Thursday, November 19, 2015

TAKERS: Apocalypse in Eden - Excerpt

Not making any promises - but I hope it will be out soon. It's been through a couple of rewrites, but I think it will be here before Christmas. Until then, tell me what you think of this excerpt from my little allegory:

Chapter One

Not a care in the world 

        Dee Powell attached crinkly strands of blue and yellow crepe paper to the basketball goal in the Eden, Texas middle school gymnasium. She and three of her friends from the Art Department were decorating for the upcoming ninth grade graduation dance.
My buddy, Cade Johnson, had gone down to the basement and brought up the ladder on which Dee stood. We had brought up pretty much everything the girls were using.
“Well, don’t just stand there staring, Jack Lewis,” Dee called. “Go on down and find that last box of crepe paper.”
I ducked my head; mortified she’d caught me ogling her. I’d been downright mesmerized by the glimmer of the fluorescents bouncing off the rhinestone headband in her dark hair.
In less than three months we would all be in high school. My dad had already started grilling me about colleges and career choices. My stomach knotted up at the thought. The idea scared me almost as much as the idea of asking Dee to dance with me tomorrow night.
“Well?” Dee called down again. “Are you going to the basement or do I have to climb down off this ladder and do it myself?” She smiled to take the sting out of her words.
“Go ahead, buddy,” Cade said. “I’m pretty sure I saw that box just past the stairs.” He nudged me and whispered, “Besides, I left you something. Know what I mean?” He winked and made an up and down motion in front of his groin with his closed fist.
I rolled my eyes. Cade might be my best friend, but he could be a real ass. I shoved his arm down. His attitude really irked me. I didn’t want all of my dreams and desires to be nothing more than teenage horn-mones (Cade’s word). I wanted these feelings to be something more, something real.
Something like . . .
Derencia Powell.

“Dude.” Cade’s voice bellowed even though he was standing right beside me. “I think Dee really needs that crepe paper.”
Dee smiled and looked at me and for a moment we shared something across that wide space that was almost as bright as the burnished floor. That gentle smile said she knew how he was, but she didn’t hold it against me.
I could’ve stood there, looking at her, for the rest of time, but one of the other girls called her name and she turned to catch a new roll of tape in midair. Directly past her head, tree branches clawed at the narrow gym windows. The West Texas wind had been howling all day.
I hurried out of the gym before my “best friend” could say or do anything else to embarrass me. Sometimes I wondered why I put up with him. I had a pretty good idea of what he had left me in the basement. Today he’d given his PowerPoint presentation in Biology. That meant he’d brought his laptop to school. Not only did he delight in looking at his dad’s porn, he also delighted in sharing it with me—whether I wanted him to or not.
I think he copied the dirtiest pictures just to shock me. As if to test me somehow. As if we both knew that if I ever gave in to the desire to demand more ugly pictures—which I really wanted to do sometimes—then I might end up tossing away all the tiny good things I haven’t even experienced yet. Like dancing in the gym beneath a twisted canopy of crepe paper, or a sharing that special glance that might lead to a first kiss.
Feeling like a fool, I yanked open the heavy basement doors. The stairwell and storage area were both lit by the usual flickery fluorescents. I boogied down the stairs and located the box of paper.
Cade’s laptop sat on top of a five-gallon pickle bucket.
Setting the box aside, I pulled over a second pickle bucket to sit on, and then opened the computer. Instead of the pictures Cade had bookmarked, I pulled up one of my own nerdy websites. It was a science site run by a university professor who did his best to use physics to explain the unexplainable. I just didn’t want to look at Dirty Sluts of the South and then go up and face Dee in the gym. On the other hand, if I went right back up, Cade would know I didn’t look at all, and I’d never hear the end of it.
My website sprang to life.
The lights went out.
For a moment, my skin tightened up like a dried leather glove, but then I remembered the wind. It sometimes messed with the power in our little Podunk town. I took a deep breath and tried to make myself relax. It was either that or lose it completely and run screaming for the stairs. Dee would really be impressed if I burst out into the hall screaming like a two year old. Thankfully I still had the laptop’s screen light. I figured the power would come back on in a few minutes like it always did.
I glanced back down at Dr. D’s Adventures in Dimensions. The credits claimed he was an astrophysicist. Today he didn’t sound very academic. In fact, his voice was downright shrill. “Listen,” he demanded. “Our universe is expanding too fast. The fabric between the dimensions is growing too thin.”
I thought the man’s voice was too thin. As he continued, it turned into a screech. He said today’s show was a warning. “Something is happening,” he yelled. “The world exists in a multiverse and each universe is a parallel dimension.” Now, he stared directly into the camera. “Try to understand! It’s important for you to understand! Our universe and the one paralleling it have been expanding at different rates.”            
He removed his glasses, his eyes growing wider and wilder as he spoke. “The fabric between our dimensions is shredding—” He glanced over his shoulder as if he’d heard someone approaching. Then he leaned closer to the camera and whispered. “The dimension paralleling ours is Purgatory. Its inhabitants are awaiting new souls.” His voice dropped into an even lower register and he hissed, “Get underground.”
It occurred to me it had to be a practical joke. The doc was trying to prank us into calling in and saying something stupid. Or doing something stupid like that War of the Worlds radio stunt my Granny told me about. The radio announcer had made it sound like a real alien invasion—until everyone started to panic. I decided that must be what Dr. D was trying to do. It’ll probably be trending before the webcast is even over.
But as I watched the doctor stalk about, tugging at his Einstein hair, the LOW BATTERY message appeared and the computer winked off.
I sat perfectly still, a rectangular after-image of the screen hanging in front of my face. Fear overtook me and I was suddenly five years old waking from a nightmare in the dark. I took another deep breath and carefully closed the laptop before getting to my feet. My toes immediately encountered the empty pickle bucket and scooted it across the concrete floor. It threw me off balance and I stuck my hands out in front of myself like a B-movie-zombie. The absence of light gave the darkness a texture like black felt. I shuffled forward, pushing the pickle bucket with my toes.
The professor said they need new souls. Who are they?
Don’t think about it. It’s just a show like that War of the Worlds thing or those reality shows on TV that are supposed to be real but are really so fake. Why can’t I find the stairs? Maybe the basement expanded right along with the universe.
I swept my arms from side to side, trying to locate the stair rail, but they met only air. The panic I’d been keeping at bay suddenly crawled into my gut and made itself at home. I shoved the pickle bucket aside and dashed for the place the stairs ought to be. A solitary bead of sweat itched its way down the back of my neck into my collar. I swatted it like a pesky mosquito just as my toes found the first step.
Relief washed over me and I stumbled up the stairs certain something would reach out before I could—
Scritch scritch scritch
My head rotated toward the sound as if pulled by a puppeteers string. The noise seemed distant, yet close. I lunged forward, scalp tingling, certain that at any moment a hand would latch onto my ankle, or the empty pickle bucket would come flying at me through the darkness.
The next thing I knew I was on my knees, hands clutching my ears. A deep, throbbing vibration threatened to stop my heart. It seemed as if a million tubas were blowing the same bass note in unison. The panic in my gut exploded and I jerked myself to my feet and scrambled up the rest of the stairs on my hands and knees.
Earthquake? Tornado? Bomb?
I didn’t even realize I’d reached the landing until I whammed into the unexpected push bar with my shoulder. I was surprised the doors weren’t blocked by debris from whatever disaster had befallen us.
But they weren’t blocked.
They flew open and I fell out into a dimness that was somewhat brighter than the basement, but not nearly as bright as it should be.

The power was off in the rest of the building, too.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Winter Wonderland of Books Christmas Giveaway

Merry Christmas!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Blog Hop

Halloween Story Hop

                   White Curtains

          I was five years old. My stepfather was out of town on business so Mama let me sleep with her in their big bed. It was nothing new; working in the oilfield, Bull was gone a lot. Before he and Mama married, she and I had always slept together. We’d only had one bed.
            Until I heard the noise, I wasn’t sure if I’d awakened or not.
            For long seconds I just lay there listening, straining my eyes, afraid to turn my head for fear that whatever had made the noise might be crouched beside the bed watching me. I turned to stone, as still as a rabbit in the path of a thresher. Through the window opposite the bed, a huge scarecrow moon painted the humped-up shapes of our quilt-covered feet with pale, icy light.
            After a while I realized the only sounds I could hear were the familiar hum of the old refrigerator and the solemn tick of the Regulator clock. I relaxed. I must have been dreaming. Then I heard the distinct rasp of the glass patio door gliding along its narrow metal track. I couldn’t tell if it was being opened, or closed.
            My breath died. Fear clasped me in its paralyzing grip even as hopeful images of Bull, greasy steel-toed boots left outside on the porch, flooded my mind. I seemed to be all ears. My heartbeats were deafening in the darkness. Eons passed. In my head, a faceless stranger stood inside the open patio door, letting his eyes adjust to the midnight room. I knew it wasn’t Bull. He would’ve called to say he was on his way home.
            Sudden steps on hardwood.
            I jabbed Mama with my elbow. “Someone’s coming down the hall and it’s not Bull!”
            She was instantly awake. I wonder now if she’d been asleep at all. She rose from the bed and floated toward the bedroom door, a ghost story come to life in her glowing cotton gown.
            A stray beam of moonlight snagged on the silver claw of the hammer she hoisted above her head. Seeing her there, flattened against the wall beside the door, I finally understood why she’d always kept it beneath the bed.
            Then he was there, in our bedroom, framed in the narrow patch of light. Gangly, unkempt, listing like a battered ship in a high wind, I could smell his sour, barroom stench from across the room.
            Mama’s arm came down, hard, and the drunken man grunted and crumpled to his knees. Her arm came down again and again until the hammer no longer caught the moonlight.
            When it was over, she came toward me and I cringed at the stickiness spattering her gown.
            “S’okay, baby.” She folded me in her arms and led me toward the door.
            His crumpled form lay blocking it.
           We had to step over.
            I screamed when the hem of my nightie brushed my calf.
            We ran down the graveled road to the neighbor’s house a quarter mile away. I never felt the sharp stones beneath my feet, but I did stumble when I glanced back and saw the long white curtains waving from the open glass door.

The end

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you got a little chill . . . now click here to return to the hop for even more stories.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Dark Dreams Halloween Giveaway!

Dozens of authors gathered together -- thanks to the efforts of Claudette Nicole Melanson -- in order to offer you a plethora of spooky reads, Halloween inspired prizes and one GRAND PRIZE consisting of $175 PayPal Cash. Each author is giving away one of their own books like my STEVIE-GIRL AND THE PHANTOMS TRILOGY (all three tales in one volume) shown above + a Halloween inspired prize like my RAVEN PENDANT (also shown above). 

Enter NOW through Halloween. Good luck and great reading! 

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Release - Old Amarillo - Amish Journeys #1

Sara Barnard is a mother of four, a wife, a teacher, and a wonderful storyteller. She writes historical romances, children's fiction, and Amish romances. 

If you like sweet, Amish romance + a couple of historical cowboys, this is the book for you. 

Better yet, it's the start of the series, Amish Journeys. (Yes, we all know how you readers love your series!) 

Disillusioned and feeling there is more to life than can be found on her family's Indiana farm, atypical Amish girl Katie Knepp bucks tradition and leaves everything behind, bound for a supposed Mennonite settlement rumored to be somewhere around Old Amarillo, Texas. But the trail to Texas is a hard one, laced with disease, would-be-could-be bandits, and a drought so severe that turning back isn't an option. During her epic overland struggle, Katie discovers friendship, even in the ever-present outlaw element, a strength in herself she'd never dreamed she possessed, and those in her past who refuse to become unwilling memories. Katie's story isn't Amish, nor is it western . . . it is uniquely Texan.

5 Prince Books:

Amazon link:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School $250 Cash Giveaway

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August 17th to September 7th
Prize: Winner's choice of $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Gift Card

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  Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Card) Ends 9/7/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway -- ----

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sizzling Summer $250 Cash Giveaway

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We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Sponsor List – Thanks to these great authors & bloggers for making this giveaway possible! I Am A Reader Ann Swann - Suspense and more Deanna Lynn Sletten, Author Suzi Love Krysten Lindsay Hager author The Page Unbound The Discerning Reader Unshelfish Raven Haired Girl Author Inger Iversen J.C. Whyte, author Glistering Bs Blog inspiredboosguide Lori's Reading Corner The BookBarn Simple Wyrdings Stacy Claflin, Author Caroline Clemmons Diana's Book Reviews Kelly's Lucky You Katie's Clean Book Collection Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages D.E. Haggerty author Rockin' Book Reviews B. Kristin McMichael Chapter by Chapter Jenny S. Burke Julia E. Antoine Jennifer Faye, Romance Author Heather Gray, Author MagicalCoolCatMysteries Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Gift Code) Ends 8/16/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway