Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Giveaway Wednesday . . . a little different today

Today, I decided to mix Giveaway Wednesday with a new little idea - voting for our next Book Club book!

So here's how it works:

We have five books for readers to choose from -- the book that gets the most votes in the comments section will be the next book for our BOOK AND A RECIPE BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION on Friday, April 30th.

But wait! What about the GIVEAWAY????

Glad you asked! One person will be selected at random from the comments - that person will win the book that they voted for OR (if they already have it) a book of the same or lesser value of their choosing.

So, you have to

1) leave a comment
2) tell us in the comment which book you vote for as our next Book Club selection
3) leave your email address (just so you can receive your book - I DON'T keep a mailing list!)
4) tell your friends to join us! (optional)

Here are your choices:

THE LIST is a bit of a departure for Konrath. It's a technothriller about a group of ten people who each have tattoos of numbers on the bottoms their feet, and don't know why.

One of them, a Chicago Homicide cop named Tom Mankowski, has had one of these strange tattoos since birth. When he investigates a violent murder and discovers the victim also has a tattooed number, it sets the ball rolling for an adventure of historic proportions. To say more would give away too much.

A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead. A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover. A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches. The Underworld in a state of chaos. Let the games begin.

Switched - the first book in the Trylle Trilogy...

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.

What if the best morning of your life suddenly turned into your worst nightmare? Sam Case is about to find out. Saving Rachel is the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress...and the one he rejects must die. But wait--all is not as it appears to be. In fact, nothing is what it appears to be! Saving Rachel is a scary, funny, roller coaster ride through hell, with twists, and turns that will slap your face and suck you in!

For fans of Robert Parker's smart but tough-as-nails heroes, screenwriter Stephen Carpenter introduces a new character to the mystery genre, Jack Rhodes. Jack is an author and former boxer who was on his way to literary success when his life was blown apart by the horrific suicide of his fiancee.

So there are the choices. To re-cap: The List by JA Konrath, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory, Switched by Amanda Hocking, Saving Rachel by John Locke, or Killer by Stephen Carpenter

Now, let's have some fun!

Tell us your vote in the COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS POST! :-)

The winning book AND the winner of the giveaway will both be announced this Friday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Short Story: "Little Red Boots" by Karen Cantwell

I usually feature new authors with book excerpts on Mondays, here at Fiction for Dessert, but I am going to admit to falling down on the job a bit. I've been working hard on finishing the first draft of my next novel, and not spending any time finding authors to feature, so today, I hope you'll enjoy instead, a short story of mine, "Little Red Boots."

This story first appeared at where it won the Editor's Choice Award for their Flash Fiction Contest, themed "Beauty."

It's a particular favorite of mine, and I hope it will make you smile.

"Little Red Boots"

Geraldine Hinkle would be meeting her maker any day. The doctor said it could be weeks, but Geraldine knew better.

Leaning one frail hip against the wooden counter of Watson’s Western Wear, and rubbing a hand over her bald head, Geraldine didn’t think about dying.

“Can I hold one?” Her coarse voice was weak.

The lanky man behind the counter waited a few beats before responding. “Beauties, ain’t they? Hand crafted, ever inch. Three thousand dollar pair a boots right there.” He scratched his crotch.

“Are ya gonna let me hold one or are ya gonna just stand there all day playin’ with yer balls?”

The lanky man frowned. His long arm extended toward the shelf as he issued a warning. “Don’t think about runnin’ off with this. I got a gun.”

Geraldine’s spontaneous laugh quickly turned into a wet, spittle cough. That was the funniest thing she’d heard all week. Damn funny, this bony man.

By the time her coughing fit had subsided, the boot stood proudly on the counter. Geraldine picked it up with both hands, gently caressing the fine, silver snakeskin foot.

“That there’s the belly skin of a python come from Thailand.” The man nearly scratched his crotch again, but stopped mid-air. He scratched his left butt cheek instead.

Turning the boot on its side, Geraldine traced the intricate detail. Turquoise blue waves under a yellow sun stitched and painted on soft brown leather. She closed her eyes and remembered.
Waves crashing on hard sand. A young girl laughing. The laughing girl was running back and forth along the sand, her little red boots carrying her effortlessly. Her red skirt and vest fluttering with the wind. A tiny cowgirl frolicking on the shore as a coral sun dropped toward the sea like a colossal balloon pulled down by an invisible string. Sky the color of rainbow sherbet. Orange, pink, yellow.

A man swooped up from behind the laughing girl and threw her high into the air. “Who’s mah little hedgehog?” he said catching her in his strong, safe arms. The laughing girl laughed harder.

“Geri is, Daddy! Geri!”

Geraldine’s sides hurt with the remembering.

Her heart ached with the longing. The rainbow sherbet sunset and little red boots.

Geraldine had lived a long, hard life, drinkin’ way too much drink and smokin’ way too much smoke. Good memories – they were far and few between.

The lanky man blew a hard breath, waking Geraldine from her reverie.

“I’ll take ‘em.” She smiled.

The man scratched his five o’clock shadow. “You got three thousand dollars, lady?”

Geraldine coughed into her elbow before answering. “First, I wanna thank ya fer callin’ me a lady. Been a long time since someone’s been so kind. Second off . . .” she pulled a wad of bills out of her jeans pocket. “. . . money – you can’t take it with ya, like they say. But these boots, they can go with me to the grave. I’d like to wear ‘em now, if you don’t mind.”

With his bony fingers, the man counted the bills. When he was satisfied, he put the other boot on the counter then watched as she slipped each boot on like a knife slicin’ into warm butter.

Invigorated with energy she hadn’t felt in weeks, Geraldine slapped the counter and hooted, “Hot damn! Like they was made for mah feet!”

A hint of a smile on his pointed face, the man held up the wad of money as he slid his way to the cash register. “This here’s over four thousand dollars. I’d say you got some change comin’.”
The shop door opened, triggering a tiny bell. A small girl bounded in followed by her mother who tried to grab a chubby hand before it could break something.

Seeing the girl, Geraldine turned to the man. “You got little red boots?”


“Fer girls. Little red cowgirl boots. Maybe a skirt and vest too?”

“Yeh. We got somethin’ like that.”

“See that girl gets the sweetest little cowgirl suit and boots she desires. Same for every little girl that walks through those doors until the money’s gone.”

“That’s a kindly gesture.”

She shrugged. “Maybe they’ll bring her good memories when she needs ‘em.”

Geraldine’s boots clopped on the wooden floors as she left Watson’s Western Wear. She looked up at the sign above the door that said, Come Back Now, Y’Hear?

With a laugh and a cough, she answered, “Not in this body, I ain’t.”

If you write Flash Fiction, or have ever thought about it, check out the Writing Contest at The Novelette. They post your story, and winners receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Certificate.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three for FREE Giveaway!

Today, at the blog A Moose Walked Into a Bar, Sit-down Comedy, we're offering a wonderfully fun giveaway: Three for FREE

The first ten to leave a comment along with their email address (just to receive the books) will get three KINDLE books for FREE.


These are all funny books by three funny female authors. If you already have one or more of the books, please feel free to enter anyway - as all authors would gladly offer you one of their others for free! You just need to comment and leave your email address.

The FIRST TEN to do so will get their KINDLE books emailed to them from Amazon.

Tell your friends!

CLICK HERE for A Moose Walked Into a Bar, and enter today!

It's a great way to get some fun books at NO COST.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Thank you everyone who joined in on our book club conversation yesterday!

Markee ran the names through a random number generator, and our winner for the $10.00 Amazon Gift Card is . . . .




Markee will be contacting you by email Carol.

I hope you will all return for our next Book and a Recipe Book Club. We'll be announcing the next book on Friday, April 1st.

Have a great weekend!

Karen and Markee

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book and a Recipe Book Club: ABBY COOPER PSYCHIC EYE by Victoria Laurie


It's the last Friday of the month, which means that it is . . .

Book and a Recipe Book Club

Hosted by friend and author, Markee Anderson


I want to thank Markee for hosting this fun event, and especially for recommending this most recent book. I just LOVED this book. Such fun, great characters, clean, crisp writing with a nice dash of humor. I HIGHLY recommend this book for readers who enjoy those things in a book.

REMEMBER FRIENDS, everyone who leaves a comment today enters a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card (how cool is that?). We'll be announcing the winner TOMORROW (Saturday, March 26) morning. The best way to assure that you are notified if you win, is to leave an email address, but if you don't want to do that, make sure you check back Saturday morning! If we don't hear from the winner within a week, we contact the runner up.

Now, without further ado . . . here's Markee:

This is a fun book with a wonderful premise, introducing the reader to the psychic’s life. Abby Cooper does readings for clients, but when one of her clients turns up dead, she’s in big trouble. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Abby Cooper is a P.I., psychic intuitive. But her insight failed her when she didn't foresee the death of one of her clients-or that the lead investigator for the case is the gorgeous blind date she just met. Now, with the police suspicious of her abilities and a killer on the loose, Abby's future looks more uncertain than ever.

I read this book years ago, and re-read it yesterday. I was only going to skim it, but was pulled into the plot, once again. It’s fun to read and not very scary. The blind date she encounters is just adorable, from his personality alone. What a take-charge kind of guy!

So, what do you think of books about psychics? Have you ever known anyone who is psychic? What’s your take on the paranormal?

Here’s a recipe to get you dreaming…these are fantastic cookies!

Monster Cookies:

1 pound brown sugar (2.5 cups)
2 cups sugar
½ pound butter
½ tablespoon vanilla
½ tablespoon white corn syrup
4 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 pounds crunchy peanut butter
6 eggs
9 cups quick cooking oatmeal
½ pound M&Ms
½ pound chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, and corn syrup. Mix with remaining ingredients. Roll into a ball and bake at 350 degrees. Large cookies bake for 12 minutes, while smaller cookies back for 9-10 minutes. Do not overbake.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

REMINDER Book and a Recipe Book Club is Tomorrow!

Here's your reminder for our last-Friday-of-the-month regular feature:

Book and a Recipe Book Club, featuring the very fun book

Abby Cooper Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

This book is FUN and FUNNY and I can't rave enough about it. It was host, Markee Anderson's idea, and boy am I glad she suggested it.

Don't worry if you haven't read the book, we won't do any spoiling, mostly we want you to stop by, talk about books, especially fun mysteries if you like them, and enter a chance to WIN A $10.00 AMAZON GIFT CARD!

That's right, stop by, enjoy a recipe and some chatting - leave a comment and you will get a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Tell your friends.

Markee and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Giveaway Wednesday: The Chronicles of Marr-nia

Okay - I'm getting into the swing of Giveaway Wednesdays again!


THE CHRONICLES OF MARR-NIA contains four Barbara Marr short stories that are fun, funny, and sometimes touching, if I do say so myself. Plus, I give you two bonus shorts that are not Barbara Marr short stories -- just stories that I am particularly proud of.

So if you would like your free KINDLE copy of this short story collection, leave a comment to this post to that effect ALONG WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS so I can send your gift. Don't worry, I don't keep a mailing list - I only use it to send your free book through Amazon.

So start leaving those comments! The first 8 people to do so will get their copy soon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Excerpt: Model Agent by Sean Sweeney

I love strong female characters. Really - who wants wimpy women? Not me. That's why I was excited when Sean Sweeney offered to share an excerpt from his new thriller, Model Agent, with the readers here at Fiction for Dessert. New to Amazon Kindle, it already has 10 reviews with an average of five stars!


The human body consists of two-thirds water.

As concertgoers on a steamy day in Boston find out, water can kill as much as it gives life.

A terrorist attack at City Hall Plaza has the authorities perplexed. The government, in response, sends in a capable but young agent – an agent born from the ashes of terrorism itself – to handle it.

But as her partner dies and the terrorist strikes again, Jaclyn Johnson – code named Snapshot – finds herself in a situation she has trained a decade to face: She’s up against a man with enough money to finance a war against his competition. With a deadline in place to stop him – and with a car holding enough hidden tricks to evade capture – Snapshot infiltrates his hidden installation and finds out her target’s true end game, a secret that could have the world fighting over water.

"The tongue-in-cheek cover tagline says, “If Bond had boobs.” In four words this gives the high-level view of Jaclyn Johnson. She’s got Bond’s good looks, enough to model as a cover, hiding her true career. She has the technology of Bond with a plethora of gadgets, a few she invented herself and some that (over) compensate for a rare eye condition that leaves her almost blind without an assist. Topping it off is a car that anyone would envy plus the brains behind the beauty to get the job done. In Jaclyn Johnson, Sweeney has a great new character I hope to see in many sequels." - Big Al from Big Al's Books and Pals

And now for CHAPTER ONE of Model Agent:

City Hall Plaza, Boston, Mass.
Saturday, July 17, 2011 — 2:26 p.m.

With the speed, agility, and grace of a high school track star, Jenny Wilson bounded the stairs leading from Government Center’s Green Line platform to the outside world above. She checked her watch and saw she had a few minutes to spare. She vaulted the stairs two at a time, bouncing off the front half of her feet. She tried slowing her pace as she walked toward the subway station’s open doors, taking a deep breath. Her heart thumped madly.

She didn’t want to seem that excited to see him.

Jenny staggered as a harsh wave of hot air smacked her in the face once she stepped back into Boston’s blast furnace. She couldn’t help releasing the breath, which appeared like a flame emerging from an enraged dragon. For most of the past week, she had baked, roasted and suffered through blistering temperatures in the high 90s. Today, she saw, was no different than the last six.

She stopped just outside the subway station’s headhouse and hoped her sneakers wouldn’t melt. While other riders jostled past her, she shielded her eyes as she looked out across the breadth of City Hall Plaza. She saw shimmering haze as the ground reflected the sun’s unforgiving heat. She watched tourists walk past her, wiping sweat from their brows as they headed toward Faneuil Hall, off to Jenny’s right, or toward Cambridge Street on Jenny’s immediate left. The stately towers of the John F. Kennedy Federal Building stretched for the sky above her, while its base, a squat four-story section, reached for the heart of the old city; she could see the towering exhaust vents from Haymarket station adjacent to JFK. A line of trees on the upper level in front of JFK gave modest shade, and as a bead of sweat danced down her spine, she wanted nothing more than to rush toward them and sit underneath for hours. Boston’s City Hall, a concrete structure that looked more like an inverted pyramid than a city government building, stood opposite the federal.

A not-so-fertile crescent filled the gaps: Three-foot high concrete pylons dotted a wavy sea of red bricks stretching here, there and everywhere. Granite steps served as seats during these summertime concerts, and she noticed a small crowd had already gathered by the stage on the northern side of City Hall, waiting for the free oldies show. City Hall Plaza was, in essence, a wide open-air amphitheater in the heart of new Boston, long before land reclamation formed the modern peninsula.

Jenny checked her watch again. It read 2:28 p.m.

“Right on time,” she said.

She walked straight ahead to the vendor booths, where she saw Chuck Norton pulling cases of Nantucket Harbor bottled water from the back of a beat up green van. Chuck was the one guy she hoped she could get to know a little better, ever since she first laid her baby blues on him at Northeastern University. She watched his biceps bulge under the strain. Jenny’s eyebrows twitched, and her mouth curled into a soft grin as she observed the stud’s bodily nuances.

“Let me help you there, handsome,” she said, her eyes twinkling.

Chuck turned and smiled when he saw her.

“Hey, pretty lady. Could you help fill those buckets with ice? We need to get this water cold in a hurry; those people,” he said, jerking his head toward the crowd in the lower bowl, “won’t want to wait. They love their free samples, especially on a hot day like today.” He grabbed another case and threw it on top of the other two. He grunted his exertion as he brought them over to the booth.

“Anything to help,” she said, reaching into the truck to grab several bags of ice before she said to herself, “get you out of those clothes.”

The way Jenny bent over to grab the ice caused another smirk to slip across her face. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Chuck had paused to check out the curves that molded her luscious backside. She felt his eyes roam across her form-fitting white shorts. She pulled the ice to her and felt the condensation from the bag seep through her green Celtics t-shirt. For the briefest of passing moments, she was glad she didn’t wear a white top; she didn’t want to give Chuck too much of a show.

At least not yet, she thought.

Jenny hefted the bags and brought them over to where Chuck indicated. She made sure she brushed her arm against his as she walked past him. She caught his eye every time, and her stomach quivered under his gaze.

They bustled about — and tried keeping the heavy-duty flirting to a minimum — while other vendors began setting up shop near them. Within a few minutes, she caught the sweet smell of sausages on the air. She gouged open bags of ice with her nails and dumped the frozen contents into plastic buckets. Another helper shoved small bottles of water into the icy prison as she moved to another bucket. Once they had them full, they waited a few minutes for the bottles to chill.

Jenny finally fanned herself as she felt the day’s heat get to her a bit. She grabbed a bottle of water that she bought at a Tedeschi’s before she hopped on the T nearly an hour ago. She leaned against the van and drank deeply, trying to stay hydrated in this oppressive heat. Trickles of water spilled from the corners of her mouth while she wiped the sheen of sweat that gathered on her face. She wiped her hand on her white shorts, smearing it to gray.

“Yuck,” she said, grimacing. “I hate the heat. I’m moving to Oregon when I graduate.”

She looked at Chuck as he walked up and leaned next to her. Heat radiated off him.

“You look like you could use a drink,” she said, offering her water to him. His shrug brought a pout to her pink lips until he relented.

To be the bottle, she thought as he drank.

She looked out toward the plaza and saw several people, all wearing light, summertime clothing, bursting forward with quick strides, making their way toward the vendors in search of freebies. There were vendors with small cups of ice cream to try, as well as free can koozies emblazoned with the concert logo and other things Jenny wished she had the time to check out.

She never expected such a cornucopia of thriftiness at a concert before.

“How long do we have to wait?” Jenny asked as she pulled the bottle back toward her. “We’re about to get slammed.”

“Only a few minutes more,” Chuck said as he inhaled. “I smell sausages.”

Jenny sniffed the air, too, but instead of sausages, the scent of Chuck’s sweaty body met her nose. The smell of perspiration overwhelmed her. She swooned slightly. She tried to hold her breath, but she couldn’t do so without offending Chuck. She knew he had labored hard over the past half an hour, and she figured she sweated a bit from her own exertions, too.

For a specimen like Chuck, she thought with a sly grin she camouflaged by lifting the bottle to her lips, I can put up with the smell for a bit. I wouldn’t mind also putting up with some heavy breathing, too.

She felt a tingle south of her tummy. She bit her lip for a brief moment as she looked into his green eyes. Her thighs wanted to slam shut, but she restrained them from doing so.

“I think you can wait a little while, can’t you? We could have one together after we serve these people.” Jenny’s eyes danced.

Chuck tried holding back a knowing smirk.

“Let’s serve the people, then.”

Together, they walked back to the booth and started pulling water from the buckets, standing them on the metal counter before Jenny and Chuck dove for more. Melted ice covered their hands as droplets raced down their forearms. Chuck tossed a towel to Jenny, but it rested, unused, on her shoulder for quite a while. They set a few more bottles on the counter. Within seconds, Jenny saw her “customers” scoop the bottles up two at a time.

She looked on with great interest as they unscrewed the caps away, snapping the plastic rings aside and doused their hair with one full bottle. They twisted the cap off the second and began chugging the cool, clear liquid. Several people came back for more samples, and Jenny thought this was the only way for them to feel adequately cool in these stifling conditions. She saw the other workers re-filling the other buckets with more bottles. Water splashed out and nearly sizzled on the brick. She looked to the bucket on the right hand side of the booth, where one bottle of water remained submerged.

Jenny noticed that she and Chuck had exhausted the bottle of water she brought earlier. She noticed her mouth needed replenishment. A trickle of sweat maneuvered down her neck, making a beeline for her chest. She reached for the lone bottle.

The coughing parade, though, made her forget about quenching her thirst. Jenny looked up and saw her customers’ eyes leak only a few feet away from the booth. They couldn’t stop themselves. Their coughs turned into violent hacks, and Jenny recalled the bronchitis episode she experienced last winter. Their coughs were too identical for her liking. She felt her chest tighten at the memory. She watched helplessly as their bodies shook in rapid convulsions. Some hit their knees, doubling over. People walking out of the subway station paused as they saw these people writhing on the hot bricks.

Jenny looked on in horror as they began vomiting blood, their upper bodies lurching forward as they spewed their insides out, using City Hall Plaza as a makeshift toilet. She saw several people lose their hair, even though they didn’t touch it. They started moaning and screaming. More than one plea of “Oh God, help me!” sprang from their panicked voices.

Jenny didn’t realize that only a few moments passed between the plaza going from calm and peaceful, to chaotic.

She thought fast.

“Chuck,” she said, “call 9-1-1. These people are sick.”

Chuck didn’t answer. Instead, Jenny turned and saw him chugging a dripping bottle of water, one fresh from the ice bucket — the one she was about to grab.

“What Jenny?”

She repeated herself.

He didn’t hear her. Chuck hit the ground and writhed, too, dropping the bottle. His moans came quick as he grabbed his gut.


Jenny looked at the bottle and then out toward the sea of sickness that unfolded before her. She saw empty bottles next to the ill. She added things up in her nimble brain. Her eyes widened as she realized what had happened, and how quick things had turned.

“Don’t drink the water!” she screamed, her feet carrying her away from Chuck and toward the booth. She swiped the counter clear of bottles, startling several people as her arms slashed across the drenched metal. She even grabbed one from the grasp of a 10-year-old boy before she turned to one of Chuck’s friends. “Don’t give out any more samples, do you hear me? Don’t give out any more.”

“But our boss said —”

“I don’t give a damn what your boss said,” she said tightly. “These people aren’t feeling well, and it’s because of the water. Hell, they may be dying.” She watched the realization — the utter fear — unfold on the young man’s face. “Stop handing the samples out. You,” she barked, “call 9-1-1 right now. You, get the water into the van and shut it.” They hesitated, but they soon realized she had taken control. They did as she asked.

Jenny turned back to the crowd and saw several of the concert goers clutch their stomachs. They heaved once, twice, and then a third time. Half a heartbeat later, they began projectile vomiting mucous and blood. Jenny recoiled; her face contorted between disbelief and anguish, between pity and disgust. She prayed silently to a God she stopped believing in some five years ago.

Her feelings twisted by the sight in front of her, she remembered Chuck had fallen ill, too. Realization sharply passed through her as she turned her head to where her friend lay in the fetal position.

Her eyes widened at the sight.

Jenny hurried over to him, her sneakers pounding away. She pulled him over and saw blood pouring out of his mouth, dripping from the corners while the remnants of his breakfast, too, splattered on the bricks. She saw him look up into her eyes, his eyes desperately pleading with her for things she would never know. His breath was shallow for several seconds before it ceased entirely.

The light, Jenny saw, had left him moments later.

“Chuck,” she said, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her. Jenny ran her fingers through his coarse brown hair. She closed her eyes and fell backward on her butt. She covered her eyes and tried to grieve, but nothing came out. She sat there for a few minutes, trying to force the tears out.

She glanced to her right and saw the bottle Chuck had drank from laying next to her. The bottle she had wanted to drink from before everything escalated into this nightmarish situation. She looked at bottle again before she looked back at the bucket. She felt her eyebrows arch, comprehension coming to her. The coughing had prevented her — had saved her — from grabbing that bottle from the bucket.

She didn’t want to face that, at least not now. She flicked the bottle aside. She didn’t see it skip across the bricks. She wanted to go pick it up and heave it toward Cambridge Street.

Maybe a car would squish it as it hurried past, she thought. She didn’t grin. Water lined to the bottoms of her eyes.

Jenny then realized the moans had stopped, only replaced by confusion and panicked screams from passersby headed to and from the subway. Hurried footsteps approached her from her right-hand side.

“Jenny, they said they’re sending ambulances. They’ll be here soon.”

“Call them back,” she said, tears finally rolling down her cheeks, the awareness of what happened in between her wanting a drink and now finally reaching her eyes. “Tell them to ready the morgues. I think they’re going to be quite busy.”

Their friend staggered as he saw Chuck’s prone form. “Oh my God,” he said.

Jenny wept.

Born in the city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1977, Sweeney's passion for writing began in 1993, as a sophomore in high school, when he began to write sports for his local newspaper, the Sentinel & Enterprise. Since then, he has written for several Massachusetts newspapers, including the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester and the Southbridge Evening News in Southbridge. He has since returned to where it all started, as he came back to the Sentinel in April 2008. He also strings for the Springfield Republican and Turley Publications.

Among his literary influences include the king of fantasy, Tolkien, as well as R.A. Salvatore. In addition, Fitch enjoys Steven Savile, Vince Flynn, J.K. Rowling, Jim C. Hines, David Forbes, John Grisham, and Brad Meltzer novels, as well as classic storytellers C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Shakespeare. Star Wars novels fill an entire bookcase in his office. When he is not writing, Sweeney enjoys playing golf, reading, watching movies, the Red Sox, Arsenal F.C., and playing with his kitten, Caramel the Wonder Cat.


Friday, March 18, 2011

That Was FUN!

The FOXY'S TALE giveaway is complete and I want to thank everyone for commenting and spreading the word. We gave away all 15 books in just three hours!

It was so much fun, that I'll definitely be doing something like that again, so keep checking back.

I'm also excited to announce that TAKE THE MONKEYS AND RUN - my Barbara Marr Murder Mystery is up for vote for favorite bestseller at the popular website, Daily Cheap Reads.

So I'm calling out to all who loved TAKE THE MONKEYS AND RUN - go vote! :-)

Here's the link: DAILY CHEAP READS.

Thanks a million!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Giveaway! FOXY'S TALE

I haven't done a giveaway in a while - but I hope you like this one.

TODAY, I'm giving away 15 KINDLE copies of Foxy's Tale by Karen Cantwell and LB Gschwandtner.


YES - Fifteen.

The catch?

Be one of the first fifteen people to leave a comment that you would like a free KINDLE copy of Foxy's Tale. And be sure to leave your EMAIL address! I can't send you the gift if I don't have an email address to send it to.

Pass the word along - tell your friends!!!

For those of you who haven't seen the description yet, here it is:

Foxy Anders has a list of problems as long as a shopping spree receipt from Neiman Marcus. She’s a retail spender with no money to spare and a former beauty queen with no man in her life. After a nightmare divorce she’s left with one asset, a building off Washington, D.C.’s classy DuPont Circle. By turning the ground floor into an antique shop, Foxy figures she has an excuse to spend money … that she doesn’t have.

Foxy also has a teenaged daughter, Amanda, who likes to blog secretly about her biggest problem – Foxy. At least, she thinks Foxy is her biggest problem. But that’s all about to change when she hooks up with Nick, a cute guy at school who evidently has a gift for attracting older women. Amanda just doesn’t know HOW much older they really are.

When Foxy rents the garden apartment to stylish, shoe-fettishista Knot, who turns out to have a knack for talking wealthy Washington A-listers into Foxy’s antiques, it looks as if Foxy will make it on her own after all. Except that Knot is also a genius at creating problems … in his love life.

They’re a quirky threesome to be sure, but when mysterious, bumbling, Myron Standlish arrives on the scene with a suitcase full of Yiddish-isms, he brings along his own set of problems, larger and stranger than all of theirs put together. Oy vey. How will Myron’s personal journey affect their lives? Well … that’s Foxy’s Tale.

A comic, chick lit, coming-of-age, vampire tale (sort of) where family triumphs over adversity and mother and daughter learn how to face the world as grownups – together.

What readers are saying …

“Full of snappy characters, laughs, and mystery, peppered with lively details of Washington, DC., and brimming with enough shoe shopping to satisfy any fashionista. This new joint effort from Karen Cantwell and L B Gschwandtner is guaranteed to please! Can't wait for the next installment in this lively new series!”
– Misha Crews, Author of Her Secret Bodyguard

"Foxy’s Tale is irresistible fun – full of lively characters with a knack for trouble, laugh-out-loud dialogue, and story twists that will keep you reading deep into the night."
– Kim Wright Wiley, Author of Love in Mid Air


So start leaving those comments! The early bird gets the worm!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Excerpt: Executive Sick Days by Maria E. Schneider

I'm so excited to be bringing you this excerpt today - Executive Sick Days by Maria E. Schneider. Executive Sick Days is book three in Maria's Sedona O'Hala Mystery Series. I have read the first, Executive Lunch (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) and am in the middle of the second (okay, I'm a little behind) Executive Retention, and am loving it just as much. The stories are funny and original and what I love most is Sedona herself. Funny, funny, funny. She makes me laugh at nearly every turn of the page.


Steve Huntington had a way of offering jobs that were too good to be true. Mark Huntington made offers too good to turn down. Sedona had a habit of being caught in the middle; somewhere in the proximity of bad guys with guns and family members she was trying to avoid.

Good thing the latest case involved a hospital. Then again, not all hospital personnel were interested in the lasting health of the patients…or that of their co-workers.

What readers are saying:

"I can't say enough good things about this book and this series. If you're looking for something to make you laugh and offer you a good, solid mystery, along with some romance, look no further. Executive Sick Days delivers that and more." - Annie B (Amazon Customer Review)

And now, CHAPTER ONE of Executive Sick Days:

Decisions, decisions. It was flattering to have everyone want me, but it was also a little frustrating. My head was currently swelled with the privilege of choosing between working for two computer companies: Strandfrost or Acetel. Strandfrost tried to fire me, but then relented. They feared a lawsuit because they mistakenly believed I was pregnant. To avoid the non-existent lawsuit, they offered me my job back at my old salary. I could live almost lavishly right until they realized that my sister-in-law was pregnant, not me.

Acetel, on the other hand, had never fired me, but my boss, Jacques, was back in residence after having recently survived his heart attack. I wasn't sure I wanted to be around for his next one. More to the point, I didn't want to be responsible for his next one.

The pay was better at Strandfrost, but I'd definitely be on rockier ground. Unfortunately, I was not certain Acetel paid enough to cover my lifestyle. It wasn't that my lifestyle was extravagant, but it did include me, a single woman, making payments on a small two-bedroom patio home.

I wouldn't have been working at Acetel at all had it not been for the nemesis in my life: Steve Huntington, undercover investigator of corporate issues. He'd had the brilliant idea that I could work at Acetel and discover who was pilfering money from the company coffers. That had been great, but once the case was solved, Huntington stopped supplementing Acetel's not-so-generous salary. I could make my house and car payment on Acetel's salary, but only if I didn't eat.

Of course, Strandfrost was a riskier job overall because if I was fired again, there would be no income at all, and that would really put a rumble in my stomach.

Instead of weighing the pros and cons of my problem, I used my Saturday to peruse Hawaiian brochures. Both Strandfrost and Acetel would be closed for the week of Christmas and since my parents had just visited for Thanksgiving, I had fulfilled my daughterly holiday obligations. Hawaii seemed like an awesome way to celebrate Christmas. Denton, Colorado was heaven for skiers, but not for beach-going, and I was really looking forward to trying out the latter.

The phone rang, rudely interrupting my daydreams. Since it wasn't likely to be a travel agent with free tickets to Hawaii, I was inclined to ignore it.

Curiosity was going to kill me someday.

The voice on the other end was that of my sister-in-law, Brenda O'Hala. I spontaneously started praying that she wasn't cooking anything.

"Hi Sedona! Remember when, uh, Huntington got shot and ended up in my living room?" Brenda whispered, a habit she had picked up after she became pregnant. In this case, however, she was probably keeping her voice low because she was discussing one of my more unsuitable acquaintances.

"It would be rather hard to forget." I accidentally tugged too hard on my ponytail holder. Flyaway brown hair suddenly obscured my vision, but didn't inhibit my hearing.

"Well, yeah, for me I'm sure, but you're involved in a lot of that sort of thing."

Patently untrue. I was never involved in underhanded, thieving, dangerous or ridiculous capers, at least not on a regular basis. In fact, I never had been at all until I met Steve Huntington. He had a way of bringing out the worst in me. His brother Mark brought something out in me too, but my feelings for him were even more alarming. Mark was…dangerous. Dangerously handsome, sexy and I was finding, dangerously irresistible. That didn't mean I shouldn't stay away.

"Do you remember when Mark mentioned the investigation at Crestwood Hospital?" Brenda asked.

It was understandable that Brenda remembered the comment. As a part-time nurse at Crestwood, she was there all day, every Thursday and Friday. "Yes, why?"

"I've been doing some digging," she continued. "And I think I know what they are investigating."

Now that got me up out of my chair. The brochures scattered across the table as I changed grips on the phone. "What?" Brenda involved in anything remotely resembling "investigating" could get me thrown in jail by my overprotective and just-so-happened-to-be-a-lawyer-brother, Sean. "Brenda, are you crazy?" Perhaps pregnancy had used up all her available brain cells or maybe they had transferred to the baby, leaving her senseless. "Do I have to remind you that the last case resulted in Huntington getting shot, and he wouldn't let us take him to the hospital? You're pregnant! You can't go around looking into things!"

There was silence for several seconds before she responded, her voice meek. "I just checked on a very few things. I've seen Huntington--Steve--there now and again lately so I know he is still working on a case. And I have access to records--"

"Have you mentioned this activity to Sean?" Just how long did I have to get on a plane to Hawaii before my brother came after me?

"Of course not! He'd have a fit!"

More like a diabolical plan to have me committed to a mental institution where his wife couldn't contact me. "Brenda," I squeaked out, "I really don't think you looking at records is a good idea."

"I know. I'm not supposed to access them, and if the supervisor finds out she'll fire me. We're only supposed to look at what is pertinent to patient care on our own patients. And I saw Radar the other day, so I figured he was probably investigating anyway, so what does Huntington need me for?"

My heart, already beating fast, went into overdrive. "You saw Radar at the hospital?" I had assumed Radar had gone back to San Jose. He had quit Acetel, and I was furious with him for leaving without a word of good-bye. Not that we were close friends, but I felt basic courtesy counted for something. "When did you see him?"

"Just yesterday. I'm positive he works at Crestwood now in the IT department."

My big head, inflated over two possible job offers and the successful solving of the crimes at Acetel, shriveled. Huntington had hired Radar to help with the case at the hospital. And I hadn't heard from Huntington since the Acetel incident had ended over two weeks ago. My heart slowed. I slumped back onto the tabletop, scattering what was left of the brochures onto the floor.

It was true that Radar was more capable than me. He could hack his way into God's own database. His expertise was the primary reason we had been able to solve the case at Acetel. He probably didn't argue about how to investigate things either. But…I was unreasonably hurt.

Huntington was often recruited to solve corporate cases because executives and board members preferred someone who spoke their language. It also let companies investigate without calling in nosy authorities such as police, FBI or heaven forbid, the IRS. Unfortunately for Huntington, since he was busy schmoozing with the upper echelons, he had to hire someone else to mingle with regular employees and sniff out suspicious characters. That had been my job, and I had helped him solve the cases.

But it appeared I had been replaced. Summarily pushed aside by…better talent. I sighed. My two job prospects were already less than ideal. This news made them look even more like booby prize.

"So I was wondering," Brenda broke into my depression, "do you think I should tell Huntington or Radar what I've found?"

A tingle of hope or...stupidity...started up my spine. "Well," I said slowly, sitting back upright, "that really depends upon what you've found, doesn't it?"

Maria writes cozy mysteries, cozy fantasy and has recently published "Under Witch Moon," the first book in an Urban Fantasy series. Not only does she concoct stories, she cooks, gardens and avoids anything resembling spring cleaning. Check out her latest endeavors at her blog:

The Series: Book 1, Executive Lunch; Book 2, Executive Retention; Book 3, Executive Sick Days

Also on Nook:

Executive Lunch
Executive Retention
Executive Sick Days

Other books by Maria E. Schneider:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Foxy's Tale - Chapter Two

On this Sunday, I'd like to give you a little more Foxy, so here's Chapter Two of Foxy's Tale. Enjoy!


“Higher,” says Foxy.

She points to the brick front of the old building just above the storefront windows. “Just a little higher.”

Two men grunt as they hoist up a wide sign that says Second Chances in elegant, raised, gold letters.

Foxy nods and smiles. “Perfect. Right there.”

One of the men starts to fasten it down with a cord free drill.

Foxy holds her arms up as if to stop them. “No! Wait! Drop it just a bit, please.” They sigh, but do what she asks. “How’s that?” yells down the bearded man.

She puts her hands on her hips and tilts her head back and forth. She just can’t decide. Higher or lower? She’s been at this sign raising for over thirty minutes now, and she knows these kind men are becoming very annoyed with her. If only opening a business were as easy as buying a new pair of Jimmy Choos. “Ah, sugar!” she shouts, stamping a foot and looking around for guidance. “Where is Amanda? She said she would help me with this.”

“Lady,” calls down the bearded man. “We got another job to do today.”

“Fine.” She looks defeated. “Leave it there. Thank you! You two gentlemen have been so kind.” They set the screws, release the ropes from a pulley and climb down from their scaffolding.

She’s open for business. Foxy Anders, owner of Second Chances, the newest shop in the second oldest building smack in the middle of the chic district of DuPont Circle, Washington, DC.

“What’re ya’ll gonna sell in there, lady?” asks the other workman, a scruffy southern boy with wild red hair and rosy cheeks.

“Dreams of better days,” says Foxy. She flashes a bright smile. She’s pretty and she knows it, has always known it. Until four months ago she’d never had any reason to question the power of that beauty. Then all hell broke loose. It was in the newspapers, on the TV, everywhere she went. Her former football star husband turned sportscaster had been caught with a twenty-something “hostess” (the media loved to put quotes around the word “hostess”) from L.A. Not only caught, but caught naked, the two of them going at it like swine in the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. To Broadway show tunes the hotel pipes in, for God’s sake. Handsome, charming Pete Anders – Foxy’s second mistake.

“Yeah,” the workman tells her. “I guess everyone dreams of better days.” He looks beyond Foxy and asks, “What do think, Buzz?”

A stranger standing just behind Foxy says, “Looks good.” and Foxy turns to see a tall, sandy-haired man in jeans and a dress shirt open at the neck. He’s grinning and about to shake Foxy’s hand. And he’s too good looking for Foxy to deny this to him.

“Oh,” she says, “Foxy Anders, new to the neighborhood.”

“Buzz Vance,” he says, and shakes her hand for a moment longer than necessary. “I see you’re using some of my subs. Hope they’re treating you okay.”

“Oh they’ve been just terrific. And I need all the help I can get. This is new to me. I’ve never had to fix up a store before.”

“Well if there’s anything you need help with just give me a holler. I’m working on a house down the block right now.”

“Are you a contractor?

“Well, contractor, architect, builder, a little of anything you might need.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a business card. Foxy likes the sound of this but …

The two men pack up their tools and haul them into the back of a battered, dusty pickup. They’ll be around for another few weeks until all of the inside work is finished. But that’s it for today and Foxy stands at the door to her new store.

Above them, from the second floor, a teenage girl stares down from the far left of three windows that face the street. She watches the men prepare to leave. Her big gray eyes appear half their size, weighed down by a heavy dose of black eyeliner. She carelessly slides a slender silver hoop earring into one earlobe hole. Above it she has already placed a series of studs into piercings that follow the curve of her ear like a crescent.

Surrounding her are half-opened, unpacked boxes, clothes strewn here and there, shoes piled in one corner. The rumpled bed is unmade, the closet door open to a mass of hangers and tangles of more clothes. Books dot the room like fallen leaves, scattered in random patterns, as if blown in from outside.

She shrugs and moves away from the window to sit at a small desk cluttered with the detritus of her teenaged life. She stares at a computer screen and taps her fingers absently on a book called Daughter of Darkness. She jiggles the mouse and the screen lights up on the blog she just that morning created. A field of black behind a gray page mottled like some river stone. At the top, the header says Amanda’s Life in Hell. She thinks this is heartfelt and heavy, a fitting title for the place where she can pour out all her complaints against the world as she sees it. Her slender, young fingers, with rings on almost every one, nails coated shiny black, rest lightly on the keyboard.

Day One (she types)

We’re here. The new home. If you can call it that. I have to walk up a flight of stairs just to get to our apartment. It’s not even our house totally. She’s going to rent out apartments, and we’re right on a busy street in the middle of town so you can hear the people and cars and buses all day and all night. It’s . . .

She stops for a moment and looks at what she has written. Then she backspaces, deleting everything.

Day One (she writes again)

I hate my mom.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Foxy's Tale - Chapter One

Chapter One

Gdansk, Prussia, 1851

The snow starts to fall harder and faster as the little man scrambles up a small embankment. The air is so quiet that the sound of his heavy breathing seems magnified. Enormous white flakes collect on his eyebrows, but don’t melt. He must brush them away constantly just to see what’s ahead. A thick wool coat is wrapped tightly around his small body. Heavy, brown, leather shoes protect his feet and a knitted cap covers his head. Despite this, he is so cold the snow sticks hard to his skin and clothing, and there is nothing he can do about it.

Once he reaches the top of the embankment on the edge of the dirt road, he stops. He listens intently. Wolves howl far off in the woods and their call echoes momentarily until receding again to silence. The man is beginning to give up hope. And then, there! He hears the faintest sound of wooden wheels crunching the hard earth. Elated that he hsan’t lost the trail, he looks ahead. He knows this road – it leads directly to the port at Gdansk. He trudges on, following the tracks that are quickly disappearing under the heavy blanket of snow. There is no doubt in his mind that if he doesn’t move quickly, the trunk he is tracking will be placed on a boat or a ship to God only knows where. Not again, the man thinks. Not again.

An hour later, tired, freezing, and desperate, the little man limps into the busy port town, past the fish shops, and to the edge of a dock. One lone fisherman’s rig is tied up at the end of the pier, but that is not what he came to see. He watches the ship that has left its pier as it sails into the stormy night too far away for him to reach. The trunk is on that ship and he wonders what he will do now.

A voice rings in his head. He knows this voice. His father. A man with gifts greater – far greater – than his own. Is the voice really that of his father, or just his own memory of it, berating him for failing on this important mission?

It doesn’t matter.

The message is simple.

“Myron. You are such a putz.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Available Now: FOXY'S TALE!

My friend, LB Gschwandtner and I just wrote and released a fun chick-lit with a vampire twist. The twist? Our vampire is short, round, bald and has an aversion to sucking blood.

During the introductory month, Foxy's Tale will be available on Kindle for just .99 cents, so if this is your type of book, snatch it up now!


Foxy Anders has a list of problems as long as a shopping spree receipt from Neiman Marcus. She's a retail spender with no money to spare and a former beauty queen with no man in her life. After a nightmare divorce she's left with one asset, a building off Washington, D.C.'s classy DuPont Circle. By turning the ground floor into an antique shop, Foxy figures she has an excuse to spend money ... that she doesn't have.

Foxy also has a teenaged daughter, Amanda, who likes to blog secretly about her biggest problem - Foxy. At least, she thinks Foxy is her biggest problem. But that's all about to change when she hooks up with Nick, a cute guy at school who evidently has a gift for attracting older women. Amanda just doesn't know HOW much older they really are.

When Foxy rents the garden apartment to stylish, shoe-fettishista Knot, who turns out to have a knack for talking wealthy Washington A-listers into Foxy's antiques, it looks as if Foxy will make it on her own after all. Except that Knot is also a genius at creating problems ... in his love life.

They're a quirky threesome to be sure, but when mysterious, bumbling, Myron Standlish arrives on the scene with a suitcase full of Yiddish-isms, he brings along his own set of problems, larger and stranger than all of theirs put together. Oy vey. How will Myron's personal journey affect their lives? Well ... that's Foxy's Tale.

A comic, chick lit, coming-of-age, vampire tale (sort of) where family triumphs over adversity and mother and daughter learn how to face the world as grownups - together.

What readers are saying ...

"Full of snappy characters, laughs, and mystery, peppered with lively details of Washington, DC., and brimming with enough shoe shopping to satisfy any fashionista. This new joint effort from Karen Cantwell and L B Gschwandtner is guaranteed to please! Can't wait for the next installment in this lively new series!"
- Misha Crews, Author of Her Secret Bodyguard

"Foxy's Tale is irresistible fun - full of lively characters with a knack for trouble, laugh-out-loud dialogue, and story twists that will keep you reading deep into the night."
- Kim Wright Wiley, Author of Love in Mid Air

Stop by tomorrow for a posting of Chapter One. :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Excerpt: "Roller Rink" from In Decline by Michael Crane

I'm a huge fan of Michael Crane's. With several short stories and short story collections available for Kindle on Amazon, he continues to prove himself a truly talented author. I asked Michael to share an excerpt from one of my favorite short stories today, "Roller Rink" from his collection In Decline.

IN DECLINE is a short story collection about people who are trying to get by the best way they can, for better or worse. Gossip, bizarre love, peer pressure, addiction, heartbreak and loss are only a few of the topics covered in these nine stories where characters are faced with tough choices and ugly truths about life, the world and within themselves.

What reviewers are saying:

"Crane has a talent very few writers have. He can find the humor in a dire situation or find a way to sympathize with the most dismal characters. Some say that to read fiction requires the reader to 'suspend disbelief.' That's not the case here. These stories ooze truth."
--BigAl's Books and Pals

"Roller Rink"
by Michael Crane

Life got complicated for me in Fifth Grade. A day where at Computer Lab, Doug asked me, “So, who are you going to ask to skate with you?” We were going to the roller rink for a field trip and it was a week away. This was the first time I had heard anything about having to skate with somebody.

“What?” I asked, thinking that somehow I misheard the question.

“You know. Who are you going to ask?” His red nose scrunched up as he snorted. “Everybody skates with somebody.” At the time my attention had been focused on the computer screen in front of me. We were learning how to type without looking at the keyboard. The program we were using had a crappy animated dog that would walk closer to a bone every time you typed a word correctly. When you mistyped a word, he’d take a step back and if you typed enough words wrong, he’d run into his doghouse and refuse to come out. Needless to say, my dog was spending way too much time in the doghouse and it was pissing me off, but at that moment that was the least of my worries.

“I don’t know. Didn’t think we had to skate with somebody.”

Doug snickered and showed some of his yellow-stained teeth. “Of course you skate with somebody! What, did you plan on just skating alone?”

I nodded. “Yeah. That was sorta my plan.”

“Everybody skates with somebody when they play the slow songs. It’s like a rule, or something.”

I frowned. “I don’t know, man. I really wasn’t planning on asking anybody.”

“Well, who do you think is cute in our class? Who do you want to skate with?”

I shrugged. I knew Doug wasn’t going to give me a moment’s rest until I gave him some sort of an answer. I looked away from the screen and started sizing up the girls in my class, as idiotic and retarded as I thought the whole thing was. We were all sitting in a straight row with the backs of the computers facing the white wall in front of us that had a lot of dirty finger prints on it. I looked to my left and studied some of the girls.

Nancy wasn’t very pretty, and wasn’t very nice altogether. She’d snarl anytime you said something she didn’t like. A regular tomboy. I didn’t study her too long. Taylor was skinny and small, but she had the most annoying laugh in the world. Anytime I’d hear her laugh I would have to plug my ears with my fingers. I wasn’t going to ask her.

Then, my eyes shifted to Clara. Clara was nice, decent looking, and friendly. I wasn’t attracted to her, but we talked a lot during class. She had long blond hair that touched her shoulders. She was easy enough to make laugh, although she didn’t have the annoying Taylor laugh that made me want to crawl into myself.

Again, I shrugged and looked at Doug. “I dunno. Clara?”

“Really?” He asked, sounding surprised. His head tilted back. “You have a thing for her?

“No. You asked me who I would want to skate with,” I said. “I’d skate with Clara.”

Doug grinned at me. “I think I can make that happen for you.” He turned to his left and walked a few seats down. He tapped Mandy on the shoulder. “Psst, Mandy. You’re friends with Clara, right?” She nodded. “Good. Well, looks like Freddy boy over here wants to skate with her when we go to the rink next week.” Mandy took a long, hard look at me with those tiny blue eyes of hers, and then she threw her hand on her mouth and let out a giggle. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. She nodded and then tiptoed over to where Clara was sitting. She whispered something to her and I heard Clara yelp, “What? Who?” She looked at me and I quickly turned away, feeling my face turn red. My ears felt like they were going to fall off from embarrassment. I couldn’t bring myself to hear what they were saying to each other. I didn’t even want any of this. Why the hell did Doug have to put me into this position? It wasn’t like I actually liked Clara. Not in that way.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was Mandy. She had a somber look on her face and sighed.
“Sorry, Freddy. I don’t think Clara wants to skate with you.”

“Oh,” was the only thing I could manage to say. I heard Doug say, “It’s okay, Freddy boy. We’ll break her soon enough!” At that moment, I wanted to crawl somewhere dark and cold. Somewhere so isolated that I would be the only one who knew of the place’s existence. I could tell that Clara was taking glances at me, and they weren’t good glances. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her during rest of our time at the Lab.


Something very odd happened after that day. I found myself starting to like Clara. It started out small. I’d take a quick look at her every now and then when we were in class or out and about during recess. And the more and more that I looked at her, the more I found myself liking her. I couldn’t explain it. I never had feelings for the girl until stupid Doug asked me who I wanted to skate with. Sadly, Clara was going through the opposite. She no longer smiled at me. She no longer talked to me. Whenever I’d try to get a conversation going with her, she would just mumble, “Oh” and “Yeah.” Despite this, it didn’t make me dislike her. I wished to God that I didn’t have feelings for her, but I knew what I had. I had a crush on Clara. Maybe I did from the start and didn’t realize it until that day in Computer Lab.

Paying attention to anything in class was almost an impossible task. The teacher would speak, but I wasn’t really there. I was trapped in my own thoughts, in my own world as she scribbled down math problems and sentences on the chalkboard. I’d take a peek at Clara until I thought she was looking my way and I’d quickly look down at my book as if I had been reading the entire time. I knew she didn’t like me. She used to like me as a friend, but not ever since she found out that I wanted to skate with her. Yet, I still couldn’t shake this crush.

I told my buddy, Mark, who was in a grade lower than me. He lived in my neighborhood and since he wasn’t in my class, I knew I could trust him.

“You like her?” he asked as we were walking after the bus dropped us off. He straightened his baseball cap and brushed off a leaf from his jacket.

“You know Clara?”

“I’ve seen her before. Why do you like her? She’s not even that pretty.”

“I don’t know. I think she’s pretty.” I shrugged and shook my head. “I don’t know why I like her, man. Things haven’t been the same since that day in Computer Lab. Something… happened.” I shook my head and sighed. “She doesn’t even like me anymore. Doesn’t talk to me or anything.”

“Then why do you like her? Kinda pointless to like somebody who doesn’t like you, right?”
I didn’t know how to answer him.


Did you like that excerpt? If you want to read the rest of this wonderful story, I highly suggest purchasing In Decline. You won't be disappointed.

Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing. He is the author of IN DECLINE and LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES, and he also might've written two books while he was in high school, but he refuses to own up to them and that's why they aren't included on this page. His work has appeared in DEVIL MUSIC AND 18 OTHER STORIES by David McAfee, EVIL PUPPIES by Aaron Daniels and A LAND OF ASH by David Dalglish. He lives in Illinois and is always trying to work on something new, unless he's battling stupid writer's block.

Some of his favorite writers are Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson.

Other Stories and Collections by Michael Crane:

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Book and a Recipe Book Club: Abby Cooper Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

I hope you all enjoyed February's Book and a Recipe Book Club hosted by Markee Anderson! Markee will be back with us on Friday, March 25th, with another GREAT recipe and fun discussion of Abby Cooper Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie. This looks like a very fun book and I can't wait to get started reading!

We'll be doing a giveaway again this month - a $10 Amazon gift certificate - by random drawing from all who join in the discussion!

So I hope you'll stop on by AND tell your friends too! :-)