Short Story: Post Mortem

 From my collection Passages, an autumn story for the autumnal equinox. Enjoy…


© by @AnnieDaylon

Isadora was not willing to renege a lifetime of promise. For years she had planned, scrimped, and saved and now, at last, opportunity was here. She sprinted through the autumn woods, tendrils of silver hair streaming behind her. Every few steps, she let out a delighted laugh. What a sight she must be! An octogenarian in a full-length, black-velvet skirt, with a bulging shoulder purse hammering her titanium hip. And yet, she was dashing along with the agility of an adolescent doe.  

As she neared the clearing, she slowed her pace and kept her eyes down. What if the cabin wasn’t there? For a few seconds, her mind flirted with the extermination of hope and her body responded by coming to a standstill. A sense of fragility imbued her and she felt as one with each crisp leaf she had just crushed beneath thoughtless shoes. With heart and hope plummeting, should she go on?

Overhead, the call of bird and whoosh of wing distracted her. Isadora’s lips curved into a smile. Canada geese. Bidding their annual farewell. She took a deep breath. Wood smoke. A comforting aroma. Emboldened, she raised her head and instantly clapped her hands in glee. It was there, all of it: the old, log cabin with its red-brick chimney; the faded, inebriated-looking Adirondack chair; the window boxes with their peeling, green paint and stubborn, pink geraniums. Still blooming. Amazing.

She felt content to linger, to stare, but a blast of cold air slapped her, snaked under her billowing skirt, and caused her whole body to shudder. She clutched her purse to her chest and rushed to the rickety porch steps which whined in protest as she climbed. Sidling up to the door, she knocked. A timid knock. She waited.

As Isadora hovered, another gust of wind sent leaves flying. They swirled and spiralled around her and fell at her feet in a mosaic of ochre, red and brown. Autumn. She grimaced. To some, autumn meant renewal. To her? Her whole life, she had watched as autumn approached, encroached, and retreated, taking all living things with it.

Isadora recalled her first encounter with autumn’s cruelty. She had been playing outside and a single oak leaf, which had magically turned from green to yellow, had fluttered down and landed on her shoe. She snatched it up and ran home, intent on show-and-tell with Mommy, by the fireplace. But an eerie sound emanating from the house caused her to hesitate, to peer through a side window instead of entering. Her eyes widened and flooded as she watched her father fall to his knees, wailing, at her mother’s bedside. Interspersed with his cries, were words of regret and apology. Hard to decipher but, within seconds, the young Isadora understood. Doctors cost money. Her father had no money and, because of that, her mother, like the leaf in her hand, was dead.

That autumn, Isadora watched leaves fall, one by one, until none remained. All winter, she listened as naked trees moaned, echoing her pain. She was alone. Shuffled from one relative to another. Abandoned by a devastated father who knew nothing of raising a three-year-old girl.

Every subsequent autumn, as leaves rained to the ground, regret haemorrhaged through her pores. If only she could have changed things. Doctors cost money. If only she could have given her father money. Somehow, she always felt that she could have done something. Should have done something. But she had failed.

As she stood on the porch now, waiting, Isadora’s hope began to dwindle once again. She repeated the knock. Still no answer. Anxiety crept into her body, causing her to tremble. She let out a sob, formed her fingers into a fist, and pounded the door.

This time the door squeaked open and a tiny girl, a mere waif, stood there. Isadora gasped and recoiled. When she caught her breath, she leaned forward. “Hello,” she said to the bedraggled child who was hugging a filthy, hairless doll.

The little girl was silent.

Isadora held out the purse.

The child’s eyes popped wide. “Mommy’s purse,” she whispered. “That’s Mommy’s purse.”

“Yes.” Isadora opened the purse, displayed its contents, and closed it again. “I kept it all these years, filled it, just for you.” She placed the purse at the child’s feet. “You know what to do?”

The child nodded slowly. “Doctors cost money.”

A tidal wave of realization flooded through Isadora. She had done it.  For a few seconds, she stood, frozen. Then, in measured motion, she turned and headed down the steps. At the bottom, she paused and looked back.

The little girl, waif no more, was still standing there. Her dress, new and pink and velvet, matched that of the pristine, porcelain doll she carried and her waist-length, glistening blonde hair was topped with a pink velvet bow.

 The two exchanged no words, only smiles.

Isadora walked away, gradually picking up her pace until she was skipping along the woodland path. Deep within her, sad memories began to disperse, dropping away one by one, like the falling leaves around her. Soon those recollections were gone, replaced by images of a happy little girl, learning, laughing, and singing, at her mother’s side. 

Isadora returned to the starting point of her journey—the funeral parlour—and slid through the front Passages Book Coverdoor. She entered the viewing room and floated for a while, staring at her body, resting in its mahogany coffin. She sighed in contentment and slipped back into place. Cradle issues resolved, she was ready for the grave.

 

 

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue

 

My Personal Literary Canon

by @AnnieDaylon

The term “literary canon” refers to a collection of works considered representative of a period or genre.

Having studied English Literature (Renaissance, 19th century, Canadian Lit., and Shakespeare), I was familiar with the term, but it was not until I read “Speaking of the Canon” , a post by agent/blogger Janet Reid, that I gave serious thought to the idea of a personal literary canon.

Janet Reid begins her post as follows: “The canon is what one must have read to be considered well-educated. There is the canon for Western civilization which is largely books that are non-fiction. There is the canon of English literature (the books you’d see in an English Lit survey class in college.) There is the canon for literature of the American West.” She goes on to say that there is also a canon for whatever genre you write in.

I write historical suspense set in Newfoundland, modern day suspense set in Vancouver, and short stories with… you guessed it, suspense. I read a lot, nonfiction and fiction (literary and commercial.) When I started writing, my reading became studying. And I found my influences, my personal literary canon. These are books from writers I admire, books which sit on my shelves (not just in my Kindle) so I can go back to them frequently, riffle through the pages, find sections or paragraphs or sentences or phrases that moved me, and get transported all over again. These books make me want to write better. 

My literary canon is listed below, alphabetically by author (no affiliates here, by the way.) This list is fluid in that it changes as I learn and grow. 

Amazing things come from the dark! I fell to my knees and crawled beneath a giant fir tree to get this image.

 


Do I have an absolute favorite?

Actually, I have two:
The Crimson Petal and the White (dark) and
Fall on Your Knees (darker still.)

 


Authors, do you have a literary canon? Which writers move you to write better? Readers and writers, any titles you can suggest to me?? 

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

Big News! Shortlisted for the Whistler Independent Book Awards

by @AnnieDaylon


I am thrilled to announce that
Of Sea and Seed,
The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I
has been 
nominated for the
2017 Whistler Independent Book Award.

 


I entered this contest because I love writing contests. In fact, I started with contests—story, poetry, and novel. I believe contests provide a viable route into the writing world and are therefore something that all authors among you should consider. Many times contests offer a word count limit and a time limit, both of which force you to hone your craft. Many times contests give a prompt, a creative spark, which forces you to think outside of the box. Both of my Vancouver suspense novels—Castles in the Sand and At the Heart of the Missing— have their beginnings in short stories that won contests. Castles in the Sand went on to win the 2012 Houston Writers Guild contest in mainstream fiction.

Of Sea and Seed is the recipient of the Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) Medallion, bestowed for excellence in independent writing. And now, it has received this nod of recognition from the Whistler Independent Book Awards. My heart is in this book, readers. It is a literary and lyrical and suspense-filled sea saga, kindled when my father told me that a little girl had survived a tsunami in Newfoundland. 

 A ghostly family matriarch chronicles the lives of three generations of the Kerrigan family as they struggle to survive devastating tsunami, toxic secrets, and shocking betrayal in 1920s Newfoundland.

 

About the Whistler Awards…

The Whistler Independent Book Awards are relatively new, having been “established in 2016 to recognize excellence in Canadian independent publishing.” They are the “only juried Canadian award for self-published authors” and offer prizes in both fiction and nonfiction. This year, the three finalists for each of these categories will be announced on July 17th, and the winners’ presentation will be held at the annual Whistler Writers Festival, October 12th to 15th.

The Whistler Independent Book Awards, which are jointly administered by the British Columbia Whistler Writing Society and Vivalogue Publishing, are a boon for self-published authors who struggle to have their work recognized. The fact that these awards are juried and the winners chosen by distinguished authors can ease the burden for librarians, one of whom informed me that librarians wish to support independent writing but they do not have staff available to vet the tons of titles that cross their desks each year.

I am grateful that my work has been nominated for the 2017 Whistler Independent Book Award for fiction and am thrilled to be in illustrious company.

For more information, check out the

Whistler Independent Book Awards site.

 

 

A free short story is yours when you join my email list! My newsletters contain book news, blog posts, sneak previews, and, occasionally, fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To join, place the required information in the space provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason.


My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

My Write Before Christmas: 2016

by @AnnieDaylon

christmas-wreath-2016 My Write Before Christmas: 2016

It’s my write before Christmas, I’m happy to pen
holiday wishes to all once again.
It’s become a tradition, this greeting in rhyme
To readers and wordsmiths at holiday time.

Authors work solo but none are alone.
It takes a village (an adage well-known)
With this in mind, once again I’m highlighting
Links and events in this world of writing.

A new writer? This world’s a mysterious place.
Catch a conference! It’s there that you’ll come face-to-face
With writers and editors and agents and such.
Volunteering’s an option if the cost is too much.

Love story contests? There’s fun with deadlines!
This>Contest Calendar’s< a favorite of mine.
As is Poets & Writers, a site that makes space
For a Contest and Grants and Awards Database.

Got a post that helps others? Want it retweeted?
@MondayBlogs is a place you’ll be greeted.
Ready to market? Don’t know the score?
Book Marketing Tools has ideas galore.

Having trouble with structure? Can’t seem to outline?
K. M. Weiland has guidelines to help you refine.
Seeking courses or webinars to carry you through?
Writer’s Digest will surely have something for you.

Bestseller Labs has suggestions for selling;
Enovel Authors (Thank you, Jackie) has info compelling
Need free promo, authors? Reader’s Gazette is the one,
Need help with Tweets? Try AskDavid.com

Do you have a routine? Great tales must be spun
And writers toil daily to get the job done.
(On that note, dear writers who are reading this verse,
If today you’ve not written, go away and WRITE FIRST!)

So here’s to my tweeps, and all Facebook friends,
And bloggers and techies on whom I depend.
As for Tea & Critique with friends Fran and Mary,
I always apply their sage commentary.

A toast to all editors (writers, pay heed!)
You need that blue pencil if you want to succeed.
Take it from me, I once published alone,
A difficult lesson but from it I’ve grown.
(Despite years of grammar in English and Latin
I made mistakes and had to go back in
Re-edit the published, suck up the shame,
Suffice to say I won’t do it again.)

Accolades to my editors, Michael and Ken,
At the Heart of the Missing‘s being scoured by them
For content and structure and copy and line
My new novel! Pretty soon you’ll see it online.

Here’s to writers who’ve found success on the road,
Who’ve looked back to aid others to lighten the load,
You help bridge the gap from the dream to real ground,
Your help is essential for success to be found.

Some bloggers review without compensation ,
They truly deserve a standing ovation!
Fictionophile is a gem I discovered this year
(Stop by. Check her posts. You’ll find great reads there.)

Most of all, here’s to you, readers, on you we rely,
The work’s not complete until you stop by.
Samuel Johnson once said (and I paraphrase herein)
“A reader finishes what a writer begins.” 

That’s it for this year. Best wishes to you
As 2017 comes into view.
And now, ere December rolls out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all! Have great reads and great writes!

 

Coming in 2017! Images: Shutterstock.com Design: michaelhiebert.com

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

The End of the Harvest

by @AnnieDaylon

What follows is a seasonal story, flash fiction, originally written for a 24-hour writing contest for Writers Weekly and currently published in Passages A Collection of Short Stories. It is definitely one of my favorites…

The End of the Harvest

© Annie Daylon

            The little boy stands at the log cabin’s rear window, peering out at us. The corn stalks rustle in the brisk breeze, waving at him. Laughing, he returns their greeting. I want to wave at him too, but my limbs are shrivelled now, useless appendages. I sigh. I observe the boy.

He seems happy. Does he know? Has he heard the news about the baby brother that his mom promised him? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he is too young to be told.

But I know.

His mom, my caregiver, whispered many secrets as she planted the fields. When my seed sprouted and breached the surface of the rich soil, she stooped and told me about the life that was developing inside her own body. She promised that she would create siblings for me just as she was doing for her little boy. I beamed with pleasure for I did not want to live a solitary life.

In a short time, her truth became evident: I was surrounded by an abundance of relatives—long and green, round and yellow, plump and orange. So strong was my appreciation of my caregiver, so great was my loyalty to her that I tolerated without question the summer heat and the frequent watering and the incessant buzzing of the hordes that swarmed around, flitting from flower to flower. Without complaint, I obliged when she redirected the growth of my rapidly spreading arms. ‘Not here, but there’, was her mantra, as she donned kid gloves and shifted my limbs around. So much attention. So much care. I noticed that the bodies of both my caregiver and me were becoming spherical, and that hers seemed to achieve the desired shape more easily than mine. Obviously aware of that, she added regular rotation to my fitness regime. I responded by becoming corpulent and carroty.

The summer lazed away and autumn slid in to replace it. The rains came. And the mud. And the children, bus loads of children, laughing and trampling and squelching through the muck. Choosing and plucking and stumbling away with their heavy bundles. One by one, my brothers and sisters and cousins disappeared. I wondered how it was that so many school children whirled around me, brushed against me, slid past me, and yet, none chose me. My caregiver explained that she had great plans for me, that I was the chosen one, the one who would light her doorway on that important night—All Hallows’ Eve. I would be the first to welcome the newborn child she would carry to the door that very day. I would witness the smile on her little boy’s face when he first saw his new brother. All this she promised me.

But sometimes promises are broken.

 When I had grown to the size of a soccer ball, I looked to compare my shape with hers and realized that her spherical form had vanished. Her body had flattened, returned to its former size. Her spirit, too, had vacated, leaving only sadness, which bled through her pores. Empty in both body and spirit, she had no words, no whisperings. On most days, she just stayed away.

So now I lie here—alone. Leading a solitary life after all, the very life I did not want. But what of the boy? Is he still waiting for his new brother?

The dusk deepens on this, All Hallows’ Eve. The wind picks up and the front gate swings and creaks. Puffs of blue smoke rise from the kitchen chimney. The house is well-lit now, but here, in my resting place, it is dark and lonely. As night falls, my body sinks and just sits, marinating in mud.

Suddenly, the cabin door opens and she emerges. She dons her heavy boots and, with her head low, trudges through the mud toward me. Nearer and nearer. As she stoops, I long to console her, to slide my arms up her back and embrace her. But my arms are just flaccid vines and it is she who comforts me, talks to me, apologizes for leaving me alone for so long. I want to tell her that I understand. She reaches into her pocket, retrieves a knife and frees me from my vines. Then, she hefts me into her arms and straightens her back.

On the way to the cabin, my caregiver explains that there is a new plan—that she wants me to smile for her young son. This evening, she will carve a grin on my face and, while she is doing that, she will tell her son that he will always be a solitary child. We reach the porch and hover there, waiting for her body to stop trembling and her tears to abate.

Despite her distress, I am pleased with this new plan. I want her to carve me a ridiculous grin, tooth-filled or toothless, whatever it takes to ease a lonely boy’s acceptance of unwelcome news. I know of the difficulty of the solitary life. Unlike the boy, I have experienced the joy of siblings; however, many died before maturity and all the others were taken away. Like the boy, I represent the end of the harvest. I am the very last pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Together, the boy and I—and our mutual caregiver—will face the night.

*****

Passages Book Cover
My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

Indie Author Day

by @AnnieDaylon

indieauthorday_postcard_authors_5x7_web_214_300October 8, 2016 is INDIE AUTHOR DAY , a day when libraries across North America host indie authors. The event will raise awareness of self-published books, demonstrate their place as a vibrant part of publishing, and provide a vital connection between indies and readers.

 

Who is involved?
Hundreds of Libraries, Thousands of Indies across North America!

Am I participating? Yes!

I will be reading and signing books at the…

Vancouver Public Library Indie Author Day Event
Date: Saturday, October 8th
Place: Central Branch of VPL, 350 West Georgia St.
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Activities: Author Readings, Author Tables, “Talk-to-an-Author” Corner.
In Vancouver on October 8th?  Drop by and say hi!
Not in Vancouver on October 8th? Check out this event in your own area>> List of Participating Libraries

Free Short StoryA free short story is yours when you join my email list! My newsletters contain book news, blog posts, sneak previews, and, occasionally, fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To join, place the required information in the space provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to  you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Anecdote on Re-Adjusting to Academic Life

by @AnnieDaylon

Back to School Anecdote

Today is Labour Day in Canada. That means tomorrow, for many, is Back-to-School Day. 

Memories always emerge around this for me, mostly memories of returning to teaching. This year, however, prompted by the knowledge that a cherished relative is returning to school after a long stay in the work world, I’m remembering the time when, after ten years in the work force, I decided go back to university.

Yours truly. Grade Two.

Yours Truly.
Second Grade.

I’d always liked being a student so I gave no thought to the fact that I would have to re-adjust to student life. The first course I signed up for? Statistics. (Ouch!)

I hadn’t studied Math at all in my undergraduate work; the last Math class I had taken was grade eleven Algebra, a mere fifteen years earlier.

In my first Stats class, the professor distributed a pre-test to “see where we stood.” My score? 63%. When I asked that professor about improvement strategies, he told me that I was not likely to improve at all. The laws of predictability and outcome were such that my pre-test grade would not change.

I’m sure my mouth was agape while I stared at him. I don’t recall what I said to him but I remember exactly what I was thinking: Chuck you, Farley. You can take your statistics and stick them where the sun don’t shine.

Did I quit? No. 

For a couple of classes, I watched the other students. I picked out the highest achiever and I approached him. I offered to pay him to tutor me. He said he would tutor me but he wouldn’t charge me because he saw this as an opportunity to improve his teaching skills. 

The long and the short of it: I worked with him, I worked on my own, I worked my ass off. On the first mid-term exam, (and I think it darn near killed that stats prof to tell me this) I scored 93%. Apparently, all I needed was adjustment time and a little help.

To all those of you who have decided to return to the classroom: becoming a student again is a transition. Give yourself time to adjust. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Be determined. Beg, borrow, barter… whatever it takes, seek the help you need.

Yours Truly. M. Ed.

Yours Truly.
          M. Ed.

You made the decision to go back. Make it work, your way.  

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Reviews are Gifts. This One? Priceless!

by @AnnieDaylon

Tweet from Lynne Legrow_jpg-large

“Historical fiction should do two things. #1 Portray the time period, culture, and events with accuracy (i.e. be well researched); #2 Entertain. Annie Daylon’s “Of sea and seed” succeeds on both counts.” ~ Lynne LeGrow

It’s a struggle for indie authors to get recognition for their work. There is a constant push and pull between writing and marketing; often I bypass the latter because I fear that when I feed the marketing machine, I starve my first love which is writing.

For me, (I dare say for all authors) every review–good, bad, or indifferent–is a gift. Someone, somewhere has taken the time to read your book and to offer an opinion. When I received a review from Lynne LeGrow,  a trusted reviewer for many imprints including Simon & Schuster Canada, I was over the moon, not only because it was polished and positive, but also because it showed up at a time when I wondered if I should continue. 

Suffice to say, I am grateful to Lynne, as I am to all readers and reviewers. Colman Gratitude Readers and Reviewers

Without further ado, here’s Lynne’s review>>> CLICK HERE

Excuse me, but I have a novel to finish…

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

How I Got My Indie Novel into the Library System

by @Annie Daylon

 

shutterstock_240133276

I had no idea that indie authors could apply to have books purchased by libraries. When the illustrator of my picture book mentioned it, I delved into research. When Stephanie Hopkins of IndieBRAG asked me to share my journey on their blog, I jumped at the chance.

Here’s a snippet:

At my local library, I spoke with the community librarian who gave me the contact information for the acquisitions librarian.
In my application email to acquisitions, I included:

  • a brief bio;

  •  cover images of available titles (linked to Amazon);

  •  mini-synopses;

  •  website link; and

  •  contact info.

When a couple of weeks passed with no response, I emailed again.
Still no reply.

SEE MORE HERE

ATT: Canadian Authors>>> Did you know that you can be compensated for having your books in (purchased by) Canadian Libraries? Check my next blog post (July 11, 2016) for details!


Free Short StoryA free short story is yours when you join my email list! My newsletters contain book news, blog posts, sneak previews, and, occasionally, fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To join, place the required information in the space provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason.

 

Many thanks to Stephanie Hopkins, BRAG Medallion, and the Fraser Valley Regional Library System!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue


 

Thursday’s Storm by Darrell Duke: Review and Thank You!

by @AnnieDaylon

 THURSDAY’S STORM

 “The sea stops for nothing.”

That line from Thursday’s Storm jumped at me because it fed right into my new novel, Of Sea and Seed, which is centered around the 1929 Newfoundland tsunami.  My gratitude to Darrell knows no bounds for my work sits squarely on the shoulders of his research: his creative nonfiction account of the nameless hurricane that hit Placentia Bay on August 25, 1927 comes straight from the hearts and souls of the victims’ families.

  Thursday's Storm cover image (519x800)                            Thursday’s Storm
When the crew of the fishing schooner Annie Healy left their home port of Fox Harbour, Placentia Bay, on Wednesday, August 17, 1927, no one could have imagined what fate held in store for them. Times were hard in Newfoundland that year. On shore, wives of the crew were often worked to exhaustion, even more so while their men were at sea. Most had lost parents, siblings, or children to tuberculosis. Each family had at least one tragic story. But when a hurricane struck Placentia Bay on August 25 of that year, a tragedy unlike any they had lived through would unite these people in ways untold. Now, eighty-six years later, the full story of the ill-fated vessel and her crew is told for the first time. The closeness of the crew and their families, and how they worked together to ensure their little community survived, is relived through the memories of children of the crew, stories passed down from their mothers, and reports from the last men to see the schooner afloat.

 

As a native of Placentia, I grabbed this book on Kindle to sneak a glimpse at the lives of those who came before. Then I bought a print copy for my father who remembers the event and the people affected by it.
As an author of a novel set in that era and area, I gobbled up Duke’s details about life at home and on the sea, details that engage the senses and plank the reader down, right there

  • in the kitchen, where “…a round, cast iron pot shivers, its cover clanking like mad from a fit of dancing hot water inside.”

  • in the garden, where one must lift “… the clothesline as high as possible out of the reach of the sheep that think nothing of standing on their hind legs and eating a shirt or pair of pants.”

  • in the fields, where  “Long black rats scurry through the wet grass.”

  • on the wharf, where “Empty barrels for bait are rolled up splintery wooden planks and onto the deck…” and

  • on the schooner, where “Darkness creeps in from every corner of the earth as the Annie Healy cuts through the black water…”

Darrell Duke’s talents are not limited to the written word. He is a musician who first penned this as a song, The Annie Healy; next came a play, and then this book.
Thursday’s Storm is a stirring depiction of lives dependent upon, and devastated by, the sea which (and Darrell said it best) “stops for nothing.

Many thanks, Darrell!

Free Short StoryI invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to my newsletter which contains news about books, links to blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. Place your first name and email address in the space provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue