Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?) ‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?
Now that you know who I am, Perhaps you’d like to know whom I help.
I help people find their words. Part of my calling is helping others communicate. So, if you need to find your message, manage your writing time, or find a better way to communicate, I want to help you, especially if you fall into the following categories:
You’re a writer, artist, dancer, etc. who has or wants to start your own business.
I’ve been there, done that, and made most of the mistakes along the way. I can help you balance your time, deal with your finances, and find better clients.
You’ve written or even published your work, but you know it needs another set of eyes.
I provide a non-judgmental critical eye to your work and help you define and hone your message. I can help with editing, self-publishing or query questions, and getting in the right mindset.
You’re just starting to write and you’re wondering if you’ve got what it takes.
First, let me say, you do. I can help with your drive, managing your time, and getting your words in front of other people.
You’re struggling with your English and have trouble with written or spoken communication.
I have been tutoring and training non-native speakers for almost 20 years! I love the language and I can help you become a better writer, speaker, or both.
So tell me…who are you? Do you still need help, even if you don’t identify with any category?
Well, I’m back. It was a nice break and I got some clarity on what to do next.
All good things.
Did you miss me? In case this is your first time here, let me introduce myself.
Here’s how I help:
I create content for websites, courses, brochures, etc.
If it has words, I can write it. I especially like helping creative people describe or advertise their art. I work with words, so those who work with other mediums might gain from my expertise and experience writing product descriptions, web copy, or other forms of communication.
I edit content.
If you’re a writer, or you already have the bones of your message, let me help you improve it. I can help you find and hone your message and target your audience. If you have a general idea of what you want to say but feel at a loss for the actual words, I’m here to help. I can take your words and make them into manageable content for your website or advertising materials.
I teach English.
I am a grammar nerd and an English-language enthusiast. I know this language like the back of my hand and I can help you whether English is your native language or your second or third language. Unsure how to form a sentence? Not sure where to put that preposition? Wondering how anyone knows all the comma rules? I’m here to help. I can teach you the basics or the intricacies of the language in any way that is helpful. Whether you want to be a writer or a more effective communicator, I can help.
I coach writing.
Just getting started? Ready to write that book, but don’t know where to start? I provide one-on-one coaching that will help you get to where you want to be. Want to publish a book? We can do that. Want to write a memoir? We can accomplish that. Whatever your writing desires, I can help you find a routine and rhythm that will help get your goals in front of you and put you on the track to achieving them.
If you’d like to work with me, but are not sure how, CONTACT ME to let me know your needs. I’m sure we can figure something out.
In the meantime, stay tuned to see who you are and how I can help.
Ambitious considering the work I have to do this month, but worth it, I believe.
These competitions keep me writing, so I will sing their praises. If you’re not a writer, consider donating on behalf of those who are on the NaNoWriMo website.
I’m officially starting on the 5th of this month and working on NOVEL 3: THE DAILY GRIND
Here’s a description:
Ten individuals are at a crossroads in their lives: a college student; a pizza delivery driver; a first-time mother; a nurse with an Alzheimer’s-stricken parent; a child playing dress up; a prospective father; an Irish setter; an accountant training for a triathlon; a barista; and an author.
Each faces a choice: a decision between acting on instinct or through measured choice, of listening to others or one’s own inner voice. As these individuals negotiate their decisions, brushing against each other on an otherwise normal autumn evening, they unwittingly circle a university coffee shop–The Daily Grind–where someone is waiting who may have all the answers.
Stay tuned for more updates and don’t forget to COMMENT ABOUT BURCH below.
Burch is finished. You can find him in Part 1 if you’d like to follow him again. I hope you had as much fun reading as I had writing him, but now I need to know…
What did you think?
Did you like the story? Did you see the ending coming? What are your burning questions?
Let me know!
Want to keep reading fiction on this blog?
Let me know!
Have a great idea for what I should do next?
Let me know!
For July, you can expect the same NaNoWriMo updates as I work on TDG, or NOVEL 3, and prepare to launch The Handyman. Do you have something else you want to see? By now you should realize I really need you to…
Alexander Burch III stepped onto the street and breathed deeply. He’d slept only one night in the overpriced hotel room and it was enough. Sometimes the bed was a welcome relief. Others, like last night, he spent tossing and turning, waiting for time to pass.
This was where he liked to be. In the early morning hustle and bustle of the streets. It would take him a day or two to grow back enough stubble to be unrecognizable, but he already sported some growth. His fancy clothes and the rest of his cash he’d left in the room for housekeeping. Burch had a good reputation there. He was always quiet and kept to himself. Left without a fuss and with a big tip. He was welcome.
Out here he had to fend for himself. He wasn’t anyone’s son or grandson, and he didn’t own anything but what his eyes took in. It was all he needed. He made his way down the street at a brisk clip, trying to get away from the moneyed part of the city as quickly as possible.
As soon as he felt the city’s eyes off him, which didn’t take long, Burch again adopted his shuffling gait. Why hurry? He had nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there. It would be another day or two before he went back to the coffee shop, but no one but Sophie would miss him.
She would be full of news. How Mr. Burch had shown up just as expected and blown them all away with his knowledge of the inner workings of the shop. He had fired the perpetually-late manager and promoted Sophie in her place. She never would have expected it, but it was what Sophie had wanted for so long.
Al would listen and nod and try to keep from smiling. He smiled now thinking about it.
He shuffled along, no longer caring about scuffs on his new shoes, wondering absently where he’d find his next meal.
Al walked past a park, an iron gate and fence surrounding it. A lovely spot. Not the best view in the city, but he already owned that. Al walked past again. When there was a break in the crowd, he donned his beanie and then untucked his shirt. Eventually, he sat. This would do for a day or two.
He milled around, found a better-looking watch, and waited for 5 PM. The airport was the best place to wait since that’s all anybody did there anyway. He studied some of the people. Made up histories about their lives while he waited.
At 5 promptly, he heard his name called over the loudspeaker. He rose from his seat and headed to the airport entrance. There was a man with a sign that read BURCH, though he didn’t need it. The driver recognized his charge immediately and extended a hand for a shake.
Alex shook the man’s hand and asked after his family. They chatted on the way back to the car, a sleek Lincoln parked in the loading zone. Alex let himself sink into the cool leather and closed his eyes.
When he woke, they were at the hotel. Alex could tell by the way he cleared his throat that the driver had done it a few times.
“Sorry about that,” said Alex, handing the driver a 20. He got out of the car. He straightened his spine, grabbed his briefcase, and headed inside.
“Hello, Mr. Burch,” said someone on his left. A hotel employee. She was holding out her hands for his briefcase. He let her take it. “Right this way, sir,” she said and took off at a brisk clip toward the elevators, her behind twitching nicely beneath her skirt.
Alex let her lead him all the way to his room, though he had no trouble finding it. He stayed in the same one every time. He let her open his door, settle his briefcase on the desk, then turn down his bed before he entered the room. He gave her another of his twenties and waited for her to leave.
He hadn’t said a word.
Alex took a look around his suite. It consisted of two rooms, a living area and a bedroom, an enormous bathroom and a conference area. Burch spun in a slow circle, taking it all in. Then he checked the closet. His suit was there, freshly pressed and delivered by the hotel cleaners only the hour before, according to the tag. He thought he could still feel the warmth from the iron on the pressed pants.
Alex took another shower and shaved again, more because it was part of his routine than because he needed it. He picked at his new haircut and put on the suit. He was fastening the last button when there was a sharp knock at the door.
He opened it.
The same driver from before. Chances were he’d never left. Alex said nothing but followed him downstairs to the running town car.
The coffee shop with the green awnings and the old-timey script was just closing for business. A few stragglers placed last-minute orders and the dedicated computer workers gathering their belongings to head home. Alex leaned back against the leather seats and waited patiently.
Alex pushed through the barbershop door, setting the bells jangling, and joined the bustle on the city streets. He sported a new cut, a fresh shave, and a different identity.
Al was gone, and Alex had things to do.
He hailed a cab—a necessary expense—to get to the other side of town quickly. He had more of a deadline now, less time to waste. Speaking of time…
A cab finally stopped for him. Alex told the driver he needed a mall, but sat forward on the seat, his eyes scanning the passing streets for what he really needed…and there it was. He tapped the cabbie on the shoulder and pointed.
The strip was a faded has-been full of empty windows and low-rent chains. One of these was a shoe store. Alex pointed until the cabbie parked in front.
“10 minutes,” Alex said, halfway out the cab door. The driver did not protest.
The store was dusty and faded. Though a chime greeted him, no human did. Not that this bothered Alex. He went straight for men’s size 11. Predictably, there were few options, but he chose a pair of gray New Balance marked $60. He doubted it cost half that to make them, though the box proclaimed this price a steal at 70% off. Alex didn’t bother to try them on, but gathered the box and hurried to the front of the store. His shuffle and amble were gone.
He found a wallet and a pair of sunglasses that weren’t too cheap looking, but none of the watches would do. It was a small touch, but an important one. Still, Alex saw no one. He considered leaving then knocked on the counter.
A young Asian man poked his head through the back door. He was chewing.
Alex gestured with the shoe box.
“Give you forty” he said. He thought it a generous offer considering he could have lifted them easily. He waved the bills in his other hand.
The young man swallowed and wiped his chin. He nodded then disappeared.
Alex placed the bills on the counter and left the store.
The cabbie was still there.
Alex needed a few more things, so he let the cabbie proceed to the mall. On the drive over, Alex changed his shoes. He put most of his money in the new wallet and gathered his unnecessary items into the plastic bag from the Salvation Army. On his way inside, he dropped the bag into an outdoor garbage bin.
Alex entered through the food court, inhaling the mixed aromas and feeling his stomach cramp in protest, but he did not slow down. He could eat later. He blended into the lunch crowd, relaxed but efficient, unhurried but determined.
In only two stores he found the rest of his items. A watch, a briefcase, and a baseball cap. He donned the hat and emptied his pockets into the briefcase.
Alex found a service exit and took it. Adopting the stance of a tired retail worker, he moved past the massive parking lot and onto the main road before he hailed another cab.
Al poked his head into the dining room, saw no one he knew, and after making sure the hall was clear, took the money out of his cigarette pack and put it into the pocket with the shower key. As he walked the hall past the sleeping areas, he removed his hat and the band of bills he kept there. Into the pocket they went. Standing against the door, looking into the main sleeping area, Al removed the folded bills from small pockets of his jeans, the ones where no one ever looked, no matter how many times he’d been rolled, and slipped them into the same pocket.
His other pockets were empty except for the change from his purchase. Finally, he made his way to the bathrooms. Al checked the toilet area first, and it appeared to be empty, so he hurried into the handicapped stall and sat on the toilet. Al crossed his right foot across his left knee and removed his shoe. He lifted the insole and removed the bills, which he stuffed into his pocket. Then he took off one sock, removed those bills, and pocketed them. Finally, he checked his other sock and the last bills. He did this for his left foot as well, hurrying in case someone came in. No one did.
He had 23 ones, 9 fives, 7 tens, 5 twenties, a fifty, and two quarters. Two hundred and eighty-eight dollars and fifty cents. Al was amazed. It was more than he thought. More than he’d ever had at one time.
The idea made him sweat but also made him calm. The more he had, the more he was willing to lose. Right now, he was willing to lose about half, though only a hundred would be comfortable. None would be excellent.
Al listened again. Footsteps. He wished he had thought to drop his pants. The footsteps came closer, then passed by without slowing. Al grabbed his money, tossed the plastic bag with his purchases on the floor, then stood and dropped his pants. He picked up the plastic bag, maneuvering the jeans and socks to the top, then started to sort his money. The fifty, all the twenties, and tens went into a roll. He unfurled one pair of socks, put the roll inside the sock, and rolled the socks again lengthways. He refurled the first pair of socks into the second pair. Then he took one five and four ones and stuffed them into the right front pocket of the jeans he was wearing. He took another five and put it in the breast pocket of his shirt, folded neatly, behind the cigarette pack. The remaining fifty-nine dollars he put in the various pockets of his new jeans.
Al flushed the toilet and left the stall.
The shower area was also empty. Al threw his plastic bag into the first stall. He stripped bottom to top, placing his shoes on the available bench, then his socks, jeans and underwear, three shirts, and hat.
Still, there was no one around. Al stepped into the shower and double-tied his plastic bag. He threaded one of the loops over the shower head as far back as it would go before turning on the water. The contents might get a little damp, but that was a small price to pay, and it was warm out. Al soaped and shampooed himself, reveling in hot water and clean skin, but keeping an ear out for someone entering the showers. No one did.
Al turned off the water and retrieved his bag. He toweled off and put on his new underwear, jeans, and shirt. He folded his old shirts and his old jeans and left them on the bench. Al tossed his hat in the bag with his other shirt. The old undershirt, socks, and underwear he threw away. Al put his money back where it belonged. He did so quickly and efficiently.
On his way out, he stopped by the dining room to see if there was any food. They hadn’t started lunch yet, but the ladies there liked him, so they gave him a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and a milk carton. It was delicious.
“You look like a new man, sugar!” Debbie said, fanning herself theatrically.
“Feel like one too.”
“Now, don’t wait so long before you come back and see your girlfriend, you hear?”
“I won’t, Miss Debbie, I’ll see you very soon,” Al promised as he walked out the door. The cowbell jangled as he exited.
Al made it another two blocks before he changed his gait. He lifted his head and straightened his spine. The difference was subtle but the effect was undeniable. He no longer looked downtrodden. He looked like…well…like anybody. His steps were more sure and his bearing more erect. No one looking at him could have told you anything about him.
Al reached yet another door and set the bells jangling. Three faces looked up when he entered the barbershop.
“Hey man,” said the barber, “do for ya?”
“Can’t you tell?” said Al and gestured to his face. The three men laughed.
“Sit right here,” said the barber indicating the chair in front of him. “We’ll make you pretty in no time. I’m Mick, and this here’s Tito and Squash.” Al nodded to the men’s reflection in the mirror as he sat down.