Sequel to Small Pleasures?

A friend asked if I was going to write a sequel to Small Pleasures. I said no. Today I received an email from someone who recently read the novel asking the same question. My reply: I don't know if I can or should. Honestly, I don't believe that I have the STRENGTH to write a sequel, plus the characters aren't speaking to me at the moment, they aren't telling me anything, sharing any news to write.


Short Story, Remember Hayden

Remember Hayden
Remember Hayden is a short story about love, betrayal and murder. A nine year old Linda arrives home from school one afternoon to find her beloved father dead and her mother seated in the back of a patrol car, smiling wickedly, dressed in pearls and an apron splattered with cake batter and blood. She buries her emotions deep down inside until she becomes a wife and struggles against the image of what it is to be a woman versus that which her mother has shown her.


Excerpt from novel in progress: "For the Love of Dahlia"

Bloody fingertips struck the smooth keys of the Steinway grand with a passion reserved for suicide. At the start, her hands hesitated, hovering above the slim black and white bars with a delicate tension of fear, anxiety and suspicion before pressing deep and quick, striking the perfect chord, the appropriate vein for the right sound to release her of the emotional death piercing her heart. While the player’s mind traveled through a chaotic dream of truths that disbursed into red blotches, her lovely, blood covered hands plucked out a tune that did not belong to a composer. She possessed no thought of the tune’s origin but of a journey, a savoir to take her from the desperate and sad revelation she’d just uncovered.
If there were tears, she could not feel, taste or free them. There was no time to cry despite the burn searing her eyes.
 Having cried a waterfall of tears before the age of ten, she had almost become immune to them, particularly around the time that Liz Taylor (mostly known as Flame) came into her life: “Cry into your pillow, if you must, but not in front of other people.”  It would be years following this speech that she’d find herself in tears, so deep and well driven that she’d folded herself within the arms of love and allowed herself to drown within its downpour.
If Flame was present, he would tell her to slow down, “take your time, make love to the keys, and stroke the keys like this.” Then he would brush his long graceful fingers across her cheek, softly smoothly down to her chin. And she would offer him a genuine smile, sweet and innocent.  She missed him terribly, desperately with an ache that possessed her entire body.
This new thing was like the drama of a reality show, a part witnessed with your own eyes but too outrageous to believe is true. Even if you believe it, how could you ever heal from it? The entire affair made her long for Flame more than she had within the last two weeks. Flame would know the answers to this thing that found it necessary to greet her with violence, the drawing of blood, a hateful name hurled at her like a fist.
Flame loved her more than he loved his own life. He had died protecting her from what he believed to be danger. He had been her teacher, her protector, the father she never knew. Flame was gifted at tickling away sadness and talking her into tomorrow’s great news. He taught her how to play the piano, how to dance without a partner, how to ignore the voice of a naysayer, how not to run if danger was small and arrived in numbers less than two. Why he never enrolled her in karate or judo, she never thought to ask but ballet, jazz and contemporary dance sculpted her beautiful body into an unbelievably complex geometry which included shapely angles, sharp turns and smooth rounded corners that men admired. Her body could bend in ways Flame’s lover, Shell, called contortionism.
The day Liz Taylor (mostly known as Flame) saved Dahlia’s life, chasing a gang of two back to their home, he delayed his business. He was surprised when she quickly climbed into his pretty blue car and seat belted herself securely without direction. She announced her hunger with a request that they visit the local McDonalds.
“I don’t have permission from your sisters to feed you burgers and fries. You know how strict Grace is.”
“You don’t have permission to drive me to the store either but you’re doing it,” she had mumbled.
He turned his attention from the street to her profile catching her eyes as they darted from their corners to stare straight ahead, and, impossibly, over the dashboard.
“And you aren’t supposed to get into cars with strangers but you did it!”
“You’re not a stranger. I’ve heard Grace and Laila talking about you. I’ve seen your other self driving this same car. I saw you fighting that man who lives two houses away from yours for hitting that girl. But Grace said she deserved to be slapped because . . . well, never mind.”
“My other self,” he remarked as if searching for that self within the car. He understood what she meant and there was no judgment or malice in her tone. There couldn’t be any malice, even though the girl lived with Grace, the most perfect Christian in the world, holier than anything in a convent and ten times the judge of any man or woman appointed to the sit on the thrown of a superior court.
“We’ll get fruit, something you don’t have to cook. But you can’t tell Grace that I gave you a ride. She doesn’t like me but you already know this.”
“No, she doesn’t like you or your other self. And she would hate you even more if she saw you now, dressed like a woman! But I like your jewelry and you smell nice too.”
He parked the car and helped her out of the passenger’s eat. She grabbed hold of his hand. They proceeded across the lot and through the automatic doors of Kroger. Heads turned, tongues wagged but no one dared speak aloud for fear of Flame’s chastisement. Still, he was familiar with the attention. Dahlia was obvious to the talk and stares though it wasn’t a new thing. He shopped here often. Yet, some of the people weren’t at ease with his masculine six foot eight inch frame dressed impeccably in heels, makeup and wigs . . . but they, particularly women who did not know, were smitten and full of compliments when he came as his other self.
Flame picked out a readymade bowl of various melons, grapes and blueberries then proceeded to checkout.
“I’d like a soda, please.”
He peered down at her, a glossy black curl dipping over his right eye. He didn’t bother to move it back into place with the other curls, but looked past it, reaching his hand forward to slide back the door of the freezer that held the cold bottled waters.
Pouting wasn’t her style. Filled with too much curiosity and awe, she decided not to protest. She concluded he was too tall to disobey. And he was too elegant to make a scene. Moreover, she’d experience too many hungry days in the past to exhibit a bit of gratitude when someone volunteered to feed her.
Once they reached the registers, she picked up a candy bar: “May I have this?”
“Why not?” She frowned, temporarily forgetting about her earlier thoughts of past hungers.
“You should not eat candy on an empty stomach. It’s bad for you.”
“I’ve eaten it on an empty stomach before. It tastes good too!”
He looked down beneath a crowd of long lashes.
“That was before. This is now,” he flipped the bar over in the palm of her hand. “Read the ingredients.”
She peered down at the words, some she couldn’t pronounce, shaping her mouth phonetically before giving up.
“Here,” she waved the bar up in the air like a wand.
He looked down into her magnificent green, slanted eyes; eyes that made him feel as if he was fighting for his life.
“Please,” she said without a whine but with sweet politeness.
“Why would you eat a piece of candy, or anything, when you cannot pronounce the ingredients or know what they mean?”
She continued to look into his eyes, tilted her head to the side taking his hand into her own. It seemed to last longer than a minute, that sweet little gaze, coming from those magnificent bright eyes.
Flame’s heart was beating rapidly. She reminded him of Laila in so many ways. He shook his head.
“Okay,” he relented. “I will buy you the candy bar this time but when you get home, eat the fruit first. While you’re eating the fruit, you have to look up the definition of the words on the back of the candy bar, write them down, and tell me their nutritional value.”
She sighed: “I didn’t know this would turn into a school lesson. Laila doesn’t make me do this.”
“Miss Dahlia, all of life is a lesson. Those are the stipulations, do you want the candy or not?”
“Yes,” she smiled gleefully.
“Even if you find out there are things in it that’s unhealthy, that may make you sick?”
“I love candy! It’s not supposed to be nutritional,” she spoke joyfully, swinging her body which helped her to move her hand and arm so that his arm moved along with hers. She held his hand tight.
“It makes me happy!”

It was as if her life had flashed before her eyes, the best parts that included Flame, not Grace or Laila. There was no one left. No one . . . except for him and he had yet to call.
She tried closing her eyes, hoping behind the lids sat the answers, the soothing balm, the calm and a savior. But the right eye burned and blurred. The left eye raged with pain brought on by Laila’s violent punch.
A trickle of blood slid down her face, traveling from someplace higher than her forehead. She couldn’t remember what happened there, had she fallen on the floor, bumped her head on the table on her way down or was it from the glass Laila had thrown? Dahlia didn’t bother wiping away the stains. It was only a matter of time before she gave in to unconsciousness; already the thoughts inside her head were swimming, trying to save themselves from darkness. Her life and the dreams she’d imagined had exploded into pieces. She hadn’t the strength to gather them for safe keeping.
She had but one chance left, another person who was missing in action, he’d make things better. If she could only make herself move from the stool and quiet her fingers then her mind and thoughts might follow.
Still she sat, compelled to play, the black and white keys slippery with blood. The noise she played was unpleasant, even to her. But she could not stop; destruction lay ahead if she so much as paused. Only the pimp seated in his car, two houses down having witnessed her run from Grace’s house to Flame’s, knew she was inside playing this wretched composition. She’d play this death tune until there was nothing left, no love, no hate, no regret, not even pieces of the dream she began the day the pretty blue car slowed down for her. He was gone but not Darryl. Yes, Darryl! She’d call Darryl later, if she survived this suicide melody.


Excerpt for my current novelette

A title alludes me but the novelette (a little over 7,500 words) is complete. I'm re-reading for errors and such. Below is more of a snippet than an excerpt:

 "You could always kill yourself," her mother offered when Linda went to visit her a few days before New Year’s Eve. Behind bars for a second time in her life, Rose possessed an elegance and strength that was unshakable. Somehow she managed to make prison garb appear fashionable. Life had yet to add wrinkles to her face; her voice was as light and feminine as a girl, when she wanted it. Her long dark curly red hair showed no signs of graying and today it hung down about her shoulders and back like a lovely silk shawl. She batted her naturally long lashes, lightly painted with a coat or two of mascara. "You've always been a bit worthless, clingy and needy. No man wants that."  


Forbidden love is the sweetest fruit but what becomes of it when one betrays the other, when a secret unfolds that threatens the free and the livelihood of a lover? Is that love still so sweet . . . Is it worth the devastation soon to follow? Does a broken heart heal faster than it takes to rebuild a life?
"For the Love of Dahlia" --- coming soon!


Love is war

photo of cherub, covering his eyes.
Excerpt from the novel Small Pleasures: Mya's Story. The Kindle version of the novel is FREE, today at Amazon.com!

The ceramic statue of Jesus crashed to the floor. Wounded from an earlier misfortune, it was weak. The head reattached with glue, now lay separated from the body. Jesus survived the first fall, a few days prior. He had fallen off the baker's rack and onto Chestnut’s head. When it hit her, the head of the statue broke from the body. This fall left him shattered in great chunks like a kindergarten jigsaw puzzle. The head remained in good condition, lifeless staring eyes. Lips frozen in a Mona Lisa smile.
     I stared at it angrily, listening to the sounds of grown folks waging war. Our Mother fighting back, playing the harlot, as the Word called it. Protecting her face from the unmerciful blows of a man who fiddled with fatherhood and loved Mother so much he called her “Snow.”
Violent thoughts took flight inside my head; after all, I am my father's daughter. A butcher's knife on the counter in the kitchen had a star on its edge. Twinkle, twinkle. I bet myself that if I wished hard enough it would magically appear in my ten-year-old hand. While wishing, I hoped for the skill of Zorro for I had never maneuvered a weapon through the carcass of an animal. I had the simplistic skill of carving seasoned meat with a helpless steak knife but nothing more. No amount of wishing brought it to my hand. I was in too much pain and anger to reach for it.
     On top of Jesus abandoning me and my Mother fighting for her life, cramps rose like oceanic waves in the southern region of my stomach. I almost welcomed the new pain; it took my mind off the reduction of Mother's womanhood. I had never witnessed Mother out of control, sweating, yelling and screaming, in her bra and panties with the scar on her stomach still fresh from the surgery two days before.
     He hit over and over, dedicated and focused, as if she were a punching bag for sport. Whether she fought back or not, he was determined to whip her into the shape he desired.
     This is love.
     This is love?
     His body moved like the men who work on chain-gangs, like a man in the ring fighting for the championship belt, like men in the streets battling for a spot against a storefront wall, like a man leaping from a ledge swinging his arms wildly while going down down down.
     Grown folks making war. Grown folks making love. All is fair. Jesus was there with his head removed, pieces of body strewn about the hard wood floor.
     I rose from my slouching slumber and pounced. Underneath shoeless feet, I made sure he would rise no more teasing me with unrealistic promises. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Though sharp and jagged, I crushed the remaining pieces beneath tender feet and did not shudder at the sight of blood. I did so, until the statue was reduced to powder. Like my father, I was determined to whip the pieces into the shape I desired.
     Footprints in the sand?
     I don't wanna hear it!
     You said you'd be there, in my darkest hour. Where were you? Hiding in the closet with my sisters? Sitting on a baker's rack next to a cow filled with chocolate chip cookies?
     Did you die on the cross long before my sister killed you with her hard head? Don't say you interceded, Mother still walked away with a black eye, self-esteem held together by the threads of a shredded dress torn from her body by a man you created in your image. Don't say it made me stronger, because it didn't kill me. There are other ways to die!
You said if I cast out demons in your name, it would be so. Yet, time and time again the demon returned; day and night, driving a Lincoln Continental, following us on this Earth until we reached its oceanic end. Only to bring us back to the other side again. You said you'd be and all I saw was a statue, so weak and frail that I, in my developing-womanhood, crushed you to powder beneath bare feet.

(Excerpt from Small Pleasures: Mya's Story. Copyright 2011 Darnishia Bolden)

When Men Need Healing

(Small Pleasures: Mya's Story, a novel - Kindle Version is FREE today (6/16/12): 

Sterling Addison, M.D.:
“Women don’t need my help. Some women play the victim when it offers opportunities and I don’t make time for such games. On the other hand, there are a multitude of options and assistance for women. Not so for men. When a man hurts, he has no one to turn to. Even when men hurt other people, there only option, most often, is jail – punishment, instead of therapy. People expect men to regenerate mysteriously after experiencing trauma. The expectations for a man to “know better” are unfairly unrealistic; the double standard is never addressed. When a male, regardless of age, IS a victim, his symptoms and disease are never treated nor is he granted with opportunities . . .”

Eating the deaf ear of a hog (Excerpt from Small Pleasures: Mya's Story)

The Kindle version of the novel is free today at Amazon.com: Small Pleasures Mya's Story.

With suitcases in hand, Grandmomma prepared to walk out of the front door. I begged her to stay in the midst of a scuffle and desperate plea. She rolled her dark, drunk eyes at me and pushed past with bags clenched in her hand. As she widened the already opened door, I heard her mumble something about a fast thang. Then seconds later . . .
Smmmmock! The slippery smack of a fist on face. Crashing breakables. Horrendous screams. A symphony of horrible sounds that would haunt me even in my dreams.

Eating the deaf ear of a hog was the excuse. Surely a human being would not desire to live a life of hedonism without influence. Possession was the meat of swine and the ear had to be deaf, spawning the cause for ignorance. This tainted supper turned Grandmomma into a witch, a new breed harlot. An example of what a woman shouldn't be.

(Excerpt from Small Pleasures: Mya's Story. Copyright 2011 Darnishia Bolden)


Free for two days!

"I am my father's daughter," is Mya's mantra as she prepares to abort another fetus, one she had contemplated carrying to full term after a botched abortion. Afterall the abortionist's message had been terrifying and clear: "It might have no head, no arms." Mya Sheppard, the most beautiful of Donovan Sheppard's daughters, cultivates careless and restless behavior traits. Killing is simply one of them. She and her beguiling sisters emerge from a home where love is dictated by a Father who lost his dreams to Vietnam. Love to them is a shadowy figure trapped and twisted among sweet and wicked, fairytales and religion, mother and father, God and Satan. Depending on the sister, truth is destorted by the grieving memories of unfinished childhoods. The family secrets (rape and domestic abuse) assign each girl a fate of love, fear, hurt, and destruction.

The book, Small Pleasures: Mya's Story


More alternatives for the indie author

"Another alternative to publishing on Amazon is Portland, Ore.-based BookBaby, which has a $99 "self-publishing made easy" option which formats e-books, offers cover design, and has a better-known sister company called CD Baby that sells independent music. It distributes its books to the iBookstore, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble's Nook, Sony Reader and others."
The article (linked below) also mentions Smashwords.com. But there is also Lulu.com and others (Booktango.com) to look into.

Read more of the article: Can E-Books Succeed Without Amazon


My heart sank when I began reading this story; as a writer, I know I felt the terrible sinking feeling in the belly that she must have felt. Luckily, I continued reading and it gets better. 

LONDON — When she went blind as a result of diabetes, Trish Vickers set out to fill the void in her life by writing poetry. Then she turned to writing a novel, her pen guided by a system of elastic bands stretched across the paper. With 26 pages written, and a plot that turned on a woman whose life implodes, she began to dream of finding a publisher.
Then the dream imploded, too. When her son Simon visited her at her home, near the town of Lyme Regis in the Thomas Hardy country of Dorset, she showed him what she had written, and he gave her the bad news: Every page was blank. Her pen had run out of ink before she began, and what remained was an empty manuscript, void of all her imagination had captured.

The Case of a Blind Woman and Her Invisible Manuscript