The Week that Was

A quick glimpse back at the week just passed: 






Interview by Alison Cuddy on Chicago’s NPR station WBEZ for the morning news and culture show 848.

Tuesday Funk at Hopleaf, with fellow readers Emile Ferris, John Klima, Hanna Martine, Jody Lynn Nye, and Bill Shunn.






Indie Pulp publishes my “1X1 One Writer, One Question” essay “The Heartbeat of Your Story.”

Opening of the Christmas Book Giveaway of THE TEMPLE OF AIR on Goodreads.



Shelli Johnson, author of Small as a Mustard Seed, recommends the THE TEMPLE OF AIR and calls it a “beautifully-written collection of linked stories” in her interview with Lissette E. Manning.


→Thanks for reading! -PMc.←



Warm Walls and Tiny Gifts ~ Shelli Johnson’s View From the Keyboard

Shelli Johnson is one of those writers who is smart, talented, enterprising, and industrious. An important combination if you want your work to get out there, get noticed, get respect. Her first novel Small as a Mustard Seed has received a number of accolades since its publication, not the least of which is this from Publishers’ Weekly: “An intense and heartbreaking story of the fallout of war.” And for those of you who want the inside scoop on how to be a mom and a writer, you might ask Shelli. Here, then, is her view from the keyboard.

Shelli: My writing space is my favorite room in the house. I made sure I decorated it so I loved it because I spend 8+ hours a day in it. Some of the time is writing fiction, the rest is doing my day job.

If this room were a person, it’d be my best friend. Really, there’s something about walking into it that’s calming and comforting and nurturing. You can be having a bad day—failed on the page or weather stinks or jeans won’t button—then walk into this room and, I don’t know how it works but it does, feel better afterward.

It’s amazing, too, what some windows and a warm color on the walls will do for your writing. The lightness in my writing ticked up a notch when I started working in here. Don’t believe me? Try writing in a basement, which is where I used to have my workspace. See how the tone of your work changes.

I’m actually not a neat freak—the rest of my house can attest to that—but I found when I’m writing that if I have papers everywhere, I get distracted too easily. So . . . the reason for the nice, neat desk. What you don’t see in the pictures are all the piles of paper in a ring around the floor and in boxes under the desk.

There’s a little collection of trinkets next to my computer that started 8 years ago when my son was 2 years old. He came toddling up to me one morning and handed me a seashell. He said, “Make you happy.” And so I’ve saved everything my kids have ever given me since. Here’s a sampling: a ceramic mushroom, a plastic Yoda from a Happy Meal, B.O.B. from Monsters vs. Aliens (which my youngest wouldn’t out right give to me, LOL, so we share it). All these tiny gifts make me smile and are a great little motivation, too, especially on the days when I’m tired and the writing’s tough and I’d rather be doing something easier, like watching TV.

Anyway, I’ve written two novels in this space and I’m going to be sad to see it go when we move in a few months. Hopefully, it’ll be a creative haven for the next owner, too.


Rose had never felt a stir like that, something hot and shocking as an explosion.  She shifted on her seat to relieve the warmth between her thighs and, utterly without meaning to, her lips bobbed a bit closer to him.  Her breathing was coming quick and in short little gasps.  She tugged downward on the hem of her mini-skirt, the violet color so dark against her pale fingers.  He leaned forward, his fingertip brushing against her mouth, and without thinking, just pure reflex, she flicked out her tongue and licked the warm, dusty pad.  It tasted like salt and flecks of grease and something mossy like damp earth.  She closed her eyes and saw herself in the back seat of his car, slipping out of her shoes and sliding her skirt up her hips and feeling his hands dancing across her ribs as he pulled the blouse over her head.  Then the bar door opened and sunlight drifted over Danny and spilled onto Rose, tugging her out of her steamy fantasy and back into the dim, air-conditioned bar.  “Huh?” she said.

“I asked what you’re drinking, darlin’?” Danny said.

“Can you get me outta here?” she answered.

He cupped her cheek in his rough hand, the palm tough and callused, a small water blister near the ball of his thumb.  “Sure, we can go anywhere you like.”

“It’s my birthday,” Rose said.

“How old are you?”


“Whew,” he said then leaned back on his stool, the wood creaking beneath him.  The jukebox petered out, and Rose heard him mutter, “Nineteen.”


Shelli’s award-winning novel, Small as a Mustard Seed, is available as an eBook for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. You can find out more about Shelli Johnson through her website:; her blog:, her Facebook page:; and on Twitter: Thanks, Shelli, for this visit to your space. -PMc←