In my dream, it is a perfect October day. A sky hard and blue as ceramic, the whole world on fire with the crimson death of summer, harvest in full swing; it is the sort of day that a child takes wholly for granted.
I am sixteen and I’m driving the best tractor known to man, an International 806. Pulling a full wagon load of corn up the incline to the main road and not thinking about the yawning ravine off to my right. Until I throttle the engine back and it dies.
Here is where the dream veers into the realm of nightmares. There had been noise – the growl of tractor engine, indistinct radio static, birdsong – but now there is silence. My hand reaches of its own volition, moves languidly, like a fat bass under water, and turns the key in the ignition.
The engine stays dead and the tractor begins a slow roll backwards.
I am going to die.
But then a miracle happens. The wagon strikes something hard. The tongue bends - the crash of metal on metal exploding into the quiet - and the tractor comes to rest, cockeyed, back tires just on the edge of the path. A handful of corn dislodges from the load and drops off into nothingness, brushing elm leaves on its way down the abyss.
My legs are jelly, but I jump from the tractor, roll once in the hard dirt and sit up to see . . . my dad.
He had been following in the grain truck, had seen my dilemma and accelerated to catch up, stopping my roll with the nose of his truck.
Fathers, you see, stand - always and implacably - between their children and the stuff of nightmares.
A mother is the indispensable giver of hugs and kisses, the untiring listening ear, the arms that hold you when you cry. Fathers don’t know what to do with tears, but they will single-handedly slaughter every demon in your universe and they will, if you let them, give you all the tools you need for life.
My own father taught me how to work and how to dance. How to play poker and how to pray. When I couldn’t balance a check book he got out his pencil; when I drove home drunk he summoned an awesome and righteous anger.
He has been, and remains, the only hero in my universe whose feet aren’t made of clay.
Father’s Day . . . well, it doesn’t quite cut it for most dads, does it? Chocolate, or socks, or a blue work shirt hardly say what needs to be said.
But I think he knows. A father, to a daughter, walks amongst the gods, is the brightest and most infallible star in her sky. Although he would laugh out loud if he were to read this.
And then I would be embarrassed.
Happy day, Dad! I love you.
Today I typed the word “Loblolly” at the top of a page and took a deep breath. A big, lung-expanding breath like the one the captain of the swim team sucks before he dives into twelve feet of crystal blue water.
“Beneath the Loblollies” is the third installment of my Rush series – wheeee! – and I’ve already typed the first word to the first outline, so I am well on my way.
For me, there is no favorite aspect to writing. I have never not written, so I only notice the process when, for whatever reason it stops. Like an emphysemic gasping for air, I hunger – suddenly and acutely - for something not there.
Until I open a new document and brush my fingers over the keys. And breathe again.
Book Two, “Maypops in September”, reached its conclusion about a month ago, and while that felt, on some level, like a death in the family, it also holds the promise of a new beginning. I am launching my beloved with all the oomph I can muster behind it, and I won’t be a bit surprised when it makes the NYT bestseller list.
To that end . . . the search for agents begins! Query query query. Social media and conferences and online classes, and I am really enjoying this so much more than I had anticipated. Today I am sharing the joy by enlisting your help, oh loyal and awesome follower. Beneath, I have attached the query, which – minus its opening paragraph, which is uniquely tailored for each target agent - could also serve as a back cover blurb.
Would you open my novel based on the following?
Detective John Rush knew well that nobody dies without complications. A death, any death, grew tentacles that strangled and bruised those standing closest to it.
John Rush arrives home from the city still bathed in the aftermath of a brutal car-jacking, certain that his new position with the rural Drug Task Force Team will be, in comparison, the proverbial piece of cake. He has failed to account for the tumultuous nature of life on the lake, and the reminder comes all too quickly in the form an unexplained death and a missing teenager. Rush suspects that his new bride and her sister – recovering addict and sometimes ghost whisperer – are more deeply embroiled than they would have him believe, but when the girls close ranks nothing short of an arrest warrant will break them.
Life is further complicated by the arrival of Rush’s volatile daughter, currently on the outs with her mother and less than enthusiastic about building a relationship with Rush’s new family. When she steers unerringly into the midst of a drug dealer’s scam and pronounces herself in love with all the energy of her sixteen years, Rush is admittedly out of his depth. While he would normally turn to his wife for commiseration, he is all too aware of her current devotion to her firefighter career and is reluctant to press her. Will family ties withstand the constraints of two unique and very demanding jobs? And will Rush prevail against the dark appetites a seemingly aboveboard town father?
“Maypops in September” is a literary fiction work that unflinchingly explores that darker side of human desires even while it celebrates the resilience of love. At 85,000 words it is comparable in size – and the stand-alone sequel to - its predecessor, “Sugar Man’s Daughter”, which was published by Rainstorm Press in September of 2013. I am currently seeking representation - with high hopes of finding a new home for my work - and I believe that my experience has left me with an understanding of the publishing and marketing experience.
Please feel free to search me out on the web. I can be found at my author’s site, my twitter page, and on Facebook. My first novel can be found for sale on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble. Thanks so much for your consideration!
Okay, don’t pull any punches, people! Let me know what you think!
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