#ExcerptWeek Preview: #Harbinger

The Black Dog – A Harbinger of Death

Starting Monday, we will be having another week of Excerpts, here on The Write Stuff. I’ll post separately on that shortly. Since I have no #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger this week, I’ve decided start early, by sharing an excerpt from my current WIP, Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3. This is from the rough draft, so be kind. 🙂

To set this up, we met Rabbit in Book 2, A Boy Named Rabbit. He and his adoptive father, MacKenzie Cole, have been asked by the sheriff to help with a 20-year old cold case file. Mac is a master of gathering intel of various sorts through his computer research firm, and Rabbit has skills far and above the average 11-year-old. Or anyone else, for that matter. His gift of The Sight, as they call it in the mountains, has come on strong, developing into a prodigious talent far surpassing that of his gran, who was also gifted.

Sheriff Raleigh Wardell, his grandson, Finn, Mac, and Rabbit have gone to visit the burned out cabin where the Birdwell family lived for years, until the disappearance of 8-year-old Sissy Birdwell tore their lives apart. It’s a place of sadness and pain that Rabbit can clearly feel, even before setting foot on the property. And on this occasion, in addition to the things he feels, he’s had a vision, as well. Enjoy!


Saturday Afternoon, March 8, 2014
North Carolina Mountains 

MAC’S BREATH CAUGHT in his throat. “You saw her? You saw Sissy Birdwell?”

Rabbit nodded. “She were a sweet lookin’ little girl, Daddy.”

Raleigh pulled a small, spiral notepad and pen from his pocket, and stepped closer, his excitement giving off an almost physical thrum of energy. He’d launched into full Sheriff Mode, ready for all the details. “Well now, Rabbit. That’s something pretty special. Can you tell us what she looked like?”

The boy turned brimming eyes toward the sheriff. “Pretty,” he said, swallowing tears. “A real pretty little girl, with long black hair in them ropes down her back.” He looked at Mac. “What’s it called when hair’s like that, Daddy . . . pig’s tails?”

“Close enough,” Mac murmured, rubbing the goosebumps on his arms, as he watched Raleigh.

The sheriff stood frozen, pen poised above his notepad, and eyes wide. His mouth had dropped open in surprise. He closed it with a snap, cleared his throat, and nodded briskly. “Ah, yes . . . pigtails. Um . . . what else can you see?”

Rabbit was quiet another minute or two, gaze gone vacant, and his brow furrowed in concentration. When he looked up again, he shook his head. “She ain’t here, now,” he said.

The sheriff was busy scribbling notes on his pad, but he glanced up at that, crestfallen. “She’s gone? Where’d she go? Can you get her back?”

 “Wish I could, but it ain’t ‘zactly like callin’ her up on Skype, an’ I ain’t figured out yet if there’s some way to make it work when I want it to. I’m real sorry, Sheriff Wardell, but I only saw her for a minute. Felt her longer than I saw her, though. Her thoughts was all kinda zippin’ this way an’ that, happy ‘bout some new puppies, an’ then sad, ‘cause there was some goodbyes comin’ up, somewhere. I seen some bits of colored ribbon tied around the end of them pig’s tails . . . I mean, pigtails . . . an’ then, she wasn’t here no more.”

Raleigh looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Rabbit. I understand you can’t turn this on and off when you want. I just got excited to know Sissy left traces behind you can feel and see. It’s amazing, really, and you did great.”

“I ‘member one more thing, Sheriff. She were wearin’ a silver band on one of her arms . . . an’ it had these little, bluish sorta stones in it. Don’t reckon that helps much, but—“

Raleigh made a choked sound. If he’d been surprised before, he looked completely stunned now. He stared first at Rabbit, and then at Mac. His mouth opened and closed twice, before he managed actual words. “My God, Mac. He really did see her.”

Mac raised an eyebrow. “Well, yes. I thought we’d established that from the pretty accurate description he gave us.”

Raleigh was almost stammering in excitement. “I hoped he had, of course, but . . . well . . . it was just possible . . . I mean, he might have been picking up that description from you or me. We’ve both seen her picture, after all.” He gave Rabbit an apologetic look. “Not that you would do that on purpose, Rabbit, but I just wasn’t sure at first where the image you saw was coming from. But now I know.”

“How?” Mac asked.

“The bracelet was a brand new birthday present, and she lost it the day before she disappeared. When I interviewed Sissy’s mother the first time, she was real upset that she’d scolded Sissy so harshly for losing it. She was just starting to realize that a lost bracelet was nothing, compared to a lost little girl.”

Mac’s brow furrowed in confusion. “And?”

Raleigh shook his head, eyes glowing in wonder. “And that bracelet was never mentioned in any of the reports of her disappearance. It was already gone, so it wasn’t a factor when describing the clothes she was wearing that day. Hell, I’d forgotten about it myself. There’s no way Rabbit could have picked that detail up from you or I.”

He turned his eyes back to Rabbit. “Oh, yeah,” he breathed. “Rabbit’s the Real Deal, all right. And I’m absolutely sure he’s made contact with Sissy Birdwell.”


Buy Books 1 and 2 of my Wake-Robin Ridge series here:

Wake-Robin Ridge

A Boy Named Rabbit

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28 thoughts on “#ExcerptWeek Preview: #Harbinger

    • Thanks, Tess. Of course, even though this can be read as a stand-alone, it makes much more sense and has more impact if the reader knows what happened in Wake-Robin Ridge, and A Boy Named Rabbit. The journey that Mac made from his solitary existence as a lonely recluse to where he is today, combined with the journey Rabbit made out of the wilderness on his own, and into the culture shock of civilization, both factor into who they two are today. They’ve come a long, long way, and I really enjoy writing about the damaged man who needed redemption and the little, lost boy who needed a father, and how beautifully they’ve bonded. I hope you get a chance to read the series some day, and that you’ll enjoy it, if you do. 🙂


    • Thank you, Judith! Hope you get a chance to read this 3rd book of the series one day, and that you’ll enjoy it. I’m aiming for a May release date, but I confess, I’m behind on finishing up this draft. 😦 Working hard, though. Writing like a thing possessed! 😀 And thanks for reblogging!


    • Thank you, Marie! Writing about Rabbit makes me happy. He’s just a remarkable little boy, who’s always in my head, chatting to me. 😀 If you’ve read the first two books in the series, I think you’ll find this one shows a lot of growth in all of the characters: Mac, Rabbit, Sarah, and Branna. It’s been fun for me, revisiting my beloved mountains with them. 🙂 I’m aiming for a May release, but might be off a week or two. Depends on how long it takes in edit. Nice to see you here today! Have a great weekend.


    • Thanks so much, Linda! I appreciate that. Hope we get lots of excerpts from others, too, but you can bet I’ll share some more in the days ahead, as well. 🙂


    • Thanks, Thorn. It gets a LOT more shivery in places, too. This is just CH6, and I’m working on 25 right now. The black dog will definitely add a big helping of creepy, too. But Rabbit’s gentle humor and sweet nature will balance things. I hope. 😀 Yes, May is very close, and I still have to get the editing done. *sigh* I was hoping to finish the draft in 6 months, but I’m almost through month 7, due to various interruptions. So . . . as Rabbit would say . . . it is what it is. 🙂 Hope you’ll take part in Excerpt Week!


    • I’m so far behind, I feel more like a real slacker! 😦 But, I do the best I can. And I’m with you. No way in the world I’d EVER knowingly read a book from the middle of a series, or out of order. It would ruin the earlier books for me to know what happened because I’ve already ready past that part. So call me compulsive, too, at least where my reading is concerned. 🙂 Glad you liked the bit. If I post more excerpts, I’ll post them from earlier books, because I don’t want to give away too much about this one. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dammit woman! You’re no slacker – you’re popping them out so fast I can’t keep up with reading them, and I really want to!
        And I’ve reblogged to my site too 😀
        I will be joining excerpt week in a slightly different format from usual, with my re-worked blurb for The Prince’s Son.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha! I love it!! I’m just not meeting the deadlines I set for myself, but then again, they were pretty crazy. 😀 In fact, I’m thinking I should send Jim Butcher my ideas on deadlines and see if I can speed him up with the next Dresden File book! Hahaha. (As IF my books are anywhere near as involved, LONG, and utterly wonderful as The Dresden Files!) I’ve already visited your reblog, btw, and invited your fellow writers to participate, too, if they like. THANKS! And your new blurb will be SUPER. Looking forward to that.

          Liked by 1 person

              • It’s a brave new world: content writing for websites.
                I’m only writing about dressage horse training, and I’m fortunate to be considered an authority on the subject, but the explosion of sites in the last few years has gifted me with a much faster way of earning from writing than either my non-fiction books or writing in magazines (payment on publication), both of which I still do, I just have to wait for the money.
                There are plenty of websites out there that do pay for content, the thing is to find a subject you’re interested in writing about!

                Liked by 1 person

                • Now THAT is majorly cool. I’ve had my head in a bucket for the last couple of years, I think. I could see myself doing something like that, if the subject were things I know a good bit about, like wildlife in central Florida, especially birds or reptiles. I wonder …. *thinking, thinking* ………. 😀


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