BLOG: 6's & 7'S
Tornadoes are never funny. In fact, they are just the opposite—horrible acts of God that cause destruction and change lives in ways most of us can’t even imagine. Not funny. I grew up in Kansas and saw my share of them but was never personally affected by one. However, I have several friends that have been, especially after the devastating Joplin tornado in 2011 and the Baxter Springs, Kansas tornado in 2014.
So why would I choose to have a tornado make a grand appearance in my new book, CALL ME CASS, when those of you who read my books know that they tend to be on the humorous side? Simple. Bad things happen to good people all the time. While the novel certainly has some sad parts for those that have followed this series, the way my characters come together, in their quirky, off-beat sort of way, is really a celebration of the heroes of a storm, and that was my point.
As I said, I have several friends that have told me stories about the two tornadoes above and I’m going to shout-out to two in particular, Terry Leeper and Preston Ryser, who are characters themselves, and told me several stories. I can’t lie, some of the things they told me were used in my book, of course names and places and sometimes outcome changed, but one thing in particular that I used relates to them personally and something Terry told me about the day of the Joplin tornado…
My books are told in alternating POV’s, and during editing, one of the POV’s, that of Daze Harper, was taken out (for good reason). Daze is an interesting guy, sometimes lovable, sometimes offensive, who has a wife that likes to protest the sinful ways of the local strip club, a teenage daughter that is a little out of control, a half-blind, three-legged dog that he loves, and a brother, Pet, who is kind of his sidekick. So his take on the storm, or at least the events leading up to it, were important to me. And since it was removed from the final book, I took those scenes and made a companion short story, DAZE BEFORE THE STORM, which is free to download. And well worth the few minutes to read if you are a fan of my books.
What does that have to do with my two friends? In the short story, I had to consider what a guy like Daze Harper would do knowing his wife was out in the storm at the exact point that the funnel sets down, knowing it was heading straight for him and his daughter, and of course his dog. He would do his best to protect those he loved. But when he and Pet find themselves in a situation where they can’t protect themselves, what would they do? They would do exactly what Terry and Preston did. They would…
That I can’t tell you, you’ll have to read DAZE BEFORE THE STORM to find out. Did I mention it’s free to download?
And remember, it’s a companion piece to CALL ME CASS, so to find out what happens to everyone else during and after the storm, pick up a copy of CALL ME CASS!
My first suicide attempt was in 2004. Yes, I said “first.” Others followed. I’m pretty forthright about my struggles with mental illness. I fight my demons as best I can, and if I can cause some good to come of it by showing others that they are not alone and that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, then yay me.
My novel The Trees Beneath Us tells the story of a man suffering from grief, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He seeks solace in nature and hikes the Appalachian trail. Along his travels, he meets a woman called Frog. She is part den mother, babysitter, therapist, and caretaker for the distance hiking community that tromps through her yard. Frog is the subject of Building Cairns, my contribution to the Christmas anthology Tangled Lights and Silent Nights.
When my friend, Kelly Stone Gamble asked if I thought I could take a character from my book and put them in a holiday story, I had to think a lot about it. The themes of the book don’t readily translate to the joyous holiday season, but I gave it a shot.
I’m proud to have my work included in this eclectic collection. Tangled Lights is a group of writers tackling a challenge and demonstrating their craft. Additionally, all proceeds from this book are being donated to the Life After Project. It is a nonprofit organization that serves the survivors and victims of suicide, domestic violence, and addiction.
I teach at a community college. Each semester, some students eventually find my blog, which is almost entirely about my mental health struggles. Every class, every semester, a student will come to tell me they too suffer from mental illness. They find comfort in knowing that an authority figure gets up each day and faces the same struggles they do.
I guarantee everyone knows someone dealing with depression. It is widespread. I’m proud to do my part to remove its stigma, and I’m proud to be among a group of writers donating their time and creative work to supporting those who struggle.
Tangled Lights and Silent Nights is a raucous read. Think of it as a literary mix tape. You’ll find something that will delight you or move you. Give it a read and help the Life After Project do important work. Happy holidays!
Purchase Tangled Lights and Silent Nights
From author Brenda Vicars:
Can you tell when it’s love and not just a passing crush?
Polarity, the main character in my novel Polarity in Motion, is only 16, and she’s in love with Ethan. He’s the character who helps her figure out how her nude picture showed up on the Internet—a photo that she has no memory of posing for.
Sometimes when teenagers say they’re in love, we think it’s just a crush or hormones. But Polarity says, nope, it’s not a passing teen thing. She’s in love.
When I want to get a deeper understanding of a character, I use a writers’ technique of interviewing the character. “Dear Polarity,” I wrote. “Why do you think you’re in love with Ethan? Possibly you’re just grateful to him. Afterall, he helped you put your life back together after the nude picture fiasco. Or maybe you just have a crush on him—he is so hot!”
Polarity’s answer surprised me and warmed my heart. She not only explained why she loves him, but she went beyond the question I had posed, and described “the moment I knew I would love Ethan forever.” Her answer became the short story by the same title in Tangled Lights and Silent Nights. And the segment is also in the next Polarity book, Polarity in Love, which will be released in 2019.
What was the moment she knew she’d love him forever? It happens during Christmas season in south Texas and involves a rattle snake and a ten-year-old girl’s tears. In an incident that both horrifies and amazes Polarity, she sees deeper dimensions of Ethan.
To be notified of new releases and sales follow me:
PURCHASE Tangled Lights and Silent Nights!
Follow me on Twitter @KellySGamble
Like me on Facebook at K Stone Gamble
Visit my writing blog