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Columbia River Blues

Elliot and I hungrily slurped down our meal, as the weather station on the radio told us about the much needed snow pack and the upcoming week’s highs and lows. I was surprised how comfortable
it was, just eating and listening to the reports. We were so glad to be out of the cold, and the stew tasted like a steaming bowl of heaven. I think I would have eaten it if the bags had said “baby rhino” or “fly larvae” on them.

– Chickenshit: Crisis #3 Steaming Bowl of Heaven

In Crisis #3, Billie digs in and gets her hands dirty. She starts to get to let her dad’s presence sink in.

Chickenshit – Or: How a City Girl Does Country All Wrong is Volume I of a series. Available  now on Kindle, and soon on Amazon paperback. The next volume will be published in Spring/Summer of 2018.


Last week, before Steph and I went on our monthly feed run to Brownsville, we were fortunate to get away to Astoria, one of my favorite places on earth, for a much needed two day break from editing and book promotion. It is so much easier to go there in the off season when the costs are way down, and so are the lines. It was about ten degrees warmer than home and time spent at 3 Cups Coffee seems of higher quality, somehow. I would lament not being able to ride the trolley, but we got to risk life and limb on the overlook to watch a vehicles carriers called Capricornus Leader go by. Steph leaning way out over the railing to take pictures and me clinging to the center posts for dear life, as frigid gusts and choppy waters caused the whole structure to sway back and forth. Way better than a pleasant, poky ride down the couple of miles of waterfront and back. And it’s cool to look these boats up online and see where they have been and where they are going. This one was sitting high in the water (so no or little cargo) and was headed down the Columbia. You can just make out the river pilot attempting to board, but the waters were so choppy they had to follow the ship into the lee of Tongue point to finally make it aboard. I can’t wait until we get back to Astoria.

Anyway, the trip was enjoyable, and we even brainstormed a couple of ideas for novels and wrote a couple of entries in a joint project we are working on.

Now we are back and at the whole writing thing again. The paperback of Chickenshit should be out … Any. Day. Now.

 

Winter Farm is Coming and NaNoWriMo So So

I saw a little grey chicken walking back and forth outside the coop gate. I scanned the farm, but Elliot was nowhere in sight. I know that sometimes chickens get attacked by dogs or wild animals, so I was pretty sure it needed to get back in the coop. Not having a clue how to catch it, I started talking to it. “Here, chick, chick, chick.” It looked like it was about to have a heart attack before I even got close to ten feet from it. I bent over and started to grab it, but it flew straight up, exploded, and then reassembled into a chicken about five feet away.

– Chickenshit: Crisis #2 Laid Back Farm Life

In Crisis #2, Billie slowly figures out that the farm belongs to her now, and it is gradually hitting her that there’s not going to be an easy fix. Still, it doesn’t feel like hers. As she tiptoes into her responsibilities, she longs for the comfort of her old life in Seattle and the easy but superficial relationship with her ex-girlfriend, Ton-Ton.

Chickenshit – Or: How a City Girl Does Country All Wrong is Volume I of a series. Available  now on Kindle, Amazon paperback November 2017. The next volume will be published in Spring/Summer of 2018.


The last week has been a mix of last minute farm activity (rearranging chickens and leaf relocation), getting the paperback version of Chickenshit ready for publication, and taking my first stab at NaNoWriMo.

With the cold weather comes special consideration for the birds and egg collection. Nobody wants to slog through mud to grab eggs twice a day, risking slips and falls, so we’ve put down a lot of sand. And now that the babies have matured, it’s time to move them from the grow out pen and feather them into pens of their respective breeds, which requires a lot of shuffling of other birds. I also had to move my pet birds (Buff Orpingtons that will not be under consideration for freezer camp) from their chicken tractor. I initially moved them into the brooder pen, thinking life among younger birds would be easier for their reintegration into society, only to find that the young turks were bullying my girls into staying in the coop all day, and they had to dash outside to get access to food and water, getting pecked and jumped along the way. Now, they seem to fare better in the main pen, where the ladies are mostly older or smaller than they are. Additionally, a couple of weeks ago we finished building a small shed with roosting space and lots of nests, and we have been tweaking it occasionally. It’s a little maddening to build a huge roost space with lots of room and thick piles of pine shaving and still have to shoo birds from the top of nest boxes and off rafters. You’d think they would be a little grateful for all this work on their behalf, but, no, chickens are thankless birds. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a peck on the cheek, but maybe a couple of extra eggs or something.

I will say that Kindle is fairly easy to work with, but Create Space, not so much. I am very thankful that I have Steph to work on the issues that arise prior to publication, as I would surely be pulling my hair out at times. Anyway, I do what I can to assist.

Finally, NaNoWriMo. I was lucky enough to have access to a series of local writing events. Thank you Chris Hollaway, for putting all the events together. I hope it builds every year. There was an event almost every day, and I was glad to participate in many of them. We got into a comfortable routine of initial greetings, settling into writing, and interrupting our work only occasionally for comments or questions. Writing is often such a solitary exercise, and it was great to have another perspective available at times. I highly recommend participation in a group for anyone who decides to do NaNoWriMo next year – especially if you can get to know the group ahead of time. No one wants to sit down to write and be constantly interrupted. Well, except that one guy. But it would also be rough to not feel comfortable enough to speak up every once in a while. There can be a balance.

My project for NaNoWriMo was the second book in my Lookout Butte series. But I found myself still writing copy for ads, announcements, and the first chapter of Chickenshit Volume II to include at the end of Volume I. I didn’t get very far along on my primary project, but I reached 14,745 words with all projects combined (but not including character descriptions an outlines). Not too shabby for someone who used to eek out a small, unmeasured number of words per month. The working title for my next book is Whippoorwill Springs. I plan to have it finished by early spring.

Did anyone else do NaNoWriMo? If so, how did you fare? What inspired you? Did you read the daily posts?

Chickenshit: Now on Kindle

One of them said Dad always told a story about how when anyone called me Billie the Kid, I would turn beet red and steam would shoot out of my ears. “And if looks could kill, we’d ‘a all been a goner,” he quoted. So Dad nicknamed me Outlaw on the spot, which seemed to appease me. I could hear Dad on our last phone call at Thanksgiving. “Hey, there, Outlaw,” he said, sounding every bit like Sam Elliot, “what’re ya up to on this fine morning?”

Chickenshit: Crisis #1

In Crisis #1, we meet Billie, her Mom and Dad, Bill (Dad’s lawyer friend), Elliot (the hired hand), and a little grey chicken. Billie’s Dad is terminally ill and in respite care, and Billie gets there in time to spend a little time with her estranged father before he dies. She is completely blindsided by Bill’s announcement.

Chickenshit:Or How a City Girl Does Country All Wrong is Volume I of a series. Available  now on Kindle, Amazon paperback November 2017. The next volume will be published in Spring/Summer of 2018.


It has been a relatively short road to completing Chickenshit. The idea was hatched (get it?) early this summer, and I took what turned out to be excellent advice (thanks Chris) to do an accountability blog. It couldn’t have been easier to stay on track. Still, a couple of times, I had technical difficulties and too many irons in the fire. Yet, I persisted, and a mere five months since conception, er, I mean inception, the piece has made it through several drafts and into e-publishing. And soon, it will be available on paperback. Five months, people. Who knew such a thing was possible?

Anyway, I will continue to blog on Wednesdays. The next nine weekly posts will offer a quote from each chapter and reveal some plot (but no spoilers), followed by some of my bullshit about something, probably my next project. I promise not to whine about formatting unless someone opens the door for that. Chickenshit Volume II is on the back burner until early next year. I am currently writing the second novel featuring Alex and Kat. I really should come up with a name for the series. Any ideas?

 

 

Big announcement!

The first collection of my series, Chickenshit, is now available for pre-sale on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. Its official release date is 11/22/17, just in time for Thanksgiving. You can still read the entire series for free on amystinnett.com, but only for the next five days.

For those people (I’m one of those people) who like to read old-fashioned books made of paper, the paperback version will be out in time for Christmas shopping (you can check back at the same link above).

Read below to get a gist of the plot, but you’ll have to read the series to find out what torture (and bliss) Billie has in store for her.

Billie’s life is right on track. Solid. She has a cute girlfriend to hang with and an internship to build her resume until she goes back to U Dub next fall. But when her girlfriend bails on her and she inherits her dad’s farm in nowhere Idaho, you could knock her over with a feather. Milepost is a world away from Seattle in more ways than one. There’s no good coffee, the locals are a mixed bag, and there is no social life whatsoever. As for the farm – the chickens try her patience, everything she owns is covered in poop, and the goats may prove her undoing. There’s no doubt she is in over head just getting the place ready to sell, and her mom and best friend are frustratingly supportive without giving her any answers. Luckily, she has help from a hired man of sorts, an attorney she happens to be named after, a gorgeous librarian/cowgirl, and a bunch of people she doesn’t even know. The road to making a decision is definitely rocky, and soon she begins to ask herself: How can she go back to the big city after being down on the farm?

 

 

 

Brief Interlude: Excerpt from Lookout Butte – Alex is Not Miss Cranky Pants in this One

Salutations! That’s my fancy way of saying, “Thank Goddess September is over!”

I hope everyone had a great Halloween. It is so good, though, to be out of October and into November. We have been working a few season end projects around the farm, and I am sore and tired. Unlike Kat, I am old, overweight, and tire easily.

I regret that I was unable to finish this week’s edition because work on the farm, like the next edition, has been labor intensive (that’s a pun for those paying attention). So, in my post today, I will present another excerpt from my novel, Lookout Butte, and resume with Chickenshit:Crisis #9 Just Kidding next week.

Hopefully, after a quick jaunt to Eugene in a few days to pick up organic chicken feed, I can settle into writing for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a huge goal to get 50,000 words written in one month as a first draft of a novel. I have never written that much in one month, but I have the highest hopes and know it will be an excellent start to my second novel in the Alex and Kat series.

Chris Hollaway from the Small Business Center in Ontario has organized a local NaNoWriMo group Western Treasure Valley NaNoWriMo. There are 20 events scheduled for participating writers to join over the course of the month. Thanks, Chris, for organizing this!

My NaNoWriMo name is AmyStinnett, unless I change it, if anyone would like to add me as a friend. I have yet to name the book series, but I do have a working title for the next book, Whippoorwill Springs.

Since the last excerpt showed Alex, the main character, in one of her weakest moments, I thought I would post one that reveals she has multiple layers. Also, this excerpt has one version of the dream that was referenced in the dream interpretation with local Indie author, Merri Halma. Without further ado …

——————————–

If anyone ever asked Alex where her favorite place was, she would tell them about an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art and the summer she lived in New York City after her freshman year. A friend of her dad’s had a daughter who was out of town all summer. She was studying abroad in Madrid and needed a house sitter for her tiny apartment. Alex had scraped together the cost of a membership to MoMA from her first paycheck at her new part time job at a coffee house. The museum became a fixation for her. She would go there every day she could, sketch in her notebook, and admire the paintings. Her parents came down and took her out for dinner and a show a few times, but MoMA held the lasting impression from that summer.

But the truth was, her favorite place was much less artsy and much closer at hand. After exploring parks around Atlanta over her first two years there, she found a hiking trail near Abbott’s Bridge in the Chattahoochee River National Wildlife Area. With time on her hands, Alex headed there now. She left her car in the recreation area parking lot and followed a paved trail a short distance before it ended in a densely wooded spot. Instead of turning back, though, she picked out a small trail used by animals and followed it until the trail was no longer visible. In just a few minutes, she found herself in a small meadow that was as private as a penthouse suite. The river was within earshot, and, in the many times she had been there, the most human contact she had experienced was a flash of color when someone had skirted the edge of the meadow and headed down the river bank to fish. Other than the odd deer or dragonfly, this space was hers and hers alone. The sky was usually bright blue, but even on colder, gustier days, this room-that-was-a-view was well-protected by thick woods on all sides. When a chance downpour hit, she would find shelter under the trees and revel in the splash of water on leaf and puddle.

Today, Alex spread out a blanket in a semi-shady spot near the west side of the field and took a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird out of her bag. The sun felt great, but she had to be careful and lie mostly in the shade. She learned her first year in Atlanta, with painful consequences, that her skin required lots of sunscreen and long sleeves and pants to keep from burning. Still, the sun’s warmth lulled her into a blissful state, and she never opened the book.

Alex’s thoughts flitted from her new job to Kat, to her parents and random memories. At about 6:30, she jolted awake, slightly chilled because the sun, though far from setting, was now obscured by trees. Her mind was still fuzzy as she sensed a warm glow floating in the air nearby, as a dream, one she had experienced many times, swelled and broke like a wave over her conscious mind.

She is still a child and lying under the Christmas tree, looking up through the branches at the ceiling, to her parents who are sitting on the couch, then to her brother in the chair next to them. “I’m not a child,” he repeats, periodically. She feels strange, like she has overheard something she shouldn’t have because she is hidden, so she slides out from under the tree. As she starts to stand up, she feels herself growing taller. First, a little taller than her mom. Then, she takes a breath to say something to get her family’s attention, but they are looking at the Christmas presents and don’t see her. When she lets out the breath, she grows taller than the Christmas tree. She takes another breath and looks down at her family. “Hey, Goober,” says Shawn, “open my present.” He is looking up at her but doesn’t react to her size change at all. She exhales again, and she grows so large that when she stands up fully, she bursts through the roof, where a torrent of sleet and snow blasts past her and down into the house. She stretches her arms out to keep the weather from hitting her family. Even though the tempest whirls around them, her family is still opening presents, unaware of everything. She sees smoke coming from the neighbor’s chimney, and she wakes up with the feeling that no one except her knows anything strange is happening.

Alex sat in her meadow, dazed for a moment, watching a lightning bug crawl across her leg. It reached a corner of fabric on her knee, spread its wings, and flew away. Alex saw the faint glow of its light, as it reached the high grass near the woods and disappeared. She felt a strange and unnamable tug inside, gathered up the blanket, and headed back to her car. She checked her phone to find a text from Kat. Crap! She had mixed up Kat’s days off! She loaded the blanket into the trunk, sent Kat a quick response, and headed for home.

Alex’s Dream Interpretation Conclusion

And now … The conclusion of Alex’s interview with  local author and dream interpreter, Merri Halma. You can read it in its entirety on Merri’s blog, Spiritual Musings.

 

***

Merri: Fear keeps us from opening up to family and friends. You buried yourself in your schoolwork to avoid feeling your fears and as a form of protection. Now that you’re older, are ready you to get to know your parents? Are you ready to feel your feelings?

Alex: Yes. We have had several talks now, and it is helping me understand on a psychological level what happened. I’m beginning to see them as two different people, not just “the parents,” and they are actually pretty cool individuals to know. My dad is funny, in a dad sort of way, and really easy to hang out with. He knows a little about everything. My mom is a bit harder to get to know, but she is brilliant, snarky (like me at times), and organized. If I ever need help getting something done, she is right there for me.

As to my own feelings, I am always a work in progress. I have a hard time trusting people, so I end up thinking the worst when things don’t go the way I planned. In the past, I have held pretty shallow relationships, where there was no need to develop high levels of trust, really nothing to lose. As things got serious with Kat, I struggled more with the fact that I did have something to lose than anything that was actually going on with her, the bar skanks, etc., although that is what I focused on so that I didn’t have to face my own feelings directly. Now, I see how bad that was for our relationship and my own well-being. It isolated me from Kat, which made me feel even more invisible to her.

Merri: That’s great insight, and shows you are facing your feelings. In the dream, too, you mention a feeling of invisibility. In what way in your waking life now do you feel invisible?

Alex: I haven’t really thought about that. As a social worker, I want to make a difference in people’s lives. When Carla died that brought that feeling front and center. I mean, I oversaw her, and there was nothing I could do to keep her … safe. If I’d just gotten to the phone in time. If I had driven around to all the local bus stops. I don’t know, it just felt like my presence, nothing I could do mattered, but I kept trying. I struggle with it sometimes, but I do believe that I can make a difference.

In some ways, maybe I feel like Kat wasn’t hearing me? She kept everything bottled up inside and then shared it when she’s ready. I like to talk things through, plan things out, so when she doesn’t tell me things, I feel left out of the loop. When she was going through this whole commitment thing, it wasn’t the typical settle down or play the field question, it was how do I settle down? Will I be able to keep my other family back home? I guess she needed to work through that on her own, but I felt left out like she had better things to do.

Merri:  So you felt isolated and alone.

Alex: Yes, that’s about right.

Merri: In your waking life, how are you not protecting yourself?

Alex: Well, for a while I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I was avoiding feelings instead of addressing them. If I had talked with my parents a long time ago, I could have avoided years of lingering guilt over Shawn. If I had faced down some of my jealousy issues, I wouldn’t have had to put Kat and me through the horrible separation that we had.

I am learning, though. My dad got hurt in a car accident, and I have been helping him, but instead of running myself threadbare, I have been writing in my journal, walking, and meditating. Kat and I are learning to communicate a lot better. And I have had learned a lot about forgiveness. My parents for their grief, the universe for taking Carla, Kat for keeping things to herself, and most of all myself, for always feeling like I’ve let everyone down if I don’t do the exact right thing. I think I’m a pretty cool person. Even my cat, Schrodinger, thinks so, from time to time.

Merri: Aren’t we all flying by the seat of our pants? (giggle).  I wanted to get to the dream you had with Carla now.

Alex: The last time was just before they found Carla (a client from the group home where I work). In that one, I could see her at the house next door, watching television, and there was this red shade over the window. What was weird was that I had an extension to that dream, and I haven’t had one like this before. I was lying in this meadow where I like to go, and I kept getting covered with leaves. I don’t know if I believe in precognition, or whatever, but I woke up covered in leaves, and I couldn’t breathe. Carla was found in a wooded area covered in leaves just a few days later.

Merri: That dream gives me pause. Yes, it does sound like you were experiencing a bit of precognition. Perhaps Carla was reaching out to you.

I remember your original dream changed, too, when you burst through the roof of the house, your brother, Shawn, noticed you. He said you didn’t have to be up there, right? What are you trying to get yourself to see?

Alex: I think I was up there trying to see more about Carla, and he told me to get down. When I said I was trying, he asked me why. I think maybe he was saying all my trying wasn’t doing any good, that I needed to stop trying so hard and let some things come to me. He was telling me to get down from where I was so I could see. But I could see better from up there, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe I need to have more than one perspective to really understand things. And maybe I am trying too hard.

Sharon, who is my boss and a good friend, has counseled me to think more of the everyday ways I can affect the lives of our clients, rather than focusing on all the potentially bad things that can happen, the worst all would be a client getting harmed or dying. Certainly, those things may happen and will have to be dealt with, but the day-to-day care is the most crucial thing. In my personal life, I need to come to the understanding that I am not on the hook to prevent all the bad things that happen to the people in my life. I can keep all the balls in the air I want, but life is always going to throw another one in, one that I may or may not be able to handle. And that has to be okay. My brain gets that. It may take a while for my heart to catch up.

Merri: Alex, you are bringing in your own insight to that dream. I’m happy to learn so much from you and look forward to seeing your continual growth. I hope you start keeping a dream journal and learn from your dreams.

Thank you for coming on our show, Alex. And thank you, listeners, for tuning into Dream Interpretations with Merri Halma. Until next time. Goodbye and pleasant dreams.

 

Merri Halma is a self-published writer, spiritual searcher, and avid seeker of inner wisdom. She is the author of the Indigo Travelers series.

Lookout Butte by Amy Stinnett

 

Dream Interpretations Interview with Alex Stewart (Main Character from Lookout Butte)

Hello, everyone! A couple of weeks ago, local author and dream interpreter, Merri Halma, asked me if Alex, the main character from my novel, Lookout Butte, would be available for an interview. I thought this was a terrific idea, and so did Alex. Below is an excerpt from the interview. I will post more of it later, but you can read it in its entirety on Merri’s blog, Spiritual Musings.

Merri Halma

Welcome to another session of Dream Interpretations with Merri Halma. Today we welcome Alex Stewart, a social worker at Louis Ellis Adult Group Home.

Alex: Thank you for having me.

Alex has been having a recurring dream of being with her parents and older brother sitting around the Christmas tree. Alex, you mention feeling invisible, as you watch your parents and brother opening presents. He calls for you to come join them, and you try to move to the couch where they are, and then you start growing. They don’t appear to notice, yet you call to them to notice you. Your words fall on deaf ears. You continue growing, breaking through the roof. It starts to snow, so you do your best to protect them.

Let me remind everyone that each item in the dream is symbolic of the dreamer. Now for our interview with Alex.

Merri:  I understand you’ve been having this since your brother’s death, right?

Alex: Yes, well I think so. I always felt like I had the dream before he died, but certainly in the years since then, probably once every six months, at least every year. When I first left for college, I had the dream or some version of it every night for a week.

Merri: What stresses were you experiencing at the time of the dreams?

Alex: I’m not sure about all of them. The last few times, I was stressing over my relationship with Kat. She and I were struggling there for a while, mostly due to my stupidity, but we’re on track right now. It’s funny, the more life throws at us, the better we are, but when everything was going on with school and the new job at Louise Ellis, I was not doing a lot of self-care. I guess the job was also bringing Shawn’s death into the forefront, and I had a lot of unresolved feelings about him. I think about him every day. He was such a cool brother.

Merri: Tell me how this recent dream changed from when you were a child?

Alex: When I was little the dream stopped before I got out from under the tree. I could hear my parents talking from across the room, which comforted me. In college, the dream, it became more stressful when I tried to get their attention and couldn’t. After I started working at Louis Ellis, in the dream I became more protective of my family and Shawn, from the elements, the wind, and sleet in the dream.

Merri: That’s after you broke through the ceiling, correct?

Alex: Right.

Merri: As a child, after Shawn passed away, did you feel lost? Like you couldn’t say what your feelings were?

Alex:  I was lost. My parents were lost, too. I kept my feelings to myself, I guess because I didn’t want to make life harder for them. Our family changed overnight, really. We went from kind of an Ozzy and Harriet existence to everybody for themselves. We didn’t talk about Shawn for a long time. It was hard because, everywhere you looked, Shawn was there. I think we were all scared of making the pain worse for each other.

Merri: You sound helpless, though. Like whatever you do isn’t enough. Is that right? What kind of danger were you seeing in your waking life growing up?

Alex: I guess I was always worried I was going to disappoint my parents. They had already lost one child, and I had to be uber-responsible to make up for that. Even during my “rebellious” phase, where I barely talked to them and got in a lot of arguments with my mom, I was killing it at school, AP Math, Science, and English classes. I won a statewide essay contest. I was on the debate team. And I had a part-time job working at a bookstore. My rebellion was basically being shitty to my mom and ignoring my dad. Also, I smoked for about a year. Stupid, right? Anyway, the biggest fear I had was letting my parents down, but I ended up distancing myself from them in the process. And then I felt more alone because they didn’t see me. They didn’t know me.

Merri: Fear keeps us from opening up to family and friends. You buried yourself in your schoolwork to avoid feeling your fears and as a form of protection. Now that you’re older, are ready you to get to know your parents? Are you ready to feel your feelings?

STAY TUNED FOR ALEX’S ANSWER.

Look0utButte by Amy Stinnett

 

 

Busy Week

We have had a busy week on the farm, getting ready for winter, doing chicken inventory, car repairs, covering the garden, and starting the process of culling chickens. In between, Billie’s story continually plays in the background. Please don’t confuse her life with mine. We may occasionally share the same level of ineptitude, but she, at least, has a twenty-something-year-old body to carry her about her day and rebound the next. If I could trade my current CPU and peripherals for hers without losing the data I’ve accumulated, I would do it in a heartbeat. Until that becomes an option, viva la Aleve!

Upcoming Events

Here are a few upcoming events in my world. I hope you can join me for some of them. Chickenshit: Crisis #6 Water, Water Everywhere will follow in the next post.

Amazon Countdown Sale – Kindle Version

The Kindle version of my book, Lookout Butte, will be on an Amazon Countdown Sale starting this Friday (October 6th). The ebook will have a sale price of 99¢ from Friday at 5 p.m. MST until Sunday (October 8th at 7 p.m. MST). The price increases $1 every few days, before going back to its regular price of $3.99 next Friday (October 13th). To go directly to my book’s page, click here.

Kindle Version Giveaway

Additionally, there is a chance to win a free Kindle copy of Lookout Butte from now until October 10th. Just click here to follow my Amazon Author Page, and you are automatically entered to win. Please share this link with anyone you think might be interested in my book.

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/cb783a7fffb8bdfd

Indie Author Day

Finally, I will be at Indie Author Day at the Boise Public Library on Saturday, October 14th from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with paperback copies of my novel, Lookout Butte. Book sales are on the 3rd floor. This is going to be a great event with lots of creative authors, lively speakers, workshops, and panel discussions. I hope to see you there!

Intermission: Excerpt from Lookout Butte

 

Since Chickenshit: Or How a City Girl Does Country All Wrong has reached its halfway point, I am taking a break this week to share a brief excerpt from my novel, Lookout Butte.

Lookout Butte is the story of a young lesbian couple in the mid Ought-Thousands who are just learning what it means to be a couple. There lives are complicated by guilt, jealousy, demanding work schedules, families of origin, and that bug-a-boo so many of us suffer from, lack of communication.

This scene is one where Alex kind of loses her shit. She has taken on a weekend job in addition to her social work program, so she rarely gets to see her partner, Kat. Alex has always struggled with accepting Kat’s job as a bartender and her fan club of bar skanks, with their overt gestures towards her girlfriend, despite Kat having sworn them off for good. But being gone all the time has Alex’s paranoia cranked up full blast.

… Alex was at the library, tying up loose ends on her coursework. She found it hard to concentrate, so she decided to take a break and see Kat. She could finish up in the morning.

Alex scanned the bar, and not seeing Kat, she sat down at a table and tossed her bag on the chair next to her. She crossed her legs at the knee, placed her arms on the armrests, and shifted her dangling foot to and fro. She glanced around the room again. The usual crowd. David was in his corner behind the bar, pouring some sort of complicated drink for a slightly balding gentleman, making conversation the whole time. She fished her phone out of her bag. No messages. She drummed her fingers on the table and glared at two women on the dance floor. One of them was sloppy drunk and gyrating against the other whose face was crimson with embarrassment. Alex hopped up and gathered her bag and traded her phone for her keys. She checked the bathroom and exited through the alley. No Kat. She walked back around to the front of the bar to get to her car, glancing where Kat usually parked her bike, expecting to see a bare pole. But the bike was there, locked neatly in place.

Her fingers tightened around her keys, as she stood, motionless. Her face was blank, as if waiting for an emotion to register. She plodded back to her car and got in. A white-hot energy flamed outward from her gut and engulfed her whole body. Her face contorted as though she were going to cry, but, instead, her right fist came up and slammed into the car’s ceiling, then onto the steering wheel and dash. “GODDAMMIT, GODDAMMIT, GODDAMMIT!” Tears welled in her eyes, as she continued to curse and punish the car for the imagined sins of her girlfriend. Nothing existed now but this pain, a riptide grabbing hold of her rational thought and dragging it from her grasp. Her eyes were open to the view of the street and the dark sky before her, but all she could see was Kat mounting some drunken woman from the bar, maybe in a car on this very street. Or maybe she was going down on her in her apartment right now. Will I ever be enough for anybody? She cradled her right wrist in her left hand, and, after a time, her eyes could focus again, and she put the keys into the ignition.

Alex arrived home about 11 o’clock. The place was quiet, but when she reached the bedroom…

 

What do you think happens next, and why? I will post the end of the scene next week, or sooner if there is enough interest.