Last Saturday we flung our hats (first adding our initials inside) ... we’re officially out of the bubble ... Go us!
Daniel Mitchell ... MFA Graduate, class of 2013 ... Seduced by the book mobile at an early age, Daniel Mitchell grew up in a family made up equally of outdoorsmen and teachers. He later became a public school teacher of both English and Science in Oklahoma, Australia, and Alaska. He is married and the father of one (soon to be two) unexplainably attractive and intelligent children. He holds a BA in English from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and an MFA in Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University. His novel, Arbuckle, describes the struggle for sanity and survival of a teen hiding in a cave after witnessing the murder of his best friend. Fearing for his life as the only witness of the crime, he discovers a grisly connection between himself and the reclusive man living across the river, as they work together to overcome the men who have destroyed both their lives.
That's Daniel's wife and son above ... and here's a scene from Daniel’s novel that he cut ...
One of the best things about living on a dirt road was that Joseph could leave the truck in the shade and ride his 4wheeler the ten miles to Dougherty, when he had the urge for something besides his own cooking or just needed to pick up a few things. Today he was on a beer run.
It was one of those fall days that sometimes grace Oklahoma between late September and early November, what the old folks called Indian Summer. Most of the leaves were still on the trees in a crazy quilt of colors, a cool breeze was flowing down from the northeast and dandelion clouds chased each other across the sky. He gave the Rancher its head and slid around the curves on gravel and red-orange dirt all the way to town, only letting up when he came in sight of Jan’s Country Store. He knew from experience Jan was likely to refuse him service for a week if he threw gravel in her parking lot.
Jan was one of those crusty crones who seemed convinced all men were actually disobedient boys, desperately in need of a good switching, and wasted no opportunity in taking them down a notch or two. Joseph always made a point of smiling and complimenting her beauty every time he came in. The more she snapped, the more he flirted. They both knew he did it on purpose. That was what made it so much fun.
“Afternoon, Miss Jan.”
“I ain’t been a Miss in forty years and you know it,” she said.
“Miss Jan, you can’t be much more than fresh out of high school with such a lovely smile and figure.” She glared, but there was no real heat in her eyes. Joseph suspected she enjoyed his visits as much as he did.
“They fired you yet?”
“No ma'am. They tried, but the place dang near shuts down every time I take a pee break. Just can’t make it without me,” I said.
“Boy, you’re more full of it than my daddy’s back pasture.”
“Why thank you, Miss Jan. That’s what my Momma always used to say too.”
“She sounds like a smart woman. You want something or did you just come in to ruin my day?”
“I came to raid your beer supply and bask in the glory of your presence.”
“Get on with it then and get going. I got better things to do than listen to your mouth flap.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Joseph grabbed a case of Busch from the cooler and a bag of chips from the shelf. Then he took his time looking around as if he’d forgotten something, mostly to irritate Jan. When he finally walked up to the counter he read her faded t-shirt that said, “Protected by Smith and Wesson” across the breast.
“You looking at something?” she said.
“Just admiring that shirt, almost as much as the loveliness it’s hiding.”
“Boy, don’t make me call the dog,” she said. She meant too. Not that it was much of a dog. Joseph glanced to where the half toothless basset hound lay stinking in the corner. By the time it got up, he could be probably be long gone, but if he really wanted the beer, Jan would take her time ringing it up, making him stand there while Prince Albert slobbered all over his leg in senile fury.
He was outside, using bungee cords to secure the beer and chips in the ice chest on the back rack of his Honda, when he heard the light crunch of gravel under boots and heard a voice like silky heaven say, “Nice 4wheeler.”
He glanced up into the most amazing brown eyes and was caught like a rabbit in headlights. He realized his mouth had been hanging open for some seconds after she laughed and walked inside, brushing him with a swaying hip as she passed.
He glanced to the gas pumps and saw she had arrived on a new Honda Foreman with chrome rims and Mud Gator tires. It was glossy black and exactly the 4wheeler he would have wanted if he hadn’t been too cheap to buy new.
She came back out, and he took a quick glance at her left hand. When he saw no ring, his left knee buckled slightly. Raven hair was tied back in a long tail over blue flannel and dark skin. Her high cheekbones left little doubt about her Native blood. Every thing about her was grace and beauty.
“That’s uh, a nice Foreman. If you ever want to go riding by the river, I’d be happy to keep you company or whatever,” Joseph said so fast even he could barely make out the words.
She smiled and he swore he could hear music coming from someplace. “I’ll tell you what. You pack a picnic on that thing and I’ll meet you in the woods above your place tomorrow at noon.”
“Done,” he said. “Wait, what’s your name?” She just started up her 4wheeler, smiled like a new dawn and drove away.
He dropped his keys twice trying to start his Honda. Just before he got it right he caught Jan smirking at him from the door.
“Who was that?” He asked her.
“Boy, I believe you’re about to find out,” she said. “Yes, indeed.”
Dan is already catching anticipated looks from agents and publishers alike ...
A very weird and sad week ...
James Gandolfini ... very sad news about the sudden passing of James Gandolfini (51), but it affirms what I truly believe: Gandolfini’s passing is a sobering reminder of how short this life is ... make the best of it ... put nothing you want aside ... make the best of what you have ... and RIP Mr. Gandolfini ...
Vince Flynn ... another sad story, one of my wife’s favorite authors also passed this week ... Flynn wrote a number of best sellers and was just 47 ... Flynn wrote 14 books (with a total of 15 million copies sold in the United States) ...
Dave Jennings ... and then punter and analyst, Dave Jennings lost his long bout with Parkinson’s at age 61 ... a rough week all around ...
Alain Vigneault will be the next coach of the New York Rangers. The cup is ours, baby! I know nothing about this guy (I’m still a novice) except he’s put teams in the playoffs 6 out of 7 years ... and that’s good enough for the ugly Knuckster ... Go Rangers! I can’t wait until November!
NBA Championship ... oy vey ... Manu Ginobli obviously went to the Fitzpatrick school of turnovers ... too bad he took his lack of passing (talents) to Miami ... the Heat deserved the series for what they did in game 6 (not that I want to mention Ginobli missing a critical free throw in that one) ... but there’s no denying James’ greatness ... he’s a phenom ... oy vey, vey iz mir ...
Lebron James was the hero ... and Ginobli?
The intro from our MFA Program Director, Diane Les Becquets (Leh-Beck) ... a correction to the speech: I attended and played college football at a small school in North Dakota (Minot State College/now Minot University) ... UND was way over my head and abilities ... once again big ups to Dave Gresham (my original writing mentor) for allowing me to pester him with really horrible attempts at writing crime novels through my 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s ... and check out my Rangers bling shirt at the end of the speech ...