10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4… This marks day seven of my ten-day countdown to the release of my novella Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree. You can read more about #HolidayTreeNovella at the bottom of this post, but today I’m taking you back to the first novel in the Appalachian Elemental’s series, Cleaning House.
Yes, I’m well aware that it’s only been a few months since the release of Cleaning House – An Appalachian Contemporary Fantasy, but I’m spending the month of November featuring it in my #TBT series because of the impending release of the second title in the series, the novella Mama, Me, & the Holiday Tree. It’s almost always good to relive the past, even the recent past, so I’ll be sharing Chapter One from Cleaning House throughout the month.
So without further ado…
“Fourteen. Fifteen.” Centenary Rhodes counted the bills in her hand a second time and shoved them back into the front pocket of her cargo pants. She had fifteen dollars left after she paid her rent. Fifteen dollars for food and the bus. She sighed and turned away from the hamburger joint whose door she’d darkened. “Beans and rice it is… again.”
She skipped the bus— too much money— and walked the two miles back to her shabby one-room North Chicago apartment, opting for the alley that shortened the last six blocks to four, ignoring the catcalls from the construction site at the far end.
Short, dirty-blond hair styled into an undercut, black, heavy-framed glasses that hid soft blue eyes, and baggy pants that masked what little curve her large-boned frame had managed to achieve. She wore a loose t-shirt over her top-half and a ball cap with a brim bent much like her current attitude. Cent was skinny but strong nonetheless, a tough-as-nails Appalachian woman, a concept no one in North Chicago seemed able to grasp. Those idiots will whistle at anything on two legs.
She turned on her size twelve sneakers to jog across the street, down the block, picking up her pace the last two blocks to her apartment when it began raining, closing the progression of bolts and chains on her front door before she leaned against it to stare wearily at her dingy apartment. The marble flooring and Art Deco lighting in the corridor were still pretty, but they didn’t match the cracked plaster walls. The old bank had once been grand, but now…
Look for more from Chapter One next week.
A dozen handmade holiday ornaments, that’s all, but it might be an impossible task.
Centenary Rhodes and her mother are at constant odds. It’s one of the many reasons Cent left home when she was eighteen. Mama’s difficult for anyone to manage, but now that Cent’s back home, she has to try. Mama, however, won’t acknowledge who Cent’s become, even though she’s repeatedly been shown the truth.
It’ll take more than popcorn strings and paper snowflakes to heal the rift that’s formed between Cent and Mama. It’s going to take bushels of patience, heaps of magic, and assistance from everyone on both sides of Embreeville Mountain to reset the Balance between them.
But with Yule and Christmas just around the corner, it might already be too late.
Mama, Me, and the Holiday Tree is available for preorder in both print and ebook formats.