Multiple Exposure available for purchase

I’ve been waiting to type the following sentence for a long time: My first novel, Multiple Exposure, is now available for purchase on Createspace. It should be for sale on Amazon by 02 September.

Book Launch celebrations will be at New South Coffee Company on 14 September from 6-8 p.m.

Fascination with Flight & Fire

This is the summer when my daughter learned that she cannot fly, even though she tried several different ways. I like people who enjoy extremes. My brother is one of those people. And, my husband.
However, I don’t appreciate the high from participating in extremes: extreme climates, extreme sports, extreme challenges, extreme fighting, extreme lifestyle sampling…not interested. If it ups my odds of being strapped to a gurney, I don’t want my name on the list. Of course, I occasionally have been known to drive a car, take photos from a ferriswheel, fly on commercial airlines, snow ski, ride on a boat…average activities that could result in potentially fatal accidents (it happens everyday), however, I’m not that extreme either—that I habitually wear a helmet. For the most part, I want to stay down down down on the ground ground ground.

“It’s not the flying I have a problem with. It’s smashing into the ground that I have a problem with.”–Jasper Carrott

“Any landing that you can walk away from is a good one!”–Anonymous

Usually, Terry is a dare-devil, but says that he’s becoming less interested in heights and fires. He says that our daughter gets her risk-taking qualities from him. As a child, he rode on the handlebars while his brother biked down a hill on their street and jumped off a homemade ramp…well, the bike never jumped. It tipped the ramp forward and nose-dived, shooting Terry like a slingshot—he broke something, but I can’t remember what (he has broken a lot of bones). Now I remember, he skinned his face against the pavement so badly that he had to wear cold, eye patches for weeks.

“Life rewards the risk-takers.”–Clint Borgen

His Dad arrived at home one afternoon to find Terry’s name written in fire on the driveway (8-year old Terry wrote his name with gasoline and set it on fire). He has countless stories of “flying” (crashing) and “playing” with fire (starting fires).

“The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.”-Henry David Thoreau

My brother was also daring as a child. Instead of playing with fire, he was always trying to fly. One evening when he was about 6, he was taking a bath before dinner. My Mom instructed me to tell him to get out of the bath—dinner was ready. I told him, but he dived under the sloshing bath water and came up grinning and dove again. Whatever, I shrugged and went back in the living room to read my book (I was 10, eyebrows raised like you should know that I’m not a little kid). My parents made me go and tell him again. Same thing. Again. Same thing. Again. Finally, when I stood in the bathroom doorway, I saw that he was standing on the edge of the tub, naked, holding the towel behind him. He tied it around his neck. I rolled my eyes, then he suddenly jumped, arms outstretched, kicked his legs back in a straight line–a moment of flight. I let out a laugh, and then everything went wrong–his face smashed against the counter and the sink that was directly across from the bathtub. His neck whipped backwards, blood shot out onto the white tiles, I screamed, my parents ran in and grabbed my brother who was crying and moaning.
“What did he do?” they asked. I told them.
They asked, “why’d you let him do that?”
Huh. “I didn’t know what he was gonna do.” And we were all off to the hospital for stitches in his chin.

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”–Leonardo Da Vinci

The next year, we were at my grandmother’s house. I was inside, watching t.v. The boys were supposed to be wandering around the farm. Instead, my cousins were pulling a rope that was looped through my brother’s pants. They pulled him far into the tree, onto a branch that hung above open ground, then they started to swing him back and forth. He rose up to the clouds and swung back down toward the grass, up to the birds and down to the earthworms, as if he were flying until the rope pulled the belt loop seam away from my brother’s pants and gravity caught up with him in a hard thud against his chest. He could barely breathe when their cries and shouts entered the house. My grandmother pushed them back out of the house to inspect the scene of the crime while picking a switch from the same tree.

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”–Amelia Earhart

Those stories about the first attempts to fly give me joy. Since the fascination with flight and fire captivates most children, I like to hear these stories from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. certainly, I’ll experience more with my daughter–she has made me promise to sky dive with her as soon as she’s old enough.

Bohemian Sexy & Late Summer

This time of late summer, of running on dusty trails and cockleburs on our socks, reminds me of a blog I wrote years ago…

My cousins and I rarely wanted to bathe when we were children. We preferred to be covered in soft, powdery dirt from my grandparent’s farm. Of course, my grandmother wouldn’t allow us to climb into a bed with dirty feet; our dusty bodies and mudpie fingernails had to be scrubbed clean before going to bed or going to town. And as my other grandmother says, “You can’t go to town with a dirty butt.”

The day I turned 25, I was supposed to be on a bus headed to Pilsn, Czech Republic. Instead, I sort of chickened out when we couldn’t find the Czech bus line in Amsterdam, but I also spotted an enormous ferriswheel circling above Dam Square. My husband said that I didn’t really try to look for the bus line—”and what about Ondra?” (our Czech friend). He was expecting us.

I wouldn’t be detoured from the ferriswheel. It was my birthday afterall, and I didn’t want to spend it on a bus with a bunch of stinky strangers. “Fine,” said Terry, my husband, “but you have to call Ondra and tell him later tonight.” There was no rush to call Ondra because the bus trip from Amsterdam to Pilsn took at least 24 hours with all of the stops through Belgium and Germany. So, I pushed through the people along the Damrak and led Terry and one of our friends to the ferriswheel. I took photos of the street, the cyclists, the tourists with cameras, the shops, “de weg naar de hemmel” sign that hung from a church and said, “the way to heaven”; opposite the church across Dam Square was one route into the red light district–the city moved as we turned above it.

Later that night, I called Ondra.
“What are you doing, Shana?” he asked irritably.
“I’m on the phone calling you from Zandvoort,” I said nervously, and awaited my scolding. He sighed deeply. I knew that his head was in his hand.
“Okay, so what is the problem?” he asked.
“We couldn’t find the Czech bus line.”
I heard him making the noises of a skeptic, “Hmmm. MmmmMmmm. Hmmm.”
“Okay, Shana, you have to do this. Listen to me, you will buy the ticket tomorrow for two days from now. And tomorrow night, I will call and you will tell me the time that you will arrive in Pilsn. Okay?”
“Okay.” Awkward pause.
“Are you scared, Shana?”
I stammered and said, NO and Yes, and maybe, and I don’t know.
“You take the bus,” he said. “Just come to Czech Republic, Shana. I want to show you my kingdom.”

Kingdom?! This word surprised me. I had to go. I had never been offered a tour of someone’s kingdom. We left the following day, traveled to Pilsn, then to český-Budejovice and met all of Ondra’s wild and crazy friends. They took us to a city that was up and down and down and up like an M.C. Escher etching (český Krumlov) and on to the ruins of a Druid complex in the middle of the Bohemian forest, then to Celtic ruins. We walked on…through fields and forests; we admired the dandelions and mossy boulders, ate food in the homes of strangers to us all, stopped for beers and smokes and laughed when everyone thought we were Czech too, found friends and listened to music, crossed more fields, sat on a crumbling stone wall built by true pagans and thought about being lost. We paused and surveyed a little town.

Finally, I was tired, irritated by a pack of gnats flying around my head and getting stuck in the sweat on my face, in my eyes. I stopped in the middle of a field, “Ondra, when are we going to your parents’ house? I need a bath. Please, can we go there tomorrow?”
He shrugged. “We are young,” he said. “We are supposed to be sexy and stink.”

We did go to his parents’ house the following day. I was given the bathroom with a tub, while the guys each waited for the shower.
It seems that as we age, we are less tolerant of dirt on our bodies, but we need the reminder of late summer canoe trips, of the child’s fondness for tiny roads in the flowerbed mulch, of green stained feet from following the lawnmower’s paths…

Back to school comes too soon, and it’s time to clean up for the classroom–haircuts, new clothes, shoes, the routine.

New Excerpt from Multiple Exposure–One Month To Go

It’s one month until the release of my first novel, Multiple Exposure. Much of the book centers on the landscape, especially a cave near Ellen’s home. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, “Existing Light”, about Ellen’s childhood:

Cumberland Cave had smooth teeth carved into the limestone. Eighty years ago, they were precisely polished stone steps that swayed along the cliffs with deep curves. They welcomed big brass bands performing on riverboats that docked in the city. Musicians from Benny Goodman’s band among others left the riverside and the city; they cruised out of town and carried trumpets and drums, the clarinet, into the twilight area of Cumberland Cave where they danced audiences into the kingdom of swing.

Under the moonlight, people were pushed by the humidity, smothered toward the cave, where cool air currents gushed out of the darkness. In the white-gloved hands of ladies, fans fluttered beside the delicate moths of dusk. Helen Ward’s voice serenaded across the salty, sparkling limestone. In the pockets of men, you could smell flasks, shots of Tennessee brandy made by my family. Even during the prohibition, the Masters family continued making their traditional plum brandy and bribed the local authorities. Granna said that most of the farmers were caught up in making applejack, brandy from apple trees, but the Masters focused on plums. “Smart decision since those temperance ladies waged war on the apple tree cause of the Jack’s trading it and cut them down. Plums made it through.” She smiled. The Masters family always “turned the tables” and my Granna was fond of playing Benny Goodman’s song. Since the mid-1800s, the plum trees had been cloned and cultivated with care about a mile from Cumberland Cave, as the crow flies. Masters Brandy quenched the thirsts of the cave’s visitors for generations and those stories grasped my attention since I could prop my head up to listen and skin my knees on the trails surrounding the park.

The afternoon I found the turtle, I had sneaked and tried my first sips of the family brandy. After the hot flush of swiping the brandy and running away, my young mind didn’t think about which direction, just away, I found myself perched on a short bluff close to Cumberland Cave. Then, I wandered the trails until the heat blurred my vision and dragged my shoulders down, until I stumbled and scraped my palms, elbows, and kneecaps. Tiny rocks and dust embedded into the skin and got trapped in the blood. Anticipation quickened my pace as I approached the cool entrance to the cave, longing to sit in the cold shade and place my hands on the stones to stop the stinging sensation that pulsed across my limbs. I was thinking about the stage and what it must have been like to hear the big bands. In our house, Granna had pointed to a photograph of Helen Ward, her name signed with a red pen across the bottom. One of Edythe Wright in a thin dress and Tommy Dorsey with a trombone. All signed to The Masters Family. The music, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” an elusive sunny side of the street, filled my childhood with nostalgia for something I had never experienced.

On the trails, I imagined that Edythe Wright removed her high heels while she walked around the lake toward the cave. I wanted to envision where she stood on the stage. My sweaty hair clung to my face and shoulders and caused a constant irritation. I climbed the ramp to the cave and stopped while I twisted my hair swiftly into a knot on the top of my head and wound a band around it tightly. It fell forward and perched itself like a horn on the front of my head. That’s when I saw the turtle sitting in the center of the platform. Its eyes closed slowly as if absorbing me. Then, it looked as if it had been awaiting my arrival. I could feel its focus on me in the emerging silence. “Turtle?” I said aloud. Turtles stretched their necks, poised on the toppled dead trees along the edge of the lake, but I had never seen one on the platform.

As I walked closer to the turtle, the smile slipped from my face.


Book Launch Party at New South Coffee Company, 14 Sept., 2012, from 6-8 p.m. New South Coffee Company is located at 110 Franklin Street in Clarksville, TN.

More about Multiple Exposure: A new mother is alone. Her husband is deployed…again and again. They misunderstand one another. They try to connect with Skype, emails, packages, and letters. Even when he returns, they’re disconnected. Will they fall in love again? Will they remember how to be a family in spite of war?

To read more about Multiple Exposure, click here.

Copyright: Shana Thornton, 2012