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Family Guy

by Michele Leone

As the windy two-lane road rises past the brick wall fortifications obscuring celebrity mansions, Jeff Hobbs’ nostrils fill with the hint of crisp mountain air. His mind wanders. He imagines meandering through shady oak and sycamore trees, and arriving at the summit — the sprawling city of Los Angeles below, the sun glinting off the Pacific Ocean, and the solitude, mainly the solitude.

“Are we there yet?” squeaks Lucy, his 5-year-old.

His intense green eyes widen and focus on the road as it steepens, twists and narrows to one lane.

On Summoning the Gods

by Adrian O’Hanlon III

What civilians might consider unorthodox or bizarre or flat out superstitious makes perfect sense to narrative writers. From Balzac, who was known to consume up to 50 cups of coffee a day, to Maya Angelou, who wrote anonymously in hotel rooms, to John Cheever, who composed mostly in his underwear, writers engage daily in a wild assortment of compulsive behaviors to access their muse, to get right with their creativity, and — dare we say it — to break through their writer’s block.

The Book Doctor Is In

by Kathy Floyd

Colin Harrison grabs the brown butcher paper covering the table at his usual dining spot in midtown Manhattan’s Café Un Deux Trois, and roughs out rows of boxes. He’s not doodling or passing time while waiting for his food at the French bistro. He’s drawing a chronological chart of the principal characters and events for his lunch partner, Jan Jarboe Russell, who is hung up on structural issues in writing her book about German, Japanese and Italian families interned in South Texas during World War II.

Lessons in the Art of Hanging Out

by Nathan D. Battaglia

Eli Saslow sat in his rental car, lingering outside an unassuming five-bedroom house in the woods near Newtown, Connecticut, concerned how the family inside might perceive him. It’s not like he was arriving unannounced this spring morning. He had laid the groundwork for the interview, waiting a few months before contacting the Barden family after the tragic loss of their 7-year-old Daniel, slain along with 19 other children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the deadliest mass shooting at a primary school in U.S. history.

Keith's Song

by Christian McPhate

It’s just after midnight on a Saturday, and the monthly dance at the American Legion Post 198 will be ending soon.

Keith Harrelson stands in the corner of the room, alone, waiting for his chance to step behind the microphone. The bandleader has told him that after one more song, he could join the country-and-western group on stage. That was 30 minutes ago. So Keith busies himself, clearing away beer bottles and plastic cups, and if no one is paying attention, draining what’s left of their contents.

Voyage Around My Mother

by Annette Nevins

“Let her go.”

The doctor’s words hang in the air amongst beeping alarms and purring machines. A bedside pump clicks, spurting chocolate-colored nutrients through a nasal tube snaking down my mother’s throat.

I reach for her hand, as I had so many times as a child. But our roles have switched. My mother, at 87, needs comfort I’m not sure how to give.

American Writer

by Clinton Crockett Peters

Michael Mooney plants himself on a plush bar stool at The Local Oak,a 1920s, speakeasy-era haunt with creaky hardwood floors and dim lighting that makes it difficult to see faces clearly. The bar seems antiquated, like a real-life sepia photograph, which matches Mooney’s antebellum beard and gentlemanliness. He turns with a smile, and sips some whiskey. “Best Old Fashioneds here in Dallas-Fort Worth,” he says, “and I’ve had most of them.”