We're excited to share an excerpt from the upcoming Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology: A Collection of Short Stories, which includes stories from several Southern Christian Writers Conference members. The stories included are "not your typical Southern Christmas stories some might find written in the Southern Living style...It's your gritty salt of the earth writing about the hardworking people of the south."
Authors included in the anthology are: Karen O. Allen, Gary Benton, R. W. Benton, Pete Black, Christal Cooper, C.R. Fulton, Vanessa Davis Griggs, Gus Guess, Jennifer Horne, M.E. Hubbs, Laura Hunter, Ashley Jones, Bill King, Peter Last, Ann Nunnally, Mike Wahl, and Gayle Young.
(The book is published by Bluewater Publications and is available for preorder now on Amazon Kindle and at Barnes and Noble.)
The following is an excerpt from author C.R. Fulton.
"Hooves and Hope"
I don’t have any parents, none that want me anyway. That’s why I’ve been condemned to spending my two-week Christmas break in the boondocks of Kentucky.
Sullen. That’s how my caseworker describes me. I prove it as we turn into a long gravel drive lined with deep potholes. The car lurches, upsetting
soda all over my lap.
“What a beautiful farm,” she says, gripping the wheel.
She had been nervous on the flight. She’d wanted to talk to cover it up. Eventually I’d held up a sheet of paper with “Lacey Mullins doesn’t care” written on it. That had silenced her, but it hadn’t changed this trip or reversed our direction. I’m
still here, exactly where I don’t want to be.
I open my phone. “Zero bars.” The words come out like a curse.
The driveway turns left and a white house with huge black barns behind it comes into view. A big cow stares at me through the fence wearing a lump of hay on its head. I almost laugh, but that’s too dangerous, like doing a drug I can’t get more of. I clutch my phone as I step out of the car, the woman on the porch must be my Aunt Rose. She looks nothing like my mother. Her salt-and-pepper hair is up in a messy bun but it’s her bright brown eyes that catch me. They’re the same
color as mine. What’s she got to look so happy about?
“Hello, Lacey. Welcome to the bluegrass.”
I frown at her as a cat with a white tip on its tail rubs against my legs.
“Excuse me,” I mutter to it as I trudge through the wet grass to the porch.
The scent of animals makes me cringe…it’s something you don’t deal with in Buffalo, New York. Course, it’s thirty degrees colder there too.
“Come on, I’ll show you to your room,” Rose says. The house is simple and clean. A huge wooden Nativity takes up one corner of the living room.
“You’re missing something,” I say, looking at the empty manger surrounded by the other exquisite figures.
“Jesus didn’t arrive till Christmas morning. It’s not time for him to be there yet,” she says with a twinkle in her gaze.
I scowl at the manger. There’s a pitiful wisp of straw in the bottom of it. “Could you spare the straw?”
Rose looks at me with one side of her mouth pulled back. What do I care if I upset her? I didn’t want to come here anyway.
“I have a feeling there will be plenty by the twenty-fifth.”
I snort through my nose at her reply.
“Your room’s upstairs, come on.”
She leaves me to settle in. I finger the quilt that’s an explosion of color, definitely not my style, then look out the window. There are more cows than I’d ever seen at once, and a flock of geese waddle through the yard. I catch my breath.
Behind the barns, horses graze. I watch them until a commotion downstairs draws me in.
Bluewater Publications is also doing an amazing giveaway right now when you preorder the Gritty Southern Christmas Anthology. You can receive up to $147 worth of rewards from Bluewater when you preorder, and also get the chance to Zoom with the anthology's authors. Check out rules for the rewards at the link HERE.
Congratulations to all of the authors who have their stories included in the upcoming collection. We look forward to reading it as the holidays draw near.