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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Who am I and what am I?

I want to talk about what inspires me to write.  I have written 3 novels, numerous short stories and poetry all of my life.  I am working on a fourth novel at this time, but there are other things that I write.  When I look and see a beautiful sunset, I feel the words coming to describe not only the sight and colors, but also the feeling it evokes.  When I see a small child at play or my beautiful grandchild laugh, it inspires words for the special time and sight before me. 

When I see the sunset ablaze with colors and feel that the good Lord has given me a gift I not only feel words but the desire to create from me a thing of beauty.  There is one such watercolor painting I did years ago on a piece of typing paper with a child’s water color set I bought for 99 cents.  It is now the cover of my new novel Journey Home.  I found a way to share a story that I believe is not only entertsining but unique in it's own way and my painting with each and every person who has it.

Does that make me an artist?  I like to sculpt.  You would be amazed what I can do with Play Doh.  I like it because it is not a typical artist medium.  It is a child’s clay to play.  I want to always keep the child in me alive because they can see wonder and amazement in things that many of us take for granted.  I plan to see what I can still do with it soon and if I can I will include a picture of it and some of the paintings and the books.  I did each of the covers.  The children's book that will soon be released is one that I wrote and illustrated.  I think it will be something wonderful that can not only entertain but open doors of communication in many ways.

As the years have passed I have found, that a person is many things.  They may be what their profession is and they receive monetary compensation for doing.  They may also be what they are required to do or assume the responsibility to do.  I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I am a daughter, sister, cousin, neighbor, friend, homemaker, grandmother {I really like that one}  and many other things.  Who am I?  What am I?  I would like to tell you that I have figured all of that out and know exactly who and what I am but I would be a liar.  I have no idea.  All I know for sure is that I have tried my best through my life and will continue to try to do and be the best I can be and help where I can.

Am I a writer?  I used to hesitate.  I never assumed such a lofty title or description.  Now I say ….yes…..I write so I am a writer.  You might have a person who never had the opportunity for the education allowing them the proficiency to create a text that meets some criteria.  That does not mean that the words and thoughts or creations they may produce have no merit.  They too are writers.  When you feel the need and desire to put words to…..emotions….feelings….descriptions of events or people or things…and the desire to tell the story….you are a writer.  I realize that there is always hope where there is life and we have to keep trying, if not for ourselves then for those that we love.  Today is not the day that I will give up.  Today is not the day that I will die.  I believe that the good Lord has a plan for us all and I need to do the best that I can to reach out and make a difference in this life.  I may not know what the plan is that he has for me, but it is my responsibility to live the best life I can.  That includes not giving up.  I want to live and do and make dreams come true.  I want to let others know that their dreams can come true too.

If I could have my wish come true in life I would be able to not only publish my writings, but be able to go and speak to let others know that they can make their dreams come true too.  Every day that we are alive we should learn and try.  We are never too young or too old to try.  We have to believe.  We have to know that we can.   That is a big wish.

I am still unsure who I am but I am trying to be all that I can be and do the best that  can.  What am I?  I still try to be who and what is required but i am also trying to be the best that I can of me.  I guess I am just Linda.










Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sharing the Story of the Story

Life Goes On is the first novel I published.  I want to write and share many things and since it is the first of many I wanted to start with it.  When I wrote Life Goes On I wanted to find a way to write a story that held the interest of the reader but do more than that.  I wanted to write something that could be real enough that the reader knew the characters and could see what they saw and feel with the people in the story.  I wanted to write a story that people could relate to or empathize with.

With the problems that so many are experiencing at this time in history and with life in general, this story might reach out and be something that others could relate to.  I wanted to write the best story that I could but I wanted to be able and find a way to do more.  I wanted to be able to reach out and try to make this book something special. 

I wanted to see it become a book.  I wanted it to be something special and even designed the cover from a photo that I had taken over twenty years ago.  It was a real challenge but I wanted the books to be special from cover to cover including the covers that were one of a kind.  When a person held this book in their hands I wanted to share the feeling and awe inspiring beauty that I saw the day I took the photo and make it wrap from cover too cover.  I wanted to be able to hold it in my hands.  I began to fear that I was running out of time and might not have the chance to see that happen.

I read and called and tried my best to check out all different publishing options.  I know that everyone has an opinion and could tell this and that about any company mentioned so I will just simply tell you about my own experience.

You have to realize that I am not a high tech person.  I would love to have the knowledge and ability that I see in others but have never had the opportunities that others often take for granted…but I am trying my best to learn.  I have so much to learn. 

Time was short and I chose CreateSpace.  The services I chose were limited to what I could afford and my own abilities or lack there of.  What I received I marvel at over and over.  I was not the easiest person to work with because I not only lacked the basic understanding of so many things including what templates were and even basic computer functions but  I also tired easily.  I got very tired.  That made it hard to push to learn and complete the things that I need to do.  It also made it more difficult for me to learn and understand.  CreateSpace worked with me every step of the way and what I did not know or understand….they helped me to accomplish.

I have always wanted to make a difference in life.  I longed to find a way to reach out to others.  These things that I write are a voice that I can use to reach out and hopefully be heard even if it would only make as difference for one it would be worth it.  I wanted to be able to have the things that I created live on and be my voice that could be heard and not simply whispered alone to fade away.

I have had many health problems all of my life including an inoperable mass under the aorta.  These things motivated me not to wait years to be published.  At this point they had found cancer that was growing and could not wait.  The surgery would have to be done as soon as possible.  As soon as possible is when they thought I would have enough lung function to even survive the surgery and that did not look good.  I was working as hard as I could doing treatments to increase and function still left and not giving up to see this book become something real….something special.

CreateSpace worked with me through all of that and did even more.  The quality of what was created is something that I am very proud of.  They were ever so patient as they would have to explain things over and over or I would have a spell where I could not continue for the moment with the coughing or oxygen.  They did not give up on me and I did not give up.

When it came time to do the cover I felt so bad.  I was always so tired.  It was hard to face things and continue to work and hope to see dreams come true.  It was hard to look into the faces of my husband, children, parents, grandchildren, family and friends and know I might have to leave them and I did not want to go….not now…not today.  I would see the hopeful looks and hear the encouraging words but I also saw the fear and sadness as they felt helpless and remembered times in the past that I had come close to leaving this world.

I wanted to see many of the things that I had written and put such passion in live on.  I still do.  I did not give up.  There are many ways a cover can be done and almost all would have been easier than sitting there wondering what and how I could do something that would be one of a kind and from me to any other that had the book.  I thought about the story it’s self and finally chose a photo that I had taken over 20 years ago.  We had been on vacation and as we traveled saw a sunset that seemed to set the sky ablaze with such astounding beauty we pulled over to the side of the road.  The very sight of it filled a person with wonder.  A picture can never fully capture the feeling of such a thing but I took the photo and hoped it would be something special.  It is the cover for Life Goes On and wraps completely around the book to the back.  You can even see the headlights of cars as they traveled down the road.  The story and its characters are fictional but if it had been true that could have been the road they would have traveled to find their new life.

When I received the proof from CreateSpace I had worried how they would manage to make such an old photo into a cover but it was so beautiful and just as I had imagined it that I actually cried.  They were not tears of disappointment, or sadness….they were tears of joy.  What had been a passion and dream of mine was becoming something so real that I held it in my hands.  It was something that was real and would live on.

Since I am writing this it seems redundant to say that I lived though the surgery.   It was not easy.  It is not easy.  I still get so tired and live with the thought and fear that the cancer will come back.  I will not let those limitations stop me from trying in life.  I think that is part of the real story of the books.  The real story is more than in the pages and between the front and back cover.  The real story is for each and every person to believe that they should never give up.  What ever their dreams are if they are willing to work, believe and try there is no way to tell what they can do.

Who and what am I?  I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, neighbor, and Grandmother (I really like that one)  but who and what is Linda.  I do not really know.  I have always been what is needed and tried my best but…me???  I loved to write and arts and crafts.  I like to paint sunsets with a path that just might take you to a special place or lead you where you need to go.  Am I a writer?  I think I am.  I do write, but more than that... I need to write.  I want to be able to share so many things and now will not give up.  As I have said, I am learning.  I want to always learn and try and hope to reach out to others.

I want to tell you about the story now of Life Goes On but have decided to share not my words but those if two friends who did reviews on the book.  They have captured the story so beautifully I could not resist sharing since they have given their permission.  I hope that ever might read these words that I have written and share will enjoy.  I hope that each and everyone who reads the book finds something special.

I have to tell this.  I actually have managed to turn Life Goes On into an eBook.  I found out that my books are now available all around the world.  You can even go in a bookstore and ask for it.  They may not have a new author in stock but can get it for you.  Can you even begin to imagine the overwhelming emotion I feel as I sit here sharing these things.  It is my heart and soul finding a voice and reaching out.  It is my chance in life and for life.  I thank each and everyone who has helped in so many ways.



Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Life Goes On
By Linda Nance

Life does not always go according to plan. There are many bumps, slides, and mishaps along the way. Everyone’s life is different and even when you are part of a family and might have your own master plan for your future and success, things might not turn out the way you planned. Like an architect who creates a blueprint for his next structure and something goes wrong with the foundation, life can send you some serious structural damage and the foundation of what you have created can crumble if you are not careful. John and Becky have a serious problem their lives are about to change and their family dynamics too as they are forced to change their lifestyle and leave the city to live in rural Arkansas with family they hardly know. But, that is not the only obstacle they face. Their three recalcitrant children find it difficult to want to leave their friends, jobs and school and provide little or no support for their distraught parents as they travel to Arkansas and learn the true meaning of the word Life and much more.

As they move to Arkansas and the children begin to assimilate in the culture, the area and their new home Bobby, Donna, Stacy and both Becky and John will learn some really hard lessons in life that just might bring them together. Donna and Bobby are bent on returning to their old life and old ways. Bobby was involved in gangs, drugs and was becoming anything but what a parent would want for a son. Donna overly involved with a boy named Keith and Stacy who just wants to be like her older sister. This could be on formula for disaster. But, Uncle James is a really smart and savvy guy who tolerates nothing and takes no prisoners. When things get rough he takes both Bobby and Stacy for a long ride to talk, see the country and get to know and understand them better. Two parents who want the best for their children yet condemned for it.

As the children assimilate in their new environment things begin to change as Donna learns the truth about her boyfriend’s disloyalty and harsh words befall her, Stacy takes on the role of protective sister and Bobby begins to meet friends, work and attitudes turn around. But, Becky’s job turns dangerous, the police become involved and second thoughts about what she does need to be considered. But, Becky is hard working and caring helping her coworkers and a real asset to the owners of the motel who really do not appreciate her dedication and never really take heed of what is happening behind closed doors in their motel.

Families change and situations need to be dealt with as some are torn and in turmoil as one child needs attention, another in crisis and a third guidance as they all live in one house but in their own separate worlds trying to survive and some just to exist. As Donna bears her soul to her parents and Stacey proves she is wise beyond her years, Bobby strays in the wrong direction and hopefully a strong hand will guide him back.

As Becky’s job takes a dangerous turn and she the truth about some of the patrons of the motel where she works, she begins to question their ethics, business practices and enlists the help of some officers to help her. But, Bobby’s new friends in Arkansas seem as seedy and corrupt as those left behind in St. Louis and his behavior comes full circle turning back in the same direction from where he came and soon realizing that his actions and those of his friends could affect his mother’s safety. Just how you will have to read for yourself.

With their new home being fixed up and the anticipation of finally setting down permanent roots, the family faces some serious challenges that will either divide them forever or unite them.

Life Goes On is a narrative told by Becky, the mother who is town between the inner turmoil she faces within herself and the problems dealing with her family. True to life bringing to light many real life issues faced by families today, author Linda Nance takes the reader on a journey with many ups and downs, smiles, laughs and tears with a family that just wants to find somewhere to live.

Some kids will do anything to be accepted and have friends that they feel will back them up and protect them. Some are too na├»ve to realize that those same friends will think nothing of turning on you to suit their needs. Bobby learns a hard lesson when his old world meets his new one and things take a downward spiral turn. Friendships can link you together with others and create positive situations but in Bobby’s case this does not hold true as he becomes embroiled in major drug deal, tries to wrangle out of it, he endangers the life of himself and someone dear to him and things will never quite be the same again. Lessons will be learned and hard choices will have to be made as Bobby will come face to face with his past, his future, his families disappointment and their love.

But, the twists and turns at the end will surprise the reader and renew your faith in family, love, understanding and trust. One young man learns a lesson of a lifetime and one family understands the true meaning of the words Life Goes On. Never give up on yourself, be who you are and never give in to the wants of others because you are afraid. How do you teach children values and when do they finally realize that parents do know best and that they have their best interest at heart? This is a well written novel with real life characters for adults, young adults, teens, church groups and youth groups to read and discuss as start for kids to understand that parents are their best friends in the world and communication is the link to everything.

Life Goes On authored by my friend Linda Nance is an inspirational novel written by a woman of great courage, warmth and love for her friends and family. So, meet Becky, John, Donna, Stacey and Uncle James and understand what a real family goes through to survive. As John learns how to forgive and Becky will always protect the lines of communication need to stay open and Bobby, Donna and Stacey will learn that life in the country is not so different from that of the city it’s what you make of it that counts. Great novel, characters that are real, true to life and heartwarming, read Life Goes On by Linda Nance and learn the true meaning of Family.

I am honored that Linda asked me to review her book.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer


About Fran
I am the author of three children's books and have written a fourth one. I would like everyone to check out my books Bertha Speaks Out and My Name is Bertha on Barnes and Noble. GoodReads. Bertha FIghts Back is my third book in my Bertha series & on B&N. My other three books are Bertha Fights Back, Memories are Precious and Sharp as A Tack or Scrambled Eggs which describes Your Brain. I am an educator, book reviewer, talk show host on blog talk radio, online interviewer and author. My next book is a three in one handbook on Caregiving/Volunteering, Traumatic Brain Injury and Eldercare abuse.

I am an educator, writer, author, book reviewer and favorite aunt, sister and more. I am the vice president in charge of cemetery affairs for my family and their family circle secretary. I am a reading and writing specialist.I review books for authors all over the world. I host two radio shows on blog talk radio/red river writers for adult and children's authors and I am the author of five books and soon to complete number six.



Glenda Bixler
Books, Reviews, Authors, Publicity, Tips, short stories, essays...a little poetry, a cat story or two...check it out! ~~~ Books--Cats - Life is Sweet...

Hi! I'm a retired professional book reviewer...but I've continued my activities here on my blog! I also started the Reviewers Roundup Group on Facebook. I would be honored to have you connect wherever you find me! If you like the book I've just posted and would like that copy, just leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Suspense, intrigue and family highlights Linda Nance’s debut novel as a contemporary ‘Little House on the Prairie’ novel of love, devotion, and inspiration. I was so pleased to meet Linda at my Facebook Reader's Roundup group and learn of her books. But I was honored to know her as an author when I had the chance to read her first novel, Life Goes On.
John and Becky were caught in a financial situation that was one they could not handle themselves. John knew he would not find another job in the city and that he had to do something dramatic--his answer was to turn to a relative--Uncle James, who lived in Arkansas. Becky was shocked to consider not only leaving the city, but to move to the country, and in Arkansas! John explained that he had already talked to Uncle James who had suggested he might find work at a local factory.

Just when Becky was beginning to consider the idea, Donna, Bobby and Stacy came home from school. Neither John nor Becky were surprised at their responses. But this time, John had planned ahead--he had already made the necessary decisions and the family were soon on their way! John knew he had not fully provided the guidance of a father to his family, but now with Uncle James' help, he was firm that he was going to make up for the past.



Soon everybody was adjusting, but the children felt they had been given no choice. Donna called her boyfriend often, Bobby soon was finding that he could find like-minded peers here as well as in the city--those that drank and did drugs. But what they now had was a father who had made up his mind to be more firm and an Uncle who was quite willing to help! They soon had Bobby working with them--at least when he didn't sneak off...

Becky had taken a job at a motel and soon began to see that there were just as many problems with co-workers and strange, potentially dangerous activities there as they had been worried about in the city. But when they discovered that Bobby could very well be right in the middle, the family had to pull together even closer. Even then, death reached out to Bobby and Uncle James who was there to save him!  
 
Nance has the heartwarming storytelling skills of the creator of The Little House on the Prairie, sharing family love, fortitude, and forgiveness, but adds a contemporary setting where it is no longer safe to have children out with friends where drinking, drugs and sex reach them. Life Goes On reaches out to parents in today's world and shares that hope that still is available when family love is strong and caring. Highly recommended for parents as well as young teenagers who just "don't get their parents!" Linda speaks for many of us who hold on to family values as the way to meet the future! 

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  I know this has been a long blog but if you find the time and want to share even more I hope you stop by the Linda Nance Fan Page on facebook and leave me a comment.  I have shared many things there because each and all of the are a part of me…Linda Nance.  There are sculpted roses, paintings, short stories and more.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

City Kid In The Country

Good Morning.  I am back.  Last Friday we lost our internet but were lucky enough to have suffered no other damage from Spring storms.  It is the time of year that makes a person pay attention when the weather gets stormy.  My heart goes out to all of those suffering from the recent tornados.  We have known the fear as you watch the sky and see the clouds building and feel the intensity in the very air around you.  We have known the look of that spiraling funnel of destruction.  It is that time of the year.

It is also a time of rebirth bringing an array of beauty.  I love the Spring time as we watch the trees burst into bloom and brilliant blossoms as an array of flowers are seen everywhere.

The Dogwood and Redbud trees have always been favorites of mine.   They remind me of pure white clouds in a green sky.  The fruit trees are always a delight and so many others.  The tiny flowers of the Sassafras trees to the big almost artificial looking Magnolia blossoms make me appreciate this time I have in this life.  There are so many things all around us that bring so much beauty.  They bring other things to those of us who might have allergies.  It reminds me of a little poem I wrote years ago. 

I grew up in the city but have always had a love of the country. We would wait all year long for the time when my father would get his vacation and we would all go camping.  We camped in many different places and shared some beautiful memories.  There came a time in my life when I was able to relocate and live in a more rural area.  I love it.  I love to see the wonders of nature in so many forms.  The flowing dogwood trees are as far as the eye can see back into the forested areas.  Flowers bloom everywhere. 

If you do per chance suffer from allergies or can picture a young person who had always lived in the city read this poem I share,…..  I hope it makes you smile.




City Kid In The Country

I’m going to the country for peace and quiet, you see.
To breath fresh air and get a little rest, that sounds just right to me.
So many smells in that clean fresh air that my nose begins to tingle,
And the peace and quiet that I had found has set my nerves to jingle.

With the peaceful night and stars above, I lay me down to sleep,
But the crickets and bugs, birds, and frogs, made a noise that made me leap.
There’s a ‘Whipper Will’ and an old ‘Bobwhite’ I swear I’d shoot on sight,
And the crickets and frogs were turned on high, kept me up for half the night.

What was that walking in the brush, while the coyotes howled at the moon?
I’ve laid here, eyes wide open, it must be morning soon.
With trees all around the wind blew gently, but rustles all the leaves.
My hay fever I never knew I had, had my system beginning to wheeze.

I finally fell asleep and it feels so good, you know.
The sky turns pink but the sun’s not up, and that silly rooster began to crow.
Chicken and dumplings sounds good for supper, with antihistamines for me too.
This is the quiet of the country?  What’s a city kid to do?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Watch You All The Time...A short story that became a novel...you will not want to miss.

Today I made a decision to share something special.  It is longer than most blog posts.  It is a short story but a short story that will live on in the reader’s mind long after they reach the end.  When it is says the end, I guess it was only the beginning for the story.  Every single person I have ever shared this with has asked and some even begged me to write and turn it into a novel. 

That was the beginning for this story.  I have the novel Life Goes On out and available now.  I believe with the problems we are facing all around it is a story that needs to be shared.  So many people are suffering from loss of jobs, homes, stress, strain, everyday difficulties and so many more things.  This is a story you will not want to miss.

The second novel is called Journey Home.  It is vastly different from my first published novel, but one that I absolutely love.  Reader after reader announces with delight that they did not see the ending coming.  I wanted it to be a book that you could not wait to read and you could not put down as it held your interest to the very end.

The third published book with be the children’s book that I have been discussing here and there.  I am so excited about it and will keep everyone updated.  I believe it will be special and in its own way one of a kind.

The next novel I think I will release will be sometime away but I want to take the time to explain and share this.  I said there were so many things that I want to share.  I plan to one day publish a collection of short stories but could not wait.  Here is the short story that turned into a novel.


I Watch You All The Time

              Kara had never stayed home alone and she would have the house to herself for the weekend.  Her parents went to help her great aunt Mary who was just being released from the hospital after a fall had broken her hip.  They had discussions about her staying by herself and explained they had no reservations trusting her judgment or deportment, but worried as parents do, about their little girl being alone. She explained she was not a little girl and could handle anything while they were gone.  Kara mentioned that maybe a friend could stay with her. 
            At lunch the next day Kara mentioned to her best friend Theresa the idea of a weekend of movies at the house, but Theresa was leaving town with her family.  Amanda was sitting near by and exclaimed she would love to do something like that.
            Both girls were sure they would have a great time.  Amanda had wanted to invite some boys they knew from school and have a real party.  Kara was firm as she explained what she had planned for the weekend.  Amanda relented and promised Kara she would tell no one they were alone, or invite them to visit.
            Kara and Amanda got off the school bus at the end of Kara’s driveway.  Kara had lived in the country all of her fifteen years and loved the woods and wildlife.  Her driveway curved nearly a quarter of a mile with trees and wooded area on both sides. 
            Amanda thought it was a long walk to the house.  She had her back pack stuffed with her cloths she could never wear at school, school books, and several movies.  Amanda had packed several changes of cloths including a black silky blouse with a shockingly low neckline and tight fitting hip hugger pants to match.                                                                      
 “How far is it?  We’ve been walking forever.”  Amanda said.
            Kara laughed.  “We’re almost there.”  They rounded the curve in the driveway and saw the two story old farm house she had known as home all her life, surrounded by trees of crimson red, brilliant yellows, russet and various muted shades of green, lit in the setting sun. 
            Amanda stopped.  “Check out all the flowers your mom grows.”
            Kara laughed and agreed with her as they hopped up the steps of the wide, wrap around porch.  “I like them except when I have to help weed, separate, and plant them.”
            Kara unlocked the door and they sat their things down on the living room couch.  The big house had lots of windows letting in bright sunshine.  “I guess the first thing I can do, is give you a tour of the house, so you feel at home, then we can do what ever we want.” 
            “I brought all kinds of movies.  I have scary movies.  I got the ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ and ‘Psycho‘, some funny movies and the new Jim Carry one everyone is talking about, love stories and some I don’t know what they call them, but they sounded good.  I have a feeling, we‘ll have more fun than you ever dreamed”  If Kara had glanced at her friend, she might have wondered about the sly smile on her face.
            The girls left large living-room they had entered by the front door, to a small hall leading from the living room to a bedroom and bathroom.  They went back through the living room to a dining room complete with fireplace and French doors leading out onto the side porch.  Behind the dining room they went to the large, friendly kitchen.  It was in the kitchen most meals were eaten and many happy hours of visiting took place.  At the back of the kitchen was a door leading outside and the door to the basement.
            The upstairs of the house had two large bedrooms and a connecting bathroom.  Kara‘s room had a cheerful look with light rose colors and matching bedspread and curtains.  Amanda admired the heavy old antique desk and dresser in the room.  Kara explained she loved those pieces not only for how they looked, but because they had belonged to her grandmother.  They glanced in the parent’s room.
            “That’s a lot of guns in there.  Your father hunt or what?  Amanda said.
            “Dad loves to hunt and some of them belonged to his father.  Grandpa passed away last year and they are keepsakes for Dad.  He keeps them in the gun cabinet that was Grandpa‘s too.”  Kara led the way down the stairs. 
            At the base of the stairs sat a large mixed breed, fluffy, yellow cat cleaning one paw.  He stood and walked to Kara rubbing against her leg at the base of the stairs.
            “This is Tom.  He thinks he’s king around here, and we let him.  Hope you like cats?”
            Amanda stooped and gently petted the big, old yellow cat as he arched his back appreciating the attention.  “I like cats just fine.”
            Darkness came quickly in the autumn of the year.  Kara noticed the yard was already in shadows, and began to check and make sure all of the doors and windows were locked.
            Amanda saw her checking the back door, and grabbed her arm.  “What are you
doing?  You live so far back in the country, no one could find you, let alone try to break in.  If you lock all the doors and we have some surprise company, they might feel unwelcome,” She said with a giggle.
            Kara did not miss the look.  “What do you mean, company?  Company, like who?  How would they know where to find my house?”
            Amanda had a sly smile as she answered.  “Who knows?  Maybe Steven and Michael might miss us so much, they found a way to hunt us out, and surprise us.”  She had a big toothy grin as she spoke.
            Kara did not look happy or excited as her friend did.  She had made promises to her parents, and intended to keep them.  Her parents would not trust her to stay alone again her if she betrayed that trust.
They bought frozen pizza, and a whole sack of snacks so Kara would have a good time.
            “Amanda, what have you done?  Don’t you tell me you went and invited Steve and Mike to come here.  You did not tell people my parents are gone, and we’re here alone, did you?”
            Amanda tried to look contrite.  “You know I’d never go telling people we’d be here alone while your parents are away.  I brought a whole sack of movies, didn’t I?  I might have accidentally mentioned to Steve at lunch, about us watching all these great movies and eating pizza.  I can’t remember.”
            “My parents told me I could do what ever I wanted, as long as it was just you and me, we had a good time, but were safe.  They’d have a fit, if they thought we had guys over here, and you know it.  Tell me now what you’ve got planned.  I’m not going to screw things up for the future.”
            Amanda threw her head back and laughed.  Kara, Kara, just relax a little.  What ‘Goodie two shoes’ truck did you fall off of?  Girl, you’ve got to relax.  If you invited boys, or threw a party you could feel guilty.  You didn’t do any such thing.  You were a good girl and did just like Mommy and Daddy expect you to.  Here’s the deal. You can’t help it, if someone comes to see you, can you?  Is it your fault if some guy drives all the way out here to no-where’s land just to visit and talk?”
            Kara was angry.  “What time are they supposed to come out and visit?”
            “How would I know?  I didn’t tell them to come here.”  Amanda appeared to be pouting.
            “First of all, you’re the one that brought it up, and I really do live back in the country, in as you call it no-where’s land.  If you didn’t have directions, you’d never find my house in a million years, and you know it.”  Kara looked sternly at her friend.
            “Don‘t get so bent out of shape.  You got the whole house alone, a guarantee of no one around for the whole weekend, and you want to sit and sniff flowers and watch movies?  I know you got more life in you than that.”
 “Amanda, I told you what I had planned and you said it sounded great.  If I want to sit and sniff every flower on the place, and watch every movie I can find, at least what I don’t have to lie about it later. 
You complain that your mom never trusts you.  Can you think of any reasons why?” 
            “Don’t get mad at me.  I didn’t mean it that way.  You’re my best friend.  It just slipped out at lunch.  Steve is everything I’ve ever wanted, and Mike, thinks you’re cute.  Can’t you see this isn’t bad?” 
            Kara began to have a dim view of the week-end to come.  She had no fear of staying alone, but then again, there had been all of those phone calls where no one said a thing.  That’s no big deal, she thought.  There were also the times she walked alone in the woods that she could have sworn she was being watched.  Her parents thought the phone calls were from some prank, and said not to become paranoid.  Amanda’s idea was another issue entirely. 
            “Amanda, you have to understand.  My parents don’t lie to me, and  I don’t lie to them.  Can’t you enjoy the weekend like we talked about?”  Kara didn’t really want to be alone and Amanda might decide to leave.
            Amanda smiled.  “It’s cool.  Maybe this is part of why I like you.  I don’t know anyone at the whole school that would think twice about not telling their parents the whole truth.  I can see it’s a real issue with you.  If the guys show up we can visit for awhile then tell them to go.”
            “I have a better idea.  Why don’t you call, and don’t tell me you don’t have their number, and let them know the party’s off for now.”  Kara was firm and Amanda could see it was no use to arguing.
            Before Amanda could answer, the telephone rang.  Kara answered it but no one spoke, as with the other calls they had recently had.  Amanda took out her cell phone.  With no answer after two tries, she said she would have to try again later.  It was totally dark outside.  Both girls deliberately tried to relax and ease the tension. Kara started to cook the pizzas. 
Kara turned the porch light on.   Amanda laughed, “I thought you didn’t want the boys to find us?  Now you turn a light on for them.”
Before Kara could answer, the phone rang again.  “Hello,…Hello,….Why do you keep calling?”  The phone was silent.  Kara became angry each time it occurred, but it also made afraid as she wondered who it was, and why they would keep calling.
            “How often do you get those calls?”  Amanda looked concerned.
            “We get them all the time, and they never say anything.  Dad called and reported them, but we were told prank calls are common and to ignore them.  Everyone thinks it’s no big deal.”
            The phone rang again.  A deep raspy voice whispered, “Kara, I know you.  I really know you, so very, very well.  I watch you all the time … but you never see me.  I’m right here.  Kara, do you hear me?  I watch you all the time.”
             Kara felt both anger and fear.  “I hear you just fine.  Who the Hell is this?” The silence on the phone seemed thick in the air.  She tried again.  “You call all the time and never have anything to say.  Don’t you have a life of your own, or do you just get your kicks this way?”
            “I get my kicks all right.  I just never had this kind of opportunity before.  Mommy and Daddy are gone.  I have my beautiful Kara and she brought me a bonus, of another girl that’s just as sweet and tasty.”
            Kara felt fear that caused her to tremble, but would not let him know it.  “Forget you.  Why don’t you go and get a life, and leave me alone?”
            “Oh, sweet Kara, you are alone.  Your little friend is just a bonus.  You’re all alone…. and you’re all mine…..  I’m right here……….  I watch you all the time.”
            Kara slammed the phone down.  Her face had turned an ashen shad of gray, and her hand trembled.  “It’s that damned prank phone caller again.  Screw him.  We’ll watch our movies and still have fun.”  As she spoke, she closed the curtains and in the room.
            Kara needed to settle her nerves.  She went to the kitchen to check the pizza.  She had forgotten to turn on the oven.  She turned the knob to 425 degrees, and went back to her friend in the living room.
            “Before we get started with this movie, maybe you need to tell me what’s really going on.”  Amanda stared at the telephone in the living room.  When you were on the phone you actually went pale and I saw the way your hand shook. She seemed to have forgotten all about the boys.
            Kara told her friend all she knew of the phone calls.  Never before had the caller spoken.
            Kara‘s stomach felt like it had a knot in it, and her hands were clammy.  She thought it best to be honest with Amanda.  Maybe the phone calls were nothing and they would have fun like they planned.  Kara did not feel fun at all.  She felt cold.  The sound of his voice, and what he had said, left a fear like none she had ever known.
            “What the hell are we supposed to do now?  Your parents want you safe and sound, but this ain’t it.  Even they’d want us to have help, if we needed it.  This is no party situation, it’s down right weird.  Damn, I hope the boys get here soon.  I hate to say it, but if I do get them on the phone, I’m not telling them not to come, I’m asking why they aren’t here now?”  How do you live like this?  This is supposed to be a fun weekend, and now its scare the shit out of us time?”  Amanda finally paused for breath.
Kara felt like stone.  She had never felt like this.  She wanted to be all grown up, but what was all grown up?
             Before she could answer, the phone rang again.  “Thought you had help coming, huh?….  Maybe they were a surprise?….  They were surprised all right.  One came up to the house.  He’s still by the house, in the pretty, pretty flowers.  The other is back in his car with all his favorite tunes still playing.  I watch you all the time…I watch you all the time…….You’re mine….Only mine and  I’m right here…..  I watch you all the time…
            Kara hung up the phone with a trembling hand and a heart that pounded.  She tried to be brave but fear pulsed through her veins until she throbbed with it.  She had been determined not to let any prank phone caller dictate her life or stop her from being grown up, but her stubborn determination had begun to crack.  “This is different than any calls we’ve ever had.  He said, …He said,…In the flowers.  I’m calling the Sheriff.”  She picked up the phone and listened, but there was nothing there, not even a dial tone.
            Amanda could barely speak.  “What do you mean, in the flowers?”
            “That’s what he said.  He said, if we thought we had help coming, one came up and was in the pretty flowers and the other was listening to his favorite tunes.  Most of the flowers are out by the front porch.  We have to go and look.” 
            “What the hell are you talking about? Are you crazy?”    Amanda was on her feet staring at the front door.  “I’m not going out there for anything, or anybody.”
            Kara looked out the windows as best she could.  Not knowing what or who was out there, Kara decided she would not go out.  Her breath came in raspy, heaving sighs.  “We have to go now.  This is real.”  There was a crash of glass in the kitchen.  Kara grabbed her paralyzed friend and pulled her toward the stairs.  “That sound came from the kitchen.  He may be in the house with us even now.  Let’s go.”          
            The two girls ran up the stairs in a blind panic.  Kara had always felt safe and protected in her bedroom, and that is where they ran.  She slammed the door and leaned against it.   Kara was gripped by fear remembering the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen, but motivated to stay away from who ever might be coming for them.  “Help me,…Help me move this dresser.  Don’t just stand there.”
The girls moved the dresser to block the door.  Kara looked around the room, and saw nothing she could use for self-defense as she realized that the bathroom connected to her parents room and was another route of access. 
            Amanda stood in the center of the room with tears streaming down her face.  “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”  She would be no help to Kara.  The thought of her parents room brought to mind the beautiful glass gun cabinet in the corner.  She dashed through the bath room, and into the adjoining room of her parents.  She opened the cabinet and withdrew an old shot gun of her father’s, and a box of shells from the bottom of the case.  Not waiting  to load the weapon, she ran back through the bathroom, to her bedroom.  Once in the bedroom she feared the intruder could follow the same route.  She lay the gun and shells on the bed, and pushed at the antique desk with all her might.  It would move only inches at a time. 
            She ran to Amanda and shook her briskly.  “Help me move this desk or he’s going to come right in through that door.  Help me, now!”
            Together the girls moved the desk, and stood back listening and waiting.  They waited, and they listened.  They heard nothing.  Every heart beat felt like a hammer striking the ribs of their chests.  Every minute seemed like an hour as the seconds slowly ticked by.  Kara quietly loaded the old gun and lay it back on the bed.
            Amanda stopped crying and began pacing back and forth in the room.  “It’s going to be all right.  I brought my cell phone.  I was so scared I just forgot it.  All we have to do is call the police.”
            Kara did not look impressed.  “Where is your cell phone?”
            “In my backpack, on the couch in the living room.”  As she said the words, it seemed all hope drained out of her.
            Amanda had never known true fear or faced situations that could be life or death.  Kara had not known anything like what she now went through, but was not ready to give up.  Neither of the girls knew what to do.   They waited…and waited some more.  They heard nothing.
            In the silence a squealing sound blared from below.  At first, neither of the girls knew what was happening.  Kara’s mouth fell open in shock and then panic as she realized what was making the sound.  “We left the pizza in the oven.  That’s the smoke alarm.  If it’s not on fire now, it will be shortly.  We have to do something.  We can’t sit here and burn up.”
            Amanda was beyond any ability to speak.  She nodded her head in agreement.
            Kara began to shove on the heavy dresser that blocked the door.  “Help me move this.”        
Kara left the bedroom, with the now loaded gun in her hand , and inched down the hall.  Every step she listened, until her ears felt like they would turn inside out.  She came to the stairs and looked as well as she could, as she crept down one step at a time.  At the bottom she peered intently around the living room but saw nothing out of the ordinary.  She ran into the kitchen and turned off the oven, not taking time to take the pizza out.  She ran back to the living room to get the cell phone.
            She heard a noise above her on the stairs and quickly turned with gun in hand.  She saw the stricken, white face of Amanda.  “You think you’ll be able to actually shoot?”
            Kara did not feel overly brave.  “I don’t know what I’ll do.  We have to get help and call the sheriff.”
            Kara quickly dialed the number for the sheriff but hope turned to dread at the unenthusiastic response from the dispatcher.  “An officer will be out as soon as possible.  You say you two are alone?  Could you have imagined it, or are you sure there’s someone there?  We don’t come out for prank calls.”
            Before Kara could answer she heard a slight noise behind her from the kitchen and saw a glimpse of movement coming straight for her.  She turned quickly.  A deafening roar sounded and Kara was rocked backward almost falling to the floor.  She did not realize she had even fired the gun, but there lay a body of a man in the doorway.  Amanda was halfway down the steps screaming hysterically.  Kara heard nothing and felt numb as she blankly stared at the body before her.
Amanda had found the courage to join her friend, and they stared at the figure sprawled motionless in the floor in the house.  Both girls gazed in mute horror as they really saw the intruder Kara had shot.  He lay in a pool of glistening red blood with his head slightly turned.  He was so young.
Amanda ran to kneel beside the young man and in a screaming, sobbing cry repeated the same words over and over.  “No…. No….No…”
Kara had tears streaming down her stricken white face.  “I didn’t know…I thought he…I didn‘t know….”  Her body slumped to the floor.  Her head made a hollow sound as it smashed the floor and she lay motionless.
The other young man stood in the doorway sobbing and shaking.  “Why the hell did you shoot him?…  We were just playing a joke… we found the back door unlocked… You didn‘t have to shoot him…  You really shot him…….How could you….”
            A mist rolled in with the cool night air.  The lights from the patrol car flashed, lighting the gruesome scene.  I need to know what all happened here tonight.”  The officer was talking to Kara. When he arrive he found her in the floor of the living room struggling to get up. 
            Amanda had hysterically cradled her boyfriend in her arms and was talking to him.  “It’s gonna be O.K……  Every thing will be fine…...  We’ll get help……  It was a mistake……  I’ve got you …… it’s going to be all right…..You’ll be just fine….I‘ve got you now…..”
            Kara did not move or speak, then slowly as she blinked her eyes, and seemed to come back from what ever far place the shock and terror had sent her. 
His radio began in that squawked.  He held a brief conversation, then return to the
girls.  “Where are your parents?  We need to get them here, now...“
            Amanda seemed to not hear him.  She continued her repeated phrases to the young man she held in her arms as she sat in the floor beside him.
            Kara spoke slowly and softly.  “My uncle lives a couple of miles down the road, and my parents are out of town.“  She gave him the phone number of the uncle and waited as he called from his cell phone.
            The officer gently led Kara out to the other officers that had arrived.  He urgently convinced Amanda to come with him and led her outside.  He promised they would take good care of her friend.  With every step she took, the reality of the situation seemed to become more and more real.  The sobs and gasping breaths Amanda took shook her violently.
Kara’s parents were called, as well as Amanda’s.   Kara’s Uncle John slid to a stop in the drive,
jumped out and circled Kara in his arms.  She began again to cry clutching to the front of his shirt.  “I didn’t know.  I thought….Help him….Help me….”Her knees buckled and she sank sobbing to the soft and dewy grass at his feet.

           
            It seemed like forever before the police had completed their questions and investigation, and removed the body of the young man named Steven.  Statements were taken from Kara, Amanda, and Michael as best they could, in the condition the young people were in.  When the house was being checked the officer saw the shards of broken glass from an iced tea pitcher in the floor of the kitchen.  A big yellow cat sat peacefully beside it lazily cleaning one paw.
Michael adamantly maintained that neither he, nor his friend Steven had made any phone calls to scare the girls.  The sheriff found no cell phone they could have used on them, or in the pickup truck they had driven.  The back door had signs of having been forced open, but Michael swore they had found it that way.  A lot of questions had no answers. 

Kara went to stay with her Uncle until her parents could return that night.  Amanda left with her parents still sobbing.  After everyone had left, the house stood empty. 
           
The only sound was the ringing of the phone.


The final determination of the shooting was that it was accidental.  Legal problems may have been concluded, but the effects of that one day were just to begin for each of those involved.


            “I watch you all the time………….. but you never see me.”
                                                                


                                                                       By,
Linda J. Nance