July 10, 2017

My Favorite Character

Everyone has a favorite character in a novel that resonates with them far after the final page has been turned and the book is placed on the shelf. For me, this character is Charlotte from E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web." I may be a bit biased because it is also my favorite book but allow me to expand on why I love Charlotte.
Charlotte is:
  • Creative. Throughout the novel, Charlotte gets ideas from other pieces of literature (newspaper clippings, can goods, books, etc.) to help Wilbur sustain his life. I am the same. I get a lot of my ideas as an author and teacher when I am out in society doing the regular mundane tasks of life such as driving, traveling, shopping, or simply observing people.
  • Wise. She was able to discern a problem and use her wits to create a solution to save Wilbur's life. Pretty spiffy if you ask me.
  • A Good Friend. No matter what, Charlotte was determined to save Wilbur's life and give timely advice to the other farm animals.
  • A Great Writer. Who else could spin a web and write "Some Pig," 'Terrific," "Radiant," and "Humble?" with poise and elegance for a purpose? Charlotte, of course.
They say you become what you read, so I believe in many ways, Charlotte is me - always caring and concerned about the good of the world and leaving a legacy to be remembered.

At the novel's end, the narrator reflects on Wilbur's thoughts on Charlotte, and these words resonate with me and rarely leave my heart or thoughts: 
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

How eloquent is that? I want to be like Charlotte - a true friend and a good writer. And now that I look back at the adjectives used to describe Wilbur, I can say we share a lot in common, too. Minus being a pig.

I've shared with you my favorite character from a novel. Share yours with me in the comments.

Until my next blog, I wish you peace, hugs, and flowing ink/typing keys.....


December 21, 2016

3627 Chapter One


I
She slammed on the brakes, jerked her car to parked, and jumped out and ran to the ambulance. The wailing noise of sirens were deafening and the bright red lights blinding. Using her arm as a shield to cover her eyes and ears, Rumor Harlowe Martinelli spotted her mom on the gurney. The paramedics were busy applying pressure to her mother’s chest while counting, “One, two, three,” as they performed CPR while rushing her towards the ER. Rumor darted in that direction.

“Mom, I am here, please get through this. Please, Mom.” Rumor screeched as she reached out to her mother while fervently fighting the growing crowd to get to her mother’s side - jumping up and down occasionally to make sure she did not lose sight of the gurney.

Rumor woke up gasping for air as she jumped up and realized she’d fallen asleep in the hospital in the leather recliner in the corner of her mother’s room - yet again. Sweat dampened her brows and slid down her cheeks while forming rivulets on her neck. Her magenta, flowy crop top was damp. And as usual she was having nightmares about the incident that caused her mother to be here.
She got up from the recliner and smoothed her hair behind her ears and then fixed her messy bun even though she was certain it was the messiest of buns at the moment. She avoided the mirror for this process as she often did. Secretly she hated mirrors.

Her mom had taken a fall in an attempt to get to the bathroom and had slipped and nearly broken her hip. Mom was too frail to move around much. The radiation from the chemotherapy had weakened her immune system and her bones. She had lesions on her tongue and her eyes were always watery and as distant as a lagoon at night, but mom was and still embodied a perfect beauty and an innate charm, even in her sickness.

While staring at her mother, she tried hard to fight back the geyser of tears that threatened to shatter from her eyes because she did not want to fall a part in front of her mother – it was the last thing she needed. Smoothing the crisp white sheets on her mother’s bed, Rumor pulled the Belle Maison diamond tufted powder pink chenille throw to her mother’s chin and stepped away from the bed and began glaring out the window into the ominous night.

“This is so not fair!” Rumor grimaced through clinched teeth and fist as she struggled to make sense of it all. Her knuckles were pale and perspiration formed on her forehead. She glared across the room at the tall, lithe, nurse who was busy doing her duties – a vital check here, pillow prep there, and a glance at the television.  After she’d finished her final task from her checklist, the nurse hung her clipboard on the wall and slipped out the door quietly, as if she were also a ghost. Rumor smirked at the nurses horrendous looking orthopedic shoes. It was the first time in days that she had even attempted a smile. She then chastised herself for being sarcastic even if it was her nature.

As the nurse faded out of sight, Rumor pondered cynically.

Why did all nurses have to be so stereotypical – tall and thin or short and plump – with glasses? No, you can’t forget the glasses - small round copper frames that they often looked above the lenses of to ask questions while jotting on their clipboards.

Alone, Rumor looked around the murky, sterile room as she tried to make sense of it all.  The walls were a sullen off white which created an openness of space. It reeked of excess chlorine and machines that made too much noise with names she could not pronounce. There was a stiff cold that loomed in the air. She listened intently to the intravenous drips as the ECG monitor sung a drab song.
This was a private room which meant no moans, gripes, and complaints, from the next bed or pretentious interest from their families and visitors. The golden-framed tulip oil painting on the wall was both cheap and depressing with its frame peeling and a baby spider trying to make a home in its corners. The once inspiring words of Henry David Thoreau “Life is frittered away by detail,” were fading just as the patients’ lives that come and go in this ward, a stark reminder of the fate that awaits. Grey paneled curtains blew with the stale air as the air conditioner hummed along. The curtains clung to life, violently dancing with the occasional curtsy. The looming stench of death hung over the room like a dark cloud threatening the sky. The mere thought sickened Rumor as a lump formed in her throat - her chest tightened - she held back a brimming rage as she looked up at the fluorescent light that flickered occasionally, another sign that life was imminent.

Her mother lie frail and lithe which caused Rumor’s heart to sank beneath her feet as she began to stroke her mother’s silver hair and caught the glare of her wedding ring - even though it was nearly pitch black outside, the carats still illuminated in Rumor’s peripheral vision – just as the love her parent’s shared. A pure, selfless untainted love – one that had carried her mother for a lifetime even after her father, Yam died.

Fingering the ring, Rumor slowly began lifting her Mother’s hand. She leaned in to kiss her mother’s hand and then cupped it with hers as she held it in silence. She began to daydream about the love her parents shared and the affectionate respect and regard they had for one another. She
always wanted a love like her mother’s and Yam’s love, but was love ever enough? She had been in love twice and both relationships ended due to unfaithfulness on the behalf of her exes, so her idea of love was tainted, skewed, and marred. She abhorred men and “love” but the examples her parents set gave her an ounce of hope. She also hated God because first he took Yam and now her mother’s life was slowly fading and since she had no family besides her best friends, identical twins Addy and Allison, she would be left to face the world alone.

Rumor hated hospitals but more than that, she hated her mother was taking her last breath in one. Stupid cancer; it was always claiming precious lives. And her mother was a devout Christian. It’s not that Rumor felt her mother’s life was more valued over anyone else’s, it’s just that it was her mother. Her mother had lived her life doing missions with Yam and spreading her evangelical faith. Abrihet and Yam were perfect, and if Christians had poster children, then she and Yam were the best models, posing with their smiles across the world as they carried the Gospel to undeveloped regions. They were the epitome of what a disciple was as they boldly traveled the earth’s terrain sharing the glorious Gospel in unreached lands that many had never heard of or known, just as their God had instructed them.

Sauntering over to her mother's bed, Rumor felt underneath the thin sheets to entwine her fingers with her mother’s. Grasping her mother’s hand, she ran her fingers along the veins and began praying silently to a God she no longer believed in. If there was a God, why did he allow my mother to get sick? Why did he allow my father to die? If God loves me then why is he taking everyone away from me? Her father had died five years before from a massive heart attack.  She had no family, namely because her parents had her in their old age. She was supposed to be their Issac, their blessing, yet she felt moreso like a curse. Her Mom was 43 when she was born and her dad was 48. Her mom had suffered from endometriosis which led to three miscarriages, yet she got pregnant a fourth time and carried Rumor full-term. Yet, Rumor’s birth was just another uterine issue as far as Rumor was concerned. After each surgical procedure, her conditioned worsened from fibroids to endometriosis to ovarian cancer, Rumor felt like her birth had led to her mother’s slow death. Rumor’s very presence was an indication of every pain her mother battled within her body.

Rumor gently placed her mother’s frail and lifeless hand at her sides, and began to softly caress her thinning grey hair. At that moment, her mother opened her eyes. Pain and weariness were obvious but mother managed to smile. 

“Rumor, my love,” Mom moaned through coughs.

“Shhh-Shhh – Mom, don’t speak. Get rest.”

“Have I not been resting enough these past three days in this barren, stale place?” Mom asked begrudgingly. Her mother hated hospitals as much as she did. So her disgust was both viable and credible.

“Rumor, I have a request for you,” Mom said through even breaths as she tilted her head to the side towards Rumor.

“Yes, Mom?” Rumor answered, moving in close to her Mom and rubbing her cold hands in the hopes of providing warmth. Her veins were protruding through her soft skin like vines along a building.
“When you leave here today,” her mother whispered as she squeezed Rumor’s hand. “I would like for you to go home and pull back the Venetian rug in my room and count from the middle of the television three planks to the left and pull up the floor. Something awaits you there. When you retrieve it, open its contents and divulge. Everything there belongs to you.”

“Sure, Mom,” she said as she fought back tears. Her mother sounded so final in her request. And that is the thing with death. Though it is inevitable we desire to prolong the lives of those whose life is fleeting.  And how selfish is that. They’re suffering and we want to keep from suffering their loss by wanting them to live longer - despite their suffering.

Exiting the hospital room, Rumor pulled the door to her mother’s room shut – the room that housed the love of her life and the room that the love of her life would inevitably take her last breath.
She paused outside in the icy, sterile hallway, peeking through the glass door pane while watching the monitor beep as her Mother’s vitals got lower. She fingered the room number 3-6-2-7 and looked hastily at the white linoleum floor. Rumor couldn’t help but stare at the cold floors. I wonder why all the floors in hospitals are white? Rumor ponder. Perhaps so they can see if any fluids are on the floor or any contaminants. She went out to the nurses’ desk, placed her palms down and paused before putting her head down. Both nurses walked towards her.

“I know this is a difficult time, so I want you to know we are here for you,” Diana whispered while giving Rumor’s palms an affirming squeeze.

Janet came around the desk and hugged Rumor for what seemed like an eternity but was only a matter of seconds. The two embraced and they both cried silently. Janet pulled back, gripped Rumor’s shoulders, looked her in the eyes and said “I’m going to check on my patients. Please know we will provide the best care for your Mom. Now go get some sleep. Not rest, but sleep.”

Those were the words she needed to hear because she had become the queen of worrying and lately she had been suffering from insomnia, staying up in a daze most nights, recalling and reflecting on life when mom was in good health. Rumorstarted for the elevator and pushed the buttons signaling the first floor, struggling to fight back tears as the doors chimed open.

“Good night, Diana and Janet. See you tomorrow,” she nodded to the nurses as she pushed the button for the first floor and waited for the elevator.  

Diana and Janet had grown accustomed to Rumor staying with her mother until the faint hours of the morning, so she was like family now. Diana was a chatty young blonde with the figure of a supermodel, while Janet was plump as a raisin with brimmed bifocals which rested on her pointy nose. She was quiet, yet professional. She looked over her glasses when she talked and pushed them up when she had to read. The two nurses sat behind the desk rummaging through patient charts and talking a jargon Rumor barely knew or understood. The elevator chimed and Rumor stepped in.

“Have a good night, Dr. Vauclain,” Diana and Janet yelled through giggles while playfully slapping shoulders as the elevator was closing, as a dark-haired male doctor dressed in a white lab coat, with a patient file in his hand and a stethoscope around his neck barely caught the elevator as it closed in on his shoe.  He and Rumor caught eyes and he smiled and looked up at the elevator’s ceiling a humming and tapping his foot to the elevator’s music. Rumor returned a half smile cowered in the back of the elevator, intentionally avoiding conversation. The doctor got off at the fourth floor, which was the pediatric wing.

Interesting, she thought, why was he on the oncology ward? He sure was good looking with the body to match. Rumor gawked and immediately grief consumed her as she thought of her mother lying lifeless in the hospital bed creeped into her memory. She closed her eyes to pretend she was anywhere but here and reality struck as the elevator opened.  As she was exiting the elevator, she paused then kneeled because a small circular object glistening in the corner caught her peripheral vision. The elevator started closing so she hurried to pause it and turned her attention immediately back to the ring. She picked it up and examined it; it was a diamond ring whose sparkle was blinding as she held it close. 

Rumor hated jewelry, but she had a co-worker, Michelle who was newly engaged and never ceased to let the entire studio know about it as she flashed her asscher cut ring in her co-workers’ face daily. She educated them all on the many diamonds so it was hard to forget and easy to identify them now. There was an inside joke that her fiancĂ© got her the right cut –  because she is a pain the“Ass”cher. 


Rumor continued to study the ring. I wonder how it got here. Did it belong to a patient? A nurse? The doctor? Rumor tried to force her brain to remember if she saw the ring before the doctor got on the elevator. Her memory failed her as she tried to recall because it all happened so fast. He was a man, yet this is a woman’s ring. She mused. Hmmm….. Maybe surveillance could pick up if someone dropped it - most surveillance was so grainy these days that it was hard to make out people - so an object as small as a ring would be quite difficult.

She stepped out of the elevator, exited the hospital, and continued to the parking deck. She fished around in her purse for her cell phone. When she retrieved it, she spoke into the receiver, "Hey Siri." 

"Yes," the intelligent phone assistant replied.

"Call Emory." 

Obeying the command, the computer program dialed the hospital. Rumor knew she had to call now because she would forget over time - her long term memory wasn't the best.

There was no answer, so she left a voice mail. She studied the ring once more, holding it up as it met the sliver of moonlight that crept into the parking deck. The ring glistened, nearly blinding her. She gently tucked the ring in the side pocket of her jeans and continued to her car. The parking deck lights flickered with each step she made, -threatening to darken the place at any moment. Her BMWi8 was alone in the parking lot glistening like a sparkling red candy apple. Quickening her pace, Rumor pressed the automatic car entry, opened the door and slipped into the driver’s seat with a wide smile. She loved the new car scent and this was a reminder to olfactory glands every time she entered her car. It was her first “adulting” purchase and she was quite proud. She buckled her seat belt, started the engine, adjusted the rearview mirror, and headed for home.

Feeling sleep deprived, she scanned radio stations. She was not sure if she was truly searching for a song or just trying to cloud her brain from thinking so much. No station was playing anything she wanted to listen to, so she turned on her Bluetooth and listened to the “Carrie Underwood” station. Rumor loved country music. Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” was playing so she turned it full blast and battled singing along because she was exhausted and sleep was calling.  As she neared a red light, Rumor closed her eyes and laid back on the headrest as Keith Urban crooned, “Stupid Boy, you can’t fence her in. Stupid boy, it’s like holding back the wind.”

“Bonnnkkkk,” blared the sound of a horn of an angry driver shouting obscenities from behind which startled Rumor. She realized she had fallen asleep at the red light and the urgency to get home welled inside of her. The angry driver began pounding his fist on the side of his car door and flashing his lights, as he continued to act belligerent. Semi alert, Rumor accelerated and made for home. As she pulled up into the driveway, Rumor got extremely nauseated. Her stomach made growling noises and she could literally hear bubbles forming as she put the car in park. She clenched the stirring wheel and her knuckles grew pale and her hands sweaty as a male locker room.

Pulling into the driveway, Rumor tussled her golden, curly mane - shaking her head profusely as she stared in the rearview mirror. “I look like a lioness,” she mumbled while opening the car door.
She reached for her purse, stepped out the car, and started for the front door. Feeling nervous and timid, she wondered what could be under her favorite spot – the Venetian rug -  in her Mother’s room.
Starting up the steps, the sound of cooing and purring could be heard in the dark. Seconds later, she saw a figure behind Mother’s plant - it was a stray cat scurring along. For a moment, she stood in the doorway and engulfed the summer breeze of the Georgia weather, as it was a rarity. Stepping inside, she could hear the silent hum of the air conditioner as it pushed cold air throughout the house. 
This was the house Rumor grew up, though her parents had it totally renovated when she was a teen. Mom and Yam took great pride in the home partly because it was in Grant Park, the historic district of Atlanta, GA and originally built in the early 20th century and remodeled in 1995 when Rumor was just a year old. It was a two-story Victorian era cottage to the east of the park known for its distinctive landscape of rolling hills and scenic vistas. The streets were lined with trees and an extensive sidewalk system. The neighborhood’s inimitable lattice street pattern and narrow rectangular lots made for a perfect makeshift play land for children.

Mom was big on gardening so the front yard blossomed – they had installed an irrigation system and it watered the plants at night. The big, circular drive way lead to a two-car garage, which was a contributing factor to buying the home as mom was always obsessed with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the WindThis house was home to Rumor. It held so many memories of Mom and her father, Yam. Yam had died three years ago, and after he died, it was never the same but she and Mom continued the Martinelli legacy and traditions each holiday. Christmas breakfast, Easter brunch, Independence Day BBQ, Fall Festival (Mom and Yam were devout Christians so no celebration of Halloween or anything evil) which explains why Rumor snuck off to Mardi Gras her freshman year in college and had the time of her life and never told Mom or Yam.  She giggled at the thought of her being “rebellious” as Mom said. And it seemed it was a trait that would follow her for years – even now.

Rumor walked over to the fireplace and began fingering the black framed pictures Mom had aligned on the white wooden mantle. The house was still and quiet; she could hear her own breathing.
The pictures had grown dusty because Rumor was not great in the housekeeping area. She made a mental note to dust and clean before Mom came back home. At least she had made an effort to do laundry.  Right? She looked wantonly at the clothes and towels spilling over a wicker laundry basket.

“Rumor dear,” her mother would start, “You had better learn to do household chores …..”
“If I ever want a husband,” Rumor would finish. She had heard this motherly advice since she graduated college. “Quite frankly mom, the odds of a woman like me getting married are slim to none. And besides, then I would be competition for you and Yam having the best marriage ever.” Even though Rumor had severe trust issues with men, her mother insisted she give love a chance, but Rumor was hesitant and resistant. She’d fallen in love in high school with Dillon Coltz and they’d went to college together, only for her to arrive at his dorm room for a study session and find him in bed with the college slut and cheerleader captain. Three years later, as a senior in college she met and fell in love with Brad Norman. They’d dated until she was 27 when she realized they were growing apart – only to realize he was cheating on her with his high school sweetheart.

Her mom would look down at the ground. Yes, the mere mention of Yam opened a floodgate for Mom. Rumor turned her attention back to the pictures on the mantle. Mom was meticulous in all things so they were perfectly lined and adorned with a frilled lace drape which hung like icicles.
She stood back from the fireplace, wondering if her mother would make it through the winter. She glanced at the oak coffee table which housed the family’s heirloom, a leather-bound Bible with gold foil lettering that read Yosef Anatol Martinelli “Yam.” Rumor's mind began to reminisce to the many Bible stories she had heard around the fireplace as Yam narrated the story of Jesus being born and brought into Bethlehem. Those were priceless memories she could never get back but wouldn’t bargain for the world. Tracing the picture of her Mom and Yam from their wedding day with her index finger caused a smile to creep across Rumor’s face. Their happiness was so apparent that it exuded off the picture and seeped into your heart. She manuevered around a box on the floor and plopped into Yam's favorite black leather swivel chair - the one she used to love to spin in as a little girl.

“Okay, God. My mom is sick and I know it is selfish of me, I want her to live at least one more Christmas. Can you please do that for me? My goodness, she sobbed as she choked through her tears. God, you’re supposed to hear my cry, right? You took Yam, now you have to take Mom, too? She’ll never get to see me walk down the aisle - never hold her grandchildren. It’s so unfair, God,” Rumor wailed as she melted into the chair - her body crumpled and contorted. Suddenly, remembering her mother had told her to go check under her favorite spot in the room, Rumor started towards her mother's room and as soon as she flicked the light switch her phone rang. She knew who it was because of the ring tone.

“It’s the hospital,” she said as she raced to grab her phone. Nearly out of breath from having to run to the other end of the house, she breathed heavily into the receiver, “Hello.”

“Rumor, it’s nurse Diana from Emory Hospital. We need you to come. There has been a change in your mom’s condition.”

“Please tell me that my mother is okay. I need to know that.” Rumor yelled into the phone - her voice cracking with each word. There was a slight pause on the other line and then Diana reiterated, “Can you be on your way? All I can tell you is there has been a change and we need you here.” Rumor dropped her phone inside her purse and hurried to the door, as she fumbled to open it, she looked back down the hall to her mother's room. 

"Whatever's under the Venetian rug will have to wait," she panted as the door slammed behind her and she bolted to her car.



November 17, 2016

3627 Book Cover (Front and Back)


Cover Designed by Nydia Pastoriza of www.sazzyreader.com



Surprise: 3627 eBook Cover Reveal

3627
Biracial beauty, Rumor Harlowe Martinelli is the epitome of success – hailing as Atlanta, Georgia’s most illustrious and tenacious broadcast journalist – she appears to have it all together. Until one day, her perfect world is swept away by the winds of tragedy - her mother falls ill and leaves Rumor behind to face a heartbreaking family secret. Torn and alone, Rumor takes a sabbatical from her career and retreats to Manhattan, New York in the hopes of getting lost amongst the cacophony of the city.
Dapper and debonair, Holden Gad Vauclain is Versailles, France's most prominent pediatric surgeon. He appears to have it all together, but inside he is dying as he copes with the recent loss of his wife and his son. Although his strong religious beliefs provide immense strength, it is not enough as he flees to Manhattan, New York attempting to bury himself in his photography.

They were looking for an escape but found one another. Holden revitalizes Rumor’s life with new hopes and promises of better tomorrows, but Rumor finds it hard to accept and almost ruins the one thing she never had.

***
SURPRISE: KEEP SCROLLING for the 3627 eBook Cover Reveal. 


*



*



*



*


*



*



*



*



*



*



*



*



*


I love it and Nydia Pastoriza of www.sazzyreader.com did a phenomenal job on the cover design. What do you think? Do share. And I can't wait to share the final cover for the print edition of 3627 - coming soon.



November 15, 2016

3627: Synopsis & Pre-Cover Reveal

3627
Biracial beauty, Rumor Harlowe Martinelli is the epitome of success – hailing as Atlanta, Georgia’s most illustrious and tenacious broadcast journalist – she appears to have it all together. Until one day, her perfect world is swept away by the winds of tragedy - her mother falls ill and leaves Rumor behind to face a heartbreaking family secret. Torn and alone, Rumor takes a sabbatical from her career and retreats to Manhattan, New York in the hopes of getting lost amongst the cacophony of the city.

Dapper and debonair, Holden Gad Vauclain is Versailles, France's most prominent pediatric surgeon. He appears to have it all together, but inside he is dying as he copes with the recent loss of his wife and his son. Although his strong religious beliefs provide immense strength, it is not enough as he flees to Manhattan, New York attempting to bury himself in his photography.
They were looking for an escape but found one another. Holden revitalizes Rumor’s life with new hopes and promises of better tomorrows, but Rumor finds it hard to accept and almost ruins the one thing she never had.
***
Pre-order information is coming soon, but for now revel in the sneak peek of the eBook cover and see if you can figure out what's behind it.
Cover designed by: Nydia Pastoriza of www.sazzyreader.com