Category Archives: Sheila Deeth

Time to Choose, by Sheila Deeth

The professor called me into his office. I didn’t want to be there. I’d just finished my post-grad year in the math department, and now I wanted out. But I knew, as everyone else did, he was going to ask me to stay. Would I find it in me to say no?

It wasn’t that I didn’t love math anymore. But the math I dreamed of had just slipped beyond my grasp, as I’d known it would. I ached for black holes and cosmological constants, but I’d come eleventh in the final exams, and those who came higher had already claimed those places. No studying under Stephen Hawking for me. I couldn’t prove I was good enough.

Climate science, fluid flow, partial differential equations and computer programs… Okay, the computer programs bit was interesting, but studying computers in a math department didn’t feel right. So I really did say no. I left my Cambridge enclave and entered the real world, using computers to design missile guidance systems!

Soon I was back in Cambridge, working for a small computer firm (no more weapons), dreaming how I really could have tried for that PhD if I’d been in the Comp Sci department… and writing stories, because sometimes it takes a long time for the changes to compile. Some programmers read the news. I wrote dreams. Still do (sometimes it takes a long time for the washing machine to run).

And I dreamed.

I had kids, told stories to kids, wrote stories for kids, resurrected those pre-math dreams and wrote more, found a publisher (more than one publisher), tried to advertise, and realized I’m still in that room. The professor’s still waiting for my answer. I’m good enough to follow my dream and work with that famous dreamer who’s now died. But I only came 11th in the exam. Those who came before me have taken up those places, and I shall always be invisible behind the scenes, running their programs (writing my code or writing novels), error checking (and editing), writing reports (or blogposts), just being me.

I have a choice, wherever, whenever it seems. And I choose to be me.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea. She came 13th in her undergraduate finals, so 11th was kind of a triumph, if a small one. And she’s posting this blog on the 14th instead of the 13th because time (publishing, computers, stories and dreams all) slipped away from her.

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When is a series not a series? And when is a genre not a genre? by Sheila Deeth

I typed “The End” a few days ago. The end of my next novel, Imaginary Numbers: The final scene, where I finally know whodunnit, when, how and why… and I wonder if I’ve rushed throu

gh the revelations too fast for the reader, because I was too eager to understand. I think I might conclude I’m not a mystery writer, but that’s all right; Imaginary Numbers isn’t really a mystery. It’s not really a romance either, though it’s protagonists might be falling in love. It’s not really drama, though it’s pretty dramatic when David reads his mother’s obituary while he’s talking to her on the phone. (My continued thanks to Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One, already published by Indigo Sea, for letting me play with her premise.) It’s not really…

obituaries

Ugh! Why do I want to classify my book? They say it’s so it can go on the right shelf of the library (Why not an Indigo Sea shelf, or a Sheila Deeth one?), so Amazon customers can type in a few words to find it (Then list all the genres it fits instead of choosing one), or perhaps… just perhaps it’s to keep a tighter rein on my pen (or my typing fingers) so I don’t stray too far from the path, so I don’t lose the reader on the way.

Imaginary Numbers is set in the same small town as Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction (at least, a few short scenes of Subtraction). It stars some of the same bit-players. It’s part of the same Mathemafiction series, woven between the same events…

…and there I lost my way, because Imaginary Numbers is not about what happened in Divide by Zero; it doesn’t need to grow on the same patch of green, by the same paths, in the same park… It doesn’t need to slow down while other events take place, or crash into a wall while the author explains…

I have some very generous friends who’ve been reading my chapters as they grew. The last set I gave them were rejects — too much stuff about too many people who really didn’t matter to the story, events that really had no bearing on it, and ideas I only included because I was weaving, weaving, weaving the threads of those other books into places they didn’t belong…

…because I’d forgotten to classify my novel! It’s not a mystery or a romance. It’s not about Troy trying not to be his father, Sylvia recovering from abuse, or Andrew trying to believe there’s still good in the world; it’s not about what happened in Paradise Park; it’s about the other guy at the garage — the guy who read his mother’s obituary and found that nothing he believed was quite as it seemed, and wondered why.

A writers’ job isn’t to tangle the stories together, not even if they’re part of a series; the writer’s task is to set them free. So I rewrote, teased threads apart, rewove, and typed “The End.” Next week my friends will see how the novel changed; I hope, perhaps, to please them. One day I’ll hope to please you too, but not till the story’s threads are separate and tight. Till then I’ll tend and mend it with the aid of great friends.

Thank you so, so much to my great critique partners: Jean, Judy and Karin! And thank you again to Pat Bertram for the story’s seed. I’m so thrilled I’ll really get to meet you soon!

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea Press. Pat Bertram is one of her first ever online friends, and the author of many wonderful books also published by Indigo Sea. Jean, Judy and Karin are members of the Writers’ Mill.

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I tidied my Library by Sheila Deeth

20170810_183141The best thing about getting flooded last year is the fact that one of our sons’ bedrooms has now turned into a library. I’ve always wanted a library of my own and, being somewhat of a book hoarder, I’ve always dreamed of having enough space to organize my books. Of course, the fact that my library’s shelves are (in many cases) stacked two deep and two high (and bending) does make it a little hard to find anything. I lost Brooklyn. Then I found it and lost A Man Called Ove, which surely should have been next to A Long Way Down. Then I forgot where the Ursula Le Guin paperbacks had been filed, though hardbacked Malafrena and the Dispossessed were safe on the top shelf. While looking for them, I realized I now had Asian novels on two different shelves, mixed up with The Thirteenth Tale and Olive Kitterege. So… I tidied my library, again. Each book like a much-loved friend, long-forgotten, long overdue an email or a letter… each character reminding and begging me to read me again… each shelf ever heavier while I cleared all the volumes from the floor.

20180212_164333Meanwhile there’s that top secret shelf upstairs, where I hide my dream that someone might file my books in a library one day. Novels of small-town characters–Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea–They stand together with Biblical fiction for kids and novellas mysterious and strange… short stories in anthologies… even poetry and picture books! Would they ever belong on the same shelf as each other?

New characters beg me to write me again and I turn to the computer where Imaginary Numbers is growing fast; David’s falling in love, while his mother slowly reveals her curious past, and someone out there alternately scares and pleads with them both–“Stop ignoring me.” But who is David’s mom ignoring? And why does David’s newspaper carry stories of her murder while she’s clearly still alive? I almost know. but I’ll just have to see how it all pans (or pens) out…

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and Subtraction all published by Indigo sea Press. Watch out for Imaginary Numbers coming soon.

 

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What’s your Pitch? by Sheila Deeth

I think the world is trying to tell me something. I’ve just read two books that friends loaned to me. The first, the Story of With by Allen Arnold, explains how being creative is not about selling, not about becoming famous, or getting my books into bookstores, or making my fortune. It’s about sharing creativity with others and with God, and finding enjoyment in the sharing. But then came the second book, Daniel Pink’s to Sell is Human, which tells me all of us are salespeople like it or not, all of us selling, and many of us (presumably myself included) needing to learn how to do a better job of it. And now… well, on Sunday I’ll go to our local writers’ group at the library, where the speaker will teach us how to sell. So… yes… I think the world is trying to tell me something. All the best messages always come in threes, and this looks to me like three viewpoints on sales.

Daniel Pink’s book is interesting though. He offers some fascinating advice, and I’m trying to take it to heart. Like trying to find one word that describes my writing, target audience, or goals – a one-word pitch if you like. I came up with:

Outsiders

I’m certainly an outsider – English American, Catholic Protestant, mathematician writer. But everyone’s an outsider somewhere, and the characters in my stories try very hard to learn how to fit in. The man who left his wife because he was afraid of what he’d do if he stayed – he wanted to be a good husband and father, but he was an outsider to himself; the girl who wanted her parents to notice her – an outsider in her own home; the woman who’s hiding her past in childhood paintings – another outsider to herself; the boy trying to learn how to live with the knowledge of his grandfather’s crime; the teacher who ran away from his previous life; the child who runs away… I think outsiders might work as a one-word description, but what do you think?

And then there’s the Pixar Pitch:

Once upon a time... there was a place called Paradise that kind wished it was perfect. Every day… neighbors met and talked and made friends and enjoyed pretty close to perfect lives. One day… a crime changed everything. Because of that… a dear neighbor and friend must surely become a dangerous stranger. Because of that… her child becomes a stranger as well. Until finally… the child teaches a lesson in forgiveness that binds all Paradise together again.

That’s my Pixar Divide by Zero Pitch. But now I need a Twitter Pitch:

She’s hidden her past in her paintings, but why are they all red and black?

Which covers Infinite Sum. And for here’s a Rhyming Pitch for Subtraction:

How far would you go
to save an innocent runaway from the unknown?

I’m working on Imaginary Numbers now.  Pink suggests a Question Pitch, but I guess I covered that with my rhyme.  So all that’s left is the Subject-Line Pitch – something that would make my reader open an email: How about…

How to answer Mom’s phone call while reading her obituary.

What do you think? Would any of these entice you to read? Or buy? And what about pitches for other books… this could be fun, which I guess is what Allen Arnold’s book said–let’s enjoy our creativity together!

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels: Divide by zero, Infinite Sum and Subtraction, with Imaginary Numbers coming next year from Indigo Sea Press.

 

 

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Do you have a suitcase story? by Sheila Deeth

Last year I thought it would be easier to travel by train with one nice strong wheely suitcase – only one item of luggage to worry about; only one spot needed on the luggage rack; solid sides to protect the treasures inside; what could go wrong?

What went wrong was an overcrowded train insufficiently supplief with luggage space. I couldn’t lift my heavy case to the top of any piles, and it probably wouldn’t fit there anyway. I traveled most of the way from Manchester to London sitting on my suitcase near the door and standing to let further passengers squeeze me into ever tighter spaces, ever closer to falling out. Painful long and slow.

This year I carried two smaller more malleable cases and found … an overcrowded train with insufficient luggage space, all filled with other people’s super-large, super-solid items. I squeezed one case into the overhead space, panicked at every corner that it might fall down on some poor stranger’s head, then found at journey’s end that I needed the aid of not-poor strong-limbed strangers to pry it out. Meanwhile a fellow passenger’s large case filled the space where my feet were meant to go (cheap tickets in England are only valid for the designated seat). And there was nowhere for my other case, besides nowhere for me.

So I made friends with strangers, swapped life stories, rested one case on another and sat sideways in my designated seat with feet stretched into the aisle  – thus, since every passer-by had to ask me to move, I made many more friends. And relationships between real characters became my suitcase story.

Which got me thinking – every story we write is like a suitcase filled with ideas – enough for more than one suitcase perhaps,  even a series, but how we pack might not be the most important thing. Relationships will make or break the journey or the tale … and fill the author’s mind with more to follow.

So … pack heavy? Pack light? I’ll just try to pack “write.”

Sheila deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum,  and Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea. Her suitcases are full and she’s thoroughly enjoying the journey. 

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Can Subtraction be a Positive? by Sheila Deeth

It’s coming soon. The release date is August 1st. And the title is Subtraction. So now I need a blurb for the back of the book. But what’s in a blurb?

Subtraction - cover concept

Subtraction – cover concept

  • I could precis the story, beginning, middle and end. But then why bother reading all the rest?
  • I could precis the setup, but what should I include; how much, where, when and why?
  • I could give you a character sketch but the characters change… well, apart from the middle-grade misfits who plan on misfitting for several more years yet.
  • I could tell you it’s related to Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum, and no, it’s not about math… well, apart from the protagonist teaching subtraction to those middle-grade misfits in his class.
  • I could give you a sentence–Schoolteacher takes a road trip in search of missing child and finds himself…. maybe add love and cats for added interest (the cat’s important).
  • I could expand on the sentence, but that’s just just extra words.
  • I could ask you a question: Can Subtraction be a Positive? Then I could try to answer the question. And then…

Actually, I kind of like the question idea. If I subtract a negative number it’s the same as adding positives, so what if I subtract a negative thought? What if Subtraction is the story of a life worn down by negatives then turned around by subtracting negativity? Or is that too complex (I’m still working on book 4 of my Mathemafiction sequence, Imaginary Numbers).

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got so far… Three completely different blurbs, and a request that you tell me which (if any) makes you more interested in reading the story. Go on, please… subtract those negatives from my blurbs, send positive vibes, and help me make something great!

Version 1:

On a road trip to look for a missing girl, a schoolteacher finds himself. Love, cats and colleagues remind him the world’s not all evil, but can he truly forgive the darkness it hides? Is trust just weakness in disguise, or is it a gift, a freedom and a hope that things subtracted might yet be restored?

Version 2 (with questions!):

Can subtraction be a positive? Can loss be a gain? And can a lonely schoolteacher find himself (love and cats) on a cross-country road trip in search of a missing child? Subtraction is a story of love, loss and hope as strangers prove to be sometimes kind, dark places hide light, and middle-grade schoolchildren learn about math, acceptance, and generosity.

Version 3 (less existential, but still with questions):

When a misfit student disappears from math class, her teacher embarks on an epic cross-country journey to find her. But who is he really looking for? Why is the pretty new art teacher so keen to help? And where do all the cats come from?

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction sequence of novels. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum, both published by Indigo Sea Press, where good books are sold, and look out for Subtraction, coming August 1st!

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How Not To Write A Novel by Sheila Deeth

The problem with being a published author is that friends sometimes assume I know what I’m doing. I don’t. But I am learning. So here is a list of things I’ve learned about how not to write a novel:

  1. Don’t write what you don’t know. My first novel, written in elementary school, included a woman getting pregnant and giving birth six weeks later. I suspect if I’d had any readers they might have said this couldn’t be true.
  2. Don’t tell your characters to go away. In high school and young adulthood I still wanted to write. But every time I started a novel this character, someone awfully like me, demanded I let her take over. I didn’t want to write about her. I wished she’d go away, but of course, she wouldn’t. Characters rarely obey.
  3. Don’t write about yourself. Hoping to dispel my intrusive stranger, I tried my hand at autobiography. It didn’t work. She  was there again, complaining, “No, that’s you. It didn’t happen that way to me.” I gave up and wrote her story instead, and learned a lot from her. Later she introduced me to someone else, a character in my first-ever published novel, and at last she stepped aside. Thus Infinite Sum was born.
  4. Don’t forget the timeline. But that was later. Before then I gave up on writing novels, assuming they’d need too much time. I stuck to short stories–tons of them–where the same set of characters kept reappearing and meeting over again. One of these turned out to be a murderer, much to my surprise (probably his as well), at which point I decided to stick the stories together into a novel. All went well until my wonderful editor pointed out that one sister aged two years while the other didn’t change. Time for a timeline! Lesson learned.
  5. Don’t expect it to sell. Still dreaming, I still hope that first novel might turn into the start of something spectacular. It’s called Divide by Zero. It’s a tapestry of small town lives woven around a small town singularity. It’s moderately invisible on Amazon. But…
  6. Don’t stop writing, because the more novels you have out there, the better chance you have that one might sell. (That’s the mathematician in me, checking out the odds…)
  7. Don’t write in first person. They told me that long ago and it was easy when I wove Divide by Zero together. With so many characters each chapter clearly belonged to someone else–first person would have been hopelessly confusing. But my second novel was different. My character wanted to tell her tale her way, which meant I had to make sure I wrote in her voice and never mine. Harder work than I expected.
  8. Don’t write from multiple points of view. I didn’t hear this instruction until too late. Divide by Zero was inherently created from multiple points of view. But Infinite Sum enjoys just one narrator (yes, first person), so it’s more straight forward. Then comes my third novel, with two viewpoints warring, and a cat. It’s called Subtraction, and it due for release on August first.
  9. Don’t try to change the time and place. With Subtraction speeding toward release, I’m working on novel number four. In its first life this one was set somewhere else with different characters living in a different time. Now I’m reworking it for the Mathemafiction Series. I have to check up when people started using cell phones, computers, reading online, wearing different clothes… Whatever possessed me to think I could do this? (The characters, of course. They insisted I’d got everything wrong first time.)
  10. And finally don’t rewrite before rereading. Sadly, I needed that piece of advice before Imaginary Numbers took over my life. I don’t even remember where the plotline is meant to go. But the characters aren’t concerned. They assure me they’ll take the right way this time, implying, of course, that I got it so terribly wrong before. They’re bossy, my characters. And they really don’t care one jot about my flagging self-esteem.

So those are my ten don’ts. And now for my dos.

  1. Do read.
  2. Do write.
  3. Do listen.
  4. Do let someone else read what you’re writing.
  5. Then listen well to their advice. It’s sure to be better than mine.

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction Novels, published by Indigo Sea Press. Her first novel, Divide by Zero, weaves a tapestry of small town lives around a singular death. The second book, Infinite Sum, presents the story of a wounded woman finding a path through the infinite sum of troubles in her past. Book three, Subtraction, will be released on August 1st. It tells how a man who’s lost everything might seek a missing child and find himself. And in Imaginary Numbers… Who knows? The novels explore guilt and forgiveness, and Sheila begs your forgiveness for her inability to tell where Imaginary Numbers will go.

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How Soon Is Soon? by Sheila Deeth

I was going to write a blogpost soon, but that was hours ago. I was going to get serious about advertizing soon, but that was days ago. My husband was going to choose paint colors soon, but that was months ago. And my next novel, Subtraction, was going to come out soon, but how soon is soon?

subtraction copy

Then yesterday I got good news. Subtraction has a tentative release date of August 1st. Hurray! So now I shall have to advertize soon, beg for reviews, try to get the book into stores… and dream. And definitely dream. Because Subtraction completes a trilogy begun with Divide by Zero and continued in Infinite Sum. Sure, I’m working on Imaginary Numbers now, but that will follows lives on different paths. Subtraction completes the arc of lives wounded by Amelia’s death. Subtraction follows the absent father, and places him very present on center stage. And I can’t wait to see how it will be received. Meanwhile here’s section one of part 1, just in case you have time to read…

 

Part 1

1

“Now children, today I will teach you to subtract.” Andrew marched to the front of the classroom, ready to start his second year with these kids. He frowned as he pondered whether addressing a middle-grade, special-needs audience as children might be insulting, but his mind seemed devoid of alternative words as it sank into more familiar mathematical terms. “Subtract,” he repeated.  To take away, abuse, discard, destroy…

Youthful faces, ranging from blandly accusing to sleepily bland, stared back at him, and clearly couldn’t care less if he frowned or cried. Faint groans arose, inspiring that familiar tightness in his chest. But these students, subtracted from their regular classes, weren’t rejects; not really; not yet; Andrew wasn’t going to fail them if he could help it.

“Sub-traction.” He spoke the syllables carefully and wrote the word with a purple flourish on the whiteboard. The pen squeaked louder than the nervous quiver of his throat while he half-turned to check the children were seated, and to see who was laughing.

A class clown bounced on his chair in the middle of the room.  “Is that like action that’s not acting right?” Beetled eyebrows wiggled, mimicking the bouncing of the tall boy’s limbs.

“Nah,” groaned the one known as Jonah the Whale, squashed like a deflated football in his seat near the door. The force of Jonah’s voice blew strands of sandy hair up like a helmet, and he clawed his armpits with stubby fists. “ Sub-track; it’s like acting subhuman, like what you do.” He pointed to the clown.

Andrew rapped a ruler on the desk. “No teasing in class,” he insisted. Then he repeated, slowly, solemnly—fiercely driving down the whimper of his new-year apprehension— “We’re studying subtraction.”

For a moment, the deep, cultured tone of his own voice distracted him. Who am I? he wondered, and who am I to teach them? But he couldn’t pause to evaluate the answer. “Subtraction is sometimes called taking away.” And what has been taken from me?

Andrew’s eyes wandered, taking in shapes, positions, posture, provocation and more. Meanwhile he pondered what these middle-school rejects might make of the phrase, taken away, they who’d never been given enough in the first place? Inhaling an unhealthy burst of dry-erase solvent, he dragged himself back to the present and began a slow walk around the room.

Fair-haired Amy sat near clownish Zeke. She wrapped thin, freckled arms around the treasures on her desk. Her lips were parted as she muttered under her breath, “Not take away. Not take away.” The delicate voice reminded Andrew of the tick from an antique clock, from an antique home, from a life long lost. He leaned forward to offer comfort to the child. Doll-eyes blinked, but she wasn’t looking at him. Her gaze was fixed on some curious infinity. Her face, pink-cheeked and porcelain smooth, bore only the tiniest hint of unlikely concern, as if she were looking through a window at someone else’s lesson.

“Ah, Amy.” Andrew sighed. “Nobody’s going to take your treasures away.”

Three safety pins from a diaper set were arrayed in the middle of her desk. Buttons in multiple colors formed jagged hills beside them. A pencil with rainbow-colored point, and a pad of rainbow notelets were neatly positioned between musically drumming fingers.

“First we add things,” Andrew said, raising his voice as he marched toward the front of the room again. “Then we have a collection”—a collection of buttons perhaps, and did Amy know how many were lying there?—“and then we…”

“Takeaway! Like burgers!” brayed Julie’s rusty voice of triumph behind him.

Andrew turned. “Well, not quite, Julie,” he admitted, feeling the focus splinter.

“I want my takeaway. I want.” Loud thumps of threatening persistence on the desk accompanied Tom’s voice. Angry Tom, he was in his fourth special school for misbehavior and might soon be dropped out entirely unless teachers like Andrew could win him over. But chaos rumbled over other desks as well.

Andrew tensed, needing a clearer answer, before things fell apart. Then he felt a bubble of inspiration turn his frown to a smile. This was why he did this job. This was why he loved it.

“Yes. Yes. And yes,” Andrew announced, facing the class from behind his desk and pumping his arm with the words like a teenager. His tones turned increasingly valiant as his gaze slid across the sea of puzzled faces. “You’re right.” He pointed to Julie. “Tom’s right… And you… and you… Let’s order some takeaway, just as soon as we’ve got this done.” Then he started to count, pointing to the students each in turn. “Let’s order… seven, eight, nine burgers.”

“I want nuggets!”

“Nine orders of food.” Andrew corrected himself. “And I’ll be in charge of passing them around.”

He had their attention now, or food did anyway.

“I’ll set the box down on my desk, right here. And when I’ve handed one meal to Jonah… you tell me… how many more will be in the box?”

“Me first,” shouted Tom, ignoring the question. But others students waved fingers to count and tried to work it out.

Shy Amy’s head hung down as she continued to play with the buttons on her desk. Her fingers wove in hypnotically distracting patterns. Don’t look at her. Don’t watch. You’ll make her mad. But blue eyes focused suddenly on Andrew, cold as winter, distant as spring. Red-button lips pursed into words, spoked out in a quietly determined, uninflected voice. “Eight.”

“Very good, Amy. So then I give one meal to Amy.” Andrew waved a hand with the imaginary parcel. “Just wait a minute, Tom. And how many are left?”

Middle-grade mind needed a pause before answering, “Seven?”

“Then to Tom… “

“Hurray!”

“Six… five… four…”

The students completed the sequence at last, and Andrew announced in triumph, “That’s subtraction, class. When we take something out of the box, we’ve subtracted it.”

Faces shone back at him in that pause within the triangle of trouble, food and learning. Then Jonah the Whale bounced his chair, legs creaking scarily. “So, when can we eat?”

Whispers rustled, then Tom’s throaty voice rang out, combining threat and doubt. “Order it! I’m hungry.”

Andrew took out his phone. “What’s the number? Anyone know?”

Then food’s calm promise brought peace, giving Andrew a chance to spend more time in quiet discussion with Tom. He said all the right words, warning of all the right consequences, taking into account the rightness of Tom’s desire for burgers, and adding a reminder that the whole class needed to learn. Subtract a little bad behavior here and there, don’t shout too loud, look like you’re taking notice, and all will be well.

Meanwhile Shy Amy drew with her rainbow pencil, plus and minus signs entwined with whispering shades and colors on the rainbow page. Take away her autism, and who might Amy be then?

Take away Amelia’s autism…?

Voices from the past ushered a host of memories in Andrew’s mind. Amelia was the girl long gone, long lost under green of trees and waving branches in a place called Paradise—Amelia, her mother, Andrew’s parents, Carl… all subtracted like numbers from his page. He let his gaze drift to the window, hoping the sky’s bright tones would wash his palette clean again. But who-am-I doubts combined with the whispering of leaves and chatter of children. He couldn’t forget. That long slow walk between Tom’s desk and the classroom door could take a lifetime, waiting for delivery’s knock.

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction series of novels from Indigo Sea Press. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum on Amazon and at other bookstores, and watch out for Subtraction, coming “soon” on August 1st!

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Maundy

A new command was given on Maundy Thursday – a mandate – mandatum – hence the name. And in honor of “loving one another,” priests wash parishioners’ feet, kings and queens give coins, and altars are stripped to remind us of that giving of it all.

I’ll add my homage to Maundy Thursday in two short drabbles below – a 100-word story and a 100-word essay. And I’ll wish you all the blessings of this season.

bread and wine

Imagine the scene; twelve men on an after-dinner walk to a place of quiet reflection, bodies stuffed, minds tired, and souls restless with that nervous sense that something is bound to go wrong.

The streets were quiet. Night had fallen, everyone sleeping or praying, except for them.

“Strange about the bread,” said James, still tasting forbidden matzos eaten after lamb.

“And the blessing”—“This is my body,” the master had said, reminding them of something they were too full, or too tired to remember.

They stopped at a garden, sat on rocks, lay on grass, their bodies weary with food. And they barely noticed when Jesus left to pray with Peter, James and John.

Matthew looked up. “Huh? Where’d they go?” then, “Wonder what happened to Judas.”

Voices whispered. Armor jangled. Footsteps approached.

Mark 14:22 “…Take, eat: this is my body.”

 After they’d eaten the Passover meal, Jesus blessed and broke another matzo. He prayed over the third cup of wine—cup of redemption, blood of the lamb—and the feast drew to its end.

Maundy Thursday evening begins a three-day celebration of Easter: Maundy pennies to the poor; priests washing the people’s feet. But it’s communion that matters most—bread and wine shared in remembrance of Him. We file out from church, leaving the light shining in a tiny garden—shrubs and flowers, a place of Easter prayer.

And through the night, people visit, to watch and pray one hour.

Imagine this scene too, re-enacted in churches all over the world, including my brother’s church, where people, including my mother, watch and pray, souls restless with that whispering sense that even this is God’s plan, and resurrection will follow.

resurrection

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels, published by Indigo Sea Press. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum on Amazon and where all good books are sold. And watch out for Subtraction, coming soon.

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Writing In The Gray

So, the flood’s all dry, the floor is uncarpeted and gray, the walls are holey and gray, the ceiling’s gray (don’t ask–the previous owners painted it that way!), the sky’s most definitely gray (and most probably raining), and my mood… well, my mood is distinctly gray too. Meanwhile we look at paint colors, floor coverings (not not not not carpet, never again!), light fittings and more. Meanwhile time goes on.

I can scarcely believe it’s almost two months since our basement flooded. Two months since the panic of stepping into water while something (yet unknown) banged and roared and electrical outlets sparked (I know, what kind of idiot steps into water without checking, but I was running downstairs to investigate the noise and I didn’t see the reflections). Two months since incredible sons carried tons of wet carpet outdoors. Two months since incredible friends took charge and pushed us into action. Two months since incredible neighbors waded in to help. Two months since…

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And since then I’ve studied many many shades of gray. A good friend who knows about color suggested we try not repainting in the dreaded worn-out white. “How about white with a touch of blue?” we asked. But it’s a big room. Anything too bright and white is going to glare at us. She suggests we try gray colors–gray with a touch of blue perhaps. To explain, she took me shopping where we found a sample card covered in multiple shades of gray. It’s slightly disturbing how many of the shades sport names like “summer rain” or “winter showers.” Torrents and flooded basements come to mind…

So, the flood’s all dry, the floor is uncarpeted and gray, the walls are holey and gray, the ceiling’s gray, and we’re looking for better, brighter, more colorful grays to cheer up our lives.

But what about writing? I feel like all the words in my head are doomed to be colored gray till the tidying’s done. I’m working in the wrong room, with the wrong keyboard, with the screen in the wrong place. The desk’s too small. The bed’s too tall (piled high with rescued sheets and blankets). The phone’s too far away and I fall over boxes on my way to answer it, so my feet are sore without even getting the benefit of exercise. But my next novel, Subtraction, is already with the publisher. Who knows, it might get a non-gray cover. Divide by Zero is green. And Infinite Sum is red. (And Infinite Sum was in our local free paper, so it might be read as well! http://www.beavertonresourceguide.com/literary-corner-infinite-sum/) Meanwhile my critiquing friends remind me to send them Imaginary Numbers. So I’ll have to write, even if the ink and the mood remain at least slightly gray.

Imaginary Numbers–it all starts with a guy reading his mother’s obituary while he’s talking to her on the phone… Perhaps his mood would be slightly gray as well.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, and the soon-to-be-released Subtraction, all published by Indigo Sea Press. She failed to blog here last month because she was grayly recovering in a world of damp boxes and wet stuff.

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