Space Between

It is the edge of a dime,

the space between thoughts.

I deserve nothing

and everything,

the misery I have bought

by an ability to breathe.


I reach and you reach,

this intangible smile,

the flutter of the heart,

the soul,

and the long cold miles

I would walk for you.


It is the sting of a knife,

the space between fair and foul.

I breathe for change,

for love,

and I will never know how

to meld the light and dark,


and the spaces between.

Adrift in Freshwater

Woman, after the waves licked your wounds

desert dry, and the heavy stones flew up above your head,

you became a soft legend, a fire among the dead

with a pen in your hand, your nails blood red

from the hours spent climbing the glass. 


The water lily sank from the weight of

your shoe, as the tar-mud on your hands rinsed clean;

a new life, the death was raw and a blinding green.

You perched in blue quiet on the water lily; a pale queen

on your throne undeniable; immortal and lost.


Your eyes, dark wide open, absorbed

a thousand glances, a million and one days

of lovers holding feathers in a thick violet haze

over the chasm in which you wandered with no age

while hundreds of sung heroes built altars to display your mind.


The water’s fingers, black from earth’s speech

held you serene and steady, forbidding you to cry,

fearing you might shatter the spell when you rose up to die.

They shut your eyes against the colors floating by

until sleep came bold and brazen, a new dress among the rags. 


An Open Letter to My Sons

Dear Benjamin and William,

You won’t understand this yet—you’re still young, full of running through sprinklers in the summery green grass and plastic dinosaurs and bubble baths, so I’ll save it until you’re ready. When you do read this, you’ll probably remember echoes of this same conversation, the times when I talked to you about listening to your brother or your friend when you were playing around or annoying them and they asked you to stop. The times when I talked to you about respecting another person’s body, another person’s right to say no to anything, be it your attempt to steal a chip from their plate at lunch or a pillow fight that got a little too rough.

You’ll remember the word consent, because I’ve been using it for years.

But let me back up a little. Because this letter is about much more than asking and listening for no. It’s about much more than consent.

It’s about recognizing another person’s humanity.

You may grow up to like girls. You may grow up to like boys. You may grow up to like both or neither, but no matter who you find attractive, it comes down to the same thing—humanity.

I’m going to talk about girls right now, because I am a girl and because I speak for girls and because no matter who you end up loving, I want you to fight for girls, because chances are, you will be in a position of power over a woman at some point in your life, be it sexually or in a friendship or a job or simply passing a woman on the street. As much as I hope this is not the case when you become teenagers, that all people regardless of their gender or lack thereof will have attained true equality, I have to prepare you for a world in which that is not true.

A world like the one we currently live.

I’ve spent a lot of years, a lot of energy, a lot of tears thinking about why.  Why do you some men hurt women? Why do they feel the need to exert power over them? Why do their own bodies negate the autonomy of a woman’s? Why do they feel so entitled to women?

Let me tell you, my loves, you are not entitled.

The most important thing I want you to know, to make sure you never ever doubt, is that you are in no way entitled to a woman’s body. To her mind. To her opinions. To her ideas. She is not yours, no matter how much she might love you and you might love her. She is always her own. Even if she chooses to give you parts of herself, her heart, her affection, she is still her own. You are not entitled to the women who are your friends. You are not entitled to the women whose names you do not know. You are not entitled to the woman you met at that party and who chooses—or does not choose—to have fun with you for only a night. You are not entitled the woman in the bikini, the sweatshirt, the tight tank top, the hijab, the baggy jeans, the plaid shirt, the short skirt, the apron, the halter top. You are not entitled to the woman who gets drunk at a party. You are not entitled to the woman you’ve been dating for six months. You are not entitled to the black woman, the white woman, the Korean woman, the Muslim woman, the Latina. You are not entitled to the naked woman, the fat woman, the disabled woman. You are not entitled to the woman in your bed or in your arms. You are not entitled to the woman other men tell you you are entitled to.

You are not entitled to her.

I hope, on the day you finally read this, that you read the above paragraph and think Of course I’m not entitled to her, god, Mom! I hope you are appalled that I would have to say those things, that you are sickened that there are men in the world who believe they are entitled to every person who identifies as a woman.

I sincerely hope that.

But, even if you are appalled, there is probably that part of you, way in the back of our mind, that is not so shocked. Because chances are, you know men like this. Chances are, some of your friends have this attitude around women, even though they’d never say it so explicitly. Chances are, you’ve laughed at a crass joke or two at a woman’s expense. Because it’s everywhere. That laughter. That attitude that women are silly, sexualized objects, fodder for witty banter and a good time and displays of power. It’s in the jokes, the reports of sexual assault, the quiet favoring of men over women. It is both subtle and violent, an angry shout and a quiet laugh. It is in the silence.

And I’m telling you this because I do not want you to laugh. I do not want you to be silent. I want you to be the man who calls out that laughter, who fills the silence with respect and truth and who knows silence is needed so the woman’s voice is the loudest. Who realizes that women are not a punchline, women are not only bodies to be ogled and touched, women are not only soft skin and breasts and vaginas.

That women do not exist for men.

I want you to be men who speak for women, alongside women. Who refuse to be that man who makes a woman nervous. Who refuse to showboat for his friends when a girl bares her midriff or drinks a lot of vodka cranberries.

I want you to be men who ask.

I’m going to talk to you about sex now. I know, you’re probably cringing, but if I’ve raised you the way I’ve intended, I’ve been talking to you about sex for a long time now. I’ve probably already slipped boxes of condoms into your bedside table drawers. Sure, you’re probably still wincing a bit—I am your mother, after all—but hopefully you already know that sex is a part of many people’s lives. That sex, if it’s what those involved truly want, is wonderful and fun. You already know that when it comes to sex, there’s a lot power involved, for everyone. You already know about consent and you are already men who respect and value women and their autonomy and their humanity and their voices.

If I’ve done my job, none of this will be new information. But, part of my job is writing this letter to you right now, so let me say this again—You are not entitled to a woman’s body in any way. You’re not entitled to catcall her on the street, to keep trying to talk to her when she’s asked you to stop, to touch any part of her unless she has asked you to or said yes when you’ve asked.

Yes, that brings us to that word again—consent.

Consent isn’t complicated. It’s really not. It’s really quite simple and I’m going to lay it out for you right here.

If a girl has been drinking and can’t stand up, can’t form a complete sentence, can’t stay awake, can’t focus on looking at you, can’t stop laughing, then she cannot consent anything. Kissing, touching, sex in any form, nothing. There’s absolutely nothing that should be asked of her. Just take care of her. Get her some place safe, find her friends who can get her home, call her parents or her sister or brother or whoever you have to call to get her home or in a safe place. Alcohol isn’t the enemy here. It does not entitle you or other men to anything. If something happens to a girl while she’s intoxicated, that act is not her fault. Let me repeat that: If something happens to a girl while she’s intoxicated, that act is not her fault. Intoxication does not mean a woman deserves to be violated in any way.

Don’t equivocate on this. It’s wrong, plain and simple. Just take care of her, not because she’s a women and can’t take care of herself, but because she’s human being who needs some help, who deserves to be safe. Take care of her like you’d take care of one of your male friends if he couldn’t stand up or get home on his own.

Two, if you’re with a girl physically, get consent before taking things further. Simple as that. Even if she’s your best friend and you’ve been together for years. It doesn’t have to be the is huge event where you stop all the kissing and whatever you’re doing and have this in depth conversation.

It’s as easy as one word: Okay? 

That’s it. A one word question before you go any further. Of course it might take various forms. This okay? How’s this? You all right? Can I? It could be anything you’re comfortable with. It can be playful. It can be sexy. Consent is sexy. And if she’s the one who wants to take it further, she should ask you as well. Please don’t think for a second that it’s always you, that girls have zero interest in sex and only do it for some emotional connection. Not true. Sex is not only about you. Don’t make it only about you. That’s why it’s important to ask.

And if she says no…STOP.

If you’re uncomfortable…say no and STOP.

Sometimes, questions aren’t asked, but the girl (or boy) never says no. Sex, or something else, happens and it wasn’t what that person actually wanted and they didn’t know how to say no. They were scared. They wanted to be liked. To be loved. To be desired. They didn’t want to disappoint. But they still didn’t really want it to go that far. 

This is still rape. Yes, it absolutely is.

That’s why it’s important to ask.

I’ve talked to men before, good men whom I trust, who’ve said that they have a fear that they’ll accidentally rape someone. That things will get so heated that they’ll reach some point of no return and things will happen that they didn’t mean to take so far.

Well. To that I have a few things to say—one, I don’t believe in a point of no return. Men are not uncontrollable animals lacking all inhibitions. That’s perpetuating a dangerous boys will be boys mentality that, frankly, is bullshit. Don’t buy into that for a second. You are capable of self-control. You are capable of humanity in the most heated of moments. So no, boys will not be boys. Boys will be human beings who respect other human beings. Who respect themselves.

Another thing I’ll say about that is what I’ve already said twice. This is why it is important to ask. If you ask, if she asks, if you make sure that the next step you take is something you both want, then that next step will be so much better than something you’ll doubt later on.

My loves, if you’re with a woman, chances are, you’re the one with more power. Culturally and socially, maybe even physically, you just are. And I don’t say that as a good thing or as something to bolster your ego. I say it as an undeniable fact, but as something that should be changed, should be challenged. That is why I first wanted you to know, to know and own and believe and absorb down to your bone marrow, that you are not entitled to any woman. Ever. If you know that, the girl you’re asking won’t fear you. She won’t be afraid to say no. She’ll know she can trust you. She’ll know that if she says no, you’ll stop and it’ll be okay.

And she’ll know that if she says yes, it’s because she really wants to say yes, that you really want to say yes.

She’ll know that you’re a man who will stand beside her, for her.

She’ll know that you’re a man who will let her speak for herself, who won’t devalue her experience because you feel threatened.

She’ll know that you’re a man who will never well, actually her.

She’ll know that you’re a man who will speak out against sexual assault, against rape, against the culture that teaches boys that they are entitled to women, instead of remaining silent while women shout and shout and shout at a world that won’t listen to them.

She’ll know you are a man she never has to fear.

And that, my sons, is what I hope for you. It is what I hope for the women in your life. It is what I hope for us all.


The fire isn’t always red—

cool blue of every shade

more often than not. It fades

and blooms a jagged line and we all wade

in its shallows and depths.


Fear that I’m irreparably flawed—

that is the scorching red.

Behind me, the ghosts of the dead

make me in their image. I bled

out and I breathed in.


Monster or maiden fair—

a tail coils around my porcelain thigh.

A bloody heart beats under a frozen sigh

and the crowds adore, the people cry.

I am who I have always been. 


©Ashley Herring Blake 2015


The smell of your skin,

softer somehow, and mine

a dull glow underneath.

If I touch you, will

I disappear,

blurred by that silken


My head, a mess of

color and never evers,

stitches you into my


the threads delicate

and unbending.

I don’t remember the

day my face slid over yours—

the hours I left you behind,

a picture underwater.

But you’re still here,

always the question in my mind.


©Ashley Herring Blake 2015

Night Walk

You puttered down the hall,

with white socks on your little feet,

to the asylum where you buttered the bread

and poured the cold milk into the tall

and vitreous glasses. A form of heat

rose from your throat when you put the red

napkins in their place on the tray; this was all


you had to offer. Your childhood slept

while your wiped up the crumbs, fearing

to leave such traces of those intentions

that ignited in the water that day and had crept

stealthily for years in every dress you stood wearing

in front of long mirrors. Their faith premonition,

becoming louder by the breath, now kept


you at home that night. Solace in the form

of a morning meal wavered like the crystal balls

you used to hide under the pillows. You released the tray

as though it held your children, using a touch warm

and humming with finality. After you sealed them in the crawl

space of their certain futures, the yellow haze

of your years came rushing like a hero, like a whiskey, like a storm.  


©Ashley Herring Blake

Sunday Walk

We walked between the trees on a Sunday,

the pollen falling in our hair.

We didn’t care as long as the colors

came out every year.

You loved the way things grew and I

loved how you talked about miracles,

better for your lungs than oxygen’s clear



I remember when Sundays grew heavy

on my skin, a southern spirit

singing some nameless dread.

I could never put my finger on it,

but I tucked it in my bed

every week, waking and wearing it, my Monday

dress. I welcomed the rain

to soothe the burn;

puddles to fill the holes dotting the streets.

That day, you said, a turbulent day

of mystic rest.

Sunday was a bitter apple and I, ravenous

at the table.


So this is the sea; the great distance

linking two worlds, two masses held

spinning on fire, waiting to be joined

again. These trees, the sprawling stance

of the oak and we crane our necks to spy on the leaves,

the only familiar line. 

Take your boat, let’s row to the top

in these green waters, once red.

We’ll make our own nest against the thread

of sun and moon.

We’ll fly on this Sunday, changing the grey

sky to blue with our touch. 


©Ashley Herring Blake 2015

Forever and Ever Amen

Your angels sing of beauty

after death

and I must say that I agree.

Your last kiss—

dry and full of years,

of words and songs and rules and tears,

full of nothing—

was a relief.


Forever and ever amen.


A slow death long coming,

a struggle for air underground.

I breathed in the dirt, the pure glow

of the unbelieving.

Nothing can replace you

and I suppose nothing should.

You were not real, you were not true,

and I was unreal inside you.


This is the word of the lord.


Your ghost stains the skies,

the earth, the skin.

It swells inside the lies

I speak each week,

the smiles I smile while something dies.

Two lives, a pressure in my head,

and a bloody heart stained bloody red.


Thanks be to god.


And you hold the world

in your nonexistent grip.

I scattered my pearls

and they gleamed in the rain,

so beautiful under all that blurry gray.

I gave you my love for a handful of dust,

and when I shook you off,

all the glory, all the rust,

my tears had long-since cracked and dried.

I smiled.


Forever and ever amen.



The First Year


You said it would be an adventure

and I agreed; a great expedition

north to the town of


salt-box houses haunted by Einstein’s ghost.

We emerged from our fortress

of books—my novels and your


theological masters—two southern

pilgrims under the mild sun of the

Jersey summer. When we got here,


I cried in our closet-sized living room,

moving awkwardly between the boxes

of white wedding gifts yet unwrapped,


the hazards of our three-day journey forgotten,

and I dissolved beneath the cardboard.

You pulled me out with sobriquets and


striding walks through the picturesque town

long covered over with pomp and

the elite sideways glance of the maitre de. 


We liked to walk. We loved the

bakery and the library, dousing ourselves

with sweet flour between the rising glass walls.


I gazed lustfully at the university, its

spires soaring to a heaven I would

never know. I thought how


sad it is, the lives we must forsake

to faithfully live our own.  Do

you remember when I told you


all the things I would do if I only

had wings and an open ear to hear

the words I scribble. Dreams,


it seem, wax and wane under the relentless

rains of the long Jersey winter; before it dried,

I stepped into a deep puddle


and disappeared. 


©Ashley Herring Blake 2015

In Which I Attempt to Suss Out a Secondary Character Through Flash Fiction

Five dollars isn’t a lot of money. Unless you’re a runaway with nail scratches up his arms and a bat-shit crazy mother who’s probably figured out that I’ve flown the chicken house by now. Five dollars is a goddamn fortune for that poor sap.

The store reeks of gasoline and day-old hot dogs. I wander up and down the aisles, letting my fingers trace over the cardboard boxes and plastic packages masking their sugary chemical deliciousness. I select a can of Mountain Dew—way cheaper than a bottle—and a bag of sunflower seeds. They’ll last me a few days. What I really want is to inhale about four packs of M&Ms, but last time that happened I puked all over my mom’s mom’s mom’s crocheted afghan and got a bloody lip for my trouble. Needless to say, bad memories.

I pile my spoils on the counter and throw a pack of mints on top. Whenever I get really hungry, a tiny green-speckled disc on my tongue sometimes tricks my brain into thinking it’s real food. The dude behind the register leans on his palms, inspecting my stuff. I glance up and startle, because he’s not checking out my meager meal, but staring at me with a mix of alarm and interest. He’s also sorta gorgeous—oceanic blue-green eyes that make me think his entire body tastes like the sea, a dark top-knot on his head coupled with, dear sweet holy lord, a beautiful beard. He’s maybe a little older than me.

“Is this all you need, man?” he asks, tapping one long finger on the soda can.


“Sure about that?”

I tilt my head and catch a glimpse of myself in the cheap mirror behind him. Its surface is wavy and bordered by packs of cigarettes, but I see enough. My sandy-blond hair looks darker than normal, days of grease and actual sand for all the hell I know slicking down the strands. My cheeks sink inward like they’re trying to eat my mouth. Don’t even get me started on my eyes. Usually a coffee-with-cream brown I’ve always sorta liked, they now look like a mud puddle a dog pissed in.

My eyes sting and I look away. I slap my five-dollar bill down on the counter, focusing on my dirty half-moon fingernails. After a few long-ass seconds, he takes it and hands me an even three bucks in return.  

“You didn’t ring up the mints,” I say.

“Sure did.” He disappears for a sec to grab a plastic bag, then tosses my stuff inside. He holds it out to me, biting his lower lip and still managing to smile in a way that makes me want to simultaneously maul and make out with him.

“Fuck it,” I mumble, yanking the bag from his grip before stalking outside. I have no idea why mumbling obscenities and yanking and stalking like a toddler seem appropriate reactions right now, but they are.

The humid afternoon air is sticky in my lungs, but I feel a little more in control. I know he didn’t charge me for the mints, if he actually charged me for anything. For some reason, his kindness infuriates me. Who the hell? I’m fine. I’ve lasted five days on only ten George Washingtons and this raw fed-fucking-up-with-life feeling in my chest to drive me. I’m only a couple hundred miles away from Asheville and my aunt, whom I haven’t seen in five years and who’s the only person on God’s green Earth who probably gives two shits about me. No one helped me out when I had to drag Mom’s drunk ass into the bathroom on my fifth birthday so she could puke her gin into the toilet. No one helped me scrape up change from the floorboard of her car so I could buy some Neosporin from the CVS for the cut burned across my right eyebrow from a flying beer bottle. That was all me and I’m doing just fine.

I meander down the sidewalk and dive into the bag, my stomach rumbling for some salty seeds. Inside I find three perfectly yellow bananas and two slick green apples. The hell? When did he slip those in?

Whirling around, I stalk—yes, stalk—back inside the store. He glances up from the comic book he’s reading, slipping off his stool as I approach. I empty the bag of its fruit on the counter and turn to go, but he snags my wrist.

“Just take it, man,” he says.

“I don’t need it.”

“Yeah. You do.”

His fingers tighten gently on my wrist, thumb brushing over my skin, then all at once loosen and slip free. I feel their absence, this phantom softness that brings a weight crashing down on my shoulders.

I can’t remember the last time someone touched me in a way that wasn’t out for blood.

Suddenly my chest is way too tight and the oxygen in the store way too thin. I stumble back a couple steps and Top Knot circles around the counter. He reaches out a hand, circling it around my arm to steady me. He doesn’t say a word. Just keeps his arm there for a few seconds while I heave and gulp air like a…well, like a runaway who’s scared shitless.

After a few minutes, he puts the fruit back in my bag and presses it to my chest. I grip it and he squeezes my shoulder. Tears stack up in my eyes, but they don’t fall. I don’t let them.

But I do take the bag.




10 Alternative Titles to SUFFER LOVE

There's a fun blog/Twitter swap in which we select 10 random phrases from our manuscript by scrolling through blindly and letting the cursor do its magic. I've done one of these with 8 titles, so I've added 2 more. I love this game. Cracks. Me. Up. I've been tagged by my pal K. E. Ormsbee, who is kind and witty and a wiz with the words. Her middle grade debut, THE WATER AND THE WILD drops from Chronicle Books in April of 2015 AND she's got a YA, THE LUCKY FEW coming in 2016. She is my favorite redhead I've never met IRL. Here are the results of that randomness, from Suffer Love.

1. Blood Roaring Through My Ears

2. When I Get Them Clean Enough

3. I'm Pretty Damn Desperate

4. Hold On and Run Like Hell

5. Jesus Christ Smoking Weed on His Neck.

6. Consider Yourself a Walking Catalytic Event

7. Softly, and Just Once

8. I Point to the Vacuum

9. The Toes Are Ragged

10. Everyone is Beautiful and Dazzling and Glittery


Well now. 

I don't know who I'm tagging. TBA. 


Poetry and Emotion

So before I wrote fiction, I wrote poetry. I think. I can't 100%  account for those fuzzy preschool years, but I do remember writing poetry in middle school and high school. In college, I went through a very interesting and, in my hind-sighted opinion, dark period during which I only read and wrote nonfiction. Then I wrote songs, which as every one knows is just a more metered form of poetry. After my glorious, I have 750+ copies of my CD leftover music career ended, I returned to poetry.

Back in 2007, I moved to Princeton, NJ and it's there I really rediscovered my love of fiction and, more specifically, kid's fiction. While all of this was blooming, I was reading a lot of classics and became mildly obsessed with brilliant author's who died before their time. On a personal level, I was spitting out poetry like some kind of poetry-spitting machine because I was facing my father's untimely death, watching my lifelong relationship with Christianity grow more and more tenuous, and still sort of reeling from a messy past that send me fleeing to Nashville back in 2005. 

I had a lot of emotions churning around in me and they broke out in the form of free verse. 

I wrote a lot of poetry about my father. I wrote a lot about my family and about lies and betrayal. I wrote a lot about God/god. I wrote a lot about my first year of marriage and these, my friends, were really the only bright bits in the whole collection. I mean, I drift toward the melancholy anyway, so it was nice to have a sweet new hubs to balance all that out. 

Thing went on like this for a while. I wrote close to forty poems in a matter of months. I look back at them now and I don't even remember writing half of them. But I do remember the release of writing them. I remember the relief. The spark of recognition when I wrote something about one thing only to realize it was about another thing. 

Mortality was on my mind quite a bit, and at the time of this sort of literary and writing awakening in Princeton (an excellent town in which to have an awakening) I wrote a lot about dead writers. Plath, Sexton, Woolf, Millay. Later on I'd write some poems inspired by some of favorite classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Grapes of Wrath. All of this poetry writing was a huge step toward writing fiction for me. I don't write novels in verse, but I love beautiful prose. I love descriptive and figurative language, so much so that my editor is like, "Take it down a notch, Ash." Which is okay, but as I embark on this wild publishing-story-making journey, I'm glad I have those poems to fall back on. I'm glad wild and difficult times in my life made me dig deep. I'm glad I bled onto a page in verse, in a form that only had to make sense to me if I so chose, because it enabled me to grab onto that emotion and mold it into something that could make sense to everyone.

Does that make sense?

Now, I'm delving back into that poetry a bit. My current WIP deals a little with mental illness and the fear of mental illness and the fear of not belonging and the pain of mortality. Lots o' emoting going on and I find myself going back to some of my poems from that time in my life as reference. When I'm stuck on a character, I look back over my poetry, or I write a new poem from that character's perspective. Those verses will never, ever see the light of day, but the freedom of the form helps me tap into that needed emotion and saves me from putting in a lot of unnecessary visceral emotive language that can sometimes be a cop out to that emotion. So we'll see. 

In farewell, here's a poem. It might make no sense to you. It might sound like total chaos. And maybe it is. But this poem helped me with my MC's mother and her story.



"Margaret Mary"

The moon is rising, Margaret Mary.

I’m going home now.

For all my thousands of listening ears

my tongue is still somehow,

trembling with the many words your heart

lusts after and your mind spits back

in a fiery flash of bitter endearment.

I’ve done all I can tonight, my part

relentlessly unfulfilling. You wander in the void

of that pristine piece, the daddy to your

cowering child, the perfectly round

pill to that perpetual itch. 

Disappointed again,

you stay awake, scrubbing the ground

till your fingers bleed;

perfection attainable,

sanity hesitating, possible

in the frenzied quiet hours as

you create your colored hell,

your drop in the blue bottle acidic. 

I cannot paint over that red stain,

rendering the raw a stale black and white

of afternoon coffee and whims.

No one can pull the sun through the rain,

flinging the shadows from your door.

The sun is his own man.

The light,

rebellious and fickle, strays from

your screams as a pen from wet paper.


So the night comes

again, like a friend who never speaks,

without hand or body to feel, to clasp.

When the dark slips from your fevered grasp,

I’ll come again, Margaret Mary. 




777 Challenge

To kick-off my blog, I've been tagged in the 777 Challenge! Basically this means you get to see a random blurb or my current WIP, which may or may not suck in its current state. You get to read the first full 7 lines on the 7th page, starting 7 lines down. Lucky you! Er...

The tentative title of this little darling is Sky Blue Sky. An artist and severe introvert, 16 year old Annabel panics after finding out her long-estranged mother has been trying to reach her for over twelve years. One huge bad decision later, Annabel has a secret that only the misunderstood and lonely Mateo knows. Meanwhile, her best friends are drifting further and further away from her, and Annabel begins to believe only her mysterious mother can help her.

So that's the gist. A very rough gist. And without further ado, here is the 777.


I laid there for another hour, my breath shallow and quick, wondering what my name was supposed to be. Wondering why the idea of it made her so happy. Wondering if Dad would answer if I asked him on one of the other 364 days out of the year when he’s stone-cold sober and freshly pressed into his crisp suit and tie.

Dad’s usually an impenetrable tower when it comes to Libby McKee. He never talks about her and never lets me or anyone else in town ask about her. The questions about Mom faded out just a few months after she left...


Intrigued? God, I hope so. Write on!

Here are the 7 writers I've tagged to carry on, fellow/future Sweet Sixteeners and a couple Fifteeners because I like them a lot.

K.E. Ormsbee

Mackenzie Lee

Emily Martin

Jen Maschari

Melanie Conklin

Samantha Mabrie

Ellen Goodlett

Write on!