Silence is Golden Excerpt

Embed from Getty Images

It was a silver medallion no bigger than a shilling. At one end of the coin someone had punched a hole into the metal and looped a silver chain through it. Alfred peered closer at the marking on the disc and sent a questioning stare to his friend. “St. Christopher?”

“The patron saint of travelers and a fitting gift for an adventurous young man. May it guide you and keep you safe in your journeys.”

He stared at the engraved image of the stooped figure of St. Christopher, his gnarled hand clutching a staff and a child clinging to his back. The edges had been worn to a smooth finish that rolled like polished glass between his fingers, and he knew he held a cherished memento. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? This seems like an odd talisman for a Protestant minister to have. Perhaps it has sentimental value for you?”

William regarded the tiny piece of silver in his outstretched hand and took it into his own, running his fingers over the smooth edges. “My mother was a Papist from the Scottish Highlands. After her family was evicted from their land, they immigrated to  England, where my mother met my father, William Blackburn, Senior, also a minister. My mother loved my father, so when they married, she converted and was a dutiful Protestant the rest of her life. But she didn’t give up all of her beliefs.”

The metal disc spun in the air before them. “Before I left for France, she gave this to me with the promise it would keep me safe. She said even though we would never see each other again in this life, the medallion would reunite us when it was time.”

“If you will never see each other again, how can you be reunited?”

The disc stopped spinning, and William looked at him, a sad smile on his face. “My father died while I was in the war. When I returned, I learned through interviews with my old neighbors that my mother left home after my father died. She was coming to find me in France but never made it. For years I have wished to find where she might be.”

Grabbing Alfred’s shoulders and turning, William pointed off into the distance at the vague shape of a building. It was difficult to see through the rain and fog, but he observed the rising profile of a humble bell tower. “A church?”

“I took a walk yesterday after the noon meal and found myself there. I rambled into the courtyard and behind the building, where I found a small graveyard. I was tired and discouraged. My quest to find my mother seemed hopeless, and in pursuit of her whereabouts I had lost my way, becoming someone I no longer recognized. With your words ringing in my ears and the evidence of my failure a heavy weight on my soul, I fell to my knees and prayed. The medallion around my neck  warmed. I grasped it from my chest, looked up, and saw it. Her grave.”

“Whose grave? Your mother’s?”

“Yes. As impossible as it seems, I found my mother’s grave among the other headstones of the tiny church.”

“You were reunited,” he whispered, awed by the strange turn of events leading his friend to this location. “What a coincidence!”

“Or an act of God. However you want to put it, I found her. My search is over, and here I will stay.”
 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Loop

The Gypsy Curse Part 3

One week later, Amelia and her sisters were in the fields near the forest playing hide and seek, and she had been it for the last quarter of an hour. She hated being it because she could never find anyone. Five minutes of half-hearted searching later, she gave up, too bored to continue.  With an unladylike plop, she slumped to the ground and leaned  on a fallen log, grateful the sun was shining. The gentle rays helped chase away the nagging fear  plaguing her all week. Flinging an arm over her eyes, she slipped into drowsy relaxation.

The warmth disappeared, and the field darkened. A shiver stole up her spine, and she rolled over, curling  on her side to continue her rest. “Oh, bother. Go away clouds. I am trying to sleep,” she muttered. The clouds, alas, were immovable.  She cracked open an eye to investigate but a looming shadow obscured her vision. It blocked the sun and inspired a grim sort of dread which beat a steady rhythm in her head. The shadow advanced, and two gnarled, weathered talons outstretched to grab her.  She opened her mouth and screamed.

The figure moved and her eyes, now accustomed to the unnatural twilight, discerned an old woman dressed in a faded blue dress with a wide purple velvet sash tied in the middle. A colorful shawl draped over her stooped shoulders and a scarf wrapped round her head, neatly framing her wild mane of silvering hair.

“Are you one of my little liars?” she asked, her thick accent clipping each syllable until the words were nothing more than a litany of jagged consonants firing in her mind.

“You’re supposed to be gone! My papa told you to leave a week ago.”

The old woman cackled and rubbed her hands together. “You know who I am. Good.”

She shrank against the log and wrapped her arms about her knees.

“I see you are afraid. That is also good.”

“What do you want with me?” she whispered.

“Not just you, little girl. I also want your sisters, too.” A delighted smile cracked her tanned, wizened  visage, but her gap-toothed smile did nothing to ease her fear.

“They’re not here.”

“They’ll come. I saw them hiding not too far away from here.”

From the forest  came a loud cracking of branches alerting her to the truth of the old woman’s statement. Her two sisters emerged from the forest and ran to her, Beatrice yelling at the top of her lungs, “Amelia! We’re coming!”

Spying the old woman, they skidded to a halt and in wary apprehension, looked at her and the old woman. Evie whimpered and ran to huddle beside Amelia while Beatrice, ever the eldest, stood  in front of her sisters. Drawing herself up to her full height, she demanded,“Who are you and what do you want with my sister?”

Amelia admired her sister’s bravado, for she saw what it cost her. Small hands clutched her skirts in a white-knuckled death grip and the usual rosy sheen which graced her young face  had been leeched of color.

“I am just an old woman passing through the forest.”

Beatrice assessed the old woman, taking in her faded garments and weathered face. “You’re a gypsy!” With her chin held high, she waved her hand in the air in a blatant act of dismissal. “Be gone!  My father has evicted  your kind for your treachery against his hospitality!”

“Our treachery, Lady Beatrice?” The old woman whispered, venom lacing each word. She advanced on the girls, pinning them against the fallen log. Soon, her wrinkled face was looming over Beatrice’s, her eyes dark and angry. “Don’t you mean yours?”

“How do you know my name?” Beatrice stammered, her eyes darting  from the old woman to her sisters behind her. Having reached the end of her courage, she held out her hand to Amelia and grasped it in her own. She pulled Beatrice down with a plunk to sit beside her.

“I knew we wouldn’t get away with it, Bea.”

The old woman had heard, and she nodded.”I know all about you three and what you did last week.”

Amelia’s lower lip trembled and she asked, “What are you going to do to us?” Because there had to be a consequence. There was always a consequence.

“I intend to make it right.” The old woman raised her arms and the clearing stilled. The bird song quieted and the gentle wind which had been rustling the leaves and feathering the grass ceased.  A terrible light gleamed from the gypsy woman’s aged eyes.

“For your lie, an innocent man was tried and found guilty of a crime he did not commit.” The once dormant wind rose and whipped through the clearing, slashing her silvered hair against her face and howling its outrage as it tore across the grass and through the tree grove. Clouds rolled up and over each other, ripping apart the sky with its upheaval.

“It was you who were too weak to tell the truth, and have forever condemned an innocent to life far from his family!” She pointed a gnarled finger at the three sisters. “And so, I curse you.”

When the last of the three had been cursed, the old woman’s arms dropped. Revenge faded from her eyes only to be replaced with sad resignation. The winds died and the clouds sped across the sky. Light flooded the clearing, but the girls could not see. Fear clouded their vision and possessed their minds.

The old woman raised her right hand and made the sign of the cross, a sad smile on her face. “Te aves yertime mander tai te yertil tut o Del.”* With a final look at the three sisters, the old gypsy woman walked to  the woods and vanished.

 

*I forgive you and may God forgive you as I do.

© Sara Ackerman 2016

World Wide Release Wednesday

Little White Lies ebook available as of today! It’s 50% off at Wild Rose Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I’ll be available from 12:30-2:30 CST for live chat on my Facebook page. Stop on over at https://www.facebook.com/saraeackerman/ to chat. #TWRPLittle White Lies poster 16 ackerman

Birthday Give Away!

Because it’s my birthday (and I am very pleased to have received several copies of my debut novel, Little White Lies) I am giving away an autographed copy of my book to the 37th person to like my Facebook page today and today only! Stop on over at https://www.facebook.com/saraeackerman/ and check it out!

 

box of books

 

 

 

Head Hopping

As a new writer, I have received a lot of advice about head hopping, the practice of switching POV within a scene to better understand character emotions, ideas, motives, etc. I certainly have my on POV when it comes to head hopping, both as a reader and an author, but what do you think? Does it confuse you as a reader to have authors switch POV within a scene? Do you even care? Take my poll and let me know what you think, and then I’ll tell you my opinion on this contentious topic.

To the Unknown *Cough Troll* Reviewer

Embed from Getty Images

As someone who is just beginning to write and publish, your input is important, and I want to take the time to address the concerns you so eloquently mentioned in your review, specifically the capitalization of first words in the chapter, the typos you claim to have seen and the overall weird formatting.

To begin with you wanted to know, “WHAT is this capitalizing the beginnings of sentences sometimes but the entire first word of chapters.” (Incidentally, you really should have ended your sentence with a question mark since you were asking a question, weren’t you?). Here we really have two separate issues. One is the capitalization of first words of chapters, and the other is the capitalization of the beginnings of some sentences. I’ll be honest. I was trying something. Many authors use capitalization at the beginning of their chapters to signal the start of a new chapter, which is why my chapter titles were not larger or bold (another one of your concerns). Unfortunately, as a self-published e-pub author the programs that I use to convert my manuscript into different e-pub formats did not transfer the capitalization of first sentences well, and it looked like I was shouting. Your comment was welcome, if poorly worded, and I have changed that and re-uploaded a shout-free version to Amazon and other platforms that carry my book.

As for your second concern regarding capitalization of first words of some sentences, I was signalling a change of scenes. Some authors use extra space while others use hashtags to specify a change of scene or change of point of view; I used capitalization. Again, the e-pub platform I use to convert my manuscript frowns on extra spacing. I suppose I could have used hashtags, but then again that would cause problems with extra spacing. I don’t know that I feel using caps in this case was unwarranted; however if enough people complain, I will consider using hashtags.

Another concern of yours was that, and I quote, “Also, the last sentence, when ended, the next chapter number was directly below it, and directly below it, a new sentence began with all capitals.” I believe I just mentioned why there was not a lot of spacing in the text, why first words, and not the entire sentence as you have just claimed, were capitalized, so I will refrain from being repetitive, although you should be congratulated for doing such a stellar job with it.

On to your last concern. “AND there were a lot of typos.” Really, now. If you are kind enough to mention the number of typos in my manuscript, it is only fair that I point out to you that sentences in English do not start with and, especially not one in all caps (BTW, nice irony). Perhaps you might argue that I started many sentences with and in my manuscript (see how I used italics here instead of caps?); however I would point out that in the context of creative writing, the rules of grammar can be bent, while you, a reviewer, should be conscious of how you appear to those reading your words.

And now on to your concern about typos. I went through my manuscript again and checked for spelling and other grammatical errors. Just to be clear, the main character’s name is Tavis, not Travis, so if you were concerned I had misspelled my main character’s name throughout the book, never fear. Also, there were times when I used many rrrrs in a row to show Tavis’s Scots burr. That was purrrrposefully done. Additionally, I used several Gaelic words and used spellings I found on the Internet. Now, I am only fluent in four languages, Gaelic not being one of them, so I very well could have misspelled any one of  those Gaelic endearments Tavis used towards Amelia. If I did and you speak Gaelic, please let me know. I did find one instance where I used a homophone incorrectly (that’s where two words sound the same but are spelled differently). When I should have used too, I accidentally used to. My bad. I may have missed a comma or to (oops!, I meant two!), or have even inserted won when one wasn’t needed (the horror!); however, I ask because did those mistakes truly impede your enjoyment of the story?

“I enjoyed the story line and the two characters, Amelia and Tavis. The supporting characters were not bad either.”

Those are your words, not mine, which begs the question, if you enjoyed the story and the characters why did you give me a 2? Was it truly because of some formatting issues and some misplaced commas? Really? Because based on that criteria your own review–replete with incomplete sentences, poor punctuation and awkwardly worded phrases–would by your own standards earn less than a 2, which is what I am going to give your review.

And at least, unlike you, I have the balls to put my name on my work.

Sincerely,

S. Ackerman

**I do welcome reviews and critiques. I just think the practice of ripping apart someone’s work because of the safety and anonymity of the Internet is reprehensible. If you have constructive feedback that you would like to provide, I would love to hear it! TRULY! Even from this reviewer’s poorly written example, I was able to take away something and change my manuscript for the better. Please! Review! Let’s discuss! We can only ever become better _______ (fill in the blank) if we are willing to engage in open dialogues of mutual respect!–S.E.A