Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Traveling Left of Center" by Nancy Christie

Traveling Left of Center
and Other Stories
by Nancy Christie

Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories is currently on tour with Plain Talk Book Marketing. The tour stops here today for some excerpts and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take - often with disastrous results.
Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive ("The Healer") and the aggressive ("The Clock") to the humorous ("Traveling Left of Center") and hopeful ("Skating on Thin Ice").
The eighteen stories in Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings - like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices - or non-choices - are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?

"Girl," my mama had said to me the minute she entered my hospital room, "on the highway of life, you’re always traveling left of center." (from "Traveling Left Of Center")
And if they should call again, she would be politely unavailable. Chloe could not support a return engagement. Her story was only strong enough for a single run. (from "The Sugar Bowl")
Everything tasted of the hot baking sun and the dry ground, and he had to swallow twice before his parched throat felt any relief. (from "The Shop on the Square") 
But as winter drew near and the days grew shorter, she found herself turning the alarm on at the first sign of dusk, feeling for the first time a little unsure, a little vulnerable, in the house where she had lived for six decades. (from "Watching for Billy")
Every time they touched her, Cassie would shiver, as though, molecule by molecule, life-giving heat was being drained from her. (from "The Healer")
Harold [tried] with limited success to ignore her words. He had learned long ago not to argue but just to let her words engulf him. So far, they had always stopped short of drowning him, although sometimes it was awfully close. (from "The Clock")
She found herself focusing all her time and energies on constructing a barricade between herself and the world…doing everything she could to keep herself protected from the unexpected. (from "Anything Can Happen")
So if I choose to spend one summer night on the asphalt shingles nailed to the library roof, it’s entirely my own right and affair. Besides, I had such a perfect view of the fire from there. (from "Out of Sight, Out of Mind")
[Other dreams] are not so easy to dismiss. They linger, like a damp fog chilling my bones. Some, like the dreams of phone calls from some unnamed person, return again and again to haunt me. (from "Misconnections")
There was no more skating on the pond after that, and the following summer, the neighbors banded together to hire an excavating company to fill it in - the largest single gravesite I have ever seen. (from "Skating on Thin Ice")
Here, in the open sunlight, they are rich to bursting, and I am painted purple and red as I pluck them, resisting, from their stems. I gather them in my basket and slip them in my mouth, tasting the morning sun on my tongue. (from "Still Life")
The children gathered around Connie when she began telling her stories, and for a brief time, they would forget the needles and the pills, the cold metal table in X-ray and the way they could never really tell what the doctors were thinking as they poked and prodded. (from "The Storyteller")
[His wife] would have an answer that would lead to an interminably long and circuitous conversation by the end of which all he would want to do is wrap his fingers around her fat, wrinkled throat and strangle her. (from "Exit Row")
The phone company could trace a number, I thought. I’ll tell them it’s an emergency. I’ll tell them we were cut off. We were cut off. Between my daughter and me, there was a chasm deeper than the Great Divide. And every spar I threw across fell to the bottom, the echoes endlessly crashing through my life. (from "Waiting for Sara")
However real the dreams would seem - and at times, the line between reality and dreamland was very fine indeed - she always knew the difference. (from "Beautiful Dreamer")
So it was left to Mona to weather these visits from Stranger Kate as best she could until the day she would be free of this place and return - return where? She never got that far in her plans. (from "The Kindness of Strangers")
She had tarried too long and the price she paid for any delay, any deviation from the daily routine, was an endless litany of complaints and grievances, lasting until her mother was fed, bathed, and finally put to bed. (from "Alice in Wonderland")
Sometimes, after a long session in the studio, her mother would be pale and weak, barely able to stand, so colorless that one would think her a ghost. The portraits, by contrast, were pulsing with life. Annabelle feared that her father was drawing the very lifeblood from her mother, leaving behind an empty shell. (from "Annabelle")

Praise for the Book
"Each character, within each tale, will almost certainly tug at your heartstrings while you, the reader, discover multiple variations of human angst. Read if you dare, but be prepared to come out on the other side with a different outlook on life – maybe even with a new resolve to be a better person. All in all, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories was an insightful, yet chilling read. Christie is a master with the pen and I'm looking forward to more from her in the future." ~ Charline Ratcliff
"The author crafted some enticing stories from the darkness of a human's soul. Yes, it's heart-breaking to read those stories, but the stories the completely riveting enough to capture you in their emotional torment. And it was astounding for to see that the author has immense talent to portray her characters with depth in just few pages. These 18 short stories are a journey of few individuals whose life's choices are often complicated and twisted enough to put them on a dark alley of their emotions." ~ Aditi Saha
"The stories in Nancy Christie’s collection are vivid and compelling. The protagonist often finds her or himself in a trap - an impossible relationship, where the only way out is through violence to another, or oneself. In other stories, an event from childhood rears up to ambush the main character. Sometimes these characters are unable to distinguish between the fantasies they have created - for comfort, as an emotional shield – and the world of everyday reality to which they are compelled to return." ~ Dorothy Johnston
"She has a certain way with words, a way with feelings, and a way that makes you stop and ponder on human beings and their quest for love, the need to feel wanted, appreciated and recognised." ~ Kerin Freeman, author of The Civilian Bomb Disposing Earl
"Traveling Left of Center is a beautifully written compilation of short stories that explores the lives of 18 different people who share a commonality; they are unable and unprepared to take command of their own lives. Christie does a remarkable job of bringing her dysfunctional characters to life in just a few pages. She's able to draw readers in and help them experience the emotional anguish so vibrantly felt by her characters." ~ Stacie Theis

About the Author
Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and nonfiction. In addition to her fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and two short story ebooks, Annabelle and Alice in Wonderland (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her stories have also appeared in literary publications such as Wild Violet, EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, and The Chaffin Journal.
Her inspirational book, The Gifts of Change (Beyond Words/Atria), encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Since its release in 2004, it has also been published in three foreign editions: Turkish, Korean and English Indian.
Currently Christie is working on several book projects, including a second collection, a novel and a book for writers.
Christie is the founder of Celebrate Short Fiction Day, and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), and Poets and Writers. She also hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, Ohio.
Christie is available for speaking engagements, book club visits, and workshops.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five copies of Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories by Nancy Christie.

Download the FREE Traveling Left of Center Study Guide.