Plans Interrupted Excerpt

my kingdom

By Janice McCaffrey

Meet Madge Wood, a sixty-something widow having her plans interrupted throughout her life has stolen the self-confidence she’d once known. But feeling unusually brave she sets out to experience her last plan. A trip to Monaco, a ride up the “To Catch a Thief” cliffside road, wearing a long, pink, Grace Kelly-like scarf that catches the sunlight as it flies in the wind, and a visit to Princess Grace’s Palace. What could possibly interrupt that?

An antique ring, thugs accosting her, enigmatic men offering assistance, and an opportunity to change ancient history. As Madge says, “You’re not going to believe it. I wouldn’t either—except I lived it.”

May 11, 2016
Monte Carlo, Monaco

I sat at a vintage mahogany vanity in awe of my reflection in its oval mirror. The deep, midnight-blue dress I wore had illusion-lace long-sleeves and jewel neckline. No need for a necklace. Blue-on-blue embroidered designs of vines and flowers adorned the sleeves and fitted bodice giving it a strapless look.

The full A-line taffeta skirt’s hem brushed the top of my ankles. The dress fit well and hid sagging skin. The reflection of a beautiful woman, with too-short, red-violet-copper-hair, smiled back at me. A head-squeezing band of pearls gave my new do a subtle elegance.

Jason obeyed my “Come in” command and sat on the end of the bed behind me.

I concentrated on the finishing touches to my toilette: makeup, hair, perfume. Oh, the perfume. My Sin. I closed my eyes as I inhaled its rich aroma. “This takes me way back.” Sigh. “A sailor once gave me My Sin that he brought from one of his Mediterranean tours.” Sigh. “I wonder where he is today.”

“Don’t let nostalgia cloud your thinking. Here’s the plan.” All business-like Jason jumped to his feet and paced the short path around the hotel room. “We’ll enter the casino at eleven p.m. and walk to the service counter. From there you’re on your own. Purchase one-thousand euros worth of chips. Once in the gaming room proceed to a roulette table. Make modest bets. Those chips need to last till midnight.”

I nodded to Jason’s reflection in the mirror to signify my understanding.

“At the strike of twelve a stranger will approach you and ask, ‘Do you come to Monte Carlo often?’ You’ll answer, ‘No, this is my first time.’ He’ll comment, ‘I’m surprised, you look quite at home.’ Then he’ll say ‘The rain in Spain . . .’ And you’ll say—”

“Don’t tell me, ‘falls mainly on the plain.’” I stood and faced him. “Are you kidding?”

After a giant sigh Jason answered, “No, I’m not kidding. I didn’t make it up. I’m telling you what I was told.”

“Who told you this dumb stuff?” I asked a little too indignantly.

“Madge, take a breath.” The warm pressure of his hands relaxed my shoulders. “It doesn’t really matter, does it? Let’s just go along with it, OK?”

Releasing air from my lungs I conceded, “I guess not. OK what’s next?”

Jason straightened his back and sounded all official again. “Then he’ll ask if he can buy you a drink and you should accept. He’ll escort you to a table and order. When he invites you to leave with him accept that too. He’s ready to locate the portal you need to continue your journey.”

My brow furrowed. “I leave with him? How do I know I can trust him?”

“Well, Madge, do you trust me?”

“Yes, but what does that have to do with trusting some stranger?”

Jason held my face in his hands and looked deep into my eyes. “You trust me, and I trust him, isn’t that enough?”

I put my hands on his. “I guess. OK. What’s this guy look like? How will I know him?”

His shoulders sagged. “Madge, you’ll know him from the code phrases. Haven’t you ever seen a spy movie?”                                                                                    plans book cover 2

I clinched my jaw and shook my head. What nonsense.

Amazon Kindle ebook       .99    July 16th thru 22nd

 

River with No Bridge Excerpt

Karen's author photo apr 2019

By Karen Wills

Gentle Readers,

In my novel River with No Bridge, Irish immigrant Nora Flanagan comes through joyful adventures as well as tragic misadventures from Boston to Montana. With nothing left to lose she makes a last brave journey into the wilderness of the North Fork of the Flathead River to homestead. Her inspiring companion in the venture is the Chinese man, Jim Li, whom she calls her “only friend.”  This excerpt shows their first view of Flathead Lake. Enjoy.

After four hard days of travel, Jim pulled Wink and Cotton to a stop as they topped a ridge overlooking an astonishing body of sunlit blue water strewn with a few pine-covered islands. White peaks of the graceful Mission Mountains rose to its east. 

“Flathead Lake,” Jim announced. “As big as a sea.”

“It shines as bright as one,” Nora said, standing to stretch and appreciate the glorious revelation. “Jim, you’ve guided us to a place stolen from paradise.”

We must take care,” Jim cautioned, “There may be spirits in such water.”

Nora laughed, then remembered his mother had drowned. Still, the land before them held such fruitful promise. In all America nothing could be more beautiful.

The horses descended to the lake and plodded past Lambert’s Landing where they would proceed by ferry the next day. Its few rough-hewn log buildings, a large one in the center, comprised the only settlement to be seen. They continued five more miles to the ranch where the man who played his fiddle at the Bond home lived with his Nez Perce wife and their daughter. He’d invited Jim and Nora to stay at his ranch when they came through,

“We’ll be comfortable here,” Jim said.

Wiry Dave Polson and his family welcomed them. Hosts and guests ate venison stew at a table outside as the mountaintops glowed pink with what Dave called alpenglow. They visited and watched the lake’s blue water tint to cherry, lavender, then indigo. Wrapped in her shawl, Nora sighed in surprising contentment. She helped with the dishes, then returned to stay outside with Jim for awhile after the Polsons excused themselves to tuck their shy daughter in. It felt comfortable for Nora and Jim to be alone now with no real need to sort out or analyze who and what they were, the pair of them.      RiverWithNoBridgeFront(2) 

Nora reminded herself there were worse traits than mystery.

Ebook now available Amazon.com

 

July Book News

Summer    Reading

and

    Social Distancing

 

 

Could you use some humor during these trying times? Or a fun summer read?

plans book cover 2  If so, Plans Interrupted is for you.

Meet Madge Wood, a sixty-something widow as she tells her story of interrupted plans throughout her life that have stolen the self-confidence she’d once known. But feeling unusually brave she sets out to experience her last plan. A trip to Monaco, a ride up the “To Catch a Thief” cliffside road, wearing a long, pink, Grace Kelly-like scarf that catches the sunlight as it flies in the wind, and a visit to Princess Grace’s Palace. What could possibly interrupt that?

An antique ring, thugs accosting her, enigmatic men offering assistance, and an opportunity to change ancient history. As Madge says, “You’re not going to believe it. I wouldn’t either—except I lived it.”

my kingdom

Janice McCaffrey   Author

 

Amazon Kindle ebook       .99    July 16th thru 22nd

 

 

 

June Book News

Stay Well                                          Social Distance

READ!!

fancy border

RiverWithNoBridgeFront(2)

River with No Bridge ebook is now available through Amazon.com

Karen's author photo apr 2019

Karen Wills

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo.cropped

M.F. Erler

Help me celebrate the publication of “Beyond the World “, my sixth book in  “The Peaks Saga”.            erlers peaks series

Buy two books at $12 each and  get one free. To order, contact me directly at mferler@peaksandbeyond.com

Breaking Twig (excerpt)

eppersonBW

By Deborah Epperson

PROLOGUE

 I must have been about five the first time Grandpa Eli told me the story of the Pickers and the Picks. He was sitting in his rocking chair on the back porch of the modest plantation house he’d built twenty years earlier. My imaginary friend, Claudia, and I were having a tea party under the shade of the weeping willow. A clump of purple flowers plucked from the wisteria vine trailing along the back picket fence served as our grapes, while half-a-dozen emerald leaves pilfered from a hothouse geranium represented mint cookies.

  “Becky Leigh,” he called. “Did I ever tell you the story of the Pickers and the Picks?”

  “No, sir.” I headed for the porch. “What are Pickers, Grandpa?”

  “Pickers are mainly folks who are big on the outside, but small on the inside.” He gave a push and the oak rocker resumed its familiar cadence. “Not necessarily tall and heavy big. Pickers are more like puffed up big.”

  I climbed into his lap, nestled into the crook of his shoulder. “Like popcorn puffs up when you cook it?”

  “No, more like a sore that’s got infected and is puffed up with mucus and poisons.”

  “That’s yucky.”

  He laughed. “That’s a true fact, Miss Becky.”

  “What do Pickers do?” I asked.

  “Pickers hunt for someone who looks like easy pickin’s.”

  “Easy pickin’s? You mean like when Momma makes Papa and me pick dewberries along the railroad track instead of by Lost Mule Bog because she says it’s easy pickin’s along the tracks? But it’s not really. It’s just the bog is messier, and you know how she hates messes.”

  Grandpa stopped rocking. “Are you going to be quiet and let me finish my story, young’un?”

  I covered my mouth to stifle a giggle. It was the funniest thing, my grandpa pretending to be mad at me. “Yes, sir. I’ll be quiet.”

  The rocker started up again. “As I was saying, a Picker hunts for someone he thinks will be easy pickin’s. That’s usually someone smaller, younger, or weaker in some way. It can be someone whose only weakness is that he or she is a nice person.”

  I tapped Grandpa’s shoulder. “How does a Picker change nice people into Picks?”

  “Well, he screams and hollers at them. He makes them do things they know they shouldn’t do. Champion Pickers are experts at bullyin’, intimidatin’, and dominatin’ other folks.” The rocker stopped once more. “Do you understand anything I’m saying, Becky?”

  “I think so. Maybe. Will I be a Picker or a Pick when I grow up, Grandpa?”

  “Can’t say for sure. Let’s try an experiment.” He helped me down and pointed to a line of ants marching across the porch floor. “Go stand by those ants.”

  I did as I was told.

  “Now, Becky, I want you to stomp them ants as hard as you can.”

  “Why should I kill the ants, Grandpa? They’re not hurting me.”

  “Because you can, girl. Because you can.”

  I began to stomp. I stomped the ants in the middle of the line, the ants in the back of the line, and all the ants at the head of the line. I stomped so hard my cat’s dish vibrated across the floor, tumbled over the edge, and landed in the azalea bushes that circled the back porch. I didn’t stop stomping until all the ants were either dead or beyond my reach.

  Grandpa Eli motioned for me to come back. He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. “That’s what Pickers do, Becky. They hurt other living things just because they can.” Pulling me closer, he asked, “How did stomping those ants make you feel?”

  I lowered my eyes. “Bad. I felt bad, but . . .”

  “But what?”

  “But when I was stomping them I felt . . .”

  “You felt strong?”

  I nodded, too ashamed to acknowledge my Picker-like feelings in words.

  “How do you think the ants felt?”

  “Terrible,” I said. “And so will Pinecone when he sees his supper is gone.”

  “Don’t you worry about that cat. He won’t starve. But that’s what happens when a Picker gets riled up. Lots of innocent folks get hurt too.”

  “Does this mean I’m gonna be a Picker when I grow up?”

  “It’s all up to you, child. You don’t have to be a Picker or a Pick. You can choose to be nice to people and insist that they be nice to you.”

  I climbed back into his lap. “And if they’re not nice to me?”

  “If you stand up to the Pickers in this world, they’ll leave you alone. Remember, they like easy pickin’s.”

  “Have you ever been a Picker, Grandpa, or a Pick?”

  “Sure. At certain times in life, most people are either a Pick or Picker. It usually takes a lifetime for folks to figure out they don’t have to be either one.”

  “Grandpa, do you think a Picker, a champion Picker that is, can ever change?”

  “Maybe. With the passage of time and a heap of prayers, I think anyone can change.”

  I gave him a hug. “I think we should start praying for Momma right away.”

  Grandpa Eli smiled. “I think you’re right, Becky Leigh.”

       *****

I did start praying. But after both my grandfather and my beloved Papa died, and after the only noticeable change in Momma—despite eight years of fervent prayers—was her new husband, I stopped. I let the tales of Pickers and Picks slip from my mind and forgot Grandpa Eli’s warnings on the perils of becoming easy pickin’s.

  Not until one day in November of ’63 did I recall the lessons of the porch. That was the morning Momma and her new husband, Frank, went to the Miller’s house to watch President Kennedy’s funeral, and the time I got caught slipping into my new stepbrother’s room to borrow some paper. It was also the day a seventeen-year-old boy decided to teach a thirteen-year-old girl a lesson she wouldn’t forget. That was the day I knew for sure I was a Pick.

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG