Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Short Story I KNOW You Will Love!

I have been very excited for today's post.

Recently, I had the chance to read this short story by Karen Wojcik Berner when she posted it on her popular blog, Bibliophilic Blather. This story, "Sheep Boy," had won an honorable mention in the short story contest at WOW! Women on Writing. Well, when I read it, I just had to ask Karen if she would share it for my FFD followers, and thankfully, she agreed. Because I know you're going to love this story and I'm going to stop talking now, but don't forget to read Karen's bio that follows, and learn about her book, A Whisper to a Scream.

Sheep Boy
By Karen Wojcik Berner

Okay. Mail the bills. Go to the bank. Get bread and milk, and, oh yeah, Brianna wanted more markers for school. Twenty minutes until the bus dropped the kids off. Just enough time to pick up a quick cappuccino.

"Hey, how are ya? Care to sample our new low-fat crumb cake? Not that you need it or anything."

Leah gave the kid a WTF look.

"No, I meant the low-fat part. You look pretty good to me."

Good save. He was cute, this kid, with his fuzzy white-guy 'fro all the college boys were sporting lately. She wanted to shear him. "I'll have a medium nonfat cappuccino, extra hot, please."

"Extra hot indeed." He smirked, then called out her order to a taller, skinnier fuzzy guy with a square Herman Munster head. Him, she had no desire to shear.

Drew had gone punk, not goth. What was wrong with her? Did she honestly think he would go all emo on her? When Leah was young, "goth" and "emo" did not exist, only jocks, preppies, nerds and stoners. She was beginning to feel more like her mother every day.

"What'll it be? Oh, hi. Nonfat cappuccino, right? Size?" Sheep Boy's grin was charming.

"Medium, please. Can I ask you something?"

He draped his hands over the cash register. "I'm all yours."

Leah shifted nervously. "Maybe you can help me understand something. My son recently went punk."

Sheep Boy's eyes lit up. "Awesome. Ramones. Green Day."

"Older bands?"

"Yeah, punk's punk. Wait, how old's your son?"

"Thirteen. He's in Junior High."

"No way." Sheep Boy threw his hands up and backed off the register, shaking his head. "There is no way you have a thirteen year old."

"Unfortunately there is." This did not look like calculated flattery for tips. This was a moment of true astonishment.

"Well, you sure don't look it. I mean, I knew you were older when you said 'son,' but I didn't think that old, no offense." He winked.

And so it began. The daily conversation. The oasis from her family's insanity. Her crush on Sheep Boy.

The cappuccino was waiting for her when she walked in. "Saw your van in the parking lot. How's your son?"

"He discovered 'Combat Rock' this week."

"Epic disc. Three-fifty-six, please."

Leah dug in her purse, remembering how old she was the first time she heard "London Calling." It was a lifetime ago. When everything was new. When there was electricity in the air. When music was...she chuckled to herself...epic. She handed him a five.

His hand touched hers briefly when giving her the change. Her face flushed. He did not look away. "So what are you up to tonight?"

Leah could not bring herself to recite the litany of monotonous chores awaiting her. "Not much. How about you?"

"My band is playing at Frankie's." Sheep Boy's eyes sparkled. "You should come. It's going to be awesome."

"Maybe." Leah scurried out of the coffee shop.

That night, Leah dreamt of being in the front row at Sheep Boy's concert.

"This song goes out to a very special lady." Taking her cheek gently, he tilted her face toward him and...

"Leah! Get up!" Her husband poked her. "Your alarm's been ringing for five minutes. Don't forget to pick up my suit from the dry cleaner. I need it for Thursday."

There were several people in line before her. Leah scanned behind the counter for Sheep Boy, but could not see him. Disappointed, she collected her cappuccino from Herman Munster and headed toward the door.

"Wait. Don't leave." Sheep Boy caught up to her. "I thought of you last night."


"I heard 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' on 'XRT while I was driving home, and I thought of you." He searched her face for a reaction.

He was taller than she thought, standing there before her, out from behind the counter. She wanted to say she thought of him often. Each time her husband came home pissed from work expecting dinner. Each time she drove the same neighborhood streets over and over transporting the kids from school to activities to friends'. Each time she closed her eyes at night.

"That's a great song." Leah looked down. "I gotta go."

Sheep Boy's face fell.

"Goodbye." She left, knowing she could never return.

Karen Wojcik Berner is the author of A Whisper to a Scream, the first novel in the Bibliophiles series about the lives of the members of a suburban classics book club. It is available through in paperback and e-versions, as well as for Nook e-readers.

She has been a writer/editor for 25 years, ten of which were spent in editing trade publications. A two-time Folio Magazine Ozzie Award for Excellence in Magazine Editorial and Design winner, her work also has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and countless regional newspapers and magazines.

She is currently working on her second book, How Long 'Til My Soul Gets it Right?, the second book on the Classic Book Club series.

To learn more about Karen, please visit

Monday, July 18, 2011

Special Delivery by Jacqueline Vick

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I'm starting out the week, introducing readers to author Jacqueline Vick, and her VERY FUN novella, Special Delivery.

When someone strangles the life out of cantankerous postal employee Abigail Watts, Deanna Wilder is certain that an odd phrase uttered by the victim on the day of her death holds the key to solving Abigail’s murder. Unfortunately for her daughters, Roxanne and Vanessa, Deanna turns the investigation into a family affair.

This 9,500 word novella introduces The Wilder Women, the sleuthing family featured in the upcoming novel, "Family Matters". A sneak peek at the first chapter of the novel is included at the end of the novella.

Just prior to the scene in today's excerpt, Deanna Wilder is enrolled in yet another class at WACKED (The Wilton Adult Center for Knowledge and Education). This time it’s Doing Vegas in Style. She’s set up a weekly Texas Hold-em game to help her practice for the final, and the players include obnoxious postal clerk Abigail Watts. Deanna puts up with her snide comments in order to practice against the best player in town. This particular Monday evening, Abigail is a no-show.

AND NOW, AN EXCERPT FROM Special Delivery by Jacqueline Vick:

Deanna Wilder nudged her daughter, Vanessa, with a sharp elbow to the rib-cage. “Stop squirming.”

Vanessa glared at the grandfather clock and said, “You promised I’d be home in time for NCIS. If we start playing now, we have time for a couple of hands.”

“It’s summer. It’s a re-run, for goodness sake.”

Ida Nichols, Deanna’s sister-in-law, shuffled a deck of cards with the skill of a Vegas dealer. “Young people aren’t the only ones with lives. Maybe we should call her again.”

“Yes. Maybe we should.” The woman who so readily agreed with Ida was her fraternal twin, Mabel. Mabel entered the world twenty minutes after her sister and was left to scrounge up whatever attributes Ida had seen fit to leave behind. Mabel stood two inches shorter than her twin, was less striking in appearance and manner, and lacked a mind of her own.

“Abigail didn’t pick up the last three times I called,” Deanna said. “What makes you think four is the magic number?”

“Who cares if she plays?” Vanessa chewed a hangnail on her thumb. “Why can’t we start without her?”

“She’s a good player to practice against,” Deanna admitted. “In fact, I wanted to replace her, but I can’t think of anyone as good. I might have to put up with her for a few more weeks.”

“I’m good.” Ida fanned her cards out and swept them up in one fluid move.

“You have a tell,” Deanna said. “You snort when you have a good hand.”

Roxanne, Deanna’s youngest daughter, had until now suffered the evening in silence. She set down her poker chips and said, “Since you won’t start without Abigail, I’m driving over to her house to see what’s keeping her.”

As the evening’s hostess, Deanna opted to remain behind in case Abigail showed up. She convinced Ida and Mabel to stay, primarily because she couldn’t trust the twins to return.

“I’m going with,” Vanessa said.

The drive across town took ten minutes, ten minutes filled with Vanessa’s complaints about her wasted evening.

“Just because Mother thinks I don’t have a life….” Vanessa fingered her curls. “Well, if I don’t, it’s her fault. Every time she takes a class, I wind up as her guinea pig. Today it’s poker. You watch. Tomorrow it will be mind reading and I won’t have any secrets left.”

“I don’t know why you bother to argue,” Roxanne said. “I just agree with her and do what I want.”

“Then why are you spending Monday night running around town looking for some old hag?”

“You mean instead of learning the finer points of military investigations from Mark Harmon?” Roxanne referred to the handsome star of NCIS.

She turned the Chrysler New Yorker into the driveway of Fourteen Harmony Drive and left the car idling. The windows of the house were dark.

“We probably just missed her.” She instructed Vanessa to wait and then ran up to the front door.
Roxanne might have knocked harder than she intended because the door creaked open after the first hit. She leaned her head in. “Abigail?”

No response.

The car headlamps cast a dim light over the living room, and Roxanne could see the outline of a large lump in the middle of the rug. She felt along the entry wall for a switch.

Blazing light filled the room and exaggerated the purple, bloated features of Abigail Watts. Her large arms were thrown over her head; the hem of her housedress rested in a position to expose the varicose veins threading up her plump thighs. Perhaps the worst element of the scene was a sickeningly sweet odor that hung over the room.

Vanessa appeared at Roxanne’s side. “What’s taking so long?” she asked. Then her eyes followed to where Roxanne pointed.

“I’m going to miss my show, aren’t I?”


Jacqueline Vick has been published in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, FIDO Friendly Magazine, Every Day Fiction Anthology Two, and various ezines. Her e-novella “The Groom’s Cake” is available through Wicked Ink Press. The e-novellas “Special Delivery” and “The Mystery of the White Revelation” are an introduction to the characters who inhabit the novels Family Matters and The Body Guy, which will be available in 2011. You can learn more about Jacqeline and her books at and at her blog

Other books by Jacqueline Vick:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maybelle's Revenge and Other Short Stories by LB Gschwandtner

Okay fellow readers - what's better for weekend reading than a great collection of short stories?

Well, I've got just the thing for you!

I just finished this collection myself, and trust me, the stories make for fantastic reading. Of course, I am not only a huge fan of LB's writing, but also have co-authored the chick-lit novel, Foxy's Tale, with her, so I know she can write!

Looking for some afternoon entertainment? Get Maybelle's Revenge and Other Short Stories. You won't be disappointed.

A short story collection with an edge. Paranormal events, vengeful attacks, payback for past pain -- and lots of other quirky tidbits are the stuff of this collection, including a love stricken parrot and a town that takes on an electric glow. It’s all in here but, to start, there’s Maybelle's Revenge. And she is out to get some payback.

What people are saying:
This collection of stories is so much fun the pages practically turn themselves. The stories cover a wide range of subjects and have some wacky, unexpected protagonists - including Maybelle herself - but what they have in common is humor and readability. The stories are short, fast moving and go down like candy. A great choice for beach reading or taking the kids to the pool! -- Kim Wright Wiley

And now, an excerpt from the beginning of "Maybelle's Revenge":

At South Lake Living all the patients were sedated and in bed by eight-thirty, seven days a week. Except for the night aide who sat at the front desk watching a tiny TV, no one stirred until six when the morning staff came on duty and got everyone up to pee.
But not tonight. Tonight Maybelle palmed her pills.

Got them goddam pills right here. I’ll stuff them down her throat, she comes after me.
She slipped out of bed, stepped into her walking shoes and pulled up her knee highs. In the half darkness, as she reached out to the vinyl armchair they had placed next to her bed and plucked her cotton housedress off the arm, old lady DeFino opened her eyes.

“May?” She squinted from the bed across the room. Old lady DeFino couldn’t see past her own hand without her glasses. “Where you going?”

“Shhh.” Maybelle pulled the dress down and snapped the front closed. The dress had two big pockets in front. They bulged a little. She shuffled over to the door. “I’m goin’ out.”
“Whaddya mean you’re goin’ out? If you gotta go you’re supposed to call the night girl.”
“Shut up DeFino. Go back to sleep.”

“Yeah. You’re right. I need my beauty rest.” She rolled over and started snoring almost immediately.

Yeah, you just sleep the rest of your life away, princess.

Maybelle’s plan was simple.

All I gotta do is sneak halfway down the hall, duck into the empty room by the fire stairs where that crazy Marinelli kid pulled the overhead light cord down and caved in the ceiling trying to hang herself last week. Nineteen years old and already nothing to live for. Not me.

She would make some racket by tossing a wastebasket against the steel fireproof door by the bathrooms at the end of the hall. Then out the front door while the night girl was investigating the noise. From there she could hitch a bus to town, get off at the stop two blocks from her house and walk the rest of the way. Simple. If she could just toss the wastebasket far enough.
She shuffled out the door and hugged the wall to keep steady.

Her plan went without a hitch. The night girl was slow witted. She even walked out the fireproof door to see if anyone was there. This gave Maybelle some extra time to lift a walker at the front door. She chose the new kind with wheels.

The night air was mild. That was the best part of living in Florida. The nights. Days were too hot for Maybelle. But Harold had insisted they sell everything and come down here. Whatever Harold wanted he always got. Forty-two years of Harold getting what he wanted. Now Lake Shore. He had put her there.

Maybelle reached into her pocket and pulled out bus fare. She sat on the bench and soon a bus pulled up.

“Need some help with your walker, Gramma?”

“Yes. That would be very nice of you, young man.” Maybelle smiled up at the bus driver.

I could club you with it you son of a snake.

Two blocks from her house she got off. The driver followed her down the steps holding the walker and set it up for her on the sidewalk.

“Thank you, young man.”

“You be good now, granny. Get yourself right home because these are mean streets after dark.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I lived here forty years and I seen plenty.” Maybelle took hold of the rubber coated walker handles and started rolling the two blocks toward her house. It was a lie. They had only come here five years ago.

Goddam lousy buses. Give me a pain up my butt.

It took a long time for her to push her way to the house. The lights were on in the living room. She could see the flicker of the TV against a wall in the den. There was a car in the driveway.
Is that my old Chevy? She rolled over closer to it. Yeah. He’s still driving my car. Used to take that car to the beach. Probably still has sand in the back seat. Took me to South Lake in that car. Wouldn’t let me drive.

Maybelle rubbed her arm remembering other hospital visits. The suspicious looks the doctors and nurses gave her. The questions, always the questions. And yet she never told. Not anyone. She still didn’t know why. Yes, sure, she was ashamed. But it was something else. She was waiting.
Now it was time.

She knew where he kept the gun.

LB Gschwandtner is a writer, magazine editor, artist, and co-owner, with her family, of an integrated media business. Her work has appeared in various journals including Del Sol Review. One of her prose poems has been included in an anthology called “Oil and Water and Other Things That Don't Mix,” a collection published to support victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. She has received awards for three different stories from the Writer's Digest Annual Competition in the mainstream literary category and the Lorian Hemingway short fiction competition, and was short listed for a Tom Howard Short Story Contest.

She also founded which offers free, themed, writing contests with prizes for emerging writers plus a blog where writers talk about their experiences in the publishing world. She has published three books, all available at & B& “The Naked Gardener,” “Page Truly and The Journey To Nearandfar,” and “Foxy's Tale.” And now the short story collection, “Maybelle’s Revenge.”

She’s an avid kayaker (touring) and grew up fishing in the Florida Keys. Here's a tidbit of interest. Her husband proposed on their first and only date and they were married five weeks later. They lived in Paris, France, for a time and now live on a tidal creek where they love watching Bald eagles soar past their windows. Email LB at She’d love to hear from you.

Other books by LB:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ain't Love Grand? by Dana Taylor


Today’s featured author is Dana Taylor and she’s agreed to share an excerpt from her novel, Ain’t Love Grand?

They first meet when he tackles her to the ground. All Persephone Jones was doing was trying to stop the bulldozer from destroying the herb garden she planted on property adjoining hers. But her new neighbor, Jason Brooks, was not only building a beautiful new house, but also a landing strip over her garden. Persephone and Jason couldn't be more different. He is a well-known, high-powered defense attorney with money to burn. She's the illegitimate daughter of a flower child, and dispenses wheat-grass smoothies as well as herbal remedies from her modest shop. And neither of them can understand their mutual attraction. In spite of appearances, Persephone doesn't abide by all hippie principles. For instance, when Jason suggests that they make their relationship more intimate, she demurs. For her sex is an important step, indicating that marriage is on the horizon. He feels differently, but love will have its way in this charming tale of opposites attracting.

What readers are saying:
“Dana Taylor is a fabulous new author who has written a laugh-out-loud
romance between a hero and heroine who are so different from each other, yet still manage to fall in love. This is comedy at its best. The plot is strong, and you can't help but become engrossed in the daily lives of Persephone and Jason. You just know they are meant to be together. AIN'T LOVE GRAND? is a wonderful story that you surely will not want to miss.” – Robyn Reo, Romance Reviews Today

Big city lawyer, Jason Brooks, has just moved next door to herbalist, Persephone Jones, with his mother and daughter. Before this scene, Jason’s mother wandered to Perse’s house for a neighborly visit and helped herself to a little too much wine.

And now, an excerpt from Ain’t Love Grand?

Trotting in his direction, I hollered, “Mr. Brooks! I need to talk to you.” I gasped for breath.

He nodded to his mechanic and headed in my direction with a kind of John Wayne thing going in his walk. Suddenly, I felt self-conscious of my ratty clothes and wild hair.
I stopped about three feet in front of him, panting, pushing curls out of my face. He gave me an amused grin. “Good evening, Ms. Jones. Is this a social call?”

“It’s your mother…” gasp, pant, gasp.

His expression changed instantly to one of concern. “Oh, God, what now?”

“She’s alright. She’s at my house. Asleep, sort of. She came over for a visit, and I was cleaning the kitchen and she asked for a glass of wine and…”

Without waiting for further explanation, he struck out for my property. I ran beside him to keep up.

He shot me a disgruntled look. “How much did you let her have?”

“I only poured her one glass. But evidently, she poured herself a few more.”

“She’s an elderly, frail woman taking a medicine cabinet full of drugs. Do you know what alcohol does to her?”

“Well, I do now. She caught me unawares, and then she started crying and telling me how you gave away all her things. She was just so unhappy. How could you sell everything out from under her like that?”

He stopped in his tracks and towered over me. “Not that it’s any of your business, but did she mention the fire?”

I backed up a little. “Well, yes, she did mention a small kitchen fire.”

He reared back his head and laughed. “Yeah, it started in the kitchen but spread to three more rooms before they got it out. What didn’t burn was either smoke or water damaged. Did she mention that?”

Chagrin crept over me. “Actually, no. I guess she doesn’t have a clear grasp of the facts.”

He started moving again. “My mother doesn’t have a clear grasp of reality, especially when she’s sauced.”

We ran the rest of the way home, and I kept my mouth shut. He headed up my porch steps, yanked open the screen door, and then turned to me in disgust. “I’d think someone who supposedly helps the public stay healthy would know better than to tank up a seventy-five year old woman.”

I crossed my arms in a defensive stance. “I did not tank her up. She arrived uninvited and requested alcohol. I was trying to be a polite hostess.”

He stood over her, hands fisted on hips, shaking his head sadly. “I hate the thought of having to put her in a nursing home some day.”

Okay, he got me with that one. I melted and sighed. “If you’ll carry her to my truck, I’ll take you both home.”

He nodded. “Yes, I guess that’s the most practical course of action.” He reached down for her. “Come on Mama, time to go home.”

Dana Taylor writes stories with a mystical touch. Her work as an energy healer influences her tales of flawed humans seeking spiritual and emotional healing. Born and raised in California, she graduated from the University of Redlands. She has been published in various magazines, including the Ladies Home Journal. She hosted the Internet radio program Definitely Dana! at and won various contests with the Romance Writers of America, including Best First Book from the Desert Quill Awards. Her published works include AIN’T LOVE GRAND?, SHINY GREEN SHOES, and DEVIL MOON: A MYSTIC ROMANCE. Her latest release is a spiritual memoir entitled EVER-FLOWING STREAMS: CHRIST, REIKI, REINCARNATION & ME. Her blogsite is She is a founding member of the on-line community and can be reached at

Other books by Dana Taylor:

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Year of the Mountain Lion by Maria E. Schneider

It's Friday again! I hope everyone will be having a wonderful, summer weekend.

I'm ultra-pleased today, to be introducing everyone to a short story, "The Year of the Mountain Lion," by Maria E. Schneider. I'm a big fan of Maria's work, so when she told me about this story being published by Darwin's Evolutions, I bought it and read it immediately. I have to tell you, this is an EXCELLENT story with action, suspense, and a great ending.

Cursed as a drought-bringer, Jolan lives a harsh life of nomadic exile in the desolate desert that surrounds her former home. Now, though, she is being hunted by those who have already cast her out for purposes she cannot fathom. Unfortunately for her pursuers, Jolan is not helpless and she is determined to survive.

A gripping short story by skilled author Maria Schneider that shares a powerful woman's refusal to surrender in the face of either nature or the society that abandoned her.

What readers are saying:
"Maria E. Schneider, Urban Fantasy and Cozy Mystery writer has taken a trip back to her roots with the short story, “Year of the Mountain Lion.” This story is one part of Darwin’s Evolutions, a short story magazine designed specifically for Kindle readers...The Year of the Mountain Lion” is chock full of self-realization, ethical quandaries, powerful friendships, lost chances and misguided use of power.” --

And now for an excerpt from "Year of the Mountain Lion" by Maria E. Schneider:

Jolan ran across the sand and stopped near the top of a gully, crouching. She glanced backwards, scanning the dry, gritty landscape. There wasn’t much time. They were very close now, and if she didn’t lose them soon, their arrows would have her heart.
She jumped and rolled, not away into the sandy center of the gully, but up against the base. From there, she used her agave swish to brush the sand where she had landed. The rolling marks barely showed, and she left them because there wasn’t time. The hunters might easily mistake the slight markings as those made by an animal anyway.
Her clan didn’t know the desert like she did. When they had abandoned her in the cliffs, blaming the lack of rain on her curse, she had learned to live on the scant water that trickled occasionally in the last, drying stream beds. She had learned to move deeper into the desert in the winter, living on even less water, finding it with the same curse that had gotten her cast out from her clan.

Keeping close to the crumbling sidewalls, Jolan headed for the red rock overhang. The harder ledges would give her some cover and the ability to run full out.

This was the third time her tribe had hunted her. Two seasons ago, her comfortable existence had been shattered when she looked down at a curious pattern in the sand. Jagged sticks formed a lightning bolt. Animal hide, representing thunder, was held down with pebbles. It took all her discipline to keep from scattering the pieces into the wind.

“Wat—” Out of habit, she had started to mutter the name of her people, but her voice was so disused, she uttered only a croaking whisper.

Could it be an enemy of the Watahal who chased her and not a tribe member?
No. Only someone from her clan would know that the lightning bolt with clouds was her old name: Taima, Thunder.

Each time she found the sign, she trembled. Each time she took the old, worn piece of hide, torn from…she could not tell. Whoever followed left only rotted hide, likely desperate, likely out of water.

Leaving a few false trails and wandering in random circles, she had led the enemy away from water until they gave up the chase. Finding water was her forte and traveling her life. If she didn’t stay too long in any one place, her curse didn’t steal the rains for too long.

But the enemy got smarter. She had found the signs again this fall, including a few parched oak twigs from the valley, twigs that signified her new name, Jolan: Dead-Oaks. Part of the wood had been burned, a way of cursing her.

Over the seasons, the clan learned where she roamed: the plains, the mountains or the low hills. And they were close this time.

Her breath came hard as she ran under the protective rock outcrop and then out into the open, sun flashing into her eyes before steady steps took her under the next overhang.
She didn’t slow, even as she tossed her swish into a bundle of fallen rocks. It was nothing there, only a dried branch.

Better they chased her now, rather than in the northern mountains where she stayed after the spring melt. The heat of the desert would discourage them from hunting her for very long.


Also available on NOOK

Maria E. Schneider is the author of the urban fantasy, Under Witch Moon as well as the Sedona O'Hala mystery series, not to mention other short story collections. You can learn more about Maria and her books at

Other Books by Maria:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ghost Plane and other Disturbing Tales by Suzanne Tyrpak

Did everyone have a Happy Fourth of July? I hope so!

We're back today after the holiday with a very cool short story from Suzanne Tyrpak's new release, Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales.

Take a ride on the Ghost Plane. Eleven twisted tales about life, love, and insanity. Eleven tales that explore the darker recesses. If you’re afraid to look too deeply in the mirror, read no further.

What this reader is saying:
I don't often review the books that I feature here at Fiction for Dessert, but as many readers here know, I'm a HUGE fan of short stories, so I asked Suzanne for an advance review copy.

Here's the review I posted on Amazon:

I just finished this collection of short stories by Suzanne Tyrpak and I give it an A+ for entertainment. There are eleven stories contained within three chapters - Airport Stories, Hot Flashes, and Gothica. The tales within each chapter have a specific feel to them and all exhibit Ms. Tyrpak's talent for writing and story telling. Once I sat down to read one story, I found I couldn't stop. If you think you don't enjoy horror, don't let that stop you from reading these stories! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Okay, so I don't want to keep you in suspense -- Suzanne has graciously offered to post one story from the collection. Enjoy!

"Blue Angel"

There are a lot of ways to die at the airport.

I don’t mean in a crash or at the hands of terrorists. Other ways.

I work at this small airport in the Rocky Mountains. Been working here for years. I liked my job just fine, till the new boss showed up.

She’s got her favorites. Not me—newbies who do her bidding without question, even when it’s all screwed up or against airline policy—eighteen-year-olds who’ve never worked a job before and have no clue what’s what. She makes them supervisors, gives them weekends off, never writes them up for sleeping through a shift or pretending to be sick.

Meanwhile, she writes me up for nothing.

Maybe I didn’t smile right. Maybe I have an opinion. She tells me she wants, “cookie-cutter-agents.” That could only work for me, if I were the prototype.

I try to keep my mouth shut, but she’s always on me.

“Just because you’ve been here ten years doesn’t mean you know anything,” she announces in front of everyone at our station meeting. “You have no more authority than someone who’s been working here two weeks.”


So people who got the job yesterday don’t listen to a word I say.

I see them loading suitcases wheels-down, so the bags are rolling off the cart, sliding around the cargo pit. I tell them to stack the big bags on the bottom, on their sides, handles facing out, then lay the smaller bags on top. But they don’t listen. When bags are jumbled in the pit, when the count is off and the Load Sheet doesn’t add up—when we get a hit with a delay—the boss yells at me. Suddenly, I’m a senior agent: responsible.

“I don’t like your attitude,” she says.

“What attitude?”

“Your tone of voice.”
I shut my mouth, don’t say a word.

But I’m always thinking.

They fly turbo-props into this airport, Dash-8s. Prop planes do well at this altitude, better than jets. Those propellers are powerful. They spin so fast that you can’t see them. It’s easy to forget they’re there.

Say you’re tired—which you always are, getting up at 3am and working a sixteen hour split-shift. Say the flight is running late and the pressure’s on. You’ve got to do a quick turn, get those passengers back to Denver in time for their connections. You’re in a rush. The captain hands you the release—the paperwork the FAA audits—the flight attendant closes the door, the engines rev, and the propellers start to spin, move so fast you see right through them. They kick out a lot of wind, rip the release out of your hand. You need those papers. So, without thinking, you chase them down and run right into the props.

Body parts and blood all over the ramp.

It happens.

I’ve almost done it once or twice.

Maybe you’ve never noticed me, working out on the ramp loading bags. We all wear uniforms and these florescent orange vests, so everybody looks the same. Sometimes, when I’m out here humping bags, breaking my back for less than I could make at McDonald’s, I get these thoughts.

About my boss.

When we’re short-handed and just the two of us are working—like tonight, for example—how hard would it be to push her into the propellers?

Accidents happen.

This guy I know fell out of the bucket when he was deicing. That glycol we spray the plane with is slick. And you’re spraying it in bad conditions, wind and snow blasting your face, trying to beat the clock and get the plane out before the holdover time expires. So there he was in a blizzard, way up in the bucket, spraying. No harness. Who has time to put on that straight-jacket? When you’re deicing, the person in the bucket is dependent on the driver of the truck. Ideally, the person in the bucket radios the driver, tells the driver where to go: along the fuselage, above the wing, around the tail. But things go wrong. Say the radio is broken. Say it’s snowing so hard the driver can barely see. Say the bucket slams into the wing. Maybe the driver hits the brakes too hard, and the bucket sways, tilts crazily. The person in the bucket slips in the glycol, can’t get a grip, slides out. If you’re wearing a harness you’ll hang there, dangling in the air. No harness, and you’re falling twenty feet or more onto the tarmac. This guy bashed his head. Never been the same.

Maybe he’s lucky. He got out before the new boss arrived.

She’s a piece of work. Mandoed me on my day off, even though she knew I had plans tonight. We’re short-staffed, and no wonder. Who in their right mind would work here? Tonight, it’s just the two of us.

There’s always electrocution.

The Ground Power Unit supplies power to the aircraft. We hook it up whenever a plane pulls into the gate. At night we leave the GPU running, so we have light for cleaning the cabin. One ramper brings in the plane, signaling with lighted wands, while the other ramper drives the tug attached to the GPU—this big silver generator. The driver hops out of the tug, unwinds the GPU’s electrical cord, unclips the panel in the aircraft and plugs the GPU into the prongs. Meanwhile, the other ramper waits until the plug is secure before switching on the power. Switch the power on too soon, and the jolt could kill the person plugging in the cord. Especially if the connection is faulty.

I’m here in ops, sitting by the radio, waiting for the captain to call in range. The weather’s going down tonight, a slow-moving storm. My boss is in her office, pretending to push papers, but I know she’s on Facebook monitoring her friends. She sent me a friend request, but I ignored it. That pissed her off.

But everything I do annoys her.

She needs to chill.

I imagine her floating, face-down in a vat of blue juice.

Peaceful. Finally at rest.

Blue juice is what we call the lavatory fluid. It’s bright blue, more turquoise than the Caribbean. Chances are you haven’t given much thought to the toilets on a plane. Most people don’t. Maybe you think all that crap just gets magically flushed into some other universe. Well, someone has to dump it, and that someone is me. Every night I drag this cart up to the plane, unclip a panel, unscrew a cap, and attach the hose. Sounds easy, but it’s tricky. If the hose isn’t snug, or if some bozo up in Denver didn’t latch the cap right, the contents of the lav dumps all over the ramp, all over you: blue juice, clumps of toilet paper, all kinds of nastiness.

Happened to me twice one night. Instead of hooking up the hose, I got soaked in a shit-shower. Hazmat all over the tarmac, all over me.

I took it as a message from the universe.

My boss thinks it’s hilarious, started calling me The Blue Angel.

That got me thinking.

It doesn’t take much liquid to drown a person. People drown in bathtubs. They even drown in their own vomit.

She says I have an attitude, but I don’t think it’s bad. I think my attitude is great.

Gotta go. The plane is calling in.

You know what?

Tonight I really like this job.

Suzanne Tyrpak ran away from New York a long time ago to live in Colorado. She enjoys bike-riding, skiing, hiking and swimming--but she spends most of her free time writing or posting on the internet. She's had numerous jobs: actor, dancer, tarot reader, radio advertising exec, airline customer service. These jobs often provide inspiration for her stories--as does her insanity.

Suzanne's debut novel is Vestal Virgin, suspense set in ancient Rome, available as a trade paperback and in all eformats. Her collection of nine short stories Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction) is available on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. J.A. Konrath calls it, "Pure comedic brilliance." Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales is available in all eformats. Scott Nicholson says, "Enter this circus and let Suzanne show you why horror is the greatest show on earth." You can learn more about Suzanne and her books at
Who's Imagining All This?.

Other books by Suzanne Tyrpak:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fleeting Memory by Sherban Young


I hope everyone will be enjoying their Fourth of July Weekend. I know I will! One note: I will not be posting on Monday. Have fun on the holiday, and meet me back here on Wednesday for another great excerpt.

But now for today's delicacy . . .

I bring you a fun excerpt from Sherban Young's Fleeting Memory. If you like cozy mysteries, you are really going to enjoy this one!

The answer lies with Keats… With these cryptic last words, the man sprawled out on the floor of the rustic cabin expires - murdered. What could he have meant? Why Keats? Which answer? (For that matter, what was the question?)

All this and more passes through the mind of the young householder who discovers the body. If only he knew the guy’s name. Or anybody’s name. Including his own...

From here, our John Doe is hurtled along a path of self-discovery. With the help of Enescu Fleet, retired private detective and (according to some) the world’s most fascinating man, he will delve into an exciting new game show called Deadly Allusions, where trivia and murder compete for top billing. Along the way, he will attempt to figure out the dead man’s clue - and quite possibly nab a murderer who is too smart for his own good.

What readers are saying:
“If you are looking for a fresh voice in humorous, cozy, caper-like mysteries, you can't go wrong with Sherban Young.” -Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf

And now, an excerpt from Fleeting Memory:

I knelt by the remains. The figure was male, kind of a fireplug in shape, and totally dead. He was wearing a brown wool sweater damp with blood, tan wool trousers and a black scarf, also wool. I put him down as a wool fan. The way his head was cocked had covered his cheek with the scarf and pushed his glasses askew (thick black frames bedewed with tiny droplets of rain water).

Then, of course, there was the crossbow bolt in his chest.

Careful not to add my fingerprints to the evidence - I wasn’t a complete moron - I poked his glasses into place with my trusty pen and slid the scarf down. His face was mustached, ruddy in complexion and rough, like burgundy sandpaper. I didn’t recognize him (no shocker there) and for a minute I sat back on my heels, wondering who could have killed him and why. He seemed like a decent sort, for a corpse.

Suddenly the corpse spoke, and I sprang back from it.

The Maltese pup, pausing to squat and tinkle again, darted from the room, no doubt feeling its presence was no longer required here. It was just me and the dead guy now: apparently not as totally dead as I had figured him. I scooched over and tilted my ear to listen.

“Heat,” I thought I heard him say.

I nodded sympathetically. If I had been a corpse, I probably would have found it pretty nippy in there too. “I’ll call for help,” I whispered.

He shook his head and said “No time,” softly.

Unfortunately I didn’t quite make this out, and replied, equally soft, “Half past eight.”

He glared at me. “Not the time, you ignoramus. No time.”

I had nettled the poor guy. Even still, I didn’t see why he had to get personal about it. He drew me in closer. He might have called me an ignoramus again, I can’t be sure.

“Ka -” he began. “Ka -”

“Ka -” I said with him. Ka. Ka. Was he trying to pronounce ka-ching? First Heat, then sound effects? It didn’t make any sense.

“K-eat-s,” he concluded. Keats! He had been saying Keats, not Heat. He had sort of muffled the “s,” you see, and well, it had really sounded like Heat.

“Keats,” he said more clearly.

I was totally with him now. He was enunciating beautifully. Keats. A man named Keats had evidently shot him or knew who had shot him. “Keats who?” I asked.

He reached up and gripped my shirt.

“The answer - lies - with - Keats,” he told me.

The line was said with such emphasis, with such a resounding weight to the words, that I had no choice but to lean back and consider them in the spirit in which they had been uttered.

The answer lies with Keats. I took it all in.

“What answer?” I asked.

He shook his head again. “Cretin,” he remarked, and was gone.

He was really dead this time. Really dead and kind of rude.

Sherban Young is also the author of The Five Star Detour, Opportunity Slips and Dead Men Do Tell Tales. Like the hero in Fleeting Memory, he has logged many hours inside casinos - research - and frequently spends his off-hours chasing blondes. You can learn more about Sherban and his books at

Other books by Sherban Young: