Posts Tagged ‘writing’

 

About the Book

Title: Fallen Star Dust

Author: Morgan Straughan Comnick

Genre: Collection (Poetry, Short Stories, and more)

When I reached the point where adult life began to make its presence known right after high school graduation, I looked to the sky. I hoped to see a shooting star that would light my way and I wished that it would leave a trail of star dust behind to remind myself to stay young at heart. Thanks to writing, the enchantment of youth has never left me. In the next chapter of my life, I began college to follow my dream of being an educator. I developed my career, found out who I was an independent being, stopped hiding my passions, figured out my role in my lifelong relationship with my now-husband, and realized that it was okay to question the world. There was darkness that needed to be seen as well as the light. The poems, short stories, scripts, essays, and other works in this second collection are my everything: the shoulders I cried on, my joys, my bravery when the road became too twisty or too safe. It led me to a waterfall of creativity. That fallen star dust gave me the drive to become who I am today: a teacher, an author, a nerd, and a person of morals, love, and magic.

 

Author Bio

Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.

For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also have links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com.

 

Links

Website: http://morganscomnick.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Morgan-Straughan-Comnick-167241833430209/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorganSComnick

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7510773.Morgan_Straughan_Comnick

Youtube: channel

Amazon sales page


Excerpt

To Bear a War (Summer 2014)

It is April and by now, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, so bright, so vibrant they glow in the night like pink fireflies.  Their fragrance fills the air, stirs your soul, clings to your clothes as the petals dance in your hair.  But, you do not mind for they put a spring in your step.

Oh, how I miss the cherry blossoms of my home!

All I smell is decay and dried blood, mud and illness, rot and uncleanness, smoke and death.

All I hear are barks in my tongue and in ones foreign to me, screams of pain, whimpers of fear, gun fire…yes, tons of gun fire; my ears are not trained to know anything else.

All I see is a desolate wasteland, dust and smoke clinging to the Earth like death’s shadow, mounds and mounds of hills that I used to think of as brothers.

Oh, how I miss the cherry blossoms of my home!

I should be in college, studying landscaping like I dreamed of since youth.  I should be eating a home cooked meal with mother as father reads his newspaper carefully, smoking his pipe.  I should be able to watch my sister grow up, to see if she is becoming a young lady or is still an annoying, childish brat.  I should be with…

BANG! A shock ran through my body, zapping my blood.  My teeth chattered uncontrollably and my ears rang like the bells of a shrine during the New Year’s season.  My body reloaded my gun by instinct as I crept through the dirt, mud hugging me like a second skin.  I became primal, animalistic, but as our general told us: ‘We were in war; survival, victory, and dying with honor if it came to that was our only focus…’

I shot my gun, saying the key words in my head like a mantra: Survival…Bang! Victory…Bang! Honor…BANG!  The world popped around as I heard something I was not used to; silence, China sighing from the weight we had put on her.  The battle was over.

I gasped, not positioning my gun down for a second.  When you get into a survival state, it is hard to wind down from it, relax, become a man again…Am I still a man?  I kill, I kill for honor, but, it is still a death…So, am I still…a man when society had barely considered me one?  When I, at nineteen, have not considered me one?

I felt a hand on my shoulder and flinched.  It was Hisao, my buck mate.  He gave me a tight smile of understanding, soot smeared across his cheek, his helmet catty-cornered.  I hopped down from my spot and followed him as he jabbed his thumb hard towards our camp.  His grin became one of joy.  I knew what that meant.

It was time for food.

We unpacked our gear in our bunks, boots sloshing like it was the rainy season, which I suppose back home, it was near.  As I walked slowly to my assigned area all the way towards the back of the base, something on my bed caught my eye.  It was a box.  I walked a little faster, then it became a light jog until I was sliding all over the place, trying to get my footing.  Good thing none of the generals saw that! I shook thinking of a punishment they would give me.

Hisao came to my side, gawking at the package as well as if it was a woman randomly laying on my bed, which, in his mind, was probably what he was wishing for.  He had such a dirty mind! His commentary while we played cards made me squirm!

He was drying his short hair with a towel and he gave me a sly grin, like a fox demon catching one of his subjects stealing from a human, “Oh oh! What’s this?!  Takeshi got a package?  I wonder who it is from? Your osake?  A lover?  You stud!”

I examined the package carefully like it was a precious newborn infant, but there was no indication of where it came from; it simply had my name on it along with my division’s number. So, this person knew I was in China, at this base, but how?  I was shocked we could even get more than a simple letter out here. We were in the middle of a war, for Budda’s sake!

Hisao clicked his teeth together and looked at me deviously, giving my back a hard, but playful smack that bounced off the walls.  I grunted, still holding the package for dear life.  I bared my teeth at him and he chuckled, his eyes shining with sheer wonder and happiness for me.

“Go ahead and open your package there buddy; might be something I do not want to see. If you get any nice pictures from any lovely ladies, however, you ARE sharing?  Does that sound fair?”

I opened my mouth to respond, but before a sound escaped from my lips, Hisao slapped the back of my head and walked off, waving his hand flippantly in the air, repeating “You promised” in a cocky voice.

I ignored his usual, but comforting weirdness and sat down on my bunk, package sitting on my lap. With the utmost care, I took out my pocket knife and let the tape that bound it fall to the floor like ribbons of cascading water in a waterfall.  I lifted the lid with ease, my eyes half shut from fear and half closed for wanting to make this moment last longer.

The mystery was revealed as I moved the flaps of the lid and my mind was absorbed at what was inside: it was a teddy bear.

I picked him up with care, feeling his soft fake fur.  I could tell he was handmade for there was some unevenness in the stitching, but it was secure, tight, and made very well.  His light brown color was warm and inviting and his eyes had a twinkle to them.  He had a little, endearing smile sewed on to his charming face.  I felt bad that he had to smile for all eternity, but I suppose if I was forced to feel one emotion forever, that would be the one I would pick.

He even had a different shade of brown and material to make the paws and feet!  I could sit him down easily and he stayed how I posed him.  Someone took a lot of time and attention to make this…was it really for me?  To top it all off, the bear had a pink ribbon tied aound his neck.  That pink…it reminded me of something, but my mind was fuzzy, ticking me …

Images of a moon-filled night, the breeze dancing around my body, embedding messages into my hair as someone stood beside me, someone who smiled brighter than the moon, their hair smelling like it was bursting with flowers from every land.  The sky was as dark as pitch, but every time I blinked, I saw neon shapes of pink that made everything look magical, like I could believe in miracles and that impossible things could come true, that dreams were not wishes, but pathways for ourselves that had not yet been paved…

I blinked, my head beginning to throb.  I looked at the little bear again and gave his head a pat.  I would give him a home and protect him.  He would give me something to come back to, something I could see every day.

I was about to place him back in the box for now and under my bed when a small piece of white paper became visible.  It clung to the bottom of the box.  I peeled it off and opened it.  I was a note, written in Japanese, and addressed to me.  So, the bear was truly for me! Someone had made it for me!

Excitement coursed through my veins, volts of excitement crackling the air around me.  With an eagerness I was not aware existed in me.  I read the message:

“Takeshi, let us look at the cherry blossoms…”

That was all it said.  I scanned the page left and right, up and down, close and far, but saw no signature.  The box also did not have a name or location on it.  Eh?  Who could have made me this bear, this little bear who filled me with such a numerous amount of emotion that I almost forgot where I was at?  And what was with this message?  I had just been thinking about the cherry blossoms.

The bell sounded for us to go get our dinner, but as I reluctantly closed the box with the bear and letter inside, I noticed one more clue to this mystery: a date.

The letter and package were both sent to me on February 14th.

***

“Nani?!  What?! The package was sent to you on February 14th?  You, my good sir, have a lover.” Hisao’s expressions were all over the place and after he flung his spoon out of his hand, he leaned back in his chair all too casually, rocking back and forth on two legs with his arms crossed behind his head.  A man whose voice could drown out a fighter plane and then go act like all of this was no big deal, like I was a lonely priest to his godliness, irked me.

“Hamlet” Script Rewrite:

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Man, nothing seems to be going good for me lately.  I mean, I’m still so heartbroken that my father was murdered and here, nearly a month later, my uncle, my father’s creepy brother, becomes the new king of Denmark.  Not only that, but my mother, my worry wart MOTHER, married my uncle a month after her husband was killed!  I don’t think everything is right. I don’t trust my uncle; he’s too moody.  And I just don’t understand my mother. Did she marry my uncle for love, for power, for…other stuff that makes me sick to think about?!” (Throwing up noise and shakes).  “Note to self, NEVER imagine your uncle like that!  Maybe I just don’t get women…Maybe that’s not a bad thing…” (Smacks head).  “Oh, and on top of all this, some stupid Norwegians are trying to invade too! AHHHHHHHH! I suppose it could be worse; I could be reading a play for a high school class.  But, I’m sad.” (Gives puppy pout) “MAN!  I need a drink.  OH!  F.Y.I. guys, I’m not promoting drinking or anything, but…yeah, you guys all took D.A.R.E.”

Krystil: (Reading from script) “So, poor Hamlet was basically depressed about his deceased father.  Now, when the story takes place, two men run in fright, seeing a ghost, which they believe is the dead king.  They tell Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend, who tells him the news.  Horatio also sees the ghost king and runs to find Hamlet, who is still whimpering like a puppy dog.”

Horatio (student):  (calling) “Hamlet!  Hamlet! Where are you dude?”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (muffled) “Below you, get off my face bro!”

Horatio (student):  (steps off) “What in the world are you doing?”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “I tried to jump over the table last night, but I didn’t make it and so I took a nap.  What do you want?  Oh! Secret handshake!”

Horatio (student):  “That was weak…anyway!  You need to follow me; I saw your father last night…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (stands up): “Say what?!  You’re pulling my leg.  My father is…he’s…”

Horatio (student):  (pats shoulder compassionately) “Let it out buddy…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (cries) “He’s swimming with the earthworms man…”

Horatio (student): (rolls eyes) “Anyway, I really saw him!  In front of the watch tower.  He was all, see through and ghost like.”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (yawns).  “Dude, isn’t that something Scooby Doo should handle?”

Horatio (student):  “I think he wants to talk to you…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Well…I do miss my father and Project Runway isn’t on tonight…Okay.”

Krystil: “Hamlet and Horatio wanted front row seats to the event so they waited all night in the bitter cold.  They were about to give up when the ghost came and spoke to them.  It was indeed, King Hamlet, Hamlet’s dead father as a spirit.”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet, my son…”

Horatio (student):  “AHHHHH!!! Run away before he remembers I owe him $5!”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Shut up!  Father, it is good to…see through you.  Please, what do you want from me?”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet, I must tell you the truth…Claudius, your uncle and my horrible brother, murdered me by pouring poison in my ears. He has always wanted my beautiful Gertrude and my beloved Denmark. I demand from you a great task: avenge me!”

Morgan (as Hamlet):  “I’m not sure I have the time, I mean, prom’s coming up and…”

Ghost King (student): “Hamlet!  I’ll haunt you boy!  Look inside yourself; what is right…”

Morgan (as Hamlet): (deeply sighs, thinking) “Avenging you father.  I agree and will make it my mission, even if it makes me breathless!”

(The ghost vanishes after this, saying “weee!”)

Horatio (student):  “Man, that was flippin’ nuts!”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “I have a great task.  I’m not sure if the ghost can be trusted, but I will study hard.  I will pretend to be insaner than Mr. Young in order for others to leave me alone.”

Horatio (student):  “You can hide in the library; nothing important is in there.”

Morgan (as Hamlet): “Excellent idea!  And how true.  Now…I’m off!” (flips a pretend cape and glides off to the side)

About the Book

Title: Writing a Business Plan for Writers

Author: Tiffany Shand

Genre: Nonfiction

When you wrote your first book you thought you’d sit back, watch the royalties roll in and start working on your next book, right? Being an author today is so much more than just writing. Writing is a business and has to be treated like one.
In this short ebook I’ll take your through the reasons why you need a business plan, how to write one and the different elements that make up one to help you become a successful author.

 

Author Bio

Tiffany Shand was born in Essex, UK and started writing short stories when she was a child. She has always done writing in one form or another and started writing novels in her early teens. Tiffany loves to read books and discovered her love for fantasy and paranormal romance during this time. She writes both non-fiction and fiction, and love helping writers to build their author platforms. After doing a creative writing course in her early 20s, she is now a freelance writer and professional editor. Tiffany lives in Essex with her two spoiled cats and one very nutty hamster.

 

 

 

Find Tiffany on:

Amazon Link for How To Write A Business Plan

Tiffany’s Website

Tiffany’s blog

Eclipse Editing

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

 

Book Excerpts

Excerpt 1

Writers who make a living from their writing are entrepreneurs in their own way, and the one thing they all have in common is that they have direction and know what they’re doing. One of the best ways of doing that is by having a business plan and treating the job of being an author as an actual business. A lot of authors would love to make a living from their writing, but many view writing as an art form rather than an actual business. Many authors struggle and fail to make very much money from their books. This isn’t because they’re bad writers, either they don’t know how to make the money or they don’t have the direction to make a business out of it.

Writers who work for a living are freelancers, teachers or online entrepreneurs who don’t just publish and market books. They treat the entire process as a business and re-purpose the content of their books into multiple different formats such as paperbacks, e-books, audiobooks and courses.

This book is for both writers who would like to make a living from their work and for entrepreneurial writers who plan their businesses around their books. Any entrepreneur has a plan and direction for their business and will see writing as a business.

Whether you dream of six-figure advances, or write because you simply must write, you may not think of writing as a business but just something you love doing.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is an outline of your goals or a statement of the things you want and how you will to get them. It includes an assessment of the goals and how you’ll obtain them.

A good business plan should outline how you plan to learn about the publishing process and how you plan to build up your audience of readers and work with others in the writing community.

The plan I talk about in this book may look very different than one used by a start-up company as it is specifically written for writers and creative entrepreneurs.

Excerpt 2

Why You Need to Treat Writing Like a Business

Writers write books, but in this new world of digital publishing, they have to be a lot more than that. Writers have to be marketers and entrepreneurs. They have to build themselves an author platform, grow their readership, engage on social media, network and so much more.

Writing a book is really only the tip of the iceberg. To be a serious writer you have to treat publishing like a business.

If you become traditionally published, you may think that your publisher will do all the work for you, but that’s very rarely the case. Publishers expect authors to market their own books and build their own platforms. If you don’t have a strong author platform in place, a publisher is unlikely to take much interest in you. It’s harder to get a traditional book publishing deal now, but not impossible. EBooks have provided authors opportunities that have never been open to them before.

If you decide to self-publish your books you are essentially your own publisher. Publishing is a business and has to be treated as such. You have to sort out things such as editing, formatting, cover design and marketing.

Although you can do some of these things yourself, some of it does have to be outsourced and like any business that takes time and money. Being a writer isn’t an easy business.

From the moment you decide to publish your book, you became your own business. That’s right a business. Most writers just think they’re writing when they write their book – I used to think the same thing. They don’t think of it as the product it is.

I’m a writer first and foremost, but I also have to be a lot of other things.

Yes, it takes a lot of work to publish books well and get some profit out of it. But it’s also a very exciting and rewarding job.

 

Excerpt 3

It’s best to start writing your business plan as soon as you decide that you want to publish books.

I didn’t start writing my own business plan until after I’d published two novels.

What do you want to write?

So you want to be a writer? That’s great news, but where do you start?

One of the most important steps on your journey to write a business plan is deciding what you actually want to write. This may seem obvious, maybe you want to write romance, thrillers and more.

Another important thing to decide is what you want to get out of your writing.

  • Do you want to earn a living from your writing? If so, how much do you want to earn each month or year? This will vary from person to person.
  • Do you want to write novels or short stories?
  • Do you want to write and run a profitable blog?
  • Do you want to write a blog and turn your posts into a book?
  • Do you want to be a freelance writer writing for magazines or online publications?
  • Do you want to write fiction? If so, what kind of fiction? Fantasy, romance, crime, sci-fi?
  • Do you want to write non-fiction? Such as business or self-help books?
  • Do you want to become a New York Times bestselling author?
  • Do you want to edit books too?

Once you’ve figured out those questions, here are some very important questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is your target audience? Who will read your books? Who is your ideal reader?
  • Do you want to traditionally publish your book or self-publish it?
  • Do you have enough knowledge to make your writing into a career? If you don’t, are you willing to learn?

Once you’ve figured out these questions it will help you figure out on how you how you will work as a writer. We’ll be covering some of those questions in more depth later in the book.

The most popular things I have heard in answer to those questions from other authors are making money or becoming famous. Making money is doable, but becoming famous is a lot harder.

Having your own business plan will help you achieve your goals and more. Even if you only plan to write part-time to make passive income, you still need a plan.

 

 

Mystery

Date Published: May 17 (available for presale now)

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Tucson, Arizona – Eighteen-year-old Matt Garrison is harboring two terrible secrets: his involvement in the drowning death of his 12-year-old cousin, and a night of drunken sex with his best friend’s mother, Crystal, whom he finds dead the following morning. Guilt forces Matt to act on impulse and hide his involvement with Crystal. 

Detective Winston Radhauser knows Matt is hiding something. But as the investigation progresses, Radhauser’s attention is focused on Matt’s father. Matt’s world closes in when his dad is arrested for Crystal’s murder and Travis breaks off their friendship. Despite his father’s guilty plea, Matt knows his dad is innocent and only trying to protect his son. Devastated and bent on self-destruction, Matt heads for the lake where his cousin died—the only place he believes can truly free him. Are some secrets better left buried?

Redemption Lake is a novel of love and betrayal. It’s about truth and lies, friendship and redemption, about assuming responsibility, and the risks a father and son will take to protect each other. 


Excerpt

For the next hour and a half, he drifted in and out of sleep. Cradled by the night sounds of the desert outside the open window, each time a memory emerged, his thoughts thickened and folded back into sleep. At one point he heard water running for a bath. A little later, he heard a car outside. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. He stumbled to the window and opened the curtains. In the street, two long rectangular taillights moved away, turning south onto Oracle Road.

Matt leaned against the wall, staring at the sunflower sheets on Crystal’s bed. The same bed he and Travis had jumped up and down on when they were eight. The digital clock read 10:38 p.m. His head throbbed. He needed to close his eyes. Crystal would wake him in time to leave before Travis got home. He fell back onto the bed.

When he woke up again, the room was very dark. He wore only his boxers and a white T-shirt his mother had insisted upon—claiming his usual dark one would show through his tuxedo shirt. As if the color of his T-shirt could ruin her perfect wedding. But he’d been ingenious and found another way to ruin things for his mother. He turned toward the empty space beside him. It took a few moments for him to realize where he was. He closed his eyes, shook his aching head to clear it. Crystal was his best friend’s mother. What the hell was he doing in her bed?

He thought he heard the sound of the front door open, then close again. Oh God, please don’t let it be Travis. His eyes adjusted to the darkness. One event at a time, he remembered everything.

Fully awake now, he shot from the bed, rocking for a few seconds before he achieved balance, then hurried to the window. The moon hung over the mountaintop, its light silver and unforgiving. Crystal’s driveway was empty. Whoever he’d heard, it wasn’t Travis. On the other side of the street, an engine started. This time the taillights were round. Definitely not Crystal’s Escort. The car turned north on Oracle Road.

Matt let out the breath he’d been holding and glanced at the digital clock—its red letters told him it was 11:20 p.m. He needed to get dressed and leave. The dance ended in forty minutes and Travis would head home. He grabbed his tuxedo pants and shirt from the chair. His hands shook so hard he could barely work the fly and the button on his trousers. He slipped into his shirt, then sat on the edge of the bed. As if he had the flu, his head throbbed and his stomach felt queasy.

He rushed down the hallway toward the bathroom. And when he did, he saw the puddle of blood on the floor beside the bathtub.

He hurried across the room, jerked open the pale green shower curtain.

Crystal lay naked in a bathtub filled with blood-colored water. Her hair, her beautiful blonde curls, had been chopped off, shorter in some places than others, as if a small child had done it. Some of the curls were floating on top of the water.

For a strange moment, everything remained calm and slow.

Her head was propped against one of those blow-up pillows attached to the back of the tub with suction cups. The tint of her skin was pale and slightly blue. Crystal’s eyes were open and staring straight ahead—looking at something he couldn’t see. Blood splattered the white tiles that surrounded the tub. It dripped down them like wet paint. One of her hands flopped over the side of the tub. A single thick drop fell from her index finger into the crimson pond congealing on the linoleum floor. It covered her neck and shoulders. Tiny bubbles of frothy blood still oozed from the gash in her neck.

An empty Smirnoff bottle sat in a puddle of blood on the tub’s rim beside a straight-edged razor blade.

The bathroom was so quiet. Nothing but the sound of his own breathing. He clenched and unclenched his hands. His body grew numb. “Oh no. Oh God, no,” he said, the words thickening in the air in front of him. His head filled with strange sounds—the drone of insects humming, violinists tuning their strings. “What have I done?”

The contents of his stomach rose. He crouched in front of the toilet and heaved until nothing more came up. Then he started to rock, back and forth, muttering what he already knew was a useless prayer. Please, just let her be okay. He said it over and over like an unstoppable mantra. If only he could keep saying the words, maybe he could reverse this unthinkable thing.

Maybe she was still alive. He straightened up and stepped over to the bathtub to check Crystal’s neck for a pulse. As he bent closer, he smelled the metallic scent of her blood as it mixed with her perfume and the stale, metabolized smell of alcohol seeping through her skin. He placed two fingers on her neck, searching for her carotid and pressed. His fingers slipped into the gaping hole. It felt wet and warm. He screamed and jerked them out. They were covered in blood.

He swiped his hand on the front of his shirt, then checked the other side of her neck for a pulse. Please, just let her be okay. Nothing. He shook her by the shoulders, then tried again. Still no pulse. At that moment, he stopped his mantra.

Though he knew she was dead, he held her hand—soft and still warm. It belonged to Crystal, who’d taught him to line dance, who liked hot buttered popcorn with cheddar cheese grated on top. Crystal, who was sometimes irresponsible and drank way too much. Crystal, who’d cheered for him at bat in Little League, cheered just as loud as she had for her own son. Crystal, who’d always be sitting in a bathtub of blood. “I’m sorry.” He squeezed her hand, then let go. “And I swear to you, Travis will never know what happened between us.”

Struggling to his feet, he headed for the kitchen phone to call 911. Halfway to the bathroom door, he stopped. Blood smeared the front of his white shirt. And there was still blood on both his hands, drying beneath his fingernails. His body was slick with fear. He smelled it, tasted it, and felt it coming out of his pores like sweat. His mind told him to call the police, to tell the truth. His heart told him to keep his promise to Crystal. It was the last thing she’d ever ask of him.

He dropped his chin and stared at his shirt. Holy shit. If anyone saw him like this, they’d think he’d killed Crystal. The thought stopped him. Had he? Was he capable of doing something so heinous?

The bubble of panic in his throat got bigger. He hurried across the bathroom to wash his hands. There were more clumps of hair in the sink and a hardened blue streak of toothpaste. He used toilet paper to pick up the hair clumps and dropped them into the trashcan. Looking at the uncapped tube beside Crystal’s toothbrush, he felt as if something had been cut out of his chest.

He grabbed the sides of the sink, stared at himself in the mirror. The face staring back resembled no one he’d ever seen before. Was it the face of a murderer? Had he just pushed someone else to her death? He shook his head—breathing in short gasps, like a swimmer gearing up for a plunge. His lungs burned as if he were being swept away by a strong current.

When the memory of his cousin’s death surfaced, as it often did, Matt used his fists to hammer the stranger’s face he saw reflected in the medicine cabinet. The mirror fractured, sending out long cracks in every direction. The face split into interlocking parts like an abstract puzzle. One jagged sliver fell into the sink, breaking in half. It left a black and empty space in what had once been the mirror.

He held onto the sides of the sink again and rocked slowly in front of it, still staring at the blood on his hands and under his fingernails. “You’re all right,” he said, but could barely hear the words, the sounds inside his head were so loud.

In his mind he saw himself letting go of the sink and getting as far away from this nightmare as possible. But it would destroy Travis to come home and find his mother like this. Matt had to intercept him.

He washed his hands, then rinsed the blood from the sides and bowl of the sink, recapped the toothpaste and tucked it into the medicine cabinet. He wrapped the shards of mirror in toilet tissue, careful to avoid getting his fingerprints on the glass, and placed them in the trashcan, jagged sides down. There were no towels in the bathroom, so he wiped his wet hands on his pant legs. Panic rolled in, sucked him under.

What should he do? Call the police? His father? 911? If he did, there’d be a recording of his voice and he’d have a lot of explaining to do. The police often suspected 911 callers. They might take his DNA. What if they found semen inside of Crystal? What if they matched it to Matt’s DNA? If that happened, they’d know. It would be in the newspapers. It would hurt Travis. He couldn’t let that happen.

He hurried back into Crystal’s bedroom. Hands shaking, he sat on the edge of her bed and put on his socks and shoes. Then, as if he were someone else, running through an obstacle course, he went into the kitchen and gathered the empty beer bottles. He took them out into the garage and carefully placed them in their cardboard carriers. Next he wiped the kitchen table, closed the open drawers, loaded the dishwasher, emptied the ashtrays, then made Crystal’s bed with fresh sheets. He tossed the sunflower sheets into the washing machine and started the cycle, careful to wipe his prints from the lid and dial. With the same cloth, he wiped down the edge of the plastic shower curtain, then pulled it closed—the way he’d found it. For the most part, his fingerprints were easily explained. He’d spent almost as much time in Travis’ house as his own.

Matt stood in front of the coffee table. He heard the candles guttering, smelled the wax melting. He blew them out, then picked up the clothes Crystal had discarded in the hallway beside the bathroom door. Folding them neatly, he then placed them on the chair beside her window. He grabbed her red cowboy boots from the living room and set them beneath the chair. It was the least he could do for Travis.

The clock on the stove read 11:45 p.m. The Narrow Way didn’t allow opposite sex teenagers to spend unsupervised time together. Jennifer’s parents would pick her up from the dance. That meant Travis would be leaving for home soon.

If Matt hurried, he could intercept him, convince him to spend the night with Matt and his dad. He raced into Travis’ bedroom, jerked open the drawer where he kept his T-shirts. Surely he had a plain black or a dark blue one somewhere. Matt lifted the stacks of folded shirts until he found one, then ripped off the tuxedo and stained T-shirt, slipped Travis’ shirt over his head, then grabbed his jacket from the kitchen chair and hurried outside.

On the back deck, insects clustered around the light fixture, high-pitched, insistent and frantic. The sound reminded him of Crystal’s voice when she’d pleaded with him not to tell Travis. Why hadn’t he agreed?

In the carport, Matt unlocked the trunk of his Mustang, a restored nineteen sixty-seven Grande that had been his mom’s first car, and dropped both the jacket and the bloodstained shirt inside. Silence ballooned into the night air around him, a strange silence with a ticking heartbeat. Then he remembered the cufflinks. Crystal had tucked them into his shirt pocket. He checked. They weren’t there. He plunged his hands into his pants pockets and then the tuxedo jacket. No cufflinks. He didn’t have time to go back inside. He had to stop Travis from coming home.

When he climbed into the front seat, he looked out through the windshield, but the dome light inside the car and the darkness outside had changed the glass into a mirror. He turned away. His face was the last thing he wanted to see.


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers’ Association Novel Award twice for her novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Her novel, A Bend In The Willow, was published in January 2017. Redemption Lake, the first in a 3-book detective serieswill be released May 17, 2017. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. In her spare time, Susan likes to make quilts and stained glass windows. She says it is a little bit like writing, telling stories with fabric and glass.

 

Contact Information

Website: http://susanclaytongoldner.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.clayton-goldner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanCGoldner

Blog: http:///susanclaytongoldner.com/my-blog—writing-the-life.html

Goodreads: :  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33150434-a-bend-in-the-willow

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: Buy it on Amazon

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redemption-lake-susan-clayton-goldner/1126040153?ean=2940154076378

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/redemption-lake-2

 

Giveaway

An e-book of my first novel, A Bend In The Willow