Excerpt Reveal: ‘In Time for You’ by Chris Karlsen

In Time for YouXXTitle: In Time for You
Author: Chris Karlsen
Publisher: Books to Go Now
Genre: Time-travel romance

While horseback riding in the English countryside, sisters Electra and Emily Crippen find themselves trapped in a tear in time. Thrown back to 1357 England and caught by a local noble, they are in a place that is home but as frightening and unfamiliar as an alien world would be. With no idea how the tear in time came about, the one thing they do know is: they must stay together and stay near to where the event took place in hopes of discovering the way back to their modern life. That certain need to stay together is the first certainty taken from them when one sister is forced to remain in England and one is sent miles away to Wales by royal order.

There is one other hope for help the sisters don’t know exists. It’s Electra’s lover, Roger Marchand. A time traveler himself, he never told her of his past. When he realizes what has happened to the sisters, he enlists the help of a scientist friend to help him open the suspected passageway through time. Any effort to save Electra and Emily will likely cost him his life. This was the time Roger came from, a time when his country, France, was at war with England. If he is discovered on English soil while searching for the sisters, he will either be killed or taken prisoner of war. Any risk is worth saving the life of the woman he loves.

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EXCERPT

While she ate, the button on Electra’s sleeve fell out of the frog loop. She didn’t hook the button again, reaching for her wine instead. The sleeve pulled back from her wrist to expose her watch, which she hadn’t thought to remove.

“What is that?” Simon asked and pointed to her Seiko.

“A watch.” What a bizarre question. There wasn’t a corner of the planet that people didn’t recognize a wristwatch.

A frown slowly formed and he stretched across Emily and took hold of Electra’s hand to tug it toward him for a better look. He turned her hand over and in a matter of seconds had the clasp undone.

He brought the candle in front of his trencher closer and held the watch under it. “What do the numbers mean?”

“It’s a clock, a miniature timepiece you wear on your wrist.”

From his expression, the explanation puzzled him. “Do they not have candle clocks in this Greenland you claim you’re from?”

How to explain the abundance of various clocks to a man who apparently has no context for the anything beyond a candle clock or similar ancient means of telling time?

“Are you saying you’ve never seen a clock?” Emily asked.

“One like this? No, I have not.”

Emily bent her head nearer Electra and whispered, “Are you thinking what I am?”

“Sadly, yes.”

Simon ran his finger over the watch face. “These small digits, what is their meaning?”

“It’s the date and year: 5.14.15.”

He shook his head. “What year is 15?”

“2015, of course.”

“You are mad. It’s the year of our Lord, 1357.”

“What year were you born?”

“1327, why?”

Electra didn’t care for the speed which Simon answered. She held onto the small hope this was some odd reality show and that he’d stumble or hesitate before coming up with a year. “No reason, I was just curious.” She turned to Richard who’d been chatting with the serving girl. She tapped his arm. Getting his attention she asked, “Richard, what year is this?”

He tipped his head like a dog hearing a strange noise. She assumed he too thought her mad for asking. “1357. Do you measure your years differently in your native country?”

“Yes, it’s a different time there.” A different world. She looked over at Emily, who’d been listening. The color had drained from her face.

For both their sakes, Electra fought to keep from falling apart in front of the whole room. She failed and began to tremble uncontrollably. She balled her hands into fists and turned from Simon to Richard. “I need to go outside. I feel sick.”

“I’d like to go too,” Emily told Simon.

“I’ll go as well.” He smiled. “Just to make certain nothing untoward befalls you.”

#

About the Author

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Chris Karlsen is a Chicago native. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was in her late teens where she later studied at UCLA. She graduated with a Business Degree. The daughter of a history professor and a mother who was a voracious reader, she grew up with a love of history and books.

Her parents were also passionate about traveling and passed their passion onto Chris. Once bitten with the travel bug, Chris spent most of her adult life visiting the places she’d read about and that fascinated her. Her travels have taken her Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, in addition to most of the United States. She most frequently visited England and France, where several of her books are set.

After college, Chris spent the next twenty-five years in law enforcement with two agencies. Harboring a strong desire to write since her teens, upon retiring from police work, Chris decided to pursue her writing career. She writes three different series. Her historical romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters, and he latest book, Silk, is book one in her mystery/suspense series, The Bloodstone series.

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs.

My website is: http://chriskarlsen.com/

My FB page: https://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter

My Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005HYTQQI

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4822048.Chris_Karlsen

Categories: Paranormal Romance, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Chapter reveal: The Day the Dollar Died, by Robert V Baynes

book cover (1)-1.jpgTitle: The Day the Dollar Died

Genre: Political/ Christian  Fiction

Author: Robert V Baynes

Twitter / Facebook / Website / Amazon

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a novel about an ordinary farmer who finds that his country is changing and it affects his own life. He loses more than he ever imagined and has to make some hard choices to save his family.

The main character is John Birch and he has a pretty good life. He has a great wife and children and is doing pretty well financially. He gets to do a job he loves and still spends time with his family. He finds that circumstances beyond his control change his world so that he ends up losing the financial security he worked so hard to build up. All he has left is his family and now he has to risk everything to try to save them from an ever growing government.

This book is very realistic and follows a line of thinking  that many find very logical and possibly inevitable.

Chapter 1 

The wind coming across the open field still had a bit of a bite to it. John was thankful that his 10-year-old John Deere tractor had a heated cab. This was the first day he had been able to start planting corn this spring and it was already the 24th of April. This past winter had been one of the coldest that he could remember. It seemed to take forever for the ground to warm up and dry out enough for him to start working the ground.

Hunger was starting to make his stomach growl, but he was hoping to get this 80-acre field done before he quit for the day. At 54 years of age, he was still lean and in good condition. With his salt and pepper hair and lean muscular frame, he was thought of as handsome by women 20 years younger than him. He also still had the appetite of a 24 year old.

This field had been in the Birch family for three generations. He had taken over the family farm when his dad decided to change vocations nearly 16 years ago. His dad never did have the love of farming that he had.

The original farm that he took over was 216 acres and he had added to it over the years. At this point he farmed nearly 440 acres, most of which he owned. He never considered himself a big farmer, but he got nervous about buying more farm ground once the price went over $5,000 an acre. Maybe some of the really big farmers knew what they were doing buying ground at nearly $10,000 an acre, but he didn’t have the confidence that it would pay off.

The faint sound of a car horn interrupted his thoughts. As he looked toward the road, he could see Anna’s car parked on the side. He had just turned the tractor and planter at the end of the field and would be down there in a few minutes.

He knew His wonderful wife of 33 years would have supper ready for him when he got to the end. He was so lucky to have her! They had been high school sweethearts and they got married when he was twenty-one. She was a year younger than him, but she looked more like 33 than 53. She had auburn colored hair and though she dressed modestly, she could still turn quite a few heads.

After stopping the tractor near the road, he climbed down from the cab. She rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey, good-looking, do you have time to stop long enough for a bite to eat?”

“Boy am I glad to see you!” he exclaimed. As he climbed into the passenger side of the car, he could smell the warm food. Anna pulled out the covered dishes. Anna was one of the best cooks in the area and the aroma of her meatloaf was making his mouth water.

As he took his first bite, Anna asked, “So how’s it going so far?”

“Mphf, prett goo so fer,” He mumbled as he scarfed down his supper.

“Tommy called today.” At 19, Tommy was their youngest son. He was in college working on his teaching degree.  “I asked him if he had met anyone he would consider dating, but he just doesn’t seem very interested in that right now.”

“Well don’t rush him,” John replied. “He’s got plenty of time. He’s certainly not a confirmed bachelor yet. The good Lord will bring the right girl along when it is time.”

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Will you be very late tonight?” Anna asked.

“Well, I want to get this field finished tonight. I figure it will take about 3 more hours. Then I’d better get started pretty early tomorrow morning. They’re calling for rain Thursday, so I need to get as much as I can done before then.”

“By the way,” he continued, “Will the kids be coming over Sunday?” He never tired of seeing his grandkids.

“They said they would be able to make it. Tommy may have to leave early to get back to school, he hates to make the 2 hour drive late at night.”

_________

 

John managed to get 210-acres planted before the rain hit late Thursday morning. He spent the rest of the week working on one of his tractors that he used for cultivating. Ever since he went organic, he had to cultivate more.

He decided to go completely organic about 12 years ago. It made it harder to find non-GMO seeds and he had to travel a little farther to take his crops to market, but he got a better price for them. Besides, he felt better about growing things more naturally.

Another downside of organic farming was that he had more government inspections than before. Sometimes, he longed for the days his grandfather told him about, when farmers just farmed the way they saw best and then sold their crops for the highest price they could get.

A few years back, he had a couple hundred head of cattle also, but he sold most of those when the price of cattle got low and feed prices were too high to make it worth his while. Now he just kept a few head to butcher for their own use. He usually split them with his kids.

He had been hauling manure most of his life, but a few years ago, the government decided that farmers should take classes and have to get license to be able to spread manure.  That seemed like a little too much regulation to him. He had also heard that the EPA was toying with the idea of regulating dust that farmers created.

With the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, he was getting tired of all of the regulations and extra paper work he had to do just to satisfy some bureaucrat somewhere. After all, it is not likely that anyone in the government knew as much about farming as he did.

The crunch of tires on stone interrupted his thoughts. He decided to step out of the shop to see who was here. Visitors out here in the country were fairly rare.

He didn’t recognize the pickup truck, but when a dark haired guy got out wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, he recognized him as a farmer he had met a couple of times.

“Hello Jim, what brings you over here on a rainy day?” John asked. Jim Rush lived about 3 miles away from John. Though he was nearly 20 years younger than John, he farmed nearly twice as much ground. John had heard that Jim was willing to take more risks in some of his business dealings than most people.

“John, do you have a minute? I’d like to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, come on in to the shop, and we can talk there.” John held the door and motioned for Jim to have a seat on a stool near the window.

“So what brings you over here? Anything I can do for you?”  John asked.

“Well,” Jim began, “It’s a long story, but I’m planning on selling out and I was wondering if you’d be interested in buying my tractor I bought 2 years ago. If we don’t have to go through a dealer, I’d be willing to sell it for the same price a dealer would give me for it.”

“What gives, Jim? Are you tired of farming, or don’t you want to talk about it?”

“Well it’s kind of a long story, but if you really want to know, I could give it to you in a nutshell.”

John replied, “I’m just about done putting my tractor back together, so I’ve got time.”

“John, even though we go to different churches, I know from what I have seen and heard about you, that you are a Christian, so you might understand where I am coming from. I believe that it is time for me and my family to leave this country. I have 3 young children at home and I don’t want them to grow up here with what I see coming.”

“Now wait a second Jim, I’m not real happy with a lot of things that are going on here either, but this is one of the greatest countries that has ever been. There are still a lot of good people here. Don’t you think that leaving the country is a little extreme?”

“I’ve thought about it long and hard for over a year now. I’ve looked at the options and I don’t think I’ve got any other choice. I don’t think our national debt is a solvable problem and I don’t think many of those in power want to solve it. I also think the dollar is very shaky and it could fall drastically if anything happens to destabilize it.”

“On top of that,” Jim continued, “I think God has allowed us to have the leaders we have today to bring judgment to America. I think we have turned our back on God too many times and I don’t see any sign of repentance in this country.”

“I think before long we will have a major financial crisis and I believe we will see martial law here. At that time, I believe the government will begin nationalizing the farms and other property. I honestly believe that things will get worse from there.”

“I’m sure you think I’m probably crazy right now, but I have to protect my family, and this is the only way I can do that.”

“Wow,” John said, “That is a pretty big nutshell! I’m not sure what to say. I can see some of the problems you’re seeing, but I can’t imagine it could get that bad that soon. Not here with the constitution we have. But, I guess that is up to you. Where would you go that things would be better?”

“I’ve looked at a lot of places, but there are a couple of countries in South America that look pretty good. I will probably go down and check them out to see what seems best. I will definitely do a lot of praying about it.”

“Jim, if you are sure about this, I have thought about buying a new tractor but I hated to pay the prices they want for the new ones. I would be interested in looking at yours. Here’s my email address, if you do leave would you let me know how it is going for you?”

“Sure John, I’d be glad to. Not trying to talk you out of buying my tractor, but give what I said some thought. I’d hate to see good people caught in the disaster I believe is coming.”

As Jim left, John was lost in thought about what Jim had said. He knew Jim was a risk taker, but everything he had heard about Jim was that he was stable and pretty smart. Could there be something to what Jim was saying?

He heard the dinner bell ringing, so he headed to the house. As he was washing up for dinner, Anna asked, “Who was that you were talking to in the shop?”

“Oh that was Jim Rush. He lives over on County Rd 300.”

“What was he over here for? Seems like an odd time to come for a visit.”

As John sat down at the kitchen table he replied, “He wanted to know if I wanted to buy his tractor.”

“Well why doesn’t he trade it in on a new one if he needs one?” Anna asked.

John paused, “He’s thinking about selling out and moving.” Then John proceeded to relate to Anna everything he and Jim had talked about.

Afterward John said, “I don’t know if he’s crazy or not. It seems kind of radical to me. I’m not sure why, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch.”

“Well, he might be saner than the rest of us,” Anna replied. “He does make sense in some of his logic.”

“So do you want to leave the country too?” John asked.

“No, I could never leave the kids and grandkids.” Anna said.

 

Categories: Christian Fiction, Political Thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: The Flying Dragon, by Georges Ugeux

9781480818569_COVER.inddTitle:  THE FLYING DRAGON

Genre:  THRILLER/SUSPENSE

Author:  Georges Ugeux

Website: http://www.georgesugeux.com

Publisher:  Archway Books

Find out more on Amazon

About the Book: 

Celebrated non-fiction author Georges Ugeux delivers an intense, imaginative and intriguing financial thriller in his debut novel, The Flying Dragon.  Set against the backdrop of the high-energy, high-tension world of global finance, The Flying Dragon plunges readers deep into a world where power, greed, money, and passion can intersect in a most dangerous way.

The Flying Dragon introduces protagonist Victoria Leung, a beautiful, brilliant, fearless, and highly accomplished financial fraud investigator.  Responsible for taking down Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Kwok Brothers, a real estate empire, Victoria not only established herself as a formidable talent, but earned the nickname “The Flying Dragon” in the process. When she leaves the fraud department of the Hong Kong Police, Victoria accepts a position as a senior detective at Pegasus, an international security firm based in London.  The Pegasus job affords Victoria much-needed freedom, but that calm is shattered when Victoria receives an urgent message from her close friend Diana Yu. It seems Diana’s ex- boyfriend Henry Chang is in danger.  Henry’s co-worker, Bertrand Wilmington, head of the derivative trading desk of a global bank, has fallen from a window of the twenty-second floor trading room.The Hong Kong Police Force quickly concludes that the death was a suicide, but is there more to this story than meets the eye? Henry Chang thinks so—and knows that if anyone can find answers, it’s Victoria, the Flying Dragon herself. Hong Kong and Mainland authorities are unsuccessful in cracking the case, but Victoria uses her expertise to discover key clues. And Victoria, a dogged, tough, tenacious investigator, won’t back down until she gets answers. As she races to piece together the puzzle of what really happened, Victoria is swept up in a world of danger, deception, and deadly consequences.   Can she extricate herself from this perilous web of arrogance, power, money and greed? Will she expose the corruption and bring down a financial giant?  Or will time run out? The clock is ticking….

Chapter 1 

The crowd around the Hong Kong Arts Center seemed happy as they streamed out of the concert by talented Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. They enthusiastically shared their impressions about her beauty, musicality, and talent. Some of the patrons had seen videos of Yuja Wang playing Chopin at the age of six. Victoria Leung was so in sync with the music she had played tonight: Schubert’s impromptus. She also felt so close to the pianist, who commanded the keyboard and seemed on the verge of tears when the third impromptu moved from lightness to depth and passion. At twenty-seven, Yuja Wang was one of the best-known pianists of her generation and now lived in the United States. She had the same drive, intensity, and grace as Victoria herself.

The Center’s superb architecture had always given Victoria pleasure. It was modern without ostentation, and its acoustics were close to perfect. Over the years, classical music had increasingly been a source of inspiration in the Chinese world, and the public was ecstatic. For a Chinese pianist to reach this level of excellence and artistry was a source of pride.

Since she had left the financial fraud department of the Hong Kong Police Force, Victoria Leung had enjoyed the freedom attached to her new status of senior detective at Pegasus, an international firm headquartered in London. She intended to fully enjoy this period of her life. Having a family was not on her agenda. Like most thirty-six-year-old women, though, she was starting to give it some thought. Her biological clock inexorably ticked. She knew it. But at the same time, she didn’t know what to do about that reality.

Victoria was an assertive and attractive young woman well aware of the impact she had on the male-dominated financial world of Greater China. She had initially faced difficulty demonstrating her leadership and competence, partly because of her good looks, femininity, and youth. She had learned to turn these qualities into assets that she used subtly and wisely. While she remained vulnerable to some aggressive behavior from male colleagues, she knew how to garner respect. Her body was slim and strong; she exercised regularly. She liked having the freedom to wear dresses and skirts rather than a police uniform. But what struck everybody who met her was the power of her demeanor and her smile, which revealed her complexity.

 

++++

 

Wearing a short red dress, Victoria drank her green tea as she peered through the glass of her office windows into the Hong Kong morning: Kowloon Bay on one side and the old British Empire buildings and parks at the center of Hong Kong on the other.  The traffic was penetrating and created an impression of energy and intensity. Hong Kong was not a city for the fainthearted.  Victoria was an early bird, and relished the atmosphere of the office before anybody else was in. She was in control and serene.

Victoria looked down at the document on her desk:

Henry Chang is in danger. I urgently need to meet you. Meet me at 9:00 a.m. at the Mandarin Oriental for coffee.  I desperately need your help. —Diana Y. 

Victoria was stunned. For Diana Yu to send such a dramatic message was unusual.  Henry Chang was Diana’s former lover until he broke it off and publicly humiliated her. Now, Diana was asking Victoria to help the bastard. It didn’t add up. Did Diana still have feelings for him? Victoria hoped not, but it was the only explanation that made sense.

She sighed. If it had been Chang asking, Victoria would have said no. But Diana was a dear friend. If she was willing to swallow her pride and ask for help, then the least Victoria could do was find out why.

Diana Yu and Victoria had started together at the Hong Kong Police Force. Soon after, Henry Chang became Diana’s boyfriend. While she had given the relationship all she had, she was never sure whether Henry was playing or being earnest. Unexpectedly, after they had dated for a year, he dropped her for a Hong Kong socialite, Helena Lee. He then became head of the fixed-income department of the Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai, or BHS.

The breakup had been particularly painful for Diana since Henry had been cruel enough to do it publicly at a 2012 New Year’s party.

Diana was now reaching out through a confidential police cable; whatever had happened to Henry must have been fairly dramatic. The Wan Chai Police headquarters was close to Hong Kong Central and near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

 

 

Categories: Mystery, Thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: Karma’s a Killer, by Tracy Weber

Title: KARMA’S A KILLER

Genre: Mystery

Author: Tracy Weber

Website: www.tracyweberauthor.com

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

A fun, fresh, feisty new mystery featuring Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her trusty canine companion Bella, Karma’s a Killer is a taut tale with more twists and turns than a vinyasa yoga class.   In this charming, clever and utterly captivating cozy mystery, Kate Davidson discovers that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om. 
When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems… The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.   And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with the estranged mother who abandoned her over thirty years ago.  Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?

CHAPTER 5

The shouts that drowned out Maggie’s words were impassioned, if a little misguided.

“Break down the cages!”

“Close the dog warehouses!”

“Animal ownership is slavery!”

Over twenty people, all wearing black shirts with orange flame insignias, cut a swath across the grass, waving picket signs and yelling at top volume.

Two teenage girls held onto opposite ends of a banner that read “Humans for Ethical Animal Treatment. Turn up the HEAT!”

Raven—the younger woman I’d seen arguing behind the paddle boats earlier—marched next to them holding a sign in one hand and a leash attached to the neck of a handsome, thirtyish, olive-skinned man in the other. Eduardo, I assumed. I shaded my eyes with my hand and examined the object of the two women’s confrontation.

Even from a distance, I could understand his appeal. With broad shoulders, deep cocoa eyes, and wavy black hair that curled under his ear lobes, this man would easily make more than one woman’s heart go atwitter. His one glaring fault was the sandpaper-thick layer of dark stubble covering the lower half of his face. No amount of shaving would keep that beard-in-the-making under control. Even thinking about it made my skin itch.

His dark leather jacket and matching motorcycle boots contrasted hypocritically with the sign that he carried: “Animals Are Sentient Beings, Not Possessions!” His face wore a trapped, agonized expression, though that might have been part of the show.

I scanned the area behind him, looking for Dharma and Goth Girl. I didn’t see either.

The dog walkers stopped talking, stared at the ruckus, and scowled. No one seemed to be having fun anymore, which was probably the protestor’s intention. A short, rail-thin young woman stomped away from the picket line, knocked a hot dog out of a child’s hand, and yelled, “Meat is murder!”

Michael pulled out his cell phone. “That’s it. I’m calling the police.”

Maggie closed her eyes and sighed. “I can’t believe she’s actually going through with this.”

“You know one of them?” I asked

She shuddered, but her eyes never left the protesters. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Sally, take Mrs. Abernathy to the pet first aid tent and …”

Her voice trailed off. She glanced left and right. “Where on earth did Sally go?”

The Bunny Lady wrinkled her nose, ill humor back in full force. “Sally left a few minutes ago, which is exactly what I should have done. You obviously don’t have control over this fiasco.” She slipped the rabbit into her bag and stomped several feet away before turning back to spit out two final sentences. “Don’t bother cashing that check I gave you earlier. I’m putting a stop payment on it as soon as I get home!”

Maggie cradled her face in her hands. “Can this day get any worse?”

She shouldn’t have asked.

The words barely escaped her lips when Dale’s head jerked up. “Do you smell that?”

I did. I would have recognized that smell anywhere. Gasoline.

I heard a loud swoosh, punctuated by a louder explosion. New, significantly more frightening, words rang out across the field.

“Fire! Somebody help! The garbage cans are on fire!”

Dale’s face turned as white as his beard.

“Oh no! The goats!”

Michael and Maggie ran toward the registration desk, while Dale, Bandit, and I tore off to the petting area. Picketers and dog walkers scattered in every direction.

By the time we rounded the corner, the fire was already spreading. Hot yellow flames licked from the recycle bins to the loose hay surrounding the petting area. Within seconds, the entire line of straw bales had ignited, creating a flaming, Hades-like fence.

The teenage volunteers had already rushed the children outside the fenced area, but the goats were still trapped, huddled together in the corner farthest away from the fire. Michael skidded to a stop behind me and blasted the straw bales with an extinguisher, but the fire was spreading too fast. He may as well have been spraying the Towering Inferno with a garden hose.

Dale tossed Bandit’s leash to a gawker. The blond volunteer held the gate open while his brother, Dale, and I scrambled inside. Michael kept spraying the extinguisher, holding the flames back as best he could.

The goats refused to move.

“Force them to the entrance,” Dale yelled.

I channeled my inner Goth Girl, waved my arms, and yelled. “Go you stupid goats! Run! Get out of here!”

The three of us screamed and clapped and pushed and stomped, until the terrified animals bolted from the enclosure and charged into the park, straight past the onlookers, who were too transfixed by the flames to do anything but watch.

Dale gathered the final fear-frozen spotted kid in his arms and carried it away from the flames. Sirens wailed in the distance.

“Get the truck,” he said to the blond teen. He handed the baby goat to the other.

It seemed like a century passed, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before firemen started dousing the area with cold water. Dale kept a watchful eye on his skittish herd, huddled several hundred feet away. A few people broke off from the crowd and tried to approach them. “Stay back!” Dale yelled. “Just block them from the road. And for lands sake, don’t chase them.”

Michael came up behind us. “Shouldn’t we try to round them up somehow?”

Dale’s expression was grim. “They’re too riled up. Give them a few minutes to calm down. They’ll come to me.” His voice didn’t sound confident.

The blond teen drove a livestock truck onto the field and parked. He jumped out of the cab, opened the back, and pulled down a wide ramp. Dale grabbed a metal pail from inside and filled it with grain from a five-gallon bucket.

“Hope this works,” he muttered.

Categories: Mystery, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: Q Island, by Russell James

Title:  Q ISLAND

Genre: HORROR

Author: RUSSELL JAMES

Websitewww.russellrjames.com

Publisher: SAMHAIN PUBLISHING

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book

Epidemic! An ancient virus surfaces on Long Island, New York turning its victims into black-veined, infectious, psychopathic killers. Chaos and madness rule.  In desperation, the military quarantines the island, trapping Melanie Bailey and her autistic son, Aiden. Somehow, Aiden survives the infection. He could be the key to a cure—if Melanie can somehow get him to the mainland.

A taut, tense, terrifying thriller that teems with intensity, Q Island is an eerily realistic tale. With a chilling plot, compelling characters, and a pulse-quickening storyline, Q Island will leave readers breathless.  Earning nods as one of this year’s best horror novels, Q Island is an extraordinary story exceptionally well-told.

About the Author

 

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, Russell James now spins twisted tales best read during daylight. In addition to two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, James is the author of seven paranormal thrillers:  Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. His next novel, The Portal, is slated for release in 2016. Visit him at www.russellrjames.com.

CHAPTER ONE   

A convoy of six yellow school buses rumbled downhill and into deserted downtown Port Jefferson. They drove past the piers of moored pleasure boats and into the parking lot of the Port Jefferson Ferry Company.

The big, white ship bobbed against the dock, perhaps the largest victim of the quarantine. The boat’s car deck ran along the waterline, and an enclosed passenger cabin made up the second deck. A booth-sized bridge created a third deck from which to con the vessel. A wide, sloppy, red cross painted on the ship’s side dripped rivulets of dried paint, as if the cross had been bleeding. The ferry’s engines fired up. Gray smoke rolled from its stacks.

The buses stopped side by side. The doors swept open. Men armed with rifles or shotguns stepped off of each bus. They formed a rough skirmish line between the buses and the abandoned town, ready to defend against the infected, or anyone else who tried to stop them.

One man waved an arm signal. The buses emptied. A trail of women and children hustled out the open doors. They bustled and fussed as they popped open strollers, belted in kids and strapped on backpacks. Then they surged up the wide metal ramp and onto the ferry. The half circle of men pulled back to the dock’s edge.

The metal ramp began a slow, clunking climb as two chains cranked it skyward. Inside the gearing, something slipped. The chains unspooled and the corrugated ramp slammed down on the concrete dock. The crash of steel on stone rolled out from the harbor and echoed through the desolate streets. The men whirled to face the town at this potential infected call to arms. Safety catches snapped off.

The ramp began a second sweep upward. At two feet off the dock, the drive motor wailed with a grinding, shearing noise. Something snapped like a rifle shot. The ramp stopped moving.

The ship’s great engines revved. The water at the stern churned in a soup of green and white. Mooring lines slid from the ship’s side, and it inched forward against the incoming current. From openings around the waterline, white bedsheets spray-painted with black letters appeared. Each unfurled and displayed one word, like an old Burma-Shave ad—

Only. Women. And. Children. Aboard.

One of the men on the dock turned to face the ship. His shaved head glistened in the sun. A long moustache drooped down to bracket his chin. The red logo on his black leather jacket read Road Demons. He gripped his rifle with hands sheathed in studded half gloves. He squinted at the ship and scowled.

A woman ran to the stern. She wore a bright-red sweater. A blue streak ran the length of her long, dark hair. She gripped the rear railing with one hand and held a bundled baby to her chest with the other. She released the railing just long enough to wave.

Road Demon smiled and raised a gloved fist in response.

Gunfire erupted from the town. A wave of the infected surged across the parking lot. Several fired wild shots from pistols as they ran. The rest carried weapons that ranged from bats to metal bars.

The men on the dock didn’t dash for the bus, unconcerned about their own safe escape. They dropped to one knee and returned fire. Gaps formed in the front rank of the infected. Replacements filled it. The mob drove forward.

The men got off one more volley. Then the infected surged through and over them. The first rank mauled the defenders, tearing at them with bars and blades and teeth. The rest rushed past to the ferry.

The crowd on the ship let out a collective scream. The ferry’s nose dipped as the passengers ran from the endangered stern.

At the dock, three infected in a flat-out run launched themselves at the retreating ferry. The first fell straight into the water. The second landed with the ramp’s edge across its chest. It scrambled for a handhold on the slick metal surface and then slipped off into the wake from the ship’s spinning propellers. A red patch surfaced in the water and dissolved.

The third one cleared the growing gap with ease. It landed on both feet, arms spread for balance, knees flexed against the impact. It looked up with triumphant blood-red eyes.

Two women rushed the boarder. Before it could rise, one grabbed each arm and swept it back off its feet. It clawed and snapped at the women as they dragged it back, and threw it off the edge of the ramp. It hit the water with a splash and bobbed to the surface.

The women high-fived in victory. Blood seeped from a fresh, curved wound on one woman’s arm, the size and shape of a set of human teeth. She noticed then looked in panic at the other woman. The wounded one shook her head in a slow plea for mercy.

The other woman showed none. She lowered a shoulder and without hesitation body checked the wounded woman into the water. The ferry chugged forward. She surfaced, spit a mouthful of seawater and dog-paddled toward shore. The infected who was bobbing a hundred yards behind her swam to intercept.

The ferry sailed out of the harbor, bound for Connecticut, in search of compassion.

Thirty-two minutes later, a black smudge rose from the horizon when the USS Sailfish torpedoed the ferry. An armed volunteer civilian flotilla ensured there were no survivors.

Categories: Horror, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Excerpt: A Christmas Kindness, by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

A-Christmas-Kindness-digital-coverTitle: A Christmas Kindness

Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Find out more on Amazon

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Excerpt:

Inside the mall, Christmas music and the tinkling of jingle bells tickled Robert’s ears. With his mother, Robert weaved through the crowd of shoppers. He smelled fried food from Burger Mart. The sweet scent of warm chocolate chip cookies from the bakery made his mouth water.

///////////////////////////////////////////

CCMalandrinos Author Photo

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author, ghostwriter, and editor. Her children’s books include Little Shepherd (GAP, 2010) and A Christmas Kindness (4RV, 2012 & 2014). She is also a book reviewer and blogger. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at:

Website: http://ccmalandrinos.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccmalandrinos

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cheryl-C-Malandrinos-170542359697682/

Categories: Children's, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Excerpt from Donna McDine’s Children’s Picture Book, ‘Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters’

dee

Title: Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters

Genre: children’s

Author: Donna McDine

Websitewww.donnamcdine.com

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Purchase linkwww.donnamcdine.com / Guardian Angel Publishing / Amazon 

About the Book: The anxiety of finding one’s own place and friends in kindergarten without the comfort of having her fraternal twin sister nearby at first overwhelms Dee until she realizes even without her fraternal twin sister, Dee and her classmates for the most part are in the same boat.

Excerpt:

“Dee and Deb, twin sisters, were always together – crib mates to playmates. The first day of kindergarten had arrived. They rode the bus to school, holding hands tightly. Their fingers slipped apart when they walked down the hallway to find their classrooms.”

About the Author: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. Her latest release Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters joins the four early reader children’s picture books, A Sandy Grave(January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) all with Guardian Angel Publishing. Join McDine as her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

donna

Connect with Donna on the Web!

www.donnamcdine.com

www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/DonnaMcDineAuthor

https://twitter.com/dmcdine

Categories: Children's, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Chapter reveal: Casey’s Last Chance, by Joseph B. Atkins

casey'slastchance800pxTitle: Casey’s Last Chance

Genre: Mystery

Author: Joseph B. Atkins

Website:

http://www.laborsouth.blogspot.com

www.sartorisliterary.com

Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group

Purchase on Amazon 

About the Book: Tough, gritty, and atmospheric, Casey’s Last Chance unfolds against the backdrop of a treacherous, race-torn 1960s South that’s ready to explode with civil rights workers challenging an organized resistance itching for combat. The central character, Casey Eubanks, is a small-time North Carolina hustler on the run after an argument with his girlfriend Orella leaves his cousin dead. A crony steers him to a big operator in Memphis, Max Duren, a shadowy former Nazi with a wide financial network. Duren hires Casey to do a hit on labor organizer Ala Gadomska, who is stirring up trouble at one of Duren’s mills. Things go wrong, and Casey’s on the run again, this time from Duren’s goons as well as the cops. Enter Martin Wolfe, a freelance reporter investigating Duren’s operation. He tries to solicit Casey to help him and FBI agent Hardy Beecher bring Duren down. Casey dumps Wolfe, steals his car, and returns home to Orella. A bloody shootout with a Duren goon, however, convinces Casey to join Wolfe and Beecher. It’s Casey’s last chance. The three take off back across the South to execute a plan to destroy Duren. Everything works until the explosive end…but will anyone emerge unscathed?

CHAPTER 1

July 1960 …

The night sky broke just as the Greyhound crossed the Tennessee line. Down came a blinding deluge that forced cars and trucks off to the sides of Highway 72 and under the shelter of the overpasses, but not the Memphis-bound bus that carried Casey Eubanks. He stirred through the troubled sleep that overtook him after the stop in Decatur, and stretched his arm across the newspaper in the seat next to him. He heard none of the rain that beat against the windowpane, only Clyde Point’s voice in his dream.

This is your last chance, Casey Eubanks.

The bus braked to make the left onto Union near downtown. It was a half-hour early.

I’m already way out on a limb talking you up to my boss like I did. He’s telling the Big Guy, the Big Mahah, you’re the right man for the job, but are you man enough to take the job?

Casey woke to the lights leading up to the crest of the hill where Union crosses Front and then descends toward the Mississippi River. People huddled in doorways and under awnings. As the bus pushed through the sheets of rain, he spotted two platinum blondes at the entrance of an open garage. Their lips worked feverishly as they stabbed the air between each desperate drag of their cigarettes.

He could still hear Clyde’s voice.

You get a new life, a new identity, the cops off your back, plenty of cash in your pocket, and maybe, someday, that pool hall you used to tell me was your big dream. And you get to forget the woman who put you in this mess.

Casey had been to Memphis before—when the sidewalks swelled with uniforms, drunk, swaggering GIs forcing the black zoot-suiters spilling off Beale Street to move to the side. He’d come with an AWOL high roller from Fort Bragg who promised to back him in a nightlong set of three-cushion, one-pocket, and straight pool at $200 a match. The high roller disappeared after he lost the second round of one-pocket, and the last thing Casey remembered was getting his head split open with a blackjack. He woke the next morning at the bottom of the levee, the Mississippi River to one side and Cotton Row to the other.

He climbed off the bus, groggy and in a bad mood.

Do it right, and both you and me reap the rewards.

He wanted his hotel room and his bed. Other than a few travelers and a Commercial Appeal hawker, the station was dead. He stopped to buy a paper. CUBAN STREET FIGHTING read one headline. His eyes moved across the page. KENNEDY OUTLINES PHILOSOPHY ON LABOR. He turned to the pages inside—EXOTIC DANCER OPENS AT THE SULTAN CLUB—then flipped from front to back, and back to front again. No news about the killing of Bux Baggett in Jonesboro, North Carolina, the woman who caused it, and the curly-headed fool who did it and who’s on the lam, a hustler and pool shark with a tattoo of Rita Hayworth on each arm.

Your last chance, Casey Eubanks.

Casey stood at the station entrance and checked out the street. The rain had subsided. Streams of neon red and yellow reflected off the pavement. The blondes were walking eastward, their heads side-by-side under a parasol, still gesturing with their cigarettes.

In the glass window to his right, just close enough to catch the corner of his eye, he saw another fake blond, himself, an alien named James Thompson, the burial insurance salesman who’d snatched his body back in Phenix City. He studied his new self, the dyed hair, the oversized gray suit Clyde Point had given him. For a moment he felt as if he were high. High on reefer. Like the time he dropped his favorite cue stick and watched it slither across the pool table. He knew it was no snake, but he never touched that stick again. Never even looked at it.

He thought of the woman who put in the dye, the scowl in the bathroom mirror, the stubby fingers that dug through his hair like grub worms.

“Curly, you gonna look weird as hell as a blond,” she’d told him. “You too dark to be a blond.”

He stepped out into the steam and made his way up Union, past the golden glow of the Peabody Hotel, through the airless night, when it’s a struggle even to breathe, toward what Clyde called a “little, easy-to-miss street named November 6,” where he’d find his hotel.

What he found was an alley lined with trashcans and fire escapes. At the far end of it was a neon sign: Hotel Paris. The alley served the side door exits for every building on it except the hotel itself, four stories of stacked brick, a lean-to with nothing to lean to. It was just wide enough for three windows on each of the three floors above the lobby. As he walked toward the hotel on the oily strip of tar and asphalt, he heard the scramble of claws against the pavement.

Casey jumped the puddle in front of the entrance and opened the door. Inside was a stretch of darkness broken by a lone bulb hanging over the counter at the other end of the lobby. A clerk in a navy blue shirt and dark pinstriped vest scribbled on a notepad. A young guy, early twenties. A cigarette dangled from his lips as he stopped to hum a few notes before jotting something down. Nearby was a black vinyl couch. On the wall behind it hung a photograph of a city boulevard on an overcast day—no people, no cars, only deserted sidewalks and empty cafés. A Swastika hung from the roof of a building. Beneath the photograph, in gold letters, was Champs Elysées, Paris, 1941.

An overhead fan buzzed. By the couch was an unlit stairway. You been a small-timer all your life. Now you get to play in the big leagues. The big leagues. A bus ticket to a cheap flophouse in a back alley.

He approached the counter.

“Name?” the clerk asked, ashes dropping from his cigarette onto his notepad. He blew them off to the side.

“James Thompson.”

The clerk checked his ledger and reached below to grab a chain with a single key. He dangled it in the air. “Welcome to the Hotel Paris,” he said, dropping the key into Casey’s open palm. “Suite 13. Your lucky number. Bathroom’s at your end of the hall.”

 

He flipped the light and climbed the stairway to the third floor. The kid was right. His suite was next to the bathroom.

Categories: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Latina Authors and Their Muses,’ edited by Mayra Calvani

ed862-latinaauthors_med

Purchase the ebook NOW on Amazon or B&N

Pre-order the paperback NOW on Amazon or B&N

Official paperback release date: December 15, 2015

Editor’s Preface

“To be an artist includes much; one must possess many gifts-absolute gifts-which have not been acquired by one’s own effort. And, moreover, to succeed, the artist must possess the courageous soul.”

“What do you mean by the courageous soul?”

“Courageous, ma foi! The brave soul. The soul that dares and defies.”

from The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

In 2005 Carmen Dolores Hernández, book review editor at El Nuevo Día newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, came to visit Brussels. She’d published some of my short stories and novel excerpts in Revista Domingo in the past, and I deeply admired her wisdom as a writer and woman of letters.

I invited her and her husband to my home for dinner, and over wine and various Turkish dishes (my husband is Turkish, and Carmen had expressed her love for this cuisine), we chatted late into the night about writing, books, and authors. She mentioned the anthology she had put together back in 1997, Puerto Rican Voices in English, a vibrant collection of interviews with fourteen of the most prominent Puerto Rican writers living in the United States-including, by the way, Esmeralda Santiago, who so graciously agreed to take part in this project.

Soon after Carmen returned to Puerto Rico, I ordered a copy of Puerto Rican Voices, and became absorbed by the candor and insight of the authors as they talked about their backgrounds, books, and writing. More than fascinated, I became fixated. I asked myself, wouldn’t it be cool to put together a similar anthology showcasing Latina authors writing in English in the United States? An inspirational, entertaining, and informative tome focusing on the craft of writing andthe practical business of publishing, one that would provide aspiring authors with the nuts and bolts of the business. A book that would not only showcase prominent figures but emerging voices as well, writers working on a wide range of genres from the literary to the commercial. After all, there’s valuable wisdom at every stage of a writer’s career, and the different genres would provide a wider spectrum to the reader.

By this time I had already started interviewing authors for a variety of online sites and publications. I enjoyed probing into the minds of these authors, and was always able to take away something from them.

But I wasn’t ready for Latina Authors and Their Muses yet. A couple of years passed. The idea simmered as I worked on other projects.

Then, in 2009, I started writing a column focused on Hispanic literature for Examiner.com: National Latino Books Examiner. Over the next few years I had the great fortune of becoming acquainted with a remarkable group of talented Latina authors from various backgrounds writing in different genres, ranging from sweet children’s picture books to darkly sensual vampire novels to fun, humorous chick lit. Talent and a high respect for the craft characterized these ladies, but also a strong connection to their roots and a desire to encourage and support other Latina writers.

In February 2011, I decided to take the plunge and write a proposal. But before I began, I realized I had to contact authors to see if they would be interested in participating. So I began researching and embarked on the painstaking process of emailing the authors individually, describing the project to them. I was thrilled with their initial response:

“Sounds like a wonderfully creative project!”

“I would love to participate in a book that would encourage aspiring Latina writers.”

“What a great idea!”

“I’d be honored!”

Did I mention how much Latina writers like to encourage and support other Latina writers?

Infused with their enthusiasm, I put together a proposal that I eventually sent to fifteen literary agents who had a history of working with Hispanic authors. Within a week I had multiple requests. Eventually, I signed with Leticia Gomez at Savvy Literary. She began the pitching process right away. Unfortunately, although many of the editors loved the concept and deemed it worthy, they were concerned about the marketing aspect of it. How would they market the book? The audience was too niche, too narrow. After a year of waiting and rejections, Leticia kindly let me know she had exhausted her efforts with the top editors.

I wasn’t ready to give up.

In February 2013, I submitted the proposal to my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, a small traditional press in Kingsport, Tennessee. Soon after, I was offered a contract.

Of course, I was elated. But my work had just begun.

Until then, I had only written the proposal, which included two sample interviews. I still had research to do, and I needed to prepare questionnaires for each author. That was the fun part. The challenging part was keeping myself organized and keeping track of emails, interviews, contributor agreements, photos, etc. I set up a system, which included various lists and logs.

Latina Authors and Their Muses has been a labor of love in every aspect. It has also been a completely selfish project. I wanted to hear what these authors had to say, hoping I wasn’t alone. I wanted to relate to them and learn from them-and learn I have, so very much! In a way, they’ve all become my mentors. For readers, some of the questions may sound repetitive. However, this isn’t from lack of imagination as much as sheer selfishness: I wanted answers to questions that had obsessed me and that I felt inquisitive about (e.g. How does one define success? What does the term “professional author” mean?). I had many a-ha moments from their thoughtful, perceptive responses-exactly what I was after.

In spite of their different backgrounds, education levels, and jobs, two factors more than any others bind these writers together: their passion and commitment to their craft and to sharing their stories with the world in spite of the odds.

Latina Authors and Their Muses is a celebration of creativity, the writer’s life, the passionate quest for spiritual and artistic freedom. I invite you to peek into the courageous souls of these forty women. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey as much as I have.

Contents

Interviews with 40 multi-talented Latina Authors

Marta Acosta
Lisa Alvarado
Julia Amante
Margo Candela
Kathy Cano-Murillo
Mary Castillo
Jennifer Cervantes
Leila Cobo
Zoraida Córdova
Lucha Corpi
Sarah Cortez
Angie Cruz
Liz DeJesus
Anjanette Delgado
Carolina De Robertis
Lyn Di Iorio
Teresa Dovalpage
Carolina Garcia-Aguilera
Iris Gomez
Reyna Grande
Rose Guilbault
Graciela Limón
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
Diana López
Josefina López
Dora Machado
Maria Gabriela Madrid
Michele Martinez
Sandra Ramos O’Briant
Melinda Palacio
Caridad Piñeiro
Berta Platas
Toni Margarita Plummer
Thelma T. Reyna
Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Esmeralda Santiago
Eleanor Parker Sapia
Alisa Lynn Valdes
Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Gwendolyn Zepeda

ramses and I

About the Editor

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned more than ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

Categories: Inspirational Nonfiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapter reveal: The Cavalier Spy, by S.W. O’Connelly

thecavalierspy_medTitle: The Cavalier Spy

Genre: Historical

Author: S. W. O’Connell

Website: www.yankeedoodlespies.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase link: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCavalierSpy_ch1.html

Amazon / OmniLit 

About the Book:

1776: His army clinging to New York by a thread, a desperate General George Washington sends Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed behind British lines once more. But even the audacity of Creed and his band of spies cannot stop the British juggernaut from driving the Americans from New York, and chasing them across New Jersey in a blitzkrieg fashion. Realizing the imminent loss of one of the new nation’s most important states to the enemy, Washington sends Creed into the war-torn Hackensack Valley. His mission: recruit and train a gang of rogues to work behind British lines.

However, his mission takes a strange twist when the British high command plots to kidnap a senior American officer and a mysterious young woman comes between Creed and his plans. The British drive Washington’s army across the Delaware. The new nation faces its darkest moment. But Washington plans a surprise return led by young Creed, who must strike into hostile land so that Washington can rally his army for an audacious gamble that could win, or lose, the war.

“More than a great spy story… it is about leadership and courage in the face of adversity…The Cavalier Spy is the story of America’s first army and the few… those officers and soldiers who gave their all to a cause that was seemingly lost…”

~ Les Brownlee, former Acting Secretary of the Army and retired Army Colonel

“Secret meetings, skirmishes and scorching battles… The Cavalier Spy takes the reader through America’s darkest times and greatest triumphs thanks to its powerful array of fictional and historical characters… this book shows that courage, leadership and audacity are the key elements in war…”

~ F. William Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Author of Ways and Means for Managing UP

Prologue

Despite its narrow defeat at the battle of Harlem Heights on September 16th, 1776, Lord William Howe’s army of British and German professionals consolidated its stranglehold on General George Washington’s Continental Army, now firmly entrenched on the high ground at the northern extreme of the Island of New York (Manhattan). As soon as the wind and tide at the treacherous Hellegat (Hell Gate) channel provided an opportunity, Howe, the British general commanding in North America, launched a series of amphibious landings along the coast of the Bronx. His goal was to threaten the American line of supply from Westchester to New England. An initial thrust at The Frog’s (Throg’s) Neck on October 12th was stopped by a few regiments of expertly positioned American riflemen. This forced the British re-embark and land farther north, at a place called Pell’s Point.

Washington maneuvered his forces a few miles north to block Howe. However, Howe’s maneuver forced Washington to withdraw. He moved his army north along the Bronx River positioning it in the central Westchester hills to protect his line of supply to New England and New Jersey.

On the 28th of October, Howe launched a surprise attack on the Americans, whom he caught before they could properly position themselves near the village of White Plains. Despite the small tactical victory achieved against the Americans, Howe once again failed to exploit his success. Instead, he turned south and moved to invest Fort Washington, a powerful defensive position at the northern end of the Island of New York, otherwise known as Manhattan.

Washington realized that he would have to abandon the Island of New York before the British could trap the American defenders there. However, his most capable officer, Brigadier General Nathaniel Greene, convinced him that Fort Washington could still be defended with a few thousand men, allowing the rebels to maintain a foothold on the island. Although conflicted, Washington finally acceded to Greene’s suggestion. He left the small garrison to fend for itself and moved the remainder of the army across the North River to the highlands of New Jersey.

Howe now had the initiative and all the advantages of eighteenth century warfare: interior lines; control of the waters; and overwhelming force. Washington’s strategy now was to avoid defeat, keep his army intact, and continue to threaten the British while maintaining communications between New England and the Middle Atlantic states. The erstwhile “war of posts” had also become a war of waiting… but waiting for what?

Chapter 1 

Harlem Heights, New York, September 1776

Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed slept fitfully. It was that sleep which comes when one is far past being overtired, and one’s best efforts result in a certain numbness of both mind and body. The young officer’s bed was a makeshift pile of pine needles with a piece of canvas tenting spread across them. The canopy of orange and red leaves from a tall oak tree provided protection from the heat of the morning sun, this being a particularly warm Indian summer. Creed rested his head on his saddle, which, covered by a worn gray woolen blanket, formed his pillow. Not far away, his horse, a light brown gelding named Finn, nibbled at the sweet autumn grass on the gentle hillside. While Creed slept, Privates Jonathan Beall and Elias Parker, Creed’s companions and members of his very small command, had cooked a batch of dough balls in a small pan of used bacon grease. To them, the smell and crackle of the meager repast had the makings of a great feast. For the last three days, they had nothing to eat but hard tack biscuits and deer jerky purchased from one of the many suttlers that supplemented the Continental Army’s woeful commissariat. During that time, Creed and his men had been constantly on patrol or in combat. Their ordeal ended with the burial of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton, leader of the elite ranger unit to which they had been attached during the battle for Harlem Heights.

After Knowlton’s simple burial, a saddened Creed had a confrontation with Colonel Robert Fitzgerald, the commander-in-chief’s intelligence advisor. Officially just another of Washington’s many staff officers, Fitzgerald assisted Washington in one of the most critical of matters facing the army: figuring out what the British would do while also cloaking American actions from the British. This was no easy feat, as there was no American intelligence service to speak of. Washington took a personal interest in such things, both for reasons of security and practicality. However, the commander-in-chief had many other issues facing him and relied on his advisor to attend to all but the most sensitive matters. Fitzgerald worked tirelessly to establish a system of intelligence and counterintelligence that was less dependent on leadership from the headquarters. But when young Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed asked to return to normal service with his regiment, the First Maryland Continental Line, the outcome was never in doubt. Fitzgerald, over a strange combination of whiskey and chess, convinced Creed to become the first official intelligence officer in the Continental Army.

“So, Elias, do we have any salt left? We should really try to add some flavor,” Jonathan Beall spoke sarcastically.

Meager and humble as the concoction was, the smell of the dough balls crackling in the bacon fat was driving him wild.

“I added the last crumbs of burnt bacon to the mix so there will be flavor enough for the likes of you, but I will gladly take your portion if it is too bland for your mountain boy’s taste!” Elias Parker laughingly replied.

After weeks of campaigning and more than a few life and death experiences, the two were closer than brothers. But like brothers, they chided each other mercilessly when not covering each other’s back. Both men were in their mid-twenties and sturdily built. Beall came from a small farm town in the Maryland piedmont, a place called Frederick, situated at the edge of the verdant Catoctin Mountains. Parker, partly of Indian extraction, was a waterman from fishing stock in Maryland’s tidewater region.

“Should we wake Lieutenant Creed yet?” Beall asked, although he already knew the answer.

“Seeing as every time we wake him it leads to a patrol or some other comfortless duty I would say no,” Parker retorted, only half joking.

Unlike Beall, Parker was not an original member of Creed’s former unit, the Light Company, First Maryland Continental Line. During the Battle for Long Island, First Maryland’s acting commander, Major Mordecai Gist, transferred Parker from a line unit along with several other stalwart Marylanders. Since that day in August 1776, his life became one of constant fatigue and danger. During the ensuing weeks of patrolling and skirmishing, most of the original command of more than thirty men had been killed or wounded. Parker and Beall were the only active members left and now they were permanently reassigned from the First Maryland to the commander-in-chief’s Escort, also called his Life Guard.

“Wonder when we’ll get a chance to escort His Excellency now that we are escorts,” Beall said.

Parker suspected their future would not involve much escort work. “I don’t care where we serve, or what we do, so long as it helps end the war. I want to get home to my family. I miss my wife Marie and our newborn, little Meg.” Parker held a small charcoal sketch his sister had drawn. “Have you seen anyone more beautiful?”

Marie, like Parker, was part Indian and little Meg showed it, as well.

“Must take after her mama,” Beall said.

Parker smiled. “Sure does. My Marie has the same copper skin. And just look at that head of shiny dark hair. Hoped to have a miniature of them made before I departed with the regiment, but there was no time. Thank God this charcoal sketch came with my last letter before the fight on Long Island.”

Despite the longing for home, Parker was proud to be working with Creed and to be on “the Escort,” as they sometimes referred to it. And he was proud to be serving His Excellency. This was heady stuff for a humble sailor and fisherman from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

When Creed had returned from his last meeting with Colonel Robert Fitzgerald, he seemed a changed man. There had been a new intensity added to his normal Irish good humor. And there was something odd in his comment to them before turning in to sleep.

“Well boys, Colonel Fitzgerald has convinced me that the only way to checkmate a king is to keep him in check until he has no options. And the best tool for that is the knight—in this case a ‘White Knight.’ Ah, but we shall talk of all that later.”

The bacon grease sizzled and a piece of burned bacon rind and dough splattered and seared Beall’s wrist in one of those intense but fleeting burns. “Damn! Damnation!”

Beall had taken to swearing since he joined the army back in the spring. His exposure to toughs from the backwoods, Chesapeake watermen, Baltimore laborers and Annapolis stevedores provided exposure to a wide assortment of expression and habits—some good, but most bad. He had promised himself he would break this one habit before he returned home.

The sounds of the sizzling fat and Beall’s loud expletive stirred Creed. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. The pain in his head and the rawness on his tongue were not strangers, but a just few cups of whisky never had this effect before. Creed reckoned he was getting old. He was barely twenty-two.

“Cannot let a man sleep in peace for long, can ye? Just as well, but you will now pay the price and share those victuals with your victim.”

Creed grinned despite the stiffness he felt in every joint and the dull pain in his head. He stood up, pulled on his boots, and excused himself to perform his morning ablutions. Creed’s routine, whenever possible, included a plunge into the closest body of water and a shave. In this case, he took advantage of a nearby well in the garden of the Morris Mansion, General Washington’s headquarters. The garden, once a picturesque combination of flowers and fruit trees, was now part of the commander-in-chief’s headquarters, replete with the tents and equipment of his personal Life Guard, aides de camp, couriers and an array of cooks, servants, and transient officers. He returned fifteen minutes later and dug into his share of the repast: a half dozen of the “belly sinkers,” a mug of black coffee, and a couple of large, freshly plucked pears.

“Quite good stuff, lads.”

“How is the coffee, sir?” Beall asked

Creed replied. “As you well know, I favor tea, but I have accustomed myself to the American and Dutch penchant for the Arabica bean. It often proves more bracing, if not more refreshing than tea.”

Parker snickered. “Even after a third time boiling! I swear we live lower than field hands.”

Creed smiled and nodded. “Too true, but often a necessity in this army of ever dwindling supplies.”

He finished eating and helped himself to a second tin full of the bitter black brew. “Now, in a bit, lads, I shall have to meet again with the good Colonel. Before I do, we must talk. When I am finished I will ask you to either join with me or return to the First Maryland and forget our discussion and everything we have done in the past several weeks. Fair enough?”

Beall and Parker both nodded, almost mindlessly. Neither could tell whether Creed’s comments were a form of trust, distrust, or humor, but since neither of them had any intention of leaving his command after all they had been through with him, they heard him out patiently.

Creed looked intently at them as he spoke, his eyes narrowed and his voice lowered both for security and for effect. He needed for them to understand the gravity of the situation.

“My discussions last evening with the good Colonel were sobering, although they took place with no insignificant amount of whisky.”

Beall thought he saw the mildest trace of the Creed smile form for a fleeting second, then disappear as his eyes narrowed again. “We played a game of chess. Somewhere in my kit I have a set. Does either of you lads play? Well, never mind that now. The point is this: both he and I are agreed that this war will be long and difficult. We face a brutal and stubborn monarch who commands the greatest forces in the world and commands its commerce through a powerful navy. This king can march or sail his army at will, at least wherever there is sufficient water.”

Beall thought he saw Creed’s eyes lighten for a fleeting moment.

“So, ye see, the initiative belongs to ‘His Majesty.’ General Washington cannot likely hope for a great victory to end this conflict quickly and to our advantage. So his strategy has got to be one of avoiding defeat. Nibble away at the British until they are worn down and are forced to concede our freedom and independence. However, to do this the Continental Army needs to survive and it must present a threat to the British until… well…”

“Until what, sir?” Beall interrupted like a school boy.

Creed glanced left and right. “Well, there is considerable speculation that Congress can perhaps gain us allies to force the British hand. This is as much a political fight as a military one. In that sense we have some advantages.”

“Now what might those be, Lieutenant?” Parker asked skeptically. Parker was a simple fisherman and seaman but a shrewd and practical man in his own right. He for one could find no advantages in the army’s, or the nation’s, situation.

“Well, the cause itself, of course. And the people as well. Certainly, there are many Americans who are loyal Tories, but most are not. Many are still undecided. However, so long as there remains a General Washington and a Continental Army there remains hope. Where the British Army does not occupy, the patriot cause, the American cause, lives. We are closer to our people and to their sentiments. And where we are not, strong measures need be taken. We know the land and can draw people and sustenance from it. Many in England, Scotland, and Ireland are favorably disposed to the colonies and their grievances, so perhaps we shall have a political solution over the objections of King George. But there is one ingredient essential to the successful outcome of this enterprise.”

“Good food and dry powder!” Parker said sarcastically.

“Yes, indeed!” Creed answered reflexively. “No, what I meant was information. That is, intelligence. This war will turn on that to a great deal. Colonel Fitzgerald has asked me to take part in that aspect of the enterprise. With no small amount of reluctance, I have agreed. I am not yet fully sure what that means, but gather he wants to form a unit to collect information on the British and Loyalists, to assist General Washington.”

“Are we to be spies?” Beall asked.

“In a manner of speaking, yes. And we must detect spies, too. The way the good Colonel and His Excellency see it, failure to collect intelligence could lose a battle, but failure to detect a spy could lose the war, and thus the nation. So, if you follow me, when, not if, we are caught it shall be a swift journey to the gallows… if we are lucky. Do ye lads understand what I am saying?”

Beall and Parker looked at each other. They did not fully grasp everything Creed had said.

“Not everything, sir. But it makes no matter to us. You are our leader and we trust your judgment.” As Parker spoke the words a sickening feeling told him he would not see his family again.

After a pause, Beall spoke. “Sir, I joined the regiment to support the cause and to be with Simon. If he were here, he would stand with you sir, so now I fight for two!”

Creed fought to hold back the tears welling in his eyes. “Good lads! You are most honorable. I am proud to be among you.”

* * *

Creed arrived at Fitzgerald’s office in the Morris Mansion. It was a clean, bright room, not large. But it contained a nice bed and had a large desk covered with Fitzgerald’s many papers and a map. In the corner there stood a small chest of drawers. On it sat a small wash basin of elegant but not elaborate white porcelain. For the first time, Creed noticed the room was decorated with fine wallpaper instead of paint. This must have been a lady’s room, he thought, perhaps a daughter.

Fitzgerald offered Creed a glass of port. Creed declined as he still felt some of the effects of the previous night. Fitzgerald pushed away stray strands of his hair, which he had tied back in a queue and strangely enough, powdered white.

“Well, Jeremiah, His Excellency has need of your services once more. Your task is both complex and dangerous.”

“Not unlike previous engagements, sir.” Creed smirked.

Fitzgerald ignored the witticism. “Worse, I am afraid. He would like you to find our lost spy.”

“Beg your pardon, sir?” Creed thought he had misunderstood him.

“Find our lost spy. As you know, we sent a young captain of the unfortunate Colonel Knowlton’s battalion to spy behind British lines on Long Island. But now he may well be in New York. His name, I can finally reveal, is Nathan Hale. From Connecticut. A place called Coventry, I believe. Seems so many of our bravest lads come from Connecticut.”

As a Marylander, Creed bristled at the remark but Fitzgerald went on. “Hale was to advance across Long Island and find the rear of the British Army. To obtain information on unit strength from patriots and unsuspecting Tories. Also to report on their morale, supply, and if possible, British plans.”

Creed winced. “Perhaps you should have asked him to capture Lord Howe to boot.”

Fitzgerald nodded. “I know. It seems foolish now and it was, urumph, is. Truth be told, I advised against it. Nor am I in favor of sending you after him. But His Excellency insists we try. However, I am adding to your woes with a secondary mission, although between us it is, in actuality, your primary mission.”

Creed cocked his head slightly and placed his index finger against his cheek. “My God, sir, just two missions behind British lines? Hardly worth the trip, should I say?

Creed’s feigned English accent had the desired effect of annoying Fitzgerald.

“Please refrain from sarcasm, my dear boy. These are desperate times. The curtain is closing on the city of New York, and perhaps the entire island. We may not have another opportunity to infiltrate someone there for many months. Once the British consolidate their gains and establish forces loyal to them, access to the city may well be hopeless, and it most certainly will be dangerous. What I want is for you to contact one of the men given up to our late departed British spy, Jan Braaf.”

Jan Braaf, a lawyer and active Whig politico in Brooklyn, had spied for the British and betrayed the American army, helping cause its defeat on Long Island. He died from a wound received while trying to get to New York under Creed’s protection. Dying, he had confessed his treason to Creed and Fitzgerald, who obtained the valise provided by his British spymaster, Major Sandy Drummond. The valise contained “spy paraphernalia” which included codes, special chemicals for secret writing, and the names of contacts, one of whom had access to a bank account for Braaf. Posing as the escaped murderer of British soldiers, Braaf was supposed to obtain a civilian post near or with the rebel army, and report on its activity.

“We were fortunate Braaf took a bullet on that boat ride with you, Jeremiah. And a British bullet at that.”

“I daresay, sir, we were more fortunate that he had some semblance of a conscience and confessed his sin before he died.”

“I believe it was more from good questioning and his eternal connivance. I believe he wanted to keep his family out of future trouble. Well, it worked to our advantage, but now we must follow up.”

Creed frowned. “What do you mean, sir?”

Fitzgerald swirled the remaining port in his glass. Its ruby color reflected the sunlight that radiated through the open window. They were on the second floor so nobody could eavesdrop, at least not very easily.

“I mean, the ‘spy Braaf’ must try to contact the British of course. Since you deftly hid his body there is no corpus delecti, so we can assume they do not suspect his demise. But they must surely expect contact from him.”

“So soon?”

“Of course, young man, we are at war. But the contact will be perfunctory. Just enough so they know he is active and has successfully placed himself near the American camp. By doing so I hope to buy us some time until I decide how best to pursue this case. And in any event, we may delay them sending another in his place.”

“And I suppose I should find this Captain Hale while I am at it?”

Fitzgerald grinned complacently. “That is correct. His Excellency would be most pleased with the return of his spy. Captain Hale by all accounts seemed a very decent and honorable officer, not really spy material at all.”

Creed once again ignored the barb. With a coy wink, Fitzgerald downed the last drop of port and smacked the glass on the desk. He then removed some papers from the “treasure trove” of codes and contacts taken from Braaf. It provided the name of two men established by the British as Braaf’s contacts in the city.

The older officer pulled another wisp of his white hair away from his pale Irish face and looked intently at Creed. “Now here is what I propose…”

* * *

When Creed returned from his meeting with Colonel Fitzgerald the concern on his face was obvious. He removed his tri-cornered hat and ran his fingers through his dark hair. He then took a deep breath and sat under one of the pines.

“Why so glum, sir?” Beall asked.

“Not glum, Jonathan, concerned. We have a hard task ahead… get through British lines, find a lost spy, and convince the British that our friend Braaf is alive and well. Oh yes, and return alive of course.”

Creed went over the plan in detail. When he finished, his men questioned him. “Do we rehearse this one, Lieutenant?” Parker asked.

Creed shook his head. “Not this time, much as it disturbs me to say. We have no time. We depart immediately.”

“Right now?” Beall asked.

Creed nodded. “We must gain entry to the city before the British restore order and tighten security.”

Parker looked incredulous. “You mean they haven’t, sir?”

Creed replied, “Not fully. I hope to exploit the chaos that always ensues when one army supplants another in an area of occupation. Many Whigs and Patriots have already fled the Island of New York.”

“So most of the Americans who stayed in New York will be hostile to the patriot cause,” Beall said.

Creed nodded. “Or neutral and indifferent. We shall have to rely on our guile and the occupation’s initial confusion to get through.”

Beall knew there was something else. “Sir, we have done more than this before. You seem disturbed by something. Something more than this.

Creed lowered his head. “Our orders, the part that disturbs me, are stark. Should one of Braaf’s contacts become suspicious, I am to kill him.”

Beall’s eyes widened. “Just like that?”

Creed nodded. “His Excellency was staking much on deceiving the British, and Fitzgerald wants nothing to frustrate the effort. We are also authorized to reveal the existence of the other spy, Hale, to help establish Braaf’s credibility, proof of his validity as an agent.”

Parker interjected, “Now let me get this straight, sir. We are to save this spy, Captain… Hale? While using knowledge of his existence to convince the British that Braaf operates in the American camp. Makes no sense at all, sir!”

“Precisely my initial thought.” Creed grinned and scratched himself on the lobe of his ear.

“However, after some reflection, I realized there is a devilish madness to this. General Washington wants his man back, but he also wants to use Braaf against the British. He sees this war now as an intelligence struggle as much as a military struggle. And he may well be correct. Our forces need time to bring themselves to where they can face the British on equal terms. That day will come, he is convinced, but until then he must preserve the army and keep the British off balance. Intelligence will be indispensable to the success of this strategy. We are merely pawns in all this.”

Beall corrected him. “You mean knights, sir, do you not? White Knights, to be exact.”

Creed laughed and grabbed Beall firmly by the shoulder. “Yes indeed, Private Beall. Thank-you so much for remembering that for me; tis the White Knights we are now.

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