Category Archives: Indie author

Day 7 Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour–Jan Sikes

Day 7 brings you a lovely story from Jan Sikes!

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Jan Sikes

Henry Jacobsen ran gnarled fingers through 84 years of living and swatted at a fly that buzzed around his head. The sun warmed his old bones and he turned to face his longtime friend. “You know, Aaron, what the world needs now, is for people to show a little more respect to each other. Back in my day, if I acted or talked disrespectful, I got my hide tanned.”

The wooden boards underneath Aaron’s rocker creaked in syncopated rhythm with his movement. “Yep, Henry. Times are different nowadays.”

Henry timed his chair rhythm with Aaron’s. “Before I came to stay here, I had a house over on Boulder Street. There was a family a few doors down that was always borrowing things from me, but somehow they never remembered to return any of them.”

Aaron nodded. “I’ve had it happen to me many times.”

“I pulled into the driveway one day just in time to see the oldest kid unscrewing my water hose. By the time I parked the car and got out, he had it slung over his shoulder.” Henry’s frown deepened. “It’s frustrating when you can’t move like you used to.”

He gazed across the green manicured lawn of the Post Oaks Retirement Center as if viewing some long-ago forgotten scene.

“Well?” Aaron prodded. “What did you do?”

“I hollered at him and asked what in the world he thought he was doing. And you know what he had the nerve to say to me?” Henry screwed up his face.

“Nope.”

“He said that he was taking my water hose so he could wash his motorcycle.”

“Don’t that beat all?” Aaron clicked his tongue. “Didn’t even bother to ask you.”

“I saw red. I lit into him like nobody’s business,” he growled. “The nerve. Take a man’s things like they meant nothing.”

Aaron shifted to take the weight off his bad hip. “There was a day when I would’ve jumped a guy for pulling a stunt like that. But those times are over for me. At this point, I’m doin’ good just to make it from the bed to the bathroom without embarrassing myself.”

“Yeah, me too. But, I tell you, I didn’t take it lying down. I told him what a rotten, no good, worthless human being he was and that he’d better put the water hose down or I’d call the cops and turn him in for stealing.”

“What did he do then?”

“He laughed in my face…told me I was too old to use the damn water hose anyway and he needed it.”

“Why, the nerve!”

“I marched myself inside and called the cops. When they came, I gave them a list of everything they had so-called borrowed and said I wanted it all back.”

“Did you get it?”

“Yeah. In pieces. The weed eater was battered and wouldn’t start. My shovel was broken in half. The water hose was split in two pieces. All of it was in shambles. Just no respect. That’s what the world has come to.”

Silence spun a web between the two old-timers who’d seen more than a lifetime of battles.

“I remember when I was in the Army. Nobody ever pilfered in someone else’s belongings. I did two tours overseas, fighting for this country and now I have to wonder what for.” Henry’s voice trembled. “The way folks carry on is a shame. Just no regard for one another.”

Aaron halted the rocker and leaned forward. “You’re right, Henry. The mess things are in is downright disgraceful. Take for instance the presidential election. Now, I can’t say I agree with the candidate who won, but for people to go out and tear stuff up, turn on friends and family who voted for him, and get consumed with hatred is ridiculous. No one is willing to bend.”

“Never saw anything like it,” Henry agreed. “I remember when John F. Kennedy won the election in 1960. People spoke out against him because he was catholic. But, they weren’t filled with the kind of hatred they are today. It pains me to think about what kind of society our grandkids are growing up in. For old geezers like ourselves, it don’t really matter all that much. We’re on our way out.”

“Dinosaurs. Men like us with backbone and decency are disappearing just like those prehistoric creatures did. I’d sure like to see something that would give me hope for the future. Hope for our country.” Aaron’s rheumy eyes glistened.

Henry pushed up from the rocker and stretched. It troubled him more than he could say that his grandchildren were growing up in these unstable times. A tired old man needs salve for his weary soul.

Just as he was about to shuffle inside, he saw his grandson, Micah, bounding across the lawn.

Micah waved. “Hi, Grandpa.”

Henry waved back.

Breathless, Micah reached the two men. “Hey, Gramps, look at this beautiful spring day. How about I bust you out of here and we go fishing?”

Henry chuckled. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.” He turned to Aaron and winked. “There’s our hope. This young man knows how to respect his elders.”

With that, he joined his grandson. It didn’t escape his notice that Micah slowed his steps to match his grandfather’s or that he held the door while they went inside.

Respect. That’s what Micah demonstrated.

And, it’s precisely the healing the world now needs.

 

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

JAN SIKES RWISA Author Page

 

 

Day 6 Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour–Wendy Scott

Enjoy this fun story! I loved it!

 

Navigator by Wendy Scott

Luke’s body whirled through the portal in a kaleidoscope of starlight and rainbows. Burnt ozone stung his nostrils, and his stomach roiled as if live dragonflies flitted inside. He clutched his grandfather’s palm tighter, the only connection anchoring them together while they spun into the void, guided by the compass in his grandfather’s other hand.

“We’re here.” His grandfather’s words whistled with wheeziness.

He released Luke and turned away, pocketing the compass, but his old man’s movements weren’t quick enough to hide the tremors or his shortness of breath.

A mountain breeze, tinged with smoke ruffled the tussock grasses underfoot. In the valley below, Luke pinpointed a chimney on a cluster of shacks beside fenced paddocks. Had the old man’s sense of direction faded and cast them adrift?

“Follow me.” His grandfather rolled his shoulders back, lifted his head high, and led the descent.

Mindful of their journey’s mission doubt dragged at Luke’s feet. At only twelve, would he be found worthy? He didn’t want to think about his grandfather’s declining health if their bid was rejected.

Metallic scent tainted the air as they skirted past the dwellings; a one-room cottage, barn, and a smithy. Orange coals smoldered on the forge, hammers, and tongs lined up in military precision, but the pockmarked leather apron hung empty from a hook on the open door.

Without pause, his grandfather guided Luke out the back to the horse corrals. A bear of a man with arms like anvils leaned against the fence. Leather pants and knee-high boots sheathed his legs, but his chest was bare except for a star patterned tattoo, staining his chest muscles indigo and cobalt. At their approach his head swiveled, snaring the pair with a deep ocean gaze. Dryness etched Luke’s throat.

“Navigator, so many years have passed, I feared you would not return.”

Luke’s grandfather bowed his head. “Farrier, events have been unkind, but I keep my promises. My grandson had agreed to assume the responsibility in the place of his father who died when he was a babe.”

The men spoke as if Luke were a phantom, but he remained silent, remembering his grandfather’s instructions only to speak when asked a direct question by the otherworld farrier.

Grass scented warmth huffed through Luke’s hair. A midnight coated horse towered above his head. A white star marked the stallion’s forehead.

Luke clambered up the railings, but he still had to stretch to trail his fingertips along the horse’s snout. His breath caught when he gazed into the depths of the creature’s starlight eyes.

Firm fingers clasped Luke’s shoulder, and the farrier bowed towards the steed.  “Kasper approves of you. Come inside.”

The temperature in the smithy scorched the hairs inside Luke’s nose, and sweat trickled beneath his tunic, but the farrier worked the bellows until the coals combusted into flames. Next, he sprinkled a handful of sand into the hearth, and the fire danced into violet and malachite hues.

“You understand, old friend, without the enchantment your life span will be reduced to mortal years?”

My grandfather nodded.”These old bones grow weary, and the pathways are becoming muddled. My time is past. Luke is young, but he is pure of heart. ”

The farrier studied his friend for a moment before he reached out with his palm. “Navigator, of your own free will do you relinquish your powers to your grandson?”

The old man answered by dropping his compass into the farrier’s outstretched hand. “I do.”

The farrier’s otherworld stare scrutinized the boy, and although the being didn’t touch him, a prickling sensation rippled up Luke’s spine. After several heartbeats, the farrier inclined his head. “Your soul is free of darkness, but perhaps you are too young yet for any temptations to have challenged your values.”

“He’s a good lad. I vouch for him and will guide his path.” His grandfather squeezed Luke’s shoulder.

Calloused fingers gripped Luke’s chin. “Are you sure you want this? It’s not too late to back out and live a normal life. Be warned, once you accept you are bound for life. Each time you enter here seeking my help a non-negotiable toll must be paid.”

Before crossing over doubts had plagued Luke’s thoughts, but after tasting magic, he couldn’t settle for a dull life on the farm when his world had been opened to the lure of other realms.

Luke moistened his lips. “Navigator blood runs in my veins. I’m young, but I’m ready.”

The farrier released him. “Do I have your solemn vow you will only guide your passengers by the way of the light?”

Heart thundering, Luke focused on the compass. “I swear I’ll follow the true pathways.”

Light glinted off the chain as the farrier dangled the compass into the sparking coals. “Hold out your hand.”

Luke flinched, expecting his skin to sizzle when it touched the metal, but the compass was cool. He didn’t feel any different. Had the transfer worked?

The farrier clasped forearms with the older man. “You owe me one last favour, but I will redeem what’s due at another time.”

“As always it will be an honour to serve.” Luke’s grandfather stepped away.

“Navigator, peer into the fire.”

Several moments passed before Luke responded to his new title. Within the flames, he spied a young woman’s face, whose striking features seared into his memory.

“One day she will seek your skills, and when she does you must bring her to me.” The farrier crossed his arms.

Questions burned in Luke’s mind, but he’d been schooled on the protocols, so he suppressed his curiosity, and lowered his eyes. “As you command.”

The farrier ushered them into the yard and bid them farewell. “Keep your promises, follow the light and your direction will always be true.”

Outside Luke paused, blinking. A glittering path lit the way up to the portal.

Unshed tears gathered in his grandfather’s eyes. “The navigator’s sight is now hidden from me.”

Grasping the compass in one hand, Luke held out his other hand. “Come grandfather, I will guide you home.”

***

(Navigator is a prelude and companion scene to Fire Hooves – yet to be released by Wendy Scott).

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

WENDY SCOTT RWISA Author Page

 

Day 5 Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour–Gwen Plano

 

Welcome to Day 5! I am going to have to buy more Kleenex! This is such a great story! You’re gonna love it!

Love at First Sight

By Gwendolyn M Plano

 

“It doesn’t seem real. It just doesn’t seem real.” Mom muttered as she ran her hand over the curves of dad’s headstone. Sighing deeply, she stared blankly into the horizon.

After a few minutes, she turned and faced me. “I tell myself that it must be real.” She seemed to want my approval. “The stone says we were married 70 years. It must have happened; I must have been married. But, but…why can’t I remember?” She searched my face for answers.

Stooped from the burden of years now elusive and sometimes vacant, mom held my arm while she walked to either side of the monument.

“I saw him in a dream. Did I tell you that?”

“No, mom, I don’t think you did.”

“He was young, like when we first met.”

“Really? Could you tell me about how you met?”

“How?” Mom’s eyes darted to and fro as she struggled to answer. Then, as though the curtains lifted, she responded.

“Yes…yes, I can tell you how we met.”

“Let’s sit here, mom.” I led her to a cement bench under a tall oak tree near dad’s grave. “Now tell me how the two of you met.”

Mom took a deep breath and began. “It was during the war. I remember it now. It was 1944. There were posters in our high school which asked us to sign up to work at the Consolidated Aircraft factory in San Diego. They needed help building B-24 bombers. We called the bombers the Liberators. My sister and I and several of our girlfriends decided we wanted to help our country. Most of the boys in our class were enlisting in the army or navy. We wanted to do our part too.”

“Like Rosie the Riveter?”

“Oh, yes! We all wanted to be Rosie. Your grandparents didn’t much like the idea, but they knew the families of the other girls, and since we’d be living together and would watch out for one another, they finally agreed. After all, it was the patriotic thing to do.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of mom being Rosie and asked where she lived.

“We lived with Aunt Lena on India Street in San Diego. She put in bunk beds for us. At night, we’d wash out our clothes and tie the pieces to the bedsprings so that they could dry overnight.”

“When we arrived at Consolidated, they gave each of us a uniform – blue pants and jacket. And, we had classes for a week or two. Most of us were assigned the job of riveting. It’s hard to believe, but there were about 20,000 women working at the factory. The assembly line was a mile long, and believe it or not, we built about nine bombers a day. Isn’t that amazing?”

“That is amazing, mom.” Pride glowed from mom’s face, and I couldn’t help but feel proud of her as well.

“I was assigned to the wings. I hate heights, but I’d climb on top of those wings and pretend I was sitting on the hood of a car. I didn’t get afraid that way. One day, when I was sitting up there, holding a riveting gun, your dad came by.”

“Hey,” he said. “What’s your name?” I thought I might be in trouble, but he smiled, so I smiled back.

“It’s Lauretta.”

“Well, Lauretta, you’re doing a great job. If you need anything, let me know. My name’s Jim, and I’m the foreman for this area.”

I put my arm around mom’s shoulder. “My goodness, mom, you were on the wing of a bomber when you met dad?”

“Sounds funny, doesn’t it? But, yes, that’s the first time we talked. I didn’t pay much attention to him, but my sister would whisper to me, “There he is again. I think he likes you. He keeps looking this way.”

Mom lowered her eyes and giggled. “Of course, I didn’t believe her.”

After pausing a bit, she continued. “Your dad started walking home with us in the evening. He lived further up the hill from us, so it wasn’t out of his way. Mind you, I was wearing the company uniform and had my hair in a bandana, so I was hardly a beauty.”

“Anyway, one day he asked if I’d like to come up to his place. And, I was stupid and said okay. That’s when I learned about the facts of life. You know, sex.”

“You didn’t know before then, mom?”

“No, but he taught me that night.” Mom giggled and put her hand on her face. “He wanted to get married right then. But, I told him no, he had to talk to my parents. We needed to do it right. Besides, I hardly knew him. There were a lot of shot-gun marriages those days. We all thought the end of the world was coming, and well, young lovers didn’t hold back.”

“So, you and dad became lovers?”

“You know the answer to that, don’t you? When I didn’t have my cycle, I knew I was pregnant. Your dad was elated and didn’t hesitate to talk to your grandparents. Of course, I was ashamed. But, I want you to understand something. You might have been the reason we married, but you were not the reason we stayed together for 70 years.”

“Did you love him, mom?” The question came out before I could filter it.

“I did, I just didn’t know I did. Your dad would tell anyone who would listen, ‘When I saw Lauretta on the wing of a B-24 bomber, I knew that she was the one for me.’ He’d say it all the time, ‘She’s the one for me!’” Mom giggled as she thought about this story. “Your dad always said it was love at first sight. But it wasn’t that way for me.”

“What do you mean by that, mom?”

“Well, love is a strange word, isn’t it? Your dad seemed to know from the first time he saw me that he wanted to marry me. I didn’t feel that way. I think my focus was romance or dreams. And, your dad wasn’t the wooing type.”

“I believe I fell in love with him after you were born. He thought you were the most beautiful baby in the whole world. In fact, I think he was happiest when he was holding you. He’d sing to you and rock you to sleep every night.”

She dropped her head, and tears rolled down her cheeks. My tears fell as well.

“He was a good man, a faithful man. Did I tell you his promise?”

I shook my head, and said, “no.”

“You know that he grew up hungry, right? During the Dust Bowl, his family barely survived. In fact, two of his sisters died.  Well, your dad promised me that his children would never go hungry. He would make sure of it. And, he did. He worked two jobs most of our marriage, and you kids were never hungry.” She paused and looked into my eyes.

“Your dad kept his promises.”

Mom grew silent. Her face turned from animated to expressionless, and I did not know what to think. She whispered something that I had to ask her to repeat. She sighed and looked at me again.

“It just doesn’t seem real.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

GWEN PLANO RWISA Author Page

 

Day 4 Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour–Beem Weeks

Let’s welcome author-of-the-day, BEEM WEEKS! You will LOVE his story and I DARE you to read it without a tissue handy!

 

Wordless

 

“What’s that word say?”

“That’s an easy one, Daddy. Just sound it out.”

Levi Bacchus can’t read. 36 years old, and he’d never learned the meaning of a single sentence.

“I just ain’t cut out for this, Jamie Lynn.”

The girl’s countenance dropped in disagreement—just like her mother, that one.

“So, you’re a quitter now?” she bellowed, sounding too much like the woman who’d walked out of their lives two years earlier.

Levi took offense. “Mind your manners, Missy. I ain’t never been called no quitter.”

“Reading is something everybody should be able to do, is all I’m saying.”

“It’s easy for you,” Levi argued. “You’re just a kid, still in school. You have teachers telling you what to do and how to do it. I’m just too old for learning.”

The girl narrowed her gaze, jabbed a finger into the open book. “From the beginning,” she demanded.

His heaving huff meant he’d do it again—if only for her sake.

Words formed in his head before finding place on his tongue. Some came through in broken bits and pieces, while others arrived fully formed and ready for sound.

Jamie’s excitement in the matter is why he kept trying. Well, that and the fact he’d long desired the ability to pick up the morning paper and offer complaint or praise for the direction of the nation. All those people in the break room at the plant held their own opinions on everything from the president to the latest championship season enjoyed by the local high school football team.

“That’s good, Daddy,” Jamie said, patting her father on the arm. “That’s really good. You’ll be reading books before too long.”

A smile worked at the edges of his lips, refusing to go unnoticed.

“I’d like that, Sweet Pea.” That’s all he’d say of the matter. If it came to that, well then, he’d have accomplished something worth appreciating.

Levi harbored bigger notions than merely reading books. When a man can read, he can do or be anything he wants to be. His own father often said a man who can’t read is forever in bondage. How can a man truly be free if he cannot read the document spelling out the very rights bestowed upon him by simple virtue of birth? No sir; being illiterate no longer appealed to him.

Of his immediate family—father, mother, two older brothers—only Levi failed to attend college. Oh, he graduated from high school. Being a star quarterback will afford that sort of luxury. But when those coaches from the universities came calling, low test scores couldn’t open doors that promised more than a life spent in auto factories.

He’d seen a show on TV about a man who’d been sent to prison for five years for armed robbery. While there, this man learned to read, took a course on the law, and became a legal secretary upon his release. Eight years later, he’d earned a law degree and opened his very own practice.

Levi didn’t see himself arguing cases in a court of law—defending criminals most likely to be guilty just didn’t appeal to his sense of right and wrong. What he did see, however, is the need for a good and honest person to run the city he’d forever called home.

“Think I could be mayor?” he asked his daughter.

Jamie Lynn always grinned over such talk. “Everybody has to have a dream, Daddy.”

It’s what she always says.

Everything begins with a dream.

She gets that part of her from her mother.

“Once I can read without stopping to ask questions,” he mused, “maybe I’ll throw my hat into the ring, huh?”

“There’s nothing wrong with asking questions,” she answered, weaving wisdom between her words.

*      *      *

She’d been a girl scout, his daughter—daisies and brownies before that. It’s the other girls who bullied her out of the joy that sort of thing once offered. Straight A’s have a way of making others feel inferior, even threatened.

But Jamie Lynn isn’t the type to pine or fret. She chose to tutor—and not just her father, either. Kids come to the house needing to know this and that among mathematics or English or science. Her dream? To be a teacher one day.

And she’ll accomplish that much and more.

Her mother had that very same sense about her as well. She knew what she wanted in life, and cleared the path upon which she traveled.

High school sweethearts they’d been, Jamie Lynn’s mother and father. She’d been the pretty cheerleader, he’d been the All-American boy with a cannon for an arm. She went to college, he didn’t.

But she returned to him, joyfully accepting his proposal for a life together. Her degree carried her back to the high school from which they’d both graduated. This time, rather than student, she became teacher—American History.

Levi went to work building Cadillacs in the local plant. It paid well, offered medical benefits and paid vacation time. Life settled into routines.

Then came their little bundle. This didn’t sit well with the newly-minted history teacher. No sir. It’s as if Levi had intentionally sabotaged his own wife’s career in some fiendish plot to keep her home.

Words of love became “stupid” and “ignorant” and “illiterate ass.” She walked out one evening and never came back to the home they’d built together.

A former student, he’d heard—five years her junior. They’d ran off together, supposedly making a new home somewhere out west.

Levi didn’t challenge it. He received the house and the kid in exchange for his signature on those papers he couldn’t even read.

Jamie Lynn, she’s the light that shined in his darkness, showed him there’s still so much more living to be done. And learning to read, well, that just added to the adventure.

*      *      *

The night came when he read an entire chapter from one of Jamie Lynn’s old middle school books—straight through, unpunctuated by all those starts and stops and nervous questions. By the end of the month, Levi had managed the entire story—all 207 pages.

“We have to celebrate, Daddy,” she insisted.

It’d been the silly draw of embarrassment that twisted his head left and right, his voice saying, “No need to make a fuss, Sweet Pea.”

But fuss is only the beginning. “Dinner and a movie,” she ordered. “Then we’ll stop off at the mall and pick out a few books that you might like.”

There were stories he recalled from his boyhood; books other kids clutched under their arms and took for granted. Stories that stirred so much excitement in those young lives.

They’d belong to him now.

“You’re finally blooming, Daddy—just like a flower.”

And so was his daughter.

A teacher in the making.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

BEEM WEEKS RWISA Author Page

 

 

 

Day 3 Watch RWISA Write Showcase Tour–Laurie Finkelstein

Let’s have a HUGE welcome for our author-of-the-day, LAURIE FINKELSTEIN!

Bulletproof Vest

By Laurie Finkelstein

The bulk, padding, and steel plates weigh me down. The protection of a bulletproof vest is necessary. No matter the weather, I wear the cloak. The weight is a burden, but I trek on because wrapped is the only way to navigate my journey. The jacket protects my heart from being blown to crimson shards of death.

A direct hit is avoided for days and nights, lulling me into calm and complacency. “All will work out fine,” I tell myself. The truth tells a story I want to change. All my will and might does not make an impact to stop the bombardment.

Experience and time separates me from tragedy. At any moment, the bullets strike. Inside or out. My house cannot provide security, nor can a million people surrounding me. With nowhere to hide, I am a target. Shelter and safety are nonexistent.

Discharges are held back while luck and grace harbor me. The slugs will come, however, in a piercing barrage without warning, and will pummel me.

Knocked to the ground, I am immobilized and rendered helpless. My breathing is halted. My movements are stopped, and I understand what assaulted me.

The shockwave subsides, and in small increments, I am able to take in air. Incapacitated, I continue to lie until I am rescued by the rational thinking buried under an avalanche of pain, doubt, and fear. My thoughts check my vitals to make sure I am in the here and now. “Stay in the moment,” I tell myself. “I can manage this. I will persevere.”

“Rise,” I command. The mass of the garb constricts my movement, but I stand, analyze what must be done, and begin to act. The warrior in me comes out. Battles will be fought. My impervious attire gets me through another crisis, and its weight comforts me. Without the guise, I am unable to prevail against the onslaughts, which pop out of the dark corners of another day.

Yes, my vest is cumbersome, but without my swathe I will not withstand the painful projectiles. Clips are filled, ready to punch and knock me down, disabling me should I forget for a moment to cloak myself within my protective armor.

My bullets are not made of lead, surrounded by a dense metal. The projectiles do not come from terrorists intent on decimating me. The ammo does not come from a police state or a dictator’s command. A barrel is not involved.

My bullets are made of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Composed of irrational thoughts, insipid ideations, and ignorant rationalizations, they are crushing invisible forces. The capacity to shatter my resolve and render me dysfunctional invades me.

My unsociable enemy is treatable, but never disappears. My therapists validate my experiences of being trapped, resentful, guilty, shameful, ill-equipped, grief-stricken, lost, uncertain, and disabled. My growth in therapy helps me accept the challenge with compassion and empathy in my heart.

Throughout my lifetime three stages will haunt me.

Stage one is the onslaught of rounds. The crisis mode. The shock and pain.

Stage two is being slammed down, breath taken away. Sabotaged. Terms and feelings of the emergency are acknowledged.

Stage three is advocacy for myself. Stand. Breathe. Make decisions. Tools in hand to counteract the depression and anxiety and OCD. Utilize appropriate response and care.

Encouraged by others, I enroll in Toastmasters. Time for me to improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet. Professional and compelling ways of expressing my views is a talent I want to possess. Persuasive interactions are in reach. My computer with Google as my guide, I find the Toastmasters website. The rules and guidelines answer many of my questions. Ready to take on the challenge, I enter my credit card information and become a member. A direct thrust knocks me down.

At first, I don’t understand what attacks me. My heartbeat begins speeding up. My gasps for air speed up. My head spins with dizziness. The mighty effects of terror hammer me to the ground. Despair sinks me deeper into the attack.

Stage one. The thought of standing before people enunciating in a clear voice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” strikes with negative force. In a semi-frozen state of fear and regret, I struggle to make sense of my attacker. Groups of Toastmasters are warm, safe environments to learn public speaking and leadership skills. “Warm and safe,” I remind myself. Still my heart beats faster and my breath diminishes by the second. A ghost of recognition appears before me. Panic is familiar.

Stage two. My history tells me to take an extra Klonopin. Scared to death is not an option. Upon reaching my medicine cabinet with weak, wobble-producing legs, I discover my pill case empty. In my next move, I check the bottle. Empty. My heart beats faster and my limbs go numb. Sweat trickles down my forehead. My last attempt before I collapse in a heap of despair, I call my pharmacist. My trembling voice separated from my body explains my attack and lack of pills. “How fast can you fill the prescription?” my quivering voice speaks out. “Is ten minutes okay?” the pharmacy technician asks.

Stage three. My inner voice tells me to be brave. Think of a serene place. My happy place. Take deep soothing breaths. My toolbox is ransacked for more options until I come to grips with the present. The dispensary is too far to hike, so I must drive to pick up my pills. Cranked engine. Foot on pedal. Brake released. My self-talk takes me on a wild ride to the drug store. My trembling legs walk me to the back of the aisles. The friendly face of the tech reassures me. The credit card transaction is signed with a jellylike hand, completing the purchase.

Back in my car, I down the remedy with tepid water from an old bottle sitting in my trash. My panting is steadier, my heart pounding a little less. Within thirty minutes, I am relaxed, able to pursue my day. Ready to reassess my decision to become a Toastmaster. The choice is sound and important.

My bulletproof vest is worn as a badge of honor and survival. Without my garb, I would be a prisoner in my house, hiding in bed. Sick to my stomach. Useless.

The stigma of mental illness must be broken. My vest is worn with pride. I am a survivor. I am the voice of one in every five Americans experiencing the assailant. I am not alone.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

 

Laurie Finkelstein RWISA Author Page

Day 2 Watch RWISA Write–Karen Ingalls

Hi All! Thanks for joining me for the fabulous month-long RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Showcase tour! All month you’ll be getting some super-special sample writing from some of the best indie authors out there! So, buckle up and enjoy! Day 2 brings you a heart-warming vignette from Karen Ingalls.

 

A FISHY DAY

 

It was one of those wonderful August days when the sun was high and warm in the sky. The big cumulus clouds slowly drifted by, creating designs that filled Jim’s imagination, who at nine years could see all kinds of amazing sights. He had been playing with his model airplane in his aunt and uncle’s yard, where he spent the summers on their ranch in San Diego, California. Staying with Uncle Leon and Aunt Helen was always a special time of adventure, fun and farm work.

 

“Jim, do you want to go to the pasture with me? We’ll check the water trough for the cattle,” Uncle Leon asked, at the same time he took his handkerchief and wiped some perspiration from his tan brow.

 

“Oh, yes,” Jim responded with great excitement. He ran to the front porch and put his treasured airplane on the table next to where Aunt Helen sat in her rocking chair.

 

Uncle Leon walked over to the Allis-Chalmers tractor and stretched his long, thin legs up and over onto the metal seat. “All right, Jim, you can come on up now.” Jim awkwardly managed to climb up and grab hold of his uncle’s hand, who swung him onto his lap. With the turn of the key the tractor began to vibrate and the engine roared. Shifting the gears into forward, Leon yelled, “Here we go!”

 

The pasture was a favorite place for Jim with its rolling hills, oak trees, and green grass. It was always a peaceful place where a boy could run until he was out of breath, and then fall onto the grass and let the wind gently blow over his panting body. Many were the times that Jim would spend his days, just climbing in the oak trees pretending he was hiding from some enemy, or shooting squirrels with his imaginary rifle.

 

He and his uncle drove through the pasture until they came to a large trough sitting by a water pump on the top of a knoll. The cattle were grazing some distance away, but their occasional moos could be heard.

 

Uncle Leon helped Jim off the tractor and then sauntered up to the trough. “Not much water left so we best get this filled up.”

 

Jim was leaning over the trough where the top of it just reached his chest. “What can I do? I want to help.”

 

“Well, now, how about you pump the water in once I get it primed,” replied Uncle Leon with his usual smiling face. He was happy that Jim wanted to help, but he also knew that pumping water would be a big job for such a young lad. Once he had the water flowing with each downward motion of the pump handle, he instructed, “Okay, young feller, it is your turn now.”

 

Jim eagerly grabbed the handle and standing on his tiptoes, pushed it down, smiling happily when the water gushed into the trough. He repeated the pumping for as long as he could, but all too quickly his arms and shoulders began to ache. Jim did not want to admit that he was getting tired, but his uncle knew and said, “How about if I do it for a while?”

 

Once the water neared the top, Jim leaned over cupping some water into his hands. “This is the best tasting water I’ve ever had,” Jim thought to himself. He slurped several handfuls into his dry mouth.

 

Looking over at his nephew, Leon asked with a twinkle in his eye, “Did you see that fish drop into the water from this here pump?”

 

“What fish?”

 

“Why, that fish that came right out of the pump into the trough. I thought sure you would have seen him while you were drinking the water.”

 

“No, sir. I didn’t see any fish.” Jim wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve and earnestly looked in the water.

 

“Well, he must still be in there.” Uncle Leon leaned over the trough looking for the mysterious fish. “Now isn’t that something. I can’t see him anywhere.” He peeked a look at his nephew, who now had eyes as big as saucers. “I wonder if you accidentally swallowed that poor little fish while you were drinking all that water.”

 

Jim stepped back from the trough and began to rub his stomach. “I don’t think so, sir.” The minutes passed and Uncle Leon continued to wonder out loud what happened to the fish. Jim began to imagine that the fish was swimming in his stomach. “I don’t feel so good,” Jim said as he stretched down on the cool grass.

 

Seeing that his nephew was fearful and feeling sick, Uncle Leon laid down next to him and pointed up towards the clouds. “Jim, look at that cloud up there. See the little one next to the big puffy cloud?”

 

He waited until Jim nodded his head and said, “I think so.”

 

“It kind of looks like a fish, doesn’t it? I wonder if that is the fish that was in the trough.”

 

Jim looked at his uncle, then up at the clouds, and then back at his uncle who was smiling from ear to ear. Uncle Leon laughed and began to tickle Jim’s stomach. “Or, is that fish still here? Where is that fish?”

 

Jim laughed and joked right back while he patted his uncle’s stomach. “No, I think that fish is right here!”

 

Soon they both stopped laughing and just looked at one another. “I hope I don’t tease you too much,” Uncle Leon said.

 

“Oh no, Sir.” Jim looked at his uncle and went on to say, “I like to tease my younger brothers. Mother is always telling me not to do it too much. She doesn’t want them to cry.”

 

“Well, I would never want to make you cry.” Uncle Leon put his big hand on Jim’s head. “Do you know why?” Jim slowly shook his head back and forth not wanting his uncle to remove his hand. “I love you too much to ever make you cry for any reason.”

 

With tears in his eyes, Jim whispered, “I love you, too.”

 

They spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun, the warm breeze, and just being next to one another in the grass, watching the clouds drift by. It was a special day that Jim always remembered with a smile.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

KAREN INGALLS RWISA AUTHOR PAGE

 

Ultimate Reader Gift Basket Giveaway!

KindleBookReview

Hey, Peeps. Here’s a chance for you to win the Ultimate #Reader gift basket. Just click the link and enter at the #1 site for reader giveaways–The Kindle Book Review. It’s easy & fun. If you love reading, enter now; giveaway ends Aug. 31.
Click the link ~> https://wp.me/P2H01p-ad7

There a bunch of great books & new authors in here to check out! My book, SEEKER, is part of it and it’s only 99 cents for the month of August!

Seeker 3D

 

Introducing INKLO: Viral Reading Experience

INKLO emoji

INKLO is a brand-new viral story-telling and reading app and I’m privileged to be one of 4 launch partners helping to get it started.

Here’s how it works: head over to the App Store or your Android app store and download Inklo. Then check out the authors and give them a follow. Be sure to turn on notifications so you’re notified whenever a new weekly episode drops. It’s a ton of fun! You can comment and interact with other readers. IT’S ALL FREE!

www.inklo.com

My story is called MOVING ON and is a young adult ghost story/romance. Check it out and give me a follow!

MovingOn

Kylie Davis is a high school senior who’s smart, pretty, and should be on top of the world. But her boyfriend’s death in a fiery car wreck at the end of their junior year changed everything. After a summer abroad, trying to learn to deal with her overwhelming grief, she’s finally ready to get back to her life. That’s a tall order when her boyfriend, who is extremely dead, shows up at school. Having Drew’s ghost follow her around is not the best way to get over him, but he says he has unfinished business before he can move on to wherever he’s supposed to be. He has no idea what this unfinished business is—only that it has something to do with her.

Her world is rocked again when the police announce Drew’s death wasn’t an accident. Kylie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and figure out who killed him, but is the danger all in the past?

Sun-Kissed Instafreebie Reads

Sun-Kissed IF Reads Shareable image

 Kick-start your summer!

48 FREE Young Adult and Clean Romance stories from 48 new and best-selling authors. Fill your Kindle (or another e-reader) and enjoy reading all summer.

YA Contemporary

 

 

How to Begin Again by Cindy Ray Hale

Will Hannah Miller learn to move on from her ex-boyfriend so she can make room in her heart for the hottie next door?

 

 

V is For Virgin by Kelly Oram

Girl determined to stay Virgin until married. Obnoxious rock star determined to change her mind. Chaos and romance ensue!

 

 

Under a New York Skyline Boxed Set

In a city of millions, can she find her one in a million?
Romance in New York has never been so loud with hip hop, so frenzied with Comic Con fans, or so alluring with pop sensations.

Better Off by Yesenia Vargas

Ariana’s not supposed to have a boyfriend, but she doesn’t mind breaking the rules for Carlos. What happens when Carlos isn’t the Prince Charming she was hoping for?

Holding On by Rachael BrownellBecca has to choose between the love she has for her best friend, Brad, and something new and exciting with Ethan. Will she hold on to her past, or move forward with her future?  

 

Summer’s End by Sally Henson

Sixteen-year-old Regan Stone has a plan and she’s got to stick to it if she want’s to make it out of her gossip-ridden small town. But when her best her best-friend-since-forever, Lane, confesses his secret to her, she has until summer’s end to choose between following her dreams or taking a chance at love.

 

Always Anika: Ten Years Later by Kelsie Stelting

One big white dress. One bouquet of flowers. Two high school sweethearts.

 

 

Malignant by Emily Kazmierski

When Reese’s mom is diagnosed with cancer, Reese has two choices: find strength and perseverance to care for her mom, or disengage from the family like her dad. What will Reese choose?

Naked and Far From Home by J.P. GriderNaked and Far From Home by J.P. GriderTia loves Clinton; Clinton has a secret. Will sharing that secret affect their love for each other?
 

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Grow Up by Rachel Shane

A retelling of Peter Pan set in modern day high school in which Wendy gets caught in the middle of a prank war and a war for her heart between two rival lacrosse captains, Peter and James.

 

Those Black Wings by Melinda R. Cordell

Kay knows she cannot stay with Carter. She knows that his next suicide attempt may be fatal. But she wants, above all, to live her life on her own terms – not on somebody else’s.

Moon River by Amber D. TranMoon River follows the childhoods of Abigail and Ryan as they grow up together in northern West Virginia.

YA Urban Fantasy

New Orleans Magic by J.L. Hendricks

The Pussycat Dolls meet Urban Fantasy.
Jenna, and her 3 adopted sisters, always believed magic wasn’t real, and their gimmicks were harmless. Until a vampire tried to use a death spell on Jenna and the whole world of magic and shifters opened up to her and her sisters.

Discovery by Char Webster

What would you do if you suddenly discovered that the people around you are much more than they seem? How would you react if you suddenly could read people’s thoughts? Would you trust the sexy mysterious stranger who seems to appear everywhere you go? Discover the dangers of being Gifted.

YA Paranormal

Seeker by Amy Reece

Ally is 16 and psychic; Jack is 18 and trouble. Will they be able to save a friend in trouble before it’s too late? Will they find love along the way?

 

The Witchling Apprentice by G. Kristin McMichael

Cassie thought magic would be her key to fitting in. She soon finds that magic isn’t the only thing kept hidden in her small community. There are other things that go bump in the night, and they all seem to want a piece of her.

Shadowed Truth by Wendi L. Wilson

A companion novella to the Shadowed Series, this story follows Melanie parents, Elaine and Darren, through their whirlwind romance and the series of events that led to their ultimate separation.

 

 

 

 

Heritage by Melle Amade

Dutch born, Matilde, the estranged niece of Lord Van Arend, barters with her scheming mother to spend the summer with the only friends she’s ever had, the Ravensgaard at Castle Brannach. The only problem is, what she has offered her mother is information, information that will break her friends’ trust and begin the downfall of the regime that governs them all.

 Moment for Tara by Tamar Sloan

Tara grew up playing and laughing with her twin best friends, life is uncomplicated and carefree — until she falls for one of them. The wrong one.

Dead Love by Gabby Griffin

Will Lace help the ghost in her new house find peace? Or will their twisted pasts drown them?

Discerning Spirits by Kellie McAllen

To fulfill his destiny, he’ll have to uncover hers.

 

 

 

Galdoni by Cheree Alsop

“This is the Arena, and here we live to die.” These are the words carved into a holding cell where genetically-altered gladiators, the winged humans called Galdoni, are trained to fight. Kale, rescued by three high school students and nursed back from the brink of death, is given the chance to experience life as a human.

 

Cursed by the Gods by Raye Wagner

Even though mortals think the gods have disappeared, Olympus still rules. Demigods have elite hunters who viciously kill monsters. And Hope has a deadly secret…

Science Fiction Romance/Fairy Tale Retelling

Alien Frog Prince by J.M. Page and Juno Wells

Prince Zakrom is long past the age of finding his One, the girl who will break the curse that keeps him hideous. Until he meets the scattered but beautiful Earth girl and instantly knows she’s for him.

YA Time Travel

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

A teen time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward….

YA Fantasy

Protector by Joanne Wadsworth

Faith never expected to encounter Magio, a planet with two warring countries. Now, she must battle against both love and land if she wants to remain with her soul-bound mate.

Clicks by Amy Evans

Cami is looking forward to a summer of lifeguard training and having fun. But all of that changes when she gets hurt, falls in love, and those the cares about most begin to drown.

A Curse of Stone and Moonlight by Ashley Maker

Cursed to become a marble statue in a wicked sorcerer’s private art gallery, a teenage girl must find a way out before she’s trapped forever.

When I Wake by Lara Ann

Ash has a secret, it has the chance to make or break her.
She confides in Bentley, but has she made a huge mistake?

Defects by Sarah Noffke

The society one girl thought was protecting her has actually been betraying her, but she has no idea how to break away from its authority without hurting everyone she loves.

Rebel’s Blade by Frost Kay

War. Secrets. Betrayal. Meet Sage: Loyal. Fierce. Sassy. Strong. Daughter, swordmaker, spy, and rebellion leader. Meet your next epic adventure.

 Shades of Valhalla by Ellis Logan

One girl to save the world, or end it… Dark fae, myth and magic.

 

 

 

Cendrilla by Cordelia Castel

When Cendrilla is forcibly betrothed to Bluebeard, a Lord known for killing his wives, she escapes to the capital with his slave, Jack. But Rilla soon finds that Bluebeard and his cut-throat mercenaries are in hot pursuit, desperate to exact their vengeance.

YA Thriller

Rhinoceros Summer by Jamie Thornton

LETHAL AMBITION…A rare rhinoceros on the brink of extinction. A trophy hunter on the verge of bankruptcy. A young photographer desperate for fame.

YA Dystopian

Sand Runner by Vero Brook

In a dystopian future, 16-year-old Kaiden Reed risks his life in a brutal race to impress the girl of his dreams. But can he trust the person who recruited him – or are they using him to carry out their own bold and reckless agenda?

Elimination by Marina Epley

For fans of The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and X-Men. Immerse yourself in a gritty YA dystopian adventure with telepathy, hypnosis and mind reading.

Western Romance

Fools Rush In by Eveline Hart

Join Anna Murphy as she finds love in the American Frontier. This is a sweet Mail Order Bride Romance you are sure to love!

Rodeo Knights Boxed Set 1-3

Someone is trying to sabotage the rodeo circuit the Knight brothers hold so dear. Together they must find out who is responsible before someone gets killed!

Lizzie by Bethany Rose

Lizzie Hazlitt is forced to leave Dalton, Wyoming to escape her cruel and overbearing mother. Joseph Kendicott is advertising for a mail-order bride; he’s in trouble with the law and he figures that having a wife is better than any disguise.

Chick Lit

Smile… You are Famous by Mary Kelly Reed

A few weeks before her wedding, Laura discovers that everyone is identifying her with Daphne, a comic series heroine. At first, she smiles at the whims of the universe, but her smile fades away when she realizes that Daphne and she are so alike because she was created by David, her ex-fiancé.

loveandpizza.it by Daniela Pesconi-Arthur

An unexpected job interview via Skype and a job offer in Napoli help just graduated Dr. Carolina decide to embark on the craziest adventure of her life. In Napoli, she will find out that choosing a pizza topping isn’t the most difficult thing to do, after all…

Sweet Contemporary Romance

 

Thanks to You by Emma Kingsley

Horse trainer Ashley considers billionaire Robert King another profit-obsessed client. Just as she lets Robert in, the uncertain future of Sunny Grove Stables threatens to tear them apart. Will King’s plan to take control of the situation push Ashley away or bring them together?

 

Sweet Tricks by Maggie Dallen

Tabitha has given up bad boys once and for all, but that’s easier said than done when she finds herself sharing an apartment with Jack, the bad boy to end all bad boys. As if their instant attraction doesn’t make staying away hard enough, why does her new bad boy have to be so nice?

Full Circle by Sophie Moran

Cassie comes home to Dragonfly Lake to recover from a broken engagement. Once home, she encounters her first love…who now works for her father.

Time For You by J.L. Starr

Being assistant curator at a historical railroad museum isn’t as glamorous as Amy thought it would be. Though the job does have its perks, such as when she can touch the heart of a sweet little boy, then win the heart of his father.

 

The Modern Earl by Caroline Johnson

Meg is starring in a Regency-era play opposite of Vincent Davenport, a famous Broadway actor, but he’s also well-known for his bad attitude. There’s chemistry onstage, but offstage they can’t get along. Will the terrible dynamic ruin the play, or will Vincent prove to be more than meets the eye?

Science Fiction Fantasy Romance

Whispers of a Faded Dreamer by Celesta Thiessen

A love-starved young woman slips away every night to adventure with dragons, mermaids, and even aliens but then she wakes up.

Historical Romance

A Love Divided by Belle McInnes

Escape to the borderlands of Scotland in the time of Mary Queen of Scots, where a feisty English heiress meets a brawny Scottish laird who should be her mortal enemy – but a shared love for horses draws them together and kindles a passion that respects no boundaries, endangering more than just their hearts…

Book Blitz and Guest Post: Cassandra Fear

IMG_3227

Guest Post:

Today we have a great guest post from Cassandra Fear, author of THE FLAMES Trilogy! She’s got some great advice for selling your book online. Welcome, Cassandra!

How to Sell Your Book Online

There are many ways to sell your book online. There are so many avenues you can go down now with social media. Let’s start with the big ones.

  1. Facebook. There are tons of ways to get noticed on Facebook now. You can utilize your author page and join in author takeovers. Have release parties. And, don’t forget you can also run ads on Facebook and target a specific audience. If you can master the Facebook add, it can help you sell books. I’ve seen people succeed with these, but I myself haven’t mastered them yet.
  2. Instagram. Post pictures of your paperback and doll it up. Set a scene. There is a huge market for this on Instagram with the bookstagrammers. Just don’t forget to hashtag. You can also post teasers and buy links and get the word out about your amazing book.
  3. Twitter. I don’t know how well twitter does for book sales, but I believe it can help if you use the right hashtags. For me, I use twitter to connect with other authors. We are such a bit community and the support is amazing to have on your side. So, even though I’m sure Twitter can help with sales, I’m not sure how well it does.
  4. Ads with online sites. Such as Bookbub (very expensive) and on down the line to other sites like Bookshark. There are a ton of places you can book adds, especially if your book is free or 99 cents for a short period of time. The more downloads you get helps get your book out there and might make the reader buy your next book, so running free sales can help and you might see a boost in sales for a while, but it won’t last forever.
  5. And finally, do book blitzes and blog tours. These are crucial for a new author to get their name out in the industry. You need reviews and blog tours can get people who love to review to read your book. It can help spread your name all over the internet, too. So, do them as much as you can.

Either way, your first book might not bring you a ton of sales. The best thing to do is write more and write frequently. If you do this and release more books, chances are more people will find you then. But, in the meantime, keep posting those buy links whenever you can. Just don’t make that all you post. Nobody likes a spammer.

Series Title: The Flames Trilogy

Author: Cassandra FearIMG_3227

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Author Bio:

Cassandra Fear lives in Ohio with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Hiking, taking care of her fish tank and reading are her favorite hobbies. She loves chocolate, hates driving in the snow and could eat macaroni and cheese every day. In her spare time, she loves to write, and has always dreamed of becoming an author.

Author Website:

http://www.cassandrafear.com

Giveaway URL: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Buy Links:

Above The Flames (Book 1)

US- http://tinyurl.com/kslo4ex

UK- http://tinyurl.com/m85s6aw

CA- http://tinyurl.com/ya8py6ve

Surrounded By Flames (Book 2)

US- http://tinyurl.com/kjl8v93

UK- http://tinyurl.com/kuqjxqm

CA- http://tinyurl.com/y6wkxhxk

EXCERPTS:

Excerpt 1:

 

She continued toward the sidewalk, taking in all the small shops that lined Main Street. Each side looked the same. Blood splatters. Broken windows. Glass sprinkling the street. She saw another body sprawled face down on the sidewalk, a puddle of crimson soaking into the concrete, turning dark brown. It seemed like she was walking through a haunted house, not the town she fell in love with.

Jasmine covered her mouth and she gasped as she passed Mr. Gregory’s barber shop, where Pa always got his hair cut. Mr. Gregory sat with his back to the wall in the doorway; his neck cut open and red streams flowing down it.

Footsteps pounded the asphalt behind her, and she knew the others had joined her, but it didn’t register. She rushed to the barbershop and grabbed the barber’s wrist, checked for a pulse, and let his dead arm fall to the ground. It landed with a thud that echoed off the walls in the small entrance. She cringed at the sight of blood coating his skin. Her stomach roiled and she stepped backward until she slammed into the wall behind. She turned her head, not wanting to see what lay before her.

Caim came forward and crouched down next to the body. “His body’s still warm. They can’t be far.”

“Everyone stay close. We don’t know what we are walking into,” Lamia said quietly but firmly.

Jasmine walked forward mechanically, and Beau matched her pace. She took steps, one after the other, like a zombie. Trash littered the sidewalks. Glass shards crunched under her feet as she followed Caim. The coppery smell of blood filled her senses. Dead bodies surrounded her. So many bodies.

Her voice shook. “Is there anyone left alive?”

 

 

Excerpt 2:

 

Jasmine tapped under his chin and made him draw his eyes back up to hers. “Listen, I get it. The could haves will drive you nuts, though, so I suggest you let it go and focus on the now. It doesn’t matter what the angels did wrong or what they did right. It matters that we are here, now, to stop the demons. Who knows, maybe this really is our destiny. All I know is I’m ready to fight. Aren’t you?”

He smiled and leaned closer to her. “You know, you can be very inspirational when you aren’t sulking.”

“I don’t sulk.” She laughed because even though she’d denied it, she knew she did sulk. A lot.

“Mmm. I think you do. We will just have to agree to disagree.”

Their faces were inches apart now, and Jasmine wanted to grab a fistful of his shirt and pull him the rest of the way to her. She wanted their lips to crash together, to feel the passion that threatened to erupt every time they were together. Just as she was about to let herself do exactly what she wanted, the sound of wings flapping through the sky made her look up. And she froze.

“Uh, Amon, look up there.” Jasmine pointed.

“I’d rather not,” he replied. When Jasmine peered at him, he was staring hard at her lips.

She smiled despite herself, and put a couple fingers under his chin, forcing his head toward the sky. “I really think you need to.”

Amon’s jaw dropped open. “It’s an angel.”

 

Excerpt 3:

 

Amon narrowed his eyes. “Fine. I guess I know now that I shouldn’t try to help you.”

Jasmine huffed. “Yeah, because you’re so great at helping. You took Beau’s side.”

“I took no side.” Amon took a step closer.

“And you act like you know everything.” Jasmine pressed her back into the tree.

“I do no such thing.” Another step.

“You are so infuriating. Ugh!” She threw her hands in the air. “I can’t stand talking to you. You’re like an old-fashioned know-it-all. You’re never wrong. But you’re always wrong.”

“That makes no sense.” He stood right in front of her now.

Jasmine pushed her face into his. “You drive me crazy.”

“You were already crazy. I didn’t have to drive you there.”

“You…you jerk!”

Amon shoved his fists against the tree, boxing her in. “Oh, now we are name-calling? Fine! You’re nothing but a…a…”

“Ha. You can’t even think of anything.” She gave him a smug smile. “I guess you don’t know everything, huh?”

“You know what, Jasmine. You infuriate me. I try to help you, to show you what I have observed by the story you share, and you treat me like I’m a plague upon you. I have learned a valuable lesson today.” Their eyes locked.

She raised her chin. “And what’s that.”

Amon’s voice softened. “I don’t even know why you are so mad.”

She whispered, “Because I know you’re right.”

Silence stretched. Jasmine kept her gaze locked on Amon’s brown eyes. Those big honey brown eyes. Her breath quickened and she parted her lips. Her fingers trembled, so she shoved them behind her and grabbed hold of her shirt. Amon leaned closer, his warm breath caressing her ear. “Then stop fighting me.”