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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Excerpt: Nikki's Test

Suddenly, the feeling of being in a revised Mayberry popped and shriveled up like a shredded balloon. If Chester, who looked so jolly and friendly, could be a liar and untrustworthy, what did that say about other people here? Who could she trust if Brooklyn and the sheriff could both vanish, especially when Brooklyn was expecting Nikki to come get her?

"I'll go check into the hotel and come back, check if there's any news," she said. "Thanks."

"No problem, darling." Chester winked at her and nodded like a genial old grandfather.

Nikki felt like his eyes were digging holes in her back until she had stepped outside and moved beyond the glass doors. She shuddered. Maybe Chester was mental, or just slow but functional? Shouldn't he have at least asked for her name, since she was looking for the sheriff and Brooklyn? Shouldn't he have figured that she would have a cell phone, so she wouldn't need a hotel room number where she could be reached? Besides, no matter how small this town was, Nikki seriously doubted anyone could check into a hotel room at barely nine in the morning.

Gray whined and leaped ahead of her, tugging her down the sidewalk. He led her to a telephone pole, where a man was using a manual staple gun to attach a legal-size sheet of neon pink paper to the pole. Nikki stayed a few steps back from him, waiting until he finished, glanced at her, then headed down the sidewalk. He had a sheaf of those pink sheets tucked under his arm. Nikki stepped up to the pole to see what was on the sheet. The color sparked a sense that she should know what was on the poster already.

The picture was of a little girl, with "Lost" in big letters that spanned the entire width of the paper, above and below the picture.

A chill washed over her, then her heart skipped a few beats and started racing.


That was the little girl she had seen just a few hours ago, wandering through the meadow by the side of the road. She was positive.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The new Quarry Hall book -- NIKKI'S TEST -- coming this week!

Coming this week from Desert Breeze Publishing..

The EIGHTH Quarry Hall novel, women's fiction with mystery, danger, action/adventure and a touch of divine intervention -- or maybe call it interference?

NIKKI'S TEST

Nikki’s first courier job included picking up Brooklyn from vacation and bringing her home to Quarry Hall. Before she got there, Brooklyn called, speaking in code, hinting at mysteries and danger. When Nikki arrived in Harper’s Point, Brooklyn was nowhere to be found.

Staying in town to search for Brooklyn while pretending not to suspect anything was harder than it sounded. Her questions never got the same answer twice, and it wasn’t long before she decided people were lying to her, and then spying on her.


A letter from Brooklyn provided some answers and Quarry Hall got to work. Joan hurried to Harper’s Point, fearing for Nikki’s safety. Before she could arrive, the enemy struck. Now the question was if Nikki’s training would keep her and Brooklyn alive until rescue came.

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Book Trailer: QUARRY HALL

This month, the newest Quarry Hall book will release: NIKKI'S TEST.

This is probably one of the first Quarry Hall books I ever wrote, maybe 15 years ago, before I even had the name, Quarry Hall. This is before I knew that Joan and Nikki were sisters, or all the backstory of some of the other characters, when Elizabeth was referred to as "Mother" by all the girls and -- get this! -- they wore rings to identify them to other "agents" of their organization and had fish tattoos on their hands and other silliness and secret agent-ish gimicks.

Whew! This is why you want to think a loooooooong time about a series before you start writing, and especially before you get the books published, because when you establish something as a characteristic or key element of a series, you're kind of stuck with it!

NIKKI'S TEST releases next week from Desert Breeze Publishing. You'll get to see the cover art next week, and for about six weeks I'll be posting excerpts from the book every three or four days. Then in late March/April we'll return to the pattern of featuring one book each week, until we get through the whole series.

Right now, though, a book trailer with thumbnails of each book in the entire series.

For your edification and temptation -- QUARRY HALL.


video

Saturday, January 30, 2016

ANNE -- Excerpt

"I'm your first hold-up, huh?"

He nodded. Anne held out her hand again. He looked at her hand, looked back over his shoulder at the grocery store, looked at Argus. The big dog was quiet now, still standing on alert, teeth still bared, advertising his willingness to bite the minute the young gunman did anything wrong. Just because Vincent trained all the Quarry Hall dogs to never bite, that didn't mean they couldn't or wouldn't threaten to bite. It was amazing, Anne reflected, what the power of suggestion could do in a tense situation.

"Look, couldn't you just... like forget I was here?"

"I'm soaking wet. Tomorrow's lunch is in a puddle. I'm going to have one doozy of a bruise in the morning. Getting held up after a day of driving in the rain is not going to be easy to forget!" She managed a grin, though the shakes were working their way up from her guts.

Please, Lord, don't let me get stupid, now. My guardian angel has already been working overtime lately.

"No, you have to let me go."

"You need help. Nobody decides just to take somebody else's total worldly goods without some kind of reason." Anne reached into her pocket.

"What're you --"

"Just let me give you my card. It has a number you can call for help. That's what we do. We help people. Even dumb ones." She grinned wider, and pulled out her wallet. The keys came with it, falling to the ground with a jangle-splash sound.

"How about you give me all your money and I let you keep the truck and we call it quits?" he said, his voice shaking a little. The gun lowered a tiny bit more. Still not low enough to suit Anne. She had a mental image of the gun going off, the bullet bouncing off the pavement and hitting her somewhere totally embarrassing.

The grocery store door squeaked open, distracting them both. He turned a little, raising his gun. Argus growled.

"Argus --"

"Hey, what's going on over there?" a man shouted. He stepped out into the parking lot lights, revealing himself as tall, balding, dressed in dark slacks, white shirt, and the long red apron the store workers wore.

"Don't tell them anything!" the gunman demanded, his hand shaking now. He took a step backwards and pointed the gun at Anne.

Argus leaped, aiming for the gunman's chest, to knock him to the ground as trained.


"No! Down!" she screamed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 2: ANNE




After a rough assignment catching people out to destroy battered women's shelters, Anne needed a break. Being assigned to observe operations at Common Grounds Legal Clinic seemed like a cake assignment. Xander Finley, the head lawyer, was a friend of Joan, already supported by the Arc Foundation. Arc was simply expanding its support.

But then Anne was carjacked, her guard dog, Argus, shot. She was already off-balance, worried about Argus and wearing borrowed clothes, and things got worse from day one. Face-to-face with someone from her painful past and feeling antagonism from Xander's employees, Anne stumbled into one problem after another. Her frustration grew when allies became enemies, and she was accused of entrapment and then attempted murder. How come prayer was her last resort, when it should have been her first reaction to every problem?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

JOAN -- Excerpt

What kind of villain used twine to tie up his victims?

Joan's wrists itched from the fibers as she hobbled down the aisle between tall metal shelves full of grimy crates and packing boxes, and gave another experimental tug with her wrists bound behind her back. A sharp sensation flashed up her arm, followed by warm wet. Either sweat, or she had cut herself with the effort. She was betting on blood, because she had sat for four hours in a dark, grimy storage shed, sweating. The only thing that kept it from being a sweatbox straight out of a prison break movie was that it was made of plastic, not metal. All the time she sat there, no one had asked her any questions. She could have been another crate stored in the shed, for all the attention her captors paid her.

That was about to end, obviously. She would have preferred that they had put a hood over her head, but maybe that was a waste of time, since she had seen three of them. They didn't care what she saw, meaning they could keep her quiet and unable to use what she knew against them.

The man leading the way opened a door at the end of the shadowy aisle. Joan guessed the room was a pre-fabricated module, meant for dividing up large spaces to make them usable. All that mattered was that this room sat near the center of the warehouse. The man walking behind her grabbed her shoulder and half-guided, half-shoved her into the room. She stumbled, but the man who went in first, the beardless, taller one of the two, caught her. He copped a feel before pivoting her around, shoving her into a chair in the corner.

Matt sat in the other corner, hands bound behind him, his ankles tied to the battered wood-and-metal-tube chair with the same brown twine her captors had used on Joan. From the sweat and grime marking his face, darkening his clothes, matting his hair, he had been given the same temporary storage shed treatment. He had some bruises on his face and his bared arms, but no other signs of rough treatment. What was happening now, that they were brought together?


His eyes asked a thousand questions, but he didn't say anything.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quarry Hall, Book 1: JOAN



Under a false identity, Joan finally has the life she has always wanted. With pressure to deepen a relationship on one side, and the threat of an old nemesis finding her on the other, she refuses to run, no matter what it costs her.

Into this chaos comes a letter from a man claiming to be her unknown father, and an invitation to visit him at Quarry Hall. He has a proposition for her.

Joan can make a big difference for good in the world, using her father's money. She hungers for the family and sense of belonging that Quarry Hall offers. To rescue her closest friend, she would sell the soul she doesn't believe she possesses.


In the end, Joan will have to give up the lies that have kept her alive all these years.