Tag Archives: prague

Birds of a Feather…

16 Apr

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Leslie Soule.

Birds of a Feather by Leslie Soule

Alexis doesn’t understand her weird grandma, who buys enough food for an army and keeps unusual items stored in her closet. Then she has to write a paper for her high school English class, and her grandmother becomes her inspiration as she imagines her grandma Diane’s life as a Steampunk story set in an alternate France. Napoleon has been killed in the Battle of the Nile. After the storming of the Bastille, a group forms to protect the heroes of the People’s Liberation Movement – that group is the Birds of a Feather. Follow Alexis as she weaves a tale of courage, hope, and adventure in the age of steam.



Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Dear Diary,

     My grandma is the weirdest person ever. OMG. Her house is so dark and stuffy, like it’s haunted or something. I opened the hall closet when she went out to the grocery store and left me at the house alone. That’s when I found the weirdest thing—a metal bird statue. The creepy part was that as I closed the door, I could have sworn I saw it blink! Thank goodness Dad came over after work to take Grandma and me out to dinner. You know how Grandma is with food—buys enough to feed an army and then it all goes bad and stuff is kept way past its expiration date.
     I remember how she’d make me finish every scrap of food on my plate. She’s gotten better about that over the years, but she still tells me how lucky I am to even have food. So anyway, whatever. If I don’t like something, I’ll just throw it away when she’s not looking. Oh, and all lunch she rambled on and on about how we’re all so lucky to live in America. Grandma Diane is from France. She came here a long time ago. So, I have a short story due this Friday for my Creative Writing class and I’ve decided to try writing a Steampunk story about Grandma.

Monday, October 18th, 2010

     I am SO reminded of why I hate history. Well, besides the fact that Mr. Duke goes on and on about the most boring stuff that I almost fall asleep every day in first period. So I’ve got that Steampunk story due Friday and Mrs. Martinez said we have to make the stories believable and stuff and we have to write about the research we did for it and everything. I spent like all of my lunch today in the library while that dorky aide Cory ogled me. It was way creepy—like movie stalker creepy. Anyway, here’s what I’ve got so far:
     —Story will be about the end of the French Revolution.
     —Little man Napoleon was killed at the Battle of the Nile. He would have been twenty-nine. That gets him out of the way, and that was a huge obstacle since he’s in like all the French history books.
     —I had to make the King and Marie Antoinette be dead and be killed by this liberation movement. This movement also did the whole Bastille thing. Anyway, I’m gonna write Grandma in as the main character. I feel like I need to give her a love interest—maybe I’ll make him look like that really cute guy that sits next to me in fourth period English. What a hottie. I think he’s going out with that Megan girl though. Ugh. I totally don’t know what he sees in her.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

     Two more days left to go and I’ve totally been putting off writing this thing. Maybe I should have picked a different type of story. But Steampunk just sounded so cool. Jenna is like almost done with her story though and it’s a romance and I didn’t think we were even allowed to write that. So I looked up Steampunk to see what else I could write about other than the French stuff, and it’s about machines and things. I thought about that robot statue thing in Grandma’s closet. It would be perfect.

Friday, October 21st, 2010

     So I turned in my story today. I think it came out okay. Becca asked me if I’m gonna show it to Grandma Diane and I was all “NO!” Lol.

Chapter One

Paris, France. 1802. End of the French Revolution.

     Diane LeFleur had been four years old when she peered out from behind her mother’s dirty apron and took in the smoke and the shouting—the wild, rampant chaos that was the storming of the Bastille. She could remember it all so clearly. She could close her eyes and see it playing out on the darkness of her eyelids. That was thirteen years ago. Things were different now.
     Diane glanced at the feather tattoo on her left wrist. I am a member of the People’s Liberation Movement, too. In honor of their liberation—one that allowed them to fly from the horrors of the tyranny of the Bastille—loyal members called themselves the Birds of a Feather, getting feather tattoos and adopting bird-like surnames to show their loyalty. Though Diane had never been a prisoner herself, she was eternally scarred by the things she had seen. Death to the monarchy.


     Things were so different now. France was no longer France—it was now known only as Cinque-Levier. The major cities had become city-states. Paris, The City of Lights, had become a place of stark contrast, a battleground of illumination and shadows. Paris was now Contrastique. The city of Lyon had been given the name Coeur De Lion by its self-proclaimed ruler and benefactor, the wealthy businessman Frank Mercer.
     Coeur De Lion was the rival of the city-state of Contrastique, in an arms race that was quickly picking up speed. In Contrastique, the search was on for the universal solvent. Diane Falcon was going to be leading an expedition into Coeur De Lion, a potentially dangerous reconnaissance mission involving infiltrating the headquarters building of Tri-Quest, Frank Mercer’s corporation.
     It was the Age of Steam and the Age of Innovation and the Age of Metalwork, with all five city-states vying to be the winner of an arms race. Diane was sure Contrastique would win. She knew her father’s abilities would tip the scales in their favor.
     Diane admired her father’s skill as a mechanical genius. He routinely hid himself away at all hours of the day and night, tinkering in his workshop, constantly busy with projects. Diane hadn’t picked up his love of tinkering, but she possessed the qualities of a natural leader. The lack of a mother for ten years of her life had made her bold, forced her to grow up like she’d been raised as a boy. At seventeen, she now sat in her father’s workshop in Contrastique, creating plans for a meeting.






The Cat Lottery….

23 Apr

Today on the GSP Wee Folk Pomo we welcome John Des Fosses.


John Des Fosses is a sixty-five years old retiree, living in Williamsburg, VA, with wife of 43 years, Sandra Anne.

John was raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts with one brother and three sisters and two loving parents. He graduated from Holyoke High School, where in his senior year he earned an All American High School swimmer title.

John attended one semester at Springfield College, Springfield, MA. A financial crisis forced him to leave college. From 1966—1970 he served with the US Navy aboard a submarine, the USS Salmon, SS573, stationed in San Diego, CA. He attained a rank and rate of E-5 torpedoman.

John returned to college, after a two-year stint with a property management company in San Diego. He attended a local college for two years after which, Sandi and he left San Diego for Manhattan, Kansas and Kansas State University. He graduated in 1976 with a BS degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

After college he worked for GE Medical Systems, Marquette Electronics, Decision Data, and Econocom. In 1987 John started he own computer company and he is now semi–retired after 22 years in business.

His book that we are highlighting today is The Cat Lottery.


Camille has exhausted the last of her nine lives. Under strict cat law, she must depart this earth for the eternal tenth life. Pioline and Poulet, her eight-week-old kittens, are left behind. Willed by Camille’s departed spirit, Boots, her aging brother, finds the kittens under the deck of John and Sandi’s house. They are wired with fear and spirits so lost they might never be found.

Boots, a life long stray, confesses he is ill suited for the caring of kittens. He must devise a plan to convince the humans to take the kittens into their home. A more daunting task is to convince the kittens they should become house cats. Sandi becomes an unwitting partner in his plan. John becomes an unwitting foil. Learn the laws that govern a cat’s life and how they deal with death, fear, joy, humor and love.


Camille’s kittens were born in early October when leaves fell from the tall trees in the yard, weaving colorful patterns of red, gold, and orange. As they landed, the once-green grass of summer gave way to the hues of fall. The warm breeze turned cool, signaling to all the coming of December’s wintry nights. Camille wished her two kittens had been born during the spring, but this hadn’t happened.

Mother and litter lived beneath a wooden deck attached to a house at the end of a dead-end street. The owners of the house, John and Sandi, built the large deck so they could enjoy the only comfortable seasons in Virginia Beach: spring and fall.

The deck had a rectangular shape and was eighteen inches off the ground. A forty-two inch railing followed the edges. At each end were two sets of wooden steps each with three planks: one leading to another set of stairs and the back door of the house, the other to a covered stack of firewood some thirty feet away and parallel to a cedar fence. John had cut a hole in the deck so a twenty-foot tall maple tree wouldn’t have to be cut down. The tree provided ample shade for the potted plants scattered about the deck.

The ground beneath the deck was covered with years of accumulated leaves, some put there by John, some blown there by the wind. Although the leaves had a musty smell, they made a soft bed on the hard clay soil and offered protection from the winter winds. The leaves also provided a hiding place from humans, and from animals that walked through the yard. It was a safe place to live and play, and it was the only world the kittens had ever known.

From time to time, Camille would leave her kittens while she hunted, but she had come to realize she couldn’t run or stalk her prey the way she once had. She remembered the days when to catch a bird at a feeder was mere kitten’s play. And when mice were just as easy.

Because winter was nearly upon them and food supplies were scarce, Camille often felt her kittens were being punished for the poor timing of their births. She also knew she’d used up all of her nine cat lives and her time on earth was limited.

The kittens were too young to know their mother was preparing for a journey—a journey traveled only by those cats who had used up their nine lives. Camille knew she was about to travel alone to a place where her ninth life would end and her eternal tenth life would begin. It would be a place where there were fields of catnip and pools of honey milk. It would be a place where peace and harmony were joined together. A place unlike anywhere she’d visited as an outdoor cat on earth. She had to take great care to keep this trip a secret from her kittens. They must not know anything about it, she thought. Not knowing was important for their survival.

With all her courage and determination, Camille put off her journey as long as the rules that govern a cat’s life would allow. But on this afternoon when colored leaves fell from the trees, she knew her time had come.

She was thankful her kittens were nine weeks old and fully weaned from her milk and could eat solid food. There had been few occasions lately, however, when she could make solid food available to them. One of those occasions was the previous night; it would be their last meal together.

Just before dawn, while the kittens had slept soundly and safely beneath the deck, Camille had seen an opossum snatch a half-chewed turkey leg from a tipped-over garbage can. The can more than likely had been turned over by Boris in the night. Boris was a three-year-old Doberman Pinscher who hated every living thing. Camille worried about her kittens when Boris was around. He often passed through the yard. She knew that had he seen her kittens he’d have tried to snatch them up. But why would Boris miss this morsel of food? Camille figured he had found something more alive and challenging to chase and catch.

From under a red-berry holly bush, Camille watched the opossum climb head-first into the trashcan and back out with his prize. He gripped the brown, meaty turkey leg like a fat cigar in his narrow, pointy mouth and headed toward the back of the house. Camille followed close behind.

Waddling as fast as he could, the opossum found a safe spot near a pile of leaves and twigs by a cedar shed. He sat down and prepared to eat.

Camille crept up without his noticing her. Quietly, she filled her lungs to their fullest capacity and let go a howl that broke the night’s silence like a fire truck’s siren.

The startled opossum jumped two feet in the air, fell hard to the ground, and played dead. Camille wasted no time worrying about whether the opossum was actually dead. She bit deeply into the turkey leg and dragged it to her hungry kittens. She’d been sneaking up on and scaring opossums all of her life, and she really enjoyed doing it. They fell dead before her scream every time.

Her kittens ate heartily until their stomachs were full and little was left. The bone remained near the nest of leaves like a trophy won by a great hunter.

The next morning, Camille watched her kittens play as the sun began to rise. The boy kitten, Pioline, stalked his sister, Poulet, who tried to ignore him. Pioline had long, jet-black fur. Camille thought this was odd because there had never been longhaired cats in the family. Black fur looked very good on him, she decided. Poulet had jet-black fur, too, but it was short like Camille’s. The true family resemblance was in their golden eyes and ink-black pupils. They have my eyes, Camille thought, smiling. Their day together was quiet, peaceful and happy.

It was a half-hour before the sun dropped behind the weathered fence when Camille left her kittens. She did not utter a sound. The kittens watched with surprised eyes as she passed the perimeter of the deck and headed toward the shed. She had never before left to hunt at this time of day. The kittens thought something was wrong, but didn’t say anything.

Links: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JohnDesFosses.html#CatLotExc

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Cat-Lottery-ebook/dp/B008R19PBY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366738359&sr=8-1&keywords=the+cat+lottery+john+de+fosses

The Silver House….

26 Mar

Today on the GSP Fireflies Promo we welcome Janet French.


Of herself she says:

I live in beautiful Shropshire in the UK and keep a craft shop. Authors like David Gemmell and Anne McCaffrey have always been on the top of my reading pile and are my inspiration to write. I have no interest in stories of the mundanities of everyday life but give me a dragon and a magic sword and I am good to go.

Her book we are highlighting today is The Silver House.


The Zashran invaders are at the gates of Cardanon. As the city falls the Dragon Mothers take the Silver House and the city’s children into hiding away from the mortal world.

The future of the House, the threads of Power and the land itself are in the hands of a ragbag of escapees. Aric, the new Duke of Cardanon; Agbani, a beggar girl; Marka, a House Sister; Bertran, a merchant’s son; and a group of rescued children are led by Genya, a stranded Dragon Mother. Used to the safety of city life they must evade the pursuing Zashran and find their way through a strange and exciting countryside with only their courage and resourcefulness to rely on.

It is up to these few to face the dangers of the road and find their way to the heroes who can help them save the House and their world.


Chapter One

Duke Coric leaned back into the shifting shadows against the stained and broken wall that used to be a part of Cardanon’s finest inn. Across the broad street, the Great North Gates shuddered under the pounding of the Zashran rams and the noise filled the sooty air.

Coric was tall and well made, of middle years, with an air of inherited stature and grace but the slight stoop to his shoulders and the weakness of his blue eyes betrayed a man used to seeing the world in close up, in books and histories. Three months of siege had not made his armour comfortable nor his sword fit his hand. This was the end of his city. One thousand years of history was coming to a crashing finale under his rule and the last of his dynasty would fall with it.

The ugly glare from buildings left to burn in the night lit the scene with a hellish light. Coric slid sideways toward the deeper shadows and wondered if he could be out of sight.

Even now the Duke was not left unattended, a millennium of protocol was not lost so easily, but the humour of seeing his Steward, Eoc, picking his way through ruin to offer him water had been exhausted many weeks ago. Coric scrubbed at his gritty eyes with the back of his leather gauntlet and heaved himself away from the wall.

He addressed the man, “There are plenty of men who need that more than I do. Give it to someone who can still help this city.” Coric was thankful he could still hear some authority in his voice.

Eoc stiffened, affronted, as much as he was able against a ragged crutch and stood his ground.

“My apologies, Eoc, but I am resolute in this if in nothing else. If there is water left, give it to fighting men. I am of no use to my city now.”

“Don’t say that, Sir!” Eoc pleaded. “There is only you and the House holding us together.”

Coric followed Eoc’s gaze up to where the tower of the Silver House, high behind them, was hidden in the night.

“I still pray Power for help but how can any of us hope to see the morning?” Coric’s voice betrayed him with a tremble.

“We will defend the House, Sir, even if the gates fall.”

Coric shook his head and looked around in the guttering light at the muster of men waiting to meet the Zashran invaders. He could not see more than a handful without signs of injury and those were exhausted and half-starved. The wounded that could bear any weapon at all had been brought from the surgeons’ care and were lining up before the gates. Coric’s eyes misted as he watched the men propped against buildings, their swords strapped to their hands. Women were moving out from the shadows carrying whatever weapons the fallen fighting men had left behind. The Zashran took no prisoners and gave no quarter. Cardanon’s remnants were choosing death in the open rather than waiting to be butchered.

He rubbed at his eyes again and looked up to the walls, searching in the darkness for his son. Aric’s pale face was looking anxiously down at him but turned away as soon as he saw his father was still standing. Coric finally pushed all weakness away and moved to stand at the front of Cardanon’s defenders. He threw his helmet aside to let the firelight catch his bright hair as he raised his sword in a last gesture of defiance. The gates finally cracked and buckled in front of them.

High above the city in the Silver House, children in nightgowns sat in warm groups around the nursery fires waiting for their bedtime drinks. Sisters sat with them, smiling and talking softly while they helped to comb the knots out of long hair, damp from the bath. A Mother gathered half a dozen toddlers to sit with her on the hearthrug for a story and reached out to take one of the latest arrivals onto her lap.

Frieda stood in the doorway for a moment, letting her silver robe blend into the candlelight and hide her from casual eyes. She gazed hungrily at the cosy scene and indulged herself briefly by imagining how the children would snuggle up to her and share their stories if she joined them, but the danger of the night was waiting outside the North Gates. Dark wings were stretching in the blackness beyond the city, yearning to fly. The haunted eyes of the children that had recently come to the House from the city gave her a reminder she did not need. Everything was going to change tonight. She smiled back to the children who noticed her and left them to be soothed by the comfortable winding down of the day.

The Sisters knew Frieda was watching them but preserved the atmosphere of unhurried calm. There was an appointment to keep in the tower room but the bedtime clock had to be allowed to tick its regular routine for the last time. The House Mothers had placed quietness like a bubble around the room to make a gentle sanctuary but the Sisters’ ears, able to reach beyond the glamour, could still hear the sounds of distant battle. These precious children were the city’s last treasures and Silver House’s dilemma.

Frieda turned away from the children and closed the door softly behind her. She stood for a while with her hand on the wall beside the door, feeling herself a part of the life and strength that ran through the stone. The deep currents in the Power beat smooth and strong but little smudges of filth intruded where the Zashran worked their dark magic. Close by, she felt the surface eddies of unease set spinning by the Sisters’ fear sending ripples over the rich fullness of the House Mothers. She reached out into the city, avoiding the little dark spots the enemy was sowing, and assessed the strength of the city walls. The Power the House was holding in the stonework was being pushed back by noisome streaks of filth and fire. She sought out the sparks that were her Duke and her son. She found Duke Coric waiting with the last of Cardanon’s men, watching the inside of the North Gates bowing toward them under the rams of the Zashran horde. Aric was on the wall trying to clear defenders from the last ramparts before they fell. Children were still pelting the heads of the ram teams with whatever came to hand. Frieda’s pride and grief fuelled her resolve. She wrenched herself away from the looming dark beyond the city walls and raised her eyes to look about the hallway.

This House was her; its care was the work of her life. She looked with true love at the grey stone and the bright hangings she had commissioned to warm the corridors and please the children with pictures of animals and flowers. She remembered every set of small feet that had worn the pathways between the doors. All those children had run, hopped and skipped from dining room to schoolroom and bathroom to playroom but always back to the comfortable order of the nursery. How many children had been schooled here in the two hundred years of her rule? How many orphans had been raised with the Sisters’ and Mothers’ own few children? She could name them all. The siege of the city had given her the choice of fighting and perhaps postponing the end of Cardanon or trying to save the children. At the last, there was no choice for her, only the tedious process of going through the motions until the wayward and distracted House Mothers united behind her.

She left the glowing hallway to walk the narrower passages to the small hall by the kitchens. Here some busyness remained as Sisters came and went through the back door that led through the darkened kitchen gardens to the portress’ gate. The siege of the city had made nonsense of the rhythm of night and day. Away from the fragile peace around the children, domestic duties were done at need, not by the clock, but time was running out and the chores of everyday would soon be put aside for the night’s work. Frieda felt an urge to see all of the House, not to say goodbye but to hold its details fresh in her mind before the city fell. She knew she was trying to put off the hazard of the night’s work. She could never know her House any better.

The sounds of the siege were suddenly loud as the door opened. A Mother and two Sisters, their arms filled with babies, shepherded a bedraggled group of youngsters into the light. Welcoming hands led Sisters and children to the comfort of the kitchen fireside and reached out to soothe the bleakness in the eyes of those who had seen the spoiled city. Parents were still sending their children to the House, trusting they would be safe. Frieda wondered at such blind faith. If they knew what she planned to do would they still send the children? They probably would. There was nowhere else.

Velia, the newly arrived Mother, left the children at the fireside and shook out her amber cloak. She passed Frieda in the hallway and offered an empathic caress with her mind and a wry smile.

A group of young Sisters were about to go out but stopped when they saw Frieda.

“Will you bless us, Mother Frieda?” they pleaded. “We have to hurry.”

They already had all the blessing she could give but she would not deny them any comfort. She held her hands out to them and allowed them to see her House tattoos glowing softly from her fingertips and writhing sumptuously up her forearms. The Sisters touched their foreheads to the backs of Frieda’s hands in awe and reverence.

“You know you will not get back in time?” Frieda asked softly. She could see in their faces that their choices were made but she needed to say it. A fair girl, her opalescent cloak glimmering faintly, spoke for them all.

“We think we are still needed in the city more than we are in the House,” she said. She hesitated, then spoke in a rush.

“I don’t want to be here while my family is fighting. I need to go back to them.”

“There is no safety anywhere tonight.” Frieda smiled slightly. “You must choose as best you can. Go well, I hope we meet again.”

Links: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JanetFrench.html#SilverHExc




Read an Interview with Janet
Another Interview with Janet

Congratulations to Janet for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Novel Category for The Silver House.

Fortunes Told….

5 Feb


The GSP Romance Promo welcomes Julie Stahl.

Julie Stahl writes fiction, creative nonfiction, children’s books and poetry—just about anything, really. She has held (with varying degrees of fear and loathing) numerous jobs over the years, including, but not limited to, research assistant, waitress, secretary, college instructor, pre-school teacher, tutor and bartender. Somewhere along the way she managed to acquire some formal training in French and Experimental Psychology. She has come to the conclusion that Life is one big experiment, a concoction of perceptions we gather up as we go, shaped by chance and choice; trial and error. She takes refuge in laughter whenever possible. 

Her book that we are highlighting today is Fortunes Told.


Ava Brooks is wrestling with the realization that her love for Frank Mazzini—the first deep and potentially meaningful relationship she’s had since college some 19 years ago—is quickly turning into a trite monologue. Despondent at first, then bordering on desperate, Ava seeks to ratchet up her desirability quotient in Frank’s eyes, turning to any number of sources, including (but not limited to) a prescription for Viagra; self-help books she peruses on her breaks at the bookstore where she works; her hair dresser who happens to be Frank’s sister incognito; hypnosis; Lasik surgery; and last but not least, her best friend, Trudy, whose own personal life seems to be falling apart even as she attempts to help Ava spice up hers. Chapter by chapter and fortune by fortune, Ava begins to realize that love, like luck, comes in many disguises.




  As I approach the table with my cue stick, I ask myself which shot will set me up for another, rather than which shot I can make. This is a new way of thinking for me, a big picture perspective. Since I met Frank Mazzini I seem to have adopted this attitude not only toward my pool game, but my life in general.
    I look over at Frank for reassurance, like I always do when I’m in a tight spot. He’s in a corner and seated, but even in the shadows his presence is gripping, his bold good looks irresistible. Though not a tall man, Frank is sturdy and vibrant, with broad shoulders, a strong Roman nose, and a wide, slightly furrowed forehead. He’s the swarthy, Italian type, and at almost fifty years old, he radiates a kind of confidence that one can only accumulate with age and experience, encompassing everything from sexuality to professional expertise.
    He nods slightly, almost imperceptibly in my direction, as if to say, “You know what to do,” though we both know I don’t. I don’t have an intuitive understanding of the game the way Frank does. I chalk my stick and decide to wing it, my dilemma being the placement of the nine ball, in the way of the five just enough to make a nice, clean shot impossible.
    Frank, a pharmacist by day, is the team coach tonight. As I point to the five ball then the pocket with my stick, I feel his light touch on my arm. Momentarily I’m distracted by a warm tingling sensation deep inside my navel.
    “You’ll want to put some right English on that,” he says softly, and walks away. I do and make the shot, then two more before I scratch, giving my opponent a ball in hand.
    “Bad luck, Ava,” Frank says sympathetically. In a matter of minutes the game is over. My opponent, a wizened, grizzly-looking fellow who managed to mention by way of introduction that he started playing pool on his 63rd birthday, easily sinks the eight ball. I drop onto a bar stool to watch the other members of my team play. I’ve only been playing league pool for about six weeks. A year ago I never would have pictured myself doing this.
    The first time Frank and I played pool together, about a month after we started dating, Frank said, “You’re a natural.” He winked at me as he said it, an endearing trait that has grown on me since then.
    I laughed; sure he was either being facetious or had confused me with the blonde bombshell in tight jeans and low-cut sweater at the table next to ours who had just sunk three balls in a row effortlessly. But Frank had thus far displayed no talent for sarcasm, and a quick glance in the mirror over the bar removed all but the merest likelihood of anyone mistaking Anna Nicole over there for me. He said it again the next time we played and while I didn’t necessarily believe him, I did believe he meant it. That’s one of the things I like best about Frank: he’s probably the most honest person I’ve ever met. This has its pitfalls, as you might expect. For instance, if I wear a dress that I think is the hottest thing on the rack and I’m feeling all sexy and glam when he comes to pick me up, then he casually remarks that the bust line is off-centered, or the fabric too clingy around my ass (thereby accentuating the whole side-of-a-barn impression I’m forever attempting to eliminate), the dress comes off and the next day is hanging back on the rack at the store. He means no harm and actually, he’s doing me a favor. I mean, who wants to be seen in public wearing some dress that doesn’t flatter you, or a pair of shoes that cause your legs to look like Elmer Fudd’s, or worse yet, Bugs Bunny’s?
    Tonight I think how Frank has taught me everything I know about pool; that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. I imagine myself winning a BCA championship, making a speech to a cheering and adoring audience as I accept the trophy. “I don’t deserve this, really. Frank is the one who knows how to play; I just do what I know he would tell me to.” They would applaud my modesty and look admiringly over at Frank, as I do, and think what a good fit we must be.
    By the time we get back to Frank’s place we’re both exhausted. I fall asleep instantly and awaken toward dawn from a bizarre dream where I keep phoning Frank but he doesn’t answer. I want to believe he’s deathly ill, or lying paralyzed in a hospital bed as a result of road rage―someone else’s, naturally―but the nagging thought that he simply doesn’t want to talk to me keeps rearing its ugly head. Meanwhile, I’m being pursued myself; well, stalked would be more accurate, by Donald Trump. The man keeps hounding me, telling me to forget about Frank, that he’s nobody and can never give me the kind of life I deserve. He’s relentless and finally I agree to go out with him. On our first date he proposes, presenting me with an enormous, dazzling diamond that I’m sure I’d be afraid to ever even wear for fear of damaging the tendons in my ring finger. Courageously, I slip it on and hold my hand out in front of me, admiring the grandeur of the thing. Trump, on bended knee, is waiting for my reply, gazing adoringly up at me and holding his breath. I should feel lucky, I tell myself, and I open my mouth to say okay, “Sure, I’ll marry you, Donny,” but no words come out and all I can think about is Frank. Finally, on the brink of passing out, my suitor gasps for air, and when he can manage to speak again, asks me, “Why, Ava? Why do you love this man so much?” 







Lord Badger’s Adventures ….

9 Dec

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
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/gene.fehler

His book we are highlighting today is Lord Badger’s Adventures
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.


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:



Brambles and Thorns….

8 Dec

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.
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.


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?”


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.


Halloween Candy and a Christmas Tree…

6 Dec

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.

For more information, Check out:

Her booke that we are highlighting today is Halloween Candy and a Christmas Tree.
It’s the day after Halloween and 5 year old Pamela and 8 year old Jackson are still experiencing a sugar high. They’re driving their mother crazy and she can’t get them to stop fighting or bouncing off the walls. What’s the solution? Make them agree on something to do of course! The problem is all they want to do is put up the Christmas tree! Hilarity ensues as their mom tries to convince them to do ANYTHING else, loses the battle, and discovers that Halloween candy and a Christmas tree don’t make such a bad combination.

November first. My kids Pamela, age five, and Jackson, age eight, made it their sole mission to drive me crazy. This was probably largely because they spent the night stuffing themselves full of Halloween candy, and they no doubt had reached for it again before their eyes were open all the way next morning.

As I sipped my first cup of coffee, Pamela hopped; yes, hopped into the kitchen.

“Mom, I was thinking . . .” (hop, hop, hop) “. . .We should go to the park today.”

I glanced out the window at the rain; the high temperature was supposed to be only fifty-seven degrees.

“Not today,” I said, getting dizzy from seeing her hop in circles around me.

“But why?” she whined, not missing a hop.

“It’s too cold and wet.”

“I’m a bunny, and bunnies like rain.”

“No they don’t,” I said.

She stopped hopping, blinked several times, and began galloping.

“Then I’m a horse, and horses like rain.”

I looked at my coffee and sighed. I was never going to get peace, quiet or any more of my coffee until I got her to leave me alone.

“Do you know what horses really like?” I asked.

Her eyes twinkled in anticipation. “What?”

“They like to watch a Saturday morning cartoon while their mommy drinks a cup of coffee.”

For some insane reason, this worked.

“Yay!” she screamed, as she galloped through the kitchen and into the living room.

I picked up my cup and downed as much as I could before Jackson appeared in the doorway.

His blond hair was sticking out in ten different directions. His Transformer pajamas were wrinkled from tossing and turning in his sleep, but he wasn’t galloping, hopping or whining this early in the morning, so he was my favorite child for the moment; that is until he opened his mouth.

“Pamela took the remote from me, and said that Mommy horse told her to do it. I tried to take it back and accidentally elbowed her in the nose. Now it’s bleeding.” He said it so calmly it took a minute to sink in that I needed to move, NOW!

Pamela was sitting on the couch, her bloody hands covering her nose, her eyes full of tears.

I grabbed a towel and cleaned her up. Once her nose stopped bleeding and I made sure it wasn’t broken, the kids decided to start fighting over the remote again.

I was tired, experiencing caffeine withdrawal, and the thought of another elbow colliding with another nose sent me over the edge. “Both of you sit down—now!” I screamed.

The remote fell to the floor with a thud, and both kids obeyed.

“I am going to finish my coffee and maybe even have a second one. When I get done, I’m coming back in and I want you two to have an idea of an indoor activity we can do today. You both have to agree on it, and I don’t want any arguing. Do I make myself clear?”

Both kids nodded. I went back to the kitchen, downed the rest of my coffee, which was now cold, and poured myself a second cup. Better have another one, I thought, pouring a third cup. The way this day is going, I may need it. When the last drop was gone, I went back to the living room. Both kids were smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

“Did you agree on something?” I asked.

“Yes,” Pamela said.

“We want to put up the Christmas tree,” Jackson joined in.

The very idea made me glad I’d had that third cup of coffee.

“We could play checkers instead,” I offered.

Both kids shook their heads.

“Chinese checkers?” I asked.

They shook their heads again.

A movie marathon? I could rent The Little Mermaid, Spiderman or whatever movie you want. We could make a fort out of blankets, pop popcorn and watch movies all day long.”

Two little heads shook side to side in unison.

“Face it, Mom,” Jackson said, “we win this time.”

I sighed. He was right, and I knew it.

Every year the kids begged me to put up the tree starting the first day of November, and I put them off until the middle of December, but this year I had no choice. They had beaten me. I thought of staring at the tree trimmed in silver and blue, and lit from top to bottom for almost two months. I felt like the Grinch already. I’ve got to stop Christmas from coming, but how?

I got desperate, really desperate. “Who wants a cat? We could go to the Humane Society and pick out a little fluffy kitten.”

Two heads shook in unison again. I gave up. “I didn’t want a cat anyway,” I mumbled as I headed for the stairs. Time to dig the half bare, artificial tree from the depths of the storage closet.

Every year when I put away the box of ornaments, lights and color-coded tree branches, I promised myself I wouldn’t pile anything on top of it, so that I wouldn’t have to dig it out the next year. Every year I broke this promise the first week of January.

Piles of suitcases, kids’ artwork, curtains I never got around to hanging, shoes, summer clothes, old toys bagged up and headed for the Salvation Army, knickknacks and assorted items that fall into the junk category were standing between me and the dreaded Christmas tree.

Within an hour I had dug deep enough into the closet to find the box that held the tree. I felt triumphant, until I turned around, saw the mess behind me and wondered how I was going to get myself and the tree both out.

Pamela’s face appeared in the closet doorway. “Tell Jackson I am old enough to put the star on the tree this year,” she said.

“I didn’t say she’s not old enough; I said she’s not tall enough. There’s a difference.” He stuck his tongue out at Pamela, who stuck hers out at him in return.

“Pamela stuck her tongue out at me!” Jackson whined.

Pamela pointed her finger at her brother and jumped up and down. “He started it!” she cried.

Apparently, both of my children were under the impression I was suddenly struck blind and had not seen what had just happened.

“Let’s put your energy to good use and help dig me out of here,” I said.

“You’re stuck in there?” Jackson asked.

“No,” I said sarcastically. “I just like sitting in the closet, knee-deep in crap, while you two fight in the doorway.”

“So, how stuck are you?” Pamela asked.

“Stuck enough that I’m begging my kids to help get me out.”

The kids smiled at each other, sinister smiles that made my blood run cold. Then they both darted down the stairs.

“Don’t run!” I called after them. “You’ll fall and break an arm or a leg!”

I began trying to fight my way out, but it was useless.

I glanced down at the tree box I had spent so long finding and sighed. I would have to come back for it after I foiled whatever candy-induced scheme my children had come up with. Out of desperation, I climbed on top of the pile and crawled out of the closet.



Christmas Holly

5 Dec

Another welcome to SuttonFox at GSP Christmas Promo. 🙂
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:

Her book we are highlighting today is Christmas Holly.
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?


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.  



Toys, Lights and Trinkets…

2 Dec

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.

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.

     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.



Shandy’s Gift…..

1 Dec


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.

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?


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.”