The Loss of a Great Grandfather (A Short Story)

Those damn bagpipes haunt my dreams, every single night. While the horned version is heard throughout the town every afternoon at seventeen hundred hours. That tune signals the end of the day and that the fallen have returned home. It has to be the saddest song in the world, in the history of music.

A the song blasts through my hearing, I can see him. Thin and frail, his tattered uniform resting, folded neatly on his chest, my family had opted to put him in a white t shirt and overalls for the great-grandchildren to recognize him. The funeral home tried their best to put a soft smile on his face, but it did not turn out quite right. His full head of white hair was combed perfectly to represent the gentleman he was, even if it was against Army regulation length.

I haven’t felt much of anything since the day my dad received the phone call from the hospital telling us that my great-grandpa had past away. I remember having to ask two or three times for him to repeat the message, because I couldn’t believe it. I had just seen him two days before and he was fine. Well maybe not that fine, he did say something about great-grandma being there next to me and the best friend he lost in the war was looking out the window saying something about “the U-boat’s about ready Jackson.” He was having one of his bad days, but not so bad that he didn’t recognize me. I was grateful for that moment.

At the funeral I did okay up to the point of the graveside service. Beautiful summer day, what would have been his 88th birthday, and the nameless preacher prattled his “ashes to ashes” speech that I didn’t listen to…or don’t remember listening to. My eyes were glued to the dark brown casket draped in the red, white and blue flag. I couldn’t get my mind to move past the thought that this man had survived D-day at Gold Beach, shrapnel from enemy fire and the loss of his childhood sweetheart, to be brought down by the flu.

Again all was fine until they played that blasted song and three men, just three men, pulled their trigger seven times. Even though they aimed for the open sky, each shot was a fresh wound in my heart. My body trembled with every bang, until I couldn’t take anymore and had to walk away. They presented my great-uncle, the jerk of the family who hadn’t seen him in the five years before his death, with his flag. And just like that, my great-grandpa’s life was officially over. The family scattered like roaches in the light of a fridge before he was even lowered into the ground.

Now no one ever talks about him. What he did for his country or family. If it wasn’t for pictures and fading memories, no one would know he even existed.

20 years later and I’m at my husband’s funeral. Staring at an almost exact casket and mentally preparing for the seven gunmen. I learned my lesson the first time around, always get seven. Our big military family surrounds me on all sides as the preacher gives the almost identical speech I don’t remember from back then. The only difference I see is great-grandpa was surrounded by Army uniforms, now I am in a sea of Marine blues.

 

#ASI: Cree Nations

Hi Cree, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I’m a mother of two amazing sons and a grandmother of six great kids. I started writing when I was about eight or nine. I’ve always loved the written word – and have been a voracious reader since I was fourteen.

I’m an only child that was brought up by both parents – who by the way picked out my name when they were only twelve years old. Yep – sitting in church watching my Mom sing in the youth choir – my Dad fell in love.  The third night of the revival they said they’d grow up and get married and have a little girl. They were married when they were 20 and I was born when they were 21. They’re both gone now – but left with me memories of an amazing childhood and the knowledge I was loved. I’m sorry for your loss. That is a sweet story though.

 

Discuss your newest book.

My debut book came out in March – Texas Heat a Stone Brothers Series (Malakai).

Malakai was forced to leave town when he was seventeen for a crime he didn’t do, given the choice of prison or the military he chose the military. Leaving his home and his girl he was gone for five years. He came home – claimed his girl – and brought down the man responsible for all the wrongs done against him and many others. Sounds action-packed!

 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? As I said, I’ve always loved the written word and wanted to be the one writing. In my tenth grade year I wrote a thesis on The Ancient History of Rome – my history teacher loved it and continued to use it for many years with her students.  I wrote my first full length story with the working title of Big Girls Don’t Cry – and it’s packed away in a box somewhere. Last year with the encouragement (and some hard pushing) by a good friend Author Liberty Parker I wrote Malakai’s story.

 

What are your current projects? I am currently working on the second book in the series “Tucker”. I’m also working on getting an Anthology of my Poetry out.

 

What books have most influenced your life most? Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper.

What inspired you to write your first book? I wanted to tell a story, a fiction, that brought in the element of Human Trafficking which is the second highest money making industry in the world today.

 

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Malakai is the youngest of seven brothers, with a passionate heart and unconditional love for his family and his love – Liberty Rawlins. He will stop at nothing to claim her, and take down the man responsible for hurting her.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Yes there is – never give up and be true to yourself.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? Malakai should be played by Channing Tatum and Liberty Rawlins by Jennifer Lawrence

When did you decide to become a writer? When I was sixteen.

Why do you write? To breathe.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? My sons are grown, I’m a retired Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counselor.

Do you write full-time or part-time? I am now writing full time.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Telling the voices of the characters to wait their turn.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing a story is like being a parent – you carry the baby then give birth and nurture the child and watch it grow – and then all of a sudden you’re forced to let it go.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Knowing that I’m claiming my dream and allowing these stories that are within me to come out.

 

What book are you reading now? Royal Savage by Victoria Ashley

 

What is one random thing about you? I like to eat spicy pickles and popcorn and drink Dr Pepper

 

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? That’s a difficult answer to give.  I write scenes out long hand – then on the computer.  I keep a notebook and pencil beside me at all times, even in the car – I often have to pull over and write a thought down when it comes to me.

 

What does your writing process look like? Oh my gosh – I’d never have to worry about anyone stealing my story – because they’d have to have a code.  There are post it notes everywhere, notes on my phone, and on index cards.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? Not so strange actually.  I write whenever – alone or listening to music, watching TV, or listening to my grandkids. My youngest comes to me at least ten times an hour and says, “Whatcha doin’ Ninny”. Answer is always the same – “I’m writing.”

 

How important are names to you in your books? Very important.  The name is the heart of the story for me.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Yes – having to stop and eat, or take a pottie break. Or sleep!!! Sleep is the enemy! lol

 

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I learned that I need to engage more with the readers.  And that even though I have to write the story alone – I cannot do it alone – I’ve got to have a support team and I do now.

 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.

 

What is your favorite book and why? “Hard to Hold” by Stephanie Tyler.  Her lead male character is the most amazing alpha male I’ve ever read.  “Getting Rowdy” by Lori Foster is a close second.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t get upset when someone points out your errors and never ever give up your dream.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Think about writing. Or reading a good book.  I just finished reading R.b. O’Brien’s book “Thorne: Rose’s Dark Contract” and let me tell you I fell hard for Thorne.

 

From where do you gain your inspiration? Life experiences.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I tried to go the other way – and have the dozens and dozens of rejection letters to prove it. Self- Publishing is just the best way for me.

How do you market your books? Through social media. ie: Facebook, Twitter, WordPress.  I have a great support group with a dedicated PA.

Why did you choose this route? Like I said it was my best option.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I do not use a PR agency and I seriously doubt I will be using one ever in the future.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Find yourself a support group, and a good PA.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? About two hours every day.

What do you do to get book reviews? That’s not as easy as it should be.  I’ve had offers to review but then they just sort of fade away. It’s sad that that happens too often.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Not successful at all.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Yes I do.  I’m approaching the members of my support group. I’ve found they respond better than family.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? One of my best attributes is I take corrective criticism very well.  Good reviews are awesome. Bad reviews, if done in a helpful manner and are honest will make me strive to do better.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Not really.  As I’ve said I’ve only got the one book out.

What’s your views on social media for marketing? I think the advantages we have to utilize the social media is one of the best things a self-published author has.

Which social network worked best for you? Facebook.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? It’s your book – your story – don’t let anyone keep you from telling it.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I promoted on Facebook with the help of my support group and PA’s.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Never really thought about it.  I suppose it would be Donald Rumsfeld – I just think he is a person I would love to have a conversation with.  George Patton – he never gave up.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? To be truthful – there’s no book out there that could claim this spot for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Holdfast to your dream. Do your homework, and as much research as possible.

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Come visit me on my Facebook page Cree Nations Author at www.facebook.com/creenationsauthor. Or email me at authorcreenations@gmail.com.

Widowed

I have posted this before, but in light of Veterans’ Day I thought it would be nice to post again.

Widowed

Lightning flashes as Kitt Raynes sits on her beat-up porch swing, listening to the rain pelt down on the tin awning. “You were born in the middle of a thunderstorm, you know?” She glanced down at the sleeping baby in her arms and gently readjusted the pink blanket to fit more snugly. “I still can’t believe your here with me. Charlie, I miss you so much.” Tears she held in for so long, now flowed freely.

On the seat next to her sits her husband’s best friend and a member of the Casualty Assistance Calls department. Mark and a Navy Chaplain arrived on her doorstep a little over a week ago with the news of Charlie’s death. The loss of her soul-mate had sent Kitt into labor, before she could even process the idea of being a single-mother.

Charlie Little Raynes was born as thunder clapped at 2345, one exact day from her father’s death. Named after the father she will never meet, and will attend her first funeral before she is even a month old. “Kitt, are you sure you can do this? I think everyone would understand your absence and it really isn’t the best place for Charlie Little.”

“Mark, I love you for being with me through all of this but Charlie’s unit is going to be there…and his parents who don’t even know about Charlie Little. I have to go, for them and myself. We need to support each other and I have to have this closure.” Kitt said as she wiped the river of tears away. “I just have one request, seven gunmen. My great-grandfather only had three. Every shot was another stab to my heart. Three shots are better than seven.”

“Yes ma’am, I have all seven boys ready to go.” He pulled Kitt closer to him as they watched the storm in silence for the rest of the evening.