In Kindle Vella, completed manuscript with Amazon, last episode due to be published August 19.
Inspiring, adventurous, and wholly relatable as we contemplate the stars and beyond! Witkop, true to form, has again demonstrated her mastery of story form. Makes me eager to explore space!
The Space Between The Stars received 5 star reviews because it’s a good, readable story about real, relatable people who choose to board a starship and colonize a distant planet. Who’d do such a thing? Lots of people. Scientists. Homemakers. Adventurers. Rebels. Those with paranormal abilities. And more. Read it and meet some interesting people as they travel between the stars.
The colonial starship Nova One leaves Earth on mankind’s first journey beyond the solar system to colonize a distant planet on a trip of many years. These are the stories of the colonists on that starship. Ordinary people on an extra-ordinary journey. One woman starts a journal to record her life on Nova One. Others continue it with their own stories. Funny, romantic, heart-warming, tragic, and always human. The stories of rebels, peacemakers, entrepreneurs, scientists, those born with paranormal gifts, and more.
This month’s short story is a clean romance (of course) and is complete with horses and sunset. Perfect for a quick read.
WITH HORSES AT SUNSET
When I pulled into my driveway I didn’t notice the hole in the fence.
Why would I? It was mid-day and I was eagerly anticipating a wonderful afternoon because it was our boss’ daughter’s birthday and in a fit of largesse he gave us all the afternoon off. With pay. On a beautiful day. What could be better?
We scattered as fast as possible, me to home and a couple extra hours of riding Peaceful, my mostly gray Appaloosa. It had been a while since I’d had time for a good, long ride and I knew Peaceful wanted to get out, too, and explore the countryside.
So I charged into the house, discarding office clothes as I went and grabbing my riding jeans from the dryer on my way to the bedroom. I hadn’t bothered to look towards the barn and the corral. No reason to. NutterButter, the pony who liked to go visiting and take my four full-sized horses with her whenever and wherever she went, was currently with a family half a state away who’d taken her with option to buy her if NutterButter and their son got along well.
I hoped they would. I was tired of chasing four horses and a pony all over the county, collecting them, and then herding them back home. So the day had an extra fillip of enjoyment. A couple extra hours of riding with no worry about my other horses meandering everywhere they shouldn’t while I wasn’t around.
Then my cell rang. “Hi, Shauna. Michael here.”
“What gives?” Michael, my good-looking neighbor who’d ridden the school bus with me when we were kids and, like me, stayed in the area when he grew up, connected every so often as neighbors do, especially neighbors close enough to see smoke rise from each other’s chimneys on clear mornings.
“The herd came visiting.” He paused, then continued, smothering a laugh I knew so well. “Again.”
“Impossible!” I held the cell away from me so as to better see the picture he’d sent of four adult horses sneaking across his back yard. “NutterButter isn’t here.”
“Guess she taught them well.” The laugh exploded as he could no longer hold in his merriment. “Like how to escape and go walkabout.”
I sank onto the nearest chair, almost falling in the process because I didn’t check where I was sitting. I was that upset. Disappointed. Disgusted. “And here I thought I was done with escape artist horses.”
“Guess not.” I could see his tears of laughter in my imagination. “I was too late to stop them. They were across the yard and gone by the time I grabbed a rope and went outside.”
I groaned. “Where do you think they went?”
Another chuckle, followed by, “The last I saw of them – their rear ends – they were headed towards the river.”
I groaned again, louder this time because the river is famous among us locals and not for its peaceful nature. “There are so many trees. And really tall, prickly bushes. And creeks coming from everywhere that crisscross each other on their way to nowhere. And, of course, there’s the river itself.”
“Bring rubber boots,” he added helpfully, choking on laughter. “Or prepare to go wading.”
This story and eleven others are available in the anthology THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY, available now at Amazon:
A note before you read a sample of CANOES AND CUPCAKES.
I’m joining Kindle Vella and hope you’ll read my stories there. Vella is a serialized story-telling app on Amazon that lets readers read stories one episode at a time. The first three episodes will always be free, then it’ll cost a pittance to read the rest of the episodes.
My first foray into Vella is “THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS.” It’s science fiction, the first-person stories of women who joined the multi-generational starship Nova One on a one-way voyage to a new home on a planet across the galaxy. The stories will all be different. Different kinds of stories, different characters, all HEA. Some funny, some heart-warming, some sad, some hard science fiction.
Hope you read THE SPACE BETWEEN THE STARS. Kindle Vella is due to go live in mid to late July. Don’t yet know how to access it other than what Amazon says, that it’ll be available on the Amazon Kindle Vella Store. Whatever that means. Hope you find it and hope you like all the stories you find there.
Here’s the June story. A romance because it’s June. Of course!
CANOES AND CUPCAKES
“Cupcakes are a thing.” John examined the sky. “And you always did enjoy baking.”
It took a moment for me to realize what he’d said, after which all I could manage was, “Where’d that come from?” My brother checked the sky again to make sure it was still there as a way of not looking at me so I knew the comment wasn’t random. He had something on his mind.
“There’s money in cupcakes.” His attention slowly, carefully, moved from the sky to me and pleading was evident in his pitiful expression. He’s good at pitiful expressions. I used to fall for them. I don’t anymore. “A cupcake business would be a chance to make money and, since you like to bake, you’d have fun at the same time.”
“I don’t have time. I have my studies.”
The pitiful pleading increased. “Ancient history? That’s about dead people.” A flick of his hand sent fluff from the nearby milkweeds into the air. There was a patch in our yard that we didn’t cut because Monarch butterflies lived there. I still lived at home, being a student, so I loved watching them. John had an apartment but visited often. Like now. Today. Because he wanted something. From me. “Don’t you have enough degrees? Do you truly need another one?”
I wanted to tell him that I found dead people fascinating. That jobs in history pretty much require a PhD. That I wasn’t interested in his idea, whatever it was. That I was happy with my life. Instead I foolishly asked, “What’s behind this sudden interest in cupcakes?”
A Monarch butterfly landed on the picnic table and we both went quiet and watched until it flew away. We followed its path through the air until it disappeared around the corner of the house. Then he answered my question. “Canoes.”
“Huh?” He managed not to look away but it was hard and he cleared his throat as I asked a second question. “What do cupcakes and canoes have in common?”
“Evan and I want to go canoeing.” My brother loves the outdoors. Always has, from watching butterflies in the summer to snowshoeing in the winter and everything in between. If it was out of doors, he and Evan, his best friend, knew about it, had tried it, and loved it.
“You don’t have a canoe.”
“That’s the problem. Can’t go canoeing without a canoe.”
“So a cupcake business is to fund the purchase of a canoe?”
“Yep.” He looked away. Then back at me. Then away again but I’d seen his face during that brief moment and found myself wilting. The nearby river was gorgeous and flowed peacefully through graceful twists and curves for miles. Almost every time we crossed the bridge on our way to town we saw at least one canoe floating down the lovely waterway. “We couldn’t think of another way to get enough money.”
They both had jobs but were paying off steep school loans plus rent, and entry jobs don’t pay a lot. The thing is, they are both nice people. And I am a fairly decent baker. “You think cupcakes will do it.” My tone of voice said what I thought of such a ridiculous idea. I said it in that specific tone of voice to make him understand that it was impossible.
He wiggled. Found a comfortable position. Opened his mouth. Wiggled a bit more and sat up straight again which meant this was truly important. “We stopped at a bakery in the mall for some donuts and there were people lined up buying cupcakes.”
This story and eleven more are in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY and is available now at Amazon.
What was that sound? Soft and squeaky and – scared? Angry? What?
I didn’t want to investigate. My back ached. I rubbed where I could reach and promised myself a hot bath once I finished my chores and could finally – finally – go inside. Besides, I told myself, it was clearly an animal. Did I want to confront what could be something disagreeable and dirty and scary? No, I did not.
But then I heard it again. Squeaky, that was it for sure. Now what kind of animal squeaks?
As I asked myself the question, I answered myself. The young kind and what if this was a miniature skunk or something similar that was best avoided?
Another squeak. This time more than one. Did I have a family of skunks in my new-to-me barn? I’d only moved in a week ago and if I’d have known how much work I was letting myself in for I might have reconsidered. But the house was lovely, old and rambling, the kind for families and Ricky and Josie would love it, along with the barn that showed years of neglect but still stood straight and strong. All it needed was paint, a lot of work to clean it out, and a lot of TLC.
An awful lot of TLC.
The squeak came again and this time I faced facts. Ricky and Josie would be here in two days. If whatever was making tiny noises in my barn was there when they arrived, who knew what would happen when they explored their new home? And, yes, the barn would be the first place they went just as it had been the thing that had first hit me when the real estate agent had pulled up to the old farm.
I didn’t want them bitten by whatever was in the barn. So, with a sigh and a promise of a hot bath later, I started for the barn. The door was slightly ajar.
I’d almost reached the door when I saw movement inside. I stopped. Should I proceed?
Then, before I could make a decision, the squeaks came again. And three tiny, cute, differently colored kittens appeared in the door.
The rest of this story and eleven more can be read in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY, available now at Amazon.
Amazon has done it again. Come up with a new way to publish stories. It’s Kindle Vella and it’ll be serialized stories.
And I’m going to give it a try.
My first story will be a series of stories I’ve been working on that I’d intended to publish as an anthology. I’m far enough along to start publishing the first ones. The name of the book is THE SPACE BETWEEN STARS and it’s the individual stories of women who volunteered to become colonists on another planet after a multi-generational trip through the stars.
Don’t know when Kindle Vella will go live but when it does, check it out.
A quick glance at the clock on the wall said I had time to grab a cup of coffee before heading to my desk. A quick cup, of course, and I’d take it to my desk instead of hanging around the break room because that clock said it was time to get started.
“Hi,” I said vaguely to the knot of people talking about something. As usual. I’d always wondered how they found the time to talk and still get their work done. But they did. I glanced at the clock again. No time to waste because I was a hard-working employee who didn’t spend much time in the break room. And I wanted my bosses to notice that fact about me.
Then I stopped stock still because everyone was staring at me and waiting for me to say something and I realized that while I’d been thinking about time and work someone had asked a question and I’d been so focused on the clock that I hadn’t heard.
I turned red. “What did you say? I’m sorry, I –“ and then I just kind of stopped as they started laughing because I’d done it again. Become so focused on work that everything else faded away. It was a familiar joke in the office, one I actually didn’t mind even though I blushed every time it happened. Like now.
“We were wondering what you think of the new guy.”
“Do we have a new guy?”
More laughter. “Yes we do and you should see him, Shelley.” The speaker groaned. “He’s a triple threat. Gorgeous. Nice. And single.” She groaned again but with a grin because she was happily married. “And so are you. Single, that is. A fact I mention now just in case you are interested.” They stared at me, all those happily married people, expecting a reaction.
I made an indistinguishable sound and, since everyone else had their coffee by then, I grabbed a cup and poured some for myself, adding a carefully measured dollop of cream and a packet of artificial sweetener because too much sugar isn’t good for anyone. “I haven’t noticed him.” And then I turned to head for my desk.
And stopped because someone was in my way. Oops.
The rest of this story and eleven more stories can be read in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY, available now at Amazon:
Ross dropped wearily onto the couch. “We’re done.”
“Done enough.” There were still a few boxes here and there, but I could handle them. I was a stay-at-home mom until Teresa had a few years of school, a decision we’d made when she was born.
“I was afraid I’d not get a decent night’s sleep before starting my new job.” He wiggled his body and closed his eyes and breathed contentment. “Now I know I will and I need it. Moving is hard work and I look forward to a summer of catching up and doing absolutely nothing.”
“Don’t get too comfortable.”
He opened one eye. “Why not?”
“Teresa’s birthday is coming fast.” The birthday that meant she could start school. She was excited.
“So she wants a party.”
“Naturally. Five years is a milestone birthday.”
I sighed and repeated my previous statement one word at a time. Slowly. “She. Wants. A. Party.”
“Of course she does and I don’t see the problem.” He lay his head back and opened the other eye and stared at the ceiling.
“We just moved and don’t know anyone.”
“So?” He still didn’t get it.
“So parties normally involve guests and whom will we invite to Teresa’s party if we don’t know anyone?” I didn’t have to add that our little girl was turning into a social butterfly because she’d made that abundantly clear during the few years she’d been on earth. She loved people. Loved parties. Loved parties with wall to wall people.
“Oh dear.” He sat up, groaning at what the effort had cost his body. “A problem we’ll have to solve somehow.” He brightened. “We’ll convince her that a party with only family in attendance is the best kind of celebration.”
“Won’t work. I already tried.”
“Oh.” He slumped back to his former resting position and sighed. “Then you’re right. It’s a problem.” After a moment of thought, he almost smiled. “Which is why I’m glad I must concentrate on my new job in order to do a bang-up job of being the sole support of my family while you deal with the problem of Teresa’s birthday.”
“Won’t work, big guy. We’re in this together.”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay. I had to try. But you’re right.” Silence lay long and heavy in the room. “We’ll figure it out. Somehow. We have to because we love Teresa and she loves parties.” That was the end of the discussion, not because we didn’t care but because neither of us could come up with a single solution to the problem of Teresa’s birthday.
The rest of this story and eleven more can be found in THE WOMEN OF FLY-OVER COUNTRY, available now on Amazon: