Posted in Podcasts, Short Story

September Podcast and Book News

Sometimes authors like to try their hands at writing different genres. Although I have two cozy mystery series, I’ve also written some standalone mysteries and short stories. One of these stories, “Oceans Apart” is a departure from my usual writing. Donnie Lansdale does a great job giving voice to my tale. Listen to the podcast below from the Everyday Monsters Podcast and on Apple, Google, or Spotify until September 19.

The long-awaited Memories and Meows is now available at your favorite online shop. This book tells the stories of several of my cats through their own words and photos.

Purchase link: https://books2read.com/u/baon1P.

I’m also hoping to submit the second book of my Buttercup Bend cozy mystery series, tentatively titled, “The Case of the Parrot-Loving Professor,” to my publisher this month. Have you read the first one, The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, yet?

Last but not least, my cat Harry will be sharing his story in the upcoming anthology, “Purr-severance” by Sierra M. Koester. We are both thrilled. Further details coming soon.

Posted in Short Story

Guest Post – Short Story by Debby Wakeham

Below is a story submitted to me by Debbie Wakeham who read my book, Cloudy Rainbow, and told me how much she liked it. Her beautiful tale about the loss of her cat Eric, told by him, also deals with pet bereavement. I think it will resonate with those who have lost a pet. Warning: you may want to read this with tissues handy.

ERIC

They were worried – I could tell by the way they kept stroking me and trying to induce me to eat. They offered me my very favourite foods (chicken, ham and steak) but I was just not interested. For some time now I had been feeling under the weather. I was losing weight rapidly and just did not feel like doing anything. Sometimes I was sick. They did not notice at first that there was anything wrong, as I was very good at hiding things, but eventually it became obvious.

When things became really bad, they got the carrier ready with a soft blanket and placed me inside, preparatory to making that all too familiar journey we had made many times before. But this time felt different; they were making strange noises and kept wiping their eyes with those tissue things they had sometimes used on me when my eyes got ‘gunged up’ as they called it. Their eyes were not gunged up – just wet. ‘Oh Eric, we love you so much’ they said, before lifting me, in the carrier, into the car.

***

I had spent many happy years with them. An old lady had found me wandering the streets, undernourished and covered in mange, and had taken me home to live with her. She was not in good health herself and, deciding she now had too many of us to look after, she determined to find me a good home where I could receive the love and attention I deserved. Her granddaughter happened to know exactly the right people: a couple who had, over the years, opened their house to many like me and accepted them unreservedly as members of their family.

At first I was very nervous and kept running away from them and hiding. They fed me and let me slowly get used to my surroundings before attempting to give me too much direct attention. I could tell they both loved me and once I heard the female say that one day I would break her heart. I resolved to do nothing of the kind and, as my confidence grew, I would reassure her by lying full length on her at night, on top of the covers on their bed. The male had no objection to sharing their bed with me; I think he liked it.

One day soon after I arrived, they took me in the carrier, in the car, to a new place. We waited in a room with other people, some with monsters attached to them by a collar and lead and some with carriers like mine. After a while, we were invited into another room. I was placed on a table and a strange male person gave me a thorough examination. He shaved my front leg and inserted something. I felt a slight sting – then I was put back in the carrier and, to my relief, they took me home. (I did not want to be left somewhere else just as I was getting used to my new place).

I began to feel much better in the days to come. The mange stopped itching; in fact, it went away completely and my coat grew back. I had been virtually bald down my sides but now, though I say it myself, I was becoming extremely handsome. Visitors would admire me greatly and one young man described my colouring as Peach.

I had a few problems with my health over the years: I got a scratch on my eye and the clever man (who had cured the mange) did something clever with my third eyelid – stitching it across so I was blind in one eye for a while. When he took the stitch out, my eye was perfectly healed. Another thing was my teeth – they got to hurt like crazy and though I was starving hungry, I recoiled in pain from the food bowl every time I tried to eat. Once again, the clever man sorted it out. It seemed I was allergic to plaque and eventually I had to have all my teeth removed. My mouth was a bit sore at first but soon my gums hardened and I could even eat biscuits again! I had to bluff my way through verbal exchanges with that horrible tom down the road; it would not do for him to suspect that, if push came to shove, I would be unable to bite. My male person laughed at these episodes and said I was ‘all mouth and trousers’.

The main problem was Popps. For some reason, she could not stand me and would bully me remorselessly. Being a gentleman, I refused to retaliate. I was not scared of her – of course I wasn’t. I don’t remember if I have mentioned that I shared the house with a few others; most of them were ok; it was only Popps who was the problem. At that time we were living in a place where my people were reluctant to facilitate spontaneous exits and entrances via the back door into the garden, and we always had to ask when we wanted to go out. Something to do with nasty neighbours, I think. Anyway, if I needed to go out in the night (I was reluctant to use the facilities so thoughtfully provided in the kitchen, as Popps would stand in the way) I had to resort to jumping on the bed and trampling back and forth over my people, asking very politely if they would not mind getting up to let me out. They always obliged even if, as they said, it was four o’clock in the morning!

Other than that, life was perfect. I had everything I wanted and needed, an abundance of love and as much food as I could eat. I liked nothing better than to bask in the sun, either outside in the garden, or inside on a large armchair with a splendid throw over it – the sunlight casting intricate patterns of light and shade over me and the chair. I would get into silly positions, lying twisted on my back with my legs in the air, to amuse my people. The female would laugh out loud and point a rectangular thing at me. It went ‘Click!’ and then she would show me what it had captured – yes, a tiny picture of me in my favourite chair. She took several like that, and a few when I was curled up asleep, unawares.Seasons passed and, whatever the weather, my people made sure I was always comfortable. Spring and Summer saw me exploring outside in the garden and venturing further afield when I felt like it. Once they thought I had disappeared and they were worried sick. On my travels, I noticed pictures of me posted up in shop windows with some writing underneath and the word ‘LOST’ at the top, in large black letters. Imagine their relief when I turned up a couple of days later. I don’t know what they were worried about.

Autumn and Winter saw me curled up on chairs, on the sofa, on the bed, wherever it was warm. Then one year, they decided to move to a different house. I knew something was up by the general disruption and removal of furniture. The hustle and bustle continued for most of the day, then we were all loaded into our carriers and taken in the car to the new place. I liked it straight away and, though it was Winter, I was delighted to see that they had put something in the back door so that we could come and go as we pleased into the garden. Of course we had to stay in for a while, till we got used to the place and called it our home. But once we 3 of 4 were allowed outside, life became even better.

I looked forward to the Summer, when I would go out and bask in the sunshine. But no sooner had I got used to the new place than I became unwell again. This time it was kidney trouble and they had to feed me some special food (they said it was expensive but that I was worth it) from tins they got from the clever man. The food was boring but I still ate well; I managed two tins a day. It wasn’t long before I began to go off the special food. It really was very bland and I was glad when they tempted me (against their better judgement, they said) with chicken, which was my favourite.

For a short while this worked and I regained some of my appetite. But gradually I began to lose condition and to lose interest in food. I also lost a lot of weight. My coat lost its shine and became woolly. My stomach felt increasingly uncomfortable and I felt – I can only describe it as – wrong all over. It wasn’t just my kidneys, of that I was certain. Then came the day when I could only manage one small mouthful of chicken.

***

When we arrived, they took me in the carrier into the room I knew so well – the smells, the other people, some with carriers like ours and some with monsters wearing collar and lead. I was glad the monsters were securely attached to their people, as their lunging and the noise they sometimes made unnerved me. We did not have long to wait; soon we were in that other room again with the clever man. I was lifted out of the carrier onto the table. The clever man gently stroked me, felt around my stomach and stroked me again. He nodded to my people and said: ‘Yes, I think it’s time.’ While my people held me close, he shaved my front leg and inserted something. I felt a slight sting and then I think I went to sleep. Everything went dark.

***

When I woke up, I felt wonderful. Gone were the pain, the lethargy and the sickness. I just wanted to run and run and explore this beautiful new world. Strangely enough I had no desire to eat but that did not seem to matter. There was, and is, so much to see and do in such beautiful surroundings – woodland, green fields, sunshine to bask in and shade, just when needed, for a rest and a sleep. The air is always so fresh, the temperature just right and the scent of the grasses and flowers is so vivid. I even came across old friends I have not seen for years and we spend many happy hours running, sniffing, chasing imaginary mice, or just relaxing, stretching out on the fragrant grass and picking up each other’s thoughts. The only thing missing is my old home and of course my people. They are not here, and they do not come to see me.

My old friends and the new ones I have made communicated to me that they often pop back to visit their respective homes, which are only a thought away. They explained that most of their people do not live here in the wonderful land and, like mine, they never come to visit. Those who have their people with them have no need and no desire to go back.

As I wanted to see mine, I decided to pay them a visit. I was surprised and more than a little disappointed to find that they did not appear to notice my miraculous return to health; in fact, they did not seem to notice me at all. However, one of their friends (a lady with long, blonde hair) caught sight of me on the stairs on one of her visits. She seemed very surprised to see me, which was strange, as she had often made a fuss of me in the past.

Though I am extremely happy in the wonderful land, I still go back from time to time, in the hope that one day they might pay me some attention. So far, that has not happened. They no longer put out food and water for me (but that does not matter). The litter tray has gone (but that does not matter either). Why are they ignoring me? They never stroke me anymore and they have to keep wiping their eyes with those tissue things. Their eyes are not gunged up – just wet.

Debby Wakeham – February 2022.

Posted in Freebies and Special Offers, Horror, Short Story

FREE HORROR STORY – October 29 to November 1

Just in time for Halloween, my horror story, Knowledge is Power, is Free from October 29 to November 1.

getbook.at/Knowledge

On the one-month anniversary of the death of her beloved cat, Librarian Margaret Goodley, uses her excellent research skills to cast a spell to bring Bluebell back to life. Unfortunately, there are unexpected consequences when two other women who have lost their own loved ones on the same day interrupt the ceremony.

EXCERPT:

The air was scented with the approaching rain as Margaret walked through the cemetery crossing the twig-strewn path that cut across her backyard. This was the familiar path she strode twice a day in her flat brown loafers on her way to and from work at the Donker Public Library in the small town of Donker, Massachusetts due south of Salem.

Tonight, she was arriving home much later than usual with a worn book tucked under her arm, the results of her after-hours research. Charlie, the custodian, had let her stay until he closed the building at ten. She could see the light she’d left on in anticipation of her late arrival shining through the windows of the small, gray clapboard house. Just a few weeks ago, Bluebell would be running to the door as soon as the key was turning in the lock. The silver tabby had been a member of her favorite welcoming committee, the only member of any committee that ever welcomed Margaret Goodley.

As she approached the house, Margaret intentionally avoided the small patch of dug-up earth under the bush near the front window. When she opened the door, the loss of Bluebell hit her anew as it did every time she came home to the empty house. She hadn’t missed Paul after he left her for that young waitress half as much as she missed her dead cat.

 Although she was tired from a full day’s work plus the additional five hours she’d spent reading and researching, she couldn’t yet sleep. There was more work to be done. She lay the library book down on the kitchen table and plugged a small fan into the outlet next to the microwave. The closed-up house had retained the heat of the early September night.

As the fan whirled hot air around her, she sat at the table and opened the book. She had already read it at the library along with countless articles both on the Internet and through the online databases. Who would have thought she’d find the perfect source for her purpose right in her own library’s collection? A phrase her father had told her as a child repeated in her mind, “knowledge is power.”

Posted in Books, Mysteries, New Releases, Short Story, Solstice Publishing

Update on My Mysteries

Since I have lots of news for my readers, I thought I’d share my updates on this blog. Most of you may have seen my announcement about the recent release of my standalone mystery thriller, Reason to Diebut you may not yet have viewed the book trailer.

I also have author appearances scheduled in April and May. I’ll be at the Port Washington Public Library’s Local Author Fair on Sunday, April 29, where I’ll be selling autographed copies of Reason to Die as well as all three books of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. On Saturday, May 12, I’ll be at the St. Stephens Church Local Author Fair in Hicksville, NY, where I’ll be speaking about my books and also autographing copies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 4, two of my mystery short stories will be featured in Solstice Publishing’s Plots and Schemes, Vol. 2 anthology. “Murder at Lavender Lake Library” is a cozy mystery, and “Bullet in the Back,” a mystery thriller. I’ll let you all know when it’s officially released. I hope to see some of you at my upcoming appearances.

Reason to Die is also on a blog tour with a $15 Amazon gift card giveaway. Follow the tour at http://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/reason-to-die-book-tour-and-giveaway

Al

Posted in Horror, New Releases, Science Fiction, Short Story, Solstice Publishing

New Sci-Fi, Horror, and Paranormal Romance Stories

I’m proud to announce the release of two new stories  — a Science fiction tale about a future world where there are no libraries and a horror story about a scary honeymoon in Venice.

myBook.to/LLibrarian

THE LAST LIBRARIAN – Can society exist without libraries?

In the year 2050, Dorina Reinhardt, employed as an Information Tutor after her job as a librarian became obsolete secretly shares print books after the Technology War declared them illegal. When a lost kitten turns up on her doorstep and a boy comes to claim him, Dorina is caught up in a dangerous mission in which the stakes may be too high and those who seem to be on her side may be the ones she should distrust.

myBook.to/hhoneymoon

HAUNTED HONEYMOON – Ghost cat. Don’t honeymoon without one.

Francesco and Gina are not your typical engaged couple. They met in a cemetery and spent their dates watching horror movies. But when Francesco suggests they honeymoon in a haunted house in Venice, Gina is shocked when she learns the place may actually be Francesco’s childhood home where his parents were murdered.

Don’t forget about my paranormal holiday romance that was released on January, 7th about a woman who travels back to San Francisco at the time of the great earthquake.

myBook.to/MissingMistletoe

THE LAST MISTLETOE -Time travel via Victorian mistletoe.

After her divorce, Anna moves to San Francisco where her sister Emily and her brother-in-law Tom live. Emily, a real estate agent, locates a beautiful Victorian home for Anna. The house’s history dates back to before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Emily has decorated Anna’s new house with festive decorations she’s purchased and others she found in a box in the attic. The only item she couldn’t find was a mistletoe. When Anna nearly trips on one of the steps to the second floor, she finds a mistletoe hidden in a recess underneath the stair. Hanging it up as her sister holds the ladder, she becomes dizzy and falls. When she awakes, Anna finds herself in 1906 San Francisco the day before the earthquake is scheduled to hit. The occupants of the house cannily resemble her relatives and her ex-husband and his girlfriend. Can she find a way to return to her own time before the earthquake strikes, or should she warn these strangely familiar people of the imminent danger?

Posted in Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Contest, Cozy Mysteries, Freebies and Special Offers, Short Story

Holiday News, a Contest, and Gift to Readers

auroraholidayhopI hope you are all enjoying this holiday season. I wanted to share with you a few updates. If you haven’t participated in the Aurora Holiday Hop in which 100 authors including myself are giving away prizes, you should do so before it ends today, December 18. You can find the details on the post on my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/. The main hop page is located at https://www.facebook.com/events/1101537709967416/.

coming-soon-written-in-stoneI also have some good news to share with those who have read or would like to read my Cobble Cove Mystery series. Following A Stone’s Throw and Between a Rock and a Hard Place, I have completed the first draft of a third book that I hope to call Written in Stone. I will be sure to include more news about this new mystery and some excerpts as it gets closer to a release date. The best way to keep updated about all my author news is through my twice monthly newsletter which you can subscribe to at https://debbiedelouise.com by filling out the pop-up form. I also feature a  monthly prize contest for my subscribers.

celebrating-christmas-001As a holiday present to those of you who have not yet read my second mystery or would like to give it as a gift to someone, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, will be free on Amazon.com on Tuesday, December 20 and Wednesday, December 21. I also have a Christmas story for only 99 cents that features the Cobble Cove characters. Celebrating Christmas with my Characters.

I am also up for Best Author of the Year. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, my newsletter, and/or my books and would have a moment to vote in the next few days, please visit the polls at http://solsticepublishing.com/vote-for-author-of-the-year/ I truly appreciate your support.

The final piece of news is that I have just created a Facebook group that will be hosted by one of the Cobble Cove characters each month. The host will answer questions about their role in the mysteries and anything people would like to ask about the books excluding spoilers. The host will also offer a contest or giveaway and may post some interesting trivia about themselves and/or the series. The current host until January is Alicia, the main character. Even while she is host, readers are welcome to post questions to any of the characters. For more information, to post a question, and to join the group, please visit the Cobble Cove Character Chat at https://www.facebook.com/groups/748912598599469/.

cobblecovehcaracterchatThe Cobble Cove characters and I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy holiday.

 

 

 

Posted in Author Spotlight, Authors, Books, New Releases, Short Story

Author Spotlight: Lisa Diaz Meyer

authorspotlightWelcome to the Literary Library Lounge where I interview fellow authors. Today, I am chatting with Lisa Meyer who writes under Lisa Diaz Meyer, from Wantagh, Long Island, New York. As we are practically neighbors, I met Lisa at an author signing at a local library this past summer.
photo-1limitlesslibrarylounge

Thanks for joining me, Lisa.  Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable.
I understand you have a short story collection that was recently released that is the second of a similar collection you published recently which also contains a continuing saga. Can you give me some details about them and your publishing history?

I have been published with Outskirts Press since April of 2015, ALL ROADS HOME: A Collection of Short Stories and recently this year in September 2016, with the sequel ALL ROADS DESTINED: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems.

img_3506ALL ROADS HOME is a collection of what I’d written throughout my life, short stories, essays, poems and stage plays. I consider myself a dark fiction writer, which doesn’t particularly mean only horror, I just appreciate an unhappy ending or a twist. I also choose to write about awareness issues and depression situations. In both of my books there’s a post-apocalyptic saga, called the Outposts. I’d never done that genre and wanted to give it a try.

 all-roads-destined-coverIn ALL ROADS DESTINED, the Outposts continue and will slowly slide into the science fiction genre, because I’d never tried that before either. There are short stories and poems at the end as well, that are again different in nature.

Right now, I’m working on my third and fourth installments of my ALL ROADS books that will include more Outpost stories, my usual, weird short stories and poems. I will be adding another saga-esque storyline in that leans toward dystopian. I hope they are as likeable as the Outposts.

For someone who has read and very much enjoyed your first book and who is looking forward to the follow-up collection and the continuation of the Outpost stories, I can say that you truly have a unique writing voice, Lisa.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

My goals as a writer are to be part of the literary world, not so much as pop culture. (Though, I’ll take it should it happen!) Perhaps some short stories and poems could be in a curriculum for high schools or colleges. Ya’ know how kids just love a Nathaniel Hawthorne story! (Although I did) Sorry, a little lit humor there but it’s actually what I’d like to see happen for some of my work. Required reading, what was the author trying to say, that type of thing. And for other works, maybe some will be considered camp. Right now, I’m just trying to get myself out there and noticed and hope that people like my writing style.

Very nice. I think most authors would agree that building a fan base is the most important thing; everything else will follow. You certainly have a good start and some interesting ideas.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

People who like something different. People who need a change from the norm. I want people to think. Readers who enjoy dark fiction, a little macabre and aren’t afraid of unhappily ever after’s. Someone who wants to hear the voices of the victim, the hero and villain.

As a librarian as well as an author, I like to expose myself to a variety of genres and other authors’ styles of writing. I guess that’s why I found yours a nice change of pace. As part of my job, I also edit the monthly staff picks at my library and like to feature debut authors as well as those from the New York Times bestseller’s list. I find that readers are always looking for new and distinctive voices.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Not to be afraid of indie or self-publishing. We’re a huge community. If that’s just not for you then just keep trying. Start a blog, make a you-tube channel for discussions, create a following on Twitter. Believe it or not, pre-book I was told I needed a “following” first. Sounds ridiculous. How does one get followed BEFORE the book? Social media. Don’t fight it. It’s a window, climb on in. It’s also time consuming and a numbers game but a breakthrough opportunity writers didn’t have before.

That’s so true. I self-published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, but then was lucky enough to find a small publisher for my following novels. I know many self-published and Indie authors who do quite well. I believe there are more opportunities for authors today due to the proliferance of print-on-demand technology and ebooks. However, whether you self-publish or publish through a traditional publisher, you, the author, are still responsible for marketing and promoting your books in as many venues and media outlets as possible both on-line and in person. An author who doesn’t have a website, blog, or pages on Facebook and Twitter is like a job seeker today who doesn’t have a college degree. Your options are severely limited.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

My life! Ha! Actually, being a short story writer, I didn’t have enough material at first. So I had to write more, taking me off my time frame. Also… fear but I decided to stop that. It’s counterproductive and takes up more energy than you’d think.

Yes, fear can be quite debilitating. Everyone goes through it, but some people are better able to cope. You certainly seem like you’ve developed a way of combating the different fears a writer faces — fear of rejection, fear of criticism, even fear of success.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

I’ve gone to writing groups maybe twice in my life but always stopped going after the first meeting. Too shy.

We have a writing group at Hicksville. I actually started it. They found a very good teacher to run it, but there are people who are still reticent about sharing their writing. Most authors are sensitive because the words they pen are often quite personal. Writing groups aim to be non-judgmental and their members are advised to only offer constructive criticism.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Writing is always number one but there are many others. The theater; just before the play starts and those lights begin to dim, I am home. I crotchet. I paint abstract art. Photography. Abandoned places. Antiques. Reading my favorite authors. History. Science. I love to research things. Gardening. I get ideas to make something and I make them. I love to design things and decorate my house with them. Pretty much ANYTHING creative. Or anything spooky. Certain video games and promoting other indie’s (music, movies, writers and artists).

Wow, Lisa. You have a variety of interesting interests – lol.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

Right now, I love everything about being an author. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to be. The toughest challenge is marketing and patience.

Marketing is most author’s achilles heel. I know it’s mine, although I actually enjoy some parts of it.

gray-me-1Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Website: lisadiazmeyer.com

Blog: Blah Blah Blog …ldmeyer.blogspot.com

Twitter: @LisaDMeyer

 

Thanks, Lisa. I hope my readers connect with you. It’s been a pleasure having you in my author spotlight, and I wish you the best of luck with your books. I can’t wait to read your latest.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anthology, Cover Reveal, Short Story

Announcing the Cover Reveal of a New Romance Anthology, Love, Always with Mega Giveaways

Love Always Anthology Cover (1)Sometimes the line between love and lust is blurred by more than just blind infatuation.”

★★★COVER REVEAL★★★

Coming July 15th

Love, Always: An Anthology of Romantic Short Stories

Authors: S. Valentine, A. Gorman, Jennifer Loring, A.L. Vincent, Haley Allison, Jennifer Allis Provost, Michelle Jo Quinn, Debbie De Louise, Erin Lee, J.A. Kerr, Michael Ross, Natalina Reis, Lilly James, Alison Mello, Gabriela Cabezut, C.J. Laurence, Camille Taylor

loveawaysCover Design by Rock Your World Promotions

Stock Photo via Adobe Stock

love2★ SYNOPSIS ★

Sometimes the line between love and lust is blurred by more than just blind infatuation.
Love comes in many different forms, at different times, and in many ways. Each new relationship creates their own story as they risk everything and go along for the ride.
Love, Always is the perfect recipe for romance. Sixteen authors have created a collection of stories filled with desire ranging from hot and steamy, to sweet and sentimental. Whether they are what you expect or not, we guarantee a love filled with laughter and passion just for you. The only question that remains is, we can’t control who we fall for…so who will capture your heart?
Love, Always.

***Only available as a giveaway/competition prize. Be on the lookout!***

★★★MEGA GIVEAWAYS★★★

Enter here for a chance to win one of TEN copies of the Love, Always anthology!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, if you attend the Cover Reveal Facebook event, you have a chance to win a bundle of 12 eBooks by participating authors including myself.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1624146344580295/

coverrevealprize

 

 

 

Posted in Monday Blog, Short Story, Uncategorized

How do you like this short story?

gift-548299_640I hope you like this story about a girl who finds that the best gifts are worth waiting for and that believing in yourself is the first step toward achieving your dreams.

A PERFECT SOLUTION

by Debbie De Louise

© Debbie De Louise 2015

Loser. If you looked up the definition in Mary Jane Hopkins’ personal dictionary, her name would be listed. If the dictionary was illustrated, her photo might appear there, too. For the twenty-nine years and 364 days that she had been on this Earth, Mary Jane had accomplished nearly nothing. She did manage to graduate high school only because Mrs. Palmer, her English teacher in her senior year, felt pity for her and gave her a C- as her final grade. Mary Jane wasn’t stupid, but she had such low self-esteem that she failed everything she tried. An only child, her parents gave her everything she wanted, but they could never give her self-confidence.

The list of Mary Jane’s failures could take up a book. Since childhood, she’d taken lessons in a variety of wind, string, percussion, and electronic instruments – piano, violin, guitar, drums, flute, electric keyboard, even xylophone. After her parents invested thousands of dollars in lessons, she could barely play a note. Her mother, Gladys, suggested to her father that maybe music wasn’t Mary Jane’s thing. Then followed years of art lessons at a prestigious art school. A four-year old could better master her stick drawings and splattered paintings. Her dad then considered that his dear daughter might be more athletic than artistic. She took horseback lessons and nearly broke the horse’s back. She tried tennis, soccer, softball, basketball, golf, and even ping-pong but constantly lost the balls in each game. She nearly drowned during her Red Cross swimming lesson. Both parents agreed it might be best not to enroll her in skydiving or mountain climbing classes.

After all Mary Jane’s attempts at enrichment classes failed, her parents tried a different tact. When Mary Jane turned 13, her mother told her father that she read some books on teenagers that said they should be allowed to “sink or swim.” Her dad said that, judging by MJ’s previous swimming lessons, the sink was more likely. Gladys explained that the saying was not literal. It simply meant their daughter needed to try things on her own and suffer the consequences if they didn’t work out for her. Therefore, Mary Jane joined some clubs at school – cheerleading, chess, chorus, and even camera club. She forgot the one-word cheers, had no clue about the chess, got laryngitis her first day at chorus, and dropped and broke the camera club’s $500 digital camera.

It only got worse as Mary Jane grew older. She was never asked to her senior prom. Although she wasn’t ugly, she was as plain as her middle name portended. For her 16th birthday, her mother treated her to a makeover at a local beauty parlor. She was allergic to the cosmetics and broke out in hives. Her dad gave her money for a new wardrobe, but the materials of the new outfits made her itch.

As the years passed, Mary Jane applied to many jobs that did not require a college degree. She was hired as a waitress but spilled soup in a customer’s lap. She was a receptionist at a doctor’s office but put the wrong patient’s chart in the files. She even, without her parents’ knowledge, danced at an adult club, but she slipped on the floor and broke her ankle.

Now, approaching her 30th birthday, all Mary Jane wanted was to excel at something. That’s why, when she saw the advertisement in her email, hope grew in her heart. She knew it had to be authentic because her spam filter had not blocked it.

Do you wish you could change your life? For only $99.95, we can send you the details of our proven plan, A Perfect Solution. Whether you want a high-paying job, a loving spouse, or to win the lottery, if you dream it, you can have it. A Perfect Solution has helped thousands of shy, depressed, self-conscious men and women overcome their own feelings of worthlessness.

The final line really grabbed her:

You can even gift A Perfect Solution to a friend or relative or even yourself for your next birthday. A Perfect Solution will arrive in a discreet brown paper package within a week of order with complete instructions and a 60-day money back guarantee. Click here to order.

Mary Jane quickly clicked the order link. She had $100 left in her bank account from her parent’s last birthday gift, so she could afford to charge it. She filled out the order form and added her credit card information. She kept her fingers crossed that she would receive A Perfect Solution by her birthday the following week.

During the week, Mary Jane could not contain her excitement. Each day, she ran to the door when the mail carrier arrived. It was easy when her parents were at work but, on weekends, she knew she would have to keep a closer eye out for the mail truck or one of her parents might see her package. Even though the ad claimed A Perfect Solution would be mailed in a discreet box or envelope, she couldn’t take any chances. She had once sent for a magical beauty formula she’d seen described in a woman’s magazine at the supermarket checkout counter, and her mother never let her live down the mud mask that she received that was closer to the wet dirt in their backyard than it was to a cosmetic product.

The day after she’d ordered A Perfect Solution, she didn’t expect the package to be there, but Old Carter told her, as he handed her bills and advertisements that he was going on vacation and that another mail carrier would be taking his route that week. Mary Jane was a bit upset by this news because she feared the mail might be misdelivered, so she made an even greater point of watching for the daily mail.

On the day that Carter’s vacation started, Mary Jane had just finished lunch when she spotted a blue uniformed man making his way up her walk. He was younger and taller than Carter with dark hair under his mail hat and light blue eyes that met hers when she opened her door.

“Hi, there Ma’am,” he said handing her a few letters. “I’m taking Carter’s route this week. My name is Doug.”

Mary Jane smiled and hoped the glint off her adult braces wouldn’t blind the new mailman. “Nice to meet you, Doug. I’m Mary Jane. You don’t happen to have a package for this address, do you?”

Doug shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Mary Jane. That’s a very nice name by the way”

“Thank you,” Mary Jane said. She was disappointed but told herself it was only the second day after her order.

The following day, Doug brought the mail in the morning. Again, all he handed her were a few envelopes for her parents. He noticed her expression and said, “Sorry your package isn’t here yet, Mary Jane. I’ll keep an eye out for it.”

“I would appreciate that,” Mary Jane said.

The next day, Mary Jane felt like putting on some nice clothes to greet Doug instead of going to the door in her old pajamas and robe. She dug around in her closet and found a dress she had never worn. She remembered worrying that the material would be scratchy on her skin, but when she put the cream-colored silk on, it glided across her body. She added some stockings and even a dab of lip gloss. It would be nice to receive A Perfect Solution looking her best, she thought.

Doug rang the bell this time. When she answered, he produced a bouquet of carnations and lilies from behind his back. “For you,” he smiled, displaying a dimple. “There’s no mail for you today, so I thought you might need some cheering up.”

“How thoughtful,” Mary Jane said taking the flowers tentatively. The one previous time she’d received flowers from her grandmother on her high school graduation, she’d had a sneezing fit. However, that was nearly twelve years ago, and Doug’s flowers didn’t even water her eyes.

“I must say you look as lovely as those flowers,” Doug added. “I hope your package comes tomorrow.”

The rest of the week, Mary Jane tried on new clothes when she took in the mail. Each time, Doug had a small gift for her – a box of chocolates on Wednesday, a pretty paper fan on Thursday, and a lovely gold letter opener on Friday – but A Perfect Solution was not in his mail sack.

“Tomorrow is my last day before Carter comes back,” Doug told her. “I will say a special prayer tonight that your package arrives.”

Mary Jane was touched by this thought. “That is so sweet, Doug. Tomorrow is my birthday.”

The mailman smiled, showing his cute dimple again. “Then it has to come. But, if it doesn’t, I will be sure to bring you a special present to celebrate.”

“You’ve brought me so many presents already.” Mary Jane was sad she hadn’t received A Perfect Solution, but she was sadder that tomorrow would be the last day she would see Doug.

When Mary Jane woke up on her birthday, her parents were home because it was Saturday. Her mother made her a special breakfast of her favorite chocolate chip pancakes and her father handed her an envelope across the table. It contained another $100 that she could deposit into her bank account to cover the amount she’d spent on A Perfect Solution. She hoped she hadn’t been a victim of another scam like the mud makeup.

“What’s the matter, dear?” Gladys asked. “You’re not eating much of your birthday pancakes, and you seem worried about something.”

“It’s nothing, mom,” she denied. “It’s just that I can’t believe I’m 30 already.”

“You’re still very young, MJ,” George said. “And, by the way, I’ve noticed you’ve been wearing some new clothes lately and you’ve done something nice to your hair.”

“Thanks, dad. I think it’s time for a change.”

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Her parents both stood up, but Mary Jane insisted on answering.

Doug was at the door with two packages. Her heart leaped at the sight of him and the two brown envelopes.

“Happy Birthday, Mary Jane,” Doug said his blue eyes twinkling. “Which package would you like to open first, and would you mind if you open them in front of me?”

Even though Mary Jane could hardly stand the suspense, she remembered her manners. “Of course I’ll open them in front of you, Doug, but why don’t you come in first and meet my parents?”

Gladys and George were happy to meet the young mailman. Gladys served him one of the chocolate chip pancakes that was left over, and he complimented her on her cooking. Afterwards, George showed Doug his stamp collection, and Doug told him he was also a philatelist.

Mary Jane was happy to see Doug and her parents enjoying each other’s company, but she was eager to open A Perfect Solution and the other envelope, which was just labeled with her name.

When Doug finally said he had to finish his route, Mary Jane followed him outside with the envelopes.

“Please open the one with just your name on it first,” Doug said. “It’s a gift from me.”

“I told you that you didn’t need to give me anymore gifts,” she said as she slit open the envelope with the gold letter opener Doug had given her the day before. Inside was a folded piece of paper. It said, “Will you come to dinner with me tonight?”

Mary Jane felt herself blush. She noticed Doug’s cheeks were reddening, too.

“Don’t answer yet,” Doug said. “Just open the second envelope. I know you’ve been waiting long time for it.”

Mary Jane’s fingers were trembling. She was surprised A Perfect Solution would come in such a package. She’d expected a large box, but her mother always used to tell her that big things often came in small packages. She slit open the envelope. Inside was another note, but this one was computer generated. She suspected the hoax. Her stomach dropped as she read the message:

“Thank you for purchasing A Perfect Solution. Here are your instructions. As promised, this is a foolproof plan for getting everything you want.” Several spaces below that message was the one line of instructions: “Keep on Trying.”

She looked up at Doug who was watching her expectedly.

“So, did you get what you wanted?” he asked.

Mary Jane smiled, her adult braces shining like diamonds. “I believe I have and, yes, I will go to dinner with you tonight, Doug.”