Restless Dreams Fun Facts

cover, Restless DreamsI didn’t write an introduction to Restless Dreams, my story collection. Didn’t describe the thinking, research, erasures, errors, and lurches into the unknown that constituted the path from early draft to nineteen final products. None of that is pretty or interesting.

But each story has a story. Here’s some fun facts, in the same order as the stories appear in the collection.


“Brea’s Tale”  Brea, a nanny who sleeps with her employer, goes to prison after being convicted of murdering his wife. This story breaks all kinds of “rules” about writing short stories – it’s about 50% flashback and covers ten years. It was my first paid print publication, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and won the 2012 Derringer award for Best Long Story.

“Make Me Beautiful” started as a contest entry inspired by a prompt: She slapped him hard. What could inspire a hard slap? A terrible haircut! OMG, this one was fun to write. I had to delete my favorite character, a client who gave out her romance novels as tips, because she cluttered the narrative. Previously published in bosque (the magazine).

“The Fourth Girl” Another fun one to write, for a Sisters in Crime anthology. I knew it would be about a small town brothel. It had to have a murder, but who and why took some thought. Previously published in Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing.

“No Falling Ribbons” is a sad one. Poor Cora. Don’t ask me about the ending – I don’t know what she decides to do. What do you think? Previously published in Stuck in the Middle: Writing That Holds You in Suspense.

“The Years of the Wicked” was an experiment, but if I tell you about the experiment, it will spoil the story.  Stella Lavender, the SBI agent/narrator of Cold Feet and Cold Heart, makes her first appearance! Previously published in Spinetingler.

“Gone Gone Gone” was inspired by my cat, who could stare at me for hours, it seemed. I wondered what she saw, and decided it was my aura. I borrowed some of the plot from a story by Linda Reilly that I read in Women’s World many years ago. Another fun fact – Linda and I both were debut authors at Five Star in 2013. Previously published in Mystical Cat.

“Lady Tremaine’s Rebuttal” Stepmothers always get a bad rap in children’s stories, don’t they? Maybe Cinderella’s had a reasonable point of view. Previously published in Every Day Fiction.

“Scritch” Ugh, this story still scares me but it was easy to write because Ronnie gets what’s coming to him. Previously published in Spinetingler.

“Brown Jersey Cow”  Another twist on a children’s rhyme. What really happened at the top of that hill? Why? Previously published in Every Day Fiction.

“Something to Tell Henry” is set in Florida, where I lived as a teenager. Ava, a young mom working as a nanny, has to cover up for her employer’s awful behavior. It was inspired by a 1981 murder-suicide of a couple in my neighborhood.

“The Fitting Room” gently makes fun of the bride and wedding shows on cable TV. Previously published in Outreach NC.

“Bulletproof” came from the one and only jury trial I ever participated in. Two undercover drug agents, mother and daughter, had to testify against a drug dealer. What mother would drag her daughter along on a drug sting?  Previously unpublished.

“SASE” Before email and Submittable, authors submitted their work to agents and publishers with a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope for the reply. What if a disgruntled author doctored those envelopes? Previously published in Fish Tales, the Guppy Anthology.

“Hidden” I’ve known two individuals who were hidden children, separated from their  parents and sent to supposed safety during World War II. They are now both around 80, yet their memories of those years are still raw, the scars ever-present. I wrote “Hidden” to attempt to document their experience in fiction. Published in Passport to Murder, the Bouchercon 2017 Anthology, to be released in October.

“Have You Seen Her?” A goose-bumpy story, based on the urban legend of black-eyed kids. Previously published in Phantasmacore.

“Snow Day” When I moved to Missouri from Florida, I didn’t even own a winter coat. Neither does Lulu. Previously published in Every Day Fiction.

“Side Effects” I have no idea where this story came from, about a teenage girl participating in a drug trial. Donald Trump and Ann Coulter are in it, under different names. You’ll recognize them. Previously published in Reed.

“#grenadegranny” Originally this was to be a novel but it’s light-hearted, not novel material. I managed to squeeze it into a story. Effective? You decide. Previously published in Murder Under the Oaks, the 2015 Bouchercon Anthology, which won the 2016 Anthony award for Best Anthology.

“Blessings” Readers asked to see more of Brea, so here’s what happened next in her life. Not previously published.

The title Restless Dreams illuminates a common thread in these stories: characters who find themselves in tough situations, through accident of birth, naive decisions or a turn of fate. They strive for more, they struggle to fix their lives, they dream of something better. The two little girls on the cover are sharing their dreams for their futures, as children do.

Restless Dreams will be published by GusGus Press, an imprint of Bedazzled Ink on Sept 1. It’s available for order now. Launch party Sunday September 17, 2 p.m., at McIntyre’s!