Thursday, October 9, 2014

The COFFEE BREAK SERIES: What Happens After We Die?

Here is a sneak peek of the latest installment of THE COFFEE BREAK SERIES. 

This e-book is inspired by true events...

Haunted House...Haunted Life

Copyright 2015 CF Winn
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

What happens after we die?

The answer to that question has eluded us for centuries, although countless mediums, psychics, and scientists have come forward claiming to know.

In HAUNTED HOUSE…HAUNTED LIFE, the dead are resurrected so they can reveal their secrets. Our curiosity is finally sated as we get the story straight from the spirit’s mouth.

Jeanne’s life has never been easy, and thanks to a brain tumor and her best friend, Anna Maria, it doesn’t seem as if her death is going to go any better. The story of her past and present drip with loneliness, regret, and heavy doses of sarcasm that stick to her soul in the afterlife. When she meets Catherine, Richard, and Elizabeth, she learns the hard way that her dad was right – the idea of something is always better than the reality.

Inspired by true events, we walk away with an explanation of what exactly goes bump in the night.

Chapter 1

In her daydreams, Jeanne beats Manny with her coffee mug. With every blow, he begs her to stop, so she hits him harder, hoping that the sound of the ceramic on his skull bone will be loud enough to drown out the whining she has grown to hate.

It’s not worth it. You’ll be gone in a few months. Just breathe and stay cool.

She knows that once she starts hitting him, she won’t be able to stop. Manny will be dead, and thanks to her brain cancer, she’ll follow right after. Then, instead of getting a much needed rest from him and their delinquent sons, she’ll be stuck with him for all eternity. In Hell.

It’s not worth it. Soon you’ll be gone. Breathe.

Jeanne hears it several times, and like a mantra doing its job, her muscles finally relax. His bloodied head fades, but the voice is persistent. She pushes it away until it’s just a vague buzzing sound in the background.

She taps the side of her coffee cup with her middle finger. The noise bothers Manny because it sounds like some of the bugs that used to chirp outside his bunk, signaling that all was well as he and the other soldiers slept. If they went silent, he knew that either the guard was making his rounds, or that trouble was about to crash their slumber party. In the kitchen, many years after the war has ended, the fight is still going on in his head, so Manny twitches and perks up slightly, listening for footsteps; he never rested easily, even though he knew the bugs would warn him.

Her breathing slows, and Jeanne’s mind wanders. She lights a Parliament and sucks on it deeply, as if it is oxygen.


When Jeanne was a little girl, her daddy would talk to the sun. And when the sun went in for the night, he would ask the moon and the stars lots of questions. It seemed like he was never alone, because sometimes he looked back at where he had just come from, as if he knew he was being followed, and other times he screamed at the clouds to "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up already!"

 She remembers how she would make herself as tiny as possible and hide, watching her dad from the many dark corners of the house.

As she got older, Jeanne noticed that he talked to everything. The day she saw him insist that the sofa stop pressuring him to do things - like cutting open his wrist and dropping his meds right into his veins – she knew that something wasn't right. 

Instead of reaching for a knife and obeying the command, he looked suspiciously at the pictures hanging on the walls above the couch. When he reached out, the arm of his green flannel robe rolled up until the cuff was at his elbow. He was so tall that he could’ve touched the ceiling, but instead, he poked at the silver frames that sat directly across from his face. The one with Jeanne posing like a model in the blue dress fell to the floor.

“Don’t kid yourself”, he said to the sectional while ignoring the sound of glass shattering, “Attachments lead to disappointment, because the idea of something is always better than the reality!”

Her mother’s voice was always muffled behind the locked door of her bedroom, but it still startled Jeanne every time she yelled.

“Shaddup Marty! I’m tryin’ ta sleep here!”

Jeanne imagined her mom with her back against the pillows, taking a long draw on her cigarette and blowing out the smoke before speaking again. As a little girl, she would hold her breath. If her mom decided to call her into the room, Jeanne would leave bleeding and in tears after being punished for her father's sins.

If not, her mom would smash out her cigarette in the pink ashtray on the nightstand and fall into an angry silence. She’d study her yellowing fingernails and veiny hands before sighing and choking back disappointed tears the same way that Jeanne had seen her do many times.

Sometimes Vivien wouldn’t cry. Instead, she’d come out and push past Jeanne just so she could yell at her dad.

“Ya promised me ya best Marty! I don’t even know who ya are anymore! Where’s the guy I fell in love with?”

Jeanne was still too young to understand why her dad couldn’t respond in a way that made sense. And she would never forgive her mother for giving up on everything, including her family.

 Once he was sure that his wife was done ranting, it was Marty's turn. For Jeanne it was like watching an angry, confused ping pong match. They’d go back and forth, battering each other without a filter or any regard for whoever may be listening. During these episodes, it was the only time he spoke to someone that Jeanne was sure existed.  
“Vivien! Do you understand the importance of what is happening here? Your obsessions are going to be your downfall! The forces that move around on our behalf don’t like that. They punish you for wicked thoughts!”

He wouldn’t wait for a response. Instead, her father always left her mom slumped over and crying. Smiling and nodding at something behind Jeanne, he’d walk away while sketching on the pad he carried around.

Jeanne tried to peek at the pad whenever she could; it was her only connection to her dad.  On it, he drew pictures of what he thought the voices looked like. If they spoke nicely, and one at a time, he called them friends. He imagined them with smiles and soft lines that Jeanne longed to trace with her finger. But if they screeched obscenities all at once, her father screamed along with them, covering his ears and crouching behind his bed in the extra room. He was so loud that Jeanne or one of her brothers would always pull the door shut so that they could continue watching TV.


Jeanne wishes she could pull a door shut on Manny. His non-stop chattering is distracting and his presence is annoying. He sits across from her at the kitchen table with his own coffee, nursing a marijuana hangover. He says the pot is for pain, but she knows better. He’s paralyzed so there’s no pain. She’s got cancer and he’s a tremendous pain in her ass, but she stays away from that stuff.

Someone’s gotta keep a level head when this idiot is high. If not, someone is going to lose an eye…or worse...















CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 

You can now order SUKI in paperback at  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE. 

CF Winn is the founder of Winning! Publications, a firm specializing in editing and promotion services for authors. Her latest project is the just released Trailer Trash, With a Girl’s Name, a hilarious and heartwarming story of a boy saddled with a girl’s name and forced into a nomadic existence. Order it now: 


Carrie Ann said...

Compelling. Jeanne's character comes through crystal clear. I won't say she's exactly "likable" (lol), but she's striking. I love the way the irreverent humor highlights the sadness of her situation...preserves it from sentimentality. And, hey, I want to know what happens next!

CF Winn said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Carrie Ann. I'm glad you like it so far and I can't wait to share what happens next. It should be out by the end of the month. These are shorts that are perfect for coffee breaks or while waiting for the doctor or dentist...and each one has references to the stories that came before it in the series. It's so much fun to show lives colliding as they do.