My set of three short stories set in Florida’s Tate’s Hell Swamp at the dawn of time, Land Between the Rivers, was released today on Kindle by Thomas-Jacob Publishing.
Short Story Collection: The Land Between the Rivers features three tales set before the dawn of recorded time in the Florida Panhandle world bordered by the Apalachicola River, Ochlockonee River and the Gulf of Mexico. This diverse environment of coastline, baygalls, swamps and forests includes the beautiful and notorious Tate’s Hell State Forest. In “How the Panther Lost Her Roar,” you’ll meet the rare and endangered Florida Panther that could be found in Tate’s Hell as late as the 1960s. In “How the Snake Bird Learned to Dry His Feathers,” you’ll meet a Florida bird—also called the Anhinga—that learns to swim before he learns to fly. And, in “How the Bear Found Her Favorite Food,” you’ll learn what the Florida black bear eats when she has her choice.
These stories begin where the Seminole Creation Myth ends as seen through the eyes of Eulalie, the root doctor in my novella Conjure Woman’s Cat, available in both electronic and print formats.
From the Introduction
Florida’s Gulf coast southwest of Tallahassee.
“Who was Tate, you wonder? In Sumatra they still tell his story: how he left the frontier village at dusk a century ago with his two hunting dogs and his puppy Spark, to kill a panther that had been raiding Sumatra livestock. He carried a Long Tom shotgun and a Barlow knife, and he thought he knew where the darkening waters ran.” – Gloria Jahoda, The Other Florida (1967)
The Land Between the Rivers features three tales set before the dawn of recorded time in the Florida Panhandle world bordered by the Apalachicola River, Ochlockonee River and the Gulf of Mexico. This diverse environment of coastline, baygalls, swamps, and forests includes the beautiful and notorious Tate’s Hell State Forest.
According to local legend, Tate got lost and snake bit in 1875 while hunting a panther. When the searchers found him near Carrabelle, the last words he mumbled before he died were, “My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell!” Ever after, the forbidden swamp bore his name.
From the Prologue
One day when I was just a piddling kitten no bigger than a crow, I fell into Coowahchobee Creek while helping my conjure woman look for crawfish. The cold water spun me around like pinecone. I sulled up into a snarling fit three times my normal size and swatted the rocks and roots along the bank with my claws.
Hush, little one, Coowahchobee whispered. Lena, look directly into Eulalie’s haint blue eyes and your thoughts will tell her you are ready to hear our stories.
My conjure woman’s rough hands lifted me away from the fierce voice. She bundled her apron around me.
“Mercy, Lena, you gave me a fright. If I’d been three steps farther away, Coowahchobee would have carried you down into Tate’s Hell where the world began,” she said. “No place for a kitten.”
I was dripping water like a wrung out dishrag. But that didn’t matter. She held me close to make sure I was all in one piece. That’s when my eyes found my conjure woman’s eyes, and they were larger than the sky on a warm summer day.
Coowahchobee says I’m ready to hear our stories.
Her eyes watered up.
“Sweet kitty, you didn’t fall into the creek,” she said. “Coowahchobee conjured you into her arms with a ‘Come to Me’ spell to give you the gift of thought speech. Bless your heart, I was about to scold you for being careless and scaring the everlasting blazes out of this old lady.”
Next time Coowahchobee has a gift for me, perhaps she can bestow it through my tongue when I’m drinking out of my water bowl.
I hope you enjoy the stories!