I belong to an author group on Facebook. One of the many benefits of belonging to groups on Facebook or Twitter or the other social media platforms is that new information in the industry is shared nearly as soon as it is available and I don't have to work so hard to find it. It was on one of my Facebook groups that I discovered Kindle Create has made an add-in for Word documents.
Being a software junkie and a self-certified Word expert (I train on advanced features like styles, templates, and more for my day job), I immediately downloaded the add-in from the Kindle Direct Publishing site to give it a test drive. You should know before downloading that you do need a copy of Microsoft Word 2010 or higher in order to use the add-in. It's also worth mentioning that when I closed the Previewer following installation and first launch, I was prompted to update to a newer version. This tells me that the app is calling home for updates when you use it and suggests Kindle Create intends to keep developing the software and add improvements.
The download is a bit hefty at 250 megabytes, which seemed large to me when I thought it was just a simple Word add-in. It turns out, though, that the executable file is packaged with the Kindle Previewer. The Kindle Previewer has a conversion tool that takes your Word document and converts it to the Kindle-preferred format: Mobi. The Mobi file is then opened in the viewer where you can review the formatting.
My cursory tests give the add-in and viewer a solid B+, though I plan to do some additional testing. One of the first things I did was create a new book, which implements styles, page numbering, tables of content and other features that should be a standard all authors use when developing their final copy for electronic publication.
The features are super easy to use. Click a button and you get a Title Page. Click another button and you get a Tables of Content page. You can add all your book parts and then start writing, or you can start a new book and import your existing Word document and format the content using the simple styles found in the Kindle ribbon. They really couldn't have made this tool much easier for people who are new to formatting documents.
Included in the Kindle ribbon is an option to preview your document in the Kindle Previewer. The Previewer opens two windows. A larger view of your book as it would display on a device, and a smaller window with options for selecting what type of device on which you can preview the book (tablet or a phone in either the landscape or portrait orientation), font selection, and navigation options. At the bottom is an icon for viewer your table of contents with live links to locations in the book and a search option for finding words or phrases.
I had beta-tested Amazon KDP's earlier version of the viewer about six months or so ago when I received an email encouraging authors to try it out. That version allowed you to open a document and convert it on the fly. This viewer works in the same way, but tucks some of the extra features cleanly out of sight so the screen feels less cluttered.
You will find a menu button in the upper left-hand of the viewer where your document is displayed. It looks like a small white circle with three black lines running through it. There are a couple of important tools found here.
Under "File," you will find the Export function. This is the option you need in order to create the Mobi file you upload in Amazon KDP.
Under "View" is a Conversion Log option. I recommend that you check that log prior to exporting your document. The Conversion Log will let you know any issues it finds when importing your Word document into the viewer. If you see any errors in that log, you should try to resolve them prior to publication.
Finally, there are two items under the Help menu worth mentioning: 1) Online User Guide, and 2) Publishing Guidelines. These two items will open up via your browser as PDFs and provide all the information you need about using these add-in tools and understanding the formatting needs for publication. If you are an author getting ready to publish, I recommend you take some time reviewing both documents.
So, why didn't I give the Kindle Create Add-in an A+? It's primarily because there was at least one place where I see a significant improvement could be made. Styles are being used, and that is critical for generating the Table of Contents, but Fields could be implemented to make the tool even better. Fields would allow an author to type their author name in once and have it update all areas in the book where the author name displays, including on the Title Page, the Copyright page, and the headers. Instead, the author must be diligent in finding and replacing those items manually.
But it's a great start and I think authors who use Word, but who aren't necessarily software savvy, are going to love it.
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear what you think or if you are experiencing any issues with the tool. I may even be able to help with some basic troubleshooting if you need it.
A White Crow was the first story in my Read Write Ponder series and I just realized I didn't have an excerpt available for people to read. Well, I do now! Here it is!
Mac shook his hair out and frowned. Drops of water covered the mirror and raced through the fog for the sink. For half a heartbeat, he considered leaving the streaks for Lisa, but he just didn't have time to do battle. But Saturday was coming, and Saturday mornings were made for finding some small way to goad her into an argument. It was the one day of the week they could match wits, and then he could take his time making up with her under the bed covers.
Today, though, he just didn't have time. Once again, he had slept through the alarm. With a swipe of a towel, he cleared the beads of water and fog from the mirror and admired his chest, still muscled a year after his last day of training for college football. He leaned in closer to look at the dark circles that puddled under his bloodshot eyes. Late nights studying at the law library were taking their toll.
The sting of eye drops made Mac hiss. The liquid that didn't make it into his sinuses rolled down his cheeks like tears. He snatched a tube from inside the cabinet, squeezed a dab of gel into his hands, and smoothed back some of the wild, sandy blond strands curling at his temples.
"Late again?" Lisa swatted his bare butt as she walked by the open door on her way to the kitchen for coffee.
"Always," he said. He stuck his head out the door and admired her pajamaed curves. "Would be better if we could drive our car."
Mac had griped about not having a car closer to their apartment from the first day he had moved in with her. Their flat inside the heart of the city had no parking garage of its own and the closest one that wouldn't break their budget was more than two miles away. Everyone had a car in the midwestern town where he grew up. It wasn't the discomfort of waiting at the bus stops in the damp chill of the October air. Shoot, gun season hadn't even started yet. He could sit in a snow-covered tree stand all day dressed in little more than a sweatshirt and his winter camo. No, it was the inconvenience of having to depend on someone else to get him around the city.
Mac squeezed the toothpaste too hard and it fell off his brush into the sink. He growled and scooped it onto his brush. After a few quick brushes and a swipe of the toothbrush across his tongue, he rinsed and dropped the brush with a plink into a jelly glass in the cabinet. A speck of toothpaste mocked him from his stubbled chin. He dashed it away, and then snatched a brush from a drawer to drag through his damp hair. A pink, elastic hair band was wrapped around the handle of the brush like a good omen. He wouldn't need to make a mad dash looking everywhere for one of his own rubber bands. With a quick flick of his wrist, he pulled the pink band around his mass of long curls. Well, not too long. Lisa had said when they first started dating that she wasn't looking for a Fabio, so he kept his hair trimmed to shoulder length.
"Nobody who lives in the city drives their own car to work. Too much traffic to deal with and there's no place to park." Lisa walked in and sat down on the toilet lid with both hands wrapped around her coffee mug. "We'll get a new place once you have your degree. Is that my hair tie?"
"Was on the counter. I gotta run." Mac headed toward the bedroom to get dressed.
"No, you gotta find a different hair tie."
Mac didn't stop. "What? No. I'm late."
Lisa's feet rapped a quick tattoo as she rushed in behind him. She had abandoned her cup in the bathroom and stood with both hands on her hips. "I'm serious."
"What are you talking about?" Mac snatched a shirt over his head and pulled on a pair of pants. The bed squeaked as he sat down on the edge and slipped his feet into a pair of black sneakers. He didn't bother tying them. "Lisa, I'm late."
Lisa pounced on the bed and made a grab for Mac's hair, but he ducked and stood up, then leaned away as she swiped at him again. Her face had turned a mottled red and Mac wondered why she was getting so riled up over some stupid hair tie. Especially, when she knew he needed to get out the door to catch the Madison Ave bus. If he didn't catch that one, he'd be too late, maybe even fired.
She jumped from the bed and grabbed his shirt. "It's mine. It's my lucky hair tie."
"Why are you acting so weird about this?" He brushed past her. "I gotta go."
"No." She stepped between him and the door and put her hand out.
"Really? This is what's important right now? Now? When I'm late?" He pushed by her through the door.
Lisa's elbow thumped against frame. "Ow!"
"Sorry," he mumbled without turning around. "I'll give it back later."
"I just want my hair tie back." Her voice bounced off the walls and followed him down the hallway where he snatched a camouflaged coat from the hook by the entryway. The bathroom door slammed behind him.
Lisa held her breath. She counted to ten, and then opened the door to hover with her ear to the crack. Other than the measured drip of the shower at her back, the apartment was quiet. The hinges pleaded for a drop of oil as she opened the door wider and stuck her head into the hallway. It was empty.
As she walked across the room, she chewed a fingernail. In the last week, all her nails had been whittled down until they bled at the corners, so it was no surprise when she tasted blood. Through the front door, the muffled ding of a bell announced the elevator, and Lisa froze. She waited a heartbeat, then swiftly moved to her coat and reached inside a pocket to extract a pink and white box.
The instructions on the back of the package were incomplete, so she opened the box and dug out the sheet of paper. As she padded back to the bathroom, she tucked the box under her arm and unfolded the page. She read it top to bottom, then flipped it over to read the other side. Her single year of high school Spanish was not going to help her read page two. Lisa pressed the paper flat on the counter and willed her hands to stop trembling. The applicators rattled against the sides of the box as she tipped one into her hand.
"Just pee on the stick." She swallowed hard and stared at the stranger in the mirror. "Go ahead. Have your fortune told."
In the late 90s, some scientists in Edinburgh, Scotland, presented to the World, Dolly. She was a sheep they had cloned by messing around with adult sheep cells by injecting an egg into it and thereby creating an embryonic egg that they were able to grow into a fully formed ewe. Cloning wasn’t new in the 90s. Experiments in cloning were actually successful as far back as 1885 when Hans Adolf Edward Dreisch shook up some sea urchin cells and proved cells could be separated and grow into two identical creatures.
From that moment on, the scientific world has been working hard to clone animals (not by shaking them), and map the human genome. Mapping the human genome allows incredible advances in medicine by pinpointing where things go wrong in development, very early in the embryonic stages. Knowing which pieces and parts of a strand of DNA are responsible for not just traits like blue eyes or curly brown hair, but also genetic defects like Down's Syndrome, Hemophilia, and Huntington's Disease. By understanding where to find the root of where something goes wrong, the hope is that cures can be discovered.
With the advent of the first discoveries of twinning, the scientific world has been faced with a great tug of war…research and find cures vs. maintaining an ethical standard for science. Where is the line in the sand? If human beings are cloned, are they "human?" Or are they something else? Can we discard all the laws for the ethical treatment of animals, which are human food sources, if we are growing them in a lab instead of on a farm? Should we be cloning human beings at all?
The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin took a good hard look at cloning in a fictional setting. The book takes a look at the question: What if Hitler could be cloned? Going deeper than that, it questions how much behavior is innate (nature) vs how much is learned (nurture). It was the first story I had read as a child about cloning and I've been fascinated with it ever since, seeking out more books, like The Island of Doctor Moreau (which didn't really get the science right, but was fascinating to my 13-year-old self all the same), and finally writing my own novel about it in 2016.
Last week, Dolly was back in the news. The Washington Post is reporting that they finally figured out Dolly's age at birth. Remember, she was created from an adult cell, so the question was, at "conception" was she 6 years old or was she a new "baby?" I won't give it away. Go read the story yourself. I'll go work on editing my novel. It needs a lot of work!
Nearly all of the stories I have written or plotted started out as some scene from dream I had. Sometimes I will wake up and immediately need to write down what I was dreaming about, and other times, I won't, but I will continue to fixate on the dream all the way to work and think about it for days until I finally give in and put it on paper. At times, putting the words together is the only way to get the ideas to give me peace.
This morning I woke up from a dream about being on a spaceship as a teenager. As I slowly came to the reality of warm blankets and the early vibrations of a household coming back to life, I let my thoughts wander about what it would really be like to be on that spaceship I had been dreaming about. After twenty minutes or so, I grabbed my phone of my dresser and opened up a note-taking app to scribble down everything I had been thinking about.
While lying there with my eyes closed, I had mostly wandered the ship and observed how things were running. What were the families like? Did they still have school like our current-day classrooms? Did the kids work or just the adults?
And as I thought more and more about it, a story of sorts started to take shape from the world building. My fingers were flying over the keys as I tried to remember all the places my mind had traveled, and in the end, I'm sure I forgot some things, but I also filled in blanks that were missing.
Here's a glimpse of some of my notes:
Earth was dying. In a desperate attempt to survive, human beings were taking to the skies and heading to the next closest inhabitable planet based on what the premier scientists of the time were toting. So far, this is nothing new right – we've seen this Sci Fi story a million times. And truthfully, I don't know if what I'm imagining at this point is even anything so different than all of those stories, but it's mine.
The ship my main character is on was built in space. The sheer size and mass of a ship that would carry thousands of people and all the supplies required for survival to a new and inhabitable planet would not have any possible way to launch based on current technology.
At some point around the middle of the story, or maybe it will be how the story starts when it actually gets written, the reader will discover everyone has been lied to. People aboard this ship and others had all been told the original ship, sent hundreds of years earlier had breached the gap in space and started a colony. The truth was nobody knew if that ship had made it because the communication stopped after they got so many parsecs out from the last orbit of satellites, and my main character somehow finds this out. When he questions an authority figure, he is told the reason for the lie. The ship is headed for an unknown planet. They have no idea what they will find if they reach it. They have no idea if they will reach it. But Earth was dying. And a new planet meant hope. And hope would be what kept the people on the ship sane.
And there's more in my notes. A lot of world building, like I said before. I don't know that I could write the amount of information I packed into my notes in a single book, so maybe I will plot it out as a series. I can see there will need to be a LOT of research though I could to some extent spoof some of the science since it takes place a couple hundred years into the future. But since I would like to address global warming and dying planets, NASA and other space exploration (what do the starts look like from a spaceship?), fusion reactors (is this the best bet for propelling the ship?), and stuff I haven't even thought about, I'm going to have my work cut out for me if I ever write this one.
It's always exciting waking up with a new story. I wish I had more time to write.
People walked wide around him as if he controlled an invisible shield that repulsed them. He stood back from the crowd and let his eyes slide over the women in the room. A beard and long stringy hair that curled under at the ends hid his face, and he had a habit of swinging it forward to shield himself from questioning gazes. I noticed that he didn’t smile. At all. And he never took a pull from the bottle he held by the neck. When he took a step to his left, his eyes were cut by the shadow cast by the brim of his worn baseball cap, so there was no longer any chance to read his expression even if I had wanted to. I was left with the feeling that he was intently focused on me in the same way a cat watches a mouse.
Heavy bass and the vibration of the amped up guitars filled the room and my head while warm beer splashed my feet each time someone bumped my elbow. Being a people watcher, I never stepped onto the dance floor. I was more of a voyeur. My eyes would dance around the club and observe the mating ritual of women dancing suggestively and rubbing against men. Each time my eyes would do a round, they would come back to him, and a frisson of agitation would scurry up my spine. Unbidden, the idea filled my head that he might be a vampire, along with the members of the 80's rock band that was blasting out a cover of Come On Feel the Noise. The taste of blood filled my mouth, and I realized I had bit through the inside of my cheek.
The band had an impressive set of lasers in their light show, and when a beam of light struck me in the face, I had to blink to regain my vision.
The guy was gone.
I relaxed into the music, relishing the thump of the bass on my insides, and pretended to take another sip of my beer. The lead singer was more feminine than I was, and I couldn’t draw my eyes from the way he swung his long auburn hair, twisted his hips, or grinded against his microphone in his skinny jeans. Feathers floated out of sync from the roach clip pinned to a belt loop threaded through with a studded belt. He was the proverbial car wreck, and I couldn't stop staring.
Not that the crowd was any better. Drunken air guitars competed note for note with the band, and lighters glowed high above the crowd's bobbing heads. The percentage of men in the crowd with long hair gave the band a run for its money, and I had lost count of the number of tee-shirts that advertised Tennessee Whiskey. Women wore skin-tight jeans or miniskirts over tights and animal print tops that were altered to expose shoulders, backs and the curves between breasts. It was a smorgasbord of white flesh.
The speakers were turned up each set, and when I walked out of the club, I felt like my head was in a bubble. In the quiet of the parking lot, it was a long moment before the ringing in my ears was no longer as loud as the band had been inside. Since I made it out untarnished, I figured the band with their pasty skin and electric allure weren't vampires after all. Or else maybe they weren't smoking Mary Jane between sets and were sated.
I hummed School's Out For Summer as I dug into my pocket for my keys. I had parked under a light in the lot, and it buzzed like a moth refusing to submit to the electricity coursing through a bug zapper. If a van hadn't parked next to me, someone might have seen what happened next. Someone might have tried to be my knight in shining armor and changed the outcome.
It was the man in the baseball cap. I could sense him creeping toward me before I could smell him or even hear him. He had a shoestring stretched taut between his hands when I turned on him, and he flinched as if his heart had been pierced by the tip of a sword. I have that effect on some people.
"No." He choked on the word.
I relished the way he quaked in front of me, how he couldn't look away, how he was frozen in fear. How he reminded me of a white rabbit I had held in my hands when I had first turned. He knew his life was over and I hadn't yet made one. Single. Move.
It's an interesting age. I've been around for a very long time and this is the first generation of homo sapiens to have a grotesque few who inserted spiked, plastic implants into their foreheads or filed their teeth into sharp little points. They had no idea how it allowed us to fit in.
I leaned in to look closer at the man's eyes. The odor of fear, or even unwashed bodies, didn't bother me, but I didn't like being high. When I was high, I was out of control. I did stupid things. Dangerous things. I once left a body on a cross at the Trinity Church. In my intoxicated state, I thought I was making some sort of stand against the gluttony of the church. Churches don't preach about gluttony anymore, and there's a reason for that, even if their congregation doesn't see it.
Of course, the worry of ingesting chemicals that affected me two-fold how they affected a human being was only part of it. Matthew said, "The eye is the lamp of the body," and William Shakespeare noted, "The eyes are the window to your soul." It was the eyes that let me finish them. Past the blue-gray or hazel specks, deeper than the darkest pupil, was truth. The eyes of liars and thieves and rapists didn't dilate like the pure of heart. It was a subtle idiosyncrasy, but it was the difference between amnesia and death.
And in the light between vehicles, it was what bought this man a not-so-sweet release.
I pulled some of my short stories down today. I plan to publish a series of them on Amazon. My initial goal was to publish one of my brand new short stories, unpublished here or anywhere else, so that I could establish my "Author" status for goodreads. I had heard that you didn't have to have anything officially published, but darned if I could find anyway to register myself as an author without a true blue story. So, as part of my marketing plan for my first novel, I wanted to start building a platform over on goodreads. I plan to leave my short stories free for a while, so once their posted, it will be your chance to grab them at no charge.
My new short story is called "Ties That Bind" (unless I can come up with a better title). It's the story of a woman who believes everything good that's ever happened to her is because of a lucky hair tie. When her fiance borrows it without asking and won't hand it over, her day starts downhill. She bangs her elbow on the door frame, gets a run in her stockings, and finishes her day with a trip to the hospital.
Athletes often have lucky charms that they believe help them win games. Baseball players were wearing necklaces woven with titanium in 2011 (check out Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson), Barbara Nwaba wears mismatched socks when she runs, and most of the Olympic athletes have something (rings, necklaces, bras, head bands, stuffed dinosaurs - you name it!).
Science says these lucky charms work, that superstitious behaviors enforce self-efficacy. When you believe in yourself, your chance of success soars, and having a a lucky charm boosts self-confidence. When you feel confident in your abilities, you set a higher bar. And when you find success, you fulfill the prophesy of luck. See "How Lucky Charms Really Work."
What's even more interesting to me is that women are more likely to attribute success to luck, where men believe they have success because of their abilities. At least, this is what I remember from one of my college Psych courses back in the day. Of course, "back in the day" was like 20-some years ago, so maybe the studies are saying something different these days. So much has changed since then! But that's a story for another post!
Watch for my story coming soon on Amazon. Connect with me on goodreads, Twitter, or Pinterest today, or leave me a comment and I'll get back with you.
So, writing about myself has always been hard since I’ve never been one to want to toot my own horn. I’m more of a “Here, read my stuff and think I’m amazing so I don’t have to tell you anything about me” kind of person. (Here, read my short stories to see what I mean. Go ahead. I'll wait.) But, for #pitchwars, I’m going to take a swing and #pimpmybio. Check this out if you want more info as an author who wants to pitch to a group of mentors who might help you add the final gloss on your polished manuscript: http://www.lanapattinson.com/pitchwars-2016-pimpmybio/
I began my journey of writing as an author and illustrator for a short period of time at the age of four writing Dick and Jane style stories. See Rick. See Rick eat the meat. (My dad’s name was Rick and it was a perfect fit - ask my mom, it’s true!) Shortly thereafter, I became an avid reader, a complete you-always-have-your-nose-in-a-book junkie that drove my father insane (WHY?!) until I hit my 40s. I interspersed those novel-devouring years with occasional journal entries and some writing for national non-fiction magazines. An avid reader, I joined a book club and hosted discussions for some of my all-time favorite books to share my love of them with others. Oh look, here they are!
While I’m not real picky about what I read, my favorite stories have the theme of survival at the base of them, specifically survival in the face of doom. I love apocalyptic tales that delve into science, with Dog Stars by Peter Heller and World War Z by Max Brooks being two of my all-time favorites. (I’m also the first one to the couch when The Walking Dead comes on!) My first experience with the genre was when I read Eco-Fiction as a young teen. It’s a collection of short stories put together by John Stadler, and it introduced me to Isaac Asimov and John Steinbeck. Later, I discovered Frank Herbert, reading The White Plague before latching onto the Dune series.
After science-y apocalyptic stuff, I lean toward fantasy. My uncle gave me The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson and I think I read all seven books in four weeks. When I finally got my hooks on Game of Thrones, I read those five books in two weeks. I couldn’t. stop. reading. In either case. And oh my God, I could just keep on talking about all the amazing books I’ve read, so I’m going to pull the reins and get back to telling you about me. See how I distracted myself away from that?
I mentioned some of my favorites being series, but my first novel, a contemporary YA adventure called ARGENT GLASS, is not intended to be anything other than a stand-alone. No matter how I ended it. (Clue: Have you read Soylent Green? I absolutely LOVED how that ended and worked to finish my novel with the same dramatic flair.) I am self-edited, and though I am a self-proscribed perfectionist, nobody should edit their own book completely. Too much of it is in our heads and nobody else can see that stuff. Editors help us get it out of our heads and down on the paper!
What I think I've put into my story, which has the dreaded multiple POV (I was warned not to do this several times and still couldn't help myself - my next novel is plotted out and has only one POV. Maybe that will appease the masses of naysayers.)
As a skeptic, I never believe anyone when they tell me something I’ve written is “great.” I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop and crave honest feedback on a story not because the person likes me (I think I’m pretty likeable!), but because he/she thinks the story could be better. I know I’m not a genius and my feelings are not easily hurt (I grew up with brothers, the biggest critics IN. THE. WORLD.). I look forward to finding that special someone who will read with an eye on making my story even better (though I think it’s currently a pretty darn good read).
You want more about me? Really? You’re still here? So weird. Okay, here goes.
I’m married to a man who lets me be me. He will let me make my own mistakes and discover my own solutions, only intervening when I ask him to. This may not sound like much, but this is huge for a girl who grew up believing life wasn’t fair for girls and who became a fierce feminist unafraid to try to make her way in a “man’s world.” He feeds my brain with new ideas on the daily, patiently listens to my rants, and is a great father to our sons. I adore him for all of it.
I love watching my four boys play their sports. They swim and dive, and play soccer and baseball. We are constantly on the run and though I complain that I need more time to write, I wouldn’t change a thing with regards to being their chauffeur and biggest fan. I have a special affinity for each one of them in our own unique way. My oldest is the most like me, though he may not like my saying that. He’s fiercely independent and a terrible communicator – just because we don’t talk to you doesn’t mean we don’t think about you every day. The next is my kindest, but also ferociously competitive. He wants to see everyone succeed, but he wants to be at the top of the achievement pile. The next one is my artist. He captures my heart with his hand-made comic books and gorgeous art. I expect to find his books on a bookshelf near mine one day. And finally, the baby of the family. He’s this funny little mash-up of everything I love about his brothers. It’s like he watched me admiring them and picked off the traits he thought I liked best and adopted them as his own, which of course makes him near-perfect.
Two amazing dogs complete our happy home. They are recently misbehaving because the Alpha female has started vying for more attention. She tore open Big Boy’s ear in a snarling match over treats that the neighbor brought for them the other day. Poor neighbor was mortified! Little Girl is a Catahoula Leopard from Louisiana (a rescue shipped all the way to Michigan!) and Big Boy is a Black Lab/Boxer mix (also a rescue). They are gorgeous, happy dogs that bring joy the minute I walk in the door via intensive nasal investigations and sloppy kisses.
Besides writing and being a busy mom, I work in IT. I’m an expert at Word – seriously, ask me anything! I love researching stuff on the Internet and learning. “Learning what?” you ask. Learning everything! I’d be a full-time college student for the rest of my life if it paid better.
And there you have it. Clearly, I could write a book about myself. Hmmm…
Out for Publication... but here's the beginning of the story...
I drifted up from sleep unsure what woke me, but comfortable in that self-satisfied way when you wake up after dozing off in the shade of a big tree on a gently swaying hammock. You wake up forgetting who you were for a moment, a brief respite from your lack of money, your loss of elasticity, your age, and every other thing that worried you before you fell into the ephemeral coma.
Lifting my head enough to look over the edges that cradled me set the hammock to rocking. Cormac still lay curled into a ball beside my glass of lemonade. Beads of sweat had collected on the bottom half of the glass and a leaf clung to its lip by its stem while three of its five lobes dipped into the pale liquid. I squinted at it and noted the leaf as evidence.
I closed my eyes and listened to the wind making the leaves shiver on the branches of the trees. I waited for a clue…maybe a repeat noise, or vibration. Maybe a heavy sigh from Cormac. Further down the block I could hear the hum of a leaf blower, and even further than that, the low monotone of wheels on the train tracks that ran through town. Maybe the train had whistled further out. It was one of the sounds that became lost to daily life, filtered from consciousness like the buzz of bees and the twitter of birds until you let go of your worries and re-focus. But I didn’t hear anything unusual and the train was just reaching the main crossing beside the post office where it blasted its whistle in three long calls.
Watch for the rest of this story on Amazon.com.