#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #Children’sAuthor #Mike Allegra

Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing an author new to The Write Stuff, Mike Allegra. Mike writes charming children’s books, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy getting to know him better. In fact, I recommend checking out Mike’s webpage later from the links below, and from there, his blog. Trust me –it’s wonderfully funny! And on that note, let’s get right to today’s post. Take away, Mike!


Thanks, for having me today, Marcia!

The Dusting Distraction

I am a children’s book writer. I am also a house husband. As a house husband, I have to do House Things like the shopping and the cooking and the bills and the cleaning and the laundry.

Lots of laundry, actually.

I’m still not certain how all that laundry materializes every day. Sometimes my son goes through two sets of pajamas in one night. Sheesh, kid, if the long sleeve jammies are too warm in the spring, just put them back in the drawer and put on the short sleeve jammies! That’s all you have to do. What you don’t do is throw the long sleeve jammies in the hamper. Wearing long sleeves for 20 minutes doesn’t make them dirty!

But I digress.

My point is, even if your house is small, the chores add up. Just when you think everything’s under control, there’s another shower to scrub or lunch to make or a whatever-it-is that needs a bit of whatevering.

In some ways, this is good for me. I’m kept busy. Idle hands are the devil’s blah blah blah. More importantly, my wife and son appreciate what I do for them.

On the other hand, chores give me a pretty dang good excuse to not write children’s books.

Writing is hard. When I’m between projects or I’ve hit a rocky patch in a story or I just can bear the thought of doing my jillionth rewrite, my attention drifts to my toilet and I soon discover a newfound sense of purpose.

How can I be expected to write, I ask myself, when that porcelain isn’t glittering?

This is a problem I think a lot of writers have who work out of the house instead of, say, in an office environment. At home there is no cleaning crew to whisk that cobweb off the ceiling. If you don’t go for the Swiffer, the web is stayin’ there. That nasty microwave in the breakroom is not someone else’s responsibility, it’s yours, because it’s your microwave and that breakroom is actually your kitchen. Home is where the heart is; it’s also where the distractions are. And that is how procrastination happens.

I think I know what you might be thinking right about now. I think it, too, sometimes: Is it really procrastination if you’re not farting around on YouTube watching baby goat videos? Is it really procrastination if you’re replacing one task with a different task? Is it really procrastination if what you’re doing instead of writing is something that really, really, really needs to get done?

Yeah, it kind of is.

Running a house is an important job. Crazy important. But writing is a job, too. And if you make a living at it like I do (or wish to make a living at it), writing also needs to be deemed very important. Time needs to be set aside for it. This isn’t easy. I’ve been writing children’s books since 2012 and I still need to remind myself that my Dyson vacuum (The best vacuum in the history of ever!) can, under specific circumstances, be just as insidious a timewaster as posting photos of toaster waffles on Instagram. 

It’s about balance. Emptying the dishwasher (or, fiiine, watching a couple of YouTube videos if you must) in the middle of your regularly scheduled writing time can be a nice palate cleanser. Breaks go a long way toward relieving some of the mental anguish of a Bad Writing Day. Just don’t let those breaks pull you away from the writing for too long. Set an alarm and jump back into the world of letters. Because if you don’t find the time to write your story, your story will never get written.

And don’t worry, a dirty toilet is patient; it’ll wait for you to finish that draft.

As for me, the last chapter of my middle grade novel is taking a lot longer than I had hoped. I need to devote more time to my writing. In other words, my boy is gonna have to learn the simple joys of going to sleep in sweatpants. That’ll teach him.


Author Mike Allegra

Mike Allegra is the author of 17 books for children including the picture books Scampers Thinks like a Scientist (Dawn, 2019), Everybody’s Favorite Book (Macmillan, 2018), and Sarah Gives Thanks (Albert Whitman and Company, 2012). He also wrote the chapter book series Kimmie Tuttle (Abdo Books, 2021) and Prince Not-So Charming (Macmillan, 2018-19; pen name: Roy L. Hinuss). Scampers was the winner of Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teacher’s Choice Award and was selected for inclusion in the Literati Kids subscription box. His story, “Harold’s Hat,” was the winner of the 2014 Highlights fiction contest and was published in the July 2015 issue.

His new picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) will hit store shelves in October 2022. You can preorder it now!

You can Pre-Order a Hard Copy of Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles HERE

A Few More of Mike’s Books to be Found on His Author Page

You can reach Mike on Social Media here:

Website
Facebook
Amazon Author Page

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #AmandaJaneRoss via #DarleneFoster

Good Morning, Everyone. I’m very happy to share a wonderful post with you today, featuring Darlene Foster’s beloved character, Amanda.  I know you are going to thoroughly enjoy the things Amanda shares with you, so let’s get right to it. Amanda, it’s your turn, now!


Hi! This is Amanda Jane Ross.
            Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Marcia. You probably already know that I love travelling to interesting places. My curiosity gets me into trouble sometimes, but I always meet interesting people and learn fascinating new things. What you maybe didn’t know is that I enjoy collecting recipes from the places I visit. I’m an only kid and my parents work a lot. So I do much of the cooking. They are happy to eat whatever I make them.
            I like to read, and I read a lot. Can you believe, I even read cookbooks? And I love visiting graveyards. My friend Leah thinks I’m a bit strange.
            Leah Anderson is my BFF and we travel together. We met in the United Arab Emirates where we had a great time. We got lost in the desert, were chased by bounty hunters and even encountered a sandstorm, but I got to ride a camel named Ali Baba which was so cool.
            Leah thinks I’m a bit too impulsive and curious. I like helping people, like the young girl we met in Spain who needed help to get her pony back from nasty horse thieves.
            Leah invited me to visit her and her parents in England, that’s where they’re from. Wowza, was that ever exciting. We visited amazing places like Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and the Isle of Wight. I loved being up close to all that history I’ve been reading about since, well – since I could read. We had to find a missing vintage novel which took us to some creepy places.
            So I invited her to visit me in Alberta. I thought it would be boring but she loved it! Go figure. We went on a cattle drive and bought cowboy boots together. The Calgary Stampede was fun and so was visiting the dinosaur museum in the Badlands. Too bad about that mean cowboy who wanted a rock I found and followed us wherever we went.
            Then, we all went on a cruise down the Danube River. I can’t believe I was able to tear Mom and Dad away from work to go on a holiday with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. We saw so many great places in Germany, Austria and Hungary and I ate tons of apple strudel. We all had a good time but I had trouble keeping that precious violin safe for the homeless musician I met. It was hard to know who I could trust at times.
            Leah didn’t come with me to New Mexico because it was a school trip. I went with a new friend from class, Cleo, who was spooked about seeing ghosts. Some weird things happened on that trip and now I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts or not.
            I was excited about going to Holland to meet Leah and her dad. We saw lots of tulips and windmills and found an abandoned puppy! Then Leah sent me a postcard from Malta. I had a funny feeling she was in trouble so I went there to help her out. Malta is a great place, you should go there sometime.  We’re going to France next. I love adventure but I promised Leah I would stay out of trouble this time.
            We’ll see.


You can buy Amanda’s latest adventure,  Amanda in France, HERE


 

Author Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. Darlene has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Reach Darlene on Social Media Here:
Website
Blog  
Facebook
Twitter
My Amazon Author Page

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #Bold&BlatantSelfPromo – #Excerpt – #TheEmissary2: To Love Somebody

See, this is what happens when you guys don’t have any news or ideas you want to share: when #GuestDayTuesday rolls around, you just might get ME as the guest! Et voila! Here I am! 

Decided to share an excerpt from my second Emissary Trilogy novella. It’s a scene I hope you’ll find amusing, even without knowing all the particulars of the story at this point.  And for those who think they’d enjoy reading more, these three novellas should definitely be read in order.

But for now, Happy Reading!

 


EXERPT:

Sitting in a Booth Where Cracked Red Vinyl Had Run Amuck,
Ordering That Too-Late Breakfast or Too-Early Lunch,
While Studiously Avoiding Each Other’s Eyes. 

“WHY DO YOU supposed diners always have red plastic seats and red Formica tables? I mean, is it like a law, or somethin’? Part of the original blueprints? Or building code?”

Jake watched Dodger drumming nervous fingers on that very Formica tabletop and knew the boy wanted to talk. He wasn’t going to push him, however. As proven once again by this morning’s events, that never worked. When he was ready, he would talk. Until then, apparently diner décor was what interested him most.

“No idea. Maybe you can research that while we’re on the road so we’ll learn what’s what before we stop at another one.”

Dodger stared out the window. “You’re bein’ condescending, you know.”

“Sorry. Just trying to help you find something to talk about.”

“Well, don’t. I don’t really wanna talk about diners or Formica or anything else like that, and you know it.”

“Yeah, I guess I do. But to be fair, you did talk about it, so I was just playing along.” Jake took a sip of his iced tea, waited a beat, then tried again. “Dodger, you don’t need to explain anything to me. I’m in your corner, no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell me every detail from your life before we met.”

Finally, Dodger’s face swung back toward Jake. “But I do—at least I do, if it’s somethin’ I need you to understand. And this is.”

“Okay, then. As long as it’s what you want, I’ll always listen. And I’ll always help if I can.”

“I know that. I think I’ve known that since that day in the hospital parking lot, when you told me you wouldn’t take me back to the crap life I was livin’ before you rescued me. And I do trust you. It’s only that I’ve never talked about stuff like this to anyone. Ever. I don’t have any idea how to start.”

“Well, before you go any further, let me say that I didn’t mean to act like there was something wrong with you. Not at all. The honest truth is, as I look back on my own life and think about what was going on with young people around me, I suspect there were way too many of them having sex before they were emotionally mature enough to take that step. But the right time and circumstances are different for everyone, and I didn’t mean to sound like I was judging you.”

Dodger appeared to be inspecting the Formica all over again while his face turned just as red, but waiting was something Jake was good at. It was a skill the boy had helped him perfect.

A few minutes crept by, then Dodger plunged in. “Don’t know if I was ready for it or not, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Not at first, anyway. I was a shrimpy little kid, and way too young to interest the girls. A couple of years later, I’d put on some weight, and must have looked better. Next thing I knew, there was some coked-up, empty-eyed girl or another backin’ me into a corner every time I turned around.” He paused, then ground out, “I hated it!”

“Okay. Do you want to tell me why?”

It took three tries before Dodger was able to answer, and Jake wasn’t surprised at the pain in the boy’s voice.

“I had this dumbass idea when I left home that I’d find someone who cared about me. Someone I’d matter to.” He looked up, eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I guess I just wanted somebody, somewhere, to love me. No one ever had, Jake, and even as messed up as I was by then, one thing I knew for damn sure—none of those girls followin’ us runners around were gonna love me, either.” He paused, then stared out the window again.

“So, you waited?”

Nodding, Dodger went on. “Yeah. I waited. And kept waiting. Not like I was holdin’ out for something permanent or anything. I just wanted it to matter. I wanted me to matter. Stupid, huh?”

“No, Dodge. Not stupid at all. Love is the one thing in the world that truly does matter, above all else. Of course you wanted it. We all do. We’re born reaching for it, and the fact that you already knew the truth of that at the age of sixteen is one more example of how special you are. Azrael was right in telling me to save your life at all costs, and right again in bringing you back. You have so much to give this world, and you’re making a real difference in the lives of others every single day. And as for someone loving you, I know this isn’t the same, but I couldn’t love you more if you were my own son.”

“Thank you for that,” Dodger whispered. “I can’t even put into words how much that means to me.” The boy stared at the Formica again, his face still forlorn.

“But?”

“But I still wish I’d managed to get laid. At least once.”


You can download The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody HERE
(But don’t forget, these 3 novellas are meant to be read in order.)


BLURB:

They’re back!

Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.

They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. You know the ones—the kid thinking about stealing from a corner market or the man planning to lie about a coworker and destroy her career. Yeah, them. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.

Of course, there are rules by which the emissaries must play, and the archangel Azrael stands ready to enforce them. First and foremost, a person’s free will must never be compromised. Emissaries are allowed to use only the smallest of mental nudges. Thankfully, a whispered suggestion here or images of a better course of action there is usually all it takes. The potential mugger walks on by. The thief drops the wallet back into the unattended purse. But whether the results are obvious or not, Jake and Dodger are fully committed to making a positive difference, even as they struggle with issues of their own.

Will Dodger get over losing his chance to learn what true love is all about? Will Jake survive the grueling angelic equivalent of Boot Camp? Will Azrael ever finish the Official Emissarial Guidebook—including the chapter titled Do Not Even Think About It?

One thing’s for sure—Jake’s and Dodger’s strengths are growing daily, as they help more and more people make better choices. But is the price for so much power higher than they’re willing to pay?


#This&That&TheOtherThing – #GuestDayTuesday – #AmWriting – #HappyEaster

Just a quick catch-up this afternoon, since I don’t think I’ll be around much this weekend. All sorts of stuff going on around here, as usual, and also as usual, I’m way behind on ALL of it. Plugging away at things, though! Honest!


THIS

Putting another call out for #GuestDayTuesday posters. If you have a new release, a cover reveal, an excerpt you’d like to share (new or old), a promo you want to share, or some interesting tidbits about writing or marketing, #GuestDayTuesday is a perfect way to go. I’m very flexible about the topic of your posts and will include your author bio and photo, book covers, links to buy your books, and social media links.  Every other Tuesday is pretty much wide open from May 3 through the end of the year. Email me and we’ll set up a date that works for you!


THAT

I have some fun (I hope) ideas in mind for some random posts in the weeks ahead, to include “Question of the Day”  and “Forgotten Words,” for two possible examples. Stay tuned for more. 


THE OTHER THING

Meanwhile, I haven’t forgotten that I promised you Rabbit fans out there a new series of novellas featuring that very special little boy (and his equally special abilities), his doting father, MacKenzie Cole, and his unofficially adopted big brother, Austin Dupree. (The upside of being alone in the world at ten is that you have a chance to choose the perfect family for yourself.)

I know I’ve been unable to work on this novella for a few weeks, but I promise that one way or the other, that will change. Cole, Cole, & Dupree Investigative Services (Motto: We Can Help!) IS coming to a Kindle store near you just as soon as I can make it happen!


And that wraps up this edition of This & That & The Other Thing.
Happy Easter Weekend to All!



#This&That&TheOtherThing – #BlogBreaks – #GuestDayTuesdays – #Excerpts

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!


THIS

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.


THAT

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!

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #A.M.Reade – #NewRelease – #ATraitorAmongUs

Today, please help me welcome Amy Reade to The Write Stuff. Amy has a brand new book coming out (already up for pre-order) and she’d like to tell you more . Amy, the floor is yours!


Thank you, Marcia, for giving me the opportunity to talk to your readers about my upcoming release, A Traitor Among Us. It is the second book in my Cape May Historical Mystery Collection (the first book, Cape Menace, was released in 2020).

I have lived in Cape May County, New Jersey, since 2003. Cape May County is at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, which you may be familiar with because of a certain, ahem, television reality show. Cape May County is nothing like the Jersey Shore portrayed on the small screen. My Jersey Shore is quiet, peaceful, and almost rural. We’re just 65 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and not far from the Washington, DC-New York City corridor, but you’d never know it.

If you’ve ever heard of Cape May, it’s very likely because the entire city is a National Historic Landmark. It was America’s first seaside resort and even today, beautiful Victorian homes line the streets of town. It was a summer getaway spot for at least five US Presidents: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison.

It was at my husband’s urging that I wrote my first book set in Cape May. As I researched the book, though, digging deep into the history of the area, it became clear that I couldn’t stop at one novel; the seed of an idea started to take root.

What I needed to do was write a group of novels set throughout the history of Cape May, and so the Cape May Historical Mystery Collection was born. The first book, Cape Menace, is set in 1714. Book Two, A Traitor Among Us, is set in 1777, during the American Revolution. The books are not a series—there is no character or plot thread that continues from one book to another. The only thing the novels have in common is their setting in Cape May County.

Very soon I’ll be starting Book Three, which is as yet untitled. I’ve got some ideas percolating for the mystery…but you’ll have to stay tuned for that.

I’m sharing with you the first chapter of A Traitor Among Us.  I hope you enjoy it.

 


September 24, 1777

It was long before dawn and I had not yet slept. There were so many thoughts tumbling through my anxious mind. I did not want to wake my sister with my tossing and turning, so I rose to start my chores for the day. I dressed quickly without the aid of the oil lamp, closed the bedroom door behind me with a soft thud, and hurried to the kitchen. I reached for my apron where it hung on a hook next to the back door and tied it over my skirts as I slipped outside.

I stood near the door for several moments, listening. The only sound was the occasional far-above rustling of bird wings as they flew toward the south in great flocks. Cold weather would be here soon. The bird songs I enjoyed in the daylight were absent, lending an unsettling hush to the darkness.

It was not unusual for me to be out-of-doors in the early morning, but this time was different. This time, not far away, I knew a stranger shared the darkness with me. A stranger who did not belong here. I hoped he was still asleep and that I could retrieve my washing tub without waking him. Something in my abdomen flipped over and twisted, reminding me to be quick and silent.

Fog swirled low above the ground. I hurried past the storehouse, which we were filling every day now with more bounty from the late summer’s crop of fruits and vegetables, and on toward the barn. The fog shifted, its wisps pulling apart and forming again as my shoes padded along the damp ground. I held my lantern aloft to dispel both the darkness and my relentless worries as I approached the barn that stood nestled against the woods that separated our home from the waters of the bay.

I set my lantern down to retrieve the heavy iron key from my pocket, before realizing with a start that the door was slightly ajar. I whirled around and peered into the darkness that had crept behind and surrounded me, but I heard nothing. Saw nothing.

I shook my head, chiding myself for my silly fears. Of course my brother, Jesse, had forgotten to lock the door.

It was Jesse’s job to take the animals out every morning and return them to the barn every evening. It was also his job to make sure the door was locked when the animals were inside the barn. I would not tell Mother or Father of this carelessness, but I would have to mention it to Jesse. For all we knew, a party of British soldiers might come foraging for supplies and livestock in the barn. I wondered if the stranger—Oliver Doolittle was his name, though speaking it left a sour taste behind—was inside. I presumed he was. He was lazy, so he was unlikely to be awake and moving about at such an early hour.

I placed the key back into my pocket and stooped to pick up the lantern again. I stepped gingerly into the gloom of the barn, taking care to be as quiet as possible. I listened for the snufflings and snortings of the animals and was relieved to hear their comforting murmurings. I approached the stalls and small pens, trying to count the animals in the darkness to make sure they were all there, but I abandoned my task after just a few moments. The animals, annoyed that I had awakened them, were making known their displeasure with a series of loud grunts, clucking, and lowing. I moved away as quickly as I dared, hoping their sounds had not awakened Oliver, whom I suspected—I hoped—was still asleep toward the rear of the barn. 

I did not relish being alone in the barn in daylight, let alone in the grim darkness of predawn and with the knowledge that Oliver slept nearby, so I made haste, as quietly as possible, to retrieve the washtub I had come for. It hung on the back wall. As I made my way toward it my skirts swished against rough-hewn boards, tendrils of hay that protruded from wooden mangers, and the large crates of corn husks that Prissy and I would soon use to make floor mats and stuff the mattresses in the guest rooms of the inn.

I stumbled as I reached the back wall. My lantern swung wildly in my hand and cast long, grotesque shadows on everything the dim light touched. I very nearly exclaimed aloud, but I caught myself in time and pressed my lips closed.

I reached for the washtub and set it down on the ground with a hushed thump as the lantern flame stabilized. I knew there was no hope that Oliver would remain asleep now.

Whatever had tripped me needed to be put away, since I knew I would be blamed if Mother came out and tripped, too. I picked up my skirts and searched the floor for the thing that had tripped me.

Looking down, a glance was all I needed.

A man lay at my feet.

When I saw his head cocked at a strange angle, his shirt front slashed in several places, and his eyes staring at me with a glassy emptiness, my horrified scream broke the morning stillness, reaching through the woods and echoing over the waters of Great Egg Harbor Bay.


BLURB:

September, 1777.

 The war for American independence rages just seventy miles away from the country inn and tavern owned by the Rutledge family in southern New Jersey. Tensions are running high between those who support the Continental Army and those who remain loyal to the English crown.

When Etta Rutledge stumbles upon the body of a ne’er-do-well British sympathizer on her family’s property, unsettling questions regarding her older brother, Jesse, begin to arise. What was his connection to the victim and why was he keen to keep it hidden?

Another shocking death, this time much closer to the heart of the family, draws Etta ever closer to unlocking the secrets swirling around her—secrets that someone will go to any length to protect…

Will Etta survive the discovery of the traitor in their midst?


You Can Buy A Traitor Among Us HERE


One final note…

I am pleased and honored to be part of Authors for Ukraine, a charity auction featuring books from 150+ authors. I invite you to visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsforUkraine and like the page.

From 8 a.m. on March 29th until 11 p.m. on April 12th, you’ll be able to bid on signed books from great writers. ALL PROCEEDS will benefit CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund.

Thank you!

(NOTE from TWS: Most of you know I don’t allow politics to come visiting here at The Write Stuff, but I believe helping these people in crisis to be a completely apolitical subject, and hope you’ll consider visiting the link Amy has provided above.)


Author Amy M. Reade

Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries.

A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned fourteen novels, including three standalone Gothic mysteries, the Malice series of Gothic novels, the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, and the Cape May Historical Mystery collection. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook and travel. Amy lives in New Jersey and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

You can find out more on her website at www.amymreade.com.


You Can Buy Amy’s Books HERE:

Cape May Historical Mystery Collection
Cape Menace: https://books2read.com/u/mv5ao6

A Traitor Among Us: https://books2read.com/u/3Ly6gw

Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery Series
The Worst Noel: https://books2read.com/u/brvGne
Dead, White, and Blue: https://books2read.com/u/bQR9Le
Be My Valencrime: https://books2read.com/u/bwvjjO
Ghouls’ Night Out: https://books2read.com/u/m2ZB86
MayDay!: https://books2read.com/u/mZeqBE

The Malice Series (Gothic)
The House on Candlewick Lane: https://www.amazon.com/House-Candlewick-Lane-Malice-Novel-ebook/dp/B01FBZXR3K/
Highland Peril: https://www.amazon.com/Highland-Peril-Malice-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B01N9GF9WF/
Murder in Thistlecross: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Thistlecross-Malice-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B071L5C6C7/ 

Standalone Novels
Secrets of Hallstead House: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Hallstead-House-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00IO3QR70/

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor: https://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Peppernell-Manor-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00OEW5SR0/
House of the Hanging Jade: https://www.amazon.com/House-Hanging-Jade-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B0138NHCMO/
Trudy’s Diary: https://books2read.com/u/3k1rMO


You can reach Amy on Social Media HERE:
Website: www.amymreade.com
Blog: https://amreade.wordpress.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AmyMReadesGothicFictionFans
Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade
Instagram: www.instagram.com/amymreade
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade

#GuestDayTuesday – The Prince’s Heir by Deborah Jay

Today, please welcome back a long-time friend and fellow author, Deborah Jay. Deborah writes some absolutely terrific epic fantasy, and today is a Red Letter day in her Five Kingdom Series. But I should let her tell you all about that, so … take it away, Debby!


RELEASE DAY

It’s here at last!

Today sees the culmination of a dream turned reality with the release of the final instalment in The Five Kingdoms series.

I set out to write a trilogy, but my characters had other ideas, and THE PRINCE’S HEIR is the concluding novel of what became a quartet.

                          

BLURB

King Marten’s reign balances on a blade’s edge. Chel’s Casket, symbol of his right to rule, is missing. Can master spies, Rustam and Risada, recover it before someone notices its absence and challenges Marten’s sovereignty? Or is there a more sinister motive behind the disappearance of the casket—a relic that could be used to raise the demon god, Charin.

As a series of natural disasters besets the kingdoms, evidence points towards interference by the meddlesome deity, and the terrifying prospect of war between its two opposing aspects.

When Marten’s beloved wife, Betha, and their infant daughter vanish, Marten faces a stark choice: save his family, or try to save his kingdom from a conflict that threatens all humanity.


Here’s a brief taster:

A loud ‘pop’ interrupted them, and the barbarous figure of a gemeye materialised in the middle of the office’s open floorspace. It took a moment for Rustam to recognise Cat beneath the dirt and blood. Her usually straight brown hair was tangled and matted with leaves, the silver stripe proclaiming the goddess’s favour barely discernible beneath the muck. Dark circles shadowed sunken eyes, and great, bloody scores raked one bare thigh beneath her gem-laden girdle. Her posture twisted to one side, as though she protected an injury, and Rustam barely made it to her side before she staggered towards the nearest chair. He caught her elbow and eased her down.

“What happened?”

Cat blinked up at him and his breath caught at the depth of hopelessness reflected in her unique, brown-marbled eyes. Her chest rose and fell quickly, drawing his gaze to the heavy collar of Cat’s Eye gemstones, each one a perfect match with her eye colour, as were those set in the broad girdle around her waist.

She clutched his arm. “We need your help, Rusty.”

Buy The Prince’s Heir HERE


The Five Kingdoms Series

The series tagline – Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings – came about from my frustration with the Bond writers, who never allowed the character to develop. Thus, Rustam Chalice was born – a shallow, womanising, spy who would have everything he believed in challenged and turned upside down, forcing him to change and adapt. My love of Lord of the Rings helped me choose fantasy as my genre, and boy, am I happy that I did. You can throw so much more at your cast than you can in a contemporary setting!

So, for those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge, to celebrate the release of the final book in the set, Book #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN, is on sale for a limited time at just 99c – go grab yourself the starter book of a series about which people are saying:

“Randomly browsing thru newer ebooks and came across this gem. Was delightfully surprised after reading the description “Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings” which intrigued me to no end, to find that this was exactly how I perceived the book.”
R Lewis

“Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, this delightful fantasy will hold your attention from beginning to end.”
Rhoda D’Ettore

“Jay paints a vivid world, that we are treated to in this dangerous adventure that tests our heroes to every limit. Including having them question everything they had ever taken for granted.”
Miss K Marsden

“Firstly let me say, if you have enjoyed books by Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, or Robin Hobb – you will absolutely enjoy this book.”
Rachel Braithwaite

Buy The Prince’s Man HERE 


Author Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Fortunate enough to live near Loch Ness in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands with her partner and a pack of rescue dogs, she can often be found lurking in secluded glens and forests, researching locations for her books.

She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.

A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Council award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON and #3, THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE are both available with the newly released concluding book in the quartet, THE PRINCE’S HEIR.

Her first urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, about a Scottish water sprite, is the opening novel of the CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES. The companion short story, SPRITE NIGHT is available FREE on most ebook retailers.

Newsletter sign up and FREE short story HERE
Deborah’s Amazon Author Page

Reach Deborah on Social Media here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Scarred Resilience by Suzanne Cottrell

Today, I am welcoming my new online friend and kindred spirit, Suzanne Cottrell, who shares my love of gardening, wildlife, and the North Carolina mountains.  Please help me make her feel right at home as she tells you about her latest release. Suzanne, take it away!

~~~00~~~

Thanks for having me today, Marcia. 

Scarred Resilience is a collection of poems that will resonate with readers as they pause and reflect on their lives. All people deal with different challenges such as loss, medical condition, heartbreak, aging, bullying, abuse, or stress throughout the course of their lives. They can succumb and fall victim to a challenge, or they can choose to overcome it. They may bear emotional and/or physical scars. Most likely, they will empower themselves by gaining new knowledge, skill, confidence, and/or strength. A key message of Scarred Resilience is that individuals, despite their scars, can move forward.

Many of the poems like “Nature’s Solace,” “Enlightened Silence,” “Transformation,” and “Silent Stroll” address aspects of self-awareness. As a survivor of breast cancer and a lumpectomy, I chose to include “Altered Silhouette” and “Yet, We Laughed,” signifying that a change in one’s personal appearance does not alter one’s inner beauty. Accepting, adapting, and laughing can help one heal. “Sole Mate,” “Aged,” and “Waning Time” instill the notion that one should live life to its fullest.

REVIEWS

Suzanne Cottrell’s poems create verbal jewels inspired by the natural world. These poems offer a healing movement-of-spirit, reminding us of why we fell in love with poetry in the first place.
Marilyn Kallet
, Knoxville Poet Laureate and author of How Our Bodies Learned, poems from Black Widow Press

Suzanne Cottrell’s poems, a synthesis of visual details, combine with her all-seeing eye for nuance and change. Her collection speaks of a life spent in the sciences where things are viewed through a microscope, often distilled as in a vintage snapshot that illustrates competition for resources, quick change in circumstances or the eternal struggle to survive. Her poem, “Transformation,” provides a clinical description of biological statistics and specimens. But, in “Silent Stroll,” the poet reveals the inner life of feelings and search for clarity. The poems are a delicate balance between micro-views and personal internal longings.
Lynda McKinney Lambert, Author of Star Signs: New & Selected Poems

An emotional spark subtly ignites from deep within Suzanne Cottrell’s measured words and counted lines. Gently, yet distinctly, the reader becomes aware of the joy, understanding and love for life and nature her words convey.
Maxine Reynolds Chauvaux, Co-founder of the Granville Writers’ Group and Creative Life-Long Learning Workshop Facilitator

Suzanne Cottrell’s third poetry chapbook chronicles life’s difficulties wrapping painful memory with the beauty of nature and offering the possibility to “pass through the darkness into the light to follow your dreams.” Her poems express resilience, finding strength in laughter during darker moments. In her poem, “Aged,” the narrator asks the question — “Have all their pages been written?” I hope for those who love poetry, the answer for Ms. Cottrell would be, “Oh, no. There’s so much more to come.”
Anne Anthony, Author and Editor, Flash Fiction for Flash


Buy Scarred Resilience on Amazon HERE
And on Kelsay Books HERE

Author Suzanne Cottrell

Suzanne Cottrell, a buckeye by birth, lives with her husband in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired history and special ed. teacher, her interests include reading, writing, knitting, hiking, Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates. She enjoys researching history and culture and loves nature and its sensory stimuli. She particularly likes to write and experiment with poetry and flash fiction, as well as working on collaborative projects, especially with her daughter.

Her work has appeared in numerous online and print journals and anthologies, such as the Best Emerging Poets Series, The Avocet, Poetry Quarterly, Plum Tree Tavern, Parks and Points, The Pangolin Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Three Line Poetry, Inwood Indiana Press anthologies, Personal Story Publishing Project anthologies, Proverse Hong Kong Poetry Prize Mingled Voices anthologies, Nailpolish Stories, Quail Bell Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Flash Fiction Magazine. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter; Gifts of the Seasons, Spring and Summer; and Scarred Resilience, published by Kelsay Books. She was the recipient of the 2017 Rebecca Lard Award for Poetry Quarterly (Prolific Press).

You can find Suzanne on social media here:
Website
LinkedIn
Email: cottrell_suzanne@yahoo.com

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Tinsel and Tea Cakes by Jill Piscitello

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Jill Piscitello for her first (but hopefully not her last) visit to The Write Stuff. Please help me welcome Jill as she shares her latest book with you. Your turn now,  Jill–take it away!

~~~00~~~

Hello everyone!  Many thanks to Marcia for hosting me as a guest author today.  I now have a new favorite place to visit for Monday memes!

My new release, Tinsel and Tea Cakes, is a sweet, holiday novella.  The story offers a second chance romance, a mini mystery, and a touch of the past with an unforgettable Victorian themed Christmas wedding.  I had so much fun getting to know my characters that saying good-bye was harder than expected.  Cue visions of a sequel swirling through my mind.  Imagine my delight when my editor encouraged a follow up.

But there’s a problem.  Most romances wrap up the endings of main characters in pretty packages tied with a bow.  I struggled with deciding whether to find a new story arc for Scarlett or to focus on a supporting character.  I’ve seen authors go in both directions.  Which is the path best taken?

After much consideration, I’ve decided to write a full-length novel centered around a staff member from The Timeless Manor.  This will allow my reigning heroine and hero to pop in now and again with bite sized updates.  I’m excited to see where this new book takes me but would love to hear perspectives on sequels from other authors and readers.

BLURB:

Hair stylist Scarlett Kerrigan lost her job and her apartment. To alleviate a touch of self-pity, she succumbs to her stepmom’s pressure to attend a wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Unfortunately, she runs into the vacation fling who promised the moon but disappeared without an explanation. Months have passed, but she is not ready to forgive and forget.

After a chaotic year, executive Wes Harley settles into his family’s event venue, The Timeless Manor. His carefully structured world is shaken to its core when Scarlett arrives for the Victorian Christmas wedding weekend. The feelings he never quite erased flood to the surface.

When secrets are revealed, will a magical chateau and a sprinkle of tinsel be enough to charm Scarlett?

Buy Tinsel and Tea Cakes HERE:
Amazon           Nook

~~~00~~~

Author Jill Piscitello

Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.

A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.

Visit Jill on Social Media here:
Website ~ Twitter  ~ Facebook
Instagram

Visit Jill’s Amazon Author Page here.

 

BONUS #GuestDayTuesday – #NewRelease – #Things Old and Forgotten by #MaeClair

Today is a BONUS #GuestDayTuesday, folks, and I’m so happy to have my good friend, Mae Clair, here today to tell us about her brand new release, Things Old and Forgotten.  I can’t wait to read this one, and know you’re gonna feel the same way, so let’s get right to it. Mae, take it away!

*****

Hi, Marcia! Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Things Old and Forgotten is a collection of short fiction that includes stories in several genres—magical realism, fantasy, speculative, even two that touch on mild horror.

But not all the tales are mystical or eerie. Miss Lily Makes a Wish is a light-hearted piece about a genteel southern lady who gets the better of a powerful order of genies. I had a lot of fun with this one.

In the excerpt below, Miss Lily is visited by Kaliq, a genie. He arrives to grant her the three wishes he’s promised for freeing him from captivity.

EXCERPT

Miss Lily smiled politely when Kaliq appeared the next day in a mushrooming puff of green.

He folded an arm over his waist and performed a courtly bow. Such a gentleman! “Have you chosen your three wishes, Miss Lily?”

She nibbled her lip as she studied the rear lawn from her porch spring. Sad state of affairs, her yard. The bushes needed to be trimmed, and the flowerbeds sprouted with an overabundance of weeds. Not just a few, but whole parties of the pesky things. Betty Nelbrecker would point out the shortcomings the next time she visited.

The place is starting to look run down, don’t you think, Miss Lily?

A pox on the old biddy.

It was hard for a single woman to get by on her own, especially when the years were creeping up and finances were tight. The house was getting old, the only bright spot the rear porch with its rickety wooden swing, white wicker furniture, and pots of geraniums. Sipping a tall glass of lemonade, she fingered the handle of her flyswatter. The mosquitos weren’t nearly as bothersome tonight.

“It’s fearful hot, don’t you think?” She used a dog-eared copy of International Living to fan herself. She’d spent the afternoon reading up on Naples, fantasizing about a coastal home within walking distance of cafes and museums. “Daddy used to say it was just like the Devil himself spit on the Mississippi River and boiled the water. A cool breeze would be nice, but just my house, mind. It wouldn’t be right if I chose for other folks. Betty Nelbrecker likes it hot.”

Kaliq blinked. “Pardon?”

“I’d like a cool breeze, please.”

She wondered if it was possible for a genie to look dumbfounded. This one certainly did.

“Miss Lily, is that a wish?”

Thwack!

She nailed the mosquito in midair before it could land on her polka dot sundress. “Bothersome pests! Yes, Kaliq, that is a wish.”

He scratched his chin. “It’s not in my place to question, Miss Lily, but you do understand you’d be using one of your three wishes.”

“I do.”

“And you still wish to proceed?”

“I do.”

The genie sighed. Raising his hands, he spoke a few words in a language she didn’t understand. The tattoos on his forearms flared to life in a spectrum of sunset colors before fading to antique gold. A cool breeze frolicked through the open porch, blissful and refreshing as a dip in Peddler’s Pond.

She closed her eyes. “Ah, that’s nice.”

*****

BLURB

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Buy Things Old and Forgotten in the U.S. HERE
And in the U.K. HERE
*****

Thanks again for hosting me today, Marcia. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st.

*****

And thank you again for being here, Mae. Congratulations on this new book, and I can’t wait to read it.  May I also say that the cover is absolutely stunning! One of the prettiest I’ve seen, and very eye-catching, too! Already downloaded my copy, folks, and I highly recommend you grab yours too while it’s still available at this terrific price!

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

AmazonBookBubNewsletter Sign-Up
Website | BlogTwitterGoodreadsAll Social Media