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Exerpt of Seeing the Elephant - Debut Novel

An exerpt from
Seeing the Elephant 
by Leah Banicki

Setting 1848 - Oregon Trail
Snake River crossing...

Corinne was on the other side of the river when her horse Clover jumps at a sound and Corinne loses her seat. She goes flying and bumps her head and rolls for a second or two before she felt the water splash around her. At first she was dazed. Where am I?

The water is cool and the gurgling current under the surface was loud. She is swept along the river and breaks the surface once or twice to catch some air but is pulled under the current. She feels herself starting to panic as her lungs start burning. Her head bumps a rock and the thud is felt to her core. She is grabbing for anything, kicking her legs, and wanting to curse her skirts and petticoats for wrapping around her legs in such a moment.

Her hand reaches and finds a branch to grab. With what little energy she has left from her thrashing about she pulls herself up on a rock. She lies there for a minute without moving but to cough and breathe. Her head aches a bit from hitting something underwater. She lay there thinking of her friend Angela and her fall into the ravine. Secreting hoping her own fate in the wilderness turns out better.

She sits up slowly with a groan and observes her surroundings. There were tall walls on each side of the river. The crossing was a good place, this was not. Corinne stood on shaky legs and tried to climb the wall but the edges were a bit too smooth. There was no edge to grab. She looks down and sees the rock she was sitting on is covered in slime and a few mysterious spongy things that Corinne assumes are alive in some way. She decides to sit back down and ignore the slime. Her dress and petticoats are now filthy and clinging to her legs even worse than they were in the water. Corinne sighs and looks up to the edge, hoping to see someone looking for her. At the wagon crossing there is always a lot of chaos. How long will it be before someone notices that I am missing?

She thinks about yelling but with the headache that she was getting she figures to save herself the pain. She was not desperate enough to yell yet.

She is glad the clouds are moving in a little to block the hot sun. She has been sitting here on the slimy rock for more than twenty minutes according to her lapel watch. She has shaken the water from it and it still was ticking. She pins it back on her damp collar.

She hears a few far off gunshots and watches a torn up wagon come around the bend toward her part of the river. Corinne panics a second but sees the water pull it away from her perch and drags its twisted empty shell away. She has hopes for the family that they got out in time and says a prayer for whoever they were.
She was so focused on the wagon that went by that she does not hear the nearby voices. She pulls herself from her praying when she looks up and sees Clive and Lucas smiling down on her from the edge of the cliff.

* * * * *

I hope you enjoyed the snippet of my debut novel, Seeing the Elephant. 
A story of survival on the American frontier.

Now Available:


New Bears Recruit -Does a Good Deed

My friend Jen Levell told me on the phone a few days ago about an amazing thing that was going to happen for her daughter. Joslyn Levell, 14 years old with spina bifida and wheelchair bound, got a date to the prom from a famous person.
I knew Jen had been struggling with helping her daughter cope with disappointment. As a mother we want to do as much as we can. Sometimes we can only love them through the hurt.

Dreams of dancing may be hard to swallow for  a girl in a wheelchair but asking 7 different boys to the middle school prom and getting told "no" might be a little more than hard to take. It would be devastating.

A chance meeting. . . and cinderella gets to go to the ball.

Read all about my friend's journey. From ESPN...
ESPN - Thomas makes fans dreams come true - Article
I have cried with joy several times this week with Jen, Joslyn's mom, when she told me on the phone  about what was going to happen, also when I got the picture texted to my iphone and again when I read the story on ESPN website. 
Sometimes good things can happen. I feel lucky to be a witness.  
Josyln, I hope for many more miracles for you, baby girl!


Story on Demand

A story challenge on friday was:

Radio challenge:
Song line. "Doctor Doctor, give me the news."
Now write a story.

Here is my submission. Just for fun:

I nervously click my pen as I wait. It usually drove everyone nuts when I would do it but today I am alone, in a cold sterile room in nothing but a thin paper gown.
The door opens and a man with black hair and a salt and pepper beard walks in slowly, his eyes glued to the chart in his hands.
"Doctor..." I say... and wait. I clear my throat loudly, perhaps a little rudely.
"Doctor, give me the news!"
He looks up at me and smiles broadly. I don't actually want to hear him talk I realize. I nervously tell a joke to calm myself. It's my doctor's office tradition. It's my one act stand up comedy routine.
"Can we cure this with penicillin or do we just have to chop it off?" I say with a grimace.
He gave me the double blink of the humorless soul and looks down at his chart momentarily confused.
"Well, Mrs. Palmer I do have news."
I hold my breath...

By Leah Banicki




The last three years of my life has seen a fall in my health, death to a few close family members a few habit changes and an increase in my anxiety levels. All of these things happen in life I have discovered. It's our job to go with the flow or get washed away.

For me writing was a way to think about things outside the struggle. When I couldn't eat without pain I could write as an escape. When the time for mourning was a heavy burden writing was something I could do to take my mind off the pain I was feeling but also the pain of everyone in my family.

Journaling has been a big part of healing for me. Fiction is fun and has it's ironic times where your mind uses your own  experiences and pain and lets the story go there sometimes without your permission as a writer. (I know it sounds crazy but it's true. I checked with other writers. It wasn't just me.)

Journaling is more personal, actually it's downright narcissistic. But... I have come to a conclusion, everyone needs a safe place to say "What about me?" - I believe that's why I need to journal, to write out all the crazy thoughts in my head that I can't always say. Then I can look over them and decide whats junk and what is worthy of keeping. I feel it's where I have had the toughest conversations with myself, with God. I sometimes even journal prayers. A pen can silently say a lot I have found.

Knowing the reader is only me is freeing. I try out book scenes and I think some of my best work came from a real place that started from my journal.

Because I have been writing so much I do a lot of journaling on my laptop. I have a Word and just use the insert date and time and start writing. The next time I just insert date again. One day I will have a 400 page monstrosity and will have to start a new file.

Goofy things I do with Journals:

For my book journals I love to fill them up with stickers. I do not scrapbook but I am addicted to buying stickers and decorating anything I want with them. :)  I have many filled journals and  notebooks that are full of thoughts and stickers. It makes me happy.

What do you love to journal about?


Self-Publishing Tango

The self-publishing tango...

It feels strange to be done with my first novel. I had a few days after the first draft was done that I felt like this too. Like a huge 'Now what?' cloud lingered as I went about my days after I finally caught up on sleep after the finish-the-book grind.

New projects made their way in and the new WIP (work in progress) is coming along nicely. It feels good to know I have more than one book bouncing around in my noggin. Now the parade of new ideas needs to slow to a reasonable trickle while I work at the game of the writing life.
Live life, love my hubby & my kid, pray... write...
Eat food, hygiene, soccer game...write
Job, friends, birthday party, grocery shopping...write

It's a dance that I am slow to learn the steps but eager to sway to the music for now.

Now the next chapter and a new dance partner has arrived. Self-publishing!!!

Years of my life spent researching and writing. My book SEEING THE ELEPHANT is done.

Cover made, pages organized and sized just so... ebook file manipulated and bookmarked... don't ask me how it works I have no idea. 4 different attempts at getting the cover text perfectly done on the spine was a test of my graphics art training in college. I now have less remorse about those student loan payments. (grimace)

Much respect to anyone who has self-published before me, I understand the roller coaster ride more than ever now. The excitement of your 'baby' getting to be let loose on the world is thrilling and terrifying. The new tools available to self-pubbing authors is amazing. Go !!!  But it certainly is WORK!!
Wonderful brain-numbing, detail grinding editing primping and fussing like a debutante getting ready for her debut. Now it is done... My book proof is in the mail. My ebooks on and on the way to many respectable E-reader bookstores everywhere. Big breath- let it out. Now to wait....and think way too much.
 My heart does a little trip-trop everytime I think of someone reading my book. Hoping they like it, hoping it makes  them smile, laugh, get angry or just feel something...

For those that know me as a singer this is a different art form to discover about me. I am pretty used to an instant gratification with my audience, this is different. Reading is not a spectator sport. You do it alone. With live music the fade-out means the sound is gone and only a memory of the performance remains. Writing has such a more permanent feel. The ink and paper a tangible thing. My voice... carries out. Scary and exhilarating.

So I hope you enjoy the one-on-one with me. Please share you feedback as you always have with me. That's what art is for.

A free sample of the first few chapters available for download. Enjoy.

Thanks everyone for sharing the ride with me. My printed books will be available soon.
Love,     Leah