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Samantha Dunaway Bryant
Dangerous when bored.
Dangerous when bored.

Samantha's posts

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A Room of My Own
I've never had a writer's nook or office or room of my own. I write where I can. On the sofa in my living room, standing in the kitchen, in my car while I'm waiting for one of my daughter's, in coffeeshops, at the library. My time is coming. One of my daugh...

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I've never really read much of the Tao Te Ching, but now I really really want to. #worldpoetryday

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It's #worldpoetryday so rather than choosing one poem to talk about in detail, I've been following the hashtag and filling my day with verse. Here's a great reading I ran across today: Orson Welles reading Whitman. 

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If your March has been like mine, you could probably use a fun read. Here's a great list to get you started. 

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I've just returned from the Carolina Beach area of North Carolina. You don't find those large, complete seashells on the beaches here, the kind you can hold up to your ear and listen to the whirring tide inside. But I think about that every time I'm near the sea.

That's what attracted me to this poem: "Here is an Ear Hear" by Victor Hernández Cruz.

What kept me here though is the tone, the mythic bard telling me the true story of why things are the way the are. The idea that Puerto Rico is a rock lodged in the ear of a poet from Atlantis is marvelous and beautiful in itself.

And if you've ever wondered what Puerto Rico sounds like, you have your answer now: "the sounds made by flowers as they stretch into the light." 

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I love the title of this poem. "Constantly Risking Absurdity" is what life really is, I suppose. Ferlinghetti's acrobat is a poet, but it doesn't have to be. If the highwire is of your own making, then you decide how to risk.

Going somewhere you've always dreamed of, saying "I love you" first. It's all risking absurdity. But you don't risk absurdity, you will never transcend mediocrity.


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#bookeveryweek "Enjoy" is a strange word to apply to a story like this one, given the body horror and child endangerment and stress and all, but it's true. I enjoyed this book. Hill is a fine storyteller. I enjoyed his work on Locke and Key and was more than a little freaked out by Heart Shaped Box. I love those books, too, but I wouldn't say I enjoyed them.

I think the reason I can say I enjoyed this one is that it played on so many other things I love. First, there's the old movie, Nosferatu, the inspiration for Charlie Manx. The background and story Hill imagined was a wonderful riff on that film character. Part vampire, part Fagin, playing on parental fears and childhood horrors. He was an excellent villain.

Same with the hero. Vic McQueen is one of my favorite Hill character types: a badass angry mother. She's also a nice variation on the manic pixie dream-girl, damaged but actually aware of how her damage hurts others and trying to protect others from herself and trying to protect the people she loves from herself. I liked her throughout the book, from her introduction as a child to her heroic end.

I also really enjoyed the Easter Eggs, all the references to Hill's other works and those of his father, Stephen King. Great geekery fun for fans or people like me who just love inter-textual and meta moments.

About the only thing I didn't love about the book was the overkill, as in literal over-use of killing off secondary characters to motivate the main character. I started to wonder if George R.R. Martin had written the book. By the time we had the final sacrificial/ tragic death of the novel, the emotional effect was dampened because we'd already killed off so many people. 

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I'm up a little earlier than I wanted to be this morning, and trying to get my daughter going so we can go downstairs and have some of the lovely coffee I can smell from here. Yay for Bed and Breakfasts!

She's having a hard time getting up which made me think of the opening line of "The Waking" by Theodore Roethke: "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow."

I think of that line often in the morning when I'm having trouble committing to wakefulness. The waking in his poem is a little more metaphorical than literal, but the line still fits.

"I learn by going where I have to go" is another deep line. We all move through uncertainty, but if we keep moving, there's hope that it will make sense, that we'll learn what we need to know and come to understand.

Roethke is a master with repetition and variation, like Elizabeth Bishop, whom I admire greatly and wrote about in one of these posts another day. This whole poem works like a resolution to me, a bit of self talk to convince oneself to take on the difficulty of the day.

Headed out now to see what I learn. 

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I'm still editing so my #saturdayscenes #samanthascenes this week come again from Face the Change: Book 3 of the Menopausal Superheroes . This scene comes from Cindy Liu's plotline. She's on the lam and an agent named Mekai Davis has just been assigned to get her back to Springfield.
“We’ve picked up a tail,” he said.

Cindy unbuckled her seatbelt and sat up on her knees to peek out the back window. There was a long line of cars behind them, but that was no surprise on a major highway. She didn’t see anything suspicious. “Where?”

“The white SUV. Fast lane. Four cars back.”

She spotted the car. It didn’t look suspicious to her. “What makes you think it’s following us?”

Mekai arched an eyebrow at her in the rearview mirror. “I can tell.”

Cindy blew her hair out of her eyes with a gusty, frustrated breath. “Yes. But how?”

Mekai met her gaze in the mirror again. He seemed to assess her for a moment before he answered. She met his gaze steadily, keeping her face serious and still. “He’s staying exactly four cars behind me no matter what I do. I’ve driven as slow as thirty-five and as fast as eighty-five in the past twenty miles and he’s sticking right with us, neither gaining nor falling behind.”

Cindy had to admit that was suspicious. She sat up on her knees and looked out the back window again. “Do you have binoculars?” she asked.

Mekai leaned across and pulled a pocket pair out of the glove compartment and tossed them back to her. Cindy unrolled them and peered at the man in the car. He was a short, white man wearing large, mirrored sunglasses and staring resolutely ahead without expression. He didn’t look familiar to her. But why would he? If he was good at his job, she’d never have spotted him even if he followed her for months. Cindy sat back down. “Do you think he’s Department?”

He gave a shrug. “Seems likely. They’re after you, aren’t they? You and Papa Frankenstein?”

Cindy mulled that over. She had believed, or at least hoped, that she and her father got away scot free that night in Indiana. It was probably too good to be true, but desperation can make you believe unlikely things. No one had followed them when they left, but it was entirely possible the van she stole from the garage had been tracked. She and her father made an eye-catching pair. There had been curious and chatty waitresses and gas station attendants everywhere they stopped. Clearly, she had underestimated the determination and capability of the Department. “What are we going to do?” she asked.

“Why, lose them, of course!” Mekai turned the wheel sharply taking an exit at the last minute and earning the ire of at least three drivers he cut in front of as he rocketed down the exit ramp. He made three quick turns and pulled into the loading area behind a Qmart, pulling the minivan into a narrow space between a dumpster and a ramp, where clearly no one was supposed to park. “Come on,” he said. “Wake him up. We’re going shopping.”


“We’re going to ditch this car and pick up another one.”

That made sense—she had used the same strategy herself as she tried to stay under the radar the past few days. Cindy shook her father by the shoulder, but he just shifted in his sleep. Mekai stood outside the vehicle, scanning the parking area to see if the van had followed them in their crazy rush off the highway and through suburban sprawl to this shopping center. Cindy shook her father harder. Mekai hissed at her through the open window. “Can you give him another injection?”

“Not without a place to work. It has to be used immediately, when fresh. What about you?”

Mekai was blank faced. Very purposefully, willfully blank faced.

“Don’t give me that. I saw you.” She remembered it very clearly. The silver vials in the case. The way her father’s face had bunched up in pain, then gone slack. “When you and Bertrand kidnapped me, I saw you injecting him with something. It seemed to give him better muscle control. What was it?”

“I think you mean when we rescued you and brought you in for your own safety. And you weren’t meant to see that.” There was a small twitch at the corner of his left eye and Cindy wondered what it indicated. Guilt over his part in her kidnapping? Amusement? Suppression of something he wanted to say? She’d learn to read his face yet. Everyone had tells if you just learned to read them.

She fluttered a hand at him. “Then you should have hidden it better.”

Mekai took Lorre’s shoulders and shook them a little less gently than he had the first time. The man began to stir. “I don’t know what’s in that stuff. Something experimental. The dose we gave him then was the last one, according to Bertrand.”

“I see.” She snapped her fingers in front of her father’s face. “Anton! Daniel! Dad!” She had no idea which name was more likely to rouse the man. In the long weeks she spent in his compound, they’d had few private moments. She’d learned more about him in a few days on the run than in all the weeks they worked together. That probably wasn’t a good thing. She hadn’t like what she learned.

His eyes fluttered open. The man looked confused. “Where are we?” he asked, though it sounded more like “way-ah-we?”

“Qmart. Pitstop.” Mekai’s tone was brusque, but not unkind. He helped Anton turn his body toward the door and lift out his legs. Just as he was pulling himself to his feet, Mekai suddenly shoved him back into the vehicle. “Get down—both of you!”

Cindy wasn’t one for following barked commands, but she also didn’t want to get shot or taken into custody by government agents, so she grabbed her father’s arm and pulled him onto the floor with her. He landed with his body atop hers, uncomfortably pinning her against the driver’s seat. Ignoring his protests, she wriggled out from under him, leaving him awkwardly positioned with his feet in the seat and his upper body twisted in a heap and wedged between the bucket seats.

She snaked her way over to the sliding door and opened it just slightly, trying to see or hear anything about what had caused Mekai to react so strongly. All she could see was the parking lot, a patch of pavement in the sun with shadows moving across it. The sounds were more interesting. Thuds and grunts. Scrapes. A metal object skittering across pavement—maybe a gun? She hadn’t seen Mekai with a gun, but she was sure he’d have at least one. So, who had lost their weapon? Mekai or his opponent?

She rolled over awkwardly in the narrow foot space at the front of the bench seat and sat up so she could crawl onto the cushions and see out the windows. Just as she dared to peek out, a body knocked into the window, shaking the entire van. Her father muttered something in a language she didn’t understand. “Shut up!” she hissed at him, cautiously stretching her neck out again.

The man who had collided with the van had been a short, white man, not Mekai. She hoped that meant Mekai was winning the fight. The next thump came from the front of the vehicle. Cindy spun around in time to see Mekai’s face pressed into the glass of the windshield, his features distorted from the pressure, and a shorter man standing behind him, pulling Mekai’s arm upward and grinning while he did it.

It was the grin that got her. Before she could talk herself out of it, she leaped to the side of the van, pushed the sliding door open, and threw herself out onto the pavement. She crouched there, looking around until she spotted the gun she’d heard skitter away earlier. She ran for it, picking it up with two hands—that sucker was heavy—and aimed it at the fighting men. “Stop!” she shouted. Her reedy voice bounced back at her, a rude echo.

The man holding Mekai’s arm looked up. It must have distracted him, her shouting, because Mekai was suddenly free, having elbowed the man in the stomach. He punched the man several times in the stomach and face, but the smaller man refused to fall or yield. Cindy moved the gun around unsteadily, having trouble keeping the weapon trained on the right person in the commotion. Instead, she aimed the gun upward above all their heads and squeezed the trigger just as she’d been shown at the gun club when she’d been a young woman.

The gun fired and nearly flung from her small hands in the recoil. The man fighting Mekai looked at her, and giving Mekai the opening he’d been waiting for. With an expertise that was efficient and frightening, he pulled something out of his pocket and hit the other man over the head with it. He dropped to the pavement like someone had just swept his feet out of under him. His head hit the pavement with an audible bounce, like a dropped bowling bowl. He lay there.
Without hesitating, Mekai dragged the man’s inert form to the other side of the dumpster, then came and took the gun away from Cindy’s now-shaking hands.

“That was stupid,” he said, and turned to get back in the car. Cindy hurried after him and got back in the vehicle in time to see Mekai unceremoniously pulling her father up by his armpits and shoving him back into the passenger seat. She shut the door and grabbed the safety handle as Mekai sped out of the parking lot, not daring to ask him where they were going.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the scene, you can find out more about me and my published works at Face the Change is scheduled for release July 11, 2017. Don't forget to check out the full collection of participating authors at: and rest of my personal collection at:
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