“Snowfall” on The Write City Magazine

City-snowA short story that I wrote while writing Bend Me, Shape Me was published today at Write City Magazine.  It is a story about Snow and Leonard that didn’t actually happen in the book, but was part of the process I used to develop their characters and get to know them better.

Here’s the first part of it, click through to read the whole story.

A tattered stuffed panda bear lies in one corner of the room. Plaster from the wall has littered its black coat, and one eye is replaced by a crudely stitched x. A child lived in this hovel once, hard to imagine as I take in the rotted walls, bare couch springs, littered newspapers, beer cans and cigarette butts. Winter’s chill enters the unheated room through one dirty, broken window. Even the graffiti once slashed across the paint has crumbled beneath the weight of damp and neglect.

To think Snow has been living in this. Snowflake, tiny daughter of my great niece, grown to a young woman with unwashed hair and wild eyes. Her face had been round and alert when Winter Rose first brought her to the reservation, brown and healthy, a true Yakama miyánash, no trace of her Mexican father in her at all.

From the shadow of powerful Mount Rainier to the alleys and abandoned houses of Chicago’s west side. A long fall for a daughter of the people.

“What are you doing here?”

Snow’s words sound startled, defensive, but when I turn to face her she stands proud and brave as any warrior. Her straight black hair has been dyed red at the ends, like flames that lick at the dark night. Metal pierces her ears and nose, and dirt creases the rim of her neck. Were she holding a bow and arrow I would fear for my life. Instead, I settle to the floor in a gesture of peace, legs crossed, arms resting on my knees.

“I am your uncle. I have come to take you home.”

via The Write City Magazine | Chicago Writers Association.

Lost Stories: Talk About Terrible Titles

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It’s been a while since I played the Story Start game here.  That’s where I pull out an old manuscript that I began but never finished for one reason or another. Sometimes they make me laugh about how horrible they are, and sometimes I am surprised at how good the writing seems despite how inexperienced I was at the time.

Today’s excerpt has a little bit of both.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I titled it, but I find myself wanting to finish Tim’s story someday.  I remember this idea came to me as a dream one night and several of the scenes I’ve written so far came directly from it.

What do you think?  Do you want to know more about Tim, too?


Everything about the party was top grade: the booze, the dope, even the pretty boys who mingled with the top-grade executives they’d been hired to entertain.  Tim stopped as he entered the room, nostrils widening at the acrid smoke from tobacco and grass.  A constriction in his throat made breathing difficult.  His muscles tensed, his pulse raced.

“Don’t freak out, man,” said one of the boys right behind him.  “Sugar won’t like it.”

“What won’t I like?”

A nerve began to jump in Tim’s cheek.  He hitched his thumbs in his belt and turned to the black man behind him.

“Topper doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Everything’s cool.”

“It better be.  I guarantee cool cats.”

Blue eyes met brown.  Sugar’s face remained immobile, as dark as his close-cropped hair.  In front of his left ear, he wore a single black braid with a gold clasp that winked in the flickering lights of the room.

Finally, Sugar looked away and Tim was able to let his eyes fall.  His head swam and he suddenly needed a smoke, a drink, something.

A girl walked by with a tray of drinks. Tim avoided her curious look from behind thick lenses and grabbed a glass in either hand then headed for an empty seat in the corner.

Night had almost fallen, darkening the view of the California skyline, and a breeze had spring up, blowing the leaves of an ornamental tree against the glass of the French doors.  Tim watched for a minute, wishing he could feel the force of the wind in his face.

“All alone?”

A stranger stood nearby, his head titled inquisitively, a twisted smile on his face.