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Wild Asses of the Mojave Desert by Lis Anna-Langston is a Celebrate Weddings Bookish Event pick #fiction #womensfiction #newadult #weddings #giveaway



Title: Wild Asses of the Mojave Desert

 

Author: Lis Anna-Langston

 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction – Women’s Fiction – New Adult Fiction

 

Book Blurb:

 

“…a smart, engaging novel depicting a young woman's search for the people and place she will call home.” A recommended read by US Review

 

Excerpt:

 

Chapter One

 

          The summer I left South Carolina, mice went to live in my car. To get on with the next stage of my life, I abandoned art, stationery, vintage coats, old mail, Mardi Gras masks, and a prop sword from the movie Alexander in my trunk. In the smoldering heat of summer, rodents sought refuge in my Honda, parked in the shade of the last few trees left in the desert.

 

          The mice set up house in gifts from my ex that carried the weight of conflict. Three hundred yards away, inside a cool, air conditioned room, I set up house in my sister’s extra bedroom, certain I had PTSD. The mice built a life from junk I was too shell-shocked to leave behind. Like a smooth second hand rolling around the dial, time passed. It didn't heal or fix things. I didn't have a map of my life, just a feeling that connected to a feeling that connected to a feeling. I'd gone too far out into that wide-open space that turns back on you and howls. I pressed wildflowers into the pages of my favorite Murakami. I was a mess.

 

          That weekend, my sister broke up with her boyfriend and stacked his measly crap on the front lawn. That wasn't really the problem. The problem was his latest piece of ass. His new girlfriend drove over to pick up his Elvis Costello CD collection.  That was an error in judgment, because my sister is a fighter, not a lover. My sister put on her ass-stomping boots, and thus began a new chapter in our lives. The bail bondsman was a family friend. More than a friend really; he was Dylan Wilde's cousin. After that incident, everyone knew I was back in town.

 

          July started with a swarm of insects. Beetles. Because why not? I'd built a deep Jungian nightmare for myself over the last six years and I needed a job. The slow buzz of fluorescent lights above my head pushed me closer to insanity. I lie. I was already insane. I just couldn't put my finger on why. Like, how does your life just fall apart? Deep anxiety welled in me every time I thought of letting go. But I had to. That's why I was in the kitchen poring over job sites, listening to lights buzz.

 

          Sheets of acid allowed me to escape my former relationship. It was a sweet deal in terms of cash. The stress of getting caught was another conversation altogether. I cut the sheets into book markers, slipped them into plastic covers and carried them around in library books. No one ever thought to check. No one thinks a girl with a passenger’s seat full of books about French poetry is a drug dealer. I missed the maple tree I had in my front yard in South Carolina, and the fog that hung low off the river. It kept me company. The money was gone. I was sitting alone, doing career building exercises.

 

          Back to the beetles, though. The back door that led to the patio and down the narrow strip of gravel to the driveway was crawling with bugs. Dylan found me in the kitchen with the buzzing lights, watching bugs skitter. He'd moved into a trailer out in the desert, eating hash brownies and tracking UFO sightings in a journal he won at a rodeo raffle. It was a small town. Rumors flew constantly.

 

          I pulled a bag of jellybeans out of my backpack.

 

          "What's up with the creepy bugs?" He said, grabbing a handful.

 

          I shrugged, sneaking a glance at their skinny legs.

 

          "Maybe the heat is bringing them out," Dylan said.

 

          "Do you think we should call the landlord?"

 

          "I think if it gets any worse you should call a priest."

 

          That night I dreamed that, two thousand years in the future, scientists carbon date my memories and determine that my last relationship never existed.

 

          The mice were still living in my car. I couldn't figure out how to tell Dylan. Or if it mattered. In the beginning, there was matter and antimatter. It all mattered. Mice and insects seemed like a lot to process, so I left it out. Dylan heckled me to come out to the trailer. He was seeing weird things in the sky.

 

          "Nothing less dope can't fix," I pointed out.

 

          "Haha, ye of no faith. Seriously, ride out there with me."

 

          I took the mice. Well, maybe not intentionally, but I knew they were in the car. Also, I was hoping they'd like Dylan's place and climb out. They could catch a ride with me back into the city if the snacks ran out. Dylan loved Captain Crunch. He ate huge bowls of sugar coated puffed peanut butter bliss. It was the only thing he knew how to cook. Remy talked him into pizza a few times, but he only went for the beer.

 

          Speaking of beer, when he handed me a bottle of brew I asked, "Have you been abducted yet?"

 

          Dylan sighed. "Smartass."

 

          From that response, I imagined we'd sit in the desert, drink beer and stare at the sky until we were too drunk to move.

 

          In my absence, Dylan had spent money on decent lawn furniture. With the sun setting over craggy mountains it was genuinely nice to toss aside the stress of the last six years and enjoy a cold one. Dylan had upgraded his beer taste from domestic to import. With a bag of vinegar and salt potato chips, we sat in the dusty silence of a desert on the verge of night.

 

          "What was that?" I blurted out, watching an object run super fast out of the corner of my eye.

 

          Dylan snapped his head around. "What? Where?"

 

          I pointed towards a patch of scraggly bushes a few hundred yards away. We both sat perfectly still, holding our breath, watching. Then, again, it ran, darting from one place to the next using the bushes as cover. I leaned forward, the sound of my chair creaking. "Is that ..." My voice trailed off, waiting for confirmation.

 

          Another dart, but slow enough to make out a form. Beer sloshed in my stomach.      Whatever was in the distance stopped long enough for me to get a clear picture. My brow pinched tight. "Is that Charlie?"

 

          Dylan launched himself out of his lawn chair, yelling, "Grab that rope."

 

          I tossed the chair off, standing quick, realizing in one single, sudden motion that I was tipsy, possibly drunk. Dylan ran across hard-packed earth, legs wobbling from alcohol and speed. I looked around quick. A plain piece of rope was on the metal table next to me. I grabbed it and followed, pretty sure all the beer I'd consumed the last hour was about to be reintroduced to the world.

 

          I did some fast math in my head. "Hey, how old is Charlie?"

 

          Dylan crashed to a stop in a bush and pushed himself upright, blood seeping from scratches on his forearms. "Charlie died three years ago. Of natural causes."

 

          A wave of overwhelming hopelessness seized me. "Then what are you looking for?"

 

          Dylan turned, the last few rays of sunset washing him in an otherworldly glow. He opened his mouth to speak, then stopped.  In that silence, I saw what every girl had ever seen in him. The full mouth and magnificent eyes, not dulled by alcohol but instead dazzling, broad shoulders squared against the moment, perfect hands that held tight to beer bottles but held a future of intimacy, maybe.

 

          He exhaled, arms dropping to his sides. "I keep seeing this animal out here and it looks like Charlie. Explain that."

 

          "So, you're out here chasing a phantom dog?"

 

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

 

 

 

 

What makes your featured book a must-read?

 

Skye returns to New Mexico after six years, arriving through the wreckage of a failed relationship and searching for connection and meaning with her childhood friends. She comes home to find that some relationships have changed, but she settles quickly into an old groove with Trevor, whose heart she broke when she left. She also falls into an easy friendship with Dylan, who understands her deeply and helps her navigate the yearning and indecision that plague her life. Her sister and her parents welcome her home but have become strangers to Skye as their lives have moved on without her. In the desert backdrop of their intertwined stories, strange lights, sightings, and a glowing rock draw the group into a mystery that echoes the search for meaning Skye so desperately seeks in her life. 

 

With a lot of humor, a lot of heart and a little Ho’oponopono, Skye sorts out where she's going by returning back to the harsh truths she left behind.

 

Giveaway –

 

Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card:

 

 

Open Internationally.

 

Runs June 7 – June 19, 2024.

 

Winner will be drawn on June 20, 2024.

 

Author Biography:

 

Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a Creative and Performing Arts School from middle school until graduation and went on to study Literature at Webster University. Her novels have won the Parents’ Choice Gold, Moonbeam Book Award, Independent Press Award, Benjamin Franklin Book Award and NYC Big Book Awards. A three-time Pushcart award nominee and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, William Faulkner Fiction Contest, George Garrett Fiction Prize and Thomas Wolfe Fiction Award, her work has been published in The Literary Review, Emerson Review, The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals.

 

Hailed as “an author with a genuine flair for originality” by Midwest Book Review and “a loveable, engaging, original voice…” by Publishers Weekly, you can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air. 

 

 

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2 Comments


andreadrake1
andreadrake1
Jun 17

I love the love & happiness in the air.

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N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jun 12

Thank you, Lis, for sharing your book in our Celebrate Weddings Bookish Event!

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