My Honor

Ellen answered her Com. It was midnight. Only one person would be calling her at this hour.

“Hello,” she whispered. There was silence on the other end. “Any news?” she asked urgently.

“The girl is at Griffin’s clinic now. Her surgery is scheduled in eight weeks.”

“I will be waiting for instructions.”

“They will be given. I thank you on behalf of the Guardian.”

“It is my honor.”

-The Red String, Chapter 4, The Lessons

 


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Restless

F.R.M. President Glenn Masterson was restless.  Usually after a few shots of vodka, he went right to sleep.  Not tonight.  He tossed and turned until he couldn’t take it anymore and gave up trying. 

            The world was about to change.  How could he sleep?

The Red Knot, Chapter 18, The Knowledge of Good and Evil


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Someone Like Bill

Critique. It’s not everyone’s favorite thing, right? But as a writer, critique groups are necessary for me, a good hurt. Of course, not every circle of writers is a good mix or a constructive influence. I don’t know the secret formula for finding the perfect critique group. Somehow I’ve been super lucky. I attend three amazing groups that suit my location, my genres, my commitment, and my skill level. They accept my writing for what it is, yet challenge me to do better without insulting my ineptitude. Sure, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Critique hurts sometimes, no matter what. And we still debate the common trivialities: the Oxford comma, clichés, and the ever-popular-bad-apple, adverbs.

Today a writer in my critique group lost his battle with cancer.

William Barnes wrote historical fiction. His latest work-in-progress dealt with the sordid history of the Texas Rangers. Before I continue, I must confess—I’m a Yankee. When we arrived at the “Western Expansion” portion of our U.S. History books in high school, our teacher skipped it, claiming this part of U.S. history wasn’t important, as it contained dubious facts and silly folktales. In contrast, my children took two Texas history classes before graduating from elementary school, which I considered suspiciously xenophobic. Bill read his work-in-progress at critique group and shot bullets through my prejudice. In his native Texan drawl, he read his excerpt aloud, a complex tale with Rangers hunting down Mexican-heritage citizens while those in Congress debated boundaries and laws. Conflict, complexity, humor, and action surrounded the historical facts of his story and I was surprisingly intrigued. Funny how a brilliantly scripted “silly folktale” can change minds, huh?   

But I gained more than a new respect for Texas history from Bill. That same night, I shared my piece with the group, a flash fiction horror story. Bill liked it so much he emailed me later and volunteered to beta-read anything I had. I sent him a YA fantasy short story. He sincerely loved it and detailed the reasons. When I lack confidence in my writing abilities, it helps to recall Bill’s words. A Texas grandfather and longtime-writer of historical fiction went out of his way to encourage me, a YA speculative fiction writer.

Though cancer stole Bill from the world, his encouraging words live on. They lend me confidence on days of doubt. Before he passed, I had the precious opportunity to thank Bill for his encouragement. I imagine him riding into heaven on a wild mustang.

Critique is important. Facing tough criticism molds us into better writers. But there’s a flip side. Encouragement also makes us better. If there’s someone like Bill in your critique group, thank them today.

 


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A Chance

Ainsling brushed her baby-fine, lengthy blonde hair in slow motion as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Now I have a chance to be normal, she thought. Her heart was beating wildly with excitement and apprehension. She was in disbelief at her luck.

-The Red String, Chapter 2, The Chick


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Her Job

Aaliyah watched and waited for the last person, Maria, the wailing child held tightly in her arms.  Aaliyah stayed by her side. As the leader, it was her job to get them all out.  If anyone was going to be left behind, it would be her.

The Red Cloak, Chapter 6, The Son


 

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Red String Theory

“It’s a secret.” At this response, he rubbed his neck in frustration, which made her giggle even harder.

“Like your red string theory?”

“It’s not a ‘red string theory’, silly. It’s ‘the red string of destiny.’”

“Whatever. Are you ever going to tell me what it is?”

The Red String, Chapter 5, The Good Boy


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Sparkled With Gold Flecks


She was answered by a tall, middle-aged man with a strong jaw and eagle-like eyebrows. When he smiled, his green eyes sparkled with gold flecks.

“That was my son. And you must be Ainsling. Am I right?”

Ainsling returned the doctor’s smile and held out her hand.

“Yes, I am. Why is your son so angry?”

The Red String, Chapter 2, The Chick


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Giddy With Excitement

The old spa was run by a beautiful Latina woman named Mariposa who had been aboard the ship for two years. Before joining the ship she had been a very gifted stylist whose unbridled love for conversation had caused her to fall into trouble with E.C.C.O.’s laws against dissention.

The girls decided to get their hair cut and styled and have manicures. They were giddy with excitement.


The Red String, Chapter 16, The Monster

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At A Distance

 “The Cloak of Dreams?” Li asked.

“It’s a story about an emperor with a sad dilemma,” Ellen explained to Li. “He loved his wife very much, but she had a dreaming soul.  When he held her in his arms, her soul wandered far away to her dream world.  So she spent five years embroidering the images of her dreams onto a cloak and presented it to the emperor.  If he wore the cloak, no longer would she have to choose between the path of her dreams and the path of her love.  If he didn’t wear the cloak, he could hold her, but her soul would continue to wander.  He chose to wear the cloak.”

“And she followed him at a distance for the rest of her life,” Ainsling finished explaining to Li.  “It’s the sacrifice he makes because he loves her.  She can’t touch him, but they are closer than ever.  Isn’t that beautiful, Li?”

The Red Cloak, Chapter 1, The Cloak of Dreams


 

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Tossed That Possibility Overboard

T-bone scowled and reluctantly stuffed a fisherman’s hat over his thick head of dreads.  Jack smirked, but turned his head before T-bone saw him.  Li caught his expression.  He almost smiled at Jack, but the pain of his betrayal tossed that possibility overboard.


The Red Knot, Chapter 1, The Vision

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