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frenchgirl The Little French Girl written by Ann Reed and Gail Hartman.

In January of 2017, Gail sent Ann a paragraph or two about a young girl living in Paris, and then Ann sent it back to Gail, having added several paragraphs to the story. Gail wrote more and sent it to Ann and she did the same, returning it to Gail — and back and forth they went for the better part of a year.

When they started this project, neither of them had any idea where the story would go. They found writing together a wonderfully satisfying process and they are currently working on other co-created stories.

Available on Amazon Kindle

Ann Reed's first novel, Citizens of Campbell!

Citizens of Campbell

Big Book of Lyrics

Little Book of Haiku

Citizens of Campbell
That's right, a book by Ann Reed.

Earl Johansen and Nearly Kelly have been friends since they were boys in Campbell, Iowa. Now old men, Nearly lives in the Veterans Home, where Earl is his frequent visitor and steadfast companion. As his health deteriorates and they reminiscence about days gone by, Nearly has only one regret — something Earl and a couple of new friends might help him resolve.

Citizens of Campbell is the story of a small Iowa town, the unlikely but enduring friendship between two World War II veterans, and the timeless gifts of living a simple life.

Citizens of Campbell
Excerpt from Citizens of Campbell:

If Earl Johansen had a nickel for every time he and Nearly Kelly got into trouble, he'd be living in one of those big, white, fancy houses instead of this tiny, pea-green, post-war box. He would be sitting at a large, round, maple table every morning. His steaming coffee would cool from the breeze moving the window curtains as if a tiny ghost were exhaling. The soft, sweet wind would carry the aroma of freshly mown grass and the sound of melodic bird song. In reality, the stench of the Karman's chicken-processing plant—the main employer in Campbell, Iowa—permeated as he heard his neighbor Al hacking and wheezing while trying to start his car.

Earl and Nearly weren't getting into too much trouble these days. They hadn't in a good long time.

Campbell was Earl's home, and most days he guessed he was fine with that. He lived on Social Security and what money he had saved from years of diligent work as a janitor at the Teachers Credit Union and Campbell Savings and Trust. He had a small garden and a couple of window boxes. This year they held geraniums and impatiens he bought at the grocery store. These were attractive plants even when crowded together in tiny, black plastic containers on wide metal shelves outside the Hy-Vee. Earl's grandmother always told him that flowers could spruce up even the most tired-looking, dilapidated houses on the block.

To pay off their father's various debts after he died, Earl and his younger brother, Mitchell, sold the family home. It seemed that every time their father raised his hand to them, or came stumbling back in the dark, another section of paint would peel, another piece of wood would begin to rot. Earl enjoyed working with his hands and was knowledgeable about basic construction, plumbing and electrical work. Mitchell did some painting and contributed money to the effort. When they finished and the for-sale sign went up, the house was in better condition than it had ever been when they lived in it.

Soon after the war, a year before their father passed, their mother, Anna, ran off with Pastor Underwood, causing a scandal that this small town was still talking about. Anna had a flair for the dramatic and her exit from their lives, though unexpected, was done in true soap opera fashion, complete with a tear-stained note to her boys.

The Ann Reed Big Book of Lyrics 1978 - 2017

Lyrics Book The Ann Reed
Big Book of Lyrics
1978 - 2017

I don't remember the first song I wrote. I do remember the first song I wrote and kept: "Jessie," the first lyric in this book. It was 1978 and with my friend Sue, I was taking the train to Missoula, Mon- tana. A family seated behind us included a young girl named Jessie. When Sue and I took out our guitars, Jessie got very excited, thinking we might play train songs all the way to our destination. My repertoire featured songs like "Little Boxes," "If I Had a Hammer," "Blowin' in the Wind," plus a whole bunch of not-too-good church songs.

I played the full extent of my train repertoire: "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad." That's it, I told Jessie. The kid was not happy.

So, I wrote her a song. And to my knowledge, she's never heard it.

Each of these lyrics has a story behind it. In this book, at the end of a song's text is the copyright date and the title of the recording on which the song can be found. As I read through album and song titles, I see places and people, relationships past and present. I remember who or what inspired the song. I recall where I was when I wrote it, where and with whom I recorded it. There are some things I'd rather forget, but for the most part, I am very fortunate to have more cherished memories than ones I try in vain to cram down the disposal.

Writing poetry, even bad poetry, can get an awkward adolescent girl through junior high and high school. That's what came first, followed by the lifesaving discovery of the guitar.

To be writing now, 35 years after keeping that first song, is not much of a surprise. This was never a hobby, nor was it anything I took lightly. The process has changed some over the years. It takes me longer to write a song. I don't know where the melody comes from — but then I never did. I sit there and play the guitar and hum a little bit and some chords get together and I hear myself say, "Yeah ..." out loud in an empty room. I fuss over the words, how they fit together, their weight, their meaning, their rhythm.

I've logged a lot of miles playing these songs and introducing them to people who have taken them into their hearts. I have always said that the most songwriters can hope for is that their songs go out and make friends on their own. I am fortunate indeed to have had that happen.

Thank you for being a good friend to these songs.

Look for a new Little Book of Haiku in 2020!

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