It’s next week!
… Okay, so I know that probably doesn’t make any sense.
Let me try this again, Cultivating Marigold is coming next week!
*bends over, braces hands on knees, tries to catch my breath but is mostly hyperventilating*
Who said life is a marathon, not a sprint? Serious question, because all I seem to do is sprint and this book was no different.
This book especially because of the way I’m indie publishing this. I just really want this one out there.
So, as a reminder, this book was written many years ago. Because of recent events, I chose to rewrite it to reflect the new reality and publish it.
Welp, that wild process is seconds from being finished!
Reminder, this book is not a series and is different than anything you have read from me before.
This is a young adult, contemporary book about a main character who must make a choice that some people don’t believe she has the right to.
I will include the blurb in just a sec, but it bears repeating that this book will not be for all audiences, and that’s okay.
But if you read young adult, I would love for you to read this book.
How does this impact you?
1st: you can get the bonus prequel chapters for the book, and J’s texts to Goldie if you sign up for the newsletter as well as right here I will include a sneak peek of the first chapter of the book itself and see both covers.
2nd: The website will have three books listed at the top of the main page, one for each pen name.
3rd: Just to make everyone aware, because this story is so very very United States centric, as well as the fact that it is a pen name I will not be publishing under more than twice a year, and the fact that it is young adult and I’m doing this completely indie, it will be in Kindle Unlimited.
I hope you’re all excited for this, I know I am. I believe in this book and the need for it and can’t wait for it to be read.
For now, let me remind you of the book description, give you the prequel bonus content, and give you a sneak peek of the first chapter.
“Maybe if we had good sex ed, I wouldn’t have an appointment scheduled for an abortion the week after school gets out.”
For Marigold, hiding between the words on the page is more comfortable than speaking her truths out loud. That only becomes even more important for her as her mother gains notoriety for an ambitious rise through the ranks of the national anti-choice movement while the group pushes for a national ban after Roe is overturned. She can’t escape her connection to her mother, even though she believes the opposite of what her mother so publicly stands for.
A little over a year stands between her and freedom from her toxic home life. Seven poems stand between her and winning a college scholarship. Some drama swirling around her friends and her boyfriend stand between her and all the things he wants from high school.
But so close to getting through it all, Marigold finds out she has the mother of all problems.
Making the right decision for her means either lying, or facing the crushing weight of her mother’s judgement.
But sometimes we don’t really have a choice, and sometimes decisions are made for us.
their first dance
This is the title to the bonus prequel chapters that also includes J’s texts to Goldie during the summer from in the book.
Here is the cover:
Cultivating marigold sneak peek
“Don’t expect us to be happy when you get here,” Mom said on the other end of the phone. “I thought you would have learned something from all this, about thinking through things. This is hard on us, and you should have been understanding of that. Now, I don’t know what will happen.”
“I’ll go to school tomorrow, and get a job,” I said, trying not to sound like I was talking to her through clenched teeth.
“Maybe,” Mom said, and hung up.
Pushing the end button on my just-returned cell phone wasn’t satisfying. I wanted the old-fashioned receiver that Bucky and Nancy had at their house so I could slam it down. Repeatedly. Like I should make decisions based on what was best for Mom. Please.
“How’s your mom?” Nancy asked, coming around from the other side of the plane.
Terrible, she’s auditioning to play the role of Sad Excuse for a Mother, in case that wasn’t already clear.
“Fine.” At least I could say one four-letter F word out loud. “She’s looking forward to seeing you.”
Mom and Chad, the step-dick, wanted me to learn something from my summer in exile.
Well, this was it.
The great lesson imparted to me by spending an entire summer without my cell phone in the middle of Buttfuck Nowhere, Montana: I was right to lie.
For Bucky and Nancy, I tried to stay positive. They were good people. It wasn’t their fault my mom and the step-dick weren’t. Although it did pose a damn good question: how did my mom and Chad have such a wildly different interpretation of how to be Christian than the two people who raised the step-dick?
Even now, I had no idea.
I shifted, uncomfortable with the sun beating down on me, and took a deep breath of the airport’s asphalt-laced air.
The key to successfully lying when I was this irate was to appear calm. It was entirely possible I sucked at this part. I didn’t want Bucky and Nancy to worry though, especially if it meant they backed out of taking me home. I shoved my mother to some back corner of my brain, and left her to simmer while I stared at the series of small hangars instead.
The Montana heat flowed off the tarmac in waves. The lines in the corrugated metal sides of the buildings wiggled so much that I felt drunk. Beyond the airport lay the brittle brown grass sea of nothing that made up the landscape. Even after an entire summer here, I felt like I was on Mars, or somewhere equally foreign. But I would still miss the ranch. Especially, Nancy and Bucky.
“Climb on in.” Nancy hopped into the cabin while I followed, with much less enthusiasm.
“Buckle up.” Bucky matched her zeal with a huge grin from his seat in the cockpit.
After closing the door, Nancy jumped into the seat next to him, leaving me to my own devices. I took the seat directly behind them, which was decidedly too small for my butt.
I shifted in my seat, watching Bucky and Nancy smile at each other. Part of me still didn’t believe in the kind of love oozing out of them every time they looked at each other.
Bucky and Nancy didn’t just love each other after fifty-five years, they still managed to like each other after all that time. All summer I expected one of them to slip and show some animosity toward the other. It didn’t happen. Watching them made me think of J.
I looked at my phone, at the list of numbers of who called while it was confiscated for two months. Tons of calls and texts from him, and some from my other friends. I hadn’t read the text messages. All I had to do was touch my phone one more time.
Your high school sweetheart was what all the stories were about, but a boyfriend wasn’t the most important relationship for me. My actual high school sweetheart was my best friend.
Love wasn’t the prize I wanted to take from high school. It wasn’t the prize I wanted when I started high school.
Friendship was the prize I wanted. It always had been.
It’s the prize I had…still?
The luckiest people in the world had their groups of friends when they were getting married, and those groups included people from high school who knew all the embarrassing crap they did back in the day. They knew all the skeletons and all the exes. Those were the friends I wanted to come out of high school with.
And the kind of friends I never doubted I had until my mother made it clear she would never understand my choice. So, now I was left staring at my phone.
I didn’t think I wanted to touch the text icon, and see any other possibility for our future waiting in his messages. The phone went dark as I stared at it. I didn’t click the screen back on. I shoved the phone into my backpack at my feet, zipping the pocket closed. But as I leaned back in the seat, something poked me.
“Ow,” I said, leaning forward again.
“Are you okay back there, Marigold?” Bucky turned around in his seat, and gave me his big grin, winking one hazel eye at me behind his glasses.
“She prefers Goldie, Buck.” Nancy rolled her eyes and smiled an isn’t-he-adorably-annoying smile while Bucky faked upset.
“Hey, I still like Marigold. It’s pretty and there’s power in it,” Bucky said, with a wink my way. “Plus, Goldie sounds like a dog’s name.”
I laughed, despite the insult. He was ridiculous and stubborn, but impossible to be mad at. I would miss having them around.
“This seat jabs the middle of my spine.” I twisted around so I could rub the spot where it poked me.
“Oh, sorry about that, that one’s worse than the others. You don’t have to sit right behind us. Pick whichever seat you want, and, if you need to talk to us, use the headset.” Bucky tapped his own headset, and turned back to his million dials.
I grabbed my backpack, my lifeline, with my notebooks, wallet, phone, and pens in it, and I scooted across to the seat next to it. This one looked especially soft, and even had a blanket and pillow sitting by it.
“Holy hell.” I sank like I fell into a toilet with its lid up.
“Oh, Goldie, darling, watch out. That one’s broken. Framing underneath failed years ago. The most passengers we ever had was when we flew you out here. Sorry, I should have warned you,” Nancy said.
“I’m fine. I’ll sit somewhere else.”
“Flight controls,” Bucky called.
“Free and correct,” Nancy answered.
Grabbing the blanket and pillow after I freed myself from the stupid seat, I climbed over the backs of the two seats I already tried, returning to the seat I was in when we flew here.
My step-grandparents couldn’t talk to me back here, which was fine. They hadn’t spoken to my mom or the step-dick since I concocted this flight scheme to get my way. And I was glad they had yet to ask what my plans were for when I got home.
Since I had no idea what drama I would walk into when I got back, I had no idea what my plans were. Other than turning in my last poem, surviving senior year, and getting out of town.
The new seat I was in didn’t jab me in the back, and seemed to fit my butt better. I buckled in, tucked my backpack underneath me, covered up with the blanket, shoved the pillow into the narrow space between me and the wall, and tried to get some sleep despite the stress of going home.
Only moments later, the engine roared to life with a stutter and a cough just as my mind began to slip into dreamland.
So much for a nap.
I watched the little airport and the vast land beyond as we made our way off Montana’s soil. I preferred the million shades of green, the rain, and the safe, insulated feel of the vegetation in Washington. In Montana the sky was open. It, and the land, went on forever in every direction. I felt exposed here, vulnerable.
The last thing I wanted was to be vulnerable again. The trouble was, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I wasn’t sure I could write for a living. Other than writing, I hadn’t actually found any other thing that could be my thing to do. I just knew what I didn’t want to do.
Namely, become my mother.
Hey, Dad, now would be a good time to give me a sign. What exactly am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to get along with Mom? Should I just give in to her, and do whatever she wants?
Talking to my father’s ghost calmed me down. Only because my dad always disagreed with her after they divorced, but it still worked.
So did writing.
And I had one last poem to work on. It was still amazing that I made it through all the rounds. Mom probably threw away my copies of the magazine with my work in them, but Ms. E. would for sure have some for me when I got back to school. The theme was recovery/healing. As much as I wasn’t there yet, I had to get the poem done, and I doubted being around my mom would help me find a better frame of mind.
Whole and full of potential
A mix of the elements
Unique and similar to other seeds
Will this one be large
Will it be vibrant
Will it grow at all
If not for the outside
There is no Sprout
Into the world
For what it doesn’t knowB
ut it feels
The whipping wind
The storms of cruelty
And fleeting caress
It doesn’t know to stop growing
Stop becoming a
New and different again
My pen stalled, leaving the words swimming through my head, wrapping around the image, the feelings, all the things I hoped I would experience once Mom and I made it to the other side of all this.
I needed to be on the porch at the ranch, or looking at the garden. I needed green right now for the rest of this poem. I pulled down the edge of the pillow I leaned on to look out the window, to see the land far below me.
Or…I tried to.
The world outside my window was just white—a thick fog or cloud bank. It was impossible to tell which way the sun shone through. The view out the windshield past Bucky and Nancy’s shoulders was the same.
I leaned forward, gripping the pen and my notebook in a grasp so tight that my hands wanted to cramp. I didn’t know anything about planes, but something felt more than a little off about not being able to see. The dials and gauges covering the panel in front of Bucky and Nancy meant nothing to me, but I looked at all of them anyway, trying to figure out how they knew which way was up and what was ahead of us.
Bucky and Nancy didn’t do anything differently than they did before. Bucky pulled back on the controls, and the plane started a slight climb. I hoped we were headed above the cloud.
The open sky of the Montana we left behind looked way better right about now.
Nancy’s mouth moved.
I shoved the pen and notebook back into my pack, and made a grab for the headset. The plane lurched, leaving me scrambling to hang on to my pack while I was thrown against my seatbelt. The strap was heavy and held, but my skin felt the pressure.
The plane leveled out, and I grabbed the headset.
“Brace yourself,” Bucky said, turning to look at me. “Turbulence.” His voice was even, and made it sound like everything was fine. But I saw the truth in his face. There was tightness in his forced grin, his eyes were slightly too far open, and the skin around them was pinched in a way that highlighted his wrinkles, making them stand out.
Nancy opened her mouth, and looked back at me, a quick shot of her face. I couldn’t see her eyes, her hair was in the way, but her mouth was in a little “o” as the plane bucked again. I clenched my arms around my pack.
I wanted to turn around. I wanted to land. I wanted out of the damn cloud.
Chill, Goldie. Death comes in a black cloak, not a white one.
It was a stupid and empty reassurance, and yet it allowed me to breathe. Although my grip on my backpack didn’t lessen.
On the control panel, the only dial I could make out was a clock. I stared at it, the second hand ticking off time slower than I thought it possibly could. They seemed to be hour-long seconds, and ages-long minutes.
I lost track of it every time the turbulence sent us jumping.
The cloud couldn’t go on forever, could it?My foot started shaking, bopping my knee up and down faster than the damn second hand moved. I peeled my eyes away from the dash, and focused out the side window into the nothing of the whited-out landscape.
Fumbling in my pack, my hands somehow found my phone, and I typed a text without seeing the screen or the keys in front of me. The whiteness permeated my mind, and filled up my vision even when I wasn’t looking at it.
J- I’m sorry. Tell everyone. Love u always have
It was guaranteed to be out of context with whatever his many texts to me were that I didn’t have the guts to read, but it was all my fingers could manage. I shoved the phone back into its place in my wedged-tight pack, and zipped the pocket closed.
Without occupation, my fingers returned to twisting and tugging on the strap of my pack as the plane dropped in an instant then leveled out again.
Daddy? Help us. Please get us out of the cloud, and get this turbulence to stop.
In my mind, I asked everyone I had ever known to forgive all the transgressions of my life.
For the first time ever, I wished I believed in a god, even my mother’s precious god, just so I had something to pray to. The only thing I had to keep me company in the sky devoid of direction was the huge list of all the times I was a jerk to anyone.
We were sent careening, plummeting, and then flung upward again.
There was that crap about life flashing before your eyes. But right now, when my insides screamed it was the end, I didn’t see my whole life. I saw the ways I was rude, or didn’t make enough time for someone I loved. I saw the mistakes and missteps.
Outside the window, a dark something passed too fast for me to make out what it was. I hoped it was a bird.
Please be a bird. Please be a bird. Please be a bird.
Another flashed by as I stared, willing myself not to blink.
It wasn’t a bird.
“Tree! Pull up!” I screamed, and the windshield filled with color as we dipped out of the cloud right into the green of a forest. The green I wanted was the last thing we needed.
“Hold on!” Bucky’s voice shook, and he yanked back on the controls.
“Lord, help us.” Nancy said.
My stomach pushed down into my feet, and my blood headed the same way when Bucky sent the plane careening upward in a sharp climb.
A tree top smashed into the belly of the plane. I felt the impact in every part of my body, as more and more treetops slammed into the underside of the plane.
The trees wailed as they ran along the metal of the bottom of the plane. They slammed, massive explosions of reverberating sound that echoed through my bones with each impact.
Even over the din of the screaming trees, my headset crackled as Bucky and Nancy expressed their love for each other, and she reached her hand out to touch his leg.
I turned away from them, tears welling in my eyes. It was too much.
Out of the side window I stared, transfixed. My heart lurched as I watched the wing ripping off.
The top of a tree split the metal wing apart in a second, slipping through it like it was a ghost. The needles of the tree scraped along the window, and I jerked my head back.
We were sent spinning.
The world was a horrible chaos of noise and pain, and it flung views past the windows like a carnival ride through the apocalypse. I squeezed my eyes shut.
I held my position in my seat by sheer will, the forces going in every direction trying their damnedest to pull me apart. The floor, walls, and the seat I was strapped to, bucked and vibrated.
My grip on my backpack was something for me to focus on that wasn’t part of the tornado of the flipping and spinning plane. The blanket and the pillow that were tucked around me loosened to jump and slap at my face as they flew about.
The texture of my backpack on the soft skin under my nails where they dug into the fabric became my whole world.
Behind my eyes, I started to see it.
Not my life, not even most of it.
But Bucky and Nancy, J and his parents, my friends at school, Courtney, my dad, even my mom. Faces of people I loved. Faces I didn’t think I would ever see again.
So… what are you thinking about the sneak peek?
Yes, there is a non linear time format, but it doesn’t jump around a lot and is still easy to follow.
I so hope you all love this story as much as I do and are excited for the release.
EEEPPP! I’m ready to hear what you all have to say about this one.
As always, Happy reading!