Thursday, June 26, 2014

@TheobaldSprague Shares Fatherly Pride & His Favourite Books #AmReading #Memoir #Family

What are you most proud of in your personal life?
What books did you love growing up?
Who is your favorite author?
What book genre of books do you adore?
What book should everybody read at least once?
Is there any books you really don’t enjoy?
What do you hope your obituary will day about you?
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
How did you develop your writing?
Where do you get your inspiration from?
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 
A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.
What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
More details about the author
 Connect with Sprague Theobald on Facebook & Twitter

COPYRIGHT: A NOVEL by @LeskoLori #Thriller #GoodReads #BYNR

My guest today, Lori Lesko, shares an excerpt from her novel Copyright.

I woke up on a bed. Instantly, I knew it wasn’t mine. Voices were scattered all around me, male and female. Someone tapped my wrist.
“I can’t find a vein, they keep collapsing on me,” said a female voice.
“One more try and then we’ll have to use a central line,” said another.
I breathed in and felt the tubes in my nose. God, I was in the hospital! The beeping sounds and the smell of disinfectant quickly consumed me. I became aware of my body and realized that my toes were freezing cold. I desperately wanted someone to cover me up with a blanket, but couldn’t seem to communicate this. A single delicate finger lifted my right eyelid and a white blinding light shone into my eye.
“Ms. Tyler, can you hear me? We’re going to take good care of you,” a man said. “Are you allergic to any medicines?”
“Huh?” I managed to say.
“Where’s her family?” he asked someone in the room.
“I think her sister is in the lobby.”
“She’s not my sister,” I said. Nothing in this world frustrated me more than when someone referred to Karen, the love of my life, as my sister. I sat up in the bed, and my eyes opened.
“Easy, Ms. Tyler, you’re in hospital,” claimed a chubby woman in a pink nurse’s outfit.
“I realize that now,” I said, not wanting to make a fuss.
“Ms. Tyler, you’ve had a heart attack. I need you to lie back down,” she said gently.
Now I was pissed, I mean, genuinely pissed. Quickly, it all came back to me. The paramedics who stormed into my office, talking to Karen while they took my blood pressure and asked her what I had eaten. Then I got bounced around in the back of the ambulance for about thirty minutes.
“Oh, she’s awake. Ms. Tyler, I’m Dr. Casey. I just spoke to your partner, Karen,” he said.
“Yes?” I replied.
“Your EKG shows that you’ve had a heart attack and we need to prep you for an angiogram, to make sure you don’t have any further blockages.”
“Okay,” I said in shock. That was more than enough to scare the shit out of me. I wanted to see Karen, I needed to be grounded. Where are my words? I’m a writer for God’s sake, why can’t I communicate my needs?
“We have you on a nitro patch and let’s push ten milligrams of heparin,” he said, nodding to the nurse. “I’ll see you in the OR, Ms. Tyler,” Dr. Casey said with a smile as he left the room. How could he smile at a time like this? Was I just another slab of meat for him to cut open? I wondered how long he had been working today. Was he in a hurry to get home to his sexy wife and luxurious house? My thoughts were going a mile a minute. I felt like I was having a panic attack, or was my heart failing again?

Amber Tyler is living every author’s dream: her books are all best sellers and she writes full time. She has worked hard and is well-accomplished in her career, and she has the support and love of her beautiful children and girlfriend. 

But the dream soon turns into a terrible nightmare when her latest manuscript is stolen. She decides to fight for what is rightfully hers, only to find that the harder she tries, the easier it all slips through her fingers, putting her career, her family, and her life in jeopardy.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Lori Lesko on Facebook & Twitter

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Victoria Bernadine on The Black Stallion & Terry Pratchett @VicBernadine #ChickLit #Contemporary

What writing are you most proud of?
I’m proud of everything I’ve finished and sent out for public consumption (whether an original novel into the marketplace, or a fanfic set loose in the wilds of fandom). A Life Less Ordinary, of course, because it’s the first one I’ve officially published. For fanfic, I’m extremely proud of my one and only (so far) Star Trek fic called Clementine (, because I thought it was a unique idea, it’s incredibly experimental for me, and I still tear up over it (and I wrote the thing). I have absolutely no idea where it came from, but I’m really glad it did.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
That I’m good at what I do.
What books did you love growing up?
The Black Stallion novels were my first loves, I adored them when I discovered them in Grade Two, I think it was. Mainly, though, science fiction and fantasy were (and usually are) my go-to reads. Isaac Asimov, Lloyd Alexander, Robert A. Heinlein (before I started reading his adult stuff and went ‘WTF?!’), and others. Of course, I also adored Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Louis L’Amour, and I’m sure there are more because I read a LOT as a kid.
Who is your favorite author?
I have many, because I read all different genres. Terry Pratchett is currently riding in first place; his Discworld novels are a never-ending joy, and I read Good Omens (his novel with Neil Gaiman) at least once a year.
What genre of books do you adore?
All of them – well, except erotica but that’s mainly because I’ve yet to read one that’s actually my idea of erotic.
What book should everybody read at least once?
Mine? Ha! Seriously, though, I guess I would say…Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s a take on the Apocalypse that’s just hysterically funny, bizarre, scary and touching. I read it at least once a year.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I’m not a big fan of erotica, but that’s mainly because I’ve never found one that I actually found erotic. I can enjoy those old-fashioned, gritty action-adventure-thriller books that are aimed at a male audience, but usually only once in a while, because sometimes the misogyny is just too much. Any book where the main character/point of view character is completely despicable and I feel slimy for spending any time at all with him/her (Lolita, I’m looking at you).
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
“She’ll be missed.”

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up on a farm in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, where trees are few and far between and there’s an endless expanse of horizon and sky. I currently live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where we now have a million people and I seldom see the horizon (although there’s still lots of sky). :)
How did you develop your writing?
Practice. And lots and lots and lots of reading.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Anything and everything. A Life Less Ordinary was inspired by how I was feeling at the time. The book I’m working on right now, Along Came Jones, was inspired by Nathan Fillion (probably to his chagrin, if he ever knew about it – LOL).

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – ChickLit, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
 Connect with Victoria Bernadine on Twitter

@MargaretWestlie on Loving All Her Stories #AmWriting #Historical #Mystery

What writing are you most proud of?
I love all of my stories.  I don’t know if I can choose one to be more proud of than another.  I think if I were forced to choose it would have to be the Selkirk Stories series, which includes Anna’s Secret.  However, there is also the Haunted PEI series that are a lot of fun too.  In fact, Shades of Molly, the first novel in that series, came about right after the creative writing class I took as an undergrad.  If my husband’s computer had not been switched on that first day I would not be a writer today.  I was computer illiterate and couldn’t type very well.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
I think I would have to say that I am most proud of my mind.  It is the basis of everything I think say and do.  It is very inquisitive and goes lickety-split.  I can’t possibly talk as fast as my mind works and very few people can follow where I go.  When I was nursing I was doing in-service education, and another nurse and I were meeting on the choice of topics to present.  However we got onto it I don’t remember exactly, but I got us from fire safety education and fire drills to outer space by free association.  Needless to say the other nurse could hardly believe that we’d taken that whirlwind tour of the cosmos all because of fire drills.
What books did you love growing up?
I loved the Anne of Green Gables stories and ultimately read every one several times.  I liked J. M. Barrie’s Little Minister, and Maggie Muggins.  There were others of this nature.  I also liked the Cherry Ames series (nurse) and the Nancy Drew series.  My father encouraged reading and education and he always read to me when I was tiny and read poetry to me when I was older.
Who is your favourite author?
I don’t know if I have a favourite author.  I like stories that have a happy ending with all problems resolved satisfactorily.  An author who provides this is one I will likely read again.  I am rather taken with the Mitford novels by Jan Karon just now and have read about half of those so far.  I don’t like stories that are dark and brooding.  I like interpersonal relationship stories.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
That I was joyful.  I don’t know what else to say.  Of course, I am many other things like warm and kind but those traits are kind of cliche to say out loud.   I’m gentle and mostly non-judgemental although if you look at judgement as discernment that opens up a whole other discussion.  I am discerning.  I’ve thought off and on that I should write my obituary just for the exercise of it.  It seems a little extreme but it could be very revealing.  The other side is that what I would write now and what I would write in ten years time could very well be something entirely different.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and was educated in the Halifax school system.  I took my  nursing diploma at the Victoria General Hospital School of nursing, worked in ER there, then on to Dalhousie University in Halifax. After my nursing degree I lived in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia doing Public Health, then on Prince Edward Island doing several nursing jobs. I then lived in Calgary, Alberta, doing in-service education, then on to Waterville, Maine, as a nursing supervisor and night charge nurse.  I met my husband in Waterville and we lived there for a year until he took a job in Liberty, Missouri, and we moved to the Kansas City area.  I worked for awhile as a night charge nurse at the hospital and then retired in 1988.  I started studying music at the college where John was professor because I always wanted to study music.  My writing education began there.
How did you develop your writing?
I picked up the English courses I needed at the college where my husband was teaching to convert my nursing degree to an English major, then went to University of Missouri at Kansas City for a Masters’ degree in English with a professional writing emphasis.  Since then I have taken various workshops in poetry and now have over two hundred poems.  I have also been writing and writing, and reading about writing and practising writing.  You rarely see me without a pen in hand and my listening ears on.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes to me through stories I hear.  My uncle, now deceased, was a great story teller.  The germ of Anna’s Secret came from the story of Anne Beaton’s Hollow.  The murder occurred in Lyndale  and the hollow is still called by that name.  My grandmother was another source of good stories.  She lived to be 106 and died in 1990, just before I started writing.  She was bright to the end and people came from far away to learn about their ancestors.  They’d ask her about a certain person and she’d think for a moment and then say:  “yes, he/she was so -and-so’s child but he/she always went by this nickname.”  A lot of stories went with both her and her son.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
No.  Once it’s written it is no longer really mine, and it is what it is.  It doesn’t matter what people think it says about me, I am who I am.  People may disagree with what I’ve said for their own reasons that have nothing to do with what I’ve said. Also, I am no longer shy about saying that I’m a writer because that’s what I am, published or not.  That insight came to me a few years ago when I was thinking about what makes a writer.
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
Now they do.  I get more encouragement from others outside the family than I do from family members.  That’s what the family I belong to is like.  I think it’s partly because they don’t really understand what it takes to conceive of and construct a novel.  Everyone thinks it’s easy when it is all consuming and demanding when I am in the creating phase.
Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author
 Connect with Margaret Westlie on Facebook & Twitter

Greed Series #1 - Fatal Greed - by John W. Mefford @JWMefford #AmReading #Suspense #Thriller

A warm welcome to John W. Mefford
Author of "Fatal Greed"

The visit had been all too brief, abrupt even, but Karina Silva squeezed her brown eyes shut and hugged the pillow against her curled-up, naked body. She took in a slow breath and caught a waft of black orchid and amber, tantalizing scents from the perfume she’d recently given to the one and only person who’d captured her heart—wholly, completely.
This evening was supposed to have been special.
She shuffled her feet under the thousand-count, white, cotton sheets, which soothed her feeling of loneliness. Clutching the down pillow against her chest, the thirty-something editor of the Times Herald turned over and took notice of the elaborate burgundy-and-gold pattern on the paneled drapes, fashionably clinging to the plush carpet.
The soft, green glow of the clock radio illuminated the room inside the swankiest boutique hotel in the ’burbs—albeit a full county away from her home base. But it had to be that way, considering she had succumbed to an unavoidable attraction that had clawed at her moral compass ever since she gazed across the green lawn at her husband’s client-appreciation party and locked eyes with her future soul mate. It was a moment she would never forget. A rush of emotion had engulfed her body, as a realization set in as to who she really was. The true Karina.
A smattering of distant car horns could be heard six floors below, but Karina glared off to the darkened corner of the room, recalling the sparkle of her lover’s blue eyes and the resulting flutter of her own heart. Karina had peered into those eyes and had found more feeling, more depth, more of a bond than she’d ever thought possible with another human being.
Her friend, her lover of the last three months, had arrived at the hotel two hours prior, and after a single embrace and two warm kisses, it ended before it really began. A familiar jingle had interrupted their intimate moment, noting the arrival of a new text on her lover’s phone. Karina never saw the words, but the response told her their rendezvous was over. Rigid movement, an instant detached demeanor, and a quick explanation about an emergency at work, followed by the sound of the door clicking shut, had left Karina alone in a king-sized sleigh bed.
A feeling of emptiness crept back into her conscience, a tiny seed of doubt sprouting inside her gut. Could this life-altering affair be nothing more than a one-sided mirage? She couldn’t keep her journalistic instincts from attempting to connect dots. She recalled every possible aversion of her lover’s eyes, each word of affirmation that may not have been as sincere and heartfelt as the previous.
And now this.
Behind the fa├žade of every corporate takeover executives pull levers this way and that, squeezing the last profitable nickel out of the deal. But no one knows the true intent of every so-called merger. 

No one knows the secret bonds that exist. 

An Indian technology giant swallows up another private company that has deep roots in North Texas. For one unassuming man the thought of layoffs, of losing his own job to a bunch of arrogant assholes feels like a kick to the jewels. 

Until the day Michael’s life changes forever.   

Perverse alliances. An affair of the heart. A grisly murder. A spiraling string of events thrusts Michael into a life-or-death fight to save a tortured soul and hunt down a brutal killer…one who lurks closer than he ever imagined. 

Greed knows no boundaries.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Suspense, Thriller
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with John W. Mefford on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Renewal "Anytime" 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan @LisaConsiglioR #Wellness #Detox


Lose weight, energize, and glow with over 50 recipes and complete 10 day detox plan. This whole foods cleanse includes detailed menu plan, shopping list, and bonus recipes to make after your cleanse. Renewal "Anytime" also includes pre-detox plan, daily instructions, FAQ's, and post-detox next steps.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Wellness
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Lisa Consiglio Ryan on Facebook & Twitter

The Curse Giver by @DoraMachado #Fantasy #Pararnormal #GoodReads

PROPELLED BY SHEER WILL, BREN GRABBED his saddlebags and made it to the top of the stairs. His blood pounded in his temples. The scar on his face burned like a glowing chunk of coal.
Eleanor had a way of stirring his angry blood into a rapid boil. He was tired of listening to her complaints. No matter how much he allotted to Tolone, it was never enough.
Even so, he was used to enduring her gripes. It was her daring that perturbed him most. She should be smart enough to refrain from tempting him, but she had always been even bolder than all of her audacious ancestors put together. If it would have been in his power, he would have released her from her obligations years ago.
He shouldn’t have come, but a man was entitled to a dry bed and a warm meal, especially if he was paying generously for it. The rainy season had made a mess of his camps and his men deserved a proper roof and a dry pallet every once in a while.
There was also the matter of the woman. She shouldn’t have to spend her last days on a wet horse and her last nights on the soggy ground. She didn’t deserve to be murdered coldly in a back alley among paupers and whores or in the forgotten wilderness of a wind-swept ridge.
There he went again, trying to justify the absurd delay. But he was done delaying. Eleanor’s lewd dance had stirred up his wrath. Wrath was good, the ultimate motivator. A stoked up man was the most efficient killer, a hunter worthy of Laonia and the house of Uras.
He had to do it, now, before he changed his mind.
He entered the room he kept at the seed house of Tolone and dropped his saddlebags by the door. The chamber was still warm, but the fire had died down into a pile of glowing embers. The chamber’s gloom matched his bleakness.
Not for the first time, Bren wondered what type of weakness had earned his father the curse that plagued his house. He might never know, because his father was dead and so was the rest of his line.

He wasn’t feeling very merciful tonight, a change that was bound to help. He came upon the bed in two strides. There was no point in explaining, no benefit to warning, coaxing or compelling. He was angry—at himself, at his fate. He clutched the hilt of his sword and ripped off the blankets from the bed.

The woman was gone.
He stared at the empty mattress in disbelief. A most improbable line was neatly written on the sheet, a flowing trail of ink on white linen.
Whether it was kindness, courage or charity, I thank you, my lord. Farewell. L.

Curse Giver

Award-Winning Finalist in the fantasy category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author and the book
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THE REALITY MASTER (Vol. 1) by @PMPillon #GoodReads #BookClub #SciFi


Joey was unable to discern why he felt apprehension about traveling to Big Sur, which previously had induced nothing but pure joy for him. Frank stayed overnight at Joey’s to make sure they got an early start Saturday morning for the two-hour drive down the coast to Grandpa Karl’s digs. They brought along plenty of camping equipment. Grandpa Karl hated phones, so they weren’t concerned that he didn’t call to confirm he was back from his trip back east. They would manage at his place even if he wasn’t there, sleeping in a tent and shopping for groceries further south along the coast highway. Karl lived in a one-room shack, and although they could all fit on his floor with sleeping bags, it was more fun to pitch a large tent and manage their own schedules. Unlike his life at home where he struggled to get up for school, Joey always jumped up at first light when he was in Big Sur. He loved the smell of moist pines and redwoods, the frigid, misty mornings, being surrounded by forest, within earshot of loudly barking sea lions cavorting along the ocean’s edge. Joey didn’t have to go far from Grandpa Karl’s to where he could watch these exotic creatures, as well as seals and sea otters, gallivanting and floating among the rocks and kelp. 

Once he even saw Gray Whales passing by as they migrated south to their winter breeding grounds in Baja California. On their way to Big Sur they passed by Carmel where tourists actually pay a road fee just to drive around Carmel looking at the plush homes that they heard celebrities like Doris Day, Clint Eastwood, or Paul Simon lived in at one time. But the drive further down the coast to and along Big Sur is a completely different story from carefully carved Carmel. The winding road is flanked by guard rails that don’t always prevent a car’s plunge down a steep incline and even into the ocean. Just the previous week, a woman had gone off the road and down a steep embankment, and was only rescued two days later because she managed to get to her cell phone and call for help. 

As Joey contemplated the woman’s plight, he thought of the famous rock musician who was reputed to be a physics genius; found dead in his car long after it went off a road and fell into thick brush. But that accident was far from the coast, somewhere east of LA. There were rumors about the last communications from the musician darkly suggesting his possible assassination because of some great mathematical discovery that he was on the verge of achieving. While pondering this, Joey developed a feeling of cold on the back of his neck; it seemed his body might be communicating a warning to him. What warning could it be? I’m no genius like that rock star. He shook his head and tried to dismiss the thought by looking out the car window at the scenery. Then Frank engaged him in conversation, and he forgot the strange sensation. It was a typically sunny day in the Bay Area when they started out in the morning, but it was drizzling in Big Sur. This was actually ideal from Joey’s view point because the flora looked especially beautiful with drops of rain on it and puddles everywhere, and the moisture brought out wonderful fragrances.    

Eventually, they turned off the coastal highway, wending their way along the bumpy, pocked private road that brought them to Grandpa Karl’s abode. He drove an ancient 1948 Ford truck that he managed to keep going by scavenging parts wherever he could. Because of this scavenging, there were quite a few auto parts near his shack, enough to ironically mimic a junkyard in the midst of a natural paradise.
Many people in Big Sur were essentially bohemians who rebelled against pressure to conform to orthodox aesthetic standards. In this respect, they were like many residents of Bolinas on the coast above San Francisco, a town that is locally famous for its hippie and iconoclastic population, much of which likewise junkyard their otherwise picturesque properties. Bolinas is a beach town that isn’t tree-laden like Big Sur, but Mendocino, a short distance north, sports a mil ion of acres of dense forest. Big Sur residents became the subject of a school report by Joey after the one he wrote about San Francisco. Many of them could be described as relics of the old 60’s counterculture. 

His celestial companion was waiting for him
Precariously climbing a sea-side cliff near Big Sur, ten-year-old Joey Blake was as yet unaware that near his grasp was an object, so odd, mysterious and alien to earth that it would change his life forever and the lives of countless others in the next few astonishing days. Reaching up as far as he could for a handhold it was just there; it had subconsciously lured him, occupied his mind, and made him find it. It was like he was meant to see and discover this object of unimaginable power … the power to change reality.
Time travel and more
This young adult series of sci-fi fantasy novels begins with The Reality Master and continues through four other exciting and amazing stories about time travel and mysterious alien devices. Joey and the reader will face dangerous shadowy criminal organizations, agents of the NSA, bizarre travelers from other times and even renegade California bikers and scar-faced walking dead.
- Vol 1 The Reality Master
- Vol 2 Threat To The World
- Vol 3 Travel Beyond
- Vol 4 Missions Through Time
- Vol 5 The Return Home
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Young adult
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with PM Pillon on Facebook & Twitter

#Excerpt - THREAD END: An Embroidery #Mystery by Amanda Lee @GayleTrent #AmReading

Chapter Three
I’d stayed up too late the night before; but even sleep-deprived, I was chipper as Angus and I pulled into our usual parking spot outside the Seven-Year Stitch. I had seen Vera and Paul only briefly at the museum exhibit, so I supposed Vera would be in sometime today. I hoped she would, anyway. It would be fun to relive the evening with her . . . going over the pieces we’d liked best. I wondered if she’d made the collector any offers. I grinned. Knowing Vera, she probably had.
I hopped out of the Jeep and snapped Angus’s leash onto his collar. He jumped out and sniffed the sidewalk while I unlocked the front door. As soon as we got inside, I took the leash off. Angus bounded over to the sit-and-stitch square where he’d left his favorite toy—a Kodiak bear Vera had brought him back from a trip she’d taken a few months ago.
I relocked the door. I still had about half an hour until the shop opened, and I liked to have the shop tidy and restocked when customers started coming in. The first order of business every Saturday morning was to take the trash out. The sanitation truck ran at noon every Saturday, so all the shops on our side of the street scrambled to get their garbage out to the receptacles before then.
Fortunately for me, the Seven-Year Stitch didn’t generate a lot of trash . . . especially when compared to MacKenzies’ Mochas. That shop produced more garbage in a day than the Stitch did in a week. In fact, Blake had to take their garbage out twice a day—double-bagged so the food scraps wouldn’t attract bears.
I was thinking about bears, Blake, Sadie, and how Sadie had talked me into coming to Tallulah Falls and opening my shop—for which I would be forever grateful—when I stepped out the back door with my bag of trash. I tossed the bag into the bin, turned, and then gasped as I saw something lying against the wall.
For the world, the . . . thing . . . looked like the kilim Reggie had admired so much last night at the exhibit. But it couldn’t be. . . . Could it?
I crept closer. It was the rug—I recognized the colors and the unmistakable patterns. But what was it doing here?
I took another step toward the rolled-up kilim and saw that it was badly stained. Had someone bought it, got something all over it, and left it here for the sanitation crew to dispose of? Surely not.
Maybe Vera had bought it, gotten it stained, and then left it here at the back of my store to see if I could clean it. No, that didn’t make any sense to me either, but I was really grasping at straws.
I took one more step closer and nudged the rug with my foot. I wasn’t about to touch such a valuable kilim until I found out why it was lying outside my shop.
When I pushed it, the rug rolled slightly. Then I spotted something . . . a hand! And the hand was attached to a body . . . that was attached to a face . . . a face that looked vaguely familiar.
With trembling hands, I fumbled my cell phone from the front pocket of my jeans and called Ted.
“You’ve got to come,” I said when he answered. “Here . . . to the shop . . . please. There’s this guy . . . a dead guy . . . wrapped up in Reggie’s rug.”
“What? Babe, you aren’t making sense.”
I couldn’t answer. I’d begun to hyperventilate.
“Sweetheart, I’m on my way. Sit down and put your head between your knees,” he said. “Is anyone with you?”
When I didn’t answer, he repeated that he was on his way.
I became vaguely aware that Ted had ended the call, and I returned my phone to my pocket. I didn’t know what to do. Maybe the man wasn’t dead after all. I guessed I could take his pulse to see. Or I should probably wait for Ted. The gray cast to the man’s skin made me fairly certain that there was nothing I could do to help him. And it wasn’t a stretch to assume that the stain on the rug was blood. I’d wait for Ted.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps pounding up the alley behind me. I whirled around, stumbled, and would have fallen had I not been righted by Blake—he whose thundering footsteps had startled me while he was sprinting toward me with a white paper bag in one hand.
“Ted called,” he said, panting for breath. “Are you all right? He said you were hyperventilating. Here—breathe into this. Let’s get you inside.”
I was sort of wondering if maybe Blake didn’t need the paper bag more than I did, but I simply nodded. With one strong arm around my shoulders, Blake started to lead me back into the shop.
As he turned, he noticed the body. “What the—?”
“Exactly,” I said. “Let’s go inside until Ted gets here. This is freaking me out.”
“You and me both.”
We went inside. Blake was now every bit as shaken as I was but was determined to be strong for me.
Angus was thrilled to see Blake and immediately bounded up to him.
“In a minute, boy,” Blake said softly. “First, let’s get Marcy settled on the sofa.”
Sensing something was wrong, Angus sat down and began to whine.
“It’s okay,” I told him as I sank onto the sofa. “Everything’s fine.”
Blake took a seat on the red club chair diagonal to the sofa. “Seriously, breathe into the bag.”
I shook my head. “I’m fine.”
“What happened?”
“I have no idea,” I said, petting Angus’s head in an effort to soothe us both. “I took out the garbage, and when I turned to come back into the shop, I saw the rug. I thought it strange that someone would throw it away like that, and then I saw the hand and realized someone was wrapped up in the rug.”
“That’s all you saw? A hand?” He shrugged. “Do you think maybe it could be a mannequin?”
“No. I saw the man’s face, too. He was real.” I glanced at the front door and realized it was still locked. “I’ve got to unlock the door.”
Blake jumped up from the chair. “I’ll get it. You sit there and rest.”
“Thank you. The keys are on the counter.”
He unlocked the door. “Do you want me to leave the sign as Closed?”
“No. Change it to Open please,” I said.
“Are you sure you’re up to having customers today?”
“Positive.” I smiled slightly. “I’ll take any normalcy I can get right now.”
He returned to his seat. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m still shaky—and I’m sorry for that poor man lying outside—but I’ll be all right.”
Sadie hurried through the front door carrying a large to-go coffee cup. “Marce, how are you?”
I assured her that I was fine. “I’m even better if that’s a low-fat vanilla latte with a dash of cinnamon.”
Sadie saw how my hand shook as I took the cup, and her big brown eyes flew to Blake’s blue ones. He gave her a nod, and they communicated volumes merely by holding each other’s gaze for a few seconds. They’ve only been married for five years, but you’d think they’d been together forever. Like every other couple, they’d had their share of hardships. But they’d always persevered . . . and always would. They’d be lost without each other.
I took a sip of the warm, delicious coffee, and Sadie sat beside me on the sofa.
Angus, still confused and upset by the anxiety in the room, sighed and plopped his head onto his paws.
“Aw, look how pitiful he is,” Sadie said. “Now I wish I’d brought him some biscotti.” She spoke to Angus. “I’ll bring you back some biscotti, sweet boy. Yes, I will.”
Angus wagged his tail. He wasn’t convinced everything was okay yet, but he knew it was getting there.
Sadie took my free hand and gave it a squeeze. Like Angus, she didn’t seem confident she knew what was going on, either. But she wanted me to know that she was there. Dog and human best friends share that trait. I quickly filled her in on the situation.
At last, Ted strode through the door. As he took my latte, set it on the coffee table, and gathered me into his arms, I finally felt that everything was truly going to be all right. So, naturally, I began to weep.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” I whispered against his shoulder.
“Everything’s okay, babe. I’ve got you.”
I didn’t know why suddenly feeling secure would make me weep, but it did. Looking back, I usually did hold up fairly well in the midst of a critical moment and fall apart when it was over. Okay, so looking back on my call to Ted, maybe I didn’t hold up that well in the critical moment. But what would you have done if you’d found a dead guy wrapped in an antique kilim in your alley?
Ted sat on the sofa, pulling me onto his lap. He gently wiped the tears from my cheeks and kissed my forehead.
Angus sat up and placed his head on my knee, making us all laugh. He could be such a clown.
“We should go on out back,” I said to Ted.
“Not yet. Manu is there. He said he’d handle that situation while I made sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Really. You should go—”
“Ted, come out here!” Manu called from the back door. “You’re not going to believe this!”
I got up. “Come on.”
“I think you should stay in here,” Ted said, standing and taking my hand.
“He’s right,” Sadie said. “You’ve had enough of a shock for one day. Who knows what Manu has discovered out there?”
“Besides, you need to be here to wait on your customers,” Blake said. “Speaking of which, I’d better get back down the street.”
Ted shook Blake’s hand. “Thanks for being here for Marcy.”
“Yeah, Blake, thank you for coming to my rescue,” I said as Ted headed for the back door. “And you, too, Sadie.”
Sadie stood and gave me a hug. “I need to get back to the shop as well. But call me if you need anything.”
I promised her I would, and then Angus and I were alone in the sit-and-stitch square. I waved to Sadie and Blake as they passed the window en route to MacKenzies’ Mochas. Then I picked up my latte, sat down on the sofa, and sighed.
“Big morning, huh, Angus?”
In response, he moved closer to me and lay at my feet.
I took a drink of the now lukewarm latte and mused aloud to my faithful hound, “I wonder who that guy out there is. And why did he look familiar?”
I fell silent as Angus rolled onto his side for a nap, and I searched my memory for a different image of the balding gentleman who’d been wrapped in a rug and dumped in the alley behind the Stitch. The man didn’t work in any of the local shops. The museum—was that where I’d seen him? I tried to recall the faces of the people I’d mingled with at the exhibit opening last night, but I couldn’t place the victim’s face. Still, I kept fixating on the museum. Then it dawned on me—the photograph. The victim was Dr. Vandehey, the professor turned art thief.
I scrambled out of my seat, startling Angus, and hurried to the back door. He came chasing after me, but I didn’t allow him to follow me outside. He jumped up so he could peep out and bark at all the excitement.
“Isn’t that the man from the picture you showed me last night?” I asked Ted. “The art thief?”
“The alleged art thief,” Manu said.
“But I thought he confessed,” I said.
Ted took me gently by the shoulders. “You’re right about the identity of the victim, but I still don’t think you should be out here.”
“Right,” said Manu. “You could accidentally contaminate the crime scene.”
“Crime scene?” I slumped against Ted. “This doesn’t mean you have to close down my shop, does it?”
“No, sweetheart. We’ll just cordon off this part of the alley. The inside of your shop will be business as usual.”
“Thank goodness,” I said. “I suppose I should go back in. My being out here is driving Angus crazy.”
A black SUV rolled right up to the yellow crime scene tape, and a short man wearing a dark suit stepped out of the vehicle. He had a “standard-issue” buzz cut and sunglasses. I think all of us—me, Ted, Manu, and the crime scene technicians, heck, maybe even Angus—knew before he’d introduced himself that he was FBI.
He flashed a badge. “Special Agent Floyd Brown of the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Art Theft Division. What have we got here, and why did I have to hear about it over the police scanner rather than through a personal phone call from the chief of police?”
Manu drew himself up to his full five feet seven inches. He was taller than Agent Brown by at least two inches—maybe three. “Agent Brown—”
Special Agent Brown,” the man interrupted.
“You weren’t notified because we haven’t made a positive ID of the victim yet,” Manu continued. “Therefore, we don’t know that an investigation of this death falls within your jurisdiction.”
“It looks like Vandehey to me,” Special Agent Brown said.
“Well, just because it looks like him doesn’t mean it is,” Manu said. “Now I respectfully request that you step back and allow our crime scene techs to do their jobs.”
Since Angus was still barking and scratching at the door, I excused myself to go back inside.
“Wait,” said Special Agent Brown. “Who are you?”
“I’m Marcy Singer. This is my shop.”
“Are you the one who found the body?”
“I am.”
“Then I’ll come inside and take your statement,” he said.
Manu started to protest, but I shook my head slightly. If Brown was in the shop taking my statement, he’d be out of Manu’s and Ted’s hair.
“Right this way,” I said.
I opened the door and took Angus’s collar, gently moving the dog back so Special Agent Brown and I could get inside.
“Come on, Angus,” I said. “Special Agent Brown, would you like some coffee? It won’t take but a minute to put on a pot.”
“No, thank you,” he said, ignoring Angus, who was snuffling his pant leg.
I led the agent to the sit-and-stitch square, and he sat down on the sofa facing the window. I took the red club chair.
“Is there something you can do with him?” He jerked his head toward Angus, who was now checking out the man’s jacket pocket.
“I can put him in the bathroom, but he’ll bark so much we won’t be able to hear each other over the racket,” I said. “If you’ll pet him, he’ll probably go on and leave you alone.”
Special Agent Brown sighed, patted Angus’s head, and said, “Nice dog. Now go away.”
I picked up Angus’s yellow tennis ball and gave it a toss. The dog loped after it and brought it back for me to throw again. As I played fetch with Angus, I relayed my statement to Special Agent Brown.
“So you recognized the rug and the professor,” said Special Agent Brown.
“I thought I recognized the rug,” I said. “And it only dawned on me a few minutes ago that the victim looked like a man in a photo I’d seen last night. As Chief Singh pointed out, we can’t be sure of anything until the crime scene technicians and the medical examiner have gone over all the evidence.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t set much store in coincidences, Ms. Singer. I tend to take things at face value.”
“Have you spoken with the museum curator and confirmed that one of the rugs from last night’s exhibit is missing?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I came right here.” He narrowed his eyes. “Why hasn’t your esteemed police chief taken care of that?”
“I’m sure he has someone looking into it,” I said. I wasn’t really sure of anything except that Manu was thorough. I knew that as soon as he arrived, he’d put his team into motion. I figured that included sending a deputy over to the museum.
“Well, that’s not good enough for me. I’ll go over there myself. But first I want to know why this man was dumped behind your store, Ms. Singer.”
“Beats me. I imagine it’s because the museum is one street over and that if the rug is indeed the one from the exhibit, then the victim was dumped here because it was convenient.”
“We’ll see about that,” he said. He got up, plucked a dog hair from his jacket, and left.

Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer is about to have the rug pulled out from under her….

Marcy can’t wait to see the new exhibit at the Tallulah Falls museum on antique tapestries and textiles, including beautiful kilim rugs. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to terror when, the day after the exhibition opens, she discovers a dead body behind her store, the Seven-Year Stitch, wrapped up in a most unusual fashion.

The victim appears to be a visiting art professor in town for the exhibit. Did someone decide to teach the professor a lesson, then attempt to sweep the evidence under the rug? Along with her boyfriend, Detective Ted Nash, Marcy must unravel an intricate tapestry of deception to find a desperate killer.
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Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
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