Sonja Uncaged E-book Release

 

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Hi everyone! I am happy to share another short story is available now for you to read. Sonja Uncaged is an 8,000 word story I wrote this fall about a woman who swaps bodies with her bird. Side note: I had someone close to me, who is a great graphic designer, make the cover, but it turns out I’m an incredibly stubborn perfectionist (lol) who wanted something I couldn’t vocalize, so I played with his design and tweaked it a little until it was as close to my imagination as possible. What I learned: It’s NOT easy making a cover, or even changing an existing design (and I’m clearly an amateur!). But, it was still fun! Hopefully it looks okay 🙂 But, back to the story. It’s a fantasy Women’s Fiction, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Here’s more about it:

A short story about a lonely young woman riddled with panic attacks and agoraphobia. Sonja’s only friends are her fat cat Louie, and her new bird Phinny. Despite her crush on her mailman Ben, she is unable to form relationships because of her crippling anxiety. And then one day, everything changes. Sonja wakes up inside her canary’s cage. She and her bird have switched bodies. Sonja is now a human in a bird’s body, unable to speak, barely able to fly. Phinny is mute as a human, even more terrified to leave the apartment than Sonja was, and fascinated and yet still terrified of fat Louie the cat. But before long, the story shifts even odder, and Ben the mailman and Louie find themselves in their own conundrum. Can a cat and a bird fall in love? Can a woman stuck inside a bird’s body learn to love her life in a cage of her own making, or will she force herself to leave it and truly fly beyond what she thought ever possible? Sonja Uncaged is a story of longing, of fear, and the kind of love that makes us spread our wings, and fly.

Read an excerpt:

The bird was a gift. Kind of.

I’d had dogs as pets before, and six years ago acquired a large, gray cat from the animal shelter, but birds were new territory for me.

“You’ll love having a bird,” my neighbor Constance told me. She was a singer—a beautiful singer with tawny skin and lips she painted merlot, which made her teeth flash whiter than white when she smiled. She wore printed dresses and tall heels, and had gotten a gig in a Broadway show. It was her big break, and she was moving closer to the city. She couldn’t bring the little bird with her. When she’d asked if I’d like her, for free, all supplies included, I’d said yes without hesitating. It was very unlike me. Hesitation was my middle name. And if Hesitation was my middle name, FEAR was my first. Capital letters. FEAR Hesitation Morris.

“I’m sad to be leaving her,” Constance said with a sincere frown. “But I know you’ll give her a good home. You’ll love her, Sonja. Sing with her. That’s what I do.”

“Mm.” Nodding in a non-committal way, I tried not to look as though I were second-guessing this all.

I was no singer, and as far as loving a bird went, I had my doubts, though I suspected I’d like her well enough. However, I couldn’t find fault with more company. Besides, I’d always liked birds in nature, and this was a sweet-faced little canary who trilled in her cage. It wasn’t a bad gift…or, um, donation. Scooting a stack of books and squat, green plant to the side, I set the bird’s cage in the middle of the antique pedestal table in my living room. It looked perfectly at home there, amidst the vintage, old-lady chic décor I’d mostly inherited with the apartment.

“Wait,” I said, as Constance left quickly, possibly afraid I’d change my mind and the spontaneous decision to accept the bird. “What’s her name? Does she…have one?”

“Of course.” She laughed. “Her name is Phinny.”

When the door closed, the bird stopped singing, slanted her head to one side, and assessed me.

“Well, hello, Phinny,” I said, awkwardly. And then I laughed. Why was I nervous about a bird? “Nice to meet you. I’m Sonja.”

And she opened her beak and sang again.

* * * *

Sometimes, I called her Phin, and she cocked her head and hopped as if she approved of the plucky nickname. When I opened the door of the cage and let her fly free, she stayed high, near the moldings of my old apartment’s ceiling, afraid to get too close to Louie. He, I watched with caution, lest he somehow manage to catch her, despite being a rather hefty cat with a sagging belly, and, I suspected, less-than-stellar hunting skills.

In time, we fell into a rhythm.

For a long time, it was just the three of us. The girl, the cat, the bird.

* * * *

I quickly grew accustomed to having a bird, and Louie loved to watch Phinny from his perch on the back of my armchair, or from the windowsill. She eyed him warily, and flapped away in fright if he got too close. If he heaved his sturdy self up onto the table where I’d placed her cage, I’d give him a healthy squirt of water from a spray bottle I kept nearby. Not only did I become protective of my little bird, but I looked to her for comfort. When I was sad, or bored, I liked to fold myself up in the armchair next to her table and peer into her cage, watching how she moved and how she watched me in return. Sometimes, she would sing and I’d mimic the tune, although it was just to show her I was listening, not so much to prove my skills at birdsong. Occasionally, when I took my place in the chair with a book or sketchpad, Louie sat on my lap, and I stroked his short, thick fur while he kneaded my chest. But whenever Phinny sang, even Louie stopped to listen, and the whole apartment became quiet. The outside, bustling city stilled, and everything seemed to make sense. The fear in my heart subsided, and I was able to breathe deeply.

I did so love to hear her sing.

* * * *

Like what you read so far? Then please click the buy links to download the full story!

Buy it on Amazon or Smashwords. (It’ll be available from other retailers sometime soon.)

Add it to your Goodreads list.

And finally, TELL YOUR FRIENDS.

Thanks everyone for your support. I couldn’t keep writing these stories without having someone to write them for. As an aside, Sonja Uncaged will not be including in my upcoming short story collection (Beach Glass & Other Broken Things) but it will be part of a future magical realism/fantasy/fabulism collection. But, shhhhh. Not quite talking about that yet…now, go read.

Have a fabulous New Year!

 

How to Get Unstuck E-book Release!

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How to Get Unstuck is the final individual story I’ll be publishing from my Women’s Fiction short story collection Beach Glass & Other Broken Things (announcement coming soon on the collection). It’s new! Never been online or published before, unlike Rousseau, Clementine, and Running*. Reminder: those stories are FREE! Here’s the synopsis for How to Get Unstuck:

A 3,000 word short story about a woman named Marty and how she copes with her break-up from her long-term partner. Will she finally learn to be alone? Or will she inevitably move on to a new relationship— as her ex Raina insists she will because Marty just “can’t be alone”? When Marty runs into a former student, the attractive, tattooed Shae, she has to cross the professional line she’s been so firm on holding, and fight her desire for companionship…right? Perhaps she’ll be better off on her own, or maybe she’ll stop caring so much about what Raina thinks, and give in to what she really wants. Which choice will make her happier? How to Get Unstuck is a story about one woman who loves relationships, hates to be alone, and must either accept or overcome those parts of herself.

Estimated reading time: 15-20 minutes.

I hope you’ll take a little time and spend the .99 to download it from Amazon or Smashwords. At some point it will be up on other sites, too.

Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads list!

Thanks for your support, my pals. Look for my next short story coming, about a woman and her canary and the Freaky Friday-like situation they find themselves in, which will be a departure from the realistic stories I’ve been doing lately. Sonja Uncaged will be “flying” your way in the next week or so (hopefully, just waiting on custom cover art).

But, back to the story of the day. Here’s a short excerpt:

Marty was a stuck woman. She was unsure how to get unstuck. She poured herself another vodka and sat in the vintage armchair in her living room. She’d kept the chair, insisted upon it, even though she and Raina had picked it out together in Chicago, and really, it was because of Raina that they had it in the first place. It was during one of their routine visits to the bustling city that Raina had dragged her into an overpriced boutique where they sold things with hefty price tags and always a “re” in front of the description: recycled, repurposed, reclaimed. Marty had tagged after her around the store, trying not to hover, yet attempting to appear interested whenever Raina looked over with the rapt expression she wore when she discovered treasures to bring back home. Raina liked having Marty’s full attention.

Besides the chair, which Marty had begrudgingly come to love, they’d also brought home hand-carved end tables, which were so “rustic” they appeared to have been attacked by a knife-wielding toddler. Raina had taken those, and good-riddance. Marty thought they were ugly as hell. Raina teased her that she just didn’t have high-end taste like her. But, the chair remained. A parting gift, Marty thought now, both hating the idea, and being rather pleased she’d gotten to keep it. Still, it was just a stupid chair. She swirled the alcohol in her mouth, and swallowed hard. She leaned back and golden strands of her hair fell against the cognac leather of the chair. The apartment was too empty after ten years of Raina’s company. Marty had forgotten how to be alone.

Sometimes it seemed as though Raina had moved out two years ago, and other times it felt like only two days, as if she would walk through the door any minute, throw off her coat, and ask Marty how classes were and what she was making for dinner. Marty had been the one who cooked; Raina had never mastered more than cheese trays for their dinner parties.

Without Raina in the background, the silence was too loud. It wasn’t so bad in the mornings, when Marty was rushing to get ready for work. It wasn’t so bad when she had papers to grade or a good book to read. However, in the time between tasks and pleasures, the solitude was deafening. Marty pushed herself up and walked across the living room, which Raina had decorated, to turn on some music, but the somber verse was too reflective of her mood, and she returned to the iPod dock with a stomp and switched it off right away. Then she slumped back in the chair, and took another long, cool gulp of vodka because she didn’t know what else to do with her dark mood. There seemed a black, cavernous emptiness on the left side of Marty’s chest. She hated it. She took another drink.

Marty knew their relationship hadn’t been perfect lately or even for the last few years. But she’d never been a seeker of perfection, even from her college students. She expected everyone to try, yes. She wanted passion, and interest, and effort, whether it was in her classroom, or in her relationships. Raina had been enough for her, and good in many ways. Marty needed companionship more than she needed perfection. She liked their messy life, with weekends at the farmer’s market, lunches with friends, and concerts. Raina was a music connoisseur. She collected vinyl records and mp3s the way some people collected salt shakers.

It was a Saturday night. Raina was probably at a show for a cool, indie musician (Marty loved The Beatles) or at an art gallery for a new artist’s opening, or out dancing, having a good time. She was only a few years younger than Marty’s forty-three, but much more fun. At least that’s how Marty had always felt. Or worried that Raina felt that way. Even now, brooding alone, Marty second-guessed her coping methods, and wondered if she should call a friend, or book a trip, somehow find something to celebrate. And then she resented that she couldn’t even be confident in her own choices, even now. But she had always cared too much about what Raina thought.

She’d liked that Raina had thought she was smart, funny, interesting. When Marty spoke about historical events—she was a history professor—her face was radiant. She talked with her hands. She made jokes that were actually funny. And Raina did love to laugh.

But then things stopped being funny. Instead of laughing at her jokes, Raina would stare at her blankly, as if waiting for a better punch line. Instead of reaching for her, Raina would turn away. Marty knew it was ending long before it ended.

***

Like what you read so far? Go read the rest of How to Get Unstuck! And happy Saturday!

*Running is free everywhere but Amazon. If you would help me out by “reporting a lower price” they may change it to the correct price faster. Thank you!