CITY IN A FOREST
Hidden in the heart of Atlanta, a pristine forest shimmers with magic, but an unscrupulous developer plans to flatten Silver Park—unless two brave women can stop him. Arden Collier risks losing her home.
Parker Gozer owns most of Arden’s secret forest, which is rooted in Atlanta’s rich African-American history. As Arden struggles to reclaim her artistic voice, Parker confronts the man who once preyed upon her—and now wants to spoil a rare urban oasis.
Both women fight to protect the place that has tangled itself around their hearts like flowering kudzu vines, achingly sweet as a beloved child.
Developed as part of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, where I worked with Lauren Groff and Fred Leebron, an earlier version of CITY IN A FOREST was named a finalist for a Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award.
ANGEL-DOG FINDS ME
When a ghostwriter in Baltimore and a misunderstood handyman in New Mexico find each other, their families, the court, and the unpredictable Pecos Wilderness conspire to keep them apart in ANGEL-DOG FINDS ME.
Jonah, who works two jobs to avoid homelessness, falls for Claudia while enduring a custody battle over his two-year-old son Pete. With court approval, he takes Claudia and Pete on a hike in the wilderness, where the boy becomes lost after chasing an imaginary “angel-dog.” A character from one of Jonah’s fanciful tales, the guardian angel-coyote reflects his belief that meaning in life happens through service to others.
“Attractive lady,” his first message said. “Your profile caught my eye. Where do you go hiking?”
“Thank you," Claudia had replied. "I like your face.” I like your face? Why had she written such a thing? Why didn’t she just answer his question? She hadn’t been hiking since Hank was small enough for Claudia to strap him onto her back. She could have lied to PBJ_42, though. “Are those the Rocky Mountains behind you?" she typed. "I’ve always dreamed of seeing the west. I am in the east.”
Hark, space neighbor! I come from The East. I come in peace. She felt like such an idiot, rereading her messages to him. In his profile picture, PBJ_42 was smiling by a boulder with a field of yellow wildflowers behind him and a mountain peak in the distance.
“My heart is breaking,” Claudia typed into the Google search engine, "so lonely,” and she rolled down the links without opening any of them. She had read all of the pages before. Song lyrics, mainly, plus a few suicide-prevention sites. Maybe CoolDrew and AnimalRex5 were lonely, too.
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A love story about mental illness and stigma, SEEING GETHIN describes a woman's quest to save her troubled brother Gethin and her magical, maddening entanglement with an equally complicated man named Jazz.
This novel was developed in workshops with novelists Connie May Fowler and Laura van den Berg.
“An image, for strength.” Jazz was on his feet with his hands
outstretched, moving forward. “A meditation.” Blue
hydrangeas, with pink and purple streaks through the petals,
like the ones Serena had been holding in Gethin’s online photo of his sister—the one that had
made Jazz fall in love with her.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” she said, and she was gone, sprinting across the sandy playground border, cranking her car. The tires whined. The brake lights flashed. Under the yellow light, next to his uneaten food, her turquoise bracelet gleamed. He grabbed it, tried to chase after her, but stopped at the swing-set. Her car was gone, and his legs hurt.
He limped back to his spot and ate quickly, gulping chunks of unchewed meat and cheese and lettuce, like a dog afraid of getting caught with its head in a pantry. First things first. He would need a plan. Into his phone, he tapped three bullets points:
Feed Inca the bird.
Make Serena love me.
He cleaned the table—brushed it with a bandanna, polished it until it was as close to glossy as the old wood would ever be, dragged the bench where it belonged, picked his teeth with a twig, and stared up at the sky.
A sliver of sunlight was shrinking into the horizon, shooting pale orange stripes through a bruised cloud. Jazz dropped to his knees, cringed when his scraped skin hit the grass, and he spread his arms wide, inhaling the smell of fresh mulch. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said, and he dictated a Facebook status update into his phone. “I am the light and the love, right here, right now, for you. If you agree, reply. If your name is Gethin, show thyself.”
His wounds weren’t too bad, and the bike wasn’t so heavy, after all, braced against his shoulder while he ran, laughing at the birds that seemed to be calling to him, from the trees. He whistled. They whistled back, following him—he was sure of it. A brown one flapped along the telephone wires, calling his name: “Jazz E., Jazz E., Jazz E.” Ahead of him, a cloud shaped like his own face expanded and split in two. With the bike on his back, he ran under the gap, into himself.
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