Writers of the Month

Marilyn Lorenz and Greg Smorol


Marilyn Lorenz

Marilyn Lorenz is a graduate of Northwestern University.  First published at the age of sixteen, her prose and poetry have appeared in national magazines and journals as well as all five of the Island Writers Network anthologies. “Great Blue Gert,” her children’s picture book, sold out in one year and is now a Lowcountry collector’s item. “Everyone in my family is creative,” she says. “It’s what we do.”



Sometimes it is lovely when it rains.

You can stand at the window and be glad

to be dry, and safe, and watching.


You can get the ironing done that you’ve put off

for months, make a list of your passwords

and hide it somewhere, answer phone calls

and read.


Peanut butter and jelly is good for you

on a rainy day, and it’s okay to sit down,

turn on something electronic, and find out

what streets are flooded, even if you had

no intention of going out.


Yes, sometimes it’s lovely when it rains.

Even if all you do is curl up gratefully,

and nap.


“Rain,” © Marilyn Lorenz (2017) from  Ebb & Flow


Gregory Smorol

Greg Smorol received his Baccalaureate Degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and a Master’s Degree in Communications from SUNY at Buffalo. He has published short stories in several IWN anthologies and has a novel, The Tithonian Biosphere, currently available on Amazon. He and his wife Donna reside on Hilton Head Island.


Johnny Reb: Coming of Age
(an excerpt)


Johnny Fender felt the Alabama sun as he lay in the grass thinking about Joseph, his dad, and the war.  He knew he couldn’t fight or kill Yankees; he wasn’t cut out to do it.  Yet there was a dark cloud hanging over him.  He had turned seventeen and would be expected to join the battle.    He looked at his hands, soft, sheltered from manual labor.  His muscles hadn’t been developed, and he couldn’t shoot a gun.   He had spent his childhood following his dad, a cotton trader, and learning the business.  He felt he would be good at it.  His dad even asked him to help Susan, his mother, while he was away.   Now he ran the risk of being labeled a coward and shunned after the Confederacy won.  He was scared, but he would have to enlist, just not now.

Johnny was inside the house studying business books when Susan called him to dinner.   As they ate, Johnny noticed that her conversation was strained, hesitant, not her usual manner of speaking.  “What’s wrong?”

“Business decisions need to be made, and I need advice from your father.”

“Can I help?”

“It’s not just that.  I fear something bad has happened.  It’s not like him not to write.”

Johnny feared the moment he had been dreading had finally come.  He stammered in response, “Maybe I should enlist and go look for him.”

“You’re untrained, too vulnerable.”

“What should we do?”

“My friend Lilly has offered to have her boys teach you how to be a soldier.  You can spend a couple of months with them.  After that we’ll get you papers to go search for your dad.”

Johnny was headed to Lilly’s plantation when he saw two boys sitting on a split rail fence.   When they approached him, Johnny was uncertain of what they wanted.  One said.  “Where you going?”

Johnny turned, taking his eyes off of the other boy, and was knocked to the ground with a sucker punch.  He fell hard, dazed from the blow.  Panicking, he held up his arm to fend off the next punch.

“Your first lesson is to be wary of strangers.  Don’t turn your back on anyone.”

Flushed and angry, Johnny stood up and brushed off the dust.  “You must be Lilly’s boys?”

“That’s right.  I’m Al, and this is Jim.  You’ve got a lot to learn, so we thought we’d start right away.”

Johnny’s training was intense.  He learned to duck, while Al showed him how to protect his head when delivering jabs and uppercuts.  Jim taught him how to use a man’s weight against him when wrestling.  Then there was hard labor.  Johnny had to become stronger, tougher, or all this training would be to no avail.

Exhausted, Johnny fell into bed each night and immediately fell asleep, rising in the morning with body aches and stiff fingers.  At the end of a month though, hard work and tough play had become a habit.  Al figured the time had come to teach Johnny how to use a rifle.


“Johnny Reb: Coming of Age,” © Greg Smorol (2015) from Time & Tide