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“UNDER THE KUDZU” ACCEPTED FOR BEHIND LOCKED DOORS ANTHOLOGY

My short story “Under the Kudzu” has been selected for publication in Wicked East Press’ Behind Locked Doors anthology.

“Kudzu” has special significance for me. In September 2010, my friend Cynthia Wilson called me to ask if I’d seen photographs of structures that had been covered in kudzu. “Imagine,” she said, “what horrible scary things could be going on in houses buried by kudzu!”

She loved a good ghost story, so I suggested she write it. Her response was, “no, I want you to write it. I want to read what you have to say about it.” She then e-mailed me several pictures of the phenomenon.

So, I took a stab at it.

Unfortunately, Cynthia passed away before she got to read my first draft.

After much critiquing by a few writer-friends and a few rounds of revision, I promised myself that this year I would get it published—if she couldn’t read it, at least others could.

I achieved my goal.

When Behind Locked Doors hits the stands, I’ll let you know. If you’d like to see the photograph of a kudzu-covered house that inspired the story, you can view that online here.

YES, CYNTHIA, THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE

Cyn arrives! I picked her up at Bradley Airport, and here we're toasting to a great week! July 13, 2010.

A friend and fellow writer Cynthia Wilson passed away in December.

To say that we were close would be an understatement; in a sense, I lost not just a friend, but a sister. We shared so many interests and passions that we were instantly drawn to each other: we were both witches. We were both writers. We both loved New Orleans jazz (and you can’t imagine how much time we burnt up the phone lines over every tiny development in HBO’s Tremé—I don’t know how I’m going to get through Season 2 without her!). We both loved good ghost stories, in print and in film. And we both spent a lot of time researching and discussing the paranormal—always wondering if there really was an afterlife. When I got the news of Cyn’s passing, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was like my soul had separated from my body, like I was looking down at myself. I had always thought I knew what heartbreak felt like until that moment.

I called Melissa, whom Cyn had met when she was up visiting us this past summer.  Melissa had talked to Cyn just two days before she’d passed away, and Melissa said she “said something very strange to me. She said, ‘if I die, I will find a way to be in touch with you and Krissi. I will give you proof of the afterlife.’”

If there’s anyone in the world that would find a way to do it, it would be Cyn.

At first, what she’d said weighed on me. But then I got distracted. People were posting on her Facebook page and addressing her in the present tense. Her blog was still there for me to go back and read. There were e-mails she’d sent me I hadn’t opened yet. And there were photos and videos of her visit that I hadn’t had time to sit down and look at or watch.

She was proving to me there was an afterlife—in a technological sense.

A person can, nowadays, continue to live forever in social media, photos, videos. We are incredibly lucky. I think back to the Victorian era, when photography was young and expensive, and so few families had any photos of their loved ones, any photos of their everyday lives. In fact, so few families could afford it that when the person died the entire family would stand around and pose with the corpse, just so they’d have a visual record that person existed. We are blessed today that we do not ever have to recall a person that way. We can go back and read that person’s blog or post things on their Facebook pages. We have photos of us alive and well. And we have videos. We can pop that disc into our TV or that card into our computers and there that person is, alive and well, like she isn’t gone.

It isn’t that these things can replace this person; the person’s absence has created an enormous hole in our lives that can’t possibly be permanently filled by a bunch of Facebook posts and photos. But for a few moments, the hole can be temporarily filled. All we really have to do is dream; all we really have to do is pull out the old photos of something fun we did together, or retell a great story about some crazy adventure we had with that person, or replay a video.

There are so many things Cyn did not get to finish, and so many things she’ll never get to do. But in the last year of her life, there were things she did get to do that she’d never done before. She came up to visit me in July, and she spent her days, while I was at work, whipping up some wonderful southern cuisine. She loved to cook, and she especially loved to cook for large groups of people. She had the time of her life in my kitchen cooking for all my friends with the New Orleans Jazz blasting from the stereo. And she got to go to New York City, someplace she’d always wanted to go and had never been. She was like a kid in a candy store. And since I spend a lot of time in New York and have gotten blasé about it, how refreshing it was to see the city through a child’s eyes.

So, yes, Cynthia, there is an afterlife. There is one where you are, and there is one here. You will live on for as long as I hold you in my heart, and as long as I share evidence of your existence with others.

And so, here is Cynthia Wilson in living color. Enjoy.

Cyn is cookin' up her awesome Jambalaya. July 14, 2010.

Video: Cyn talks Hot Sauce with Charles.

Video: Cyn confesses she wants to be locked in my local Shop Rite.

Video: Cyn discusses the state of bread in TexArcana.

Video: Cyn shares a funny story about TK, his friend, and Wonder Bread.

Video: “Anything good is five hours from me…”

Video: Cyn talks with Julia Copeland, our buddy from Goddard.

Video: Cyn dreams about moving to Connecticut and shows off her favorite cookbook.

Video: Cyn discusses her favorite cookbook in detail.

 

Cyn listens in as Nathan interviews Mick Doyle, of East Coast Paranormal Investigations in Dublin, Ireland, for The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Show via SKYPE.

Video: Nathan interviews Mick Doyle while Cyn listens in.

 

In New York City, July 15, 2010: Cyn is THRILLED for her first Subway ride. You would have thought we were in Walt Disney World.

We took Cyn to the Carnegie Deli. Here she celebrates with a beer.

Cyn takes a bite of her pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. She couldn't believe how enormous it was and insisted we take this picture to prove she could barely get her mouth around it (and, she said, "I always thought I had a big mouth. This just might prove me wrong!")

We were all hypnotized by this stupid giant billboard in Times Square. If you look to the lower left of the picture you'll see us.

There were NYPD officers in Times Square--just for the purpose of having their photos taken with tourists. Cynthia could not believe this. She took pictures of them so she could "prove to people back home that up in the North they have police officers whose whole job it is to just be nice." It was amusing. She didn't, curiously, want her photo taken WITH them.

I took Cyn to Newport, RI. Here we are clowning around in front of the building that was used as the house for the original Dark Shadows TV series -- it's now a dorm for Salve Regina. Photo courtesy Melissa Martin Ellis. July 17, 2010.

We walked into one of the Cliffwalk Mansions that was open. Cyn fell in love with this fireplace and wanted her photo taken with it.

Melissa and I take Cyn to experience a RI classic: Del's Lemonade.

July 18, 2010: Cyn made southern specialties for all of us -- Rob and Jen Mayette were coming over for dinner, and because Rob and Jen love NOLA food, well, Cyn just had to be all over that one. Here, we've set the table.

We're ready to sit down and eat! There was New Orleans Jazz blasting from the stereo.

Cyn brought some 'shine from Ireland. Here, she gets us all to try it. Rob pours the shots.

Rob does a shot!

Jen does a shot!

Cynthia, Rob, and me. Cyn was very excited to meet Rob--the editor of Read Short Fiction (which I work on, too). We published her story "Sunshine and Stones" as our March, 2010 feature. You can read that story, if you like, here: http://www.readshortfiction.com/2010/03/sunshine-and-stones-by-cynthia-wilson/

THE LOSS OF WRITER C.L. ROSS—AND WHERE TO FIND HER WORK

Cynthia Wilson at the Cliffwalk, Newport, RI, July 2010. Photo by Melissa Martin Ellis, whom she couldn't wait to meet. The pair hit it off right away.

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A very good friend of mine, Cynthia Wilson—who wrote under the name C.L. Ross—passed away suddenly on Friday, December 10, 2010. I know that many of you on this list knew her or were familiar with her work.

Cynthia was working on a paranormal thriller series called The Llewellyn Legacy which was set in Ireland, a country she loved very much. She was thrilled to be returning to Ireland this coming February to complete the draft, and while there, she was going to be doing some paranormal investigating with her friends Mick Doyle and Ruth Deery of the Killarney Paranormal Society, of which she was a member.

She had, in the past year, built a website and invited several people to contribute to her blog on paranormal topics ranging from witchcraft to druidism to ghost stories. She was a proud member of the online pagan community WitchVox, for which she wrote many articles over the years; in addition, she had some of her short stories published in magazines and was actively working on polishing others to submit. And she had just recently discovered Twitter and was having a ball with it.

She held an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, which she had been awarded in January, 2010. Goddard is where Cynthia and I met. And we helped throw the best damn graduation party for the graduating class of January 2009 EVER…I’ll never forget us trekking all over Barre, Vermont to shop in the middle of the most brutal snow. It was me (a New Englander) and Julia (a Chicagoite)—but Cynthia the Southerner was driving the truck. Hilarious.

I decided that I would post links to where her work is available online, and also a link to her website, which for now is still up. She had just purchased the domain this year and I’m hoping against hope her password is someplace—or I can find it, because she gave it to me once but I don’t know if I kept it—so that I can renew her domain every year indefinitely. If anyone else knows where her work might have been posted, please let me know—I wanted to give everyone a chance to read what have turned out to be her last words.

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“Sunshine and Stones”

Read Short Fiction

March 28, 2010

http://www.readshortfiction.com/2010/03/sunshine-and-stones-by-cynthia-wilson/

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“Breathing Room”

Voices from the Garage

Spring 2010

http://voicesfromthegarage.com/story/breathing-room

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“The Eulogy”

The Smoking Poet-Cigar Lounge

Summer 2010

http://thesmokingpoet.tripod.com/summer2010/id7.html

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“Fixin’ the Blues” (poem)

SWAMP

Issue #2, October 4, 2008

http://www.swampwriting.com/?page_id=31

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“Purgatory” (poem)

SWAMP

Issue #2, October 4, 2008

http://www.swampwriting.com/?page_id=38

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“Murder in Frogtown” (poem)

Aquila Review

Fall 2008

http://www.tamut.edu/aquila/Text%20Files/Aquila%20Review%20Fall%202008%20(Second%20Version).pdf

(this also contains the first publication of her poem “Fixin’ the Blues”—SWAMP had retained it as a reprint)

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“Rebellious Bat” (prose poem)

The Pitkin Review

Fall 2007

http://web.goddard.edu/pitkin/archive/2007_fall/RebelliousBat.htm

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Cynthia’s C.L. Ross Website and Blog: includes many guest posts about the paranormal, witchcraft, Druidism, and legends; some of her otherwise unpublished short stories; and snippets of The Llewellyn Legacy.

www.clross.net

There are a couple of her pieces available in expired print magazines; I just found one that I’m going to order and see if her work is in it. I’ll keep you posted.

If you wish to visit the “In Memory Page” her friends have set up on Facebook, you can do that here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Memory-of-Cynthia-Wilson/

LYNYRD SKYNYRD FAN?

If you’re a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, you’ll definitely want to head out to Read Short Fiction and check out Cynthia Wilson’s short story, “Sunshine and Stones.” This tale of teenage mischief on the day of the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zandt, Steve and Cassie Gaines, Dean Kilpatrick, and two pilots beautifully renders a moment in an era gone by–and serves as a reminder that nothing is the same once you have an awareness of your own mortality.

Read “Sunshine and Stones” here.

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