Famine & Fortune

“ All eyes were on Wall Street, but truth be told, the market crash paled in comparison to the Navarro County drought.

The news of Black Tuesday came and went as little more than dry morsels between flapjacks and red-eyed gravy. Black Thursday was no different. Margin calls and ticker-talk; it was all a foreign language to the average man of Navarro county. New York, Chicago and any place not adjacent to the dying province could have just as well been another country – another planet.
Suicides headlined newspapers across the globe. Although desperate men (and women) chose gas or bullets; poison or tablets to avoid poverty the stories of men leaping from windows sold more papers and it seemed to pacify the masses, at least for a while.


EIGHT MORE TAKE THE PLUNGE.


The headlines went on and on. Tales of a brutal bearish market where stock prices were plummeting and fortunes were being dissolved. The days grew long and the soup lines grew longer as billions of dollars were lost, except for the sparse crowd who knew how to short the market and profit from despair.


The caste system was readjusting; the prudent wealthy settled into middle-class; the so called middle-class went back to being poor and the poor resorted to begging or starving. Even the outcasts felt the impact.

Amidst all of the chaos and realigning there was one morphological thing that everyone understood; a fact that every race, creed, class and religion agreed upon – the roaring twenties had come to a crashing halt. Literally.


A somnolent bedraggled man stood in the doorway of Crom’s Cafe and eyed the headline of the Navarro County Herald. He thoughtlessly tapped his hat against his thigh to loosen the grit before tossing a nickel into the box that read COFFEE & TOAST 5¢. There were a dozen nickels alongside his.

The usual crowd shuffled in, in their habitual manner. More coffee was poured into waiting mugs, more nickels dropped into the box, a few at the bar ordered a real breakfast and those who could afford to buy a copy of The Navarro County Herald unfurled their paper.

Liam inconspicuously glanced at the man’s paper next to him. The dismal headline meant nothing to most tenant farmers. It meant even less to Liam Weir. He saw it as one less gluttonous banker and they could not die fast enough to suit him.
And greedy cotton ginners can go to hell right along with `em.

Feast & Famine (the Sharecropper’sSon) is available on sale at your favorite retailer.

And psssst Google has it listed at 98¢

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 

Another Thursday, another November and another Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Which means the earth has not quite spun off her axis; some of her inhabitants may have but we are here today so let’s make the most of it. 

I have shared the following bit of prose in one form or another for … I don’t know… decades maybe?

Occasionally I vary the wording but the sentiment is always the same, so without further ado, here we go… 

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Once upon a time – a long, long time ago (before Black Friday) Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest and a time to give thanks. Hence the name thanksgiving.

I don’t think the early pilgrims had a Super Walmart, a Sears or a Best Buy. They had never heard of an indie distributor called Smashwords(yikes, imagine how scary that might have sounded)

I’m sure they didn’t have the www to answer all of you questions or a beastly giant named Amazon— yet somehow they managed. 

Can you imagine having to grow your own food and prepare it without the help of of a search engine like google

When did they have time? Where did they get their Stove Top stuffing and who canned the yams and plucked the turkeys? How did those crazy pilgrims do it?

John Wayne

I didn’t really know any of those pilgrims but I did see a John Wayne movie once. John knew a pilgrim when he saw one. He seemed to know a lot of pilgrims but that was a long time ago too.

I propose we are all pilgrims, each one of us on a journey of sorts. Our own personal pilgrimage…

Aren’t we are all looking for something? Be it a quest for self-confirmation, truth, a cure, enrichment, comfort, a friend, a lover, a job, a meal or a place to lay our weary head at the end of another day.

I believe life is a journey, or at least it should be. It would be terrible to think we were just flailing through this experience; killing time on this giant floating gumball while waiting for the next Black Friday specials.

I believe we all have one destination though we travel different roads and I trust that we have choices.

Pilgrims (2)

Hopefully we will choose well. On the occasion we do take a wrong turn [and we will from time to time] I pray we have enough sense and humility to stop and seek direction… to reassess our route and to be considerate in our voyage.

So here’s wishing all of you pilgrims a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving from the Hill house and may we all, whatever road we’re on, take time to look ahead, pause and bow our head in thanks.

My personal prayer:

I pray our good seeds of hope, humility, toil and courage produce abundantly; that love and kindness grow wild like the weeds of early spring – fruitful and undeterred.  And may our harvest be rich with wisdom and discernment.

Thank you Father, The Creator of all things, for this day and all it holds. Thank you for the days past, and Father forgive me for my wrong turns. Thank you for the day to come and guide me to make better choices. Thank you for all the pilgrims in my life – for those who’ve gone ahead and the ones that come behind and for those who read this prayer. And Thank You Father for the beacon that lights my way.

In Jesus name, Amen.

BTW Thanksgiving & John Wayne (A Pilgrim’s Prayer) is also in Getting Me Back (The Voices Within)

What’s New? (Tuesday’s Tell All)

What’s new?

Is nothing and a lot an appropriate answer?

Well it will have to suffice.

Let me first assure you I am not in a funk nor am I suffering from writer’s block.

On the contrary, potential stories abound!! I say potential because none have made it past my imagination.

In the garden, the grocery store, in front of the television or at a restaurant….

The list goes on forever.

So this morning as I was rocking and sipping my coffee (without spilling a drop), I asked myself,

Self, why haven’t you written a damn thing ??? No new books, not even a short story… Not so much as a blog post since April, and by the way you failed miserably at supporting NPM.

I pondered the question while I kept rocking and sipping, listening to the birds, watching the butterflies in the Mimosa tree and waiting for a response.

Finally self answered. Well, (in no chronological order) let’s see...

You got older and slower so multi-tasking got a little harder.

Not nearly enough candles.

You had a birthday and Mother’s Day that went on for weeks-because you have some awesome ass kids.

You had Covid twice…

Your oldest brother died and it is still a painful and fresh wound

You focused on family

Remember a large portion of last year was consumed when the home had to be gutted and restored due to the flood after the freeze. And the fishing shack had to have all of the pipes replaced due to the same freeze.

The economy has put a strain on your finances so you’ve had to seriously reconstruct your retirement- and even put the fishing shack up for sale.

You chose to spend a significant amount of time mentoring and advocating for others because you know how it can be…

You spend a lot of time “working” at the pond and in the yard and gardens. But honestly you “meander” as much as you work.

Your dog died and you got a new kitten….

After listening to self for a minute, I said Oookay, and I didn’t feel too bad.

But then the selfish self had to wonder… am I still relevant? Not that I base my self worth on my writing but… you know.

So I typed my name and search-engined myself.

Great. At least I still appear in the www sphere.

But I found a piece of me in a place I had not heard of.

Fnac. F what?

Est-ce que tu parles français

Lord no. But I have been known to fake it.

So, in a nutshell that is what’s up. Or down.

If you don’t hear much from me it is safe to assume I am probably wandering in the woods or on the beach or working on a story even if it is in my head.

Stay well. Be happy.

XoXo

Read an eBook Week #Tbt

Ah I vaguely recall my start as an independent writer; it almost seems like a lifetime ago.

I can’t even remember how I found [the oddly named] Smashwords, but I am glad we connected. Mark Coker’s publishing platform really simplified my life.

And then Draft2Digital with Books2Read came along with their pretty little layouts and boom I had a new crush. And a new distributor.

But I never left Smashwords.

By the way, it is true Smashwords and Draft2Digital are merging and I think that’s a good thing.

I’m not sure if Smashword’s support of the annual Read an eBook will continue in the years to come, but it is going on right now through March 12th. I, of course, am participating. Several of my books are available free or at a drastically reduced price. Just scroll through and check it out.

I believe The Perpetual Series was the first, or one of the first books I published with Smashwords; that was in 2013. Can you believe that?

I recall making the cover from a photograph I had taken of a flower blooming in the yard. Sadly, that flower never returned.

… that flower and so many other things.

Sigh

Happy Thursday Y’all. XoXo

Another Spring (Another #NPM )

Audio podcast available

Another Spring

You were hiding,

waiting there beneath the frost

so much more patient than I.

My soul beckoned from a wintry slumber

Fretful and anxious

Weary and depressed

fearful you had abandoned me and then

as promised,

you appeared.

Breathing life into the naked limbs; into the bare breasts of Mother Nature

until Summer’s heat met autumn’s leaves
and reminded us that change is inevitable.

Now…

too soon,

you will be nothing more than a bright spot

Getting Me Back is available at your favorite retailer.

Write on!

As If #NPM

As If

As if your shoulder brushing against my breast

in a crowded room meant anything to me…

As if your smile would thaw my frosty heart…

As if your constant assurance could overcome my cynicism…

As if the invisible boulevard would never rise up and beckon.

The street lamp glows in the bleached mist only three floors below us.

I blow streams of smoke into the black night and hum to the drone of the unseen road.

Be steel my bleating heart!

Be quiet! Be silent, hard steel.

As if wearing your tee-shirt made us lovers.

You can listen here.

From Getting Me Back (The Voices Within)

All Day Twos-day (Tuesday’s Tell All)

Hey, you know what would be great on this Tuesday – the second day of the second month in the year 2022?

Two dozen free tacos delivered to my door.

Or

Two million dollars deposited into my account.

I would eat the tacos and share the dollars.

But I have neither so…

I guess I’ll eat a double-decker dried out bologna sandwich that tastes like dusty cardboard and give you …. drum roll 🥁

Two (+2+2+2+2+) stories (that’s More) for the price of one.

And a few of my favorite twos.

Happy Tuesday/Twos-day Y’all.

A Glimpse at Savannah Dawn (Friday’s free for All)

Every young girl has dreams. Some dream of being a supermodel or a nurse, a doctor or a fireman, a teacher, a writer or a rock star. Savannah Dawn has dreams too. But she mostly dreams of a life without nightmares.

A few Clips from Chapter 1

My name is Savannah Dawn and I was named for the place of my conception, whatever that means. I’ll be eleven years old come next March. I love to swim and I hate school. I guess that’s all I know to say about myself except sometimes I see things… like in a dream.

🎬

The dreams used to bother me but they don’t anymore. When I was younger I would wake up crying in the middle of the night – Mama would bring me a glass of milk and sit beside me in the dark. I’d tell her what I saw and she’d say, “they’re just nightmares honey; nothing but unconsecrated visions.”

As I got older I felt like Mama didn’t want to hear about the things that troubled my slumber. A few times it seemed to rile her so I learned to stay quiet and get my own milk.

🎬

Preacher Zeb calls them revelations and says I shouldn’t tell a soul about what I see except him. Zeb is an ex-Marine and a retired pastor. He was also my papa’s best friend. Last summer he baptized me in the Neches River with only God as our witness. We made a pinky swear to keep it secret. A pinky swear ain’t like a promise to God – it’s a promise not to tell Mama. She would have had a fit knowing I washed my sins in dirty water not to mention I nearly drowned while waiting on the Holy Spirit.

My sister got the spirit once at The First Assembly of God in downtown Trinity. She was sitting on the front pew making goo-goo eyes at Brother Tim when all of a sudden she went limp as a dish rag. The brother hollered “hallelujah” and flew down from the pulpit. He smacked her on the forehead then Jodi jumped up and started shaking all over and everybody went crazy.

It took me a minute to realize what was going on; it took Mama about a minute and a half. 

Jodi said she felt like a movie star when the whole congregation wanted to touch her. She done it so folks would think she was special, that’s what she said. I always thought she was special so I didn’t care one way or the other but it sure was funny watching her dance around with her hands in the air shouting, “alley baba – naba -naba daba- daba doo.” She was doing a different dance after we got home and Mama whipped her for blaspheming the Holy Ghost.

I don’t like referring to the Lord’s essence as a ghost. Mama says they’re the same thing but I know she’s never seen either one or she wouldn’t say that. I also know spirits don’t always live in a body; some of them live in drinks of alcohol….

🎬

This twisted little gem is only 99¢ at your favorite retailer.

The audio (amusingly narrated by Kelley Mack) is available at Audible, Amazon & iTunes.

HaPpY FriDaY Y’all.

Happy Halloweenie Ghouls & Boils

Hold out your eyes and I’ll give you a little insight into Smoke Free.

Smoke Free is a weird little story conceived in the smoke of a brush pile. The photos below show the cover; the first photograph and the finished cover.

Smoke Free is probably the only book cover we have not changed at least a dozen times. The truth is I have never wanted to change it. I love this cover and the image of that little pumpkin smoking a cigar never fails to amuse me. (I have the husband to thank for that.)

Smoke Free

I had never heard of Irwin Smutter before that day and he (like the cigar smoking pumpkin) still amuses me with his absolute weirdness; him and the bizarre world he resides in.

And a bite sized sample of the lunch break tale

Irwin marched down the stark white hallway with the impudence of a man on a mission. At the end of corridor, a glass door awaited with the words FREE YOUR SELF painted in large gold letters. He raised a curled fist to knock but decided against it. Easing the door open he called out, “Yoo-hoo. Is anyone home?” when no one responded he grudgingly entered the room and scanned its contents.

The room appeared empty other than an oversized sofa. Irwin reposed himself against the frigid vinyl, crossed his feet and sighed. A lively timbered scene covered the wall opposite the door, designed in such a way it almost looked like a window. Beyond the dull sheen of the pretend window was a forest where rays of sunshine cut through a smoky haze. The remaining walls were un-textured, pale and bare. The room smelled of sandalwood and acetone, a bizarre sweetness that sickened and comforted him at the same time. Irwin shifted nervously on the stiff upholstery in search of a warm spot. There was none.

The faux leather, the lifeless walls, the fake window – it was all too unsettling. Nothing is real, he thought, stretching his arms until his hands met above his head. Fads! The world has been reduced to kooks, phonies, and fads. Reassured by his own summation, Irwin interlaced his fingers and stretched further. When the joints in his entwined hands refused to pop, he rested them at the base of his neck.

Smoking cessation. Yeah, right. It was not Irwin’s idea. Irwin enjoyed smoking. The pungent smell of a fresh-lit cigarette made bitter coffee sweet. Smoking was one of the few things he looked forward to each day. A good smoke, a little booze, a lot of caffeine and Evie.

Happy Halloween!

Available wherever e-books are sold.

Smoke Free narrated by Troy McElfresh and is available at

Amazon

Apple

Audible