BLOG BLITZ – Saturday 17 September 2016 – BOOK EXCERPT
The month of September is a special time for me:
my THIRD novel and sequel to
the final in the unsavory heritage series,
The new coat of whitewash on the school house was smudged by mid-October, evidence of mud splatters and children playing. Crisp temperatures begged the pot-bellied stove burn, at least till the noonday sun warmed through the windows, the smoke already turning the walls newly dingy.
It was a plain building, with desks lined in their neat rows. Tall windows welcomed morning sunlight on the east, and garnered warm afternoon sun from the west. The front wall was painted black with the alphabet neatly scripted across the top. Elmore Hazelton’s desk sat in the front of the room, centered to give him the best vantage point of all his pupils. Two cloak rooms were on either side of the door in the back, and he had a good eye on those, too; more than one student had hidden in there in attempt to escape their lessons. Such antics earned only the dunce cap and extra written exercises.
A room at the back served as Mr. Hazelton’s quarters. A loner from his youth, it served him well. A small table was piled with books and lessons, leaving little room for eating. A second, smaller pot-bellied stove provided warmth, and sufficient fire for what little he cooked; he frequented the inn for most of his meals. Books on topics far and wide were lined on shelves and piled in stacks on the floor. He slept beneath a wool blanket on a simple narrow bed, and what few belongings he owned he kept in a plain bureau.
Once again, smoke billowed across the night sky. Once again, flames lit up the dark. The parched timber of the tall oak tree, Cissy’s favorite climbing tree, split, rending the calm of the night with a crackle more piercing than the fire itself; it crashed to the ground with a great rumble like thunder.
It had been a dry and dusty season, no moisture lingering in the earth to aid in dousing the blaze. The river was low and provided barest relief.
Once again, the menfolk from town and country came together. Once again a team was formed from men who bartered and traded and shook hands in Sunday morning meetings. Men worked in sweaty silence or bellowed above the roar of the blaze.
‘Twas the wee hours when a light rain started, bringing with it came a gusty wind. With the fire just contained, all feared it would spread to the town. Until heavy rains followed. Rain and fire battled, seeming as fearlessly as men had, till dawn streaked the sky.
Women folk had tended frightened children through the night, now brought drinking water and biscuits. Weary men rested on the ground, standing by till all was secure and all threat of fire was doused.
“Where’s Mr. Hazelton?” Georgette Roper had three young children, pupils of the lanky teacher. Georgette wandered amongst the men, refilling tankards of water.
“I saw him…” one man started. “Naw, don’t reckon I did.”
“Wasn’t he out by the pine stand?”
“That were Old Man Darby hisself. T’weren’t Hazelton.”
Three or four voiced that they had seen Mr. Hazelton, then realized they had been mistaken.
For several interminable beats, there was silence, nothing but the hissing of the dying embers.
“You don’t think—”
More murmurs trembled in the silence as every eye scoured over the site, striving for evidence no one wanted to find. The front stoop yet stood, and one cloak room. Metal desk frames were naked of their wooden counterparts.
And Mr. Hazelton’s bed frame lay next to the pot-bellied stove where he had slept.
There was nothing left of the rear of the building.
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I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013. Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas. I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years. My characters face many of these same demons.
I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.
Tessa and Clara Bess are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print, with the third book in the series, Cissy, coming out in September of this year. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.
CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Book Excerpt, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch