Sheridan’s Compass

sweet-3406860_640The following essay was written almost seven years ago; yet, all of the characteristics that made my niece Sheridan exceptional then still hold true today as she turns fourteen. And I’m sure those  traits will only strengthen over the years, making her a constant joy to everyone who knows her! Happy birthday, Sheridan!


Sheridan’s Compass (written during the fall of 2011)

“Turn right, Aunt Erin,” seven-year-old Sheridan said.

She wore a black leotard, matching leggings, a filmy ballet skirt, and cowboy boots—or “cowgirl boots” as she called them. Ballet slippers dangled from her fingers; her hair escaped from a messy ponytail. She was on her way—Sheridan style—to ballet class.

“I mean,” Sheridan clarified, “turn my right.”

I hesitated. We sat side by side—she in the passenger seat, me in the driver’s seat. Her right was my right. What was I missing? ballet-shoes-2326987_640.jpg

She turned to me, blinked once–blue eyes, black lashes, a flutter of day and night. I didn’t question her directions, her misunderstanding of the term “my right.” I simply turned the truck, following Sheridan’s GPS, her way of seeing the road.

I’ve learned from experience that Sheridan’s internal compass often leads to a better place—even if you’ve been there before—and sometimes it’s best to just let her take you there.

A simple game of tag evolves into Cartwheel Tag. We never quite decided whether the tagger or tagee should be cartwheeling, but both ways ended in confusion and plenty of laughs, particularly at my attempts to cartwheel.

Or a bike ride to town transforms into an outing for root-beer floats with Sheridan, on her single-speed bicycle, always ready to tackle hills and singing B-I-N-G-O with Uncle Keith as she peddles along.

One Christmas, using her new tablet as a camera, Sheridan filmed the Snowman Video. A stuffed snowman took the starring role with Sheridan as interviewer.

“How’s it going?” she asked Mr. Snowman.

“Pretty good,” Mr. Snowman said in a deep, gravelly voice.

She used the same tablet to document The Many Faces of Sheridan, a tableau of close-up photographs, which grew into an autobiographical mini-documentary of Sheridan through several days of late December and into early January. All the photos shared two things: a hint of mischief and a literal twinkle in Sheridan’s eye, the look of someone planning fun, thinking of the next activity.

watercolour-2159970_640So I don’t question Sheridan when she says, “turn right, my right.” Even if it appears that our rights are the same, hers is bound to have a twist, a way of approaching life that is more original, more energetic… just more of everything. I simply turn the wheel and follow her lead, knowing the experience will be better for letting her take me there.

Copper Harbor Lullaby

RedTrail
Intersection of Dancing Bear and Red Trails

My bike’s brakes, sounding like an out-of-tune violin, announced my arrival long before I bounced into sight. With tires bumping along Copper Harbor’s Dancing Bear Trail, I clambered over rocks and roots, up and down hills in a relentless waltz, melding trees to sky and fallen leaves with mud in a muted autumn symphony.

A few seconds later, my husband Keith came into view, waiting where Dancing Bear merged into Red Trail. He nodded toward a sign, warning riders of a mother bear with cubs, just ahead on the trail. We smiled–no words necessary–and turned around to climb back up Dancing Bear.

PointTrail
Point Trail

Shifting into the granny gear, my bike and I crawled up a hill, no longer waltzing but performing a slow ballet without any grace. Keith vanished around a bend in the trail, riding with strength and balance. He hopped over roots and spun up rocky outcroppings, remaining calm despite the obstacles—his riding a reflection of his personality.

And even though sweat dripped in my eyes and I wished my bike had an even lower gear, I noticed the sun lingering in the cloudless sky, promising a few more hours of daylight. My favorite trail waited a short pedal away.

“Point Trail?” I asked Keith after I’d caught up with him “I think we have ti—.”

Keith was off again, no convincing needed. Because in a place like Copper Harbor, there’s always time for another trail. The village might not have cellular service or espresso but it has more of what matters—trails snaking into deep woods, along with an even deeper sense of tranquility.

FortWilkins
Lake Fanny Hooe, Fort Wilkins, and Lake Superior

We dashed along Point Trail’s rocky spine, rolling through woods and hesitating here and there to enjoy views of Lake Superior, Fort Wilkins State Park, and Lake Fanny Hooe. Toward the end of the trail, sunlight, filtering through trees, brushed golden fingertips across a long boardwalk.

Later, after dinner, as the afternoon sashayed into evening, leaving the forest bathed in shadows and the horizon washed in fuchsia, we walked from our campground a short distance to the Gas Lite, the only convenience store in town, for a soda. An early moon hung in the sky, while waves from Lake Superior murmured, whispering a contented tune, a Copper Harbor lullaby.

keewenaw bike
High Rock Point during our first mountain bike trip to Copper Harbor, almost 20 years ago

 

 

Summer Reading Begins: A clearly dangerous man

Title: Foolish Bride

Series: Forever Brides #2

Author: A.S. Fenichel
Genre: Standalone Historical Romance

Release
Date: March 28, 2017

Blurb

Sadly ever after . . . unless some dreams really do come true?

Elinor Burkenstock never believed in fairy tales. Sure, she’s always been a fool for love—what woman isn’t? But Elinor knows the difference between fiction and truth. Daydreams and reality. True love and false promises. . . . Until the unthinkable happens, and Elinor’s engagement is suddenly terminated and no one, least of all her fiancé, will tell her why.

Sir Michael Rollins’s war-hero days seem far behind him when, after one last hurrah before his wedding, he gets shot and his injuries leave him in dire shape. He wants nothing more than to marry Elinor, the woman of his wildest dreams. But Elinor’s father forbids it . . . and soon Michael is faced with a desperate choice: Spare Elinor a life with a broken man or risk everything to win her heart—until death do they part?

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Excerpt

A tear escaped down her cheek. She dashed it away, and the anger replaced her sorrow. “I don’t want your money, Michael.”

Hands fisted at his side, he finally met her stare. “What is it then?” She approached him and touched his arm.

He flinched, but she refused to back away.

“I want to know why? I need to know if you ever loved me. I demand to know if everything you told me was a lie.” There, she’d said it. She dropped her hand away.

He was pale and thin. Little of his robust figure shone through the robe. “I never lied to you.”

“Then why?”

He turned away again. “I would have thought your parents explained that to you already.” She kicked at the rug, unsure of how to continue.

“Didn’t your mother explain?” Anger rolled through his words like an army.

In all the time they’d courted, she had never seen any signs of temper from Michael. He’d always been kind and loving. Through her fear, her own anger pushed her on. She stood toe-to- toe with a clearly dangerous man. “I was told that our engagement was dissolved because you cannot father a child. I will admit it took my mother quite a long time to get around to explaining that much, and I do not actually think she knew any more. What I want to know is what that has to do with you crying off?”

Then he turned. “I did not cry off. You did.”  “I did no such thing.” She stomped her foot. “Then your father did.” His tone had gone flat.

“He had no right. If you did not end our engagement, then why were we not married today?” She tried to sound sophisticated, but tears pushed to the surface. His attitude was so changed. She didn’t know him. Maybe she never had.

“Your mother explained that.” He lumbered across the room and poured himself a rather large brandy. The smooth glide that she always admired was gone from his step.

“So if we had married, then we found that I was barren, you would have tossed me over?” She was rather proud of how rational she sounded in spite of her sorrow and raging temper.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” He swallowed half the glass brandy. His shoulders slumped. “Then why would you think that I would care?”

“You don’t understand.” The second half went down in one swallow.

“Clearly. Perhaps you can explain it to me.”

Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Author Bio

 

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful IT career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

Author Links

The Demon Inches: Finding comfort in the written word

The email arrived on February 22, 2016—a time of sickness and worry; fear and hospital visits.

“Erin,” the message read, “I have to say, I profoundly enjoyed your story: your style, vision, and command of atmosphere, irony, and character are tremendously effective. It would be an honor to showcase your enormous literary talent in this year’s journal.”

CoverYellowBookeThe email, from Michael G. Kellermeyer, Editor of Oldstyle Tales Press, went on to say that my short story, The Demon Inches, had been accepted for The Yellow Booke, an annual journal of original horror, ghost stories, and weird fiction.

I was flattered, of course, by Mr. Kellermeyer’s generous words. He certainly knew how to find his way into a writer’s affections; particularly when most authors receive many, many (get the idea?) more rejections than acceptances.

But what Mr. Kellermeyer didn’t realize, had no way of knowing, was that his email would become a beacon, guiding me through a bleak landscape. It reminded me of literature’s unique power, how healing can be found through emptying oneself onto paper. And that by getting lost between the pages of a story, one might emerge a better person at the end. Books can be both escape and redemption, lifeboats for navigating the restless seas of time.

It also made me think of the unknown effect we can have on others. A smile or compliment, sincere at the time then forgotten, often imprints on another’s psyche. Or, as in my case, a particularly kind acceptance letter, despite the writer suspecting the editor of exaggeration, arrives at the perfect moment.

So now Demon Inches, my own form of speculative fiction, has been published. It’s a genre I return to again and again. My mind explores the remote lakes, woods, and mountains of central Idaho and northern Michigan, the two states I call home.

I wonder what waits at the end of twisting two-tracks, disappearing into dusk, or the secrets contained within the walls of an abandoned cabin. And, like in Demon Inches, I question what resides within the shadows of our minds, and where the line between reality and imagination splits.

DemonInchesMy stories may be speculative, exploring a world of fantasy, but I never speculate about two characteristics—bravery and hope, inspired by the people who surround me and embedded in everything I write. Horror creeps up on us, in novels but also in life, and without these core traits, we might find ourselves blinded by darkness.

The literary landscape in which I navigate also reinforces my optimism, finding endless comfort in the written word. It illuminates everything I do and has become a lifelong travel companion, as a well-timed email from a kind editor reminded me not so long ago.

Read

The Yellow Booke: Demon Inches, The Old House, The Little Madness: and Other Terrors

Find

Amazon ~ Old Style Tales Press

About

A compendium of original horror stories (some written in the vein of classic supernaturalists such as M. R. James, J. S. Le Fanu, H. P. Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, and William Hope Hodgson, others written to push, test, and redefine the boundaries of the postmodern horror tale) “The Yellow Booke” is an original publication from Oldstyle Tales Press, whose annotated and illustrated critical editions of classic horror have piqued international interest from fans and scholars alike. “The Yellow Booke” contributes to Oldstyle Tales’ mission of invigorating interest in the classial past of the horror genre, while inspiring and encouraging those who would participate directly in its future. In these pages you will find mystery, weird fiction, body horror, science fictions, ghost stories, dark fantasies, and other strange tales written by living authors — some professional, some amateur, and all deeply talented in conveying what Monty James called “a pleasing terror…” Featuring the imaginative, powerful talent of Ever Dundas, G. L. McDorman, Joseph Burt, Silvia Barlaam, Columbkill Noonan, David Groveman, Erin Fanning, Greg Howes, Thomas Olivieri, M. Grant Kellermeyer, Daniel Pietersen

Avoidance and Writing: The Roberta Mickel Method

Procrastination and writing… How can something so pleasurable be equally dreaded? Read on for tips on how one writer used her mother’s cleaning list to become more productive.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz-040By Judith Sornberger

You would not believe how many things I’ve done today to avoid beginning this essay. (Except, if you’re a writer, you probably would.) I say writing means more to me than just about anything, but I would do almost anything some days to postpone putting pen to paper (including going shopping for a new, magic pen), especially when it comes to breaking the ice on a new writing project. This morning, for instance, I called a friend to commiserate on how little we’ve been writing. Then I scrubbed a pan that had soaked overnight in the sink, grocery shopped, stopped in at my local bookstore to check on a book I’d ordered (knowing full well it couldn’t have arrived yet) and, of course, had to browse. Then I went through my closet, wondering if it might be time to donate everything below size sixteen, my current size, which…

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Perfect Conclusion to the Mutants Series

Love, Lattes and Angel (Mutants, #3)Love, Lattes and Angel by Sandra Cox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love, Lattes, and Angel, the third installment in the Mutants series, perfectly concludes Piper’s adventures with an imaginative blend of fantasy and romance. The plot takes Piper, Joel, and their daughter Angel, all dolphin mutants, through the Bermuda Triangle to an idyllic tropical island, where they meet a voodoo priestess. Author Sandra Cox expertly weaves descriptions of island life and the undersea world into this nonstop tale of danger and romance that accelerates to the end, where the mutants must battle a powerful mad scientist. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Kensington Launches Digital Speculative Fiction Imprint

From Publishers Weekly: Kensington Publishing will launch Rebel Base Books this fall, which will publish science fiction and fantasy e-book originals. A digital-only imprint, Rebel Base will be overseen by Kensington editor Martin Biro.

“As a lifelong fanboy raised on a steady diet of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t be more excited to boldly go where Kensington has never gone before,” Biro said in a statement.

Read the rest of the article here.