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Inside the Book:





Title: Patti Cake
Author: Donielle Ingersoll
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Format: Ebook

All Patti Murray asked the Lord for was help in finding a God-fearing husband who would be a good provider for her and the family she hoped to raise. Oh, and if he were tall, dark, and handsome, that wouldnt be so bad either. Aside from this goal, she wanted to continue to grow her cake decorating business. This would give her the opportunity to exercise her unique creative talent and earn a little money on the side while being a full-time mommy. However, when one of her exquisite wedding cakes comes to the attention of a national celebrity, Patti is suddenly thrust into the exotic world of the rich and famous and a whole new chance for romance. Was this Gods plan all along?

Author Donielle Ingersolls Patti Cake: An Inspirational Romance, ventures into the world of this witty cake decorator as she has humorous encounters with a tall dark stranger. Enter her kitchen and watch as she creates her magical cake creations. Join her as she tries to fit into the dazzling world of the elite. Youll empathize with her as she struggles with intense, conflicting emotions as secrets from her deep, dark past come bubbling to the surface. And be with Patti as she makes the decision to marry for love or love and money.

Youll be able to create your own versions of Pattis delectable desserts because Patti Cake: An Inspirational Romance includes recipes. Enjoy them as you follow Patti on her journey to find love.

Purchase Here

Meet the Author:

Donielle Ingersoll was gifted with a double portion of creativity and an active imagination. Located in the western portion of the United States, this author brings a unique view of God’s guidance in our lives to readers who love spiritual romance and adventure. Sometimes it is good to see life through the eyes of others.


Giveaway

Donielle is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins May 17 and ends on May 28.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 29.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsTour Schedule

Monday, May 17
Book featured at Review From Here
Book featured at Literal Exposure

Tuesday, May 18
Book featured at The Writer’s Life
Book featured at As the Pages Turn

Wednesday, May 19
Book featured at Splashes of Joy
Book featured at Personovelty

Thursday, May 20
Book featured at Blogher
Book featured at SheWrites

Friday, May 21
Book featured at A Title Wave
Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish

Monday, May 24
Book featured at Read My First Chapter

Tuesday, May 25
Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Book featured at The Book Rack

Wednesday, May 26
Book featured at The Zen Reader
Book featured at Inkslinger’s Opus

Thursday, May 27
Book featured at All Inclusive Retort
Book featured at A Taste of My Mind

Friday, May 28
Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords
Book featured at Feeling a Draft

 

 

Inside the Book:


Title: God Loves Messed Up People
Author: Gene Heil
Genre: CoDependency/Self-Help
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Gene Heil spent his life in service to God and his country. He spent 20 years in the military and dedicated his life to the Lord. Heil is an ordained minister, and served as an elder in the church, took part in prison outreach, and devoted himself to prayer. He desires to see lives changed.

Purchase Here

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.jsTour Schedule

Monday, May 17
Book featured at As the Pages Turn
Interviewed at Lover of Literature

Tuesday, May 18
Interviewed at The Book Czar
Book featured at Literal Exposure

Wednesday, May 19
Book featured at The Revolving Bookshelf
Interviewed at Voodoo Princess

Thursday, May 20
Book featured at The Writer’s Life
Interviewed at The Dark Phantom

Friday, May 21
Book featured at The Literary Nook

Monday, May 24
Book featured at Read My First Chapter
Book featured at Pimp That Character

Tuesday, May 25
Book featured at Read Between the Ink
Book featured at A Book Lover

Wednesday, May 26
Book featured at C’est La T
Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla

Thursday, May 27
Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures

Friday, May 28
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

Kevin D. Miller is an attorney in Southern California who spends his two hour commute listening to Science Fiction and Fantasy books on Audible or dreaming up plots for future book ideas. When he isn’t working, Kevin can be found spending time with his girlfriend Amy, and their two dogs Pepper and Riley or hiking and kayaking in Big Bear.

His latest book is AWAKENING.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Bifrost_Books

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Bifrost_Books

Would you call yourself a born writer?

            No. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer until three years ago. In Middle School and High School, English was one of my worst subjects. It was only after I started mentally creating stories in my head during the long commute to and from work that I finally reach the point where I figured, why not try and see if I can turn these stories into something more.

What was your inspiration for Awakening: Book One of the Berserker Chronicles?

            The idea came to me as my girlfriend and I were watching the opening scene of the first episode of The History TV show Vikings. I can remember the moment so clearly, even to this day. The main Character, Ragnar had a vision of Odin during a battle and BAM, the idea for Awakening came to mind. I then spent the next few days researching Norse mythology and fine tuning the idea. Then once I felt it was ready I started writing.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

            Due to my full time job as an attorney, in the beginning I really struggled to find the time to sit down and write. Then one day I decided give writing during my lunch break a try and it worked out perfectly. I could shut my door, turn up my music and write for 45-60 minutes uninterrupted. Writing in only those short blocks of time, it took me close to three years to write Awakening.

What do you feel is one of the most exciting parts of your book?

            I don’t want to give anything away, so I will just say, for me, its the fight scenes.

What other genres have you thought about writing? What genres would you personally never consider writing?

            I have a few Science Fiction, Fiction and Suspense stories I want to write. 

What do you love most about being an author?

            To create beautiful and mystifying worlds and then share those worlds with my readers. I get such joy from hearing about how my readers enjoyed exploring the realms with Leif.  

What’s next for you?

            I turned in my first draft of Ascension to my editor the other week and while I wait to get the draft back, I am working on Book three Ragnarok.

Amy Rivers writes novels, short stories and personal essays. She is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers. Her novel All The Broken People was recently selected as the Colorado Author Project winner in the adult fiction category. She’s been published in We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, Flash! A Celebration of Short Fiction, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, and Splice Today, as well as Novelty Bride Magazine and ESME.com. She was raised in New Mexico and now lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She holds degrees in psychology and political science, two topics she loves to write about. Visit her at www.amyrivers.com.

INTERVIEW:

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Complicit. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: When a student is brutally murdered, high school psychologist Kate Medina is reluctantly drawn into the investigation. She bumps heads with the lead detective who is also a former friend, and struggles to manage the stress of her father’s failing health and her own post-traumatic anxiety. As with many of my novels, Complicit looks at dark topics like sex trafficking and interpersonal violence through a very human lens. My former work with victims of sexual assault taught me that there is no typical reaction to trauma, and despite what people think, bad things happen to good people and “good people” do bad things. I wanted to bring that out to forefront in this book.

Q: What do you think makes good psychological suspense? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Interesting scenarios and high-stakes drama are certainly part and parcel, but the most important element is certainly characterization. Unlike other types of crime fiction, psychological suspense moves a bit slower so that we (readers) can really dive deep into the motivation and behavior of the characters. These books feature complicated and greatly flawed protagonists that are battling something sinister while wrestling with their own demons. A well-drawn antagonist is also essential. It’s not enough for the villain to be evil. Readers need to understand and even sympathize with the antagonist in some way. That way, the relationship between the hero and the villain feels more intimate—the action taking place on a much smaller stage.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I’m not much of a plotter. When I start writing, I have a general idea of the main events that will happen in the book. The inciting incident. The main conflict. Most of my pre-writing work is in character development. I usually know more about my characters than I do about what’s about to happen to them. Their personalities and baggage lead the action, sometimes in different directions than I would have imagined. It’s a really joyful process to let things unravel as they may.

That being said, I spend a lot of time in revision to tie up loose ends and fill in plot holes. I think that’s both the advantage and the drawback of not outlining my novels. My friends who do outline seem to have a smoother process of drafting, without nearly as much revision. Every time I try to add more structure to my process, it kills my creativity, so I’ve learned to accept and even enjoy the revision process as a natural and necessary part of my writing life.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I knew when I started writing Complicit that I wanted Kate Medina to have left a career she loved in the criminal justice system to return to her hometown. As I started constructing Kate’s persona, I realized that one of her biggest challenges (and ensuing personality defects) had to do with success. In her work as a forensic psychologist, she felt fulfilled—like she’d “made it” in terms of her personal and professional goals. Having to leave that behind, even if it was her decision, chips away at her sense of self. Working at the high school is the antithesis of everything she envisioned for herself, and it makes her a really abrasive person. Readers may not love Kate, at least not immediately, but I’m sure that most of us can relate to what it feels like to fail at something—how it can eat away at you. 

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: The organization behind the trafficking ring remains largely in shadow, but Benny Parks is the primary visible antagonist in Complicit. He’s a creep and he does some really horrible things, but he’s also a pretty classic thug with an inferiority complex. He knows people in high places so he’s over-confident. Everything he does is overkill. Benny provides our first glimpse at the organized crime aspect of the trafficking ring. I watched a lot of mob movies when I was working on both Benny and the organization behind him.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: I try to focus on two things. The first is pacing. As the reader is making their way through the story, it should feel like a smooth progression. Sometimes its hard not to want to over-share background details and over-explain situations. Maintaining the balance between giving too much and withholding too much is something that comes with time and practice. Beta-readers can help you identify places where the pacing feels off so that by the time your book makes it on the shelves, those kinks are worked out.

The second where I focus is the hanging question. Every chapter should leave the reader questioning something—what will happen next, who will she tell, what will he do? The trick is not being too heavy-handed with these cliffhangers. You want the question to be subtle—a mystery for the reader to solve by turning the page.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: If possible, I always visit the places I am writing about. I write realistic fiction so this works for me. Being on the ground in the setting makes it much easier to notice details and details bring the setting to life for the reader. This can be especially helpful when writing about a place you are unfamiliar with.

That being said, it’s not always possible to visit your setting in-person, but luckily we live in the Internet age. Google Street View let’s you travel down country roads or through city streets as if you were there. Government and tourism sites offer details about demographics and things that make the place unique. I would also suggest reading other books set in that area to help get a feel for the nuances.

In Complicit, I wrote about my hometown in New Mexico so I was already intimately familiar with my surroundings. But I still visited, taking copious pictures, and notes. I journaled about the things that had changed since I was a child. I took friends who’d never been there and asked about their impressions. And I had people who live there read the book to see if it rang true. These are all very useful tools in creating a compelling setting.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Though I start most of my work with character, I always have a sense of theme before I start writing. In Complicit, I knew I wanted to look at domestic human trafficking, the relationship between sisters, and surviving trauma. These are themes that tend to pop up in a lot of my work. More broadly, I’m always interested in how secrets contribute to the psychology of a situation. For instance, when we show a new love interest our “best side” are we creating a duplicitous start to a new relationship? These are the sort of questions that I love to ponder.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: For me, the process is very intermingled. As an author, I have a vision that guides the work I do, but craft gives me the foundation for communicating that vision. Editing is just part of that. Is the editing process artistic? Not terribly, at least not for me. It’s more about adding structure and consistency to what I’ve created. But editing also doesn’t destroy anything for me, creatively speaking. I understand that it is a necessary tool for ensuring that the story I want to tell is the best story it can be.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Perseverance, tenacity, and a sense of humor. Human beings are super interesting, all of them. We all have stories to tell. What makes a successful novelist is the act of following through. The perseverance and determination necessary to write 90,000+ words and then hack it to pieces to make it good. The ability to find humor and joy in what can sometimes feel like an incredibly dull or daunting process. Anyone can tell a story, but writing a novel takes more than that.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

A: Absolutely! But I always loved homework so I guess I’m weird that way. What I would say, especially to aspiring authors who might feel that description is a bit depressing, is that it’s more like doing homework in your favorite class for the rest of your life. That’s not really much different from any other career choice. If it’s something you want to do, the work becomes a necessary and even enjoyable part of the process. Whether you’re a novelist or a research scientist, you’re going to spend the rest of your life engaged in work—sometimes exciting, sometimes horribly dull—but that work is invariably tied to something that brings you satisfaction and fulfillment so it’s worth it.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Literally too many to name. In the early days of my writing career, I attended a lot of craft classes and conferences where I took in every word the presenters had about story arc and character development and revision. As I progressed in my career, I needed different things. A focus on the business and promotion aspects maybe, or advanced craft classes. I can’t say enough about attending writing conferences because you learn a ton and you realize you’re not alone. It really helps. Two books I highly recommend for writers at any level include Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat Writes A Novel and Steven James’ Story Trumps Structure. I would also highly recommend Angie Hodapp’s book Query Craft: The Writer-In-The-Know Guide to Getting Your Manuscript Requested if you’re looking for an agent and if you can, attend one of Angie’s workshops. She’s a phenomenal instructor. 

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: My best advice on craft is to never stop learning and improving. There are so many wonderful resources out there for authors and there’s always something new that you can add to your writers’ toolkit. I never fail to learn a new trick when I take a class.

Title: BRUSHED OFF
Author: M. Lee Musgrave
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 186
Genre: Murder Mystery

BOOK BLURB:

Artist James Terra and his married lover Nicole find themselves in a tangled web while searching for the killer of LAs hottest artists. Homicide detective Cisco Rivas ask James for help with LAs zany art community. The case quickly turns into a quagmire of intrigue and vicious jealousy amongst the dazzling talent and wealth of schizophrenic Los Angeles. James wants Nicole to leave her husband. When another artist is murdered, she joins the hunt for the killer. A leading art collector is attacked. Cisco is pressured by influential city movers and shakers. Young emerging socialite Camille is up to her neck in strife so James and Nicole make a deal to protect her. Cisco discovers a smuggled exotic drug used by all the suspects including a stealthy porn star. James keeps everyone from knowing his health is precarious. The killer and a secret accomplice targets James, Nicole and Camille.

PRAISE

“Who is killing the contemporary artists of L.A.? Why are they shoving paint brushes down their victims’ throats? Who’s next on the killer’s list? In Brushed Off artist and public-TV art show host James “Sketchy” Terra finds himself smack in the middle of things, racing to help his homicide detective buddy unravel a puzzle as urgent as a splatter painting and as complex as an M.C. Escher drawing. Lee Musgrave’s swift and energetic novel pulls its readers through the studio doors into a brash and entertaining world of big ambitions, bigger egos, love and sex and secrets and shady wheeler-dealing. Calling on his long experience as an artist and curator as he cruises from the beaches and bars and galleries of L.A. to the hidden havens of the Santa Monica Mountains, Musgrave creates a compelling collage of mystery-novel action and art-world exposé as he paints a portrait of the Art of Murder.”

—Bob Hicks, two-time Pulitzer nominee and Senior Editor, Artswatch  (orartswatch.org)

“Brushed-Off is a unique, atmospheric work of Los Angeles mystery fiction. Not only does author M. Lee Musgrave provide an engaging case, which ends in an explosive climax, but he also paints a vivid portrait of the city’s beautiful but dangerous art scene from an insider’s perspective. A welcome addition for those who enjoy contemporary L.A. noir.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

Brushed-off by Lee Musgrave paints an interesting and revealing series of passages about the Los Angeles art scene. The opening picture of LA’s beach community, its oddball characters, mixed with homeless wanderers draws the reader into this story as Sketchy and Duie (his dog) discover a friend dead under a pile of destroyed paintings and a totally wrecked studio. Sketchy, an artist-videographer, and his homicide detective friend set off to find answers. More suspicious deaths in the art community pressure the duo to find the killer. Looking for a link to the murders, Sketchy takes the reader deep into the lives of the artists, collectors, and beautiful people who inhabit this world of creativity. With his video documentary work as cover, the threads he discovers unravel a tapestry of crime that only an artist could perceive in the glare of so many colors.

Musgrave uses a number of conventions to depict details of color, texture, and location to convince the reader that this is a plausible tale told by an observant artist. The twist of a detective using a well-connected artist to investigate leads plays well in this adventure. Musgrave takes the reader on trips through LA and its several neighborhoods with Sketchy chasing leads, dead ends, and discoveries. He hides the motive for murder until the final segments and this lets the reader enjoy the scenes he composes in this montage of Los Angeles from its world renowned beaches to the mansions overlooking them. Brushed-off is an enjoyable mystery, especially for fans of the art world.

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Cecil Brewer, critic Readers Favorite

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2ZzWiCj

Meet The Author

M. Lee Musgrave

 Author/Artist, M. Lee Musgrave holds a Master of Art degree from CSU, Los Angeles. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for Arts Fellowship. His artwork has been in solo and group exhibitions world-wide. As a Professor of Art and curator he organized hundreds of exhibitions involving artists, collectors and a variety of related enthusiast. Those many experiences and his ongoing personal art activities inform his writing about LA’s exciting art community.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: www.leemusgrave.com

Facebook: Lee Musgrave | Facebook

“To hope is normal, to expect is naïve”

—wise advice that Rosemary Mild’s psychoanalyst father taught her, and which she too often ignores. 

Rosemary is an award-winning writer of personal essays that have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chess Life, Generations, and elsewhere. As a retired editor, she’s a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a Silver Owl (twenty-five-year member) of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Rosemary grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Smith College. In 2013, she and Larry moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. When not dreaming up outrageous ideas for her essays, she and Larry stalk villains and solve crimes as coauthors of more than a dozen mystery and suspense novels and story collections. They’re members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (Larry’s a Mister), and Hawaii Fiction Writers. 

Visit her website at www.magicile.com

Congratulations on the release of your book, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right. When did you start writing and what got you into nonfiction?

About twenty-five years ago, after leaving my career as an editor (which I started at Harper’s Magazine in New York). My second husband, Larry, and I lived in Severna Park, Maryland, a bedroom community between Baltimore and Annapolis. I had a chance to write four articles on “Artists of the Chesapeake,” for the Baltimore Sun. Then I felt inspired to write essays about my own life: Playing Barbie Dolls with our little granddaughters. My run-in with a bank because I accepted a new credit card just to get a free T-shirt at a baseball game. I published a bunch of those in Washington Woman and Washington Parent. 

What is your book about? 

My essays reflect my quirky, sharp, often laugh-out-loud view of life, like taking the wrong cart at the grocery store. My senior “decade.” Auditioning to become a contestant on Jeopardy! Medical mishaps pushing Larry in his wheelchair. The risks of a grandma’s bragging rights. I also encompass the opposite spectrum, poignant and appreciative, including our son-in-law in the Honolulu Marathon and delivering Meals on Wheels. 

In “Life with Larry” I tell how, on our first date, he asked me to write a novel with him—even though neither of us had ever written a word of fiction. I have another chapter on our writing murder mysteries together. And haven’t killed each other yet!   

The last chapter is the most heart-rending, about our twenty-year-old daughter Miriam Luby Wolfe. We lost her in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. She was a superb writer. I end the book with her inspiring words, beautiful advice we can all use.   

What was your inspiration for it?

My mother was a professional writer. She wrote feature stories for The Milwaukee Journal, Parents Magazine, American Home, Colliers, and elsewhere. She was my role model. 

Who is your target audience?

Adult women probably. When I wrote the back-of-the-book copy, I gave it to our two granddaughters here in Honolulu for their opinions. I said that my essays were a combination of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck. Our granddaughters, ages twenty-two and thirty-two, had never heard of either one. I deleted the reference, even though in some ways they still influence me.   

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?

Trying to weave my own personal writing in between coauthoring fiction with Larry. It’s tough on both of us. Larry is extremely focused. When we have a new book we’re working on, it’s hard for him to sit back and wait until I finish a nonfiction project. It’s hard on me, too. Mystery and suspense novels require tremendous concentration—intricate clues; fleshed-out characters; convincing, logical solutions.

I’ve also taken infinite amounts of time to write three memoirs: Miriam’s Gift; Miriam’s World—and Mine; and Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I hope readers will agree with the Readers’ Favorite review. “A wonderful heartwarming collection of stories that you instantly resonate with. I could not put this book down. Rosemary takes us on such a rollercoaster of emotions, from laughter to tears and everything in between. A highly recommended read.”

Did your book require a lot of research? 

Yes. My “Close Encounters…” with famous people sent me to research on what made them famous. My essays on “Renoir and Raphael”; “Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl”, etc. But I also included threads of research throughout, such as the number of participants in the 2013 Honolulu Marathon; and facts about Jazzercise, my amazing exercise program that satisfies my desire to be a Rockette.  

What was your publishing process like?

Our original self-publisher was not respected in the industry. If I had done my homework I would have learned that the company had the reputation of publishing the telephone book if you submitted it. For Boston Scream Pie we did have a reputable commercial publisher, but, sadly, we submitted it at the time the business was falling apart. Of course, we had no way of knowing that. 

We’re our own “indie” publisher now, under the imprint Magic Island Literary Works. For printing, we use Lightning Source, Inc. in Tennessee (owned by Ingram). We submit every book already formatted. Larry does the formatting using Lightning Source’s InDesign. He’s a retired engineer, so he’s excellent at using their program, which is all in code! (I could never do it.)  We like LSI’s printing quality. We have a friend who’s an excellent proofreader; she proofs all our final drafts for us.

What is your advice for aspiring authors? 

1. Don’t be intimidated, first drafts are never perfect anyway.

2. Fear of the blank page is something to be skirted. Don’t give up, go on to the next scene,  and come back later.

3. Write about what you are comfortable with.

4. Develop clear mental images of your central characters.

5. Become more aware of people and places. Carry a notebook with you and jot down observations. Tune into both the unusual and the commonplace.

6. Take a community college writing class. Maybe also join a critique group.

7. Subscribe to The Writer or Writer’s Digest. (Either print or online.)

What has writing taught you?

Writing is like my right arm; it comes naturally to me. But there‘s no end to the learning process. My favorite authors are always teaching me something. Some are superb at descriptions. Others specialize in clever plotting. No matter how zealously I work on a project, no matter how satisfied I am with it, I always feel afterward, Well, maybe I could’ve said that in a slightly more vivid way.  

Acclaimed novelist Rosemary Mild pulls back the curtain on life, love, loss, and everything in between in her new book, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right.  In this charming, entertaining, and heartfelt collection, Mild dances to her own captivating tune. With a keen eye, wicked wit, and sparkling delivery, she produces a collection of essays ranging from the hilarious to the serious, from the practical to the irreverent. Clever, pitch-perfect, and polished, Mild’s conversational tales are destined to strike a chord with readers.

Mild writes with candor, compassion, and honesty in a voice that brims with humor and wisdom. Her essays run the gamut from gritty observations on everyday life to laughing at her own wishful thinking tempered with tough reality. In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right has it all.

No subject escapes the pen of Rosemary Mild—wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. Readers will delight in her Hawaii adventures; “Senior Decade”; brief encounters with the famous; medical mishaps; and her rocky road from blind dates to lasting love. Join her as she takes on sailing, skating, Jazzercise, football, marathons, and more—and come along as Mild lays bare a mother’s heart-wrenching loss. A collection that is at once timeless and timely, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right is utterly irresistible.

About The Author

Rosemary is an award-winning writer of personal essays that have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chess Life, Generations, and elsewhere. As a retired editor, she’s a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a Silver Owl (twenty-five-year member) of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Rosemary grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Smith College. In 2013, she and Larry moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. When not dreaming up outrageous ideas for her essays, she and Larry stalk villains and solve crimes as coauthors of more than a dozen mystery and suspense novels and story collections. They’re members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (Larry’s a Mister), and Hawaii Fiction Writers. 

Find out more at www.magicile.com


From Rosemary Mild’s new book IN MY NEXT LIFE I’LL GET IT RIGHT

Other people have senior moments. I’m having a senior decade.

          Unable to sleep, at 2:00 a.m. I shuffled into the kitchen for a few sips of diet tonic water, hoping it would relax me. No need to put on my glasses. I saw a creepy crawly cockroach high up on the cabinet over the fridge. After fumbling under the sink for the can of Raid, I sprayed the invader good and hard. Next morning I strolled into the kitchen for breakfast. Now that I had my glasses on, I saw that I had sprayed an exposed, unpainted cabinet screw.

Larry got out the little tub of margarine for lunch, opened it, and discovered a coffee filter filled with used coffee grounds. It was garbage I’d prepared to throw away. At breakfast I’d been rushing to get ready for my Jazzercise class and I put it in the fridge instead. Does that mean I threw away the actual tub of margarine? Mercifully, I’ve forgotten.

In 2003 we were driving Emily, our five-year-old granddaughter, to a roller-skating birthday party. Ah, I thought, a chance to try in-line skates. The man behind the counter scowled. “You don’t want those. They’re for racing, they have no brakes.” He handed me a pair of four-wheelers. I spent the next half-hour churning round and round the indoor rink just trying to keep my balance. The skates were so clunky.

The birthday girl’s dad came gliding up beside me, the friendly host. Maybe the spinning strobes had taken a few decades off my face.

“How long has it been since you roller-skated?” he asked.        

His question caught me off guard. I had to count back to 1948 when I was thirteen. In my Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay, we strapped on ball-bearing skates and tightened them with a square key. Finally, I reported: “Fifty-five years.”

“Oh,” he said, and skated away.

I’m so well organized that I have a red folder on my desk labeled URGENT BUSINESS. The problem is, some of the stuff in it is from 2015.

Woody Allen’s play title You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running is sheer brilliance. I’m always saying it to Larry. We do a lot of grousing, especially if we’re in different rooms: “What did you say?” Recently, at a Zoom meeting during COVID-19, we were all chatting. “Bill” mentioned one of his favorite authors, and asked us what books we were reading. He addressed “Howard,” who had joined the meeting while eating his breakfast.

“Howard? What are you reading?”

“Oatmeal.”

That could’ve been me.

My pet peeve in restaurants is an overzealous waiter asking me, “Are you still working on that?”

“No,” I’m tempted to snap. “I’m eating.” I’m quite sure he’s about to pull the fork out of my mouth.

We were in the waiting room of our doctor’s office in Annapolis, and in walked Marty and Sheila Litzky. With her incomparable insight, Sheila said, “You know you’re getting older when you meet your friends of forty years in the urologist’s office.”

Title: HIS KILT DROPPED HERE: A MAGICAL REALISM SCOTTISH ROMANCE
Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing
Pages: 170
Genre: Magic Realism Scottish Romance

BOOK BLURB:

Rogue Bruce enjoys running a Scottish castle turned bed-and-breakfast with her Aunt Baillie from America. They specialize in hosting romantic Elizabethan-themed weddings, complete with resident ghost, Lord Kai. But love is something Rogue is not the least bit interested in. Content with her work, she requires no male accompaniment for happiness.

A new delivery service brings Bruce MacKenzie, a Thor look-alike in plaid and denim, fetching more than the usual number of groceries from town, while Jonathan Olson, a snobbish, dark, Rhett Butler type, arrives at the castle to administer a writing seminar for aspiring authors. With two men after the heart she’d thought safely locked away, Rogue is flattered and confused. But when things start to take a sinister turn, danger befalls Rogue and those dear to her. The musical soundtrack of Rogue’s life flares from complacent, to dizzyingly romantic, to heart-thumping scary in this sizzling triangle.

Chapter One

“Who created these torture devices for women?” Rogue Bruce muttered as the high-heeled ankle boots her glittery Seattle friend, Rafael, had picked out for her squeezed her toes. Her steps made soft clicks on the temporary polished flooring as she dashed around the white-silk-draped chairs inside the reception tent set up on the castle grounds. She lifted her floor-length emerald skirt of fluff and ribbons and screamed internally about her aching feet. “Spike heels make my legs look better, she tells me. Heels? Seriously? Buried under twenty yards of bloody material, who will even notice? I swear, and this dress weighs a ton.”

And why must my bloody underwear be authentic if no one knows or sees it? Seriously, another full day of endless agony in this restrictive Elizabethan costume of layered torture is maddening. You know an evil man must have created the corset. No woman would have designed something so miserable and called it fashionable. How many times had she pleaded with Aunt Baillie to let her wear something soft, something comfortable like pants and a jacket during these events? Her aunt’s normally sweet face would transform into a stony glare, forcing Rogue to relent and don one of the many costumes made specifically for her as owner of the Scottish estate.

“The Baillie Castle Bed and Breakfast promises a fairy-tale environment for couples in love and bridal parties creating a stop-time fantasy for families and guests,” Rogue mimicked her American aunt and business partner. “Remember, these expensive weddings pay the taxes and daily upkeep of your renovated castle.”

Rogue could barely breathe in the tightly wrapped bodice as she rounded out of the heated white tent, her eyes on the temporary stone path placed in the soggy Scottish mud. Plowing into something solid, Rogue cursed and frantically reached out, wobbling on the spiked heels. Grabbing at anything, her fingers found soft, crushable flannel before warm, strong hands wrapped around her wrists. Staring at the manly fingers holding her steady, Rogue’s eyes traveled up the long, chiseled arms of a young man to his concerned face, locking eyes with her.

“Ya be all right, miss?”

His baritone voice tickled her ears, causing the breath to catch in her throat as the heat from his grasp flushed in a wave across her face. All she could handle was a weak nod. Staring at his serious face framed with shaggy blond hair, a chill breeze lifted the bangs from his ruddy forehead. His oddly green eyes blinked above a well-freckled nose and broke the spell.

Rogue stiffened her body and checked her balance before pulling her arms away. “Of course, I am. Just dinna expect anyone to be in the reception area this time of the afternoon.” Rogue brushed her trembling fingers against the flounce of her skirt. “It’s the middle of May, and the paying guests are huddled by the fireplaces inside as if it were bloody January, wondering why the wedding isn’t in some tropical place like Hawaii.” Trying to control her nervousness but having trouble drawing breath in front of such a gorgeous male creature, she asked, “Who are you?”

“Aye, sorry, “My name is Bruce, Miss Rogue, Bruce MacKenzie, delivery service from the village.” The man pulled gloves from a back pocket. “I was checking with Putney one last time to be sure she has all she needs for today before I leave.”

“Ya seemed a wee bit familiar, but we’ve a crowd of local security today on the grounds. Ya could have been one of the guards. You’ve the size and all.”

“Aye, I’ve had to show credentials a few times today.” The edge of his full lips pulled into a crooked grin. “I’ve been delivering vegetables, breads, and such to Putney from town over the last nine months since my da passed away. I’ve seen you now an’ again in the stable door, I have, with your hands full of currycombs or muckrakes during my times here. Nice to see there’s a lady side of ya.”

Rogue steeled herself not to bark something rude at his personal remark. Who admitted to watching someone without her knowing? And what did he mean about her lady side? Wearing some historical costume had nothing to do with who she was inside. The man had the manners of a goat. She took a slow, deep breath, forcing something polite. “Putney has mentioned good things about ya and, uh, ya service.” She bowed her head, clenching her teeth.

Keeping her head down, willing her pounding heart to return to normal, Rogue clutched her skirts. “Well, I, uh, I have much to do before the wedding. I best be going.”

Bruce tugged on his gloves, shuffling his feet. “I hear everyone has to clear the premises before the ceremony. Is some big movie star taking vows this time? I dinna bring near the crates of caviar or champagne Putney usually orders for the fancy events ya hold here. Seemed a bit odd.”

“Aye, this inna our typical wedding booked at the Baillie Castle, but the oldest daughter of some actor trying to dodge mass publicity if ya must know. The family requested utmost privacy for their ceremony, a simpler affair.” Her voice dropped to a loud whisper despite herself. “I’m thinking she’s in a family way and alcohol will be limited.”

Nodding his head, Bruce wiped a gloved hand under his nose. “I need to get back to the shop. Tell Putney to call me if she needs something.” He scuffed the toe of his worn boot against one of the stepping stones. “See ya, Miss Rogue.”

The sight of his retreating backside in tight jeans sent a warmth of fiery hormones cloaking her against the dampness of perspiration. Rogue’s mind blanked; with no idea what she was originally going to do before the sudden run in with the delicious jerk of a delivery guy, she picked up her skirts with a swish and headed toward the castle’s kitchen.

She had never felt such an intense frustration and intrigue talking to a strange man, let alone a local one. With the castle being a romantic spot for weddings and celebrations, she had met gorgeous, rich men from around the world. Yet the flash of his green eyes while he held her hands, sent irritating bolts inside her thumping heart. Blowing her cheeks out, she wrinkled her nose. “‘Nice to see there’s a lady side of ya’ he has the nerve to say.” She pounced across the moat’s wooden bridge, ignoring the dancing caps of windblown onyx water below, and into the kitchen. The heavy oak door closed against the outside coolness as aromas of spices and sweet bakery smells wrapped her in a warm, soothing hug.

“Child, you’ll be snapping the heels right off those shoes, clunking that way. Dinna Miss T-Cup and Rafael show you better than that?” Putney looked over her thick shoulder, her plump cheeks red from the heat of the oven, a strand of damp, gray hair dangling from her tight bun. “Did ya learn nothing ladylike from those glitzy drag queen friends of yours and them spending so much time trying to coach ya?”

Rogue blinked at the feisty cook, a natural foundation of castle life since the first day she’d arrived years ago. “Ah, Putney, donna I wish the girls were here this very minute.” She pinched a broken piece of scone and popped it in her mouth. How she would love to pick Rafael and T-Cup’s glittered brains right now about a certain delivery guy she’d run into, literally. Why would he think clothes made a difference, a lady? What was wrong with the jeans and boots she typically lived in? Local chauvinist.

“Ya had your way, they’d live here full time. Poor wee things would wither away if stuck out here in the wilds as they say of the hielands, from sheer boredom if nothing else.” Chuckling, she smacked her hip. “They exhaust me during their visits from America. And donna get me started on the smooth-talking Mr. Gillian Nation and his plume-waving ways. He’ll get no mocha, whatcha, latte crazy coffee from me just for his bit of flirting.”

Rogue gave a single nod, staring beyond the cook’s shoulder, her motionless hands still holding a scone. The delivery guy had seen her often during his trips to the castle? Why had she not noticed this local hottie before? Why hadn’t Putney said anything? She nearly slapped her hand against her forehead. Putney had done nothing but talk about Bruce MacKenzie. The old woman had given speeches and passionate soliloquies all winter long about the new single businessman Rogue should be concentrating on, as she wasn’t getting any younger. She’d pretty much ignored the cook’s deluge. Good-looking single men came in and out of the bed and breakfast, but that didn’t mean she needed to introduce herself to each one. She was quite content between her work here at the castle and taking care of her horses.

“Girl, the bloody sky’s falling.” The cook kept her voice even, not changing her tone. “The moon will be full and purple with stripes tonight, I hear.”

Another vacant nod to whatever Putney was rambling about would tide her over. Rogue popped a bite of scone in her mouth. He must get those muscles from lifting and carrying such heavy bags of flour and sugar for all the baking going on around town every week. And who knows how many other deliveries he makes in a day? An independent man at least, inheriting his work much like I did.  

Rogue stared at the cook without focus, watching the older woman turn back to the pastries and silver platters, running a work-reddened hand across her damp forehead.

An ancient looking man with angel-white hair shuffled into the room, wearing fancy black suspenders against the crisp white shirt his wife, Putney, forced him to wear on these occasions. Before speaking a word, his eyes caught Putney’s, and Rogue caught the cook tilting her head back toward her on the other side of the room.

Robbie twisted to peek around the vision of his hefty bride of forty-five years, then shrugged, and moved to grab a biscuit. The noise of her slapping his hand away with a snort broke Rogue’s concentration, and she let out a long sigh.

“Sounds like the weight of the world is nestled on those young shoulders,” he said in her direction. “Ya havena looked so begotten since them flouncy diva women ya make such a fuss over left last summer.” He rubbed his weathered cheek. “But they’ll be back in a few weeks, aye?”

Rogue cleared her throat; had she sent up red flags of concern? She didn’t want the old couple nosing around in her direction. She gave the couple a brilliant smile, as if she’d just entered the room. “Yes, you’re most right, Robbie. It’s but a blink of the eye before they return in all their splendor and glamour.” She snapped her fingers in a z-motion like T-Cup had shown her. “And we got a wedding today.” She marched out of the room, her floor-length skirt rustling, and heard Putney whisper as she left.

“Lost, I tell ya, mooning like a she-wolf in heat she was.”



Baillie glanced over the final lists and papers for the celebrity wedding taking place in a few hours. She’d found a quiet spot in the library to concentrate on the last-minute details when her cell phone vibrated. The caller id noted Olympia, Washington, and she snatched it by the second muted ring.

“Sally,” she said with a smile. “Happy Valentine’s Day to my best long-distance assistant.”

Sally laughed. “Your only assistant over here. How’s the special V-Day celebration going?”

“So far, so good. Just another over-the-top extravaganza, my dear. But the security on this one is nearly strangling the staff.” Both women chuckled. “How’s your divorce going?”

“George has been amicable about everything, I guess,” Sally sighed. “I can’t imagine what I would have done without you letting Casie and I move into your apartment upstairs at Pen and Pages. It’s been a godsend, Baillie. I will never be able to repay your generosity.” Baillie heard sniffling. “Casie even gets to stay in her school district and catches the bus right in front of the shop. I can’t tell you how much this means to me as a new single mom.”

Baillie closed her eyes and conjured her beloved bookstore nestled in firs and maple trees in her mind. She knew Sally was taking good care of her business. The woman was a Godsend.

“And, of course, your cat, Sebastian, is being spoiled something awful. I swear he knows what time the bus arrives and greets her at the shop door after school. He’s like her own Lassie.”

Baillie looked out the library windows patterned in black iron, the rectangles of leaded glass showing the glint of obsidian movement in the dark moat below as Sally continued talking. Mesmerized by a single ray of light breaking through the quilt of soft gray across the sky, Baillie moved closer to the window. A siren’s call from the water filled her heart with familiar song, a soothing contentment to her excited soul.

Outside she watched the wind ripple the white monstrosity’s roof panels in a gentle rhythm, the reception area for tonight, a few of the white-draped chairs barely visible. A smile played on her lips as she watched her inherited niece, Rogue, smack right into that gorgeous local delivery kid Putney always raved about. She let out a sharp noise, hoping the girl didn’t fall on her rear in the mud from the bodily impact.

“What was that? Are you listening to me? Have you heard anything I’ve said?” Sally’s voice increased in volume over the phone’s speaker. “What did that ghost of a Highlander do now? Lord Kai can’t hog all of you just because it’s Valentine Day. I deserve some too, you know. This is not a favorite day of mine right now.”

A quick tingle down her spine at the mention of Kai’s name pulled her away from the activity beyond the window, and she concentrated on Sally. “No, no Kai around, truly, just Rogue blindsiding the cute delivery boy down below. Putney swears they would be the perfect couple, but I don’t think this is quite the romantic introduction Putney was hoping for, though pretty memorable, I guess, as first meetings go.”

“Seriously?”

“She plowed right into the guy coming out of the reception tent. Rogue’s not the most graceful thing in heels though Gillian and his girls keep working on her every chance they get.” She peeked out the window again, the two were talking, always a good sign and no stains or tears on her dress. “See, my distraction was all about Rogue, no mushy stuff from Kai this time.”

Baillie stifled a laugh at her vision of Sally settling her ruffled feathers on the other side of the world. “Sweetie, I have to finish these lists and get out there or it will be off with my head by the bride’s father. The fee from this one event is more than we made last year. Some people and their bottomless checkbooks are a nice reward, especially after the hard work and obnoxious secrecy this one has caused.”

“Must be nice hobnobbing with the rich and famous while I slave away at the old bookstore.”

Baillie snapped a group of the papers into a clipboard while rolling her eyes. “I hear the world’s tiniest violins in the background, dear.” Both women giggled. “You’ll be out here before you know it for my wedding.” She heard the tinkling of bells from the shop’s door in the background. “See? You have a customer, go make us some money and I’ll talk to you soon. Tell Miss Casie hi for me.” She tapped the screen disconnecting her call.



Bruce stopped his Ford delivery truck at the empty crossroads a mile before town, looking left and right for clearance, when his vision blurred into the tantalizing image of the local celebrity Rogue Baillie Bruce in a dress. Not any style of dress you’d see in church or a fancy restaurant on the girls in town, but like she’d stepped out of an epic movie about ancient times. Like royalty, with her hair done up off her shoulders with ribbons—a bewitching style, he noted.

The temperature inside the truck cab increased as he replayed their brief conversation, her nearness as he steadied her from falling. After the months of seeing her out by the stables in boots and jeans, his heart had pounded at the view of her plowing into him. The tight top half of the dress hugged her slight figure, showing her cream-colored neck and cleavage; her russet-brown hair pulled into fancy curls atop her head made her more beautiful than he could have imagined. He’d wanted nothing more than to pull her closer and caress the smooth curve of her exposed neck with his lips, like a knight of old claiming the princess after a joust, a crazy split-second notion of make-believe.

Bruce snorted. Like he had a chance in the world of dating the richest woman in the county. Word in town, as well as stories from Putney herself during his deliveries, confirmed that Rogue and some American relative of hers had made the haunted castle into a popular bed and breakfast concept. Their business had practically put their town on the international map. And he’d also heard the vineyards next door belonged to Ms. Bruce; after all, she’d started her own wine label, so it made sense.

Yet time and again, Putney cooed about the young woman, filling his head and dreams with romantic notions like some matchmaker witch, she did. None of them exaggerations, mind you. The woman was everything and more Putney had described her as. But why in the world would a bloody wealthy, gorgeous heiress be interested in the likes of him?

Though she hadn’t run away from him today, hadn’t bit his head off to let her go, the look on her face seemed to say otherwise. That was something, aye?  

“Da,” he whispered aloud, “I met the most incredible woman today. I think she’s the one, I do, like you told me as a boy how I’d ken when I found her, a woman like Ma.” His hands gripped the steering wheel making the dry, rugged lines of his fingers almost white. “A woman of grit and softness, she is, in one fair package. As Ma took your breath away, aye, so does Rogue do mine, Da.”

A montage of images over the last months rolled through his mind: her stepping out of the barn holding a leather harness of the four-legged black beast Putney called Dougal while he crossed the bridge with a case of groceries in his arms. The cook told him stories of the indelible bond between the monster of a black stallion and Rogue, raising a heat of ire in his heart, almost a jealousy of their friendship.

“She’ll no bother with a lowly businessman, though. She’s the closest thing our town has to a princess, with her name and photo showing up in the daily papers. Da, what am I gonna do? The beautiful enchantress has stolen my heart.”

The blast of a horn behind him knocked Bruce from his heavenly conversation. Stomping the gas pedal, he bolted back toward the village, leaving his fantasy for bland reality once again.

Order your copy at Amazon → https://amzn.to/3oSL72D!

Our guest today is Devon Greene, author of UNNATURAL, Book One of the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy. Deven lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Ever since childhood, Deven has been interested in science.  After working as a biochemist, she went back to school and became a pathologist.  When writing fiction, the author usually incorporates elements of medicine or science. Deven has penned several short stories. Unnatural is the first novel the author has published.

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes, I was a born writer. That doesn’t mean it comes easily, though.

Unnatural by Deven Greene

What was your inspiration for Unnatural, Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1?

I was forced to write this book the day I started, around two years ago. No, I wasn’t held at gunpoint, but the idea came in a flash, and I couldn’t suppress it. I was getting ready to start another novel, one I’d been thinking about for some time, when I felt compelled to write this novel, Unnatural, Eric Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1, about human embryonic stem cell gene editing. Being interested in all things science, especially medically-related science, I’d read quite a bit about CRISPR/Cas9 and genetic engineering, a real game-changer in medical research. I loved the idea of introducting the effect of a genetic change by way of a Chinese girl with blue eyes. To use that in a thriller, I needed to think of a nefarious use for this technology. The novel took off from there.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I finished the first draft in around eight months. It took more than a year after that to actually get it into print.

What do you feel is one of the most exciting parts of your book?

I don’t want to divulge anything that takes place late in the book, so I’ll mention something that happens fairly early on. I think the event that leads the protagonist, Dr. Erica Rosen, to realize someone is trying to murder a child in order to cover something up is very tense. How’s that for describing a plot point without saying too much?

What other genres have you thought about writing? What genres would you personally never consider writing?

I’ve thought about writing mysteries, which is close to the thriller/suspense genre I write in. I can’t see myself writing horror. I like to put people on the edge of their seats, but I don’t want to give them a heart attack.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love being in control of the storyline. Maybe that means I’m a control freak. I also enjoy the feeling of finishing that first draft.

What’s next for you?

I’m planning to travel to Mars. Just kidding. I get all the adventure I need through my characters. Right now, I’m finishing up my second novel in the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, titled Unwitting. It is due to be published in October 2021. There is still a lot to be done—cover design, final editing, etc. Next, I will work on completing the third installment of the trilogy.

An extraordinary middle grade mystery novel for kids 10+…. 

The Mystery at Turkelton Manor

Twelve-year-old Nathaniel Jones wants to be a detective. Though his imagination tends to run wild, Nate knows something strange is going on and he is determined to figure it out. Hearing noises at night, the young detective sees a strange figure lurking about. The Turkeltons are rich and Nate’s grandfather is their groundskeeper. As a result, Nate gets to spend the summer on the manor grounds. With priceless art and expensive jewelry in the mix, and someone creeping around at night, Nate becomes determined to catch a thief. There’s just one problem; nothing seems to be missing.

Chapter One
A Shipment Arrives
Mid-day Friday     
Picasso, Dali and Monet were just a few of the artists whose works graced the walls of Turkelton Manor. The museum-like display was worth a small fortune, but no ropes or security guards kept visitors from getting too close.
     Around mid-day on Friday, Nate was riding his bicycle along the long paved driveway of the manor when he noticed a small white delivery van enter through the open gates of the estate.
          Usually closed and controlled by remote, the twelve-foot double gate was currently broken, along with many other things at the estate, which its new owners were in the process of fixing.
     The day could never be boring if Nate’s imagination had anything to do with it, but it seemed he rarely had to depend on his imagination to keep him busy for long, and this sunny summer day was no exception.
     The vehicle had no windows except for the ones up front and, at first, Nate thought it might be Fed Ex, but a sharp glint of sunlight bouncing off the hood of the van kept him from seeing it had no Fed Ex markings, until it got closer and the glare went away.
     Nate was always paying attention to the little things, and his observation skills often amused his family, but it never surprised them as Nate’s father was a police detective and his grandfather on his father’s side of the family was a famous private investigator. Family members commented that it ran in his blood.
          The delivery van stopped just before it reached the  detective and the driver got out and buttoned his suit jacket. The idea that he wore a dark suit struck Nate a little odd, as he was driving a delivery van. The man was small, around five feet, eight inches tall, and very lean. He looked to be in his late forties or early fifties as his hair was beginning to gray above the ears and recede at the top, but it was possible that premature graying made him look older than he was.
     “Hello,” the stranger said politely as Nate stopped his bicycle and stood with it balanced between his legs. “I have a delivery of art for the Turkeltons. Do you know if they are at home?”
     There was something in the man’s tone that made Nate think he sounded like a bit of a snob, but he wasn’t able to put his finger on it. The man spoke as though he had an accent, though only with certain words.
     “I’m not sure,” Nate replied. “I know some people are working at the house though. Just follow the drive straight down,” Nate said, as he looked the direction of the house and pointed.
     The man smiled at him. “Of course,” he said, looking down the drive. The man gave him a little bow and then he unbuttoned his suit jacket before hopping back into the van. As he slowly pulled away, he waved and smiled again.
     The boy turned his bike and followed the vehicle down to the huge house looming in the distance. Pink Dogwood trees lined both sides of the driveway which ran pretty much straight down to the manor. The trees offered, aside from their visual beauty, an aroma that varied from day to day. This day they smelled as pretty as they looked, while other days the odor was downright unpleasant. Nate was familiar with these trees, but didn’t dwell too much on why their smell changed.
     Through the trees, Nate could see much of the grounds. To his right, as he rode toward the manor, was a thick batch of woods. The many oaks and maples intertwined with various other trees struggling for sunlight through the thick canopy. Where the woods ended, a lush green paddock for the horses began. On the opposite side of the driveway was a large pond, or a small lake depending on who was referring to it.
     The boy’s curiosity started getting the best of him and he wanted to see some of the art that was in the van. When the vehicle approached the circular round about in front of the house, the driver was careful not to hit the various other work trucks parked there or drive on the grass in the center. The house was under renovation and the construction crew was still hard at work.
     Nate rode around the circle a couple of times after the man found a place to park. An empty water fountain sat in the center of the grass circle and Nate couldn’t help but think it was big enough to swim in, if it were full. He watched as the man made his way up the curvy brick walk that had low flowering shrubs on either side of it, and then climbed the steep wide stairs leading to the large front door of the manor.
     Nate continued to ride around the circle and watch as the man waited for someone to answer the door. Typically, Nate would be helping his grandfather work on the grounds, but today Grandpa William was running errands and Nate opted to stay behind to help his grandmother with household chores. Nate’s grandfather, on his mother’s side, was the groundskeeper for the estate, which afforded him the opportunity to live on the property, which in turn meant Nate was able to spend the summer enjoying the surroundings.
     After a few moments, the main door of the manor opened, and the man entered, but Nate couldn’t see who answered the door. Aside from the family, there was a part-time staff of helpers plus the construction workers. He hadn’t yet met the Turkeltons as summer had just begun and the family was usually busy, but he knew there were four of them. The two children, one boy and one girl were about his age, but Nate was in no hurry to meet them as he didn’t feel comfortable around people his age and much preferred talking to adults. Nate was shy and this tended to trip him up in conversations. Kids at school often teased him, which is why he usually spent the summers with his grandparents, away from his hometown, alternating between them every other year.
     Nate was from a little town called Crape Myrtle Cove, just forty-five minutes north of Sleepy Shores, where Turkelton Manor is located. This was much closer than his other grandparents who lived just outside of Los Angeles, which was all the way across the country.
     Nate stopped his bike near the delivery van and put the kickstand down. The boy walked up to the van and looked inside through the driver side window to see how much art was in there.
     Though he couldn’t see the entire back of the van, he could see a couple of large pieces still in wooden crates and a dozen or so smaller framed pieces set in racks. There were also four small sculptures and a couple of busts, none more than a couple feet tall.         
     After a few minutes, the man exited the manor with a couple of the construction workers following him. One of the men was at least six foot, two inches tall and very muscular while the other man was smaller, but still in good shape.
     Nate quickly moved away from the van without the men seeing him and repositioned himself nearby, behind one of the other work trucks. He was close enough to hear the construction workers as they spoke and as long as he stayed crouched down, they wouldn’t be able to see him, though if anyone looked out the second floor windows of the manor, they would have no trouble spying the curious boy.
     “I don’t know why we have to unload this stuff,” the smaller one said.
    “Just do it Bobby,” the other replied without looking at his co-worker. “Get it done and we can get out of here for the weekend. The boss said we could cut out a little early today.”
     The three men approached the back of the van. The driver of the van opened the back doors and latched them to the side of the vehicle.
     “Gentlemen,” he said. “Please be very careful. Some of these pieces are priceless.”
     “Really,” Bobby said sarcastically. “I’m sure you put a price on ‘em when you sold ‘em.”
     The man held his tongue and smiled, while nodding toward the construction worker, acknowledging his correctness. The other worker seemed to take everything in stride where the smaller man seemed mad at the world. Nate watched the men as they unloaded the truck. They would have to make several trips up the stairs, which didn’t seem to make Bobby very happy. With each trip, the worker seemed to become more displeased with the task. At one point, he nearly dropped one of the busts and Nate could see the deliveryman flinch when it almost hit the ground.
     “Please be careful my good man,” he said as the man struggled to regain his hold.
     Nate wasn’t sure, but the bust looked like Mozart. The worker hosted the piece to his shoulder.
     “Don’t worry pal, I got it,” he replied sarcastically.
     The deliveryman disappeared inside as the workers came back for the last of the art in the van. They still had no idea Nate was watching them.
     “I wonder how much this stuff is really worth,” Bobby said.
     “Don’t know, don’t care,” the other man replied.
     “I bet these guys wouldn’t even know if something was missing,” Bobby commented. “They’re so rich; this is probably like us buying groceries or something.”
    “Whatever man, let’s just get it done,” the other man said. “I just want to go home.”
   As the two men made the last trip up the stairs, Nate got back on his bike and headed up the driveway toward the gate. After a few minutes, the man in the delivery van left. He saw Nate near the end of the drive and waved to him as he pulled out.
     A few minutes after the deliveryman left, the construction workers filed out, four trucks in all.  Nate saw the one named Bobby in the passenger’s seat of one of the trucks. The man had a scowl on his face as though he was still upset that he had to unload the art.
     Shortly after the workers left, Nate’s grandfather returned from running his errands and Nate spent the afternoon helping him with some odd jobs.
     “You trim the hedges by the manor and along the walkways while I prepare some of the flower beds for planting,” Grandpa William instructed.
     “No problem, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     Hours passed with the two hardly seeing each other. Around five o’clock Nate and Grandpa William went in for dinner. The boy loved his grandmothers cooking and the three would often have lively discussions about their day. William and Beatty Livingston, both in their mid-fifties, just recently moved into their new home on the same grounds as the Manor, which was a benefit associated with being the groundskeeper.
     “So, what did you do while I was running around today?” Nate’s grandfather asked him. “I could have used your help in town gathering supplies.”
     “After I helped around the house a bit, I rode my bike for a while,” Nate replied. “The Turkeltons got a delivery of art today.”
     “Really?” Grandpa William replied. “Anything interesting?”
     “Yeah,” Nate said. “One of the construction guys wasn’t too happy about having to unload it,” Nate responded with a smile.
     “And how would you know that?” Grandpa William asked.
     “I overheard him talking,” Nate said.
     “Overheard or spied on?” Grandpa William asked with a scowl.
     Nate didn’t respond as he stuffed some mashed potatoes into his mouth and averted his eyes.
     “What have I told you about eavesdropping?” Grandpa William asked.
     “I know,” Nate replied after swallowing. “I shouldn’t go snooping around.”
     “That’s right,” Grandpa William replied. “I know grandpa Jones encourages the matter seeing he was your age when he got started in the private investigation business, but I don’t think it’s appropriate behavior for someone so young.”
     “I’m almost a teenager, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     “You still have ten whole months to go,” Grandma Beatty replied. “Don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up Nathaniel. There are a lot of experiences for you to have and you have plenty of time to figure out what you want to be when you get older.”
     Nate already knew what he wanted to be. Though he was twelve at the time of starting his investigation firm, Nate’s Grandpa Jones, with the help and support of his friends and family, quickly made a name for himself and for almost fifty years, his firm, “The Three Investigators,” named for him and his two partners, has been going strong.
     Though Nate didn’t really have much in common with William, and he preferred the summers in California, he still loved William and Beatty very much and they loved him.
     After eating, Nate retired to the basement for a while and crawled into his secret fort to read. Nate built the fort out of the excess furniture and some old blankets and tarps, which were plentiful as the groundskeeper’s house was much smaller than where the Livingstons lived before. Still, the ranch style home was more than they needed and Nate had the basement to himself, unless his grandmother was doing laundry. Piled nearly to the ceiling in some areas, boxes and furniture cluttered what would normally be a family room.       Nate arranged the items so that he would have to crawl under a table piled high with boxes to get inside. A blanket hung to the floor on the inside of the table so it would take great effort to peek inside. This was the only way into his sanctuary and he knew neither his grandfather nor grandmother would crawl underneath to get into the area. Inside the fort were his books, a laptop, a writing desk, some old newspapers and magazines, a television, a chair, a couch and a lamp. The only thing missing from this space was his bed, so when he had free time, this was where he would spend it in the evenings, unless he was playing board games or cards with his grandparents, which they did often to appease him.
     The boy liked to keep up with the world through books, however, on this occasion, he decided on something a little more adventurous and read an Enola Holmes mystery. He had read all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and, after hearing about several of his grandfather’s old cases, Nate thought reading about a mystery from the female perspective would broaden his senses. 
     Just before dark, Grandpa William yelled down the stairs to his grandson.
     “Nate, can you go out and close the front gate and lock it?” Grandpa William asked.
     “Sure, grandpa,” Nate replied.
     “Make sure you don’t actually lock it though,” Grandpa William shouted.
      “I know, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     Nate walked out to the gates, as they weren’t far from the groundskeeper’s home. They could be seen from the front windows if it weren’t for the trees that stood in the way. He closed the metal gates and ran a chain around them at the middle. He didn’t lock the gates in case of an emergency, but Nate looped a paddle lock through the chains to give the appearance of a locked gate. When the gate was fixed, they wouldn’t need the chain or lock.
     The sun was just setting over the horizon and the street lamps came on in the cul-de-sac outside the gates. Nate looked around at the other homes in the neighborhood, most of which sat much closer to the road than did the manor. This was definitely a much nicer neighborhood than he was used to.
     No matter where he stayed for the summer, Nate always called his mother every evening. Usually he was too busy to miss home, but he was never too busy to miss his mom and dad.
     Nate returned to the basement of the home, using the outside door on the side of the property that gave him direct access to the basement. It wouldn’t take the boy long to drift off to sleep, when the time came. He read a little more of his book and instead of drifting off in his chair, he opted for the comfort of his bed, not knowing that he wouldn’t be asleep for long. 

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3quD4tz

Kraig Dafoe was born in New York.  Kraig went back to college at the age of 42 earning his BA in English writing, and graduating cum laude from Washburn University in 2017. Deciding to continue his education, Kraig received his Master of Liberal Studies degree in 2019. Kraig is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society and The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Visit his website at http://www.kwdafoe.com.

OTHER BOOKS BY KRAIG DAFOE

The Rise of the Reaper: Duty Calls

Search for the Lost Realm

Skorch the Bounty Hunter

A Collection of Twisted Tales

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