehometofindthatallhisugly clotheshisfirstwifehadboughthimhadbeengivenaway toacousinofoursnamedRiley.Daddyneveraskedabout theclothes,butthatfallathomecomingdinneronthe groundatchurch,whilewearingoneofDaddy’smissing shirts,Rileycameuptohimandsaid,“Themsurewere someniceclothesyougiveme,Jim,andsomeof‘em’s brandnew.Ishoredoappreciate‘em”.

Mystepsisterdecidedto“bleach”herhairthesummer shewastwelvebyputtingCloroxinathinplasticspray

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bottleintheParkerSuite.Shehadsoresinherheadthat were“unexplainable”.TheCloroxateaholethroughthe bottleandbleachedthebrand-newcarpetinmyroom.She hidmyrollerskatesoverthespotallsummer.Shewent homescot-free,andIwaspunishedforbeingan accomplicetoaliebyomission.

It'sthehousewherewetriedtosneakmyrabbit, CaptainNemo,intothebedwithusandhe,whowelater foundoutwasaTennilleratherthanaCaptain,peedall overeverything.Wetriedtoputfull-sizesheetsona queen-sizebedfortwohours.

It’swhereIgotmybubblegumpinkSchwinnStingray bikewiththebananaseatforChristmasthathadstreamers onthehandlesandabasketwithembroideredflowerson it.MyDaddyfoundmealicenseplatewithmynameonit andhungmytagfromthesissybarwithpinkwire.

It’sthehousewhereIhadmygraduationpartyand grandmothermadeabasketoutofawatermelonthatI thoughtwassofancy!Mywholefamilycameand broughtmegifts.Thoseweregooddays—beforethings weresocomplicatedandmean—whenGranddaddywas stillalive,andweallpretendedtoplayprettyandget along.

It'swherethecrazyladyfromEvergreenAvenue,who worehercoatinthesouthAlabamasummersandwalked tothegrocerystoreeveryday,cametoChristmasdinner

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oneyear.Thepooroldthingchokedatthetable,Ihadto dotheHeimlichmaneuveronher,andIspenttherestof ChristmasdayintheERwithher.

It’swhereIremembermymothergivingmyDaddya perm,yes,apermonNewYear’sDaywhilehedrankbeer andsworeatfootballgames.Helookedutterlyridiculous withthosetinyredpermrollersinhishairyellingatour CurtisMathesconsoletelevision.

It’swhereIlearnedthatafreshcoatofpaint,alittle wallpaperandnewcurtainscouldmakefurniturepicked outofapileofotherpeople’sjunklookprettygood.The upstairswasagraveyardforthefurnitureofrenterswho leftwithoutpayingtheirpastduerent.

WhenHolleyHousewasaretirementhome,Ilearned thatoldpeopleusedtohavewildsextooandthatthey don’tstoptalkingaboutitbecausefiftyyearsagowasn’t thatlongagotothem.Iheardtalesthatwouldmakea sailorblush—fromthemouthsofsweetlittlegrannies.

It’swhereIwalkedhomefromschooluntilIwasinthe seventhgrade,andwheremybestfriendslivedonmy street.Twoofmychildhoodfriendsworkedonthe remodelwithus.Wehavejokedsomanytimessaying “Wedidn’tgetveryfar,didwe?”

It’swhereIfoughtwiththeJohnsonkidsinthefront yard,swungfromtheropeswinginthepecantreeinthe backyard-thesamepecantreethatDr.Smith,thedoctor

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whoremovedmytonsils,usedtoclimb,andwatchhis grandfatherandmygrandfatherperformsurgerythrough thebigplateglasswindowintheSweeneySuite.

It’swheremycousinTaffithrewabrickatme,andmy stepbrotherandItoldalittleboynamedMichaelthathis dogwoulddiebecauseithadfleas.Wehadtaughtthedog toplaydeadandthechildcriedthemostpitifulcryI’ve everseen.Tothisday,thatisthemeanesttrickI’veever playedonanyoneandifyou’reoutthereMichael,who hadthesilverteethfromeatingpixiesticks,Iamtruly sorry.

Abunchofolderdivorcedladies,beautyshopcougars, livedatHolleyHouseintheseventiesandhadlotsof outlawboyfriends,somygranddaddycalleditthewhore house.WhenweweredesigningthesignforHolley House,ItoldMotherifthebedandbreakfastthingdidn’t workout,wecouldrockitoldschoolbyremovingthe LLEYfromtheHolleyHousesignandjustmaketheHo House.Iwouldimaginethezoningwouldprobablybe moredifficultthangettingBNBstatus,andevenmore difficulttoexplainsincemystepdadisaminister.

Ilearnedtobeacollectionagentandadetectiveasa childwithLenis—watchingforpeopletocomehome, trackthemdown,andcollecttherent.Ialsolearnedthat therearetimesinbusinesstoshowcompassionandatime tochangethelocks.It’swhereIlearnedthattheonly

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personkeepingscoreofwhatyoudowhenthingsaregood isyou,andeveryoneelsekeepsscorewhenyouscrewup.

Ifshehadasoundtrack,thishousewouldplayHoagy Carmichael,TheGlennMillerOrchestra,NoelCoward melodies,NatKingCole,WillieNelson,andHarry Connick,Jr.onrepeatandifHolleyHousecouldtalk,it couldtellsometales-probablyplentythatdon’tneedtobe told.

Icamehomefromthehospitaltoanurserythatisnow thekitchenandnineteenyearslater,rockedmynewborn babythousandsofmilesoutsideofthatdoor.Thishouse hasbeenawitnesstoourlivesfornearlyonehundred years,andIamsothankfulthatwehaveanopportunityto shareherwithourfriendsandguests.Itisaspecialplace withaspiritofhardworkandingenuitythatIbelieve toucheseveryonewhowalksthroughthedoors.We welcomeyoutocomehometoourblue-collarGeorgian mansion.

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THISHOUSEbyHollyHartShirley

HollyHartShirleyisthefifthgenerationofwomentoliveat HolleyHouseandsharetheirloveofgoodfoodandhospitality.

Sheisaninteriordesignerandworkedalongsidehermother, DeborahGeorge,forfourandahalfyearsontherenovationand reconstructionofthebedandbreakfast—leavingnodetailto chance.HollylivedatHolleyHouseasachildandlaterasa youngadultandnowisthefounderoftheMurderCreekWriting Retreatthatwilltakeplaceinherchildhoodhomeeveryyear.

SheisanNCIDQcertifiedinteriordesignerandresidesin Birmingham,Alabamawithherhusbandoftwentyyears,Jimbo, andtheashesoftheirlateMaltese,WillieNelson.Sheisa professionalmemberofWritersBootcampoutofLosAngeles, California,andisanalumnusoftheYaleWritersWorkshop.

HollyiscurrentlyworkingonamemoirentitledBlackwater Birthright.

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WHATAREYOUREADING?

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WHATAREYOUREADING?

49 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

TheCicadaTree byRobert Gwaltney

Followinginthemagnificent footstepsofCarsonMcCullers andHarperLee,RobertGwaltney createsawonderfulsnapshotof thefriendshipthatformsbetween AnaleiseandEttaMae,two eleven-year-oldgirlsin‘50’s smalltownGeorgia.Hisproseis bothpreciseandlyrical,andthe lovelinessofchildhoodandtheir friendshipisshadowedbyasenseofmysteryand foreboding.ThereisnosoundinEnglishthanthatof Southernspeech:thereispoetryineveryinflection,in everynuance.Thisisabooktoloveandremember,and everybookclubinAmericawouldbewisetosnapitup.”

ThegothicbeautyofarelentlessGeorgiasummeris broughttolifethroughGwaltney’sdeliberatedetailsand exquisiteimagery,whileallthewhileevillurksbeneath thesurface;fromwhereorwhatthereaderdoesnotknow butisasconvincedbyGwaltney’sexpertstorytellingashe is.”

–ZoeFishman,bestsellingauthorofInvisibleAir and GeorgiaAuthoroftheYear2020

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BreachofTrust by HelenP. Bradley

Acompellingstoryofcorruptionvs. courage,communityandfriendship, BreachofTrust issetforreleaseby MoonshineCovePublishingonApril 21,2023.

ThedirectorofSavannah’scrime victimassistanceprogramisthrown intoatailspinwhenheryoungmale employeeaccusestheirboss,the districtattorney,ofsexual harassment.

ShouldAnneremainquiettokeepthecareersheloves?Or shouldshepubliclyaccusehiminordertodeterhimfrom victimizingothers?CanAnnebesuedfordefamation?Andif shelosesherjob,willshealsoloseherhome?Tofurther complicatematters,thedistrictattorneywasherfriendbefore hebecametopprosecutor.

Theharassmentallegation—alongwithevidencethattheDA’s corruptionmayhaveenabledayoungmother’smurder— dredgesuppainfulmemoriesfromAnne’spast,causesfriction inhermarriage,andpropelsherintoamoralcrisis.

“Bradley'svividcharactersnavigatelife-and-deathsituations atthemercyofajusticesystemrifewithinternaldramas.

Bradley—herselfavictimadvocacypioneer—hascreateda gripping,unforgettablestory.”

Bystanders

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WELLREADMAGAZINE

AllNight,AllDayisagracefully executedanthology ofhope,amerciful reminderwearenotaloneinthisworld.

Eachstory,poem,andessay:afeather knitteduponanangel’swing.”—Robert Gwaltney,award-winningauthorofThe CicadaTree

ComingJune2023fromMadvillePublishing

AllNight,AllDay:Life,Death&Angels editedbySusanCushman

CassandraKing–SuzanneHenley–RiverJordan–Sally PalmerThomason–NatashaTrethewey–SonjaLivingston –JohnnieBernhard–FredericaMathewes-Green–Angela Jackson-Brown–ChristaAllan–ReneaWinchester–JacquelineAllenTrimble–MandyHaynes–WendyReed–LisaGornick–JenniferHorne–AnnFisher-Wirth–AveryellKessler–LaurenCamp–CathySmithBowers–NancyDorman-Hickson–JoannaSiebert–SusanCushman –ClaireFullerton–JulieCantrell

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PrayingforStrangers:An AdventureoftheHuman Spirit by RiverJordan

Whatiftherewassomethingyou coulddo-somethingsimple,yetso powerful-thatcouldpositively influenceothersandchangeyour lifeintheprocess?Critically acclaimedauthorRiverJordan discoveredthatverything...

As2009approached,bothofRiver Jordan'ssonswereabouttogoofftowar-onetoIraqand theothertoAfghanistan-andshewasplanningafamily reuniontoseethemoff.AllRivercoulddowasprayfor hersons'safetyandhopetomaintainherstrength,until sheunexpectedlycameupontheperfectNewYear's resolution-onethatfocusedonothersinsteadofherself. Shewouldprayforacompletestrangereverysingleday oftheyear.

InPrayingforStrangers, Jordantellsthatthediscovery thatshemadealongthejourneywasnotsimplythather prayerstouchedthelivesofthesestrangers(inoften astoundingways),butthattheunexpectedconnectionsshe madewithotherpeoplewouldbeaprofoundexperience thatwouldchangeherlifeforever.

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TheMessengerofMagnolia Street by

Twelveyearshavepassedsince NehemiahTrustlefthishometown ofShibboleth,Alabama.Nowa successfulaideinWashingtonDC, Nehemiahisshockedwhenhis brotherBillyandhigh-school girlfriendTriceshowuponhis doorstepwarningthatsomethingis stealingthelifeofwhatshouldbe theiridyllichometown.BillyandTriceareconvincedthat onlyNehemiahcanhelp.Asthethreefriendsjointogether tosavetheplacetheycallhome,theylearnthesolution mayrequireawillingnesstosacrificeeverything.

“Whenanewyearstartswithanovelthisgood,itbodes wellforthewholeyear....” SouthernLivingMagazine

"Amasterfultaleoflightandwonder." KirkusReviews

RiverJordanhadmeathello.Thisiswonderfullywritten, adazzlingdebut.”M

“Thisisabookthatinspiresaswellasitentertains--and thatisarareachievement.” TerryKay,authorofTo DancewiththeWhiteDog

ichaelLeeWest,authorofMadGirls inLove
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SummeroftheRedeemers

Thiswasmyfirstpublished novel.It’sacomingofagestory, aboutayounggirl,BekkahRich, wholivesonareddirtroadin ruralMississippiinthe‘60s.

Bekkahisagoodgirl,thougha bithorsecrazyandconfronting thetimewhenshebeginspulling awayfromherfamilyandtrying todiscoverwhosheis.The‘60s inMississippiwereatumultuous time,andBekkahconfrontssome ofthoseissues.Butthedriving storyofthebookinvolvestheabductionofaninfant, MaebelleVanCampWaltman,thebabysisterofBekkah’s bestfriend.Bekkahbelievesmembersofareligiouscult aretoblame,butshewhenandAlicestartinvestigating, theybiteoffmorethantheybargainfor.

WhenIwasgrowingup,Iwasthemosthorse-crazykidin theworld.AndIlovelocallegendsandfolklore.The storyofKaliOkaRoadandCryBabyCreekoriginatedin MobileCounty,butI“borrowed”themformypurposesin thisnovel.Notasingleeventinthisbookhappened,but thereisalotofemotionaltruthbetweenthecovers.

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ThisbookearnedacomparisontoTOKILLA MOCKINGBIRD,whichisaboutthehighestpraisea novelcanreceive,inmybook.

*100%ofproceedsfromthesaleofthisbookwillbe donatedtotheGoodFortuneFarmRefuge,helping abandonedpetsreceivemedicaltreatmentandloving homes.

Touched

Thisbookinvolvesmembersof thesamefamilyasinSUMMER OFTHEREDEEMERS,the McVayfamily.Butit’ssetin1926 inthesamecommunityof Jexville.

ConflictsinasmallSoutherntown bubbletothesurfaceinthistaleof repressionandprophecy,the secondbookinTheJexville

Chroniclestrilogy.Sixteen-yearoldMattiecomestoMississippiin thesummerof1926asamailorderbrideandfindsaquiet,deeplyreligiouscommunity wrappedinrigidviewsofawoman’sproperrole.When DuncanMcVay,thenine-year-olddaughterofJexville’s mostcontroversialwoman,isstruckbylightningwhile

TOADDTOYOURTBRLIST 57 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

dancing,thetownspeoplearehorrifiedwhenshedoesn’t diebutsurvives—andisgiventhegiftofprophecy. Abusedandmistreatedbyherhandsomehusband,Mattie defendsDuncan.Shefindscomfortinherfriendshipwith JoHannaandtheMcVayfamily,butdefyingthetownhas consequences.Whenahurricanelashesthearea,the townspeopleblameDuncan.Actionleadstotragedy.For bothMattieandJohanna,thefutureholdsheartache,but ultimatelyalong-awaitedandstunninglyexecuted revenge.

JudasBurning

IntheconcludingstoryofThe JexvilleChroniclestrilogy,Dixon SinclairmovestoJexvilletorun thelocalpaper,resolvetheturmoil overherfather’smurder.She movesintotheMcVayhouse, whichisherheritage.Runningthe localpaperisherlast-ditchattempt tosaveherself.Twoteenagegirls disappearfromasandbaronthe PascagoulaRiver.Whenthebodies arefound,hungandburned,it’s clearthatsomethingotherthan simplemurderisatwork.Couplethatwithattacksonthe localCatholicChurch,andDixon’sresearchbringsupthe

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possibilityofJudasburnings—aritualtoexorciseevil.

Dixontrustsnoone,butshemustworkwithSheriffJ.D.

Hortoneventhoughshesuspectshe’sprotectinganolder riverman,Eustace,andhiscompanion,amuchyounger andpsychologicallydamagedwoman.Whenthe investigativefocusshiftstoayoungMexicantransient,the townisreadytometeoutjustice,unlessDixonandJ.D. movetostopit.

CarolynisgivingawayadigitaldownloadofJUDAS BURNINGtoonewinner!

EnterNow TOADDTOYOURTBRLIST 59 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

DeathbyGreed

WELLREADMAGAZINE 60
"Anentertainingread,this novelisperfectforfansof Britishcozies,historical mysteries,rolling Kentuckyhills,1930s moxie&Christi-esque reveals!"
-MeezCarrie fromReadingIsMy SuperpowerBlog.
APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

WorkInProgress

Haveyoueverfinisheda bookandwondered,"What madetheauthorthinkof that?"Orwonderedifthere wasachapterinthe originalmanuscriptthat didn'tmakeitthroughthe finaledits?Maybeyou'd liketogetasneakpeekat whatanauthoriscurrently

workingon.WorkInProgressincludesfifty-nineexcerpts fromsometalentedauthors'worksinprogressindifferent stagesofthewritingprocess,followedupwiththestory behindthestoryofthepiece,andthestorybehindthe authorwhowroteit.

Wheredidtheideacomefrom?Whatweretheythinking duringthewritingprocess?Whydidtheydeleteachapter, orchangeacharacter?

Findouttheanswerstothesequestionsandmoreinside...

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SharpasaSerpent'sTooth: EvaandOtherStories by MandyHaynes

"MandyHayneswritesaboutthe pooranddamaged,aboutsimple folkswithfireandcrazypulsing throughtheirveins.Inthestory "Eva"shedisplaystheugly drippingsofanevilsoulbesidethe strengthandwisdomofachild. Withawarpedsenseofhumorand aneyeforsweetrevenge,Haynes,in hercollectionofshortstories

"SharpasaSerpent'sTooth,"revealsherselftobean emergingtalentwithacommandofsoutherndialogueanda tendencytocreatedirt-under-the-fingernailscharacters.She'll bearoundforthelonghaul."BrendaSuttonRose,authorof DogwoodBlues, nominatedfor2015GeorgiaAuthorofthe YearforFirstNovel,nominatedfora2018PushcartPrizein FictionforhershortstorySamuel'sWife.

"MandyHaynesgivesusadirectlineintotheheartofthe DeepSouth.Tounderstandwhatisgenteelandgenuine,one mustalsounderstandwhatisnot.Strongfemalecharacters whogetthebetterofvillainswhoseektodestroythemabound inthisbrilliantlycraftedcollectionofshortstories.Sheis FlanneryO'Connor'sequalinthenewmillennium.Ican'twait toreadwhateverHayneswritesnext!Brava!"MarciHenna, authorofWhenWeLastSpokeand WhatLiesAhead

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Thedistinctivesettingofthe turpentinecampsinthe SouthduringtheGreat Depressionwillmakean imprintonreaders,justasthe charactersofRaeLynnand Deldo.FansofSarahAddison Allenwon'tbeabletoputit down.” —Booklist

TheSaintsofSwallowHill:A FascinatingDepressionEraHistorical Novel

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BOOKSANDTEA,YESPLEASE! WELLREADMAGAZINE 66

HoneycombBreakfastTea

Sweethoneyistheperfectadditiontothisboldandfullbodiedbreakfasttea.

Everyonelovesacleanandethicallysourcedcupoftea. Perfectforanyoccasion,you’llwanttokeepthisinstock. Highquality,looseleafwithnoartificialflavorsorcolors, thiswillearnaspaceinyourcupboard.

Ingredients:Blacktea,Pineapplepieces(pineapple,canesugar, citricacid),Quincepieces,Saskatoonberries,Beepollen, Sunflowerpetals,Naturalflavors.Contains:Beepollen.Contains NaturallyOccurringCaffeine

BOOKSANDTEA,YESPLEASE! 67 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

INSIDEVOICES

“Community,tome,isoneofthemajorresponsibilitiesofamodern queerperson:tounderstandthatyoubelongtoacommunitywitha pastandafuture—apastandfuturefulloftrauma,sure,butalsoof muchbeautyandjoy.”

WELLREADMAGAZINE
RobertGwaltneyandJeffreyDale LoftoninterviewZakSalih,author ofLet’sGetBacktotheParty

ZakSalih earnedhisBAinEnglishandJournalismfrom JamesMadisonUniversity,andhisMAinEnglishfrom theUniversityofVirginia.Hisfictionandnonfictionhave appearedin Foglifter,Epiphany,Crazyhorse,TheFlorida Review,TheChattahoocheeReview,TheMillions,Apogee Journal,KenyonReviewOnline,theLosAngelesReview ofBooks, andotherpublications. Let'sGetBacktothe Party ishisdebutnovel.HelivesinWashington,D.C.

JeffreyDaleLofton,awardwinningauthorof RedClay Suzie, andIhadtheopportunitytositdownwithZakSalih todiscusshisdebutnovel,Let’sGetBacktotheParty.

ROBERT:

Thenovelexploreswhathappenswhenamarginalized portionofsocietyislayeredintothemainstreamorwhat somemightdefineasthetypical.Wheredidtheideaof Let’sGetBacktotheParty comefrom?

ZAK:

Theideaforthenovelcameinpieces.Afavoritepainting ofmineintheNationalGalleryofArt.AYouTube interviewbetweengaymenofdifferentgenerations.The imageoftwomenatawedding,bothofwhomloathe beingthereforentirelydifferentreasons.Allthatcame togetherunderanoverarchingcuriosityofmineoverwhat itfeelsliketobelongtoahinge-generationofgaymen (seebelow),andhowonetries—andsometimesfails—to

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reckonwiththepast. JEFFREY:

Thisisatwo-partquestion.Yourbookhasafoundation thatissymmetrical,balanced.Forexample,thetwomain characterssharetheprimaryrelationshipandtheneachof thosecharactersembarksonasignificantjourneywithtwo secondarycharacters,oneoldermanandoneyounger. Howdidyoucraftthisstoryinsuchbalance,andwhatdid youwanttosaywiththoseolderandyoungergaymen?

ZAK:

Formisveryimportanttomeasawriter.Ineedsome senseofavesselinwhichI’mgoingtopourallthese haphazardthoughtsandsentencesandcharacters.My favoritekindsofnovelsareonesinwhichthearchitecture ofthestoryisclearlyvisible.Buildingthisnovelaround twocompetingvoicesallowedmetoshowsomeofthe waysinwhichthesethirty-somethings,andeventhemen fromthegenerationsbracketingthem,weredifferentfrom oneanother,andalsosimilarinmanyways.Oscarand Sebastianeachpossesstheirowndistinctvoice,butmy intentioninstructuringthenovelthiswaywassothat, eventually,athirdvoicewouldemerge:thevoiceofthe book.

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INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney

ROBERT:

Withinthenovel,youfocusuponsexualidentitymore thanracialidentity.Talkalittlebitaboutthatchoice.

ZAK:

Therewassomethingempoweringtomeabouthaving Sebastianbemixedracebutnotlettingthatpartofhim definehisstory.WhileIunderstandandrespecttheneed forreadersandwriterstoexploretheracialtraumasof non-whitecharacters,that’snotapressingconcerninmy work.Perhapsthat’sbecausegrowingupmixed-raceina diverseregionlikenorthernVirginiagrantsone—asit grantedme—alesstraumaticchildhoodthangrowingup mixed-racein,say,thedeepSouth.Still,Ididn’tseethe needtowhitewashthecharacterjustbecauseracewasn’t thedrivingengineofthenovel.

JEFFREY:

Senseofplaceinyourbookisstrong,boththegeographic setting,butalsoplacewithinthegaycommunity—about wherewedo,ordon’t,fitin.Howhasyourplaceinthe gaycommunitychangedsinceyouhadtheideaforthis book,thecatalystforitbeingamajormilestonein LGBTQhistory?

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ZAK:

Ithinkofthisnovelnotasacomingoutbutacominginto story.Howdowecarveoutanauthenticlifeforourselves inacommunity?Howdowestrugglewithourownlittle slicesofavastspectrumofexperience?Community,to me,isoneofthemajorresponsibilitiesofamodernqueer person:tounderstandthatyoubelongtoacommunity withapastandafuture—apastandfuturefulloftrauma, sure,butalsoofmuchbeautyandjoy.Nomatterhow muchsocietyprogresses,therewillalwaysbepeoplewho willactivelyworktoharmqueerpeople(orpeopleofany minoritycommunity).Thework—thepride—isinliving lifethroughthis,inspiteofthissoberingtruth.

ROBERT:

Ireadinapreviousinterview,somethingthatfascinated me.Thisconceptofpaintingwithwords.Talkaboutthat withus.

ZAK:

SebastianteachesAPArtHistoryathishighschool,so paintingandartareessentialtohowhethinksaboutand interpretstheworld.Idon’tthinkhisexperienceinthe novelisallthatdifferentfromanyonewhoencountersa particularworkofarttheyadmire.There’stheartbefore you—andthepersonalthoughtsandmemoriesthatart conjures.ForSebastian,paintingsandsculpturesareabox

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INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney

ofProustianmadeleines.Iloveekphraisticwriting,where someonewritesataslantofsortsaboutapieceofart,and thosepassagesinSebastian’ssectionsweretherefromthe firstdraft.

JEFFREY:

TellusaboutwhatyoucalltheHingegenerationandthe blessingandtheheartacheofbeingbornatthetimeyou were?

ZAK:

WiththeunderstandingI’mnoanthropologist,whatI meanbyahingegenerationofgaymenisthegeneration ofwhichI’mapart:borntooearlytoseetheAIDSplague asanythingotherthanhistorybuttoolatetotake advantageoftheboostinvisibilitymuchoftoday’sgay andqueeryouthenjoy.There’sapalpableanxietyofbeing inthisparticularniche—thedeathandlossavoided,as wellastheopportunitiesmissedouton.Howwouldour livesbedifferentifthey’dbeenlivedatothermoments? Howdowerespectdifferentexperienceswithoutenvying them,withoutlettingthemkeepusfromlivingtheone life,attheonemomentinhistory,wedohave?

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INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney
INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney WELLREADMAGAZINE 74 RobertGwaltney, awardwinningauthorofsouthernfiction,isa INSIDEVOICESwithRobertGwaltney

RobertGwaltney, awardwinningauthorofsouthernfiction,isa ofFloridaStateUniversity.HeresidesinAtlantaGeorgiawith hispartner,whereheisanactivememberoftheAtlantaliterary community.Robert’sworkhasappearedinsuchpublicationsas TheSignalMountainReviewandTheDeadMuleSchoolof SouthernLiterature.Hisdebutnovel,TheCicadaTree,wonthe SomersetAwardforliteraryfiction.

JeffreyDaleLofton,awardwinningauthorofRedClaySuzie

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WaitingforaSignal

JeffreyDaleLofton

Hedidn’tsayanything.Ourfingersintertwinedinaway thatmademethinkofChurchandSteeple.“Hereisthe church,hereisthesteeple...Openthedoor....”Andif weopenedourhandsonlytwofingerswouldappear,his andmine.Comethistimetomorrownight,ourhands,our churchoftwowouldbeempty.Himhereathome,meoff atcollege.

Assoonashereleasedmefromtheinterlacedhand hold,hesteppedoutofthebackseatandreachedhishand tome,palmupandvulnerable.Itookit,andasIclimbed outandstoodup,hewrappeditbehindmeandleanedus againstthesideofthecarwithmybackarchedinthesame slantofthewindow.Thehardmetalandglasswereso coolincontrasttotheheatfromhim,thesoftnessofhim. Iwasstanding,wewerestanding,butIfeltasthoughI werelyingdown,flattenedbyhim.Hekissedmeonthe

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topoftheheadashehadtwoyearsago.Butthiswasa differentkindofkiss,notthebrotherlygesturebutopenmouthedwithaword,abiteintomyhair,asoundthatI couldn’tspellbutknewthemeaning.

Hewantsme.Thisboyactuallywantsme.

Thewalkbackthroughthewoodstothelake,thefirst timeandplacehekissedme,wasslow,andIcountedour steps,thepacesodifferentfromourtripfromthelake earlierthatevening.Theheatofhimrushedussothathe couldushermeintothebackseatandpresshisfaceto mineandwhisperintomyhands,“Imissedyousomuch, Keebler.”

Now,weonlyhadagoodbyewaitingforuswhenwe gotbacktothelake.We’dhavetohavealastkissthere. Someonemightseeusifhetouchedmeonthesideofthe roadwhereIleftmycar.Buthalfwaythroughthewoods hestopped.Themoonwasn’tfull,butitwasbright.My eyeshadalreadyadjustedsothatIcouldsee.Heleaned againstapinetree,hishandsbehindhisheadwithhis elbowssplayedout,openandunprotected.

“YoulooklikeaTVantenna,”Iwhisperedintothat littledipinthecenterofhiscollarbonethathadfine golden-brownhaircurlingoutoftheopeningofhisshirt. IknewtheyweretherebecauseIhadmemorizedtheway thesettingsuntintedthemandtheirtendencytopeekout, eachofthemalmostaliveastheytickledmylips.

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Hefinallysaid,“TVantennascan’ttalk.”Then,“They waitforasignal.”

Thenitwasmyturn.NomatterhowfarIgofromthis town,homeforallmyyears,I’llalwaysrememberthe sensationwhenhepressedmeintothecorneroftheback seat—theweightofhimmetamorphosingmefromadull lumpofsomethingcommonintoafine,specialthingthat feltalive.Hewaited,stillasthetreebehindhim.His breathwastheonlymovement,anditgentlystirredmy hairmuchasanightbreezebarelydisturbsthefinetender pineneedlessproutinghighabove.

Iputmyhandsflatuptohischest,hisheartquiet,but there,steadyandwellprotectedbeneaththeshirtandhair andskinandmuscleandcageofbonebetweenitandme.

Iranmyhandsuptohisneckandouttohisupturned arms.Ifoughtthesuddenandsurprisingurgetopressmy faceintothedampIfeltwherehisarmsconnectedtohis body.Instead,Iheldfastonhiseyesandcuppedtheknot ofhiselbowsinmyhands.

AndImarkedthisspotandthistreeandhiminmyheart andpromisedhimandmewithoutwordsthatI’dalways knowthewayback.AndIwouldcomeback.Isaiditin myheadandmyheart,anditwasasrealandasindelible asifwe’dtakenhispocketknifeandcarvedourselvesinto thebarkofthetree.

“Iwon’tforgetwhereyouare.”
WAITINGFORASIGNALbyJeffreyDaleLofton 79 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

JeffreyDaleLofton hailsfromWarmSprings,Georgia,best knownasthehomeofRoosevelt’sLittleWhiteHouse.Hecalls thenation’scapitalhomenow.Duringthoseearlyyearshespent manyanighttroddingtheboardsofDC’stheaters,includingthe KennedyCenter,WoollyMammoth,WashingtonShakespeare Company,SignatureTheatre,andStudioTheatre.Heeven scoredafewtelevisionscreenappearances,includingaSuper Bowlhalftimecommercial,whichhisaccountantcalled“the finestworkofyourcareer.”

Whenhesteppedawayfromactingforother,moretraditional work(muchtohisparents’delightandrelief),healsofocusedon pursuingpost-graduatework,ultimatelybeingawardeda Master’sdegreeinLibraryandInformationScience.Today,he isSeniorAdvisorattheLibraryofCongress.

RedClaySuzie,hisdebutnovel,wasrecentlynamedaLambda LiteraryMostAnticipatedLGBTQIA+Bookandawardedthe SevenHillsLiteraryPrizeforFiction.

*AuthorphotocreditAlyonaVogelmann

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Obituaries

RebeccaKlassen

I’vewrittenmysonDavid’sobituary.I’vewrittenone almosteverymonthsincehemovedfromourhometown allthewaytoLondon.It’shardnottoworryaboutyour children,andhe’souronlyson.There’ssomethingabout theprocessofwritingitalldownthatfeelspragmatic.This wasthefirstoneIwroteafterheleft:

Withheartache,weannouncethedeathofourdearson, DavidMacKintosh,agedjusttwenty-two.Davidpassed awayfromlisteria,havingconsumedanitemfromthe organicvegetableboxwesenthimwithoutwashingitfirst.

Weshould’veknownhewouldn’thavehadanyideahowto prepareaceleriac.Pleaseknowthatweweretryingto help,havingdiscoveredhe’deatennothingbutNandos chickenandFrostiesforoveraweek.

Turnedoutitwasjustatummybug,probablycaught fromthoseescalatorhandrailsintheUnderground.Allwas

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fineuntilhesentmeatextsayinghewasgoingonhis boss’sstagweekend.Davidsentascreenshotofthe scheduleandwrote,“Shouldbefun!”Itooktomy notebook.

TodaywerememberDavidMacKintosh,whoselifewas snuffedoutinaviciousattack.Ourbelovedsonwas murderedbyhisboss,amannicknamedChug,who coercedoursonintoconsumingfiveJägerbombsbefore maliciouslyshootinghiminthechestwithapaintballgun. TheprotectivevestsenforcedbySplatAttackActivities providedlittleprotection.Wewouldappreciateitifyou wouldhonourDavid’smemorybyboycottingChug’s wedding,whichisstilltakingplacethisSaturday.

Justabitoflightbruisingonhisthigh,apparently.Also, I’vebeentoldsincethatChugisateetotalpacifist,now marriedtoVanessa.

Oneevening,Davidsentmeaphotoofagentlemanhe wasabouttomeetatabarfromadatingapp.Davidadded severalemojisofheartsandsmileyfacesinthephoto caption.

Iwroteat2amthatnight:

Welaytorestourcherishedson,DavidMacKintosh.

HistimewascutshortbyamannamedRaoul,whobroke David’sheartbyfailingtoshowfortheirdate.

Unansweredtextsandcalls(Ibelieveit’scalled ‘ghosting’)ledDavidtotaketohisbed,cryhimselfto

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sleep,anddieofheartbreakashedreamed.

Thenextobituarycamealittlesoonerthanexpected, whenDavidmentionedthatheandhisnewboyfriend, Raoul,weretakingacouple’sclasstogether.Iassumedit wascookery,butpaintballingmust’vegivenhimataste fordanger.

Itiswithsorrowinourheartsthatweannouncethe passingofourbeautifulson,DavidMacKintosh.An adventuroussoul,Davidsadlyfelltohisdeathfroma trapezeduringacouple’scircusskillsclass.Expecting someoneyou’veknownamatterofweeksandhadless thanthreebruncheswithtocatchyoumid-airatthirty-feet wasalittlefoolishonDavid’spart.Assumingthoselarge, bouncynetswouldbreakyourfallratherthanyourneck wascompletelynaïve.Nonetheless,wemournourson, andwillneverlookatabigtopthesameway.

DavidintroducedustoRaoulwhenwelastwenttovisit himinLondon.Lovely,chap,whoclearlycaresalotabout David.That’sallyouwantforyourchildren,isn’tit. Someonewholovesthem.

Overtapas,Davidtoldusalittlemoreabouthisjob.He isacontentcoordinator.Lotsofcomputerworkandusing somethingcalledchatbots,whichhetellsmerunon artificialintelligence.Whenwegothome,Igrabbedmy pen.

Broken-hearted,weannouncethedeathofouronlyson,

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DavidMacKintosh.Hewaskilledinarobotuprisingat hisoffice.Alas,hiscolleague,Chug,wasalsotakentoo soon,andoursympathiesgoouttohiswife,Vanessa.Let thisbealessontoallofustorespecttechnologiesthatwe don’tunderstand.

SometimesIthinkaboutDavidbackhereinour hometown,maybewalkingtotheshopformilk,scanning thelocalpagesforjobs,orwatchingMasterChef withus. Iimagineheneverleft,hislifetakingadifferentpath.I fantasizethatweneverdroppedhimoffatthestationwith hissuitcases,andIdidn’tcrytoneardehydration.WhenI thinkaboutallthis,IrefertotheobituaryIwrotewhenI thoughthemightstayhereforgood.

Itiswithhugelossthatwemournonson,David MacKintosh,wholivedanddiedinhishometown.He endedhislife,withoutadventure,withoutapartner, withoutfindinghiscalling.Ifonlywe’dencouragedhim andlovedhimalittlemoretolethimgo.

RebeccaKlassenisaneditorfromtheCotswolds,UK.Herwork hasfeaturedinanthologiesandpublicationssuchasMslexia BestShortFiction,ThePhare,Superlative,TheWildWord,and TheDrabble.ShehaswontheLondonIndependentStoryPrize forflashfiction,andperformedherworkatCheltenham LiteratureFestivalandStroudBookFestival.

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WhatWeKeep,WhatWeThrowAway

PhyllisGobbell

TherainbeganthatSaturdaymorningandpounded Nashvilleallday.Itwasadriving,insistentrainthat drownedoutthoughtsofanythingelse,evenbeforethe localnewspreemptedprogrammingtoreportcarsstranded ontheinterstatesandresidentstrappedintheirhomesby risingwaters.

MydaughterCaroline,withhusbandLuke,two-year-old Max,andRandolph,theJackRussell,livedina neighborhoodborderedbyacreekthatattimesroseand mimickedwhiterapidsforalittlewhile.Butneverhadthe creekjumpeditsbanks.Onthisday,itdid.

Oneneighbor’sbridgehadwashedaway,Carolinetold meinherfirstcallthatafternoon.Anotherneighbor’sback yardwasalake,withwateralreadyseepingintothehouse.

Ifonlytherainwouldstop.CarolineandLukecould stillseetheiryard.Theycouldstilldriveouttothestreet. Buttherainshowednosignoflettingup.

Inalatercall,Carolinewasstilltryingtosoundbrave

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whensheasked,“Canwecometoyourhouse?Wedon’t thinkit’ssafetostayheretonight.”

Sillyquestion.Ofcoursetheycouldcometomyhouse. Livingonahighhill,IhavemyownissueswithMother Nature,buttherainwasnotaproblemhere.

Atdusktheyarrivedwithabigsuitcase,dufflebags,a coupleofstorageboxes,andRandolph’scarrier.They’d broughtsomeclothes,filesandimportantpapers,their weddingalbum,Max’sphotoalbums,hisinhaler,afewof hislittlecars,andonebook,justone,grabbedonawhim.

Theunrelentingrainmadeacrushingnoise,more menacingafterdark.Throughoutthelongnightandinto thenextday,therainhammeredthecity.Whenitwasall over,aftermorethantwenty-fourhours,eleventhousand housesweredamaged.CarolineandLukewentbackto theirhousetofindthatthefloodwatershadcomeinwitha forcethatturnedovertheirrefrigerator,carriedfurniture intootherrooms,andcoveredthefloorswithaglazeof sludge.Thewatermarkonthewallswasatfourfeet.

Carolinecalled,hoarsefromcrying.“Canwestaywith you?”sheasked.

Anothersillyquestion.Ofcoursetheycouldstaywith me.Carolinewassixmonthspregnant.Iwoulddo anythingtoensureherwell-being.Therewasnotelling howlongitwouldtaketocleanupandrepairtheir property.

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Thatnightwecouldn’tthinkpastthenextmorning: Beginthetaskofsortingthroughrubble.

Mondaycame,sunnyandwarm,agorgeousday,asif MotherNatureweretryingtomakeupforthehavocofthe previousweekend.AsCarolineandLukeandabrigadeof helpersworkedtoemptytheirhouse,cleanwhatcouldbe cleanedandthrowawaytherest,Ibroughtclotheshome towash.Iwillsavetheirclothes:thatwasmymission.

Attheendofafourteen-hourworkday,Carolineand Lukearrivedatmyhouse,dirtyanddisheveled.They dumpedpilesofsoggy,stinkingtowelsandbedlinenson thepatio.Theyhauledinpicturesfromtheirwalls.They broughtsomeofMax’sstuffedanimalsthathadwatched thefloodfromhighshelves.MaxwaswithLuke’sparents forafewdays.Wewantedtosparehim,buthe’dbeen listening.Hetoldhisothergrandmother,“Myhouse flooded.Mytrucksgotmudalloverthem.”

Adayintotheprocess,CarolineandLukewere beginningtothinkpasttomorrow.Thoughtheirmattress wasruined,theyhadsalvagedtheirbedandafewother piecesoffurniture.“Isitallrightifwemoveintoyour guestroom?”Lukeasked.

Ihadtothinkaboutthisone.

CarolineandLukehadbeensleepingupstairsinwhat usedtobeCaroline’sroom,butitwassmall,withallits

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originalfurniture.Theguestroomwasdownstairs,built sometwentyyearsagotoaccommodateaging grandparents.Muchmorespaciousthanmybedroom upstairs,ithadafullbath,too.Thefurniturehadgoneto mydaughtersaftertheirgrandparentsdied,aftermy divorce,astheroomwastryingtodecidewhatitwouldbe inthenewchapterofmylife.AMurphybed,oneofthose fold-up-into-the-closetbeds,washiddenbehinddouble doors.

Buttheroomwasfull.Fullofboxes,fullofmemories.

Ihavebecomethememory-keeperinmyfamily.

Carolineandhersister,Dominique,grewupandmoved out,leavingbehindtherelicsoftheirchildhoodandteen years.We’vetriedcleaningouttheirbedrooms.“Throwit away,”theysay,andI’mtheoneholdingbackthefavorite toys.WeactuallyconvertedDominique’sroomtoababy’s room,andtheclosetwasreasonablyempty-exceptfor thosefrillyEasterdressesandcheerleadinguniforms.

Myex-husbandtookhisbelongings,butI’vekept handiworkandmementosfromhismother.Hand-pieced quilts,embroideredtablecloths,aceramiccookiejar.I wantmydaughterstohavethemsomeday,andIcan’tsee theirdadhangingontoanythingbecauseofitssentimental value.Nowayhe’dsavethatpig-in-a-bonnetcookiejar.

Mymotherwasamemory-keeper.Whenmybrother

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diedafewyearsagoandIcleanedouthishouse,Iboxed upwhateverIcouldn’tbeartotossandtookittoMother’s house.Shestoredtheitemswithkeepsakesthatreachedall thewaybacktoherparents’lives.WhenshediedandI emptiedherlittleboxofahouse,Iinheritedwhatshe couldnotthrowaway,andIcouldnotthrowitaway either.SoIpackedupboxafterboxandmovedittomy house,totheguestroom.

Nowthestacksofboxeswerestillthere.

OfcourseIwaswillingtoletCarolineandLukemove intothatroom.Itwasthelogicalplaceforthem.“Itmay takeawhiletogothroughallthoseboxes,”Isaid.Idon’t knowwhattimeframeIhadinmind.Ihadworkedonthe boxesforthreeyearsalready.

Luke’sdadhadatruck.Theywouldbringaloadthe nextday.LukeandCarolinewouldneedtobuyanew mattress.Ihadacoupleofdaystoclearouttheguest room.

Thenextmorning,afterIstartedthefirstloadof laundry,Itackledtheroom.

EverytimeIembarkedonthistask,Ispentawhile movingtheboxesaround,lookinginthem,takingthings outandputtingthemback.NothingI’ddonehadmade muchofadent.Onthismorning,IknewIcouldn’tquitin frustration.Thistime,Ihadtogeteverythingoutofthe

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room.Istartedwithtoysfrommychildhood.Ared telephone,partlyrusted.Miniaturedishes,probably paintedwithleadpaint.I’dthoughtmygrandchildren mightliketoseemytoys,butnowtherewasnotimefor that.Itossedeverythingthatwasnotingreatcondition.

Damaged“LittleGolden”booksthatIhadmemorized longbeforeIcouldread.Iwasgladtosaveoneshoebox fullofdollclothes,handmadebymymother,thatneeded onlytobewashed.

Corsagesfromhighschool,long-driedflowersand fadedribbonsfilledabox.I’doncepinnedthemtomy bulletinboardwithanoteattachedtoeachonetellingwho gaveittomeandforwhatoccasion.Ireadeachnotation, thoughtaboutthoselankyboysthatsmelledlikeBritish SterlingandJuicyFruit,andthenItossedthecorsages.

OntothesaltandpeppershakersMothercollected.She rarelyleftthesmalltownwhereshewasborn,butshe lovedtohearaboutherfamily’stravels.Wouldmy daughterswantthesesouvenirs?Icouldn’timaginethat theywould.ButhowcouldIsendthemtotheGoodwill?

I’dhavetothinkofsomething.Iputthatboxaside.

Thentherewerethecards.Bundlestiedwithribbons.I tossedthemall.Moredifficult,theletters.Someofthem wentbacktothe1950’s,whenMotherandmyaunt exchangedletterseveryweekbecauseAuntIrenedidn’t haveaphone.Theylivedfourteenmilesapart.I

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recognizedtheangularhandwritingofmybrother,who workedforJohnDeereallovertheMidwestinthe1960s.

Hewroteaboutcombines,cultivators,andweather, closingeachtimewith“Imisseverybody.”Mysisterspun storiesaboutherthreestairstepboysthatstillbroughta smile.ShemadethenurseryatBaptistHospital,whereshe washeadnurse,soundlikeaFunHouse.LettersMother hadwrittentomeincollegehadmadetheirwayback amongthiscollection.Therewasonlyonefrommydad, writtenin1953fromthehospital,wherehewas recuperatingfromsurgery.Hispenmanshipremindedme ofsomeofthosesignaturesontheDeclarationof Independence,large,boldscrawling.“Howismylittle girl?”heasked.Thatwasme.

Theywereallgone,allmyoriginalfamily.

Irecognizedthebundleofblueaerograms,inmy handwriting,sentfromIranwhenIwasinthePeace Corps.Iwouldhavetosavethemforalaterdate.I gatheredtheaerograms,Daddy’sletterandasamplingof theothers.ItiedthemwithoneofMother’sribbonsand laidthemaside.

Themorninggotawayfromme.Iputinanotherloadof laundryandwalkedthedog.Randolphalreadyhada favoriteplace,thefootofmybed.Istoodinthedoorway oftheguestroom,studyingthemessI’dmade.Ihad emptiedseveralboxesbutstillhadtoomanystacks.What

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now?

Thephonerang.“Lukeandhisdadaregettingreadyto loadthebed,”Carolinesaid.

“Oh.”Mythroattightened.“I’dbettergetbackto work.”

Onceagain,Iattackedtheroom,movingboxesagainst theclosetthathousedtheMurphybed.Ikeptfillingboxes fortheGoodwill,butonecornerwasdesignatedforitems Icouldnotyetgiveup.FamilyBiblesandMother’sphoto albums,withphotographsallthewaybacktoher childhood.TothestackIaddedMother’sreportcards.She wasvaledictorianofhergraduatingclass.Ikeptherfirst reader.

BythetimeLukeandhisfatherarrived,morethanhalf theroomwasempty.Theyunloadedthebed,television, andentertainmentcenterandbegantoputeverything together.Iretreatedtothelaundryroom.Afterawhile, Lukecameout.“Comeandseehowitlooks,”hesaid.

HehadbroughtasmallrugthatheorCarolinehad thrownontopofthebedbeforetheylefttheirhousethat Saturday.Sittingintheshelvesoftheentertainmentcenter wasaphotothathadmadeitthroughtheflood,oneofhim andCarolineontheirhoneymoonintheCaribbean.

Lookingaround,Icouldimaginewhathewasseeing. Remindersofthehomethey’dhad,thehomewherethey werehappy.“Iwanttobringthebigleatherchair-mostof

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themudhasbeencleanedoff-andachestofdrawers.And somebookshelves.Ifthere’sroom,”hesaid,glancingat theboxesagainsttheclosetdoors.

“Therewillberoom,”Ipromised.

Ibeganthenextdaywithasurgeofenergy.Itookbags tothegarbagecansandpackedbagsboundforthe Goodwillintothetrunkofmycar.Therewerespaces elsewhereinmyhouseforafewofthekeepsakes.Itucked lettersinadraweroftheantiquebureauthathadcome fromMother’shouse,thedrawerwhereshe’dkeptletters allthoseyears.

Butasthemorningslippedaway,myjobgotharder.I hadavoidedtheboxwithitemsthatbelongedtothe brotherwhodiedofrheumaticfeverwhenhewassixteen, andIwasfive.Openingthebox,Iwastransportedbackto thattime,toourdraftyfarmhouse,tothesorrowthathung overallofus.Motherhadsavedhisbluepajamas,an autographdogwithhisfriends’signatures,acapthathe woretotownonedaywhenhewastooweaktogetoutof thecar.Shehadsavedsomeofhisschoolwork.He’dhada “homeboundteacher”duringhislastyear.Get-wellcards, anautographedphotoofMartyRobbinswhovisitedhim duringhislongstayinBaptistHospital,sympathynotes andcardsfromfuneralflowers.Therewerebabyshoes,a five-year-diary,mybrother’sbabybook,andaletterfrom

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hisdoctor.Dr.ThomasFrist,Sr.,founderofHospital CorporationofAmerica,wasfirstacompassionate physicianwhotriedtohealmybrother’sdamagedheart. Hiskindletterwastypedonanold-timeytypewriter.

“ThechurchsentmeaSunshinebox,”theentryinmy brother’sdiarybeganwhenhewaseleven,afterhisfirst attackofrheumaticfever.Hisconditionworsenedoverthe nextfiveyears.Iflippedthroughthepages.“Daddywent squirrelhuntingandkilledtwo,”hereported.“Ihavenot hadafeverin62days.”Thediarywasfilledwithnamesof peoplewhocametovisit.Ourhousewasalwaysfullof extendedfamilyandfriendsfromchurchandschool, alwaysfulloflaughterandsmellsofgoodfood.“Itook 325stepstoday,”hewrote.“Isawthefirstrobinandapair ofbluebirds.”

Iturnedtothelastentry,writtenwhenhewasinthe hospitalinNashville:“Haroldiscomingaftermeinan ambulance.”OurcousinHaroldtransportedhimtothe smallhospitalnearourhouse.Thatwaswherehediedtwo dayslater.

Iputthediary,Dr.Frist’sletter,andthebabybookin thebureaudrawer.Everythingelse,Ithrewaway,eventhe babyshoes.

Ididn’tknowwhetherIcouldgoonwiththis.

Ibegantossingeverythinginsight.Mother’sChristmas decorations,hercostumejewelry,Daddy’sties.Ontothe

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boxesofitemsIshouldhavethrownawaywhenIcleaned outmyolderbrother’shouse.Delvingintoallthe memorieswasjusttoohard.Ifilledanothergarbagebag.

Earlyintheafternoon,Jorge,Dominique’shusband, showedup.He’dbeenworkingatCarolineandLuke’s house.“Dominiquesentmetohelpyou,”hesaid.

Goodtiming.I’dmadeheadway,butnowIwaslooking atmygrandfather’sgraycardboardsuitcase.

“Hecalledithisvalise,”Isaid,openingthelid.

ItoldJorgehow,whenmygrandmotherdied,beforeI wasborn,Granddaddysoldhishomeandspenttherestof hislifewithmymotherandmyaunt.Backandforthhe traveled.“Icanseehim,drivinghisoldcar,”Isaid.“He wascrippledfromacopperheadbitewhenhewasalittle boy.Bald,wire-rimmedspectacles,whitemustache,no teeth.Hecarriedthissuitcase.Initwaseverythinghe owned.”

“That’samazing,”Jorgesaid.

“HechewedBrownMuletobacco,”Isaid,remembering thesweetishsmellofit,Granddaddy’ssmell.“His eyesightworsened.Eventuallyhewasblind,”Iwenton. “Helivedtobeninety-nine.Ineverheardhimcomplain. Hewasagentlesoul.”

AsJorgelookedon,Iremovedtheitemsfrom Granddaddy’svalise.Hiswallet,curvedfromdecadesin hishippocket.Officialcards,faded,almostunreadable.

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ThepocketknifeheusedtocutplugsofBrownMule. Handkerchiefs,yellowedfromage.Hissuspenders.Gray pants.Plaidshirts.Thespecialshoeheworeonhis crippledfoot.Achippedshavingmugandbrush,andthe straightrazorheusedtoshavehimself.

Unbearablytired,Irubbedmyface.“Idon’tknowwhat todowithanyofthis,”Isaid.

Foraminuteweweresilent,lettingourfingerstrailover Granddaddy’smeagerpossessions.

“Doyouwantmetodosomethingwiththesethings?”

Jorgeasked.

“Wouldyou?”

“Sure.”

WepackedeverythingbackintoGranddaddy’svalise.

“Idon’twanttoknowwhatyoudowithit,”Isaid.

“ThanksforlettingmetellyouaboutGranddaddy.Iguess that’swhatIneeded.”

Laterthatafternoon,Lukeandhisdadbroughtanother loadtotheroom.Ihaddisposedoftheboxes.Afew, packedwithitemsthatIcouldn’tletgo,werewedgedinto theclosetbesidetheMurphybed.Buttheroombelonged toCarolineandLukenow.

IthoughtaboutwhatI’dthrownaway,keepsakesthat meantalottomymother.Shewasasentimentalwoman whocherishedhermemories.Iamnotentirelydifferent

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fromher.Butshewaspractical,too.Shelivedthroughthe Depression,whensentimentalitywasaluxury.Her family’sneedswereherhighestpriority.

IthoughtaboutwhatI’dkept.Enoughtoremindmeof whereIcamefrom.Iwouldpassthosememoriesontomy childrenandgrandchildren.Buttonight,inthewakeofthe disasterthatwouldgodownasNashville’sEpicFlood, whatmydaughterneededmostfrommewasthisroom.

Maxwasbackwithusnow.Afterhewenttosleepinhis roomupstairsandRandolphwenttosleeponmybed, CarolineandIputsheetsontheirnewmattress.Luke filledthebookshelveswithbooks,DVDs,andphotos.We hungpicturesonthewalls,filleddrawerswithclean clothes,andsetupthefloorlamp,whichgaveoffasoft glow.

“Getsomerest,”Itoldthem.

“You,too,”Lukesaid.

“Thanks,Mom,”Carolinesaid.

Thatnight,wecouldnothaveimaginedthattheywould nevergobacktotheirhouse,thatthebabyCarolinewas carryingwouldbebornwhiletheywerestillwithmeand wouldspendthefirstfourmonthsofherlifeatmyhouse.

Butwewouldallcometoknowthatthemostimportant thingsdidnotgetsweptawayinthefloodorsenttothe Goodwillortossedonthegarbageheap.Everythingthat matteredwasrightthere.

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PhyllisGobbell writesalittlebitofeverything—shortstories, creativenonfiction,andbooks—andhasreceivedawardsin fictionandnonfiction,includingTennessee’sIndividualArtist AwardforLiterature.Herstorieshaveappearedinjournalsand magazinesincluding2BridgesReview,BellevueReview,Zone3, RedMudReview,CoastalShelf,Tetrahedra,andHomeWorks.

Prodigal,aSouthernnovel,willbepublishedin2024.Gobbell isworkingonthefourthbookintheJordanMayfairMystery Series.Thethirdbookintheseries,TreacheryinTuscany, receivedaSilverFalchionAwardforBestCozyMystery.

Beforeshebeganhermysteryseries,sheco-authoredtwotrue crimes,AnUnfinishedCanvasandSeasonofDarkness,basedon twohigh-profilemurdersthathavebecomepartofNashville’s history.

GobbellwasontheEnglishfacultyatNashvilleState CommunityCollege.Shetaughtcomposition,literature,and creativewritingfortwentyyearsandeditedthecollege’sliterary journalforeightyears.Currentlysheisteachingacreative writingcourseinLipscomb’sLifelongLearningProgram.

WHATWEKEEP,WHATWETHROWAWAYfirstpublished in2BridgesReview.

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WhatSheThinksAboutWhenShe ThinksAboutShoes

EllenNotbohm

Mymotherwouldn’thavelikedmelookinginhercloset.

Nooneknowswhatgoesonbehindcloseddoors,she oftendeclared,analways-effectiveconversationender.For alltheyearsofmychildhood,thedoortothebedroomshe sharedwithmyfathersportedasignreadingnooneunder 21allowed,andneithermenormybrothersbreachedthe invisibleforcefieldatthatdoorunlessexpresslyinvited. Shewouldn’thavewantedmetoseethestill-lifebehind thecloseddoorsofhercloset,thenaturemorte, laidout thereindustyreliefwhentheoldhollowcoredoor creakedopenalongitspockedtrack.Butalthoughsheis onlyafewmilesaway,shewillneverreturntothishouse, thisroom,thiscloset.Thedayhadcomeformetoopen thosedoors.Nooneelsecould.

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Andthereweretheshoes.Shoesuponshoes.Upon shoes.

Themorefavoredpairsstooduprightonthearched prongsofametalrackshovedagainstthebackwall.The restofthemrosefromthefloorinaYertletheTurtle-style jumble,thenewerandhardieronesontop,thecrumbling, fading,silentlyuselessonesonthebottom.Andallof them,eerilyturtlelikeintheirsameness.

Let’stalkaboutshoes, backintheday.Backintheday beforeeveryonesaid,backintheday.

Backintheday,childrenlikeusdidn’thavewardrobes ofshoes.Wegotonepairatthestartoftheschoolyear.

Ididn’talwaysgettochoosethatonepair,orevenget tohaveanopinionaboutthem.Ididn’tthinkmuchabout shoesatall.Iput’emon,Iwalkedaroundin’em.

Theone-pairthingmadesenseinmyfamily,givenmy father’scomfortablebutnotextravagantincome,and giventheneedtobuyshoesforthreechildren’sfeet, growinglikemushroomsandsometimessmellinglike them.Ididn’tthinkabouthowmyshoeswereinintimate contactwithmybodyformostofmywakinghours.How shoesarevisibleasallget-out.Howtheymightmake noises,groaningandwhimperinganddrawingthe humiliatingkindofattentionachilddreads.Howthey affectedwhereIcouldgoandhowI’dfeelgettingthere.

Ineverhadreasontothinkthatawfulconsequences

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couldbefallmeforhavingnochoice,novoiceaboutshoes untiloneyear,acertainpairofMom-chosenshoesbecame millstones.Shackles.Cementsuckerfish.

Somewhereinmymiddlechildhoodyears,mymother decidedthatmyonepairofschoolshoeswouldbeclayand-brick-coloredtwo-tonesaddleshoes.Icanstilltaste therevulsioninmymouthwhen,withthoseboxcarson myfeetinLeedsShoeStore,shemadethatdecision.Igag ontheirsheerugliness,theirleadenweight,theirutterlack ofgirl-ness.Iwasagirlchildofthe1960s.Iwantedto lookandfeellikeagirl,agirlwhoworeMaryJanes,gogoboots,t-strapswithteardropcut-outs,redcanvas sneakerswithblindingwhitelaces.IknewassurelyasI’d knownanythinginmyshortlifethatthesaddleshoes wouldrobmeofthatgirl-ness.Theshoesknewittoo. Theygrewunapologeticallyheavieronmyfeetbythe second.Theysaddledme,allright.Ineveryphysicaland metaphoricalsenseIcouldnotyetputwordsto.

Whydidn’tIprotest? Mom?Ihatetheseshoes.I’llbe unhappyeveryminuteI’minthem.Theymakemefeel ugly.Pleasedon’tdothis. Whydidn’tIpointtoherown caramel-coloredsleekbutsturdyladies’loafersandask, can’tIatleasthavesomethinglikethoseinstead? I couldn’tfindmyvoice.Mymotherwasakindand practicalwoman.Ididn’targuewithher,ever.Iknewthat toher,thesaddleshoeswereatriumphofpracticality.

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Durable!Rain-resistant!Roomy!I’msureshesaw nothingunkindinchoosingsuchshoes.

ButImusttellyou.Theyweren’tshoes. Theywereclodhoppers.

Theyweighedmedown,notjustbytheiractualtonnage andrigidity.Whatmymothercouldn’tseewashowthose shoesaddedmoretremortomyalreadyshakyself-image. Iwaslargeandtall,andthoseshoesaddedyetmoremass, theirbulboustoeboxhoveringovermyalreadyadultsizedfeet.

Lookatmyelementaryschoolclasspictures.That’sme inthecenterbackrow,aheadtallerthaneveryoneelse, shouldersslumped,onecheekturnedaway,tryingtomake myselflooksmaller.No1960selementaryschoolclass photographereverthoughtthatperhapsthatbiggirldidn’t wanttobethepeak-of-the-pyramidfocalpointinevery classphoto,perhapshecouldputherattheendofarow, onerowdownfromthetop,orevenseatedinthefront row.Itwasn’tadayandagewhereayounggirlwouldfeel dauntlessprideofselffortoweringovereverykidinthe class,andtheteacher,andsometimesthephotographer.

EverydayIworethoseclodhoppersfeltlikeIwas servingasentenceforawrongIcouldn’tfathom.

Ineverforgotthoseshoes.ButIcan’trememberhowI gotridofthem.DidIfinally’fesstomymotherhow viscerallyIhatedthem?DidImakeacaseforhowthey

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hurtmyfeet(well,theydid,right?).DidIaccidentally-onpurposecausethemtocometosomeirreparableharm?

DidIgritmyteethuntilIoutgrewthem?

Somehowthatdesperatelydesiredseverancehappened, butthescarremained:neveragaininmylifewouldIwear apairofshoesthatIsoorganicallyhated,thathatedme backwithaperversitysomeinanimateobjectsseemto wield.

Halfacenturylater,thememoryofthemcamebackto me,stillleaden,butwithoverwhelmingirony.

Ihadtoclearmymother’shomeoffifty-sevenyears afterhermovetoacarefacility.Herclosetrevealedwhat shecouldnotpartwith:sixtypairsofshoes—allmoreor lessthesamestyle,canvasslip-ons,nearlyallofthem blackoroff-white,instagesofwearfrombrittleand crumblingtonew-with-tags,likegenerationsofshoes, withtheirlookalikeDNAspanningthedecadesasthey agedalongwithher.Sheknewwhatsheliked,andshe neverdeviated,notforfashionorspecialeventsorany otherreason.NothingIsaidordiddissuadedherfrom wearingancientKedsGrasshopperstoher granddaughter’sformalwedding.Noonemadeherweara pairofshoesshehated.

Unless,backintheday,someonedid.

Backinherchildhoodday,inthedepthsofthe Depression,childrendidn’thavewardrobesofshoes.My

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motherwouldhavegottenonepair,whichmadesense givenherfather’sbeingakind-hearteddentistwho acceptedbagsofapplesandpotatoeswhenpatients couldn’tpay.Mygrandmotherwasakindandpractical womanwhoalsoneededtobuyshoesforthreegrowing children’sfeet.Shewouldhavechosensturdy,roomy shoesformymother’sfeet.Mymotherwouldneverhave arguedwithher.

Perhapsshecouldn’targue.See,thosesixtypairsof shoesweresizes11and12.Whatwasitlikeforagirl childoftheDepressionwhoreachedherfulladultsize beforeagetwelve?Shespokeofitoften.Iknewthatpain soIneverprobedbeyondwhatsheoffered.Didshegoto schoolingun-boatmen’sshoeswhennogirls’shoeswere availableinhersize?Didsheresignherselftoalifetimeof littleselection,whichgraduallyebbedtolittleinterest, thenebbedevenmoretolittleempathywhenitcameto theshoesofherdaughter?

Deepindementianow,Ican’taskMomwhatherfeet costherself-esteem,thename-callingthatmusthave followedheraround.

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You’reapoetandyoudon’tknowit, Butyourfeetshowit, They’reLongfellows!

Or,where’stheoarsforthem?

Violincases,lowerforty,breadtrays,orangecrates.She musthaveheardthemall,thoughsheneverleton.

Ineedapicture.Iknowwheretogo—theSears Catalog,theultimateanthropologyresourceon20th centuryAmericanlife,precisetothesmallestdetail.I easilyfindonefromthe1930sonline.Itsvividyellow coverfeaturesaportraitofalittlegirlwithlargebrown eyes;thelittlegirlandthestampChicagounderSears, RoebuckandCo.confirmsthatI’vecometotheright place.It’seasytofindsaddleshoesforwomen.They’re “sporty”and“highstyle.”And,ofcourse,“sturdy.”

They’reavailableinwomen’ssizes2-1/2to8.Abitof furtherresearchrevealedthattheaveragewoman’sshoe sizeinthe1930swas4.5–5.

Ourchaoticarchiveoffamilyphotos,somestillintheir 1930sgray-greenWalgreensphotoserviceenvelopes,spill fromoldMarshallField’sboxes,thecornerssplitwith age.Seemymother,theadorablebabywhogrewintoa cutelittlegirlwhogrewintoalovelypreteen.Seethe studioportraitofherwithherbrothers.Seeherpretty taffetadress,herpertwhiteanklets.Seeherfeetpositioned bythephotographer,sameasherolderbrother’s,crossed attheankleasshesitssideways,leaningintohimashe holdstheirtoddlerbrother.Seetheshoes.Almostthesame asherbrother’s,blacksaddleshoes.Seehowherfootis

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two-thirdsthelengthofhercalf.Sheisfiveyearsold.

Seeherstandingatthebeach.Thelovelywavesofher darkbrownhair,hersoftandfriendlyeyes,hernatural smile,herlongslimlegs.Seeherfeet.No,youcan’tsee herfeet.Theyarecarefullyburiedinthesand.Sheis11 yearsold.

Didherparentsfretabouttheexpense,inthedarkdays oftheDepression,ofhavingtopayadultshoepricesfora child’sshoes?Howmanytoo-smallpairsdidsheagreeto, onasalesperson’spromisethattheywould“stretch,”how muchagony,bruises,abrasions,andblooduntilsheburied thematthebackoftheclosetandhopedagainsthopeher motherwouldn’tnotice?Howdearthedreamsof

“ladylike”feetshewouldneverhave?Howlonguntilshe learnedtoavoidthebowlingoutingsherfatherloved, wheretheclerkattheshoedeskloudlyasksher“WHAT SIZE?”andmovestothemen’ssidetogetthem.

WhenthemomentcamethatMom’sfeetcouldno longerholdherup,whenshefell,whenwetookhertothe emergencyroomfromwhichshewouldneverreturntoher home,Isawherfeetwithoutsocksforthefirsttimein decades.Onetoenailextendedhalfaninchbeyondhertoe, unyieldingasabrick.WhenIaskedtheERnursetotrim it,shesaidshecouldnot,thatERstaffisn’tallowedto treatanythingotherthantheconditionthatbroughtthe patienttotheER.Later,ontheorthopedicward,akind-

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heartednursebroughtaspecialtoolfromhome.

Inrehab,whereMomexhibitedthesurliestbehaviorI’d everseenfromher,shescornedandresistedcaregivers’ attemptstocareforherfeetuntilIappealedtothehead nurse,whosaidshewoulddoitherself.Afterwardsshe smiledwhiletellingmeaboutit,howassheclippedand filedandmassaged,shetalkedamiablytoMomabout havingapedicure,howit’sahealthmeasurebutalsoa treatsheallowsherselfonceamonth.Momscoffedand scowled.Thenursecontinuedcalmlyspeakingaboutselfcare,andthesatisfactionofcaringforothers—asMomdid asaphysicaltherapist.Thiswasn’tmuchdifferent,she toldMom.Wehelpothers,othershelpus.Momcould hardlyarguethat.

Nowsheissoveryold.Herfeethavebornenoweight formorethanfouryears.Andnowthey’refinallysmaller, thetoesdeformedfromdisuse.Iwatchthepodiatrist gentlytreatthemwhileMomgroanssoftly.

Thosemisshapentoeseventuallydevelopanopensore requiringattentionofawoundnurse—andevenlarger shoes.ThenursesaysMomwillneverwearhardshoes again,notevensneakers.Inacatalogofferingadaptive clothingforseniors,Ifind“SolutionSlippers.”Theylook abitlikeigloos,theircreamyvelourtoeboxesrisingin highdomesthatwon’tpressontendertootsies.The hospicenurse—beforeMom“graduates”fromhospiceand

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liveson—dispiritedlycallsthem“clownshoes.”

Timepasses.Mymother’sclosetisnowbare,thewhole houseempty,thesixtypairsofshoesunceremoniouslyand unsentimentallydispersedtofinalrestingplacesunknown. Thriftstores.Landfills.Incinerators.

AndstillIthinkaboutshoes.Empathyiswhat“walka mileinmyshoes”triestoteachus.Perhapsthatwasmy mother’sgifttome,evenifshewasn’tconsciousofit, evenifittookmehalfacenturytohear.

Aconsignmentshopownerhadurgedmetobringher shoes.“Thecross-dresserslovethem!Theysellinstantly!” Momwouldn’thavetakenthisasacompliment.

SoIthinkaboutwhatshethinksaboutwhenshethinks aboutshoes,almostacentury’sworthofshoesnow. Encasedinherall-but-wordlessdementia,Ican’tknow whatshethinksaboutanythinganymore,ifsheeven thinksinthenarrowconventionalsense.ButI’mtoldthat theearliestmemoriesarethelasttogo.IfIcan’tletgoof myownthoughtsaboutchildhoodshoes,isittoofoolish tohopethatshecan,thatshedid?Inherfinalyears,Iam nowtheparent-child,shethechild-parent.Andlikemost parents,Inowwantmoreforher,forherchildself,thanI hadformyself.Iwanthertobesparedthinkingabout shoes.

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EllenNotbohm’sinternationallyrenownedworkhasInformed, guided,anddelightedmillionsinmorethantwenty-five languages.InadditiontoherperennialbestsellerTenThings EveryChildwithAutismWishesYouKnew,threeotherawardwinningbooksonautism,andheracclaimedhistoricalnovelThe RiverbyStarlight,hercolumnsandpostshaveappearedin majorpublicationsandcapturedaudiencesoneverycontinent.

Ellen’sbookshavewontheChanticleerInternationalBook AwardsGrandPrizeforInstructionandInsight,SartonWomen’s BookAwardforHistoricalFiction,WesternWritersofAmerican SpurAward,andbeennamedtotheGrandPrizeShortListand MontaigneMedalfinalistlistfortheEricHofferBooksAwards, inadditiontonumerousfinalistawardsandbookstorestaffpicks infictionandnonfiction.

WhatSheThinksAboutWhenSheThinksAboutShoesisa finalistforChanticleerInternationalBookAwards’unpublished ShortStory/Essaycategory.

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TheWaterHole

EileenCoe

Snuffles,snorts,tailswishesandtheoccasionalsoftnicker fillthehushofthemorning.Brilliantrayspokeoverthe edgeofthehorizon.Softcoralshimmersglowstrongerby thesecond,coloringtheeasternskylikeachildwitha paintbrush.Inthewestthenavyofthenightisfading. Theherdofwildmustangshasmadeittothewaterhole.

Horsesjockeyforposition.Sometakeinalongcool drink.Otherskeepawatchfuleyeonthesurroundinghills ofconifer,spruceandfir.Thefoalsarelearningandtesting theetiquetteofherdbehavior.Miniatureversionsofthe adults,theyarecuriousaboutthewater.Onebyonethey taketurnslayingandrollinginthesoft,sandyedgewhere watermeetssoil.Theironcecleancoatsofvarioushuesof brown,blackandwhitearenowauniformsmudgeof charcoal.Thenewestfoalstandsbackfromtheothers, nearhismother.Hiscoatofshortredhairpeeksout

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throughathickmatofwhite.Intheearlylightofday,he looksalmostpink.

Thereareotherhorsespresent.Variousherdstaketheir turnsatthewaterhole.Thisorderisdeterminedbythe rankofthestallions.Predeterminedbattleshavehelda long-standinghierarchythatisoccasionallychallenged. Thebachelorstallionsareheretoo.Thismorningholdsthe promiseofapeacefulallianceasthebachelorsappearto bebehavingthemselves.

Suddenlythetranquilityisinterruptedbythepulsing, rhythmicbeatofmetalblades.Headsriseinunison.

Terrorfillstheyounghorsesastheyscrambleupthe bankofthewater’sedge,findingtheirmothers.

Theleadmaregivesasharpwhinny,acommandto move,tomoveNOW!Thebattle-scarredstallionsnakes hisheadanddriveshisfamily.Theherdthundersoffata gallop,asthehelicopterwithbladesthattearthroughthe skyappearsoutofnowhere.Allthehorseseruptinapanic andfollowtheleadmare.

Thehorsesracethroughthesagebrush,theyoungsters strugglingtokeepup.Roundingamassiveout-croppingof rock,theleadmarehasadecisiontomake.Thepulsating machineintheairisreachingtheslowestoftheherd,the babies.Shesnorts,eyesherchoices.Abarrierofmenon horsebackblockshernormaltrail.Shecanonlygoone way.Sturdylegscarryherdownaman-madechuteofsoft

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fencing,disguisedwithloosepiecesofgreenery.The horsesfollow,unabletostop.Menonhorsebackswoopin behind,sealingtheironlymeansofescape.

Thestallionmakesanefforttochangetheherd’s direction,butitisfutile.Theyareonatrajectoryand cannotmaneuverthetightturnwithinthechute.Hestops andattemptstochallengethemenonhorseschasinghis family.Toolatehehearsthehissingropeuncoilingandhe feelstheoddtighteningaroundhisneck.Herearsupon hisformidablehindlegs,strikingoutaseveryfiberinhis beingisscreamingathimtorun.Hesnortsandpawshis dauntingfrontlegs.Heistorn:stayandprotecthis mustangfamilyorescapeintothehillsthathehasknown hisentirelife.Thehillswherehisancestorsbeforehim livedtheirlivesfreeandwild.Thefranticcallsofhisherd reachhisears.Helowershisheadandjoinshisfamily.He hearsagratingsound,metalonmetal.Thegatehasclosed ontheirfreedom.Theirliveswillneverbethesame.

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EileenCoeisalifelonganimalloverandtrueanimaladvocate.Eileen realizedherdreamofworkingwithhorsesaftersheretiredfromthe corporateworldofOphthalmicMedicine,in2008.Shethenbecamea certifiedEquineAcupressurePractitioner,throughtheTallgrassAnimal AcupressureInstitute.EileenalsoreceivedherPATHcertificationasa therapeuticridinginstructor.Sheworkedwithspecialneedschildrenand adults,helpingthembenefitfromthepowerofthehorse.

EileennowresidesinthebeautifulfoothillsoftheBlueRidgeMountains, inWesternNorthCarolina.Sheliveswithherhusband,Rob,horses,dogs andonecantankerouscat.Therearealsonumerouswildcrittersthatlove tovisit!

Aftervisitingareaswherethewildhorsesroam,Eileenhopestobring awarenesstotheirplighttolivetheirliveswildandfree.

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IntheCityofLove

SusanCornford

TheyhadcometoParisforaromanticholidaybutthings werenotworkingoutasexpected.Gregpacedthelength oftheirhotelroom,withitsexpensiveviewoftheEiffel Tower,andbackagainwithhisfacescrewedupin thought.“Idon’tunderstand,”heblurtedatlast,rather louderthanhehadintended.

Sandrajustshookherhead,drippingslowtearsfrom herchinontoherfluffy,whitedressinggown.Hesoftened hisvoiceandrepeatedhisstatement,reachingoutahand towardthebackofhiswife’shead,butthen,onsecond thought,withdrewit.

Shesatupstraight,tookatissuefromtheboxonthe dressingtableandblewhernose.“Idon’tknowwhyit’s soimportanttome,”shesaid,butherbodywasrigidwith anawarenessshewasunwillingtoadmit.

Greg’smindwentbackafewhourstowhentheyhad

INTHECITYOFLOVEbySusanCornford 123 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

enteredtherestaurantfortheirfirstmealinFrance:the countrywheretheyhadthebestfoodintheworld.Heand Sandrasoakedintheatmosphere,watchingastheowner stoppedandspokeinafamiliarwaytomostofthediners inturn.Shewasn’ttoohappyaboutthehygieneofthe residentcatbeingcurleduponavacantchair,butGreg said,“WheninRome…orwherever.”

Theytestedtheirhigh-schoolFrenchonthewaiter, whichwasfunevenwhenhedid,infact,sneeratthem whenevertheyfaltered.“Tick,”saidGreg,ashecrossed oneoftheexperiencestheyhadputontheirbucketlist.

TheirfoodcameandheravedinEnglishtoSandraand, inthebestofhisFrench,tothewaiterandtheowner, “Magnifique!”Henoticedthathiswifedidn’tmakeas muchofaneffortbutheassumedthatshethoughthewas makingenoughofafussforthebothofthem.

Thiswasnot,infact,whatSandrahadbeenthinking. Shehadbeenenjoyingherselfverymuch,havinglooked forwardtoeatingsnailsandfrog’slegsandotherthings shewouldneverhavecookedathome.Thesehadbeen differentandinterestingenoughthatshecouldsay,“Been there,donethat!”ButGreg’sreactionhadtakenherby surprise;ithadseemedover-the-top.Then,astheecstatic wordsofpraisewenton,itbegan,abitatatime,tohurt. Shestiffenedherbody,tryingtoobscureself-awarenessof theshamefulfeelingsofjealousy.Gregnoticedandasked,

WELLDONE!FlashFiction WELLREADMAGAZINE 124

“Haveyoueatentoomuchgarlic?”asitsometimescaused herheartburn.Thatmuch,atleast,shecoulddeny.

Backintheirhotelroom,Gregwentononekneein frontofhisstillsniffingwife,tookbothofherhandsinhis andsaid,“Darling,IknowIravedaboutthecoqauvin andpommesfrites,but yourroastchickenandbaked potatoisstillmyfavoritemealintheworld,becauseyou cookitformewithlove.”

Sandra’ssniffingsubsided;shestoodandwalkedoverto theuncurtainedwindow.“Ithink,”shesaidsmiling,“that weshouldclimbittomorrow.”

INTHECITYOFLOVEbySusanCornford 125 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

SusanCornfordisaretiredpublicservant,livinginPerth,Western Australia.She/herhasmostrecentlyhadpiecespublishedorforthcoming inAbTerraFlashFiction2022,[AlternateRoute],BigCityLit,Defuncted Journal,FlashFrontier,HalfHourToKill.Com,INKBabiesLiterary Magazine,InstantNoodlesLiteraryMagazine,RoiFainéant,Spillwords, WrittenTalesandWyldbloodMagazine.

WELLDONE!FlashFiction WELLREADMAGAZINE 126
INTHECITYOFLOVEbySusanCornford 127 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
WELLDONE!Poetry WELLREADMAGAZINE 128

Ginia J.B.Hogan

Wastherenoonethere, Ginia,noonetoassureyou ofyourskill,yourtalent, totalkyouofftheslipperybank?

Eruditeandcircumspect, literateandliterary,mannered toafault,absurdlyfearedin playwright’soddhomage tolighthouseandfrettingMrs.D. Absurdfearwhenyouwere onlyinsecure,uncertain, nothingmore. Justalittlesupport,a littleencouragement,perhaps, tostemthedarktide,the deepwaterswashingover yourlonely,sadsoul.

GINIAbyJ.B.Hogan 129 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

J.B.Hoganhaspublishedover300storiesandpoemsand elevenbooks,includingBarHarbor,BountyRiders,Timeand TimeAgain,MexicanSkies,TinHollow,LivingBehindTime, LosingCotton,TheRubicon,Fallen,TheApostate,andAngelsin theOzarks(nonfiction,localprofessionalbaseballhistory).He livesinFayetteville,Arkansas.

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GINIAbyJ.B.Hogan 131 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

Throughouttheday,randomly, theimagessplashfromseeminglyoutofnowhere, floodingthecanvassesoftheirwanderingminds withtinyshotsofelectricallightning sentfromtheeternalsource toexplosivelyfireneurons andtriggerarevelationfever

EpiphanicBliss(PluralityinMotion)
WELLDONE!Poetry WELLREADMAGAZINE 132

EpiphanicBliss(PluralityinMotion)

Throughouttheday,randomly, theimagessplashfromseeminglyoutofnowhere, floodingthecanvassesoftheirwanderingminds withtinyshotsofelectricallightning sentfromtheeternalsource toexplosivelyfireneurons andtriggerarevelationfever thatwashesovertheirconsciousnesses withhigherformsofdancingtruths...

…buzzingintheindefinablespaces

ofunrealizedperception

EPIPHANICBLISS(PLURALITYINMOTION)byScottThomasOutlar 133 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

untilthewellspringrises tosmashthroughallboundarylimitations, pushenvelopestotheedgeoftearing, andcareenwisdomacrosscanyons thatonceseemedtoofarfortraversing.

Thedistancebecomesshorter witheachflashpointepiphany whichstreakslikeastar acrosstheinfinitesky oftheirmind’scollectiveeye, openingpossibilities withouthorizon byrippingthelid offPandora'sbox.

Thetidalwaveofenlightenment shuttersthroughadrenals, shockingtheirnervoussystems,

WELLDONE!Poetry WELLREADMAGAZINE 134

spikingtheirKundalini, andpoppingopentheirpinealglands intofifthdimensionalawareness

whereittunesinwiththewavelength ofTheWordmademanifest, causinggenesisvibrations

tobringthefrequencyofchaos

backinrhythm

withperfectlyorderedalignment.

Smoothsailingindreams fortheawakenedbeings asshamanicvisions

carrythemalongtheprimordialriver, backpastthegardenofEden, beyondallgoodandevil, totheoriginalsparkofcreation

wheretheorganicexpansiveness oftheBigBang

becomesmomentarilyimplosive

EPIPHANICBLISS(PLURALITYINMOTION)byScottThomasOutlar 135 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

withadeepmeditativeinhalation, onlytooncemoreburstforth fromouttheentropiccompression intothevastnessofnewbeginnings.

ScottThomasOutlarisoriginallyfromAtlanta,Georgia.Henow livesandwritesinFrederick,Maryland.Heistheauthorof sevenbooks.Hisworkhasbeennominatedmultipletimesfor boththePushcartPrizeandBestoftheNet.Heguest-editedthe HopeAnthologyofPoetryfromCultureCultPressaswellasthe 2019-2023WesternVoiceseditionsofSetuMag.Hehasbeena weeklycontributoratDissidentVoiceforthepasteightanda halfyears.Selectionsofhispoetryhavebeentranslatedinto Afrikaans,Albanian,Azerbaijani,Bengali,Cherokee,Dutch, French,Hindi,Italian,Kurdish,Malayalam,Persian,Serbian, andSpanish.MoreaboutOutlar'sworkcanbefoundat 17Numa.com.

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PHOTOGRAPHYbySherryRoberteenCarter 139 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 CafeDuMonde
WELLDONE!VisualArt WELLREADMAGAZINE 140
What‘sLeftStanding

RestingBitchface

PhotographybySherryRoberteenCarter 141 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
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PhotographybySherryRoberteenCarter 143 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
WELLDONE!VisualArt WELLREADMAGAZINE 144 IncomingStorm

Bornin1957,FredericksburgVirginiawithgenerationallineage itwasnothardtoventureawayfromherfamilyandtraditions. Sherryreceivedherfirstcameraatageseven,amediumformat filmcamerathatbelongedtohergrandmother.Shestillhasit. HerbrothergiftedheranotheronhisreturnfromVietNam.

Hidingbehindthecamerabecameacomfortanditneverlefther side.Shelearnedtodevelopfilmandfoundblackandwhite exposureherfavorite.

Cartercomesfromafamilyofcreativepeople.Herfatherwasa metalsmith,hermotherworkedattheNationalGalleryofArtin WashingtonD.C.,andherbrotherattheNavalMuseuminD.C. aswell.AllthreeofCarter'schildrenareartistsbytrade.

Art,music,andnatureareSherry'sloves.Shelivesin FernandinaBeachFlorida,fornow.

PhotographybySherryRoberteenCarter 145 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
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147 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 Readingperiodforpublication inMayandJuneissuesof WELLREAD endsApril15th. WillopenforJuly,August,and SeptemberonMay1st. Clickhereformoreinformation CALLFORSUBMISSIONS!

ANNIE’SANTICS

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148
AnnieAsksMegNocero…
“Wearethemaestroofourownlife.”

TheauthorIchooseeachmonthisonethatIbelievewas borntoshine-thismonthIwanttointroducethesmart, motivational,inspiring,andwiseauthor-MegNocero. IusetheProustInterviewmodeltolearnmoreabout authors.Iasktenofthethirty-fivequestions.TheProust modelisawayoflearningmoreaboutapersonbeyond thetypicalinterviewquestions,andwhatwelearnis typicallynew,fascinating,orsomethingyouwouldnever eventhinktoask.Thisishowwelearnmoreabouttheir character.

Q:Whatisyourideaofperfecthappiness?

A:Inmylife,thereisconstantchanginginwhatIam lookingforinregardstoperfecthappiness.Eachdecade canbeverydifferent.Rightnow,Ilovebeingwithpeople thatarelikeminded,andthatalignwithmyvisionsofthe world.Ialsolovetobearoundpeoplewhobelievein manifesting.

Havingconversationswithpeoplethatareexcitedabout lifebecauseitwillleadtoseeingthingsfromdifferent perspectives,reallyinteresther.Ilikelisteningtosomeone that’sgonnamakemesay“Wow!Icanbenefitfromyour perspective“asawhole,thoughIbelieveweareall connected.

Megbelievesinthe“karmicgive-and-take”and“the generosityofspirit”andremindsus,thatyouneedtobea receiver,aswellasagiver.

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ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

Wearethemaestroofourownlife.

Q:Whichlivingpersondoyoumostadmire?

A:Myfather.HeisthefirstcardiologistinFloridatodo theballoon.He’salwaysbeenanincredibleinspirationto allofhisdaughters.WhenIlostmymother,someonehe hadbeenwithsincehewasfifteen,hekeptmoving forwardandlearnedtodothisbytellinghimself“Icando this”.That’swhenIrealizedifhecandothis,Icandothis too.BecauseofhimIwasnotgoingtogiveup.

Q:Whatisyourgreatestextravagance?

A:Oh,ofcourse,mytiara,mybling.Iliketobefancyand prettyandgorgeousdresseswiththefancymaterials.Itis sucharomanticnotionyouspendtimeputtingyourself togetherandyoufindthatyouholdyourselfdifferently andyoureceiveyourexperiencesdifferently,aswell.

OnceItoldmydaughter,Ava,don’ttouchmywedding dress.

Q:Whichwordsorphrasesdoyoumostoveruse?

A:“Ask,believereceive”

“Ifyoudonotask,youwillnotget”

“Listentopeople,beachannel”

Iloveusingthewordintentional.Thatisoneofmy favorites.

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ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell

Q:Whatisyourmosttreasuredpossession?

A:mychildrendefinitelymychildrentheymightnotbe myactualpossessions,buttheyaremymosttreasured Michaelhere’smyheartwarrior,andAvaenteredthe worldlikeaproofofmagic.

Q:Whichhistoricalfiguredoyoumostidentifywith?

A:JoanofArcbecauseofherpassionandvision,andhow shefollowedthroughtosavesomanypeople.But,noone saysitbetterthanOscarWilde-“Beyourself,everyone elseistaken”

Q:Whatdoyoumostvalueinyourfriends?

A:Asforme,Inevermetastranger.Friendsarefamily.

Q:Whatisyourmotto?

A:“Butterflies,getreadytodazzle.Ibelieveinyou”

Oneofmyfavoritequotesbyafriend:“Whenwecross eachother’spathsandweseeeachother’ssoultosoul, weareheretowalkeachotherhome.”

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ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell

“ThereisyourBliss”

BELIVE(believe)

“I’msoproudofyou”somethinghermotherwould alwayssay

MegsContactInfo:

https://www.megnocero.com

Megnocero@mac.com

ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell WELLREADMAGAZINE 152

AnnieMcDonnell

Authorof Annie’sSong:Dandelions,Dreams&Dogs, Book Reviewer,AuthorInterviewer,Teacher,Speaker,Writer,Author Consultant,Co-Admin.AtWorldoftheWriteReviewBook Club,Blogger,Authoronlineeventplanner.

ANNIE’SANTICSwithAnnieMcDonnell 153 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

MARKYOURCALENDARS!

ThespottofindupcomingAuthorEvents,

WritingRetreats,andWorkshopsNearYou

WELLREADMAGAZINE 154

MARKYOURCALENDARS!

ThespottofindupcomingAuthorEvents, WritingRetreats,andWorkshopsNearYou

MARKYOURCALENDARS APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 155 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

oLLIatUAHCourseAHistoryofU.S.UnderwaterWarfare

OfferedthroughOsherLifelongLearningInstitute(OLLI) atUAH

Tacticalsurprise,secrecyofintentandstealthymovement arethehallmarksoftheU.S.Navy'ssilentservice.Learn aboutthetrialsandtribulationsoftheU.S.submarine forceandthecontributionsofU.S.frogmen,underwater demolitiontechniciansandSEALteamsduringperiodsof unrestandwarfare.Studentswillgaingreaterknowledge ofournavalunderwatercapabilitiesandhowthose capabilitiescontributetothefreedomsweenjoy.

MONDAY(4SESSIONS)|COST:$25|INSTRUCTOR: PGRAHAM|IN-PERSON,UAHCAMPUS

WELLREADMAGAZINE 156 MARKYOURCALENDARS

Sunday,April23,2023–1:00-4:00PMEDT

Price:Free·Duration:3hrs

Location:TechnicalCollegeoftheLowcountry’s MacLeanHall(104ReynoldsSt,bldg12,Beaufort,SC)

CheckOuttheThirdEditionoftheBeaufortHuman Library,April23

“Whereoralhistorymeetsspeeddating.”TheBeaufort HumanLibraryprojectseekstofosterempathyand understandingacrosscommunitiesbyofferingthepublic opportunitiesto“checkout”morethanadozenHuman Bookswhowillbesharingtheirpersonalstoriesoffacing challengesandstrivingforacceptance.

157 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 MARKYOURCALENDARS
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PatConroyLiteraryCenter 601BladenStreet Beaufort,SC29902 ThursdaythroughSundaynoon-4:00p.m. Othertimesavailablebyappointment NETWORKING WELLREADMAGAZINE 164

This Mother’s Day, Give Mom the Gift of Learning!

When you give an OLLI gift certificate, you give the chance to explore a wide variety of courses, activities, and lectures both online and in-person. The diverse range of topics ensures there is something for everyone!

OLLI isn’t just about learning. It’s also about building meaningful relationships with others who share your interests. Most members are 50 and older, but there is no age requirement. OLLI welcomes all adult learners!

»Give an OLLI at UAH membership or term registration gift certificate!

The semester tuition gift certificate applies to fall or spring tuition fees for one semester. It does not cover individual course fees, summer tuition fees, or any additional costs such as supplies or lab fees.

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NETWORKING 167 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9 Clickheretosubscribetoour mailinglistandnevermissa singeissue! Followusonsocialmedia VisitouronlineBookShopandsupport IndependentBookstores
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ThePerfectWriter’s Getaway

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Doc'sHideawayisjustthatit'swhereDoctorHolley wouldhideoutwhenhe didn'twanttoseepatients oranyoneelse.Offtheside ofthehousewithadoor headingouttotheMagnolia Stage,Doc'sHideawayisa perfectroomforsomeone whowantstositoutsidein themorningandenjoythe startoftheday.Thereisa privateentrancefor travelersandaluxurious queenbed.

Ifyou'reintownforan eventatHolleyHouse, Doc'sHideawayisonedoor awayfromalloftheaction. Thiscoastalthemedqueen

suitehasaspaciousbathroomandaflip-downantique desk-youwillfeellikeyouareonatropicalvacation.The heartpinefloorsareoriginaltothehousefrom1903.It'sa shortwalktobreakfast-downthecorridorfromthedining room.

Hemingwaywouldhavelovedthisroomandsowillyou!

NETWORKING 171 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9
Ifyouhaveastoryyou’d liketoshareintheWELL READMagazine,I’dloveto hearit.Readersthatincludes you! WHAT’SYOURSTORY? WELLREADMAGAZINE 172
I’mlookingforpetstofeatureonourIfOurPets CouldTalkpage,AuthorsInterviewingAuthors, andwouldlovetoshineaspotlightonyour favoriteIndependentBookstores,BookSellers, Libraries,andLibrarians. Sendideasforarticlesaswellasany questionsaboutthemagazine,to wellreadmagazine@gmail.com WHAT’SYOURSTORY? 173 APRIL2023ISSUENO.9

OFFTHEPAGE

Amonthlycolumnthattakesusoff thepageandintothelifeof RiverJordan

WELLREADMAGAZINE

River Jordan isThePowerofStory….

Withweekslikethisonearoundtheglobeandinour ownneighborhoodssometimesit’sdifficulttofindthings tosay.

Oratleast–wordswewanttoevensayaloud.

It’sthekindofmoodwherewritersmighttendtodrink, orjuststareoutthewindow,ordrivedowndirtroadswith thewindowsalldownandtheairwhippingaroundtheir hairjusttocleartheclutterofunwantedthoughtsand images.Saysomeragtagprayerstheypickedup somewherelikelintfoundinthebottomofanoldblue jeanjacket.

It’sagoodtimetorememberafewthingsthatareour favorites.Myfavorites.Thatproverbialwriter,thatwe beingthisone.Thisisme.Beenflooredbycurrentevents nearbyandfarawayIthoughtI’dofferupafewofmy favoritethingsasasolace.Justareminderthatthese thingswhichbringmejoyarenotmissinginaction.They arestillacomforttome.Thesure‘nuffreasonIkeepon beingabetterversionofmyselfinsteadofdevolvinginto thatsomeoneelsewhowalksathinnerline.Heretheyare forthepurejoyofit–someoldandsomenewfinds.

Ilovethesmellofthedirtjustbeforeasummerrain. Particularlydry,southerndirtstandinginthemiddleofa

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peanutfield.Mebeingthere,tinyascouldbewatchingmy grandmotherpullthepeanuts,shakethedirtfromthem, puttheminasackandthosefirstbigolddropshitthatdry dirtandchangedtheozone.Likewise,thatrealrawsmell fromatomatovinejustpulledfromthegarden—thereis nothinglikethateither.Andthosesmellstakemeright backtothatorganicsimplelifewherelivingiseasyinthe summertime.Wegrowwhatweeatkindofway.No televisionblaringthenews.Noalertsshoutingfromevery cornerofabuilding.Justhumansmakingtheirwayacross afieldliketimehasslowedtowherenothingmatterstoo muchbutatomatosandwichonwhitebreadandthatthe peanutsweregonnabeboileddirectly.

Thisweekkicksoffthebaseballseasonwhichnormally feelslikespringishereandthegoodthingsbegin.My sisterandIgrewupdownthestreetfromOaklandTerrace BallBarkandwewereallowedtogotheretonightgames! Alone.Nochaperon.MysisterandIhungoutwatchingall thegames,grabbingpopcornanddrinksbutitwasthe cacophonyoftheballpark–thescratchesanditches,the batterbatterbatter–thenoiseofthepitch,theball connectingwiththebatinsuchaloudandcertainwaythat weknewitwasahomer.JUSTKnew.Andtherewasthe entirebaseballgenre–FieldofDreams,TheNatural,Bull Durham,TheSandlot–andatareallyroughpointinmy

OFFTHEPAGEWITHRIVERJORDAN WELLREADMAGAZINE 176

lifeIgrabbedtheentireKenBurnsDocumentarySeries.I watchedthemoverandover.Thehistoryofthepoetryof baseballandhowitbecameAmerica’spastimewaspure poetry.

DiscoveringtheJapaneseartofKintsugi.Theartof takingbrokenthingsandhealingthemwithgold.Where theyareweak,nowtheyaremademorebeautiful.

Strongerthaneverbefore.Ithinktocarryon,wearethis way.Brokenshards-butalongcomesastory,afriend,a message,aword,aprayer,oraservicethatplacesgold intothoseshatteredcrevicesofyourbrokenbodyand bandagedmemories.Somehow,wedothisforone another.AsthesongsaysfromDireStraits–Brothersin

Arms–fieldsofdestruction.baptismsinfireI’vewitnessed yourdestructionasthefiresraisedhigher–youdidnot deservethisyourbattlesinarms.

ButIthinkwehavethebalm,thehealing,thehopethat takesthosebrokenpiecesandtogetherfindawaytobathe thewoundssothatsomedaytheybecomethethingthat lastslongerthananythingofus.

Wehavetobehealerstoneighbors,tostrangers,tothe faceinthemirror.Weplantpeanuts,andtomatoesandas thespringrainscomedown,forjustamoment,weturn oureyestotheskies.Thedrops,theearthsettlingwitha wetinvader,thickandheaviernow.Rollingrivulets,the

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waterspreads,wetsourfingers,ourshoes.Webrushthe wethairfromourforeheads,lookoverourshouldersback tothefrontporchandconsiderthemomentwe’ve wanderedinto.

Justapieceoflife,asimplepiece.Andweinvitethis strangerinside,todryoff,tosetaspell.Shareastory.

Havesomelunch.Andinspiteofhellandtheallofit, still,yougivethanksforthebrokenalive.

*WELLREADissaddenedbytherecenteventsinNashville.Weoffer ourcondolencestothestudents,families,andteacherswhowere traumatizedbyanothersenselessactofviolence,andthankRiverfor puttingherwordsonthepageandhealingintentionsintotheuniverse.

RiverJordanisanauthor,speaker,teacherandradiohost.Asa southernerwithaglobalperspectivesheisapassionate advocateforthepowerofstory.River'swritingcareerbeganas aplaywrightandshespentovertenyearswritinganddirecting.

Sheisthebest-sellingauthoroffournovelsandathreespiritual memoirs.Asacritically-acclaimedauthorherworkhasbeen mostfrequentlycastinthecompanyofsuchwritersasFlannery

O'Conner,WilliamFaulkner,andHarperLee.

OFFTHEPAGEWITHRIVERJORDAN WELLREADMAGAZINE 178
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DawnMajor’s, THEBYSTANDERS weavestogethersmalltowneccentricitiesandcharactersbeginningwiththeinvasionof theSamplesfamilytoLawrenceton,Missouri.Townie,Eddy Bauman,andnewcomer,ShannonLamb-Samples,comeofagein the1980swhenbighairisbigandMadonna’s“LikeaVirgin” blastsovertheairwaves,buttheycouldn’tbemoredifferent.The realtownofLawrencetonandthesurroundingareawerepartof theLouisianaPurchase,andcenturieslater,theold-timersstill speakPawPawFrenchandtime-honoredtraditionsrundeep. Thoughsomesaysmalltownsarebigfamilies,Lawrenceton doesn’twantanythingtodowiththeblacksheepofthefamily. Shannonwithher“GirlsJustWanttoFun”attitudeandfashion, herfortune-telling,Paganmother,WendySamples,alongwith herhard-partyingandabusivestepfather,DaleSamples,are outliersfromLosAngeles.Shannonmightaswellhavelandedon MarswhenWendyandDaledecidetheyneedado-overinthe countryside.ThoughShannonisnonetoopleased,Eddyis enthralledbyherValleyGirlways.Inatownofannualchurch picnicsandbeautifullandscapes,theSamples’straileronthe outsideofL-Townisaneyesoretothetownsfolkandthefamily isquicklysnubbed.ShannonandWendy,whocouldreallyuse somefriends,mustlearntorelyuponthemselvestoclawtheir wayoutofpoverty,abuse,andespeciallyDale.

InTheBystanders–anoveltoldthroughlinkednarratives–Major subtlyexploresthepsychologicalphenomenonknownasthe BystanderEffect.AsWilliamS.Boroughssaid:“Thereareno innocentbystanders…Whataretheydoingthereinthefirst place?”Thecharactersoftenfeeltheyaremerewitnessestowhat lifethrowsatthem,incapableofchange.THEBYSTANDERS— sometimeslightandhumorous,othertimesdarkandtragic–pays

WELLREADMAGAZINE 180

homagetoAmericanaandtheruralpeopleoftheNorthern MississippiDeltaregionofSoutheastMissouri. InTheBystanders,debutwriterDawnMajorwriteswithsubtlety, compassion,andunderstandingaboutatimeandplaceinthe worldthatmanyauthorshavetackledbutfewhavemastered. Thisinterconnectedcollectionofshortstoriesfromtheheartland isoneofthoserareworksthatisabletocaptureremembrances, andtoremindusallwhythosemomentsareworthremembering. RaymondL.Atkins—SetList,SweetwaterBlues

DawnMajorhasagraduatedegreefromtheEtowahValley CreativeWritingprogram.ShewasarecipientoftheJames DickeyReviewLiteraryEditorFellowship,theDr.Robert DriscollExcellenceinWritingAwardonRegionalThemes,and ReinhardtUniversity’sFacultyChoiceExcellenceinWriting Award.ShehasbeenpublishedinFivePoints,WellRead Magazine,JamesDickeyReview,GeorgiaGothic,Elder Mountain:AJournalofOzarkStudies, amongstmanyreviewsandliterary journals.

MajorisamemberoftheWilliamGay Archiveandhashelpededitandpublish thelateauthor’sworks.Sheisthe AssociateEditoratSouthernLiterary

Reviewandthecreativemindbehind SouthernRead–aContemporaryAccent onSouthernWritingwhereshe advocatesforsouthernwritersand artists.ShelivesinAtlanta,Georgia withherhusbandandson.

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