Rough Work


Rough Work

by Adam Huddleston

 

Here’s another taste of dystopian story that I’m working on.

 

Scene 1-Introduction

“Ben. Go ahead and close the blinds.”

I stand up on legs that are a little shaky and make my way across the carpeted living room.  There is no movement from outside, so I quickly draw the blinds, casting darkness over our meeting.

“Thank you son,” he says.

My father stands tall in the center of our circle, looking around at each of us with a firm and steady stare.  He raises a smooth, long-fingered hand and smiles.

“I’ll Fly Away,” he whispers.

We begin singing the familiar first verse, piano, so as not to draw the attention of anyone walking down the sidewalk in front of our house.  My father directs us in 4/4 time, marking each downbeat with a pop of the wrist. When we reach the chorus, I struggle to resist the urge to raise my volume.  Father, sensing my hardship, grins wider while using his other hand to direct our small congregation to sing ever quieter.

“…When I die, Hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away,” we finish in not much more than a whisper.

We sing another handful of hymns, all from memory of course. Decades before my dad was born, the government enacted the Freedom From Religion Act.  All religious books, hymnals, pamphlets etc. were banned.  Any public displays of faith were prohibited as well, so no more churches, synagogues, or mosques.  Praying before a meal at a restaurant warranted the same punishment as any other infraction.

My father removes a cloth covering a brass plate.  Resting on top of the plate is a thin, round loaf of unleavened bread.  Beside it sits a bottle of homemade wine and a few small cups.

“In times such as these, we still remember our Savior.  His body was broken and his blood shed so that our sins would be forgiven.  No matter what dangers we face, we will partake in this supper until the end.”

Father didn’t have to explain what the “end” meant.  It could be our individual deaths or the death of the world.  Either way, Paradise awaited.

He breaks the bread and people outside begin shouting. I run to the window and gently peek between the blind slats.  Two houses down from us, Mr. Langston is being dragged out of his house by two men wearing black, armored uniforms.  One of the officers steps away and the other pulls a sidearm from its holster.  Our neighbor holds his hands up and shouts something and that’s when the officer shoots him in the forehead.  I see a brief cloud of blood in the air behind his head and he slumps forward onto the ground.  His wife and sons are standing in their doorway screaming.  I turn back to the dark room and begin crying.

My father leads me to the couch and sits beside me.  He wraps a long arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.

“I’m sorry, son.  I’m so sorry you saw that.  George was a good man and I’m gonna miss him.  I’m proud of his resolve, too.  Like us, his family never stopped worshipping.”

This makes me feel a little better but then my mind begins forming a scene where something similar happens to us.

“What if the Agency ever discovers us?  I’m scared, Dad.”

He looks away for a moment and I follow his gaze.  On the wall across the room is a picture of my mother. She was killed a few years after I was born when an Agency officer suspected her of trying to evangelize while shopping for groceries in town.  My father, who speaks often of her, but rarely of her death, says that he doesn’t know if that’s true or not.  Part of me hopes that it is.  If she had to die, I want to think that it was for a noble cause.

He sees me looking at her picture and hugs me tighter.

“It’s alright, Ben.  The government is strong.  Our family is stronger.  God is the strongest.”

What’s Next?


Outtakes 349

What’s Next?

By Cait Collins

 

I’ve always had more than one writing project going at a time. Sometimes I put one aside because the muse is working for another.  When the ideas dry up, I move to another one.  Right now I have four projects in the works.  First Love Forever Love is a memoir about my life-long love affair with the sea.  I’m working the edits on this book.  I’ve received the feedback from my beta readers, so it’s a matter of reviewing and implementing the necessary changes.

The second project is Tables, a memoir about growing up as a military brat in the fifties and sixties.  Much of the book is written, but there are stories I want to add.  I’m considering a chapter on seeing President Kennedy just weeks before he was assassinated and how my parents handled our questions and concerns.

The third project is the editing of my novel How Do You Like Me Now.  Kate Walker shows the town elite how to get even…legally.  It’s too long so I have to decide what can be taken out without impacting the story.

The fourth work is my short story for Wordsmith Six’s second Route 66 anthology Holiday’s on Route 66.  I have some ideas but I must do substantial research before I even consider writing the work.

My goal is to have at least two of the projects completed by the end of this year. Now that Our Time On Route 66 is available as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I’m excited about getting more books out and in the hands of readers.  I never really understood the thrill of seeing my name on a book jacket.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

Read it now!

Amazon       Apple iBooks        Barnes and Noble

Carpe Diem Publishers

A Few Words on Adverbs


This week I wanted to submit a throwback to one of my first blogs!

 

A Few Words on Adverbs

Adam Huddleston

 

It has been said that the road to, well, let’s just say a rather “toasty” destination, is paved with adverbs. While I don’t harbor a fierce hatred for those “-ly” words, I do see a glimmer of truth in the proverb.

One of the basic precepts of writing is to keep it short and sweet.  Why use three weak words when one strong one will do?

For example: The man talked quickly.  How about: The man babbled.

Or: The deer swiftly ran.  Instead: The deer galloped.

Eliminating needless words will make your work cleaner and your chosen words stand out.  That being said, you don’t have to be an “adverb Nazi”!  There are many lonely adverbs out there looking for a loving home and many verbs which cannot be changed so easily.

My advice; read through your writing a few times and see if it sounds too wordy or cluttered.  If it does, start chunking those adverbs and see how “quickly” your work improves!

Happy writing!

 

A Good Read


Outtakes 348

A Good Read

By Cait Collins

 

I have a list of favorite authors and look forward to the announcements of new releases.  Nora Roberts is on that list.  Her most recent release, Shelter in Place, is a great read. We hear about mass shootings almost daily.  Too often, the focus seems to be on the shooter and less on the victims and survivors.

In her new book, Ms. Roberts focuses on the lives of the victims and survivors. While the mastermind of the shooting lives and tries to pick off her select set of survivors, the main characters are those who lived and found a purpose for their lives and peace for the loss of those they loved.  The Mastermind contributes to the novel without becoming the prime character. Her presence in the story is to elicit responses from the other characters and contribute to their decisions and to their fears.  It is the strength, vulnerability, and the determination of the living that move the plot.

Roberts’ dialogue is, as always, spot on, allowing the characters to express their doubts and dreams.  The inner thought reveals so much about CiCi, Simone, and Reed.  It moves each person toward climatic revelations.  I learned about them as they discovered themselves. I could not put the book down.

Settings are another selling point of her work.  She picks interesting places: Ireland, the horse racing and breeding farms of Kentucky, the haunted regions of Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay, and the rocky coastline of Maine.  The reader can picture himself or herself in the locations.  And if it’s a new place to the reader, they create a desire to experience first-hand, the settings.

Does this mean I have enjoyed every Nora Roberts novel that I’ve read?  The answer is a simple no.  While there are titles I have not enjoyed as much as others, I’ve always found good, even brilliant, passages or characters, and I’ve always found new approaches for difficult situations.  She has taught me much about the craft of writing.  I always look forward to her releases because I know they will be good reads.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 – ON SALE NOW!


OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

ON SALE NOW!

In Ebook and Print

Order from your favorite bookstore and Carpe Diem Publishers

 

Five authors tell five different stories, through five different time periods, and all crossing the same place—the Tower Station and U-drop Inn.

 

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas available now!


Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas available now!

  • A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright
  • A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel
  • A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols
  • A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins
  • Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

It’s Here!


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

It’s Here!

By Nandy Ekle

 

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and a nation.

Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt paved highway, it has connected generations of people.

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 is an anthology full of stories that tell of good times and bad, Love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn.

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas:

A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright

A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel

A down-on-his luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols

A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins

Raylene Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle