My COVID-caused reading slump is over! Our mannequin is dressed with authors’ written words. Words I’ve read!

My own story bite this week is titled “Feu! Feu!

What I’m Reading

I emerged from a long COVID-shutdown reading slump this week. A book from the romance genre sparked the comeback: Widow of Rose House, by Diana Biller. A romance ghost story, set in New York in 1875. By no means my go-to genre for reading, but it came recommended. A welcome change of pace for me.

From romance I moved back to my favored mystery and thriller genres. I discovered two authors who each have a number of novels published…and one author available on Libby!

I read Loreth Anne White’s Beneath Devil’s Bridge, a story that reminds me of HBO Max’s Mare of Easttown. Both are stories of murdered teens in a small town environment. I’m only one episode into Mare, but it has promise. The novel is suspenseful, well written. A podcaster unearths a long-buried memory of a local teen’s brutal death. “If it takes a village to raise a child, does it also take a village to kill one?”

I also discovered Allison Brennan’s The Third to Die, a genuine page-turner. Drama with FBI and local police fighting each other as they search for a serial killer. And Brennan has lots of other novels I can now enjoy.

It feels good to dump the slump and enjoy reading again! Hoping there will be more wins!

What I’m Writing

This week I was reminded of a quote from Robert Frost. “A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love sickness.” It sparked a story idea. Enjoy!

Feu! Feu!

Roseline’s shouting startled Colin awake. He blinked away the sleep as he tried to grasp where he was. 

Feu! Feu!

He rubbed his eyes. Roseline stood in the doorway. She waved for him to get up. 

Feu!” She lunged forward to pull him out of bed.

“What?” Colin said.

Feu!” Roseline pointed to the doorway. Thick smoke filled the hall outside.

“Shit! Fire!”

Oui. Fire!” Roseline said. “Come.”

Colin pulled on his pants and shoes, grabbed his laptop, and followed her down the stairs.

His fist clung to Roseline’s shirt while she led him through the smoke and out the front door. They moved across the street, coughing and rubbing their eyes, while fire trucks screamed up. 

“Is everyone out?” he asked her.


a lump in the throat

He struggled to remember how he got here. Five intense days at a writing workshop in downtown Montreal. The course had as a theme, All creative art starts with a lump in the throat. It starts by tearing down the familiar and the comfortable.

Natalie the workshop leader had said the theme was inspired by a quote from the poet Robert Frost.

It had taken Colin all five days to create a decent piece of writing. Natalie had praised it when he read an excerpt aloud to the other participants. At the closing reception on Friday afternoon, Roseline had started a conversation with him. 

“I come from Haiti,” she had said. “Living in Montreal for one year…escaping conditions in my country.” She told Colin Montreal seemed a reasonable fit for her French language background. She hoped to become fluent in English, perhaps move to the States later.

Colin had walked her home after the reception. Roseline had a tiny room on the third floor of a settlement house below downtown Montreal. “I had…I have free room and board for one year. I give them one year of service to the homeless. They come for food.”

Roseline had introduced him to the other residents of the house, a director and several others like Roseline. Colin had tea with them. No one blinked when Roseline took Colin up to her room. It had been an exciting night, more fun than he had had in a couple of years.

Roseline wiped a smudge of smoke from Colin’s arm. “My English, it is not so…how do you say? Bon. Good?”

“When I saw the smoke, I knew you were saying the house was on fire.”

She nodded.

Roseline and Colin sat on the curb until the firefighters appeared confident the fire had been put down. The house director approached them. “Electrical fire, they say. Mostly smoke from overheated wiring in the basement.”

“Where will you go?” Colin asked the director.

“Oh, we will stay here. Air out the smoke, get a man in to look at the wiring…The homeless men have to eat.”

When the director walked away, Colin turned to Roseline. “Will you be okay?”

Oui. Open all windows. This house…it is much better than Haiti.”

Colin nodded. “I should leave. I have to drive back to New York today.”

“We are tearing down the familiar, the comfortable, oui?”

He smiled. 

Roseline kissed him on the cheek. “Merci. Travel well.”