Saturday, February 27, 2016

NIKKI'S TEST -- Excerpt #2

Charli blushed and laughed when she looked up and caught Joan watching her. Frankie followed her into the breakfast room, and ignored her when she ordered him to sit next to Ulysses. The older dog let out a woof and some silent canine communication passed between them. The overgrown pup instantly settled down on the floor, head on his paws, eyes big and pleading.

"You big fraud," Charli said, settling into the chair next to her mother. "How come he's letter perfect when we're training with Vincent, but the second he walks away, Frankie acts like he doesn't know what I'm saying?"

"Typical teenager," Elizabeth offered.

"He knows he has you wrapped around his … well, not his little finger," Dr. Carson said.

Joan suspected Frankie was acting out, punishing Charli in his own way for leaving him in the kennels at Quarry Hall, even though everyone acknowledged she was his person. The apartment where Charli and her mother lived didn't allow pets. Maybe in another year or two, when they were more securely settled in the Akron area, they might buy a house. For right now, it only made sense for Frankie to stay at Quarry Hall because Charli spent so much time there, anyway, working in the greenhouse and tending her mother's plants. Joan kept her theory to herself. No reason to make Charli any more uncomfortable than she already was, missing her dog and embarrassed over his disobedience.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Newest Quarry Hall: NIKKI'S TEST -- Excerpt #1

Joan and Ulysses took the stairs while Sophie used the antique brass cage elevator to get to the ground floor. Voices coming down the hall from the kitchen and the breakfast room guided them in their search for the two people who knew the most about Brooklyn -- Harrison and Elizabeth Carter. They found the Carters sitting at the table in the breakfast room with Dr. Rachel Carson. Elizabeth was just finishing pouring from the glossy brown antique teapot that Joan was positive held at least a gallon. From the crumbs scattered across the matching platter and the absence of cookies, Joan guessed Dr. Carson had been here at least an hour. It wasn't time for her bi-weekly check of the growth of the specially bred plants in Quarry Hall's greenhouse, or Carter's response to the latest tonic made from those plants, so Joan guessed this was either a special occasion, good news, or just a social call.

No matter how much a part of the family at Quarry Hall Dr. Carson and her daughter had become, Joan wasn't about to bring up Brooklyn's activities and questions about her past in front of them. She and Sophie exchanged a glance of agreement, and settled in to be sociable. Ulysses' ears perked up just as Joan crossed the hall from the kitchen with another platter of cookies. She looked down to the servants' entrance to see Charli Carson approaching, paying more attention to the half-grown chocolate Lab scrabbling on the tile floor than where she was going. Despite the slowly growing worry pressure, Joan grinned at the sight of the dog, who seemed to be in a perpetual clumsy stage. The difference between him and the wolf that had accompanied Charli in the wildlife preserve where she used to live couldn't be bigger, but Joan thought Frankie suited the girl perfectly.

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 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.