About sherryrossman

I'm a tea-loving momma who loves to write. And when I say write, I mean exploring the things of life we get tastes of in dreams, in the things that go bump in the night, and those that hover at the corners of our eyes. No matter what they are or aren't I believe God holds all these things in His hands.

INTO 2023

A retiree I once knew and loved shared a piece of her story with me at work one afternoon as she whirled by in her long skirt and dangly earrings. Always busy, she was, creating art and offering her talents to the community into her eighties.

A long time ago, when she was pregnant with twins, and living her early years in the age when women mostly stayed home amidst domestic expectations, her husband passed away unexpectedly.

She had to give birth with the knowledge that she was the lone parent and provider of four. A momma. How to make it work when her plans as she knew them were doused in one cruel moment?

What was birthed, along with two healthy twins, turned out to be a renaissance. Through pain and exhaustion, she discovered abilities within her that she had to reach deep down into the darkness to discover. I wish I could remember which profession she found, but it wasn’t one that a person could just enter today without diplomas and experience.

She was a hero of the mightiest kind. She flourished in her career, and somewhere along the way became a respected and honored artist, and a beloved mother. She stayed active in her artwork as long as she was able, and while she was still flourishing at the retirement resort, had the honor of her work displayed in the local arts district downtown, and inside a bustling international airport.

She was a member of the Greatest Generation: a people forged from challenges that never stopped coming. When the retirement place was still full of them, it was like walking through a building full of Phoenixes, the ashes they rose from blown and scattered by the wind long ago.

I feel like the last few years have been a series of birth pains. It’s our time–all existing generations. The outcome could look like anything. Nothing but raw honesty will do if is to be victorius. You see, most of us haven’t been repeatedly sifted quite like the Greatest Generation, and I’m afraid we’re choking on the ashes. It looks like we’re not even done with the battle yet. This could take time to figure out.

Did anyone else feel a restlessness before COVID took hold? The arts had been on a nose dive with remake after remake in theaters. Literature followed suit, and continues to do so. AI is the latest technology used by designers, and humanity is a weakening heartbeat, steadily replacing itself with what’s easier and faster. It seems our culture has found profit to be the most revered god.

The simple act of telling the truth, or challenging someone’s opinion amidst new cultural demands can destroy a person’s life now. No redemptive creatures can come out of such an unhearing mob.

So what to do with 2023?

I’m going on an in-depth, honest exploration of the very things we’re losing ground on. I’d like to invite you to join me, and/or do your own honest exploration of the things that most trouble you. I’ve decided to study a new idea every month and see what it looks like through the lenses of The Arts, Wellness (body*soul*mind), Family, and Wonder. I’ll post about it here at the beginning of each month, and will show my discoveries on Instagram 2-3 times a week. Some of those will spill onto my facebook author page.

Anxious to recapture originality, I’m beginning January with New in a new way.

I’m planning on stearing clear of poliltics as I want to get to the root of things. On some posts I will talk about my faith, so that it remains completely honest.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Join me.

Me on Instagram.

Me on Facebook

My kids help me with my projects and it’s never boring

Art beauty books cats childhood memories children christian Christmas courage dogs dreams encouragement encouragment failures faith Faith Seekers family finding joy freedom free ebook friends God God's grace grace hope Jesus love memories miracles parenting peace perseverance purpose rest sherry rossman speculative fiction strength success superheroes travel unique Wake Wild writing YA Fiction

Greetings from the corner of chaos and art. As you might have seen in my last post this site is under construction, but it doesn’t stop my hands from working. I have a quick update and an offer for you.

First, I’m rebuilding this site because it’s time to refresh and redesign things more in keeping with my writerly direction. More to come on that later.

I had all kind of plans last year, but when the world shook up a little we ended up moving like so many Americans, which took our logical, doable family schedule and smashed it into a million stained glass pieces. The pile of debris was quite vibrant and beautiful, but a pile nonetheless. However, Goodness still leads me forward and the ink still flows.

Earlier this year my short story, Inheritance, was publishsed in Ink’d Publishing’s first anthology. Working with Ink’d was a fabulous experience. If you’re a writer or reader of short stories, I encourage you to check them out. Hidden Villains is a great collection of tales, and one that will not only entertain you, but get you thinking…

Second…….Thanksgiving approaches. To celebrate, Welcome to Velvet, AZ is on sale for .99 November 1st-8th. The characters came to me a few years before the story did and lived in my head until I wrote them into the ficticious town of Velvet. WTVAZ is one of those that wrote itself, and I believe it came to fruition for such a time as this. It’s a tale about a town that gets visited by a curse every Thanksgiving. It’s about the power of words, and how deeply they affect the characters’ lives. Written from multiple points of view to explore the mystery from several different personality types, it’s a work of the heart. Unlike my previous works, it’s darker. To write truthfully, it had to be so (For more sensitive readers I would give it a PG 13 rating).

In the meantime, I’m working on a new novel. It’s taken me longer than usual to complete it, but it’s an incredibly fun story to write and I can’t wait to bring it to you. Think teenagers, the night sky, and a magical trunk.

I also have another short story in the works….more info to follow.

Take care of yourself and I’ll see you soon.

Painting Your Portrait

I once knew a girl who was an accessory. This twenty-one year old memory surfaced this morning as I ran through the squishy ground near my home, swirls of hardening mud from our recent flood beneath my feet.

The contrast was startling: A storm can mix the earth together, spit it out and make it look like a newly painted canvas, but when a storm is finished with a human? The scars always find cracks to grow through.

Her dad needed to appear like a family man to one of his clients, so he brought his daughter to the theater with them—a highly anticipated movie in which to delight. But the experience wasn’t meant for the daughter to take part. It was a shiny lie. She sat in the seat, surrounded by the darkness of her father’s ambition. It was her only memory of going to the movies with her dad.

She developed emotional problems. A low self-esteem—all the symptoms for immediate family members of workaholics.

I worked at the boarding school where her parents shipped her to. A true introvert, she was stuffed into a roomful of bunk beds, and suffered almost as much from lack of space as she did being separated from the parents who didn’t take the time to raise her.

On more than one occasion, I broke the rules and let her slip into a private spot for some breathing room. I’m in the same needs-space club, I get it. Determined to finish the program and get back home, she always reappeared at the right time. But, as she attended regular counseling, strict discipline, and held to a high behavioral standard, what she didn’t understand was that her dad was an addict and the problem wasn’t hers to fix.

The American dream comes with a high cost, friends.

Workaholism is called the best-dressed addiction for a reason, luring everyone from the career-driven to supermoms. Don’t let anyone ever guilt you into biting off more than you can chew. A few quality projects is better than a hundred rushed ones. Feel free to park the mini van and give yourself some breathing room, ladies. In fact, if you don’t chill you will suffer, your spouse will suffer, and your kids will suffer as much or more than families of alcoholics.

I don’t like losing my momentum, but I can’t help but pause my run to take a few photos. My eyes open wider with the question again. How can the land look so freshly renovated after a storm tears it to bits, but a human cannot?

While the same spirit that runs through the earth runs through us, provides us with the same oxygen and infuses us with the same minerals, humans were given the ability to make decisions. We were given souls.

We aren’t just torn down and re-formed like a patch of earth is, we were given wills and internal moral codes to navigate with. Choices. And it’s never all about the individual. We all feel the responses of the ones closest to us in this beautifully ravaged landscape.

I pass a stagnant puddle. It stinks. Bad. Complacency is no good either. When I was a young child and wasn’t ready to give up swimming when late August rolled around, I swam in stagnant creek water. I developed sores all over my scalp that sent me to the dermatologist. It’s the same with humans. Keeping your talents to yourself produces rot.

Without hard work and adversity, a creek can’t grow and bring water to the thirsty. But too much and it floods homes and drowns the living.

But it’s okay to lose momentum sometimes. The bubbling of a creek is soothing and beautiful. It’s okay to slow down and make less money. I just bought my kids an armful of school clothes from discount stores. They’ll learn the gift of balance (eventually), and their peers will learn to deal. Designer labels, for us, is nothing but a siren’s song.

Rest. Enjoy your family.

Did you see those details in the landscape today?

Continue reading

Happy June!

Just dropping in for a quick update. First off, phew! *wipes forehead and reaches for the caffeine.* Who knew re-entering civilization after Covid would feel like the world’s to-do lists exploded? Ever since our state opened up, we’ve been slammed with parties, summer camp, event this, event that.

Have you been in Walmart? How many people can fit in one aisle? ALL of them, apparently!

But halleluiah through it all, because hugs and unmasked faces are worth it.

Right now, I’m working on my newest novel (Stars! Young adults! Mystery! A creepy attic!), while planning something different for the blog. It’s quite a challenge juggling it all with the day job and the family while we ask ourselves every day if we should pause the house hunting, or forge ahead (evidently, half the state of California is moving into AZ) while the housing market is ridiculously ridiculous (really, there are no other appropriate words).

In the meantime, Welcome to Velvet, AZ is free on kindle unlimited. If you like creepy, non-violent horror stories with a fantastical twist, this book is for you. Come one, how many Thanksgiving stories are there out there? Get yours here.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about how stories have shaped me–how they’ve changed the way I look at life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve found as much truth in fiction as I’ve found in real life. Fiction might even be a little kinder.

Next month, I’m taking my first flight since Covid to meet the author who changed the way I look at the world. More on that later, but consider the books you’ve read and how they’ve shaped you. Feel free to share in the comments.

So Busy, so Bored

Greetings from the Desert!

I suppose an update is in order! Writing? Yes! Parenting? Every moment!

Being a follower of all the things? Heck no!

I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing extreme boredom from the excess of repetitive things (even though these are good things):

Superhero movies, and all the other remakes upon remakes.

Back stories on reality shows (because, after awhile we become numb to the overwhelm).

Newsletters. Because who has time to read them?

ShonEjai from Pixabay

It’s like everyone is afraid to take the road less traveled.

I deleted my own newsletter…I may refurbish it and throw it back up, but for now, I don’t even read most of the ones I’m subscribed to. I can only take in so much information before the brain quits retaining anything new (the new sameness). After feeling like every expert at everything was trying to program me to follow the formula, I dug my heels into the ground for awhile.

I AM working on a little something different, though, which I’ll bring to the blog. Just because I want to stretch my wings. It’s currently in the planning stages, and may be for a bit because we’ll be buying a house with my mom (multi-generational living, here we come), and I’m dreaming of more space to create. But it’s coming, friends.

How about you?

Is anyone out there who has something a little different to share with us? Please, for all good things, share it with us in the comments: links, photos, originality–whatever is uniquely you.

My daughter, the teenage creative wonder, may be assisting me in a huge project I hope to bring to you before long. It involves lots of messiness, random locations, and the best of all–it’s something very different that I think you will enjoy.

In the meantime, you can see me most active on Instagram (sherryrossmanauthor) and my facebook author page. I might even give a special ebook gift on Thursday. Just come back here and click on Welcome to Velvet, Az in the right column.

See you on the trail less traveled!

A Meaningful Christmas

My son checks the gifts around the tree each morning to see if they’re ripe for the opening. I ask him how he can tell and he said the wrapped gifts are the ones he checks because they’re more of a mystery than the bagged ones. One is almost ripe, he says. The rest aren’t ready yet.

Despite being battered with the knowledge that we not only will we be missing our big family Christmas this year, and that I have to work for the first time since I’ve been a mom, my little guy is holding on to the joyful parts of this season. His eyes, despite some blurry days, are usually fixed on the things he hopes for.

As for me? I’m still reeling from the Monsters of 2020 that have barged inside January’s door and have kept filing in ever since. COVID. The politics, the hate, the name-calling from every side, and the decision on whether or not to get the vaccine accompanied by the criticism we all will get no matter what decision we make. Not to mention the personal challenges we’ve encountered this year.

Because of all these things, I wanted Christmas to be more meaningful this time around. Every year actually, because it seems like commercialism has become the babe born in a manger rather than the Savior of the world. There have been so many things on the to-do list since adulthood arrived that Christmas has seemed like something to briefly enjoy but also to move past so I can depressurize.

There’s no ripeness there, so little flavor. What have we neglected?

When I first learned that I had to work on Christmas disappointment clothed me. The kids hate it. Their faces crumpled when I told them, and the long-held seniority I’ve enjoyed from being at the same workplace for twenty years is no longer a thing, just like bare faces and civil conversations.

So many normal things have become dust under Monsters feet.

But then a light started to awaken in me. I work at a retirement place where people are lonely, quarantined and surrounded by COVID. The outside world throws words at them like retirees and at-risk people are in such a small percentage that they aren’t worth our covered faces. The O.W. says many callous things (although not nearly as many as before). Maybe because they’re on the safer side of the oxygen tanks and…worse. Our retirees are jailed, yet protected: Alone together—two meaningful words that have grown into Monsters themselves.

But here lies the mystery–the loss of my great seniority benefit has turned into my meaningful Christmas. It’s not about my to-do list this year (thank God), or the pressure of all the holiday stuff. I get the morning and early afternoon with my family, and the evening and half the night with my friends at the retirement place. I’ll get to watch my family open their gifts. We’ll have bacon. And then at work, I’ll probably deliver groceries or packages to those who are ordered inside their apartments for the holidays.

Monsters beware. Your giant, bitter feet are no match for the those that follow the Bethlehem Star. Christmas is about loving on all kinds of people this year, and my face –tired as it will be—may be the only one some of them see on this Holy Day. May more hearts ripen, may kindness blanket our nation. You better believe the smile underneath my mask will be visible all around those masked borders.

Merry Christmas, friends.

That Gut Feeling

Who wants to talk about something besides Covid and politics? I’ll have to say, people’s reactions to all the chaos have thrown me just as much as all the surprises, globally and personally, that 2020 brought forth. Reactions that made me stop and think—ask a thousand questions about why people respond the way they do. I’ve even done some thinking about my own responses which got me chewing on some memories and why my brain often rejects the status quo on whatever current cultural thought is expected of us.

It wasn’t a highly educated college instructor that taught me to broaden my ways of thinking. College in the ’90s was permeated with the overused and abused term open minded, which, in my experience meant that the instructor who lived by that mantra was hell-bent on stripping the values, the faith, or whatever you came to college believing from your very marrow.

(I will throw in here that some of my teachers were quite excellent, but this isn’t about the good ones either.)

No. To help stretch my mind, I needed a teacher who was so wrong, that 20+ years later I wonder if he’s still alive.

He was tall, personality-challenged, and stood in front of the class as he tried to convince us that humans had lost all instincts. That gut feelings were illogical and we used knowledge to get around in life and nothing more.

You should have heard the mothers in the room bellow at him like he had lived in a bubble his whole life. The women. Tell me, what woman hasn’t heard that small inner voice telling them that Mr. Handsome and charming and perfectly perfect by all appearances is, in fact, MR DANGER on the inside?

On my TBR pile

At first, I assumed our teacher was trying to inspire conversation, but no. Turned out that he believed it.

I still think of that teacher (if he’s still alive) as life has thrown me many opportunities to consider the matter of instinct. One in which I will probably never know the whole story.

It was close to midnight, I was a young twenty-something, married, and alone in our apartment when someone knocked on the front door. Our apartment complex was regularly visited by police and drama. It wasn’t the worst place around, but it wasn’t what I’d call the safest either.

But for some reason, I rose from my recliner at the sound of that knock. At the last second, something made me pause and grab our orange tabby, Loki—the Garfield of all Garfields–and tuck him under my arm. I swung open the door and this young blond guy I had run into a few times stood in front of me. And I knew. Despite his shiny exterior I knew his intentions were bad.

But I wasn’t afraid. I also knew, knew, that all would be well. At the sight of Loki and me standing in the doorway the guy flinched, and whatever he planned before I opened that door fell to the wood walkway beneath him like broken promises. He actually stepped back, fear filling his eyes as Loki and I stared him down.

“Uh…do you have any cigarettes?” he mumbled.
“Ok, thanks.”

That’s when I closed the door, latched it and stared at my cat. I mean, he was a force to be reckoned with but the guy had looked at my orange ball of cuteness like he was God himself.

Strange, yes? I’ve gone over this incident many times over the years, from questioning why I felt compelled to open the door at midnight to wondering what that guy saw in my cat’s eyes, or mine, and why I knew that I’d be safe while staring into what my gut told me was evil.

Some people say that instinct is a pathway to God, some say it’s something we developed when the world was primeval and every day was survival—our senses were heightened out of necessity. Maybe it’s both.

The inexperience—or ignorance—of my instructor could have proven deadly if I had thought my gut feelings were no more than paranoia–not to mention the fact that I was naive when I took his class, but not so much that I let him dull my mind. I had learned way before I took Sociology that instinct is as valuable as the air I breathe. But his disbelief has taught me to dig deeper into the enigma of instinct, adding books to my TBR pile, and to hold conversations that have been enriching to say the least.

I also wonder about the blond guy. Why did he react the way he did when he saw me and Loki in the doorway? The manifestation of my prayers, perhaps?

What do you think? How often do you take someone’s word for truth, and when do you step back to dig a little deeper?

Welcome to Velvet, Az.

Welcome to Velvet, Az.

It’s release day! I’m so excited to bring you a meaningful story that has nothing to do with Covid or politics, or anything else we’ve had an overdose of.
So that you can decide whether or not this story appeals to you, I’ve posted the first chapter of the book below the description (It’s YA fiction, but told through multiple viewpoints, adult included. Everyone, teen and above, will enjoy this story).

For the past eighteen years, the town of Velvet has been under a holiday curse. For them, Thanksgiving is not about turkey and family. It’s about the Nightmares.

Five days before Thanksgiving, the curse arrives early, sending a menagerie of characters on a search for answers. It begins with Boone, a seventeen-year-old who was raised by an ageless eccentric, Nick, a man in the midst of a breakdown, and Toni, a girl who won’t let any man get closer than three feet.

As answers unfold, suspicions arise, and the power behind the curse is a surprise no one could have imagined.

Welcome to Velvet, Az

Boone/Saturday Night

My best friend is no girl next door. She’s a one-person parade sitting against the antiquated phone booth, barely visible in the eight o’clock twilight. Gray hooded coat, blood-red shirt ending in two violent points past her cuffs, trying so hard to look like anything but the china doll inside.
Wait ‘til Toni sees what this town will offer her during the holidays. She’ll think no more of her idle masquerade, poor girl. Unless she follows instructions. But I know she won’t.
Maybe she’ll think more of me. On second thought, I may become the thing of her nightmares. I’m the last person to want to mark her with that kind of fear. Anything but that. I slow my stride, not wanting to startle her.
In a snap, a stream of light catches her. She springs to her feet, her eyes squinting at the approaching headlights. Must be the new guy. He’s early.
One of his tires throws a rock at a lamp post as he pulls to a stop in front of my friend and the red phone booth. Toni’s expression resembles the one she wore the first day she walked into school. She was the new kid: half-emo, half-crafter, trying to present herself as a don’t-mess-with-me fashion statement. But it was the end of summer, and we all looked like Halloween, as we always do. By the time she had taken her third step into the classroom her face reverberated with that of every new kid: a big, hairy slap in the face.
I push my hood back and reach Toni, still caught in the high beams. After an awkward pause, we shuffle outside their glare.
Nice ride. Custom hubcaps, tires made for pavement. He’s not getting out of his car. Toni spots me from the corner of her eye, trying to do it so I don’t notice, fear sliding from her face. She brings out the fists she had stuffed into her pockets, stretches out her fingers and curls them into white-knuckled angry balls.
She doesn’t know that I know. I know more about, well, everyone than they know about me. And what I understand about Toni is that she resents the fact that she has a small frame despite lifting weights five days a week. I know her warrior princess clothes with their blood-red accents, her sharply angled hair and her frequently balled fists are about someone who hurt her before she moved here. The only reason she tolerates me is because I keep a respectable three foot distance from her most of the time.
The car door opens. A Nike shoe, approximately size eleven, touches the ground, gets pulled back up, banged free from its more than likely first taste of loose dirt, then slowly lowers to the ground again: toe, ball, heel. The second foot appears, pressing to the ground like this activity is a grand science experiment, as if there is a formula to contain Arizona dust. This guy’s going to be a fun guest.
My fingers quickly spread inside my coat pocket to make room as I type dirtphobia into my cell and text it to my dad.
A hand grips the top of the car door, and judging by the sketchy lantern light, it looks free of manual labor or wedding ring. His forearm is fairly well-developed. Two things cross my mind: Miss Daniels will be finding excuses to visit the camp now, which reminds me I have a speech to make next week. Crap. I pull two antacids from my pocket and pop them in my mouth, chew them, savor the quenching of the fire in my stomach.
The second thing? Toni had scooted next to me as soon as she saw his size eleven shoes. So it was a guy who hurt her. I figured—it explains things. Maybe he had dirtphobia like this guy. She does something she hasn’t done in the two months I’ve known her and moves deeper into the three-foot safety zone. Is it appropriate to allow myself to smile? I don’t.
She speaks quietly. “Are you expecting a guest tonight?”
“It’s why I couldn’t walk you home from school. I had to get the Marley Cabin ready.”
“Forgiven. But you know it’s me who walks you home, right?”
I bump Toni’s fist with my own and try to keep reality from showing up on my face.
Back to the car. The slowest emergence from a vehicle ever to happen is playing itself out in front of us. His hands look no older than thirty-something. Another body part emerges—his head. Medium brown hair tousled to the side. He stops again. He didn’t request handicapped accommodations, and he said he’s been here before, so it can’t be Velvet’s idiosyncrasies making him nervous. Unless…
I try to imagine myself a guest and scan the town like I didn’t grow up here. I guess the flickering lanterns are unusual, although most say it bridges the gap between the old buildings and the new. Maybe the diner without a name? I lean my head back. A few years ago, a guest told me without any other street lights to dull the night sky, the bright stars can be unnerving if you tend to have a vivid imagination. But I doubt that’s the case with this guy. It’s either the phone booth, or me and Toni.
I take a nauseating step outside of my comfort zone and greet him with a wave, smiling like a 1950s teenager. “Hi. Are you Nick? My name’s Boone—I’m with Velvet Camp Cabins. Our signs were damaged a few nights ago, so the owner asked that I meet you in case you needed help finding your cabin.” He raises his eyebrows at me, which pries the usual explanation from my lips. “My dad’s the caretaker.”
“Uh, yeah. Thanks.” He holds up his phone. “My app quit. It’s been awhile…I don’t exactly remember how to get there.”
I figured. He must have camped here as a kid. He probably won’t make it past November. “Two miles down the road.” I point west where the road disappears into the pines and darkness. “Turn left at the wagon wheel. That road leads directly into the camp.”
Nick rakes me and Toni with his gaze. He stands, crosses his arms and speaks with a don’t-BS- me accent. “Why don’t you ride with me, so I don’t get lost.”
Toni shoves past me. “Fine,” and climbs into the back seat. “Oh, sorry.” She hangs her feet outside the car and bangs her shoes against each other three times. “There’s no place like clean.”
Nick looks at me.
“She’s sympathizing with you.”
“Uh huh.”
His car’s a smooth ride, even when we reach the potholes. No rattles, immaculate interior, smells like cologne. It’ll all be undone within the week. At the first lengthy washboard he slows to a retiree’s pace and swears. “Sorry,” he mumbles.
“You get used to it,” Toni says. “And before long you’ll remember where they are so you can drive around them. Where are you from?”
Nick clears his throat like he’s going to answer, but doesn’t. I warn him about the upcoming pothole he doesn’t have the clearance for and he swears again, swerving.
“Whose responsibility is it to take care of this road?” Goes the second question our more particular guests ask.
“It doesn’t matter. All it takes is one good rainstorm to roughen it up.”
“It’s a vacation destination.” He presses harder into the gas pedal. “They should at least pave it.”
Eager to dump the small talk, I attempt to find the reason behind his visit. It’ll make things easier for when the time comes. “Did you, by any chance, camp here as a child?”
Nick nods. “Good memories.” He glances at me in the rear view mirror, but I see a ghost in his eyes before he zones in on the camp entrance. “Wow.”
We come to a complete stop in front of the welcome arch strung with large bulb lights. Above them, each letter in Velvet Camp Cabins is lined with battery operated tea lights. Two blue bows cascade down either side.
“My dad’s birthday party’s tonight. All guests are invited.”
“Turning a decade older I take it?” Nick chuckles and drives through the arch. The whole town is already here, thirty minutes into the celebration that will last most of the night. He’ll receive more gifts than will fit in our house, most of which will go to the needy throughout the coming week. There’s no one like my dad.
“Not exactly. Why don’t you come down after you get settled and see for yourself?”
He ignores my offer. Nick chose Marley Cabin, the farthest cabin from the others, edging the forest. Probably the one he stayed in as a kid, although it looks nothing like it did after my dad remodeled it. Whimsical man that he is, he added a loft and left all the carved initials in the wooden beams from fifty years of campers.
“Perfect.” Nick drops his backpack on the front step and smiles at us. “You know, I thought you guys were messing with me back there. No uniforms, no name tags.” A pause fills the space between us—one where he tries not to stare. He takes the key I hand him and shoulders his bag again. “I guess small towns live up to the unconventional stereotype, right?”
Good for him he didn’t wait for an honest answer. He walks into his cabin with a “See ya around.”
“How old is your dad anyway?” Toni and I take our spaces outside her three-foot comfort bubble as we walk toward the Parlor—the old mess hall my dad renamed to sound less casual.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure he knows.”
“I would ask how that’s possible, but I suppose you don’t know that either.”
“Dr. Wynn said he’ll tell me soon.”
“Why the mystery? He’s your dad. A bit—”
She takes three whole minutes to say what she’s chewing on as we leave all ten cabins behind and stand outside the Parlor. “I really love your dad, Boone. I hate it when outsiders say stuff about him.”
“It’s nice to hear you feel like one of us now.”
She looks up at me, pushes her hood from her face. “Weirdos together, right?” She unzips her coat and pulls out a fabric-wrapped gift, tied with a blue ribbon. “I made him something. I hope he likes it.” Hard as stone when threatened, sweet as honey when safe.
“I know he will, let’s go.”
I pull open the wooden doors to the people of Velvet.

The Small Percentage That Matters to Me

I wrote this yesterday for my personal facebook page, but it got such an unexpected response, I thought I’d share it here. Post any thoughts in the comments.


Let’s talk masks, guns, and freedom. Notice I used the oxford comma—and I’m probably one of a very small group of authors to loathe that ostentatious little wiggle—to make sure there’s no confusion here.

Freedom is a beautiful word that’s been hijacked, much like the words educated, hate, and love.

Although my worldview is largely conservative, I don’t like using that word anymore because people have made it an uncrossable line. I believe immigrants should be shown compassion. Some of them just want to do what our ancestors did and make a better life. I wholeheartedly believe in women’s rights, but I also believe in the rights of the unborn. There are some people who should not. ever. have. a. gun, but I also have the experience of growing up in rattle snake country where shooting them was the quickest way for my dad (the Gunsmith) to keep his three young children safe. Seriously, they often hid underneath the pallets outside the back door, or within the woodpile in which we dipped our arms and feet in quite frequently.

When I run I don’t wear a mask. Can’t. I have allergies that mimic asthma. When we first moved to the Prescott area I had an inhaler for a short time. I want to laugh at people I pass who pull their hats over their faces, or pretend to see something the opposite of where I am so they don’t catch my heavy running breaths. In reality, passing a runner outside is not a good way to get sick.

But I do wear one when I go shopping. We have an immunosuppressed child, and although he’s doing better than he ever has, we wear our masks for him, but not just him. We have other family members at higher risk, not to mention the fact that my husband and I work at a retirement place. We’re surrounded by those with weakened immune systems.
Masks don’t protect the wearer unless they’re of the N95 variety, but they do protect those around us. How many of us think that matters anymore? Masks will protect others. My son is an other. Our parents and people we care for at work are others. If you are pro-life consider thinking of Others as those who need our help to survive.

Do I think our freedoms are being whittled away? Yes, as a person of faith I see this every day. Do I think there are corrupt politicians? Of course. Where you have power, there will be those who give in to the temptations that come with that. Do I think the media has been irresponsible? Absolutely. But not all politicians and media are the bad guys, and you have to wonder how much harder their jobs are because of those who are. The truth is, we don’t know all the facts, and probably won’t. Ever.

That’s where discernment and thoughtfulness come in. Just like I have to decide whether or not a politician cares for women’s (and minorities) rights or just wants to use us to get our votes, I have to consider my mask and make decisions.
Do we have the right not to wear them? Yes.
Are there circumstances where someone may not be able to wear one? Yes.
But for most of us, does it do more harm or good to others when wearing them in public?

Can we make this thing, this ONE thing about something other than our political leanings? Can we recognize that COVID-19 is the snake underneath the pallet, threatening our loved ones? Can we consider others’ welfare even when we don’t know them?

That’s what freedom is, pushing the might-be intentions of corrupt people aside to be a united people again. Can we start with the mask?

BTW, if my dad the Gunsmith, Cowboy, Soldier, Guy-who-actually-drove-cattle-across-Arizona can, one day, decide that hunting is not for him anymore because he loves animals THAT much and crosses “the line” then so can we.