What could make more sense one month from the publication of a new book than a preview for my faithful blog readers? So today Fiction Friday begins. For the next six weeks stop by to read the first chapter and a half of One Mountain Away, the first book of my Godesses Anonymous series, one blog’s worth at a time.
Meet Charlotte Hale and Analiese Wagner, whose lives will intertwine in the weeks that unfold. Charlotte has secrets and Analiese, her minister, has a duty to help her, despite every inclination to run in the other direction. But, of course, the story is both richer and more complex. There’s Maddie and Ethan, Taylor, Samantha, Harmony, Georgia. So many people whose lives will intersect with Charlotte’s, and everybody’s lives will change because of it.
With further preface, enjoy the opening chapters of One Mountain Away, from Mira Books, which goes on sale at bookstores everywhere on July 31st.
First Day Journal: April 28th
Today Maddie is wearing blue the color of a summer sky. The choice is a good one. Any shade of blue probably suits her, but, of course, in the years before adolescence, most children look wonderful in every shade of the rainbow. At Maddie’s age skin is flawless and radiant, and hair is glossy. I think her eyes are probably blue. This is an educated guess, based on the light brown of her hair, the rose tint of her cheeks, and her preferences for every shade from royal to periwinkle. I bet somebody’s told her how pretty she looks when she wears it. I remember how susceptible girls of ten are to compliments. Her mother certainly was.
This park is always filled with children. I come here to watch them play, while at the same time I worry they make learning personal facts too easy. I feel absurdly protective, so I make it my job to watch out for strangers who show too much interest or approach them to start conversations.
This is absurd, of course, because to the children, I’m a stranger, too. A stranger enjoying a glimpse back in time to a childhood she never experienced. A stranger scribbling in a journal she resisted for weeks until the lure became too great.
I’m calling this my First Day journal because of a quote from the 1970s. When I first arrived in Asheville the words radiated in psychedelic colors from posters in every store downtown.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Ironically during the time the saying was wildly popular, I was too busy to think about it. For me a day was just something to get through to make way for another. But now every time I sit down to record my past and my thoughts, I’ll need the reminder that every day brings a new start, whether we need one or not.
A shriek draws my attention. The boy swinging up the spokes of the metal dome with Maddie is named Porter. Apparently his mop of black hair makes it hard to see because he continually shakes his head in frustration, or maybe just in hopes the strands will fly out of his eyes for the time it takes to lumber to the top. I know his name because the other children shout it loudly and often. Porter’s something of a bully. Overweight, a little shabbier than the others, a little clumsy.
It’s that last that makes the boy pick on Maddie, I think. Porter’s figured out an eternal truth. If he makes fun of someone else, no one will look quite so hard at him. While this makes me angry, I understand. The world’s filled with bullies, but at birth, not a one of them glanced at the next cradle and plotted how to steal the pacifier out of a baby-neighbor’s mouth. It’s only later they learn that knocking down other people may help them stand taller.
So while Porter’s behavior upsets me, I feel sorry for him, as well. He’s still just a boy. I want to take him in hand and teach him the manners he’ll need to get by in the world, but Porter’s neither my son nor grandson. I’m just a stranger on a park bench watching children make mistakes and enemies, decisions and friends.
***Congratulations to Tracey DeAdder who won the second package of 5 books in my Seventy Books Giveaway. If you haven’t entered, the rules are here. Tracey said: “I love to read about the people and the places and the roads those people travel. Your books bring make me feel like home.” Thank you, Tracey.