Short Story Tuesday: 22 weeks

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The ground was slippery as I rushed into the building. The rains from the night before had finally abated, so at least my head was dry. The Catholics were praying at the corner of the street, holding their rosaries. At least there weren’t any of those crazy protestors this morning. I had called the clinic to ask if they would be. The women had assured me they only came two days a week, so I chose a day that they wouldn’t be there.

The baby kicked my ribs. I had just started feeling those little movements a few weeks ago. It always made me nauseous. It didn’t help, because my stomach was already in knots. I’d argued with my boyfriend for weeks about this. He wanted the baby. I didn’t. Yet there was something about the decision that seemed…off. If it was true that this procedure was no different than any other minor surgery, like a gallbladder removal, why did I feel the baby inside of me? I didn’t want to know the gender. Yet…why was there a gender? Boy or girl? No one ever asked if your appendix was a boy or a girl. Those had been my boyfriends arguments. And now, they resurfaced as I adjusted my coat in the waiting room.

The room was full already. The baby bumps were obvious, and the mothers kept their eyes down. I took it all in. Their scared faces. Their bored faces. Their faces that scrunched up as they patted their bellies, as if in pain or discomfort. Maybe their babies kicked them, too.

Baby. Babies. Why did I think of it like that? I edged toward the door. Maybe this had been a bad idea. It wasn’t like I was completely incapable of caring for another being. I’d been taking care of my drunk of a mom for years. Yet finally I was doing something for myself…going to school. And then I got impregnated by Cole. Jerk. Didn’t want to use protection. “Just once!” he had said.

I was almost out the door before I even realized it. The baby kicked again.

“Hello.” I jumped and turned to look out the door. A woman stood in the cold, breath visible in the air as she exhaled. “I’m a sidewalk counselor. I’m here to help. Please, don’t kill your baby. Have you thought about adoption instead?”

I hesitated. Yes, I had thought about it. But the process seemed so…daunting.

The baby kicked again. I stepped out towards the woman as she smiled gently at me. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll help you along the way.”

 

***

Within the last two weeks, Democrats have blocked legislation that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks. Whatever your thoughts on human life, the United States remains only one of seven countries that have not passed such laws. The other countries are Vietnam, China, North Korea, the Netherlands, Canada (most provinces don’t allow it after 12 weeks), and Singapore. 191 other nations have abortion restrictions for under 20 weeks. This story was inspired by Baby Rowan. Read his story here, if you dare.

Want to make a difference? Volunteer at your local pregnancy center, or stand on the front lines to help scared mothers. Can’t do either? Perhaps donate to a center, or support a full time abolitionist.

That Moment

Every author knows it. That moment when you know that what you have written, or are going to write, makes the hard work worth it. Sometimes I wonder if we, as a community, band together so easily because we’ve all experienced it. On some level. Whether it’s finishing a manuscript, writing that perfect dialogue exchange, getting that review, or interacting with that reader who loves what you do…that moment.

Remember it. Savor it. Then get back on the writing bandwagon, because there are a thousand reasons not to, but for every moment that pops up to counter those reasons…it makes it worth it.

So raise your glass (or mug…or tankard) and toast yourself, and me, and all those others out there who want their dream to be reality. And don’t stop.

***

My favorite is pointing out the talent when I come across it. Self-promotion is hard, but promoting others? I love it.

JE Purrazzi and her Malfunction universe…Infraction comes out soon! (e-book). Sign up for my email list to get it for free.

SM Holland and Get In My Head…Sara’s Story is now out in paperback. Her work is needed.

Bonnie Anderson and Always Look For the Magic. The story of her grandfather growing up during the Depression. I’m loving it, and how it takes me back to middle school and devouring every book I could on history.

Debi Walter runs The Romantic Vineyard, and is publishing Cherishing Us: 365 Tips for a Healthy Marriage (e-book and paperback). She also wrote a novel about her grandmother called Through the Eyes of Grace.

Short Story Tuesday: The Warlock Council

Below are the first 500 words from my book Rift in the Deep, available for e-book pre-order here. 

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Colin Redstone inched backwards over the smooth stone, the sound of his shuffling feet masked by the raucous shouts of the Warlock Council. How had it come to this? Yet he knew how, deep down inside. Briton the Brown made it clear as soon as he invaded the peace talks and demanded an audience with the Council.

Never had Colin seen such anger and animosity. Or fear. The Council shouted at the diminutive man in their midst. Briton’s flowing brown robes were the same hue as his skin and eyes. At first glance, nothing about him demanded attention. Colin knew who he was, but if he hadn’t, he would have thought he was a drake, wandering too far from his temple.

But he was no drake.

Hence the shouting and anger.

Colin stopped his slow escape from the Council chambers as one voice rose above them all, twisting his neck to observe the commotion.

“We demand you cease your perverted ways!” Spittle flew from High Councilor Radan’s mouth, specks glittering in the air. “You have embroiled all the Lands in your war, and have forced the warlocks into hiding, even from our own nations!”

“You cannot blame me for this.” In contrast to his small stature, Briton’s voice rang deep and commanding. Colin felt the impact, a burning desire to believe him burning in his chest. But no. Briton was a madman.

Colin paused and leaned in to hear what he had to say. The whole room stilled, silent. As if the other warlocks wanted to believe him, too. It wasn’t true, since Colin had many a discussion with the assembly about Briton, and the consensus was that he was a manipulator.

That must be part of Briton’s accessing power; the ability to turn men’s hearts to him. It was a dangerous, seductive thing. And probably part of the reason the Lands were now embroiled in war. Actually, not probably. Most certainly the reason.

“We most certainly can,” Councilmember Josiah said, his calm demeanor a direct contrast to Radan, who sat red-faced next to him. “This war must end, Briton. And you are the one who can end it.”

“Am I to blame that the common people are afraid of us?” Briton’s dark eyes swept the assembled warlocks, turning from the table where the Councilmembers sat to appraise the other warlocks present. The room was packed wall to wall, mostly standing room. Colin stood closest to the door. Wedged as he was, he had a good view of the men present, and their wide, inquiring eyes watching Briton the Brown’s every move.
No doubt, Briton would hold them in his grasp, only to wrench the rug out from under their feet in an instant. His silver tongue couldn’t talk its way out if this predicament. A shaft of fear, icy and cold, crept up Colin’s spine at the thought.
Briton had made his bed. Violence is never the answer. Surely he knew this.
All roads led to him. All Lands feared the warlocks because of him.

***

Want to know the rest of the story? You can, March 1st! And don’t forget to sign up for my email list and receive a free copy of Infraction by JE Purrazzi.

Rift in the Deep Cover Reveal

Thanks to the tireless work of Jill Purrazzi and Susie at Poole Publishing…the cover art and book design are DONE. Ready for publication on March 1, and pre-order on February 18th. I’m so excited!

Let me know what you think!

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Short Story Tuesday: To Trudge

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Trudge. To walk slowly or with heavy steps.

She glanced down at the downy head that came just to her chin, the black curls soft on her cheek. The child was strapped to her, his warm body the constant reminder of why she did what she did. For him.

She looked back up to the chain link fence that surrounded them, the compound bustling with activity. Children squealed and ran haphazardly through the tents while mothers scolded and fathers clumped together in circles, worried eyes scanning the horizon. She would have given the world twice over for her husband to be at her side. As she thought of him, her throat closed up. Tears threatened to escape their confines. Then the baby giggled and reached his chubby hands for her cheek. She caught his wandering fingers in her own and kissed them. She still had a reason to live. To fight. To…trudge. Even if that was all she could do, she would.

The line shifted, and she took a step forward. The woman in front of her smelled like dust and sweat, the once-colorful shawl around her shoulders now stained with dirt and grime. What was her story? Perhaps not much different than her own. Did she feel the same hope burning in her chest that this time, she would be given access to the world beyond the fence? She must, to some extent, otherwise she wouldn’t be back in line. Waiting for hours. Even days.

Another shift. Another step forward. The child reached for her again, and she kissed his curls. He squirmed and fussed, trying to escape. She knew the feeling. No human being was meant to live in confinement. Freedom and liberty was a God-given right. Yet here she was, wasn’t she? Confinement for freedom. There was irony there somewhere, but she had no desire to find any humor in it. Stale irony, then.

Another shuffle forward. The future at the end of the line taunted. Was it bright and beckoning? Would she find their freedom? She didn’t know what she would do if failure met her there, instead. Anxiety clawed at her chest, even as the baby hugged her tight and babbled incoherently. What a stark contrast he was to her own inner desperation. She would be strong. For him. She must be.

Her turn had come. Another shuffle, and then…”Name?” She gave it. “Papers?” She gave them. The eyes that looked up at her had no compassion. They were dead eyes. They belonged to a wax figure in a museum.

“I’m sorry. Not this month.”

****

The refugee crisis continues. 24 displaced people flee for safety every minute. Yes, you read that right. To get involved, go here.

Writing as Catharsis: My Year Part 2

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I wrote last week about a conversation I had with my husband that opened up a floodgate, and I entered into the world of mental health illnesses and all that comes with it. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Last August I had major knee surgery and was bed bound for 12 weeks, with a three and two year old. I’m sure you can imagine how fun that was. My body was already in a state of recovery, and my emotional instability didn’t help. Depression set in, and I knew that unless I kept my mind sharp and active, I might not ever claw out of the slump I found myself in.

Then the question popped into my mind: Why not finish writing that book I started as a teenager? The idea sprang forth like a shoot from a seed. Yes. That could keep my mind engaged while I languished on my bed, waiting for my knee to heal.

It was the best decision I could have made. I wrote four manuscripts in eight months. I’m set to release Rift in the Deep on March 1st, the first in a series called The Steward Saga. Here is the blurb. I won’t say that writing “saved me” but I will say that it helped save my sanity. While God healed my body and helped me sort through the feelings that came with it, writing became my outlet for those emotions and creativity that had been building up inside. If you are a writer, you know what I mean, right? It’s cathartic.

Writing serves several purpose, and being a creative outlet is just one of them. I’ll tackle more reasons at another time. But for now, and how it interacts with the suffering and trials I’ve experienced this last year, you could say that God has used it to show me that the path He has laid out isn’t only filled with darkness. There are shafts of light that burst forth to illuminate his goodness in the midst of pain. It provides an anchor, so that when I’m tempted to wonder if He really does love me and have my best at heart, I write. And His promises come flooding back.