Tag Archives: mystery

The Ellsworth Express…..

10 Dec

JohnElliott
Today on the GSP Christmas Promo we welcome John C. Elliott.

Dr. Elliott worked for the U.S. State Department from 1966 to 2008, conducting international operations, and concurrently for Mossad in Israel from 1985 to 2010. While engaged with his work, he has been shot on four separate occasions, stabbed three different times, run down by automobiles twice and blown up twice. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, an MBA and a Juris Doctorate degree. He is a public and motivational speaker and conducts safety and crime-avoidance seminars nationwide. He is fluent in English, Gaelic, Hebrew and Hungarian, and can speak conversationally in Italian and French. He’s an on-air contributor for the BBC in London and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is also an editorial writer and the author of eleven books, with several more on the way. His first book was penned aboard a charter flight across the Pacific Ocean in 1969. By the time he reached Travis Air Force Base in California, it was complete.

My website: http://www.JohnElliottBooks.com
Blog:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChappyElliott
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/john.c.elliott.7
Myspace: myspace.com/585768794

His book we are highlighting is The Ellsworth Express.
TheEllsworthExpres4
he story takes place in Columbia Falls, Maine, a sleepy coastal village, and involves a strange sea fog that creeps in from the ocean every few months, a Civil War ghost train, and five friends who attend the small elementary school in town. One of the friends, Tobias Franklin, has a mysterious past, and together they go about attempting to solve the village’s recurring mystery where people occasionally disappear, never to be seen again. The book is intended for children in grades two through six.

Excerpt:

The Ellsworth Express

Every night I lie in my bed,
Cold and afraid of the nightmare to come. Scared of the screaming and running in my dreams. That face, a horrible face. The face I see before waking up screaming. The woods, the branches clawing at me like knives. Stumbling over roots and unstable ground. Afraid to look back at the dark face trying to catch me. He tries to grab at my hair missing by just inches. Everything so real. I trip knowing that he’s inches away. All I can do is scream. I wake up screaming only to realize it’s only a dream.
~Francesca Paul

Prologue

No one in the village saw it coming, because it came in the middle of the darkest night anyone could ever remember. No one heard it coming, because most people were asleep as it crept steadily forward. Those very few people who were awakened when it came felt their ears popping and they felt very, very afraid! Mrs. Emma Hewitt, the elderly lady who lived in the small one bedroom apartment above the tiny pottery shop, was one of those unfortunate few. She just happened to be returning to bed with a warm glass of milk when she looked out of her bedroom window. She gasped in horror and stepped back from the window in fright, the glass of warm milk falling from her hands and breaking into hundreds of tiny fragments on the cold, hardwood floor at her feet. “Oh no,” she murmured to herself. “Please, not again.”

But it had returned, and it was right outside of her window. She looked again and saw that it was growing stronger and getting closer. It looked as if it was alive, a terrifying living beast, so enormously huge. The colors were so odd, so strange, and so disturbingly vibrant; and she knew right then and there that lives would be taken that night, people would be changed forever, and her small village would be thrown into chaos once again. Just then, she remembered her window had remained wide open, because she liked the cool ocean breezes while she slept at night. She quickly lurched forward to slam it shut against the oncoming horror, cutting her foot on the broken glass, her blood mixing freely with the warm milk on the floor. She was just in time! It would move on tonight, taking someone else away, never to be seen again. But it would return; it always did.

Chapter One
Two Weeks Later

It was late in August in Columbia Falls, Maine, and for the students of the tiny Columbia Falls Elementary School it would soon be the start of the new school year.

Columbia Falls was a small village, and everyone seemed to know everyone else. The summer had been long and hot, and many of the students had spent those long hot summer days at Jasper Beach, where they collected buckets full of green and red jasper stones; the beach at Rogue Bluffs, where they happily swam in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean and explored the miles of rocky coastline.

But all that was soon coming to an end, and some of their parents had driven the forty-two miles into Ellsworth to buy new school clothing for their children at the department stores there, an hour away. Others would even drive an extra half hour, all the way to Bangor, to shop. And while most of the children were looking forward to the new school year, some were sad to know summer was almost over.

This new school year was a little different, however, because four new students would be attending classes in Columbia Falls. Two of those new students were the twin brothers, Jeffery and James Carlisle. They were identical twins, and it was sometimes difficult to tell who was who. Occasionally, even their parents had a hard time telling them apart. Their father was a technician for the Air Force, attending to the enormous radar installations at the Columbia Falls Air Force Base several miles away. It was located at the top of one of the largest hills in this part of Maine, and from the top of those barrens, that’s what the local people called the tops of those hills, one could see for miles. Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle fell in love with the beautiful scenery in Columbia Falls, and when they found out about the job at the air force base, Mr. Carlisle applied for the position right away.

Another new student was Jack Higgins. Jack had bright red hair and hundreds of freckles all over his face. All three boys were twelve years old, but Jack was quite short for his age, and was sometimes embarrassed because he thought that the others would make fun of him when he attended the new school. He had been made fun of before, back in his old school in Rhode Island, where some of the students called him Peewee and Midget. One of the students in Rhode Island had even called him a dwarf right to his face. So for Jack, the thought of attending this new school was somewhat frightening. Jack’s parents were doctors at the Machias Hospital, about twelve miles away, and they were hoping the students attending Columbia Falls Elementary School would be a lot kinder to Jack than the boys and girls back in Rhode island.

The fourth new student was someone hardly anyone knew anything about at all. He was a tall, skinny boy, who called himself Tobias. Tobias was actually Tobias Franklin, and the only person who seemed to know anything about him was George Morris, an old farmer. Mr. Morris was the person who registered Tobias for school, and some people thought Tobias lived above Mr. Morris’ enormous old barn. There was a small room up on the third level of the old, hay-filled barn, and some of the boys and girls in the village had seen Tobias walking into that barn through the huge double doors more than once.

Tobias always wore the same old-fashioned looking clothes. He had a pair of dirty, mud-streaked work boots, gray-colored coveralls, and a long-sleeved shirt best described as red with a checkered pattern. He had been seen only for the last two weeks in the village, and no one seemed to know where in the world he came from. No one saw Tobias’ parents, nor had anyone seen him riding in a car. If you happened to see Tobias at all, you only saw him walking quickly with his head down and his hands thrust deeply into the pockets of those gray coveralls.

The most striking feature about Tobias, however, was the color of his unruly mop of hair. It was a thick head of hair, but it was stark white. No one had ever seen a twelve-year-old boy with that color of hair before. Not even old Mr. Morris had that much white in his hair. Oh sure, Mr. Morris had gray hair, but not the snow-colored white Tobias had. Tobias was a complete mystery, and some of the boys and girls sitting on the rocks of Jasper Beach that day were talking about him, wondering how he got to Columbia Falls in the first place, and why his hair was so very white.

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JohnCElliott.html#EllsExp

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Ellsworth-Express-ebook/dp/B0090R3KUG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355166803&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Ellsworth+Express

Advertisements

Lord Badger’s Adventures ….

9 Dec

015
Today we welcome Gene Fehler on the GSP Christmas Promo.

Gene Fehler loves to write for kids of all ages. He also loves baseball, both playing it and writing about it. He still plays more than eighty baseball and softball games a year, and ten of his thirteen published books deal with baseball, the most recent being When Baseball Was Still King: Major League Players Remember the 1950s (McFarland, 2012), a collection of anecdotes gleaned from the interviews Gene did with more than one hundred former major league players. Gene’s poems have appeared in more than three hundred periodicals, anthologies, and textbooks. He’s also an avid book collector, with more than 6,000 titles in his personal library, about two-thirds of them sports books. Gene has two grown sons and three granddaughters. He lives with his wife Polly in Seneca, SC, where he loves to walk their two toy poodles. For more, visit his website.

WEBSITES: http://www.genefehler.com
                     http://www.baseballpoet.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/gene.fehler

His book we are highlighting today is Lord Badger’s Adventures
LordBadgersAdventures4
Lord Badger is the wisest creature in the forest. He needs every bit of that wisdom to be able to solve the poem riddles that let him know his beloved nephews Melfryn and Bryndelf face a crisis, whether the crisis is in the form of a giant dragon that breathes green fire or in the form of someone who has stolen Santa’s magic dust and thus threatens the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve.

In these two delightful stories, “Lord Badger and the Gray Mice,” and “Lord Badger and the Magic Dust,” we see the wisdom and heroism of the ageless gentle badger.

Excerpt:

One: Lord Badger and the Gray Mice

Lord Badger smiled as he shut his front door. He walked to the window and watched Melfryn and Bryndelf Badger skip back toward their home in the woods. It had been quite a fun evening of games and music and storytelling.

Old Lord Badger lived by himself in a small cottage in a deep forest. At least three evenings a week, the children of many of his forest friends would stay with him. And he never accepted payment. “It keeps me young,” he told the parents. “I’m happy to do it.”

And happy he was. Those evenings were among his most wonderful and exciting times. Why, just this evening he’d been reading his paper while Melfryn and Bryndelf were in the kitchen, eating their dessert. A frantic shout from the kitchen brought him running. “Come quick, Lord Badger! We’ve had an accident!”

He’d bounced from his chair, letting the newspaper flutter to the floor behind him. Imagine his surprise to see Melfryn and Bryndelf sitting at the kitchen table, blood covering their faces. “We’re hurt! We’re hurt!” they called out.

What could have happened? He rushed to their side, praying they weren’t seriously injured.

Then they laughed and wiped their faces with their napkins. “It’s only strawberries,” Melfryn said. “We decided to dip our noses in it to see what it would look like.”

“Doesn’t it look real?” Bryndelf Badger asked. “Just as if we’re really bleeding.”

Lord Badger took a deep breath before he answered. He decided not to tell them he’d just aged another twenty years. “Quite real,” he said, and the stripes on his own face returned from a pale white to their normal shade of brown.

“Are you okay?” Melfryn Badger asked. “We’re sorry if we scared you. We didn’t mean for you to be worried.”

“Oh,” Lord Badger said, “I wasn’t worried. I was merely afraid for you. I was frightened that you had both suffered some terrible accident. I was terrified that two of my favorite nephews might be in pain and might be permanently disfigured. But worried? No, I wasn’t worried.”

Now, alone in the house, Lord Badger sat before his fireplace and smiled. They were good boys. They had apologized again and again for having played such a thoughtless practical joke.

Lord Badger had not fibbed to them. He had not been worried, merely terrified. Every time he started to worry, this poem automatically popped into his head:

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/GeneFehler.html#LordBadgerExc

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Badgers-Adventures-ebook/dp/B009WWEV2U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1355069643&sr=1-1&keywords=lord+badger%27s+adventures

Brambles and Thorns….

8 Dec

lisa
Today we once again we welcome Lisa Farrell on the GSP Christmas Promo.

Lisa Farrell has been writing for as long as she can remember. Much of what she writes is speculative fiction, but she tries other things from time to time. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.
          Lisa’s Blog: http://lisafarrell.blogspot.com/
         FACEBOOK:  http://www.facebook.com/lisafarrelluk
Her book that we are highlighting today is Brambles and Thorns.
BramblesandThorns4
Moira’s mother is long gone and her father comes and goes, but she can look after herself. So when Riana appears, trying to get involved in her life, Moira resists. She doesn’t want a fairy godmother; she wants to make her own choices.

Adam doesn’t know who he is. He has grown up as the plaything of some very sinister fairies, and only the occasional kindness of the three sisters has kept him alive.

Moira and Adam must both get their destinies back on track, but Riana has been doing more than giving gifts and setting people up. And even the sisters cannot claim innocence.

Excerpt:

Moira cut across the field, her bike rattling beneath her. She went through a particularly large cow-pat and knew her jeans had been splattered. Anne’s mum would probably insist she change into a pair of Anne’s clean, expensive jeans. They would be too short and would show her ankles, which she’d not shaved since last week. That woman’s kindness always led to humiliation.

The sky was thick with clouds and a feather-light mist was rising, making everything dim and grey. By the time she came home she would need her lights, but the batteries were running low. Maybe she would leave them off and speed silently through the darkness, a creature of the night. Of course, if she ended up in the river, then it would be her fault.

She had not seen a soul since she had reached the river path, and usually it was busy. Maybe the cold was keeping people at home, or in their cars. Moira sniffed hard; the cold made her nose run. She didn’t want to slow down to dig a tissue from her pocket. It wasn’t much farther to the bridge, and the light—not that she was scared of the half-dark.

Someone was standing on the bridge, right in the middle, right in her way. Moira flicked at her bell a couple of times as she approached, but the figure just stood there, a dark form under the light. Moira was forced to stop, clenching her brakes, and found herself face to face with a woman who looked more than a little crazy. She had a huge hooded black shawl pulled around her, over a humpback. Her face and hair were white, shining out from the darkness under her hood. Her eyes doing the rabbit in headlights stare.

“Excuse me,” Moira said, dismounting.

The woman didn’t move so Moira pushed past her, and the woman let out a yelp of surprise. Moira fought the urge to apologise, or look back. She hopped back onto her bike and got away as fast as she could.

****

“Hey, Morra,” Anne’s mum said. “Come on in!”

If the jeans were noticed, they weren’t mentioned. Moira followed her into the house, gritting her teeth and politely refusing the many offers of food. She used to think Mrs. Harris pushed food on her because she thought she wasn’t fed properly at home. She had soon realised it was because Anne was too fussy to eat any of her cooking, so she had no other child to give it to.

“Is Anne upstairs, Mrs. Harris?”

“Call me Sally, please, Morra,” the woman said, her head bobbing up and down like a mother hen’s as she spoke. “Yes, she’s upstairs, but be sure to knock, I think Darren’s still with her.”

“Darren Marsters?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

Mrs. Harris’s eyes gleamed. He had obviously charmed her. She obviously didn’t know about his reputation.

“Maybe I’d better come another time.”

“Oh no, dear, she’s expecting you. Go on up.”

Moira suppressed a shudder. If Anne was expecting her she was probably in for a scene. Maybe she should stall a bit longer, let Darren call Anne’s bluff. How long could it take to undress, given how little Anne ever wore?

Moira climbed the stairs slowly, her socked feet treading quietly on the faded flowery carpet, her hand gripping the polished brass handrail. At the top she paused, listening for clues. She heard Anne’s patently cute giggle, but that didn’t tell her anything.

She stood in front of the door and examined the pretty, painted sign. Welcome to Annabelle’s Room had been done in swirly blue letters, tiny flowers curling from them. The door was white and plain, but there were sticky marks where Anne had taped posters to it in the past.

Moira held the doorknob in her palm. The brass was cold. She wondered how many hands had held it in the past. Had it been here before the Harrises moved in? Or had Mrs. Harris insisted on changing everything, so it was all clean and new?

She opened the door without knocking and found Anne and Darren on the bed, fumbling at each other, still mostly dressed. Darren was topless and he seemed genuinely embarrassed, tumbling from the bed and retrieving his shirt from the floor. Anne just giggled.

“Your dad didn’t let you fit that lock yet?” Moira asked, forcing a smile.

“Not until I’m sixteen,” Anne said, lying back against the pillows. Moira could see a red silk bra through her open blouse. She wasn’t known for wearing blouses, but buttons slowed boys down.

****

When Darren had gone they laughed about him, and Anne told her all the secrets he’d spilled. There was nothing too incriminating, but Anne loved gossip in all its forms and was enjoying herself so much that she made herself breathless with talking, her cheeks turning a delicate shade of pink.

Moira pretended to listen, until Anne paused long enough for Moira to bring up her idea. She hadn’t come just to talk about Darren.

“I found this,” Moira said, producing a crumpled page from her pocket. “I thought it might be fun to have a go.”
Anne was frowning as she took the page, which Moira had ripped from a magazine, but her brow smoothed as her eyes skimmed the words. She smiled, and her eyes lifted from the page and met Moira’s.

“Unlock the secrets of your destiny with candle magic,” Anne said. “A bit melodramatic isn’t it? And they’ve spelt magic wrong.”

“Since when do you know how to spell?” Moira teased, plucking the page from Anne’s hand. “You only do well in English because Mister Rangle fancies you.”

“Ew!” Anne shrieked, jumping to her feet and dancing about as though the thought of Mister Rangle was a bug to be shaken off.

“Maybe his initials will appear in the water, and I’ll know you like him too!” Moira said, laughing. Anne grabbed a pillow from the bed and began hitting her round the head with it. Moira collapsed, but pulled Anne down too. They ended up in a giggling heap on the floor.

“Whose initials would you like to see?” Anne asked her.

Moira pushed her off.

“Come on,” Moira said, “I can’t stay long. Let’s do this. Please?”

****

Moira lifted the candle slowly over the bowl. She knew that candlelight was supposed to be flattering, but she still felt self-conscious with Anne watching her. She tipped the candle and let three large drops of wax drip into the water. The wax solidified at once, and she waited for the pieces to stop spinning so she could interpret the shapes they made.

Then it would be Anne’s turn, and they would both know who Anne was destined to be with. Or so the magazine claimed. Moira took a breath to say the words, but before she spoke, something changed. The light of the candle dazzled her, the darkness beyond it made her feel suddenly alone. She was aware of Anne talking, but the girl sounded far away. Moira’s ears seemed full of water, the world was receding and all she could see were the wax drops, still spinning round and round. Candlelight flickered on the rippling water, streaking it red. The red faded to pink and Moira saw ribbons fluttering. There was a dark shadow in the middle of everything, the shape of a person, surrounded by tiny lights.

“You shall have him,” whispered a voice by her ear. “He shall be your handsome prince.”

Moira screamed and the light came on. Anne was standing with her hand on the switch, staring at her like she was on fire.
Link:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/LisaFarrell.html#BramblesExc

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Brambles-and-Thorns-ebook/dp/B00A5W1NLI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354983401&sr=8-1&keywords=Brambles+and+thorns+lisa+farrell

Christmas Holly

5 Dec

Another welcome to SuttonFox at GSP Christmas Promo. 🙂
SF%20Bio%20Pic%202010%20copy
An avid reader since childhood, Sutton was captured early by the written word. As a teenager she filled notebook upon notebook with angsty poetry, and spent many hours making up stories on long walks home from school.
     Life intruded before she could seek publication, and she willingly gave herself over to college, employment, marriage, motherhood, and all of the wonderful time consuming things we call life.
     Only as she’s gained experience and learned as we all do, to juggle schedules, activities and responsibilities, has she found the time to pursue her passion for writing.
     A native Coloradan, Sutton now calls the bluegrass state of Kentucky home. One she happily shares with the love of her life and two cats.
     Sutton loves to hear from readers. Please feel free to contact her and let her know if you enjoyed her stories!

To learn more about Sutton, check out her website at:
http://www.suttonfox.com

Her book we are highlighting today is Christmas Holly.
ChristmasHolly4
Young, beautiful, and certain of her future, Holly Clark fully expected to have a wonderful time attending her mother’s annual Christmas Eve bash. The one thing she didn’t expect—was her own untimely death.

Gallery owner and world renowned artist, Greg Marshall is desperate to relive his past. Until he receives a startling visit from a woman he believed to be the love of his life. Her sudden appearance has the power to change everything.

Love doesn’t mean what it used to. Can the past really affect the future, or can the future transform the past?

Excerpt:

Manners be damned. One more time would be way too many. Her temper came online just about the time her shoes became visible. Again.
     “How much longer do I have to do this?” Holly Clark really wanted to slap the woman standing behind the desk.
     “As long as it takes.” Zahara, the administrative assistant responded with a stellar you-are-a-pain-in-the-ass look.
     “I’ve been doing it for twelve years!” Impatient, she worked to tamp down the irritation which seemed to swamp her every Christmas Eve. Patience must be part of her penitence; she just had to do her best to ignore it. Along with being named Holly. Around the holidays, the jokes ran non-stop. Imbeciles. Like she hadn’t heard them all already?
     “I’m sorry, Holly,” the woman put emphasis on her name, like it wasn’t real or something. “Until you’ve saved ten souls, you can’t go on. Those are the rules.” She folded her arms across her chest. “I don’t see what you’re so upset about. You’ve saved nine already. You only have one more to go.”
     “I’d like to talk to your supervisor.” Maybe intimidation would work. She narrowed her eyes, propped her fists on her hips, and gave the woman her strongest I’ll-kick-your-ass glare. “Now.”
     The bitch actually had the nerve to roll her eyes.
     “Puuuhlleeeeze.” Unfolding her arms, the surly assistant leaned forward, eyes intense. “He doesn’t want to talk to you.” She picked up the clipboard resting on the desk in front of her, along with a copy of Ghosting at Holidays. The official handbook of the only mostly dead. “Look, it’s not my fault you drove off that bridge into the water and drowned.” She held up one hand to forestall any interruption. “I know. You dropped your cell phone while trying to read texted directions to a Christmas party. And yes, that explains the snowberries and golden chains in your hair, the barely there red dress, and those four-inch heeled gladiator sandals which still look hot after all these years. We have the same conversation every Christmas Eve. The boss says you still haven’t quite learned what you need to know. By the time you save your tenth soul, you should understand and be able to move on.”
     “As the Ghost of Christmas Future, I can only show them their choices. I can’t choose for them,” she argued. “The last three weren’t even interested in changing their ways. They didn’t even care what became of them as long as they had plenty of money!”
     Stubborn could be her middle name. Just ask Mom. Frustration made her groan. Thoughts of her mother made her sad. They’d always had so much fun shopping and wrapping presents, preparing for her mother’s annual fête. A former model, happily married to high profile attorney, her mother held the soiree at a different club every year.
     And she hated being reminded of how she’d died. She should have just asked for directions to the party before she left, not been so certain she knew everything. It would have kept her from fumbling around with her phone, and she wouldn’t be here now. She’d be with her mother, and—the past was past. Going over and over it wouldn’t change things. In her world, that was fact.
     “That’s true. It’s a different world today.” Admin extraordinaire shrugged her shoulders. “So, it will take as long as it takes.” With a disdainful sniff, Zahara disappeared. “Good luck. And Merry Christmas, Holly.” Her voice echoed eerily through the room.
     “Merry frickin’ Christmas to you, too!” she grumbled. People appearing and disappearing in a puff of smoke still unnerved her after all these years. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to it. What was wrong with ordinary doors?
     With a puff of smoke, Tinsel Wilson appeared before her. “Hey, Holly.” He gave her the once over. “How’s my favorite brunette? Still lookin’ good after all these years.”
     He reached for her and thankfully, without substance she felt nothing save a brush of cool air. Although she did move away when his hands reached to cup her breasts. The Ghost of Christmas Present creeped her out. He had to be almost double her age, even though he’d only passed on two years ago. Well, the age she’d died at, anyway. No one had to know she was fast approaching forty. She didn’t look a day over twenty-seven. The age she’d been when she’d drowned. Thankfully, there were some benefits to this gig.
     “You’re up, pretty girl. I got him nice and worked up for ya.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
     “It’s a man this time?” she queried. Great. Once they got a good look at her, it took at least three visions to get them to focus on anything but sex. “Thanks, Tinsel.” With a snap of her fingers and a puff of smoke, she vanished.  

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/SuttonFox.html#CHollyExc

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Holly-ebook/dp/B0046A9O16/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354734483&sr=1-1&keywords=Christmas+Holly+sutton+fox

The Haunting of Bramble Briar

4 Dec

DSCN0844
Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.

Her book that we are highlighting today is The Haunting of Bramble Briar.
TheHauntingofBrambleBriar2
On the outskirts of a picturesque village in the Yorkshire Dales stood a cottage called Bramble Briar. It was over one hundred years old and at one time the roof had been thatched; now it was slate.

Why the previous owners had replaced it was a mystery; but Bramble Briar was a house of mystery, with secrets people only whispered about in quiet corners; especially if those people were Estate Agents.

Excerpt:

A couple of weeks previous, there had been three properties on the estate agents’ books I’d been interested in: Wisteria Cottage, The Anvil in Clay Bottom and Bramble Briar on Old Church Lane. Now there were only the two; Wisteria Cottage had been sold the day prior to my visit.

The Anvil once belonged to the village blacksmith, so the estate agent informed me; hence its name. It was well-maintained and came with two outbuildings and a stable, but as I had no intentions of buying a horse, or starting a riding school, I turned down the invitation to view. It was also a tad outside of my price range.

I wasn’t short of money. I’d made some good investments over the years playing the stock markets, and luck was with me when I sponsored an unknown pop-group that turned out to be a winner, and was still paying me handsome profits.

The outdated sepia photograph in the estate agent window showed Bramble Briar, years before, with a thatched roof. Now it was slate. I’d have been much happier if the previous owners had left it as it was; slate looked so out of place on a cottage built of grey Yorkshire stone.

What I couldn’t understand was why anyone would go to all that unnecessary expense and then, so soon after, put the property back on the market. However, I was soon to learn more.

“Put that down, Missus. It’s our job not yours. That’s what you’re paying us for.”

I put down the kitchen stool I’d been carrying through to the cottage, as the furniture removal man requested; he nodded to his mate and received a sly wink in return.

“How much longer will you be?” I asked. Both men had spent more time standing around gossiping and smoking than getting on with the job, and as I was paying by the hour, I was getting impatient.

“Won’t be much longer now, will we, Bert? Mind you, we’d be done much quicker if you slipped the kettle on and made us a cuppa. Two sugars in mine, love, only one in Marlon’s. He’s on a diet.”

I knew it was no use arguing so I went indoors, unpacked the kettle and plugged it in. Minutes later I handed the steaming beverages over to the men; half an hour later, they decided to pick up where they had left off.

It wasn’t long, however, before Bert, complaining of a bad back, made himself comfy in one of my armchairs in the front garden, leaving Marlon to finish off, as he put it.

“Nice view you’ve got from ‘ere, ain’t it, Missus?” he remarked, mopping his brow with a grimy teacloth sized handkerchief.

“Yeah, better than the view from the back,” chipped in Marlon. “Bloody graveyard. ‘Ave you seen it?”

Bert hadn’t, and he was soon on his feet, going to investigate. “Did you know about this before you bought the place, Missus?” he asked upon his return.

I assured him I did and plonked myself down on the vacated chair before he had time to. He took the hint, and went back to help cart the last of the boxes from the furniture van.

“I bet nobody told you about the spooky history of Bramble Briar though, did they?” Marlon stood in front of me; arms folded, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth.

“What history?” I asked.

“You’ll find out for yourself soon enough, just like the last lot did. And—”

I cut him off in mid-sentence with a flattened palm turned to him. I wasn’t interested. I just wanted them gone; I’d had more than enough.

“I’m just nipping inside to get my cheque book. I can see you’re nearly finished,” I said. Bert got the message, picked up the chair and with Marlon’s help, carried it into the cottage.

The cheque I made out for the exact amount, no tip included. Mumbling something definitely not complimentary when I handed it over, the men clambered into the removal van and drove off, gears grating.

I didn’t feel guilty. The day was half gone, and I had a lot to do before I could take a break. A job that should have taken the removal men no more than three hours at the most, had been dragged out to four. I was glad to see them go.

That night I slept the sleep of the dead. No sooner had my head touched the pillow than I was off, out like a light. I awoke the next day to the sound of the morning chorus, feeling refreshed and ready to start work. The sun shone, I was in a good mood and it promised to be a lovely day. What could possibly go wrong?

After a breakfast of tea toast and marmalade, I decided to take a walk in the back garden before getting dressed for the day. Apart from the graveyard and the ruins of a church, there was no other property nearby. I could have strolled outside stark naked, if I’d wanted.

I trod carefully down the overgrown, weed-covered cinder path, to the wall that separated my property from the church graveyard. Everything looked peaceful—a stone angel, hands folded in prayer, stood no more than a foot away from where I was standing. Tombstones, lichen-covered, many at sloped angles, dozed peacefully in the early morning sunlight. Feeling like an intruder, I made my way back to the cottage, but the door I had left open and unlocked was now shut tight; wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I pushed, pulled and rattled. Admitting defeat, I made my way round to the front hoping to gain entry that way. No such luck, the door was firmly bolted as I knew it would be; I was locked out and had no idea how I could get in.

I plonked down on the front doorstep and sat head-in-hands trying to find a solution to my problem. I couldn’t phone for a locksmith, as my mobile was upstairs in the bedroom on the bedside table along with my car keys. I couldn’t phone for help or drive anywhere.

Time dragged and there was nothing I could do but sit and wait. The sun had gone in and rain threatened. I was just giving up hope of anyone passing by when I heard a car coming down the lane. I dashed outside and stood arms waving, yelling, “Stop! Stop!” at the top of my voice. The vehicle slewed to one side, narrowly missing me, before coming to a halt. The driver was the village postman, looking shaken and none too happy as he walked towards me.

“What’s up?” he asked, face scowling. “Don’t you realise you could have caused a nasty accident jumping out at me like that? It’s a good job I was looking where I was going, weren’t it?”

“Yes, I really am sorry,” I smiled in way of apology. “It was the only way I could think of getting you to stop.”

“What’s up, then?” he repeated.

I explained what the trouble was and asked if he could help me in any way. It took him less than two seconds to open the back door, pressing down the latch and pushing it open with one finger. I felt like an idiot.

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Violetta.html#BrambleExc

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunting-Bramble-Briar-ebook/dp/B006GKBGUG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354645295&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Haunting+of+Bramble+Briar

Toys, Lights and Trinkets…

2 Dec

JIM
Today it is our privilege to host a book from the collection of Jim Woods on the GSP Christmas Promo.

Jim Woods wrote novels and short stories, many of which stand alone, while others are assembled into collections, in worldwide milieus. He was a world traveler, having researched numerous exotic locales as settings for his stories. Much of his world travel was for big game hunting which, coupled with his background as editor with Petersen’s Hunting, Guns & Ammo and Guns magazines, frequently allowed him to bring firearms into play in his tales. Jim Woods passed away October 8, 2012; he lived and wrote in Tucson.

The seasonal release we are highlighting is Toys, Lights and Trinkets.

ToysLightsandTrinkets4
The stories in this eclectic trilogy are unrelated, except for their setting at the end of year holiday season. The first must be saddled with the based on true events disclaimer; the next is related just the way it really happened; and the last story is pure fantasy.
Excerpt:

     GHOST BREAKERS (third story in book)

The wizened old witchdoctor in Zimbabwe had been right all along. Although he obviously did not know us—my wife Anne and me—he was much too believable in his wisdom. He somehow knew things about us he had no need or right to know, but we solicited the interview. No one tricked or coerced us to consult him, so we listened to him. Anne and I were a lot younger then, and at the same age, and on one of our several safaris in southern Africa when the old Mashona gentleman consulted the bits of carefully arranged chips of mystic bone that spoke to him. One of his revelations predicted Anne would live ten years longer than me. He was right on; I crossed over a full decade before Anne joined me once again. And while it is true, there is a time to die, Anne’s family would take her passing especially hard, it coming so near Christmas—a time that should be reserved for happy memories.

Even though I left earlier, and fittingly, in the fall of the season and the autumn of my time, I couldn’t stay away. Our lifetime together was too strong in the physical world to be fractured, simply because I happened to be deceased. I hung around the house to keep Anne company. Admittedly, a few friends and even family tittered behind her back about her carrying on conversations with me. We tried to pay no attention, and really were not offended. In fact. it was amusing to us knowing what was going on and they only could guess, and speculate that Mom or Grandma, depending on which generation was the questioning source, was hanging on to the cusp of dementia. Anne and I held a lifetime of memories to recall between ourselves, and we untiringly relived and talked them over.

Anne and I stood together, hand-in-hand, at her funeral service. Being unseen, except to one another, made it easy for us to get a front row view. The Anne beside me was beautifully young, and she noted the same about me. Shucks, I don’t mean she said I was beautiful, just she thought me young and in my prime. We both agreed the body on display the day before at the funeral home was not Anne, but some wrinkled lady who still showed evidence of having been beautiful, and if we examined her closely, my red-haired Anne did show through. Everyone in attendance had nothing but kind words for my bride, as they did for me as well, ten years back. The difference was at my wake; everyone still talked respectfully about me, which was to be expected since Anne was present for all the comments and conversations. That condition changed somewhat drastically at the after-service gathering in remembrance of Anne. It was our granddaughter, Rochelle, whom we both loved, who opened the less than lovable exchange with her mother, Anne’s only child, Charlene, from her first marriage which went awry before I came into her life.

                                                                      <>
“What are you going to do with all of Grandmother’s crap?”

“I’m surprised you’d say something like that. Mom and Dad may have accumulated a lot of things over their lives and travels, but certainly no crap. They always bought quality.”
Good for you, daughter, Paxton telepathed. You tell her!

“Sorry, I didn’t really mean it that way. They just have so much stuff. How do you even start disposing of it all?”

“Let’s not rush into disposing of anything. I still have to locate the will, although Mom has told me everything goes to me and I’m listed as executor.”

What do you mean, have to locate the will? It’s right where I told you it would be, in the safe, and the safe combination is pasted behind that framed certificate in my library.

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JimWoods.html#ToysLightsExc

http://www.amazon.com/Toys-Lights-and-Trinkets-ebook/dp/B00A9K869S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354477297&sr=1-1&keywords=Toys%2C+Lights+and+Trinkets

Shandy’s Gift…..

1 Dec

100_3878

Today on the GSP Christmas Promo we welcome Sara Dean.

About herself she says:

I live in West Virginia, with my husband and my two young children. I also have several picture e-books and one picture book in print available: Bobby Bunny And The Missing Tooth, published through AKW Books, The Puppy Who Found A Boy, published through Publish America and Clean Clothes For Bobby Bear, through Fairy Tales And Dreams Publishing.

Her book that we are highlighting today is Shandy’s Gift.
ShandysGift2

In the sequel to Forgiving Jesse, Shandy decides to surprise Jesse by inviting his estranged dad to stay with them over the holidays. She hopes that their time together will start to rebuild their broken relationship. But is the resentment and anger too great to allow them to start over? Or will Jesse be willing to give him one more chance when he faces a crisis with his own son?

Excerpt:

The tree was decorated with every ounce of tinsel we could possibly find, our attempt to hide the fact that it looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

Shandy stood in front of it, holding seven-month-old Jesse Jr., known as JJ, for short. He kept trying to pull the tinsel from the branches, while Shandy tried in vain to pry his chubby fingers off of it.

I snapped picture after picture of them, laughing the whole time.

In the corner, Shandy’s mom glared at me as she ate the hard-as-stone sugar cookies Shandy had baked that morning. If we had owned a dog, I would have fed them to it, but since we didn’t, I let her mom eat them. After all, there was no point in letting them go to waste.

I put the camera down and sat down across from her. She picked up a Santa Claus cookie, bit its head off and glared at me again. I knew she was thinking, If only I could do the same to you for knocking up my little girl.

“So, how’s your first Christmas as Grandma going?” I asked.

“Would have been better if you would have waited ten years.”

“No, by then you wouldn’t be able to get around without the help of a walker.”

She paused, the cookie halfway to her mouth. “I’m only forty-five.”

“Well, if you keep eating cookies like you’re doing now, you’ll be too fat to walk on your own.”

Shandy came over, still pulling tiny silver strings from JJ’s hands. “Will you two quit fighting? It’s Christmas Eve.”

“I’ll sign a temporary truce for JJ’s sake,” I said, smiling, since I got the last shot in before the truce began.

“Yeah, me, too,” she mumbled. “Now, give me the baby and you two go get his presents. I want to see him open them.”

I reached under the tree and pulled out the small silver package Shandy had carefully wrapped the night before.

We were only eighteen, newly married and extremely broke, so all we could afford was a rattle. Not that it mattered. He was too little to understand what all the fuss was about, and happy just to stare at the wrapping paper.

Shandy’s mom bought him a swing, and my grandma bought him a bouncy seat. The rattle seemed so small and stupid next to their presents.

I pulled Shandy to the side and handed her a small box.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Just open it,” I said.

Inside were two small silver earrings, shaped like hearts. I found them on clearance at a nearby store, but I didn’t tell her that.

Her eyes lit up. “Jesse, they’re beautiful!” she cried, wrapping me in a big bear hug.

She let go and tried them on. “Your present will be here any time,” she said, while checking out her appearance in a compact mirror.

“Did you order me something?” I asked.

“No,” she said hesitantly. “Not exactly.”

The baby started to fuss. She closed her compact and went to check on him.

I was still wondering what she was talking about, when there was a knock on the door.

I threw it open and came face-to-face with my dad for the first time in over a year.

“Merry Christmas, Jesse,” he said.

The snow was at least a foot deep and still falling heavily all around him. I knew he had to be cold, but I slammed the door in his face anyway.

“What are you doing?” Shandy cried. “That’s your present.”

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/SaraDean.html#ShandyExc

http://www.amazon.com/Shandys-Gift-Forgiving-Jesse-ebook/dp/B00A5WL31I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354386624&sr=1-1&keywords=Shandy%27s+gift+sara+dean