Tag Archives: The Indie Spot

An Impressive Debut

Rating: ★★★★★

The Blurb

9781947893252_Ebook Cover, Crimes, Lippert 800wideLippert was thrown into the bowels of the Michigan Department of Corrections as a seventeen-year-old adolescent. He remained entrenched in a world of malfeasance for the next forty years. With astonishing honesty, he reveals the raw details of what a life of incarceration looks like from the inside. His observations of human behavior and his stellar ability to tell a story reveal the courage and resilience of a man who has survived horrifying and savage injustice. These are stories of miscreants and corrupt institutions. They are tales of men who have made poor choices and suffered grave consequences.

His tales of the criminal counterculture are sometimes tragic, but often humorous and redemptive. Through it all, he displays a sly sense of humor and the quiet wisdom of a man who is, ultimately, a survivor. Lippert’s journey has been one of an unrequited longing for freedom. This book is a resonant journey through the geography of a resilient soul.

My Review

Phil Lippert is a man who has lived a most unconventional life. Thrown into prison at the age of seventeen, Lippert, who served a forty-year stretch, has viewed the world from a position most people only know from fictionalized Hollywood treatments.

His collection of short stories offers readers a glimpse inside that world. Though mostly fiction, these tales contain a thread of truth concerning human nature. Lippert’s style is laidback and easygoing. He knows how to tell a story that holds the reader spellbound, waiting for something like redemption for these characters that might otherwise seem unworthy.

He narrates as Dude, an inmate who collects stories of life as lived by others. Some are humorous and hopeful. Others fall into a darker place where hope falters before it has a chance to find its own legs.

My favorite is the heartbreaking “Good Night, Ruby Slippers” with its darker shades mingled with streaks of light. “A Canticle for Frank” reads like a cold-war thriller mixed with prison intrigue. “My Summer Vacation” tells the story of a young bank robber. Each piece introduces unforgettable characters that often seem both familiar and other-worldly.

This is a solid collection from a promising writer with plenty to say. It’s one I’ll likely return to from time to time.

Author Interview on the Voice of Indie Podcast

Buy it Now!

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Who is My Neighbor?

Sure, the title of is a line from a parable Jesus used in teaching his disciples a lesson in treating even strangers with dignity and respect. But this blog piece isn’t really a religious lesson. It’s just an observation.

Pharmacist handing medication to customer

In today’s world, do we really know who our neighbors are? I’m not talking about the strange guy up the street, the one who talks to himself while sweeping the front walk. I’m talking about those people we cross paths with every day while going about our lives. You know the ones, like the little old lady in front of you in the grocery store check-out; or the young man walking along the side of the road, heading to who knows where. With the popularity of internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, we can connect with people all over the world. We can log on and learn that Reggie in West London ate crab cakes for dinner tonight, Tanya is Los Angeles broke up with her long-time boyfriend, and Danny in Sydney recently had his first novel published. We friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and make a connection on LinkedIn, but we never really meet these wonderful people.

And what of that little old lady in the checkout line in front of us? Chances are we won’t get beyond a polite smile or an insincere “Have a nice day.” The young man walking along the side of the road? We’ll ignore him—he might be dangerous.

young handsome bearded hipster man

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe social media is vital to those of us looking to promote our work while building an audience. It’s a great way to meet interesting people in corners of the world we’re not likely to ever visit in person. But the cost of this technology seems to have had a negative effect on how we treat the people around us. We don’t have an instant profile to pull up telling us that the young man walking along the side of the road is a father on his way to work so he can support his wife/girlfriend and their newborn baby; or that his car no longer runs so he has to make that 5 mile trek both ways each day. We couldn’t possibly know the little old lady in front of us in the checkout line is struggling to make ends meet since her husband of 56 years passed away last fall. Without that profile, we won’t bother finding this out the way we as social human beings once did—before the internet.taxi

One of my favorite episodes of the classic American television show Taxi has character Elaine Nardo receiving an invitation to a high-class party. She needs an escort. The obvious choice would be her co-worker and friend Alex Rieger. He’s a level-headed guy, understands proper behavior and good manners in these situations. But, for reasons I’ve forgotten, Alex is unable to attend with Elaine. So, after failing to secure a proper substitute, Elaine finds herself saddled with Jim Ignatowski, played brilliantly by Christopher Lloyd. Jim had once been a bright and near-genius young man—until LSD trips during college left him slow and somewhat addled. The Reverend Jim (he was ordained through a mail-order school) was prone to goofy observations and embarrassing behavior at times.

The thought of attending this high-class shindig with the likes of Jim proved too much for Elaine, so she lied and told the man she wasn’t going to attend. Jim eventually caught on and, despite having his feelings hurt, suggested Elaine attend alone. In the end, Elaine brought Jim along, having discovered a true fondness for her fellow cab driver.

screen-shot-2015-05-28-at-4-48-13-pmWhen the entertainment fails to show up for the party, Jim volunteers to fill in on the piano. Imagine Elaine’s shock and horror over what is surely to be an embarrassing moment, most likely barring her from future invites.

Jim sits at the piano and immediately begins playing “London Bridge is Falling Down” quite poorly. The room full of snobs begins murmuring complaints. Jim stops playing, says “Oh, the hell with it!” and launches into some beautiful classical playing that soothes the room. He stops again and says, “I must have had mmm music lessons!” before continuing his solo concert.

Elaine worked with the man and had no idea he was so much more than the college dropout with a fried brain. We’re all guilty of this on some level. We know more about the guy on the other side of the world than we know about those in our own neighborhood. While social media might bring the world together, it can also contribute to pushing people apart.

So take the time to get to know those who are closest to you. You’re bound to learn something.

A New Offering From Author Y. Correa!

It’s Official Release Day!

What else can we say, but, “It’s the official release day”?

 

 

 

Humanity in Retrograde

 

In this retro-futuristic era, the old look and reproduce as if in the prime of their lives. The babies delivered into this world—sickly, fighting for every second to have a slim chance of survival. To turn this existence on its heels, it requires something … or someone … Special.

When a healthy baby is discovered by Nurse Celestine, she makes it her mission to protect what she believes is a well-kept secret.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the observant Nurse Trudy to put the pieces together to utilize for her personal gain as well as orchestrate Nurse Celestine’s ruin. Can Nurse Celestine succeed in combating the determined Nurse Trudy, or will all that is special be exposed and possibly destroyed? Find out in Reversal.

Babies.

Mere infants … fragile, feeble, sickly and flushed of color, lined the nursery of St. Agnes General Hospital NICU Department. This was nothing new, of course. They were all born that way. Those who made it past their first week of birth were among the blessed.

An almost invisible film of mauve and viridian—a sheath that covered their reality—was the translucent haze that weighed upon all things. It was as though the colors had been embedded into the fabric of the world, tinging everything—no matter what its candescence—in those pigments. The darkest of the dark, and the lightest of the light, all seemed ominous and void of vitality.

Dreary. That was the word that best described this place, these people … these babies.

The atmosphere was inauspicious. Everything seemed afflicted with lifelessness. The hospital, antiquated. Though hundreds of years in the future, the setting felt like a 1950’s time warp. The perimeter of the hospital was as inert as its own appearance—scant trees, barren bushes, leaf and debris covered streets.

The perils that distressed St. Agnes General Hospital was the lack of advanced technologies. It was as though the last ten centuries had never transpired. An entire fragment of time had evidently disappeared leaving behind a woefully dull and mechanically limited world which was forced to operate within its mediocre means.

The hallways of St. Agnes General were long, ominous, and cold. The walls were painted in a tainted light green. The doctors wore perfectly pressed white coats which covered their black business suits. Their hair, slick—brushed back into a tight, shiny do. The nurses donned white nursing uniforms with white hats which had red crosses in the center. Skirts at knee length, taupe pantyhose and white nurse shoes. They looked perfect. In complete contrast to their locality.

 

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep; first in dots then in dashes. The sound carried a cadence of absolute fear which could give any person goosebumps—that river of icy-hot pimples that ran all over one’s body. Yet the screeching of the monitor’s blaring was far louder than the unhealthy baby that attempted to cry its woes. His voice was as decrepit as his leathery, bony flesh.

Nurse Juliette was an excessively feminine, soft-spoke Asian woman with the tiny frame. Blue-black hair fell to her waist, and Juliette’s spotless face was softly made up.

“Sh, sh, sh. There, there, little one. It’ll all be over soon, I promise. Mommy already knows that you’ll be going to a better place,” whispered Nurse Juliette who was sitting next to his cradle. She gently shook the child’s puny legs. Nurse Juliette’s tone was void of emotion, as though this were an everyday occurrence.

In all actuality, it was.

In complete opposition to the old-looking, ailing child was Nurse Juliette whose stature was strong, young, healthy and … well, perfect. So was the child’s mother and father who both waited for the news of his fate from their hospital room.

And, just as Nurse Juliette swayed the hardly sobbing yet profusely ailing child, the infant took in a sharp lungful and exhaled his last breath.

“Ahh, poor child,” Nurse Juliette concluded, then proceeded to get out of her seat to pick up the phone. “Nurse Celestine? Yes? Good. Please advise the Smithson family that the child has passed.”

“Certainly,” replied the voice on the opposite end. Neither one of the voices even remotely somber.

To learn more about author Y. Correa, visit

www.authorycorrea.com

A Few Words About “Finding Myself Again” by Verwayne Greenhoe

Blurb:

A Lonely Man Finds Love Again

After forty-seven years of a great relationship, courtship, and marriage, the author found himself alone. His wife had struggled with a rough fight with dementia. Suddenly, she took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse, leaving him alone for the first time in his adult life. He was sixty-four at the time but felt more like he was forty physically and ninety-five emotionally.

For over a year, he had tried to go forward with his life, but when he was alone at night, his heart’s emptiness reminded him that he needed someone to fill the ache inside him.

Loneliness is a killer, and he was dying from grief. He was dying inside because he had never been alone in his life. He told himself that he would be alright, but he wasn’t and was fading fast.

Then he found Heather. They were two souls drifting in a sea of loneliness and grief that found one another amid a building storm. Is she the one that can pull him out of an escalating depression?

We’ll see.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Finding Myself Again by Verwayne Greenhoe is part memoir, part love story, and a huge helping of healing. The author shares the story of losing his wife to the ravages of dementia, a disease that takes loved ones long before they actually leave this world.

Greenhoe gives readers an insider’s view of, not just that dreaded disease, but also of a love story shared between a husband and wife. There’s real heartache on these pages when the time comes that he loses the love of his life. But then something wonderful happens. The grieving husband finds love again—without even looking for it. When one door closes, God opens a window.

This is an uplifting story that will certainly bring hope to those who have lost their own loved ones while finding themselves still very much alive and alone. This one will stay with me for a long time.

About the Author:

Born and raised on a small dairy farm in west-central Michigan, I learned about life and death at an early age. I was lucky enough to have a loving, caring Father who taught me about some of the more intricate ‘ins and outs’ of living every day.

I started writing simple stories at age six in about 1959 and have been at it ever since. As a boy, no one ever really taught me to read, I just could. I used that gift to find a world I might not have been able to experience for another decade or more. I later became a medic, worked in a psych ward of a prison and spent many years working in Emergency Rooms as an aide and then a nurse.

I just moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (da UP!) and am getting settled back into a steady writing habit. I have a flurry of books I will be releasing every month to six weeks. The subject genre runs the gamut from inspirational to romance to a serial killer story. The move to a more solitude in the UP surrounding allows me to write when I want to write.

I’ve written about my experiences growing up on the farm and my father. I have several stories about the things I saw and experienced in the emergency field, both in and out of the ER. I’ll admit that my life story is weird, but I prefer to think of it as an alternate reality in which I am the pioneer and flag planter. I’m crazy, but I suspect most of my readers have figured that out.

I have sixteen, soon to be twenty audio books out. You can find them over on Audible or on Amazon under my listing for stories and books. I try to add a novella of 16,000 to 22,000 words every month, and at least two to three 40,000+ word novel every year.

Thanks for reading!

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

Today I am honored to host authors Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun here on The Indie Spot.

FIG Blog Tour Day #1

The Perfect Novel to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits
by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun

“The Cheyenne fasting vigil, spirit animals, and the medicine wheel combined with astrology readings are intriguing aspects of the story that are genuine and authentic.” –Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

BLURB
Charlie Littlewolf knows there’s something suspicious about the accident that killed his best friend. Determined to solve the mystery, he must return to a way of life he’s shunned for decades. Will the Cheyenne grandfather spirits respond before a black ops team kills him, too?

BOOK TRAILER

 

EXCERPT
CHARLIE’S CABIN
RURAL FALCON RIDGE
April 19, Thursday
6:19 p.m.

The log cabin was a vestige from another time. Within its rustic interior, Charlie sat in a sagging garage sale recliner, mulling over the past two days. Like his thoughts, the room was dark, the only light admitted by two opposing windows. His gut ached, but not from hunger. The few bites of dried venison and an apple had failed to take it away.
Earlier that day he’d gone by the hospital to check on Sara. She remained in intensive care, visitors restricted to family. He spoke briefly with her father and his wife, who’d taken his number and promised to stay in touch.
Why? Why was his brother taken?
He and Bryan were both thirty-six. Men in their prime. Something felt wrong.
Very wrong.
He needed the truth, whatever it might be.
He cringed as shades of guilt crushed him in a strangle hold. Such knowledge resided in the world of spirits. Something he’d shunned for over two decades.
Perhaps this was one of those hard lessons his grandfather had warned him about.
Eaglefeathers tried desperately to convince him to embrace the Cheyenne way of life. He loved and respected the old man. Thus, he listened to his teachings and attended various ceremonies on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeastern Montana.
Accepting any of it to heart, however, stumbled over scars left by his Navajo mother’s harsh criticism of such beliefs. His ears, mind, and heart closed, acceptance impossible.
He knew deep inside his grandfather could have explained this. A true holy man, patient and wise, who always knew the answers. He could have told him why fate left him forsaken and alone.
The Creator’s mind is unlike that of man. His ways are not understood by two-leggeds. You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.
His head bowed beneath the weight of self-recrimination. His childish behavior the day before was disrespectful and offensive. His throat burned as his anger at the Great Spirit rebounded back where it belonged.
No wonder he was being punished. He’d taken it for granted that he could ignore Eaglefeathers’s teachings according to his own selfish timetable without consequence.
Teachings he needed now as never before.
If you follow the way of Maheo, as I have taught you, then you will never be alone. He will always walk with you and be with you.
He winced as fear and embarrassment shadowed him with shame. He’d ignored Maheo for years. Would the Great Spirit reject him now as well?
Desperation raged.
Was Bryan’s death an accident?
Or deliberate?
The sun hung low in the west as he retrieved a pouch of tobacco and a box of matches from the rough-hewn mantle and went outside. The stone-lined pit in front of the cabin was overgrown with weeds. He yanked them out and tossed them aside, then gathered pine needles, small twigs, and a few branches to start a fire.
He arranged the wood upright, struck a match, and held it to the kindling. The needles sparked, smoldered, then a small flame emerged. His need for answers prevailed, subduing what little remained of his pride. He clenched his jaw, ready to accept his punishment, whatever it might be.
He scooped up a handful of soil, pondered it a moment, then proceeded as he’d been taught years before. He rubbed his palms together, the dirt’s gritty texture a reminder of life’s irritations. He spread it on his arms and face to honor the Earth Mother, then thanked her for the water of life.
The fire’s crackle grew steady, its breath warm against his face. He opened the pouch and took out a pinch of tobacco, then tried to recall the proper way to make an acceptable offering.
He closed his eyes, seeking divine direction for the first time in his life.
Moments later, it felt as if a hidden force raised his hand toward the east. It lowered to the ground, then repeated the motion to the other cardinal directions. The prompting continued. He lifted it above his head, then down in four steps, when his hand touched the ground. The tobacco sifted through his fingers to the Earth.
Heart and mind focused on the world of spirits, he implored them to accept his offering and carry forth his request. He pleaded for forgiveness and that he might yet attain the qualities he’d been taught.
Strength—to shun past unhealthy behaviors he’d fallen prey to in difficult times and endure the hardships required to prove his worthiness and intent as a Cheyenne man.
Protection—from evil forces that may have taken his brother’s life.
Wisdom and courage—to discover what happened and why.
He inhaled deeply, mind open to answers.
None came.
Silence stretched.
His heart fell.
Of course. He didn’t deserve a reply.
Yet still he waited. Being impatient with Maheo was as wrong as ignoring him or his counsel.
What seemed a long time later, he realized why no response had come—he already knew the answer. Eaglefeathers taught him what to do, years before.
His forehead wrinkled with thought. Did Maheo ever respond directly? Or was prayer no more than finding answers within?
Did it really matter?
He blessed himself again with the Earth, then stared into the dying flames until only embers remained.
A few handfuls of earth put them to sleep.

MEET THE AUTHORS


Marcha Fox

Marcha Fox earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Utah State University in 1987, which facilitated a 20+ year career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Her interests expand far beyond the world of aerospace and hard science, however. The esoteric realm of metaphysics and all things weird and wonderful hold her interest as well.

When her attempt to debunk astrology backfired, she pursued knowledge in that field as well. She graduated from the International Academy of Astrology’s professional development program in 2012 and is the sole proprietor of ValkyrieAstrology.com. Much of the popular website’s content can be found in “Whobeda’s Guide to Basic Astrology.”

Her previous fiction work includes her epic Star Trails Tetralogy series, which has been highly acclaimed for its family-oriented plot as well as its palatable and STEM-friendly science content described in detail on http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.

Born in Peekskill, New York, she has lived in California, Utah, and Texas in the course of raising her family of six children, now grown. Besides writing, she pampers her two cats, maintains an active astrology practice of international clients, and tries to keep up with her home, yard, friends, and family.

Social Media Contact Links

Email: marcha@kallioperisingpress.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/marchafox
Instagram: @startrailssaga
Blog Page: http://marcha2014.wordpress.com/
Series Website: https://www.Dead-Horse-Canyon.com

Pete Risingsun

Pete Risingsun is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who has served as a spirit helper to medicine men in ceremonial sweat lodges. He’s a proud fifth generation descendant of Chief Iron Shirt, who was a lodge keeper and powerful medicine man.
Born in 1950, he was raised on a small ranch east of Busby, Montana. He attended Montana State University, then worked for Exxon in Billings, Montana for a year before returning home to the reservation as adult education director for the Northern Cheyenne tribe where he also raised black angus cattle and bred championship Quarter horses. He has served as a Tribal Council member and was the first Northern Cheyenne elected to serve as a Rosebud County Commissioner.
He’s the proud father of one daughter and grandfather to two. Pete is currently retired, but in addition to co-writing The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” he makes and sells sweet grass braids, a sacred plant used in various ceremonies.

Social Media Contact Links

Email: prisingsun2@icloud.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pete.risingsun
Series Website: https://www.Dead-Horse-Canyon.com

BUY LINKS
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08DM9PFW5/
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-curse-of-dead-horse-canyon-marcha-fox/1137410925
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=0fzyDwAAQBAJ
Apple iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-curse-of-dead-horse-canyon-cheyenne-spirits/id1525388731
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-curse-of-dead-horse-canyon-cheyenne-spirits
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1034906
Universal Buy Links: https://www.books2read.com/deadhorsecanyon
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54747387-the-curse-of-dead-horse-canyon

Fuschia Phlox Releases New Music!

Rating: ★★★★

Fuschia Phlox is a multi-talented musician, writer, and artist from Salisbury, England—with a detour through the Greek island of Paros. This world traveler has recently released a new album of original music entitled 2020.

Her sound combines many interesting elements from multiple genres. There’s a bit of pop and alternative mingled with folk-ish vibes. There’s even threads of EDM running through some of these tracks.

“Crysalis” is perhaps my favorite track in this collection. It contains a rich, mournful tone that remains with me long after I’ve finished listening. Other standouts here include “Kiss Like This”, “The Constant Reach”, and “Just”.

The vocals really shine on these songs. Her lyrics tell stories of life and living and existing in this world today. This is an artist worthy of your attention.

 

Hear Fuschia Phlox Music:

SOUNDCLOUD: Fuschia Phlox

 

Find Fuschia Phlox on Social Media:

TWITTER: @FuschiaPhlox

WEBSITE: Fuschia Phlox

YOUTUBE: Fuschia Phlox

INSTAGRAM: Fuschia Phlox

 

The Adventures of Ollie Orangutan by Larry Landgraf is Now Available for Pre-Order!

In the beginning, all animals were born wild and free. Ollie, however, was born in a cage and has spent his entire life in a zoo. Everything he knew, he learned from his mother and through the bars of his confinement. His life was totally dependent upon humans. He always had plenty to eat and it was fun watching the humans who visited daily, especially the little ones. Life was comfortable and Ollie grew up soft.

But as fate would have it, that is all going to change. Ollie is thrown into a completely new environment of which he knows nothing. Ollie will have to learn new things in order to survive without the help of humans. He will make new friends, but the real world is wild. He will also find those who would hurt him. Can he toughen up and make a new life for himself?

 

 

 

Pre-Order your copy on Amazon today!

 

Dying for a Kiss (A Short Story)

Dying for a Kiss

 

It’s like one of those stories you’d read about in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. I mean, who ever heard of anybody dying from a kiss? Seriously! But that’s what happened to me—well, except for the dying part. Two weeks in the hospital—that’s the souvenir I brought back from my spring break.

Okay, let me back up to the beginning.

My parents’ hushed words pierce the wall that separates their bedroom from mine. This particular conversation doesn’t warrant status as an argument, though. And believe me, I know what their arguments sound like—lots of yelling, and maybe an ashtray or a bowling trophy gets thrown by Mom. I guess I’d classify this one as just another log of disappointment tossed on the bonfire that engulfs our family—our collective lives.

Dad is a dreamer. The problem is, dreamers make promises they’ll eventually have to break. He’s also the sort of man who’ll spend his last five dollars on scratch-off lottery tickets instead of household necessities, like food, or gas—or our long-planned excursion to Disney World during spring break.

Dad’s the one who sets it in stone over breakfast in our kitchen—Dad, because Mom refuses to play the bad parent anymore.

“Sorry, kids,” he tells me and my sister, Amanda. “We just can’t afford Disney at this time.”

Amanda, being nearly two years older than me, carries a heavier burden of disappointment than I do. She’s had more time to gather her own collection of tales regarding broken promises, cancelled plans, and the jettisoned idea of ever being a normal, well-adjusted family.

“I figured as much,” Amanda mumbles, dismissing herself from the table.

Dad tries to be sincere in his attempt to save spring break. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t go somewhere that’s almost as fun and exciting.”

When Dad speaks of somewhere, it’s usually a state-park campground in some far-flung forest up north.

Amanda hollers from the living room, “Just so you know, Daddy, I hate camping.”

I don’t hate camping—though it doesn’t exactly make my top-ten list of fun things to do.

*      *      *

A little backstory.

My parents met at a Beatles concert back in 1964. Mom claims love at first sight.

Dad, well, he’s been known to dispute her recollections on the subject. He’s fond of saying, “She had the hots for John Lennon, is all. I’m just the booby prize.”

Hippies, they were—and still are, even though it’s 1979 now. They only just recently (as in one year ago) got married—despite the fact that Amanda is almost fourteen and I’m already twelve. And though they’d both been college students when they met, neither has ever collected the degree they once intended to earn.

Mom works at the IGA as a cashier—minimum wage, with practically zero opportunity to advance into a higher tax bracket.

Dad? He’s dabbled in various occupations—sales, electronic repairs (TV’s mostly, maybe a few stereos), welding, landscaping, auto repair. Nothing ever really sticks for him, though. My grandfather (Mom’s dad) refers to my father as professionally unemployable. Granddad still blames him for making a mess of Mom’s life. They don’t speak, Dad and Grandpa.

Dad’s a good guy, though. He means well. He’s just not one for responsibilities.

So, anyway, the folded map of Michigan comes out, spread across the kitchen table. Mom eyes the places circled in red—those previous vacation spots. We’ve been all over the state: Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Traverse City during the cherry festival, Holland for Tulip Time. We even spent a few days on Mackinac Island three summers ago—though we didn’t stay at the Grand Hotel.

“It’s Andrew’s turn to choose,” Mom says, dropping the big decision in my hands.

Hiawatha National Forest had been my first choice the last time my turn came up. But Dad broke his foot, which cancelled our vacation that spring.

“The Upper Peninsula, it is,” Dad says.

Amanda despises me in this moment. “I told you I hate camping.”

*      *      *

Radio songs fill the van once we hit US 27 going north. The Bee Gees squawk about a tragedy twice before we’re even on the road for forty minutes.

“I hate that song,” Amanda complains.

Dad says, “Well, I like it.”

Mom tries to lighten the mood. “I spy with my little eye—”

“Please don’t!” Amanda begs. Without warning, she socks my shoulder, yells, “Slug bug red!”

“Ouch!” And just like that, it’s on. We’ll both of us be battered and bruised by the time we spy the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

“Slug bug green!” Thwack!

“Slug bug blue!” Thwack!

“Slug bug—oh, never mind. That’s not a VW.” Thwack!

“Hey! No fair!”

Blondie sings about her heart of glass and Amanda momentarily abandons our game—just long enough to sing the few lines she actually knows.

Many hours later, I’m the one who spots the top of the Mighty Mack! “I see the bridge,” I say, hoping it’ll irritate Amanda.

But in truth, she doesn’t mind losing this game. It’s not a thing to her anymore. She’ll leave us the day she turns eighteen—or even sooner, if she has her way. Grandpa promised to pay for her college, knowing my parents will never be able to afford it.

Evening spikes the sky with an orange-pink sunset by the time we find a campground inside Hiawatha. Dozens of tents and RV’s occupy the prime camping spots.

“Andrew and I will set up the tent,” Dad says, parking our van on the last vacant lot within sight. “You girls can get dinner ready.”

Kids—loud and rowdy, as Grandpa would say—run from lot to lot, chasing after somebody’s collie, darting across the road without so much as a glance in either direction.

“Too stupid to last long in this world,” Amanda says.

Mom gives her the eye. “They’re just kids, for crying out loud, Mandy.”

*      *      *

“Andy and Mandy,” the girl teases, laughing at our introductions. “That’s cute. Are you two twins or something?”

“Or something,” Amanda says.

Her name is Nora, this girl with short brown hair. Already fourteen—unlike Amanda, who still has another month. The tents across the street are her family’s—it’s their collie running wild.

“Five kids,” Nora says, answering my mother. “I’m the oldest. Three younger brothers and a baby sister.”

“Sounds kind of crowded, that many people in just two small tents,” I observe.

She looks right at me when I speak—like I’m really truly here, standing in front of her.

“You don’t know the half of it,” says Nora. “I asked if I could just stay home, sit out this vacation. That’s not happening anytime soon.”

*      *      *

Blue jean shorts and a red bikini top—that’s what Nora wears the following morning. And a pocket full of salt water taffy—which she gladly shares.

Mom’s not impressed. “Leaves little to the imagination,” she says, regarding Nora’s top.

“But you and Daddy used to skinny dip,” Amanda reminds her. “So how is that better?”

Mom’s hard gaze issues silent threats. Her words aren’t quite as harsh. “Aren’t you kids going boating?”

It’s not really a boat, this thing we rent; it’s more like a canoe—but only plastic. I sit in the rear, my paddle steering us toward the middle of the lake. Amanda has the other paddle, though she’s not really doing anything with it.

Nora sits in the middle—facing me!

I think Amanda is intimidated, not being the oldest for a change.

Nora talks—a lot. But I don’t mind. She tells us all about life back home in Detroit—well, the suburbs, really, a place called Royal Oak. She used to have a boyfriend, but he cheated on her. Her parents separated last year, intending to divorce, but her mom ended up pregnant.

“Amazing how an unborn baby can save a marriage,” Amanda says.

It’s after we bring the canoe in that Nora says, “Wanna go for a walk?”

Only, she’s not talking to Amanda. Amanda is already halfway back to our tent.

We end up in a picnic area near the lake, just me and Nora. She tells me more about herself, her family, what she intends for her future.

“You’re cute,” she says, sitting right beside me on a park bench.

My cheeks get hot, probably bright pink.

And she’s two years older than me, I think, as her lips press against mine.

My first kiss—well, first real kiss.

On her tongue I taste salt water taffy and excitement and all things possible.

What I don’t taste is the meningitis in her saliva.

Amanda intrudes, tells me lunch is being served at our tent.

*      *      *

It strikes without warning, leaving me confused, nauseated. Words tumble from my mouth, though I have no idea what I’m saying.

Mom’s hand finds my forehead. “He’s burning up,” she says. “We need to get this boy to a hospital.”

Only, I don’t hear it that way. What I hear is, “We need to get this boy a pretzel.”

“But I don’t like pretzels,” I mumble.

*      *      *

Two weeks later, I’m back home. It’s a blur, but my parents say I nearly died.

From a kiss!

Is that a Ripley’s story or what?

And what a kiss—totally worth dying for!

Well, almost dying.

© 2019 Beem Weeks

Comes This Time To Float Blog Tour! @StephenGeez

Greetings to all readers! Join me in welcoming author Stephen Geez to The Indie Spot today, as we celebrate the release of his new short story collection entitled Comes this Time to Float. Take it away, Mr. Geez. . . 

 

Salutations!

Hey! You’ve made it to day 16 of my extended blog tour! I would like to thank my esteemed host, Author Beem Weeks, for sharing some blog space today. I hope to interest you story-likers in trying my first book in way too many years, this my only collection of short fiction: Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez. You could add another “by Stephen Geez” to that, as I put the moniker in the subtitle, too. I’d be forcing it to find a theme, except maybe that all my stories try to look at something I think is important, but told in a decorative sort of way. Written here and there among novels over two decades, they show a variety of genres and styles, as I get restless. Now they’re tucked between jacketed hard covers and softs, or in e-however-you-likes.

 

The Enticement

Each tour stop will offer the opening paragraphs of a story from the book, then link to the full story online.  A few will also link to audio-shorts narrated by me. An RRBC-specific promo video will be foisted on you every day. Using a narrator didn’t seem right for my own trailer, so yeah, it’s me. Be sure to post reviews in your favorite places, most helpfully if Amazon. RRBC members, be sure to report the Amazon link to your Reviews Coordinator for quarterly credit.

And you, I thank, too.

A Geez Author Blurb

Stephen Geez grew up in the Detroit suburbs during the American-auto domination. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. He retired from scripting/producing television and composing/producing television music, then expanded his small literary management firm into indie-publisher and multi-media company Fresh Ink Group. Now he works from a deck overlooking the lake in north Alabama, helping other writers share their compelling narratives with the world.

The Book Blurb

Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.

 

The Promo Video

 

Today’s Sample: “Veneer”

In the end, bad weather turned out to be what pierced the veneer.

 

Two uniforms pounded on the door, demanding entry and using her name like they had a right. She remained frozen, barely breathing, her stroke-addled leg throbbing, finger twitching on the trigger of Daddy’s rifle.

 

Bam bam bam! “Mizzus Heidway!” came the door-muffled call of Sheriff Dander, his voice a rumble under that drone of wicked downpour shotgunning the tin roof. “Now, y’alls got to come with us! They’s evacuatin’ the whole valley!”

 

Twenty years since Mama died and left her the house, twenty years since Iris came back to live the South Alabama life she’d fled hoping never to return, twenty years running all her errands in nearby towns to avoid in-yer-business local busybodies, yet now these uniforms had the gall to come uninvited right onto an old woman’s property.

 

“If you’re in there, you’s got to come out now!”

 

Nothing is what she ever got to do, especially for two bullies with badges. She’d seen Sheriff Dander on the news a few times, always under investigation for some kind of brutality. Seems like the kind of person who wants to be a cop is the one who has no business being one.

 

Letting her screen door slam, the intruders retreated into a frenzy of rain. Iris Heidway hobbled to the window and peeked through the curtains. A county van packed with busybodies turned around, then rocked and swayed its way back up the hill, splashing through a frantic gravel-washer streaming down the rutted road. She couldn’t see herself climbing in with that mob, or wedged between all those so-and-so’s at some makeshift shelter, everybody grabbing and hugging, you’ll be okay honey this’ll be over soon anything you need just let us know . . .  Touchers pretend they’re doing something for you, but they’re the ones tricked by a fool’s notion of connection. Anybody lays a hand on Iris Heidway, he’ll be lucky to get it back.

 

 

The Whole Story

I’m adding each day’s story to my blog. Be sure to come back here!

https://StephenGeez.WordPress.com

 

The Audio-short

Okay, find “Veneer” along with the other two in my YouTube channel, precise link on my blog today.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA2kP6eBIs7nUtOzrH7ObBw

 

Find the Book Now

Should be just about everywhere, but here are the biggies:

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/comes+this+time+to+float?_requestid=1776240

 

https://www.amazon.com/Comes-this-Time-Float-Stories-ebook/dp/B0846WY2HZ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=comes+this+time+to+float&qid=1582276112&sr=8-1

 

Other Places I Lurk

https://twitter.com/stephengeez

Instagram: StephenGeezWriter

https://StephenGeez.com

https://StephenGeez.Wordpress.com

 

 

Once Upon a Record Store

 

Kids today. . .

It’s a common refrain uttered by countless older generations when discussing a younger, newer one. Sometimes the speaker may be complaining that these kids today don’t appreciate how good they have it. Other times, a speaker may be lamenting the loss of a past activity that no longer finds favor with the next generation.

It’s this one, lamentation over loss, that put me in mind to write about one such relic that is becoming more difficult to find as the years march forward. The other day I found myself at the local shopping mall. You know, the sort of mall that had been hugely popular during the 1970s, 1980s, and into the 1990s. This mall, originally opened in 1969, remains an easy place to meet my shopping needs. The ownership has maintained a clean and friendly environment that welcomes customers the way it did fifty years ago.

As a teenager, I spent many hours at the mall, shopping, hanging with friends, and flirting with girls. Back in the day, there were stores unique to malls across the country. Hot Sam’s soft pretzels were always a favorite while visiting. As was Orange Julius. Spenser Gifts offered some of the coolest items. While Spencer remains at the mall here, Orange Julius and Hot Sam’s have long-ago fallen by the wayside. So too have the record stores—which is what I want to talk about today.

Kids today. . . they don’t hang out at the mall. In fact, during my recent visit, I found a handful of elderly mall-walkers and a smattering of customers wandering through the near-empty space. There is truth in the fact that kids are kids—no matter the generation. But from one era to the next, certain things may get left behind and forgotten.

Record stores are among those lost to history’s tide. Kids today get their music from the internet. They buy downloads or they stream it—and even downloads are quickly fading. They listen to music that has been compressed and depleted of its full, rich tones and sound. But if you’ve grown up with this as your only source, you haven’t a clue what other possibilities existed once upon a record store.

For those of us above a certain age, we recall fondly a multitude of record stores that once dotted city landscapes across the globe. I remember spending many hours in local record shops perusing the latest albums or listening to the opinions of others regarding this band or that guitarist or who would be touring this year. We’d meet our friends there—or bond with strangers over the latest Led Zeppelin album.

But it wasn’t just about albums. At most record stores, we could find t-shirts and posters and buttons of favorite bands. We’d line up at these stores for tickets to the concerts passing through the area. And I’m not talking about the over-priced events ordered online these days. I remember buying tickets to see Blue Oyster Cult for $8.00 back in 1980. That was the first of many concerts I’ve attended throughout my life. I paid a mere $9.50 to see Ozzy Osbourne in concert—a show that included legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads. Sadly, Rhoads died in a plane crash just six weeks after I saw him. I still carry the memory of being mesmerized by this incredible talent. As I recall, the actual ticket price for the Ozzy show had been just $9.00. I remember being upset that the record store had the nerve to tack on an extra .50 to the cost.

Many were the days when a new album dropped, and I’d be there—early—just as the clerk began stocking the record bins. With the new disc or cassette (or even 8-Track) secured, I’d hang out a little longer, snooping through the import bins or the bargain bins, hoping to mine gold by discovering an album by a great unknown band or singer. The imports were usually those late 1970s and early 1980s British heavy metal bands that I’d read about in the music magazines. This is how I discovered Iron Maiden and Saxon and Motorhead and Tygers of Pan Tang. I lived and breathed metal in those days. Still do.

Sometimes, I’d hang out in the pop music department, over with the Duran Duran or Adam and the Ants albums. Why? Because that’s where the girls were found. I didn’t care for that sort of music, but I knew enough about it to hold a conversation with a pretty girl or two.

Record stores weren’t just for the young, either. I remember many a visit including my mother or father (and even grandparents), who had their own record collections to build upon. They enjoyed country music and rock-n-roll oldies from the 1950s and 1960s. I now possess many of those same albums. I also own CDs from Duran Duran and Adam and the Ants. It all comes back to memories tied to these wonderful stores and to the people who shared this same journey. Back to a time when life didn’t feel too busy or complicated.

Kids today, they’ll never know the joys of the record store, of the people and the culture that sprang from it across many generations. They have it easier, kids today. They can get anything they want simply by pointing and clicking on their smart phone or computer or tablet. But here’s the truth: something always gets lost when life becomes too easy. For many of us, that something is the record store. Gone but never forgotten.