Island Writers Network

Hilton Head Island Writers and Their Books

From the 4th Anthology: ‘Death of a Vacuum’

Written By: Admin - Dec• 18•15

Ann LillyThis post from our fourth anthology features an excerpt from a story by Ann Lilly. Here’s what Ann has to say about the entertaining lesson: “Death of a Vacuum is proof that even when you think you have it all figured out, technology can go terribly wrong.”

Excerpt from Death of a Vacuum

Shortly after installing hardwood floors in our house, we purchased a Roomba robotic vacuum. To say this little vacuum was life changing is an understatement. Programmed to come on every morning at 10:00, the Roomba cleaned the floors for an hour or two before returning to the charging station. It roamed our house in what appeared to be a random pattern, but managed to clean every inch of floor space. Gone were the days of sandy grit and cat hair tumbleweeds.

On Mother’s Day our family spent the day at the beach. Returning late in the afternoon, I walked into the kitchen to unpack the cooler. Sunlight was streaming into the dining room and I noticed the wood floor looked dull. On closer inspection I found something smeared all over the floor and our dog, Raisin, cowering in the corner, looking guilty.

My eyes roamed the room and settled on what remained of a pile of dog poop in front of the sliding glass door. Oh my God! Raisin, who was perfectly housebroken, had an accident on the floor and, early in its appointed rounds, the Roomba had run over it. The poop had been methodically spread, board by board, over the entire floor before drying to a crispy dull finish. A trail of evidence led to the charging station.


The full version of this story was first published in Hilton Head Island: Time and Tide.

A ‘Cool’ Excerpt From Our Latest Anthology

Written By: Admin - Dec• 10•15

Sansing McPhersonThis excerpt from our fourth anthology, Hilton Head Island: Time and Tide, is from the short story, “Cool,” by Sansing McPherson, who has this to say about the story’s inspiration:

Snakes and sweaty heat are at the center of this tale. In the 25 years I lived in rural New Jersey, despite all the camping, hiking, and yard work I did there, I never saw a poisonous snake. Then I moved to South Carolina, home of all four poisonous snakes native to North America. I am now obsessed with them. My story idea came from watching the hardworking Mexican family that does our landscape service. I was especially impressed by how diligent and professional the teenaged son was, despite the heat and humidity. I was also concerned that they might encounter snakes. In seven years they have found only one. But the heat and sweat are constant. My character Tomas yearns to follow the career path that my landscaper’s teen son did when he graduated from high school. Tomas wants to be cool! Read the whole story to find out how they achieve it. (Note: No humans or animals were harmed in the creation of this story.)

Excerpt from ‘Cool’

At the first customer’s house his father gave him ear protectors and pointed out what needed blowing. Tomas started at the street, but his father stopped him when a shiny black Lexus came by.

“If you are working by the street, always watch for cars. You cannot hear them, so you have to stay alert. Cut the blower and point it away when a car or a person comes by. People do not want dust on their car or debris scratching it. It is also a polite thing to do.”
“Cool,” said Tomas.
“Cool?” his father challenged.
“That is good advice,” Tomas replied
Papa smiled. “One more important thing. You will be working around windows. Never, NEVER look inside a house. Always keep your eyes on your work.”
That was good advice too. Nobody wanted a Peeping Tomas outside the window.
The day grew hot. Tomas wiped his brow on his tee shirt sleeve constantly. He was in back of a house blowing leaves around a bay window. Without thinking he looked through the glass and saw a round table with a pretty flowered cloth sitting in the bay. There were fern baskets hanging at the side windows, and an overhead fan turned slowly above. He wished he were under that fan. Then he remembered what his father had said and riveted his eyes on the leaves between the shrubs and house. He revved the blower. Leaves kicked up at the inside corner where the bay met the house and blew back into his face. He raised his left arm to wipe the sweat and dust when out of the slits of his stinging eyes he saw the pretzel-twisted body of a snake lifted into the air by the blower’s blast.
“Shit!” he yelled. He dropped the blower nozzle and tried to run, but he tripped over it and stumbled to the tabby patio, his eyes still stinging. He tried to get up, but the blower pack pulled him backwards.
He was living a nightmare. The snake was coming— a copperhead— he knew it. Any second now the fangs would sink in like fire.


This story was first published in Hilton Head Island: Time and Tide.

Anthology Poem: ‘Crossing the Blue Ridge Gap’

Written By: Admin - Dec• 02•15

Bill NewbyToday we feature Bill Newby’s poem, “Crossing the Blue Ridge Gap,” one of many diverse literary works in our latest anthology.

Pull up your roots, pack your bags, leave your friends, and move elsewhere. It’s a leap of risk and faith – a journey into a new world. This is what happens “Crossing the Blue Ridge Gap”.

Crossing the Blue Ridge Gap

Heading south, some ten miles out,
the warning signs begin.

Travel Advisory.
Dense Fog Ahead.
Beware of Stopped Vehicles.

It’s a long, slow climb
from northern chill to southern ease,
from months of goodbyes
to the uncertainty of new friendships.

We’ve passed through the gap repeatedly,
anticipating retirement and returning to work,
surveying new neighborhoods and going back home.

The apex has often been clouded with a milky broth
barely stirred by the tail lights ahead –
a fog so thick we’ve needed to slow our advance
to a squinting, tight-knuckled caution.

But yesterday we watched
as the moving van swallowed all our stuff,
and today we crossed the gap
under a crystal clear nightfall.

And as we coasted down the southeastern face,
the valley below and the countryside beyond
shimmered like diamonds
cast across pillows of black velvet,
and the road ahead felt dry and firm.

© Bill Newby

This poem was first published in Hilton Head Island: Time and Tide.