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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

#FREE Limited Time Offer—PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult) by Bette A. Stevens


PURE TRASH

“A single day. A lifetime of lessons.”

“A great book for adolescents, young adults,
parents, 
mentors, and educators.”

PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens
#FREE eBook through November 23, 2018
Grab a copy of this #must-read story today at Your Amazon http://amzn.to/1T5tMAZ today!

Recommended reading ages 10-adult.

5gold-star3

“This is a glimpse into the characters of Shawn and Willie Daniels who take front and center in the author’s full-length novel, DOG BONE SOUP. A nostalgic vignette, PURE TRASH will whisk you into an era and place where many struggled to survive the grip of poverty. This short novella is filled with adventure, and the fun of boys being boys–riding bikes, collecting bottles for penny candy, and running into trouble…and prejudice.

“Enjoy this short read but when you are finished, I highly recommend purchasing DOG BONE SOUP. It’s a gem of a book that will leave a lasting impression with its memorable characters, heart and story line. Don’t miss it!” ~ Mae Clair, author

Book Blurb

PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult) In this short story adventure set in New England in the 1950s, two young boys set out on a Saturday adventure you won’t want to miss! Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard-earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short.

About the Author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens’s children’s activity book, THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO! was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012.  AMAZING MATILDA , Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books. Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture based in Caribou, Maine. In 2013, the author published her first book for the YA/Adult audience: PURE TRASH, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP (KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017). Stevens is currently working on her first poetry collection—MY MAINE, Haiku through the seasons.

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Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW: Watch Ron Yates Write


 

OUT TO PASTURE

Musings of an Erstwhile Asia Hand

by Ron Yates, RRBC 2017 KCT Int’l Literary Award Grand Prize Winner

Ron Yates, RRBC 2017 KCT Int’l Literary Award Grand Prize Winner

He watched the hawk circling high in an infinite Southern California sky, far above the shaggy brown hills that loomed behind acres of avocado and orange trees. Every so often the hawk would dip as though preparing to dive on its unsuspecting prey, but then it would pull up abruptly, unsatisfied with the approach to its target, waiting perhaps for a better opportunity.

He knew this hawk. He had seen it before. There were two patches of vermilion feathers on the underside of its broad chestnut wings that reminded him of the red circles that adorned the wingtips of the Japanese fighter planes he used to see in the Pacific during World War II.

He closed his eyes, allowing the warm sun to wash over him. The only sound other than the crisp dry wind that blew up the long pass from La Jolla, was the dull whine of the automatic pool cleaner as it made its programmed passages back and forth in the pool next to the patio. For a moment he could feel himself being pulled back to a time when the heavy coughs of old propeller-driven fighters ripped through the dense, fragrant tropical air like a dull knife through perfumed silk.

For a brief moment, he pictured himself sitting at his old black Underwood, pounding out another story of some long-forgotten battle in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam that he had covered. He could almost see the white typing paper rolled half-way out of the typewriter and he could see his By-Line typed neatly just above the first sentence of the story:

“By Cooper McGrath

Global News Service.”

He sighed and shifted his body in the pool-side lounge chair, allowing his growing potbelly to slide slowly to the other side of his frame. “Typewriters,” he thought. “Nobody even knows what they are today.”

Then he reached for his binoculars so he could get a better view of the hawk.

“Look at old Zero-sen up there. He’s going in for the kill.”

“Zero-sen?” Ellen was still puttering around the patio, watering potted plants and trees.

“Yeah, the hawk. That’s what I call him. Look at those red spots on his wings. He looks like one of those old Japanese Zeros.”

Ellen squinted up at the sky and frowned. “You have a lively imagination, Cooper.”

The hawk continued to circle, but it was moving further away. Finally, it dipped below a small rise and disappeared. When it reappeared, it was carrying something in its talons. Cooper exhaled and at the same time pounded his ample belly, the sound of which reverberated across the patio like a hollow drum. Then he pulled himself upright in the recliner.

“I always did, you know.”

“Did what?” Ellen asked, only half paying attention to what her brother was saying.

“Have a lively imagination.”

“Oh, that.” She was on her knees pushing sticks of fertilizer into her potted plants. “And as I recall, it always got you in trouble.”

“Is it time for lunch?” he asked, rising slowly to his feet. “God,” he groaned. “I’m stiff as a dead tree.” He looked at his watch. It was already one-thirty in the afternoon—way past his usual lunchtime and his stomach was growling.

“You don’t get enough exercise, Cooper. I keep telling you, you should enroll in that aerobics class they’re offering down at the clubhouse.”

She stood looking at him for a few moments, hands on hips, white, wide-brimmed gardening hat shading her beige face from the hot sun. She loved her brother mightily, but it saddened her to see him in such physical and mental decline. Why had the Global News Service pushed him into retirement? He had given his life to that ungrateful news agency.

As he stretched his arms skyward Cooper’s ever-expanding belly caused the bottom of his shirt to pull out of his shorts at the midriff, revealing a roll of untanned flesh the color of boiled pork. Finally, she shook her head and made one of those disapproving clucking sounds with her tongue.

“I’ll call you when lunch is ready. Why not take a few laps in the pool, or even better, call the clubhouse about that senior’s aerobics class?”

Cooper mumbled some acquiescent reply as Ellen walked into the house. She was right of course. But at 70 he didn’t feel any particular need to jog around a room with a bunch of other ill-proportioned old farts in tights. Hell, he was retired. Why did he have to do anything at all? Hadn’t he worked his ass off all his life? Didn’t he risk his life reporting stories nobody cared about? Didn’t he deserve some time off to do, well, to do nothing? Nothing at all? Hell yes, he did.

He sighed heavily, and a bit guiltily. He always did when he remembered the half-finished manuscript in his small office. It sat there day after day on the desk next to his laptop computer—unfinished, unedited and unsold. Sometimes he half expected it to finish itself, to somehow link up magically with his mind, download forty years of journalistic experience and then turn it all into some kind of marketable prose that a big time publisher would snap up without hesitation.

But it didn’t work that way. He knew that. Oh, how he knew that. After years of meeting one deadline after another—thousands and thousands of them—if there was one thing Cooper McGrath knew it was that nothing got written until he sat down at his typewriter and began banging it out. Then, about five years ago, toward the end of his career as a foreign correspondent, he had reluctantly traded in his typewriter for a computer. The laptop had been sent over to Singapore by his editors. He would no longer roam the Asian continent as he had for most of his professional life. Instead, he would write a column every two weeks that focused on current events. And that’s what he had done for the past few years. His job, he was told, was to insert his years of historical perspective into dispatches written by less knowledgeable, more youthful correspondents.

Cooper knew what was really going on, of course. He was being put out to pasture. Sure, the discipline was the same. You still had to sit down in front of a blank screen and create something worth reading. The difference was the burnout. He felt as burned out as an old war correspondent could feel—like the old iron kettle in which he cooked up his special chili. He had served up so many portions of his life that there just wasn’t anything left to spoon out anymore. It was 1990, and the kettle was empty—empty and caked with rust.

Yet he knew he had things to say, stories to tell, history to recount. He was, after all, an eyewitness to some of the greatest history of the Twentieth Century. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, not to mention more than a score or so revolutions and coups d’état. When he thought about it that way, he could feel the juices stirring and bubbling in the bottom of the kettle, and he would get excited enough to walk into his small office, turn on the laptop and type a few lines. But after a while, an inexplicable gust of arid self-doubt would blow through his mind, and he would feel the passion receding. Then it would be gone—as extinct as that old black Underwood he used to pound on day after day in places like Rangoon, Saigon, and Hong Kong.

“Nobody gives a damn,” Cooper would say when Ellen asked him why he didn’t finish his memoirs. “It’s all ancient history. Hell, I’m ancient history.”

Ellen knew he was feeling sorry for himself. But she couldn’t bring herself to tell him that. Instead, she guilefully nudged and tugged his ego gently back to its perch above the bleak valley of his self-doubt.

“You’ve seen so much, and you have such a gift for describing what you’ve seen,” Ellen would say. “You must write it all down, to preserve it for others. That is your gift to the world. It shouldn’t be wasted.”

Cooper knew Ellen was right—if not for the sake of history then for the sake of his own mental and physical health. He needed to be doing something. And he had to admit, when he was writing, he felt like he was contributing again. It gave him a sense of power and purpose.

But after Toshiko’s death most of the power and purpose he still possessed deserted him. He retreated emotionally and physically from the world. He gave up the grand old house in Singapore where he and Toshiko had spent the last ten years of their married life. He just couldn’t bear living in it anymore—not when everything in the place reminded him of Toshiko and their life together.

For the first few weeks after Toshiko had succumbed to the ravages of cancer, Cooper would sit on the verandah of their house built during the British-raj, drinking one vodka-tonic after another and wondering why Toshiko had to be the first to go. He always figured he would be the first. After all, he was the physical wreck, not Toshiko. She had taken care of herself. Her 5-foot 2-inch body was as lithe and slim as it was the day he met her in 1946 in Osaka.

Cooper knew the hours spent on his verandah were nothing more than a boozy ritual of self-pity. But he didn’t care. It was the only way he knew to deal with abandonment. And that’s what had happened. He had been abandoned; and cheated, and irreparably damaged. By dying, Toshiko had deserted him. These were the emotions that had churned in Cooper’s sozzled brain with ever-increasing velocity until late afternoon when he was, as they say, “decks-awash and listing severely to starboard.” Then, with the sun descending past the tops of the traveler palms and tamarind trees that populated his front lawn, Cooper would stumble into the house and collapse on the small bed in the guestroom. Even drunk he couldn’t bring himself to sleep in the bed he had shared with Toshiko.

The self-pity finally wore off in a couple of months and so did the appeal of Singapore. After minimal coaxing from Ellen, he left Asia and moved in with his only living relative. Ellen, his little sister, lived in the sunburnt craggy hills just north of Escondido. The house was one of those rambling Spanish-style places with a red tile roof and bleached stucco walls. It had been built by Ellen’s husband just before his untimely death ten years before.

Moving in with Ellen wasn’t Cooper’s idea, but he was thankful she had offered. One evening in Singapore during a fierce tropical storm that had forced Cooper to retreat from the Verandah, Ellen had called, and in the course of the conversation, she suggested he come to California and help out with her thirty acres of avocado and orange groves.

A month later, after selling off five decades of Asian bric-a-brac, several rooms of teak, rosewood and rattan furniture, half of his oriental carpets and various silk screens, wall hangings and jade statuary, Cooper returned to the U.S. It was the first time he had been back in almost 20 years. When he stepped off the plane in San Diego, he couldn’t help observing how sterile, how ordered, how incredibly mind-numbing it all was.

“Where’s the texture?” he asked as Ellen drove him north toward Escondido.

“What?” Ellen responded.

“You know, the texture. The dirt. The coarseness. The graininess that makes a place look lived in.”

Ellen had dismissed Cooper’s outburst as a sign of jet lag or crankiness.

In fact, Cooper was frustrated by how little the change in scenery had done for him. He had merely traded the verandah of his house in Singapore for the poolside patio of Ellen’s mountainside villa. There was one huge difference, of course. There was no booze to be had anywhere in Ellen’s house. Just lots of lemonade and cases of those flavored ice tea drinks that were so irritatingly trendy.

And so it had gone for the past six months that he had lived with his sister in the hills north of Escondido. He purged the booze from his system, but not the pain. He drank lots of ice tea and lemonade and every so often the two of them took day trips to places like the old missions at San Juan Capistrano or San Luis Rey, or the old stagecoach town of Temecula, or the posh resorts of La Jolla.

If nothing else, Cooper was getting to know his kid sister once again and Ellen was rediscovering her brother. Nevertheless, sometimes she thought he would have been better off staying in Singapore. But she was the only family Cooper had left and it distressed her to know he was alone and suffering in Asia.

Cooper watched Ellen as she reemerged from the house and moved across the patio with the water hose trained on the hanging plants. He closed his eyes and imagined Toshiko standing on the long wooden verandah of their Singapore house under slowly turning teakwood paddle fans fussing with the bougainvillea and orchids. It was too easy. All he had to do was will her into his consciousness and there she would be, just as she had always been. That was the problem. As much as he had loved Toshiko in life, he found himself consumed with an even stronger love for her in death. Sometimes he thought it was becoming his own personal cancer, and he had no doubt that it was killing him.

Cooper paced the length of the patio, spent a moment or two pushing himself up by the toes, then walked back to the lounge chair, eased himself onto its thick foam rubber cushions and closed his pale blue eyes under freckled eyelids.

“That’s enough exercise for today. I think I’ll take a little nap.”

Ellen looked over at him and shook her head. His tanned legs with their crepey skin extended from knee-length blue shorts and his meaty, liver-spotted hands rested on a half-buttoned red, yellow and blue Hawaiian shirt that threatened to burst open with each of his breaths.

“You really are a lazy old bear, Mr. McGrath.”

Cooper, muttered an indistinct reply and watched Ellen as she pottered past him into the house. He closed his eyes, yawned, and began drifting away to another time in a vanished world where his personal cloistered refuge awaited.

“Tomorrow,” he mused. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll come in from the pasture.”

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

(Ron Yates) RWISA Author Page

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW


The Protective Plague

by Laura Libricz

From the Overlord’s house came a quiet but vicious argument. I walked past the stately, tiered structure, decorated with wooden carvings. The other houses circling the town square stood quietly: the midwife’s red wooden house built up on stilts; the ironworkers’ blue housing complex and their adjoining workshop also built on stilts; the dark-brown community building, windows tightly shuttered.

I set my basket down in the middle of the square. The fountain marking the village center bubbled behind me as a mouse scurried around its stone base. The door of the Overlord’s house slammed open and he appeared on the top step. A woman’s sobs came from inside the house. He raised his nose to the sky and sniffed at the air, his black, wiry hair standing on end. He approached the fountain, his black woolen cape fluttering behind him.

“The weather has changed,” the Overlord said.

“You notice such things, Master?” I asked. “Today is the Turn of the Season; coupled with the full moon.”

“Yes, that is why you tie those wreaths of herbs,” he said. “Silly old traditions.”

“We will burn them at sunset on the Field of Fruition. These old traditions give the people comfort.”

“Your traditions have no power,” he said. “This year we initiate my new ritual. The One True Deity is not appeased with burning herbs.”

“What will appease your Deity then, Master? Burning flesh?”

The door of the red house squeaked open. The midwife flurried towards the fountain carrying a spray of reeds. Two red-haired daughters followed behind her. They carried baskets overloaded with sage and wormwood.

“Good day, Master,” she said, dropping her reeds at my feet.

Her black hair, not colored carefully enough, showed red roots at her scalp. I moved between her and the master, hoping he had not seen her hair, and gathered three reeds in my hands. I braided their stalks. Her daughters set the baskets down on the stone steps of the fountain and the midwife pulled both girls to her side.

“The workshop is quiet this morning,” I mentioned.

“The men have crossed the ford to the settlement beyond the Never-Dying Forest. They’ve taken our surplus of food and hope to trade. Years ago, the forest villagers made fabrics.”

The Overlord chuckled. “Foolish men. No one lives beyond the water and the forest but barbarians. They don’t trade, they take.”

I held my braided reeds aloft. “Our petition tonight at the bonfire is to ask for the safety of all villagers involved, whether they come from Forest Village or Field Village.”

“There will be no bonfire tonight,” he said.

As if by the Master’s silent command, the double doors on the community building slid open. Five leather-clad men, adorned with weapons of glinting steel, took two steps forward. Five young women draped with dirty white shifts, hands and mouths bound, knelt behind their ranks. I recognized the midwife’s eldest daughter and the barrel maker’s granddaughter.

“My new Turn of the Season tradition starts today.” The Overlord nodded to the troop. The men grabbed each of the young women under the arms and dragged them into the square. They were forced to kneel on the stone steps by the fountain. The overlord’s daughter was also among them.

“These women will be taken against their will on the Field of Fruition. The One True Deity will come to accept the eggs as soon as they are fertilized. I will summon him. The women and their fruits belong to him. He will exalt them and admit them into his glorious mountain realm.”

I threw my reeds aside. “Our traditions and petitions are based on protecting our villagers, not sacrificing them.”

“These women are ripe. We have prodded them all. The One True Deity will have this offering.”

“Men cannot enter the Field of Fruition at the Turn of the Season. It will bring us harm so close to the coming winter.”

“Your foolish traditions cannot keep the furies of winter at bay. Harm will only come if one of these women becomes pregnant. That would prove her self-seeking nature, her desire to retain the fruits for herself. She will be executed.”

The midwife let out a shriek. The overlord stroked his daughter’s matted hair.

“If she becomes pregnant,” he said, “we will also know she enjoyed the act. She will have defied The One True Deity. Women cannot become pregnant when taken against their will.”

He took two steps forward, his face a breath away from mine. “These women can be saved. Here they are. Save them. Save them now but know this: four others will take their places. You shall be the fifth.”

He turned with a swish of his cape and, followed by his armed mob, disappeared into the community house.

The midwife and I unbound the women. Together we gathered the wreaths, all our herbs and reeds, and walked out of the square towards the Field of Fruition. The sky was overcast. Rains threatened. Two women and their children stood at the edge of the green field, bundling straw. They piled it neatly on a cart. Two other women whacked the lazy ox and the cart jerked into movement.

In the middle of the Field of Fruition, wooden planks stood in support of one another, forming an inverted cone. Mice scurried under my feet and under the cone. The planks were once an old barn. In its place, we built a new one. Since the great flood, our village had prospered. We had practiced our Traditions of Gratitude ever since. I gave silent thanks for the abundance of grain that allowed even the mice to multiply.

“The moon is coming up over the trees,” I said. “We will start the fire now.”

The midwife scraped her knife on her stone and sparks flew into a pile of straw. She convinced the fire to burn and we fed the flames until the dried planks ignited. I raised my wreath of braided reeds over my head as mice scurried out from under the burning planks.

Our peaceful but preventive petition resonated between our practiced voices. We’d recited the verses many times and shuddered with the energy they held. I threw the wreath on the fire; sparks flew into the low storm clouds. More mice scurried over my feet. I looked down and the Field of Fruition was no longer autumn-green, but mouse-grey. A layer of mice had gathered, completely covering the Field–a protective plague ensuring the fulfillment of our petitions of peace and gratitude. Well, this was not what I had in mind, but it would do. No ill-wisher would enter this field tonight.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

(Laura Libricz) RWISA Author Page

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

The “Halloween Fun – Get Your Spook On” Weekend Blog Tour – @WendyJayneScott #RRBC #RWISA


Welcome to the “HALLOWEEN FUN – GET YOUR SPOOK ON” Weekend Blog Tour!

13 Spooky Writing Prompts to ignite your imagination.
Bats and cats, owls and howls, trick-or-treat, hosts and ghosts.
Kids, have fun this Halloween by creating spooky stories to scare your family and friends.

***

Giveaways
(3) Amazon eBook copies of any of the Aspiring Author Series (Winner’s choice)

Leave a comment below and/or along any stop along the tour for your chance to win!

Halloween—Witch’s Familiar

In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as “familiars” or “animal guides”) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic. According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal.

The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for them as they come into their new powers.

(Reference: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

 

Meet Wendy’s two writing familiars—Zippy & Zappy

13 Spooky Writing Prompts to ignite your imagination

Bats and cats, owls and howls, trick-or-treat, hosts and ghosts.

Have fun this Halloween by creating spooky stories to scare your family and friends.

Available eBook & Print on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075FD222K/

Visit author WJ Scott

https://www.amazon.com/WJ-Scott/e/B00MGDXQ8C/

Twitter@WendyJayneScott

https://www.facebook.com/ChildrenAuthorWJScott/

http://www.authorchildrens.com/

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!  Thanks for stopping by to support Wendy.  To follow along with the other two tour stops this weekend, or to find out more about her, please visit her 4WillsPub Blog Tour page and be sure to leave her a comment below, letting her know you’re running out to get her book this weekend! It’s only $.99!!! Grab a copy of Halloween Writing Prompts today. WJ Scott’s writing prompt series ranks among my favorites. ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author https://www.4writersandreaders.com 

 

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Celebrating the amazingly talented author and illustrator, Bette A. Stevens! ✨ @BetteAStevens #RRBC


What a lovely surprise to find today… Thank you, author Natalie Ducey! ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Natalie Ducey

Today, I’m delighted to celebrate the amazingly talented author and illustrator, Bette A. Stevens. If you haven’t already connected with Bette, I really encourage you to do so. She is a gifted writer and most generous soul. ♥

Bette’s book Pure Trash has been selected as one of three Books of the Month with Rave Reviews Book Club. I was thrilled to know this gem was selected. It’s an absolute joy to read and certainly worthy of this recognition.

Cheers to you, Bette!

Maine Author/Illustrator Bette A. Stevens Maine Author/Illustrator Bette A. Stevens

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy…

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#RRBC Book of the Month: PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens (Adventure/Ages 10-Adult)


A single day. A lifetime of lessons.

PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens has been selected one of three books chosen March Books of the Month by Rave Reviews Book Club. PURE TRASH (Available in Paperback $5.49 and eBook $2.99 versions).  A great book for adolescents, young adults, parents, guardians, mentors, and educators to read and discuss.

About the Book

In this short story prequel to the author’s novel DOG BONE SOUP, Shawn and Willie Daniels are off on a Saturday adventure in search of trash to turn into treasure. It is going to be a great day. Shawn is sure of it. No school and no bullies to remind him that he’s not one of the crowd.

“A nostalgic gem – I was swept away from the first paragraph and thoroughly enjoyed this skillfully written short story. This author knows how to paint mind-pictures and flavor them with taste, smell, and sound.”  WJ Scott, Children’s Author, Fairy Dust.

 

PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens (Excerpt) “Trash to Treasures”

Mr. Stark himself was behind the counter today. I always liked to see him. He was smiling back as if he was glad to see us, too. Empty bottles and all. Most of the clerks hated to see empties. They’d roll their eyes and shake their heads as if to say, “Not you two, again.” But not Mr. Stark. He was a different sort. His silver and black speckled hair had waves that curled around his face. His haircut sort of fit right in with his smile. Bright blue eyes sparkled and danced inside those wire-framed spectacles that looked way too small for his big round face.

“Hi, boys! Looks like you two young ’uns are in for some extra treats with all those empty bottles.” Mr. Stark smiled at Willie and me as he counted them up. “Forty-eight cents,” he said, reaching into the cash drawer for the four dimes and eight pennies that he pressed into my hand as he winked and smiled.

I was sure that Mr. Stark knew I’d divide the money between us. The other clerks would have tossed a quarter, two dimes and three pennies right down on the counter. But not Mr. Stark. He closed my fingers around the coins with his huge hand. It felt like a big friendly hug. I knew why I liked him a lot.

“Thank you, sir!” I smiled back at Mr. Stark and then down at Willie. Willie and me headed straight back out the door. We sat on the steps and began our storefront ritual. We had all the time in the world today. We were as free as the birds and the bees. We had our bikes and plenty of money to boot.

“What a day, Willie! We’ve got enough for ice cream, some soda pop and probably a bunch of penny candies, too,” I said. Then I handed Willie his share.

“Dang it, Shawn. You mean I get to hold on to my own money today?” Willie shook his head and quizzed me as I handed him his share of the cash.

“You sure do, Willie. I think you’re getting big enough now to do some figurin’ on your own. Just give a holler if you need any help.”

We grinned at each other. It was like we were sharing one of the world’s best kept secrets. Then, we marched right back up over those twelve steps and headed straight inside Stark’s to pick out our treasures.

I sure wasn’t in any kind of a hurry. Stark’s carried just about everything anybody could think of. I liked to wander around and look over the fishing gear. Today I had plenty of time to check out lots of other neat stuff, too. I knew Willie would head straight for the ice cream freezer.

I headed around the store to get a peek at all the stuff I’d never had time to take a real close look at before. Sporting goods. I loved to go fishin’. The glass case came nearly up to my shoulders and ran the length of the back wall, except for the space where a clerk could get in behind. The bottom shelves held knives of different shapes and any size you could imagine. Some of the knives were simple, others downright fancy. There were smooth leather covers and holders for those blades that likely cost more money than I’d ever see at one time. On the next shelf were handguns. One was so small it looked just liked a cap gun and there were lots of other pistols. Rifles and shotguns, too. There were even fancy leather holsters just like the ones Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and all the cowboys wore on TV and in the movies.

On the back wall above the glass case hung bows and arrows, and gun racks filled with rifles and shotguns. There were jackets, vests, fishing gear and even bags to carry your trout back home in. Best of all were the fishing poles. How I longed for a real pole. One with a spinning reel and some store-bought hooks. Oh sure, I’d still use worms. They worked real good. Didn’t need all those fancy doo-dads made with feathers to get fish to bite. Didn’t need a store-bought pole either. But, oh, how I wanted one. “Someday, I’ll have me one just like that,” I told myself, spellbound by the shiny green pole and black reel that hung high over the glass counter. Someday.

“Yes. Someday, I think I’ll get me a store, just like Mr. Stark’s. I’ll work at the counter every Saturday when all the kids come in,” I thought dreamily, smiling up at that perfect, shiny green pole.

Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens #FREE eBook through July 1, 2017


PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction) by Bette A. Stevens

#FREE eBook June 27 through July 1, 2017
Grab a copy of this must-read prequel to the author’s novel DOG BONE SOUP today at Your Amazon http://amzn.to/1T5tMAZ today!

From the Reviews

5gold-star3

Pure Trash—A Nostalgic Gem!

“A nostalgic gem – I was swept away from the first paragraph and thoroughly enjoyed this skillfully written short story. This author knows how to paint mind-pictures and flavour them with taste, smell, and sound.” ~WJ Scott, Children’s Author, Fairy Dust.

A Compelling Story

“Having read Dog Bone Soup from which this short story was drawn, I figured it would be a review of what I already read. I must say it was, but to a greater degree, this short story caused me to focus on the message. Two boys, Shawn and Willie, were children of dirt-poor parents. The story covers the day that the boys are going to take their bikes to town, trade in some bottles, and enjoy some candy. In short, a day free of worry and care. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. A small accident causes the boys to have to face the reality of prejudice that will no doubt haunt them their entire lives.

“The author tells this story with the realism that causes the reader believe they are witnessing the action personally. One’s heart goes out to the boys and their mother for having to endure ridicule and shame only because they were born into poverty.

“I recommend this short story to anyone who wants to preview Dog Bone Soup. It is well worth the time.” ~John Howell, author

Book summary

PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult) In this short story adventure set in New England in the 1950s, two young boys set out on a Saturday adventure you won’t want to miss! Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard-earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short. PURE TRASH is the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP, Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP.

About the author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource  incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP—coming-of-age story and family drama set in 1950s and 60s New England.

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