Time for a quick catch-up, since I’ve nothing scheduled for today, but do have a few things I’d like to mention. Here goes!
Just a quick reminder that this week, my blog break day is Friday, so while I might check my email to see if there are urgent things awaiting me, I really won’t be around much too much.
Just want to remind you again that I’m ready to start scheduling #GuestDayTuesday guest posts for those of you who have something writing-related you’d like to share. I’m flexible on content for this one. Could be a new release or a cover reveal. Could be part of an upcoming blog tour. Could be you’d like to promote one of your books via your blurb and an excerpt. And it could also be something you’d just like to share about the process of writing and publishing. As always, I’ll include your bio, photo, cover, and all Buy Links and Social Media Links, so you’ll get some exposure that way, as well. For complete info, check General Blog Rules and Various Feature Instructions
THE OTHER THING
Another blog feature I plan to resurrect in the weeks ahead is “Excerpt Week,” wherein you are invited to share a favorite excerpt from one of your books, along with all of the Usual Stuff to promote the book. I will, of necessity, limit the number of posts per day to two, so there will only be 14 spots booked for the week. But if it’s as much fun as it used to be, I will schedule it more often. And to get you in the mood, here’s an excerpt from my 3rd Wake-Robin Ridge book, Harbinger, which deals with the legend of the Black Dog as a harbinger of death. Happy reading!
Early June, 1994
North Carolina Mountains
With a loud whoosh, the doors pulled closed on the big, yellow bus, and it rumbled down the old, two-lane highway, leaving the shrieks and laughter of the last few kids hanging in the muggy air. Sissy Birdwell stood on the dusty berm, waving goodbye to friends she wouldn’t see again until the fall, and watched the bus disappear around the curve.
Reluctant to start the mile-long hike up the narrow, red clay road toward her home, she kicked aimlessly at some pebbles and twigs. Part of her was happy her mother had finally agreed she was old enough to walk home alone. After all, she was eight years old now, and certainly able to find her way to their house, which waited at the very end of the steep track. Another part of her shivered at the thought of the lonely, winding road ahead, which curved higher and higher through the thick woods, until it reached their clearing near the top of the ridge.
She would never tell her mama this, but the dark beneath the trees scared her. She was afraid of bears. And coyotes. And snakes. And lots of other things that might want to share the road with her on an early June afternoon. But nobody in the whole Birdwell family would understand that, not even the women. They’d been part of these mountains forever, and she was sure nothing scared them at all.
Of course, she could wait around for the second bus, then walk home with her brother—but that would be like admitting she was still a baby. No way she’d do that. So she squared her shoulders, and trudged up the drive toward home, refusing to look at the dusty trees and bushes that crowded close on either side. Instead, she pictured the litter of tiny pups their hound had presented them with last week, and tried to guess if any might have opened their eyes today.
Thinking about cuddling those precious babies with their sweet puppy breath warm on her face made Sissy walk a bit faster, kicking up puffs of reddish dust from the dirt road. As she rounded the first broad curve, she saw a lone figure coming toward her. Even from a distance, the way the sun glinted on his coppery hair told her it was Cadey Hagen, the son of their nearest neighbor, but what he was doing on their drive, she wasn’t sure. The Hagen cabin was a good ways down the eastern slope of the ridge.
“Hey, Sissy. You just gettin’ home from school?”
“Hey, Cadey. Yeah. Sorry you missed the last day party.”
He snorted. “Who needs them ol’ cupcakes, anyway? ‘specially if you gotta eat ‘em in a room full of stupid little kids.”
“Wasn’t all little kids. All the grades were there, an’ the cupcakes were pretty good, too. Why’d you skip it?”
He scowled, kicking at the dirt in disgust. “Didn’t skip it. Ol’ Lady Bratton suspended me for the last three days, just cuz she found me smokin’ behind the washroom.”
“Oh. Didn’t know you got suspended. I heard you were in trouble, though. Only I heard it was because you had you a knife at school, and then you smart-mouthed Miz Bratton when she caught you.”
“Well, she deserved it, dang ol’ biddy. Was only an ol’ Buck knife. Everybody carries ‘em. It don’t matter none to me, though. She’s the one gonna be sorry.”
Sissy wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but she’d heard the bigger kids say Cadey was a boy you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of, so she kept quiet.
Oh, he looked innocent enough, with his gap-toothed grin, freckled face, and jug ears poking out from under a thatch of hair that was more red than blond. He reminded Sissy of Opie Taylor, from the television reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, except older. Maybe twelve. She didn’t really believe he’d hurt anyone. Still, something told her not to ask any questions.
They talked about school a moment or two, then Cadey made an announcement. “I got a secret. I’d tell you, but you ain’t old enough to trust with it.”
Of all the things he could have said, implying she was still a little girl was the one guaranteed to get a rise out of Sissy. “Am so old enough! Ain’t nobody can make me tell a secret, Cadey Hagen. Why’re you grinnin’ like that? I wanna know.”
“Just thinkin’. How old are you, anyway?”
“I’m eight, an’ I know how to pinkie swear, an’ everything. I ain’t gonna blab your old secret. Probably isn’t all that good, anyway.”
Now, Cadey was insulted. “Is so. Might be the best secret I ever had. You’d be pretty surprised, I bet.”
They stood, indignant, in the middle of the dirt road, hands on hips, glaring at each other, then Cadey cocked his head. “What’s your real name, anyway?”
“Cecelia Ann Birdwell. Why?”
Cadey looked her up and down. The two of them were a study in contrasts, and Sissy scowled at the boy, as he took in her long black braids, tied with red cotton bows, and her smooth, tan skin, so different from his pale, freckled complexion. Even her tip-tilted black eyes, which clearly showed the Cherokee heritage in her family, contrasted sharply with his bright blue ones. When he finished his inspection, he seemed to have come to a decision.
“Well, Cecelia Ann Birdwell, do you swear you’ll never tell? Hope to die? Lightnin’ strike you in the eye?”
She huffed out a breath. “Yes. I swear I won’t tell nobody, hope to die, an’ lightnin’ strikes, an’ all. Now what’s your big ol’ secret?”
“Come with me, then, an’ I’ll show you.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Sissy Birdwell took Cadey Hagen’s outstretched hand, followed him into the woods … and never came out again.
And there you have today’s This & That & The Other Thing
Hope you’ll start thinking about doing a #GuestDayTuesday soon,
and consider some excerpts for an upcoming #ExcerptWeek post, too.
Have a great day!