Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose, poetry, and music.

December’s Guest Storyteller, Sherri Matthews

Sherri

Sherri has been writing full-time since 2011.  Currently working on her memoir, Stranger in a White Dress, she has been published in a variety of national magazines and two anthologies.  Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief gardening, walking and snapping endless photographs.  Her garden robin muse visits regularly.

You can find Sherri’s links of interest at the end of this post.

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Sarah says: I’m thrilled that Sherri  has agreed to make a return visit to my blog as guest storyteller with a seasonal story to delight us all. Some of you might remember her Christmas-themed story Chocolate Umbrella from December 2014. This story received 54 likes and 79 comments, which was a fantastic response, considering my blog had about a quarter of the followers it does now! I’m guessing that Sherri brought along some of her fans with her,  from her wonderful blog A View From The Summerhouse.

In June 2015, we met up for the first time and got on so well, we’re now firm friends and try to get together as regularly as our busy lives permit. We also have long telephone conversations with each other, as we’re both very talkative.

Sherri & Sarah 

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A Blue Coat for Christmas

Grey, angry waves smashed into the pier. A gust of sea air whipped Piper’s hair into a salty slap across her face. A short walk to the beach had taken longer than she had anticipated, but she was wearing her new coat, and nothing was going to keep her indoors today.  Especially not babysitting her brother.

‘Look what I’ve found,’ Max shouted as he skipped across the sand.

The sight of her brother’s skinny legs poking out of his shorts made Piper laugh.  “I told you to wear jeans. Your knees have turned purple with the cold!’

Max stopped, looked down at his knees, and shrugged. ‘I don’t care. See, I found this!’ Piper stared at the dead starfish in her brother’s wet hands as she pushed her hands into her pockets.

‘Can I bring it back to show Dad?’

‘Yeah, why not…think of the stories he’ll tell us about it,’ Piper said with a wink.  ‘C’mon, it’s getting dark already and your legs might drop off if we don’t get back soon.’

They climbed the stairs leading up from the beach and walked along the promenade, the wind catching their breath.  Piper made sure to take the long way back through the side streets, wanting as many people as possible to admire her in her coat.

When she had opened her present on Christmas Day, she couldn’t believe her eyes.  It was just what she wanted, a blue, military style wool coat with brass buttons and red piping along the collar and sleeves. At twelve years old, all legs and no curves, she felt like a fashion icon in it.  Heck, maybe even the up and coming new Twiggy.

Piper and Max watched cartoons and when their father came home, he made beans on toast while he drank beer and made them laugh at his funny story about the starfish and his hermit crab friends.

“I’ll be right back,” he whispered to Piper later as he kissed her forehead.  “Keep an eye on your brother, I’ll be back in a jiffy…” Piper nodded with a half-smile, knowing it would be hours before he staggered in through the front door.

‘Nice coat,’ their mother said back home. ‘Surprised your father can afford such a thing…’ she trailed off.  Piper didn’t know either, but she was happy prancing about the place in her beloved coat.  One thing she did know: she wouldn’t breathe a word about her father’s late night visits to the pub.

© Sherri Matthews 2016

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Connect with Sherri
Blogwww.sherrimatthewsblog.com
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103859680232786469097/posts

Memoir Book Blurb
http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/memoir-book-blurb/ )

Heart Whispers: A Poetry Anthology available at
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

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You can find the links to previous guest storyteller posts at 

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95 thoughts on “December’s Guest Storyteller, Sherri Matthews

  1. Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    Delighted at my invite from my dear friend Sarah to feature as her Guest Storyteller today! As a writer of non-fiction, writing a short story (400 words in this case) gives me a great excuse to mix things up a little as in ‘A Blue Coat for Christmas.’ A Christmas present can bring unintended reactions…
    Thank you so much Sarah!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The delight is all mine dearest Sarah, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to feature again on your wonderful blog. I can’t believe it’s been two years since the last time! I’m truly honoured… 🙂 xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sherri, what a delightful, yet evocative story. Makes me think about Piper’s life, and what’s really going on in the background.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fabulous, heartwarming story, Sherri. Wonderful to see you out visiting. 🙂 ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jeanne229 on said:

    You evoke such beautiful images with your writing Sherri. And how skillful the way you use small but telling details to set the time, place, and circumstances. Just read a post about intertextuality this morning on WriterUnboxed and couldn’t help noting the reference to Twiggy, and even the kind of coat, which I well remember from the 60s and 70s–peacoats, we call them on this side of the pond–very popular then. Thanks for the beautiful story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, the Twiggy coats. I remember them well, too! Sherri’s writing is a wonderful example of “showing” rather than “telling”, which is so important whether you’re writing fiction or memoir.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jeanne, how lovely of you to visit Sarah’s wonderful blog, and thank you so much for your greatly encouraging comment! This is music to my ears…you know this memoir writer who dabbles in flash fiction, but I’ve only written a handful of short fiction stories, two as Sarah’s Guest Storyteller (at her wonderful encouragement and also her excellent editorial skills whose eye for detail is bar none…thank you again Sarah!) That Twiggy reference…and peacoats…remember them so well! Your fab comment has me beaming Jeanne…thank you again!! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. OH, so beautifully done. The pacing is perfect. Love this! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love your writing Sherri, Your simple, yet eloquent story weaves different storylines within the words- Loving sister, broken home, alcoholism?, bitter mom. Well done my friend! xo<3

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Wonderful Christmas story, you’ve really been developing your talents over these last months, Sherri. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  9. If the story was posted anonymously, I would have known it was written by Sherri. She has a beautifully distinct writing voice. Lovely story, my friend! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  10. A story I can relate to, Sherri. Lovely and well-written. Thanks for hosting our friend, Sarah xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sherri, I know this story must have been a little painful for you to write right now, but it is great. It didn’t go where I thought it might, though. For some reason I thought the long walk through the woods would make Piper’s brother really sick. So it was a surprise ending which was great! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Writing can be wonderfully cathartic. To be able to express yourself as eloquently as Sherri does, I suspect, helps her through this painful time of hers. I agree that it was a great story, though tinged with an underlying sadness.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I seem to write with that underlying twinge of sadness (and darkness, even in humour!) in just about everything, but surprisingly, it doesn’t make me sad to do so. You are absolutely right dearest Sarah, it helps me greatly and I’m deeply humbled and so encouraged to read your thoughts about my writing… xxxx

        Like

    • Ahh Patsy…you might remember my memoir piece by the same title, shared on my blog a couple of years ago? This is a fictionalised account of that, but being able to ‘let rip’ with the embellishment of the story is very freeing for me. So interesting reading your thoughts and how you thought it might end…delighted to surprise you, that makes me very happy! Thank you so much for your kind, caring words and for coming over to Sarah’s fab blog to comment. Means a lot to me… 🙂 xo

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A Christmas story from Sherri Matthews… the secrets that children keep instinctively.. A Blue Coat for Christmas – head over to Sarah Potter’s blog to read the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It’s wonderful that your love of writing can be shared. Her stories always pull me in deep. I’d love to know more about where that coat came from now. Had to go back and re-read the Chocolate Umbrellas. Time does fly.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The dad is a treasure and a source of sadness and secrecy.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A touching story Sherri, with so many layers and the loyalty to the flawed father is particularly poignant.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Ok I already read a few comments about theaters here
    – I liked that part of it, but I also loved the way her smooth writing really made me feel like I was listening to those children talk. Like when he said “legs might drop off” was when I felt like the scene had me right in there seaside ….
    Brevity is a gift too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Prior. It was very much seen through a child’s eyes, which is what made it all the more poignant.

      Liked by 2 people

      • well I was not really saying I felt it through the child’s eyes, but I felt like I was there and the dialogue came in natural and I felt the children’s essence – if that makes sense.
        and I guess I appreciated this because I have edited a few works this fall that had a lot of dialogue – and people have their own style and then there are rules for it – and that was my first takeaway from this piece probably because of what I had been exposed to this fall = and after I read it I thought – that was done so naturally i was right there with them….

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your feedback about the dialogue Yvette…music to my ears because I do have dialogue in my memoir, naturally, but of course, I am unable to write it verbatim since the conversations took place over 30 years ago! So I have to go back to how I and others would have spoken then, the things we would have said, expressions etc and write them as truthfully as I can within the constraints of that element of trulth. But…and as you know…there is an element of truth to this short fiction but the characters took on their own identity (which as a non-fiction writer, takes me by surprise) and the ‘legs falling off’ just came to me as I imagined something Piper would say. I don’t recall saying anything that specific, so I am truly encouraged by your feedback mon amie…I enjoyed writing this story for Sarah immensly… 🙂 xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  17. What I love about your writing is that it’s for everybody, Sherri. Such a happy story but with a dark layer bubbling under the surface. That’s why I always loved your 99 words flash fiction pieces over at Charli Mill’s blog.
    Lovely to see you here at Sarah’s today and to read that you two have become the very best of friends. It’s a beautiful blogging world, especially when friendships form and bond together.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is, indeed a beautiful blogging world 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Hugh, I very much appreciate you reading my story here at Sarah’s wonderful and welcoming blog, thank you so much! My heart is singing as I read your encouraging words about my writing – my turn to blush now! I’ve been writing the 99 word flashes over at Charli’s Carrot Ranch since I returned to blogging in October, but I post my stories in her comment’s section rather than publish them on my blog for the time being, purely because of time constraints. Once my memoir is ready to go for editing, I hope to start posting them again. Knowing you enjoy them so much gives me a great boost to do that! And yes, it has been an absolute pleasure to meet Sarah (and of course, you too Hugh!), she is a truly wonderful and caring and loyal friend to me…means so much.. xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, now I’m blushing. Such sweet things to say about our friendship, Sherri, and of course it’s ditto to all of them xxxx

        Liked by 2 people

      • 🙂 🙂 🙂 xxxx

        Like

      • My reply to you didn’t seem to want to post, Sherri, but what I wanted to say is that I’m so delighted to hear that you are still doing Charli’s flash fiction challenge. I need to get back to participating in that challenge. I’ve only had a go at it once, but the story I wrote did end up in the book. It’s the last story in the book and one Esther, my editor, said would remain in the reader’s mind when they finished reading the book.
        Wishing Sarah and you a lovely weekend.
        xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • Wishing you a lovely weekend, too, Hugh, with plenty of book sales 🙂 xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • And I bet it’s a corker Hugh, can’t wait to read it! Thank you again so much for your lovely comments and I hope you too have a wonderful weekend, particularly at the book fair! xxx

        Liked by 2 people

  18. It’s very Sherri! And that’s a good thing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Dearest Sarah, I just want to say once again, thank you so very much for featuring my little story I didn’t have a clue what I would write at first, but your gentle ‘challenge’ encouraged in such a wonderful way, and I have been truly blown away by the amazing and fantastic comments here from everyone. My heart overflows with joy and gratitude as I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit here. You are so kind and so lovely and thoughtful…bless my very dear friend… 🙂 ❤ xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sherri, I thought I had commented on this but seems not…sorry! Absolutely lovely story, capturing so much of Piper’s life with so few words 😀 . Like an artist you sketch the characters with snippets of detail and you leave the reader wondering how happy really is this Christmas for Piper, her mother and younger brother. Her father obviously loves her very much but has he fallen off the tracks. I just want more…is that greedy? Warmest wishes and a delight to read your seasonal short story.❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not greedy at all, Annika. I want more of the story, too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annika! How lovely of you to come over to Sarah’s and read my story, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, thank you so much for your wonderful feedback. As Sarah, replied below, never greedy! I’m thrilled and delighted you want the story behind the story, that’s pretty amazing to me! Hmmm…perhaps I will write more… Never say never, right? Warmest wishes to you too my friend and I hope you have a wonderful, Christmassy weekend 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Sherri!

    I wished the story would have continued! That means it was great and I enjoyed it. Thank you and congratulations to being a guest at Sarah’s blog.

    Sarah, thanks for having Sherri as your guest 🙂 She is such a talented writer and great person.

    All the best to the two of you, Ilka

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ilka,
      I’m very happy to have Sherri as my guest and agree that she’s talented and lovely.
      All the best to you, too. Sarah.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hugs to you dearest Sarah! I continue to be greatly humbled by the amazing comments from you and all the lovely people here….thank you again so much for the opportunity. Onwards to my memoir 🙂 xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ilka! I’m so sorry for my late reply. Ahh…you are so lovely, thank you so much for coming over to Sarah’s blog to read my story…means a lot to me that you enjoyed it so much. Merry Christmas and very best wishes for a Happy New Year to you and your lovely family dear Ilka 🙂 xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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