Softly and Tenderly
by Lisa Binion
About The Author:
Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BellaOnline-Fiction-Writing/125143070846792., http://www.silvertonguepress.com/, and http://edit1st.com/.
Genre: Horror Short Story
Publisher: Silver Tongue Press
“Mom died in her sleep last night.” Those are terrifying words for a child to wake up to. The beetle that falls off the stretcher and stares at her is only the beginning one of the strangest and most frightening times in Lori’s life. Death is not a pretty thing, especially not when the funeral is to be at the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium.Once she walks into the funeral parlor, she experiences things that no little girl should ever have to experience. No one is acting normal. No one can see what is going on. Is Lori the only one who sees the blood oozing from the pictures of Jesus on the cross? Doesn’t anyone else see the beetles? Is Lori hallucinating when she sees her mom sit up and hears her speak? There is absolutely nothing soft and tender about what happens to Lori.From her overly morbid piano teacher to the creepy preacher and a father that just isn’t acting like himself, Lori is surrounded by people and things that hint of something bizarre. Once she leaves the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium, things will go back to normal. Or will they?
“Lori, it’s your turn to say bye now. You need to tell her that you love her and how much you will miss her.” Daddy put me down next to her coffin and placed his hands on my shoulders. He pushed me so close to her death box that I felt the white satin that overlapped to the outside. It rubbed against my hands. At least it was soft for Mommy. She would be comfortable in there.
I decided to speak out loud this time. Maybe no one else would bring me back up here again if I spoke my goodbyes out loud. “Mommy,” I began, but then I started crying so hard I couldn’t speak. Daddy rubbed my shoulders until I quieted down and could begin again. “Mommy, I love you. I don’t want you to leave me. Please come back. No one, not even this Jesus, is worth leaving me over.” I opened my eyes and looked at her. She hadn’t moved since Mrs. Minuet had dragged me up here. But then her eyes opened, and she stared at me. She was staring at me! I sucked my breath in and felt my legs grow weak as my head began to spin. With one hand I grabbed on to the edge of the coffin, while with the other hand I grabbed hold of Daddy’s arm.
“Daddy! Daddy! Mommy’s not dead! She looked at me!” I screamed as I jumped up and down. “She was still alive when they took her out of the house. I saw her trying to get out from under the sheet.” I pulled on his arm and shook it. “Please, Daddy. You’ve got to save her.”
Daddy was beginning to sound a bit mad. He picked me up and held me over top of Mommy. “Maybe if you give her a goodbye kiss you’ll understand she’s dead, and believe me when I tell you she isn’t coming back.” I was so close to Mommy’s cheek that I could see the makeup was beginning to cake in her pores. There was no warmth rising up from her body, only icy coldness.
5 eCopies of Softly and Tenderly
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I tend to lightly plan what is going to happen chapter by chapter or section by section. As I’m writing, the characters will speak to me and let me know where to take the story. I don’t always listen to them at first, but in the end I do. They won’t go away until I write it like they want.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Yes, if the characters want the story to go in a certain direction, they won’t be quiet until they get their way.
What is your favourite food?
That is not an easy question to answer. I guess I would have to say a steak that is cooked rare and seasoned with sea salt and garlic.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
When I was younger, I was a night owl, but not anymore. I love my sleep and like to get up early.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I would like to be able to travel to exotic and exciting places all over the world, but then I want to be able to sleep in my own bed each night. I have lived in England and visited Scotland. I’ve lived in Texas and California. They were all great places to visit, but Kentucky is home. I honestly don’t get out very much. My husband calls me his little brown recluse.
Do distant places feature in books?
No really distant places have been featured in any of my writing yet. I just like to go to the outer limits of my imagination and beyond.
Do you listen to music while writing?
I normally don’t listen to music while I write. I love music and tend to become really involved with what I’m listening to, so music tends to distract me from writing more than it helps me to write.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
Sofly and Tenderly is the story of a young girl who sees things at her home and at the funeral home that no one else seems to see. Losing a mother at a young age is difficult in itself, but then having to go to her funeral makes it even more difficult. For Lori, it literally turns into a nightmare.
When I first wrote this, I just wrote it to get it out of my system. My mom died when I was only nine years old, and it was a difficult time for me. The first part of the story when Lori’s mom dies is very lightly based on the morning my mother died. Lori begins to see things even before the paramedics take her mom out of the house, and the situation only intensifies at the funeral home.
I originally ended the story with the death of Lori’s father. The day I finished the story, I got a phone call from my brother. My 84-year-old dad had fallen down the stairs and wasn’t breathing. The paramedics started his heart again, but he never woke back up. Even though he wasn’t pronounced dead until about two weeks later, he was dead when he hit the bottom of the stairs. I went back and changed the ending of my story.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Writing is hard work, and even though it is exciting to finally be published, it is scary. Why? I know there are people who will be very critical of what I wrote.
Is there anything you do differently?
If I could go back years into the past, I would take my writing seriously much earlier. I could make excuses and say that I didn’t have enough time while I was raising my children, but if there is something you really want to do, you will always find time for it.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
The people whose work I’ve edited have told me that I need to write. And editing has only made my desire to write grow. Then there are those times I have a story that is literally about to explode inside of me. That is what Softly and Tenderly did.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Never give up, and write what makes you happy. Don’t let anyone talk you out of pursuing your dreams.
What are three words that describe you?
I had several of my friends give me words that they believe described me, and I’ve chosen three words from all of those. The ones I selected are obsessive, determined, and reader. My husband calls me his little brown recluse and crazy cat lady, but I don’t think those should count.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
Choosing a favorite book or writer is harder for me than choosing my favorite food. Agatha Christie was my favorite author for a long, long time. My favorite story by her would be Towards Zero. The Widower’s Club by Dorothy Cannell would be another mystery favorite. My favorite horror book is definitely Darkfall by Dean Koontz.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
I’m working on the next part to Softly and Tenderly, but I only have a really rough draft written of it so far. Below is a part from Whisper, another book I’m working on right now.
She finally started to doze off, then Kristi's sarcastic voice was replaced by another voice, this one much more menacing. “If you tell, I will know. If you whisper to your toys, I will know. And I'll come back, but not just for you. Oh, I will hurt you, but I'll also hurt everyone you care about.” Sammi jumped and sat straight up in bed. No one would believe her. They all thought she was crazy. What would it matter if she told anyone? She knew of only one way to make him go away. Only one way to make him leave her alone. Forever. She ignored the storm raging outside, grabbed her knife, and jumped out her window onto the tree. She hung onto the branch and dropped down to the ground.
Renny saw her go and she crawled as fast as her little legs would take her back out onto the tree. Now was her chance. Now was her opportunity to get into Sammi's head, to gain Sammi's trust.
As Renny crawled down the tree, she watched Sammi just stand there in the pouring rain. During a flash of lightning, she saw Sammi's hand went into her pocket, and then it came back out empty. Her mind apparently made up, her hand reached again into her pocket, then came back out empty yet again. As the thunder crashed Sammi's fingers kept moving, they couldn't seem to stay still. Another flash of lightning and her hand disappeared into the pocket; this time she pulled out a knife. Her hand shaking, she stood there and just stared at the knife in her hand.
Renny scurried down the tree. It was time.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
I am the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline. The address of that site is http://fictionwriting.bellaonline.com/. I publish at least two articles each week.
I can also be found on BellaOnline (http://fictionwriting.bellaonline.com/Site.asp),
Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lisajbinion and https://www.facebook.com/pages/BellaOnline-Fiction-Writing/125143070846792) , Twitter (@FictionWriting2), LinkedIn (Lisa Binion), StumbleUpon (lisajbinion), Tumblr (Fiction Writing 2), Silver Tongue Press (www.silvertonguepress.com, editor), and Edit1st (http://edit1st.com/editors/, editor).