Okay, one paragraph of self promotion and then my blog.
Yesterday I had lunch with three talented ladies. They are writers, publishers, musicians and all around interesting people.
We talked about writing and characters and the publishing business.
It is so good to know that other people have characters roaming around in their heads. These phantom folks who eventually live in the pages of a novel completely written in our minds.
The hard part is sitting down at your desk on a beautiful spring morning and putting it all down on paper. That is why it takes me so long to write a book. (I am trying to change my ways.)
Tattered Wings was penned on the ten year plan, not because it was so difficult to write, but because I could always find something to do that distracted me from the business of getting it down on paper.
Finally I did it. I made myself get up and go straight to the kitchen for coffee and then off to the office to write. I now know the key is to get it down on paper. The book can always be changed, characters tweaked and locals investigated.
Once you are at a point where THE END is inevitable, bombs burst in air, the sun shines brighter and you feel ten pounds lighter.
The Adventures of Diggitty the Dog was quite another story. I wrote Diggitty on a legal pad in forty-five minutes in the dark with only a nightlight to guide my words. It had been on my mind for a long time to write a series of children's books based on my real life dog Diggitty and things that actually happen here on the farm. I am trying to write Diggitty Dog and the Dairy Cow, but I know I will have to wait until it is ready to be written. Mahaaaaaaaaa.....Strange things happen to me when I am writing.
So if you write, sew, draw or cook and it is a labor of love, get with it. Make a schedule, don't let anything distract you. When it is all said and done, people usually regret what they didn't take time to do. Enjoy the first chapter of Tattered Wings, and a special thanks to Patti Tierney, Susie Knust, and Sharon Kizziah- Holmes for a great afternoon and insight into how the artistic mind works.
Look for Unlikely Hero by Tierney James (Patti), Twentieth Century in Rural America, The Shockley Family Stories, by Susie Knust, and Sharon Kizziah-Holmes new Romantic Short Stories, you won't be disappointed.
Tattered Wings, Chapter One.
Ian Michaels only had one foot in the back door when Maggie stepped into his office.
“Ian, I’m glad you're here. There's a girl in the waiting room. She says she must see you.”
“Who is she?”
“She's the sister of the Johnston kid who supposedly killed all of those people.”
“Why does she want to see me?”
“She didn't say. When I drove up this morning she was sitting on the steps. I told her it would be best to have an appointment, but she wouldn't leave.”
“Strange.” Ian shed his overcoat.
The phone rang and Maggie reached over the desk to answer it. “Ian Michael's office, may I help you?” There was a pause before she spoke again. “Yes, I'll tell him. One moment please.” She pushed the mute button and looked up at her boss. “It’s the district attorney's office. Tom Waters wants to speak to you.”
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders. His practice was almost exclusively divorce oriented with a few corporate accounts and wills for old friends and neighbors. None of his clients warranted a call from the district attorney. Taking the phone from his secretary, he pushed the button to activate the sound. “This is Ian Michaels. How can I help you, Tom?”
“I'm calling about the Johnston boy.”
“In his initial interview he told me you were his attorney.”
“This is the first I've heard about it. I don't handle criminal cases.”
“I didn't think so, but the kid had your business card. He gave it to me himself.”
“If it weren't for him having my card, I'd say I was a random pick. I don't want any part of it, truthfully, I haven't followed the case. Isn't he just a kid, fifteen or sixteen?”
“What do his parents say?”
“They’re not in the picture. Because he’s a minor, we tried to get them down here. I finally sent a patrol car for his father and we hauled him to the station. He sat in on the interview. All he did was say over and over he had done all he could. I think he's relieved the kid's in jail.”
“My suggestion is that you get him a public defender. Isn't that standard in a case like this?”
“I would think you would want to see him if only to find out where he got your card. So, his parents haven't contacted you?”
“No, but his sister is camped out in my waiting room. She told my secretary she couldn't leave without seeing me.”
“Well, let me know what you decide to do,” Tom continued. “He's a strange little bastard.”
“I want no part of this. I don't intend to see him or his sister. Get him a public defender.”
Ian set the phone in its cradle and turned toward Maggie. “Tell the girl we’re too busy to see her today.”
Maggie stood rooted to her spot. “Don't you have the slightest curiosity about her?”
“She's awfully upset.”
The phone rang again. Maggie turned on her heel and walked toward the door leading to the waiting room and her desk. “I'll answer that from out here.”
Ian pushed away from his desk turning his chair toward the window. The panoramic view of Forest Park below always made him feel better. He was beginning to relax his way into the day when his secretary came back into the room.
“Yes, Maggie?” He had a feeling about what was coming next.
“Ian, please see the girl. She isn't going to leave and what we're going to end up with is a nasty scene if we’ve got to have her removed. It's only a couple of minutes out of our day. Your first appointment isn't due for over an hour.”
Turning to face his secretary he heaved a heavy sigh and stood. Taking his time, he stretched each muscle in his neck and back until some of the tightness was gone. Maybe he was overreacting.
What could it hurt if he saw her?
He was suddenly tired as he followed Maggie to where the girl was waiting.
A slow sweep of the outer office showed nothing had changed. Everything was as he wanted it- but for the girl. She sat tucked into a massive chair at the far side of the room, near the exit.
There she was, crumpled like a rag doll. Her clothes were neat and clean. She wore skinny jeans and a crop top and looked like a thousand other teenage girls he had passed on the street.
Maggie was at her desk, busy with the computer. Ian looked at her and back to the girl. “So you're still here?” he said.
The girl didn't answer him. All he got was a slight nod of her elfish head.
“Bring Miss Johnston into my office,” Ian said in a voice that cut the unnerving quiet in the room.
Maggie jumped to her feet. “Yes sir.” Ian could feel her hot stare on his back. He was out of the room before her words reached him.
He looked up as his secretary and the girl walked into the room. He saw Maggie give the child a smile.
How could someone so small and insignificant looking, so young, be the cause of so much uneasiness in a grown man?
“You’ve been waiting a long time, Miss Johnston,” he said in his most businesslike voice.
“How’s it you think I can help you?”
“I’ve come about my brother.” She wiped her hands on her jeans, and then massaged her temples.
“What about him?”
She glanced over to Maggie and then back to him before she spoke. At five feet six inches Maggie's tall lean slender body looked huge next to the child. The kid sat ramrod straight with a poise well beyond her age, quite different from the waif he had encountered in the waiting room. Ian watched as Maggie nodded at the girl and gave her another smile.
“My brother wants you to come to the jail and talk to him.”
“Why me?” Huge tears began rolling down the teenager's cheek, staining her already tired and worried looking face. He hated to see a woman cry.
“I don't know. I'm only doing what he asked me to do.”
“Don't cry,” he said, acknowledging her tears. “Maggie, would you get our guest a tissue?”
It wasn’t in his nature to make the girl suffer, but he didn't want to encourage her, either. He overcame the urge to relax and lean back in his chair. “Let me explain my position. I'm not the kind of lawyer your brother needs. He seeks an attorney who handles crime. I don't do that. You'll have to explain that to him.”
“Mr. Michaels. You don't know Kenny. He'll haunt you, make your life miserable, until he gets his way.”
Ian slammed his hand on the desk with much more force than he intended. “Do not threaten me, young lady.”
“I'm not threatening you. I just want you to understand.” Her hands trembled as her voice quivered in a bizarre unison. She hesitated before she continued. “Kenny is – well – different. He’s got no one to help him- only me – and I don't want to. Our parents are divorced, our mother doesn't live here. Our step-mother won't lift a finger to help. She wants it known he's not hers and she's not responsible for what he did. My dad, well, he does what needs to be done to keep peace in the family. I think he’s seen Kenny once because the cops came and got him.” She was talking so fast, Ian couldn’t stop her until she paused.
“I understand he's your brother, but your family's best course of action is to contact the public defender's office. They'll appoint someone to represent Kenny.” He stood to indicate the interview was over.
The girl looked at Ian but remained seated. “Kenny doesn't want a public defender. He wants you.” He could see she had no intention of leaving now. He saw fear in her eyes. After taking a deep breath, Ian glanced toward Maggie. She’d been watching the entire exchange as if it was a tennis match. He wondered why she seemed to be rooting for the girl.
Ian was still standing. Tension hung like stale air in the room. A man beaten at his own game, he looked down at the tiny girl as if for the first time. He let his body fall back into the familiar seat behind him.
“What's your name?”
“How old are you?”
“All right Amber, I'll speak to your brother. I'm only going to find out what’s going on, and how I became a part of it. I’m not consenting to defend him.”
Amber all but melted in her chair. The expression in her eyes was what he imagined he would see in the eyes of a convict getting a stay of execution ten seconds before the switch was thrown. “I'll drop by the jail tomorrow.”
“Oh, Mr. Michaels, thank you, thank you, and thank you.” For a minute Ian thought the teen was going to come over the desk and hug him. Instead she backed out of the room, tripping over things as she went. She mumbled to herself as she left the office.
Maggie and Ian sat in silence. Ian turned his chair toward the window.
Why was the girl so afraid?
“Maggie,” he said.
“Can you get me the papers with the accounts of all the murder and mayhem the boy's supposed to be a part of? And call your buddy over at the court house. Find out what they're saying. Not the official stuff, I want to know what they really think.” He glanced at his watch. “How does the rest of the day look?”
“Mark Robertson will be here at eleven and we’ve got Mrs. Schneider and her will at two. At four- thirty David Marshall’s coming by to sign his custody papers and go over the terms of visitation.
All in all we have a light day.”
“Thanks.” He remained staring out the window.
“Was there anything else?” He was lost in thought and had forgotten she was still sitting there. “You can go. Let me know when Mark gets here.”
Ian heard the door close softly behind her as she went back to her office. He stood and ran his hand from his collar to his waist to straighten his tie and leaned on the window sill. He could see Amber running down the street and he shook his head.
“Mark Robertson's here.”
“Send him in.”
He was never fond of Mondays.