Patricia Stinson was born and raised in Minnesota. She loves horseback riding (English and Western), reading, and writing mysteries, (loves to plot murder), and historical westerns. She taught three years in Austin, Minnesota, two years in the jungle of New Guinea and thirty years in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She believes good fiction does not require swearing to give the readers entertainment. She also thinks readers want more than entertainment; they want to think about the characters and the way they chose to handle their problems. She wants to challenge the reader to think what they would do in the like situation. Was it right or wrong? Her blog is http://gogoreadgo.blogspot.com. You can also see her Facebook at www.facebook.com/psreadllc and Twitter is http://tfwitter.com/pstinson23
My first goal was to be a published writer and I have succeeded at that. My next goal is to make a living off of my writing and I am working on that. Paranormal Properties is my first novel. The process of writing it was very slow at first. I tried for 5 years to get this book written. I just didn’t have the confidence that I could do it and do it well. One day I jus t noticed my children had grown up, the last two were teenagers and just seemed not to need me as much, and since my husband had died a few years before in a car wreck, I was basically alone. So, once again, I picked up my pen and tried to write my story. I was so frustrated; I just could not seem to get it out. Then I read somewhere that if you write 5 to 10 minutes a day and just try to get one page out, you will end up with a book in one year. Not wanting to be someone who, late in life, ended up saying they wished they had done what they always dreamed to do, I wanted to be that person who actually did it.
It actually worked! I found that my writing time was early morning when I made coffee and sat down to type a page before getting the kids up for school. Soon it became a habit. I found myself during the day looking forward to the next morning and even thinking about what would happen next. After it all was written, next came hiring an editor to clean it up so it could be submitted. The editor is actually a writer too, knew about submitting to publishers, and offered to do it for me. That took a lot of worry off my shoulders; I had never submitted anything before and was not sure how to go about it.
Here’s the crazy part, two weeks after submitting Paranormal Properties to a few publishers, I had a contract in hand from Pants on Fire Press. My first novel, that took years to get written, only took two weeks to find a publisher. And even now that it is published, I am still pinching myself to see if it is real. I really don’t want to wake up and find out it isn’t.
Everyone seems to love Paranormal Properties. It’s a book for all ages that is not scary; it’s more of a Scooby Doo or Goosebumps. Several people have asked me if it will be a series, because they want to read more of Jake and Frank. I say sure, why not! I have started another book called Entwined Courage. It is a young adult romance story but after this one is done, I will start on the Paranormal Properties sequel. I did leave it off in case I wanted to keep writing them. Now I am so glad I decided to do that. Jake and Frank are characters that everyone falls in love with. And isn’t that what a book is suppose to do?
Ice Queen: Teenage Survivalist 3
by Julie L. Casey
Dad charged into my room madder than a sow separated from her piglets. He was yelling that I was holding out on him, that I had some dope hidden somewhere in my room. I stood stock still, holding my glass unicorn and looking down at the floor to avoid a confrontation. That seemed to make him even angrier and he slapped my hand, sending the unicorn flying across the room where it struck my desk and landed on the floor, its horn broken off. I just stared at it, refusing to let my anguish show to the man who had simultaneously saved me and made my entire life miserable.
“Ice Queen,” he sneered. He always called me that. At least it was better than the nickname he called me when I was a little girl: Tattle Taylor. I was angry with him, an emotion that felt as familiar to me as my own name, but I also felt sorry for him. I know that seems unfathomable for someone who has never lived like this, but I knew he couldn’t help it. I knew he was hurting, that the demons in his mind had come calling again. But this time there were no drugs, prescribed or otherwise, to help calm their strident demands. I feared that in time, without some substance to keep the demons at bay, he would get worse, the demons taking over his mind, his humanity. So I tried to stay calm, non-confrontational as always, to be as quiet and insignificant in his life as possible, so as not to incite the demons to action.
Dad had never been diagnosed with a particular mental illness, but everyone who knew him well knew there was something not right about him. He never talked about the voices to anyone except Mom, preferring to self-medicate with marijuana at first, then crack cocaine, heroine, and meth. And always alcohol, of course. I often overheard him talking to her at night from my bedroom next to theirs.
“Libby,” I’d hear him say, sobbing. “I’m scared they’ll make me do something I don’t want to do.”
“Just hold on a little longer, Kyle,” she’d answer, half soothingly, half distracted. “We’ll find some ice for you soon.”
“Ice” was how they referred to their current drug of choice, the latest having been crystal meth. Mom was ill equipped to help him, though. She struggled from her own problems—depression, I suppose—which made her crave the diversion of drugs and alcohol almost as much as Dad did.
Dad picked up the broken unicorn and stood looking at it for a minute. In that short span of time, the madness seemed to ebb out of him, his body slowly deflating like a balloon that had a pinprick hole in it. When he looked up at me, I could see sadness and remorse in his eyes. Maybe even a plea for forgiveness. He held the diminished figurine out to me and I looked away as I took it from him, not wanting to antagonize him into anger again, nor wanting to forgive his behavior yet, even though I knew in my heart I always would. He turned away and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. I finally released the tears as I stared at the once magical creature, which had now been reduced to a mere ordinary horse.
The precious memories came flooding into my mind: my grandmother taking me at the age of ten to see The Glass Menagerie on stage, me being enchanted by the crystal animals and drawn to the character of Laura who preferred to stay home with her menagerie rather than venture out into the world. I understood how she felt. The times I lived with my Grammy, when Mom and Dad were in rehab or jail or just on one of their binges, I never wanted to leave. I felt safe and unconditionally loved there. The saddest day of my life was three years ago, when I was thirteen: my Grammy died of a stroke, my anguish compounded by the fact that I wasn’t there to hold her hand while her soul left this world and passed through to heaven.
Grammy had bought the unicorn for me soon after our cultural endeavor. I loved that unicorn, but it contained something inside which I loved even more. Whenever I felt trapped in my lonely life, I would hold the figurine up to the light and watch the rainbow escape from its carefully constructed prism prison. Rainbows always seem to yearn for freedom, liberated for only a few minutes after the rage of a thunderstorm or from a crystal cell when a beam of light hits just right. I liked to free the rainbow daily from the unicorn, which guarded it jealously inside its body, and let it bask in the sunlight on the windowsill like an aging cat. I had been just about to do that when Dad came in and slapped it from my hands, sending it soaring. Maybe he thought it was Pegasus, the flying horse, instead of a unicorn. Whatever the case, after Dad left I placed the now-mere-horse on the sill and was pleased that it could still grudgingly allow the rainbow its few moments of liberty.
One of my last memories of Grammy, before Mom and Dad came back to snatch me away from my sanctuary, was when she gave me one of my most precious possessions. She had pulled me into her bedroom one morning, shut the door and locked it quietly behind us, so as not to wake up my older brother Irvine, who was still asleep down the hall.
“Shhhh,” Grammy said, as she pulled a cardboard shoebox with a picture of old-lady shoes on the side from the shelf in her closet. “I have something for you, but you must promise to keep it a secret. Especially from your parents and your brother.”
“But why, Grammy?”
“They’d just use it for getting into trouble.” She nodded and winked slowly and meaningfully. It took a little while to sink in, but then I realized she was talking about drugs.
“Okay, I promise.”
She opened the box to reveal a pair of old lady shoes, identical to the ones in the picture on the box. I was slightly disappointed and more than a little confused. How could anyone use old lady shoes to buy anything, least of all drugs? But Grammy had a few surprises up her orthopedic shoes, and at that moment I realized that sometimes the most drab and mundane things can hold the most amazing treasures. From one shoe, she pulled out a small handgun, but quickly put it back, saying, “Oops, wrong shoe,” and then, eyeing my startled expression, said with a wink, “You never know when you’ll need protection.” Then she reached into the other shoe and pulled out a wad of white tissue paper, the kind you stuff in gift bags to hide the present or cram in your shoes so they hold their shape when you’re not wearing them.
Grammy put the gloriously ordinary shoes back in the box and the box back on the shelf, then took the wad of paper to her bed. There, as she peeled back the layers of tissue, she revealed the most astonishing thing: a large, round, perfectly clear diamond. It immediately spewed a tricolor rainbow onto Grammy’s white chenille bedspread. Grammy said it was nearly a full carat and worth over two thousand dollars. “Save it for when you’re old enough to escape.”
“But Grammy, I can always just come here.” Twelve-year-old innocence.
“You may not always be able to come here, child of my heart.” Grammy liked to call me that because I was not her biological granddaughter. Dad, her son, was really my step-dad, although he was the only father I had ever known and by all accounts was better than my deadbeat biological father who, among many other faults, was physically and emotionally abusive to my mother. Apparently, he suffered from mental illness as well. How I was able to avoid the double genetic whammy, I’ll never know, but I do wonder if someday I might start hearing demons in my mind as well.
It was Dad—my step-dad—who rescued Mom, toddler Irvine, and fetal me from a lifetime of coldhearted brutality. For all Dad’s problems, he had never been physically abusive, and I know deep down, under the layers of insanity and substance-abuse-rot, he really loved Mom, and by accepting responsibility for Irvine and me, tenuous as it was at times, he loved us too.
And that’s why I would always forgive him.