Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take the Monkeys and Run - A Review!

I was so excited to read Lee Libro's review of Take the Monkeys and Run. Among other very kind words, she said: "Cantwell is an adept writer with the ability to create a sense of real danger balanced with comic relief."

Please feel free to read the full review at her website, Literary Magic.

Stop by Fiction for Dessert tomorrow to learn who wins a copy of Chesapeake Crimes: They Had it Comin'. You still have a chance to be entered. Just comment on this post! :-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

"What the Leaves Won't Hold" (Part 7) by Leslie Brown

I am so pleased to be featuring a flash fiction piece today, from a wonderful writer and previous contestant in one of my flash fiction contests. I have no doubts that you will love this story as much as I do.

"What the Leaves Won't Hold" (Part 7) by Leslie Brown

I heard the thunder rumbling somewhere far away. I hadn't put much faith in the rains actually wetting the patches of dirt that dotted what used to be a lush and thriving garden. "What are we doing?" I wasn't sure if I said that out loud. I thought it had come out as a whisper, but it could have just been a loud thought. I said those words to myself so much I couldn't be sure anymore whether they came out.

"Life is too short." Was that your voice or mine? I knew you must be feeling the same cold rush of time blow past your face. How could you not? "We'll have her for less time now than we have had until this point." That was me. That one I couldn't keep in.

I walked outside to see how far away the dark clouds were. I could feel the temperature dip and the wind tousle my hair as the first drops fell. "It's a shame, not knowing what you should know in the first place. No one understands until it's over." You always made sense. A loud crack of thunder, a flash of lightning, and the skies opened. I thought the porch would keep us dry, but the rain poured in sideways soaking us both.

"When you're in it, you're not aware of everything sliding past you. You just laugh and go on like it will be that way forever. Then, one day you look at the faces of these people and realize they've changed. Everything is different and you've got nothing to show for the passing time."

A pause in the downpour effectively caused a lull in the conversation. It was the deep breath before the plunge.

"What are we doing?" It didn't matter who said it anymore. The fact that it was being said at all was enough.

The rain was all but gone now. It wasn’t enough to do much good for very long. My eyes burned as I watched your mouth form the words, but all I could hear were a few droplets the silver maple beside our house clung to as it reluctantly gave up and let them fall.

Leslie M. Brown lives in Richmond, VA where she is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She is currently moonlighting as a mother of two, keeper of the peace, domestic engineer and ruler of a partnership. She loves both the beach and Chuck E. Cheese. In addition to her blog,Letters to Punkin,Leslie is beginning her second blog on sustainable living, where she will divulge every facet of working with institutions of higher learning to create alternative energy sources on her fifty acres of land in rural Virginia.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Check out Zoe Winters' Blog for a KINDLE GIVEAWAY!

So, author Zoe Winters is offering a chance to win a Kindle, while promoting the release of her omnibus novel, Blood Lust. How cool is that? There are many ways to enter, so rather than tell you myself, I'll let Zoe speak for herself from her blog.

So pop on over there, support a great author, and learn how to win a Kindle. :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010


A reminder to all -- Submissions for the Short Story Contest close Tuesday, August 31 at midnight EST, so if you're working on those stories, or have one hiding in your drawer, send 'em on in! And the word count is small, 1200 words or less, so Flash Fiction is welcome as well!

The rules are minimal:

1200 words or less
keep it clean (my kids read this blog)
any topic you desire

That's not too hard, eh?

Email your winning tale to kcantwell02@comcast.net and put in the subject (all caps):

The contest will be judged on originality, character development, plot and descriptive narrative.

The Prize: $25.00 Amazon gift card and your story posted on Fiction For Dessert. TOMORROW I'll be announcing my two guest judges!

Now go, write, and HAVE FUN!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Sit back and enjoy this beautiful trailer for Shawn Lamb's Allon, Book 1

To learn more about Shawn and the Allon books, go to Allon Books.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Giveaway: Chesapeake Crimes: They Had it Comin'

It's my FIRST Giveaway Wednesday!

Today, I'm offering copies to two lucky readers of the mystery short story collection, Chesapeake Crimes: They Had it Comin' which contains my own story, "The Recollections of Rosabelle Raines," as well as 19 other stories by acclaimed mystery writers such as Donna Andrews, GM Malliet, Debbi Mack, Mary Ellen Hughes and others.

How do you win? Just leave a comment here! Then check back next week where I will announce the two winners. How easy is that? :-)

Monday, August 23, 2010

New to Fiction For Dessert

So these last few months, I have been playing around with the format for this blog, offering different types of posts such as the new Author Interviews, etc. -- basically trying to see what works and what interests my readers.

I would love to offer more short stories, but have found them hard to come by on a regular basis, so I have decided to settle (for the time being) on this line-up for Fiction For Dessert:

Fiction Mondays: anything fiction-related. It could be a short story, it could be an excerpt from a new novel or an author-interview.

Giveaway Wednesdays: THIS IS NEW!!!! I will now be offering a chance for readers to win books from authors who have been featured on Fiction Mondays. I hope everyone finds this fun. Every Wednesday I will announce the book giveaway. Readers can enter a chance to win the book by commenting on the post. The following Wednesday, I will announce the winner(s) and announce a new giveaway. SO BE SURE TO STOP BY THIS WEDNEDAY, AUG. 25th for the FIRST.

Book Video Fridays!: I will continue to post a new book video every Friday. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am!

Then, on a regular basis, I will continue to offer Short Story/Flash Fiction Contests. These have been very popular, and I have to admit, I have great fun with them. So tell all of your writer friends out there to keep a look out. We already have several entries for the current contest, which ends August 31st, so if you have a story or are thinking of writing one, now is the time! (See earlier post for contest rules)

I'm going to add polls in the sidebar as well, once I figure out how to do that! :-)

Basically, I aim to please, in the world of fiction, so always feel free to leave comments if there is a feature you'd like to see added, or one you're already enjoying, just let me know!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Please enjoy this sweet video for a book that I have read and HIGHLY RECOMMEND: A Scattered Life, by Karen McQuestion. Available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

To learn more about Karen McQuestion and her other books, check out her website, Karen McQuestion. To buy A Scattered Life, click HERE

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Take the Monkeys and Run - Still .99 cents on Kindle!

Due to the popularity of the .99 cent price for Take the Monkeys and Run, I have extended the special price until the release of The Chronicles of Marr-nia. So if you've considered checking it out, now is the time! Click HERE to purchase from Amazon now.

I am also proud to say that the customer reviews are coming in, and they're VERY nice! Words like, "Hysterical" "Fun" and "Laugh out loud" are being used to describe my humorous mystery. I hope you'll check them out. In the meantime, here's a taste of Barbara Marr:

The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot. I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty. And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air. Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka. Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness. “Three thirty in the morning. Am I totally insane, Indy?”


“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat. What’s the big deal? My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated. Pshaw I say. Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy. As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr. I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator. I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity. Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses then flip them for a profit. In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments. I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenage daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage. Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond. True love. True fidelity and commitment. That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out. So perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements for which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brenner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin. He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters. We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on You-Tube and got over twenty-five views. It was very exciting. Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies. I love the movies. Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science-fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep. Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name, ChickAtTheFlix.com, with the intention of building a movie review website. I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three. Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.

After putting the girls to bed, I needed a way to keep my mind off Howard. I plotted and planned a grand design. The website would contain reviews of current release movies as well as DVD releases of older classics. I would also have a weekly blog where I waxed enthusiastic on different subjects of the cinema. Since I had just recently watched a Men of Mystery Film Festival on the Classic Movie Channel, my first blog title would be, “Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes? Whodunnit Better?”

At two a.m., I was too tired to think about the website, but too upset about my marriage to sleep, so I turned on the TV. Movie fare included The First Wives Club, A Bill of Divorcement, An Unmarried Woman and The Breakup on HBO. Disgusted, I turned off the TV, turned out the lights and contemplated learning voodoo so I could hex Howard with a festering urinary tract infection.

By three a.m., I had been crying for at least twenty minutes when I heard the rumble of a truck outside my bedroom window. Suddenly, I had something else to occupy my frazzled mind. The truck was back at House of Many Bones.

And that was how I ended up outside on a cold, fall night with no shoes on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GREAT Giveaway Website!

Check out this great website, Giveaway Scout to find out about more contests and giveaways. They search the internet to provide the most recent contests and giveaways available on the web. How cool is that?

And don't forget, our own Short Story Contest has a deadline of August 31st. Any fiction short story up to 1200 words. Enter today! Scroll down a few posts to find all of the rules. Winner receives a $25.00 gift certificate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Still Waters by Misha Crews - An Excerpt

A tragic death... A disturbing photo that can't be explained... A woman drowning in an ocean of secrets... In 1950s Virginia, beautiful, serious Jenna Damont seems to have found the life she's always wanted. But underneath the shallow gleam of her bright suburban world, murky truths are waiting to surface. On the morning that her husband dies in a tragic accident, Jenna finds a shocking photograph of him in the arms of a beautiful woman. And before she can ask him about it, he's gone forever. Five years later, Jenna has buried her questions and remade her life. But the reappearance of an old love stirs up guilty questions, and she realizes that some secrets weren't meant to be hidden. The deeper she dives for answers, the darker the water gets. How will she find happiness for herself and her family, when every step she takes towards the strange and awful truth seems to lead her right back to her own home shores?

This is the story of Still Waters by Misha Crews. And now, Misha has allowed me to share with you a chapter from this, her newest novel:

Chapter Two

There was a tuna casserole in the refrigerator. Jenna stared without interest at the wax paper-covered container sitting on the metal shelf. She could see the noodles and chunks of canned tuna pressed up against the clear glass sides of the dish, along with small grayish-looking balls which were probably peas. Stella, taking care of her again. Jenna tried to muster a smile as she closed the refrigerator door.

She fiddled with the belt of her robe. After she had scraped herself off the kitchen floor and dried her eyes, she had gone downstairs to the basement laundry and had taken off her funeral clothes. She was sick of them. She dumped them in the far corner, hoping they would get mildewed and wrinkled so she'd have to throw them away. Or burn them. The idea of burning them gave her a vague glow of pleasure.

Jenna had fished an old robe out of a box of clothes that she had planned to give away. She'd shaken it out, smelled it. It smelled slightly damp, but it was better than the idea of going upstairs to their bedroom – her bedroom – and finding something up there to wear. Jenna wasn't sure when she was going to make it up there, but she knew damn right well it wasn't tonight. So she'd stripped down to her bare skin and donned the robe, tying the belt in a tidy bow at her side.

And before she'd left the basement she'd picked her clothes up off the floor and hung them neatly on one of the spare hangers in the basement closet. A soldier's daughter does not leave her clothes piled in the corner, regardless of the circumstance.

Upstairs, Jenna had pulled the compact out of her purse and looked at herself in the mirror. She regarded her reflection gravely, without passion, taking no pleasure in the beautiful face looking back at her. She brushed her thick, dark hair, which was already drying into soft waves where it grazed against her shoulders, and fastened it neatly with a comb. Out of habit, and because she couldn't stand the shiny, unfinished look of bare skin, she powdered her nose lightly.

After inspecting the refrigerator and finding it full but uninteresting, she didn't know what to do with herself. She wandered through the dining room and stood in the middle of the living room floor. Fritz followed close by her side and stood with his head under her hand, panting and smiling up at her. Occasionally the big dog would nudge her with his cold wet nose and whimper slightly. Then he would look toward the door and shift restlessly, as if wondering when the other third of their pack was coming home.

Didn't he realize by now, Jenna wondered, that that third wasn't coming home at all?

The vast quietness of the small house echoed through her, touching all the empty spots inside her. With only the yellow glow from the one lamp next to the window, and the light spilling out of the kitchen door across the dining room, the place looked like a stranger's home. For a moment Jenna could almost imagine that she'd stumbled into the wrong house by mistake.

Or maybe it was the wrong life altogether.

She placed her hands flat against her cheeks, breathing deeply. Get a hold of yourself, she thought sternly. There are going to be plenty of lonely nights in this place, so you'd better get used to it. Don't fall apart now.

Her eyes wandered around the room. A solitary window faced the front of the house, where Bud had always planned to build a fireplace some day. There was a walnut sideboard in that spot now, a good piece that she'd picked out herself. On the top were several family photos – Jenna and Bud's wedding picture, her father looking smart in his uniform, Bill and Kitty at their twentieth anniversary party. The one of her father was taken only a month before he had passed away. Happier days. Happier times.

Lightening flashed outside, glinting off the sleek silver frames around the photos. Jenna blinked at the unexpected glare reflecting off the dustless surface of the sideboard. And all of a sudden, something clicked. Dustless surface, gleaming silver frames. She turned around slowly, surveying the room with an accusing eye. The oak floors had been swept clean. The cushions on the sofa looked freshly plumped. The magazines on the coffee table were laid out in a neat fan, the way Jenna herself would never lay them out.

Someone had cleaned.

It wasn't Stella, she knew that. Jenna had specifically told Stella not to clean. Feed Fritz and take him for walks, yes. But do not clean. And Stella would have done just as Jenna asked without questioning why. That's the kind of friend she was.

No, it had to have been some of Bud's aunts. God knew there were enough of them. Blood-aunts, aunts by marriage…they had formed their own little flock at the funeral. Crepe-draped hens huddled together, clucking out their grief. At some point in the past two weeks they must have come in here, obnoxious with their intrusive helpfulness, and cleaned the house.

Fear seized Jenna with unexpected force, gripping her around the middle like a corset made of iron. Could they have found…?

In two steps she crossed the small living room to the sideboard. She yanked the top drawer so hard it slid all the way out, scattering the contents on the floor. The drawer continued its arc downward, striking her leg. It didn't hit her hard enough to hurt, but she yelled anyway. It felt good to yell.

She heard Fritz retreating into the kitchen and turned in time to see his backside round the corner as he slunk away. "Coward," she called to him, then immediately felt ashamed. Would she ever learn to behave like a human being?

Jenna turned back around and looked down at the papers littering the floor. She went nearly limp with relief when she saw a photograph sticking out from underneath last month's copy of Life magazine. Its back was to her, but she knew it was the one she was looking for.

Thank God. It was still there. No one had found it. Just the thought of trying to explain the thing to Bill and Kitty made her sick to her stomach. She couldn't even explain it to herself. But the fact that the photo was still in the drawer showed that no one was the wiser, because if one of Bud's aunts had seen it, they wouldn't have been able to resist taking it to his parents. And Jenna definitely would have heard about it if that were the case.

She knelt down and picked the photograph up by its corner. She started to turn it over, to look at it again, but changed her mind and instead slid it into the pocket of her robe. Out of sight, out of mind.

If only that were true.

Jenna began to pick up the contents of the drawer and replace them, stacking methodically as she went. This drawer was always full of old magazines, articles clipped from newspapers, grocery lists.

And as of two weeks earlier, the day her husband had died, it had also contained a photograph – the one which was now safely hidden in her pocket. The picture was of a smiling baby, held in the arms of a beautiful woman, who was herself held in the arms of a handsome man.

The man happened to be Jenna's husband. Jenna had no idea who the woman might be. Or the baby, for that matter.

She scooped the papers off the floor and back into the drawer, then stood and re-inserted the drawer into the bureau. And all of a sudden the grief and confusion overwhelmed her again, and she leaned forward. Her long body bowed almost in half as she bent slowly until her forehead rested on the cool solid wood of the sideboard. She felt the sobs well up inside her, a great vomiting mass of dry heaves about to erupt from her lips, and she pressed both hands to her mouth, determined not to give way.

Every night for the past fourteen days it had been the same thing. During the day she had managed to be relatively composed. But alone at night, in the big bed in Bill and Kitty's spare bedroom, it would all come raging back. Her face, pressed against the cool smoothness of the pillow, would flame with the loss, and the questions, and the anger, and the grief. Oh God. The grief was the worst. It was a physical thing, a tearing and splitting of the body, a jagged gaping hole in the soul, painting itself in fiery tones of red and orange.

Gone, her mind would scream at her. Gone, gone, gone.

Not coming back.

Always, her logical mind tried to grapple with the irrational, specious, offensive nature of what she had lost. It was an affront to reason to think that such a thing could be possible, that Bud could really and truly be gone. But always, eventually, the truth of the situation would settle in. Then grief would claim her, and she would weep out her anguish until she was drained into unconsciousness.

But not tonight. She couldn't lose control tonight. Because here, alone in this house except for the family dog, there was no reason to pull herself back out of the fog if she descended into it. No one to compose herself for at breakfast. No funeral to plan. Nothing except the dreary stretch of days rolling out in front of her, one day following the next until she died.

With effort, she pushed herself upward into a standing position. Trembling fingers straightened her robe, and re-tied the sash around her waist.

Get control, she told herself sternly. She took two deep breaths and commanded her heart to slow. She needed food, and a glass of milk, and then sleep. She planned to spend the night on the couch. She would read until she dozed off. And she would be back up at six the following morning like she always was. Routine equals control. It was the key to her survival.

She was turning around to head back to the kitchen when someone knocked on the front door.
At the same moment, a rumble of thunder vibrated through the atmosphere. Jenna jumped slightly, then paused. She looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost nine o'clock. Who would be knocking at this hour?

The knock was repeated, low but firm. Urgent. Fritz came barreling out of the kitchen, barking, his courage apparently restored.

Jenna hushed him sternly, although she was grateful for his presence. She swallowed. It must be Stella, coming to check on her. She would do something like that – walk across the street in the pouring rain to check on her bereaved friend.

Yes, it must be Stella.

All the same, Jenna put the chain on the hook before she raised her voice and called out, "Hello?" She paused, then swallowed and spoke again, trying to sound like she was in charge. "Who's there, please?"
The answer came just as a crack of thunder split the air. But Jenna heard the voice from the other side of the door, and she recognized it in spite of the storm. Her eyes widened and her hands begin to tremble.

She would have known that voice anywhere.

It was Adam.

Misha Crews, author of Homesong, which was a finalist for the Bronte Prize in Romantic Fiction, and the recently released, Still Waters. Misha Crews was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and has lived in and around DC all of her life. Raised in a family of book lovers, her mother first encouraged Misha to read by offering to pay her two cents per page of Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss. At first she was happy just to be raking in the cash, but before long she traded the pennies for the riches of the written word, and since that time she’s seldom been seen without a book in her hand, in front of her nose, or at the very least in her purse! You can learn more about Misha and read some of her short stories at her website, Misha Crews. Click HERE to purchase your own copy of Still Waters today!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Video Friday!

I love this book video for Elfhunter by CS Marks. I hope you do too!

You can learn more about Elfhunter and other books by CS Marks at Elf Hunter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And the Contest Judges Are . . .

Maria E. Schneider, author of the Sedona O'Hala mysteries, Executive Lunch and Executive Retention. Maria Schneider grew up in New Mexico where the desert environment required that she embellish the landscape with her imagination. After working in the computer industry for twelve years, she decided technology moved too slowly, and again put her imagination to work, creating messes and then inventing characters to handle all the clean up. Her stories have appeared in Coyote Wild Magazine, Dunesteef.com, TownDrunkMag.com and ClonePod.org. She currently resides near Austin, Texas where she is working on an urban fantasy novel due out this year. Check out Maria's other works on her Amazon Author Page and read her fun blog, Bear Mountain Books.

Misha Crews, author of Homesong, which was a finalist for the Bronte Prize in Romantic Fiction, and the recently released, Still Waters. Misha Crews was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and has lived in and around DC all of her life. Raised in a family of book lovers, her mother first encouraged Misha to read by offering to pay her two cents per page of Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss. At first she was happy just to be raking in the cash, but before long she traded the pennies for the riches of the written word, and since that time she’s seldom been seen without a book in her hand, in front of her nose, or at the very least in her purse! You can learn more about Misha and read some of her short stories at her website, Misha Crews

Thank you to both Maria and Misha for agreeing to judge this latest short story contest. And don't forget that CONTEST DEADLINE: AUGUST 31st. Get your stories in today! See contest rules in yesterday's post.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Just a reminder about the Short Story Contest - DEADLINE, August 31st, 2010.

The rules are minimal:

1200 words or less
keep it clean (my kids read this blog)
any topic you desire

That's not too hard, eh?

Email your winning tale to kcantwell02@comcast.net and put in the subject (all caps):

The contest will be judged on originality, character development, plot and descriptive narrative.

The Prize: $25.00 Amazon gift card and your story posted on Fiction For Dessert. TOMORROW I'll be announcing my two guest judges!

Now go, write, and HAVE FUN!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Naked Gardener: An Excerpt

In her first novel, award winning writer L B Gschwandtner explores the push and pull of love, a woman’s need to maintain her individuality within marriage, and the bonds that can make women stronger even when the world feels as if it’s breaking apart.

In a remote forest of northern Vermont, Katelyn Cross takes five women on a wilderness canoe trip where they hope to come up with ideas for saving their dying town. Although the river is not always what it seems and the women have not left their problems behind, a painting ritual creates a new way to look at the world – and themselves.

Artist Katelyn Cross loves Greg Mazur and he loves her. He wants to be married but a previous relationship that went sour has made Katelyn overly cautious about any permanent commitment. And what about Greg’s first wife? He lost her to cancer and Katelyn worries that he’s only looking for a replacement. What’s a girl to do? Canoe down a river with five gal pals, camp out, catch fish, talk about life and men. The problem is, a river can be as unpredictable as any relationship and just as hard to manage. On their last day, when the river turns wild, the women face the challenge of a lifetime and find that staying alive means saving themselves first while being open to help from a most unlikely source. As Katelyn navigates the raging water, she learns how to overcome her fear of change in a world where nothing stays the same. When Katelyn returns to her garden, she’ll face one more obstacle and the naked gardener will meet the real Greg Mazur.


I had no clear idea how much farther downriver the mill was. I looked for any landmarks that might give me some sense of where we were. Then the pull on the paddle shifted. The river flattened out and widened in front of us and the left bank dropped down to a flat plain. We followed a deep curve past a stand of willows whose trunks were half submerged by flood, branches deep in the water, leaves swishing with the current.

There it was.

Far ahead to our left, we could just make out the dock but its pilings were under water that swirled around their very tops under the dock stringers. Only the decking showed above the water. But just barely. At the same time there was a distinct change in the roar of water. A higher pitch. A whooshing sound. We were coming to the falls.

“Paddle hard on your right,” I yelled to Erica. I could only hope the others would follow what we did. I paddled for my life on the right side. The rushing water and the current made it impossible to meet the bank anywhere. I had been right. The dock would be our only option.

I tried to warn Erica that we were going to crash into the dock but the words never came and I thought she must realize we wouldn’t make a soft landing.

“Watch your head,” I managed to yell.

Erica paddled hard and nodded.

“Use your paddle to fend off,” I yelled again but I couldn’t tell if she heard anything above the roar of the water. I paddled harder and harder, keeping us on a course for that dock. As we headed straight for it, I estimated how many strokes it would take to reach it, how close I could come to the bank where it was anchored, how much room that would leave for the others. I hoped they were close behind us. I hoped Erica had heard me and could use her paddle to fend herself off the dock. At that point hope was all I had.

And then we were approaching the dock fast. We careened through the waves as I tried with all my strength to back paddle, to turn us sideways to the dock and yet keep us hugging the shoreline as close as possible to give the others space to ram the dock after us.

I managed to turn the canoe across the wave patterns. Water splashed my face and I was quickly soaked. We were so close I could see every board. I paddled and paddled and, as another wave splashed me smack across the face. Erica raised her paddle and extended her arms.

Good girl. I thought for an instant.

Then we rammed the dock with a great force that tipped me forward. As I went down, I held my paddle up and it smacked against the old wooden dock. The water pushed us up against it and we bobbed there with the waves running over the side of the canoe. I grabbed a dock board and then a hand came out of nowhere, took mine and pulled me up. Instinctively I reached up with my other hand and whoever was up there took that one and pulled me up and onto the dock where I lay with my waist against the deck boards and my feet still in the canoe.

“Help her,” I heard my own voice but it sounded far away. The world looked crazy from my perspective lying on the rough dock boards. Water lashed the dock and I saw trees scattered all over the land. It looked as if I had landed on some alien planet. Nothing made sense for those first seconds and then the disembodied hand let go of mine and I thought maybe I had only dreamed that part. That no one had pulled me up. At the same time I heard another canoe smack into the dock. Water splashed up the back of my legs and I felt the extra weight of my wet clothes dragging me back down into the canoe. I pulled with all the force I could muster, straining against the hard wood, aware that the rough edges were digging into my arms, tearing at the thin cotton of my summer sweatshirt. Then I clung to the dock with my arms splayed out in front of me, exhausted. By inching my way up, my legs cleared the canoe and I was able to hike one knee slowly over the deck boards. With more than half my weight now on the dock I could pull the other leg up until I rolled over on my side to get my wind back. I was facing the land and for the first time in what seemed like days I was not seeing water.

Above me patches of bright blue scattered through great clusters of rolling gray clouds. I heard the roar of the river and then another smack as the last canoe hit the dock. Someone yelled “Hold on.” Above the roar of the water, someone else screamed “Grab my hand.” I heard the water, heard the voices, but nothing seemed real at that moment. It was as if I was looking down from somewhere high up and all this was happening in slow motion a great distance from me.

A HIGHLY recommended read for any woman, The Naked Gardener can be purchased by clicking HERE for the Kindle Store. Also, don't forget to check out LB's website The Novelette where you can read many of her short stories as well as learn about the writing contest she sponsors.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Author Interview: LB Gschwandtner

Award winning author, LB Gschwandtner, stopped by Fiction For Dessert for an interview about her new novel, The Naked Gardener, a wonderful piece of women's fiction about a woman who gardens naked -- Katelyn Cross -- and a river canoe trip she takes with a group of women determined to save their dying town.

K: Welcome to Fiction for Dessert, LB

LB: Thanks, Karen. I appreciate the opportunity to chat.

K: I just finished reading your novel, The Naked Gardener, and loved it. What inspired you to write this story?

LB: Oh that’s so great to hear. No words are sweeter to an author than “I loved it.”

At a certain point in my life, I knew three women who gardened naked. They had different takes on why they did it but all of them felt it was really important to them. So I began to think about a woman – I called her Katelyn Cross – who goes to her garden naked and what that might mean and in what ways it would be liberating for her and important in her life. I think it’s Katelyn’s attempt towards finding her own spirit. The garden symbolizes her world. And the rocks in it keep getting in her way. So she has to deal with that.

K: Have you ever gardened naked yourself? As research? 

LB: Ha. No I haven’t because I’m allergic to everything that loves gardens. Mosquitoes, bees, wasps, poison ivy. But I do shower outside from spring through fall. Until you’ve taken off your clothes outside, you have no idea how free you can feel. Someone reviewed my book on Amazon and said: “The Naked Gardner makes you wonder why you wear so many clothes.” I love that!

K: Character is a very important element in this novel – of the women, do you have a favorite? If so, which one? (or you can talk about a few if you like)

LB: Of course I like Katelyn. She’s partly based on my dearest friend who is more like a sister than a friend. We grew up together. She’s the naked gardener in the book. But I think my favorite character after her is the old woman, Mrs. Ward. She’s seen it all and has this wonderful feisty spirit. She’s just gonna do what she wants and say what she thinks.

K: When you write characters, do you tend to draw from people in your own life?

LB: Fictional characters are always parts of the author and parts of other people. But in The Naked Gardener they’re also symbols. The seven female characters represent the different stages of a woman’s life. And the kinds of challenges a woman faces at each stage.

K: How about the river? It feels like a character of its own – was this your plan?

LB: Well the two natural settings in The Naked Gardener are the garden and the river. The garden is permanence; it stays in place; it’s where Katelyn plants and watches life take hold. The river is change; it’s always moving; on the river she has to adapt and accept new situations. In a way both the river and the garden feed Katelyn and in another way they both challenge her.

K: What do you hope women will take away from the Naked Gardener?

LB: First, I hope they’ll enjoy reading it, that it transports them to a special place. And then I hope the story resonates for the reader. These days women have so many possibilities that I think we can get overwhelmed by it all. I hope the book will help women get closer to their own spirit.

K: It feels like there could be more to the story of this town – do you have a sequel planned?

LB: I’m planning to continue with these women as they struggle to save their dying town. I want to write about women accomplishing something momentous while they’re also dealing with holding together their daily lives

K: I love your cover design – who did that for you?

LB: I did the drawing and a wonderful graphic designer named Neil MacLean designed the cover. Just a little plug here: The book will soon be available in a print version on amazon as well.

K: Will we be seeing other novels from LB Gschwandtner soon?

LB: I have a short story collection in production for the fall. And a middle grade novel about a serious girl and a tooth fairy with a big attitude.

K: I know you have written several fantastic short stories – where can people go to read them?

LB: Well the book is coming but right now they’re all on my web site, The Novelette.com

K: Thanks for giving me your time for this interview!

LB: Thank you, Karen!

Tomorrow we'll be posting an excerpt, but if you'd like to learn more about the Naked Gardener now, check it out on Amazon

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Video Friday!

Sit back and enjoy this touching book trailer for Maria Rachel Hooley's When Angels Cry.

You can learn more about When Angels Cry and Maria's other novels at Maria Rachel Hooley

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Color Me Grey by JC Phelps - An Excerpt

Today we're featuring an excerpt from Color Me Grey by JC Phelps - a novel that was a Quarterfinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Here's what Misty Baker at KindleObsessed.com has to say about this new novel on the scene:

"I have always loved books where female leads are thrust into, what is stereotypically, a man’s position, and this little ditty is no exception. J.C. Phelps did a wonderful job of weaving suspense, intrigue, and lust, resulting in what was a very pleasurable, and solid read. Each character had their own unique qualities and the use of “code names” while developing each was an engaging way to keep the reader guessing as to who they “really” were. The plot, however, is where Phelps’ writing really shined. As a reader the push and pull of a story is what keeps you reading. “Where is this going?” “I know something big is about to happen… but what is it?” This more than anything is what made “Color Me Grey” so exciting, you could always feel something bubbling just under the surface… even in the most sedated moments of monologue."

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Here's an excerpt to give you a taste . . .

Mr. Black was about 6’ 3” tall and had the look of a gangster. He had shaved his head and it looked good on him. His eyes were almost black and unforgiving. In the parking lot of the Skylight he had been sporting a look that said he was cooler than cool and he wore the same face today. He pointed down at me and in his rough, deep voice and said, “Up. Let’s go.” He hiked his thumb toward the door.

I got myself right up out of the chair with no hesitation. His demeanor demanded it. He was already out the door, but I made sure to be right behind him.

The elevator ride was uneventful and we went directly to Mr. Black’s SUV in the garage. He unlocked the passenger’s door and opened it for me. I stepped up into the vehicle and he shut the door for me.

We ended up in front of my place and Mr. Black got out and met me as I came out of the vehicle. He opened the back passengers door and pulled out what I thought had been his dry cleaning and a manila envelope. He handed me the bag-wrapped clothes hanger and said, “That’s a business suit for you. I think we got your size right.” He still held the envelope as he walked me to my door.

“You need to wear that suit for this job. You have forty-eight hours to complete your assignment.” He handed me the envelope and said, “Everything you need to know is in here. Good luck.” With that he was gone.

I got into my house and went directly to my room. I hung the outfit on the door and sat on the bed and opened the envelope. Inside I found a piece of folded paper and a floppy disk.

The paper read:
First Federal Bank
17721 1st Ave.

Find and retrieve file name FALSEPRETENSE

You must find a way to get this file from the bank’s computer database from inside the bank.

It must be brought to the office by 0930 hours, Wednesday.

Use of excessive force is not an option.
This is a covert act and is to go undetected.
Okay. I had to break into the bank’s computer and steal a file. I could do this from home! I suppose the bank was testing its people for security reasons. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get on one of their computers. Getting the file would be easy. Think.

I started to get undressed to put on the suit. I had my shirt off and my pants undone when I remembered the cameras staring down at me. I quickly slammed the bedroom door and finished putting on the suit. It was a perfect fit and quite flattering.

I had formulated a plan within half an hour of sitting on my bed. I made a quick phone call to my dad to get the ball rolling and stepped out the door.

I had decided I didn’t want to take a cab. I might have to sit in the car for a few minutes before I went in to get up the nerve and the driver might get suspicious of me.

Within the hour I was at my destination. I found a parking spot on the street not far from the main door and went directly into the building. I went straight to the island loaded with forms so I could check things out. I grabbed a deposit slip and began to fill it out so I would be doing something else other than looking around. The security guards were posted on either side of the main door. Both of them had their thumbs in their front pockets making their elbows stick out and they were casually scanning the room.

When I finished filling out the form I went to the appointment desk and asked to speak with an officer because I wanted to make a substantial deposit. I was directed to the waiting area and did just that, waited. It only took a couple minutes for an officer of the bank to come and get me. I followed him back to his office and sat down.

He said, “How can I help you today?”

“I would like to make a transfer from another bank and start a new account here,” I said and handed him the deposit slip.

His eyes widened at the sight of the sum and said, “This should be no problem, Ms. …?”

“Miss Stanton,” I said. “This is my dad’s account, I hope that won’t be a problem.”

“If he has authorized the transaction it should be no problem,” he replied, pushing buttons on his keyboard.

I waited while he put the information in. He had a baffled look on his face.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.

“This doesn’t seem to want to work Miss Stanton,” he said. “I better go get my supervisor. Please stay here, I’ll be right back.” He left the room.

I got up and quietly shut the door and ran around to the other side of the desk. I had the file right in front of me but there was no floppy disk drive on this computer. Shit, shit, shit. I didn’t have much time so I quickly set up a Hotmail account. I labeled it stealingfromu@hotmail.com and used the password “firstfederal.” I was going to e-mail it to myself. I hoped it wasn’t a huge file. It must not have been because it didn’t take long to get it to go through. I barely got sat back down before the officer and his supervisor came back to the room.

“Ms. Stanton, there seems to be a problem. The account number you gave us does not exist. We have called the other bank and they do have an account for a Mr. Stanton but there is not an authorization to transfer funds,” the supervisor explained.

“I see,” I said, putting a mad look on my face. “May I use your phone?”

“Of course,” the supervisor said and handed me the phone. He punched the nine and said, “There, now you can make an outside call.”

I dialed my house and said to the answering machine, “Daddy, they say you didn’t authorize the transaction.” I waited for a second trying to look more and more frustrated. Then I said, “Well, you could have told me that before I came down here and made a fool of myself. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.” And I hung up the phone.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “My dad already transferred me money into a different account at his bank. I’m really sorry that I wasted your time.”

“No problem. But Miss, if this wasn’t a misunderstanding you could be in some trouble. You should make sure your father knows his bank will be calling him to let him know of the attempted activity,” the supervisor said.

“I’d hope so,” I said and walked out the door.

I had a hard time not running from inside the bank. I walked a little faster than normal. I wanted to get into my car and speed away. I did pretty well until I got a couple blocks away in my car. Somehow, my foot wanted to plant itself to the floorboard with the accelerator underneath it.

When I reached my house my nerves had settled a bit. I went in the bedroom, made sure the door was shut tight and changed out of the suit and back into a t-shirt and jeans. I hung the suit back on the clothes hanger and neatly spread the black plastic bag over the outfit, just as I had received it. I made sure I had the floppy disk and drove back to the office.

Gabriella wasn’t at her desk and Mr. White’s door was closed. I went to it and knocked lightly.

“Come in,” Mr. White replied.

I opened the door and stepped in. I began to walk to the couch to set the outfit down.

“Close the door behind you please,” he said. I saw a playful look cross his face.

While I was doing that he asked, “Do you have some questions on your instructions?”

“No. I think I have the file,” I said.

If I hadn’t been watching for the surprised look I wouldn’t have seen it. It was apparent on his face for less than a second.

“Bring it here please,” he said putting out his hand.

“It’s not here but you should be able to access it from your computer.” I walked to the couch and laid the outfit down.

“Those were not your instructions,” he said.

“I understand, but the computer at the bank didn’t have a floppy drive.” I handed him the empty disk. Our hands touched and we both hesitated for a moment.

He reached over and put the disk in his computer’s floppy drive and motioned me over.

“Get me the file please.”

I leaned in slightly to turn on his computer and the heat of his body made me a little shaky.

I looked toward him when the computer asked for the password and he just looked back at me. ‘Fine,’ I thought and typed in his password. I logged onto the Internet and looked up the Hotmail address I had created at the bank. As I was doing this all I could think was, please be there, please be there. I got logged on, typed in the password and started to download the file onto the floppy disk.

“Fairly impressive, Ms. Stanton,” he said making me jump.

I looked at him and he had a smile on his face. It was a complete smile, not a sly grin that I had seen before. It was a wonderful smile and made me melt.

The phone rang and he picked it up. “Yes?” he said. “Yes, she’s here. Really? Yes I have it in my possession.” Then he hung up.

“That was Mr. Black. He lost you coming back from the bank. Seems you have a lead foot.” His smile was still there.

“Thank you for a job well done. Welcome aboard, Ms. Grey. Please have a seat while I finish this up,” he said, still smiling. He picked up the phone and dialed.

I chose to sit on the couch. His call was to the bank manger reporting our success and finishing up all the little details. I didn’t pay all that much attention to his conversation because I was trying to get used to my new name, Ms. Grey.

Mr. Black walked into the office just as Mr. White ended his conversation with the bank. He hovered in the door while Mr. White told me what lay ahead of me.

“From now on you will be at my beckon call. Do you understand that?” he said, all trace of the smile gone from his face.

I automatically picked up on the change and answered appropriately, “Yes, sir.”

“I will give you jobs as I feel you become suited for them. You have the benefit of some good training, but it’s not thorough enough.” he added.

“Mr. Black will get you started.”

J.C. Phelps is a wife and mother of three with a modest home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She knew that she wanted to be an author at an early age but didn't get serious about it until after her first daughter, Alexandra, was born. Ever since she finished writing Color Me Grey, the first book in The Alexis Stanton Chronicles, she has been happily glued to her computer screen.

Color Me Grey is available FOR KINDLE as well as paperback on AMAZON and until August 31st, you can get 25% OFF if you purchase it at CREATESPACE by entering coupon code: ETC33SHS at checkout. And be sure to check out JC Phelps' Facebook Page. She'd love for you to stop by!

Taming the Hulk in audio format!

The UK website, Short Bread Stories has just published my Barbara Marr short story, Taming the Hulk, in audio format and I have to say, I think the actress did a Marr-velous job! I'm really so pleased.

I hope you'll pop over and give it a listen: Taming the Hulk.

For writers: I love this site - a great way to get your stories out there.

Monday, August 2, 2010

And the Winners Are . . .

I had two contests running in July:

The WIN AN AMAZON GIFT CARD contest, by random draw, goes to CINDY! So Cindy -- email me at kcantwell02@comcast.net (write AMAZON CARD in subject line) and I will get your gift card to you! CONGRATULATIONS and thanks for playing.

The NAME THAT BOOK CONTEST has two winners! Both S. Wolf and JR Chase submitted the title, The Chronicles of Marr-nia for my short story collection (due out Sept 2010). There were SOOOOO many great submissions, but this one just seemed to be the "right" one. They'll both be getting recognition in the book as well as a free copy of the book. Thanks for the great title guys!

DON'T FORGET the new Short Story Contest for August. Here are the rules again:

1200 words or less
keep it clean (my kids read this blog)
any topic you desire

That's not too hard, eh?

Deadline -- August 31st.

Email your winning tale to kcantwell02@comcast.net and put in the subject (all caps):

The contest will be judged on originality, character development, plot and descriptive narrative.

The Prize: $25.00 Amazon gift card and your story posted on Fiction For Dessert. Stay tuned to find out who my guest judges will be!

Now go, write, and HAVE FUN!