A new look for the new year

For a while now, I've been aware that my red/black/gray-themed website was not reflective of a romance writer. Probably not surprising when you take into account that it was inspired by the website of a famous action-adventure author... Well, duh.


So I redesigned the sucker.

Perhaps I went a little too far in the other direction? Retro pink, green and gold, like a 1970s Southern wedding theme? Roses and scrolls? Wavy-bottomed header? Ya think?

Ah, well. I'll leave it a while. And if it turns out the new look doesn't resonate with my readers (all ten of you), maybe I'll go back to the red/black/gray theme -- or start all over again with something new? Coral/aqua/cream -- the colors of 1950s melamine dishes? How about the hot pink/teal/plum of the Miami Vice Eighties?

I think I'd rather get back to writing novels. But if you want to sound off on the new look, just click the comment link.

Romance in an RV Park?

Early chapters from my work-in-progress.  Enjoy!

The Whirlwind
by
Connie Chastain

Chapter One
 
He stopped for gas at an interchange fifty miles north of the Florida border. It was late afternoon in mid-August. The brilliant blue sky was clear of summer's perpetual haze but the air was still summer-hot.

The gas pump took his cedit card with no problem and he could have left after filling up, but a twinge of hunger sent him inside for a snack. It was cool and dim inside. Behind the counter, a large woman with china-white skin and curly auburn hair took his money and chattered at him while she rang up his purchase.

"Headed to Flarda? Lotta people who stop here are. Usually on the way to Disney World."

"No. Just roaming." He looked over a swivel rack displaying local and regional publications and brochures for tourist attractions. "Any decent campgrounds close around?"

"Hmm." The clerk thought it over. "Closest one's probably Lake Lucy. Take this road east, don't get back on the interstate. Half a mile it intersects with old Highway 41. Turn right, go south about six miles, then west on state Road 87. You'll see Lake Lucy Road in about two more miles. Lake's small, used mostly by folks that live around here, but it's got nice camping facilities -- RV lots, rental cabins and a real good camp store."

"Thanks." He nodded and settled his gray cowboy hat on his head, went back to the black SUV with Pennsylvania plates and slid behind the wheel.

The hefty red-headed chick was right on with her directions. He found the place with no trouble at all. At the camp store, he paid for a weekend rental. He hadn't even realized it was Friday.

The fatigue he'd lived with going on two years now, and the tension it precipitated, had begun to ebb at some point after leaving Pittsburgh last week. He hadn't noticed it until this moment.

He found the cabin and turned into a parking place paved with gravel and oyster shells. For a moment, he gazed at the structure through the windshield, unaware that a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

Cinderblock walls painted shell pink. Jalousie windows. Tar and gravel coating the butterfly roof. Had to date back to the Fifties--back when there was plenty of money and leisure time, not to mention relief and optimism, after a war that had devastated the world.

It reminded him of beach cabins in his grandparents' flickering home movies, which starred his mother and uncle riding bikes, playing in the surf and ... growing up. He shook off the brief dip into nostalgia with a deep breath.

After giving the interior of the cabin a cursory once-over, he took a slow stroll to the water's edge. The lake was long and narrow and the water reflected the breathtaking blue of the sky. On the opposite shore, he saw other vacation cottages shaded with diciduous trees, huge and thick-foliaged, mingled with tall, dark pines. A few people swam near the shore, a couple of small powerboats pulled skiers and, far down the lake, a tiny red and white lateen sail floated just above the surface of the water.

Mellow day, idyllic setting straight out of childhood--

"Hey, mister?" His reverie was interrupted by a childish voice that seemed to fit perfectly with his thoughts. He turned to see a boy perhaps six years old clad in swim trunks and carrying a plastic float mattress. "Did you see a dog come by here?"

"No. But I've only been out here a minute."

"I'm kinda worried he ran off. See, he's afraid of storms and he was acting like he does when a big storm's coming. But I don't even see no clouds."

"Maybe there's weather headed this way. Sometimes animals sense things like that before people can see them."

"Yeah." The boy looked around, concern wrinkling his brow.

"You want me to help you look for him?"

"Would'ja? There ain't nobody else to help me. My uncle went to buy barbecue and it's hard for my mama to walk. She sprained her ankle."

"Is she nearby?"

"Right over there." The boy pointed to a small travel trailer with a colorful striped awning. The camp site was fixed up invitingly with webbed lawn chairs and a checkered table cloth on the picnic table.

"Let's go make sure it's all right with her."

They walked together to the small trailer, the boy chattering easily. "I had to get out of the water when Uncle Kenny left. Mama won't let me swim unless somebody's watchin' me. So I was playin' with Pepper, but then he ran off."

They reached the travel trailer and the boy carelessly tossed the air mattress on the ground, opened the door and stepped inside. "Mama!"

"I'm right here, Julian. It's a little trailer, you don't have to yell."

"Sorry. Mama, is it okay if this man helps me hunt for Pepper? He ran off like a storm's coming."

The boy -- Julian -- backed down the step to the ground as his mother came to stand in the door, favoring her left foot, which had an ace bandage wrapped around the ankle.

"Hi," she said noncommitally to the stranger.

He nodded. "Hi. My name's Daniel. I just got here for the weekend when your son came by my cabin looking for his dog. I'll be glad to help him hunt for Pepper, if it's all right with you."

"Oh, I don't think y'all need to go to that trouble. Pepper'll be back before you know it."

"Mama!" Julian exclaimed softly. "He's prob'ly scared. We hafta find him!"

The woman looked down at her son and back to the stranger and her eyes narrowed. "Could you tell me your name again, please?"

"Daniel."

"Oh, my goodness." She put a hand to her cheek as recognition dawned. "You're Dan Rawson. Steelers quarterback!"

Dan took off his hat, stepped forward and extended a hand. "Former quarterback," he corrected with a polite smile.

The woman scrunched her shoulders with an answering smile and said softly, "Wow." She returned his firm handshake. "A celebrity right here at Lake Lucy Campground! I'm Cassie Shipley. And of course you've met Julian."

At that moment they heard nervous yipping behind them growing stronger, and Dan glanced behind him as Julian yelled jubilantly, "Pepper!"

The brindled mutt trotted toward his young master, tongue and ears flapping.

"Hey, boy! Where'd you get off to?" Julian leaned over to give Pepper's back a scratch. "C'mere, let's put you on the chain." He tethered the dog to a lightweight chain staked to the ground near the picnic table.

His dog's wellbeing out of the way, Julian trained his gaze on Dan. "Are you really a professional quarterback?"

"I used to be; I'm retired now."

"Wow. Hey, would you like to eat with us? Uncle Kenny's bringing barbecue from the best place in town. He always buys more than we can eat."

"Well, thanks, but I don't want to intrude."

Cassie looked at Dan, half embarrassed. "Oh, it's no intrusion. He just doesn't think sometimes, that you might have family or someone with you. Of course, they'd be welcome, too."

"No. I'm traveling alone. And I have to tell you, barbecue sounds real good."

"Well, it settled, then. It's too hot to eat out here, so I've put everything on the dinette table inside--there's cole slaw, potato salad, Texas toast.... We have soft drinks and iced tea and Kenny's got a few longnecks in the fridge. All we're waiting for is the barbecue."

"I think my stomach just growled," Daniel said, a smile lighting his face. "Had a snack before I got here but I guess I'm hungrier than I thought."

"It should be here in a few minutes." Cassie gingerly stepped to the ground and nodded at the lawn chairs. "Might as well sit while we wait."

They settled into comfortable webbed chairs and Julian sat the end of the picnic table bench, swinging his legs. "You reckon Uncle Kenny will bring Lindy back with him?"

"I didn't hear him say, but you'd like that, wouldn't you?" Firming her lips to control a smile, she explained to the visitor, "He's got a crush on his uncle's girlfriend."

"I do not!" Julian protested. "She's just fun, for a girl."

He glanced to the side and saw Pepper straining to get to the trailer door, trembling and whimpering. The chain stopped him about a foot short of his goal. Julian ducked his head to see as much of the sky as possible beyond the awning. Still cloudless. The sun, dropping lower in the sky across the lake, cast long, sharp shadows on the ground.

"Why's he actin' like that?" the boy asked his mother. "There ain't no rain around."

"Let's see," Dan said, pulling his cell phone from his shirt pocket. He pressed a few keys and grunted. "Look," he said, turning the instrument toward Julian. The tiny display showed a map of south Georgia and north Florida in brilliant green. Blobs of red and yellow overlaid it. "Front coming in, to the west of us. Maybe that's what he's sensing."

"Poor puppy," Cassie said, sympathy on her face as she looked at the dog. "Put him in the trailer, Julian." She glanced at Dan. "He likes to ride out storms in his dog bed with his toys all around him."

Julian put Pepper in the trailer and made it back to his seat just as a car crunched into the campsite's parking area.

"Yay!" the boy said, jumping up. "Barbecue!"

The adults stood and turned to see a young man emerge from a late model compact carrying a large white paper bag. As he approached, Cassie said, "Ken, we have a celebrity guest for supper. Dan Rawson, my brother, Ken Shipley."

"Well, well," Ken said, extending a hand for a shake, a smile splitting his face. "Honored to meet you. What brings you to these parts?"

"Just visiting family here and there, doing a little traveling."

"That's nice. You got family around here?"

"Kenny!" Cassie exclaimed, and then shot Dan an apologetic look.

Kenny grinned. "Sorry. Didn't mean to pry, but peggin' a newcomer's kinfolks is a Southern thang. We can't help it."

"Oh, I know," Dan said with a chuckle. "I grew up in North Carolina. Most of my kin are up there. The rest, scattered all over."

Kenny stepped to the trailer door and pushed it open for the others.

"It's pretty small in there so you fellows go on in and sit down," Cassie said. "I'll fix drinks. What does everybody want?"

"Co-cola," said Julian, bouncing inside with the energy only children have.

"Go ahead," Kenny said to Dave. "You, too, sis. You're supposed to stay off that ankle another coupla days. I'll do the drinks."

Dan removed his hat and slid into the booth as Cassie took a seat across from him.

"Julian," she said, "Put Mr. Rawson's hat on the shelf over there."

While Ken busied himself in the small kitchen, Dan handed Julian his hat and glanced around the interior of the trailer. It looked showroom new and personalized with books, magazine, CDs and framed photos on the walls, but not cluttered. He looked at his hostess.

"This is nice. Roomier than it looks from the outside."

"Kenny and I bought it last summer, mainly for Julian. We thought about buying a cabin out here, but they're really expensive and we can take this to the beach, the mountains... wherever. We've really enjoyed it."

"I like it," Julian told his guest. He perched on the end of the bench next to Dan and said, "Can I sit here?"

"Absolutely," Dan said, giving the boy a wink.

It took Kenny only a few minutes to bring drinks and a platter filled with a variety of barbecued meat to the table. He slid into the booth next to his sister, nodded to Julian and said, "Want to say the blessing, hotrod?"

"'kay." Julian laced his fingers in front of his chin and said, "For food and friends and happy times, for families together, for sun and rain, for woods and plain, we thank Thee, O Our Father. Amen."

"Amen," Kenny echoed. "Everybody dig in."

* * *

Cleanup was quick and easy, since there was little food left to put away and plates, cups and flatwere were throwaways. Julian went to the small bedroom to check on Pepper while the adults, sated and mellowed out, headed outdoors.

They stepped into a moderate wind that ruffled their hair and made the awning flap. The air had grown much cooler while they were at supper.

"Goodness!" Cassie exclaimed as a sudden gust blew Julian's air mattress past them. Kenny grabbed it before it got away. Another gust billowed the red checkered tablecloth half off the picnic table, and threatened to toss the lightweight aluminum chairs on their sides. Cassie grabbed the tablecloth while the men folded the chairs and slid them under the trailer.

The front Dan had showed Julian on his phone screen was almost upon them. Kenny looked westward across the lake and uttered a low whistle. "We're in for it."

The others followed his gaze to the roiling bank of greenish gray clouds above the treeline and approaching with frightening speed. As they watched, a finger of gray slowly formed and snaked downward as if to poke the trees below.

Kenny streaked back to the travel trailer door, tossed the air mattress inside and yelled, "Jules! Bring Pepper and get out here, now! Hurry!" The three adults looked at each other, alarm growing on their faces, and Kenny muttered, "We gotta get outta here."

"No time," Dan said. "Don't want to be in a vehicle, anyway. Let's go to my cabin. It's concrete block, just a few yards away."

"Arright," Kenny said as Julian stepped outside clutching a quaking Pepper in his arms. Kenny grabbed them up and said, "Tornado."

They struck out along the lake front. Cassie's limp slowed her and Dan held out his arm to her. "Grab hold and speed up if you can."

Rain and pea-sized hail, sudden and hard, pelted them as they ran past a couple of empty campsites and a row of shrubs that separated the RV section from the cabin area.

Kenny heard the roaring of the tornado behind them grow alarmingly loud and feared the gusting wind would sweep them off their feet before they made it to the cabin. But in moments, he saw Dan standing beside the open door, ushering Cassie inside. Kenny followed, set Julian on the floor and said, "Bathroom's probably the safest place. Y'all get in there, huddle together. I'll bring the mattress to put over us.

Dan and Cassie did as he told them, hunkered in the bathtub with Julian and Pepper between them. Kenny drug the mattress off the bed and wrestled it into the tiny bath. He sat on the floor beside the tub and they pulled the mattress over their heads, held it there, and waited.

The wind grew wilder, louder around the cabin and they heard a roaring pass over the house along with the faint tinkling of breaking glass. Pepper wailed softly and Julian trembled.

"It's okay, sweetheart. It'll be over in a minute. Everything'll be all right," Cassie soothed, although her voice quivered with fright.

Kenny muttered, "Bet the trailer's a goner."

They waited a few moments, listening to the roaring grow distant and the wind gradually die. After a good five minutes of silence, Kenny crawled out from under the mattress and pulled it out of the bathroom. Dan unfolded himself and helped Cassie and Julian out of their shadowed, pink-tiled haven.

They stepped into the main room of the cabin to find the front door open and Kenny disappearing through the doorway.

"Stay here," Dan said, following Kenny outside. Cassie and Julian, still clutching the dog, waited anxiously, in silence. In a few minutes, Dan reappeared. "Trailer made it through. Got knocked off it's jacks, sitting crooked in the campsite but seems okay. Awning is shredded. Picnic table upended. Looks like the twister didn't touch down until it passed us."

"Oh, thank goodness!" Cassie said. "Nothing but woods and swamp for miles to the east."

They walked out into the wet, dusky evening. The chaos of minutes before had settled down to a soft rain. They found Kenny disconnecting the propane tanks at the front of the trailer.

"Don't want to take any chances of a leak in the lines anywhere. We'll have to head back to town for tonight, at least." Around them, other campers were inspecting their trailers and RVs for damage.

"Best I can tell," he continued, "most of the damage is tree limbs down. Still got power," he said, pointing toward the cabins on the opposite shore where lights glimmered through the rain. He looked toward their visitor. "Let me finish here and I'll come down, help clean up your cabin."

"Nothing to do except put the mattress back on the bed. I think I can manage that," Dan said with a grin.

"You got a broken window, too. I'll stop at the camp store and report it on the way out."

"Thanks. So you folks live close by?"

"Yeah, in Verona. About eight miles to the west of us. I'll be out here tomorrow, try to get everything fixed so these two can come back out a few more days. Last fling before school starts."

"I'll be in the first grade," Julian said proudly, still clutching Pepper. The dog's trembling had toned down considerbly.

"That's a milestone in a man's life," Dan said with a wink. He shook hands with Cassie and Kenny. "I enjoyed meeting and visiting with you folks. Thanks again for supper." He glanced around the campsite. "Let me know if you need help with this. I'll be here through the weekend."

Chapter Two

Around eight, a teenager from the camp store stopped by Dan's cabin and taped plastic over the broken window. It was above the sink in the pullman kitchen and the rain had done no damage inside.

"Just one jalousie broken," he reported to Dan. "Should be able to replace that for you tomorrow."

"That's fine," Dan said. When the job was done and the kid departed, he toed his shoes off and shucked his still damp jeans and shirt. Sprawled on the sofa, he found the remote control on an end table and turned on the television, wondering if cable might have been interrupted by the storm.

Apparently not. A hundred and two channels in all their inanity were available. He flipped past the sports channels -- he did not want to even think about that right now -- and finally settled on a mindless war movie with lots of violence, explosions, death and dying. After a few moments of that, he turned off the TV and laid his head against the backrest. He opened himself up to register the unfamiliarity around him.

Thoughts of his hosts earlier in the evening came to him, and he began to wonder about things he hadn't paid much attention to at the time. Kenny and his sister and nephew all had the same last name, Shipley. There had been no mention of a husband and father, and he grew mildly curious.

Julian was a cute kid; brown as a berry, probably from playing outdoors all summer. The sun had streaked and tipped his dark hair a shade or two lighter. Dan had not been around children much in his life, and he found them somewhat intimidating, but Julian was as likeable as he was cute.

And his mother....a pretty woman, slender but shapely in a pastel shorts set. She had pulled her shoulder length dark hair off her neck with one of those big, toothed clamps that looked like an instrument of torture; but it had come loose as she hobbled through the wind and rain to his cabin ... clutching his arm....

She had been so scared ... and so brave, as she cuddled Julian and Pepper and murmured comforting words to them at the height of the storm. Her voice, and laugh, were a touch husky, he'd noticed at supper. And the way the rain had plastered her clothes--

No. Huh-uh. Forget it. Two days, you're outta here. So forget it.

* * *

"You want me to leave the nightlight on, sweetheart?" Cassie sat on the edge of the bed in Julian's room, with its cowboy-Jaguars-Braves-outer space decor.

With Pepper curled at his side and sleeping soundly, her son lay back against the plaid-cased pillow and shook his head. "I ain't scared."

"Okay." She leaned forward to kiss his forehead and accepted his kiss on her cheek. "'Night, my brave little man."

"'Night, Mama."

Cassie stepped softly down the hall to her bedroom and slipped out of her terry bathrobe. By now only slightly damp from her shower, she pulled on cool, cotton knit sleep wear.

Julian might not need a night light but she did. Her nerves were still jangled by their close encounter with the tornado and her mind kept going back to the chaos-- the windwhipped rain, the pelting hailstones, the roaring of the twister as it passed over head while they huddled in the bathtub in Dan Rawson's rental cabin.

Dan Rawson. Professional football player ... rich, famous, good-looking. But so down-to-earth. Weren't pro athletes supposed to have gargantuan egos? Weren't they supposed to be self-centered hedonists with a glitzy, big-busted woman on each arm?

But Dan had been cordial and respectful at supper. Now that she thought back--the first chance she'd had to think about supper since the'd stepped outside into the storm--she realized there had been very little football talk. Kenny had certainly asked enough fan-type questions and Dan had given interesting or funny replies, but several times he had managed to smoothly change the subject, usually with a question of his own.

The three adults had talked more about Kenny's landscaping and decorative concrete company than Dan. He was a great listener. She remembered attentiveness on his face, the the smiles that would come and go, the occasional laugh--and what a marvelous laugh!

Several times, she'd caught herself staring at him, and she'd had to force herself to look away. Once or twice, their knees had bumped under the table. He hadn't seemed to notice but she had -- felt a mingling of mild embarrassment with mild...titillation....

Didn't mean anything. It was just because there was a handsome celebrity unexpectedly gracing their table. He had the cabin for the weekend only. He'd leave after that, and they'd never see him again. He would become nothing more than an anecdote to tell her friends and customers at the beauty shop.


This is a work in progress and may differ when completed and edited
Copyright © 2010 by Connie Chastain 


 
 

Cover mockups for my WIPs


(Click image for larger view. Use back button to return here.)

Southern Man, of course, is completed and available on Amazon.com.  The others are all in progress. Sweet Southern Boys is about 75% complete. Little Sister is about 1/3 complete, and The Candidate (working title; it will be changed) is just getting started.

I am writing them as one undertaking for the sake of continuity. Fourtunately, nothing in Southern Man is impacting the sequels (thus far), perhaps because the first two were begun as prequels to the third. 

Yes, my original project was Little Sister. In the writing of Ainsley Kincaid's story, big brother Shelby and his two best buddies, Randy Stevenson and John Mark Jordan, wanted their story told.  So, I temporarily shelved LS to work on SSB. And, as it was reaching completion, I couldn't ignore the story of Randy's father taking shape in my mind.  So, I stopped SSB to write Southern Man.

The Candidate didn't exist even as an idea during that process. It's a very late addition, but I'm enthusiastic about it -- see the excerpt at the end of this post.  So now I'm writing all these stories in tandem.

Isn't it funny how this prequel/sequel thing works?



The Candidate

Chapter One
"My friend," said Shelby Kincaid as he poured a mug of steaming coffee. "I don't know whether your testicles just got real big or your brain got real small."

He carried his cup across the break room, set it down on a table and took a chair. Beneath unruly blond hair, his blue-gray eyes fastened on the man seated across from him.

Randy Stevenson's dark eyes returned Shelby's gaze. His sensitive, enigmatic face, surrounded with shaggy black hair, betrayed not a hint of mirth. "Dickson's more than a tax-and-spend liberal. He's a leftist, a socialist. Somebody's got to challenge him."

"Not you." Shelby took a careful slurp of coffee. "His political machine will tear you to pieces. And the public at large will help 'em."

Randy shrugged. "I got real thick skin."

"No, what you've got is crap for brains. Now, listen. You're one of the Verona Three. They'll dig up everything they can about that--about your daddy, too, just to smear you by association. You've seen how politics works--the whole story doesn't come out until after the damage is done. You're also a Southern Baptist. That makes you a sexist, a racist and a homophobe."

Shelby went completely still as realization flitted into his eyes, followed by alarm. "And it's horrifying, what they'd do to Susan and the kids. Have you thought about that?"

The back door opened, briefly letting in the sound of morning traffic. John Mark Jordan stepped inside and traded greetings with the other two as he got coffee for himself and brought it to the table, his netbook under his arm. With his remarkably handsome face and stylish apparel, he was often mistaken for a client of a nearby modeling agency.

"What's going on?" The question was rhetorical because he didn't wait for an answer before opening the netbook to skim the business section of the Jacksonville Post Herald.

Shelby aimed a thumb across the table. "Brilliant here says he's thinking of running for Congress."

John Mark's head snapped up. His brown eyes, wide with astonishment, fastened on Randy. "Have you gone crazy?"

Randy lifted his chin. "How many times have we sat at this table handwringin' about the future our children will have to live in? How many times have we said something has to be done? Well, I'm gonna do something. I don't know if it'll help, whether it'll be too little too late--but I have to try."

John Mark remained incredulous, his netbook forgotten. "You'll get slaughtered. There's a bazillion things they'll attack you for. Without mercy."

"Don't try to tell him anything," Shelby muttered. "I've already tried. He says his skin's thick."

Randy raked a thumbnail across his lips and considered the other two. Their opinions and advice were crucial to him. They were not only his business partners; they were also his best friends, going back to grade school. For over two decades, the three of them had been closer than brothers.

"I know what's in my life better than they do. Whatever they attack me with, I'll have a carefully crafted defense or a counter-attack prepared well in advance. I've already started that. The message will go out on a dynamite website, press releases and online videos so powerful they'll go viral. The three of us could pull it off. Turn it all to my advantage. I know we could."

Silence filled the room as his friends stared at him, the import of his words sinking in.

John Mark murmured, "How does Susan feel about this?"

"Totally supportive. We've talked about it a lot, imagined worst-case scenarios, up to and including violence against us, although we aren't paranoid enough to assume it would come to that. She has realistic expectations and she's looking forward to the challenge. But her main concern is the kids and the kind of world they'll have to live in if the country doesn't change where it's headed."

The men's expressions grew pensive. They'd discussed numerous times the grim world that awaited their children--all children--in the foreseeable future. Now they were looking at an opportunity to do something about it on a national scale--or, at least, to try--and it was both sobering and exhilarating.

Randy gave his companions an appraising look. Their demeanor had gradually changed as he spoke, and he could see their resistance weakening.

"You realize that both of you will be drug through the mud, too, especially if you help with the campaign. And you have your own families to think of."

John Mark grunted. "Are you kidding? You do this, Ainsley'll be your biggest cheerleader."

Randy's eyes crinkled in an almost smile, but only for a moment. He wanted all considerations out in the open. "One other thing. A political campaign will take us away from the company for months."

"That's not an insurmountable problem." Shelby pushed his mug aside and leaned back. "We can take care of it."

Another silence fell. This time, an undercurrent of excitement vibrated through the air.

"I'm driving down to Saint Augustine after work to talk to Missy and Tommy," Randy said. "Saturday, I'll take the family to Verona to discuss it with Mama and Daddy. If nobody can give me a powerfully good reason for not doing it, I'll register my candidacy within the month."

 He looked at each of his friends for a couple of seconds. "I want you two with me in this."

John Mark gave his earlobe a tug. "Well, you know we can't let you do this by yourself, so you've got us."

Shelby nodded. "Unless we can talk you out of it."

Mirth finally sparked in Randy's eyes. "You got three weeks."

Exponential Nostalgia

Thanks to my sis for that great phrase.  She and I are hip-deep in a vintage music craze at YouTube. It started with TV theme songs from the Sixties (Route 66, Mr. Lucky, Peter Gunn, etc.) and grew from there.  I now have five playlists at YouTube where I can go and listen to my faves in various categories -- Mid Century Swank Instrumentals; Mid Century Country; Rock From Back In the Day; Mid Century Vocals and Eighties Goodies.

One of the songs I found was a popular tune from the late 1950s, The Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant. I really liked that song, though I was a grade schooler when it was popular. We had a 45 RPM version (and it's probably still around my house somewhere). I can't play my old vinyl singles and albums, as we have no working phonograph anymore. How wonderful to find it on YouTube!

If you want to hear it, click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFhwxZeq6g4  What a voice! What a classy song!  But here's the topper.  Grant performed this song in 2004 when she was approaching eighty years old -- and was still performing in 2010 in Palm Springs, California.  Enjoy the 2004 performance:




Fantastic!

Quotable qotes from my characters

“She was trying to be helpful. That’s what women do, because that’s how God made them—to be helpers and companions to men. Mainly wives to husbands but you find it in the workplace, too.... They want to help us and they want to please us, and so they go overboard sometimes. But you don’t have to get bowed up about it.”
~Troy Stevenson, discussing his secretary, Dinah Langley,
with his friend and colleague, Max Ingram

“I know it hurts you to think there are people out there who believe you did what you’re accused of. But they’re the people who hate you, anyway, because you have a family you love and take care of. They’re the people who want me to support myself, they want the government to raise the children, and they want you to disappear. Don’t give their opinions any weight, not any, for one second longer.”
~Patty Stevenson, to her husband, Troy

"We were both saps....S-A-P. Southern American Princess. In our case, small-town, small-time version....Ornaments. Frivolous. Not to be taken seriously. I don't think my parents realized what kind of self-image they were helping us develop, because they told us from time to time how important it was to get an education and think about the kind of work we wanted to do, but that was stacked up against years of silly ballet lessons and parties and school clubs and cheerleading and prom queening..."
~Briana Farrior to her employer and love interest, Justin Adair

"I'm a little put out with you right now, but I'll get over it. Anger's a feeling; feelings come and go. But love is constant and steadfast, and the capacity to forgive is limitless."
~Justin Adair, to his secetary and love interest, Briana Farrior
 
Writers, have you got quotable quotes from you characters? We'd love to read them.  Share with us. Just leave them in the comments.

Exciting happenings!

I'm excited and delighted. Storm Surge has been sold to Desert Breeze Publishing with a planned release date in April, 2011.

Desert Breeze is a relatively new publisher but already has a track record for producing wonderful e-books. I'm both honored and humbled that they've accepted my story.

It's also been fun to meet other Desert Breeze authors online and chat about the biz. Many thanks for the opportunity to Editor in Chief Gail Delaney and the great folks at Desert Breeze.


Visit the Desert Breeze Publishing website and take a look at their wonderful variety of novels.

I'm also pleased about an interview with David Wisehart that appeared on his Kindle Author blog recently. It's a great blog and it's fun to read interviews with other authors -- to see what motivates them to write, why they published Kindle books, and other interesting topics.

Read it here: Kindle Author Interview -- Connie Chastain

David is an author and playwright, director and producer who also finds the time to help Kindle authors get the word out about their stories.

Thanks for the interview, David

New Cover for Southern Man

Has wimmins on it, more color and a textured background. A little less corporate, a little more organic.  Click the "comments" link and lemme know what you think!

For a really up-close comparison of old and new, plus a look at the new back cover blurb, click HERE.

Rabies Scare!

Spot, July 26, 2010
Is this the face of a rabid cat?  Until the infection reaches a certain stage and symptoms begin to show, you can't tell just by looking.

This is Spot, a semi-stray my husband and I are feeding and trying to socialize so he can be checked, innoculated, etc.

Spot bit me recently and sent me into a rabies scare.  There are other stressors and anxiety-producers at work in my life right now, or I probably would have been more rational about the bite and its aftermath.

Whole story here, if you're interested: A Scary Cat Tale

I've calmed down now; Spot grows more laid back and "at home" here. Looks like it was a lot of worry for nothing.

But isn't most worry for nothing?

Spot, May 2010

Check out my interview...

...at Tabby's Nocturnal Nights Blog.  http://www.tabithablakesnocturnalnights.com/interviews_3.html

Thanks to Tabitha Blake for the opportunity!

A plotter tries pantsing

So I was browsing I-Stockphoto one day, looking for pics for a book trailer video, and I came across this photo of a spooky road. I found it interesting. Intriguing and inspirational, really. The kind of picture you can create a story from. It would make a great book cover.

I downloaded a comp and the germ of a story idea took form in my mind. I write romances, or mainstream with romantic elements, so the germ was romantic.

I had the impression of a woman being driven down this scary road by a man she didn't know -- and, of course, being afraid. But since it would be a romance, they'd get past her initial fear, develop a relationship and end up with their own HEA. The title "Wrong Turn" came to me, so I made a cover (these are inspirational motivators for me) and put it on the back burner.

Every time I ran across my story-less cover, it would tempt me to write a story to match. I finally gave in and decided to attempt a 20,000-word novella, as several romance e-publishers are asking for them.

I'm a plotter -- have to outline, have to make notes, have to do research, have to illustrate... Gotta know my characters, gotta know what happens, and when, and why.

But I decided to write the novella by the seat of my pants. Pantsers, as they are known, just sit down and start typing, and go wherever the story leads. They don't know when they start where it might end up.

I've read that most writers are a little of both -- that pantsers do a little plotting; and that plotters sometimes let the story, or a character, lead them where they will.

I don't know if I can do this pantser stuff. Where this story's taking me is absolutely bizarre. It started taking on a "paranormal" cast. I don't do paranormal. Vampires, shifters, aliens -- forget it. Gimme a real flesh-and-blood son of Adam, a human male, a MAN for my hero. So my hero remained human, and the paranormal elements came from something else.

Bigfoot.

Yes, Bigfoot in Dixie, since my stories are set in the South. Don't laugh. The Pacific Northwest doesn't have a corner on crypto-primates.

So the story started taking shape... and unfortunately did a little plot shape-shifting, if you'll pardon the pun. What started out as a heroine lost in a storm and then trapped with a mysterious hero by flood waters, now has mad scientists and crypto-monkeys with psychotronic brain implants. Bizarre!

I'm tempted to give up on this story. Just toss it and start plotting a real romance, like normal. But I said I was going to pants it, so I'll keep plugging away at it, until I'm absolutely certain it is a lost cause.

Meanwhile, you natural pantsers out there... Does this ever happen to you?

First harvest...

These are the first items from my upside-down garden -- a couple of cucumbers. Frankly, folks, I'm amazed that this even happened. The big one is a bit small--about five inches long. But I've got 'em in the fridge cooling down. Looking forward to a cuke-and-ranch salad!


Yum!

Book trailers revisited

In my latest essay for The False Rape Society blog, my subject was false sexual harassment statistics. (You can read the essay here: Rape Culture 101: The Little Brother of War.)

I gave a little background about my online search for the statistics, which I needed for a promotional video for my novel, Southern Man.

Now, because I enjoy editing videos (and Movie Maker is fun to play with) I ended up making four book trailer videos for Southern Man. But the one with the EEO stats has the greatest impact, I think.

Writing about my search made me nostalgic, so I've decided to post the video here. Enjoy!

Southern Man by Connie Chastain -- Book Trailer II from Connie Chastain on Vimeo.

Sweet Southern Boys -- Excerpt

Sweet Southern Boys is the sequel to Southern Man. The manuscript is about fifty percent complete. Here's  the blurb and an excerpt, the opener. Enjoy! And e-mail me your comments!



Shelby and the Other-Brothers ....

Shelby Kincaid, Randy Stevenson and John Mark Jordan have been best friends since grade school. Growing up in a small town in south Georgia, they have watched out for Shelby's little sister, Ainsley, and butted heads with Shelby's rival, Wesley Bratcher, a Northern-transplant. They've hunted and fished, played football, studied and learned, worked and worshipped -- together. The sons of close-knit families, they have been raised to be responsible, to revere God, and to love.

But when they are seniors in high school, they are charged with unspeakable crimes. Branded as criminals in headlines from coast to coast, persecuted by the justice system, abandoned by their community, their lives shattered and their futures jeopardized, they have nowhere to turn but themselves, their families and their faith.

Sweet Southern Boys is a tale of what happens when societal watchdogs run amok and political correctness carries more weight than truth.
___________________________

Sweet Southern Boys

by

Connie Chastain

Excerpt

Prologue

Verona, Georgia
January 15, 1993

The vehicle streaked westward on a dirt road through sparse woodlands, kicking up dust in its wake. Behind the wheel, Randy Stevenson, soon to turn eighteen, monitored the road ahead. Tall and broad shouldered, he was a gracefully muscled athlete. Shaggy black hair framed his face -- a sensitive, enigmatic face that captivated girls at Verona High School.

Only people who knew him well--and the two boys with him knew him as well as anyone in the world-- would know how agitated he was behind his stony expression. His nostrils flared, his respiration was rapid and shallow. His hands were not trembling only because they held the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip.

A last quarter moon hung in the sky ahead, glowing through a hazy cloud cover. It was eight o'clock. The temperature hovered around forty degrees and the three boys wore lightweight jackets over their jeans and shirts.

Randy's eyes darted to the rear view mirror. In the distance, a dusk-to-dawn light cast a circular glow in the misty darkness and shone down on the riverside cabin the boys had hastily departed moments before. The cabin and the half dozen vehicles parked around it disappeared as trees closed in behind the speeding car.

How does my garden grow?

Frankly, I'm amazed. I didn't know whether this was gonna work or not. And it's still open to question. I won't call it a success until I have a tasty tomato sandwich, some cheesy squash and a cuke-and-ranch salad on my table....

They're really growing!

First cucumber blooms -- there were two this day.
Many more now.

Tomato bloom -- there are actually four cozily sharing a stem.

Squash blooms.  There are tons of them!

But the plants are growing and blooming. The squash is particularly active, with literally dozens of buds -- and blooms opening every day. I read that the early blooms on squash plants are usually male, and that's why they fall off; the female blooms have little bulges at the base.

I keep watering and feeding and checking. So far no worms or bugs, although some of the tomato leaves have turned dark at the edges. The plant seems okay though.

I'm kinda proud.  I'm no farm girl and this is miraculous stuff for me. 

Authonomizing!

After reading about authonomy for several months, I decided to check it out for myself. Basically, authonomy is HarperCollins' experimental e-alternative to the traditional paper slushpile. It's a website where writers, readers, agents, editors and publishers gather to read and evaluate unpublished or self-published works.

The uploaded material, most often several chapters of novels, but there's nonfiction, too, is read and rated, and the ratings calculated into rankings. The top five ranking books each month make it to the "editor's desk" where a board made of HarperCollins editors read at least 10,000 words and offer feedback to the author.

The hope is that the editors will find among the electronic slushpile offerings a submission they'd like to publish. Thus far (authonomy has been operating for several months), three novels have been found on authonomy and published by HarperCollins. Ironically, they weren't among those making it to the top five and the editors' desk.

The odds of your novel being found and snatched up at authonomy look, well, pretty dismal. However, there's more going on there than meets the eye. Editors and agents not affiliated with HarperCollins are said to lurk there. How many publishable jewels they might have found, nobody is saying.

I published Southern Man myself because I thought the underlying theme of anti-feminism would make it unpalatable to traditional publishers. Nevertheless, I decided to upload my novel at authonomy and just see what would happen.


HarperCollins is a British company with branches around the world. A great many participants at authonomy are European. My impression, just from reading the offerings at authonomy, is that writers across the pond, and in Australia and New Zealand, are talented wordsmiths and story tellers, and I've been gratified by the reception they've given Southern Man.

If I understand the rankings, Southern Man has gone from 5261 when uploaded on April 30 to 971 today, May 16. The green up arrow indicates that it has gained 97 points in rankings over the last time is was calculated (which I assume is daily). I don't know that it will sustain this climb in the rankings enough to make it to the Editor's Desk. Time will tell.

But meanwhile, I've enjoyed some of the comments left by readers -- what a boon to an author's ego!
I don't know whether HarperCollins' experiment with an electronic slushpile will ultimately prevail, but something will have to replace paper submissions eventually, to all publishers, just for the sake of saving trees. What shape the future of submissions takes will likely be greatly influenced by the authonomy experience.

Any Web-TV old timers out there?

In about 1998, I learned about the World Wide Web on my computer at work, and when I changed jobs, I was anxious to get online at home. I checked into Web-TV and decided it would be a cost-effective temporary substitute for a computer.

I was a happy webber, and kept my Web-TV subscription for a good while after I got a computer in the summer of 1999. My mom was also bit by the Web-TV bug and we bought her several of the units -- usually they'd meet their demise when lightning struck close by.

She loved her Web-TV and she loved her kitty-cat, Boonie.



One of the things we both loved were some of the background tunes. There were lots of them, in various genres -- we liked jazz, funk and rock the most. Yeah, yeah, they were midi files, very rudimentary electronic music, but there were some that really grabbed us: Cool Shades, Flute Boy, Funky, Future Sound, Groovy, Herbie, Jive Coffee, PCH, Xess, Renegado.

Periodically since I've been online with my computers, I've looked for midi archives with Web-TV's music. Happily, I recently found one here: http://www.gnu-bee.com/webbie_zone.shtml

I've downloaded all my favorites, even though some are rmf (rich music format) files that I can't play with out a Beatnik player, which is no longer supported by Beatnik. I'll keep looking for a player, or a program that will convert .rmf files to .mid files.

If anyone knows how to do this, lemme know!

Raising gardens, raising books...

My little upside down garden seems to be doing well.  There's a bloom on the tomato plant!


I'm also very excited to have received a request from a publisher for a partial (first three chapters) of Storm Surge!  It will be several weeks before I hear from them about whether to submit the entire manuscript. Meanwhile, I'm working on Sweet Southern Boys and some other writing projects.

Looking forward to the day a few weeks from now when I'm sitting at the computer, preparing my next query/submission, with a plate next to my keyboard -- tempting me with a sandwich made with tomatoes from my own little upside down garden!

Blogging at The False Rape Society

I'm gratified by the opportunity to become a contributor to this fantastic blog begun by Attorney Pierce Harlan.  You can't read my blog or website -- or my novels -- without concluding that I'm no feminist and that I support the men's rights movement.  And false rape accusations overwhelmingly impact men.

Over time, I'll  educate myself on what feminists say about the "rape culture" and how it appears to impact the growing number of false rape accusations.  Actually, do anyone but feminists talk about a "rape culture"?  I think the claim is as dubious as the article positing that overwhelming "hatred of women" exists in the United States (it was on truthout years ago, or Daily Kos or one of those ultra-lib websites -- I'll find it and post a link when I have time).  Really?  The USA, where women have excessive influence over government, run public education, and enjoy the cushiest female existence on the planet?  Gimme a break!

In any case, I'll post what I discover in short essays at The False Rape Society.  Many thanks to Pierce for the opportunity!

Taking a break from writing...

 ...to mess around in the great outdoors....

My Upside Down Garden

I'm not much of a TV watcher, but I've been doing a little more of that lately and one thing that's caught my eye is something called the Topsy Turvy tomato planter. Last time I tried to grow tomatoes, squirrels and some kind of little worm shredded the plants, so I wondered if this off-the-ground garden might work for me. 

But with my track record, I didn't want to spend twenty bucks per planter. Soooo, I got online and found all sorts of do-it-yourself upside down planter instructions (I do love the Internet!) and decided to try my hand at upside down gardening on the cheap.

My planters are gallon ice cream buckets (I've been sticking them in the back of the cabinet for-ever -- always knew they'd come in handy for something!). They're smaller than the Topsy Turvy and some other homemade solutions (five-gallon hard plastic buckets, for example), which means I'll have to water and feed the plants more often.

But here's my first attempt, cobbled together Tuesday and Wednesday, April 20 and 21, 2010.

Below: My happy little ice cream bucket upside-down planters --  one missing a top. Various sites recommend keeping a top on the planter, to keep in moisture. Apparently these things can dry out pretty fast. Recommendations are to water once or twice a day, and feed the plants every couple of weeks.

Below. Big Boy tomato -- 78 days from transplant to harvest. Late June or early July, tomatoes on my table! Yum!


Below: Yellow crookneck squash. (Love cheesy squash!) Sixty-five days to harvest.

Below: Cucumber. Fifty-five days to harvest after transplanting. Ah, I can taste the cuke and tomato salad now!


Below. Another view of my upside down veggie garden. I knotted the plant hangers from clothesline -- it's made to take what the outdoors dishes out -- purchased at a big box store.

Below: The, um, gallows? I made it myself from two old fence posts and a somewhat curved two by four.

Below. My post hole diggers -- an old kitchen knife and a throw-away plastic container (purchased at Winn-Dixie full of macaroni salad or cole slaw). I recycle these containers but I've never used one as a substitute spade! (We used to have some for-real post-hole diggers, but I have no idea where they got off to.)

Below: Another tip found online. Make a "soaker" waterer out of an old gallon milk jug with pinholes punched in the bottom. Since my planters are "half-size" I'm using a half-gallon jug.

So there it is; my upside down veggie garden. Maybe this is just the beginning --peppers next? Beans and peas? Herbs growing out the top? We'll see how it goes.

Just released -- High On a Mountain by Tommie Lyn

A MacLachlainn Saga, Book One: Ailean.

The stirring tale of one man's remarkable journey through life; a story of adventure and love...of faith, loss and redemption.


Dedicated to our Scottish ancestors,
who suffered so much, yet
endured it all without complaint
and without succumbing to self-pity.


As a boy, Ailean MacLachlainn dreamed of living an adventurous life and longed to be a celebrated warrior of his clan. Until a shy smile and a glance from Mùirne's blue eyes turned his head and escalated his rivalry with Latharn into enmity and open conflict.

When Ailean became a man, his boyhood dreams faded. Until Bonnie Prince Charlie came to reclaim his father's throne. The Jacobite loyalties of Ailean's clan chief involved the MacLachlainns in the uprising and set Ailean on a course toward a destiny of which he could never have dreamed.

A hearty congratualtions to my sister, Tommie Lyn, on the publication of the book that started it all for her. Fantastic job, sis!

Pensacola Tax Day Tea Party!

Click here to see pics from the rally in Pensacola, Florida

Confederate History Month


"The SOUTH is a land that has known sorrows; it is a land that has broken the ashen crust and moistened it with tears; a land scarred and riven by the plowshare of war and billowed with the graves of her dead; but a land of legend, a land of song, a land of hallowed and heroic memories.

"To that land every drop of my blood, every fiber of my being, every pulsation of my heart, is consecrated forever. I was born of her womb; I was nurtured at her breast; and when my last hour shall come, I pray GOD that I may be pillowed upon her bosom and rocked to sleep within her tender and encircling arms."

Edward Ward Carmack (1858-1908),
United States Representative, Tennessee

It's unfortunate if anyone is offended by my tribute to Confederate History Month, but I don't apologize for esteeming my Southern ancestors, or blame them for fighting an invading army that brought waste, fire and death to their homes and region.


My position is that the people of the Confederacy were no worse than anyone else -- particularly the ones who came South and made war on them.

I'm not one of those who claim, "The war had nothing to do with slavery." Nor do I accept the simplistic reasoning that slavery was the only reason for the war. A review of history plainly shows that there had been bad blood between north and South since colonial days; slavery was just an excuse to bring the animosity to blows.


I can't say it any better than Douglas Harper has written it:
Dealing with American history on this level requires patience and the ability to get past attitudes unwilling to go further than, "They had slaves, slaves were wrong, the South deserves everything it got." The American Civil War was "about" slavery like the Boston Tea Party was "about" tea. Slavery became the symbol and character of all sectional differences. It was the emotional gasoline on the sectional fires. Its moral and social implications colored every issue in terms of right and rights. William Seward, the Republican leader whose party made so much of this, recognized the fact: "Every question, political, civil, or ecclesiastical, however foreign to the subject of slavery, brings up slavery as an incident, and the incident supplants the principal question."

No matter what squabbles the regions had, and there were many, somebody always brought slavery into the argument, so that what has come down to us is an erroneous emphasis on slavery as the only issue.

All that's necessary to see there was far more to the war than slavery is to read the declarations of secession issued by the states. On anti-Southern blogs, you sometimes find the declarations with everything deleted but the passages referring to slavery.


This is possibly a photo of my ancestor, Private Balus Brackett, Company I, 39th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Army of Tennessee, C.S.A. Gilmer County, Georgia, "Gilmer Tigers #2" Joined the Confederate Army March 4, 1862. Fought in the Battle of Corinth, Miss, October 3-4, 1862

In any case, whatever others may choose, I will honor my Confederate ancestors and their causes, plural, their gallantry, their nobility, their sacrifice. Had the Confederate States of America prevailed, had slavery ended peacefully, the victim of economics and industrialization, as it had ended everywhere else up till then, I can't imagine the CSA would be any more screwed up today than the United States of America is....

Heroines of the Confederate States of America

A politically incorrect tribute on the occasion of Women's History Month 2010
Varina Davis
Varina Howell Davis
First Lady of the Confederacy
http://www.civilwar.si.edu/leaders_varinadavis.html#
________________________________________

Mary Boykin Chesnut
The Confederacy's Renown Diarist
http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/chesnut/bio.html
Diary here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/chesnut/menu.html
________________________________________

Rose O'Neal Greenhow
Famous Confederate Spy and Courier to Europe
http://www.mycivilwar.com/leaders/greenhow_rose.htm
________________________________________

Belle Boyd
Confederate Spy and "Cleopatra of Secession"
http://civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/maria-belle-boyd.html
________________________________________

Emma Sansom, Gallant Frarm Girl of Alabama
http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1360
________________________________________

LaGrange, Georgia's female militia, The Nancy Harts
Named for a Georgia heroine of the American Revolution
http://www.forttyler.com/nancyharts.htm
http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/nancyharts.html
________________________________________

The Women of Roswell Mills, Georgia
Civilian captives of the Yankee invader
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1086


Photos: Varina Davis, Wikipedia; Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina; Belle Boyd, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina; Mary Boykin Chesnut, City of Alexandria website: Emma Sansom, Alabama Archives and History via FindAGrave.

A great cause to support

Men's Studies. But really? Is that necessary?

For decades, education in the United States has been oriented to the way girls learn while showing hostility to how boys learn. As a result, boys are falling behind in school. Almost two-thirds of college students are females, which is used as justification for denying male students participation in sports. Boys are three to four times as likely as girls to commit suicide.

Men die sooner. They account for over 90% of workplace deaths. They have been hit particularly hard by the service economy and the current recession. Men are disproportionately victimized by America's family court system, having their children and livelihood stolen from them. Male victims of domestic violence are routinely ignored by legislators, law enforcement and the public. Men are disproportionately demonized in the media and the popular culture.

Feminism claims to be about equality of the sexes. Why, then, have there been Women's Studies courses in our universities for decades, but no Men's Studies?

Hopefully, that is about to change, thanks to the On Step Institute which is sponsoring a symposium on Male Studies on April 7, 2010.

As a supporter of Men's Rights, I give the On Step Institute a hearty cheer.

MaleStudies.org

We have a winner!

Folks, I apologize for my Itsy Bitsy Story Contest being sabotaged by technology (or the failure thereof) among other things. We had one vote, cast by starfleetbrat, which went to Shannon. And here's Shannon's winning entry:

The vice president had told him to create a "game plan" to sell the stockholders on the new direction the company was taking. Mark knew what he was - a shill for the suits. It was time to learn how to talk out of both sides of his mouth, he figured. No one really believed those motivational posters right? Supposedly inspirational pictures with pithy sayings to keep the grunts from complaining too loudly. His promotion put him on the inside and so he had to wear the mask. His boss, of course, called it being a team player.


Congratulation, Shannon. And thanks to all who participated!

Connie

Let the voting begin

Congrats and thanks to the seven entrants in the Itsy Bitsy Story Contest. I'm glad I'm the moderator and don't get a vote, because they're all great and I'd lose sleep trying to choose!

Read the stories here: Entries

Then, beginning at midnight (February 8) choose your favorite by number or author name -- and vote in the comments HERE.

Voting ends Sunday, February 14, 2010 at midnight.

1. Alison McEvoy Murray
"She loves me...she loves me not....

2. Rowan Elizabeth
"She watches him from across the library...."

3. starfleetbrat
"He sees her by the water cooler..."

4. lastingdreams
"With all the technology surrounding us..."

5. Shannon
"The vice president had told to create a 'game plan'..."

6. serafine-fic
"Surrounded by the files they had worked so hard on...."

7. Ai
"Dear Mom, Boarding school sucks..."

It's been great fun and I hope to do it again, with more promotion and, hopefully, more great entries!

Thanks again to all who entered stories. You're all great writers!

Connie

Woohoo, Saints Superbowl Champs!

Congrats to Coach Sean Peyton, Quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on their Superbowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Husband ecstatic; crying tears of joy. He's a Louisiana Boy who's been waiting for this for decades!