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May Story Chat Summary: “Nailing It!”

Hi Anne, Welcome to Story Chat. Come on in, do you know Hugh? The others will be here soon. What can I get you to drink? I have some chips and pretzels.

Marsha

Hi Marsha, I was hoping you made pavlova again.

Hugh

Last month’s author , Doug Jacquier, was from Australia, of course I made pavlova. Anne’s from Scotland. I have pretzels, cheese, and beer or whatever else you’d like to drink for this month. I should have asked her what would be appropriate.

Marsha

Pretzels and beer is fine. Is he going to be like this all night?

Anne

You’ll learn that Hugh is Hugh, Anne. He is great at stirring things up and people all over the world love him to death. Your story will get some in depth analysis here at Story Chat. That’s what I love about it. I’ve made some chocolate chip cookies to sweeten things up if it gets too rough!

Marsha

As the others dribbled in, I had no idea that some of the comments would spark such vigorous debate over what I thought was a simple, sweet romance.

As is my tradition in the past, if someone commented on Story Chat, I’ve included a link or two their blog posts. In the interest of how many links our readers can follow, I’ve limited the links to at the most, two links apiece. I hope I haven’t left anyone out. Thank you to all who took part in May Story Chat, “Nailing It” by Anne Stormont.

Let’s start with the 9-word summary.

99-Word Summary

And now on with Story Chat

Attendance:

Congrats for a Great Story from

  • Cathy – loved it
  • Darlene – full of emotion, well done
  • Debbie – full of emotion
  • Doug – great story, well written You are clearly a gifted writer.
  • Gary – wonderful read
  • Hugh – Well done on a great story that has got us all talking and debating.
  • Janis fun
  • John Thanks for sharing.
  • Robbie – great story

The Great Debate

Suzanne and Janis both lamented that mother/daughter relationships are not always nurturing. I was glad that Evie didn’t murder her mother while Doug suggested that maybe she had.

Cathy provided the first analysis.

“I could see and hear Evie’s controlling mother… until I read that she wasn’t actually present. Still, Evie was under her influence, reaching out from the grave to continue her domination.
It was good to follow Evie’s recovery, from the first thought of rebellion prompted by her lost father to the act of rebellion that closes the coffin. We enjoy hearing of the nails that keep it down – the spiteful disinheriting of her daughter which is turned against her wishes – and the new life that buries the old witch for good. I particularly liked that the final nail in her mother’s coffin was to revel in the freedom to be wanton – the term originally hurled by her mother as a condemnation.”

Cathy Cade

The discussion between them continued.

“Thank you , Cathy. I love it when a reader really gets what my story is trying to say. I wanted to have a positive outcome for Evie and for her mother’s death to bring closure for her. But not only that I wanted her to move on too.”

Anne

Little did Anne know at the time how the discussion would digress from sweet Evie escaping her mother’s dominion to something else entirely.

Anne went on to thank everyone for commenting and shared a little about the story.

“This story was originally double the length it is here but I edited it down to fit the brief for story chat. This wasn’t easy but it was also good for me and the story as I had to pare it down to just the essentials.

I know the topics of the death and of an abusive parent are rather dark. However, I was concerned that it might be considered too dark for what, in the end, is really a romantic and hopeful tale. I hope I got the balance right.

I’m also thinking of using the character of Evie in a romantic novel where I can explore more of her past and her future with a character like Ted. In the story above Evie is forty but I wonder if I’ll stick to that or make her a bit younger, or older … If younger then maybe she could have a child of her own. Maybe her mother and her would get to reach some sort of reconciliation before the mother’s death but the effects of the past wouldn’t be forgotten by Evie. But whatever her story would be a romantic one with a happy ending because that’s what I do.”

Anne

About that time Hugh started talking.

“As soon as I knew that Evie’s mother was dead and that she was hearing her voice in her head, mental health problems came to mind. Probably because I recently listened to a radio show about people who hear voices in their head and how it’s often connected to mental health. It makes me wonder if Ted is indeed a lucky man having married Evie? And (according to her mother’s voice) hadn’t she strayed from a marriage once before? Whist I condemn violence of any kind, is that why Reverend Derek had hit her when he found out that Evie had been unfaithful?

Looks like I’m going down a different path here and thinking Evie is beating herself up for the person she really is.” Hugh

Hugh

I defended Evie. In my opinion there is no reason for a spouse to hit another spouse unless they are defending themselves or preventing the spouse from harming someone else. I didn’t catch that Evie had been unfaithful to the Reverend.

I had to go back and reread the story after reading your comment, Marsha. The reason why I still think she was unfaithful to the Reverend is this line in the story –

You always did need a tight rein – even then, you strayed.

It comes straight after the discussion about the marriage to him. To me, it’s referring to Evie straying during that marriage. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s how I read it. But that’s what this feature is for and is all about – the discussion of what we think is going on. I still feel rather sorry for Ted.

Hugh

Again I disagreed that Evie had strayed, although I might have been tempted to do so.

I think Evie’s mom was talking about HER tight rein. “You always did need a tight rein.” That reference could go back to her babyhood. She had kept a tight rein on her daughter ALL her life and even so she got pregnant. (Of course, she was looking for love.)

Marsha

After my response, Geoff jumped in with his two cents.

Well, let’s think about that. We are given Evie’s take, her representation of her mother. Is that self serving rather than accurate…sure mother might be over protective and Evie increasingly resented that so created monster which would justify her antagonism. Mother is dead – how? Evie the poisoner? Now being hit isn’t ever justified nor taking away a child – was the child adopted or killed? Another ambiguity. Hugh’s mental health theory might have merit.

If Evie has a borderline personality disorder when she would find someone to blame for her own ills – teenaged pregnancy, foolish marriage to a wife beater. Now mother has gone. She isn’t there to be blamed. So she continues her victim hood in her imagination. Until Ted turns up to be a flesh and blood substitute.

Or we can take this at face value and glory in Evie’s escape from that passive aggressive harridan of a parent!! Whichever version is right we need to keep an eye on Ted…. seems a bit of a silver tongued chancer. The easiest sale comment suggests he’s aware she’s pretty flush if she can wander in, buy several 100 £££ of horsepower and not yet have a license. Gold digger?

Geoff

Until this point, Anne had been quietly taking in the great debate and has kept her responses to a minimum.

Interesting debate! Even I don’t know all the answers. I hadn’t even thought of the questions! I didn’t meant to suggest Evie had been unfaithful – simply that she followed (or tried to ) follow her own path which wasn’t the one approved by her mother. As for the ‘simpering’ that was the mother/husband’s way of describing Evie expressing an opinion. I see Evie as standing up for herself rather than beating herself up. She’s replaying old conversations in her head – not because of any sort of mental illness as in ‘hearing voices’ but as a way of reflecting and having her say.

Anne

The debate abated somewhat when Doug spoke up with soothing words probably forgetting that he had suggested earlier that Evie might have murdered her mother.

If I was going to be as speculative as Hugh about Evie’s mental health I would be more likely to be thinking about Sibyl, the character Sally Field played back in the 70’s, and her evil mother, played by Joanne Woodward. But I’m not heading down that path; short stories need to stand on their own two feet, with us as readers accepting what we’ve been given on its own terms. To me it’s a story of a determined young woman, deserted by her loving father, abused by her husband and verbally tortured by a harridan mother but finding a way to desert them all in return.

My only minor quibble is that I think there needs to be some break indicated after the first meeting with Ted; on first reading it seemed like they kissed when they first met at the bike shop.


You are clearly a gifted writer, Anne, and although romance is not my normal tipple (being the ageing curmudgeon that I am) you deserve a wide audience and I wish you every success. Doug

Doug

Ahh, okay, Anne, I took from the way I read the story that the voices in Evie’s head were real. That’s why I went down the mental health issues route. There was much detail in the mother’s dialogue, far more than I would have thought there would have been if Evie was just reflecting.

Maybe my listening to a radio programme about mental health and hearing voices in the head drove me down that route? But that’s just some feedback from me. However, it’s a powerful and well-written story that took me down a different route. Even the way Evie joked and laughed at Ted’s question when on the cross-channel ferry had me asking if she was joking or laughing because Ted was on to her.

Well done on a great story that has got us all talking and debating. That’s what exactly what ‘Story Chat’ is all about.

Hugh

I’m going to jump back in here to say that I have found some of the commentary on Anne’s story disturbing on many levels. If you re-read the story and take it on it’s merits, I have difficulty understanding why anyone would think that Evie was doing anything other than escaping abusive relationships with both her mother and her ex-husband, which is the epitome of mental and emotional strength and rational behaviour.

All of the half-baked Dr. Google theories on the state of her mental health seem to me to serve and rationalise her abuse by others, which is one of the most pernicious and undermining aspects of society’s treatment of abused women.

As for heading down the track of Ted being a gold-digger or someone who has twigged to the fact that she is a mentally unbalanced manipulator, I shake my head in disbelief. This is clearly a romantic and positive tale, albeit arising from grim beginnings, and I encourage you, Anne, to keep it that way.

Doug

Finally, Gary stepped in full of compliments for Anne.

I loved the progressive discovery of how your scenes unfolded, the depth and hatred between mom and daughter and the satisfied hope that Evie finally gets some kind of break in life that was more than just a reciprocal dream of a wounded woman (I half expected Ted to be just in her imagination and was delighted to not find that to be true.)

Gary

Gary offered words of advice, praise, and learned a difference between semantics and grammar between the UK and the US. In the UK they write Mr and in the US we write Mr. Both are correct.

I’ve found that I both like to write and read stories that are mostly first person told by the story characters. Most of you story was told by Evie or her mom. Ted presented himself well enough, but I’d love to have heard more of how he managed to catch Evie’s wounded heart. You had one notable jump out to a narrator voice when the minister called to inform Evie how their share of the inheritance would be used. Could that paragraph not have been written using the minister’s actual words. It would have kept your readers “listening to your characters speak” as I like to say.

Closing on another note of praise, I loved the final jolt you gave us, or at least me. In your final scene, Ted calls her a “wanton hussy”. I thought for sure, Evie would not be able to take this remark as Ted intended but as a painful fresh injury taken right from the script of her mother’s love-less abuse. Her response instead of exploding the relationship instead became a huge piece of evidence of her escaping the battle scene between her and her ghost of a mom. You dropped me into a state of “Oh-no!” but instead let Evie step up and crush the unintended insult.

Gary

The hour got late and one by one, everyone left the Story Chat venue. Anne seemed a little wobbly, but everyone gathered around her to walk her out and and congratulate her on her fine writing and initial appearance at Story Chat.

Thank all of you so much for contributing to the success of Story Chat. This is the one post I do each month that depends entirely on reader support. If you are interested in writing a short story for Story Chat, or would like to guest host a month of story chat, please contact me.

Story Chat Vocabulary List

  • harridan – a strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman.
  • twigged – understand or realize something.

Join our June Story Chat

We return to Australia with author, Debbie Harris. I might make Amanda Mac’s special pavlova.

Amanda and her co-host, Sandy will be joining us on May 29th as Challenge Host Interview #16.

justify pavlova, #nutrition
pavlova with kiwi, blueberries, and strawberries with a passion fruit sauce drizzled over the top

Writer Quotes Wednesdays topic tomorrow will be Hope. You still have today to respond to the topic of Healing. Remember all you need is a quote and a picture or a verbal response to join with the rest of our fabulous Wednesday Quote Writers.

Have a great week.

18 replies »

  1. HI Marsha, thank you for including the link to my post here. I enjoyed this story and did not interpret the line Hugh pointed out in the same way he did. For me, Evie was the victim of an abusive mother and her failed relationship was because she didn’t love the Reverend and he abused her, maybe because of her mother, or her teenage pregnancy, or because he wasn’t a nice man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Robbie. I like the fact that Hugh brought up some divergent thoughts because as a writer it helps to deal with those objections if you know them. But if you’ve never thought about them before, you miss a facet of personality that enriches your character. Evie’s mother or husband could have said some of those things to her, and she could consider and discard them or Ted or a counselor could reassure her that she was not having mental problems or that she was having mental problems caused by abuse. People deal with abuse in many ways, but most people have experienced abuse at some level. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Robbie. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done Marsha. And I realise with a degree of horror that I never said well done to Anne for a splendid story that worked on so many levels and got us all chatting away; I hope she might pop back and see this and accept my mea culpa…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are saying it here, Geoff. You got carried away with the chat part, and that’s okay. I love that and appreciate your input. I will make sure that Anne knows. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great recap Marsha! I was interested to see the various lines of thought and Hugh’s in particular which made me re-read Anne’s story to see if I’d missed it. I saw it as Robbie did and felt a sense of relief when she was able to tell her mother to stop pestering her as she now had found a life! Anne wrote it so cleverly and I am a tad nervous now about my story for next month!
    I always appreciate pavlova and look forward to a spirited chat next month 🙂

    Thanks for the links to my posts too, very thoughtful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Deb, now you have a real feel for Story Chat. Sometimes they aren’t as spirited, but I can count on Hugh to stir the pot. Then people have to come back and say yay or nay to his proposals. I think all of them could become novels or longer stories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norah. I was just thinking about you this morning as I woke up. You are a busy gal. I need to get over to the ranch and check things out. I was over there for a minute yesterday, but I was a voyeur only. I was chatting with a former principal about education yesterday and I guess it triggered my thinking process. I hope things are going well, my friend. BTW, feel free to send me links by email or even better get a bit of publicity and put links in my comment box of posts I should take note of. Doesn’t it seem we are always rushing around?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Busy, busy, busy. That’s us, Marsha. So much to do, so little time. What difference will it make when we’ve gone? 😉

        Like

        • What a deep subject, Norah. I have no idea, but as far a blogging is concerned, we are leaving a trail for our loved ones if they choose to walk down it and savor the conversations between all of us friends. It’s a living eulogy preserved for as long as the links are live. So even though I don’t have too many people who would take the time to read it, some might, and that makes it worthwhile. Meanwhile, I read your flash fiction today. The link was on Deb’s post. I have no idea how she managed that, but there it was, and I clicked and what a brilliant story and cute picture to go with it. It’s composting at it’s best. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Deep or flippant? I guess it’s up to the reader to choose. I hadn’t thought of our blogs that way. You’ve given me something new to consider. I wonder why the link to my flash fiction was on Deb’s post. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. Composting must be a form of ‘naked’ gardening, eh? No chemicals.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great back and forth discussion! I always find it so interesting how we can have such a different take on a story. I imagine that is based on our own background and experiences. Thanks for sharing such an interesting story and, of course, thanks for the link to my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Janis for being part of it. I hope to have you back in June for Debbie Harris’s story. I loved the back and forth on this Story Chat. It seems to get better every month.

      Liked by 1 person

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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