books

NEWS & A BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

Hello, my dear readers!

It is your friend Katie Kay, and I’ve got some really exciting news for you all. (And I’m sure some of you are excited that I’m posting something other than a poem for the September Poetry Series.) But without further ado, I want to share with you guys what I’ve been up to lately…

About a month ago, I spent a few very long days working on converting my eBooks to paperback version. While I have been self-publishing for six years now, this was my first time making hard copies, and let’s just say…  My books are now in paperback form! 

Holding one’s paperback for the first time is a surreal feeling. Even if it’s not traditionally published, my heart about soared when I took my book from its plastic wrap and cradled it like a baby. (I know, weird, but it was a truly amazing feeling!)

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Six copies of my novels. Never thought I’d see them in person!

While I almost did not write anything on this, some friends asked me to share this news with the world, because why else would I write these books and not tell the world? Well, I’m kind of protective when it comes to my books, and it’s an odd thought to me to walk around with my paperbacks. But here we are. 🙂

So, where are these books? Well, they’re on Amazon! It’s so incredible to think anyone can just head to the website, type in my name, and buy a paperback. Such a weird thought!

But on to the reason you’re probably here in the first place. To celebrate this new development, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway! Therefore, I’ve set it up for a random winner to win a copy of Church Boy, my latest novel. It’s a Christian romance book, so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m hoping some of you will be interested and enter yourselves into the giveaway: Enter the Giveaway!

***But for those of you who are interested in purchasing copies of my novels, you can do so here.

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A picture from when I received my first paperback at college. What a wild feeling to have that book in my hands–and a feeling I won’t soon forget. ❤
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Pages from my novel, Church Boy!

THANK YOU!

Thank you, dear WordPress community and beyond, for taking your time and energy to read my blog. While I have always first and foremost been a novelist at heart, this form of writing is a beautiful and connected world, and you all make it so worth it. I really do believe that you guys give me such positive energy, and for that I will forever be indebted to you. ❤

Well, that’s enough from me for now. Time to hit the books once more (maybe college books, or maybe my own hehe).

-Katie Kay.

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poetry

BOOKSTORE

there is nothing quite
like a casual stroll
through the bookstore:

should you swim with
the dolphins, or take
flight with the birds?

float down a red river,
dine with luxe royalty,
or slip into the past?

maybe pledge a cult,
then rob a bank, and
fall in love at last.

hundreds of tempting titles,
thousands of pompous pages,
millions of witty words:

a few special invitations
from a slew of suitors,
but the choice is yours.

it’s really up to you,
where your written
fate leads you next.

who knows what you’ll
uncover in the elected
voyage of your text.


DAY 2 OF THE SEPTEMBER POETRY SERIES.

Thank you guys for joining me on Day 2 of this poetry journey! Today’s title is “Bookstore,” which was aptly written in… You guessed it: A bookstore! Since I’m a college student always aching to get my studies done, I headed to a bookstore yesterday in order to crank out some homework. While there, my idea for this poem became pretty clear.

Most of you guys reading this will probably know exactly what I’m talking about: Bookstores are pretty awesome places! With the rise of the eBook market, bookstores have an even more special place in my heart. For us bibliophiles out there, getting lost in a bookstore is pretty close to paradise. You could probably drop us off there, and we’d be content for a few hours (maybe even a few days for some).

So this poem is my love letter to bookstores. I’m so thankful they exist, because without them I’m not exactly sure what I’d do with my spare time. If you haven’t been to one lately, please go to your nearest one and peruse the aisles. You’ll do yourself a favor, I promise! (Especially if you’re in need of a tropical vacation, but don’t have the money to hop on a jet to Saint-Tropez…)

❤ ❤ ❤


THANK YOU.

Happy Labor Day to all those in the United States, and happy Monday to all! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Labor Day, we celebrate this holiday in the United States as a way of honoring all the hard workers out there and remembering to take a day of rest as well. Plus, Labor Day is an unofficial way of marking the end of the summer season, and acknowledging that autumn is quickly approaching (though it may not feel like it for some of you out there).

Anyway, I hope you guys have a wonderful day, and expect more poetry from me tomorrow. ❤

-Katie Kay.cropped-image-1.jpg

books

CHURCH BOY OUT NOW!

Church Boy

EXCITING NEWS, my dear readers!

Last week I released my newest novel, Church Boy, to the world! While I should have posted on this sooner, I was a tad bit busy and forgot to advertise the book. (Pretty “redonk”). Anyway, I thought I would go ahead and post something now so that you guys are up-to-date!

Church Boy is not my typical book, but I’m happy it is done and released. It took a month to write and clocks in a little under 60,000 words. While I submitted the manuscript to Harlequin’s Christian line, the book was almost immediately rejected, so I thought: “Why not just go ahead and publish it free online?”

Without further ado, here’s some info on this little summer project of mine. 🙂

Who doesn’t want a church boy?

This is an everyday thought in the small town of Colonia, Mississippi, where church and romance are as integral as breathing. But when Olivia Scott moves to Colonia to care for her ailing father, she isn’t looking for love. The daughter of irreligious parents, Olivia constantly struggles with her Christian faith, and a summer romance isn’t on her mind. And for young Baptist minister Luke Sweeting, his peaceful life as a bachelor is tested when town gossip Lisa Richards decides to matchmake her pastor with their mysterious newcomer.

This unexpected love story sets off a chain reaction that affects the entire town, including a young mother who falls for a faith-seeking drug dealer; folks long entrenched in a Christian family feud; and Colonia churches of all backgrounds. Despite the pressures on the young couple, there is a common denominator: God’s will be done, and goodness will prevail no matter what is hurtled their way.

For most of you guys, this book is probably not your cup of tea. Romance? Christian romance? I mean, if I went into a bookstore today, I probably wouldn’t hit up the Christian romance section. That being said, this was something I’d been thinking of for a while, and I like to challenge my genres whenever possible. Some writers stick to legal thrillers, but I’m a bit of a chameleon, and this was my calling for summer 2019.

But for fun let’s have a little Q & A session on the book and see what you guys think!


1. How did you come up with this story?

The inspiration for Church Boy is a little murky in my mind. Whenever I am at college in California, I don’t get enough church/Jesus time, and it’s really because I miss church back home in the South.

I think I conceived this novel sometime around my sophomore year of college, and it was probably in response to being so far away from home. While there are churches all around the world (amen to that!), there is nothing quite like a good old Southern Baptist pulpit in my opinion.

The romance part of the book came much later. I knew I wanted to write wholesome Christian romance, so the connection between this book’s two main characters came rapidly. A pastor and an out-of-towner struggling with her faith? Interesting enough, and it was a way to play with dual aspects of ourselves: The faith-believing side, and the doubting side.


2. Why set it in Mississippi?

This book would not be possible without the South, and especially the state of Mississippi. As I mentioned before, there’s nothing quite like Southern Baptist churches, and when I was craving my Sunday mornings away, Mississippi was the place I wished I could visit.

A lot of you are probably thinking: Really? Mississippi?!?!?!

Yes, Mississippi. The people in this state are larger than life, but they’re some of the best people you’ll ever meet, and this novel is my attempt to flatter the people there. Of course, who knows what they think of good old Tennesseans. 😉


3. Where can I find/download your books?

Well, if you want, you can download any of my novels, including Church Boy, for free via Smashwords, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble. While I want to make my novels free everywhere, they are $2.99 on the Kindle Store (eBook version) due to policy situations. As for paperback copies, I just sent my final edits to Amazon, and this is my first book published paperback (a little more expensive, unfortunately, but wow!).

Let me make it easier for all of us and post some links.


4. What are you working on next?

Well, I’m not really working on anything right now. I’m about to head back to college, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot of material to work with shortly. However, at this stage, I’m enjoying blogging, writing poetry, and studying airplane stuff. So we’ll see what comes from my fingers next. Maybe I’ll stick with romance, since those books are pretty easy to write, or I’ll challenge myself with something a little more thought-provoking. Who knows?

 


THANK YOU GUYS!

All right. This pop-up post is coming to a close, but thanks again for reading this attempt at marketing my latest book. I’m super excited for the future, and I feel so blessed to be able to share my content with you guys so easily online. Thank goodness for technology that allows us to share our stories with the world!

On Friday we will resume normal blog posts. That one will be a summer update post, so stay tuned for more then.

Until next time,

-Katie Kay ❤

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writing

WRITERS, SEND ME YOUR MATERIALS

My beautiful readers!

Today’s post is going to be a little different than most, because I have a request to make of you. Though I could ramble on and on about nonsense to pique your interest even more, I’m just going to put it out there:

If you’d like someone to review your materials, I’d love to be that person.

What does this mean? Well, let me share with you guys. Over the past few months, a few of you have sent me your books, and I’ve loved every moment of reading and reviewing what you send. So…

For the people of you who want feedback, send me your books, poetry, etc. I’m not a full-fledged editor or anything, but I really do enjoy getting to know you more through your writing.

What I’m offering is simple: I’ll read your work, offer a review on Amazon/this blog/wherever, and let you know what I think. Why am I doing this? Because I want to. In the midst of wild life, this blog has been a source of escape for me, and you guys transport me to your worlds. You have that kind of power as a writer!

So if you’re down to share with me, I’m down to share in response.


THANK YOU!

This was a short and sweet little post, but I am super excited to write more in the next few weeks. This blog has grown so much in the past few months, and I’m super excited to see where it goes next. The sense of community here is amazing. Truly amazing.

❤ ❤ ❤

-K.

Smiling because I’m excited to see what you guys send me!
thoughts

BEACHSIDE REFLECTION

Hello, my awesome readers!

Hope all is going well in your nook of the world. As for me, I’m passing through Meridian, Mississippi, on my way home from a little weekend on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. My face is tomato red, but maybe the weird sunburn will fade into a nice tan (I can only hope on this one lol). And though I’m excited to head home, this past weekend provided a few reflections I’d like to share with you all.

There is something about the ocean(s). Maybe it’s the mystery of the endless blue, and what swims within it. The tides shift and change, and yet waves keep pushing to the shore, revealing one man’s trash and another man’s treasure. (Okay, I couldn’t resist with that line.) In a world that operates in black and white, the sea reminds us of Earth’s last unexplored unknowns. And though many of you probably live near a coast or have been to the ocean many times in your life, there are still so many people out there who have not seen the ocean and may never get the chance.

But the magic allure of the ocean does not end.

As always I pray that this won’t be a rambling post. It is my wish that you guys gain something from these “reflection” posts. If you like to think a lot about the world around you, then maybe these reflection posts provide a fresh perspective for you. ❤

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What a beautiful sky! (Orange Beach, Alabama // May 2019)


1. YOU CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING

This may seem like a ridiculous observation, but it is very true: Though we may think we are the masters of our own universes, there are some things out of our control. I’ve probably harped on this in the past, but it’s a mantra I need to keep at the forefront of my mind.

As I’m getting older, I find a sense of confusion as to what is going to happen in these next few years. There are things I want to accomplish, but I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do it. Obviously mistakes will be made, and growth will be a huge factor as to how the invisible future clears up.

Though I am quite the believer in going with the flow, I do tense up when I consider the fact that there are so many unknowns out there: What will life be like in fifteen years? Will we have gone to Mars yet? Is it possible that extraterrestrial life exists? Are my friends going to live near me when I’m older? Will I have to move away? Am I really going to go buy another Diet Coke before the day’s over?

The answer to all of these questions is quite simple: Who knows? It’s hard to swallow the truth, and it burns sometimes, when things don’t pan out the way we expect them to. Yeah, if I could go back in time, I’d change some things. I’d probably change a lot of things, but then I’d be inevitably screwing up some other component to my life in the meantime.

It’s hard to recognize that we can’t control everything. It’s so hard, but it’s a reality to be remembered.


2. TIME DOES NOT MAKE SENSE (and probably never will)

As each ocean wave slams against the shore, another second has passed.

Though I hate to consider the power of time, there is an incredible resilience that belongs to it. Without time we are humans left to wander the world without proper direction. If it weren’t for time, then we’d lose a huge chunk of how important certain acts are.

Now, more than ever before, I have felt that time is flying by without any concern for me.  But guess what? That’s not for me to control (see #1). Since I’m the “queen” of my universe, so to speak, I feel that the world owes me something. But it doesn’t. I want what I want, and that’s because of my selfish nature. But this desire creates stagnancy in growth, along with a lack of appreciation for what’s to come.

It’s okay to be scared for what’s to come. It’s okay to miss what used to be, but remembering that life stops for no one. Time’s a selfish thing too, and it does not discriminate against anyone.

When I lived abroad in Argentina, I had a countdown of the days until I would return to the United States. My little notebook was filled with scratch marks from each day, as I wanted nothing more than to hop on a plane back home.

What’s wrong with this ideology?

Many things. For one, it’s never a good idea to wish away your moments, when some people are not as fortunate as us when it comes to how long we get on this planet. Secondly, my negative attitude caused me even more heartache. Thirdly, if I hadn’t gone to Argentina, I would have missed out on certain things that are quite defining in my young adult years: These people, memories, and experiences would not have prepared me for appreciation of who I am today. 

We must remember to give thanks for each day, especially when we really will never know when it will be our last.

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White, sandy beaches and the blue sea (Orange Beach, AL // May 2019)


3. BE APPRECIATIVE

To continue off #2, it is crucial to have appreciation for what has been given to you. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’re going… You have been given gifts, skills, and a life that is yours to live. You have a purpose that no one else has, and it is up to you on whether or not you’ll live with a spirit of thankfulness.

When I was a young chiquitita (a young kid hehe), my dad took me to Burger King for a morning croissant. I love croissants, and he was surprising me with the treat before a long day at school. Though I was used to my dad buying me things, I was also used to taking what was given and chomping away.

But that morning stands out in my brain for one particular reason. He handed me my food like normal, and I said, “Thank you.”

His big blue eyes widened and he stared at me, mouth agape. “What?”

“Thank you,” I repeated, taking a big bite of the bread.

“You don’t know how much that means, Katie,” he said, and my heart about burst.

My dad taught me something hugely important that morning. What was even better than that sweet croissant on my tongue was the knowledge that came with taking a moment to thank the person who gave it to me. My dad was doing something to show he cared for me, and a simple “thank you” was the least I could say to him in response. From that moment forward, I learned the importance of those two words.

Just saying thank you, however, is not going to cut it. Though I am a writer and emphasize the weight of words, sometimes I have to tap myself on the shoulder and say, “Words are just words.” What really matters is the intention behind what we say, and the spirit of appreciation is tightly linked to this.

We have one world, one life, and one opportunity to spread positive energy. One way to do this is through humility and remembering our blessings.


RAMBLINGS.

Well, I think about covers it for now. After you’ve read this, you’re probably sick and tired of my random tidbits, so please share your own! I’m interested in to seeing what you guys think when you look at something as powerful as the ocean. Does it scare you? Does it inspire you? Are you like me, and grow super philosophical? Or are you just hoping you won’t get a really bad sunburn?

(ALWAYS PUT ON SUNSCREEN!!!)

Thank you, my beautiful readers. You inspire me every day. ❤

Until next time,

-K.

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Hiding my face because I can lol (Orange Beach, Alabama // May 2019)

thoughts

THE LAST 5 BOOKS I’VE READ

Well, it’s that time of the week again…

A blog post from yours truly! Thank you so much for reading this and supporting my blog, as you guys are such a joy in my life. It means so much to see views from all over the world. ❤

Today’s post is going back to my roots, when I shared my thoughts on certain books and movies I’d recently read and watched. Thanks to Goodreads, I’m able to easily remember the latest books I’ve read (considering I would not remember otherwise), and I really recommend this website/app to those who enjoy books. Goodreads is a way to keep track of what you’ve read and what you want to read in a user-friendly model.

So let’s jump in already!


1. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

A romantic comedy set in modern-day Australia, The Rosie Project is an easy, enjoyable read for those who enjoy the genre. When Don Tillman, an analytical professor who isn’t the best in social situations, creates the Wife Project in order to find the perfect match, his world is tilted upside down with the introduction of Rosie Jarman, the opposite of what he’s looking for.

The Rosie Project has a unique point-of-view that cements the story. While rom-coms are hard to pull off in the realm of originality, Simsion’s Tillman is such a well-written and believable character that the book really revolves around his social awkwardness. These awkward encounters further promote the book’s comedic moments.

However, the book is rather predictable. Boy meets girl, and they fall for each other, get engaged, etc. As a romance writer myself, I’m just as guilty of satisfying what the reader wants (a promise of happily-ever-after, right?), but this book seemed to drop off at the last fifty pages or so. The first two hundred pages, I was really unsure what would happen for Don and Rosie, and I think Simsion got caught up in just getting the book done rather than tying the plot together at the end.

That being said, it was enjoyable, and a good weekend read during endless Tennessee thunderstorms.

Rating: ♥♥♥ (out of a possible five)


2. REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier

A classic that defined the mystery genre for decades, Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s legacy. It’s a spell-binding story that was groundbreaking in its day for its dark themes. When Maxim de Winter brings his new wife, the second Mrs. de Winter, to his grand estate, Manderley, secrets of his first wife’s mysterious death are brought to life.

You may recognize Rebecca by its perfect opening line: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Supposedly there was an incredible Hitchcock adaptation of the book (though I would disagree, as I only got through five minutes of it), but the book is pretty incredible. It centers on the shy Mrs. de Winter, who learns to push back against Manderley’s evil housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who is obsessed with Rebecca, even after her death. Slowly, Mrs. de Winter discovers the truth behind Rebecca’s death, and I refuse to spoil this. You’ll have to read for yourself to figure it out.

Rebecca relies on suspense, and du Maurier is a pro at this. She knows how to hook you into the plot, despite its faults, and leave you curious as to what will happen until the very end. Du Maurier is incredible at description, and Manderley is the perfect backdrop for her creepy tale. While these elements grounded me in the story, I do believe that reading this book in 2019 is very different than reading it in the 1930s, when it was published. Mrs. de Winter is a let-down character, a weak woman who suddenly becomes strong at the end of the novel, and her husband, Max, is overly brooding and boring. The shift of the novel that changes how readers perceive the de Winters is a bit unbelievable and anti-climactic in comparison to the discovery of Rebecca’s death.

I still recommend this book to those who like twisted suspense stories.

Rating: ♥♥♥


3. ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

Stephen King is arguably one of modern American literature’s best writers. The unarguable king of horror, King has been a withstanding symbol in writing for decades now, and he remains as popular now as he was when he first came onto the scene. On Writing remains one of the my favorite memoirs, in my opinion, though it also acts as a manual for aspiring writers.

The book is split into two perspectives. King gives a peek into his childhood that inspired his writing that would eventually propel him into legendary status. The other perspective is his professional guidance on the writing front, in which he gives awesome tips that I am using now. (One of my personal favorites: Get rid of superfluous adverbs, such as, I was walking quickly.)

The way King writes is gold. He says things simply and magically, and this is really hard to pull off. However, I don’t think of King as a cocky writer; instead, he wrote this book as a response to a traumatic car accident that left him almost dead. And he knew he wanted to pass on his tips to future generations of writers, and this is quite admirable, in my opinion.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy On Writing. It has enough material to showcase how King went from a struggling teacher to one of the most successful writers known today.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


4. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

The most controversial book on this list (and I will explain more later), The Hate U Give is  the debut novel of young adult writer Angie Thomas, a native of my second-favorite state, Mississippi. Thomas is an honest, natural storyteller, and The Hate U Give radiates as a result.

For those of you who are not familiar with the idea of police brutality in the United States, Thomas offers her opinion on the subject through this fictional portrayal of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses the murder of her friend when they are pulled over for speeding. The book is unafraid to be itself, and I appreciate this.

While I expected the novel to be very politically charged, I was happy to realize it wasn’t as much as I thought it was going to be. (While I do not want to go on a rant, I enjoy books that are not political. To be honest, I would not have read this book unless it hadn’t been required for a creative writing class.) However, Thomas does a good job of showing a society she sees as flawed while respecting others’ viewpoints on the issue.

That being said, the story itself was not my favorite. I’m not a fan of young adult fiction or teenage characters, and I haven’t ever been. I’ve always been a person to read adult fiction, as I like adult perspectives. Therefore, this story, though serious in nature, was not as interesting to me. You don’t have to agree with my opinion, but I hate love triangles and petty teen drama, and I did not understand why I was reading this book in a college classroom.

The book is important, and I won’t argue that. But it’s not my favorite.

Rating: ♥♥♥


5. SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY by Caitlin Doughty

A total shift from young adult and romance, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a book I’d NEVER thought I would A) read, or B) enjoy. However, Doughty is an incredibly interesting person and writer, and this shines through her memoir/informational guide on funeral homes.

What in the world? you are probably asking. I asked the same thing before I dived into this book.

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who specializes in cremation, and she is unabashed in her approach to the United States’s funeral home practices. She offers historical background, witty opinion, and clever stories that inform her readers on the misconceptions of mortuary work. Now this book is not for people who are uncomfortable around death, as the entire book revolves around it. What I love is Doughty’s direct and honest perspective, and it’s a unique career path she chose.

Read this book if you’re curious as to what morticians do. Hey, maybe I liked it so much because it wasn’t required for class or written for teenagers. Sue me.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


MOSTLY AVERAGE.

So, if we’re being honest, the past books I’ve read are… In, my opinion, average. Though I am a very critical person, I do know a great book when I’ve read one, and I’m hoping to be impressed soon!

What are some of the books you guys have read recently? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love when you tell me what you enjoy, as you are exposing me to authors, novels, and genres with which I would not otherwise know. 🙂

Until next time,

-K.

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Books, books, books… Random books from my shelf (Tennessee // May 2019)

 

writing

CHURCH BOY (first chapter)

CHURCH BOY

A NOVEL BY KATIE GEORGE

Chapter One

 

FOR EONS NOW the First Baptist Church of Colonia, Mississippi, had been the social hub of the entire county.

On Sundays every business shut down, except the bookstore run by the only Jewish man within fifty miles. Church was expected, not just a friendly tip. It was so expected that even the morally ambiguous put on their shiny shoes and zipped on over to their chosen place of worship—and there were plenty to choose from.

But nothing was more distinct than the First Baptist Church. Most churches within the area had long since given up their status as being first in their particular denomination: First Presbyterian had become Hope Pres, and First Lutheran, with its ten congregants, had become Friendship Lutheran. First Methodist, First Baptist’s loyal enemy, had stayed the same to spite those said Baptists, and the Church of Christ up and moved to the country, needing a respite from Colonia’s self-righteous residents.

Now it was true that most Southerners were, aptly so, Southern Baptist. It was a tradition with a rigorous history, and though its membership had been on the steady slope downward for a while now, Colonia’s First Baptist Church was as strong as ever. Nearly four hundred churchgoers flocked to the pulpit at ten-thirty on Sunday mornings, donning suits and dresses and the occasional skirt or slacks. Some women wore lace hats that plumed like peacock feathers, while others covered dainty hands with satin gloves. Everyone clutched weathered Bibles, including the youngsters who sprinted across the aisles with annoyed brothers and sisters trying to catch up.

Miss Sue, a religious attendee at First Baptist since the 1940s, was no stranger to the scene. Miss Sue, who was the opposite of a stickler, felt her panty hose rip right down the middle of her age-spotted leg as her great-grandchild, Emma Ray, bounced into Deacon Todd, who was a righteous son of a gun.

“What in…” shouted Deacon Todd, who held a stack of pamphlets in his leathered hands.

“Hiya!” shouted Emma Ray as Miss Sue caught up.

“Where is her mother?” snapped Deacon Todd, but when he caught a wicked glance from Miss Sue, he readjusted his tie.

“I’m a good enough substitute, don’t you think?” replied Miss Sue, shaking her head. “I know you wouldn’t have a clue, Todd Appleby.”

“A clue as to what, Sue Richards?” he growled, tossing a bulletin to an unsuspecting guest.

“How to live a little, and remember that children are children. Now, you come here, little miss!”

Emma Ray snaked her way out of her grandmother’s arms once more and dived into the sanctuary, her church shoes somehow screeching against the emerald green carpets that had been laid in the ’70s, back when Emma Ray’s mother was her size. The little girl was a tornado as she burst through throngs of gossips and guests and terrified people in general. Everyone had always thought there was possibly a curse in the Richards family line, because none of those Richards women could calm down.

“Emma Ray!” screamed Miss Sue, almost tripping over her nemesis in the process.

The nemesis, Rita Scarborough, licked her lips and rolled her eyes. She lifted a red-painted fingernail into the air and shook it back and forth as she chatted with her gaggle of best friends, all of whom had been born, survived, and would die in Colonia, Mississippi.

“Sue Richards,” she muttered.

“Emma Ray,” said of the friends, in a nasally accent, “is such a mess in comparison to your little Margaret Ann.”

Just at that moment Margaret Ann appeared, docile and doe-like in her mother’s arms. Rita took her granddaughter, kissing both china doll cheeks, while Emma Ray or Miss Sue (it was hard to tell) shrieked across the aisle.

“Grandma,” said Margaret Ann, pushing back a few perfect curls from her face, “Grandpa was looking for you.”

“Was he now?” asked Rita Scarborough. She knew it probably wasn’t true. Her husband of nearly forty years was always somewhere or the other, collecting even juicier news than she could. It was what had attracted them to each other in the first place, if you didn’t count the Ole Miss degree, fancy diamond ring, and the fact that they’d been matched since birth, when their families prayed over them at the baby dedication.

And, in reality, Wesley Scarborough was not looking for his wife. He stood beside Deacon Todd, greeting guests and regular attenders alike, learning as much as he could about anybody and everybody. Todd passed out the papers, and Wesley passed out the Southern hospitality.

At some point, as the sun rose higher in the sky on this particular Sunday morning, Wesley grew a little tired, because he needed a doughnut or a bagel or anything with caloric intake. Since it was almost show time, the crowd had withered in the lobby. Deacon Todd ran out of bulletins and grouched off like an elderly crab, leaving Wesley alone and at peace, because he enjoyed his solitude too, even in the midst of a place as spiritual as this.

But then, out of nowhere, the front doors opened, and there was a young woman he had never seen before. She was so young, he noted, that his wife would either take her under her wing or scoff at her for the rest of time, and so he estimated her age to be twenty-four. She wore an acceptable dress, her curly hair bouncing down her back, and she clutched a Bible with nervous hands. He knew they were nervous hands because he’d been in those shoes, long, long ago, when he also visited First Baptist Colonia after a long bout of disbelief and anger and grit and grime.

“Welcome, young lady!” he said, extending a hand.

“Am I late?” she asked, her eyes huge and green. “I wasn’t sure if… I don’t know. My neighbor invited me, and…”

“You’re all right,” said Wesley, wondering where this creature had beamed in from. “What’s your name, dear? I’m Wesley Scarborough.”

“Olivia Scott,” she said, the Bible a barrier between them.

“It’s nice to meet you, Olivia. Who’s your neighbor?”

“Lisa Richards.”

Wesley smiled to himself. “Lisa Richards, one of the most active members in this congregation! I swear—well, I suppose I shouldn’t swear, on account that we are Christian people, Miss Olivia—but half of this congregation belongs to the Richards family!”

“I’d believe it. There’s always something going on at that house.”

“Here, let’s see if we can see her. You’re just in time, dear. No worries if you’re late, either. We’re a talkative congregation.”

They walked to the edge of the sanctuary, where all four hundred congregants chattered and buzzed around like the busy bees they were. Wesley caught a glimpse of Deacon Todd throwing Emma Ray onto his shoulders, while Miss Sue chased him down. He then saw his wife and his daughter and the grandkids and smirked. There were the Pipers, debating politics, no doubt; and Mr. Blake Sampson, who’d never taken a wife, and Reece Jetterby, the richest man in the county, and Oscar Thomas, the poorest man in the county. But where in the world was Lisa Richards?

“It’s okay if you can’t find her,” said mild-mannered Olivia Scott, “because I can find her after the service. I just promised her I’d come, and so here I am.”

“Well, you’re more than welcome to sit with my family and me if you’d like, or I can point you in the direction of the young people’s section, or…”

“Hi, Wesley,” said a strong voice behind them, and Wesley twisted around to face the young pastor, Luke Sweeting, who’d been in town for three years but felt like a forever presence in the church home. Luke was twenty-eight, a Georgia man who’d been educated up North and came home with a desire to preach. He’d come to Colonia on a whim. But as everyone believed in Colonia, there was more to it than just a whim. Things always worked out according to God’s miraculous plan, and they had hope that things always would be that way.

“Pastor Luke!” shouted Wesley, grabbing the man’s hand, pulling him in for a hug. When they drew apart, Wesley began with, “This is our dear guest, Miss Olivia Scott.”

Olivia blushed, and Wesley found this interesting.

“Very nice to meet you, Olivia,” said Luke, shaking her hand. “Welcome to our church. I know it can be overwhelming, but I hope you enjoy your time here, and that you feel God’s presence in the meantime.”

“Thank you,” she said, and Luke excused himself, heading off to the worshippers, a shepherd collecting his flock.

“That’s the pastor,” said Wesley again, and then he nodded. “Well, I’m going to have to insist you sit with my family, Olivia Scott.”

“All right.”

“Follow me.”

This poor girl, thought Wesley to himself. At least she’d have a story to tell.


YAY!

My beautiful readers! Thank you so much for reading this far. I hope you all are doing spectacular!

As you guys know, I have challenged myself to write three books this summer, one of them being this short but sweet romance, Church Boy. When it is finished, it will clock in around 50,000 words and be self-published through my go-to website, Smashwords, which you can find here: Link to my books!

Church Boy is a Southern, Christian romantic comedy. Some of you will probably cringe right there (and I absolutely feel you). However, I conceived this story a few years ago, and it felt like the time to crank it out before I totally lost the energy to write it.

This book pairs two unlikely leads: Luke Sweeting is a kind Southern Baptist pastor, whereas Olivia Scott is a struggling law student who is new to town. The two meet at Luke’s church in Colonia, Mississippi, where things do not exactly go according to plan…

Therefore, I wanted to give you guys a little teaser before the book comes out. Right now I am hoping to get it out there by June 1, but it may be pushed back to June 15. We will see, we will see. 😉

Okay, I have to go study for now, but expect more blog posts soon. Thank you all for reading!

Until next time,

-K.

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You know, who doesn’t love some fake flowers from Hobby Lobby?

q&a

HELLO AGAIN: Q & A

Hi, my wonderful readers!

I’m so sorry to have been incognito in these past few weeks. A lot of great things have happened, and I will be writing a blog post on that for Monday. Please know that I have missed my blog so much, and especially hearing from you guys! It gives me great joy to be able to connect to so many different people across the globe, as you guys are truly amazing. ❤

Since it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, I decided to do another Q & A, since I haven’t done one in a long time. This gives you guys a chance to get to know me better, and I really do enjoy answering some of these ridiculous questions.

I hope you are all doing well, and I am looking forward to reading your blog posts as well. Without further ado, though, let’s get into the Q & A!

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Malibu, CA (March 2019) When am I not wearing tennis shoes?


1. Read on a Kindle or paperback book?

Paperbacks are the best in my opinion. There is no greater feeling that having a book in your hands, the pages glimpses into the soul of the writer. I love old books too, the ones you get from a used bookstore, because I feel as if I am connecting to not only the author, but any previous readers too. That being said, I do have a Kindle, and it is a convenient method to reading popular novels.

2. Go to a play or musical?

Though I am in love with music, I have never been big into musicals or plays. I am very much a movie person, but plays and musicals have never been my schtick. My friends will make fun of me for how much I’m not into musicals, though there are good ones here and there.

3. Go to the theater or a movie?

Definitely the movies. I am obsessed with film, and I always have been. I can attribute this to my dad’s love of movies too, as I grew up watching the classics with him. Another fond memory of mine is Friday family movie nights, where I’d pop some cheesy popcorn, pick out a movie, and critique like Roeper. Even now I am addicted to movies. Back home it is an absolute joy to forget the world, hop into the air conditioned theater, and pretend for a while. At college my friends and I hop aboard $5 Tuesday movie nights at AMC so that we can see the newest releases on a budget, since movies are so expensive these days. Just this past Tuesday I saw Pet Sematary, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller.

4. Have a Margarita or Pina Colada?

Diet Coke. 😉

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BLAST FROM THE PAST! (August 2015) Random pictures with my guinea pig

5. Crash with friends or stay in a hotel?

I honestly have no idea what this question is. I love staying at people’s homes, since it is such a personal experience, but at times I’m an introvert who craves the peaceful aura of  a hotel. I have the travel bug, so I’ve stayed at countless hotels, motels, Airbnbs, hostels, and cabins in the past few years. I’ve found that one method isn’t better than another; it’s who you’re with that matters.

6. Visit Europe or Mexico?

I have never been to either. I spent a year abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, so I’d probably go to Europe if I had the chance. And there isn’t just one country I could go to; I’d want to see them all!

7. Vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?

Both. I think both states are incredible, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I think Hawaii would be a great family trip, whereas Alaska would be something I’d want to do with hikers and outdoorsy individuals. I’m not sure I could pick between the two.

8. Choose a free trip or money? This may tell you whether the person values experiences over dollars.

This is a weird question. I think I’d have to know where the free trip would be, and how much money I am being offered. If someone handed me a thousand dollars, a good portion of that money would be going to travel anyway, if we’re being honest. Though I am a broke college kid right now, I know that a big portion of my future income will go to exploration of this amazing planet!

9. Travel by plane, train, or automobile?

Plane. 😉

10. Go climbing or zip lining?

Probably zip lining. I have done rock climbing once, and it was so much fun. However, I zip lined in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and it was so incredible to whoosh down a mountain. My heart wanted to burst out of my chest, but it was such an unforgettable experience, and I would love to do it again.

11. Hike or bike?

Hike. Though biking is fun too, I enjoy a nice hike now and then. While I’m not a fan of extended, rigorous hiking, I do love getting lost in some wilderness and walking through forests and deserts and the beautiful world in which we live. This is something else I inherited from my dad, as we both value National Parks here in my home country of the United States.

12. Go to a comedy club or dance club?

I’d prefer to stay at home with a book (LOL). If I had to choose between the two, it would depend on 1) with whom I’m going, and 2) what kind of a comedy/dance club we’d be going to. So many comedians are too crude for my liking, and so many dance clubs aren’t my cup of my tea. I like dancing, but I’ve had some bad experiences at clubs in the past, so I’d probably choose a comedy club.

13. Have a night out or evening in?

It depends on what the night out would entail. I love going out to movies and grabbing a good dinner, but I’m an early bird who prefers seeing the world in the daytime. That being said, I’m an adventurer who wants to really dive in deep to the place she lives. Living in Los Angeles has given me so many opportunities to see and do things I would never have the chance to do otherwise, and many of those experiences are more memorable because it happened at nighttime. So… Another response in which I say I am not sure I can choose.

14. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’m not sure there is a specific statement that has changed my life, but I can give examples of ethic that have been key pieces of advice for my life. My parents instilled hard work into my brain from an early age on, and I have learned to set goals for myself that are realistic but will propel me to where I want to go.

15. Go canoeing or waterskiing?

I’ve never been waterskiing, and my canoeing skills are quite limited. One time I almost died while kayaking, so there was that situation. (While I’d like to think this is an understatement, it was a very tense moment during my freshman year of college.) That being said, I’d love to try out waterskiing, but I really do enjoy canoeing. A great memory I have is of canoeing on an Ohio river with my cousins while trying not to A) encounter a snake, or B) topple us over.

16. Camp in an RV or stay in a tent?

While I do consider myself an outdoorsy person, I’m not the biggest fan of tents. I like air conditioning and heat and running water. While an RV isn’t the best lodging in my opinion, I wouldn’t mind taking an RV across the country.

17. Use Facebook or Twitter?

Neither. I’m not big into social media. The only reason I have a Facebook is for college purposes, and the only reason I use Twitter is to network with the writing community. Instagram is a waste of time in my opinion, whereas I do use Snapchat.

18. Win the lottery or find your perfect job?

Perfect job. While money can buy some happiness, I’m looking for joy, and I know joy comes from long-lasting things.

19. Swim in a pool or the ocean? Salt water and waves crashing on the beach or temperature controlled, lovely water all year round.

Ocean! I’ve never been really big into swimming, but I do enjoy hopping into the sea now and then. I love hopping on a bodyboard and pretending I can surf, when I have the gracefulness of a newborn giraffe.

20. Travel by sailboat or cruise ship?

I’ve never been on either, so I’m not sure I could accurately choose!

21. What’s your favorite candle scent?

Anything fall scented! There is nothing more I miss than a good Southern autumn, since I haven’t had one in three years. I love when the leaves start to change color, from a deep emerald to bright scarlet or orange. I love corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and the crisp weather. And when it becomes fall, I always bring out my favorite fall candles.


THANK YOU.

Well, only 21 questions today. I promise to get back into the rhythm of two posts a week, and I’m excited to do so, because I have so much to update you guys on. But in the meantime I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! ❤

Until next time,

-K.

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Malibu, CA (March 2019)

thoughts

(no more) WASTED TIME

Sometimes the hourglass of time feels even more oppressive than normal…

This is going to be a little bit of a “venting” post, because I want to admit something to you guys. It’s not going to be Earth-shattering or panic-inducing, but it is something that you can probably relate to.

So here we go: Do you ever feel like you blink, three months have whipped by, and you’ve wasted a HUGE chunk of time?

Yup.

Okay, I want to clarify: I do not feel as if I have completely wasted the past three months. I am a full-time college student, student pilot (LOL, one of these days I will finally have my license), and writer. On the social side, I hang out with a bunch of roaches (I promise, this is an endearing term) 24/7 and try not to pull out my hair due to the infuriating ways of other twentysomethings. But these things make me so happy, and I love flying and my ridiculous friends.

That being said, there is a continent of me that has been underwater for the past few months. This part of me is like Atlantis waiting to be rediscovered, and I’m sick of drowning in something I’ve caused for myself.

I’ve been writing less and less these past few months, and I can attribute it to multiple things. I knew that I wouldn’t be writing as much this semester, which contributed to my goal of finishing five novels over the summer, but I did not realize it would be this bad.

In the past three months, I have started three novels, left all of them in the dust, and waited for magic to pull me up from the bottom of the ocean. However, that’s not how writing works. I truly believe good writing comes from stretching the writing muscle, and I’ve been atrophied for quite some time.

It’s not that I don’t have material, because being away from home gives me tons of material, as you can imagine. It’s not that I don’t have the time, though my California life does get tiring. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, because writing makes me happiest (although it’s getting closer and closer to a tie with flying).

So what have I been doing to myself? Isn’t it true that if you love something, you’ll do anything to be doing it? What’s wrong with me?

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Santiago, Chile (November 2017) I am happiest when I write. I also like being a weirdo in Chilean planetariums.


CAUSES

School

Unfortunately, I do have to go to school, and this takes up considerable chunks of time. A bonus fact: I am in a creative writing class that claims the time I could use to write what I want to write, which feels pretty counterproductive.

Friends

I love my friends to death, but it is a constant battle between wanting to hang out and be with them versus taking time for myself (AKA writing). This semester I have been pretty bad at remembering to swallow my introverted pill and catch a few hours to write and recover.

With any sort of social group, there are going to be things that take up headspace, and I can pinpoint certain components of this to the reasons why I haven’t had the right mentality to write. 😉

Flying

This is the only school that matters to me right now. I am in full-blown study mode and since this is going to be my future career path, I know I need to focus more on this part of my life now. Therefore, some of my writing time will be snatched up by flying, but that’s okay. I just have to reorganize my priorities.

What do I want to write?

The three attempts I’ve made over the three months have been varied: There is a psychological thriller, Southern Gothic drama, and cheesy romance. I think I’m struggling with what I want to write, because I’m not a genre-specific writer.

My mind has been elsewhere

You’ve got to be in the game to write, and even more committed if you want to write well. With normal life comes normal struggles, including bouts of stress and exhaustion, and this affects writing as well.


SOLUTIONS

Clear that headspace

What does this mean, you may be asking? Well, for me, it means getting the heck out of dodge. When I’m feeling suffocated, I grab my keys and hop in the car. A nice drive cleanses my mind, especially when I’ve got the windows down and the music on full-blast. Other methods include a nice jog or hike, a heart to heart with a friend, or brainstorming a story at a coffee shop.

Take time for myself

All right. We all know that there are extraverts (those who feed off social interaction) and introverts (those who need time to recover after a social experience) in society. There are even people who are ambiverts, a blend of both extraverts and introverts.

I used to be very introverted, got more extraverted in college, and now consider myself to be an ambivert. There are moments I live off social interaction, but moments when I desperately need to be by myself.

The cure is normally writing. But these past few months, my cure has been missing, and therefore I’ve felt really strange as a result.

You have to take time for yourself, no matter where you are in life or who you are. When it comes down to it, we all have to live with, you guessed it, ourselves. It feels good sometimes to take a breath and a moment for yourself.

In these moments, when I stop and let my mind ramble on and on, I gain some of my best plot ideas.

Force myself to do it

Daily quota, where you at? If you’ve read some of my earlier writing posts, you know I am infatuated with the concept of the daily quota, in which a writer commits him or herself to a set word limit per day. It is a great way to rehearse the art of writing, even if you have no idea what you want to write about.

While this worked for me in years past, it has been missing in my way of life for the past three months, so it’s time to reestablish THE DAILY QUOTA!

Cut out negative energy

Negative, convert to positive. Those terrible feelings that are bringing you down need to be cut out, and there are multiple ways to do this. Prayer works. Eliminating bad influences works. Trying new things works. It just depends on who you are and how you handle situations, and you know the toxic aspects of your life.

Why have those toxic aspects when they only cause more problems in the long run? I know what mine is, and I’m going to try my hardest to rid myself of its influence.


NO MORE.

 

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A winery near Salta, Argentina (October 2017) Describes how I feel when I cannot write. 😉

There has got to be a “stake in the ground moment” in which you are the one who knows what is happening versus what should be happening. This comes into all facets of life, whether that be with writing or relationships or choosing to cut out a Diet Coke addiction (yeah, right).

Therefore, I’m going to say, “No more,” to not writing. I’m going to scream it from a mountaintop if I have to, because my happiness is improved ten-fold when I’m working on a project.

Now let’s connect this to your life. What is the thing that you’ve been neglecting? Maybe it’s a person you haven’t been talking to. Maybe it’s a hobby you’ve forgotten. I’m sure if you think super hard you’ll be able to think of something. My request for you all is to think of this thing and work your hardest to mend the situation. You’ll know the solution if you can identify the problem.

Until next time,

-K.

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Nevada/California Border (August 2016) Describes how I feel when I’m writing. What a dork!

 

writing

BY THE SKIN OF MY TEETH (first chapter)

 

BY THE SKIN OF MY TEETH

A NOVEL BY KATIE GEORGE

 

Dear Abigail,

            You must learn to let people go. You must learn to do this so that you will live, so that you will have the opportunities I desperately wished for you.

            I love you, Abigail, but I’m afraid it’s too late.

                       Love, Dad

 

PROLOGUE

 

GREEN, GREEN, GREEN, the color all around me. For an endless pop of seconds, I can’t see anything but green, and my eyes are desperate for anything—anybody—else, and I’m wailing, screaming, howling at the moon, and when I realize it’s a stupid idea to do that, I bite on my knuckle, as hard as I can, silencing my cries.

My brain’s on fire, my body flailing like the husk of a snake. Tears are streaming down my face. Some people feel resolute, ready, when they are called to die, when life slips through them and heads into the next soul, but I’m not that kind of person. I’m selfish. I want my time on Earth, and I want as much of it as possible.

“Not yet!” I scream, and though I want to furl into myself, I spread out, and I’m scared senseless, but I can think of nothing less than escape. Than saying one last I love you before it’s too late, before I never get the chance again. And I know—trust me, I know—that being left behind is even more excruciating than the act of dying itself.

 

CHAPTER ONE

ABIGAIL ROSS

 

THE FIRST THING my mother said to me when I moved back into my childhood home at the age of twenty-seven was simple: “How long before your next job?”

I smiled, but my heart was heavy, and my wallet was not. “A few weeks, tops.” And I said it smugly, with gusto, pride.

“Are you sure about that?” she asked, her eyes narrowed like slits, lifting a mug of hot coffee to her lips. She always had the uncanny ability to see right through me.

“Trust me,” I said, because I want out of here as much as you do.

She nodded in approval, which somehow caused her to drop the mug. It shattered and sliced her foot open. It was her favorite one, the one I bought in Uruguay when I was nineteen and studying abroad. Now it was blasted to smithereens.

But the weeks started to vanish by, each moment like an unseen ghost, and there was nothing for me to do in our town. No copy editor positions open, not since the decade before; no need for journalists, because the news always seemed to be the same. I’m not even a journalist, but I know how to report on the things I see, the things I feel, and there was nothing for me. I applied for everything, including a cash register position at a nearby Hobby Lobby store.

After days and days of sluggish non-activity, I grew more and more frustrated. Writers don’t have much option in life, except to find an agent and publish a novel. And if you’re really serious, maybe you can go get a job as a librarian, try out slam poetry, be the next Sylvia Plath. Grab a guitar and write some songs, wait for a label to pick your name out of a hat. But that’s not what I’m about. I’m not your normal writer who gets high off manuscripts and coffee and the buzz of an unseen world and strong, admirable heroes. In fact, I don’t even like writing. It’s just something I happened to get good grades in when I went to school, which doesn’t really help post-college. And, if we’re being honest, the real reason I was a writer—back then, at least—was because it allowed me to go places.

One night, about two months into my stay at my mother’s home, which certainly wasn’t my childhood home anymore, I opened my laptop and dragged the cursor over countless photo albums.

NORWAY 2017.

THAILAND 2015.

ETHIOPIA 2018.

SOUTH AFRICA 2016.

FLORIDA KEYS (round 2) 2014.

SAN ANTONIO 2018.

CALIFORNIA 2014.

DAD.

Since I had hours to kill and nothing better to do, I pushed myself through every album on that computer, the files like sudden snaps of memory. My fingers traced outlines of Scandinavian fjords and English crags, Caribbean islands and flat mesas across the American heartland. My mind was on fire, my eyes ripe with tears. There were photos of South American cuisine and my attempt at riding the hump of a camel in the Jordanian desert to Petra. I stood on Swiss cliffs and Hawaiian volcanoes. It was another woman I saw on the computer. An unrecognizable woman. Certainly not me.

But as soon as I came across the album dedicated to him, I slammed the computer shut and threw the expensive piece of technology against the wall. I had to cover the hole it left with a poster of cats I bought for ten bucks at Walmart. At least my mother would appreciate it if she ever stumbled into my childhood room again. She’d think it similar to his favorite movie, The Shawshank Redemption, but I don’t get to escape like the clever Andy Dufresne.

It isn’t easy, losing your passion at twenty-seven, when you’re one of the top travel writers in the United States. It isn’t easy getting fired for losing your brain, for losing your love of adventure, when you suddenly have the desire to hole yourself up in your room for hours at a time and cover the windows with black curtains. It sure isn’t easy when you lose who you are, what makes you tick and survive off a bone-crunching salary, but hey, you get a lot of airline miles stored up. You could always surprise your coffee-addled mother and take her to Montego Bay. But that’s only if your mother likes you and can leave the house. Not if she hates you, which my mother does.

The day after throwing my computer at the wall, I snagged a job at a gift shop in the country, where I became a sort of therapist for my customers. I learned about rich Southern aristocrats who’d been in the area for centuries, and I found myself in political discussions where I hid my ideologies. I made about the same amount I did in high school, barely over Tennessee’s minimum wage. But it made me feel safe and comfortable, working there, wrapping little pottery dishes in pink tissue paper, handing presents to the very few souls who chanced upon the store.

“What’s a girl like you doing here?” asked one brave woman, whose name I have since forgotten. It’s not important. They loved to tell me their names, and I forgot them just as quickly as I’ve forgotten the files on my computer.

There were moments when I suddenly clung back to the woman I was. When I saw a little teacup and it reminded me of India; when I found myself in a field of sunflowers and remembered London streets in the springtime. And moments when somebody would say, expecting a true, honest, distinct Southern answer: “What’s a girl like you doing here?”

The one brave woman meant the question about my career choice. But it hit me in the head, the fact that I was in a small, Podunk town. A town five miles from my mother’s house, when I’d spent the past decade traveling around the world, never settling down, never ever wanting to. Never needing to, either, because I was one of the lucky ones. Somebody who got to do what she loved and was paid to do it.

“I don’t know,” I said, though it came out like a squeak, like a mouse. I’m not a mouse. You need to know that now.

The woman who asked me the question did not have a response for me. She could see the faraway look in my eye, and she took her gift and her receipt and jetted out of the store in her periwinkle blue flats. She was beautiful, married, and a mother. She had her creed, and I had mine.

I cried for an hour after she left. Luckily no one came by the store in that hour, but I—who had never been a crier before in my life—suddenly felt like a well had broken loose in my soul. It was like my organs had burst and drained me in their juices. I couldn’t stop crying until I crammed my stomach full of cold pizza that tasted like the bottom of my shoe.

As I reapplied my mascara (I had to look presentable for my older clientele), the bell above the door tinkled, and I was alone no longer.

Though I preferred the solitude of the store, when the hours slugged by and there was nothing but me and the sound of the broken radio speakers, this was something different altogether. My boredom was sucked dry, and in its place was a sort of abysmal fear, a sort of primal awareness that I cannot even begin to describe. My intuition is sharp, or at least I pretend it is, and I felt like a cat ripped from its pride. I was suddenly damaged by a pain that crushed my skull, and it all happened so fast that I was certain I would pass out. There was the sudden awareness that I was alone, and no one would be there to help me if I needed it.

The woman was strange. She walked in, and her shoulders were severely slumped, like she had been mashed to an utmost insecurity. Her hair was strawberry colored and was tucked away in a ratty ponytail. Wisps of the strawberry strands puffed out all around, the baby hairs like flagella. Her lips were pursed so tightly that I could not imagine her ever smiling, not once in her life. Her eyes were a light green, like fading grass, and the whites around them were yellowing with age. Crow feet striated the skin around her eyelids, and I was struck by the realization that this woman was actually beautiful, even though I was noticing her flaws first and foremost. Despite this, she was gorgeous, and it was so strange, because beautiful people are normally confident, right? But this woman… It was as if she had been used to so many bricks on her shoulders that she’d physically shrunken and coiled into herself for protection.

I was so struck by her, so awed and fearing her so deeply, that I said nothing. It was my job to welcome people into this store, and since people were few and far between, this was my second probable sale of the day, and I needed to woo her, charm her to gain her credit card numbers, but I couldn’t say anything. I was too struck.

She didn’t look at me at first. She glided around, pushing her fingers against silver wind chimes, so that the spookiness was even more surreal, this time in the form of music. It was as if the sun had fallen away, and there was a gathering of gray clouds outside. I wondered if I would have to drag in the outdoor embellishments in case of rain.

Eventually, the woman curled around toward me. It was sharp, as if I was nothing, and then I was everything. Her eyes pierced into my own, flailing me open like I was a burning fish, hot on the frying pan. She stared at me with a beaming curiosity that seemed impossible from such a shrunken figure as she, and when a little grin stretched across her cracked, peeling lips, I felt like she could kill me, right here and right now, and I wouldn’t even scream.

“What is your name, dear?” she asked, her voice clear and professional. It was a melodic tune, as if she’d had years and years of training, and how would I be able to tell this fact if I’d just heard her ask one question?

“Abigail,” I said in return, though I knew I looked like one in defeat, one in submission. But what battle had I just fought? Was it internal, my keeping quiet, a steady defense against the woman in my store? Maybe my boredom had churned itself so deeply into my brain, that I couldn’t resist creating this elaborate fear toward the woman.

“Abigail,” she said, and it flared my skin. I glanced down and saw red splotches all up and down my arms. “Abigail is a classical name. A traditional name.”

“Abigail Ross,” I said back, and I cursed myself for giving out more information, but I knew she was going to ask anyway.

“Very Americana,” she whispered back, turning away, stroking a slip of baby blue pottery. There was dust on her finger, and she blew it away with paper-thin lips. “Well, Miss Abigail Ross, what is a girl like you doing in a place like this?”

Ageism does exist, just like racism and sexism and discrimination. It always will, when hearts are rotten by the germs of our culture. But here I found myself speculating as to how old this mystery woman was in the shop, out of my own curiosity. I couldn’t tell if she was spectacularly old, or younger than myself. I wondered if this would change my opinion of her, knowing whether she was old or young, and I bit my tongue as I remembered the question she’d just speared at me.

She glanced up and waited.

“What?”

“Why are you here, Miss Ross?” The woman suddenly slammed her palms against the countertop, and a deep red bloomed across her angered skin. She was staring into my soul with intention, and it threw me for a loop. I stumbled back and my back brushed against the wall. Noting my terror, she moved away and started chuckling to herself.

“I’m… I’m sorry,” I sputtered, wishing I had 9-1-1 already plugged into my phone. It was possible she’d lunge across the counter and grab me by the jugular. “Why am I here?”

“Yes. Why are you here?”

“I needed a job,” I said, and I prayed somebody else would enter the store, anybody who could save me from this. I still couldn’t tell if I was making up the fear, or if it was real, and that is more terrifying than the act of fear itself.

“You need a job?” she asked, and another haunting smile lit up her face, like a bolt of lightning on Halloween. So much for assuming she couldn’t smile. She cocked her head at me, and I wondered how I’d analyzed her slumped, insecure posture, and now she seemed nothing but the most confident, self-assured woman on the planet. Her teeth flashed in my direction, butter yellow like corn, and she continued: “You’re a writer, aren’t you? Writers always have a look to them. It’s their eyes, maybe. It’s what’s in their eyes.”

“Really?” I asked in disbelief.

“No,” she said with a cocksure wink. She slid her finger against the pottery again, enjoying the feel of the dust on the skin. “The truth is that I heard some ladies talking about you at the restaurant next door. Now don’t grow mad, please. Every woman participates in the gossip wheel at some point, and since it’s a wheel, you’re bound to get caught in it sometimes.”

“And… What were they saying?” I knew I was red with shame, wondering what I did wrong.

The woman had me in her snare. “That you’re not like the women from these parts. That you don’t have the refined accent from years of practice. But they say the same thing about me, and I’ve lived here for ages.”

“Why do they say that?”

“About you? Because they’re jealous. About me? Because they’re scared.”

I had no idea what to say. I was growing more relaxed, but there was still the underlying rush of adrenaline flowing through my veins, and the woman was chuckling to herself again. She shook her head, and I caught a glimpse of a star-shaped freckle on her jawline.

“You can do better, Abigail Ross,” she said to herself, and I could tell she had places to be, other thoughts to think. “Much better.”

And with that, she turned on her heel, and the gray clouds seemed to lift, and the hot, draining sunlight was bursting through the windows again. I hurried to the window, watching as she disappeared into the nothingness, because there was no car around, and she was gone, gone, gone, and I wanted nothing but to leave too, and I thought back to my mother:

“How long before your next job?”


AN EXPLANATION.

By the Skin of My Teeth is a project I worked on this past summer, and it was incredibly fun to write, because it challenged my writing skills. This was my first attempt at a psychological thriller (and Southern Gothic as well), and it showed me the value in trying new things. (As you guys know, I primarily write romance and magical realism.)

To give you guys a little backstory, Abigail Ross is a talented travel writer who experiences a dramatic loss. When she loses the will to write, she takes a mysterious job from a woman named Josephine Ashley, the owner of a dilapidated Antebellum mansion.   Nothing is as it seems…

Therefore, I thought it would be a little fun to preview the first chapter of the book while I query to agents and attempt to get this bad boy published. Of course, who knows what will happen with that, but why not try? If I can’t get it agented, I will publish the book online within the next six months.

I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but maybe I will offer snippets of the next chapters in following blog posts. Leave your feedback and comments, please!

-K.

 

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Abandoned House (Somewhere in Fayette County, TN)