"So, Max, how long have you worked for Creamy Cups?" Valencia asks me. I try not to appear suspicious as I wipe the rim of the glass I drank from with a gloved hand, so as not to leave my DNA for anyone to find. But perhaps the fact that I am still wearing gloves inside is suspicious in itself.
"Eight years," I say. "For most of it, I kept books. And now, I am only regional manager in title. Until, that is, our next store opens in downtown Chicago."
"Where in downtown Chicago?"
"Close to Shedd Aquarium."
Valencia smiles. "Wonderful. Would you like some coffee, or fruit? I have a watermelon in the fridge."
"Where did you get a watermelon this late in the year?"
"I have friends." Valencia places a cutting board on the lovely gray kitchen counter. "Farmer friends." A watermelon comes out of the refrigerator, and a knife comes out of the drawer, and the sweet summer smell of watermelon fills the air.
"Are you a country person, Miss Beltramo?"
"I have called myself a city girl since I could talk, but I'm beginning to appreciate the safety of suburbia." She brings two slices of watermelon to the table, never putting down the knife. "What about you?"
"I've lost all faith in humanity."
"As have I," Valencia says. She holds the watermelon knife in a tightened fist. "Especially since I've talked to my boss, who is not aware that you, or the position of regional manager, exist. Would you like to explain yourself, Mr. de Angelis?"
I smile. I would like to think that I can defend myself from a girl with a knife, but I can see her hacking me to bits and burying my broken body underneath her cat to give any police dogs a false positive.
"Valencia, what do you think of New York?"
Her knuckles turn white. "I think it's nice. Full of crooks, but what city isn't?"
"What do you think of a man by the name of Skylar Keeson?"
"He was my husband's boss. Why do you ask?" Her voice shakes, and her eyes begin to shine. She still grieves her husband. I take a breath.
"Because he does not think highly of you, Valencia. He wants you dead, and I am here to protect you."
This is what I have told all of my targets who I decide not to kill. Everyone reacts differently to it. Some become defensive, others turn white and tremble. Three people have fainted, and a few have vomited. But Valencia merely puts down her knife and sits down. She might be afraid, she might be angry. But her face is stoic, although pale, and she looks up at me.
"How good are you at protecting people?" she asks quietly.
"Skylar Keeson will believe you to be dead," I answer. "Your friends, relatives, and coworkers will merely believe that you have moved out of the country. In reality, you will be living under a false identity, preferably somewhere other than America."
Valencia smiles. "Is that legal?"
"Would you rather die?"
"When do I leave?"
"As soon as you can sell your house. Trust me, you will appreciate the funds when you relocate. Where would you like to relocate to?"
Valencia presses her eyes shut. "Somewhere safe. Somewhere in a city, maybe Europe...?"
"Iceland," I suggest.
"I've never relocated anyone to Iceland before."
"And I'm not going to be the first." Valencia stands and puts the watermelon she's already cut into a bowl, handing it to me with a fork. She cannot eat now, and I can't blame her. "What about Germany? I have family there."
"Unfortunately, you won't be allowed to contact any of your current friends or relatives," I said. "I'm terribly sorry."
We both smile, and I write it down even though I don't need to. "Italy it is."
Hello, dear readers! Today, I'm here with Alynn McNeil, everyone's favorite thirteen-year-old shieldmaiden. Fortunately, I was able to record our conversation. I hope you enjoy it!
M.J.: Thank you for meeting me, Alynn. It's always so nice to talk to you. How are you doing?
Alynn McNeil: (Sips tea) I'm grand, thanks. But this isn't tea.
M.J.: You're in Texas, hon. I don't care much for sweet tea, either, but good luck finding anything else.
A.M.: Grand, pure grand....
M.J.: Anyway, do you mind if I ask you some advice?
A.M.: Of course not.
M.J.: I've got a little sister, and she doesn't like me very well. We don't have too much in common--she's loud and athletic, I'm a nerd--and Mom wants us to spend some time together today. What do you suggest?
A.M.: I'm sure ye've got more in common that you think ye do.
M.J.: We share a bathroom. And a last name. And we both talk louder when we're excited.
A.M.: What else?
M.J.: Um...we both like How to Train Your Dragon. I guess we could watch that together.
A.M.: How does learning about flying lizards bring ye closer together as siblings?
M.J.: It doesn't, really. It might give us something to talk about, and laugh over, but unless we're cuddled up together on the couch, you're right. And my sister even hates snuggling.
A.M.: I don't see how anyone can hate cuddling. But I am a figment of your imagination, so if you can't see how anyone would hate it, neither can I.
M.J.: You and your brother, Tarin--how alike are you?
A.M.: We both enjoy being outside, but I don't get much of a chance to, since I have to keep house. We both love hearing stories, and we'll tickle each other, and he lets me cuddle him. And we both hate black pudding. We were never two peas in a pod, but we came from the same vine.
M.J.: I feel like my sister and I aren't even two peas from the same plant. I don't even know if she's a pea!
A.M.: Of course she's a pea. If anything, you're the odd one out of the two of ye.
M.J.: I don't doubt it.
A.M.: Sometimes, it's hard to find something Tarin and I both enjoy doing. One of us has to give something up. Typically, it's me, because I'm the eldest. And if it comes to it, M.J., you ought to give things up for your sister, too.
M.J.: I know that, I just can't see why I never do that. You're right, of course. I need to buck up and sacrifice for my sister. I just never seem to be able to make the right decision.
A.M.: I know it doesn't feel right when you decide to do something you don't want to. But I promise you, it's worth it.
M.J.: I know my sister loves going out for snow cones. I wouldn't mind taking her, but I don't have much money.
A.M.: Do you think we ever had money? Of course we didn't. Some of the best things in life don't involve money. Like wildflowers, and warm breezes, and hugs.
M.J.: And tickle-fights. Those are the best.
A.M.: I knew you'd think of something.
M.J.: Thanks for your help, Alynn! By the way, I've got some peppermint in the garden if you want some real tea.
A.M.: (Looks at empty cup and sighs) Now you tell me. Pure grand...
M.J.: Sorry about that! (Turns to Dear Readers) What do you enjoy doing with your siblings? I'd love to know in the comments below! God bless, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
This deplorable Chicago traffic, I hate it. A trip that should have taken half an hour has taken me fifty minutes, and I am still driving. I pass a sign for the zoo and consider stopping by it on my return. What is the price of a ticket nowadays? Probably exorbitant, just like everything else in this world.
I stop at a red light and glance again at the napkin, tucked into my GPS holder. Valencia Marianne Beltramo. 630-555-7538. 8703 Cherryvale Lane, Brookfield IL. Should I have called her before I come? I know her hours at work; she should be home. If not--I have a lockpicking set. I've never been able to use it, but I can at least try.
"In one thousand feet, turn right onto Cherryvale Lane."
I named the voice in my GPS Suzanne, after my eldest sister. They both excel at giving instructions. I slow, waiting for the silver pickup in the right lane to fly past me, before I change lanes and turn. So far, Valencia's neighborhood is lovely. Large trees grace manicured lawns, and the houses are like brick plantations.
"In four point three miles, your destination will be on the left."
After I pass an elementary school and Creamy Cups, the coffee shop at which Valencia works, the houses begin to get smaller. Most of them are vinyl siding now, and here and there I spot a duplex. Yet still they are modest, like my own apartment. Not extravagant, not impoverished. I respect Valencia's choice of neighborhoods.
I start scanning the house numbers. 8673 at one stop sign, 8685 at the next. Finally, I see a Kia in a driveway and park at a public park a few blocks away. The walk and the fresh air will do me good.
Valencia's house is well kept-up. The yard is mowed, and pink roses grace the flowerbeds with their color and the yard with their fragrance. There is a small tea table and two small chairs on the porch. I wonder if Valencia sat out here with her late husband, drinking wine and discussing their futures.
I put on a pair of light gloves--the weather is just cool enough for them to be socially acceptable--before I ring the doorbell. A cat meows at me.
I hear the lock turn, and Valencia herself opens the door--just enough to see me, not enough to let me in. She is so much more beautiful than her photograph on the internet. Her eyes are bright brown, swimming with flecks of light. And her face--the face of an angel from heaven! She looks kind and innocent and as sweet as gelato.
"Can I help you, sir?"
Her voice is annoyed. How long have I stood staring at her?
"Ah, yes. Max de Angelis. You received my email?"
She returns my smile and opens the door wider. "Come in, Mr. de Angelis."
I open a file, with the logo of Creamy Cups carefully Photoshopped on the front. I even made myself a badge that declares myself a regional manager of the coffee shop which was, according to me, about to become a chain. "Lovely house, Miss Beltramo," I say, blinking past my watering eyes. "Might I ask for a glass of water? I didn't know you had cats. I'm allergic, I'll need to take a Benadryl."
"Of course. I'll put him away real quick. I'm sorry." She gets me a glass of water from a filter attached to her sink. Her house is lovely, much nicer than the outside, with dark wood furniture and a large, flatscreen television. And yet nothing looks needlessly expensive. This is not how criminals live, further assuring me that Valencia Marianne Beltramo is innocent of anything the deplorable New Yorker will accuse her of.
You will not be Target Twenty-Eight, Valencia. You will be Rescue Fifty-Five.
I've got a confession to make, dear readers: I have procrastinated. I have an essay due tomorrow that I'm not finished with. This means that today is Literary Enrichment Day, and you will be enjoying a short story by Mark Twain, entitled "Buying Gloves in Gibraltar." Enjoy!
A very handsome young lady in the store offered me a pair of blue gloves. I did not want blue, but she said they would look very pretty on a hand like mine. The remark touched me tenderly. I glanced furtively at my hand, and somehow it did seem rather a comely member. I tried a glove on my left, and blushed a little. Manifestly the size was too small for me. But I felt gratified when she said:
“Oh, it is just right!” yet I knew it was no such thing.
I tugged at it diligently, but it was discouraging work. She said:
“Ah! I see you are accustomed to wearing kid gloves while some gentlemen are so awkward abut putting them on.”
It was the last compliment I had expected. I only understand about putting on the buckskin article perfectly. I made another effort, and tore the glove from the base of the thumb into the palm of the hand, and tried to hide the tear. She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die.
“Ah, you have had experience!” (Yes, a rip down the back of the hand) “They are just right for you---your hand is very small---if they tear, you need not pay for them.” (There was a rent across the middle.) “I can always tell when a gentleman understands putting on kid gloves. There is a grace about it that only comes with long patience.” (Meanwhile, my efforts caused the whole afterguard of the glove to “fetch away,” as the sailors say, and then the fabric parted across the knuckles, and nothing was left but a melancholy ruin.)
I was too much flattered to make an exposure and throw the merchandise on the angel’s hands. I was hot, vexed, confused, yet still happy, but I hated the other boys for taking such an absorbing interest in the proceedings. I wished they were in Jericho. I felt exquisitely mean when I said cheerfully:
“This one does very well; it fits elegantly. I like a glove that fits. No, never mind, ma’am, never mind; I’ll put the other on in the street. It is warm here.”
It was warm. It was the warmest place I ever was in. I paid the bill, and, as I passed out with a fascinating bow, I thought I detected a light in the woman’s eye that was gently ironical, and when I looked back from the street, and she was laughing to herself about something or other, I said to myself, with withering sarcasm: “Oh, certainly; you know how to put on kid gloves, don’t you?---a self-complacent ass, ready to be flattered out of your senses by every petticoat that chooses to take the trouble to do it!”
And I tried to remember why I had entered the store in the first place, and if I shouldn’t return on the morrow to complete my initial mission.
The Harold Washington Library Center is usually quiet on Wednesday mornings, and this Wednesday morning is no different. I enjoy a leisurely stroll through the aisles, inhaling the aroma of old books and the stench of new ones. The paperbacks smell of plastic, not paper and ink, and I hurry past them.
I reach the mystery section. Peters, Ellis Peters--and here, One Corpse Too Many. To ensure my client has followed directions, I thumb through the book. I see a napkin between pages 52 and 53. The rebel, I despise him. I wish he were my target, that I could kill him.
I remember the last man I killed--Target Twenty-Seven. He was a murderer, one who had fallen through the cracks in the system. For two months I planned his death. I purchased airplane tickets and a hotel room in Mexico. I planned excursions. Then, I created a contest with the trip as the prize and ensured that he won.
While he was in Mexico, on his excursion to the Mayan ruins, I darted him. The dart was the work of a friend of mine, a modification of a zoological tranquilizer. It was slow-release cyanide laced with just enough malaria to fool a drug test. He died four days later--a mosquito-borne illness, according to the doctors. Target Twenty-Seven was my finest work. He was the type who had killed and would have killed again. He was the type who laughed when others winced, whose eyes were filled with evil gleams when a soul was tortured. He deserved death, and I delivered it to him.
But too many of my clients want an innocent man to die. As I check out my book and leave the Harold Washington Library Center, I wonder if the New Yorker wants the blood of a guiltless man or that of a person who deserves death.
I sit in my car and examine the napkin. The details are written in chicken-scratch writing, but they are legible enough to make out. I examine them closely, carefully, ensuring I made no errors. I rewrite everything in my own handwriting, which is still scratchy, but less chickeny, and with a certain flair I inherited from copying my grandmother's recipes:
Valencia Marianne Beltramo
8703 Cherryvale Lane, Brookfield IL
A woman? A fellow Italian? I will find it very difficult to kill this target. On my way home, I wonder what she could have done to deserve a death sentence. Murder? Embezzling? Or perhaps she was the unfortunate object of the New Yorker's affections before she chose someone else over him.
I stop at a red light and gaze at my napkin again. Brookfield. There is a zoo in Brookfield, a good zoo, that my parents would take me and my siblings to when we were young. My first memory of the place is riding in a rented red wagon next to my baby sister, and screaming as a butterfly landed on her face. There was an indoor monkey-house that was so warm and humid that it made me forget the Chicago cold outside. And there were bears, and giraffes, and peacocks that roamed free near the picnic tables. And once, my father bought gelato for the family--except that it was that flash-frozen gelato, the type that came in prepackaged bowls of tiny spheres.
Finally, I reach my home in Addison. It is simply a modest apartment, neither luxuriant nor squalorous, but the rent is reasonable, and it has both heating and air conditioning. I set my laptop on the kitchen table and heat some water for hot chocolate. The October air is already detestably cold.
I use my Internet resources to investigate Valencia. I see her husband's obituary, dated five months ago. They were married four years and had no children. Valencia works at a coffee shop, she has subscriptions to Better Homes & Gardens, she owns a Kia Soul. She is twenty-nine years old and, as I finally stumble across her picture, very lovely to look at.
I investigate her husband. He worked for a computer software firm that is based in New York. He was promoted to manager a mere three months before his death, an apparent suicide by drug overdose.
Here is our connection to the detestable New Yorker.
Here is another target I will not kill.
This is probably going to be a short post. I'm getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow, and I've got a heck of a lot of things to do before then....
I had a long day of school today. I had a 70-question history test, a government quiz, and math that I actually needed help with. I didn't get to physics until after lunch, and by the time I'd finished and moved onto my homework, the doorbell rang. Multiple times.
This had to be my sister home from school. No grown-up rings the doorbell like that! How the heck was it 3:45 already?
Nope. It was a friend of mine, telling me that a bunch of dirty Kleenexes had blown out of our overstuffed trash can and had dotted the surrounding landscape. I have no idea why he was at our house in the first place.
This particular friend of mine, let's call him Isaac, is a rather strange person. He's six foot three and skinnier than Hiccup from the first How to Train Your Dragon movie. He's a class clown and a lover of all things technology. His brother, we'll call him Tom, is a bookworm obsessed with The Flash and pretty much anything else Marvel. They, along with my dad, my grandfather, my pastors, and the guys I play with on the worship team, are the only males I associate with. And I don't even mean "on a regular basis." I mean, with the exception of my dentist, "ever."
And this poses a problem. See, a writer is supposed to have an androgynous mind, meaning they don't see things from a strictly male or female perspective. This is especially important when writing characters you don't share a gender with, and it's probably the reason why most of my protagonists thus far in my writing journey have been female. Not to say they've been strictly female. In fact, the short story I'm working on for you right now--"Target Twenty-Eight," a nice modern story set in my hometown of Chicago--features a male protagonist by the name of Max de Angelis. But I'm much more comfortable when I'm writing female characters.
I know the little things that girls do. I know the uncomfortable feeling of wearing a skirt that's just a little too short. I've felt the pain of brushing chlorine-soaked hair after a trip to the pool. I've compared my face and figure to those of other girls, and I've felt my mother's instinct trying to sprout while I hold babies in the church nursery. But do guys feel weird if their shorts are too short? What about when their hair is messy? Would they willingly volunteer for the church nursery, let alone enjoy doing it?
What about their senses of humor? I know my friend Isaac has a strange sense of humor, complete with a perfect deadpan. He could tell you that FedEx and UPS were merging into FedUp with a face as straight as a nail. And his brother Tom? Slightly more morbid, occasionally too much so for my taste. But he's still funny.
I know that all guys are different, the same way all girls are different, and I don't want to classify all of them based on Isaac and Tom. I know enough about guys to know that some of them are picky about their physical appearance and spend more time on their hair in the mornings than I do. The pastor who spoke in Youth last night admitted that he loved going clothes shopping. But I've also met guys who have a hard enough time going grocery shopping. I've met guys who are great with kids, but I've also heard a story about a guy who'd been a dad for eight months and couldn't even change a diaper.
When God created men and women, He made them differently. And the differences between men and women are so cool that, if you take the time to look at them, you start to appreciate how much care God took when He made us. We walk differently. We think differently. We communicate differently. According to the internet, we don't even take our shirts off the same way. And we're made this way for a reason. Maybe I'll never be able to write from a male perspective as easily as I can from a female perspective, and I'm okay with that, because that's how God made me.
Maybe I'll start hanging out more with the guys at church. I'm finding out that they're not all the jerks that men are stereotyped as. In fact, some of them are pretty cool people. And maybe, as time passes, I'll be able to write a book from a guy's point of view.
What simple thing have you found men and women to do differently? And what are your tips for getting wisdom teeth removed? Please let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
"You're that Mafia guy, aren't you?"
I dislike the man with the thick New York accent. He is too tall, his eyes too sharp, his suit too tailored. But it is the kinds of men I dislike most that pay the most money. So I sit back in my chair, inhale my cigar, and look up at him.
"This is Chicago," I tell the New Yorker. "Get a phone book and tell me how many names belong to men of the mafia. Look around this room, and tell me how many people are murderers."
"But you're more than a murderer," the New Yorker says. "You're an assassin."
I rest my left ankle on my right knee. I breathe cigar smoke in the New Yorker's face. I wish the smoke would take him with it when it disappears. "What makes you come to me?"
"I need you to--"
"Stop." I take a drink--ginger ale, because true Italians drink only wine, and there is none of it to be found in this deplorable bar. No good wine, that is. "Why me? You need someone out of your life. A cheating girlfriend, a man you're in debt to, someone who knows something they shouldn't. That much is obvious. But what do you see in me, that makes you come here, right now?"
The New Yorker blinks and looks around. He's used to the undesirables of society. I know from his face, and from the fact that he's sought me out. But he is uncomfortable here. This is perfect.
"Listen to me, you son of a--"
"You are brazen," I interrupt, "to insult a man who can kill a person as easily as he can an insect. How did you learn of me?"
"Herbert Spencer, you got rid of his accountant after she found out he was embezzling. Taxi commissioner."
I draw another breath from my cigar. "My memory tells me he manufactured window cleaning devices."
The New Yorker smiles. "I guess you are the man I want."
"And this Mr. Spencer...he gave you my name?"
"What is it?"
"Massimiliano de Angelis."
I extend my hand, and he shakes it. "Call me Max. Or de Angelis, if you are that type of person."
"What type?" the New Yorker asks.
"The type who is so pig-headdedly caught up in business and facts that they merely see people as tools to accomplish their will."
I enjoy watching the New Yorker squirm like a baitworm. "When do I give you the target?"
"You will write the name, address, and telephone number of your enemy on a napkin. You will leave it between pages 50 and 51 of the mystery novel One Corpse Too Many, by Ellis Peters, at the Harold Washington Library Center, no later than thw twenty-fourth of September."
That was five days from now. It was unlikely the book would be checked out in that amount of time. Using Peters' murder mystery novels for drop sites is quite enjoyable and mildly ironic.
But then again, I enjoy viewing myself as the type of man Brother Cadfael is. We are gentle, cunning ex-soldiers with a wide variety of skills. We are good men, but we know how to hide bodies.
But the times have changed. I can hide bodies. I can kill people and make the police, the neighbors, even their mothers, think that they left on a rather long vacation. And I have--twenty-seven times, for eighteen clients, in fourteen states and three countires. But I prefer not to.
I am Massimiliano de Angelis, the assassin who does not kill his targets.
Good day, my dear readers! And just in case you're wondering what I ended up doing for April Fool's Day...I toilet papered the inside of our house. Cleanup was surprisingly easy. My parents were not angry. I highly recommend this prank.
Enough about pranks. Onto the serious stuff.
Someone on Quora recently asked me who my favorite author was, and why. This got me to thinking. I've been reading for a long time--since before I got my first actual bike, let alone was able to ride without training wheels--and I read a lot. A trip to the library was basically a guarantee that no one would see me for the rest of the day. But I found a few books or series that I really loved, and a few authors that I genuinely appreciate.
The first is definitely Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I was three years old, my mom would sit me in a big red armchair and read Little House in the Big Woods to me. I finished the series by the time I was 7 or 8 and probably read each book multiple times. Laura Ingalls Wilder has done much more than shape my writing style. She's shaped my worldview. She taught me the value of hard work and family, and gave me a love for the simpler things in life. So many virtues like financial responsibility, honesty, ingenuity, thrift, and work ethic were so common back in the 1800s but are rather lost today. But I appreciate them more than the average person, probably because of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Similarly, we have Gertrude Chandler Warner and her famous Boxcar Children series. This, along with the Geronimo Stilton series, gave me a love for a good mystery. But Warner's books also taught me how to buckle down and make do. There's a spark of creativity that can turn the drabbest of situations into a feast. Who else remembers Henry's 'magic spoon' that turns into a butterknife when you turn it around? Or the cracked vase from the dump that always holds flowers? The simple boards turned into a shelf, or a waterfall that keeps food cool? And I've always loved how the family stuck together during tough times.
C.S. Lewis might not have taught me much in the way of morals, but he certainly sparked my imagination. Fauns and centaurs and animals that talk! For Narnia! For Aslan! I'm not sure when I first picked up the Chronicles of Narnia, but by the time I'd finished it, I had a new respect for what could exist--even if it was only in my own imagination.
More recently, I've fallen in love with the works of Ellis Peters. I know I've mentioned the Cadfael Chronicles in previous blog posts. But I know that this series is one of the best series I've ever set my hands on. Cadfael might not teach much in the way of morals. He's a monk who exemplifies religious devotion. But he's also a rather worldly ex-crusader who knows how to hide a body. He tends to bend the lines of morality. For example, is something truly sin if, given the choice to undo it, you'd do the same thing over again? But the world Ellis Peters portrays is stunning, full of real life and real characters and, despite the vows of chastity most of the characters are under, romance.
As I was making out my list for Quora, I realized one thing about most of my favorite authors: with the exception, possibly, of Geronimo Stilton (the pen name of several authors who worked on the series including Elisabetta Dami), all of them are dead.
So, for my list, I decided to pick one living author to put on it. And that author was Creston Mapes. He wrote the Crittendon Files, which is the best action trilogy I've ever read. The first one, Fear Has a Name, is my favorite. The characters are great, the tension is perfect, and the ending wraps everything up pretty well. And although the books are all connected, they read like standalones. So if you want to read Sky Zone first, go ahead. It's just better if you go in order.
Who's your favorite author? (I don't want a welfare shoutout. Be honest.) Who's your favorite Narnia character? Mine is Reepicheep! Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
How many of you enjoyed reading "The Memory Chaser?"
I recently learned of the stream-of-consciousness style of writing, and I know I could have done better as far as form goes. But this was my first time trying it, and I'm no Virginia Woolfe, so how about let's all agree to let it slide?
But I'm working on something. Something wonderful, something new, and something that is NOT set on St. Anne's Cleft. I hope you enjoy it. I'll do my best to make it a polished short story that goes somewhere, something you'll enjoy reading. I'd love to put a little extra effort into this one.
That being said, this month is going to be rather busy for me. Both of my parents are going through some health issues, meaning I have extra chores. I'm graduating high school this year (yay!) and that entails a whole bunch of preparation and shopping and picture-taking. Plus I've got two or three papers to write. So if I ever post a short story that feels a bit disjointed, or has a grammatical error or two--or if I post on Tuesday instead of Monday--that'll be why.
I'll still do my absolute best to post regularly. Please know that I take my blog seriously. I hope y'all enjoy it.
And do you want to influence the choice of short stories I post? Comment with an idea, and who knows? I just might write it--with your permission, of course. And don't forget to get your own copy of Where the Clouds Catch Fire by simply clicking the tabs above.
God bless you, dear readers!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.