Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene of my new Christmas Story, where Beatrice finds an unexpected visitor shivering in the cold in front of her cabin. The full story can be purchased exclusively on Kindle for only $0.99 cents HERE!

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

She pulled at the nearly finished shawl hanging off the side of the table and skillfully bobbed and weaved the last few inches of the left tail, humming lightly a few bars of a Christmas hymn, randomly making comments to herself, most of which would have made no sense to another human being if one had been within a stone’s throw. She was ravenously intent on her shawl and stitched away for some time until Snowy, the plough horse tied up on the side of the cabin, grunted wildly.

“Now what is it, Snowy?”

Thud.

Something hit the side of the house. Beatrice stood immediately but didn’t move a muscle. She put her finger in her mouth and bit down in fierce concentration, intently listening for any other sound. She heard it. A scraping. Light and slow. It slid along the front of the cabin and stopped under the wooden, hinged panel, which swung open in the summer to let the breeze permeate the room. Beatrice stepped daintily, as if on thin ice, putting her head against the wooden shutters, packed tightly with wool strands meant to keep the drafts out during the winter months. She heard a faint whimper, like that of a frightened puppy. A hollow wailing, soft yet agonizing.

She walked over and lit the candle in the lantern, threw her new shawl over her shoulders, and slowly opened the front door. An early winter breeze startled her, but she lifted the light and shone it around the corner to the small divot in the ground where she had started digging a hole to replant her rhododendron but never got around to it. A figure, dark, blended into the night, huddled in a ball, shaking, panting softly with her head down in her knees.

“Hey, sweetheart. You’re shivering. Don’t be afraid. It’s all right. It’s cold out here, that’s for sure.”

Beatrice stepped two feet towards the shaking mass, who quickly backed away, slyly looking to her left at the lantern, which lit up Beatrice’s jolly-round face.

“Do you want to come in?”

The girl shook her head, tightening her arms’ grip around her knees. She wore rags completely torn at the bottom with shards of ripped cloth hanging down her legs. She had nothing on her feet.

“Well, I had a mind of getting a little fresh air myself. I think I’ll sit out here for a minute, if that’s all right with you.” Beatrice glanced over at the girl, who kept staring at her with no movement whatsoever. “Actually, I’m rather warm myself. I’ve been poking those hot coals in the stove all evening,” continued Beatrice. “I had the hardest time getting them to burn evenly tonight. I made a whole heap of biscuits.” Beatrice leaned in to whisper like she was about to divulge to the world a shameful secret. “Don’t tell anyone, but I almost burnt half of them. Don’t suppose you’re hungry, are you?”

Beatrice sat down on a log bench outside the front door and placed the lantern at the edge, illuminating the girl’s profile, who sat in the impending rhododendron pit.

“Well, are you hungry or not?”

The girl shook her head in a predetermined, mechanical manner.

“Well, I didn’t think so,” said Beatrice. “Young girls running through the meadows in rags on Christmas Eve are rarely hungry. Or at least that’s been my experience.”

Read the entire story HERE!

Writing: On the Spot Inspiration

Where does writing inspiration come from?

I suppose every writer would answer this in different ways. I love what I call “on the spot” inspiration, when an idea suddenly strikes me out of the blue and it is seemingly unconnected with anything else I had been previously thinking.

Then from that small kernel, a solid idea is formed and I’m off on another escapade of discovery. (For me, that’s code talk for writing.)

Here’s one rather recent example. For whatever reason this phrase popped into my mind: If Love is a Crime, String me up.

I was struck by the beauty and bluntness of this phrase. I had never heard it before. I suppose someone else could have said it at one time or another and who knows what it would have meant to them. Once I had this phrase I had to discover what it meant for me.

So I wrote it down and just started thinking. What types of settings could a phrase like this become a reality.

It wasn’t long that I came into the idea that this phrase has something to do with the Underground Railroad. An escaped slave from the south. A person offering love and protection on the most vulnerable of humans.

From there, I wrote a short play entitled (not surprisingly) “If Love is a Crime, String Me Up.” The setting and words flowed beautifully and I crafted what I believe is my most poignant and beautiful script I’ve ever penned. Maybe no one else will like it, but I love it. It has three wonderful characters and about a 10 minute running time, but it tells a very beautiful and poignant story about a woman who is going to chose love no matter what.

I’m excited to be adding this play to the collection of plays which will be performed by my drama group The RLT Players in Penang this coming November.

I love writing like this. Find a word or phrase that sticks in your mind. Then figure out what it means and write something meaningful based upon it. It’s a great exercise of discovery.