Birgit Pratcher

Author/Mother/Wife


Introducing New and Known Authors

Authors love to write, obviously, but like any artist they do need an audience. Beyond that basic need of being read of course they also need to sell their books. The first step in this direction, after a book is written and published is to let people know that the book is there.

There are many great and gifted authors out there with exciting books, some of them are not as well known as they should be. I will introduce two authors and their work each month. Some of them you might know already, others might have written just that book that you would love to read, but did not know it is there.

Most of the books that you will find here can be bought right away on-line. Of course I will provide links to an online bookstore and the author's website with a short bio about the author.

I hope you will enjoy this feature and come back often to find new authors and books.

Happy reading!

  

 

                        

 

Susie Honeycutt, Mystery/Romance

What better time to introduce Featured Christian Romance/Fiction Author Susie Honeycutt then now, when spring is just around the corner and romance is blooming! And, honestly, if it comes accompanied by mystery, even better!
Susie is not only an incredible woman, a wonderful friend, a loved and honored mother and wife, but also a very talented writer. She is the mother of two and proud grandmother to four grandchildren.
She loves the Lord and has an unquenchable thirst for the Bible, she loves to write about it as well! She also loves nature and animals, loves to look in their eyes and connect with their soul. Living  by the woods she has many occasions to do so and has several animals at home. 
Currently Susie is working on a Bible Trivia, which promises to be very interesting.
Susie Honeycutt is working as a 911 operator, police, fire and EMS dispatch. Some of her experiences are used in her novel Alfaland.

 

      Visit Susan Honeycut on myspace:  www.myspace.com/alfaland

                                                                                                www.myspace.com/rainingtruth    

Alfaland, paperback 189 pages, $  19.95    

ISBN 978-1424135394

Buy at Amazon

 

Excerpt:

The words spoken by Aaron Marshall to his lovely wife Kendra were expressions that would haunt her mind countless times throughout the years that followed. “Isn’t this place peaceful?” Aaron had whispered softly in her ear. “It makes a person just wish time could stand still right here.” Kendra never forgot those words. Perhaps the words on the small weathered tombstone at Hammer Cemetery would have been more accurate. “I once was as you, and you shall be as I.” After a fabulous weekend getaway, Kendra and Aaron joined Kendra’s parents and younger sister Aimee at Alfaland, a prestigious country farm that held abundant cherished memories for Kendra and her family. What a difference a phone call and five minutes made for Kendra and her entire family when a huge whirling black cloud dropped from the sky and altered their lives forever.

Alfaland Song, first verse:

Whenever I pass a group of pines it sparks my memoryMy thoughts go back to Alfaland, the place I long to be.Wherever on earth I find myself and feel a gentle breezeMy mind wanders back to Alfaland the place I long to see.Alfaland, sweet Alfaland, my soul cries out for thee.To see the one I love once more and hold her tenderly.                           Written by Alfaland character Joey Dubois

 

  • Read what author Geraldine Ahearn had to say about Alfaland:


    A Great Read!
    REVIEW Is Also Posted on:
    http://www.amazon.com/
    And... http://www.barnesandnoble.com/


    *****REVIEW
    Kendra Patton, and her younger sister Aimee Sue, grew up at Alfaland, a
    prestigious country farm in Indiana. The Patton home consisted of one-
    hundred and eighty-eight acres of pure beauty, with blooming gardens,
    pools and ponds, and horses that Kendra and Aimee deeply admired.
    Childhood for the Patton girls was a family album of cherished, loving
    memories that shined through Alfaland from their parents and relatives,
    friends, and Amish neighbors. Their religion constituted high morals and
    values, respect, and love for others. Everyone in the town they lived in
    admired and respected the Patton family. The abundance of love that
    Kendra's parents, Byron and Leigh gave to their daughters could be felt
    through Kendra, Aimee, and Alfaland. At twenty-two years old, Kendra
    married Aaron, and was expecting her first child. Aimee Sue was in her
    second year of college, during which time she met the love of her life at a
    party. Kendra and Aimee were invited to dinner at Alfaland, a day that was
    supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. The anticipation of Kendra
    announcing that she was three months pregnant to her first child was
    overwhelming. The thought of her parents becoming grandparents,
    and Aimee becoming an Aunt, filled her with an abundance of joy that she
    could no longer keep a secret. The girls had arrived at Alfaland, and Kendra
    and Aimee were sharing secrets. Byron and Leigh were preparing dinner,
    and had just found out that they would soon be grandparents. Aaron was
    taking in the scenery, so much admiring the love and beauty of Alfaland,
    smiling at his dog Buster, who also loved the farm. George, who was the
    Patton's hired helper, was tending to the barn as he always did. Bryon and
    Leigh were shouting to the girls from their outdoor patio to hurry up,
    so they all could eat dinner, before it begins to rain. Kendra was inside the
    house, listening intently to Aimee Sue's secret. Aimee had just told Kendra
    that she was in love with someone. During this time, Aunt Jane called to
    warn them about a storm coming their way. Within a split-second, a raging
    tornado attacked Alfaland, changing the lives of the Patton family forever.
    In the first few chapters of Alfaland, the reader can sense love, happiness,
    and horror. In a clever way, the author describes beauty to its utmost level,
    and terror from mother nature in its devastating behavior. The strength of
    Kendra as described by Susie Honeycutt is a remarkable portrait of
    inspiration to all readers. The reader can detect love as described in the
    movie "Ghost." The reader can feel the happiness, and sadness as described
    in the movie "Love Story." As one reads through the lives of the Patton
    family, after the impact of the horrific affects of the tornado, pain and
    remorse can also be felt. I would recommend this novel to teens as well as
    adults. The story reveals a crucial fact of how our strength through an
    unexpected crisis in our lives can not only help us, but others as well.
    The author paints an incredible picture of determination through the
    lives of the Patton family, after they battle grief from death, and sadness
    from loss. The moral of the story lies in the truth that many of us have
    lived through, and the "Beatles" made a hit song of it, titled "All you Need
    Is Love."

    Geraldine Ahearn, I.O.M.
    Author of 6 books
    Author Geri Ahearn, INC.


      Alfaland by Susie Honeycutt
  • Jerry Pat Bolton

    Featured Author

     

     

     

    Please check out mystery-writer and poet Jerry Pat Bolton.

    His thrilling page-turners  are promised to keep you reading way past your bedtime.

    Fast paced and compelling the plot takes course while the characters develop into natural, lively people.

    On his blog at myspace you can find many hidden treasures!

    He lives, with his wife and his dog Nipper in Southern Louisiana.

     

    To join Jerry on MySpace, Click HERE!

     

    To find his blog, called Swamp Musings, visit:

     

    http://swampmusing.blogspot.com/

     

    Write to Murder

     

     Paperback, 199 pages, $15.97 at Lulu.com
    E-book download: $7.95 at Lulu.com

     

    Buy Now

     

     

    The Bayou Bards, a fledgling writers' group in the south Louisiana town of Sans Souci has a killer in its midst. When Mary Lamb, writer of children's books is murdered, Detective Lee Fontaine is called from the graveyard of deskwork to work the case. Lee had been reassigned to deskwork because of his drunken and violent reaction when his wife Rhonda walked out on him. That she left him to go with a man Lee had put in prison was almost too much for him to take.
    While happy to be back solving crimes, Lee soon learns he has been saddled with a new partner, Farla Charlet. Lee is positive she has been assigned to him merely as a watchdog. From the start Farla and Lee doesn't exactly meld into a workable team. To Lee's way of thinking Farla is too short, too muscular and too political for his taste. Farla simply thinks Lee is a cretin. To further complicate matters there is the taxi driver cum prostitute who also belongs to The Bayou Bards and has a sensuous, uncanny way of getting under Lee's skin. The players in Write To Murder are diverse; from Numa Richards, a man harboring a festering literary grudge to the black reactionary, Vonzell St. Germaine.
    Hope Springs and her subservient son Adam round out this strange and somewhat unholy writer's group. Hope is the literary equivalent of a stage mother and is determined to mold and shape Adam into America's next great novelist. All he needs is a firm hand and that is something Hope has in spades. Write To Murder . . . a book which will titillate and amuse.

     

    Margaret and David: A Love Story

    Paperback, 285 pages, $15.95 at Lulu.com
    E-book download: $7.00 at Lulu.com

    Buy Now

    "What do you think Messenger Shaka will do about the fairy problem?" is how my speculative, futuristic love story the novel begins. Speaking these words is Margaret Wheatly Garver, eighteen-year-old student at Malcolm X University. Margaret and David: A Love Story is a circumspect story which takes its presumption from history; a love story with political ramifications and social impact.
    "fairy," acronym for the phrase, "fair-haired and immoral rapscallion yokels," vented by an obscure street-corner orator during the tumultuous years leading up to America's first race war and used in the same pejorative fashion as "nigger" was utilized before the revolution. After victory fanatical Muslims seized power and for the next eighty years exacted horrendous retribution on the defeated Anglo-Saxon's. Margaret and David: A Love Story is the story of tragic love which develops as a nation grows to understand that bigotry and suspicion are tools for oppression and hate.
    Margaret's love for David Thompson, so-called "messiah" of the fairy's is a love story of hope and devotion in the face of hopelessness and despair; a story which blur the lines of our multi-racial society and will be accepted by all prescient readers whatever their ethnicity.
    Margaret and David: A Love Story is about forbidden passion, interracial love, political upheaval, treachery and hate. Nothing like it is out there that I am aware of. Is America ready for a novel of such insightful honesty

     

     

    My Mother's Revenge

    Paperback, 355 pages, $15.95 at Lulu.com
    E-book Download $7.00 at Lulu.com

    Buy Now

     

    Soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, two people search a house for the diary of Kathy Albertini-Tstre's. In it she has recorded a dreadful period of her life. She wants want happened to her many years ago told. It is to Jeremy, her son that she entrusts the writing of her story to.
    In this psychosexual novel, Kathy Albertini, 26, has shaken the shackles of her father's shadow. She loves her papa, Angelo Albertini, self-made Mafiosi godfather of the southern gulf coast, but she has tired of having life path paved for her by his "connections." She has a job she likes at The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. She is happy.
    Kathy hasn't been as efficient at shaking off terrible secrets of why her mother was locked inside a room at the pre-Civil War mansion Kathy called home, to waste her life away alone and unloved. Angelo meted out this punishment for her crime of a shocking adultery. Kathy's guilt feelings about her mother's plight causes nightmares on a regular basis. Coupled with the guilt feelings is her determination to never be compared to her mother and she goes to sexual excesses--weekends only--with multiple partners to drive that point home to herself and anyone else who is paying attention.
    Arriving in this picture is a spectre from the past who blames Kathy's father for the murder of his own mother many years ago. This spectre is about revenge and Kathy eventually ends up on a houseboat in the middle of an unnamed swamp. This spectre is quite enough to contend with, but soon Kathy is confronted with other personalities hiding inside her tormentor's insanity; his own mother and himself as a small boy. Mother's Revenge has the feel and ambiance of South Louisiana as its backdrop.


    Mary Lynn Plaisance

    Please meet Folklore Author Mary Lynn Plaisance.

    Her Cajun Fairy Tales are most enchanting and bring the author's love for Louisiana right to the reader's home. Her novels are based on the history of the Louisiana swamps, where lights shot up into the sky for no apparent reason, called the Feel Folay, assumed to be fairy spirits or the spirit of a departed loved one or the lost soul of a child that had died before being baptized.
    Surprisingly it occurred that a group of people could be standing together and only some would see the lights, while others did not. 

    Thus inspired, the story of the Land of Sha Bebe was born, an enchanted place, where cloth dolls are alive, setting out to help humans in need of love and company.
    In every land there are troubles, lurking to cause pain and despair, even in the magical land of Sha Bebe.
    Her novels are fun to read for all ages!

    Read about the adventures of the charming dolls in Mary Lynn Plaisance's novels:

    Do you believe In the Land of Sha Bebe

      paperback, 88 pages/w photos, limited edition available at Sha Bebe at e-bay!

    This first tale tells the story of Emily and how the dolls came to her in her time of grief to console her and make her happy again after the loss of her father. Jolie and Beau definitely helped her feel better and told her everything about the magical land of Sha Bebe, where no human has ever gone.

    Cajun Fairies In the Land of Sha Bebe

        paperback, 220 pages, $14.49 at Amazon.com

    The legend continues. Another whimsical fairy tale by Mary Lynn Plaisance about the Sha Bebe Dolls who live in the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. Cajun Fairies will pull you into another dimension that you will not want to leave. A wicked Cajun Fairy, Robes Pierre, takes over the spirit of the enchanted Land of Sha Bebe, in the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. He had that much power! No one, ever had that much power to threaten the doll land. All of the dolls and the residents are put under the wicked influences of Robes Pierre. Will he succeed in taking the magical land? If not, who will save the land? A must read for humans of all ages.

    The Wizard of Swamp Alley In the Land of Sha Bebe

        paperback, 216 pages, $21.49 at Amazon.com

    Swamp Alley is a portal between this side and the other side. A Cajun Wizard named Antoine Clement Hebert, lives near Swamp Alley which is behind The Land of Sha Bebe in the swamps. He keeps balance between this side and the other side, by playing his fiddle, but he was kidnapped by "them". Today, the Ghosts of Swamp Alley protect the ones on this side from the opposite presence who occupy the other side. Who or what is this presence, and where is this place that has the Wizard trapped? Marie La Vie explains this other place and their presence very well. It's a presence that has always existed all over the world ---- even today, it still exists. Sometimes, the presence of the other side may be near YOU. The Wizard of Swamp Alley is centered around Halloween, when the veil between this side and the other side is at it's thinnest, and the Wizard is gone. Who has the knowledge to return the Wizard to his homeland to protect The Land of Sha Bebe? A chilling read, yet still entertaining. Dedicated to the Spirit of Louisiana www.shabebe.comwww.myspace.com/cajunfairieswww.myspace.com/cajunwizard Read more reviews in the book. You've created a Cajun fairy land, much like Walt created a Disneyland. Your characters feel like a Disney scene set in the sugarcane fields. Mary Lynn, keep weaving the threads of your wonderful creativity into a tapestry of magical tales. The pen is your loom, the paper your wool. A MUST READ It's not only a Louisiana story.

    Visit Mary Lynn on MySpace! www.myspace.com/cajunfairies

    See Mary Lynn's e-bay store!  http://stores.ebay.com/bebs-place

    Visit the website www.shabebe.com

    The cloth dolls are made and sold by Mary Lynn, online in her e-bay store, where you can find special deals on the books!

       

    Dawn Wilson

    Featured Author

     

    Dawn Wilson

     

     

    Meet Romance Author Dawn Wilson:

     

    Dawn Wilson lives in Milan, Italy, with her two daughters, where she teaches English.

    After several published short stories she wrote the romantic drama “Autumn Leaves”. The story of a woman in her mid-forties, who has to find out that happiness is not yet on her fingertips. A romantic story about love and friendship, inner strength and a troubled relationship.

    At the time she is working on two novels. One romance novel that might be titled “The Second Time Around” and one together with another author, which does not have a title yet.

    Use this link to Joyous Publishing to read her short story “An Unconditional Love”:

    www.joyouspub.com/wst_page7.html A very compelling and interesting story about true and unconditional love.

     

    Find Dawn Wilson on myspace!

     

     

    Autumn Leaves

     

     

    Paperback, 170 pages $12.95 at Lulu.com

    E-book download $5.50 at Lulu.com

     

    Buy Now

     

    Synopsis:

    Amy Stafford is a forty-five year old social worker, who thought she had found happiness in her second marriage to Scott, a successful attorney. To family and friends Amy seems to have it all; a successful career, a beautiful home and a husband who is deeply in love with her; but things aren’t as they seem. After three years of marriage, Amy’s relationship is falling apart, a fact that her husband isn’t able to recognize. As much as Amy would like to leave Scott, she doesn’t have the courage to do it. As she resigns herself to the situation, a series of events happen to change her life. Just as she watches her life tumble down around her, a relationship from the past comes back into focus. As Amy finally begins to realize her one true chance at happiness, an unexpected surprise comes about, which may alter her plans for the future she dreamed of.

    To read Chapter 1, click HERE 

    Betty Sullivan La Pierre

    Featured Author:

    Please meet Mystery/Suspense author Betty Sullivan LaPierre, a wonderful woman and a most exceptional writer. Author of the renowned ‘Hawkman Series. At this time 11 of her great novels are available at Amazon! Most known is her “Hawkman Series”, the first in the series titled “The Enemy Stalks”. Her latest release is titled “In for the Kill”. While you should not miss out on this one, you definitely should get yourself wrapped up in the entire series from the very beginning. However, which one of her novels you chose to start with, you won’t be disappointed! Of course Betty is not done with her writing endeavors and we can expect more thrills coming from her pen in the near future. Her work “Grave Web” is promised to be most thrilling and to keep you clinging to the edge of your seat. You can expect it to be available in the near future! (With a little luck even before Christmas!)

    Visit Betty on MySpace!

    http://www.myspace.com/bettysullivanlapierre  

    As always, you can message the author directly for autographed copies of her work.

    In For The Kill:

    Paperback, 286 pages, $ 15.99 at Amazon

    E-Book: $5.98

    IN FOR THE KILL
    Hawkman Series #9

    When the answering machine boomed with an anonymous male voice asking for Jim Anderson, Jennifer stared at the phone in horror. Hawkman hadn't used his birth name since he'd disappeared from the Agency years ago.

    A search ensued to find out who was leaving these threatening messages. After Hawkman's old boss gave him the name of Jack Hargrove, he wracked his memory and realized he'd never had any association with a man by this name.

    The harassment escalated forcing Hawkman to confide in Ken and Peggy Bronson, the two local Sheriffs. They immediately tightened the protection around Tom Casey's home.

    When the reports came in about Rita Rawlings being forced off the road, Hawkman's assault, his home set afire and a stolen jeep, the whole Siskiyou County law enforcement became involved. They proceeded with a search into the hills.

    And what does a cat called Miss Marple have to do with this story? Read IN FOR THE KILL by Betty Sullivan La Pierre.

    In for the Kill
    by Betty Sullivan la Pierre


    EXCERPT


    CHAPTER ONE


    Jennifer sat at her computer, concentrating on the next book in her mystery series. When the phone rang, she let the answering machine pick up.

    “This call is for Jim Anderson. If you’re there, please answer.”

    She immediately jumped to her feet with a pounding heart. No one had used Hawkman’s birth name since Dirk Henderson, the double agent who wanted to kill her husband several years ago. Trembling, she stared at the instrument’s blinking red light. This could be another nemesis out to get him.

    After a slight pause, the voice said, “I’ll call back later.”

    The click of the hang-up left her reeling. She paced the floor and ran trembling fingers through her short, curly brown hair. This would definitely upset Hawkman. When he quit the Agency, he dreaded the day when someone from his past would find him. After Dirk had been caught and put into prison, he’d finally relaxed, figuring too much time had gone by now for him to be in danger.

    Jennifer wrung her hands. How’d this person find our number? The telephone bill was in the name of Tom and Jennifer Casey. He obviously knew more about Hawkman than she cared to think about. The gnawing in her stomach told her she should call her husband right away. This man could be searching for him right now, and Hawkman needed to be on guard.

    Jennifer picked up the phone and punched the number to his office.

    “Tom Casey, Private Investigator.”

    “Hi, how’s it going?”

    “Just fine. Don’t tell me you forgot to add something to this long grocery list?”

    “No, but I just received a phone call for Jim Anderson.”

    A silence hung over the line for several moments.

    “Who was it?”

    “I don’t know. I let it ring because I was busy and the machine took the message. He said he’d call back.”

    “This is very interesting. There’s someone still out there looking for me. Maybe I’ll recognize the voice.”

    “It’s possible; the recording is fairly clear. No voice changer. Do you want to hear it now?”

    “No, I’ll wait until I get home.”

    “Do you think it could be just an old school buddy looking for you?”

    “Hard to say. But I doubt it. Be sure to lock up and turn on the alarm after we’ve talked. I don’t want to scare you, but no sense in taking any chances.”

    “Okay. Honey, watch your back. And remember I love you.”

    “I love you, too. I’ll see you soon.”

    * * * *

    Hawkman hung up and tapped the receiver with his finger. It’d been a long time since the name Jim Anderson had entered his mind. A part of his yesteryears had come to haunt him again.

    He opened the desk drawer and withdrew his shoulder holster. Lately, the habit of wearing it had not seemed so urgent, but the phone call from Jennifer had changed his perspective. As he buckled the gun around his chest, he could feel the old lessons taught at the Agency moving forward in his brain like a back-up computer disc. He forced it open and let the information flow into his mind, so he could recap all his training and be prepared.

    It worried him this person had called the house and not his office. It meant he knew Jim Anderson had an alias. The message struck fear into Hawkman when he thought about Jennifer being home alone. Shutting down the computer, he decided to leave. He wanted to hear the voice on the recording, and needed to discuss this situation with his wife.

    He strolled over to the window, stood back, and surveyed the parking lot. All the vehicles looked empty, and no one appeared to be waiting to gun him down. But if this person had Agency experience, he could be parked down the street with a high-powered rifle and a pair of binoculars.

    Hawkman took a deep breath, then exhaled loudly. Life had been mighty quiet and peaceful. He should have known it couldn’t last forever. After unplugging the coffee pot, he stopped in his tracks when a knock sounded. He pulled his gun from the holster, moved to the side of the jamb, and flung open the door.

    Hearing giggles, he glanced out in time to see two little girls running down the stairs, and turn the corner. He holstered his weapon, stepped forward and almost kicked over a covered basket sitting on the top step, but grabbed the handle before it tumbled down the stairs. A small beige and white head with sharp blue eyes peeked out from under the checkered cloth.

    “What the heck!” Hawkman said, carrying the container to his desk.

    When he pulled the cloth back, a well-fed kitten rolled onto its back and playfully swatted at the corner of the towel. Hawkman noticed a card attached to the side with a blue ribbon. He laughed when the cat batted at his fingers as he pulled the bow loose and opened the envelope.

    “Hey, hold on a minute, you little critter. Let’s see what you’re all about.”


    Dear Jennifer,

    In appreciation for all you’ve done for my family. She will give you hours of pleasure.

    God Bless, Marie and Girls


    Hawkman put the note away, pushed back his hat, and eyed the young animal. “I must say, you’re one cutie. But I don’t know any Marie or the story behind you. I’m sure your new mistress will know what this is all about. At least, you’ll give her something to think on besides a sniper.”

    He picked up the basket and headed down the stairs to his vehicle parked in the alley. After sliding it onto the passenger seat, and closing the door, he lifted the hood to assure himself no one had tampered with the engine. Confident everything appeared okay, he climbed into the driver’s side and drove to the pet shop.

    When he placed the container on the counter and the little kitten poked out her head from under the cloth, the cashier called the other employees. “Come look at this darling Ragdoll.”

    Everyone gathered around touching, and handling the cat.

    Hawkman stepped back and rubbed his mustache. “Huh, I just need some food and a couple of toys. I have no idea what she eats.”

    One of the girls glanced up at him. “Where did you get this precious thing?”

    “A gift from Marie.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Oh, you’re so lucky. Her cats are the best in the world.”

    Hawkman looked puzzled. “Does she raise them?”

    The young lady stepped back in awe. “Yes, didn’t you know? She’s the greatest Ragdoll breeder around; known all over the country.”

    He shrugged. “I’m not into felines, this is my wife’s deal. The animal is for her.”

    “Oh, she’s just going to love it.”

    He soon edged his way out the door trying to hold the cat in the basket with a bag of food and toys under his arm. “I think you’ve excited my pet.”

    They all laughed and gave him a wave as he struggled toward the SUV.

    He sat the cat on the passenger seat, then took the newly bought food and two bowls from the sack. Setting the containers on the inside floorboard, he poured a little water from his own bottle into one, then sprinkled some food into the other. Gently lifting the cat out of the basket, he placed her next to them. While she lapped up the liquid and ate a hefty amount of the dry crunchies, Hawkman scrutinized the area. He found nothing to cause suspicion, so climbed into the driver’s side and waited for the cat to finish. When she started to preen herself, he picked up the animal and gently placed her into the basket.

    “Okay, girl, we haven’t got all day. We’re heading to Copco Lake and you can take care of your personal hygiene when we arrive home.”

    On their way, Hawkman had a time keeping the little tiger from climbing out onto the seat, and ended up steering most of the way with one hand while rubbing her back with the other.

    He breathed a sigh of relief when he drove into the garage. “Okay, wiggle worm, you ready to meet your new mistress?” He gently lifted the receptacle and carried it to the entry. He found the door locked and the alarm system set. So, he placed the basket between his feet, punched in the code and stepped into the house, then tried to grab the animal as she leaped from her confines.

    Jennifer turned the corner just as a streak flashed across the living room floor.

    “Oh, my gosh, what was that?”

    “A bag full of energy for you, from Marie.”

    She clamped both hands over her mouth as she stared at two big blue eyes looking out from behind the chair. “She’s beautiful!”

    He frowned. “You act like you were expecting this little bundle of dynamite.”

    Reaching down and picking up the ball of fur, she nodded. “Yes, but I didn’t know when. And I didn’t think it’d be you who’d have the honor of bringing her home. I wanted it to be a surprise.”

    He plopped the basket on the counter. “Don’t be disappointed. It took me totally off guard, and this little beast definitely kept my mind off snipers or someone stalking me.”

    A guilty smile twitched the corners of her mouth. “Good timing.”

    “The employees at the pet shop went bonkers over the sight of this creature.”

    “I can imagine. Marie’s Ragdoll cats have the reputation of being the most beautiful in the area.”

    “I want to hear the whole story. But first, I’ll bring in the food and stuff I bought for the new member of our family.”

    Once Hawkman deposited the items on the counter, Jennifer fussed over where she should put the litter box and then produced a good sized wicker pet bed she’d somehow stored away without his ever seeing it. She placed it in the corner near the fireplace.

    The little cat had not let Jennifer out of her sight since she’d arrived and acted like she understood her instructions. Hawkman shook his head and meandered over to the phone. Staring at the flashing red button, he finally punched it and listened to the message.

    Jennifer glanced at him when it finished. “Do you recognize the voice?”

    “No.”

    “I pray it’s not Dirk.”

    “We don’t have to worry about him. He’s in prison for the rest of his life, unless someone killed him. I’ll ask Bill when I call.”

    “You’re going to call Bill Broadwell, your old boss?”

    “Yes.”

    “You believe it’s someone from your Agency years?”

    “I’m highly suspicious, because of his using the name, Jim Anderson. We’ll see if he calls back. Screen the calls if I’m not here, and don’t answer if you don’t recognize the caller. I want you to keep the alarm on at all times and get your gun ready. We’ll go out and do some practicing within the next day or two.”

    Jennifer stared at him with fear in her eyes. “You’re serious aren’t you?”

    “Yes.”

    Pimp My Profile ----

    Angels in Disguise:

    Paperback, 296 pages, 12.47 at Amazon

    E-Book: $5.98

    A P.I., his wife, cancer, a missing mother and a little girl kidnapped. You’ll see a side of Hawkman never revealed in this powerful novel. Two stories entwined in such a way, you’ll find yourself crying and cringing at the same time. Your heart will go out to Hawkman as he struggles with his emotions and tries to concentrate on the case handed to him by a distraught father. Hawkman has reservations about a unique grandmother who reads strange books, and a butcher’s daughter who keeps him in turmoil. Romance, hate, frustration and many more emotions keep you turning the pages. Pick up your copy of ANGELS IN DISGUISE by Betty Sullivan La Pierre, and find out what it’s all about.



    CHAPTER ONE



    After testifying on a client’s behalf, Hawkman left the courthouse around noon and decided to stop by Togo’s. He ordered a large pastrami and soda to go. Carrying his food in a sack, he jumped into his 4X4 and drove toward the office. The tantalizing aroma swirled around his nose, causing his foot to push heavily against the accelerator. His stomach growled as he parked in the alley behind his office. He jumped out of the SUV and headed up the stairs, but hesitated for a moment and admired the new shingle attached at the top of the stairwell: Tom Casey, Private Investigator. Smiling to himself, he hurried up the steps to his small cubicle above the doughnut shop. His mouth watering, he settled at the desk, pulled the waxed paper away from the delicacy, and directed it toward his mouth. But before he could take a bite, someone knocked at the door.

    “Come in,” he called, and rolled the sandwich back into the wrapping.

    A man, appearing to be in his mid-thirties, dressed in a dark gray business suit, stepped into the office. He had a clean shaven face, square jaw, deep blue eyes, and dark brown hair tinged with gray at the temples. When he approached the desk, his gaze drifted to the food Hawkman had pushed aside.

    “Looks like I’ve caught you in the middle of lunch.”

    “No problem, it can wait. Have a seat,” Hawkman said, gesturing toward the chair in front of the desk. “How can I help you?”

    He held out his hand. “My name’s Paul Ryan, Mr. Casey. You were referred to me by a friend at the office. I need someone to help me find my wife.”

    After they shook, Paul sat down and let out an audible sigh.

    “You sound a bit frustrated. How long has she been missing?”

    “Going on four days. We’re separated right now, and my mother called to tell me Carlotta hadn’t picked up our daughter and she’d been at her home since Friday. She tried to call my wife numerous times, but didn’t get an answer.”

    “Did you check the house?”

    “Yes. The newspapers were scattered all over the yard. And inside, the mail had piled high under the door slot. It looked like nothing had been touched. I felt disgusted at her irresponsibility for leaving our child with my mother for so long without notifying either of us.”

    “What about your wife’s parents?”

    “Killed in a car accident years ago.”

    “Sisters or brothers?”

    “None. She was an only child.”

    “Have you filed a missing person’s report?”

    Paul shook his head. “No, I didn’t want to feel like a fool if she showed up after a swinging time with some boyfriend she’d picked up.”

    “Have you checked the hospitals or called the police to make sure she wasn’t involved in an accident?”

    “Yes. She hasn’t been admitted for emergency care and the officer I talked with said they had no record of her being in any accidents.”

    Hawkman raised a hand. “Before we go on, if you want me to take this case, I require a down payment. Then I’ll give you a weekly accounting of my expenses.”

    Paul nodded and removed his checkbook from the breast pocket of his suit. “Will a thousand dollars get you started?”

    “That will be ample.”

    He peeled off the check and handed it to Hawkman. “I appreciate you taking this on.”

    Hawkman took a large yellow tablet from the drawer. “Okay, first of all, let’s go through some routine questions. Then I’ll need more personal information about your wife. To begin, give me both your full names.”

    “Paul Lee Ryan and Carlotta Ann Ryan.”

    After asking several questions, Hawkman flipped over the sheet, then glanced at Paul. “Okay, before we go into more particulars on your wife, I want you to file a missing person’s report on her as soon as you leave here. She’s been gone long enough; the police won’t question the time.”

    “Okay, I’ll do that first thing. Is there anything else I need to do as far as police paperwork is concerned?”

    “Not at the moment. I’ll let you know as time goes by. What’s your daughter’s name and how old is she?”

    “Tiffany Lynn and she’s ten.”

    “Do you have any pictures?”

    Paul dug out his billfold and handed him a photo of Carlotta and Tiffany. “This is a recent snapshot of them together.”

    “Mind if I make a copy?”

    “Not at all.”

    Hawkman studied the images as he strolled over to the copy machine. “Nice looking girls you have there.”

    “Thanks. I wish I could classify us as a family, but I’m afraid things just aren’t working out.”

    He gave the original back to Paul and placed the copy on his desk. “Okay, let’s dig into your life a little deeper. How long have you been married? And when did the problems begin?”

    “We’ve been married almost eleven years and I thought things were going real well until two years ago when Carlotta told me she was sick of our humdrum life. She said we had no excitement left and things were boring as hell. I told her to get more involved with Tiffany at school. She’d roll her eyes and tell me I could drop that suggestion into the garbage can.”

    “When did you separate and where is she living?

    “She threw me out about a year ago, and I moved into a two bedroom apartment. Carlotta still lives at our original house with our daughter.”

    “Give me the address.” Hawkman jotted it down, then glanced at Paul. “Do you think she had a lover on the side around then?”

    “I’m not sure, but more than likely she’s got guys coming and going now. That’s why I didn’t want to report her missing just yet.” He grimaced. “But I will.”

    Hawkman leaned back in his chair. “Do you suspect she could’ve met with foul play?”

    Paul shook his head. “I haven’t the vaguest idea.”

    “Tell me a little about your mother. Does she take care of your daughter often?”

    “Yes, and even when it’s my turn to have Tiffany and I get called into work, Mom will come over to my place to watch her. In fact, I didn’t even know she had Tiffany this past weekend until she called.”

    “What does your dad think about this arrangement?”

    “Mom’s been widowed for years.”

    “Sorry. Does she like Carlotta?”

    “Unfortunately, no. But she adores Tiffany.”

    Hawkman raised a brow. “Why doesn’t she care for your wife?”

    Paul sighed. “From the first day we were married, Mother showed her disapproval in several different ways.”

    “Enlighten me.”

    “She picks on Carlotta constantly about how she dresses, and handles herself in front of Tiffany. My wife wears sexy clothes which Mother disapproves of vehemently.” He chuckled. “Mom preaches to her that married woman don’t go flaunting their boobs and legs in public places.”

    Hawkman glanced at the picture on the desk. “Carlotta appears to be quite a beautiful woman. And it looks like Tiffany is following in her footsteps. However, your daughter looks quite a bit older than ten years.”

    Paul nodded. “Yes, I know, and Carlotta doesn’t put any restrictions on how she dresses, and allows her to wear make-up. This angers my Mom to no end.”

    “Tell me again about this last weekend when your mother was watching your daughter.”

    “Carlotta dropped Tiffany off at Mom’s on Friday afternoon after school, and said she’d pick her up Sunday evening. Here it is Tuesday and there’s been no word from her. Mother tried contacting Carlotta several times, as I said, and even drove by the house, but never caught her home.”

    “Does your wife have a car? And if so, what kind?”

    “Yes, a Camry and it’s in the garage. That’s the first thing I checked. It gave me a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach to think she’s out with some guy living it up.”

    “Well, you can’t be sure, so don’t jump to any conclusions yet. She could have gone out of town with girlfriends. Tell me a little more about your mother and where she lives.”

    Paul gave him her address. “She’s a great grandma and has always been very attentive to Tiffany. The child adores her and the feeling is mutual.”

    “Did Tiffany say anything about her mother’s whereabouts?”

    “No. She just said Carlotta told her she’d be staying with her grandma for a few days.”

    “Would you mind if I questioned your daughter?”

    “No, not at all.”

    “I’d also like to make a visit to your wife’s house. You obviously have a key. How about taking me over there this evening after you get off work.”

    “Sure, I’ll drop by Mom’s and pick up Tiffany as I’m sure she’ll want to get some extra clothes or more of her personal stuff. I’ll meet you there, say around six o’clock.”

    “Okay, that sounds good. Tell your mother not to be alarmed if a guy with a cowboy hat and an eye-patch comes snooping around asking questions.”

    Paul scooted back the chair and stood. “I’ll do that.”

    Hawkman stood. “I may need more information as the investigation proceeds. But right now, I think I have enough to tackle the case.”

    “Thanks for taking it on. I’m sure you’ll do whatever’s necessary to find out what’s happened to Carlotta.”

    After Mr. Ryan left, Hawkman wrapped his sandwich in a napkin and put it into the small microwave Jennifer had insisted he get for the office. Times like this he blessed her many times for this convenience. He sat down with the warmed food and glanced through his notes as he munched. Very peculiar case. Looked like a communication channel never developed between Paul and his wife. He hoped Carlotta would turn up alive and well. It bothered him to think she might have met with foul play. He’d talk to the neighbors, then search through her phone and credit card bills. Maybe he could pick those up when he met Paul at the house this evening. He needed to get a feel as to what type of woman Carlotta Ryan might be.

    Pimp My Profile

    click on banner to visit Betty's site
    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    The links below take you directly to Betty'sbooks where you can compare prices and decide whether you want print or downloads.


    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



    Buy Now at AMAZON.COM



               

    Tracy B. Evans

    Featured Author:

     

    Please meet mystery/suspense author Tracy B. Evans.

    Her first book Fatal Kidnapping is a thrilling mystery, fast paced and filled with suspense. While her debut novel Fatal Kidnapping is taking off to a great start, she is busy writing on her next manuscript, which will be another suspense thriller. The title and the plot are still a secret, but we are sure it will be as exciting as Fatal Kidnapping!

    Her favorite books to read are mystery thrillers and sometimes a little romance.

    Sometimes Tracy likes to write poetry, which is not published at this time.

     

    See what Debra Gaynor from ReviewYourBook.com had to say about Fatal Kidnapping:

    Fatal Kidnapping
    Tracy B. Evans
    ISBN: 978-1-4343-2512-0

    Author House, 2007
    Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 11/07
    Twists and turns…
    5 Stars

    A day never went by without Katie Stone calling her father at least once, but on that fateful day she didn't call. She and fiancé Caleb had agreed to meet for dinner, but she didn't show up. Something was wrong; Katie was missing. Terrified her father and fiancé turned to the local sheriff. Sheriff Day found her car at the Grocery Store. The town began to search for missing Katie.

    When I review a book, I usually give a much longer summary. This time, I intentionally kept the summary short so that I would not give away any of the astonishing story. Fatal Kidnapping is like a roller coaster ride there are enough twists and turns to keep you holding on to the edge of your seat. I found the plot amazing; I was still trying to figure out " who done it" up to the last chapter. My only criticism of Fatal Kidnapping was the dialogue in a few places it is a little contrived. The plot falls heavily on the dialogue, which is good. I like books with a lot of dialogue. Tracy B. Evans is a talented writer. The cover deliciously hints at what lays inside. The characters are well developed; Caleb, loving and supportive, and Jed, a father that loves his daughter deeply. As a child, Katie was filled with pain. Fans of mystery and suspense will cherish this one.

     

    Visit Tracy at MySpace   

    http://www.myspace.com/fatalkidnapping  

     

    Visit Tracy at www.tracybevans.com

     

    For a signed copy please message Tracy.

     

    Fatal Kidnapping,  Paperback, 216 pages, $ 12.78 at Amazon

    $13.04 at Barnes and Noble

     

     

     

     

    Fatal Kidnapping:
    Katie Stone felt all alone. At the same time, however, she never felt alone. Katie was constantly checking over her shoulder in fear, a perpetual and eerie feeling that someone was watching or following her. Unfortunately, no one would believe her. In Fatal Kidnapping, Tracy B. Evans' new book of love, death, and abduction in a small town, the refusal to believe Katie turns into disbelief when, suddenly, Katie disappears.
    When Katie's father, Jed, does not hear from her and neither he nor Katie's fiancé, Caleb, can find her, Jed contacts his close friend and the town's sheriff, Jack Day. Sheriff Day is clueless when it comes to conducting a search for a missing person, as he has never had to deal with any major crimes in such a small town. He eventually calls together a group of people from the town to meet him at the police station and begins the search for Katie. As the townspeople look high and low for the missing girl, the search begins to seem pointless. They find nothing to aid them in the investigation, and no sign of Katie. Caleb fears that Katie has left town because she has decided that she does not want to marry him after all. Then, suddenly, a few days later, Katie is discovered. She is bruised and battered, but she is alive.
    Katie begins to tell Sheriff Day what happened to her during the time she was gone, but Sheriff Day is immediately frustrated and confused. Why is she beginning her statement with details about her childhood? Katie tells him he must listen to the whole story or he will never believe her. Wanting to get to the bottom of things, Sheriff Day agrees, and he can not believe what he learns next. When Katie is finished, Sheriff Day believes he has discovered the truth behind her kidnapping. But has he really, and will the truth ever truly be revealed? Katie is adamant that the statement she has given is correct, but how can the kidnapper be a man who has been dead for years?
    Follow Katie's story and its incredible conclusions in Fatal Kidnapping.
    More information is available at www.tracybevans.com .

    Pimp My Profile

    Lenny Catellaneta

    Featured Author:

     

    What better time to meet the author Lenny Castellaneta, the author that brings 1225 Mistletoe Lane and wonderful Christmas-Magic right to you!

    The characters are coming to life, right off the page, drawing the reader into this adventure of love and care and all the things that Christmas should be about.

    If you are already in Holiday spirits, this book will be right on to keep the fun going, if you are suffering from the Christmas Blues, then 1225 Mistletoe Lane might just be what you need to be lifted up and tossed into a jolly mood.

    Right now Lenny and his partner Leigh have just finished the screenplay for 1225 Mistletoe Lane and are looking for the right producer at this time.

    Visit Lenny Castellaneta on MySpace!

     

    www.myspace.com/lennycastellaneta

     

    Jim Carrelli, a 32 year-old schoolteacher, is an essentially good person who doesn’t like doing or accepting favors. This stems from a devastating incident in college. Now, as an adult, he doesn’t let people get close to him, and as a result, his love-life is nonexistent.


    Through the help of his mysterious new friend, Galen, Jim learns the concept of selflessness. He realizes that he needs to be less selfish and more trusting of others before he’ll ever be able to find that “special someone.”


    In a bar one night, at Galen’s urging, Jim jokingly agrees to go back in time to prevent a car accident that left Jim’s landlady, Molly, a mentally challenged widow. After one too many drinks, Jim passes out on a bench outside the bar and awakens to find himself in the past. Is it just a dream? Or should he brace himself for the “experience of a lifetime?”

     
       1225 Mistletoe Lane

    Paperback, 131 pages, $17.95 at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

     

    Sample Chapters 1225 Mistletoe Lane:

    He's sure they all feel it; how can they not? The sudden change in stadium temperature seems a kind of foreboding chill to him, an omen akin to misplaced crib notes the morning of a final. Dark, ominous clouds race in from over the foothills as the huge, luminescent scoreboard atop the bleachers (a gift from the Alumni Association) silently reminds everyone: Visitors 1, Home 0.

    And he doesn't know why, but that scoreboard seems to be taunting him. Like a BMW billboard, or his GPA.

    The players take their positions to open the bottom of the ninth inning. On the first pitch, a sharply hit ground ball to second base promptly scoots through the legs of a boyishly handsome nineteen-year-old wearing a Diablos jersey. But neither the center fielder nor right fielder backs him up. The confused second sacker sprints to the outfield, picks up the ball and hustles it back into play, exactly the way all infielders do (except those on the '62 Mets). The same thing happens on the next play. And the one after. Bases are now loaded with nobody out. The teen signals for time, looks at his teammates and shrugs his shoulders as if to ask, What's going on? But they all turn away. On the next play, another grounder is hit to him. The runners on second and third break for home. He bobbles the ball, picks it up and fires it to the plate. The catcher, however, steps aside and lets the ball go by. Both runners score as the Diablos lose.

    The coach, a large frustrated middle-aged man who looks like a walking ad for Dexitrim, Paxil, and Viagra all rolled into one, runs onto the field and rips the uniform off his second baseman as if it were attached with only Velcro. The kid is left standing there in nothing but his jockstrap. Female spectators point and laugh as the young man stands, frozen, with a horrified look transfixed upon his face.

    All of a sudden Al Roker is singing, which is an even worse nightmare.



    The messy studio apartment was dark save for the faint glow emanating from a small television across the room. It was 6:30 A.M. and Jim Carrelli, the young second baseman now a slightly graying early thirty-something Generation X-er, sprang up dripping from a cold sweat. He regained his composure and sighed. It was the same bad, recurring dream. Try as he might, he just couldn't shake this nightmare, and it was starting to affect his sleep. Some nights he couldn't doze at all, fearing this inevitable nocturnal haunting. And he had tried everything. Psychologists, hypnotists, any show on Lifetime; nothing seemed to knock him out lately.

    He fumbled for the remote to silence the tube while wondering, Why is Al Roker singing "The Christmas Song"? Haven't I suffered enough this morning?

    He got out of bed and opened a little cardboard window on the Advent calendar taped on the wall next to an I LOVE N.Y. poster. The date, December 8, 2000.

    Jim stumbled into the bathroom. Upon his exit, hair still damp from the shower, he maneuvered his way through a maze of fast food bags to a Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree nestled in the corner. He grabbed a red golf shirt doubling as a tree blanket off the floor, smelled an armpit, and jerked his head back as he grimaced. For some odd reason, he suddenly thought of Gina, his old college girlfriend who always did his laundry for him. He had wanted to marry her until he caught her fooling around with his best friend. Those two eventually ended up tying the knot. They were dead now or living in Bakersfield, he couldn't remember which. Although he did remember the last thing his God-fearing, church-going mother had said to him on her death bed regarding Gina. She had pulled him near and whispered, "Don't you dare marry that tramp!" And with that, took her last breath and passed. His dad didn't like Gina either, though he'd never even met her before he died. But his family was from Naples; Gina's, Sicily. Enough said.

    Jim crumpled the golf jersey, threw it in the hamper, and grabbed a white polo shirt, this one doubling as a VCR cozy. Again he smelled an armpit. Not too bad, he thought, and put it on along with a pair of light-blue denim relaxed-fitting jeans, white leather Nikes with a red insignia, and a beautifully crafted antique gold cross and chain.

    He ambled into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of Captain Crunch, still his favorite after all these years, and flicked on a five-inch black & white TV sitting on his table. Some "doctor" was rambling on about another inane, morning-talk-show topic. First "Nat King" Roker, now THIS? Exactly how desperate for morning ratings ARE network executives? he wondered. An image of Katie Couric modeling lingerie suddenly flashed across his mind. He started looking for the Mylanta.

    ". . . Where people report an encounter with an angel in a time of crisis. Now, I've interviewed these people, given them polygraph tests, and they all seem truthful. And these aren't weirdoes or crackpots, just average folks . . . parents, teachers, shopkeepers, people like you and me." The anchor, who really aspired to star in a sitcom one day, nodded knowingly and responded.

    "Now, Dr. Appenzeller, your book also claims that when it comes to people we meet in our lives, there are no random occurrences. Can you elaborate?"

    Jim laughed. He knew she had to have read that off a cue card because it was well known this anchor wasn't bright enough to know what elaborate meant. The "doctor," though, a local TV personality who was rumored to have graduated from an unaccredited on-line academy, making his title only slightly more credible than the namesake of Jim's breakfast, didn't seem to know that about her. He answered in earnest.

    "Yes. There's a widely held belief that we really don't meet others by chance. We all have guardian angels—some prefer the term spirit guides—who bring people into our lives and then touch us in some significant way. And we, them. And we probably never even realize how, when or why."

    "Sort of like . . . Touched By An Angel?" questioned the anchor, who thought this was a good opportunity to plug a show on which she was hoping to land a guest spot. Jim just smirked, grabbed an angel-shaped liquor decanter tucked accessibly at the back corner of the table, and winked at the TV as he started to pour a shot into his coffee. But then he remembered he was going to work. So he set the bottle down and reached for an already opened, half-filled packet of Sweet-N-Low instead. He skimmed the remaining channels and lit on a station with another wannabe sitcom anchor, but only because this one was giving basketball scores.

    ". . . Sacramento over the Knicks, 107-82. And in local sports, the Angels dealt veteran infielder Bobby Pacho to the Yankees last night. Pacho, a former Diablo—" Jim, disgusted by this announcement, snapped off the TV. He knew Pacho, hated him in fact. They played ball together back in college. And Jim was a far better player. Or at least he thought so. But that was before "the incident."

    The doorbell rang unexpectedly. Jim's eyes immediately shot to the clock on the kitchen wall. Seven forty-five, who could that be? his puzzled look demanded. He answered the door and a small elderly woman was standing there dressed in a Salvation Army-type uniform, although he couldn't specifically see the words Salvation Army anywhere. She seemed so frail; he worried for a moment that a strong gust might come along and blow her down the stairs. The fall would surely kill her, plus he'd have to call 911, wait for the police, and be late for work.

    "Good morning, sir," she started in soft-spoken fashion, "we're going door to door to see if people have anything they'd like to donate today. All items help bring in money used to make some poor family's Christmas a little brighter."

    Jim politely shook his head. "Sorry, nothing today." He started to shut the door. But the old woman stuck her head in his apartment to stop him, though, he being a transplanted New Yorker, it barely did.

    "Are you sure?" she beseeched with a timidity akin to Oliver Twist begging the Headmaster for more gruel. "I'll wait if you'd like to check." Jim, as he was sometimes prone to do when asked for something by strangers, became suspicious and annoyed.

    "Hey, how do I know you won't just spend the money on yourself? Besides, take a look around." He yanked the door wide open as if inviting an inspection. "Do I appear to be someone who can afford to part with anything?"

    The woman's face shriveled like that of a rummy sipping an O'Douls on St. Patty's Day. "Yeah, your friggin' attitude. Merry Christmas, jerk!" She disappeared in a huff.

    "Oh yeah, I love the holidays," he muttered to himself.

    He returned to the kitchen and flipped on a baseball mitt-shaped radio, a gift from Sports Illustrated mistakenly delivered to him instead of the guy across the street. But since that neighbor never even apologized for the huge dent his kids put in the hood of Jim's car with their football, Jim figured, Screw him.

    Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" jingled merrily in the background as he finished his breakfast. When he was done eating, he put on his N.Y. Yankees warm-up jacket, grabbed his briefcase and headed out the front door.

    Jim's apartment was a guest unit above a garage. The property's main house, a California version of an early '60s Cape Cod, was badly run-down and considered an eyesore by most of the neighbors. It wasn't exactly where Jim wanted to be at this point in his life, but it would do until he could get himself out of debt.

    He bounded nimbly down the stairs, moving the way most athletes do, except golfers, who, everyone knows, aren't really athletes. When he got to the bottom, he headed over to his aging dinged-up Nissan Sentra.

    Molly, owner and resident of the "big house," stood at the end of the driveway near a rusted mailbox that teetered on a weathered white post. The address on it read 1225 Mistletoe Lane, though the last e was missing a screw and had flipped upside down. Jim saw this as a metaphor for his landlady's life. Poor Molly; she was a harmless but scary sight with a frizzy white mane and slightly bulging eyes that made her seem old and tired, though she was only in her early sixties. Her left arm, crushed in an accident years earlier, had atrophied and all but withered away. It was nothing more than a grotesquely short, limp piece of flesh. And every day she wore what looked like the same worn out, rumpled housedress.

    "Hi, Jim. The post-man, he came ear-ly to-day," she labored in a slow and deliberate tone while holding up the mail with her good arm.

    The young tenant stifled a chuckle. "Molly, he comes this time every day." Jim wasn't laughing at her, he just thought it amusing that they went through this same routine every morning, like a scene out of Groundhog Day.

    He took the mail and thanked her; she just stood there staring at him blankly. He'd seen that vacant stare many times before, and he wasn't sure why, but his heart ached for the loopy old dame. "Was there something else?"

    "Oh, no, I should say not," she declared as she turned and walked away.

    Jim watched her for a second, then took out a key and tried to open his car door. The lock, however, wouldn't turn. He tried again. And again. Still, though, no luck. So he smacked the window, then winced as the ensuing twinge radiated throughout his hand. And just like a long lost relative right after you hit a huge trifecta at Belmont, Galen, his congenial white-haired next-door neighbor, suddenly appeared out of nowhere. For some inexplicable reason, he was dressed like he'd just stepped out of a Steinbeck novel. His baggy overalls and 1930s-style lid drew an odd look from Jim, even though in the short time Jim had lived there, he'd seen his pal in other "costumes" before. The reaction always amused Galen, who thought his young neighbor a bit too anal for someone his age.

    "I just got back from visiting some friends," Galen grinned as he indicated his outfit with a sweep of his hand from neck to knees. "It's a little game we play."

    "Personally, I prefer poker with my buddies," Jim shrugged. "But, hey, whatever." He looked back at his car, then shook his head in disgust before muttering, "Explain to me how the Japanese can make micro-chips fit on a pinhead, but can't make door-locks that work."

    Still grinning, Galen pointed to the Sentra. "That car was made in New Jersey."

    "Ahh," nodded Jim, as if that explained everything. He opened his briefcase, whipped out a hanger, and maneuvered it through the window seal, something he'd obviously done many times before. The lock popped open. He folded himself into his car, rolled down the window, and cranked the engine just as something dawned on Galen.

    "Hey, what happened? I thought you were getting a new car?"

    "Yeah, well, no one will finance me because of all my student loans." He gazed resignedly at his dashboard. "But I suppose it could be worse."

    "Yeah, think of all the people who have to ride buses."

    "Or drive Hyundais."

    "Look, if you need a loan—"

    "Thanks, but no. I don't like—"

    "Yeah, yeah, I know. Listen, stop by when you get home. I want to show you that thing," his wackily-clad neighbor teased with a wink.

    Jim responded with a nod of his head towards Galen's garage. "Your secret project?"

    Galen smiled slyly before answering. "It won't be a secret much longer. Oh, by the way, I went to the anagram website again last night."

    "What did you get?"

    "Well, I still don't think it's fair, considering you're a teacher and all."

    "No excuses, just your score."

    "Eighteen of twenty," Galen frowned. "And you?"

    "Perfect twenty. I'm telling you," Jim boasted, "there's not an anagram out there I can't figure out. I can spot them a mile away." He was very good at word puzzles, anagrams especially, and took great pride in the fact that no one he knew could match his skills at them. Competitive juices still simmered within him, a lingering side effect of donning a jockstrap all those years.

    "Why don't we play a real man's game sometime," suggested Galen. "Like chess."

    "Sure. Should I bake some quiche?" Jim deadpanned as he backed out, waved, then pulled away. But he hadn't driven ten feet when he remembered wanting to tell Galen about the oddly dressed woman he saw on his porch the day before. She was young and dark skinned and wore an outfit unlike any he'd ever seen; maybe she was a foreigner. They hadn't spoken because he was late for work, and besides, he hadn't noticed her till he was driving by. But she seemed lost and somewhat harried. Anyway, now, when he stopped the car to tell him, Galen was nowhere to be seen. How could he disappear so fast? Jim wondered. He made a mental note to mention the woman when he saw Galen that night. But in an instant, as if suffering from a sudden memory lapse, he absolutely couldn't recall why he stopped or what he was just thinking about, as if whatever it was had just been erased from his consciousness.
    While cruising to work, Jim rolled past Narrow Valley High and noticed an eye-catching addition to the school sign out front. Some pranksters had added an apostrophe s so it now read:

    Narrow Valley's High

    He chuckled in his realization that people don't change much from era to era. Landscapes change, technologies change, but people? Not really, because this was the same dumb prank he and his friends pulled when they were in school. At the time, they thought they were so original, though he now realized kids all over the country had probably been pulling this same stunt for years, ever since "high" came to mean more than just altitude. But he wondered for a moment if anyone else had ever pulled the old "lock the dean of students in the trunk of his own car" bit. Mr. Petrosental, the most vengeful, arrogant creep of an administrator, had been outside a local bar, drunker than a twelve-step dropout at a Mötley Crüe New Year's bash, teetering over his open trunk on graduation night. In a word, serendipity.

    Jim drove down a few more blocks and pulled into the parking lot of Narrow Valley Jr. High, the school where he had toiled as an English teacher for the last few years. Toiled was probably not a good word, though, for Jim was, in fact, the last of a dying breed. He actually liked working with kids. It was the administrators he hated: incompetent teachers who were promoted not because of their superior management skills but as a means of maintaining damage control at the classroom level. (Take, for example, the time some gang kid took a swing at the typing teacher. The vice principal grilled that poor woman, all five feet two inches, one hundred three pounds of her, demanding to know what she had done to provoke the attack.) To Jim, administrators were nothing more than insipid dolts with little-to-no people skills who were grossly overpaid considering how little they did. But he was working on resolving those contemptuous feelings.

    He hopped out of his car, briefcase in one hand, his unopened mail in the other, and glided across the lot into a small dreary faculty room with ancient furniture and even older-looking teachers. No joke, some of them actually made your overmedicated, narcoleptic grandpa seem peppy.

    He took a seat alone at a table in the back corner and tore open an envelope. It contained something he just hated seeing these days, even more so than overdue bills or junk mail with Ed McMann's annoying, smiling face intimating that millions could be yours if you'd just subscribe to magazines you'd probably never read. It was a wedding invitation. Being single, especially around the holidays . . . well, it just wasn't a good time to receive this. And just in case that wasn't enough to get his day off to a lousy start, Peg Johnson, a health instructor in her late fifties, slowly approached him. Large in size and overbearing in demeanor, Peg had a chronic, hacking cough to complement the lit cigarette always dangling from her mouth, even though No Smoking banners clearly adorned the walls of every staff lounge on campus. (Jim thought these about as effective as No Spitting signs in New York subways, or, more relevantly, warning labels on tobacco products.) When he saw her, his brow immediately crinkled.

    "Jim, I hate to bother you—"

    "Then don't," he pleaded as he flailed his hands to chase away her smoke. She sat down across from him anyway. He hated when she did that.

    "I'm desperate. I need someone tonight to take my place chaperoning the—" Jim cut her off with a "look." From her reaction, you could tell she'd seen it before. "You know, one of these days you'll actually start doing favors for people and when you do, I'm gonna drop dead from shock." It was too easy an opening to ignore.

    "Peg, if I thought that were true, I would've started doing them years ago." He didn't really feel that way, but it accomplished the task. She got up and left. And in her angry haste, the gargantuan Marlboro aficionado nearly plowed over his chubby buddy Dan, a graying curly-headed driver's ed teacher with a mark on his chin that more resembled a spot of dirt than the mole it actually was.

    Dan, an upbeat kind of guy who found humor in almost everything, came over and sat with Jim. In all his forty-four years, he never took life, or himself, too seriously. That's why people liked him so much. He had a way of taking their minds off things that bothered them. Not today, though. At least not at this table.

    "Hey, Jim, I drove down your street and saw some little old lady leaving your apartment early this morning." He sucked down the last of his Starbucks double mocha latté. "Hot date last night?"

    "Nah, just some bitter old woman trying to riddle me with guilt and spoil my Christmas."

    "Ooh, thanks for reminding me. I gotta call my mother." The card with the fancy print lying on the table caught his attention. "What ya got there?"

    "Oh, a wedding invitation," moaned Jim.

    "A buddy?"

    "A good buddy."

    "The poor bastard. No wonder you look so depressed. You're a good friend to grieve for him."

    "You think I'm grieving?"

    Dan squinted a bit as he studied his gloomy colleague for a moment. "Uh-oh," he frowned, "you do seem a tad shade of green. Don't tell me you're envious?"

    Jim held up the invitation and slowly waved it. "Lamey was my last single friend."

    "Wait, run that name past me again," Dan snickered.

    "Lamey. John Lameowitz."

    "So, if like, you guys were in a loud, crowded bar with lots of chicks around and ya needed to get his attention, you'd shout out, 'Hey, lay me?'" Jim just glared at him. "Sorry, go ahead."

    "He was my last single friend." There was a pause, not long, but a palpable beat, just enough time for Dan to wink at the attractive young substitute who had promenaded into the room before Jim continued his droning. "Look at me, Dan. Thirty-two, and I don't even have a girlfriend. I don't know, sometimes I feel like I'm wandering aimlessly through life. No love, no adventure. You know, I don't even know why I stay around this place. I mean, it's not like I have any ties here or anything."

    Dan motioned towards the young sub. "Why don't ya ask her out?"

    Jim glanced over at the girl and sighed. "She wants to be an actress."

    Dan shuddered with disgust. He shot her one last look, and trying to find something positive offered, "Well, at least she doesn't want to be a lawyer. Look, just 'cause ya haven't found the right girl yet doesn't mean ya should pick up and run away. Hell, lots of guys would love to have what you have. No family, no responsibility. Man, if I had your life, I'd be out bar-hopping all the time."

    "You are out bar-hopping all the time."

    "Yeah, but I wouldn't feel guilty about it," he murmured, eyes lowered with feigned remorse. And then on a more serious note, "Ya goin' to happy hour after work?"



    The classroom was dark and overcrowded. Not bursting-at-the- seams overcrowded, but just enough to make Jim wonder where all that lotto money earmarked for public schools was really going. His attention was drawn out the window as he spotted two district administrators simultaneously pulling into the parking lot, each driving a Mercedes. "Oh, yeah, that's where," he muttered. One of them, a deputy superintendent with whom he often quarreled, slipped on a discarded plastic baggie overlooked by the skeleton custodial crew, a crew left decimated by budget cuts inexplicably imposed by that very same administrator. The D.S. fell to the ground, slicing a gash in his new two-hundred dollar Calvin Klein suit-jacket as he skidded along the blacktop.

    Jim started to feel a little better.

    On a relic of a video monitor no longer capable of producing clear images (the school had bought it back when Eddie Murphy still took Joe Piscopo's phone calls), the closing credits of The Time Machine were rolling. Jim turned on the lights and noticed a student in the back with headphones on, sleeping. So he crept down the aisle as everyone watched in silent, gleeful anticipation and cranked the volume on the kid's Walkman. The young man's head shot up, eyes bulging, as he ripped the headphones from his own ears. His classmates roared. Jim delighted in these kinds of shenanigans and smirked as he headed back up the aisle.

    From posters on the front wall, the faces of Lincoln, J.F.K., Martin Luther King, and Bobby Murcer smiled out over the room as Jim addressed his class.

    "Okay, so what did you guys think?" Nobody raised a hand. He turned to Tim Adams, a thirteen-year-old jock sitting in the back along with all the rest of the thirteen-year-old, "too hip for school" crowd. Funny, though. As much as they all hated school, they all seemed to like Jim, save for one or two of the more hardcore disenchanted.

    "Mr. Adams. What about it, Tim?"

    "I don't know, Mr. C. I mean, it was a good flick, but a time machine? Gimme a break." Some of the students giggled.

    "I take it you don't believe in the concept of time-travel?"

    Tim rolled his eyes. "And you do?"

    The entire class exploded in laughter. Jim smiled; he liked it when a kid got off a good one at his expense (just as long as it didn't happen too often).

    "Well, no, but I know someone who . . . Well, we're running out of time. Don't forget. I want a five hundred word critique of the film on Monday. Oh, and Rachel," he reminded, as a face resembling a Wendy O'Williams cloning experiment gone horribly wrong glowered from the corner, "writing 'IT SUCKED!' two hundred and fifty times does not constitute a five hundred word critique." The kids all laughed again. Rachel just sneered at him, the exact same way she did to her parents or anyone over thirty.

    The bell rang and the ensuing lunchtime rush for the door made Jim reminisce, briefly, on his own school days. It was a happy, carefree time back then, and he found himself longing for that simpler period lately.

    As the last student bolted, Jim stood alone by the VCR, rewinding the tape. He picked up the video jacket and considered it for a moment before sniggering and tossing it back on his desk.

    For more sample chapters on 1225 Mistletoe Lane, visit Lenny's Blog!

    To see what Vinny the Elf has to say, watch the Video!

    For a signed copy you can contact Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay, CA. (But you must request a SIGNED copy.) Ask for Linna or JoAnne. The phone number is (805) 772-2880, & the email is coalesce@charter.net

    Have a merry Christmas!

    Matthew Peterson

    We would like for you to meet Featured Author Matthew Peterson and his fast paced, fun and action loaded science fiction novel Paraworld Zero, fun to read not only for young adults!

    Visit Matthew on MySpace:  www.myspace.com/pworlds

    Visit Matthew's website: Parallel Worlds

    Buy now at Amazon! $16.99
    paperback, 251 pages

    Buy now at Barnes and Noble! $13.49
    paperback, 251 pages

    Matthew Peterson is an award-winning short story writer, second degree black belt in karate, Eagle scout, computer programmer, and former missionary. He lives in Arizona with his wife, five boys and their giant African tortoise and the great imagination that brought him to write the most compelling adventure of Paraworld Zero:

    Twelve-year-old earthling, Simon Kent, stumbles upon a secret that thrusts him into a bizarre adventure filled with magic, technology and deadly out-of-this-world creatures. He discovers a true friend, confronts his inner demons and becomes the savior to a peculiar race of people, when all he truly wants is to find his way back home.


    See what other readers had to say about Paraworld Zero:

    "...a must read for anyone who loves fantasy and for anyone who loves a good adventure/coming-of-age novel."
    – Flamingnet TOP CHOICE Award

    "...an exciting page-turner..."
    – FantasyBookSpot.com

    "Its rollicking adventure style reminds this reader of a cross between Harry Potter's adventures and those of Artemis Fowl. Colorful characters, fast-paced adventure, and clever humor make this an interesting read."
    – TeensReadToo.com

    "The exciting action of Star Wars with the humor of Napoleon Dynamite."
    – Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of the Path and Crosspointe series

    "Flame throwing pigeons and demonic dumpsters. Funny and imaginative."
    – Maria V. Snyder, award-winning author of Poison Study


    "Truly original... Read it. Trust me, you’ll have a terrific time."
    – Douglas Hill, bestselling author of nearly 70 books

    "Fantasy lovers will devour Paraworld Zero... incredibly unique and captivating."
    – ThePageFlipper.blogspot.com

    "Enticing and very entertaining... funny, unique, and imaginative series."
    – TheCompulsiveReader.blogspot.com

    "Peterson deftly blends elements of fantasy and science fiction in this action packed romp."
    – The Faerie Drink Review

    "ParaWorld Zero is one of those rare young adult novels that all ages will enjoy... Don't miss this one!"
    – SpecFicWorld.com

    "The characters are lively and the storyline is fast paced and exciting to read. It's got everything a kid would enjoy reading so you guys should definitely pick this book up..."
    – TheBookBinge.blogspot.com

    Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YO65t44aeM

    Enjoy an Excerpt right now:

    Excerpt of Paraworld Zero (Prologue: The Storm):
    Audio version at: http://paraworlds.com/audio_presentaion.html

    The woman was dying, and no one on Earth would mourn for her when she was gone. Not a soul would know of the secrets she possessed or of the ultimate power that emanated from within her limp body. The hope of the universe was about to be lost–that is, unless she arrived at the hospital in time.

    A torrent of watery darts hit the windshield as the ambulance squealed around another corner. The hospital was not much farther. A spark of lightning erupted in the night sky, as if to point the way the ambulance should go. Rumbling sounds resonated from the darkness above, accompanied by a faint groan of atmospheric indigestion echoing in the distance. The storm, like the mighty hand of a demon, buffeted the vehicle with its cold fist, but the driver remained steadfast.

    “We’re losing her,” a paramedic cried.

    “Come on, lady. You can make it,” another said.

    The vehicle skidded to a complete stop, and the back doors flung open. Interns rushed to help with the gurney, but in the process, one of them slipped on the wet concrete and lost his grip, causing the stretcher to jolt. The poor woman, her skin infested with blistered lesions, lifted her head and moaned. One of the students gasped.

    A paramedic took hold of the gurney and entered the emergency room. He tried to keep his eyes away from the grotesque figure in his care, tried not to even breathe the same air that spewed from her deformed lips and nostrils. Visions of horrible diseases filled his mind, but he dispelled them with the thought of a quick dispatch to labor and delivery.

    A consternated expression etched itself across the gynecologist’s face. Word of the woman’s arrival had spread quickly. The doctor peered at the sores on her face and arms. “What happened to her?”

    “I dunno,” the paramedic said. “She’s all tripped out and won’t say noth’n.”

    “I see.”

    “Someone found her in a park and called it in,” he added. “She’s not contagious, is she?”

    The gynecologist winced but remained silent. He looked closer at the gruesome sores on her body, then pulled up her sleeve and discovered more pustules on her arm. He checked her legs and found that they too were infected.

    “I have no idea what this is. Almost looks like she’s been exposed to something.” He turned to a young nurse. “Do an ultrasound and get blood and tissue samples. Keep me posted.”

    “Aren’t ya gonna set up a quarantine or something?” the paramedic asked.

    “I want to know what we’re dealing with before we put the whole city in a panic. It could just be an allergic reaction.”

    The woman on the gurney jerked upright, as if waking up from a nightmare. “My son!”

    “Calm down, ma’am. We’re here to help.”

    “My son . . . Simon . . . His name is Simon,” she mumbled. “And his . . . And. . . .” Her eyes glazed over.

    Just then, the doctor noticed the blood and discharge on the sheets. “Nurse, delay that order. We're not going to have time for tests.” The patient arched her back and screamed. “Her baby wants to come right now. Let’s get ready.”

    The paramedic left, and the nurses took charge. They moved the pregnant woman directly to a birthing room. The windows streamed with rushing water, and the howling wind fought against the thick glass. Ferocious thunder hammered the building, making the surgical instruments vibrate. One nurse held up a sterile gown for the doctor to put his arms through while another nurse doused the woman’s belly with clear gel.

    The doctor held her hand gently. “What’s your name?”

    The monitor picked up a huge contraction, which surged throughout the woman’s body like a tidal wave. She clenched his fingers in a vice-like grip.

    “Forget the ultrasound,” the doctor said, releasing his hand and stumbling past the nurse. “I can already see the head. That was fast. Ma’am, I need you to push.”

    The woman held her breath and pushed. Her face turned red. She let out a loud sigh and pushed again. Beads of sweat collected on her forehead.

    “Almost there . . .” the doctor said mechanically. “Almost there. . . .” A twinge of nervousness crept into his voice as three pustules on the woman’s skin burst. He adjusted his hands, avoiding the thick liquid that oozed from the open sores. “Just one more push.”

    Within moments, a baby’s cry filled the room. The doctor picked up a plastic syringe and suctioned the amniotic fluid out of the newborn’s small mouth. A nurse handed him a pair of surgical scissors.

    “Congratulations! You have a boy.” He snipped the umbilical cord.

    Suddenly, an explosion of bright blue light sprang from the baby and shattered the glass in the doors and windows. The medical personnel dropped to the floor. A whirlwind of pastel light filled the once-bland room, and a strange mist arose from somewhere below. The wisps of sparkling color danced upon the plumes of thick smoke and vapor, making it hard for anyone to focus his or her eyes. The doctor looked up, squinting to see through the chaos, and gasped as he witnessed the infant emerge from the translucent smoke.

    Simon was floating in the air.

    “Oh, my . . .” cried a nurse from beneath a table. Breathing hard, almost to the point of hyperventilation, she made the motions of a cross on her chest.

    Simon looked in her general direction, his brown eyes wide open and his arms flailing about. He drifted towards the bed, the smoke parting on both sides of his frail body as he moved, and came to rest in the arms of his mother.

    Smiling, she brought out a necklace she’d been wearing beneath her blouse. Attached to the gold chain was a medallion–about the size of a silver dollar, ebony in color, and beautiful in workmanship. The colorful lights reflected off the metallic pendant as she placed it on her son’s bare chest.

    She looked at the doctor and whispered, “Give him this.” Then she closed her eyes and died.

    The smoke and colorful lights soon dissipated, leaving the small room cold and lifeless as before. Everyone remained silent. Not even the wind outside dared to make a sound. The storm had finally ended.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Create a Free Website