Wednesday, February 29, 2012

World Read Aloud Day 2012

LitChat, the discussion community I started on Twitter, is joining thousands of other individuals and organizations throughout the globe to support World Read Aloud Day on March 7, 2012. If you're in the Hillsborough, NC area you can catch a live reading event at the Depot in Hillsborough from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The Hillsborough event includes readings from local authors John Claude Bemis, Bill Floyd, A.J. Mayhew, Clay Carmichael, Aaron Belz, Barbara Younger and Linda Hanley Finigan.

At LitChat, we recognize the power of the written word spoken aloud to people of all ages and are eager to participate in any effort that encourages reading for pleasure and purpose.

Worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate. Imagine a world where everyone can read. 

On March 7, 2012, LitWorld, a global literacy organization based in New York City, pioneered World Read Aloud Day. World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

The flagship World Reading Aloud Event will occur in at New York City’s legendary Books of Wonder, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with readings and presentations by dozens of authors, educators, and entertainers throughout the day.

LitChat encourages donations to support LitWorld’s mission for global literacy. If you donate $10 or more to LitWorld between now and March 7th, specifying LitChat as a reference, we will send you a free book. To donate, go to If you do this, please email a copy of your donation receipt to, along with your mailing address so we can send your free book. LitWorld is a 501c3 registered non-profit.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Excerpt from The Sword Swallower's Daughter

This excerpt from my yet-to-be-published novel, The Sword Swallower's Daughter appeared in the October 2007 edition of Breath & Shadow magazine. In this section you'll meet my protagonist Sheila as a young girl, her two sisters, and her mother and father who are divorcing. It's a bittersweet glimpse of love and longing.

* * * 

Daddy’s motorcycle in our driveway on Valentine’s Day could mean only one thing; he was here without his girlfriend, Marnie. I rushed inside and wrapped him in a hug. He handed me a red, heart-shaped box with a picture of a girl whose eyes winked and her mouth kissed when you turned the box this way and that.

We sat around listening to Daddy tell us about the hospital and all of the people who came to see him, including a couple of newspaper reporters. He handed Mama a newspaper clipping with a headline saying, “Neon Tube Snaps inside Sword Swallower and Horrifies Crowd.” Underneath the headline was a photo of Daddy lying in the hospital bed, his index fingers pointing up and spread apart to show the length of tube the surgeons had removed.

“Never mind the crappy headline. You weren’t horrified were you, girls?”

Holly and I took cues from each other and shook our heads. Candy said what I wanted to say and I wished once more that I could get away with her unaffected honesty. “I was so scared for you, Daddy. I thought you were going to die.”

“Thing is, the doctor said there’s going to be some scar tissue in my gut. Could be a problem in the future. I’ve been practicing with knives.”

“Swallowing knives?” I said.

“No, no, no.” Daddy shook his head with each ‘no.’ “Throwing knives. Mario Morelli says I’m a natural.”

Mama brought Daddy a cup of coffee. Daddy blew across the top of the cup and then sipped up the cooled surface. “Perfect. You always knew how much sugar I needed.” He looked up at Mama with his flirting eyes and winked.

“Least I could do your coffee right,” was all Mama said back.

“You did a lot of things right, Edie. Damn, I miss your cooking.”

Mama almost smiled. Everyone said she was a great cook and a fantastic singer, but the only thing I think she believed was the cooking part.

“We’re having meatloaf tonight,” said Candy. “I helped Mama smush it together.” Candy held up her hands and wiggled her fingers. She turned to Daddy and asked what I wanted to ask, but feared the answer. “Can you stay for dinner? It’s Valentine’s Day.”

I glanced at Mama and sure enough, a red flush crept up her neck like it always did when she got flustered.

Daddy glanced at Mama. “Sorry, Candy-kin, can’t do that. But I sure would like to hear your Mama play and sing something.”

“Cum’on, Mama, it’s Valentine’s Day.” Candy jumped off his lap and opened the piano cover. “Play ‘Yellow Bird.’”

Mama dug in the piano bench where she kept her sheet music, and pulled out a folio. Candy sat on the bench next to her; Daddy relaxed on the sofa and lit another cigarette. I snuggled next to him, inhaling the mélange of scents that was Daddy in those days. Old Spice, Camel smoke, and Brylcreem lingered as incense to a god, forever sacred in my memory.

“Yellow bird, up high in banana tree. Yellow bird, you sit all alone like me. Did your ladyfriend leave the nest again...”

Mama sang. Daddy drew in the cigarette and fixed his eyes on Mama with the exhale, the smoke lifting and twisting and reaching toward her like I wanted him to do with his arms. The smoke dissipated before it reached her, as the deepest part of me knew he’d never reach out for her again. Mama’s voice lifted the notes of the song with such sadness, like she was the yellow bird and someone was singing to her. Then I wondered if maybe Daddy had come here on Valentine’s Day because his ladyfriend left him and this was the only nest he’d known. I broke the spell when I asked him.

“So where’s Marnie on Valentine’s Day?”

Daddy looked at his watch. “Waiting for me.”

Mama finished her song, lifted her hands from the piano with the grace of a diva, and turned to him. “Now, don’t keep Marnie waiting.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Something's Different About Sheila"

An excerpt from my yet-to-be-published novel, The Sword Swallower's Daughter appears in this week's edition of MetroFiction. In this scene you'll meet protagonist Sheila, her sidekick Tommie, and their parents. Sheila's coming home from college with a secret her mother intuits the minute she walks in the door.

Read the excerpt, "Something's Different About Sheila."

Did you ever have a secret your parents intuited? Or perhaps, like the childhood secret that cuts through Sheila's core, one so painful and terrible, she both wishes it would be exposed, and yet fears the discovery.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Travel Tuesday: February 7, 2012

Twitter's been running a Travel Tuesday (#TravelTuesday) feed for several years now. I thought it would be fun to run a little Travel Tuesday Photo Trivia contest through Ovations. When I updated my Facebook timeline, I posted this photo as the cover banner. Take a good look and if you are the first person to identify the location of this photo, I'll send you a $5 Starbucks card. Hint: It's a place on Earth.

To participate, click the COMMENTS button below and add your suggestion. Suggestions must have city, state/province (if applicable) and country to be eligible.The first person who guesses correctly will win a $5 Starbucks card.