Tag Archives: short stories

The Woods – 6 Inspecting The House (2015) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

2015

 

The realtor enters first, staring in fascination at the outdated furniture and décor.  The air feels heavy with dust and it tickles the back of his throat.

Awkwardly, he remembers and steps aside to let the other man in.

He steps inside after the realtor and, like him, stops to take it all in.  He scans the room, absorbing the old furniture, the layer of dust covering everything like a shroud. The dust in the air is heavy and gives his throat a dry tickle that makes him want to cough.

With a distracted nod to the realtor, he steps further into the house, feeling a momentary pang of regret for not taking his shoes off. “You are supposed to take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home,” he thinks.  He looks around taking it all in.

“It’s eerie how the house feels like the family just left it moments ago, like they are about to come back at any time.  The house looks lived in, except for the thirty years of dust coating everything and the vague feeling of abandonment.”

The mostly green cover of a comic book left laying open on the floor catches his eye.  He picks up the comic book and looks at it, trying not to disturb too much of the dust clinging to it.  It’s unavoidable, his fingers rub smudges in the dust coating the old comic book.  The Thing, an orange blocky comic book creation made of stone, part monster and all hero.  On the cover, The Thing appears to be battling a many-armed green wall, the green arms surrounding him in a barrage of punching fists.  Marvel Comics, The Thing issue #21 dated March 1985.  The price on it is sixty cents.

The top front corner is curled from a boy’s rough handling.

He puts it down with a frown, wondering if it’s worth anything on the collectors’ market.  He can’t take it, though.  It belongs to the municipality, along with the property and its contents.  At least until after the auction.  He hopes the realtor didn’t notice it.

“How often do realtors scoop up gems like this without anyone ever knowing?” he wonders.

Against the wall on a stand, a tube T.V. with its faux wood exterior box, two front dials, and bent rabbit ears poking up from the top at the back, sits darkly silent, a haze of dust coating every surface.

He walks through the house, past a pair of socks discarded on the floor, and into the kitchen.

“Did you say they still lived here after the boys vanished?” he called to the realtor in the other room.

The realtor is studying the spines of books in a bookcase on one wall.  It’s made of the old particleboard that expands and crumbles when it absorbs moisture, which it inevitably does over time.  The shelves have some warping and bubbling, crumbled on some edges.

“Yes, I don’t know how long.  They lived here while the search for the boys was going, and for some time after the search was given up.”

“And the husband moved out, leaving the mother alone?”

“Yeah.”

“How long?”

“I don’t know. Months? Years? They locked the place when they took her away. Like I said, we’re the first to set foot in the house since they institutionalized her.”

He leaves the bookshelf and starts for the kitchen.

In the kitchen, the buyer walks around, taking in the two tea towels carefully hung on the oven door handle, yellowed and rotting with age.  The teakettle on the stovetop. On the countertop, a measuring cup sits next to a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Two bags he guesses are flour and sugar bags sit next them. The bags are faded and stained with age, the paper brittle with age, and even the larger print words hard to read.

“Looks like someone was going to make a cake.”

He turns away, circling the table, studying the place settings set with care.

An old tan rotary dial phone hangs on the wall not far from the kitchen table, where the person on the phone can sit down at the table while they talk, the coiled cord stretched from them to the phone on the wall.

The realtor walks in and looks around, his footprints in the dust coating the kitchen floor joining those following the buyer’s trail across the room.  “Weird, the table is set for four.”

“For her family.” It is said with a dull gravity that makes the realtor turn and stare at him.

He breaks the awkward moment.

“I’ll show you the bedrooms.  There’s three bedrooms, I think.”

 

 

* *   ***  **  ***  **  ***  **

Author’s Note

While writing can be a panacea for stress, finding the time for it in a busy schedule can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge to circumvent.

Our backyard treesThings get hectic and perhaps you feel like you have lost control of even the little things (like your unread emails!).  It’s well worth finding that little niche of writing time.  Even writing these little bits, like the very short chapters of The Woods, can help keep that inspiration alive to feed the bigger stories brewing behind your hectic day of everyday life.

Some of my blogs are woefully neglected.  I try to find the little ways I can contribute and keep in touch with the world.

I am still plugging away when I can at those other writing projects.  Always in hopes of making significant progress.

Then again, the best progress could be sitting on the deck with a large glass of wine and looking out at those marvelously spooky trees.

Follow The Woods installments

 

 

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

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LV Gaudet, author

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Interview with Carrie Jane Knowles, Author of Apricots in a Turkish Garden

Apricots in a Turkish GardenWhat is your book about?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is a collection of ten short stories that focus on a moment in time when a character has an insight into their life and what has happened. And, that insight changes the character.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I work hard to create “real” characters. I want the stories to be like a window or a mirror. Readers often tell me that they feel like I have written about them or their families.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I almost always start with a character rather than a situation.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Whenever I sit down to write I close my eyes and spend a few minutes thinking about the characters in my story, trying to imagine what they are going to do next.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Writing and coaching writing is my day job. I have an office and I go to work everyday, Monday through Friday. I usually go to the gym before work, so I’m generally in the office ready to work by 10 in the morning and leave sometime between 5 and 6.

Writing today is also about promoting and some days the promotion end of the business takes over, as does the coaching, and I don’t get a great deal of time to write.

Ideally, I try to get at least one page of my own work written each day. I’m really happy if I manage to write two polished pages, i.e. pages that work and I don’t throw out the next day. Three would be a personal best!

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Right now I’m working on two stories, one a short story and the other a novel I’ve been struggling with for the last two years. I’ve just had a real breakthrough with the novel, so hope to move ahead on that over the next couple of months.

The short story, like all short stories I write, will take several more months to draft then polish.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

A great character with an interesting dilemma/problem.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I’m always on the lookout for character names. I keep note cards in my purse and jot names down whenever I discover a good one.

Names are really important to me. They have to fit the character, the time frame of the story, the location of the story, and the situation.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

I hope so! When I create a character, I do my best to listen to them and to let them be who they want to be.

I have this theory I call the bad parent/good parent theory of writing. The bad parent is always telling the child what they should do and be when they grow up. The good parent encourages the child to grow up and be whoever and whatever they want to be.

I want to be the good parent.

Describe your writing in three words.

Character driven, surprising.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Apricots in a Turkish Garden is published by Second Wind Publishing. You can purchase it through Second Wind and also at Quail Ridge Books and through Amazon and Smashwords. You can learn more about me as well as my work on my website: carrieknowles.com

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One of the World’s Shortest Short Stories

classifiedLiza’s Classified Ad

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For Sale —  One white wedding dress, size 8, never used. One engagement ring, beautiful, worn two months. Two hundred wedding invitations: backs are blank; make excellent scratch pads. Interested party call 555-6759 and leave a message. Will return call tomorrow…if I make it through the night. Liza

 

Calvin Davis is also the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris, a love story set in the City of Light during the turbulent late 1960’s.

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Compatibility

The other day I was watching the Turner Classic Movie station and they ran an ad where Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore discussed the film Marty and paired it with the film How to Marry a Millionaire and which woman would be a good match for Ernest Borgnine as Marty. The ladies were Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Robert Osborne thought Betty Grable might be his best match. For some reason, I didn’t agree.

If you have never seen the film Marty, it is well worth the time to see it. Ernest Borgnine plays a single, Italian man of about thirty-five who works in a butcher shop. He is not handsome, rich or a huge success. He is an ordinary, rather shy man who is overweight and gets tongue-tied around women. His family and customers all nag at him about why he isn’t married and starting a family yet, all his siblings have. The chatter does not help. He hangs out with his male friends and they do the same stuff all the time, bowling, the diner, and just hanging out. One night they go to the dance.

Marty is a shy man, who is reticent but he is a kind person. It is because of this kindness that he finally meets someone. A man offers him $5.00 to take a blind date off his hands so he can go score with a woman he already knows. Marty feels that is cruel and a lie. He refuses, but watches. He feels compassion for the lonely woman the man ditched and speaks to her. They hit it off. Though his friends don’t think too much of her, in the end, Marty feels something special for her, and they begin seeing one another, empowering Marty to come out of his shell.

The women in How to Marry a Millionaire are looking to ensnare wealthy men to keep them in style. Lauren Bacall is a savvy who knows what she wants and goes for it. She does not want to waste time dating the wrong men. She needs a man who will meet her eye to eye and be as strong as she is. Lauren and Marty would never go far. She would give him a look up and down and say; “No thanks, pal.”

Betty Grable seems weary of the chase, and may for a time give a man like Marty a chance. Where Robert Osborne sees her as a good match for Marty, I don’t agree. She may be able to hang out with the guys, be great fun at a party or on a date. She is a good person, also full of confidence. Where does her life really intersect with Marty’s? To me, Marty and Betty want different things out of life, and in the long run would not make one another happy.

Then we come to Marilyn Monroe. Mr. Osborne feels that she would be pursued by men for her looks and sex appeal. It really was the problem she faced in life every day. Yet is that what Marilyn wants? To me, she is a woman who is looking to love and be loved. She is not so taken in by the shallow surface appeal of a sexy body or drop-dead good looks. Marilyn Monroe, though she had an undeniably powerful animal magnetism, she showed her vulnerability. She showed her loneliness, and desire to find someone she could love. To me, Marilyn and Marty would be able to have a successful relationship. They want the same thing ~ to love and to be loved. They could each be vulnerable, open and honest with one another, the basis for a good, long lasting relationship.

It made me stop and ponder; what do we expect from relationships these days?

In writing, creating characters and in my everyday life, relationships need to have commonality on some level or they won’t work. In creating romance for characters, I need to be mindful of their core values, beliefs and desires. A psychologist friend of mine read my books and related to me the depth and intricacy of human relationships I achieved. I even ran a troubled character profile by her, and she was ready for me to refer him to her for treatment.

I strive for relationships in my writing that are able to stand the test of time if they are to last. I construct the relationship with the fatal flaw that will tear the couple apart. I study life, people, their relationships, what works and what does not.

The question that still remains at the end of this discourse is simple. What do you want from a relationship? As you ponder that question, know that the sage wisdom of the ages comes back as well: What you give will be returned.

May your relationships be a blessing to those who know you, because you give of yourself from your heart.

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Teaser of Things to Come

My next book is a collection of short stories that the publisher, Mike, has promised would be out in the spring.  I sincerely hope this will, indeed, be true.  For today’s Blog I thought I would give a little teaser to one of the stories: A Death of Convenience.  This story takes its inspiration from the rash of robberies that have hit these stores more and more.  I thought about the punks who rob them, the clerks who work in these places for pittance wages and the choices they have in any life threatening situation.

 

Here is a taste of this next book.  You can let your imagination take the story where you will.  Look for this book by S. M. Senden soon from Second Wind Books.  My other publications include Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries. 

 

A Death of Convenience

Jerry Wall peered through the heavy cloud of smoke that haloed about his head as the three teenagers made their way to the door of Cathy’s Convenience Store where he worked the graveyard shift.  He hated the punks who came out after dark like grimy rats climbing out of the sewers.  They were usually prowling for trouble dressed in their pseudo gang-style clothes of torn t-shirts with skulls, fake blood spatter and dirty words emblazoned on the front, and scuffed pants falling down from their hips revealing soiled underwear.  Worst of all, their hairy butts were exposed too.  Their profusely tattooed bodies complimented by multiple body piercings.  As Jerry exhaled, then sucked more smoke into his lungs he wondered what female in her right mind would find any of these punks attractive.       

Jerry wished he could have been more like Clint Eastwood and tell the kids: “Go ahead, make my day,” before blasting their sorry little asses to kingdom come as they deserved.  But Jerry knew he qualified as a first class wimp.  He’d always been afraid of confrontation so he endured their taunts and insults and even turned a blind eye to their petty thievery rather than confront any of them.   

It wasn’t worth his life.  

The three punks pushed open the door and stood in the doorway looking around as if the world owed them something.  Jerry had seen so many young thugs think they were entitled to something just because they were breathing.  He also knew that attitude would catch up with them one day.   

 

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Who’s Watching the Writer? by Paul J. Stam

I was in the studio throwing some bowls when a student pulled a stool over and said, “Do you mind if I watch you?”

People will watch anyone work except writers. I know, I’ve been writing for over 60 years and had my first novel published in 1978. No one, not even my wife, ever wanted to watch me type. Well, I did have a cat that used to watch me, but that was in the days of clanking typewriters and I think the cat was really watching the typebars and ribbon jumping.

Actors, musicians, standup comics, preachers, and some others charge a fee and so earn a living by having people watch them work. People will even watch ditch-diggers, carpenters, mechanics, painters and anyone doing any kind of work except writing. People are just not interested in watching someone sit and hit keys, unless of course they are piano keys.

Whatever your work, in order to do one’s best, to do something significant, one needs inspiration. In the arts that inspiration often comes not only from within yourself, but also from instructors and from working next to others; both those who are at about the same level as you, and from seeing the masters at work and working right alongside them.

When that student asked if he could watch me, I knew exactly what he was thinking. In my pottery work I have learned more from watching someone do something than from all the lectures and one-time demonstrations by the instructors. You see someone’s finished work and wonder, “How did they do that?” Next time they are at work you sit down and watch them and learn.

In writing the watching and learning comes in associating with other writers. You associate with the masters by reading their work and you are inspired not only by what they said, but the way they said it. There are millions of people who have inspirational things to say, but don’t know how to say them. It is in the knowing how to say it that people will read your work and tell others about it.

In writing the inspiration from working with others often comes from a writer’s group. The help comes from other writer’s reading and honestly commenting on your work. Notice I said, “honestly commenting” not just saying things to make you feel good.

I belong to such a group. It is a working group, not a social group. We meet once a week. Participation in the group is limited to seven members. The reason for the limit is because the way the meeting is structured more than that number and the meetings just go on too long.

We each bring a printed copy of a portion of something we are working on for each person in the group. We limit the submission to 1000 words. We each read the submission silently to ourselves, which is the way most reading is done, and then each person comments. We criticize, suggest, encourage and do what we can to help each other become better writers.

The discussion for each submission is limited to three minutes per critique. With seven people if each of them say something that is 21 minutes right there. So, with about five minutes to read each person’s submission, and then with the discussion, and with interruptions to get a drinks or snacks, the meetings easily run more than three hours.

Occasionally someone brings in a portion of a short story, but we are all working on novels.  Consequently, over a period of time we all get an idea of where the story has been and where it is going because the submissions are usually brought in sequentially. That is not one of the group’s requirement but if you are working on something you just naturally bring in what you have been working on that week.

Sometimes you bring in a passage that has been giving you trouble, and you want help. Another time you may bring in something with which you are real pleased and you want to be sure, from a reader’s perspective, you have a right to be pleased with it.

Sometimes a member will bring in a rewrite of something from before to get input on that.

So, who’s watching the writer? If you are lucky a support group of fellow writers is watching you and hopefully, eventually, the reading public.

Paul’s murder mystery The Telephone Killer, published by Second Wind Publishing will be out next month.

Visit Paul at Paul’s Books.

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Repurposing Stories by J J Dare

I’m in the midst of going through junk in my house and either trashing it, giving it away, or keeping it. I’m classifying junk as those things I have no immediate use for, things I haven’t used in years or have no idea why I kept them to begin with. I gave the cats an escape clause because they’re just too darn cute to put in the junk category. They’re useless, like a number of stories I’ve written, but I can’t seem to toss either the cats or the stories.

I’ve had some very good advice given to me the last time I bemoaned my many unfinished writings. One that kept coming up was for me to toss everything and start fresh. It sounds so good but it’s so hard to trash the stories I’ve given birth to. It’s like getting rid of a half-finished painting or musical score. I don’t have it in me to do it. I keep telling myself, I’ll finish this . . . one day.

I’ve come up with a solution. I was wondering what I could do with some of my incompletes and I hit upon an idea: I’ll quickly finish the stories that are at least halfway completed and combine two or three of these novellas into a novel. Sounds good on paper. A little harder to do in practice.

I started with three unfinished romances. I’m not a romance writer. I wrote these romances because I wanted to try my hand at every genre. I reread what I’d written and it occurred to me that these stories would be better classified as science fiction or horror.

I’m not a comfortable romance writer. Not because I have been denied romance in my own life, but because I’ve always viewed romance as a very private interaction between two people. To put that on paper unnerves me. When things unnerve me, I get weird. Hence, my romances are all off-beat and quirky. For the most part, though, the violence is low level and not too many characters die.

My comfort zone is action and suspense. I like to be on the go in my writing. For me, romance is a lot of faint female hearts, strong rescuing men and pining on both sides. That’s well and fine because fictional romance should be high illusion and a way to escape into a pleasant dream world where the male and female characters end up happily-ever-after after a reasonable amount of conflict.

For my type of writing, though, I pull from the quirky side of life (sometimes, my life). I love weird. I adore off-beat. Bizarre is a close personal friend of mine. Happy endings annoy me because I want to believe what I’m reading and happiness is a fleeting occurrence for all of us. I want a real-life ending.

I identify with strong male characters and equally strong female characters. I like no-nonsense and have a hard time writing fluff. Lately, my short stories and contributions to online collaborations have been my saving grace. I’m able to write quickly and decisively as long as I don’t have to think too hard about it.

But, I always come back to those things I have hanging around on my laptop. Trash them, give them away or keep them – I need to decide something because it’s gotten to the point where seeing them just sitting there accusingly has become depressing. The best hope, I guess, is to salvage what is salvageable and compile them as a collection.

One day I might broaden these novellas into full-length novels. But today, they will have to be Frankensteined into a patchwork monster of a book.

When you get stuck in a story, what do you do? How many unfinished stories do you have taking up space?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction

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Making the Most of Black Clouds by J J Dare

Over the past five days, I’ve had a mechanical black cloud hanging over my head. My sister says I should wear gloves because anything I touch seems to break. I agree with her.

I am a machine serial killer. I’ve talked about this before in previous posts, but my serial ways are getting worse (or better, depending on which side of the killer fence you are on). Over the last four days, I’ve killed a lawnmower, disabled a central air unit, and made the check engine light come on in my car. I’ve been a busy little destroyer.

The black cloud extends beyond machinery. It’s been with me for the past two years when it comes to writing, although I would actually call it a gray cloud. I can still write, but the motivation has declined. I’m hoping one day my muse will pull a Lazarus and rise from the deadlands of works in stasis and dying inspirations.

It doesn’t stop the desire to write. I have an idea for a new storyline at least once a week. Putting it onto paper is a problem. So is maintaining interest. I’m easily distracted away from long projects. Even short ones can sometimes be a struggle.

I do see a brighter side. As soon as the black cloud drifts away to hang over someone else, I may have a renewal in my writing spirit.

Black writing clouds can be good for a writer. It gives one time to reflect on what has been accomplished. Black clouds can force one into deciding where to go next.

Black clouds, writing or mechanical, can also be considered signs. I’m a great believer in signs. If my path is blocked, I take it as a signal that I should go another way. I don’t know who or what is sending that signal; it could be anything from my own subconscious to the great universe. Whatever the case, I’ve had enough experience ignoring signs that I try to listen.

I had an epiphany late last night as I drifted to sleep. I realized I have many books already finished, if only in my head. All I need to do is put them on paper.

Maybe, I’ll take all my unfinished works and compile them into a series of short stories. I have enough to fill several books. Or, maybe I’ll start completely over and see if the black cloud will dissipate and let the writing sun shine down on me once again.

 J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction

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Get a Free ECopy of our New Anthology — Change is in the Wind!! (Or Win a Print Copy)

The assignment was simple: submit a short story dealing with change. The results were astonishing, engaging, and incredibly varied. The stories compiled in this volume range from taut action drama, to stealthy intrigue, to enthralling spirituality, to tangled relationships, to timeless love renewed—or lost, to angelic second chances.  No two of the tales are remotely similar, and yet they are linked in remarkable ways. Each story is tied it to all the others in the anthology with two exquisite threads. The first constant theme is redemption; in each case there is a transformation, often painful, that brings new beginnings, new possibilities and revitalized life. The second theme is love—timeless and true—expressed in a multitude of ways, but unfailing in bringing hope and newness. Change in the Wind is an extraordinary collection of marvelous stories from gifted, eclectic writers who draw us into their worlds and leave us wanting more.

Everyone who leaves a comment on this article will receive a coupon for a free download of this wonderful collection of short stories in the format of your choice from smashwords.com. Also, one person, chosen at random, will win a print copy of the anthology. So even if you don’t want the ebook, leave a comment, and you might win a real hold-it-in-your-hand paperback book. Both offers end April 7, 2102.

We are starting a new contest. Perhaps you will be included in our next anthology! For information about this new contest, click here: Holiday short story contest

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Cloud Publishing – Another Opportunity by Deborah J Ledford

Yet another publishing opportunity is gaining popularity for writers and readers. Shaw’s iPulp.com is a perfect example of the next generation in providing published material. Essentially Cloud Publishing is the movement of data without cluttering your own PC, laptop or reading device.

iPulp’s version of Cloud Publishing allows you to purchase a story or book, then read the text on your device of choice: Windows 7,Vista, XP, MacOS, your iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Android smart phones and tables, Blackberry and Nokia smart phones.

The material is housed literally in a cloud, available for you to access at any time, from anywhere you have wireless access. You merely sign in to your account, then select from your shelf the item you wish to read.

At iPulp, customers purchase “tokens” in twenty-five cent increments. Prices vary depending only upon on length of the story. Many are in the seventy-five cent price point.

One of my stories is featured on iPulp now. “Loose End” was originally published in the Desert Sleuths Chapter Sisters in Crime Anthology How NOT to Survive a Vacation. And more stories from this collection will be added weekly until all 18 stories appear. “Loose End” will cost you a quarter.

Quite a lot of vintage noir stories are on the iPulp shelves at the moment, but they have over 500 stories to choose from in every genre you can imagine.

If any of you writers out there have as few as three short stories with a similar theme, iPulp may be the perfect venue for you. They prefer stories that have been previously published and you as the author must return the rights in order to offer your stories to iPulp. You will need an original cover that goes with the theme of your stories and you can add more stories to the corresponding cover.

This is the future of publishing, folks. Learn as much about this trend as you can.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.

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