Thursday, December 8, 2022

Blog Tour: Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond



Literary Fiction / Memoir

Release Date: October 1, 2022

Publisher: Mapleton Press

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

A young girl in a small southern town in the 80’s enlists the help of an unlikely group of friends and family to help her survive an unconventional, sometimes abusive childhood. Often left in the care of a paranoid schizophrenic uncle who lives downstairs and a psychotic uncle upstairs, the narrator stacks up a few heartbreaking observations. When her mother abandons her in favor of her addictions, the girl goes to live with her grandmother but finds happiness cut short when her grandmother dies. Her uncle believes the voices in his head have trapped his mother in a basement across town and as he slowly looses grip on reality, he also looses his ability to take care of her. Taken to a Group Home to live until a case worker can find her a place to go, her mom’s ex shows up and is forced to make a choice.

Praise for Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond:

One child's vulnerability and resilience to forces beyond her control make a raw and colorful splash in this tenderhearted memoir.

-RECOMMENDED by the US Review

"Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond is highly recommended for fiction readers looking for coming-of-age and family narratives that are anything but ordinary and predictable. Its lively tone packs a punch."

- D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

... I have to tell you that as I enjoyed this great book, I realized no 9 year old could have the thoughts or quick comebacks that Cotton does. Any kid that had to go through what Cotton did would become old way before their time. But in truth, this is mostly a story of Cotton telling about her life but living in the moment. Does that sound nuts? Well, whatever the technique, it worked. It made a story so very poignant that it touched my heart. Lis-Anna Langston created a character you will fall in love with and a book you'll be sad is over when you turn the last page.

- Our Town Book Reviews


The Meeting


The summer I turned three my mother called me out to the driveway.

“Cotton, come out here. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

It was dark outside, but I could see a tall, handsome man who looked like he’d stepped out of the magazines I shredded to make collages. I suddenly became conscious of my scraped knees with big ugly scabs and tugged at the hem of my dress.

The handsome stranger knelt in front of me, extending his hand. “Hi. My name is Dave. What’s your name?”

A lamp post blasted light against the back of his head. Shadows were everywhere. I felt my mother’s eyes on the back of my neck, making my hairs tingle.

I blurted out, “My birthday is coming up.”

The handsome stranger shifted, smiling. “How old are you?”

I held up my entire hand, fingers spread, then pulled my pinky finger and thumb back to touch. “Almost three.”

Shadows slanted down his cheeks. “What day is your birthday?”


“Mine’s coming up in June,” he said, excited.

For some reason this made me like him tremendously. “What kind of cake do you like?”

“Boston cream pie with all of that creamy custard in the middle.”

“Me too,” I said. “My grandmother buys Boston cream cakes for me and my Uncle Stan because he doesn’t have any teeth.”

“Cotton.” My mother cleared her throat behind me.

I turned, “What?”

“Maybe we don’t need to talk about Stan right now.”

The handsome stranger butted in, “What do you say we go and get something to eat?”

Early summer was still a little chilly. Suddenly I wanted my poncho and to put on the sample bottle of perfume. I turned, running up the knobby gravel, trying to stay upright.

Behind me I heard the stranger say, “You never told me your name.”

Without looking back, I yelled, “Cotton Ann. I was named after a honeybee because I’m sweet with a sting.”

Then I ate dirt. Gravel, to be precise. The heels of my palms felt the deep gauge of sharp rocks, and my knees thun-dered in pain. My cheeks flushed hot. I stood up to keep run-ning, blood trickling down my shins. I burst through the front door, horrified I had fallen and even more horrified over how I might look.

Once in the bathroom, I slammed and locked the door, looking over at the full-length mirror glued to the wall. Oh my gosh. Blood dripped down into my socks. Criminy. How em-barrassing. Not only had someone just taken an interest in me but now, in a matter of less than a minute, I had fallen flat on my face and was bleeding to death all over my clothes. I searched frantically for a solution. Quickly I grabbed a wad of toilet paper and wet it under the bathtub faucet. I cleaned all of the blood off of my shins, and then I saw the answer. My black corduroy bell-bottoms lying dirty on the floor.

“Cotton!” my mother screamed from the other room. “What are you doing in there?”

“I’m coming,” I yelled, frantically kicking off my shoes. I jerked the cords up, ramming my feet into the shoes, kicking my dress behind the toilet. I ran out front as fast as I could.

My mother stood next to the car with her hand on her hip. “What took you so long?”

I climbed into the backseat. “I had to wash my hands.”

The Mexican restaurant had big velvet hats with sparkly sequins. I pointed and gushed, “Wow, that hat is bigger than me.”

“It’s a sombrero.” Dave reached for my hand as a lady in a ruffled skirt led us to a table.

The blankets hanging on the walls were rough and scratchy. The menu had about a bajillion items on it.

“I’ve never been to a Mexican restaurant,” I announced proudly.

“I recommend the enchilada plate.” Dave closed his menu.

A man wearing cowboy boots brought chips and dip to our table. That’s when Diggy showed up.

“Where have you been?” I whispered.

He cocked an ear to the side.

“Who are you talking to?” Dave asked.

“My friend Diggy,” I said.

My mother rolled her eyes. “It’s her imaginary friend. He’s not real. She just talks to him.”

“He is real.” I cut my eyes at her.

Off behind a row of potted plants static crackled. Mexi-can music started to play. The man in boots passed by our ta-ble. My mother held up her hand and ordered a beer. I could feel blood drying on the knees of my pants. I didn’t care if my mother thought Diggy was real or not. I was going to eat an en-chilada.

Whatever that was.

Diggy was pretty jazzed about free corn chips and wagged his tail.

That night I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. When I opened the door to go to the bathroom, I saw the living room light on. I walked to the doorway. My mother was on the sofa with a spoon and a lighter on the table. She had a needle in her hand.

“What are you doing?” I whispered.

She almost jumped out of her skin. “What are you doing out of bed?”

“I couldn’t sleep. What are you doing?”

“I’m giving myself a shot.”

“Oh.” I shifted my weight to my other leg. “Why would you want a shot?” I asked, unable to believe that anyone actual-ly wanted a shot.

Her hands trembled. “It’s vitamins—you know. A vita-min shot.”

“Then why don’t you just swallow them?”

“Because then… I’d have to…” her words drifted off into the silent space between us. “Because then I’d have to take a lot of them. What are you doing up?”

“I had to pee. And I’m thirsty.”

She reached for the syringe again. “Well go back to bed.”

I hung around, watching. “Can I go to my grandmoth-er’s house tomorrow?”

“Yeah, call your uncle and get him to pick you up.”

I ran off to the kitchen to get a glass of juice.

My mother watched me like a hawk. “Go to bed,” she instructed.

“Alright. Hey, I had fun tonight.”

She nodded but told me to go away.

The next morning, I sprang out of bed to call Stan. The phone rang twenty times before anyone picked up.

Finally, I heard my grandmother say, “Hello. Who’s there?”

“It’s me. Can you and Stan pick me up?”

She was quiet for just a minute. Then she said, “Hold on. Let me see if he’s awake.”

I packed up my hatbox and went out front to wait. My mother was asleep on the floor. Syringe, spoon, and cotton ball scattered on the coffee table. I covered her up with a blanket and walked out to the front porch.

It was Saturday morning. The public library opened in one hour.

About the Author

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 two novels, Gobbledy and Tupelo Honey have won the Parents’ Choice Gold, Moonbeam Book Award, Independent Press Award, Benjamin Franklin Book Award and NYC Big Book Awards. Twice nominated for the Pushcart award and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, William Faulkner Fiction Contest 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. She draws badly, sings loudly, loves ketchup, starry skies & stories with happy aliens.

You can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air.

Contact Links





Amazon Author Page


Purchase Links





Books A Million




RABT Book Tours & PR

1 comment: