Billy May Platte learned the hard way that 1940s West Virginia was no place to be different. After witnessing an incident in which her sexuality was called into question, three local boys instigated a brutal attack that changed the small coal mining town of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia forever.
Return to Crutcher Mountain
Looking for the Sun Door
by Tracy R. Franklin
As recounted in Appalachian Justice, Jessie is an adult survivor of horrendous childhood abuse. At the age of thirteen, she was rescued by reclusive mountain woman Billy May Platte. Now forty-seven, Jessie is outwardly successful but inwardly struggles to reconcile the broken pieces of her past.
Beth Sloan has spent the majority of her life trying to escape the memories of a difficult childhood. Born into the infamous Pritchett family of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, she grew up hard, surrounded by homemade stills, corn liquor, and an impoverished family that more often than not preferred life on the wrong side of the law. Now an unwelcome letter threatens to unravel the life she's so carefully built.
With Looking for the Sun Door, Tracy R. Franklin combines her poetry with short fiction and shows us what it means to be broken, whole, and pasted together. With her poetry, she uses her confessional style to explore the universal challenges of trying to understand one’s relationship to oneself, to others, and to the ineffable source of existence itself. With her fiction, she examines the human soul in resiliency and weakness, fulfillment and need.
After the heartbreak of losing their newborn son to a previously undiagnosed genetic condition, Phillip and Anna Lewinsky managed to patch their lives back together and move forward, filling the emptiness with friends, work, and travel.
When Anna unexpectedly finds herself pregnant again at the age of forty-three, Phillip is thrilled to have a second chance at fatherhood in spite of Anna’s objections.
As desires clash, misunderstandings abound, and decisions are irrevocably made, the foundation of their marriage begins to crumble until only tragedy remains.
The Cedar Hollow Series
by Melinda Clayton
Snippets from Cedar Hollow
A series of short stories centered around the lives of the residents of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia, the fictional town featured in the Cedar Hollow Series.
Blessed Are the Wholly Broken
On the anniversary of her husband’s death, forty-nine-year-old Emily Holt runs away, leaving an unmade bed, an unlocked house, two college-aged sons, and an overabundance of bad memories.
Struggling to make peace with the death of a husband who’d been lost to mental illness, she vows to drive to the end of the road, which, she’s surprised to find, is just outside the tiny mining town of Cedar Hollow, West Virginia.
Erma Puckett's Moment of Indiscretion
by Melinda Clayton
A Treasure Box Full of Cedar Hollow
by Melinda Clayton
by Melinda Clayton
The Sheriff of Cedar Hollow
by W. Michael Franklin and Melinda Clayton
Lena, a shamanistic cat, and her conjure woman Eulalie live in a small town near the Apalachicola River in Florida’s lightly populated Liberty County, where longleaf pines own the world. In Eulalie’s time, women of color look after white children in the homes of white families and are respected, even loved, but distrusted and kept separated as a group. A palpable gloss, sweeter than the state’s prized tupelo honey, holds their worlds firmly apart. When that gloss fails, the Klan restores its own brand of order.
When some white boys rape and murder a black girl named Mattie near the sawmill, the police have no suspects and don’t intend to find any. Eulalie, who sees conjure as a way of helping the good Lord work His will, intends to set things right by “laying tricks.”
But Eulalie has secrets of her own, and it’s hard not to look back on her own life and ponder how the decisions she made while drinking and singing at the local juke were, perhaps, the beginning of Mattie’s ending.
Bonus “Glossary and Notes” included in the back of the book.
Florida Folk Magic Stories
by Malcolm R. Campbell
It is the late 1800s, and a shameful time in American history. The U.S. Government has mandated native tribes send their young people to Indian schools where they are stripped of their native heritage by people they think of as The Others.
Otter and Sun Song are members of The Tribe, and betrothed to be married when they turn eighteen. But when they are sent East to school, Otter, renamed Gideon, tries to adapt, while Sun Song does not, resulting in brutal attacks from the school headmaster. Gideon, thinking Sun Song has spurned him, turns for comfort to Wendy Thatcher, the daughter of a wealthy school patron, beginning a forbidden affair of the heart.
But the Spirits have different plans for Gideon and Sun Song. "You are both child and mother of The Original People," Sun Song is told. "When it is right, you will be safe once more." What follows is a harrowing journey through time and the Five Worlds of the Desert Southwest tribes.
Stories from Tate's Hell
by Malcolm R. Campbell
A series of short stories from Malcolm R. Campbell, all set in and around Florida's Tate's Hell State Forest, which is also the setting for Campbell's novel, Conjure Woman's Cat.
The Land Between the Rivers, published by Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC, is a collection of three stories from Tate's Hell. In How the Panther Lost Her Roar, you’ll meet the rare and endangered Florida Panther that could be found in Tate’s Hell as late as the 1960s. In How the Snake Bird Learned to Dry His Feathers, you’ll meet a Florida bird—also called the Anhinga—that learns to swim before he learns to fly. And, in How the Bear Found Her Favorite Food, you’ll learn what the Florida black bear eats when she has her choice.
The Land Between the Rivers
Carrying Snakes into Eden
Carrying Snakes into Eden, self-published by Malcolm R. Campbell, is a tongue-in-cheek, 1960s-era short story with a dash of magic. Two students skip church, pick up a hobo with a sack of snakes, and realize there may be long-term consequences.
In this moving book of poetry, author Smoky Zeidel celebrates her walk with nature while exploring the peaks and valleys of life through her kinship with the natural world.
In "Crescent Meadow," she shares her deep and abiding love for the flora and fauna of this planet we call home. Through "On the Anniversary of My Father’s Death," she reflects on the cycle of life while remembering her father, who has sent her a gift every year since his passing. In "I’ve Always Thought I Am Like Water," Zeidel takes us on her personal odyssey of growth and discovery. And in "Hush," she invites us to stop, listen, and connect.
Read the complete poems and more, plus a bonus chapter from Zeidel’s novel, The Storyteller’s Bracelet.
Anne and David meet at a summer resort hotel in the Montana mountains and fall in love. When they go back to their respective universities in the fall, she is assaulted on a dark city street at Thanksgiving. She won't let David visit or help her in any way until finally he's allowed to visit Florida in June, where he finds Anne greatly changed. She wants him to give up everything for her. He plans to leave her, but then the magic of the dark swamp called Tate's Hell interrupts his plans.
After going on a business trip to north Florida, you have strange dreams about something lurid and/or dangerous that happened in a cemetery next to Tate's Hell Swamp. You try to remember and when you do, that's all she wrote.
Dream of Crows is self-published by Malcolm R. Campbell.
Dream of Crows
In 1955, at the height of alarm over the Emmett Till murder in Mississippi and after the Supreme Court ruling against school segregation, Associated Press reporter Rachel Feigen travels from Baltimore to Tennessee to report on a missing person case.
Guy Saillot’s last contact with his family was a postcard from the Tennessee Bend Motel, a seedy establishment situated on beautiful Cherokee Lake. But they have no record he was ever a guest.
As the investigation deepens, Feigen has problems of her own when three local extremists decide to teach a lesson to the “uppity jewgirl” from the north who’s poking around in things that are none of her concern.
But events in the Tennessee Bend Motel’s room number 10 don’t turn out exactly as they’d planned.
On a beautiful fall evening, in the middle of a game of hide-and-seek, five-year-old Bobby Clark is kidnapped by his estranged father, a shiftless man with a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. Bobby’s twin brother Ricky watches, terrified, from his hiding place behind the bougainvillea, while mother Tabby, who also struggles with addiction, lies inebriated on the living room floor.
Bobby isn’t seen by his loved ones again until a fateful morning twenty-five years later, when video of his arrest dominates the morning news. He has been charged with the murder of his father, but before the trial can begin, he manages to escape.
As Tabby and Ricky absorb the news of Bobby’s return and subsequent escape, Tabby is convinced he’ll come home to the quiet Florida street from which he was taken so long ago. But when events begin to spiral out of control, she’s left to wonder: is a child born to be evil, or shaped to be evil? And in the end, when it’s time to make amends, does it really matter?
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When Sarabande’s sister Dryad haunts her for three years beyond the grave, Sarabande begins a dangerous journey into the past to either raise her cruel sister from the dead, ending the torment, or to take her place in the safe darkness of the earth. In spite of unsettling predictions about her trip, Sarabande leaves the mountains of Pyrrha and Montana on a black horse named Sikimí and heads for the cornfields of Illinois in search of Robert Adams, the once powerful Sun Singer, hoping he can help with her quest.
One man tries to kill her alongside a deserted prairie road, another tries to save her with ancient wisdom, and Robert tries to send her away. Even if she persuades him to bring the remnants of his magic to Dryad's shallow grave, the desperate man who follows them desires the rowan staff for ill intent, and the malicious sister who awaits their arrival wants much more than a mere return to life.
James-Cyrus Hoffmann has just inherited his grandfather's farm, and with it a mysterious cabin deep in the woods on Hoffmann mountain, a cabin he has dreamed about since childhood. When James-Cyrus enters the cabin, he is vaulted back through time to the Civil War era, where he meets Elizabeth, the brave young woman who lives there, and Malachi, a runaway slave.
James-Cyrus' neighbor, Cora, knows all too well the tragic history of the cabin. When James-Cyrus tells Cora about Elizabeth, Malachi, and his fantastic vault back through time, the two devise a plan to change the past and right a wrong that has haunted the Hoffmann family for generations. But can they find the key to unlock the past in time to change what history said happened to Elizabeth and Malachi?
Torreya, a small 1950s Florida Panhandle town, is losing its men. They disappear on nights with no moon and no witnesses. Foreclosure signs appear in their yards the following day while thugs associated with the Klan take everything of value from inside treasured homes that will soon be torn down. The police won't investigate, and the church keeps its distance from all social and political discord.
Conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins, her shamanistic cat Lena, and neighbor Willie Tate discover that the new "whites only" policy at the once friendly mercantile and the creation of a plantation-style subdivision are linked to corrupt city fathers, the disappearing men, rigged numbers gambling, and a powerful hoodoo man named Washerwoman. After he refuses to carry Eulalie's herbs and eggs and Willie's corn, mercantile owner Lane Walker is drawn into the web of lies before he, too, disappears.
Washerwoman knows how to cover his tracks with the magic he learned from Florida's most famous root doctor, Uncle Monday, so he is more elusive than hen's teeth, more dangerous that the Klan, and threatens to brutally remove any obstacle in the way of his profits. In this follow up to Conjure Woman's Cat, Eulalie and Lena face their greatest challenge with scarce support from townspeople who are scared of their own shadows. Even though Eulalie is older than dirt, her faith in the good Lord and her endless supply of spells guarantee she will give Washerwoman a run for his ill-gotten money in this swamps and piney woods story.
On a sweltering July morning in rural Tennessee, fifty-year-old Rebecca Reynolds visits the family farm, where she literally stumbles across the mutilated bodies of her parents and younger sister, a sister who had spent life in a wheelchair after a birth fraught with complications.
Rebecca’s first thought is to call 911. Her second is to find her estranged sister, Lena, who was disowned by the family years before. Her third is to wonder how long it will be before Lena is arrested for the murder of their family.
As the police gather evidence pointing to Lena, the sisters turn to attorney Brian Stone. Convinced of Lena’s innocence, he agrees to take on the case. But in a family ripped apart by dysfunction, is anyone truly innocent?
Few of the eccentric inhabitants of her father’s Main Line, Philadelphia estate have much time for Fleur Robins, an awkward child with a devotion to her ailing grandfather, a penchant for flapping and whirling, and a preoccupation with God and the void.
While her mother spends much of her time with her hand curled around a wine glass and her abusive father congratulates himself for rescuing babies from “the devil abortionists,” Fleur mourns the fallen petals of a rose and savors the patterns of light rippling across the pool. When she fails to save a baby bird abandoned in her garden, a series of events unfold that change everything.
For one thing, her handsome new tutor Adam Manus sees her unusual potential and introduces her to Nobel Prize winner Stanley H. Fiske, who brings her out to Caltech to mentor her in quantum physics. Fleur puts her preoccupation with the void to good use, making discoveries that promise to ease humanity’s dependency on fossil fuels. But for all her brilliance, she is still a young girl, losing her virginity in a moment of naiveté and learning the hard way to value the irreplaceable gift of friendship.
It’s the early twentieth century, and the tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity.
In the midst of his delusions, Luther believes God has abandoned him and devises a plan to get back into His good graces—a plan that puts both his daughters’ lives in danger and unleashes a frenzy of events that threaten to destroy the entire family.
Will Luther succeed in carrying out his crazed plot against his daughters, or will an unlikely hero step in to rescue them all?
Physics wunderkind Fleur Robins, just a little odd and more familiar with multiple universes than complicated affairs of the heart, is cast adrift when her project to address the climate crisis is stalled. Worse still, her Ethiopian-born fiancé Assefa takes off right after her 21st birthday party to track down his father, who’s gone missing investigating Ethiopian claims to the Ark of the Covenant.
Fleur is left to contend with the puzzle of parallel worlds, an awkward admirer, and her best friend Sammie’s entanglement with an abusive boyfriend. Assefa’s reconnection with a childhood sweetheart leads Fleur to seek consolation at Jane Goodall’s Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve, but it’s through a bumbling encounter with her rival that the many worlds of Fleur’s life begin to come together.
In the experience of tizita—the interplay of memory, loss, and longing—Fleur is flung into conflicts between science and religion, race and privilege, climate danger and denial, sex and love. With humor, whimsy, and the clumsiness and grace of innocence, Fleur feels her way through the narrow alleyway between hope and despair to her heart’s sweetest home.
Shadowed Places: A Collection of Short Stories
by Smoky Zeidel
Leap: a brave woman prepares to take her final journey.
Breathe: how many people can pinpoint the precise time their marriage died; can repeat verbatim the words that sent the marriage plunging into the grave?
Goodbye, Emily Dickinson: sometimes the delusion is what helps us get through the reality.
Lesser Offenses: stepmothers had disappeared before, for lesser offenses. It was Carlotta’s time to go.
Every spring, fast food junkie Peter Martin packs his wife, Mary, and son, John, into his SUV and crisscrosses the back country of the Florida Panhandle searching for Diddy-Wah-Diddy, a legendary town offering travelers all the free food they can eat. Mary thinks they’ll never find it. John draws maps to show where they’ve been in years past. Peter has more hunches than fleas on a hound dog about the town’s location. More often than not, they get lost.
Transformed: A Short Story
by Smoky Zeidel
“The way I see it,” said Daniel, “the fence lizard eats the fly, so the fly becomes part of the fence lizard. The fly is the fence lizard. The fence lizard gets eaten by the snake, and thus becomes the snake. What’s to say that snake won’t get snatched up by a Golden Eagle, and thus become the eagle?”
Does the same principle apply to humans? Marina is about to find out.
Ernst Kohl has spent nearly half his life in prison after being convicted of murder as a young man. Upon his release, with nowhere else to go, Kohl returns to his old family home on the outskirts of a small Michigan town, hoping for redemption, or at least understanding.
He finds a dog, a girlfriend, and a job in quick succession, and it seems as if he might finally be able to leave the past behind and make a quiet life for himself. But some of the residents, including the town’s corrupt deputy sheriff, are less than thrilled to see him, and will stop at nothing to rid the town of its infamous resident.
As events hurtle to an inevitable conclusion, Kohl is left to decide: At what point might a man break, and at what cost to himself?
In the midst of a confusing and frightening world, Smoky Zeidel remains true to form with her poetry, gently reminding us to close out the superfluous and remember that which is sacred. Garden Metamorphosis is both a love song to Mother Earth, and a celebration of the cycle of life.
In “Dirt,” Zeidel wishes us “More dirt paths through forest, meadow, and desert,/pine needles and humus and sand sticking to your feet.” In “Hawk Dance,” she shares with us a spiritual moment: “Oh hawks, if I had wings! I hear your music’s secret score,/I start to dance, and dance into the night.” And in “The Big Picture,” her silent prayer is a benediction for all of us: “Slay me with a sunset numinous/ whose colors have no names./Let me see the big picture,/live a macro life,/before my days are over and/my bones reduced to dust.”
Read the complete poems, plus Zeidel’s short story, “Transformed.”
When Police Chief Alton Gravely and Officer Carothers escalate the feud between “Torreya’s finest” and conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins by running her off the road into a north Florida swamp, the borrowed pickup truck is salvaged but Eulalie is missing and presumed dead. Her cat Lena survives. Lena could provide an accurate account of the crime, but the county sheriff is unlikely to interview a pet.
Lena doesn’t think Eulalie is dead, but the conjure woman’s family and friends don’t believe her. Eulalie’s daughter Adelaide wants to stir things up, and the church deacon wants everyone to stay out of sight. There’s talk of an eyewitness, but either Adelaide made that up to worry the police, or the witness is too scared to come forward.
When the feared Black Robes of the Klan attack the first responder who believes the wreck might have been staged, Lena is the only one who can help him try to fight them off. After that, all hope seems lost, because if Eulalie is alive and finds her way back to Torreya, there are plenty of people waiting to kill her and make sure she stays dead.