Whose Line Is It? Mine?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Welcome, everyone. There was an improvisational comedy show (1998 – 2004 or so) that always cracked me up.  I thought it was the best exercise in creativity that I’d ever seen.  It was “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”  Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, and Colin Mochrie could take any “line” and work hilarious magic. 

Those guys created characters, scenes, and songs on the spot, based on a line they were given.  Yet here I am… I already have the characters and scenes, sometimes even a song — all I need is that line…  That illusive opening line!

Why should that be so difficult?  Horsefeathers!  It’s worse than dating, or meeting the CEO of a big company for the first time.  I struggle with the opening line for days  weeks forever.  Then I wonder how important it actually was. 

Today I thought I’d share what I came up with for my Atonement, Tennessee series.  For the first book I began the prologue with this: Dawn’s light cast shadows that shifted amid branches of magnolia and mountain laurel, and danced upon statuary and grave stones. 

Lilith standing on stone

Lilith explores the Sunhold cemetery in “Atonement, Tennessee”

However, my wrongly wired brain complained, that was the prologue!  Did that qualify as the opening line?  So, I struggled all over again with a line for Chapter 1.  It’s hard to sound all fancy-dancy when writing in first person so that was even harder.  I finally settled on this:  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, ready to savor the moment.

Of course, when I started writing book-2, I went through all that self-torment again.  Worse, I needed to be consistent and keep the magical prologue.  That meant I would go through that double wringer again for Atonement in Bloom.  The prologue begins: Lilith sat bathed in moonlight atop the stone wall, watching small bats dart about, high overhead. 

Then Ralda Lawton, takes over as narrator. Chapter-1 starts like this:  It had seen better days, but who hadn’t?

If I don’t enjoy writing that opening line, then what is my favorite line to write?  “The end.”  Naturally I enjoy writing every line in between.  It’s just that the first one’s a doozy. 

atonement-abandoned-moon

Image by Chris Graham

Reviews!

Frankly, I’ll never be satisfied with an opening line.  So, I’m going to focus on the positive.  Even though it’s been a few years since I published “Atonement” I still get excited about lovely reviews.  I’m downright giddy because recently it has gotten two!  Romance author, Jacquie Biggar posted a review from her blog. 

Author of mystery and suspense, Mae Clair posted this review at Amazon.

Like odd? Like quirky with a generous dollop of magical realism and whimsy thrown in? Then you’re going to love the little town of Atonement, Tennessee and the people (and others) who populate it. Vividly imagined, this is a light but intriguing tale filled with eccentric characters and imaginative plot lines. The shifting narrative between the main character, Esmeralda, and her cat, Lilith (told in 3rd person POV) works surprising well. A truly delightful and “magical” story!

By the way, Mae and Jacquie both have new releases.  Be sure to visit their blogs to learn more!

If you have any questions about the “Atonement-verse” feel free to leave them in a comment.  Also, do you have a favorite opening line from a book you love?  Leave that in a comment too.  I love to hear from you.

***

Here’s my own shameless self-promotion…

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

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Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

Books set in TN & Atonement, TN Revisited

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I can’t believe that it was way back at Christmastime, 2012 when I published my urban fantasy novel Atonement, Tennessee.  That makes it downright embarrassing that I still haven’t released the second book!  It’s written, but I have little time to give the editing and proofing process.  Although I’m getting closer.  

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books

Image by Chris Graham

It might not be okay for me to mention it outright, but if you miss the “Sookie” books, now that the well loved series set in a small Louisiana town (with HBO series based on it), has come to an end (wink-nudge-wink), then I think you will like my Atonement, Tennessee series.  There are no vampires (not that I know of), rather there are characters loosely inspired by ancient Celtic mythology.

I wanted this post to be about more than me.  I was surprised to learn how many books had the (USA) state of Tennessee as their setting.  Here’s a Goodreads page listing amazing books that are set in Tennessee

Many of you are new and not familiar with my novel.  So while I’m scrambling to get Atonement in Bloom (book 2) out there, I thought I would use my Saturday posts to revisit that… erm, let’s say unique little town.  Today we’ll get reacquainted with the the heroine and narrator, Ralda (Esmeralda) Lawton.  Here are some fun (I hope) facts about her.

1.  Is she fictional or a historic person?

Ralda-in-car_dreamstime_xs_28934268

Ralda Lawton, Dreamstime Image

Ralda (Esmeralda) Lawton is a fictional character.  Atonement, Tennessee, the first book in the series, was a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) novel.  I designed everything about that story to be something I could do in the single month of NaNoWriMo — in other words, fast.  Typically none of my characters are based on real people.  However, with the need for speed in mind, I let Ralda share some of my outlooks. Plus her profession is similar to mine.  But she isn’t me, I promise.

Ralda is the narrator for all the Atonement books.  However, her cat, Lilith, takes a turn for important scenes that Ralda could not witness.

Lilith and mirror

Lilith, Dreamstims

2.  When and where is the story set?

Following the advice “Write what you know,” I wanted a small southern town as the setting.  I chose Tennessee for the state of my fictional town.  (Even making up a fictional town was also intended for speed – it wouldn’t need as much research!)  Yet what to name this town?  I was thinking about what kinds of people might live there, their attitudes and opinions.  Suddenly “Atonement” popped into my mind as the name for the town.  So my setting is the fictional town (and the title), Atonement, Tennessee.

3.  What should we know about the heroine?

That’s really hard to say without giving away parts of the story.  I don’t want to spoil anything for people who have not read the book.

3 friends oval

Neighbors & Friends, Dreamstime

I’ll tell you that Ralda has been hurt badly in the past, and more than once.  She’d like to keep an open mind about things like relationships, but she’s afraid to try.  Besides, she doesn’t think the “pluses” outweigh the “minuses.”  On the other hand, she makes friends readily.  If she cares about someone, she’s fiercely protective.

She’s highly intuitive, and smart.  Those assets lead her to unravel the mysteries that surround her in her new mysterious old house, in Atonement, Tennessee.

4.  What messes up her life?

Ultimately, that would be (repeatedly) the supernatural beings that either live in or frequent the strange little town and the old estate house in which she lives — and its graveyard.   Yes, I said graveyard. 

5.  What is the personal goal of the character?

Ralda Lawton just wants a peaceful life in her new town.  She succeeded in getting away from the big city by moving to quaint Atonement, Tennessee.  However, so far, her new life has been anything but quiet.  How could she know the tiny town rests on a very powerful ley line?  It seems to draw mythological entities like a magnet.  (I took creative license with the ley line idea and their actual locations.)
TN_Ley-Lines

6.  Do the same characters return for book 2?

You’ll meet many familiar characters in book-2, Atonement in Bloom.  There are also several new supernaturals in town for the sequel.  And yes… I do intend a third book for the series.  Eventually I plan to do a “three things” type serial for it here on this blog.  That seems to be the only way I have time to write. 

 If you have any questions about the “Atonement-verse” feel free to leave them in a comment.  I love to hear from you.

***

Here’s my own shameless self-promotion…

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

It’s about “Time” with Don

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hello, one and all.  Welcome to my sanctuary.  Sit down on a sofa or curl up on a cushion.  Today I have a special guest — author and entrepreneur Don Massenzio

atonement_in_bloom_1_03-24-2014Don has a twist in his upcoming book that he’s been kind enough to discus with me.  It was not too far afield from something that had been on my mind for my own books. Most of you know that I’m editing book-2 in my Atonement series (Atonement in Bloom).  For a third book I’ve been contemplating how to work with both the present and the past in one volume. There are a number of ways I could do that. So I was curious about what Don did.  I’ll bring you into our discussion now.

Don:  My new book, Extra Innings, did not start out as a paranormal or science fiction novel. Originally published as a serial on my blog, the story started out with the intent of becoming another iteration in my crime fiction writing efforts. As the story took shape, however, my mind kept mulling over the miserable life of my main character, Joe McLean and what his life might have become if he had made some alternate life choices.

Teagan:  That’s what intrigued me, Don. It’s similar but different. The heroine of the books I mentioned has a past life in which she knew some of the other characters.  I don’t want to give any spoilers, but she did bad things in that past life.  So I’m curious about how you handled this.

Don:  I was originally going to include flashbacks and other devices to relay the history of the main character’s family and associates over different timelines that led to his current circumstances, but I worried about being able to do this smoothly and not confuse my readers.

Teagan:  I agree. Flashbacks can be confusing to the reader.  I try to avoid them.

Don:  That’s where the idea of using some form of time travel emerged. It was a difficult decision because I’ve spent the past several books identifying with readers as a crime fiction author. I did publish a collection of short stories in my anthology, Random Tales, that had some science fiction/paranormal entries, but this would be my first novel to explore that part of my writing.

Teagan:  You’re a brave man… I don’t think I could handle that for my book.  But what did you do?  My curiosity is piqued.  Do tell…

Don:  My first step was to research some of the techniques that have been used to convey time travel in fiction.

Here are some of the theories that have been presented: 

Watercolor dreamcatcher with beads and feathers. Illustration fo

  1. PrecognitionThis is the idea of seeing the future during dreams or through the feeling of déjà vu. Abstract black and white design
  2. Time LoopsIf you’ve watched the movie, Ground Hog Day, you’ve seen this time travel plot device in action. Usually the events time loop repeat until the character or characters perform a certain action to end the loop and move forward.De Lorean
  3. Time ParadoxIf you watched Back to the Future, when Marty McFly went back in time and nearly prevented his parents from getting together for the high school dance, you’ve experienced this time travel device.Time Tourism
  4. Time TourismJust like it sounds, when time travelers travel through time to witness historical events as a spectator, this is time tourism.terminator
  5. Time WarThis is the use of time travel to conduct war over time using time travel. It could involve going back in time to change events leading up to a pivotal battle or trying to bring about a reset of events that didn’t play out as planned.Erasing The Past
  6. Changing the pastThis is the notion of time travel that I used in my book, Extra Innings. The idea of changing the past is logically contradictory. Even though the consensus today is that the past cannot be changed, science fiction writers have used the idea of changing the past for good story effect. Stephen King used this method of time travel effectively in his book, 11/22/63, by having his main character, Jake Epping, attempt to go back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Though ultimately successful, when Epping returns to the present, he discovers that his actions have had unintended consequences.


If you enjoy time travel and the possibility of going back in time to right wrongs and do things differently if given a chance, follow the adventures of Joe McLean in my latest novel, Extra Innings.Extra Innings

 

Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team.

Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past.

That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life?

Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again? Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

***

Images provided by Don Massenzio.

Join me in wishing Don huge success with his new book.  Extra Innings is currently available for pre-order.  The release date is June 15th.

Thanks for taking time to visit.  I love your comments, so be sure to say hello. 

Mega hugs!

***

Here’s my own shameless self-promotion…

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise. 

After Thistledown — #GetCaughtReading and More

Saturday, April 27, 2018

Thanks again to everyone who supported Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam.  I always like for my blog stories to be “interactive” with you readers, at least to a degree.  You were an essential element of that faery tale. 

What’s Now and What’s Next? 

Well, one thing that’s next already is… or the future is the present… or have I just boldly gone where no (wo)man has gone before?

Hullaba Lulu

Val hat Lulu trumpet expressions

Art by Rob Goldstein

What I’m trying to say is that for those of you who aren’t familiar with my Jazz Age Wednesday posts, I currently have a series in collaboration with artist  Rob Goldstein.  It’s a Roaring Twenties, diesel-punk fantasy called Hullaba Lulu.  Is that news to you?  No worries, click here* for a post that has links to all the past episodes.  It’s pos-i-lutely darb.  Get aboard the diesel-punk train!

What’s Next? 

Get Caught Reading Month — All New Mini-series with Chris Graham

May is  Get Caught Reading Month. Twice in the past, Chris Graham – the Story Reading Ape and I have collaborated on stories for this event.  Hold onto your hats, because we’re together again!  Premiering next weekend… (drum roll)…

Artie Meets the Alchemist!

Artie Meets Alchemist promo 1

Artie the genius chimpanzee is the creation of Chris Graham.  He has popped into several of my stories.  For our new story, a fictionalized Cornelis Drebbel is my character — he’s managed to wriggle out of the serial where I created him* and into some others too.  I wonder what will happen when those two run into each other?  Oh yes, this will be a steampunk story.

The Next What’s Next and Poll Results 

I haven’t completed the editing and proofing of Atonement in Bloom.  Although I still hope to finish before the summer arrives (as in solstice).  After “Bloom” is published I will start a new Saturday serial. 

A while back I polled you readers about what kind of “three things” serial you wanted next.  The results were overwhelmingly for a new Atonement, Tennessee story.  I’ve never done Atonement in a serial form.  However, I’ve always seen those books as a trilogy.  Blogging leaves me no time to write, so if there’s going to be a third book, it will have to come from a serial here.  That’s a while into the future, but stay tuned! 

This blog has always been about the readers, being interactive. I love your comments.  I appreciate your visits. You are a huge part of it, and I thank you.

***

Atonement Video Cover copy

Atonement, Tennessee

Amazon UK

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays 6 ― Reviews & a Crossover Story

1918-july-vogue-woman-rooster

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I’m so excited to get reviews!  So I hope you’ll forgive me for crowing. Today author and “fairy whisperer” Colleen Chesebro* posted a review of my debut novel,  Atonement, Tennessee.  What a delight it was to read her mindful review with my morning coffee! I’m thrilled.  Since Colleen is “the fairy whisperer I think she related to my supernatural elements.

Atonement Tennessee

(Colleen challenged me to write a faery story — resulting in the Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam serial.  The serial is now on hiatus until December.  It will be back!

 

In honor of Colleen’s review, I’ve priced the Kindle version of my debut novel Atonement, Tennessee at just $1.00. 

On Monday I couldn’t resist reblogging a review author Christoph Fischer* did of Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.  

I hope you’ll visit both Christoph and Colleen. They both have brilliant blogs and books of their own.

Now back to the Jazz Age… 

When I got reviews for these two books within days of each other, I started wondering what Atonement, TN was like during the Roaring Twenties.  However, the characters from two very different novels were all in my head at once… and this is what happened… (I don’t think of it as a spoiler, but there’s a teeny bit of one regarding Murder at the Bijou. If you’re especially sensitive to spoilers, then skip the story.) 

Roaring Twenties Halloween in Atonement Tennessee

The ghost’s eyes glowed bright green as he stared out of the Mirror of Truth and Justice Most Poetic.

“Green like little peas,” the blond murmured.

She blinked as she gazed at the apparition inside the mirror.  Her bobbed tresses were so pale, one might have thought the ghost had scared her into fright-white hair.

She felt the presence of her nearly identical sister behind her and turned.

1920s face

“How odd,” the raven-haired sister calmly stated, the fringe of her flapper gown swaying as she moved closer to the mirror.  “While I wouldn’t put it past that mischievous mirror to trap someone, this spirit seems to have pos-i-lutely gotten there on his own.”

The platinum blond walked forward and took her sister’s hand.  They each touched a corner of the strange mirror.

“Won’t you join us?” together they invited the apparition.

The ghost shrugged uncomfortably as he stepped from the mirror and into the Metatron house.  Years of experience led him to quickly take-in his surroundings.  He noticed two paintings.  The first was an outdoor scene that appeared to be from the late 1700s.  It showed a grand estate house with women getting out of a carriage.  Nearby two girls sat under a tree.  One had pale hair while the other was dark.

He glanced at his two hostesses, comparing them to the painting.  Then his eyes quickly traveled to the other canvas.  It showed two girls in flapper attire.  The raven-haired one sported a headband with a yin and yang symbol.  It was a portrait of the two young women who stood before him.  Green eyes darting rapidly, he looked from one painting to the other, and back to the girls that stood with him.  Could they all be the same?  He knew the sisters were by no means ordinary flappers.

1923 Life woman devilish man masks

The blond reached out and touched the holes in his coat and hat.

Applesauce!  You are a policeman,” she stated.  “A G-man.  That is how you came to the Mirror of Truth and Justice.”

Bullet holes, he remembered as she inspected the damage.  Then the echo of the pain wracked him.  He staggered.

“Marshal Moses Myrick,” he muttered, trying to make his tongue work to introduce himself as civility required.

Each young woman took one of his elbows and had him sit down on a horsehair covered sofa.

“So, you have come to atone?” asked the dark-haired girl.

“But not for whatever caused you to be shot… many times,” the light-haired girl said in a puzzled voice.

“The wrongs I’ve done were part of my job.  Keeping the law and justice,” he said on a gasp.  “I don’t apologize for what I’ve done in the line of duty.”

“Then what?” the women asked as one.

“I couldn’t make Phanny love me.  She married my friend when we were young.  It would have been wrong to interfere.  And now,” he gasped and paused.  “Now he’s long dead, and she’ll know the pain of loss again, because I couldn’t resist keeping her in my life, but I couldn’t give up the law either.”

“You know she loves you,” the raven-haired one commented.  “At least you know it while you’re in this state.  Are you so ready to leave her?”

“How could she ever love a man like me?  What kind of life could I give her when this kind of violence is part of it?” Moses asked, putting a hand to where one of his bullet wounds would have been.

“Well, you won’t know if you stay here,” the brunette smirked in a self-satisfied way.  “You might have some stiff competition, but you just might make Phanny love you yet.  After all, you are a bit of a sheik,” she added playfully.

“I know your pain will be horrible,” the blond began gently.  “But it’s not your time yet.”

The young women helped the shade of Marshal Moses Myrick stand and walked him back to the mirror.  The room filled with intense cold.  The sisters turned toward each other and shared a smile.  When they looked at the mirror, the marshal was once again inside it.  He tipped his fedora as he smiled and disappeared.

Mirror

***

The End

Those who have read Murder at the Bijou will recognize Marshal Moses Myrick. 

If you’ve read Atonement, Tennessee you’ll be wondering if the sisters are the same Metatron family as Annie from that novel.  Yet, the timeline would not be right…  Although, you never know what might be possible in Atonement, TN.  Nope, I’m not telling!  There is a bit of mystery surrounding Annie and Adelle Metatron that comes up in Atonement in Bloom.  It will remain unexplained… at least for now. 

Here is a link to a short story I did in 2015, which is about Annie and Adelle.  (Click here.)

Here are links to the 1920s novels.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

Thanks so very much for visiting.  You’re the cat’s pajamas!

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.  

 

5-Star Reads: No More Mulberries and Atonement, Tennessee

What a wonderful surprise! My novel, “Atonement, Tennessee” was just reviewed by Diana Wallace Peach. I’ve closed comments here, but I hope you’ll visit her blog, because she has another wonderful review in the same post.
I hope to see you all in Thistledown again this weekend. Hugs on the wing!

Myths of the Mirror

My writing break has freed up some precious time for reading, and I have two more reviews to share. These books are quite different. I hope you give one or both a try. 😀

Click on Cover for Global  Amazon Link

No More Mulberries

by Mary Smith

My Review: Where do I even start with all the things I loved about this book? The story is about Miriam, a Scottish midwife who first fell deeply in love with an Afghan and then with his country. It’s a story about love and loss, fear and courage, and the strength of family and the human spirit.

In many ways, this story could be told anywhere in the world as individuals, couples, and families aren’t that different from each other no matter where we find them. Miriam’s story and her emotional struggles are deeply relatable. Her search for self, her struggle to balance her…

View original post 506 more words

A Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee 2017

pig-hearts-red-2017

For once I thought about doing a Valentine’s story before the last minute.  It’s a good thing too, because I stumped myself.  I wanted to use characters from Atonement, Tennessee, and bring back one from a past Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee as well.  However, connecting that part to another Atonement character presented quite a problem.  Every story-line I started took me to a spoiler!

Finally I settled on Marge Tipton, a very minor character.  No spoilers, but I had a devil of a time figuring out how Cupid’s arrow could strike bachelorette Marge.  You can read a little more about Marge here.

It’s a little longer than I’ve been posting, but fewer than 2,500 words.  I hope this little romp leaves you with a happy glow.  Here’s your 2017 Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee.  Enjoy!

PS: I made a video trailer too…

Deme and Honeybell’s Valentine

Silver light washed down from the moon to illumine the sidewalk.  Earth’s lone satellite was just past full.  The clock in the town square struck midnight on February 14th.

The moon wasn’t the only thing that glowed that night.  Two friends also emanated an ethereal radiance of their own, as they walked the deserted street.

Honeybell gave a surreptitious glance over her shoulder toward the second of two traffic lights on the main street of Atonement, Tennessee.  She grunted softly, fascinated by the slowly changing colors, red to green to yellow to red. 

It seemed an odd decoration.  It made her nervous.  This was all Deme’s idea.  Honeybell hoped her friend wouldn’t land them in trouble.  Deme could be something of a prankster, and Honeybell was getting the same reputation.  Still looking over her shoulder at the lights, Honeybell gave a loud snort as she bumped into Deme.

Pay attention and stop acting like an unsophisticated pig,” Honeybell silently scolded herself.

2-pigs-traffic-light

Deme had stopped.  Her eyes were closed in concentration.  When she opened them, her sapphire orbs were bright with excitement.  She reared up to point at the sign, Annie’s Antiques and Consignment Shop, and her front hooves came back to the sidewalk with a sharp clip.

“It’s still here!” Deme quietly exclaimed.

Honeybell wagged her curly tail happily.

“What about the woman?  Is she close enough?” she asked Deme, concerned about all the details coming together properly.

“The woman lives near the first red-green-yellow light.  It is an easy run from here,” Deme replied in a satisfied tone.

The glow from the two otherworldly pigs brightened a as they stared at the door of the antique shop.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort,” they vocalized in unison.

The door swung open, shop-bell chiming in welcome.  Deme and Honeybell walked inside.

“I feel it!” Honeybell cried.  “I feel the rose quartz.”

Honeybell made a beeline to the back of the shop and a glass case.  As the pigs drew near, a necklace inside the case illuminated.  The filigree setting was polished brightly and held a large heart-shaped gem.  The pastel pink rose quartz stone pulsed softly in ruddy radiance.

Annies antiques

Annie’s Antiques

“It’s as if the heart is beating,” Honeybell said in awe.  “What a lovely gem.”

Deme agreed, her sapphire blue eyes wide.  “Rose quartz helps us accept and love ourselves,” she replied agreeably.

Honeybell nosed at the necklace until it fell from the glass shelf to hang around her neck.  Deme made a sardonic grunt at her friend.

“The most practical way to carry the necklace is to hang it around my neck,” Honeybell explained in a very indignant tone.  “Oh look!  That light over there is not earthly,” she quickly changed the subject, and was happy when Deme followed her gaze. (More about Annie’s Inventory Notes here.)

The otherworldly pigs went to investigate the luminescence near the cash register at the front of the store.  The light shone through several layers of paper in the special inventory notes kept by Annie, the shop owner.  If the writing glowed, that meant an item had awakened.  Deme and Honeybell looked at the rosy sparkle of the necklace and nodded to each other in approval.

***

pig-valentine-lolas

After a briskly refreshing run, the two otherworldly pigs entered the home of bacehlorette and local diner owner, Marge Tipton.

Deme looked around the spotless kitchen.  She saw a local newspaper and an advertisement on the table.  There was also a deposit receipt from the local First Bank & Trust.

Honeybell snuffled as she scented the air and listened to the vibrations of the house.  “I feel a lot of hidden sadness,” Honeybell murmured, eyes brimming with tears.

“So do I, but get ahold of yourself.  We can’t afford to let our own emotions get mixed in with what we’re about to do,” Deme told her firmly.  “Things could go quite badly if we did.”

The small pigs moved toward the bedroom where they could hear the regular breathing of Marge Tipton.

“She is soundly asleep,” Deme whispered.  “Honeybell, you seem better attuned to this woman than I am.  Do you detect anything in this house that can be used to work with the rose quartz necklace?” Deme questioned, delegating some of the authority she had bestowed upon herself.

Honeybell snuffled and grunted quietly.  She went to a box in the closet.  A broad satin ribbon was tied around the box.  Honeybell pulled the ribbon, untying the bow.  Inside was a stack of old postcards, with postmarks in the 1980s. Cowgirl valentine

One postcard had been torn in half and then taped back together.  Honeybell noticed the scribbled writing said “I can’t wait to get back to Phoenix to see you.  Love, Chad.”  Some of the cards were marred by tearstains, particularly one that was addressed to “Marla” with the name crossed out and “Marge” written next to it.  Most of the words were rendered illegible by the long dry tears.

With an excited snort, Honeybell scampered back to the kitchen.  Deme followed curiously.  The checkered cloth muffled the clatter of Honeybell’s hooves when she bounded onto the kitchen table.  Her twisty little tail wagged at a quick pace as she inspected a colorful sheet of paper.

The two pigs went over every inch of the flyer and the newspaper article that lay next to it, and the bank slip too.  The ad was from the Rowdy Rooster, a large redneck bar outside the town of Atonement.

“Hit recording artist and 80s TV star of The Medical Files, Chad Allen to perform!” Deme read the flyer.

“The postcards were to Marge from Chad Allen,” Honeybell whispered then looked at the newspaper.  “They were lovers when she was a young woman.  Marge had a happy life then in Adrian, Texas.  But he left her to travel with the rodeo and got famous.  Then he recorded a hit song and did that television series and became a big star — for a while anyway.”

“He lied to Marge for years before she could admit the truth to herself.  She felt so betrayed and so ashamed that she never forgave herself for being foolish.  Then she came here when her brother begged her, saying he needed her,” Honeybell commented knowingly.

“So she is not in Atonement, Tennessee to atone,” Deme commented in a speculative tone.  “Her brother is.”

“Perhaps she actually is atoning too,” suggested Honeybell.  “She would not love herself enough to say no to those who did not deserve her love.”

The glowing pigs looked at each other for a moment.  They seemed to come to a silent agreement.

“Help me put everything back the way we found it,” Deme said and they put the newspaper, flyer, and even the bank receipt in place.  “Let’s leave the rose quartz laying on these papers.  That should be enough to get things started,” Deme said.

Honeybell dropped the necklace onto the papers.  There was a tiny spark when the gem touched them.  Then the rosy radiance filled the entire room before dying down.

*** Close-up of a woman's foot with slippers

“Come on Marge!  So what if you don’t care about seeing a washed up TV star.  It’ll be a night out with the girls.  We’re both scheduled to be off,” Jenny, the lead waitress at L-O-L-A Lola’s Bar and Grille, pleaded into the phone.  “When you turn loose, you’re the life of the party!”

“Good gravy, Jenny.  It’s too early in the morning to be planning a night at a bar,” Marge grumbled sleepily.

However, Jenny saying Marge was the life of the party brought a reluctant smile to her lips.  She had never told a soul in Atonement, Tennessee about the Chad Allen episode, as she thought of it.  She told her brother Tracey once, but he was too drunk to remember, so that didn’t count.

Jenny was still talking, but Marge had slipped into the past.  Every time she thought of her home back in Adrian, Texas she became melancholy.Maxwell House last drop ad

Marge shook her head thinking of that evening of inebriated confessions with her brother.  They both sure had tied one on.  She thought it was such a shame that her brother couldn’t get past his drinking.  Tracey had a good heart and was surprisingly generous.  Once he gave her a diamond tennis bracelet for no reason at all.  She knew he must have saved his money for years to buy it.

“It won’t be half as much fun without you.  All the girls still love Chad Allen,” Jenny went on, and for a second Marge thought she might change her mind.

Opening the refrigerator door, Marge took out a container of milk.  The coffee was done.  As she poured the steaming liquid into her mug, she wondered what it would be like to see Chad again, even from across the big room of the Rowdy Rooster. 

Then all the scenarios of what people would tell her she should do, what she should feel blasted into her head.  Maybe Chad had changed.  His star had risen and fallen.  What if he had actually become the person he made her think he was back then, before she learned what a lying, philandering jerk he really was.

Marge was sure anybody she knew would tell her she should — no she had to go and see him.  She gave her head a shake.  Would she feel vindicated or sad if the years had been unkind to him?  She told herself that he’d never recognize her.  If he did, he’d likely cringe at her appearance and pretend he didn’t remember.

She took a deep breath and brought her attention back to Jenny on the phone.  Making up an excuse, Marge turned Jenny down in a firm “boss” voice.  Jenny had worked for her long enough to know that tone brooked no argument.

Marge hung up the phone.  Coffee mug in hand, she went to the kitchen table to finish reading the newspaper.  That was when she noticed the beautiful antique necklace laying there.

“How?  Who?” Marge stammered.

1973-sarah-coventry-necklace-adShe picked up the rose quartz necklace with a sigh at its beauty.  “Tracy,” she murmured thinking her brother must have left it there to surprise her.  It couldn’t have been anyone else.

Marge plopped down into a chair.  She glanced at the newspaper article and Rowdy Rooster flyer about her old love, Chad.  She read both for the twentieth time.  With each reading she promised herself she would never be betrayed again.

It didn’t occur to her that she held the rose quartz necklace tightly in her hand, or that she didn’t want to put it down.  Then she fastened it around her neck.  Not only was the necklace the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, she felt pretty just for wearing it.

***

That evening Marge tidied up the kitchen.  She picked up the newspaper and the receipt from First Bank & Trust.  It was a morbid attraction, but she couldn’t help looking at the flyer.  Taking a beer from the fridge, she read the article one more time.

“Marge Tipton,” she told herself aloud.  “Don’t you ever let your guard down like that again!”

She had no wish to see Chad again.  She had firmly stomped on the imagined voices of everyone saying she should do.  So Marge wasn’t sure why she changed into some party clothes that evening, still wearing the rose quartz necklace.  Neither could she have said why she got into her mint condition 1972 red Chevy C10 pickup truck and drove way out highway 41 to the Rowdy Rooster.

Almost an hour later Marge got out of her truck and walked across the parking lot.  The noise of the patrons lived up to the name of the Rowdy Rooster.

Her footsteps became slower as she moved toward the door.  The sound of the crowd inside grated against her nerves.  She couldn’t imagine why she had come there in the first place, after flatly turning down Jenny’s invitation.  Marge didn’t realize she had stopped in the middle of the parking lot.

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

1972 Chevy C10 Shortbed Stepside Pickup

“Marge?  I mean, Ms. Tipton?” a voice intruded on her confused thoughts.

She turned toward the voice feeling muddled.  “I only had one beer before I left home.  What’s the matter with me?” she wondered and gave herself a mental shake.

He was barely recognizable in cowboy boots and a sport coat.  Marge had only seen Russell Skeen, the manager of the First Bank & Trust, in a dark business suit.

“Are you okay, Ms. Tipton?” Russell repeated.

“Oh, don’t mind me, I just suddenly felt a little out of sorts, that’s all.  And please call me Marge,” she stammered, feeling her cheeks heat with a blush.  “I should have stayed at home,” she murmured.

“I know what you mean,” Russell admitted.  “I do like the cowboy boots my daughter gave me, but I can’t say I care for this place.  I let my daughter pester me into agreeing to join her and her friends tonight.  Then wouldn’t you know, she just now called to say she won’t be coming,” he added in a bemused tone.  “She means to get me out more,” he said with a shrug.

Russell Skeen drew back a bit and looked at Marge curiously.  His hand rose toward her, but he stopped himself.  He shook his head and chuckled.

Midnight moon farie

“For a second there I thought your necklace was glowing.  It must have been all those facets reflecting the light,” Russell told her.  “I see that you like antiques.  That one’s a beauty.”

Marge unthinkingly put her hand to the rose quartz necklace.  It felt very warm to the touch.  She looked at the unassuming bank manager as if she had never truly seen him before.  Marge was pleased with what she saw.

“You know, there are a few antique shops between here and Atonement.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather browse through them than be inside that noisy bar.  Do you think you could join me?  Maybe we could get some coffee somewhere too?”

Marge looked toward the Rowdy Rooster.  She thought about the flyer advertising Chad Allen.  She thought of the stack of postcards she kept even though he had betrayed her.

She picked up the rose quartz and held it so that she could look at it.  “Why did it feel so warm?  It actually does seem to be glowing a little,” Marge thought.

“Mr. Skeen, I think that sounds like a fine idea,” she told him.

“Only if you call me Russell,” he replied as he walked her back to her pickup truck and politely took her hand as she climbed up into the cab.

“Did you hear that?” she asked Russell.  “I could have sworn I heard a snuffling, snorting sound, like pigs.”

“There’s lots of farmland around here.  It could be that one got loose.  But you’d think all the bacon they serve in these places would scare a pig away,” Russell joked.

At the word bacon, a shrill startled-sounding noise was easily heard, but they still didn’t see any pigs.

Pig Valentine

The End.

Happy Valentines Day from Teagan’s Books and everyone in Atonement, Tennessee.

 Mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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