Author Interview: Jessie Mae Hodsdon

I reviewed the book Issym a while ago on my blog. You can read the review here. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the author, Jessie Mae Hodsdon, for Christian Fiction Book Reviews.

CFBR: How old were you when you started writing Issym?

JMH: I came up with the idea for Issym the summer after I turned fourteen. Almost immediately I began to draft it.    

CFBR: What inspired you to write Christian fiction for the fantasy genre?

JMH: I enjoy reading and writing in a variety of genres. In fact, when I started writing Issym I had to put down a book I was working on in the science fiction genre. I wrote fantasy for my first book simply because that was the story I was passionate about and completed first. I hope to offer a variety of styles in the future. As far as the Christian genre, I am a Christian and it would be impossible for me to leave the biggest aspect of my life out of my writing. I think it is the most important part of all life and books are no exception.

CFBR: What was the process of trying to find a publisher for Issym like?

JMH: I did some research through the internet and one very helpful book on what publishers expect. Then I purchased a list of all the major publishers, looked for the companies that would accept manuscripts without receiving them from an agent and searched for what types of books they were interested in. I did specific research about the companies and tried to adhere to their guidelines. I learned to write a query letter, an entirely different form of writing, and had several people look it over. Then I sent it in.

Looking for Christian publishers was very disheartening. There were not many companies, less that would take work without an agent, and even fewer that would touch fantasy. The ones that would look at it seemed to have their open slots for the genre filled up very quickly. In my experience the market for Christian fantasy is big and the volume of authors and books is also large. It is the publishers that are in short supply.

CFBR: Why did you decide to start Rebirth Publishing?

JMH: The concept of forming a publishing company at seventeen scared me away for a long time. As supportive as the people around me were, forming a company is a big step and is not one to be entered into lightly. I had to be sure before I asked people to invest their time, energy and money in it. That was why I first sought out a traditional publisher.

As I did the research on the publishing world, the companies and books that existed and what my market audience (pre-teens, teens and young adults) was reading I became very sad. The filth that seemed to fill the shelves of the teenage literature section was appalling and God gave me a heart to change it. He picked me to give a just-as-exciting alternative and to ask Christian families to put down the trash.

That was no easy calling. I understood the basics of just how hard it would be. It took me a while to convince myself and other people, but Rebirth Publishing was formed in October of 2009 by the grace of God. I am glad it was.

CFBR: You have a new book coming out in November. Can you tell us a little about it?

JMH: Issym’s sequel, Asandra, Book Two of the Xsardis Chronicles, will be released next month. Issym took place on the continent of Issym. This second book will take place on Asandra so there is a fairly different cast. But Issym’s three main characters will be back. The continent of Asandra is made up of Rachel’s imagination so there will be new creatures and a new environment and, of course, a new struggle but with an old enemy—Sasha the shape shifter.

I was fourteen when I wrote Issym. I was seventeen when I wrote Asandra. I now have a better idea of writing, where I want to go and how to get there. I think this book offers the same clean fun and adventure of Issym in an even more enjoyable way!

CFBR: Did you always intend for Issym to be the beginning of a series?

JMH: When I started writing Issym all I wanted was to pick up a cool hobby. It was never even supposed to be finished, but when I went back and added the introduction to the book I fell in love with the world I had created. As the book came to a close, my mind just kept imagining and before I knew it I had the plot for both the second and third books. I was writing the sequel before the editing had been finished on the first. My characters just wouldn’t leave me alone.

CFBR: There is sometimes debate over whether Christians should be writing fiction in the fantasy/science fiction genre. What do you think?

JMH: One of the biggest initial struggles I faced was getting the Christian community to understand why I was writing fantasy. It does seem to have a bad connotation and I understand why. As believers we must hold ourselves to a high standard of purity and keeping away from the occult. Fantasy in people’s minds often has a link to impurity and the occult.

Paul says in 1st Corinthians 8:13, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” In an effort not to cause my brothers to fall, I have completely removed the use of magic from my book. ‘Special powers’ such as the ability to shape shift are not ‘magical’ but just the way God made the creatures. God and His power are paramount in my novel, not man’s capabilities. Personally, I do not have a problem with non-spell-driven magic, but I am careful to keep my books clean for readers of all ages—something I have instilled in my company. I hope this allows a broader audience to enjoy and feel comfortable with the content of my books.

CFBR: What advice would you give to young aspiring authors?

JMH: Write! Don’t be afraid of how the sentence sounds or letting people read it. Just write. Write everyday if you can, because it helps build yours skills. If you read something you like, stop and think about why you like it and see if you can plug it into your writing. Watch your friends. What things about them make them special?

Anything is possible! You are never too young to pursue your dreams!

Visit the website to order Issym and to keep up with latest news about the upcoming release of Asandra.

For more author interviews and book reviews, visit Christian Fiction Book Reviews!

Poem: At Last

At one point in my life, I wrote quite a bit of poetry. Poetry is a funny thing for me. I can’t write it on demand, and I very rarely write in rhyme these days. I’ve heard of musicians who write music when they cannot find the words they want to say. Perhaps the rhyming lines in stanzas of four are the only way that I can find to pour out my heart.

At Last

 

Friends and loved ones long gone,

The children never known;

Yet all reunions pale in comparison,

When you bow before His throne.

 

Out of pain and finally whole,

With no more tears left to cry.

God brings His faithful children home,

But their earthly body must die.

 

I sorrow not for you,

For you may rest at last.

Laying all your burdens down,

Your suffering is finally past.

 

And then you met your Savior.

What a sight that must have been!

Someday I’ll join the choir with you,

And worship Him together once again.

 

Until that day, forgive my tears;

I know you’re in a better place.

I’ll walk on in faith without you,

But only by His grace.

 

By: TJ Priest 2/3/2011

For Mom and Aunt Pam

 

Please pray for my Mom’s sister, Pam and her family. Aunt Pam is drawing close to the end of her life here. Please pray that she will not be in a lot of pain, and that God would grant His strength and comfort to her family.

Story A Week: The Arch

(OK, so story a week might be stretching it here on my blog, but have I got a story for you! Read on!)

“The Arch”

The dust was oppressive. Fine grains of sand and thousands of years of dust sent me into a fit of violent sneezing. I was far more suited to a clean research laboratory than some primitive archeological dig.

“Come on Don!” my companion urged impatiently.

“It’s… Donovan…” I reminded in between sneezes.

Trevor rolled his eyes and replied, “Whatever,” before continuing down the claustrophobic tunnel that we found ourselves in.

After the sneezing subsided I picked up the thread of our conversation once again, “So why on earth did you insist that I fly all the way out into the middle of absolutely nowhere? I’m a theoretical physicist for goodness’ sake!”

“I know that,” Trevor answered calmly, “But like I told you a few minutes ago, what we’ve discovered appears to be a method of time travel. That’s why I need a theoretical physicist. Who better than you?”

“Flattery won’t impress me, so don’t attempt it,” I grumbled, “And I already told you, good grief, I’ve BEEN telling you for twenty years that time travel may be a theoretical possibility, but it’s practically not feasible. This is just one more colossal waste of time.”

“This time is different, I can feel it,” he declared confidently.

“Irrelevant. Facts are what matter, Trevor. I’ve already told you the facts.”

“Isn’t it just a little arrogant to assume that we know everything there is to know scientifically? After all, people once took the idea of the Earth as the center of the universe as fact.”

“Primitive idiots,” I muttered, “This is entirely different…”

My ratings were interrupted by our arrival in a surprisingly large room. I took a deep breath, glad to finally be out of the cramped tunnel. The carved squiggles on the walls might make this an archeologist’s dream, but I was wholly unimpressed.

Trevor glanced at me and spoke quickly, “I know, it doesn’t look like much, but what I’ve been able to decode has really caused some excitement! This stone arch seems to be the key.”

I looked at the carved stone arch. It was polished to a glossy sheen and there appeared to be small tiles here and there, but I failed to see how it was anything other than an historical artifact.

“None of this means anything to me,” I sighed, “It’s just ancient ruins.”

“I know that’s what it looks like, but trust me on this. It really is a way to travel through time!”

“Trevor, why am I here?” I asked sternly, tired of being out of the loop.

He refused to make eye contact with me as he answered hesitantly, “Well… we won’t know for sure until someone tries it out. Rumor has it that someone else is coming in to take over the whole site first thing in the morning. After that, I’ll probably be totally locked out, along with the rest of my team. This is my only chance to find out if I’m right.”

“By doing what? It’s just a polished hunk of rock!”

He didn’t speak another word, but went to work tapping the tiles in a certain order. A sharp crackle of energy echoed in the empty chamber and the arch began to glow a color that could not be described. The middle of the arch shimmered slightly, as if a distorted reflection in an old mirror.

I was astonished, but had the presence of mind to grasp Trevor’s arm and ask, “You’re not seriously thinking of going through there?”

“Yeah,” he spoke softly then announced more resolutely, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

“You can’t. You know absolutely nothing about it. For all you know that distortion could kill you. You don’t know what it is!”

“Well, I’m pretty certain that it’s a distortion in space-time and that it will allow me to access other times when I step through.”

“Whatever made you think that?” I asked in disbelief.

He gestured to the walls, “What I read there.”

“Trevor, you can’t do this. There is certain testing that needs to be done before anyone even considers what you are about to do. It’s not safe! This isn’t how a reputable scientist works!” I tried frantically to dissuade him. We’d been friends since college, and I was genuinely concerned for him.

“I know Donovan, I know. But this is my last chance, my only chance, to find out if I’m right. In five hours I’ll be on a plane back to the states and likely never be back. I know that it’s a huge risk. But I have to take that risk. I have to know if I’m right!

“We’ve rarely seen eye to eye. I don’t expect you to endorse my actions, but I had to let someone know where I was going. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back to this time, or even if I’ll survive this. So, someone had to know, and you’re the only friend I could trust.”

He looked at me beseechingly, hoping that a small part of me would understand. I made the first utterly foolish and impulsive decision of my entire life.

“I’ll accompany you.”

Clearly, this was not the response that Trevor had expected. His face paled slightly and his eyes widened.

“No way!”

I cut him off before he could continue, “I’ve made up my mind, if you’re going then so am I. Now get on with it before I change my mind and drag you out of here to prevent us both from doing something foolhardy.”

He nodded and placed a hand on my shoulder. We each took a deep breath and stepped through the arch. The distortion winked out and the glow instantly dissipated. All that was left, was a silent room.

____________

So, what happened to Donovan and Trevor? Will we hear from them again? Well, that’s up to you dear readers! Has this caught your interest? Would you like to read just a bit more? If so, or even if not, leave a comment and tell me!

Story A Week: Reflections

It’s been a while, and this is perhaps not my best story to date. It came about from my musings about what it must have been like for Irish immigrants to leave their homes because of the potato famine. \

“Reflections”

Eileen Donovan watched the rocky coastline slowly recede from view. She knew that she would never look upon it again. In a way, it was a relief. The home that had once held such joy had become a stark reminder of all that they had lost. All that everyone had lost. So many hard years… So much death… She had stood at the graveside of each member of her family, save one. It had taken everything that they had left, just to secure passage on the ship. They were lucky, most couldn’t even afford that.

Even so, there was a small part of her that felt sad to leave the only home that she’d known for the past 17 years. Eileen’s fiery hair, emerald eyes and porcelain complexion made her the image of her late mother. She wondered briefly if anyone would put flowers on her mother’s grave now. Truthfully, it was not so much Ireland that she would miss, but her family. At least she would carry their memory with her to America.

Pulling her shawl close against her to fight the damp sea air, she turned from the last glimpses of her past to face the open sea. It was a great unknown, this future that they sailed towards. It wasn’t a guarantee, but at least it was a chance. A chance to make a new life. A chance to build something of their own in this young country so full of promise. She thought about the Israelites, journeying to the Promised Land. Were they as scared as she was right now? Nevertheless, God had provided for them, as he would for Eileen and her brother. It was for her to trust Him.

Connor approached his sister and put his arm around her shoulders. He was a year younger, but topped her height by a good eight inches already.

“Missing home?” he asked quietly.

“Missing those we left behind,” she answered honestly, “But I keep reminding myself that the memories are going with us.”

“Aye,” he nodded seriously, “Are you worried about the journey?”

“No,” she shook her head firmly, “God goes with us Connor. I need not worry.”

He hugged her petite frame closer for a moment. From that point on, neither sibling looked back again, only forwards. Their future waited. One filled with struggles and hardships to be sure, but also one that held great joy, and many blessings. Through it all, God would be with them.

A Mother’s Heart

Amazingly enough, I actually have a story to post this week!

This was inspired by my great-grandmother, the woman who used to live in my house! I don’t want to give the story away, so I’ll explain a bit further at the end. Enjoy!

A Mother’s Heart

I hugged Millie close to me as I rocked her in the dark. She slept the peaceful sleep of an infant secure in the arms of her mother. Another tear trickled down my face as I wondered if I would ever sleep peacefully again.

A month ago, I was the mother of six. Baby Millie had five brothers and sisters. The older children adored their baby sister. They had taken turns holding her, singing to her and counting her ten little toes. Being a mother to that many in the Maine woods meant that my days were more than busy, but I loved all of my children dearly. What mother doesn’t? But that was before…

My oldest daughter was the first to develop a cough. I knew that many families had lost children to this illness, but at first I refused to believe that it could happen to us. It spread quickly to the rest of the children. Every spare moment I had was spent on my knees by their bedsides, begging God to save them. I sat and watched the labored, shallow breaths finally cease altogether. The broken cries wrenched from my lips were the sounds of a mother’s heart breaking, over and over again.

I couldn’t stop the tears the first time we buried a child. By the time we buried the fifth, I was so numb with soul-deep grief that the tears would no longer come. No parent should ever have to bury a child… let alone five.

I became terrified that I would lose my baby girl as well. I barely slept. I was beyond exhaustion, but I didn’t dare sleep. What if something happened to my Millie while my eyes were closed? I spent hours of every night, holding her tightly as I dared, praying desperately that God would spare my last child.

How can I explain it? The life of your child is precious to you beyond measure. But the past month had taught me just how fragile those precious lives are. My heart was in tatters, and my faith was hanging by a thread in the face of such tragedy. Even so, I clung to that thread of faith as if my life depended on it. I suppose it did.

For many long months, I kept up my night vigils. Gradually, they became fewer. I never did sleep as well as I had before. You never forget your child. The faces of mine continued to haunt my dreams occasionally. Eventually, some of the worry calmed. I was always mindful of the danger of losing a child, but it no longer consumed my thoughts. And the importance of cherishing each moment with Millie and her younger brother stayed with me for the rest of my life.

Finis.

Millie was my great-grandmother. Her parents did lose all five of her older siblings in less than a month, probably to influenza. God later gave them another son, Millie’s younger brother. Those are the facts that I have, the rest is merely speculation on my part.

Polaris

A day late and a dollar short, as Mom used to say! I try to post my story for the week on Tuesday, but for this week Wednesday will have to do.

This week’s story is of a genre that is my favorite. I love science fiction. It’s sad that for the most part, it has been taken over by humanistic influences. Well-written “Christian” science fiction is a rarity. It can be a wonderful way to make people think about things that might never have occurred to them before. Some people believe that God has no place in the genre, but that is a mistake. How could we not include something of the very creator of the stars? I’ve drawn inspiration for this story from too many different things to cite them all here, but I hope that you enjoy my little glimpse into the realm of “what if”.

Polaris

“Where is it?” Liberté asked again, just as she had every other night.

Jonah smiled at the familiar question. The pair were side by side in a wide expanse of flat, grassy land. They lay on their backs, gazing up at the brilliant night sky. He studied the stars for a moment before pointing to one in particular.

“That one, right there, just past that cluster of stars.”

“The Mighty Oak, that’s our name for ‘that cluster of stars’,” she pointed out with a slight laugh.

Eyeing the constellation with more care he exclaimed, “It does look like an oak tree!”

“Is that an Earth tree?” she questioned.

“Sure is, starts out as a tiny acorn, about the size of a jiba nut. Over time, that acorn grows into a huge, solid oak tree. Oak is a hardwood, and that makes it durable for furniture, and long-burning if you use it for firewood. The first colonists must have named the constellation after it.”

The explanation was perhaps lengthy, but he knew by now that Liberté did not like it when he gave her incomplete answers.

“It seems so far away,” she sighed wistfully, “So very tiny.”

“That’s exactly how your home looks from Earth,” Jonah reminded her gently.

“Everything in the universe must look small to someone…”

“I suppose that’s true,” he nodded, “Perspective makes a difference.”

Liberté hesitated slightly, “Do you miss it terribly?”

Jonah didn’t answer right away, but pondered his answer for several minutes.

“I suppose I do miss it,” he spoke quietly, “Some things more than others. Some not at all. But the things I’ve seen, the places I’ve been,” Jonah reached over and took her hand in his, “And the people I’ve met have more than made up for it.”

“Are the skies here very different?”

“Well, the stars everywhere always seem familiar to me. Just looking up at a night sky filled with them always gave me a measure of peace, even when I was a kid. But the placement of the stars is vastly different. I keep looking for the North Star. Used to be, I could walk outside our house any time of the year and find it in a heartbeat, along with all of the other constellations.”

“North Star…” she mused, “We have nothing by that name, but we do have an Eastern Star.”

“Really? Can we see it now?”

“Of course, right… there,” she pointed out the glimmering star, “It is in the same place in our sky every night.”

“‘For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him,'” Jonah quoted.

Liberté ‘s eyes lit up, “I read that in the book that you gave me! They were looking for the infant King, the Messiah.”

“They had been studying the night skies for a long time, and when they saw the signs they made a very long journey to give gifts to Him.”

“Does God still place signs in the stars for those who watch?”

The question gave Jonah pause. He’d never really wondered that himself. It was an interesting question to be sure. Another passage occurred to him.

“It’s also written, ‘And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’ I suppose it might be possible that God still reveals things in the Heavens, though the Scripture is pretty silent on that topic.”

“I wonder,” she began quietly, “What the sky will look like on the day He returns.”

“Terror From the Swamp”

Another week, another story! This one was inspired by a recent campfire enjoyed by Aaron and me and a very dear friend of ours. We were trying to remember scary campfire stories, without much success. So, we invented our own, and this was the result. A bit of artistic embellishment and this is the finished product. It’s best enjoyed sitting around a campfire on a dark night…

“Terror From the Swamp”

The swamp was inhabited by any number of animals, most of them fairly small and harmless. But there were whispers… Stories told of a creature who lurks… waiting… and none who’ve seen it have ever been heard from again…

Frogs and peepers chirped happily in the early spring air. It was unseasonably warm, and everyone was taking advantage of that fact, not just the frogs! Three young people sat around a small campfire not far from the pond. They were talking, laughing and dousing the fire with lighter fluid whenever the flames died down. It was obvious that they had sat around many campfires together over the years, and there was nothing about this one that was particularly unusual. At least, not until the frogs fell quiet…

An eerie silence lingered over the pond, as if every frog and peeper held their breath in fear. It slipped into the water soundlessly, creating barely a ripple.

“That’s weird,” one of the young man commented.

“What’s weird?” the lone girl asked.

“The frogs are quiet,” was his reply.

The second young man reached for a flashlight, “Did you hear that?”

“What?” the girl nervously asked.

“There’s something in the water.”

Shining the flashlight across the surface of the pond they saw nothing.

Clicking the light back off he shrugged, “Probably just a coyote out for a drink. He won’t bother us up here.”

They resumed their conversation.

It emerged from the water and crept away from the pond. The frogs breathed an almost audible sigh of relief and resumed their evening song.

“See, the frogs are back! It was nothing,” one of them reassured the still-nervous girl.

The unseen creature slithered closer to the campfire, and dinner…

Come morning, only a smoldering pile of ashes remained of the roaring campfire. And the three friends have never been heard from again…

Anne’s Prayer

It’s short, but it’s a start. Getting back to actually writing a story a week, I’m posting this week’s story. I hope that you enjoy it.

Anne’s Prayer

Anne’s fingers tentatively caressed the ivory-encased keys. The soft notes lingered briefly in the air. The wind chimes outside the open window sang in the spring breeze as if they were accompanying the piano. The black lacquered finish of the baby grand glinted in the sunlight that poured into the room. Anne had not been able to bring herself to play it these past months, but she had still polished it twice weekly.

Bringing her other hand to rest lightly on the keys, she began to play. Softly, quietly at first. No sheet music was before her, but she didn’t need any. To this day she could play from memory every song she had played at a recital. Gram had always insisted on that.

The music continued, played almost without any conscious thought on Anne’s part. Hearing it all was like listening to the soundtrack of her own life. These were the songs that she had grown up with. She remembered with crystal clarity why she had chosen to play each of them. They were a reflection of who she was and where she was at in her life at the time that she had learned them so thoroughly. From a crescendo of ecstasy, to minor notes of despair, she poured it all out on the old piano keys.

As the final note vibrated and faded away, a single tear splashed onto the gently yellowed ivory. This had been Gram’s piano. Anne had learned to play sitting on this very bench, just as her mother had. This piano had been there when at the age of eight, she had lost her mom. Gram had held her close, then sat down at the piano to play the song that had always been a favorite of Anne’s mother. The notes had been familiar, bringing both sorrow and comfort to the little girl. Here Anne sat, twenty years later, grieving the loss of her grandmother. Playing was painful, and the ache in her heart was almost unbearable, but once again, the music brought her comfort, and a measure of peace. Who was it that said “God gave us music so that we could pray without words”?

And so, Anne stayed at the piano. Even though the words would not come, she poured out her heart in prayer.

Mom’s Truck

Yesterday was hard. I watched my Mom’s Explorer as it was towed away. She got it after her car accident about 15 years ago. She absolutely loved that truck!

I had my first accident with that truck. A minor one involving a garage door that wasn’t quite all the way open, and the cargo rack on top of the Explorer. The cargo rack was easily bent back into place and Dad fixed the garage door, but I was sure glad that she had an hour and a half drive home to calm down once she knew that I’d had a bit of an accident with it!

It’s been mine for the past three years, and I’ve enjoyed it as much as she did. I have to admit, I was probably as protective of that truck as she was! Eventually, the rust ate away and time took its toll. We tend to drive our cars “until the wheels fall off”. That’s about where the Explorer was at, and it was time to let it go.

I know that it’s completely silly to be so sentimental about a truck, but the thing is, it was Mom’s. I’m having an easier time letting go of some of her things than I did last year, but this one still stung. Letting go sometimes feels like losing another piece of Mom. Yesterday felt like losing a big piece. I know that life goes on, and that things will change, but deep down, I don’t want life to just keep going on like nothing happened! It does anyway…

These reflections led me to pen this week’s story. It’s about a couple of guys, and Mom’s new truck… I hope it makes you smile!

“Do You Have AAA?”

“That was really an awesome movie,” Jack remarked enthusiastically.

Rick shrugged, “It was OK.”

“OK? Come on! I know you’re the world’s biggest critic, but even you have to admit that the twist at the end came out of nowhere!”

“Not really,” he shook his head and replied nonchalantly, “I saw it coming.”

“Yeah right,” his friend muttered.

The conversation was interrupted by the chirp of a cell phone signaling an incoming text message.

“That your Mom?”

“She says that she has just one more store to stop at and she’ll be out,” Rick said with a roll of his eyes, “It’ll be a while…”

“I don’t mind waiting. It was worth it to see the new movie!”

“Eh, maybe.”

“Well, at least it gave you the chance to drive your folks’ new SUV right? You’ve been just itching to get behind the wheel ever since they bought it!”

That finally sparked a reaction in Rick.

“You’re not kidding! This new model is just crazy! You wouldn’t believe some of the places that people have taken them!”

“Yeah,” Jack started slowly, “But those were souped up to handle it. Straight out of the factory they won’t handle anything that rugged.”

“Of course they will!” he jumped in indignantly, “This SUV will handle far more rugged terrain than anything else out there!”

Eyeing the fully-loaded interior dubiously, Jack pointed out, “This looks more like a luxury vehicle than a rugged truck Buddy.”

Rick spotted the median that they were parked in front of, and noted the evenly spaced sizable rocks placed between small trees.

“I’ll prove that you’re wrong.”

The engine leapt to life as he turned the key. Flicking it into four-wheel-drive he looked over at his friend.

“Watch this.”

Jack did not like the grin pasted on Rick’s face. In fact, that grin set his nerves on edge. Rick could be a bit too impulsive for his own good. The soft jolt of the tires climbing the curb sent Jack scrambling for his seatbelt. Snugging it tightly as he clicked it into place he yelled at the teenager in the driver’s seat.

“Are you nuts!?”

“Oh yeah!” Rick laughed.

The right front tire of the shiny, new Luxury SUV slowly inched up the steep angle of the small boulder. Jack held his breath and squeezed his eyes shut as Rick deftly maneuvered the front end of the truck off the ground.

“What did I tell you? What did I TELL you!” he exclaimed gleefully as the wheel crested the top of the rock.

That’s when his concentration slipped…

Both boys felt the subtle shift of the vehicle. Rick tried to deal with it, but his panicked, jerky movements only worsened the situation. The tire slid off the side of the rock, and with a sickening crunch the front axle dropped onto the stone surface.

Knowing that there was no way of driving back off the rock, the two teenagers gingerly opened their doors and hopped out of the pale blue SUV.

“Oh man…” Rick moaned.

Both front tires were completely off the ground, and the axle was resting securely on the very top of the rather large rock. It was pretty obvious that it would take at least a tow truck to get it down.

“Oh boy,” Jack sighed heavily, “This is so not good.”

“You have NO idea,” Rick insisted dismally, “My Mom loves this truck. She’s going to kill me for this.”

“You’re exaggerating,” Jack shook his head with exasperation, “Your Mom won’t kill you. She may never let you drive again, but she won’t kill you.”

“No, you don’t get it. As soon as we get this truck off that rock, she’s going to get in and run over me for denting her ‘baby’!”

Jack flipped open his cell phone, “You have AAA, right?”

“Yeah, why?”

He dialed and answered the question, “Because if your Mom will be as mad as you think she will be, you’d better hope that they get here before she does.”

“Oh you are not kidding,” Rick returned grimly.

Both cringed visibly at the sound of a shrill female voice behind them.

“Frederick James Montgomery! What have you done to my truck!?”

Trying Something New…

I got an idea at The Green Bathtub. The idea is to write a short story a week and post it to the blog. I’m going to give it a try. I hope that it will sharpen my writing skills and help keep me in the habit of writing. Not to mention being a good outlet when I have writer’s block! I will definitely still be working on my novel, but NO ONE is allowed to read that work in progress!

In any case, let me know what you think. Now, without any further delay…

A Scientific Break

Oxford sat patiently, bowl held firmly in her mouth, pleading silently with her rather pathetic puppy dog eyes. The sight would have reduced the most hardhearted to a puddle. Marie however, had grown used to the antics of her grey Terrier.

“Patience Oxford,” Marie admonished, “I’m nearly done, and then I’ll fill your dish to the brim with kibble.”

She spared the fluffy pup an affectionate smile before returning her full attention to the maze of beakers, glass tubing and Bunsen burners spread out before her. She pulled a pair of glasses with thick black frames out of the pocket of her grey cardigan and slipped them on. Examining the readouts on various gauges and instruments she scribbled notes in a thick notebook with worn edges and multiple tea stains marring the white pages. Pausing to look at the clock on the wall she once again scrutinized the labyrinth of chemistry before her.

“And now, for the final component,” she explained to Oxford, who didn’t understand and really wouldn’t have cared anyway, as she carefully added exactly three drops of a bluish liquid to one of the assortment of glass containers.

The reaction was nearly immediate. The contents began to bubble, readings changed and Marie dashed about excitedly.

“Yes! YES! This is incredible! I’ve done it! Finally done… it…” she trailed off abruptly.

Oxford’s ears perked up, and his tail gave a ghost of a wag at his mistresses excitement. He had the impression that dinner would be forthcoming. The change in the tone of her voice that came next sent him scurrying behind the ancient corduroy couch in the corner.

“..Oh no. Oh No! No, no, no, no, NO!!!!”

Having at least the presence of mind to tuck her notebook under her arm and grab her favorite mug, she threw one last glance at the chemistry set of impending doom. Test tubes shuddered and a beaker cracked, smoke billowed ominously from another. Sprinting for the couch in the corner, her right foot barely touched the seat cushions as she leaped over the back and hunkered down next to her faithful dog and trusty fire extinguisher. Gathering Oxford close she tucked her head into his soft fur and used the oversized notebook to shield the back of her head from any stray debris that might happen to rain down. The pops sounded almost like a bag of microwave popcorn she noted with interest as one by one the small test tubes shattered. It was silent for a long minute, and she had the fleeting thought that perhaps it wouldn’t be quite the catastrophe that she had envisioned…

The following BOOM and resulting cloud of smoke and broken glass that DID rain down on the notebook over her head proved otherwise. After waiting what she felt was a prudent interval, she poked her head up from behind the couch, reaching instinctively for the fire extinguisher.

“Well Oxford, at least there’s no fire this time,” she coughed, removing her glasses and tucking them safely in the pocket of her cardigan.

Waving her arms at the thick smoke and vapor she slapped the garage door opener controls. As the door rose slowly, the air cleared slightly.

Next door, Mr. Smith was watering his small garden when he heard the sound of Marie’s garage door opening.

“What color is it this time, dear?” Mrs. Smith called to him from the open kitchen window.

“Just plain gray this time. It’s clearing off now… No need to ring the fire department this time…” he sighed and shook his head, turning his attention back to his roses.

Back in her garage/lab, Marie surveyed the damage.

“This is going to take a while to clean up,” she remarked grimly to no one in particular.

Oxford recovered his dish and dropped it at her feet with a quiet whine.

“All right,” she laughed, “I suppose it is time for tea. I’m sure this will still be here later,” she gestured towards the pile of rubble on the long white table.

Picking up the empty dish she wandered into her small kitchen, followed closely by the oxford grey terrier. Filling his dish, she placed the dry kibble on the floor and the small terrier attacked it with obvious pleasure.

She peered at the inside of the mug she had saved from her lab accident. Giving it a quick rinse under running tap water she filled it and plunked a tea bag in the cold water before putting it into the microwave. Ninety seconds later, when the microwave beeped, she removed her mug and discarded the tea bag. Settling down at her paper-coated kitchen table, she shoved a stack or two aside to make room for her notebook. Cracking it open and sipping her tea she spoke to her happily munching furry friend.

“Let’s see if we can figure out what went wrong this time, eh Oxford.”

He looked up from his dish and answered with a short little bark before finishing his dinner, and quite literally, licking the bowl clean.