I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida in a large subdivision where the houses on my street backed up on a woods. The woods was a great place to play, a quick way to cut through to friends’ houses on nearby streets, and (best of all) it shielded our back yard from the rest of the world. When I lived there, I always worried about the woods being sold and turned into a subdivision.
In “real life” that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately, the family sold the house long before that the woods was torn up. I have looked at the new subdivision on Google Street View. It could be worse, but I don’t like it.
So, for my own peace of mind for the old family house, I changed what happened in my short story “Map Maker” about a fourteen year-old girl who lives in the house we lived in and who loves the woods as much as I did. She hears about the prospective subdivision and uses her skill in talking to birds and spirits to try and save her woods.
I changed the name of the neighborhood along with all the streets!
This is one of three stories in my Kindle and Audible set called “Emily’s Stories.” The stories are paranormal in focus with “Sweetbay Magnolia” being set along a blackwater river in the Florida Panhandle and “High Country Painter” taking place in Glacier National Park.
Here’s an excerpt from “Map Maker”:
Chip-whee-dow-a-whee-dow, chip-whee-dow-a-whee-dow, chip-whee-dow-a-whee-dow.
Well camouflaged beneath the branches of the huge shortleaf pine in woods behind the house, the chuck-will’s-widow spoke urgently of secret things on a hot July night when Emily’s bedroom windows were wide open on the off chance the night would create a breath of air. The bird began singing at dusk, becoming more emphatic with the rising of the waxing gibbous moon. Chip-whee-dow-a-whee-dow. Emily looked, but there was nothing to see. There never was. The Millie Mac azaleas at the edge of the yard and the wild blackberries on the other side of the property line fence made sure of that.
“The forest hides its own,” Grandmother Walters once told her.
Emily crawled out of the clinging wet sheets, turned on her study lamp and looked at the poster-sized street map her dad brought home from work. Since his company made the maps, he made Emily’s map special, including the title Emily Walters’ Barrett Hills and the houses of her best friends.
Upcoming Interview with Narrator Kelley Hazen
Coming later this week on Malcolm’s Round Table, an interview with actress Kelley Hazen (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “What Women Want”) who narrated the book. There’s more to the process than I thought. She did an excellent job.