Monday, December 22, 2014

Book tour and giveaway for interracial Christian romance novel Unbound Hearts by Michelle Lindo-Rice



Author is offering Two $10.00 Amazon Gift Cards Giveaway
Two Winners will be randomly chosen via rafflecopter

Contest ends: December 24, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally


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ASIN: B00QR552TG
Genre: Interracial Christian Romance
Author: Michelle Lindo-Rice
Unbound Hearts (Able to Love Book 2)

Would you hire the person responsible for your losing both your legs? Before he lost both his limbs, Jasper Orion was on his way to being voted Most Valuable Player in the National Football League. A man of faith, his faith in God remains unshaken and he starts his own business. With God’s leading Jasper decides to hire Charmaine Evans, the woman responsible for his demise. But, unexpectedly, Jasper develops feelings for his newest employee. He longs to hold her in his arms. Wheelchair bound, will Jasper’s love for Charmaine motivate him to walk again? A backslidden Christian, Charmaine Evans’ ambitions left her broke, unemployed and a social pariah. Guilt-ridden, she returned home to Port Charlotte, FL to lick her wounds. To Charmaine’s surprise, Jasper not only offers her forgiveness but also a job when no one else would. Charmaine marvels at Jasper’s faith while grappling with her own. Bound by her past, will Charmaine learn to accept God’s plan for her heart and her life?




Michelle Lindo-Rice enjoys crafting women's fiction with themes centered around the four "F" words: Faith, Friendship, Family and Forgiveness. Her first published work, Sing A New Song, was a Black Expressions featured selection. Originally from Jamaica West Indies, Michelle Lindo-Rice calls herself a lifelong learner. She has earned degrees from New York University, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Teachers College, Columbia University. When she moved to Florida, she enrolled in Argosy University where she completed her Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership. A pastor's kid, Michelle upholds the faith, preaching, teaching and ministering through praise and worship. Feel free to connect with her at michellelindorice.com You can read her testimony, learn about her books, PLEASE join her mailing list, or read a sample chapter at michellelindorice.com.

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Tour Hosted by WNL Book Tours


Prize: Two $10.00 Amazon Gift Card for Two winners
Contest ends: December 24, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally


Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Michelle Lindo-Rice and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @ pharperjohnson@gmail.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

New interview with mystery writer Cristelle Comby

I’m happy to have mystery novelist Cristelle Comby back for a new interview. You can read the January 1 interview if you’d like. 

Today we’re focused on her newest mystery novel Danse Macabre (Book #3 of the Neve & Egan cases).

Cristelle is doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and during the tour, she will be awarding a lucky winner with a signed copy of Danse Macabre. To be entered for a chance to win use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too. 

Bio: Writer, chocolate addict, overall nice girl!

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Cristelle. Please tell us about your newest release.
Danse Macabre is the third installment in my ongoing series the Neve & Egan cases. In this new novel, private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan take on their darkest case and come to grip with a serial killer.

What inspired you to write this book?
The ballet aspect, mostly; I’ve been wanting to do something with dancing for awhile. I also wanted to tackle a serial killer case. That makes for a very ying-yang concept, doesn’t it? Something beautiful, graceful on one side and some of the darkest, ugliest acts of violence on the other.

Excerpt from Danse Macabre:
I take a better look at the dancer facing us. He looks… fragile more than shy. He has bags under his eyes, his nails show the traces of nervous biting, and his clothes are ill-fitting. Lack of sleep, tension, weight loss. What is going on in Marc Jules’ life? What is he trying to hide from us? ‘That’s not all, is it?’ I lean forward, look at him square on. ‘There’s something you’re not telling us. It’s plain to see.’

The young man shrinks in on himself even more. ‘No… no, nothing. I told you everything I know. I have no idea where Isabella is. I swear.’ A thought strikes me, and I try another angle. ‘She obviously means something to you.’

The man’s eyes shift to the side as he focuses all of his attention on the half-empty lemonade glass sitting on the table. Gotcha!

‘You like her, yet you refuse to help us; it doesn’t make sense,’ I continue. ‘What would Isabella say if she could see you now?’

‘I don’t know anything,’ Marc protests with fervour.

‘Really?’

‘I’d tell you if I knew. I like her, she’s my friend. I want to find her too.’

‘Then stop lying to us,’ Egan says. ‘What are you not telling us?’

‘If what you’re saying is the truth, you would do well to stop keeping things from us. You’re slowing us down, Marc; you’re wasting our time,’

I continue, relentless. I can feel we’re close to breaking him, so very close. ‘Do you know how valuable time is, in a situation like this? Time is everything. Every second we’re wasting on you is taking us further away from Isabella.’

‘You’re letting her down, right now.’ Egan adds. ‘Maybe you’re not her friend after all.’

‘No — she’s my friend. I swear.’ Marc rushes the words out, tears welling up in his eyes.

‘She’s helped me when no one else would. I owe her so much.’

My eyebrows rise up at the words and I cock my head to the side, my expression expectant.
Marc bites down hard on his lip the second he finishes his sentence. He didn’t mean to reveal this much to us, but it’s too late now. The cat’s out of the bag. I soften my tone now that I’ve got what I wanted. ‘What do you mean, Marc? How did she help you?’

‘I don’t… she just…’ He stops himself, crosses his arms over his chest. ‘It’s nothing to do with any of this.’

‘Let us be the judges of that,’ Egan says. ‘If Isabella was involved, it could be relevant.’
‘It’ll stay between us,’ I promise. ‘We’re not the police, Marc. Whatever it is, no one else needs to know.’


The young man lets out a long breath as he uncrosses his arms. Defeated, he lets his hands hang limp in his lap.


What’s the next writing project?
The next book in the series, of course: Blind Chess. I have the first five or six chapters finished already, and I’m looking forward to my Christmas Holidays to get the next big chunk done. It picks up where this one ends.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book?
Pace, always. I love my characters and give them a lot of attention -- I want people to understand why they do what they do. Sometime I can be a bit too wordy when dealing with their feelings and it slows things down. Keeping up the pace is what I focus on the most when editing. I also have to chase down adverbs with a battle axe.

Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I research before, while I plan the novel and work on the outline. I like to get all the “technical” parts done before I start writing the book. Then I can focus on the more “creative” aspect of the job.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I often write in bed, because my desk is a bit cramped up and not that comfortable. In the summer, when the weather allows for it, I sometimes go outside on the balcony. The where isn’t that important to me; what matters is that I’m comfortable and that the place is quiet so I can lose myself within my thoughts. The muse is shy; she doesn’t come by when there’s too much people around :).

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I don’t read that much within my genre; I like to try out other things. I’m really into Urban Fantasy at the moment; love me some Jim Butcher or Larry Correia. Brandon Sanderson’s new series, Reckoners, is pretty good too.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Just a big, fat thank you! I’ve been on a little cloud these past couple of weeks. I got some wonderful feedback on my book and couldn’t have been happier with how it’s been received. Thanks everyone! And thank you, Lisa, for having me back. 


It's been my please, Cristelle. Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book excerpt for The Cowboys of Copper Mountain Christmas anthology by Tule Publishing Group

Today’s focus is The Cowboys of Copper Mountain Series by Jane Porter, Melissa McClone, and Katherine Garbera.

During the virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, the authors will be awarding a $25 gift card to one randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, visit the other tour stops and enter there, too!

Blurb:
Three novellas and an unforgettable short story, now available together in one festive package!

A Cowboy for Christmas by Katherine Garbera
Annie Prudhomme never expected to be back in Marietta, MT and her family is fond of reminding her that she left them and the town behind in search of better things. A humiliating divorce that cost her everything she’d gained has driven her back home and her family isn’t about to welcome her back into the fold. She’s in town to rebuild the old home that she inherited and to move on once again.

Carson Scott never forgot Annie or the way she left. Now that she’s back in town he’s realizing that the old flame still burns hot but he can’t risk his heart the way he did last time now that he has his son to think about it. Being trapped together during a December snowstorm gives them a chance to rekindle their romance but is Annie back for good or is she just looking for a cowboy for Christmas?

Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter
Since the loss of her family in a plane crash, Harley Diekerhoff has led a quiet life and keeps to herself. Taking the temporary job at the Copper Mountain Ranch as widower Brock Sheenan’s housekeeper seems perfect for her. But her calm cocoon is invaded with the arrival of Brock’s pre-teen twins, Mack and Molly who’ve never experienced a proper Christmas and before she knows it, Harley’s determined to make their holiday perfect.

Annoyed at first by Harley’s interference, Brock is secretly pleased she’s changed Mack and Molly’s world. It doesn’t hurt that he finds Harley incredibly attractive, fierce, smart and passionate. It’s also an added bonus that she’s not afraid to challenge him and get his blood heated! But when sparks fly and the attractions sizzles between them, Harley’s not so sure she can handle something permanent with this dark, taciturn cowboy who doesn’t know how to let her in. But Brock is determined to hold on to her and praying for a Christmas miracle…

Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone
Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Rachel Murphy loves the scent of gingerbread baking almost as much as she enjoys creating custom edible houses at Christmastime. But she needs a bigger kitchen if she wants to make the most of her impromptu holiday business.

Enter Nate Vaughn, handsome venture capitalist turned Montana dude ranch owner and her brother’s boss. Nate’s commercial kitchen is perfect for the baker. And he thinks she might be perfect for him…as a business partner.

After being burned by a celebrity baker, Rachel’s wary of Nate’s interest in her gingerbread houses, not to mention his mistletoe kisses. She should leave the Bar V5 ranch and return to Arizona. Or can Nate convince her she’s already home?

Mistletoe Magic by Melissa McClone
Spending a quiet Christmas housesitting and reading novels about hot cowboys sounds perfect to Caitlin. Until a stray kitten brings her face-to-face with Noah, her crush from college. Watching the handsome vet in action melts Caitlin's heart and brings back long-forgotten emotion. She would be safer back at the house lost in the pages of a book. But a toe-curling mistletoe kiss tempts her to stay. Maybe she won't be spending this Christmas… alone.

Veterinarian Noah Sullivan isn't a Scrooge, but the Christmas Eve tradition of hanging mistletoe in the clinic's waiting room annoys him. Kissing doesn't belong at the Copper Mountain Animal Hospital. Noah rethinks his position when Caitlin Butler arrives with a stray kitten she found freezing in the snow. All he wants now is to maneuver the pretty preschool teacher under the mistletoe. If he's not careful, he'll wind up on Santa's naughty list.


Excerpt for Christmas at Copper Mountain:
“You okay, Miss Diekerhoff?”

Turning quickly, potato skins still dripping, Harley blinked back tears as she spotted Brock Sheenan standing by the fireplace, warming his hands.

Brock was a big man.  He was tall–six one or two—with broad shoulders, a wide muscular chest, and shaggy black hair.

Harley’s late husband, David, was Portuguese and darkly handsome, but David was always groomed and polished while the Montana rancher seemed disinclined to comb his hair, or bother with a morning shave.

The truth was, Brock Sheenan looked like a pirate, and never more so than now, with tiny snowflakes clinging to his wild hair and shadowed jaw.

“I’m fine,” she said breathlessly, embarrassed.  “I didn’t hear you come in.”

 “The faucet was on.” He rubbed his hands together, the skin red and raw.  “You’re not….crying…are you?”

She heard the uncomfortable note in his voice and cringed a little.  “No,” she said quickly, straightening and squaring her shoulders as she dumped the potato peels into the garbage.  “Everything’s wonderful.”

“So you’re not crying?”

“No,” she repeated crisply, drying her hands.  “Just peeling potatoes for dinner.”

Her gaze swept his big frame, seeing the powdered snow still clinging to the hem of his wrangler jeans peeking beneath his leather chaps and white glitter dusting his black brows.  His supple leather chaps weren’t for show.  It was frigid outside and he’d spent the week in the saddle driving the last herds of cattle from the back country to the valley down below so the cows could take shelter beneath trees.  “Can I get you something?”

“You don’t happen to have any coffee left from this morning that you could heat up?”

“I can make a fresh pot,” she said, grabbing the glass carafe to fill it with water.  “Want regular or decaf?”

He glanced at the clock mounted on the wall above the door and then out the window where the snow flurries were thickening, making it almost impossible to see the tall pine trees marking one corner of the yard. “Leaded,” he said.  “Make it strong, too.  It’s going to be a late night for me.”

She added the coffee grounds, and then hit the brew button.  “You’re heading back out?”

“I’m going to ride back up as soon as I get something warm in me.  Thought I’d take some of the breakfast coffee cake with me.  If there was anything left.”

“There is.”  She’d already wrapped the remaining slices in foil.  He wasn’t one to linger over meals, and he didn’t like asking for snacks between meals, either.   If he wanted something now, it meant he wouldn’t be back anytime soon.   But it was already after four.  It’d be dark within the hour.  “It’s snowing hard.”

“I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I don’t do a last check. The boys said we’ve got them all but I keep thinking we’re missing one or two of the young ones.  Have to be sure before I call it a night.”

Harley reached into a cupboard for one of the thermoses she sent with Brick on his early mornings.  “What time will you want dinner?”

“Don’t know when I’ll be back.  Could be fairly late, so just leave a plate in the oven for me.  No need for you to stay up.”  He bundled his big arms across his even bigger chest, a lock of thick black hair falling down over his forehead to shadow an equally dark eye.

There was nothing friendly or approachable about Brock when he stood like that.  His wild black hair, square jaw, and dark piercing gaze that gave him a slightly threatening air, but Harley knew better.  Men, even the most dangerous men, were still mortal.  They had goals, dreams, needs.  They tried, they failed.  They made mistakes.  Fatal mistakes.

 “Any of the boys going with you?” she asked, trying to sound casual as she wrapped a generous wedge of cheddar cheese in foil, and a hunk of the summer sausage he liked, so he’d have something more substantial than coffee cake for his ride.

He shook his head, then dragged a large calloused hand through the glossy black strands in a half-hearted attempt to comb the tangled strands smooth.  “No.”

 She gave him a swift, troubled look.

He shrugged.  “No point in putting the others in harm’s way.”

Her frown deepened. “What if you get into trouble?”

“I won’t.”

She arched her brows.

She ought to be intimidated by this shaggy beast of a man, but she wasn’t.  She’d had a husband—a daring, risk taking husband of her own—and his lapse in judgment had cost them all.  Dearly.

 “It’s dangerous out there,” she said quietly.  “You shouldn’t go alone.”



Authors' bios and links:


Jane Porter’s bio:
USA Today, and New York Times bestselling author of 47 romances and women's fiction titles, Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, with her Tule Publishing novella, Take Me, Cowboy, winning the Novella Category July 2014. Jane today has over 12 million copies in print, including her wildly popular Flirting with Forty, a novel picked by Redbook Magazine as it's Red Hot Summer Read in 2006 before being turned into a Lifetime movie in 2008 starring Heather Locklear.
Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband three sons, and two dogs. 



Katherine Garbera’s bio:
USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 65 books. Writing is the chief focus of her time after her family and the only thing she likes more than working on her own books is reading other authors.  She is a frequent speaker at conferences and loves the opportunity to talk about writing with anyone who'll listen. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.




Melissa McClone’s bio:
Melissa McClone has published over thirty romance novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She’s also been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities. She also sends care packages to deployed service members and fosters cats through a local no-kill animal shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house. They do!



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview with memoirist Ruth W. Crocker

Today’s guest is non-fiction writer Ruth W. Crocker to share some tidbits with us about her memoir, Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion after War.

Bio:
Ruth W. Crocker, PhD, is a 2013 Pushcart Prize-nominated author, writing consultant, and expert on recovery from trauma and personal tragedy. Her memoir Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War describes her experience following her husbands death in Vietnam and how she found resources for healing.

Crockers essays have been recognized in Best American Essays and her articles have been featured in the Gettysburg Review, Grace Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, O-Dark-Thirty, and T.A.P.S. Magazine.

She received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Bennington College, a PhD in Nutrition and Human Development from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Education from Tufts University. Along the way she also became a Registered Dietitian.

Crocker worked in health care administration and clinical nutrition before becoming a full-time writer. Currently, she is the Writer-In-Residence at Riverlight Wellness Center in Stonington, Connecticut, where she teaches the art of writing memoirs and personal essays to aspiring writers who want to express their own stories. She lives, cooks, and writes in Mystic, Connecticut and is available for workshops, readings, and public speaking.

Welcome Ruth. Please tell us about your current release.
Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War is a memoir about my husband’s death in the Vietnam War in 1969 and what I chose to do immediately following his death as a way of surviving grief. The decision to bury our letters and significant memorabilia in the coffin in which he returned, and to have him cremated and take his ashes to the Swiss Alps, seemed, at the time, to be the only way to cope with the tragedy. In the book I also look back on my earlier experiences of growing up in a family against war to reflect on what might have influenced my dramatic decision and also helped me to survive. The story then moves ahead thirty-five years to the experience of meeting, by chance, the men who were with him when he was killed. This meeting, and hearing their stories of his great leadership and compassion, created the ultimate healing and eventually convinced me that I should dig up the letters and revisit his words written during his last six months in Vietnam.

What inspired you to write this book?
Back in the 1990s my son started urging me to tell my story but I wasn’t ready, so I started by writing a fictionalized version (a one-act play). I also started writing personal essays about my early experiences. Eventually, in 2006, after meeting the guys who served with my husband in Vietnam, I realized that I needed and wanted to write my story, and also to include some of their stories. Today, after the long silence that followed the Vietnam War, more and more people are sharing their experience of that tumultuous and confusing time.

Here is a link to the book trailer that was created by my son, actor and director, Noah Bean. 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m collaborating with photographer Steve Horan to create a unique portrait of Yellowstone National Park through the pictures and stories of people who live and work there, including: back country rangers, wildlife preservationists, search and rescue team members, troubadours, artists, hikers, animal tracking experts, oral historians and many more. Some of these people have been drawn to Yellowstone after traumatic experiences in war. They all have great stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The experience that confirmed that I was writer was when I received my first acceptance for a personal essay from a literary journal. In this case it was an essay about growing up with my younger brother who eventually died of AIDS. I was paid for the essay! And, eventually it was listed as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2013. That was a huge confidence booster, but I remind myself everyday that I can’t continue to call myself a writer unless I keep writing!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I balance my writing life between teaching, editing other people’s manuscripts, reading and trying to keep my house from falling down. I also participate in community service activities and serve on two boards, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and the National Board of Gold Star Wives of America. Some weeks are busier than others. I don’t have a regular writing schedule. Usually it helps me to give myself a deadline on a daily basis – like, just write one page. That gets me started. I make notes continually in a journal. Some of it is useful and some not. Sometimes my journals are a mixture of writing ideas and recipes I want to try. I don’t use outlines unless it’s a writing project where I know I have to cover particular areas. I prefer to write in the afternoon into the evening. I also try to keep up with some social media activities everyday and answer letters and e-mail.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually don’t know where I’m going when I start to write. I just follow my thoughts as they come to me, get them down on the page, and then go back and figure out what I’m trying to say later. I revise a lot.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Until the age of ten or twelve, I wanted to be a nurse like my mother. Then I began to draw and paint every day and was sure that I would be an artist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re trying to find a way to start your story, try starting with, “I remember…”

It’s amazing how those two words can free the mind and the imagination.


Thanks, Ruth!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book blurb and excerpt for romantic comedy "Love, Albert" by Lynda Simmons

Today’s special feature is the romantic comedy Love, Albert by Lynda Simmons.

As she does a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, Lynda will be awarding one randomly chosen winner with a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below.  To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Blurb about Love, Albert:  
Sometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic

Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time. 


Excerpt from Love, Albert:
“Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.

Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.

Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”

Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.

“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”

“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”

“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fl y-in-the-ice-cube.”

“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”

“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.”

The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”

She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.

“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”

Reid raised his head. “A favor?”

“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”

The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”

“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”

Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”

“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”

Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”


Author information:
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.

With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.

When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!




Special Flash Fiction piece:

SEVEN
Mother’s Day
(With Grace’s daughter, Margo)

            “What time is it?”
            That line belongs to Edna. So does the sentry position by the main door. Yet for some reason, my mother has taken over both.
“Four o’clock,” she says, answering the question exactly as she has for ages. But where is Edna? And why are uniformed officers taping off a square in the snow out front?
Willow Tree Long Term Care is usually quiet, gentrified. But the lot is full of police cars, the front desk looks abandoned and every staff member I’ve seen so far has been running.
“You can’t do this to me!” someone, somewhere hollers loud enough to have my mother heading for the hall.
“Mom,” I call.
She turns and stares at me. Starts wringing her hands, something she’s never done before.
            “Karen comes at four,” she says.
            Karen’s the golden-haired girl, mom’s favourite. The one who got away.
            “Mom, it’s me, Margo.” I unbutton my coat and walk toward her. “Karen’s not here,” I add and try to take her hand but she jerks away. Points past me. “Who died and made you king?” she shouts.
            That was Edna’s line too. Said it every time the poor doctor came into sight. And sure enough, there he is, coming through the front door on a blast of cold air. No one seems to know what Edna had against him. Then again Alzheimer’s never explains and never asks for permission.  Just takes what it wants, when it wants and leaves the rest of us to catch up as best as we can.
            “I know you,” my mom shouts.  “I know who you are.”
            I raise a hand to hail him, to find out what’s going on. But he lowers his head and scurries off, heading toward the raised voices at the end of the hall. Unlike Edna, my mother follows, her own addition to the show. But I don’t imagine he’ll appreciate the extra attention.
            “Mom, wait,” I say and this time she lets me take her arm. “Shall we have a cup of tea?”
            “Quite a circus we’ve got here this morning,” Joyce, the Bingo Lady, says, hurrying toward me, hand extended. “Good to see you, Margo. How was your holiday?”
            “Fabulous. How could two weeks in Maui be otherwise?”
It was my first vacation in two years. “Go,” everyone said. “Your mother will be fine.” But the way she’s wringing her hands makes me wonder.
“Did my sister visit at all?” I ask.
            Joyce shakes her head. “I’m afraid not.”
            Figures.  I don’t know why I thought she would. 
My sister hasn’t set foot inside this building since we moved mom in two years ago, even though she was the one who insisted on Willow Tree. “It’s the closest place,” she said.  And also the most expensive. “My mother loves it there,” she likes to say. But I think Karen loves telling people her mother lives there, more. Loves to let them know which well-heeled resident her mother is rubbing polyester shoulders with this month. 
            But mom does seem happy and the visiting pets are hypo-allergenic, but more importantly the staff are well-paid and lovely. Except Joyce. She’s a volunteer, but equally lovely. A retired therapist of some sort, she comes five days a week to run bingo games. The idea seemed crazy to me, but she must know what she’s doing because all the residents love her games, my mother included.  If Joyce pokes her head into a room, the residents follow like she’s some kind of Pied Piper. It’s wonderful to see, a real testament to what kindness and empathy can do. And unlike the doctor, no one ever shouts at Joyce or tries to chase her away.
            “What time is it?” My mother smiles at me. “Karen comes at four.”
            “I’m not Karen, ma. I’m Marg—”
            And naturally she turns away, distracted by shouting at the end of the hall again. A man hollering, “This is an outrage!”
            “Don’t let your mother get you down, dear,” Joyce says, her voice as gentle as her hand on my arm. “Somewhere inside, she knows it’s you.”
            I almost laugh. My mother hasn’t known me since I was a teenager. But she’s sick and needs someone, end of story. “What’s going on around here, anyway?”
“All hell is breaking loose,” Joyce says, letting me change the subject and motioning me to the dining room. “They’ve cancelled all activities for bit. Let’s have that cup of tea, and I’ll fill you in.”
Once my mother is settled with tea and warm chocolate chip cookies, Joyce starts in.
“Strange things have been happening since you left,” she says. “Started with Edna’s death last week.”
“Edna?” I throw my coat on a chair and sit down. “But she always seemed so healthy.”
“Exactly. And after she was gone, out of the blue, your mother started saying everything Edna used to say.”
“What time is it?” my mom says, as if on cue. “Four o’clock,” she answers and starts wringing her hands.
Joyce takes those hands in hers. “Relax dear. Everything’s okay.”
And just like that, my mom stops wringing and picks up her cup. The Pied Piper in action.
“Then last night,” Joyce continues. “Your mother’s roommate, Bernice, got outside and froze to death.”
The cookie stops halfway to my mouth. “Got out? How?”
“No one knows. And with no video surveillance, they can’t trace her movements. Privacy has always been a priority here, but that’s bound to change now.”
            “Take your hands off me!” a woman shouts.
            I turn to see police dragging Gina Baron, the Administrator, past the dining room.
            “Help me!” she screams.
            Instinctively I leap up and Joyce touches my arm again. “This isn’t your fight, dear.”
And then I’m sinking back into the chair as a couple of nurses slip through the door, heading for the coffee maker.
            “What’s going on?” Joyce asks.
            “Another body,” one says.
            “And Gina’s going to the nuthouse,” the other one adds.

(If this is your first time reading this serial story from Lynda Simmons, you can catch up with all the segments here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynda-Simmons-Author/149740745067442)

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