by S. R. Mallery
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? In "Unexpected Gifts," that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.
Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/18cSWUG
An Excerpt from S. R. Mallery’s Unexpected Gifts
This excerpt takes place in Vietnam, 1969:
“...we passed women in their beige tunics, black pants, and Sampan hats, shouldering thick bamboo rods weighted down by buckets of water. Most kept their heads lowered as they walked, but the few who didn’t, stared up at us with dead, black-brown eyes and pressed lips. The afternoon was drawing to a close by the time we reached a village compound that reeked of nuoc maum rotten fish sauce and animal dung. An old, leathery woman, squatting by her hooch was our welcoming committee, but once she saw us shuffle by, she scurried back into her hut, clacking loudly in Vietnamese as chickens pecked at rice granules, bobbing their heads up and down in 2/4 time.
Carbini cut to the chase. “First, pull every one of those gooks outta their hooches, then line them up here,” he barked.
I watched my troop comb each thatched home, rounding up families of all ages and herding them out into the open like a cattle drive in Oklahoma. I, too, started the mission and stooping into one of the huts, saw a young woman sitting on a straw mat, eating some rice in a black bowl, a young child at her side.
She was gorgeous—the best possible combination of French and Chinese ancestry, with such delicate features, she made my heart ache. My immediate instincts were to protect her and her son from Carbini and this horrendous war, but she just gazed up at me, emotionless.
Outside, Carbini wasn’t wasting any time. “Now, get your Zippos ready, men.” As I exited the hooch, he opened up one of my backpack pockets, yanked out my Zippo lighter, and shoved it into my face. Immediately, you could hear the snap of other pockets opening and boots shifting. We were getting ready to Rock ‘n Roll.
Carbini was first. He marched over to a hooch, flipped on his Zippo, and carefully lit the underbelly of its thatched roof. It smoldered for a few seconds, a thin, rising wisp of smoke twisting in the tropical air. From that, a flame grew, nibbling at the straw with a low, blue heat before suddenly bursting into a torch, arcing up towards the sky in a yellow-hot blaze.
This was our cue, yet I glanced over at some of the other men, their hands jammed deep into their pockets, and decided to follow their lead. The fire was raging full force on each hooch now, the thatch and bamboo crackling like a 4th of July fireworks display, leaving its reflections in the villagers’ eyes and turning the sky dark with thick, bulbous smoke.
“Weylan! You son-of-a-bitch coward!” Carbini started to charge over, then stopped mid-stride.
In the distance, a large formation of F4’s was headed our way, torpedoing fireballs of napalm every several hundred yards and scattering screaming villagers down the main road. We were ordered to take cover, but followed the fleeing Vietnamese instead, charging after them and trying not to show our own fear...”
Sewing can be Dangerous and Other Small Threads
by S. R. Mallery
The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.
Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1g37MAb
S. R. Mallery website: www.srmallery.com
An Excerpt from Sewing Can Be Dangerous & Other Small Threads
From A Drunkard’s Path
“....Are you kidding me?” Deborah exploded. “My life is falling apart! C’mon, curses don’t really happen, do they? I mean, what can I do? You tell me now!” She segued into a screech.
“Come over to my place tomorrow and I’ll try to relate it all to you, I promise…”
….“Do you know anything about the Salem Witchcraft trials?” The older woman leaned in toward her niece, as if casting a spell herself.
“No, not much, why?”
“You remember Martha Stinson from my quilt group? Well after the wedding, she showed me a journal written by a relative of hers and frankly, I am very concerned about you. It seems one of the accused witches from the original Salem trials might have actually had a connection with a real witch, an ancestor of Martha’s…”
* * * *
Inside the packed meetinghouse, dust particles from mud-caked boots floated throughout the air, rendering it dense, murky. That year, April had been an unkind month to Salem Village. Rain-drenched meadows produced a sludge that clung to the edges of women’s dresses, creating odors so foul that in such tight quarters, it became difficult to breathe. But people weren’t concerned with such matters on this day. They had gathered for a higher purpose: the Devil was in Salem, and they wished him thwarted at all costs. Even the constant threat of Indian attacks and surviving harsh winters paled in comparison to what was happening now, in that room, swelling with apprehension.
Crammed into high-walled pews, dark wooden benches, or simply shoved up against walls, spectators filled every conceivable space in the meetinghouse. Donning black hats, cloaks, and breeches, the men angled forward, their eyes boring holes into the five men sitting up front, yet it was the women who carried the greatest burden that day; their hooded coats and muffs covering their recently unkempt hair and unwashed fingernails, couldn’t disguise the uncertainty they felt about their community’s loyalty to them and how it would all end.
Sitting at the head of the counsel table, amongst other magistrates in the newly appointed Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin quietly conferred with each other before beginning their first round of questioning. Arrogant, self-important, the black-robed magistrates assumed their positions on the political totem pole, and having been brought to Salem for such a specific purpose, they dared not disappoint. They were on a mission to deliver souls. Hathorne, displaying the greatest exhibition of self-aggrandizement, seemed the most severe. With no real legal experience, and having only glanced at Sir Mathew Hale’s Trial of Witches, and Joseph Granvill’s Collection of Sundry Trials in England, Ireland the week before, he nonetheless believed he was more than competent to interrogate the accused.
At the front of the room facing the magistrates, sat all the accusers, the “afflicted” girls: Abigail Williams, her cousin Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Sarah Bibber, Sarah Churchill, Elizabeth Booth, Mercy Lewis, Susanna Sheldon, Jemima Rea, Mary Warren, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard. With downcast eyes and folded hands, they appeared demure; inwardly they were experiencing emotions quite different from anything they had ever known. Childhoods stocked with adult repression and fear now served as a springboard to the frenzy of accusations they had created, because on this day, along with their catharsis and even exhilaration, came the most important emotion of all: a sense of empowerment. At last, they were getting adults to listen to them, and it was intoxicating.
John Hathorne commenced with the proceedings. “Bring in the accused, Bridget Bishop….”