historical fiction

Work Sketch

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The nubs of my blunted fingers rub my shirt. Seems I do this more often without thinking. I can’t tell if it’s from the crazy itching where the fingers use to be, or if from trying to soothe my rumbling belly.

Hunger has kept me from bothering to look for work anymore. I’m too hungry to work. When my fingers parted ways with my hand, they took my chances of paid work with them anyway. Like a weary wife who takes away the children and all hope of a future. Why hire a man with six fingers, when there are plenty with ten? Ten fingers get the job done better. Seems awfully nit-picky to me. But I suppose bosses can afford to be picky in times like these.

I’ve learned to be careful where I loiter. An empty storefront is best. Plenty of those around. No one complains so long as I don’t block any signs. I don’t see how it matters. Most of the signs entice folks to buy nonexistent food. The ghost of food lingers on empty counters in empty diners. I have a wild desire to fill my empty belly with it. But that’s just my imaginative youth trying to take over. I don’t blame my youth. Someone’s got to provide.

My buddy Jeb thinks I should keep my hands out of my bibs. Show everyone my mangled hand. I’d get more coins tossed my way. “Sympathy money” he calls it. But every man has some shred of dignity that he won’t let go of. It’s bad enough to stand here waiting for a coin to fall on the walk. I won’t even put my hat down in a silent plea for change. Besides, if a boss happened to be walking by, I would want him to think he’s seeing a whole man in case he needs a worker. Begging is beneath me.

Almost.

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historical fiction

Robert Todd Lincoln: Again

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     My ears go deaf. Before the ringing starts, I get the whiff of gun powder. These sensations are all too familiar. We made our way to our respective ship cabins to settle in for the journey when it happened. The gunman barely caught my eye before he moved in close to aim at Mayor Gaynor’s throat.
     Now it comes to it, I did feel a slight perception of fear, perhaps the result of the villain’s sneer. But without the knowledge of a gun, my fear felt misplaced.
     Blood squirts from my friend’s neck. I hear the click of a camera. I cannot move fast enough to help William lay on the ship’s deck, while calling for a doctor. I’m not sure I’m heard.
     What was before excited chatter of people embarking to Europe, has turned into a flurry of panic. Women scream. The rapid clacking of shoes race around me. Men roughly disarm and subdue the gunman. I remove my coat to cushion William’s head and note the metallic scent of his blood. Whether my cries for a doctor are heard or one volunteers regardless, help arrives. I leave my friend in his care. My hands shake as they always do at times like these.
     But why must I experience so many of these times?
     A mere four days ago, I’d mourned the 45th anniversary of my father’s assassination. Why must fate be stubborn to me? Why be rescued by the brother of my father’s killer at the tender age of 20, only to spend a lifetime witnessing assassinations? Father, President Garfield, President McKinley…and even my friend, the New York City Mayor.
     How many more?
Writing

Cursive

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Charlie bent over his work, his little tongue licking his lips like a squirrel who can’t decide which direction to go when a car heads toward it. He carefully followed the direction of the arrows which told him how to form the cursive letters. After writing an uppercase L, he raised his head and grinned at me with wide excited eyes.

“What if the bottom of the L just kept going,” he flipped through the pages of his workbook to the end, “all the way through all the lines to the end of the book? That would be sooo crazy!”

I humored him with a smile. My practical, grown-up mind tried to fathom the world-changing implications of an L with a tail long enough to fill a whole workbook. It was beyond my capabilities.

Even with the threat of long-tailed Ls, I was just happy he wanted to learn cursive. I could remember being exactly his age and wanting to write that way, but my school didn’t teach cursive until second grade. I could join up all the letters of my first name, except for the S. My first-grade teacher had to ask me to stop.

William wanted to learn when he was in first grade too, and I knew I would have to be the one to teach him. But I made him wait. I had to wait. Even the workbook said that it was for third to fourth grade. So we waited. And now he’s no longer interested.

I wasn’t going to make that mistake with Charlie.

When he got to the end of the page, I pulled out his Starbuck’s chocolate cake pop from it’s little paper bag and let him have another bite…

Writing

Backwards

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The seasonal trend in Florida fashion.

Lucy’s eyes were pricked as if tears were about to leak from them. But she wasn’t emotional. Her eyes weren’t even overly watery. You know that almost burning, sort of sour pressure you get in your sinus cavities when you start to cry? Yeah, that.

When Chaucer wrote, “Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote…” he never knew a place like Florida. Lucy didn’t see sweet showers in April there.

Instead, she saw everything dusted yellow with pollen as if the deranged cousin of Jack Frost took his bottle of yellow, odorless baby powder and sprinkled it all over the place.

Joe Pollen.

Didn’t he know that Lucy had a headache everyday for months now because of it? Didn’t he know that she can’t even have fun singing anymore because her throat is so sore? And WHY does he have to visit when the weather is actually nice?

Why can’t Jack visit more often? Lucy liked Jack, but he only visited Florida every other year or so.

And still there was no rain in the forecast. Nothing to tamp down the incessant pollen.

Florida is backwards in many of it’s seasons. The leaves fall in Spring when the temperature is already rising after a brief burst of chill. The risk of floods happen in summer during the torrential afternoon downpours that line the roads with a hot fog after they’ve baked in the sun all day.

Lucy once went to a home show where a vendor tried to sell saunas to Floridians. Talk about trying to sell ice to an Eskimo.

But now it was bone dry outside with a yellow haze and the five medications Lucy been taking to combat allergies were just not cutting it. Not even when she also consumed a concoction of raw local honey, raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and hot water. She got the recipe from a cousin in Ireland, and it was actually rather tasty so she drank it anyway.

She thought of folks in other states who sigh during deep winter and wonder how nice it would be to live in Florida. But she knew first hand that it wasn’t cold enough in the winter to put much of a dent in the monotonous heat or kill off the plants for a season so that you don’t get that huge burst of sinus crushing pollen.

They were better off where they were.

Grannie's Memories · Uncategorized

Fish Slayer

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Image attributed to de:Benutzer:Felix Stember via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s the next chapter in my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.


 

My friends and I had a great time visiting all the stores. There was a music store run by Mr. Crippen – I think that was his name. It was such a long time ago. There was another building where Dr. McCurdy, the dentist, had his office upstairs. We use to love visiting Dr. McCurdy and his office nurse Miss Eisenbarth. That is… we liked to go just to visit, but when it came time to have our teeth checked, that was just a little bit different story. The doctor and his nurse were always nice to us and never once did they tell us to leave or that we were in their way.

One particular day, my uncle brought Dad some fresh, ripe cherries. Before I went to play with my friends across the street, Mom put some in a brown paper sack and I was to share them, which I did.

We visited the dentist office first that day. In the waiting room was a big glass fish tank with little fish swimming around in it. What fascinated us most about the tank was a big ceramic clown’s head. The fish would swim in and out the open eyes and mouth.

After a while, we got tired of watching them. The doctor and nurse were in another room with a patient. We decided to make up a new game to see how many cherries we could drop into the clown’s mouth in the fish tank. We had a ball doing this and enjoyed this new game very much. However, the game got old and we decided to leave.

Two or three days later, we were back in the alley digging for treasure (that’s another story too). Dr. McCurdy looked out the back window and called us to please come up to his office. The nurse took us right into one of the rooms with the big chair in it and he held a match box with some cotton in it. We couldn’t imagine what that was for until she said, “Girls, somehow our fish died the past few days and we were wondering what you were feeding them.”

I guess it hit us all at once – THOSE CHERRIES! I can’t remember if we cried or were just plain scared as she said to the doctor, “What can we do about this?” We didn’t know at the time that they had difficulty keeping straight faces.

After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, they decided what we were to do to pay for what we did. We were to take the fish and put them in the match box and cover it with the cotton. Then we had to take them down in the alley, where we had been digging for treasure, and have a funeral for those fish!

I guess they watched out the window while we did. I was so scared and I’m sure my friends were too. We didn’t visit there much after that.


*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice.

I’d Love to Hear from You!

Have you ever fed an animal something they shouldn’t have eaten? What happened? Did you ever have a fish funeral? 

Writing

And the Winner is…

editing example

Diane Davis! Congratulations! Look for my email about how to claim your copy of The Stone of Kings. 😀 Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I hope you had fun cracking my code. 😉

Here’s the solution: “My heart is full of thanks for my God, my family, and books. When my days are filled with all three, my days are happy.”

If your so inclined to decode my diary page, go for it – but it’s a poorly written account of how I got sick at a carnival in front of my crush. The only thing interesting about it is the code itself. *snicker*

And Now, Announcing…

Masterpiece Editing! Just in time for you NaNoWriMo-ers out there currently in need of a copyeditor. 😉

After much research, consideration, and discussion with my spouse, we have agreed that my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature would be best spent as a freelance copyeditor. Instead of killing myself to grade 350 high school papers a week for meager pay and even less appreciation, I can focus on the enhancement of one story at a time.

I sincerely hope that I can be a positive benefit to any writer who desires to make their manuscript sparkle. If you’ll notice, there is a new heading on my blog about my editing services. Feel free to take a look to see if I might be a good fit for editing your manuscript.

I’ve been through the process myself, and know first-hand how daunting it can be to put your “baby” in the hands of someone else. It’s rather like dropping your child off at daycare for the first time.

Of course I will continue my own literary pursuits between editing jobs. So Grannie’s story will eventually come. 🙂

Happy writing!

Writing

Can You Break My Code?

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I couldn’t just be a ‘normal’ 14-year-old. 😉 Don’t worry, this page isn’t what you have to decode.

Finally! I’ve been wanting to do this for months but one thing or another has kept me from it. Here it is at last!

Back in the day…

…I created a code so no one could read my super secret teenage thoughts. This is one of the pages and pages of my “code diary.”

At first I was going to simply post the above image and have you all try to crack it. But after getting several opinions, it was unanimous that this was too hard by itself. It’s difficult to see the word breaks, and it IS a lot of letters to decode. I’d probably only attract nerdy nutters like myself. While I LOVE nerdy nutters, I want this to be fun for everyone.

So instead…

Your mission…

…should you choose to accept it: decode the following Thanksgiving themed phrase.

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Each symbol represents a letter of the alphabet. As you can see, I gave you the vowels. 🙂

Email your entry to me at shea_ford@yahoo.com by November 29th. I will select a random winner to be announced on November 30th.

Your prize…

…an Amazon copy of The Stone of Kings!

Why is this kind of contest related to the story? I’m sure the Irish druids had a much different set of symbols on the rare occasions when they wrote things down. But when Bresal communicates with Taichleach via magic symbols in stones, these were the symbols that I visualized.

Just go with it. 😉

Wait…there’s more!

I have a big announcement to make on the 30th, so be sure to look for that when you stop in to see if you’re my winner! 😀

Writing

Where Has Shea McIntosh Ford Been?!

Original image credit: Juha Flinkman, SubZone OY via Wikimedia Commons.
Original image credit: Juha Flinkman, SubZone OY via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll be honest, I enjoyed my media fast so much, I haven’t wanted to clutter my life with it again. Hence my prolonged absences from my blog and Facebook.

But I now have other reasons for not engaging much on social media. I’ve gotten back into the classroom again as a substitute teacher. I’ve missed teaching over these last 9 years but have been waiting for Charlie to be in kindergarten before reigniting my teaching career. Since we plan on moving out of state this winter, it didn’t make sense to get re-certified here. But at least I can get my feet wet…

Well, 4 days into the job and BOOM!

And extended position is offered to me! For the entire month of October, I’ll be dusting off my skills while I teach 11th grade English. I’ve been shadowing the permanent teacher the last couple of days and I’m excited to jump back in and see if I can handle it this time now that gluten is not in my system. It will be a good experiment to tell me if I can handle it now that I’m a mom.

I’m also excited to implement the permanent teacher’s strategies. I didn’t have that kind of opportunity the first time around, and I was sort of “winging it” with the textbook.

However…

I am still writing! Still working on the historical fiction about the lifting of Prohibition. 🙂 I’ll try to get more of my Grannie’s memories ready for posting.

I also have plans for a contest that I should have done a long time ago, so be on the look out for that! 😀

In the meantime, wish me luck on my new venture!

Writing

4 Things I’ve Learned from My Media Fast

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in that, kid...
I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in that, kid…

I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:

Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.

Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.

I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.

Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.

So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂

1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.

Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.

*Shakes head sadly*

2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.

Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.

I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.

I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.

3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.

Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.

Which leads me to my last point…

4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.

Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.


Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀

Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?
Grannie's Memories

Grannie’s Memories – The Infamous Root Beer

Image credit: Pumpkin Sky via Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s the next chapter in my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.


On mornings, I’d make my “rounds” which I called “help opening stores.” If any of those people ever felt I was “in the way” so to speak, I can never remember them telling me it was time to go home. Only once upstairs in Grubers Department Store I recall a nice lady who worked there telling me to be real careful. I was checking all the room size rugs which hung on the wall, a great fascination for someone my age.

Her name was Edith Ryder and she always called me “Honey Girl.” Fifty some years later a cousin, who is a nurse, called me when we visited Marietta one summer and said Edith Ryder had asked about me. My cousin took me to see her, and she still called me “Honey Girl.” I’ll never forget her.

I’ll never forget the night Grubers Department Store burnt down. My husband and I heard the sirens and walked up front street to that alley. I watched a lot of childhood memories go with it, but I’ll never forget them ever.

Now, I’ve covered one side of the street up to the alley, but as the old saying goes “the grass is always greener” you know the rest I’m sure. On the other side starting at Green Street, I remember Glines Cleaners. Then the Dime Savings Bank and next to it Richards Drug Store.

Mr. Ed Richards owned it and he had a big soda fountain in there. One of my favorite fountain drinks was Cherry Smash. I used to call it “made by hand” because it came in a glass with ice instead of a bottle. My next favorite fountain drink was root beer. And for two or three years he gave me a “Free Root Beer.” Just one, mind you, and always in the springtime.

That was my favorite side of the street. The other side of the street was a “no-no” to me unless I asked Mom’s permission to get someone to take me across if she was too busy to do it. There was a streetcar track in the middle of the road and I might get hit by a streetcar or one of those big touring cars or a Model T Ford. It was my favorite side of the street because all the “goodies” I liked were there.

Getting back to the root beer.

One spring day, a year or two later, Mr. Richards hired a new boy behind the soda counter. They called them “soda jerks” back then, I guess. Anyhow, Mr. Richards told him to fix my “free root beer.” The glass was a lot bigger than usual and he smiled when I thanked him. I put a straw in the glass and took a big gulp. What happened next I’ll never forget because the taste in my mouth was not root beer!

Anyone my age who has had to take CASTOR OIL will know immediately what I’m talking about. Castor oil has a flavor all it’s own and once you taste it you will never forget it or never want to taste it again.

This story goes like this. Every spring, my mother went over and paid Mr. Richards for my “root beer.” Back then, castor oil was to rid your system of any germs you might have picked up during the winter. What finally caused this plan to fall through was because Mr. Richards forgot to tell the new soda jerk to mix it up. All the oil was in the bottom of the glass where I put the straw and the root beer was on top.

I don’t think I care to talk about this any longer. My mother was one smart lady, but today I still don’t like root beer.


*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Have you ever ate or drank something and got a surprise? Are you completely turned off a food because of a bad experience? Have you ever had to take castor oil?