Title: Legend of the Lost Ass
Author: Karen Winters Schwartz
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Legend of the Lost Ass is a beautiful story on love, loss, friendships, and making amends. Told from two distinct time periods, the reader sees into the past to understand the present. At the heart of the story is a bright orange tractor named Miss Mango and a donkey named Bee.
Adventure writer Colin receives an inviting text from a woman he doesn’t know. "I think we should take it through Guatemala." Curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to take a leap of faith and reply. Before he knows what’s happening, he’s meeting Luci and a bright orange tractor affectionately known as Miss Mango. He also meets Luci’s great uncle Ernesto. Colin and Luci instantly find each other annoying. While Colin dislikes Luci , he loves the idea of adventure and it's Ernesto’s dream that Miss Mango be driven to his family in Belize, which he abandoned nearly seventy years earlier. So off they travel across Central America to atone for Ernesto’s past mistakes and bring a fractured family back together.
Will Colin find what he’s searching for and more importantly, will he see what’s awaits him if he follows his heart? Will Luci mend her family’s rift and her own scarred heart? Will Ernesto finally get closure and right his past mistakes?
It took nine hours on rutty roads for Ernesto and the donkey to reach the town of Punta Gorda. The day was hot, with little breeze. The roads of the town were crowded with people, carts, animals, and an occasional car or truck. Music, odors, and heat were streaming through the air. Unrecognizable words flew like notes from the mouths of dark-skinned Garifuna men and women who smiled in response to Ernesto’s greetings, but no one stopped as Ernesto cried out, “D’yoos! Tan inkon’ol. D’yoos!”
A Chinese man passed too close, hitting Ernesto in his right shoulder with the large sack of cabbage he carried. He said something harsh, spitting onto the sandy ground before disappearing into a small grocery store.
“Hello! Plantains,” Ernesto tried in English. “I sell, yes?”
The dust of the road swirled; Ernesto coughed as a large truck passed by. The donkey skittered to the left, nearly causing the cart to tumble. A couple of the tomatoes rolled free and split as they hit the dirt. Ernesto used all his weight to steady the cart. He wiped the sweat from his brow.
“Banana!” he called, holding up an especially impressive bunch.
A small child with her hair piled above her big black eyes approached the cart. One of her hands was in her mouth, and she used her other to touch one of the cornhusk dolls—the one with the pink skirt and light-blue headdress. The little girl’s hand came free of her mouth, and she smiled up at Ernesto. Her teeth were small and as white as a cloud. Her arms were thin and fragile, reminding Ernesto of dark cornstalks. He picked up the doll and placed it in the child’s hands. Her fingers tightened around its waist, then she pulled it to her chest. She nodded thanks and backed away.
He urged the donkey to move on, pressing his hand into its rump and pushing forward. The donkey’s eyes grew wide, its nostrils flared. Ernesto gave it a slap on the rump. Its large silly ears went back, and in one quick movement, it nipped Ernesto’s arm, leaving two bright-purple marks shaped like crescent moons. He slapped its rump angrily, and the hateful beast lurched forward, jostling three more tomatoes free.
Ernesto rubbed at his arm as he made his way deeper into the center of town. He could smell the sea, dead fish, and something sweet with rot. He could hear the wind blowing off the sea and the soft sound of waves above the bustle of the town. Then he could see the pier and rippling aqua waters. A large tanker was docked at the pier, rocking gently.
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What’s your favorite thing about the Fall season:
It used to be going to the local apple orchards and picking up apples. Honeycrisp and Macoun were my favorites! I loved eating them in the car, hearing that crunch that you can only get from a just-picked apple, juice running down my chin as I drove on home. Now that I’ve moved to Arizona, I’m guessing my favorite thing about the Fall season will be days where the temperature is below 100!
What inspired you to write this story:
My love: Belize. The story idea came to me when I randomly wondered one day: Could a missent text change someone’s life? That basic concept led to throwing a group of engaging—but slightly off-beat—characters into crazy circumstances and a novel that spans nearly 70 years and four countries was born.
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Runs September 1 – 30.
Drawing will be held on October 1.
Karen Winters Schwartz wrote her first truly good story at age seven. Her second-grade teacher, publicly and falsely accused her of plagiarism. She did not write again for forty years.
Her widely praised novels include WHERE ARE THE COCOA PUFFS?, 2010; REIS’S PIECES, 2012; and THE CHOCOLATE DEBACLE, 2014 (Goodman Beck Publishing). Her new novel, LEGEND OF THE LOST ASS, was released by Red Adept Publishing on July 21, 2020.
Educated at The Ohio State University, Karen and her husband moved to the Central New York Finger Lakes region where they raised two daughters and shared a career in optometry. She now splits her time between Arizona, a small village in Belize, and traveling the earth in search of the many creatures with whom she has the honor of sharing this world. This is her second year as a Rising Star judge for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
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