My Books!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Sample: Christmas is Coming

Thank goodness it's Saturday!  I've got Monday off, and I hope you do too. My Saturday sample today comes from my Christmas novel The Best Selling Toy Of The Season, a Melange Books release.  In this excerpt, my hero Tommy is on a first date with my heroine Nikki, but unfortunately, Nikki couldn't get a baby sitter so she had to take her kids with her.  You can find The Best Selling Toy Of The Season at

Can a beautiful unwed mother from the wrong side of town find happiness with a rich lawyer?
Not if his family can help it.

The Chicken Shack was located several miles outside of town,

and when Tommy slipped on the greasy floor, he guessed that the

business specialized in fried chicken. They seated themselves at a

booth with a scarred Formica tabletop that needed a good washing.

Undeterred, Nikki took a paper napkin from the holder on the table

and wiped away the rings left by the previous occupants’ glasses.

“I hope you don’t mind sitting beside Michael,” she said. “It’s

easier to talk if you and I are facing each other.”

“I don’t mind. Michael and I are buddies.” He turned to Michael

and asked, “Did you like what Santa brought you?”

“I sure did. It was the best Christmas ever.”

Teddy snickered. “You said that last year.”

“I did not!”

“Yes, you did.”

A loud and lively conversation broke out. It took Nikki a few

moments to quell the riot. Good. The noise had made his ears ring.

Nikki propped her elbows on the table and frowned at Teddy who

looked ready to argue. “I wish that Dan was here. He can always

make the boys mind. All he does is give them a look, and they behave

just fine. I think it’s because he’s a man. Boys respond to a man better

than a woman.”

Privately Tommy hoped that he, too, would be able to compel the

respect of Nikki’s boys, for that’s what made the children obey Dan,


Michael tugged on Tommy’s sleeve. “Mister? Hey, Mister.”

“What do you want them to call you?” interrupted Nikki.

“They can call me Tommy.”

“You interrupted me,” Michael complained.

“Go on then.”

Michel did so. “Are you going to be our daddy?”

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey



Barbara Casey



Three high-spirited 17 year olds, with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity. Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and search how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted – a search that will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
"Ouch!  You're standing on my fingers!"  This from the petite girl with a long, blond ponytail, wearing a nightgown, most of which was pulled up between her legs and tied into a knot at her waist to keep it from getting tangled on the limb where she was perched.   Somewhere above her the sound of a saw and splintering wood filled the darkness followed by a stream of profanity repeated in several foreign languages for emphasis.
 "It doesn't look right.  It's supposed to have a rim and a dent."  Clinging to a 12-foot ladder as she pointed the flashlight first this way and then that, the heavy-set girl wearing a nightshirt buttoned at the neck offered this with a slight lisp.
 The girl with the blond ponytail giggled.
 "What do you mean--dent?!  Let me see that picture."  The tall black girl completely hidden aimed her flashlight toward the magazine that was being thrust upwards through the thick branches in her direction.
 "And the top is supposed to be rounded--like a button mushroom," the girl in the nightshirt added, the word "mushroom" sounding more like "muthroom."
 "That's because it's circumcised," supplied the girl with the ponytail, from which she removed a small twig and a handful of leaves.
 "Shekoo, baboo!”  More profanity.  “Okay.  I know what to do."  The tall black girl disappeared back into the upper-most branches of the tall plant that was more tree than bush.  After several additional minutes, the sawing, crunching, and clipping sounds finally gave way to the more gentle sounds of tiny snips.  And then, silence.
 "That's it; everybody down."
The petite girl, with the magazine that had been overlooked in the last confiscation and now wedged firmly under her armpit, started the perilous descent first since she was nearest to the ground, followed by the tall girl.  The girl in the nightshirt eased her way down the ladder juggling pruning shears, a hand saw, and scissors.  Once on the ground, the three girls stood back to admire their work.
 "That is one honkin' Peni erecti," said the tall girl causing a fresh explosion of giggles.  "Let's get out of here."  After quickly rolling down the legs of her pajama bottoms, the tall girl grabbed one end of the ladder and, along with her two friends, lugged it and the other tools back to the shed that housed lawn maintenance equipment.  Task accomplished, they returned to their rooms, and to their individual beds, careful not to disturb the other dorm residents, the floor monitors, their suitemates and, most importantly, their slumbering dorm mother, Ms. Larkins.  Within minutes, they fell into a deep, peaceful sleep--the sleep of innocent angels.
It would soon be light; and Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women would start another day.
Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. Since that time her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in several publications including the AMERICAN POETRY ANTHOLOGY, the SPARROWGRASS POETRY FORUM, THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF POETRY (Editor’s Choice Award), the NORTH CAROLINA CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE MAGAZINE, THE NEW EAST MAGAZINE, the RALEIGH (NC) NEWS AND OBSERVER, the ROCKY MOUNT (NC) SUNDAY TELEGRAM, DOG FANCY, BYLINE, TRUE STORY and THE CHRISTIAN RECORD. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in THE COSMIC UNICORN and CROSS TIME short story anthologies. Her essays, also written for adults, appear in THE CHRYSALIS READER, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, and A CUP OF COMFORT ANTHOLOGY by the Adams Media Corporation.

Her two middle-grade/young adult novels, LEILANI ZAN and GRANDMA JOCK AND CHRISTABELLE (James C. Winston Publishing Co.) were nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award.  SHYLA'S INITIATIVE (Crossquarter Publishing Group, 2002), a contemporary adult novel of fiction, received the 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and received special recognition for literary merit by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. Ms. Casey’s novel THE COACH’S WIFE (ArcheBooks Publishing), a contemporary mystery, was listed as a Publisher’s Best Seller and was semifinalist of the Dana Award for Outstanding Novel. In 2007 her novel, THE HOUSE OF KANE (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a contemporary mystery, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and in December 2009 her novel, JUST LIKE FAMILY (Wandering Sage Publications), was launched by the
7-Eleven stores in St. Louis, Missouri. Her young adult novel, THE CADENCE OF GYPSIES (Gauthier Publications), was released in March 2011 and considered for the Smithsonian’s Most Notable 2011 Books.  It has also been selected by Amazon for its 2013 List of Best Books.  THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PRISSY (Strategic Media Books), a novel for adults, was released in March 2013 and received an IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction.  It has also been listed as a “2013 Best Summer Read” by Conversations Live Radio and has been placed in nomination for a Pulitzer Award.
Ms. Casey is a frequent guest speaker at writers’ conferences and universities throughout the United States. She is former director, guest author, and panelist of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida; and for thirteen years she served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Florida.  She held the position of Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 to 2003.
Ms. Casey is president of the Barbara Casey Agency. She represents clients nationally and internationally in fiction and nonfiction for adults. Her past and present professional associations are numerous and include being editorial consultant for The Jamaican Writers Circle in affiliation with the University of West Indies and Mico Teachers College in Kingston. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.
Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon or gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so follow her tour and comment often. You can find her schedule at

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beyond the Book: Ross is Back

Hello, Ross Williams here. I was Elaine’s hero in Her Kind of Man. Did you know that I operate a dairy farm? My father established the farm, and after his death I bought my brother’s share so now Little Knoll belongs to me. Do you know anything about dairy farming? You do? Great. See if you can correctly answer these questions. I’ll make it easy for you and only do true-false questions.

1.All milk contains antibiotics.

2.Modern dairy farmers don’t practice sustainable agriculture.

3.Dairy cattle are nothing more than milk machines.

4.Milk is so expensive because dairy farmers want to get rich.

5.Less than 2% of Americans are involved in farming.


Okay, here are your answers.

1.False. If milk is found to contain antibiotics, it can’t be sold. It’s disposed of.

2.False. Farmers need clean air, water, and land for their cows.

3.False. If cows aren’t healthy and well-cared for, they won’t produce lots of milk.

4.False. The price of milk is tied to dramatic increases in energy/fuel, distribution, transportation, feed, and supply costs.

5.True. Lots of people have never been to a real, working farm.


Drop by Little Knoll sometime, and I’ll give you a tour. I think my operation will impress you.  I don't practice totally organic farming, but I'm close to it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors: He's Defying His Father Again.

Hello and welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. My excerpt today comes from The Enchanted. I'm skipping to another section of the book to give you a taste of the new and improved Alan.  When you finish here, check out the other great authors at


Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected.  Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either.  When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all of their people.  
Excerpt: In this excerpt, Alan is rescuing Princess Morgane from an enchanted forest where her enemies have imprisoned her. Alan speaks first to his father.

"That will not be necessary as I am the man who will go into the forest."

Bowdyn's face puckered as his expression turned dark. "You are the heir. Do not be a fool."

"Indeed not. I return shortly." Without giving his father any time to disagree, he spurred his horse forward. In the background he heard Bowdyn yelling at him, but he refused to stop.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sweet Saturday Sample: Falling for Bad Boys

Today's excerpt comes from my only inspirational novel The Sentence.  This scene takes place right after a Christmas pageant.  You can find more samples at
How could he do it! How could her father bring the guy who burned the church into their home for six months? Yeah, it was an accident and her dad’s a minister, but if he wanted to save this man’s soul why didn’t he go to the prison to do it?  And no matter what anyone says, she doesn't watch him all the time!
Clint took a step closer to her. Goodness, why hadn’t she

noticed how warm the room was behind that curtain? She didn’t

like being so close to him either, but for some reason she didn’t

move away. “Look above your head,” he said.

Rachel looked up and saw a sprig of mistletoe tied to a

ceiling fan with a long piece of red yarn.

“That’s mistletoe, Rachel.”

“So? I imagine the high school kids tied it there so they

could steal kisses.”

When Clint took another step toward her, Rachel’s heart

started to pound. “You’re really pretty, Rachel.”

Rachel felt herself blushing. “I don’t want empty

compliments from you.”

This time when he stepped forward he took her hand. “Oh,

it isn’t an empty compliment. You’re one of the prettiest women

I’ve ever seen.”

Rachel’s heart now took off in a mad gallop. She knew she

should leave the empty auditorium immediately, but her feet

wouldn’t move.

Clint slid his arms around her and muttered. “Don’t argue

with tradition.” So saying, he gently kissed her on the lips.

Buy link:

Fashionista Friday: Ballet Flats

Like ballet flats? If so, I bet you'll love these.

7 Printed Ballet Flats Under $100

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Kiss To Die For

A Kiss to Die For

by Gail Barrett





Homeless Army veteran Sullivan Turner is nobody’s hero.  His failure to save his fallen comrades proved that.  So when a gutsy social worker gets caught in a drug gang’s crosshairs, he knows he’s the last man who can safeguard her and the pregnant teenagers she’s trying to protect. 


Former debutant Haley Barnes learned the hard way how to survive.  After witnessing a cold-blooded murder, the terrified teenaged runaway changed her identity and hid to save her life.  But when the killer tracks her down and attacks the girls in the homeless shelter she now runs, Haley knows the time has come to stand and fight.  But to bring down the powerful killer she must confront her high-society family’s darkest secrets -- and convince wounded warrior Sully Turner he’s the hero she believes.


“I can get a cop to go with you.  I know a few who moonlight as bodyguards.”


Sully shot him a look of disbelief.  “You can’t be serious.  She needs to hide, not appear in public, risking her life.”


But Haley broke in.  “It doesn’t matter.  I can’t use the police.  The killer could recognize a cop.  I need someone less obvious.  Someone I can pass off as my date.”  Her gaze returned to his.


Realization sank in.  He took a quick step back.  “Forget it.”


“Why not?  You obviously know how to shoot.  And you’re in this as much as I am.  That gang’s after you now, too.”


He didn’t care about himself.  He should have died months ago.  But Haley needed protection -- protection he couldn’t provide.


“I can’t.”  He had a bum leg.  He suffered from chronic flashbacks.  Hell, he was so messed up he could barely function without a drink, let alone safeguard her.  And his intuition was off.  The last time he’d relied on his instincts, he’d screwed up -- and his men had paid the price.


“He’s right,” the cop told her.  “No offense to Sully, but you need a pro, someone who can keep his eye out for trouble in a place like that.”


Someone who could stay sober, he meant.


Sully worked his jaw, suspecting his bloodshot eyes had given him away -- or the way he’d guzzled the beer Parker had offered him when they’d first arrived.  But even if it humiliated him to admit it, Parker was right.  Haley didn’t need a broken man like him. 



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Gail Barrett is the award-winning author of thirteen romantic suspense novels.  A former RITA® and Daphne finalist, Gail has received the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best, The National Readers’ Choice Award, and numerous other awards.  She lives with her husband in Western Maryland.  For more information, visit her website:



Buy Links:




Gail will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift certificate and either a signed print copy (US ONLY) or an electronic copy of Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets book one) to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour and her other Super Book Blast on August 27th.

For a better chance to win, follow her tour and comment often.  Find her schedule here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beyond the Book: Ross Checks In

Hello and welcome to Beyond the Book. My name is Ross Williams, and I was Elaine's hero in her novel Her Kind of Man. I think it's a great book, but I would, wouldn't I?  LOL. Let me share my book trailer with you. It'll help you understand the book.  I'll try to get back to you next week as well.  I've got some things to tell you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Emily Kimelman and the Sydney Rye Series


by Emily Kimelman






Books 1-3, The complete Series Box Set (Value Pack)


The Sydney Rye series of mysteries features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. This series is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!


This box set includes all three of the Sydney Rye Books.


UNLEASHED (A Sydney Rye Novel, #1)


When the series begins Sydney Rye is named Joy Humbolt. She does not like people telling her what to do, so it comes as no surprise that she was just fired from her last job. When she buys Charlene Miller's dog-walking business on Manhattan's exclusive upper east side, it seems like the perfect fit: Quiet environment, minimal contact with people.


But then one of her clients turns up dead, and Charlene disappears. Rumors say Charlene was having an affair with the victim--and of course, everyone assumes Joy must know where she is. Joy begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity then out of anger when there is another murder and threats start to come her way.


When police detective Mulberry is assigned to the case, Joy finds a kindred spirit--cynical and none-too-fond of the human race. As they dig deep into the secrets of Manhattan's elite, they not only get closer to the killer but also to a point of no return. One last murder sends Joy Humbolt hurtling over the edge. Her only chance of survival is to become Sydney Rye.


DEATH IN THE DARK (A Sydney Rye Novella, #2)


At the beginning of Death in the Dark we find Joy Humbolt hiding, not only from the law, but also from her past and the mistakes she's made. Living this isolated life doesn't last long though when a visit from Mulberry brings Joy to accept her new identity as the Private Detective, Sydney Rye. To complete the transformation, Joy must learn to control her emotions as well as her giant aggressive dog, Blue. With the help of an expert trainer, Joy learns to fight with her mind as well as her body. However, when the daughter of a close friend is brutally murdered in the desert, Rye turns away from her mentor to seek revenge. Sydney's quick temper and deadly intentions lead her into a trap that she will need all of her new skills to survive.



INSATIABLE (A Sydney Rye Novel, #3)


The third book in the series begins with private detective Sydney Rye living a simple, disciplined life in London, but when a dangerous man from her past calls, Rye finds she cannot turn him away. Robert Maxim explains that the daughter of a powerful friend has gone missing and he wants Rye to find her. In exchange he offers her something she had given up hope of ever having; freedom from her past.


With her dog, Blue, at her side, Rye meets up with her new partner, a handsome man she's not sure she can trust. Heading for Mexico City, they go undercover, posing as husband and wife. After meeting with the bereaved parents, Rye starts to sense that there is more going on than just a missing girl. But it isn't until they arrive in the Yucatan Peninsula, hot on the girl's trail in Paradise, that all hell breaks loose. Sydney has to reach out for help from old friends and deal with the consequences of her past, if she's going to find the girl and keep them all alive.


New release!  STRINGS OF GLASS (A Sydney Rye Novel, #4)


STRINGS OF GLASS is the fourth novel in Emily Kimelman's Sydney Rye Series of dark murder mystery novels. This series features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!


Sydney Rye is hanging out in India with her boyfriend, Dan, reading paperbacks and sipping beer. No violence and no reminders of her past. But when she and Blue, are attacked by a pact of wild dogs, Sydney starts to feel that old itch again; to do good by being bad.


Trouble finds Rye when she stops the attempted rape and murder of Anita, a reporter working on a story of corruption and human trafficking. The atrocities Anita describes send Sydney, Blue and Dan on a quest that takes them across India after a dangerous and, up until now, untouchable, figure. While Sydney struggles to accept her true nature she realizes that it is the only way to end decades of abuse and exploitation. But Rye fears that she will lose herself, becoming no better than the monster she fights against.
From UNLEASHED (A Sydney Rye Novel, #1)
 The sun was slipping behind the brownstones across the street and turning the sky pink when I left for Nancy’s. “Hey,” said the guy on the corner who always said hey. I ignored him. “Hey, pretty lady, you got a beautiful ass,” he tried again. I watched the concrete and power-walked away.
Ten minutes later I was at Nancy’s, a low-key lesbian bar with a nice backyard. If you wanted to talk to a stranger you could, but there was no pressure. If you wanted to take someone home you could, but again there was no pressure.
“Tequila gimlet, straight up,” I said. The bartender, whose name I was pretty sure was Diane, nodded and moved off to make my drink. My face, reflected in the mirror behind the bar, peered from between a bottle of Blue Curacao and Midori. I needed a haircut. My fashionable bangs had grown out, and now I just pushed them behind my ears. Last night’s fight with Marcus and my early-morning journey to the pound had left puffy, blue-tinted circles under my eyes. All those tears had left the white around my gray irises streaked with red and—I leaned forward a little to make sure—my upper eyelids a bizarre orange.
Diane placed a martini glass brimming with sheer red liquid on the bar, and I handed her a ten. I moved toward the backyard, trying not to spill my drink all over my hand while spilling my drink all over my hand.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Emily Kimelman lives on a boat in the Hudson Valley with her husband, Sean and their dog Kinsey (named after Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone). Kimelman has a passion for traveling and spends as much time as possible in the pursuit of adventure.
Her "Sydney Rye Series" are dark murder mystery novels which features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. This series is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!
The first three books in Kimelman's series, UNLEASHED, DEATH IN THE DARK, and INSATIABLE are available in the Kindle store individually and in a box set. The fourth book in the Sydney Rye series STRINGS OF GLASS is due out Mid-Summer 2013.
If you've read Emily's work, and enjoyed it, please let Emily know. You can reach her via email
Buy links for all books at Amazon:
Barnes and Noble:
Emily will be giving away a $25 gift certificate from Amazon so follow her tour.  You can find her schedule at

To enter her contest, follow this link.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Change Is In The Wind

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. My excerpt today is from The Enchanted. If you're a regular visitor you know that the king sentenced his son Prince Alan to prison because he wouldn't marry a woman the king had chosen. The king has arrived at the prison to pick Alan up, but so far all he's done is express gratitude to the prison keeper, a man who beat and starved the prince. I know it looks bleak for poor Alan, but don't worry about him. Things are going to change very soon.  When you finish here, check out all the other lovely authors who're participating.


Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected.  Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either.  When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all of their people.  


The king stood up and walked over to Alan, whose head

hung low. "You have not made eye contact with me since you

walked into this room. You are not a prisoner anymore. Lift your

head as befits the crown prince of the realm."

Alan'ʹs head came up, and he stared straight ahead. The king

smiled. "You have taught him well, Keeper Kynthelig. He no longer

speaks his mind without permission."

I've taken The Enchanted on a virtual book tour.  I'm giving away a super nice prize, so if you'd like to enter to win, you can do that and find my schedule at

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sweet Saturday Sample: Flood

Hello and welcome to Sweet Saturday Sample.  After you finish here you can find more samples at  Before I share my sample which comes from my current WIP, let me say that my dog doesn't like it much that I had to start back to school.  He expressed himself on Thursday and Friday, and his last post follows my Sweet sample.  If you see anything wrong in the sample, tell me what it is.

Sample: From Flood  My heroine Aria, is a vet who's trying to find the location of a dog fighting ring.

Clariee scowled at her. “If you cross that creek I’m going with you.”

Aria gave up. She had tried reasoning with her mama before. When Clariee got stubborn, even her father gave in without a fight. “Let’s go, then. Hurry.”

They made it across Pigeon Creek just fine, but by the time they reached Aria’s house, it was raining so heavily and the clouds were so black that it looked almost dark. “The river’s up, but it still has a ways to go before it reaches the house,” Aria yelled above the roaring of the water and the pounding of the rain.

“Just hurry,” Clariee begged. “This place feels dangerous right now.”

Once they went inside, the feeling of danger receded. The power was still working, and when the lights came on, everything looked familiar, safe, and cozy. Aria found two towels and handed one to her mother. “We might as well dry off even though in the long run it won’t matter much.”

“Lots better,” Clariee approved as she dried her soaking hair.

Aria went to the refrigerator and poured both of them a glass of orange juice. “Something happened at the clinic right before you got there.”


Aria told her about the drowned dog and what her neighbor's son had heard. “I think that’s where they hold the fights, and at least one of them keeps his dogs there.”

Horror darkened her mother’s eyes. Clariee loved animals. “You said the dead dog was on a chain?”

Aria nodded.

“How do you think he got away?”

“I don’t know.”

 Clariee’s eyes looked sick now. “If one dog was left chained to die, the others probably are too.”

Aria’s stomach churned. “That’s what I was thinking.”

Clariee set her orange juice down with a thump and tossed her towel into the kitchen sink. “We have to find them, Aria. We have to make sure they’re safe.”

Aria peeked out the window. It was still raining. “We’ll have to go by land if we go at all. We can’t take a boat on the river. The current is so swift it would be suicide.”

“Then we’ll go by land.”

Aria scrambled to find two big flashlights, a coil of rope, and a scalpel. At the last minute she picked up a grappling iron that the river had washed up two days ago. “What else do we need, Mama?”

“Something to cut a big chain.”

Aria ground her teeth. “I don’t have anything like that. I don't even have a sharp knife.  I’m taking a scalpel so I can cut through their collars if I have to. They’re probably made of leather. The dog my neighbor brought in had on a leather collar.”

The lights flickered and went out. “Hurry,” Clariee begged.

The minute Aria opened the door she saw that things had gotten a lot worse. The rain was falling almost horizontally as the wind screamed and blew. “The water’s almost to the steps now,” she cried as she ducked her head against the fury of the storm.

Rascal here. Obviously, nothing I said has persuaded my mama to stop teaching school. She even dropped the small human off at daycare!  I suppose I can always go back to bed after she tells me goodbye every day, and I do have my sister Sasha to play with. As long as Mama doesn't neglect my morning sandwich again I will endure this hardship until summer rolls back around, and we can set our own schedule.
Picture of the flood: By Walter Siegmund (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons