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Never Throw Anything Away

March 18, 2019

Our mothers told us to clean our room, put stuff we weren’t using away, and throw/give away stuff we no longer use.

The same thing holds true with authors. Everything we see, every fragment of conversation we overhear is material. Sometimes it finds its way whole into a bit of prose or a poem. Sometimes it influences a scene. Sometimes it just plain old doesn’t fit and retreats into the parking lot where it waits for the right place to reemerge.

My novel, Out of the Desert, is saturated with just such bits. A few years ago, I published a story about a woman who had named her breasts before she had a double mastectomy. It was light-hearted, if ever that topic can be light-hearted. I needed a powerful scene between two estranged sisters. How to get them back together after a twenty-year separation. Recycling the long short story into a five page scene did the trick.

I wondered how I would end the novel. It had to have a positive ending. It had to answer one of the key questions asked near the end by the main character. I searched the parking lot for ideas. What did my eye fall upon except a small character sketch I called “The Greeter.”

Several years ago, my husband and I made the trip between northern Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake about twice a month. When we drove in daylight, we were overjoyed to see a man standing in a cross-over, waving to the passing cars, and grinning widely. We nicknamed him the greeter. As time passed, the greeter grew older and was in the cross-over less often, until one day he wasn’t there any longer.

My husband and I made up stories about his life. We wondered if he was a retired veteran. That idea fit with what we wanted him to be. We wove tales around his life. We made up names, a backstory, and an ending. I jotted these down in a file called “The Greeter.” When it came time to write the last story, I gave my main character a greeter who’d waved at him when he was a teen. I gave the main character an interest in the man, a curiosity to learn about the man’s backstory. I gave the main character permission to write about this humble in glorious prose.

I gave myself permission to recycle the greeter’s story in the final passage of the novel. Due out later this year, I hope you remember the path the greeter traveled to appear in the final movement of Out of the Desert.

#BookTeaser, #EyesWithoutAFace, Uncategorized

EYES WITHOUT A FACE Teaser

February 22, 2019

I find it hard to believe that not everyone has read EYES WITHOUT A FACE, my novel about a female serial killer. She tells the story in her own voice and in her own unique style. In hope of teasing more of you into reading my novel, here’s the first complete chapter. I hope you like it enough to pick up a copy.

No matter what anyone says, I wasn’t born a serial killer. I don’t carry a sociopath gene, a psychopath gene, or even a serial killer gene. No such thing.

You can argue about nurture versus nature. Go ahead. Have at it. Look at the studies about psychopaths. Check me against the list of traits. I didn’t wet my bed, kill small animals, or set fires. My younger brother did those things, but he didn’t kill people―as far as I know. I wasn’t sexually promiscuous. My sister was. She began screwing every boy and some of the men in town as soon as she got breasts.

My father was verbally and physically abusive like half the men in town. So overpowering was the old man’s dominance that my mother retreated into a dark place where no spark emerged. Valium and vodka numbed her into submission.

None of this turned me into a killer. I came to this life through free will.

Back in college, I was never in touch with the lifestyles of my sorority sisters, who were into sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I knew from the very beginning that would never be satisfying. I needed something more, something different. Once I killed someone, however, I found my true calling in life.

In a way, fate led me to kill people that didn’t deserve to live. Other than one time, I never, ever killed anyone without a damned good reason. Even that time, I felt justified because I was learning my craft, honing my skills, if you will. I came to killing gradually, but once I started, I continued for more than three decades.

I’m not very comfortable writing about my life. I spent the first half of it building walls, packing my emotions into boxes, and pre- tending to be something I wasn’t. Now, beginning my sixth decade, I unpacked those same boxes onto these pages, all the while still pretending to be someone I’m not. By no means have I provided an accounting all of my kills. Representative ones, memorable ones, but not the entire list. Yet, as I record my story in black and white, I see it’s not a dark coming-of-age tale full of who-gives-a-shit trivia.

My life and what I did with it matters.

If you’re reading this, I’m either in a facility where I can’t pursue my craft and kill anyone else, or I’m dead. You may never understand why I became a killer. At times, I don’t either.

Remember, we are not all what we seem.

I have violated your trust. Telling you what I did hurt you. I’m sorry for lying. One thing I know for certain. You can’t tell anyone about what I did. Ever.

Well, that’s the first chapter. If you like it, you can find the book for sale on Amazon.

Thanks for reading. See you soon for a different blog post.

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