Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bill Gibbons

The creative process – a seemingly simple phrase, yet one that pervades human philosophies, religions, arts, psychology, and biology.
Aside from the drive to procreate to assure succeeding generations and the need to create shelter, both characteristics common to all species, the human impetus to create for the sake of the creation itself is singular among all species.
Most of us can identify others who exhibit a need to create that which is apart from their chosen professions. A banker welds metal sculpture in his spare time, a psychologist designs and knits fashionable sweaters for children, a car dealer also writes poetry, a professor of economics writes novels and short stories. Noted biochemist and professor, Isaac Asimov, was better known for his science fiction writing. Locally, retired Wicomico County building inspector, Grover Cantwell, has been creating striking art in watercolor for most of his life. The list goes on.
This "creativity imperative" is not a latter-day development. Invention (itself the result of a creativity imperative) of ostensibly time-saving devices through history frees us to pursue artistic hobbies, but it does not explain the inherent human need to create – it simply allows it. Cave paintings, dated as early as 40,000 years ago, exist in the El Castillo cave near Cantabria, Spain – and there are others. Although motivations for the paintings elude comprehension, I submit that, in large part, the motivation was the human need to create. Besides, regardless of the ultimate function of the paintings, the creative minds behind them cannot be ignored.
Granted, it is only the truly accomplished – and/or lucky – who can claim their creative activities as also their occupation. Stephen King, James Patterson, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Pablo Picasso, and Mikhail Baryshnikov are a few fortunate examples, out of a human population in excess of seven billion on the planet.
Denial of an individual's creativity imperative carries its own consequences. There is a reason that child care facilities and schools set aside time for creative pursuits among students. Expressive arts, e.g., music, dance, literary arts, and visual arts, are used by institutions and private counselors to aid in therapy.
Beyond educational and formalized uses of creative therapy, there is much to recommend turning to such interests in our everyday lives. Painting, writing, dancing, and music afford distractions that can temper job stress, alleviate boring routines, or lessen family pressures, all sober realities of modern life.
This writer has, over the decades, delved into visual arts, literary arts, and inventions. Arguably,  literary arts is the most basic, yet at the same time the highest, form of creative arts. With the simplest of implements, pen or pencil and paper, one can pour thoughts out from the dark recesses of the mind onto paper where they can be viewed in the light of day, examined, and reconciled.
We don't deny the existence of stress and strife in everyday life; we might benefit from acknowledging the creativity imperative within each of us and the balance it can bring to our lives.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cover Reveal -- Life Flight by Shaunna Wolf

Cover Reveal

Life Flight

Erotic Romance/Mystery 

Malachi Blackfeather has spent twenty years in the Army. Two of those years as a Vietnam POW. Now that he's out, all he wants is some peace and quiet to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Between the flashbacks, and an over interest in sex that is now being called sex addiction, finding his path isn't easy.

Kat is trying to escape an abusive marriage. Her soon to be ex is a master at manipulating the system, and her family thinks she should stay with him, "because no other man will want her". She's looking for escape in any form she can get it.

When they meet, sparks fly. Trapped by a blizzard, can two damaged people, who think there is no chance of love in the world for them, find each other, and survive an unforeseen circumstance that puts both of them in danger?

Mystery, romance, and danger, fill this novel, with a story that will draw you in and not let go.

**Warning: This is a mature adult novel. Recommended for readers 18+ due to sexual content and adult language.

December 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013


Tour Stops

August 19: Emraz :The Spark
August 20: From Me to You ... Video, Photography, & Book Reviews
August 21: Book Bling Blog
August 22: Journey of a Bookseller
August 23: Must Read Faster

"The old one will come. When he comes, his one true wife must carry within her a child of the old one who would be king. Only then can the heart be found and the evil of the world kept in its bounds." –The Prophecy of the Land

Sorann is the queen's daughter and training to be an empathic healer. Javert is a member of the wandering tribe called the Zingari and their future king. When Sorann's failed healer's magic test brings them together, they discover the prophecy governing the land is false. In order to prevent magic, and the Zingari, from being wiped from the land, Sorann must become Javert's wife and leave everything behind that she once held dear.

Tricked by demons, and followed by the queen's soldiers, they must find the fabled Wizard's Heart in the frozen Winter Valley.

What sacrifices will they have to make along the way, and will Javert ever discover the true meaning of the Wizard's Heart before his people and the love of his life are lost?


Standing in the makeshift shower, peace descended in a comfortable blanket. Nighttime birds sang and whistled to each other, a frog croaked bass, and the crickets formed the string section. Conceivably, Cryant lived far enough away from the city for the emotions of those in the city not to carry into his compound, to reduce the overflow from battering at her shell.

Sorann let down her guard, expecting a deluge of energies to cause her to feel dirty again. A dog barked and went silent. The pig grunted in its pen, perhaps upset at having its mud rearranged. But no feelings invaded her. In her palace rooms, a shield stayed in place to protect her from the invasion. Could the same be true of Cryant’s canvas?

Dim moonlight spilled in when she pushed the flap aside. She stepped outside marveling at the emotional vacuum she found herself in. Silly to think Cryant could afford the spell needed to empower a canvas to keep out the extended aura of others.

The sky above her wore a sprinkling of bright stars on an inky background. The cool night air caressed her skin. Goose flesh rose over her entire body. The hard ground under her feet felt warm with leftover heat from the day. The stones she stood on glowed in the faint luminosity of the yard light, wet here and there, the water from the shower ran in twin streams on each side of the stone path.

The clarity of her mind extended beyond her in the absence of others emotions and feelings. The world came to her in clear brightness--a veil of gauze lifted. She ran her hands over her stomach, her own skin felt different. The bumps caused by the cold felt alien and as she ran her hands over them, she could feel the tiny hairs on her skin, a chill shook her. She hadn’t even realized a barrier existed between her own hands and her flesh before.

Animal smells came to her, the scent of the soap was even stronger. Why did everything feel magnified? Perhaps subdued?

A result of the shell she kept in place? She’d lowered the shell before, and it wasn’t like this--not even in her rooms with their encasing spell. She spun around holding her arms out in the moonlight. She caressed her own arms, enjoying the feel of the gooseflesh on them. She laughed at the feel of the mud between her toes. She stepped off the path and took slow steps with her toes spread, so the mud curled as it squished between her toes. More laughter escaped her. Her hands traveled to her breasts, her nipples went hard in the cool breeze--had that ever happened to her before? Perhaps she hadn’t felt it?

Sorann, you dressed?”

With a gasp, Sorann scrambled into Cryant’s robe. It stuck to her wet shoulders; luckily, it was over large for her. With quick movements, she wrapped her hair in the towel.

“Yes,” she called back. “I just need to re-rinse my feet. I . . . I accidently stepped off the path.”

“I’ve got soup on.” Cryant stood holding up the door flap. “Stay on the path.”

She quickly rinsed her feet in a clear puddle that remained on the platform under the barrel--the water mixed with mud creating patterns as it ran off her feet. Still puzzled, but prepared for the onslaught of Cryant’s life,
she moved to the slice of light coming from Cryant’s doorway.

Cryant moved back so she could enter without touching him. Sorann almost tripped over the threshold. Nothing came from Cryant, no feelings, no buzz singing along her nerves in a stinging assault.

The upper wall revealed how the home stayed warm. Inside, plaster coated it, and, going through the door, she saw the wall consisted of two parts with what looked like straw stuffed in between.

The inside of his home held the aroma of potato soup and fresh bread. A slightly musty smell road on the tail of the soup. She rubbed her nose. Things in the room, a small wooden table with two chairs, a handmade broom leaning in the corner, two glow lamps, and a braided rug jumped into clarity. Things in her life were always fuzzy, smells, sizes, shapes, colors--all made so, she assumed, because of her constant battle to keep out the everyday life of others.

Perhaps the hog knocked her unconscious and this was the result? A dream? She pulled Cryant’s robe up around her neck, aware of how low the neckline rested over her breasts. The fabric carried a slight scent--a slight male scent. Cryant’s robe hadn’t been laundered since the last time he wore it.

“Here, sit by the fire,” Cryant told her. He stood near a makeshift clothesline stretched across the room. Using wooden clothes pins he hung her now clean clothes so they would dry.

Sorann carefully sat on the chair nearest the fire. Cryant finished hanging the clothes before he retrieved two wooden bowls from a homemade shelf hanging over a tin washtub. He spooned soup into both of them and set them on the table.

“Thank you,” Sorann managed. Questions tumbled through her mind. Why could she let her guard down in Cryant’s house? Why had she been so overwhelmed at first, but now--now since Cryant touched her in the pig pen--skin to skin, she didn’t need to be on her guard? Was it possible Cryant’s left over aura on his clothes allowed her a measure of control? Maybe Cryant himself?

Cryant picked up a small crate from near the fireplace and brought it to the table. He set the box on the floor in front of Sorann and set the thin towel covering the top aside. Small bird voices started up in a demand for food. Sorann pushed the chair back ready to spring away from the birds. She stopped.

“You saved the birds?”

“Some of them,” Cryant answered.

She peered back into the box. Birds. Young birds. The way they looked--one with a bandaged wing, another laying with its neck outstretched and its sides heaving as it tried to breathe.

“I can’t heal them,” Cryant said. His voice carried a note of sadness.

Slowly, Sorann reached into the box. She touched the gasping bird and almost shrieked when she felt its young body hit the pavement. Instantly, she knew about the bird’s broken bones, its injured ribs--the bird struggled in her grasp. She set him back in the box where he strutted around the other injured birds squawking and chattering at her.

“You healed him,” Cryant blurted. “But . . .”

Sorann reached into the box and one at a time she picked up the hurt birds. When she set them down they strutted about whole and healed. Cryant leapt to his feet and brought out a small cat from behind a curtain hanging around his bed.

He held the tiny black cat out to her. Sorann took the kitten in her hands and saw from the cat’s point of view the cart coming towards it and felt a flash of pain as the cart ran over the kitten’s leg and hip--her body didn’t feel as though she’d been run over. The cat’s feelings didn’t overcome her. She used her hands to completely surround the cat and in moments it struggled to be free. She let him go, and he ran to the box of birds and began batting at them. Cryant picked the kitten up.

“Out you go, but not in the street this time,” he said. He shut the crooked door over the curtain after he scooted the cat outside. “What they say about you, it isn’t true.”

Sorann looked up into his blue eyes. Lines creased his forehead, his thin face betrayed his puzzlement. She’d never noticed the shadow of stubble on his face before, or the tiny scratches, perhaps inflicted by an injured animal, like the kitten.

“It is true. I can’t heal. I get caught up in the emotions and can’t even diagnose what’s wrong because I feel as if all the things are happening to me. I don’t understand this at all. With animals, you aren’t supposed to receive the clarity to diagnose and heal the way you attain it with a person, but I didn’t expect to simply hold them and poof they are back to normal.” Her stomach rumbled, and she felt as if she’d eaten her last meal weeks ago.

“Eat, eat,” Cryant said and shoved both bowls of soup toward her.

She picked up the slightly bent spoon and touched a small bite to her tongue. Flavors exploded across her mouth, rich deep flavors of spices and onions she’d never experienced before. Spoonful after spoonful, each one a new adventure in taste and satisfaction until she cleaned both bowls of soup without a thought.
“Do you think the stories, you know from the Lost Lands, the ones about The Dark Towers are true?” He spooned more soup into the bowls.

Sorann glanced up at him and continued to shove food into her mouth. Her stomach kept begging for more with rumbles and demands she couldn’t ignore.

“I mean, the orange cat, outside, the one with three legs, sometimes, it almost feels like she is trying to talk to me.”

“The stories about those dark wizards turning their enemies into animals?”

Cryant nodded.

Sorann chewed more food. She let out a small laugh. “I don’t think there is enough magic left in the world, dark or otherwise to turn people or animals into something else.”

“But isn’t that what we do with our gift?” He sat back and spread his hands on the table in front of him. He snapped his fingers shut. “Isn’t what we do magic of a sort? We take broken bones and turn them into whole bones, something other than what they were.”

Sorann stared at him a moment before she spooned more soup into her mouth. Around the food, she said, “Broken bone that was once whole bone, not something entirely different. Take the cat, where would all the difference in mass go?”

“Still, I think I would like a cat who could talk to me and could understand what I say.”
“I had a cat once, when I was small, I used to think she understood what I said. I think they do on many levels, if I can feel what they have eaten and their enjoyment, then . . .” Sorann shrugged. She looked up at Cryant after her spoon scraped the bottom of the wooden bowl.

“I’m sorry. You lied when you said you weren’t a good cook. I’ve never tasted anything, well, anything so full of flavors. I didn’t mean to eat all of it,” she added with a glance at the empty pot.
“Never mind. I have more friends in need, will you . . .?”

Sorann laughed, energy jumped along her nerves--she could heal. A miracle had happened this night--the speck of dust that sparkled with light--a wish fairy, if any still lived with the bounty on most things magic? Sorann laughed again, whatever had happened, she could heal. “Yes, yes, I will.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Please welcome horror author, Patrick Royal, to my blog site as a guest.  Patrick is announcing the release of his latest novel, Shattered.

     The only thing that multi-published, award winning horror author, Tom Elliot, wanted was to move to the country for a change of scenery and relaxation, to a quiet part of southern Illinois. It seemed he'd picked out a wonderful spot, miles away from the closest neighbor and even further away from civilization.
     Tom couldn't write to save his soul. Weird thoughts trampled through his head and left him wondering if he'd made a mistake moving from Chicago. Could it have been that he ripped himself from his element, like his best friend, Michael Gully, had predicted? That he couldn't answer yet.
Words came and flowed like wildfire, but at what price? Tom's imagination was getting the best of him and running rampant. The very characters that he created tormented him, driving him mad where he couldn't distinguish fiction from reality.

Genre: Horror
Book Length: Novel
Word Count: 53, 387
Pages: 181
Price: $4.99
Formats: PDF, ePub, Mobi, HTML


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blog Blitz with Author SRHowen

Christmas in July, unwrap a summer ebook blog blitz

welcomes S.R.Howen

"The old one will come. When he comes, his one true wife must carry within her a child of the old one who would be king. Only then can the heart be found and the evil of the world kept in its bounds." –The Prophecy of the Land

Sorann is the queen's daughter and training to be an empathic healer. Javert is a member of the wandering tribe called the Zingari and their future king. When Sorann's failed healer's magic test brings them together, they discover the prophecy governing the land is false. In order to prevent magic, and the Zingari, from being wiped from the land, Sorann must become Javert's wife and leave everything behind that she once held dear.

Tricked by demons, and followed by the queen's soldiers, they must find the fabled Wizard's Heart in the frozen Winter Valley.

What sacrifices will they have to make along the way, and will Javert ever discover the true meaning of the Wizard's Heart before his people and the love of his life are lost?

This is the first book in the fantasy series Tales of the Zingari.

Some thoughts on being an editor, from S. R. Howen

Some thoughts on editing.  What is an editor’s job?  Sometimes I think, and I have been at this a long time, that new writers don’t have a clue what an editor does, or should do.  You send your baby into the world, and fantastic, do cartwheels, you have a contract.  Now what? Okay, you read the contract, you understand most of it, so you sign it. 

Then you get the introduction letter from your editor.  You look forward to the edits and the suggestions that will make your book better . . .

Unfortunately, many times this is the dream of every editor, that we wish every author understood.  How did that writer make it to that place where they get the contract—is often the cry of writers?  A lot of it has to do with the perception that writers have of an editor.

With the idea that an editor will fix typos, misspelling, word Usage, and grammar as well as punctuation, they send out their manuscript looking like a group of crows stepped in ink.  Often when asked, why didn’t you at least run spell check?  The answer is: That’s not my job, that’s what an editor is for!

This is what I would like writers to understand, you need to put the best possible effort into your manuscript, it may be a great idea, but if it’s buried under basic errors, you won’t get a contract.  You wouldn’t go to a job interview dressed in the clothes you took out of the hamper that you did house cleaning in the day before, so why would you send out a manuscript that wasn’t clean and pressed and dressed neatly?

Writing is a business.  You can call it art.  But it is a business; it’s not your baby.  You may feel you gave birth to the story and you need to love the story to tell it well, but you also need to have some distance from the love affair.  To be able to stand back and see the ugly spots in order to fix them.

An editor is there to help you get your vision down on that page, to make it shine, to polish the story until it does. They are not there to take the place of spell check, and basic knowledge of grammar.  Yes, we all make mistakes that an editor will find, but don’t think that fixing all of them is the editor’s job.

That’s your job as a writer, a craftsman has all the tools in his tool box to build the house, he doesn’t expect someone else to bring them.

I’m happy to share my tool box on many things, if you have done your work as a writer.

So what do I tell my authors?

 No question is a dumb question. ASK!

Everything your editor asks you to do is open to discussion, if you don’t agree with me, present your case.  We will talk about it.

Writing is a business.  You can call it art.  But it is a business, it’s not your baby.  So when I say fix this or this doesn’t work, I am not insulting you, I am helping you make a product that will sell.

I will hound you to the seven circles of hell to promote. 

I will hold your hand, if need be, and offer a shoulder of understanding if needed, and I will help you promote as much as I can.  And I will stand behind you and your book, we will get it in the best possible shape to present to the world—then the real work begins.

Author Bio

S.R. Howen grew up on a farm for the most part, spending part of her childhood as a military brat. The one constant in her life is story telling. She's always been a story teller--not a popular thing to be when you are five.

She's been with Wild Child since 2000 as an author and an editor. Currently, she lives in Texas with her family and assorted critters, 14 cats, 2 dogs, 2 squirrels, and a raccoon.

She follows a Native American lifestyle--believing that each thing does indeed have its own spirit, and avoiding processed foods. If she couldn't kill it, catch it, or pick it in the wild, she doesn't eat it. Other than that, she loves fast cars, good writing, and good editors. They are a writer's best friend.

Find more of S.R. Howen here:

Please visit these other sites and leave a comment to win a $10 GFC to Wild Child Publishing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blog Blitz with Author Audrey Cuff

Christmas in July, unwrap a summer ebook blog blitz, 

welcomes Author Audrey Cuff, Ed.D

When Ashley Brown was five years old, her parents left her in the care of her grandma, though her mother promised to return for her. At fourteen, Ashley is still living with her grandmother in Highland, a city on the outskirts of Maryville, a place known as the "ghetto."

Ashley has shadowy memories of her mother taking her to her favorite place, the library. Reading a good book allows Ashley to escape her poverty and crime infested community. One afternoon after listening to the Mayor's press conference, Ashley discovers that the Mayor is taking away the community library. In spite of being put on punishment for a week by her grandma for defending herself from the school bullies, Ashley feels it is worth the risk to sneak out of her apartment to mail a letter she has written to the Mayor about keeping the library open.

Every day homeless people approach her and beg for something to eat or for money. The most frequent requests come from two disheveled individuals Ashley has nicknamed "Orphan Annie" and the "businessman bum." As if escaping the homeless people isn't enough, there are a bunch of bullies who harass Ashley. One day, the bullies chase her into an alley. They force her to the ground and Ashley is afraid of what could have happened next. This is one time Ashley wished she listen to her grandma.

In print and ebook formats, the book, City of Thieves will be an audio book by September 2013.

Read an excerpt

Grandma, Grandma, what is so wrong?” I said. I jumped out of my chair and run toward the TV.

“That stupid mayor. I don’t believe it! She’s shutting down the library. The only library we have in this community and replacing it with some, some business store,” Grandma yelled. She scowled at the TV. “I don’t believe the stupid mayor. You see what I mean about people in power making decisions that ruin your life, and you have no say about anything.”

“Oh, oh, Grandma, that’s so terrible. The library is the only place I have left that’s positive in the community.”

“Ashley, don’t you get it? They don’t give a hoot about people from our neighborhood. All they care about is making money off of the poor,” she said.

Then a quick flash the mayor came on the television. Suddenly, my knees felt weak and heavy. I felt like I was ready to collapse.

“Grandma, what is, is the mayor’s name?” I asked. I struggled not to stumble.
“I’m not for sure. Some person name Baldwin, a Mrs. Baldwin I guess. Oh watch they are showing that evil witch on television right now,” Grandma said. She glared at the television. Grandma was going nuts.

I desperately tried not to break down, Grandma didn’t have a clue that I’d met Mrs. Baldwin, and I wasn’t about to tell her. Luckily, Grandma was going crazy about the mayor; she didn’t notice that I’m emotionally falling apart.

Author Bio

Dr. Audrey Cuff was inspired by her special needs students to write her debut novel, City Of Thieves. She wanted her students reach their goals and aspirations regardless of obstacles and shortcomings in life.  She also wanted her students to understand that they could fight to better their communities.

Dr. Cuff is a special education teacher at a high school in South Jersey. She taught psychology for the past 13 years to freshman students.  She is a vegetarian.   She enjoys evenings at home with her family and friends.   She completed two marathons in 2005 and 2006 in Hawaii for charity research to cure HIV /AIDS.  Also, her other hobbies consist of reading, going to the movies and of course writing. She has two children, and three grandchildren.  Dr. Cuff received her doctoral degree from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara California. She has the following certifications: Teacher of Psychology, Teacher of Special Education, and Supervisor of Education.  She was nominated and received the Outstanding Teacher award in April of 2006.  
City of Thieves is part of a three book series.

Find more about Audrey here

Find her books here

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blog Blitz with Author Richard Uhlig

Christmas in July, unwrap a summer ebook blog blitz, 

welcomes Richard Uhlig

Richard treats us to the first chapter of his novel 


Chapter One

My name is Ron Riley, Jr., but no one except geezers call me that. I'm known at school as Kodak because I always have a camera hanging from my neck. Why? I’m a reporter/photographer at my old man’s weekly newspaper, The Harker City Bugle.

Is this a job I asked for? Guess again. I mean, it makes me totally un-cool. Tell me, what chick drools over a doofus who stands on the sidelines snapping pictures of jocks scoring touch downs and baskets? I might as well be gay.

You’re thinking, hey, your old man owns a newspaper, and that’s choice, right? We’re not talking the New York Times here. Heck, we’re not even talking The Wichita Eagle Beacon.

Fact, The Bugle’s circulation is a whopping fifteen hundred and seventeen, the exact same number of souls who went down on the Titanic.

Another fact, slaving at The Bugle is a lot like being on a sinking ship. Over the last few years Dad has lost serious advertising money because half the stores in town have gone belly up since the railroad folded.

After Mom died -- she penned the “Family Living” section of the paper -- Dad couldn’t afford to hire someone new, so guess what? Yours truly had to go to work for less than minimum wage.

But there is one cool thing I’ve discovered with this gig. I like words.

I groove on hooking them up like box cars on a train and seeing where they take me.

My main man, Fart Bomb, calls me Word Nerd because I’m always looking up new words in Webster’s.

Here’s the hitch. When you live in Snoozeville like me, where pretty much everyone goes to church on Sunday, and most adults are grey gray hairs living on the Security, juicy scoops are about as common as Beluga caviar. How am I suppose to strut my writing stuff when I’m forced to cover “stories” like the bingo wins down at the VFW hall on Saturday night? The killer adjective or action verb only goes so far at sexing up an article titled “Highlights From the Lutheran Church Talent Night”.

So, when it comes over Dad’s police scanner that a car was found under Snake River Bridge, my ears whip around like Rhubarb's, my cat, when she hears a mouse scratching under the fridge. Dad pushes his chair back from the breakfast table. He, my big sister Melissa, my only sib, and I have been chowing down on that lumpy oatmeal she makes every morning.

“Ron, fetch my boots and load up the camera,” Dad croaks in his bullfrog-deep voice. “Melissa, put my coffee in the Thermos.”

I snatch up Dad’s scuffed Red Wing field boots from the back door mat and haul them over to him. “If a car went through the Snake River Bridge railing, that’s at least a fifty foot drop.”

Dad nods. “Would be a miracle if anyone survived that fall.” He struggles, reaching over his girth to tug his left boot on, so I bend down and pull with both hands on the boot tops. That’s right, Dad’s a porker. At almost three hundred and fifty pounds, he’s been a black hole of food consumption since Mom died. He snarfs more calories in a day than Melissa, Rhubarb, our garbage disposal, and me combined. And that's saying something because my sister is no twig, and I used to be fat myself. More on that later.

I clear my throat as I lace Dad’s boots. “How about if I shoot this one for you?”

He shakes his triple-chinned head when he heaves himself up.

“But you promised me I could help out on the next big story, remember?” I’m told I have a doe-eyed look that would make Jesus himself feel guilty, I use it on him.

“Haven’t you heard of post-traumatic stress disorder?” my sister says in her helium-sucker's voice. “After a person witnesses a horrific event, like a car accident, they can suffer from depression, nightmares, even phobias for years.”

“Too late, I’m already living with you.”

“That’s enough,” Dad barks. “Apologize to your sister, right now.”

“Sorry, Sis.”

She turns away, folding her arms over her chest.

After Mom died, Melissa dropped out of K-State, where she was an honors psychology major. She moved home and became the self-appointed family caretaker, making the meals, clipping grocery coupons and nagging us about every little thing, like not taking off our shoes when coming into the house, leaving my bed unmade and my dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. On July 4th Sis is to tie the knot with Brandon Miller, Dickerson County Sheriff's Deputy extraordinaire.

“Look, Dad,” I barter, “I’ll cover next week’s city commission meeting if you’ll let me go with you this morning.” This stops him in his tracks like I knew it would. Dad gets bored at the city meetings and often falls asleep. Afterwards, he has to trail around after the commissioners to find out what happened.

“Oh, all right. Get your camera. I’ll be out in the truck.”

My sister’s tarantula-leg-like eyelashes flutter at me in disgust. “Why do you want to photograph a gruesome sight so badly?”

“Because I’m a psycho pervert.”

“I think you have serious unresolved issues about Mom’s death.”


My photography knapsack swings from my neck as I book it out the back door. It isn’t even eight o’clock on this June morning and it has to be eighty degrees out. Wispy white clouds streak the blue sky like talcum powder on our bathroom floor. I throw open the passenger door of Dad's Chevy pickup. Behind the wheel, he’s nibbling on a dark chocolate Hersey bar. I sink into the seat with its busted springs as he starts the engine. The C.B. radio squelches and scratches.

“I want you to be nice to your sister,” he scolds between bites. “She’s under a lot of pressure with the wedding coming up. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir.”

Dad believes she’s spazzing out lately because she has to organize the whole nuptial shindig herself. I believe diet pills have a lot to do with it. She is desperate to drop 15 pounds for the Big Day, so she’ll fit into Mom’s old wedding dress.

We cruise through the empty streets of Harker City, the burg where I’ve lived all of my seventeen years, with its limestone courthouse, two banks, two gas stations, two grocery stores, three bars and eight churches. You’ve probably never heard of Harker City, and for good reason.







Except for one Mexican family, The Lopezes, who own The Taco Caboose, and the one black family, the Washingtons, who own Colonel Chet’s Bar B Q, and Casey Coyote, the sheriff's Native American foster daughter, the good citizens of Harker City are as white as Marshmallow Fluff.

Speaking of Casey Coyotewhen Dad swings us onto Trapp Street, I’m surprised to see her blue Chevette parked in front of the Lutheran Church parsonage. Casey babysits for Reverend Mike and his wife a lot, but at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning?

We zoom past the Dairy Queen and drive east onto Highway 76, heading out across the pancake-flat prairie.

Dad lowers his visor to block the morning sun and says, “Covering car accidents is the one part of my job I dread.”

“Then give ‘em to me.” I reach into my knapsack and take out my Kodak camera. “If I cover another quilting bee or 4H livestock competition, I’ll go bonkers.”

“Son, by focusing on local events The Bugle serves an important function in the community. It gives people’s lives meaning. If it’s in print, it’s important.”

So you know, Dad repeats this mantra about once a week. It kinda freaks me out he doesn't remember saying it. Alzheimer’s Disease? Self-Reassurance Disease? Either way, he's become quite philosophical since Mom died.

After a few minutes, Dad turns north on the roller coaster, deeply-rutted Snake River Road. Rocks crunch under our tires and ping against the undercarriage as we bounce along.

So, here it is 1990. Major stories are breaking all over the globe. Nelson Mandela freed from a South African prison, the Berlin Wall has come down, American troops are invading Panama. But you wouldn't know any of this reading the The Bugle. Me, I want to be a legit word nerd. I want to cover the stuff that matters. Maybe win a Pulitzer some day. And, I know what you're thinking, Yeah right, kid, the Pulitzer. Dream On.

Well, get this. Hemingway began his career as a newspaper reporter right here in the Midwest, less than a 150 miles from Harker City. Okay, he worked for the Kansas City Star and not The Bugle. Still, it’s a start.

Dad double-clutches into low gear as we struggle up a hill. We dip into the valley, and I see the red flashing lights of emergency vehicles. My pulse kicks up a notch. Ahead, the rusted trestles of the Snake River Bridge remind me of my old erector set.

Dad slows to a stop behind the sheriff's cruiser at the east end of the bridge. “Just stay out of the way and let me do the talking.” He reaches into the glove compartment, crammed with Hershey bar wrappers and yellowed gasoline receipts, and takes out his black reporter’s notebook.

Camera in hand, I trail Dad along the side of the road. Police radios crackle in the humid air. For once I feel like a real journalist covering a real story.

Up ahead, Ed Sanders, owner of Ed’s Tow Service and Auto Repair, leans his wiry body against the front fender of his wrecker. He looks totally zoned out while dragging on that cigarette.

“What do we have, Ed?” Dad calls out

Ed’s green eyes check us out from under the blue bandana wrapped pirate-style around his forehead. “One known fatality. Appears the driver missed the bridge at the curve and shot down the embankment right into the river.”

“Who’s the victim?” Dad asks.

Ed shrugs. “I just got here. Say, Ronny,” Ed drops his cigarette to the dirt and grinds it under his boot heel, “I’m almost done with your Ford.”

“Great. When can I pick it up?”

“Swing by the garage Tuesday.”

Y’got it.”

Dad and I walk past my soon-to-be-brother-in-law, Brandon, on his hands and knees in the thick grass, so absorbed in whatever he’s doing there he doesn’t notice us.

We hurry by the idling ambulance, lights flashing, the back door open and the gurney missing. In the center of the narrow, one-lane bridge, Sheriff Gerald Bottoms stands squinting through binoculars like a general at D-Day. The old wood planks creak and groan under foot, and between them the river below rushes by. Usually a trickle this time of year, the water is moving fast due to the recent heavy rains. My gaze follows the river upstream to the big Harker City Lake Dam, water gushes from the overflow outlet in the shape of a rooster’s tail.

I lean over to the bridge railing. A car is upside down and half-submerged in the murky water below. To the left, two paramedics struggle to pull an object from the water. The object is a woman, floating face down, her red dress fanned over the water like a flag. The way her head bobs up and down in the current, it looks like she’s nodding. The shock of discovery hits me full force, and I’m too freaked out to do anything more than stare. I haven’t seen a dead person since Mom was laid out in her casket two years ago.

“I see we have a fatality, Gerald,” Dad says, snapping me out of my trance.

The sheriff lowers his binoculars and turns to us. A caterpillar-like eyebrow arches and he smirks at me. “Your dad letting you cover the big stuff these days?”

“Said he wanted to come.” Still gasping from the walk to the bridge, Dad dabs his sweaty forehead with a white handkerchief.

“Well, I’m glad he did. Brandon dropped our new Minolta into the river a little while ago.”The sheriff sighs and shakes his head. “Ronny, I’d like for you to get some shots of the car for my report, if you don’t mind.”

“No problem, sir.” I walk to the railing and snap pics of the death scene below. I adjust my focus. One of the men in waders is Allen Flood, the local mortician who is also an EMT.

Body thrown at impact,” the sheriff says. “She didn’t stand a chance.”

“Who’s the victim?” Dad asks.

“Janice Crawley.”

I spin to the sheriff. “Reverend Mike’s wife?”

Sheriff Bottom nods grimly.

Dad shakes his head.

Unbelievable. How can Mrs. Crawley, a mother, a preacher’s wife, a special ed teacher at the high school, be floating dead in Snake River on a Sunday morning? It makes no sense. I saw her a couple days ago at the parsonage when I went for a run with her husband. Everyone liked Mrs. C.

“Is Reverend Mike in that car?” I ask.

The sheriff shakes his head and tucks a toothpick into the corner of his mouth. “No. Appears she was alone. Reverend called my office just shy of midnight reporting her missing. What a shame, huh?”

Dad’s voice cracks, “On the Sabbath, no less.”

The sheriff eyeballs the east entrance of the bridge. “Drivers never slow down at that curve. I’ve asked the county to put up one of those ‘dangerous curve’ signs, but the commissioners don’t move unless it’s an election year.”

“Have you told Reverend Mike?” Dad asks.

“Yeah. He should be here any minute to identify the body.”

The EMTs lift a stiff Mrs. C. onto the stretcher. I zoom my lens on her, opening the aperture two stops. Her color-drained face is swollen like a melon. Her pale, unblinking eyes seem to stare right through me. With her blue lips and matted wet hair, she looks like the mannequin we used to practice CPR on in health class.

“Is this blood?”

I lower the Kodak. Dad points at some brownish red-spots on the railing.

“Looks fairly fresh,” Dad observes.

A trail of red dots run along the floor of the bridge toward the west end.

The sheriff nudges his hat back. “I had Brandon collect some samples of it for the lab.”

Dad also leans on the railing. “What do you make of it?”

“Not much.” The sheriff returns to looking through his binoculars. “People fish off this bridge all the time.”

I clear my throat. “Isn’t that a lot of blood for a fish?”

Dad glares at me as if to say, Didn’t I tell you to let me do the talking?

“Junior,” the sheriff says into the binoculars, “I’ve caught channel cat in this creek that bled like a slaughtered heifer.”

He straightens his spine, spins the focus wheel on his scopes, and says in a serious whisper, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

Adrenaline courses through my body.

“What is it, Gerald?” Dad asks.

The sheriff hands Dad the binoculars and points. “There are two quartering pheasants over by that fence. What I wouldn’t give to have my twelve gauge right now.”

I follow those bloody dots to the entrance of the bridge, snapping photos as I go. They form a kind of trail down the rocky bank to the water’s edge.

“Ronny, make way,” Mr. Flood shouts as he and the other guy struggle to carry Mrs. Crawley’s bagged body up the embankment.

I hike back over to where Dad and the sheriff, and now Brandon, stand together on the bridge.

“I didn’t find any skid marks at the curve,” my sister’s fiancĂ©e reports. “Which leads me to believe she didn’t attempt to stop before she went over. Another thing, her headlights were off.”

The sheriff stares at him, chewing his toothpick. “I’m sure the paramedics cut the battery cable first thing. That’s standard operating procedure.”

Brandon shakes his head. “The headlight knob inside the car was switched off. The medics told me they hadn’t touched it… Maybe we should seal off the area.”

“What the heck for?” the sheriff asks.

“On the off-chance this wasn’t an accident.”

The sheriff shakes his head. “You’re thinkin’ this was a suicide?”

My future brother-in-law shrugs. “That could explain what she was doing out here alone after dark.”

Sheriff Bottoms stops chewing and stares at his underling like he is a zit on the end of his nose. “Mrs. Crawley was one of the happiest people I’ve known.”

A familiar, beige Buick LaSabre drives up. The driver’s door flies open, and out steps Reverend Mike, my triathlon coach and our family’s minister. He looks totally spent, unshaven, with dark bags under his light-blue eyes. Sheriff Bottoms leads the Rev to the back door of the ambulance. Mr. Flood, ever the solemn mortician, unzips the top of the body bag. It seems so wrong to see someone as tall and strong as Reverend Mike break down like a scared little boy.

I’m not one who cries at the drop of a hat, like my sister does, but let me tell you, I have to bite my bottom lip to control the sobs.

“I-I don’t understand.” Reverend Mike wipes tears with the back of his hand.

“This is one of the most dangerous roads in the county,” the sheriff says.

“She dropped me off at church last night,” Reverend Mike says, “but she never came home.”

Dad pulls a white hanky from his pants pocket and hands it to Reverend Mike. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am, Reverend.”

Brandon ambles over. “Reverend, I hate to do this now, but I need to ask you a few questions for my report.”

“That can wait,” the sheriff snaps.

“It’s all right,” Reverend Mike says, “I’d rather get it over with.”

Brandon whips out a tiny notebook from his shirt pocket and clicks his pen like he is some kind of FBI bad ass. “Did your wife’s car have mechanical problems?”

Reverend Mike shakes his head while blowing his nose in the hanky.

“Do you, uh, know if she’d been drinking,” Brandon asks.

Sheriff Bottom glares at Sis’s squeeze. “For crying out loud.”

“She had one beer with dinner,” Revend Mike says, “but that was around seven o'clock.”

Brandon clears his throat. “I’m sorry to ask this, Reverend, but was your wife depressed?”

Sheriff Bottom stares daggers at Brandon. “Thank you for your time, Reverend Mike. You best go on home to your daughter. We’ll take care of things from here.”

Reverend Mike slumps toward his car, and I hot foot it over to him. “Uh, Reverend?”

He stops and looks at me, all red-eyed and sniffling.

“How about I drive you home?”

“That would be nice, Kodak.”

Reverend Mike is one of the few adults in my life who calls me Kodak. And I like him for that reason alone.

Author Bio:

Richard Uhlig needed time, and distance, to find the perspective on his small-town childhood that would allow him to create the funny, aching, quirky characters and scenarios featured in his novels and films. A professional screenwriter, Rick now lives in New York City and counts film noir, Russian novels and "deliciously dark comedy" among his literary influences. Married to his high school sweetheart, Rick is an international traveler and a devoted father of two.

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