“Free, a Novella”
Author: Felicia Denise
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Lenore Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.
The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.
The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.
But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.
Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.
With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.
A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved on from.
Free, a Novella is a short, clean read recounting one woman’s determination to not be broken by life or lose her identity.
Leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees, Lennie stared across the empty living room. The day Duncan ran from her had been one of her most painful. He had always been a high-spirited child. More prone to wander, break a rule, or lead his younger brothers astray. However, he’d never done anything that warranted more than a time-out. Duncan had never been cruel to anyone or deliberately put anyone in harm’s way. Had someone told Lennie the argument in the high school parking lot with her son would take place, she would have thought them crazy.
But it did happen.
Insistent on not entering counseling, Duncan had run from Lennie. The anger building inside her at his disrespectful tone dissipated immediately at her last glimpse of his eyes. Confusion. Pain. And fear. Lennie had seen it all in her son’s face and was even more determined to get him to a therapist. She would not allow this to scar his life… not if she could help. Ranard had received no help for the verbally abusive childhood he had because of his father. Lennie knew his failure as a husband and father were directly related to his relationship with his father.
Duncan deserved a better life.
The memory played over and over again in Lennie’s mind.
She sat in her Chevy Tahoe taking glances in the direction Duncan had gone. Lennie wanted him to come back… but knew he wouldn’t. The despair Lennie knew he felt would now be enhanced by the shame of his behavior with her.
Still thinking about the situation with her eldest son, Lenore Porter absently drove home. Pulling her vehicle into the garage, she exited and went through the garage’s rear entrance to her back door… and found Duncan sitting in the old swing near the Sugar Maple tree. He shook his head slowly without meeting her gaze.
“I’m sorry, mom.”
“I’m glad you’re safe, sweetheart.”
“I shouldn’t have run away like that.”
“You were upset. Looks like you still are.”
“I’m not crazy, mama… I’m not.”
Lennie’s chest tightened. He had not called her that since second grade. Sitting her bag at the back door, Lennie walked over and took the swing next to Duncan. They both rocked in the silence until Lenore spoke.
“Most people who go to counseling aren’t mentally ill, Dunc. Life just has a way of dumping too much on us at once,” she touched his hand, “the drowning feeling you mentioned? You’re overwhelmed. It happens to us all at some point during our lives.”
“Have you ever felt like you were drowning, mom?”
“Not drowning so much as… helpless.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well, don’t take this as clinical or anything, but I knew the problem and I knew the cause. I just couldn’t fix it.”
“Dad.” It was a statement, not a question.
Lennie’s smile was bittersweet. “Yes.”
“He hasn’t been very nice to you, mom.” Taking a deep breath, Duncan continued. “But you never gave up. You’ve always been… mom.”
“Darlin, the obstacle doesn’t exist that could separate me from my Porter Patrol. Good days or bad, you and your brothers always got the best of me, and you always will. I couldn’t give you the stereotyped version of a good family life, but I tried to make sure you have a good life. I don’t think we’ve done too badly. This is a bump in the road, and-”
“Can you make me another appointment with the shrink?” Duncan laughed at the smirk on her face. “Okay, okay. Counselor, therapist… whatever. I still don’t want to go, but I’ve let you down enough.” He looked at his feet.
“Duncan? Lennie didn’t speak again until he looked at her. “You have never let me down. You’re sixteen years old and going through a bad time because of the actions of adults. You haven’t done anything wrong. But this is something you have to want. You cannot do it for me, baby. You don’t have to want to go to counseling… you have to want to get better and be your old self again.”
“So, you’ll make the appointment?”
“We haven’t missed today’s appointment yet.”
“I was picking you up from school early… to give us time to talk before the appointment.” Lennie looked at her watch. “We’ll just make it. Run in and wash up and change your shirt. I’ll wait right here.”
Nodding, the teen stood and headed for the back door, but stopped. He turned, walked back and kissed his mother’s forehead. Without a word, Duncan went into the house.
Smiling when he kissed her, Lenore’s smile faded as Duncan walked away. Her son was angry… and afraid. The past had scarred them all.
Though no new content will be added, the first ten installments of Free, a Novella will remain available online.
Image from Pixabay
“Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances”
Author: Leland Melvin
Release Date: May 23, 2017
In this moving, inspirational memoir, a former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.
Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space. Though his path from the gridiron to the heavens was riddled with setbacks and injury, Leland persevered to reach the stars.
While training with NASA, Melvin suffered a severe injury that left him deaf. Leland was relegated to earthbound assignments, but chose to remain and support his astronaut family. His loyalty paid off. Recovering partial hearing, he earned his eligibility for space travel. He served as mission specialist for two flights aboard the shuttle Atlantis, working on the International Space Station.
In this inspirational memoir, the former NASA astronaut and professional athlete offers an examination of the intersecting role of community, perseverance, and grace that align to shape our opportunities and outcomes. Chasing Space is not the story of one man, but the story of many men, women, scientists, and mentors who helped him defy the odds and live out an uncommon destiny.
As a chemist, athlete, engineer and space traveler, Leland’s life story is a study in the science of achievement. His personal insights illuminate how grit and grace, are the keys to overcoming adversity and rising to success.
The common sense approach wins every time! 😉
Hello SEers! Welcome to another Monday Blog. Today, I thought I’d write about how to harvest the crop of your writing, and to that end, I am re-using the fertile soil of an old article I wrote for an online writing mag that has now, sadly, closed its doors. I make no apologies for my … ahem … artwork 🙂
To write a book is to become intimate with change. And, if we do it right, we’ll have something to harvest at the end of the process. As with any process, while each individual step is important, timing is everything. We need to know when to interfere, and when to leave well alone. Whether the problem be over-watering, or under, the end result will be the same: The seed of imagination will never make it to a full grown, published and successful book.
So, how do we best harvest the…
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Works for me! 😉
by Lauren Sapala
About ten years ago I worked for a startup that launched a social media site for published authors. This was the first place where I really started to meet writers and come in contact with people in the industry. In the spring of 2008 one of the topics being bantered about on our website was the question of self-publishing. Specifically, did the rise of it spell tragedy for good literature everywhere?
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Week 20: 52-Week Writing Challenge
Word prompt – downsized
Ramsey felt God had punished him enough.
An honors graduate of Northwestern with nineteen years professional business experience should not be managing a second-rate grocery store.
He fumed thinking about the brand new sixty-foot boat his brother now owned.
Ramsey Carter’s pulse quickened remembering the sadness of his wife’s eyes viewing the photos from her sister’s European vacation.
The former new accounts director owned a boat once. Ramsey took his wife to Europe for their eleventh wedding anniversary… thirteen years ago.
But that was all in the past. The boat was sold two years ago in Ramsey’s second full year of unemployment. Unless they won the lottery, the Carters may never see Europe again.
Closing his laptop, Ramsey pinched the bridge of his noise. Grateful the new work schedule was complete, Ramsey wasn’t looking forward to the usual employee complaints. His penny-pinching regional manager decreased Ramsey’s allotted monthly staffing hours again. The deli and bakery would have to close five hours early to keep checkout lanes and customer service staffed.
Senior employees would scream. Insisting they’d already paid their dues by working the inconvenient shifts and doing grunt work, being scheduled for swing or short shifts was a slap in the face to long term staff.
Ramsey Carter agreed with them. He believed years of service and loyalty to an employer should mean something… have some value.
Or at least he used to.
He believed it right up to the day Bentek Corp’s security escorted him to the parking garage. Security manager Dick Roddy took Ramsey’s employee identification card, handed him an envelope, and walked away.
So, while understanding employee anger at their situation, Ramsey had a job to do. Take the newly allotted hours and staff the store for eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.
At least he wasn’t firing anyone. Yet.
Easing his tired body from the chair, Ramsey headed for shipping and receiving to double check the evening lock-down.
Passing through Household Goods and hearing his name called, Ramsey turned. The throbbing in his head was immediate along with the bitter taste in his mouth.
Delia Pennock, health and beauty clerk, teetered toward him on heels too high… and unsafe for the workplace.
How many times would Ramsey have to warn this woman?
Before Delia caught up to him, Ramsey’s inter-store walkie buzzed. The display showed the call was coming from Ramsey’s intended destination — shipping and receiving.
“What’s up, Minas?”
“Need you back here, Ramsey. Now.”
“On my way.”
Red-faced and out of breath, Delia reached Ramsey as he returned the walkie to his belt-clip.
“Ramsey, I know you’re working on the next schedule. Do be a dear and not schedule me for the opening shift or on the checkout stands.”
“Sorry, Delia. The schedule’s done. You open on the express checkout week two of the schedule.”
He turned to leave, but Delia caught hold of his arm. Ramsey looked back to find the bottle-blonde attempting a full-fledged pout. Pursing his lips, Ramsey stepped out of Delia’s grip.
“Ramsey! Six in the morning is just too early for someone with a social life as active as mine.”
“It’s your turn, Delia. You know the rotation.”
Delia had gall. He had to give her that. Most employee scheduling concerns were about babysitting issues, evening classes and caring for disabled family members. Only Delia would want special treatment so she could sit in a bar all night.
Though her employee file carried a birth-date making Delia thirty-nine years old, Ramsey Carter would swear in open court sitting on top of Bible-mountain she was older than his forty-seven years. Even from where he stood, Ramsey could see the layers of makeup on Delia’s face intended to hide wrinkles. It didn’t.
“I have to go, Delia. Problem in S and R. And Delia,” he looked at her feet, “the shoes.”
“Oh, okay. We’ll talk… later.”
Ramsey walked away in double-time to keep from laughing in the woman’s face.
If the employee rumor mill were to be believed, Delia Pennock lured three of the last four store managers into sexual trysts outside… and inside the store. The fourth manager was female and not into women, even though it was said Delia tried anyway.
Ramsey Carter had no intention of becoming the over-the-hill party girl’s latest conquest.
Toni Temple-Carter was the sunshine in Ramsey’s life. He’d loved her since the day she’d walked into their seventh-grade English class. But the shy, awkward Ramsey Carter resigned to be just friends with the dark-skinned beauty. For six years Ramsey watched Toni date other guys, his heart breaking piece by piece each time. When he learned Toni would also be attending Northwestern, it cheered him to know he would still get to see Toni from time to time.
Ramsey’s world spun out of control the day Toni Temple plopped down on the bench next to him in the Student Union.
“Do you like me, Ramsey… at all?”
Ramsey, still gawky at nineteen, sputtered for the right words.
“Huh? Like you? Of… of course, Toni. We’re… friends. Have been for a l-long time.”
“Why haven’t you ever asked me out?”
Ramsey’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“Ask… you out? Because… I thought… we’re friends. I didn’t think-”
“Ask me out.”
“Ask me out.”
Understanding registered with Ramsey and the two young people shared a grin.
“Will you go out me, Toni?”
“Yes, Ramsey Carter. I thought you’d never ask.”
They’d been inseparable ever since, marrying five years later.
Committed to each other, the Carters had avoided most of the pitfalls which darken some marriages. When their second son entered college, Toni and Ramsey were excited about the future and making plans. Plans which imploded less than a year later when Ramsey was downsized out of Bentek Corp.
Toni was steadfast, never complaining about their financial situation. At the end of her work day, the nursing manager would often pick up extra hours in patient care to help with their household budget. Toni never blamed Ramsey or even Bentek for their lot and Ramsey was in awe of her. Each time he looked at her, Ramsey saw nothing but love in her eyes.
Other downsized Bentek employees lost everything… homes, savings, and their marriages. But Toni was Ramsey’s fortress, holding him up and shielding him from the depression which threatened to take him.
Yes, the Carters sold their boat, the cabin upstate, and their timeshares. And they no longer splurged on artsy furnishings or ate out. But they had saved their home and kept both their sons in college. Toni often said they were an unbeatable team, but Ramsey knew better. Toni’s love for him was his armor against the world, but her endless faith in him gave him the strength to keep moving forward.
When Ramsey suggested putting their artistic sides to good use by getting into the on-line graphic arts business, Toni not only agreed, but she researched and found the best on-line classes they could afford. Eighteen months later, the couple was close to realizing their dream and beginning a new journey together. Ramsey knew it would be a struggle at first, both of them working full-time while trying to start their own business. But Ramsey looked forward to the day when he was his own boss.
Opening the security door separating shipping and receiving from the rest of the store. Ramsey Carter gawked at the sight before him.
Department manager, Minas Fortuni, stood at the bay doors attempting to unbend metal around a three-foot hole in the door.
“What the hell?” Ramsey inched forward, his stomach churning at the paperwork in his immediate future. “What happened, Minas?”
Shaking his head, Minas gave up his futile attempts to close the hole.
“That last delivery guy… from Buckley Dairy… didn’t swing the back end of his trailer wide end enough. Backed right into the door. He leaned out the window and saw what he’d done. Know what he did then, Ramsey?”
The store manager stared at the hole in the door, still incredulous.
Minas continued. “He said, “Oops, sorry, dude” and drove off. Just like that.”
Ramsey hung his head defeated. He was tired, hungry and he wanted to go home. This day had to end.
Ramsey Carter decided it was time to delegate. “You busy this evening, Minas?”
“No, and I already put in a call to Rolla-Doorz. It’s going to cost extra, but they’re sending a guy over.”
“Good thinking, Minas. If you’re willing to stay and cover for me, I’ll authorize the overtime… as long as it takes.”
“Of course, I’ll stay. It’s Patty’s turn to host girls’ night. You’re saving me from watching a bunch of baby boomer females get drunk and cavort around the house to the soundtrack from “Grease.” It’s a win-win situation for us both. Go home, man… I got you covered.”
“Thanks, Minas. I owe you for this… big-time!”
Returning to his office in record time, Ramsey made quick notes about the incident and put the Buckley Dairy file on his desk for tomorrow. Before Ramsey could lock his file cabinet, Dale Johnson from the meat department leaned into his office.
“Hey, Ramsey… got a slip and fall near aisle twelve. The woman says the floor was wet and Good Buy Foods is going to pay for her pain and suffering.”
Ramsey leaned against his desk, ready to scream.
“Is the woman okay? Anything broken? Bleeding? Do we need to get paramedics here?”
Dale smirked. “Ramsey… she’s fine.”
“Is someone with her?”
“Yeah. Gail from the front desk.”
“Okay, on my way.”
Ramsey pulled an accident report from the file cabinet along with the store’s Polaroid and headed out of his office. He stopped and returned to his desk, grabbing his cell phone.
Ramsey had to let Toni know he’d be late getting home… again.
Honoré de Balzac (born Honoré Balzac, 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French author/novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.
Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac, and Henry James.
Lorraine Hansberry was born at Provident Hospital on the South Side of Chicago on May 19, 1930. She was the youngest of Nannie Perry Hansberry and Carl Augustus Hansberry’s four children. Her father founded Lake Street Bank, one of the first banks for blacks in Chicago, and ran a successful real estate business. Her uncle was William Leo Hansberry, a scholar of African studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Many prominent African-American social and political leaders visited the Hansberry household during Lorraine’s childhood including sociology professor W.E.B. DuBois, poet Langston Hughes, actor and political activist Paul Robeson, musician Duke Ellington and Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens.
Despite their middle-class status, the Hansberrys were subject to segregation. When she was 8 years old, Hansberry’s family deliberately attempted to move into a restricted neighborhood. Restrictive covenants, in which white property owners agreed not to sell to blacks, created a ghetto known as the “Black Belt” on Chicago’s South Side. Carl Hansberry, with the help of Harry H. Pace, president of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company and several white realtors, secretly bought property at 413 E. 60th Street and 6140 S. Rhodes Avenue. The Hansberrys moved into the house on Rhodes Avenue in May 1937. The family was threatened by a white mob, which threw a brick through a window, narrowly missing Lorraine. The Supreme Court of Illinois upheld the legality of the restrictive covenant and forced the family to leave the house. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision on a legal technicality. The result was the opening of 30 blocks of South Side Chicago to African Americans. Although the case did not argue that racially restrict covenants were unlawful, it marked the beginning of their end.
Lorraine graduated from Englewood High School in Chicago, where she first became interested in theater. She enrolled in the University of Wisconsin but left before completing her degree. After studying painting in Chicago and Mexico, Hansberry moved to New York in 1950 to begin her career as a writer. She wrote for Paul Robeson’s Freedom, a progressive publication, which put her in contact with other literary and political mentors such as W.E.B. DuBois and Freedom editor Louis Burnham. During a protest against racial discrimination at New York University, she met Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish writer who shared her political views. They married on June 20, 1953, at the Hansberrys’ home in Chicago.
In 1956, her husband and Burt D’Lugoff wrote the hit song, “Cindy, Oh Cindy.” Its profits allowed Hansberry to quit working and devote herself to writing. She then began a play she called The Crystal Stair, from Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son.” She later retitled it A Raisin in the Sun from Hughes’ poem, “Harlem: A Dream Deferred.”
In A Raisin in the Sun, the first play written by an African-American to be produced on Broadway, she drew upon the lives of the working-class black people who rented from her father and who went to school with her on Chicago’s South Side. She also used members of her family as inspiration for her characters. Hansberry noted similarities between Nannie Hansberry and Mama Younger and between Carl Hansberry and Big Walter. Walter Lee, Jr. and Ruth are composites of Hansberry’s brothers, their wives, and her sister, Mamie. In an interview, Hansberry laughingly said, “Beneatha is me, eight years ago.”
Her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, about a Jewish intellectual, ran on Broadway for 101 performances. It received mixed reviews. Her friends rallied to keep the play running. It closed on January 12, 1965, the day Hansberry died of cancer at age 35.
Although Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced before her death, he remained dedicated to her work. As literary executor, he edited and published her three unfinished plays: Les Blancs, The Drinking Gourd and What Use Are Flowers? He also collected Hansberry’s unpublished writings, speeches, and journal entries and presented them in the autobiographical montage To Be Young, Gifted and Black. The title is taken from a speech given by Hansberry in May 1964 to winners of a United Negro Fund writing competition: “…though it be thrilling and marvelous thing to be merely young and gifted in such times, it is doubly so, doubly dynamic, to be young, gifted and black!