Wednesday, October 13, 2021

My Flash Fiction ONE WOMAN’S TRASH

10 13 2021 

In my newsletter on Tuesday, I talked about the little flash fiction story that won a contest in a local newsletter. I also am offering the book I won (on how to write flash fiction) in a drawing. You can still enter the drawing, which I’ll do on Sunday if you want to sign up for my newsletter! http://tinyletter.com/KGnews

 

Making good on the offer to share my winning story, I’m putting it here on the blog today. Hope you enjoy it! It’s very gentle—no one even dies.  

 

 

ONE WOMAN’S TRASH

 

Kaye George

word count: 997

 

Nancy Beth stumbled as she hauled the roller trash bin down the driveway to the curb. It was cold and dark. She silently cursed the absence of her husband. This had always been his job. She stopped herself before she became angry at him for dying, remembering how he had always done chores with no complaining. Why had she forgotten the trash until so late? She couldn’t see very well at night, the way her eyes were these days, with that cataract her doctor wanted to wait to remove. Also, this time of year, skunks came out at night. She could always smell them the next morning in the yard. Sometimes she even smelled them inside the house if they sprayed too near. Nancy had never met up with a skunk face to face in the wild and she never wanted to.

When she got back inside without any wildlife encounters, she washed her hands and dropped onto the couch to catch her breath. Everything seemed to be such an effort lately. She sorely missed Harvey. He had not only taken out the trash, he’d taken over doing the dishes and laundry for the last few years, telling her that she had done it long enough.

There were so many reasons she missed him. Being alone during the time of COVID had been hard. She hadn’t had anyone to talk to in the evenings, no one to warm the bed, no one to hug. And she loved him. Things were better now, but she didn’t have the energy to do much.

The discards in the trash bin weighed on her mind that night. She had finally, after three years, gone through Harvey’s last few things. Months ago, her son had helped her take the wearable clothing to the charity store and the other kids had picked out what they wanted as keepsakes of their father. What was left, besides what she held onto, was worthless. Some worn out shoes, old clothing with holes and torn places, a down vest that had leaked most of the stuffing years ago. Still, she thought about those things sitting out by the curb. And missed him even more.

***

John shook the leash and Candy came running, ready for her early morning walk.

“Who’s a good girl?” he crooned, squatting down and putting his face near hers while he fastened the leash. Candy’s tail whipped harder than ever. She knew she was a good girl.

They set out on the usual route, three blocks up the street, then turn around and come back three blocks home. The sun was warm on his head and shoulders and birdsong serenaded them. John felt good. Finally. He would always miss Carol, his deceased wife, but getting Candy, a beagle mix, from the shelter six months ago had been the best idea he’d had in ages. Before Candy, he’d been challenged by learning to cook and clean, all the things Carol had done for him. But he felt years younger and stronger since he’d started walking Candy every day. She was someone to talk to, and to cuddle with on the couch watching TV in the evening. Or during the day, for that matter. His days and nights sometimes ran together since Covid.

When they reached their turning-around point, Candy reversed, but John wanted to stay outdoors and pulled her forward.

“Let’s go another block today, girl. Expand our horizons.”

She eagerly agreed and surged ahead. Halfway up the block, a trash bin teetered precariously over the curb. Candy lunged at it and knocked it over with a clatter.

“That’s not good, Candy.” John watched the contents strew into the street. Before he could rein her in, Candy tore into one of the plastic bags. “No!” he shouted, and pulled her back, but she had a blue vest in her mouth, a down vest, mostly flat and devoid of the filling. Men’s clothing scattered from the bag, some items clinging to the vest. He wondered if there had been a divorce at this house.

“What am I going to do with you?” He pried the garment from her teeth and looped her leash around the mailbox on the other side of the driveway, then knelt and started to gather the clothing to stuff it back into the bag. No good. The bag had a huge hole now.

A shadow fell over him and he looked up to see a woman standing over him, shaking her head and smiling.

John jumped up. “I’m so sorry. My dog knocked over your trash bin and pulled these things out.”

“I know. I saw it from the house.” Her smile was radiant. She held a new plastic bag, which he took and filled with the clothing, and a couple of pair of shoes.

When he was finished, he made sure the bin was secure, not threatening to fall off the edge of the curb.   

“I put it out too far,” she said. “It was partly my fault. It’s hard to see in the dark.”

Unable to contain his nosiness, John asked, “Did your husband get a lot of new clothes?”

She shook her head and her lovely face crumpled slightly. “No, I just got around to getting rid of the last of his things. He passed away a few years ago.”

“I lost my wife a few years ago, too. It’s been hard, hasn’t it? I’m John.”

She nodded.

He liked how easy it was to talk to her. “Can I take you out for coffee? To make up for tipping your trash over?”

She liked that he was kind, and that he had a dog. You could trust dog lovers. But she would go slowly. “Yes, coffee would be nice. Thank you. I’m Nancy Beth.”

When she leaned down to pat Candy’s head, the dog licked her hand.

One woman’s trash was another man’s treasure, John thought.

Copyright 2021 Kaye George

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

On Writing

 

9 29 2021 On Writing

 

I just want to touch briefly on something I’ve had on my mind before it vanishes, as those things tend to do sometimes.

 

I’ve been reading, in a couple of places, about contrasts in writing styles. The gist of these essays were that there are two styles, likened to nails and headlights. You either nail down you plot ahead of time, or see only as far as a headlight as you go along. These styles are also called “pantsing” and “plotting.” It’s been my feeling, and I thing I’ve written it here before, that every writer is actually a combination of these two. No one plots every single detail before they start writing and never changes a thing. Also, no one starts writing having no idea at all what they’re going to write about. Like, what shall I touch upon today? Ice cream, romance, murders, windows, game shows? No, the story and the characters unfold for both kinds of writers, for every writer. That’s why this is called a creative process. The story is being created.

 

One of my sources is this article from the Suite T blog, an offshoot of Southern Writers Magazine:

https://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/2021/09/do-i-use-nails-or-do-i-use-headlights.html

 

But I have to add one more thing that helps me to say what I want to say in my fiction, as I headlight and nail along. That’s a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that hangs on my office wall. I bought it in the O’Keeffe museum in New Mexico (which you should visit if you get a change). My photo doesn’t capture the fine print, which is: “Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”

Image is mine

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Winner!

 Aaaand, drum roll...we have a winner for Lorie Lewis Ham's brand new book!



Congrats to Grandmas Cootie! Whom, I am positive, does NOT have cooties. I've seen her name around enough to know she's an avid reader and supporter of mystery fiction. 

For everyone else, you can nip over to 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/One-Us-Tower-District-Mystery/dp/B09BDVRKH3/

B&N Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-of-us-lorie-lewis-ham/1139990160?

or Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/one-of-us-54


HAPPY READING TO ALL!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Lorie Lewis Ham is here today!

 I'm so delighted to welcome Lorie Lewis Ham to my blog today, and so excited about her new book. Lorie, in her role as editor of Kings River Life Magazine and the new Mystery Rat's Maze Podcast had been a valueable friend to many writers over the last several years, and one of them is me. Here's my chance to pay her back. Here's her essay on her new novel--be sure to check this out!

GIVEAWAY! LORIE WILL GIVE AN E-BOOK AWAY TO ONE PERSON WHO COMMENTS, LEAVING AN EMAIL ADDRESS (which can be disguised, kayegeorge at gmail dot com, or somesuch.). She will pick the winner before next Wednesday. Good luck!

“One of Us” is available on Amazon, on the Nook at Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

 Book Settings-Why I Set My Book in the Tower District of Fresno, CA

By Lorie Lewis Ham

 


My first mystery came out in the early 2000s and featured a gospel singing sleuth. I set that series in a fictional version of my hometown of Reedley, California, largely because it was what I knew. The last book in that series came out 11 years ago.

 

As I started working on a new book I knew that I wanted to do something different so I decided to set my new book, which is the first in a new series, in a place that is very dear to me, the Tower District in Fresno, California.

 

The historic Tower District is Fresno's dining, arts, and entertainment hub. People might be surprised to know this, but a great deal of community and regional theatre happens in the San Joaquin Valley and much of it happens in the Tower. My main character, Roxi Carlucci, actually helps out with a theatre production in this book and that is where the murder takes place. The Tower is also the home of the Rogue Festival, a fringe festival where performers from all over the world come to perform (this festival will be featured in a future book). You will also find unique shops, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, tea shops, and much more.

 

Here is a bit of description of the area from my new book “One of Us”

 

“As we walked to the heart of the Tower and its many shops and restaurants, I felt like I'd gone back in time. I had read in an article that most of the houses had been built between the 1920s and the 1950s. There wasn't a new house in sight—each home had the kind of character only houses built before the 1960s seemed to have. The streets were lined with various kinds of tall trees. Even the sidewalks had a bit of character with its cracks and unevenness here and there.”

 

I love the Tower District, it is my favorite place in the area to hang out, so I hope you will all take a journey with me to the Tower District in my new mystery novel, and I hope some of you will come check it out in person as well. Keep in mind that my version is somewhat fictionalized—adding businesses that were needed for the sake of the story and changing some of the names—but it is still just as wonderful!

 

One of the locations mentioned in “One of Us” (it is also on the cover of the book), is the Tower Theatre. Its very existence and the Tower District way of life is currently at risk. If you would like to know more you can find information on the Facebook page for “Save the Tower Theatre.”

 

“One of Us” is available on Amazon, on the Nook at Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

 

“One of Us”  A Tower District Mystery by Lorie Lewis Ham-

A woman starting over. A gossip website. A handsome playwright with a dark side. A director with an explosive temper. And a murder without a motive. It’s a mystery set in the historic Tower District—Fresno's dining, arts, and entertainment hub.

 

Bio- Lorie Lewis Ham lives in Reedley, California and has been writing ever since she was a child. Her first song and poem were published when she was 13, and she has gone on to publish many articles, short stories, and poems throughout the years, as well as write for a local newspaper, and publish 6 mystery novels. For the past 11 years, Lorie has been the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine, and she produces Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where you can now hear an excerpt of her new book One of Us. You can learn more about Lorie and the new book on her website mysteryrat.com and find her on Twitter @mysteryrat and Facebook. Another way to keep up with Lorie’s writing is to subscribe to her newsletter, which you can do on her website. 

 

Lorie has been married to Larry for 30 years and they have 2 grown children—Jayce and Joseph Ham. She currently has 5 cats (Merlin, Sam, Dean, Sidney, and Willow), 4 dogs (Lestat, Huey, Xander, and Phoebe), and a pet dwarf rabbit (Sherlock). For many years, she worked in pet rat rescue, and has had many pet rats of her own over the years.


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

What Is Broken and What Is Not?


I asked myself that question after I reviving a mental health help that I last used just about exactly a year ago. My crutch is a Worry List. I started it when my husband was ill and dying and I was worrying all day every day. When I put my concerns and issues on a list—actually wrote it out, I found I could read my Worry List once a day, give myself some fretting time, then spend the rest of the day less concerned. It worked, well enough anyway.



 

Last year at this time it held things like Covid, our political problems, the condition of my yard, my failing car, and some red spots that were on my carpet.

 

This year it’s more like, Covid, the impending destruction of the planet, the looming demise of democracy worldwide. You know, actual apocalyptic stuff.

 

Which led me to these two questions: What is actually broken? But, more importantly, what is not broken? Maybe the concentration should be on the latter. There’s plenty there. What would my Non Worry List look like? The things I don’t have to worry about. Thing that don’t weigh me down.



 

I always start with this one. I am above ground, one more day.

 

I have three health children and their spouses, plus seven healthy grandkids, all of whom get together and love each other, and love me. And I love them.

 

I am able to do something I wanted to do all of my life, without impediments—write novels and short stories and actually get them published and read.

 

The community I belong to, mystery writers, are the best people, as a group, on the planet. I firmly believe that. They are wonderful, supportive, kind, helpful—just everything you need from a support group and a bunch of colleagues.

 

These are way down on this list, but they are not unimportant. I had a house with heat and AC. I have enough food. I have medicine when I need it. I have all the clothing I need and the ability to buy more when I feel like it. The basics, right? Food, clothing, shelter.

 

What’s on your Worry List? But, better yet, what’s on your Non-Worry List? One might even call it a List of Things to Be Thankful For.

 

Image of weight by Castlelass at Morguefile

Image of balloons by davide25 from Pixabay

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thoughts on This Week



I guess my thoughts are on Russia today. You might not understand this without a few words about my background. I majored in Russian Studies at Northwestern University for a reason. One reason was that I couldn’t really major in Russian, per se. I knew I would never be proficient in the language in the three years I had left in college when I changed my major.

 

My interest in the country, which was then USSR, was in the culture. As a classical violinist, I had fallen in love with Russian classical music, and loved the more contemporary composers, too. Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and also Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev. Even if I do still have to look up the spellings.

 

Also, as a reader, I was just as deeply in love with Russian classical literature, Dostoevsky, Pushkin. Tolstoy, Chekhov—and many, many more.

 

An anecdote from my college years. I was reading Crime and Punishment in paperback on the El, on my way to a horrible telephone soliciting job (I attended school on a partial scholarship and worked whatever jobs I could find). Coming back to my dorm from the job, I had to take a bus, and two trains, one underground and one elevated. When I changed trains, I had to cross the street and go up the wooden stairs to the El platform. I did this, got on my train, and buried myself in my book. Eventually, something made me look up. The conductor was calling out street numbers, not street names. I was one of two white people in the car. I asked the woman next to me if this train goes to Evanston.

 

“Oh, honey,” I can still hear her alarmed voice. “You’re on a southbound. You need to get off and change trains.”

 

I went to the door and got off at the next stop. I needed to cross the street to get to the northbound elevated platform. Two large Black men were concerned about my safety and they accompanied me to the steps, for which I was grateful.

 

Back on the train, going the right direction, I buried myself in Dostoyevsky again.

 

Maybe that’s why the plight of the Russian athletes at the Olympics affected me so profoundly when the “ROC” team wins and the Piano Concerto #1 is played. Honestly, it moves me to tears. I never equate the politics of a country with the people. They have endured so much, those people.

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1420010978662486017

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Interviews All Over the Place


 

For some reason, I’m doing a lot of interviews in the last few weeks. If you have a burning desire to read my thoughts, mostly on writing, here are some places to quench that conflagration.

 

Fire!

(I should also mention that my blog posts lately have been about writing only in the most tangential sense. The pandemic has figured prominently. I guess that’s understandable. http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/)

 




Quenching. Whew!




So, the interviews. One just appearing yesterday from a place I hadn’t heard about before, NFReads. The contact, Tony Eames, is very good to work with. He had some terrific questions for me to pick from. He said I could add my own, but his were good!

https://www.nfreads.com/interview-with-author-kaye-george/

 

 

The one before that one was with Lois Winston’s Anastasia Pollack—a cute concept. Her character runs the blog behind her back. My character, Tally Holt, did the exchange with her, natch.

https://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com/2021/05/book-club-friday-interview-with-amateur.html

 

At the end of March, Leah Bailey at Cozy Ink did this podcast, which turned out to be run, even though I was nervous. https://cozyinkpodcast.com/author-interview-with-kaye-george/

 

Just before that, Tiffany, the Beach Bum Book Worm, aka beachbumbookworm had a long video chat with me. I was nervous for that, too, but quickly relaxed since she is such a warm, bubbly person. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuyNu9EDkEk

 

All of my recent publicity can be found on my Press Kit page, https://kayegeorge.wixsite.com/kaye-george/press-kit. Press Kit, doesn’t that sound impressive? I thought so.

 

 


Thanks for coming by!

 

Images from pixabay.com, as usual