Guest & Contest: Heather Cleveland

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Heather Cleveland 2About Heather Cleveland

I wanted to be an actress for a long time until I realized it wasn’t so much the acting that I loved but the storytelling. (But don’t get me wrong, if someone offered me a dream role in a movie, I’d take it.) So I’ve lovingly returned to my childhood pastime of writing, only now my novels come to life on my computer screen rather than being scrawled in a spiral notebook. And thank goodness for that, or it’d take me a year to finish the editing process.

I’m active in our local theatre scene (on the management side now). I love traveling, playing games, gardening, and checking items off my bucket list–last accomplishment: learn to sew; next up: milk a cow. If you asked my friends to describe me, I think they’d say I am a little quirky and an old soul.

I live north of Denver with my very supportive husband. He is vital to my writing process–serving as web designer, sounding board, walking thesaurus, and reality check.

For today’s stop on Heather’s tour, she wants to have some fun with the What’s Your Dessert? game.  Share with us your dessert and your thoughts on the result.  Heather also encourages you to tweet your answer, if you’re on Twitter.

What's Your Dessert Game2

Here’s a short excerpt from Devil’s Food:

IT WAS THE END OF THE DAY that Patrick dreaded most. The kitchen closed at ten, but he stayed late, baking breads and cakes, scouring counters, rearranging the pantry. Anything to keep his mind occupied…as long as it was in the kitchen. He could feel the frenzied energy from the bar—people drinking away their cares until the wee hours of the morning, but he didn’t dare join them.

Night after night, Colin encouraged him to go home and get some sleep, but what his little brother didn’t understand was that he couldn’t sleep. In fact, he avoided it because that was when the nightmares started and the terror set in. If he was lucky, he might doze off in front of the TV and get a couple hours of light rest, never fully leaving the waking world. And he considered that a victory. The doctors had, of course, prescribed him anti-anxiety medicine and sleeping pills, but he didn’t want to become reliant on something again. Plus, he deserved the punishment, the pain. Strangely, it was the only thing that kept him from completely losing it; he felt like he was making restitution somehow.

But when three o’clock rolled around and there was nothing left to clean or organize, Patrick knew he couldn’t avoid it any longer. He threw on his jacket and locked Fratelli’s up for the night. He set off at a brisk pace against the morning chill but paused halfway down the block, glancing over his shoulder. The fancy scrawl of “Ristorante Fratelli” glowed in the haze of the streetlamp. They’d used the Italian word for “brothers” as the name of the restaurant because all they had left in the world was each other. It was their promise to stand by one another, to always put family first—and that was the last glimmer of hope Patrick had to hold on to. He saluted the sign and headed toward his apartment.

Patrick liked walking the streets of downtown when they were deserted, quiet. He passed the sleepy theatres and comedy clubs, tuckered out from a night of lively performances. Restaurants were dark and shops would stay locked for a few more hours. The occasional car passed by—probably another insomniac avoiding night horrors—but mostly the streets were calm, protected by the gargantuan hotels and office buildings.

Before he was mentally prepared, he was standing in front of the renovated warehouse in LoDo. His apartment was on the seventh floor, and he squeezed his eyes shut, trying to recall the distant, foreign memories when he loved living there. At one point, he’d relished the proximity to Denver’s sporting venues and culture. But that person was a stranger to him now.

He took the stairs because elevators, especially this elevator, made him feel trapped again. But it didn’t matter how he got to the seventh floor. He felt the weight of excruciating memories drowning him with each step. He’d spent his darkest days in this apartment. Injured, denying reality, and finally, grieving. Life was a bitch, keeping him chained to this suffocating place.

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