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34-Year-Old Asks For Big Piece

MADISON, WI—Directing the server to the large square in the corner, local 34-year-old Matthew Hinke asked for a big piece of cake during a workplace birthday party, sources confirmed Tuesday.

Mom Produces Decorative Gift Bag Out Of Thin Air

LEXINGTON, MA—Conjuring the item into existence along with several sheets of perfectly coordinated tissue paper, local mother Caroline Wolfson, 49, reportedly produced a decorative gift bag out of thin air Tuesday within a mere fraction of a second of her daughter mentioning she needed to wrap a present.

Cake Just Sitting There

Take It

CHICAGO—Assuring you that there was nothing to worry about and not a soul around who would see you, sources confirmed Tuesday that a large piece of chocolate cake was just sitting there and that you should go ahead and take it.

Roommate Skulking Around Edge Of Party Like Victorian Ghost Child

SEATTLE—Appearing initially in the far corner of the living room and then several minutes later on the threshold between the kitchen and the hallway, local roommate Kelsey Stahl was, by multiple accounts, seen skulking around the edge of a house party Friday like a Victorian ghost child.
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Author Wishes She Hadn't Blown Personal Tragedy On First Book

SANTA FE, NM–Author Jessica Kingley expressed regret Monday that she had "pretty much used up all the hardship" from her early life in her recent first novel Bitter Root, leaving her nothing to write about for her follow-up book.

Kingley in her Santa Fe home.

"In writing Bitter Root, I drew heavily on my experiences growing up poor and neglected by my alcoholic parents in an economically depressed small town in southern Oklahoma," the 36-year-old Kingley said. "Apparently, I drew a little too heavily, because I don't have any personal trials and tribulations left for the next one."

Bitter Root, the fictional story of a young woman named Jessie Strong growing up in the desolation of an economically depressed small town in southern Oklahoma, was heralded by The Chicago Sun-Times as "a searing, painfully honest portrait of a young girl's hardscrabble adolescence on the plains."

The success of Bitter Root, which climbed to #16 on the New York Times bestseller list, netted Kingley a second-book deal with Viking Press worth a reported $450,000. Kingley said the prospect of writing a follow-up seems daunting.

"I've already used the time my dad, in a drunken rage, burned down the house," Kingley said. "I used the time my grandmother died and everyone in my family missed the funeral. I used the stuff about the summer the river dried up. I even used that corrupt police officer my cousin dated, even though I only met him once. I just don't have any more memories with that kind of dramatic heft."

During her painful years growing up in Oklahoma, "where oppressive heat bears down on chained dogs longing to run–run!–and never look back," Kingley experienced a number of other hardships firsthand. At 16, she ran away from home the night her father threatened her with a gun. At 18, she fell into a string of unhealthy relationships that led to a near-fatal bout with bulimia. At 19, she underwent the physically and emotionally wrenching experience of having an abortion.

Unfortunately, the protagonist of Bitter Root underwent every last one of these tragedies, as well.

"Jessie is a troubled spirit," Kingley said. "She's the type of person who's too strong-willed to listen to others. She's a woman who has to make her own way in this world. So, what happens after she survives her traumatic childhood and, at 20, finally leaves Oklahoma behind to create a new life for herself in New Mexico? A bunch of stuff way too boring to write about."

Kingley has already taken several unsuccessful stabs at a second novel. First, she tried writing about a young woman facing adversity growing up on the Louisiana Bayou. Discovering she knew little about Bayou culture, Kingley changed the setting of the book to an economically depressed town in Appalachia, but ultimately found she had a hard time identifying with the characters she created.

"After those false starts, I thought maybe I needed to branch out and try something totally different," Kingley said. "I started a sci-fi novel about a young woman and the hardships she faces growing up in a uranium-mining colony on a sparsely populated planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. It didn't really pan out."

Kingley also attempted, without luck, to find inspiration in her more recent struggles.

"I thought I could get at least a short story out of the time my car broke down last year," Kingley said. "The opening paragraphs about the smoking, stalled car sitting on the shoulder of the highway were pretty good, but it kind of lost momentum when I got to the part about being approved for a loan and picking out a Saturn with my friend from grad school."

The experience of trying to finish "Curls Of Smoke On A Highway" made Kingley realize her recent life may not be suitable for novelization.

"Pretty much everything after 1990 is a wash," Kingley said. "That's when I landed my writing residency at the University of New Mexico. After that came my book deal. Then I got married, and my husband and I bought a house. So, right now, my only hope is giving birth to an autistic child. I'll keep my fingers crossed."

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