#ExcerptWeek – The Spy and the Lady – a Five Kingdoms short story by @DeborahJay2 #EpicFantasy

THE FIVE KINGDOMS epic fantasy series (think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings) has a new entry!

To fill in some of the gap between books 1 and 2, THE PRINCE’S MAN and THE PRINCE’S SON, I have embarked on a series of short stories that I am giving away FREE to my mailing list subscribers.

THE SPY AND THE LADY is now available.

Ex-spy, Rustam Chalice, never could resist a lady in peril, and this one’s up to her pretty eyelashes.

Getting into the outlaws’ camp isn’t so tricky, but how come the rogues don’t seem that motivated by promise of a rich ransom? And why does the lady not appear enthusiastic about escaping?


“Unhand the lady, you ruffians!”

Was that pompous enough? Exiled spy, Rustam Chalice, slipped into the role of arrogant nobleman with the ease of donning a cloak. When he’d ridden into the forest clearing, he’d had nothing more on his mind than reaching a lower altitude before nightfall. Crossing paths with the motley group of armed men and their captive–a statuesque beauty—was sheer bad timing.

Or was it?

Perhaps the goddess hasn’t finished meddling with my life yet.

Rustam and the outlaws studied each other warily. On foot, the eight men presented a limited threat. Even so, Rustam’s pulse raced. The boredom of days of aimless wandering vanished in a heartbeat, and excitement zipped along his nerves for the first time since he’d been forced to abandon his old life.

A rescue attempt also promised a diversion to take his mind off a certain lady he would probably never see again.

Weapons drawn, several of the men edged toward Rustam. He flourished his sword randomly as discouragement. The magnificent black mare beneath him sidled away from the swishing weapon, and Rustam reassured her with a light touch of his hand. “Easy, Nightstalker,” he murmured. “I haven’t lost my mind, I promise.”

Two men slipped away between the straight pine trunks that rose to majestic heights above the mountainside. Another man grabbed the prisoner by one arm, as though he feared she might try to escape. Quite where he thought she would go, on foot, leagues from anywhere—not to mention the question of what she was doing here in the first place—puzzled Rustam.

One of the bandits, a particularly skinny specimen, stepped in front of the others. “And why should we do that?” he asked.

“I’ll run you through if you don’t, that’s why,” Rustam declared with another wild swing of his blade. “Your weapons are puny, and I am an expert swordsman.”

Rustam winced at his ridiculous claim, but he wanted a moment to think. He could ride away now, follow the group at a safe distance and take time to plan a rescue. Probably the sensible thing to do. But now the outlaws were aware of his presence, they would be on guard, making such an approach trickier.

Working from the inside—now that was more his style.

Nightstalker jigged nervously and bunched her hindquarters, readying a vicious kick intended to maim the two men creeping up behind her. Choice made, Rustam reined her to one side, breaking her concentration. The battle-trained mare’s hooves could be deadly from many directions, and Rustam didn’t want to anger the bandits by dispatching any of them. He wanted to get captured, not killed.

* * * * * *

If you want to read more, sign up to my (infrequent) newsletter HERE and download your FREE copy.

If you already subscribe, I will be delivering complementary copies soon.

About Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she also shares a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time. Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

Her debut novel, epic fantasy THE PRINCE’S MAN, won a UK Arts Board award and was an Amazon Top 100 Hot New Release.

You can also stalk her at:






Amazon author page: http://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay




#ExcerptWeek – A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow

This morning, I’d like to welcome Judith Barrow, who is sharing an excerpt from her latest book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, which is now available for pre-order. I know you’ll enjoy this one, and will remember to share hither and yon, as you can. Thanks so much, and thanks, Judith, for taking part in #ExcerptWeek. Welcome!


Gritty family saga set in Lancashire in the 1900s and Ireland at the time of the Black and Tans.
Winifred is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother. When her friend Honora – an Irish girl, with the freedom to do as she pleases – drags Winifred along to a suffragette rally, she realises that there is more to life than the shop and her parents’ humdrum lives of work and grumbling.

Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood echoes through his early adult life and the scars linger, affecting his work, his relationships and his health. The only light in his life comes from a chance meeting with Winifred, the daughter of a Lancashire grocer. The girl he determines to make his wife.

Meeting Honora’s intelligent and silver-tongued medical student brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down and she finds herself pregnant. Bill Howarth reappears on the scene offering her a way out.



… Brought back to Bill the distant memory of the day his father died.

Wilfred Howarth had given Bill a beating that morning for not getting up when first called and had promised another when he returned home after his shift. He’d said he was getting Bill used to an early rise because the following day would be his thirteenth birthday; the day he was to follow his father down the mine as a putter. It didn’t bother Bill; he’d always known that pushing the small wagons along the metal plates through the workings to the passages where the horses could be hitched up to them was to be his lot in life.

Bill remembered hearing the thump and rush of running feet on the cobbles outside his house at the same time he heard the warning siren from the mine. He’d run with the crowd before even knowing what was happening; seeing with the strain on the faces and the hearing of the sobs and cries of the women and children around him that life in the village had changed forever.

‘What’s ’appened?’ Bill caught the arm of a woman.

‘They say there’s been a flood.’ Her eyes were wild. ‘My three lads are down there. What am I going to do? I have two more bairns to bring up. Their da’s already gone; killed in that explosion last year.’ She grabbed his sleeve before dropping to her knees.

Pulled down with her Bill looked around for somebody to help the woman but there was no one; they might as well not be there for all the notice paid to them.

He dragged her to her feet. ‘C’mon. Unless we get to the gates we’ll never know who’s safe and who’s still down there.’

The management had closed the gates. The cries of despair soon changed to shouts of anger in an effort to discover what had happened. When a grey-faced man in a suit approached the crowd the silence was instant. He held up his hand to quiet them, an unnecessary gesture, before he spoke.

‘From what we can gather there was break through to an old abandoned mine that was flooded. We know some of the men are safe—’ He waited for the cries of relief to abate. ‘But we don’t know how many yet.’

Then a huddle of men, bowed, silent and trailing a thin stream of black water behind them, appeared, walking towards the gates.

Bill knuckles grated together as the woman’s gripped his hand. And then she screamed. ‘Eddie!’ She looked at Bill and laughed; a high-pitched noise. ‘That’s Eddie, my eldest.’ Then turning she shouted, ‘Where’s your brothers.’

As the young man came closer Bill saw the white tracks cutting through the black of coal dust on his face.

‘Gone, Ma. They’re gone.’ He shook his head, bewildered. ‘There was so much water–water and thick mud. One minute we were working together and then all this water came flooding through and they were gone.’

She fainted. The manager unbolted the gates and the crowd surged around her, pouring into the yard before milling around in sudden confusion. The man’s blank gaze fastened on Bill in a blink of recognition. ‘Your da was with ‘em.’ He nodded, his voice trailing away. ‘He’s gone too…’

Bill thought his feet would never move from the spot he stood in. Then he turned, jumped over the lifeless form of the woman and ran for home, shocked by sense of release and freedom that coursed through him.

He tumbled through the doorway of the house.

‘Didn’t you hear the siren?’ He held his side against the pain of the stitch.

‘I did.’ Marion didn’t lift her head from staring into the small fire in the grate. ‘I reckon someone would tell me sooner or later what‘s happened.’ Now she did look at him, her eyes narrowed. ‘And here you are.’ She slowly moved her head up and down. ‘Here you are. You’re going to tell me he’s gone, aren’t you?’

Bill nodded, a succession of small bobs of the head. ‘Yeah. The mine—’

‘I don’t want to know. All I want you to know is that you’d better make sure you’re ready to take his place as wage earner in this house.’

It had taken months to recover some of the men’s bodies. But never Wilfred Howarth’s.


Judith Barrow, Author

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty eight years.

She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor.

She says:-
My next book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1 and the Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to cover the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK and the influenza epidemic. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Howarth/Pattern trilogy begins.

You can pre-order A Hundred Tiny Threads here:

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2hch4Vo

Reach Judith here:





#ExcerptWeek – Michaela’s Justice by Brenda Scruggs

On Sale Now MJ - Copy.jpg

Find out what happens when two strong-headed people are thrown together. One a detective, the other a US Marshal, both determined in finding the prisoner.
But, for one it was more than just capturing him, she needed answers.
Detective Michaela Kendall’s abduction at the age of fourteen left her with a burden of becoming a self-appointed protector. The brutalization of her capture left her without any memory of the horrible ordeal except for terrifying dreams of Atelic Horton, her captor. When he escapes from prison, she knows it’s her duty to capture him. Circumstances throw her together with Marshal Ray Steele, an encounter she wanted to forget but it seems he didn’t take too kindly to a gun being pointed in his face. His rough and tuff cowboy ways are known for upholding the law to any measure within the bounds of Justice.
When Michaela and Ray set out to find the prisoner they soon find out they need each other but the journey is full of twists and danger. Ray proves to be her protector on more than one occasion. Somewhere along the way Michaela sees him in a different light, that not all men were the same.
But, lurking in the shadows, Atelic watches from a distance ready to make his move.
By the look, she was giving him, Ray felt she wasn’t too fond of seeing him, “Seems you had me at a disadvantage last night since I didn’t know you were on the case.”
She huffed and pulled her gaze to his. “Now, I guess I’m at a disadvantage, since I don’t know your name.”
“Why Miss Kendall that hurts,” he said in his country drawl putting his hand to his chest as if she wounded him. “I went to great lengths finding out who you were and yet you didn’t do me the same courtesy.”
“You weren’t important. The prisoner was,” she smirked.
“I wasn’t important when you put a gun in my face.” He leaned forward slightly alerting his disapproval. “I don’t take too kindly to that,” he gritted.
She swallowed hard. “For that I’m sorry, I just thought you were the prisoner.” She paused at the man in front of her sizing him up. He was a Marshal and she would have to be careful since she wasn’t on the case. His take-charge air last night told her to tread cautiously. “Is there something I can help you with, Mr…”
“Ray Steele, US Marshal on the case,” he said with a firm look.
She looked down releasing a breath, really wishing this conversation was over, “Well, Mr. Steele, what can I help you with?”
“Why were you in the alley last night?” His eyes demanded an answer.
“Mr. Steele, I’ve been reprimanded,” she stated nonchalantly.
“And that’s it,” she said.
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say after pointing a gun in my face,” he stammered.
Michaela’s jaw fixed. “Yes.”
“Why were you there?” He asked again firmly wanting an answer. But only silence met him as her hazel eyes peered deep into his not wavering an answer. Ray released a held breath.
“So, Miss Kendall, since you were reprimanded that means I won’t see you again on this case.”
She didn’t answer. No way could she make that promise.
“Well, or do I need a moment with your boss.”
She shot a hateful glare at him. “However, you want to play it,” she said holding his glare as she stormed out of the room.
Ray stood in silence. What was it about this woman that made him curious about her?

I need five reviews. If interested, I can send over a PDF file for an honest review.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brendascruggs-author
Website: brendascruggs.wordpress.com
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B06Y22VDYT
Instagram: @brendascruggs
BUY LINK; https://www.amazon.com/Michaelas-Justice-Brenda-Scruggs/dp/1544134495/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501503756&sr=8-1&keywords=michaela%27s+justice+by+brenda+scruggs


#ExcerptWeek – The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella by Marcia Meara

The Archangel Michael (apparently) Throwing Lucifer Out of Heaven

Doing something different, here. Decided to share a rough draft of a scene from my current WIP, The Emissary. I have no cover to show you, and no Buy Links for this, of course, so I’ll share the links for the other three books in the Riverbend series.

To set this excerpt up, you need to know that in Finding Hunter, a trucker named Gabe Angelino brought Hunter Painter home to Willow, after a six-month-long disappearance he nearly didn’t survive. Willow has always thought Gabe Angelino was a real angel. She’s wrong on that, but not TOO wrong. I don’t want to give away too much, but the following scene between Jake (Gabe’s real name) and Azrael, a very old, very powerful angel, demonstrates the kind of thing that can happen when you aren’t careful about saying no to powerful entities.


A Dark, Deserted Truck Stop
Halfway between Here and There 

AZRAEL’S EYES FLAMED a furious blue. In one blink, he disappeared from the cab’s passenger seat, reappeared by the driver’s door, and ripped it right off the truck, flinging it to the pavement. Before Jake could get his mind around that little trick, Azrael snatched him out of his seat, and hurled him across the empty parking lot with so much force, he might well have continued traveling a half mile or more, had it not been for slamming into the trunk of an enormous oak. Hard.

This was a learning experience of the eye-opening kind, except for the fact that his eyes were squeezed tight in response to fear, shock, and excruciating, back-meeting-tree-trunk pain. Perhaps he couldn’t be killed outright—he was a bit cloudy on that issue, in spite of earlier reassurances—but clearly, breathtaking agony was still on the table.

He’d had no idea Azrael possessed that kind of power. Yeah, he knew the angel was very old—possibly an archangel—but they were careful not to reveal too much about themselves, certainly not to those being recruited to help them on a more or less trial basis. The ferocious strength Azrael had just displayed left Jake stunned. Shaken to his core.

Still groaning from the brutal pain in his back, he slumped to the ground at the base of the tree, desperate to catch his breath. He blinked away the red haze clouding his vision, only to wish he hadn’t. Azrael strode toward him, looming larger and more ominous with each long step. Somehow, the angel had acquired a colossal, glowing sword, which he brandished overhead, and his heretofore pale blonde hair floated this way and that around his face, blindingly bright, and looking far too much like flames for comfort.

With a thunderous roar that shook the very ground beneath them, Azrael’s voice shattered the silent darkness. “You quit? You quit? You cannot quit, you ungrateful idiot! You have been accepted into a cadre of potential emissaries. There is no such thing as quitting!”

Apparently, angels of Azrael’s rank came with built-in loudspeakers featuring a volume capacity rock stars would weep to possess. Jake clapped his hands over his ears, praying he wouldn’t feel blood seeping between his fingers.

It was all he could do not to curl into a fetal position with his arms crossed over his head, the better to await the smiting that was surely on the way. Not that he was exactly certain what-all smiting might entail, but it was bound to be a painful way to die. Again.


JAKE’S FIRST DEATH—which he had really hoped would be his last—hadn’t been easy. Maybe no death ever was, but drowning had been a cold, terrifying experience. At least he’d had the satisfaction of knowing the woman he’d jumped in to save had been pulled from his arms and into a boat, even as he slipped below the surface, and drifted down to the silty bottom of the river. The last thought passing through his mind as his world went black around him was his fervent hope she wouldn’t waste a single day he’d bought her.

The next time Jake had opened his eyes, he’d discovered to his utter astonishment that he wasn’t dead anymore. At least, that’s what he’d thought at the time. Instead, he rested on a warm, comfortable, and gloriously dry bed in the hushed stillness of a room painted the soft purple-gray of an early evening sky. Looking back on it afterward, he wondered if perhaps it had really been the sky he’d seen around him, and not walls at all. But at the time, he assumed he was in a hospital room, having been rescued from the ice-cold depths of the murky river just in the nick of time.

If only.


Marcia Meara, Author
(For Those New to The Write Stuff, This is Me,
And My Bio is Below)

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, two big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Three and a half years and six novels later, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!

Riverbend Series


Marcia has published seven books to date, all of which are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format: 

Wake-Robin Ridge
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3
Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Marcia’s Amazon Author Page

You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:

The Write Stuff : https://marciamearawrites.com/
Bookin’ It: http://marciameara.wordpress.com
Twitter: @marciameara
Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/

To keep up with the latest news and giveaways, sign up for Marcia’s Mail List here:https://marciamearawrites.com/mail-list-win-free-stuff/



#ExcerptWeek – Words We Carry by D. G. Kaye


Thanks for your generous invitation to share an excerpt of our books here on your blog Marcia. This excerpt is from my nonfiction-self-help book, Words We Carry – Essays of Obsession and Self-Esteem.

Book Blurb

“I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?

D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.

Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.


Words We Carry – Excerpt

It’s a fact that negativity underlies our fears, and our guilt can play a big part in lowering our self-esteem. All of these traits connect with our levels of confidence, our strength of character, and our wellbeing. When we’re constantly berated and not placing ourselves in positive circumstances, our energies are drained, which can hinder our ability to maintain a positive outlook on life.

Our fears can cripple us, holding us back from living our lives to the fullest. If we can take a moment to assess the things in our lives that aren’t fulfilling us, and acknowledge what we feel is holding us back from what we wish to attain, we can begin to do some damage control. But if we choose to live our lives in the same unhappy patterns we’ve grown accustomed to without bothering to figure out the root cause of our problems, those problems become nearly impossible to overcome.

Sometimes facing our demons is hard, but that’s the only way we can grow and become stronger. If we choose to remain complacent in our unhappiness, we become trapped there, and many people’s lives remain stagnant because they fail to recognize why they’re unsatisfied. It’s all about taking the time to stop and listen, paying attention to the things that bother us instead of surrendering to them. If we can learn to take charge of ourselves and dig deep within to confront our fears and the injustices we face, we’ve made a great start, and we can then begin taking action to resolve our issues. We have to make a positive out of the negatives in order to become happy and emit our positivity, attracting similarly positive people into our lives.

Many women tend to surround themselves with negative people, resulting in damaging effects to their state of mind. We not only have the ability to inflict our own negativities, we sometimes find ourselves existing in negative surroundings because of the people we allow into our lives.

Take our moods, for example. Have you been in a great mood but found yourself in a conversation with someone who complained about everything, unable to show any happiness for any of the good things you share with them about your life? This type of negative force sucks out our enthusiasm like a leech.

This negative power can also linger from childhood. As children, we experience negative forces from incidents such as being reprimanded by a parent. In those moments when a parent is disciplining us, we immediately recoil and begin to feel inadequate about ourselves. If our actions are not explained to us with kindness, we’re inclined to shrivel back in fear, a fear created by the negative approach used to rectify our wrongdoing. Incidents such as these are the beginnings of allowing negativity to steer our emotions.

The critics, naysayers, and unhappy people we allow into our lives have the ability to drain our good energy, leaving us feeling unoptimistic, as though they have let the air out of our enthusiasm. The influence of negativity becomes the barometer for our moods. People who constantly live under this umbrella of negativity get so used to it that they may not even realize where their happiness has gone. They’ve simply adjusted to living that way.


D. G. Kaye,  Author

D.G. Kaye is a Canadian nonfiction/ memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She writes to inspire others by sharing her stories about events she’s encountered, and the lessons that came along with them. D.G. loves to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find D.G. writing with humor in some of her other works and blog posts.

Buy D. G.’s books here:

Words We Carry
Conflicted Hearts
MenoWhat? A Memoir
P. S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy
Have Bags, Will Travel

Reach D. G. Here:

My Website
Author Page
About me

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/@pokercubster  (Yes, there’s a story)


The Call of the Woof, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mystery, #ExcerptWeek

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m playing catch-up this week after traveling last week, so I need to go back and read everyone else’s excerpts. The few I’ve read so far were really great.

Here’s mine from my newest release, Book 3 in the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, about a woman who trains service dogs (Buddy is her mentor dog) for combat veterans with PTSD and other “invisible injuries.” In this book, the veteran, Jake Black suffers from traumatic brain injury. He and his wife have been accused of robbery because the culprits were seen leaving the scene of the crime on motorcycles that look like the Blacks’ bikes.

First the synopsis and then an excerpt from Chapter Three, when the police come to search the house and garage.



Army veteran Jake Black has a new lease on life, thanks to service dog Felix and his trainer, Marcia Banks. Despite a traumatic brain injury, Jake’s able to ride his beloved motorcycle again, with Felix in the sidecar. But his freedom to hit the open road is threatened once more when he and his wife are accused of robbery.

Called in to dog-sit, Marcia can’t sit idly by. She and her mentor dog, Buddy, set out to clear the Blacks’ name, fighting misconceptions about bikers and the nature of TBI along the way. When murder is added to the mix, Marcia redoubles her efforts, despite anonymous threats and her sheriff boyfriend’s strenuous objections, both to her putting herself at risk… and to dragging him along on her wild ride.

Chapter Three:

Jake had a hand on Felix’s head, listing subtly in the dog’s direction. Jake was a big guy, but Felix was a big dog. His face and body were all Bulldog but his legs were longer, probably from some distant Labrador, or maybe a Weimaraner, in his family tree. He came up to Jake’s knee and had been trained to brace himself to take some of his master’s weight.

Most likely only Janey and I knew that Jake was using the dog to maintain his balance, which would have been a lot easier if the dog were wearing his specialized service vest with its stabilizer bar for Jake to grab.

I considered going inside to find the vest, but Jake’s body language had me worried.

His broad face was as red as I’d ever seen it. I was afraid he was about to have one of the “meltdowns” he’d told me about but I’d never witnessed. Anger control problems are common for people with traumatic brain injury.

The worry in Janey’s pale blue eyes said she had the same concern. Shoving shoulder-length blonde hair, frizzy from the humidity, behind her ears, she placed a restraining hand on her husband’s arm.

Jake shrugged her off. Not a good sign.

He snarled in the face of a dark-haired detective in an ill-fitting business suit. “I don’t care how many pieces of paper you got from some judge. How dare you come in here like a bunch of storm troopers…” He spluttered to a stop as Janey once again tugged on the arm that wasn’t using Felix for support.

He whirled on her—an even worse sign—and teetered dangerously on one foot.

Felix quickly shifted position and braced himself by spreading his legs. Once Jake seemed more stable on his feet, Felix leaned gently against his leg.

The maneuver, a type of deep pressure therapy, was meant to reduce anxiety, but it did little for Jake’s anger.

The firm look in Janey’s eyes did have an effect though. Jake froze, then took a deep breath.
“Come on inside,” she said softly. “Let Detective Wright and his men do their jobs.”

He patted her hand, just as the detective gestured to two deputies that they should head for the garage.

Jake pulled loose from his wife and followed as fast as he could, Felix keeping pace beside him. Detective Wright took off after him.

I followed in their wake, trying to decide whether I should report on the broken window in front of the officers or wait.

At the double-wide garage door, the detective gestured toward the big padlock and hasp on one side. “Unlock it.”

Obviously reluctant, Jake produced a ring of keys and removed the padlock, then unlocked a lock in the middle of the roll-up door. The thunk of metal bars releasing inside.

One of the deputies grabbed the bottom of the door and shoved it up, exposing the Blacks’ three motorcycles and the spotlessly clean workshop area.

A deputy began snapping pictures. “Bring in the trailer,” Detective Wright said to another one.

Janey had caught up with us, huffing a little from the extra weight middle age had bestowed upon her. Her peaches-and-cream complexion paled to ghost white at the detective’s words.

“Wha’?” Jake said, a bit slower to catch on to what was about to happen.

“We’re impounding the bikes.” Detective Wright waved impatiently at one of the deputies in the driveway.

Jake’s fists clenched. I could hear his teeth grinding from three feet away.

Both Janey and I jumped forward and grabbed his arms. Slugging a cop would not improve the situation.

Meanwhile, the detective was walking away, acting as if he hadn’t been about to get flattened by a six-two, two-hundred-forty-pound combat vet. He crouched down beside one of the bikes, the black one. Then he gestured to the deputy with the camera and pointed to the side of the bike.

Jake moved forward, dragging us with him.

My eyes followed the detective’s pointing finger to the rounded side of the gas tank, and a ragged long scratch in the black paint.

Jake’s mouth fell open. “No!” he yelled.

I gestured toward the broken window. “Maybe whatever broke the window hit it.”

Everybody’s gaze turned to me, then to the window.

“When did that happen?” Janey said, a touch of wonder in her voice that some rock would dare to penetrate her husband’s sanctum.

“Just before you all got here,” I said. “I checked the outside of the garage earlier and that window was fine. Then Felix started barking and I came out and checked again and…”

The detective was glaring at me. “And you are?”

I gulped a little. “Marcia Banks, dog- and house-sitter.” I told him what little more I knew, including about the guy getting into a white pickup, who might or might not have been hanging around the garage when I arrived.

He was a stony-faced audience but he did let me finish. And he did check the scratches around the lock on the side door, even had the deputy take pictures of them.

All this gave Jake time to calm down. That is until they began to load two of the motorcycles into the large trailer they’d backed into the driveway.

Again Janey and I grabbed his arms. “Let them take them,” she hissed in his ear. “We’ve got no choice.”

He let us hold him back while they loaded Janey’s red three-wheeled bike—she said it was called a trike. I realized that indeed we were only holding him with his permission when he suddenly shook us loose like we were an old shirt he was shedding. “Wait!” He stepped forward.

Felix was beside him in a flash.

I indulged in a moment of maternal pride. That’s my boy, doin’ his job!

Jake was pointing to the black leather bag on the side of his black bike, which was halfway up the ramp. “That’s not my saddlebag.”

The detective held up a hand and the two deputies who’d been rolling the bike up the ramp between them stopped.

Jake walked around the ramp to the other side, Felix practically glued to his jeans leg. “This one too. They’re not my bags.”

The detective stepped forward and made a show of examining the bag on our side. Then he snapped on blue latex gloves, like those the deputies handling the bike were wearing. He leaned forward, tentatively touched the end of what looked like scrape marks in the leather.

He held his finger up close to his face, rubbed it and his thumb together. A few grains of sand caught the sunlight as they drifted to the pavement.

He gestured to a third deputy. “Put a bag around all that.” He pointed to the saddlebag. “We need to analyze the sand.”

Now that he mentioned it, I could see some tawny grains embedded in the leather.

“That’s not my bag,” Jake said emphatically. “Janey get the photo from the living room.”

I knew which one he meant. I’d noticed three photos earlier, front and center on the mantel. Their wedding picture had caught my eye first, with Janey standing tall and proud, forty pounds lighter and drop-dead gorgeous. On the right of it was their daughter, Andrea, smiling and holding a high-school diploma, and on the left, Jake, fifteen years younger and grinning like a kid on Christmas as he stood next to a shiny black bike.

This bike in front of us.

Janey took off at a trot for the house. She was well padded, but she could move pretty fast when motivated.

Buddy and I should have followed. This really wasn’t my business. But I didn’t move.

Curiosity killed the cat. My mother’s voice in my head.

She had a point. My curiosity…okay, my nosiness, had gotten me into trouble more than once. I figured that if I were that proverbial cat, I had about four of my nine lives left.

Janey returned with the photo.

Jake grabbed it and stuck it under the detective’s nose, then threatened to take out said nose by jabbing at the picture with a large index finger. “There! Those are my bags.”

I craned to see but couldn’t make out more than a blur of black and tan, and the younger Jake’s big grin. My throat closed. Life hadn’t treated him all that well since then.

The detective looked at the picture and then at Jake. “Side bags can be changed.”

Then he broke Jake’s heart and endangered his own life by confiscating the photo.


Kassandra Lamb head shot

Writing and psychology have always vied for first place on Kassandra Lamb’s Greatest Passions list. In her youth, she had to decide between writing and paying the bills. Partial to electricity and food, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The magic portal to this universe (i.e., her computer) is located in Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, The Kate on Vacation novellas, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, about a service dog trainer and her mentor dog, plus a guidebook for novice writers, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book.

Kass’s e-mail is lambkassandra3@gmail.com and she loves hearing from readers! She’s also on Facebook and hangs out some on Twitter @KassandraLamb. She blogs about psychological topics and other random things at http://misteriopress.com.

#ExcerptWeek – Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind by Darlene Foster

Here is an excerpt from the sixth book in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind soon to be released.


Amanda stood in front of a door the map showed as the Santos Display Room.

“What’s in here?”

Along with Caleb and a couple of other students, she entered the dimly lit room containing glass cabinets filled with pictures and statues of various saints. A sign explained how the families in Spanish America always kept a shrine to a saint in their homes. The shrine often held Milagros, tiny silver shapes attached to statues of the saints. There were legs for people who couldn’t walk, eyes for those who had bad eyesight and animal figures to wish a farmer a productive year with his flock. Amanda was fascinated as she peered carefully through the glass at the small objects stuck on the figures.

She looked up and gasped. At the end of the narrow room stood a life-sized skeleton of a woman riding in a wooden cart. Amanda, heart beating, crept closer to the scary figure wearing a scraggly white wig and a long dark robe. She carried a scythe in one hand and a globe in the other. On the wall beside the figure, a plaque told of Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death, or Santa Muerte. During the Holy Week procession at Easter time, this female Grim Reaper was rolled out in her death cart and transported through the town. Parents would point her out and tell the children if they did not behave, Doña Sebastiana would come for them.

Amanda gulped and peered more closely at the horrible figure. She couldn’t understand why parents would want to scare their children like that. Imagine the nightmares!

Just then, everything went black. Something brushed Amanda’s shoulder. She froze.

“Caleb,” she whispered. “Is that you?”

There was no answer.

A cold breeze passed over her.


To watch the trailer for Amanda in New Mexico -Ghosts in the Wind click here

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several fellow creative students. She shares a room with Cleo, an anxious classmate who insists she sees ghosts. Determined to prove there is no such thing, Amanda can’t seem to shake the feeling that something or someone is watching her.

Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit a rugged and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past.

Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere she goes?


Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true. It’s no surprise that she’s now an award-winning author of children’s adventure books. She divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, in Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Reach Darlene on Social Media Here:
Amazon Author Page


#ExcerptWeek – Chicken Shift by D. Avery


Poet D. Avery is sharing two of her poems with us this week, and I’ve decided to start with this one, from her collection, Chicken Shift. Poem #2 will be along later in the week.  I know you will all enjoy this one, and will share it far and wide!


When Comes the Time

When comes the time, a road’s the place
The destiny some hens embrace
Chickens rise and leave the nest
To make their dreams manifest.
Their sojourn can’t end unless it begins
So they head out to look within
Pilgrims of regenerate faith
These chickens cross, they go with grace
They cross a road, they pass that test
Continue on their illimitable quest
Till comes the time when they stop, content
They know themselves and where they went.


D. Avery (196?-20??) has long been a compulsive poet. Despite a very important day job educating public school children, she is often distracted by this compulsion, as well as by life’s great questions, such as “Kayak, or bike?” Though she has come to realize that nothing difficult is ever easy, she believes that it’s all good.

Buy Chicken Shift Here:

On Amazon:  Chicken Shift
On Lulu: Chicken Shift

Reach D. Avery Here:

Twitter: ‪‪@daveryshiftn



#ExcerptWeek – Free, a Novella by Felicia Denise

Our next guest on #ExcerptWeek is Felicia Denise, who has asked me to share this excerpt with you. Welcome, Felicia, and thanks for taking part. I know everyone will enjoy reading this, and then sharing t far and wide!



Lenore “Lennie” Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.
The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.
The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.

With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved on from.

Free, a Novella is a short, clean read recounting one woman’s determination to not be broken by life or lose her identity.


Anyone who knew Burt and Linda Kelimore knew they were devoted to each other. More than half a century had passed since the day they each ran into a mechanic’s shop in need of quick repairs. Though they were both on their way to meet other people, a thirty-minute conversation changed their plans for the evening and the rest of their lives.

With their time together dwindling away, the couple did what they had always done… shared each other’s company.

Linda set Burt’s plate aside, and Lennie gathered up the dishes and excused herself.

While putting the food away and loading the dishwasher, Lennie was surprised to see her mother enter the kitchen.

“Everything okay, mo-”

“Yes, yes, sweetie. Leave all this. I’ll get to it later. You can head on home now.”

“Mom, no way do I leave a mess for you to clean up.”

Lennie reached for another dish but Linda caught her hand and held on.

“It’s okay, Lenore. You can go now.”


Linda pulled her daughter into a tight embrace, speaking into her ear barely above a whisper.

“I know. His hospice nurse was here earlier and is returning soon. I talked to your sisters before you got here… and they each spoke to your father.” She pulled back, a pleading look in her eyes.

“I’ve never asked you for anything, honey and I know this is no small thing I’m asking of you now. But… I need this time with him alone. Right now, I’m no one’s mother or grandmother. Lennie, right now, I’m just a wife who has to say goodbye to her husband. Please don’t be angry with me or hate me, but I need to do it alone.”

Hugging her mother close, Lenore allowed the weight of her words to sink in. She did not want to leave. Her father was dying, how could she walk away?

Seeing the pain in Linda’s eyes, Lenore knew she would deny her nothing.

With a simple nod, Lennie returned to the den to say goodbye to her father… just as she did every night.

After a quick kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of his hand, Lennie told Burt she’d see him tomorrow, and turned to leave before she broke down. But her father held on to her hand with a strength Lennie didn’t think he still possessed. Lennie looked from their joined hands to her father’s face when he spoke.

“Very proud… of you, Lenore. Always… have… been. You help everyone… always.”

The weakness of his voice and the shortness of his breath caused Lennie to cringe. She wanted her father to stop talking, to save his strength. But, her own voice was lost to her, blocked by a lump in her throat which refused to move.

“I love you… baby girl.” He kissed her hand and slumped back in his chair, his energy depleted.

“I love you too, daddy.”

Lennie squeezed his hand one last time and rested it across his lap. With one simple nod to her mother, Lennie left the room, her calm belying the anguish ripping her apart inside. She wanted to scream, cry… stop the clock… make him stay.

With her bags in hand, Lenore Porter stood at the front door. Dizziness and nausea rejoined the inner turmoil threatening to break her. She had to leave… knowing she would never see her father alive again.

Instead of reaching for the door knob, Lennie took several steps backward until she could see inside the den.

Linda Kelimore had reclined her husband’s chair and climbed in next to him, cuddled into his side with her hand resting on his chest.

This is what her parents wanted… what they had planned. To spend their remaining time together… together as the couple they had been for fifty years.

With more determination than she felt, Lennie left the house, closing the door quietly behind her.

Author Felicia Denise

A wife, mother, daughter, sister, blogger… and self-published author, Felicia loves all things book-related and coffee-related. A southern girl by birth, the fifty-something, voracious reader now resides in Arizona (via Michigan and California) with her husband of thirty-three years. Their three adult children also reside in Arizona—with their dogs. Felicia frequently reminds them she is the only one of her parents’ nine children who isn’t a grandparent.

Writing has been a hobby of Felicia’s since grade school, but other than serving as editor and writing for her high school newspaper, she never publicly shared anything until the early 2000s when she began writing fan fiction. At the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published book, In the Best Interest of the Child. It was released in the fall of 2016.

In her free time, Felicia sews, creates new recipes, reads, and of course, writes. She’s also an avid history buff and loves exploring museums and libraries.

Currently working on several projects, Felicia plans to release book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child – Family Matters, in summer 2017.

Buy Free, a Novella Here:

Amazon US 
Amazon UK 
Amazon CA 
Amazon AU 

Reach Felicia Here:

Author Website
Blog (Nesie’s Place)
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Bookbub Author Page
Monthly Newsletter

#ExcerptWeek – The Siren and Other Strange Tales by Sheila Williams

the sirencover

THE SIREN AND OTHER STRANGE TALES is a collection of six short stories spanning the twentieth century and each one has a spooky twist.

  • Double-dealing care assistant Mandy Robinson meets a mysterious cat. The cat knows when death approaches but does Mandy?
  • On a lonely road in France, self-absorbed artist Gavin is given some ghostly marriage guidance.
  • A holiday in France proves to be one life-lesson too far for rebellious teenager Sukie.
  • In German-occupied France collaborator Jean Fourrier pays the price for his betrayal.
  • A simple game of cards between four respectable middle-aged ladies. Nothing could be more natural…could it?
  • A stranger comes to a remote seaside village in the middle of winter. What haunts him? Is it grief or guilt…?


Extract From ‘The Siren’ a story set in England in 1903

“Haldane stooped to pick up a handful of the wet muddy sand that sucked at his boots with every step taken. He sat on one of the huge boulders that formed part of the outcrop remembering other times, other beaches where he had worked laboriously, delicately chipping away at a fossil. That was when he had met Sophie. He was working on a large ammonite when he became aware of being observed and of a voice behind him explaining what he was doing. Slightly exasperated by the interruption he had stopped working and, with hasty words on his lips swivelled round to face his unwanted audience; father and daughter, a dainty fairy-like creature whose sweet expression captivated his heart, so long immune to feminine charms.

Introductions were made. Sophie’s father posed intelligent questions to which he had provided explanations and it had not mattered to him that she took scant interest, wrinkling her brow as she struggled to follow his words. He knew that women had not the same intellectual capacity as men. It was against their nature and particularly in one so young and beautiful.

All that summer invitations were exchanged, followed by visits and by his return for the Michaelmas term at the University he was in thrall to Sophie. Their marriage followed and despite the shock and, for some, the amusement, of his colleagues who considered him a confirmed bachelor, he knew he would be able to mould her into a conformable wife.

But no. The disparity in age, upbringing and education defeated him. She was delighted with all the attractions that London offered. She charmed his colleagues and students. She held little soirées beguiling the company with her singing for she had a light melodious voice. But he never succeeded in making her the wife he desired. His older colleagues shook their heads and whispered behind their hands.

Haldane resumed his walk. He had not taken many steps when he heard singing, light, fluting, a lilting breath on the wind. He trembled. His voice cracked as he called out.

‘Sophie, Sophie is that you my darling? Where are you?’

He broke into a stumbling run, heart pounding as the breath was torn from his body. He stopped abruptly, listening again. ‘Sophie my dearest, where are you? I have to see you…to tell you how much I love you…that I forgive you.’


‘Sophie.’ He gave a cry of anguish.

The singing drew him onwards across the sands. As he ran, a damp cold mist swirled around him, slicking his face. He tripped and fell to his knees – the sweet singing loud in his ears. At that moment, there was nothing else – the beach, the cliffs, indeed the whole world around him disappeared into the mist as he came under the spell of that enchanting voice. He tried to rise to his feet but it was as if his limbs were entwined by a hundred silken threads, pulling him under the sand.”

The Siren and Other Strange Tales is available as an e-book from Amazon: Amzn.to/2qhDTYf

About the Author


Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed.

Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. This included learning a language that no-one ever speaks and making complex calculations of no perceivable value.

Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means first of marriage and then partnered before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.

Always fascinated by these humans amongst whom she dwells, she has developed an interest in psychology, magic, the supernatural, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her.

In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artefacts can be uncovered.

She lives without the box of sound and pictures known locally as television and hence her already limited social skills are further curtailed not having a clue who came dancing with whom or who had talent…or not. She does however have access to something called DVDs and hibernates over winter with a large stack of them. When spring arrives she may be found cherishing the plants in her garden, whistling with the birds and holding deep meaningful conversations with the resident toad who, one day, she hopes may turn into her prince and keep her in the manner to which she would like to become accustomed

Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.

Links to Sheila:

e-mail: Sheila@writeonthebeach.co.uk

blog: https://writeonthebeach.wordpress.com/

website: http://www.sheilawilliams.net/

twitter: https://twitter.com/SheilawWilliams

f’book: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Sheila-Williams-152163451629149/

Amazon author page: