I've started a new story. It's called "The Toad." One piece of common writing advice I've generally ignored has been to "write what you know." Certainly, I use my life and experiences as the basis for characters and settings in my tales, but I typically veer far afield after that. Talera, Thanos, Kelmer. These aren't towns I've lived in. "The Toad" is going to be a little different. The story takes place at my house in Abita Springs. It involves myself and Lana. Pretty much everything except the 'toad' itself will be absolutely real. In fact, maybe the 'toad' is real too. I'll have to let you decide. Below is the opening few paragraphs of the story.
By the way, what do you think of the advice to "write what you know?"
After Hurricane Katrina tore up New Orleans, my wife and I decided to get out of the city and find a place further north without so much noise and so many people. Lana discovered the perfect hermitage for us just outside the small town of Abita Springs, Louisiana. The house sat along a dirt road with pine forests on three sides. Our only neighbor kept entirely to himself, which Lana and I both appreciated.
We had a deck with a tin roof put on the back of the house so we could sit with ease and enjoy a big back yard shaded by oaks and magnolias. Bird feeders brought us cardinals, blue jays, doves, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and a brazen little thing we called Wrenny Wrenerson. In season, the yard swarmed with goldfinches and chipping sparrows. Occasionally even a few crows dropped by. In the evening, we threw our table scraps into the backyard for the birds or whatever critters might come. Soon, the local raccoons and possums began nightly visits.
The location was so pleasant, I decided to take off our first summer in the new place and try to write a novel. I’d wanted to for a long time. The deck became my office. A laptop and a cool drink was all I needed. The drone of cicadas and the flash of bird wings kept me company.
It wasn’t until a week had passed that I first saw the toad.