Cassandra on the Island: Wisterias

The following is the second to last section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.


Lesson #1 – Find Beauty in the Smallest Things

Cassandra loved her granddaughter’s smile. Granted, if put under the gun, she would praise all of her grandchildren’s smiles, but there was something about young Toni Lyn’s smile that Cassandra found comfort in.

So when Toni Lyn called to ask if she could spend the summer with her on the Island, Cassandra immediately said yes. Toni Lyn’s parents however were less than amused with the idea when they found out. They feared that Cassandra would be a bad influence on their eighteen-year-old daughter’s perspective of the world. It wasn’t because of Cassandra’s past (they never truly knew about her time in Europe. Even for Cassandra most of it had slipped from memory and would only return as dark images in nightmares that left her strangely humming Mozart songs), but what Cassandra had become.

Cassandra had become a rascally old woman.

Cassandra loved to give her opinion about everything under the sun. Her opinions were always unique (and most of the time too unique). It was amazing to her children the change that occurred. It was almost as if Cassandra found a switch or a button that changed everything. Spending time with their mother soon became a chore of having to smile and nod to many strange and unique points.

Peter (the father of Toni Lyn) claimed the change in her personality arrived after her husband’s death. That was not the case. She was like this for at least three years before the good Reverend disappeared from her side. Living with her during that time could sometimes be uncomfortable for him. Where he seemed to fall back on his conservative upbringing and beliefs (and his questions pushed back into the shadows), she went to the other extreme.

By the “Summer of Poetry,” it had been four years since Jonathan’s death and Cassandra felt more alone each day. Her life seemed to follow a simple pattern. Continue reading


Cassandra on the Island: Eglantines

The following is the sixth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.


This was not a day Cassandra was looking forward to. Peter and Lucy had been gone for two weeks and, in her opinion, it was time she got up and did something. Doing this was at least something. God knows, it had to be done.

“Are you sure you don’t want my help,” Alisha asked earlier that morning on the phone. “The dust up there and your allergies.”

“I’ll be fine,” Cassandra said. “I don’t need the help.” What she couldn’t say was how much she wanted to have this moment alone, even though she wasn’t looking forward to the experience. “And you have Duke, Jr. to take care of.”

Alisha knew Cassandra was just making excuses now. Having a two-year-old following them never bothered them before. “Duke, Jr. #3 is not a problem. And Duke, Jr. #1 and #2 won’t be back from school until three, so I do have time if you need me.”

Cassandra had to fight back from letting out a laugh. Duke, Jr. #1 was almost 9 and the names still made her laugh. Granted, Alisha was almost ten years younger than Cassandra, but that fact still did not explain some of the odd things she did. “Alisha, you know you can still change their names if you want to.”

“Why would I want to do that?”Alisha had lost count how times Cassandra had brought up this issue. Yes, it was unique to name all your children Duke, Jr., but Duke liked it and Alisha liked being unique. Of course, whenever Cassandra brought up this debate it was usually her way of saying “give me some space” in the nicest way possible. “Fine, I get the hint,” Alisha said.

“Don’t take it personally, Alisha,” Cassandra said softly. “I want this moment alone. Jonathan is at work. It’s the first time both my children have been gone.” Children? Was it even fair to still call them children? Lucy was 17, almost 18, and Peter was 22… 22? That idea was still hard for her to grasp. A senior in college and it felt just like yesterday when she last played hide-and-seek with him in the yard. Continue reading


Cassandra on the Island: Red Jasmines

The following is the fifth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Red Jasmines

“Tell it to me again, mommy.”

“Lucy, you need to sleep. I won’t let you go Trick-or-Treating unless you take a nap. You know how you get without a nap. You’ll be asleep by Wilson Avenue.”

“Just tell me and I’ll sleep.”

“You promise?”

She nodded her head.

“Well, I thought your dad was late.”

“But daddy is never late.”

“That’s what was bothering me. And I was looking forward to the date.”

“Did you try calling him?”

“Yes, I left message after message. I was going to go out looking for him, but I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“You know that, my silly little girl.” She reached down and tickled the sides of Lucy’s arms.

She giggled.

“He showed up at the door in a tuxedo. And he had me close my eyes. He led me to the side of the house. And through my eyelids I could see we were moving towards a bright light… a bright gold-like glow. He had covered the gazebo with Christmas lights, hundreds and hundreds of Christmas Lights. As it began to rain… just a little rain, not much. He looked so handsome, the rain and the lights. It was all so perfect.”

“Then what?” Continue reading


Cassandra on the Island: Sweet Williams

The following is the fourth section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

Sweet Williams

Another map was found and the word spread through across the island like the hurricane of ’77. Gossip and stories could be heard on any street corner where at least two adults were standing.

“…it was in a chest, I hear…”

“…Yes, and it took a gold key to open it…”

A third person walked up. “Did he have it analyzed yet?”

“No, he doesn’t want to risk having it fall into someone else’s hands.”

A fourth person with a young boy joined the conversation. “It’s a fake.”

“What? How can you say that?”

The fourth person put down the groceries he was holding. “It’s always a fake.”

The first person sat up straighter in his chair and squinted his eyes at this intruder. “Reverend Jonathan, doesn’t your religion teach you to have faith?”

Jonathan sighed. “Faith in God, Mr. Reginald, not in gold treasures hidden by a mythical pirate.” Continue reading


Cassandra on the Island: White Lilacs

The following is the third section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.

White Lilacs

“This is not a date,” Cassandra said for the hundredth time. To emphasize the point, she used her hands. She began by waving her hands out in front towards Alisha in a “Get out of here” fashion. She followed that with brushing her right hand casually through her hair (“It’s such a little deal, see how little I care about messing up my hair” was the thought behind the motion). It was all too casual… She paused, let out a fake sigh and then sprinted back to the closet. “Where is that damn black dress?”

“You mean the low-cut one?” Alisha asked from the doorway.

“Yes!” Cassandra quickly turned to face Alisha.

“It’s mine.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, it is. I bought it in London on the flight over.”

“I bought that two years ago when I was in Paris.”

“Paris? Paris? You were in Paris for five minutes. And that was just to pick up that new girl.”

“I still had time to shop.”

“Uh huh.” Alisha leaned against the doorframe. She crossed her arms. She stared at Cassandra.

Cassandra stared at her.

She stared back at Cassandra.


“SO WHERE THE HELL IS IT?” Cassandra screamed.

Alisha jumped. “The dry cleaners.”

Cassandra threw up her arms in frustration and turned back to her closet.

“And is he really a low-cut kind of guy? You look fine,” Alisha tried to reassure. “Why don’t you just wear what you’re wearing?”

Cassandra glared at her.

“Okay, wear something else, see if I care.” Continue reading


Cassandra on the Island: Hyacinths

The following is the second section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous section here.


He loved how Cassandra would always awake with a smile. There were days (usually when he needed inspiration for an upcoming big event that was weighing him down) that he would wake up early just to catch it. There were even times (of course, he wouldn’t tell her) that he wouldn’t dare even let himself sleep. He would be like a child waiting for Christmas morning to break.  Fidgeting and trying to find comfort while resting on the same arm for almost six hours, never daring to move to the other arm. Her smile was worth the discomfort for him.

“His sunrise.” Yes, that’s what he called it. It began a thousand silent poems that sang in his head (The ones too beautiful for simple words or paper) as he watched her sleep. She always slept on the side of the bed near the window. It was the window the sun would break through, as if nature wanted to be sure to take part in this little daily event. But they, in the long run, could only be supporting players to her performance.

The smile would always start slow. The left side of the face… yes, it would start there… a fidget… a slight movement… rise… rise… then the right… a little… her teeth would make a brief appearance… then one hand would (usually the right) reach to touch her pillow (he never knew why she would have that impulse)… and then… eyes… smile… cue the sunlight…

You couldn’t help but kiss that smile. Cassandra was awake.

What the good reverend didn’t know is that Cassandra was always haunted by nightmares. If he knew he probably would’ve asked her to discuss it (as his thousand hours of practical social work skills kicked in). But that was a road she didn’t want to go down… no need… no need…

She already knew where the nightmares came from. She didn’t need an analysis to tell her that. The images flew in a torrid wave of flesh and tight unreleasing grips and pain. All her memories had become one man to her. He had four arms that held her down and eight legs that would bump and grind forcing her into uncomfortable positions. “The Beast” (yes, that is what she called it in her mind) had no face, but every night it would consume her. She was consumed by the touch, the humiliating and painful embrace, and just his presence. She felt his weight all pressing down, down, down on her.

At six a.m. she could feel the Beast finishing. When he started to finish was when she began to relax… and then…. It was always the beautiful same, she would remind herself of who she was now. It was then she would reach for her pillow (she never had soft pillows in Amsterdam; she couldn’t allow herself comfort when she was in that place)…. Is it?… Yes, it’s a soft pillow. She is still saved. She knew her reality and who she was again in this existence.

She was Cassandra, the wife of the good reverend and a mother of two playful children… And THAT is what made her smile. Continue reading


The Quiet Scream in the Library: A Cynical Rant About Literature

I don’t always like fiction.

This may seem weird to say since I am a writer, I have an MFA in the field, and I used to do book reviews on NPR (actually I did those reviews for over three years, you can find them here), but it is true. Painfully, painfully true. I just don’t always enjoy reading fiction.  And it is rare on a relaxing Sunday afternoon that I feel like turning to a piece of fiction to pass the time.

I know… I know… blasphemy!

The problem is I believe that I have studied and analyzed literature to such a point that I have practically (and academically) taken the pleasure out of it.

It’s the great college conundrum! A question every college student has to ask him or herself- Do you go into a field around the subject that you love? Yes, you will enjoy the classes more than you would, say, in a different field but it also may impact how you view it for the rest of your life.

In other words, once Dorothy sees the wizard behind the curtain you can’t put the wizard back. English majors like me are Dorothys. And no matter how much we wish it, we can’t bring the “magic” back.

Continue reading


Free eBook for the holidays! Grab a copy of A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM today!

A Jane Austen Daydream“I consider this novel one of the best not only in regency era literature, but also in mainstream fiction.” -NovelTravelist

I’m excited to announce, that for a limited time (December 24 through 28), my novel A Jane Austen Daydream will be FREE for Kindle! You can grab your copy here (

“Scott Southard’s Jane is a delightful creature.”

Published by Madison Street Publishing, A Jane Austen Daydream imagines new possibilities for Ms. Austen, giving her the literary, witty, surprising, and romantic adventure she might have dreamed for one of her characters. Here is the back cover description:

All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

You can grab your copy here (


Permanent Spring ShowersIf you grab a free copy, why not say thank you by picking up my latest novel, Permanent Spring Showers?

Recently published by 5 Prince Books, Permanent Spring Showers is the story of affairs, love triangles, betrayal and the most important painting of this century. You can find it in print and eBook on amazon here ( and many other online retailers.

Here is the back cover description:

Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. Her husband has just admitted to having an affair. And it was with one of her students.

Blame it on a desire for revenge (or way too much alcohol), she then has had one of her own. Unfortunately for her, her affair was with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation. The ramifications of that one torrid evening will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world.

Sexy, funny, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation), to the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage, to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive his love from him, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting… and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.

I hope you enjoy my books! Have a great Holiday Season! Happy Reading!


A Christmas Short Story… and a surprise coming on December 24!

Linus and the treeHello persons of quality!

Let’s enjoy this time of the year, for God only knows where the world will be next year at this time.  Right now I consider myself an amateur cocktail maker, but my guess is by next year I will be a pro. You notice how everyone has dark senses of humor right now? There is a reason for that. We are all chuckling with a tear.

Happy Holidays!

Anyway, this is the last holiday post I will be sharing (you can scroll below on the main page for my other nuggets of holiday joy; like why Neil Diamond has the worst holiday song and “The Littlest Angel” shouldn’t be in heaven). This is my short story called “Kris and Me.” I really like it a lot. Soon to be a Hallmark movie!

(That last bit isn’t true, but you gotta think sooner or later they will call. They have been trying to get the last bit of Christmas peanut butter from that jar for a long time now. Sooner or later they have to pick up the phone.)

I hope you will check out my story. The link is below.

Kris and Me: A Christmas Story in 3 Parts

And one last thing! Come back to this site on December 24 in the morning. There will be a surprise for my readers! Can I give a hint? No, you have to wait. It’s wrapped and under the tree. Well, a virtual tree, but it’s right there in gold wrapping.

See you on December 24.



Book Review: Burr by Gore Vidal

BurrA new book review today! This time I am taking on the classic work of historical fiction, Burr by Gore Vidal. If you love the musical Hamilton, you will love this book.

You can check out my other book reviews (both for WKAR’s Current State and this website) here.

If you want to check out Burr for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Burr by Gore Vidal

Historical fiction is a dangerous genre.

In the wrong hands it can change a person’s perception of a real event or historical figure, tainting the truth for readers and the public. Debates and controversies in our world have been created out of less! But in the right hands it can inspire a reader to see something from a new light, possibly break out of their normal mindset. Easily the most dangerous, and possibly exciting, historical fiction I have ever read is Burr by Gore Vidal. In it, Gore Vidal tries to make a hero out of Aaron Burr, one-time vice president and killer of Alexander Hamilton.

HamiltonI discovered the book when my family (including my kids) became obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fantastic musical, Hamilton. While Hamilton puts many of the heroes of the American Revolution in the wonderful glow of the spotlight; Gore Vidal instead adds a lot of filters and a smoke machine. In Burr, Vidal seems to take a glee out of spoiling our history and understanding around the American revolution. This is not your normal 1776.

In Burr, George Washington is an incompetent general more worried about his image and politics as compared to victories. Alexander Hamilton is shady and driven by power. Even French military hero Marquis de Lafayette comes out as a little bit of a buffoon. Only Aaron Burr steps forward as a hero, and possibly the true father of our country.

Aaron Burr is the voice of reason and all of the decisions he makes are for the good of the country. He rarely thinks of his own self-interest, as he weaves each of his plots that he is certain will help grow the new country he loves. Everything seems to make sense from his perspective, but history will never know.

The novel Burr is told through the voice of Charles Schuyler, one of the few fictional characters in it. He spends his time hobnobbing with the political elites, dating questionable women, and meeting with important members of the New York literary circle, including Washington Irving. Charles is determined to write a book on Aaron Burr and is able to get him to open up and share his experiences. It is through those recollections that both the book and the character do not hold back. For Aaron Burr has a strong opinion about everyone in our revolutionary history and few walk out of his recollections unscathed.

I can’t help but imagine Vidal smiling throughout the writing of this book. Most of it seems to be built out of the rumors and gossip of that period as compared to what our historians will focus on. It is because of this fact that I find the book so dangerous. Yet, even I, a fan of nonfiction and Ken Burns documentaries felt a sense of horror and scandalous pleasure in the reading of it.

Even without Vidal’s wonderful writing, Aaron Burr is a fascinating and complicated character just waiting for a novelist’s pen. Besides the duel with Hamilton, he was once tried for treason, was quite the lady’s man, and was almost President of the United States. The question though is he an American hero? Vidal tries to present him as one and I can’t help but think the idea is a little… well… brilliantly dangerous.