Peeling an apple in one coil, reading a love story, laughing while we cry: things women do

Peeling an apple in one coil, reading a love story, laughing while we cry: things women do


The light of the bright fall afternoon shines through the windows at the back of our house and glances off Bethany’s glasses as she peels apples, slowly, each in one long coil. She mixes butter with flour, not gently. Clouds of the white dust waft around my kitchen. Eventually, each speck succumbs to gravity, settling upon any horizontal surface that will stop its fall and convert kinetic back to potential energy.

My daughter is the only functioning body in the place. The cat sleeps on the heating vent with his long, bushy tail shielding the day from his eyes. Joey must be under his bed again. Eddie hasn’t moved from the blue chair yet. The stubble on his chin is graying. I imagine his breath is deadly. He is pathetic. I should feel sympathy for him because he looks like he could use a hug. But I don’t. I can’t yet because I don’t understand his reaction to my death. I wish I could have hugged him and made him smile more while I was alive, but we squandered our time together. Regrets overwhelm me.

I watch my Eddie frown when he smells the apples and cinnamon from the kitchen. I know he’s thinking about me, about us. I try to stay away, but he pulls me into his thoughts with the same magnetic intensity as when he pulled me into his arms thousands of times, still never enough, when I lived.


Cinnamon reminds me of you. I can’t go into the kitchen. With both of his large hands, he rubs his face hard and blows out his breath.

| | | |

Enticed by the good smells from the kitchen, Joey creeps down the stairs and climbs up on the step stool. He leans to Bethany for a hug. She starts to cry when she hugs him back. She sits him in a pile of flour on the counter. Joey is alarmed by her tears; now that his sister has started to cry, she can’t seem to stop. She wipes her face on the belly of his shirt and gives him an apple slice slathered in sugar and cinnamon.

He takes in the mess of flour and butter she’s concocting and asks shyly, “Apple squares?” He pops the chunk of apple into his mouth.

Bethany nods as she wipes her nose on her sleeve and eats a slice, too. Joey thinks he can help her stop crying. He says with a full mouth, “Hey, Bethy, hold your tongue and say apple.” He shines his wicked grin on her.

Bethany sticks out her tongue and holds it and says, “Athole,” and Joey loses himself in giggles. Eddie hears the sound from the other room, and we both think at the same instant: My children are laughing?

Now, I have left them all. It was not my intention, and I am infinitely pissed. Given a second chance at that choice, now I would have stayed home on Friday, November eleventh. I would’ve tried harder to stay on the same team as Eddie to keep us from falling apart.

As I watch my children, I feel like they are holding my heart.

Death really hurts.


Excerpts from Chapter 4 of OR NOT TO BE

© 2014 Laura Lanni

used with permission from LMNO Press


A note from the author

My debut novel OR NOT TO BE will turn 5 years old on Monday 11/11/19 and some of you have neither read it yet nor gifted it (wrapped in glittery paper and a big bow) to your sister or best friend for Christmas or her birthday. Here’s your incentive to pull this story to the top of your TBR pile.

For one day only (11/11/19) the Kindle version of OR NOT TO BE will be available for FREE! Click here.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE! Suppose you read this tragic love story and LOVE IT (or like it quite a bit or even very much). Then you’ll surely want a copy of the paperback to gift to someone you love. So here’s a second and even better offer for OR NOT TO BE fans: Post your review of OR NOT TO BE to or Goodreads or both. Send a link to your review to me on Goodreads (lauralanni) or email, and we’ll arrange payment and shipping details. If you do all of this, LMNO Press will send you two copies of the paperback for $11.11, free shipping (of course) to anywhere in the continental US. What a great BOGO.

This BOGO paperback offer will last until 50 pairs of copies are claimed or 11/25/19 at 11:11 am EST, whichever comes first, so get started with your #free #Kindle copy on 11/11/19! Limit two (2) paperback copies (for $11.11) per customer. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. Permission to share reviews is granted by all who participate. Always read the fine print.


In the spirit of the tax free weekend, on August 4 and 5, 2018 INFINITY LINE on Kindle will be available for free (to a good home)!

But that’s not all. Act fast and you could also get the Kindle version of my debut, OR NOT TO BE, also for free on the same two days. (You know how the big sister wants what the baby gets, right? Well, ONTB heard IL was flying off the shelves and wants in. Can’t shut her up. Can’t have one book thinking the other is my favorite. They’re both my favorite. Good for you though: they’ll both be free. But only for TWO DAYS.)

So call your friends and your mom and sister and tell them to get these free books! While your kids are at school, perhaps you’ll have time to READ!

INFINITY LINE, just released on 8.1.18, can be found here.

front cover Infinity Line

In 2072, in a once vibrant metropolis on the eastern coast of what used to be America, biochemist Dr. Lorelei Fletcher hunts men.

In a world gone insane with hatred, somebody has to do it.





OR NOT TO BE, my debut from 11.11.14, can be found here.



Alive, Anna considered leaving her husband. Dead, she naively believes she has escaped this difficult choice.

How cruel for relationship problems to tag along to the dead side.

One year later, 11/11

Today is the first anniversary of the release date of my debut, Or Not to Be.

This year has been not quite what I expected. More than I ever expected.

I learned that I have NO marketing skills. I can give my book away, but it’s hard to ask for money. This story sells without my help. I’ve done all I can, just by spending nine years writing it.

This year, I revised my next book, Infinity Line. I paid an editor and a proofreader to help, shined it up like a new penny, and sent it out on the terrifying query train. Now I’m just doing the slow-motion backstroke with my swimmies on while I wait for responses. If you’ve got any extra luck lining your pockets, send it my way.

I’m working on the next, next book, tentatively titled Advice to the Novice Kidnapper. I tried to outline it. Tried to make the characters follow my lead. They laughed at me and took off. I tried to write it as a thriller, but it morphed into YA with a male voice—a coming-of-age story like none I’ve ever encountered.

Once again, I’ve found this to be true: writing a novel is as intriguing as reading one. It’s a journey with twists and turns. As the writer, I must buy the gas and I get to work the pedals, but I’m not allowed to touch the steering wheel. What a ride!

Back to the star of this party.

Eleven months after publication of Or Not to Be, I read the story of Anna and Eddie again. I sat strapped to the aisle seat on a plane to Colorado, on my way to see my beautiful grandbabies. Beside me sat a college student who had forgotten her book and didn’t want to do her crossword puzzle. She watched me write an organic chemistry exam, and then watched me read my own book, not knowing I was the author. We talked about her fiancée, how smart he is, and how funny he’d think it was that she sat beside a chemistry professor. Then, she asked about the book I was reading. After giving her a brief overview, I asked if she’d like to trade—she could read my book and I’d do her crossword puzzle. She took the offer. She read the pages rapidly. When the plane landed, she gave my baby back and said she’d have to buy it. I couldn’t concentrate on my crossword puzzle with my book being read right beside me.

To celebrate the return of Anna’s deathday on 11/11, the Kindle version of Or Not to Be is free again for a couple days. Go to HERE to get yours.

And, please, tell a friend.

Visionary Fiction? Perhaps.

Thousands of people now hold copies of my debut Or Not to Be. Thousands.

Some have even read it.

A few have reviewed it.

For those special readers who’ve completed the journey to the end of Or Not to Be, I have a question: Based on this definition, did you consider my story to fit the classification of visionary fiction?

It’s a genre I’ve never investigated, so I certainly didn’t set out to make my debut novel be anything as cool as visionary. But I think, just maybe, it might be visionary, besides being sad and funny and all those other things my readers have shared here.

Comments, concerns, other reactions? I welcome them all.

Or Not to Be Book Launch Party!

Last night, 11 days after Or Not to Be was published, we had the book launch celebration and it was a blast! More than a full deck of friends and neighbors and colleagues showed up in droves. They brought cards and flowers and wine and champagne and hugs and hugs. The party was planned from 6-8 pm, and the last guests left after 11 pm, after we had juggled a little and played Stack-the-Cups, because Aunt Judy said to.

We could’ve used Steve Martin from Father of the Bride to help with parking. Guests made a parking lot out of the cul de sac.

We ate and drank and laughed, and everyone left with a free paperback copy of my debut. Scary and exciting to watch those books cradled in arms going out the door. Today was a cold rainy day–perfect for snuggling under a blanket with tea and a book. The odds are increasing that somewhere, someone is holding my book, and I am reminded why I published.

Here are some pics of the food and people, and of me reading pages 24 and 25, the scene of Eddie and Anna’s first date and kiss, remembered by Anna.


pre-apple squares
apple squares
allie jean’s amazing food
and more of allie jean’s amazing food
before pic of the bar
looking good with those old-lady reading glasses
almost to the part about the kiss!
with my best man
with my bartender/cover designer/daughter
i had all my sisters with me
the star of the show

I made a short presentation and toast. Here is a bit of what I told my friends:

“When I was little, my dad worked two jobs in retail. He was smart and organized and hardworking. But neither was the job he was meant to do. He was meant to be a writer. In his rare spare moments, we’d hear him pounding on his typewriter, and we knew to be quiet. No yelling. No fighting. Daddy was typing.

Daddy spent a lot of time thinking about what he would write before he sat down at that typewriter. He had to get it right the first time for two reasons: who knew when he’d have time to write again? and the word processor hadn’t been invented yet, so editing was a nightmare.

I never read much of Daddy’s work. He didn’t publish; he kept it close. Now that I’m a writer, I understand his hesitation: it is terrifying the first (and hundredth) time a writer shares his work.

Writing wasn’t a serious hobby for me until 2005. Before then, I wrote some short stories, but nothing significant.

In the summer nine years ago, in a bit of boredom and needing a challenge, a goal, some accomplishment to come out of my summer break from teaching, my left brain met up with my right and I did an experiment on myself to answer the question: could I sustain the process of writing a novel?

It was a grueling two months. I wrote every day and tried for 1500 words per day. After a week, I began printing the pages and the growing heft of the pile kept me going.

I didn’t plan what I would write about. All I knew when I began was that all of the books I love have memorable characters. Characters who are imperfect–yet I miss them after the story ends. So, memorable, quirky characters were my only objective that first summer while I wrote the first draft of Or Not to Be. I didn’t plan the plot. I just wrote. And once the characters were developed, I followed them and, I am not kidding, they told me the story.

I decided to publish this story with some high hopes:

I hope Anna and Eddie’s funny sad story touches your heart and mind and funny bone.

I hope it makes you think. And laugh. And cry a little.

If you like it, I hope you’ll review it in public on Amazon or Goodreads or Facebook or your blog.

If you don’t like it, I hope you keep that a secret.”