February Grace is as lovely as her name. She is kind, giving, and an amazing writer. I can’t wait to share her story with you all. After her interview you will find an excerpt to whet your appetite. Enjoy!
Author Name: February Grace
Title of Short Story: Henley’s Scars
In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about:
The journey of one woman and her beloved childhood best friend as they travel together through life, love and loss.
How did you come up with the concept for the story?
We were allowed to submit two stories, and this one was the one that actually just popped into my head first; a clear mental image of Henley. However the second idea was so vivid that I wrote it first and sent it in. Something about Henley though— even his name— stuck with me from the moment I imagined him and I finally sat down and wrote the story beginning to end without stopping. Wouldn’t you know that he’d be the one that would stay with other people, too!
I could see him in my mind so clearly even though he doesn’t exist as he’s described; he was inspired by the little toys my Grandmother used to sew for my younger cousins (she tended to make me dresses, not toys, because I had a favorite bear already. Though she did a vast amount of repair work on my favorite blanket…)
I was also inspired by experiences I’ve had in my own life that have left visible, physical scars. It just all seemed to fit together, and fit the anthology. So I held my breath, hit the ‘send’ button, and submitted it.
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology?
From the moment I heard about Karen’s illness, which occurred not long after I’d first ‘met’ her on Twitter through the wonderful Jennifer Gracen, I wished that I could do even the smallest thing to help, somehow. When this opportunity presented itself there was just no question: I was going to try to submit. So many of us just want to help however we could, we are grateful for this way to try. I just wanted, so badly, to write something worthy of the cause, of Karen. I tried my best. This story is a huge piece of my heart.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:
That I’m an incurably hopeful —not hopeless— romantic.
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why?
Sky’s the limit? That’s good, because I would have to say it’s the sun.
When I was losing my eyesight and they were telling me they didn’t think any of it could be saved, every night I would stop what I was doing and watch the sun set. Often I’d end up with tears running down my face because I didn’t know if that would be the last sunset I’d ever see. I never take for granted its warmth, the beautiful colors it casts to light the sky night and morning, or its ability to bring the new day. Yeah. The sun is cool.
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it?
I wish I could find a way to make sunlight expedite the growth of love in the world. Turn the altering heat of its rays upon hate and greed and war until there was none left. If I could, I’d find a way to use the light to conquer all the darkness in our lonely world. If only.
Who inspires you? Why?
Quiet courage, anywhere and in anyone I see it, inspires me on a daily basis.
There are people who have been through some really terrible things, health-wise, in their past or childhood, whatever the situation may be, but you would never know it. They don’t let it stop them. Somehow they keep going, make a better life for themselves and their families, even if they have to live with the memories every day in the form of mental and/or physical scars. No matter how hard they have to fight to do it, they just do it.
Soldiers coming home with stories they will never tell; people who have survived, against all odds, like Karen did. Those are the people who inspire me when I’m struggling, myself. Those are the real heroes in this life. I admire them all.
Many times over the years, my friends tried to talk me out of carrying Henley around with me, or, when I got older, from displaying him on my bed. He was to be replaced, they said, first by dolls, then by electronics, and finally by a boy’s gifts — gaudy bears with rough synthetic coats and lifeless plastic eyes, won for me at carnival games and school Spring Flings.
I’d always end up giving such trophies away to younger siblings and their friends, feeling that to keep them would somehow be disloyal to my best friend, my one and only bright orange Henley, with his precious, artful scars.
I’m not ashamed to admit that Henley came with me on my honeymoon. Instead of making fun of me, the man I married understood that Henley was a member of the family and treated him as such. Henley has been photographed with landmarks and monuments alike, each picture lovingly arranged and appropriately captioned in his own special scrapbook.
Every trip he’d come back a little more worn, a little more frail. I never dreamed of attempting to repair him myself, though, no matter how old I got. That was a job that only one pair of skilled and loving hands could do.
So I would pack him up carefully and take him to see Grandma, and she would strain to see with aging eyes where the old stitches left off and begin to stitch in new thread, to give an old friend life again.
“We all have our scars, don’t we little guy?” she would say so gently, as she tucked in a little fresh stuffing to add to the old, sewed over the hole or weak spot, and always finished by giving him a little kiss on top of the head.
Every time she handed that bear back to me, I would feel the same love that I’d felt for him, and for her, when I was four.
Never did I imagine this day would come.
About February Grace:
February Grace is a published artist, writer, and poet. Her work has appeared in The Rusty Nail, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Poetry Pact Volume One, 2011. She released her debut novel, GODSPEED, in 2012.
It’s time to meet another one of our amazingly talented authors on “Team Orange”! Read on to meet Patty Blount. I approve of her world-saving ideas…do you?
Author Name: Patty Blount
Title of Short Story: Murder is a Job Best Left to Professionals
In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A former NASCAR champion deals with his professional jealousy over his much younger rival.
How did you come up with the concept for the story? When the request for “Orange” stories came out, I immediately thought of Home Depot. A few years ago, we’d tried to paint our kitchen a Tuscan orange color but what we got was the Home Depot trademark color. I knew I had to write a story set in or around Home Depot, which became “RenovateIT” in the story and the NASCAR sponsorship made that easy to do.
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? The fabulous Jennifer Gracen is my RWA local chapter mate and through her, I learned all about Karen’s ordeal. Even though I’ve never met Karen IRL, I felt a connection to her through Jen and wanted to help make things a little easier for this amazing survivor.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I suffer terribly from self-doubt. Every success I’ve achieved is because I didn’t listen to my inner nag.
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Have you ever heard of the chocolate orange? You whack it and then unwrap it and the chocolate is shaped like orange wedges. I am the world’s biggest chocolate addict. The chocolate orange is a big indulgence. I’ve had it maybe three times in my life, but it remains one of my favorites.
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? *laughs* Save the world, one piece of chocolate at a time? I know the effect chocolate has on me. Calming. Soothing. I wonder if we could achieve world peace if we gave everybody on earth a piece of chocolate at the same time?
Who inspires you? Why? Maybe I’m old and jaded but I don’t try to emulate celebrities and sports stars anymore. Instead, I look at real people for inspiration. People like the school teachers who stood in front of a madman’s gun to protect their students. People like the passengers on the fourth flight that never hit its intended target on September 11th, 2001. And people like Karen, who could curl up in a ball and cry about what happened to them, but instead, fight and keep fighting.
“Yo. Harlan Hot Shoe Anderson. I’m a ‘uge fan. ‘uge! The name’s Tony.” The man sticks his cigarette between his lips and holds his hands three feet apart to prove it.
I nod politely and he whips out a cell phone, slings his arm around my other shoulder, and clicks a photo without even askin’ first.
“Hey, yo, Bobby! Check it out, it’s freakin’ Hot Shoe himself. Don’t piss him off now, don’t want him throwin’ a helmet at ya!” the man called Tony shouts into the crowd.
“Come on, Tony, back off. Let the man breathe.” A smaller guy I’m guessin’ to be Bobby steps out of the crowd, slaps a hand on Tony’s chest, pushes him back a foot. I nod my thanks.
“Yo. We came here to see Beau Givens. Is he comin’ or what?” Another ornery voice shouts.
Before I can reply, Dwayne shifts and adjusts his NASCAR cap. “Well, ol’ Beau — he’s around here someplace. Here now, how ‘bout a nice T-shirt?” He reaches into the show car, pulls out a box. “Here, Harlan. Start tossin’ shirts to the crowd.”
“He’s here? Oh, shit!” The man callin’ himself Tony lights up like a swarm of lightnin’ bugs and turns to me. “You ain’t scared, are you, Hot Shoe? Heard you two mixed it up last week after the Nationwide race.”
“No, sir.” I shake my head. “Beau just needs to be reminded to act like he’s got some raisin’ up to be done still, and I reminded him is all.”
Big Tony blinks down at me like I’d spoken in tongues. That’s when Dwayne’s assistant come runnin’ out of the store, eyes buggin’ and pale as a ghost.
Dwayne takes her elbow, leads her away from the crowd. I follow. “What is it, sugar?”
“He’s dead, Dwayne,” she whispers in a shaky tone. “Oh, Lord, he’s dead. They found him in the restroom at the back of the store.”
About the Author
Patty spends her days writing facts and her nights writing contemporary romantic fiction. A coworker once said if Patty were a super-villain, she’d be called The Quibbler. Her costume would be covered in exclamation points. Fueled by a serious chocolate obsession, a love of bad science-fiction movies, and a weird attraction to exclamation points, Patty looks for ways to mix business with pleasure, mining her day job for ideas to use in her fiction.
Many people have made the Orange Karen Anthology possible and we are grateful for each and every one of them. In the upcoming weeks we will be featuring the amazing people that are part of “Team Orange”. You’ll get a chance to meet the authors who have contributed stories, the editors, our cover designer who donated his time (and you’ll get to see the cover!), and those helping to format the books. It’s a big job and I’m so thankful to have an amazing team to help bring the dream of having an anthology where proceeds go to Karen DeLabar to fruition.
To start, let me introduce one of our authors, J.L. Gentry. After the interview below, read on for a “sneak peek” of his story to whet your appetite.
Author Name: JL Gentry
Title of Short Story: Little Wing
In 25 words or less tell us what this story is about: It is a fantasy of a young, winged woman and her winged guardian facing terrible obstacles to reach their final destination where the truth of their existence is revealed.
How did you come up with the concept for the story? My inspiration was the Jimi Henrdix song of the same title.
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? I have been an e-friend of Karen’s for a long time. We share a love of writing and running as well as a birthday. To top it off, she lives a few miles from where I grew up. How could we not be friends?
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I’ve never watched any of the Twilight movies or read the books, so I don’t know what that glitter thing is all about.
What is your favorite “orange” item? Why? Carrots. They are good in any form, add great taste to other dishes and don’t have a lot of attitude.
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? It would be as an orange sonic screwdriver (tip o’ the hat to Doctor Who)
Who inspires you? Why? Music, my friends and family. Inspiration is all around me and I become more aware of it every day.
The jolt of the air was devastating. Each attempt to reconcile her flying failed. She gasped as the pain of her injury seared through her body. The air around her was almost too violent to breathe. She coughed, trying to fill her lungs while falling through the stormy air toward land she could not see. A rocky peak appeared out of nowhere. She tilted her body, racked in pain, to avoid collision. Barely clearing the obstacle, she righted herself, lowering her flight to view a barren surface full of sharp rocks and dark sandy soil. The surface below the storm was like none she had ever seen or imagined. She had known only the fertile glades and hills of her homeland. This space, outside of the lochs that bounded her land, felt of desperation. It was a desolate place. A place they were only allowed to pass over on their final journey. So taken by the ragged, sharp vision, she lost perspective; the surface seemed to reach up and grab her, pulling her into its grip. She stumbled, lurching forward, wings clutched for protection, but still her limbs were bruised against the rocky surface. The wind roared around her and the blowing rain masked her tears of desperation and pain. Failure consumed her as she pulled herself into a ball and felt the irritation from the many cuts and scrapes administered to her by the unforgiving rocky surface.
It was done. Her first and only mission. Her one goal in life, smashed against so many rocks on a desolate coast. The pity absorbed her as she shivered; the pain in her knees a suitable punishment for her inability to meet her obligation. With one deep breath, she envisioned her demise on the rocky shore. Her soul would abandon her long before she perished for lack of food or water. She had been raised to thrive in the bondage. Without that, she would fade away like the mist being devoured by morning sun.
J.L. Gentry is the author of SYN:FIN, the first in the Jim Harrison Chronicles. His alter ego is an IT professional with over thirty years of technical and managerial experience. When he is not working, writing, or harassing his family, he can be found running the roads and trails of wherever he happens to be that day. Enjoy life and run free.