Things Like This Are Happening…

A short excerpt from my new manuscript..The Bequest.

The engine of the 767 roared as the departing plane raced down the runway. Juicer Alexis’ white shirt was drenched in sweat, half-hidden beneath the wrinkled linen jacket. Surrounded by sick Syrian refugees, he pushed his hand through his rumpled hair and tried to steady his shaking limbs before blowing a sigh of relief. He’d remained hidden for several weeks in the house of an art lover in Dumayr before the invitation from Tyler College arrived via the sporadic email system inviting him to review and appraise a large collection of donated artifacts looking strikingly like others Jucar once housed in his museum.

He stared out the window of the humanitarian plane, one of the few allowed to enter and exit, and surveyed the beautiful city. A vast arid plateau lay below him, fingers of streams spidering into the Barada, the river responsible for the creating the fertile Al Gutah Oasis, site of his beloved city, Damascus. Just an hour earlier, he’d barely escaped detection at a terrorist roadblock on the way to the airport.

“Don’t even breathe when they stop me,” his friend whispered from the front seat. Jucar hoped the hidden compartment beneath the back seat of the man’s car could contain his fear. The opening was small as Jucar tried to endure the cramps rising in his extremities. He clutched his computer to his chest, praying the reputation for hating the West his friend was known for, would be the decoy they needed to get Jucar out of the country. He felt the vehicle slow and then slam to a stop. The tires slid on the gravel, sending dust seeping into the hiding place, nearly choking him. He closed his eyes and felt the sweat trail down his face and drop onto the laptop encased in his balled form.

Voices outside rose and fell. He heard the slap of a man’s hand across someone’s face before gunshots ripped through the trunk just behind him. He jerked suddenly, stilled himself and held his breath. A moment later he heard a gun bang on the trunk and an unfamiliar voice screaming at his friend to open it. Finding a pair of jumper cables and three gallons of water, the trunk slammed shut.

“Search what you will!” his friend’s voice was calm and certain. “If there is anyone to be found in my car, I shall kill them for you!”

The door behind the passenger seat creaked open. A man kneeled on the seat above him, crushing his full weight onto the hidden man, forcing a wheeze of air from Jucar’s mouth. He could see the fingers of someone brushing inside the seat inches from his face. He hoped they could not smell his fear or the stench of the sweat rising from his body.

Shortly after the door closed, the car started and pulled away, the gravel again spitting behind them. He remained quiet for several minutes before he heard a voice.

“We did it, Jucar!” His friend whispered, as though someone might still hear. “They took my old computer and my wallet, as we suspected, but they knew of me, which is why I am not dead at this time.” He laughed, but Jucar was well aware of the attack his friend had just been spared. He’d witnessed the brutality boldly broadcast on the networks of the television stations now controlled by terrorist groups across Syria. “We must hurry, as they said the refugee plane will be gone by nightfall.”

Jucar’s lungs expanded and then deflated in gratitude. Outside the airport terminal entrance, Jucar said a bittersweet goodbye. He held his friend closely, knowing he might never see him again should one of them be discovered before his return. If he returned.

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Do Writer’s Ever Go on Vacation?

I am days away from an extended vacation to Italy. I can almost taste the fresh pasta, breads, and vegetables. When I think of a writer’s life, I don’t think about taking “time off.” Instead, I think about seeing new places that I will someday use as a setting in my next work or listening for an accent a new character might have. I watch for mannerisms, facial expressions or attitudes. I close me eyes and try to pick up sounds or smells that are familiar to where I am at. I taste everything with new vigor and delight in the mode of transportation I use. In other words, this is not down time, it is the gathering of more fodder for the mystery that will follow the one I have almost completed!

So, to all of you writer’s who think one day you have “made it” and can relax on your vacations, think again! You are in it for the along haul. You can’t help yourself. You see things differently than other’s do and absorb experiences that will enhance your writing and your reader’s expectations.

To us, vacation is more or less an uninterrupted pocket of time we invest in to gather our thoughts, fill out toolboxes with more tools and “feel” the environment around us. It’s our shot of adrenaline, a necessary drug that will enhance our stories.

Take some time off now and again to explore your backyard, your neighborhood, your country or the world and then write about what you have learned. You don’t need to call it vacation, as you’ll be working the whole time anyway!

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY SEPTEMBER 12-OCTOBER 12

From September 12 through October 12, Goodreads will be running a contest for 5 autographed copies of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance. Make sure you take the time to register and tell your friends!

 Read the Goodreads giveaway details here!

FINAL Cover buttons

 

Join me on Goodreads throughout the month as I answer questions about the new release!

See you there!

Ginger

Yes, Ms. Bonet, I Do Remember You!

I am sitting at my writing desk fumbling with an aqua-colored  button given to me by a thin, aged woman I met one winter day on my way to Chicago several years ago. We were sitting side-by-side on a United 737 airplane when I saw the button fall from her hand knit sweater into her lap. She hadn’t noticed it and when she crossed her legs it fell to the floor. I patted the floor to retrieve the tiny bit of plastic and placed in to her trembling hand. I complimented her on her sweater, as I had never seen such a delicate weave or color before. One thing led to another and soon we were chatting about how the sweater came to be.

Her name was Yvette Bonet. She shared with me that the sweater was almost seventy-years-old, passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. She had owned it since she was sixteen, a gift passed to her on that special birthday. The wool was angora, imported from France and dyed the pale aqua by a clothier in Paris. My eyes ran over the covering again, seeking ordinary pilling to a small hole that might give away the garment’s age, but their was none to be found. The buttons I thought were plastic, were actually dyed bone, craftsman carved and held in place by strings made of leather.

I watched her as she wove the leather of that missing button through her fingers and listened as she told me about her journey from France to the United States wearing that very sweater. Her eyes teared as she talked about leaving her beloved country, knowing again she would never see the grandmother she had come to love.

I shared the fact that the color of the buttons reminded me of a favorite aunt’s kitchen table. As we spoke, I found myself closing my eyes and swore I could still smell the six-inch high, fresh rolls that seemed to emerge from my aunt’s kitchen any time a neighbor or friend arrived. I knew the warm butter mixed with homemade jam would drop from my lips at any moment.  In that short journey, this stranger and I shared vivid memories of the bright moments the color of those tiny buttons evoked.

As we hugged each other goodbye, she placed the tiny bone button in my hand. “You gave me back the memories I thought were lost. Remember me with this,” she said as we parted.  “I have no children to pass this on to, but you will remember me, won’t you?”

God is so faithful in the way he has given me out-of-the-blue recollections of so many people I have travelled with over the years. Yes, Miss Bonet, I do remember you.

I push back my office chair and smile at this tiny aqua-colored button that rolls in my hand. It is a good memory.

I Found a Button

I reflect on my past a lot. Not the bad parts, as I try to let those dark moments go. Instead, I stop often to remember the people, places and things that influenced me. For those who have read Run, River Currents, it goes without saying how the place of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick made a mark on my life. But, you may not know that it was a tiny button I found on a journey to Italy that started me on a path to my upcoming release, The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance. 

I was in the small town of Vinci, home to Leonardo de Vinci. The others travelers had decided to visit de Vinci’s Museum, but I was feeling restless and decides to roam the small village while they toured the site. I remember strolling down a short hill lined with stone walls that overlooked a spectacular valley. The sight caught me off guard and I stopped to take in the grandeur that surrounded me. A moment later an old woman on a bicycle sped by, her front basket filled with fresh flowers. I remember feeling so lucky as to be able to enjoy such a cultural banquet. Knowing that my fellow sojourners would soon be emerging from the museum, I started back up the hill. tripping over the uneven stone sidewalk and dropping to the ground. I glance around hoping no one saw my clumsiness. As I put my hands on the sidewalk to raise up, I saw a small red button to my left. I picked it up, palming it until I was again on my feet.

For the balance of my walk up the hill, I let the small round circle turn over in my hand. It was then that the remembrance of my grandparents button box came to mind. It was there that the stories from my youth wove there way into The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance. Funny how such simple things in life turn into stories, isn’t it?

Do you have a story that came to life from a life experience? Share it, won’t you?

 

How Life Can Give You Ideas

This post is a repost from my traveling days. I couldn’t help but repost it, as I had something similar happen on a plane journey to Australia. Enjoy!

Recently ,I purchased a “Body Bugg”. (www.bodybugg.com) to give me some motivation to lose a bit of weight. The Body Bugg is a calculator of sorts. It monitors the amount of calories you burn in a day via a black armband you wear on your upper arm. At night, you log on to your IPad and enter everything that goes into your mouth, including breath mints, gum, etc. The Bugg then gets plugged into your computer and syncs to calculate how many calories you ate and how many you burned!

When it quits screaming, you’ve done okay. That is where the story begins.

I got on a plane to Chicago from St Louis. I’d been working all day and was feeling full of energy. For those that know me, that’s not always good. I get to my row on the plane and there is a distinguished looking man, a bit older than I am, if that is possible, sitting in the tiny seat next to me. He stands and steps aside to let me into my seat. I take off my jacket, which reveals my Body Bugg. I see him looking at it, but he says nothing. Curiosity finally wins him over and he says, “What’s that thing on your arm?”

I say, “A jail monitor.”

“What did you do?”

“Murder.” I say matter-of-factly.

He gets quiet and turns away. A few minutes later he looks at me and says,
“You look like a nice enough person. It must of been a long time ago.”

I read the hope in his eyes, but I can’t resist.

“Yeah, it was. ‘Bout two weeks now.”

His eyes widen. “Why are you on this plane then?”

“Going to meet my parole officer in Chicago. She thinks I’m a flight risk.”

He cranks his head sideways and gives me a good long look.

“But you’re on a plane, doesn’t that mean you are a flight risk?”

“Naw,” I say. “The police put me on this plane. Actually, I was more of a driving risk. Got out of Colorado ten days ago in a golf cart. Made it clean to the Oklahoma border before someone stopped me.”

“Why did they stop you?”

“I still had someone’s clubs on the back end and there wasn’t a golf course for two hundred miles.”

By now, I’m barely able to contain myself, but the business man is so intrigued I just have to play it out.

“Yeah, even stopping for gas didn’t raise anyone’s suspicion,” I said. “I told them I lived just down the road and had forgotten my purse. Everyone helped me out.”

“How did it end?”

“How do these always end, Mr.?” I said straight faced. “Speed trap.”

He stares at me for the longest time wondering if he heard right, then bursts right out laughing.

We both chuckled for  the rest of the trip. That moment gave me a great scene for an upcoming book!

And THAT’s how scenes can be made!