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Savage Thankfulocity

November 21, 2018

attentionLast year on Cold, in honor of Thanksgiving, I wrote a little note of thanks for all the things I was grateful for. It felt so downright redeeming to sit down and think about the good and great in my life, that I thought I’d make it a yearly event. A twelve month retrospective of the gifts of life and liberty, which not only inspire in the mere pursuit of happiness, but its realization.

So, here goes.

I’m grateful for Barney. He’s the dog I didn’t want. The dog I swore up and down we wouldn’t get. Just the thought of house-training him, feeding him, and walking him made me want to cry. With three kids, a husband, and a mother in my house, I didn’t want to take care of a single other living thing, dammit! And yet, he’s brought such joy to our household. I simply forgot how critical a dog can be for a teenager. He’s the one creature who will never judge you, yell at you, lie to you, break up with you, or call you uncool. The little bugger is always over the moon when you come home – even when you’ve only been gone for fifteen minutes.

Barney’s laying on my lap as I write this, in fact. Snoring his head off. Yes, he’s chewed holes in blankets and barfed in my shoes, but he’s worth it.

Char Bar hair

This about sums it up

I’m thankful that my mom quit smoking and has started, for the first time in her life, going to the gym.  Ok, yes, it took a stroke and a broken hip to get her here, but let’s not quibble about details. It’s easy to lament our hardships and lose sight of the fact that the bad stuff also brings with it a sprinkling of magic dust. I am so grateful for that.

I’m also thankful for the way the Eiffel Tower is lit up every night, for vintage photos of Cairo, my husband’s wicked laugh, my son getting his driver’s license, the novels of Alan Furst, Raymond Chandler, Mark Twain, Diana Gabaldon, Elmore Leonard, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera and so many others who have brought wonder and empathy into my life.

I’m ever so grateful for the searching souls who read my fiction and missives. I love that you let me into your worlds and am humbled and honored when you tell me that something I’ve written has been of value to you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Fall leaves, wood-burning stoves, cinnamon, baby pictures of my children, soccer practice being cancelled, friends who show up and support you even when you didn’t ask them to, anti-itch cream, old cemeteries, ghost stories, the ladies of country music, fairytales, combat boots, old wood floors, and funny notes complete strangers leave in your car. These are all things that put a big smile on my face and have me skipping through the day.

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This was left on my husband’s front seat

I love nights when I don’t have to cook, photo booths, southern accents, miracle cures, and seat warmers.

Wednesdays are great because I get to go out for Chinese dumplings with my middle daughter after school. Weekends offer time spent with our youngest, who still likes her old mom and dad’s company and thankfully doesn’t have better plans most of the time – at least not yet. Visiting colleges gives my husband and I the opportunity to kidnap our oldest child and only son, making him hang out with us under the auspices of helping him launch his life. We take what we can get and are grateful for it.

About a month ago, I read a short news article about how the bones of a Neanderthal child were found in the belly of an ancient predatory bird. I am so grateful that we live in a time when our children are not in danger of being eaten alive, for the most part.

In that vein, I have immense gratitude for toilets and all indoor plumbing, good hygiene, antibiotics, acne medication and hair dye. Then there’s the republic that has given my family safe haven – the United States of America. I’m so grateful my mom risked life and limb to bring my brother and I here. It’s a rare gift to have visibility into what your life could have been like compared to what it is. And how easy it is to forget that living in a functioning democracy is nothing short of winning one of life’s great lottery’s. It’s better than being born with beauty or a big brain. It’s even better than being born rich.

So, let’s pump our fists in the air for a moment and say, yes! to that.

eamon baseball

Bravery and good manners are pretty terrific, too – especially when they come in one package. And I’m so, so thankful that I haven’t felt the burning shame of lost opportunity this year. That one stings.

Finally, and this is the big one.

Several months ago, I saw a homeless man carrying a sign. It wasn’t the usual request for money or work. His sign read simply, “I’m tired of being alone. Please help.” I wanted to, but I didn’t know how. I wish I could have thought of something, anything, in that moment. The fact is, I failed and ended up driving by, feeling completely impotent.

In the days that followed, I wondered if I shouldn’t have brought him a sandwich, or offered just some gesture of kindness, no matter how small. I looked for him – hoping I might encounter him again, but there’s been no trace of him since. Maybe he was an angel – I don’t know.

What I do know is that while I was unable to give that homeless man what he needed, he gave something to me. And the very least I can do is be grateful for it. What I am most thankful for is the love in my life. The fact that I have so little loneliness that there are days I run screaming from my house.

But I always run back.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, and guess what?

Savage Island is back! I’m grateful I was able to write another chapter this week!

Untitled design

As a gift to you, my cold friends, I’m posting Chapter Six of Savage Island for free on my Patreon page. This chapter is all about dangerous pursuits and questionable characters, so start reading here, then click to finish!

Chapter Six: The Dreaded Axis!

Savage Island Axis Powers

Near the ledge at the drop off is where it’s least dark, and Ku and I are determined to follow its line all the way back to my village. It really isn’t that far, but a twisted ankle makes it bloody awful. I’m gimping along like a broken toy, and the only bright spot is that my pained expression looks to be about my actual physical pain. Not that Will Tongahai makes me do and say the strangest things. Or the fact that Will and Oliana had a thing going before he went off to school and that everyone on the island appears to fully expect that thing will be a forever thing.

Don’t know why I even care. He can go ahead and marry her if wants. Not like I have any intention of remaining on this rock after the war or anything. I’d die of boredom a thousand times.

“Go ahead,” Ku says, crouching. “Hop on.”

Ku’s back, wide and muscular, ready for me, gleams in the night and I limp over to him. Climbing up, I wrap my arms around his neck and he stands with a feigned groan.

“You eat the whole pig, little A?”

“You’re hardly one to talk,” I say, reaching up and smacking his cheek.

I shouldn’t be so shaken about damned Will, but I am. I mean literally, I am shaking, and I have been since we left the plank. It was just a dream, after all. A dream that feels more real than anything I know, but it’s still a damned dream. Only ever since we got here, I’ve felt my old life slipping away from me, that’s all. Even dad and Jamie being gone. Gone forever. That seems far away now. Not like it happened so long ago – more like it happened to someone else. I haven’t cried once about it since we arrived on Niue. Not even when I hear mum having a good blub like she always does nearly every day at the crack of dawn. When she wakes up and remembers that it’s real. Her men are never coming back.

“I hope you’re not in a crank,” Ku says. “I mean, I was just teasing. And I’ve carried heavier sacks of coconut than you.”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“You’re just quiet, that’s all,” Ku says. “I haven’t known you long, but I’ve never known you to be quiet.”

I pinch his ear and bring my lips right up to it.

“You want another smack?” I ask him.

“From you? I’ll take it.”

Ku stops. Down below, I can hear the waves shattering at the base of the cliffs, and the sounds of a barn owl and a cuckoo in conversation.

“You tired?” I ask Ku. “I can walk, you know.”

Although I’m none at all happy about that prospect.

“No, I’m fine,” Ku says. “I was just…well, I was just wondering if maybe you’re upset about what I said about Will. And my sister.”

“Why would I be upset about that?” I try to be convincing on that one, really I do.

“Angelie, Will’s a good bloke. He wouldn’t set out to wreck you or anything. He’s an odd bloke, though. Always has been.”

“Yes,” I say. “He is.”

Ku puts me down and turns me towards him. Such a sweet face he’s got. Handsome in the way of the good ones, with the kind of smile that’s not lying to you, charming you into liking him more than he likes you. And just for the sport of it. He takes my hand and I let him. It’s rough and tough-skinned from all the farm work he does, and patterned with cuts from cleaning fish. Some long-healed, some from yesterday. Can’t see those scars now, but I have in the daylight, and I like them. These hard-working hands of his add to Ku’s warmth and good-nature. A girl would be lucky to have a bloke like him weave his fingers through her own. Call her his sweetheart.

A girl who isn’t me.

“You know,” Ku says. “I can’t blame Will for wanting to get to know you better, but…”

A sharp squealing noise cuts into whatever Ku was going to say next – thank God. It’s come on the wind, from just where the Drs. Neville and Vogel were taking their geological samples this morning. Ku’s brow scrunches up, but I know exactly what that sound is.

Click here and keep reading! You know you want to…

Savage Island WW2 Pacific island fightPatreon is a terrific and reasonable way to enjoy the work of your favorite artist (and I hope that’s me). For about the price of a cup of diner coffee, you’ll get access to lots of thoughtful, original artsy stuff that I think you’re going to love.

This week:

  • Chapter 6 of Savage Island, of course
  • A personal retrospective of the Pacific theater in World War II
  • More episodes of Writing on the Brink. This week my new mini-vlog centers on writing love stories, men and visual inspiration!
  • Some gorgeous and moody vintage photographs of Cairo, lovers, and British campaign furniture – all of which are inspiration for the second book in the BREATH series. These are my efforts at visually storyboarding, so you can see how I envision what a novel will look like before I even write a single word!
  • Dog pictures. Don’t laugh. They’re of Barney, our Boston Terrier who keeps me company every day as I write.

There are many really good artists out there doing their best to provide quality, meaning and magic – not fast food. I’m one of them, and I’ll tell you, it ain’t easy. It takes a colossal amount of time – much of which is spent working for free. Any help that allows me to keep bringing you the content you love is appreciated!

A third of my Patreon goal will go to Camp Holiday Trails, a summer camp for kids with special medical needs. My daughter’s a camper and it was an awesome experience for her, where she met great friends and was able to do all the things “regular” kids do at their camps.

Last, but not least! I’ve got a new Love at First Write for you! This one is about using Pinterest not just to market your books and stories, but to help you tell your stories in the first place!

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From → family, love

2 Comments
  1. daleeastman permalink

    Know what…I’m grateful for you, that we met, have remained friends, and that I’ve been able to share so much of your life, challenges and successes, even at a distance. You’re remarkable, Vic, and the best is yet to come.

    Xoxoxo

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. You are the best.

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