ABOUT THE BOOK
Tales of steely but vulnerable women of color will melt your heart while lifting your spirits… A fierce grandmother keeps her grandson from the clutches of Old Scratch in Devil Does Dallas. An alien abduction transforms a large, miserable woman in Hazel Hogan. A country girl meets a city girl on her birthday, and struggles to decide if the girl’s heart is dark or light in Bubble Bath Twelve. And methodical Genie forms an unlikely relationship in Heaven’s Halfway House while in a coma.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
|Sean C. Wright, Author|
Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX, and earned a degree in English from University of North Texas. She is the author of the short story collection A Gathering of Butterflies, the novella Honey Riley. Actress Jessica Biel directed a short film based on her winning essay in 2010: Sodales (18 minutes). For more information about her writing skills and how she can assist you with yours–for business or consumer needs–visit http://www.iwrightaway.com/.
Devil Does Dallas
One, two, three
The devil’s after me.
Four, five, six
He started throwing sticks.
Seven, eight, nine
He missed me every time.
Hallelujah, hallelujah. Amen!
-- Children’s song
“It’s time again,” Lucifer said aloud, “to remind them that I’m still here. “
Pay It Forward with Kindness, Oprah’s Angel Network, Feed the Hungry, Save a Tree, Adopt a Child from a Third World Country, Live Greener. And the Debauchery Report was pitiful. Murder was down fifteen percent, lying twenty-five. Adultery numbers plummeted a whopping forty percent.
Lucifer’s cloven feet clopped on the hot, stone floor as he strolled to the cages that held his three pet snakes -- Slither, Hiss and Fangs.
“Daddy’s going away for a little while, babies. You be. . .bad.”
Saddam Hussein caught sight of Lucifer walking out of Hell.
“Where are you going, Boss?”
“Up there to recruit,” Lucifer told him, “Keep the fires burning until I get back.”
Lucifer liked Saddam. He reminded Lucifer of himself when he was expelled from Heaven. Whenever Lucifer’s internal fires dimmed, he recalled the incident. It helped him keep his venom.
God frowned when Lucifer rolled around Heaven on roller skates.
God shook his head when Lucifer tie-dyed his white frock.
God scowled when Lucifer got the rebel angels together and played what would later be labeled The Devil’s Music – Rock ‘n Roll and jazz. Not everybody wanted to hear harps’ incessant plink, plink, plink.
“Lucifer,” God had said, pursing his lips, when he got called into the office, “It’s just not working out.”
“What?” he had asked.
“Souls are here for peace and serenity. You and the other angels you associate with are disruptive.”
“But, God, not all people lived their earthly lives the same, so why should everyone live the afterlife the same?
“Son, please give me your wings,” God retorted, his voice keeping its even cadence. His voice hadn’t wavered, but Lucifer saw God’s face had That Look. It was the look He had when someone begged Him to help, but He couldn’t because the person’s prayers weren’t destiny. Then God’s sad face became His omniscient one.
“You think I’m trouble,” Lucifer had growled.
“I didn’t say that—“
“You didn’t have to, God. I’ve known you an eternity!”
And with that, he had removed his wings from his back, thrown them in God’s face, and stormed out of Heaven. Lucifer had even scared himself with the sudden display of temper, but he felt happier and freer than he had ever felt in his afterlife. But Lucifer hadn’t wanted to steal God’s glory. He only wanted fun.
Lucifer treaded the murk to Earth’s portals, his scaly lips curling in annoyance. Recruiting would be so much easier if it weren’t for the rules. He could only stay on Earth each time in terms of 6 – 6 years, 6 months, and 6 days; 6 months, 6 days, and six hours, and so on. Lucifer could not make anyone do anything. He could only tempt, that is, dangle the bait and collect those souls that bit. Once a person realized who he was, he had to leave Earth – even if his term of sixes had not been finished.
His anger had pushed aside his focus. Where was Lucifer going on Earth? Did it really matter? Potential sinners were everywhere. Here was as good a place as any. Lucifer rose from the earth, taking gentle care to brush off the grub worms and beetles that clung to him; he had a soft spot for creepy, crawly things in decaying matter. He scanned the sable of night until he found the pot of bubbling decadence. A city. Pin points of candy-colored lights, tall buildings, and the faint roar of car motors.
He was so excited that he did not even take note of the sign: WELCOME TO DALLAS.
Lucifer stood under a lamp post in the thick of downtown. Sometimes a small child or a dog spotted him, but there was no chance of that here.
Lucifer zeroed in on a Latina, waiting for the bus. Esperanza. She was twenty-eight. Esperanza was the oldest of six children. Growing up, her mother had given her slaps and ugly words when her younger siblings got into mischief or she burned the food. A hole. She had lost her father at seventeen. The hole widened. After her father’s death, Esperanza spent her adult life helping her thankless mother, who never learned to speak English. When the lack of love and validation yielded self-loathing, she swallowed a whole bottle of pills at twenty-one. Esperanza spent four months in a mental hospital. When her mother had died of a stroke two years ago, she had thought, “Madre, may you eat a burnt dinner with el diablo every night.” She was single and worked as a maid cleaning warehouses in downtown Dallas. Esperanza did nothing more exciting than eat Hot Pockets and watch American Idol and Spanish soap operas at home.
Lucifer could hardly wait to see what came next. But just before he could get more information, Esperanza reached into the neck of her blouse, pulled out a rope of beads. She fingered the charm on the end of the necklace absentmindedly. Let it dangle, exposed. Lucifer recoiled. A crucifix. Damn, Esperanza’s name meant hope and she had the faith!
Her bus came. Esperanza climbed on and it pulled away. Lucifer looked after her, his beady eyes glazed with disgust.
But the night was yet a baby.
At a low point in my Clark Kent career, I decided to try my hand at freelance writing. Starry-eyed, I imagined creating my land of milk and honey with writing, my life blood. There would be gratifying assignments, like crafting crisp business proposals; or fun ones, like assisting a grade-school child with his or her English paper. I’d collect my fee, go on my merry way and await the next awesome project.
Oh, how ignorant I was about The Freelance Writing Dance! Sometimes you get dipped without warning. People suddenly want you to pirouette with no preparation. And sometimes you’re dancing with someone who has two left feet.
You may be well-aware of the potential chaos within the choreography. But if you were like me and did not, here are some tips before you put on your Freelance Writing Dance shoes:
Establish rules on the dance floor beforehand. You write for a client, they pay you and that’s the end of the story, right? That’s the way it should be but it sometimes isn’t. I had clients avoid me like a bad date once I did the writing and it was time to pay. Infuriating. Others said they had no problem paying but could they meet me in a business parking lot at midnight and bring the funds? Inconvenient and creepy. These experiences taught me a valuable lesson: let people know what they can expect from you before you start writing for them. And in turn, what you expect from them. Just like maids stated that they “didn’t do windows” back in the day before they were hired, we, unfortunately must do the same. I drew up a short and sweet document letting clients know up front when payment is expected, payment options, etc. If the client doesn’t agree to my policies, that’s fine. At least it saved me from heartache down the road. If they do agree but deviate from the terms later, I’m somewhat protected.
Dance like you really mean it. This tip piggybacks on the first one. When I first decided to freelance full-time, I didn’t count on the possibility of having projects overlapping on occasion. I was going crazy. I knew I had to do something when my passion for writing began to wane. Fortunately, the solution was simple: get organized. I overhauled my study, eradicating clutter and got an updated computer. I also make great use of my dry erase calendar. It’s comforting to have deadlines sprawled out for an entire month right at my fingertips. I know different organizational systems work for different writers but you need one nonetheless. Nothing is more dismaying to a writer than missing a deadline. My experience has been there is no half-stepping in freelancing; you must mind your business like a business.
Play nice in the ballroom. This may seem like the most logical tip but it’s a shame how rarely it’s practiced. True story: About 3 years ago, I exchanged business cards with a woman I met at a creative career mixer. I included her on my email distribution list for informative emails about events and other things I thought were helpful. Imagine my surprise when she replied to my email one day, telling me to “stop spamming” her! I apologized and removed her from my email address book. Well, imagine my surprise again when she emailed me months later with some of the same “spam,” an event she was promoting. Fortunately, I took the high road. I replied, politely reminding her about the inflammatory email she sent me months earlier. And oh, would she please remove me from her distribution list, too? My point with this cautionary tale is that people in the creative industry, such as writers, run in tight circles. I describe what that woman had as The Cinderella Syndrome. She was unfriendly to someone who she felt had no value to her at the time but found that the person did later. I’ve found it really pays off to cultivate positive relationships whenever possible. Playing nice has effortlessly led me to some fabulous referrals.
The Freelance Writing Dance sometimes threw me for a loop but I am figuring it out and learning the complicated steps. When you make writing and business tango partners, it’s not always easy but the challenge is exhilarating. I am recovering from the sudden dips and pirouettes with much more grace.
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