Relaxed Friday 26

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Felix Mittermeier

Relaxed Friday 25

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(from a new WIP)
Ellie nodded, then frowned. “We do still think it’s a noble cause, right?”
June sighed. “Sarah is still pretty angry with me for interfering in her life. What about James?”
“James was angry at first, and that was rough,” said Ellie, her eyes filling with tears. “But darling boy that he is, he has forgiven me, and now things are right as rain.”
“I think, in time, Sarah will come around, too. We have to keep focusing on the greater good. Helping people find their happy-ever-after.”
“Yes! Look how successful we’ve been!” Ellie’s eyes gleamed in the fluorescent light.
“We do have a knack for this, it seems. I think . . . it’s our calling.”
“Yes! Finally, at our age, we have found what we were meant to do.”
“I think we owe it to the world to share our talents, and help the lonely. Or, at least, to the residents of Shady Oaks.”
“And Fairview.”
“Yes, fine, Fairview, too,” June grumbled.

Relaxed Friday 24

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by annca

Relaxed Friday 23

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Leonardo Valente

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(sharing a favorite scene from a WIP)
Pa,” Louis said gently. 
“Yes, son?”
“I’m sorry.”
“You should never be sorry about telling the truth.”
There was a long silence. Then Louis spoke again. “Pa, I’m taking the position.”
Pa nodded. “As you should.”
“Really? You’re not upset about it?”
Pa puffed on his pipe. “Right is right. It don’t really matter how I feel about it.”
“But Pa–” 
“You just do a good job, son, and never give him a reason to doubt your character.”
“Yes, sir.” Louis exhaled slowly into the evening air. “Pa?”
“Yes?”
“I plan to marry Nellie. She’s already agreed.”
Pa smiled, and his eyes flickered in the lamplight. “Is that a fact?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, ain’t that somethin’.”
“I’d like your blessing.”
Pa sent a few more rings of smoke upward toward the porch roof. “Well, you have it. Nellie’s a good woman. I hope . . .” Pa shifted in his seat and gazed up into the sky. “I hope you have a good long life together.” He put his pipe back in his teeth and said nothing more. The two of them sat until the sky darkened into a gray void pierced with twinkling stars, and the trees turned into looming black shadows in the distance.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife… 
The sting of her brother’s rebuke was like a slap across her face. She hadn’t planned to do as he said, but it hurt that he thought she would. They had never been close. They had rarely ever spoken together alone except in the presence of other family members. She knew nothing would ever draw them close. They were just too different. Despite their differences, they both shared their father’s stubborn willfulness.
“I admit we have never been close, Anton, but I would never do something so cruel as to expose your secret for my own gain, no matter what you may think of me,” she said, emboldened by her words. “If anything, I hoped it might make you amenable to the offer I wish to make to you.”
“What kind of offer? An offer of money?” he asked, a dark, thin eyebrow arching, intrigued. A hopeful gleam registered in his calculating eyes.
She stepped closer, arms crossed. Steeling her resolve, she lifted her chin, letting her hands drop to rest protectively on her belly. “As head of our family, I want you to stand as my child’s sponsor at its baptism. And by so doing, taking on the full responsibilities of a godfather in all its conditions. I’m told by old women who claim to know such things that I carry a son. If so, I wish to have him named after Father.”

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(sharing an excerpt from Not What He Ordered)
Josh was trailing Carrie. And she didn’t like it. Did he think she was a thief–that she would steal a fancy dress from Carina’s Style shop? Or that she would pocket an item or two from Woods’s mercantile? The shimmery pink fabric sprinkled with baby blue flowers was the only thing that had caught her eye.
Why didn’t Josh just come out and accuse her? He’d stuck to her like a tick to a dog. When he wasn’t breathing down her neck, he was no more than a holler away.
Carrie decided to give him a dose of his own medicine. “You insisted on following me to the dress shop. I noticed you didn’t buy anything either. You didn’t even look at the merchandise, except when you checked the price tag on that expensive green dress.”
He’d walked the aisles to keep her in sight. Like he was doing now. She squirmed under his dark gaze like a jackrabbit caught in the sights of a rifle. It was as if he could see through to her soul.
“No, I didn’t buy anything.” He clapped a hand to his face, arched his back, and spoke in a falsetto voice, “Sonja didn’t have a single dress that flattered my figure.” Carrie giggled in spite of herself.

Relaxed Friday 22

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
Just finished editing the 13th chapter of my current WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife—one my favorite chapters, and thought to share a small bit…
Josefa had fallen in love with the church at once, its plain exterior awash in soft pink and white, surrounded by trees and vineyards and the overarching blue sky; it was a jewel of the Baroque style so prominent in the churches of southwestern Germany. Its plain, but beautiful exterior, though, belied the rich interior that overwhelmed the senses with color and light and ornamentation worthy of a pilgrim church. The schemes of pink and white and glittering gold extended to the inside. Every statue and painting exuded a sense of movement, of life, a place where light and shadow could dance together.
Aside from the gorgeously painted fresco arching overhead, she adored the Honigschlecker—the honey sucker—a gold and white plaster sculpture of a cherub sucking honey from its finger that it had just drawn from a beehive. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of it. It made her smile to see such playful artistry amid the sensory-numbing opulence of the Wallfahrtskirche. Pilgrim visits had certainly filled the coffers of the church to overflowing to infuse the building with so much beauty and art.
In the opulence and breath-taking art surrounding her, she caught a small glimpse of the deep, abiding faith of the creators that had given birth to such beauty. It called to the depths of her soul, and her soul responded in kind.

~~~
Earlier this week…

Relaxed Friday 21

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Steve Mathisen ~
I have a story I have been working on slowly over the last couple of years. Here is a scene that I wrote for it recently. (Inspector Elliott McGinty)
Inspector Elliott McGinty awoke with a sinking feeling. The last time this happened was when his waterbed had broken and flooded his bedroom. This time, however, he was not in bed. In fact, when he opened his eyes and looked up, he could see white, fluffy clouds in the blue sky above him. Then he realized that he felt wet. His arms felt wet and so did his legs.
Lifting up his head to look around, Elliott could see nothing but water all around him. He tried to prop himself up on his elbow to get a better look and discovered that he was on a small, wooden raft in the middle of what looked like the ocean. He licked his lips to discover a salty taste and the air also smelled like the sea.
“How did I get here?” He wondered.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(an excerpt from To Trust Her Heart)
Her smile was a sad imitation. “No. We’d planned to, but it never happened.” Mistaking her reason, he asked, “Did you ever consider adopting? Adoption is our specialty at Tyler Law Firm. There is nothing as rewarding as placing a child with the right parents.”
His voice rang with sincerity. How could Amanda explain her situation to her boss, without giving away too much? She cleared her throat and swallowed a growing lump. “It wasn’t that we couldn’t have children.” She paused, looked out the window. Rain pelted down. Miserable weather.
“The timing was never right?” he guessed.
“Something like that.” At least it never was for Greg.
He sucked in his bottom lip. “Too bad. You will–would–make a great mother.”
How could he say that when he knew nothing about her?

Cherry Christensen ~
Excerpt from Secret Valentine: Hannah shook her head at her main male man. “You’re encouraging his bad habit by feeding him those.”
Jasper smirked and scooped Jingles into his arms. Trudging back toward the store, Jasper said, “I keep a sampling of cat and dog treats handy for the pets on my route. Makes it easier to corral the cats and stop the dogs from biting my ankles.” He stopped in front of her and gently kissed her cheek. “I missed you the other night.”
Heat coursed through Hannah, chasing away wintry shivers. “I’m sorry I had to cancel our plans, but I had to attend a faculty meeting.” The wind gusts intensified, and she pinched her coat collar tighter around her neck. “We better get inside. Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
“I thought you would never ask.”
“Let’s go.” Hannah wriggled out of her coat and returned it to the hook, waiting for Jasper to deposit Jingles on the floor. The cat meowed and ran off, bounding up the stairs. Hannah slid behind the counter and powered off her CD player before filling Jasper’s cup with steaming black liquid. “This will warm you up.”
He loosened a scarf tied around his neck and took a long sip. “Ah. It’s nice, but I can think of more interesting ways to thaw out.” He winked and set the cup aside.

Relaxed Friday 20

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

M. L. Farb ~
Q: Where did you get your idea for Vasilisa?
A: The idea came from a children’s picture book “Serpent Slayer: And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana” (with gorgeous art work by Trina Schart Hyman). A woman dresses as a man to rescue her husband, and to do so she passes three tests of strength, skill, and strategy. The picture book took on tall-tale quality as the woman injured her opponents in wrestling and shattered a tree by shooting it with an arrow. How did she become so strong? I wrote Vasilisa to answer that question.

(Vasilisa coming 2020)

Relaxed Friday 19

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays. It also seems a lot of authors are busy doing other things today (maybe they’re writing), so we’re going to share several recent Special Edition posts you might have missed.

Relaxed Friday 18

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my upcoming release The Haberdasher’s Wife, Chapter 3:
Josefa mouthed the words of the prayer, her voice a mere whisper escaping her lips. The words echoed in her head, swirling amid a swarm of thoughts that had nothing to do with her mother or the sickness that weakened her with each passing day. Distraction was Josefa’s greatest enemy. And everything seemed to distract her when she needed most to concentrate on her prayers—the brightly painted frescoes, the statuary, the pungent smell of incense, the glow of candlelight on the gold all around the church. Father Anselm would certainly tell her that her mother’s life depended on it. But Josefa was never good at prayer. She found no comfort in it.
Another bead slid through her cold fingers. 𝐻𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑦, 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑒…
Empty, hollow words.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
From Not What He Ordered: Josh Kramer mistakes a pretty young lady for his aunt’s domestic help and hauls her to his ranch. What he doesn’t know is, his aunt did not order domestic help, but a BRIDE for Josh. CARRIE FRANKLIN was tempted to leave, but she’d made a promise and meant to keep it.
“Excuse me,” a smooth baritone voice sounded above her head.
Carrie gazed up into hooded, black eyes that pierced through to her soul. The tall cowboy wore a black Stetson over coal-black hair with curls that caressed his ears. His strong jaw suggested determination and stubborness. A little lower, a red bandana circled his neck. Molly failed to mention he was handsome. But only an egotist would boast about his looks.
“Are you the woman I’m looking for?” he asked.
Carrie’s heart raced. If only she were. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. “I…I–” was all she could manage.
The cowboy shuffled his booted feet. “Well, what are you waiting for? A ranch doesn’t run itself. It’s a ten-mile drive. Let’s get going.”
“Mr. Kramer, I’m not–.”
He pointed to the valise at Carrie’s feet,“Where are your other bags? Is that all your luggage?”
She could only nod. The cowboy’s intimidating demeanor had paralyzed her tongue. He snatched up her bag, tramping out of the depot before she could explain she was not the woman he’d ordered.
Carrie hurried after him, catching up as he set her valise in his buckboard. “But, Mister Kramer…I’m not–.”
“Are you ready to go, Miss Davis?”
Miss Davis? He really thought she was— “Mr. Kramer, I need to tell you something.”

Relaxed Friday 17

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Let’s get this Friday party started with an excerpt from Sunlight and Shadows by Jessica Marie Holt.
*
If there was one thing Betty couldn’t ever come to terms with, it was how the best day of her life also ended up being the worst day of her life. The irony of it all seemed especially cruel, like it ought to go against some kind of sacred law of nature. But it was the hard, cold truth; October twenty-fifth, 1870 — two weeks after her seventeenth birthday — was the day everything came together, and the day it all began falling apart.
*

From Love Abideth Still: A Novel of the Civil War by Scott R. Rezer

From To Trust Her Heart by Laurean Brooks
(Amanda at a job interview with Attorney Jake Tyler. She just told him, his reckless driving through a puddle splattered mud all over her yellow coat.) Jake pushed a button on his desk phone. His deep voice boomed over the intercom. “Willa, will you come to my office,please?”
Was he planning to use his receptionist to swear he had been in his office at the time of the incident? Because Amanda knew better.
The receptionist cracked the door enough to poke her head through.
The woman’s voice quavered. “You wanted to see me, Mr.Tyler?”
She felt sorry for the gray-haired lady who appeared to be intimidated by her employer. His deep voiced didn’t help matters.
Amanda’s throat tightened. She should not have applied for this position. What happened to his last secretary? Did she run for cover?
“Yes, Willa.” The attorney’s voice softened. Pulling the soiled coat off Amanda’s arm, he dangled it in front of the receptionist. “Drop this by the cleaners on your way home, please. Charge it to my account, and tell them to have it cleaned as quickly as possible.” 

Relaxed Friday 16

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Featured image is a minor adaptation of a photo by Aaron Burden.

Review Highlights
Jonquils in the Snow by Laurean Brooks ~ “A beautiful, heartwarming story of grief and loneliness being overcome by love; Miranda and Brady touched my heart and the author’s wit made me smile. Definitely a thumbs up read.” ~ Rebecca J. Vickery

~~~

Shadow of the Mountain by Scott R. Rezer —Chosen… or delusional? How does one man persevere when he is given a message that will either test the strength of his faith or convince him he has lost his mind?
“… a version of the Noah story from the Old Testament that is both richly imagined and radically different from anything readers are likely to have read before… well-done political intrigue, vexing questions of faith, and a deep and challenging portrait of Noah himself. The action builds slowly and expertly as the unthinkable disaster of the Flood looms closer and closer, and Rezer’s so skilful at infusing his entirely human stories with drama that most readers will likely start to think of the forty days and forty nights of rain as something of an anti-climax. Very strongly recommended.” ~ Steve Donoghue, Historical Novel Society Reviews [Editor’s Choice Selection]

Relaxed Friday 15

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo is a selected portion of a larger photo by Mohamed Ajufaan.

Laurean Brooks ~ Journey to Forgiveness is the book I wrote and dedicated to my parents. It is loosely based on their lives (romance) in 1938 Chicago. Witty and sassy characters, goofy ones–but all interesting–grace the pages of this heartwarming story of a mission trip to rebuild a small town after 5 tornadoes destroy homes. A time when the last of Chicago’s gangsters were captured. Or…were they?

Relaxed Friday 14

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Incidentally, we started off this Relaxed Friday article with a cute kitten in a tree photo but we’re going to move quickly forward to a thousand zombies and tortured metal. Let’s get this Friday party started with an excerpt from Time For Blood. This work-in-progress is part of The Blood Series by Michael Lynes and it’s expected to be released November of this year.

“Ow!” He let go of the handle and began rubbing his arm. “Okay, I get it. . .the air stinks like a thousand zombies and our door is all beat-up. Plus, the whole place is a wreck, and it’s pretty spooky in here.” He gestured toward the scratches and dings along the doorjamb. “But look. . .whoever wrecked this place might have tried to break in, but as far as I can tell the door hasn’t been forced. Second, besides the locks, we also have a little magical protection on the space. Even if the Undead had managed to break down the door, I don’t think they would have gotten past that.” I nodded reluctantly as my heart began to slow. “So let’s go in, grab what we came for, and get out. No muss, no fuss.”
He turned back to the door and inserted his key, unlocking the deadbolt. He reached to turn the knob. Before he could touch it, the door swung open without a sound. Pearl’s hilt jumped under my hand and her light flared sun-bright. I felt my heart stop. A howling wail filled the air and scores of dead-white arms erupted from the darkness. The door disappeared with a shriek of tortured metal as it was ripped it from its hinges. We sprang back, drawing our swords as zombies surged through the shattered doorframe.

Laurean Brooks shares with us today from Beneath A Macon Moon.
“Born with a silver spoon in her mouth” described Jaela’s life to a tee; but if her mother’s behavior was any indication, Jaela’s perfect world was about to shatter. The late afternoon sun slanted through half-closed blinds, glinting off the ballerina atop the music box. As a child, Jaela found comfort in the melody. The music box had not been wound since Dad died. The compulsion to hear it grew until it overcame Jaela’s fear of invoking bittersweet memories.
She picked up the box and wound it. Beautiful music flooded the room. Jaela hugged it close and waltzed around the room, soaking in the tinkling melody of “You’ll Be In My Heart.” 
When the music died, she dropped the lid. But it would not close. An envelope, folded to fit the interior, was wedged in the music box, preventing it from closing.
Who had put it there, and what did the message say?

Scott R. Rezer shares from a work-in-progress.
Anger had gotten the better of her, but now she tried to bring it back under control, difficult as it always was when talking to her brother. “And because of it, I almost spurned a chance for happiness simply because the man I fell in love with is a commoner. Do me the favor and don’t bother to lecture me, Anton, about marrying a man beneath my station, for in all truth, he has more nobility in his common blood, than you or I have in ours.”
He wagged a finger before her face as if scolding a defiant child. He clenched his pipe between his teeth. “If you do this, Johanna, if you marry this commoner, this haberdasher, you do so without my blessing. And in so doing, you give up everything—your title, your wealth, the security of everything you’ve ever known—and for what? Love? Life needs a few more assurances than simple love.”
“If love isn’t enough, Anton, then none of those things hold any meaning. It’s a pity you have forgotten that, or maybe, you never did.”

Relaxed Friday 13

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Earl Chinnici captured January 3, 2013. #FlashbackFriday

For today’s Relaxed Friday treat, we’re visiting Severed Hearts, a Vietnam-era novella by Laurean Brooks.

“Johnny, did you hear about the Lewis boy from Winchester?” Julie asked. He stopped chewing, his jaw clenched. 
“No…what?”
“His plane was shot down in Saigon. They don’t know if he and the other two soldiers were killed or taken hostage.”
Johnny turned his root beer up and swigged it down, setting the empty bottle on the counter. His somber gaze met Julie’s. “We need a plan to end this conflict. Half of Flyntburg has at least one family member involved.”
“I’m praying for an end to the conflict;” she said, “but above all, I’m asking God to protect our troops.”
Johnny threw down his napkin. “Yeah, I know we should pray–only it seems like God’s not doing anything.”
“Don’t say, that! Sometimes we can’t see it…but He is.”
Johnny glanced at the clock and rose from the bar stool. “Time to hit the road.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Gotta go. See you, tomorrow.”

Relaxed Friday 12

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo Earl Chinnici December 18, 2014

Arthur Daigle shares with us a short piece from William Bradshaw and Urban Problems:
“Hello!” an echoing voice called out. It took Will a few seconds to spot a pit dug into the trail. It had been covered with a thin wood board coated with dirt, blending in perfectly until some unwitting person stepped on it and broke through. Whoever was trapped in the pit called out again, “Is anyone there?”
“We hear you,” Will replied. He thought about who could be trapped in the pit, and then covered his face with his hand. “Excuse me, but are you the puppet person who came to warn us?”
“Yes, that’s me,” the puppet person replied. He had an echoing voice, like he was speaking inside a box, but he still sounded friendly. “I don’t wish to be a bother, but I was wondering if you could lend a hand. This pit is proving a tad inconvenient.”
“See, this is why I don’t like you guys making so many traps,” Will told the goblins. “We get an ambassador—”
“President,” the puppet person corrected him from inside the pit.
“A president comes to visit and he ends up in a pit!” Will shouted. “We either need to cut back on the traps or have someone around to keep them from catching innocent bystanders.”
“It’s not like we killed the guy,” Mr. Niff protested. He leaned over the pit and asked, “You’re alive, right?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Exasperated, Will said, “Just help me get him out.”

Laurean Brooks shares from To Trust Her Heart.
Amanda Wilcox marched through the door of Tyler Law Office, fuming. She’d wanted to look her best for the interview. But when she started across the street, a dark-haired man in a sporty convertible, sped by and splattered mud across her buttercream trench coat. How she’d love to give the inconsiderate bum a piece of her mind!
The silver-haired receptionist welcomed Amanda and sent her directly to the attorney’s office. “Good afternoon, Miss…Wilcox, is it?” The attorney’s penetrating gray eyes raked her before he looked down at her resume’.
Amanda’s breath caught when she recognized him a the man who had slung mud all over her. “Yes-s.” Should she reprimand him and thereby kill her chances of obtaining a position as his secretary?
She needed this job. As a young widow, she was penniless. Her philandering dead husband–his body found in his mangled sports car along with that of his young secretary–had gambled away all their assets. She even stood to lose their home.

Relaxed Friday 11

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

To crank up this party, let’s visit a WIP of Scott R. Rezer: The Haberdasher’s Wife, expected to be released in the spring of 2020.

Josefa pulled harder on his hand. “I’m thinking there will be a much better gift waiting for me at the end of this hunt as a reward for bringing me out in this frigid cold. Am I right?”

“I guess that depends on your definition of a reward,” he said and sprinted past her as the falling snow began to thicken, laughing. Josefa squealed with delight and ran after him.

We encourage our frequent contributors to let loose on Fridays and share teases and news from both works-in-progress and published books. Here’s some fun from Journey to Forgiveness by Laurean Brooks. (A heartwarming, emotional romance.)

Jenny looked up and met the gaze of the luggage thief she’d encountered in Kankakee.

His cerulean blue eyes danced with mischief as he flashed his pearly, white teeth. “I never did get your name.”

“Get away from me!” she hissed.

He persisted. “Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. Do you think we could start over?”

“Over my dead body!” Jenny glanced toward the Ladies’ room. Where was her aunt when she needed her?

“Now, we wouldn’t want that,” he breathed. “You’re too cute to die.” His eyebrows pulled together. “You don’t really believe I wanted your vanity case, do you?”

His brows arched when she didn’t reply, but he pressed on. “How long will you be in Chicago?”

She glared at him, her heart racing. “None of your business.”

A stout middle-aged man approached the table and the unwelcome guest hovering over her. “Are you ready to go?” the man asked her obnoxious intruder.

“Be right with you,” he replied before turning back to Jenny. “Who knows, sweetie, we could meet again. I’ve heard that good things come in threes.” He winked, then swaggered out the diner door.

Relaxed Friday 10

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Let’s kick off the party like it’s 1938 with this excerpt from Journey To Forgiveness by Laurean Brooks.

Where was Austin? She’d seen him leave a minute ago.
Something stirred inside the church bus. Jenny flattened her back against the metal building and inched closer for a better look. Her heart hitched when through the open bus door she spied Austin through the open door of the mission bus, kneeling before the strongbox. He reached into it, scooped up a stack of bills from the mission fund and counted them. He returned some of the money to the box, stuffing a larger roll into his shirt pocket. The metal lid slammed shut. Jenny fled back inside the the shelter, tears streaming, and her heart pounding against her ribcage.
Tears streamed down her face. The man she loved was a thief!

Let’s drop in on Will and Domo. (This time we’re visiting William Bradshaw and Fool’s Gold.)
“This is a new level of weirdness even for you, Will,” Domo said.
“I’m just gardening,” he replied. “Why does everybody act like I’m biting the heads off dolls?”
“That’s something the guys would accept, even appreciate. This just plain doesn’t make sense. Why are you growing food when you get it for free?”
Will leaned the hoe against the fence and wiped sweat off his brow. “I thought it would be a nice gesture to the innkeeper.”
“I don’t follow you.”
Will pulled his king contract out from his pocket. “My contract lets me eat free anywhere I go, but I always go to the same inn since it’s the only place nearby. The innkeeper feeds me three free meals a day, and it’s got to be costing him a bundle. It won’t be so hard on him if I grow some of my own food.”
Domo stared at him. “Is this that ‘fairness’ thing you keep going on about?”
“What’s wrong with thinking about other people?”
Domo pointed his walking stick at Will. “You were taken off your world and tricked into being our King. You don’t get paid. Three quarters of the planet’s population hates you. You’ve almost been killed dozens of times. What’s fair about that?”
“Nothing,” Will said. “But just because other people aren’t fair to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be fair to other people.”

Relaxed Friday 9

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Catalin Sandru

With permission from the author, we’re again eavesdropping on Will and Domo to start off our theme-free Friday. The author, by the way, is Chicago-born and raised Arthur Daigle and the fun exchange below is from William Bradshaw and War Unending.

“You’re up early,” Domo said to Will.
“Blame Vial. The boys said you had some mail for me?”
Domo held up the stack of letters. “I was just finishing with it. Let’s see…hate mail, hate mail, you may already be a winner, death threats. The University of Eastwich granted you an honorary expulsion. You got an anti-invitation from Kervol Ket.”
Will stopped in front of Domo. “I know I’m going to regret asking, but what’s that?”
“You know how good old Kervol got married?” Domo asked.
“He married Princess Marisa Brandywine?” Will didn’t try to hide his surprise. He’d once held the princess prisoner. He didn’t want her, and his attempts to return her to Kervol had been rebuffed. Brandywine was the most annoying person Will had ever met, which considering he was surrounded by thousands of goblins was saying something. It amazed him that someone even as stupid as Kervol would marry her.
“Shocking, I know,” Domo said. “Anyway, the lady’s expecting their first child, and Kervol sent out invitations to celebrate the birth. He sent you an anti-invitation. You’re not supposed to attend the festivities, and the only gift he’d like is to hear you died in a horrible accident involving a potato peeler. Basically he’s rubbing it in your face that you’re a social pariah.”
“Charming.”

How about a little more eavesdropping? This time from the opening scene of Scott R. Rezer‘s Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood. Not to worry, we always get the author’s permission before spying on their characters.

The sudden cry of a woman in travail rent the stillness of the air. At the sound, Noach tensed and stood uncertainly, turning towards the tents of their small settlement. The waiting had grown agonizingly long; the birth of children often did so—especially with firstborns. His nerves frayed with the waiting, his body as taut as a drawn bowstring. Death was too often an unwelcome shadow at the miracle of birth.
Soon, he thought. It will be very soon now.
—And then what, old man, whispered the voice of his own nagging doubts. This one will be born, and then there will be others. Men will multiply upon the earth. In time, there will once more be rebellion and bloodshed and wars. Sin will have its due.
“No,” he breathed vehemently. “There will be peace and harmony at last in the earth.” It was a familiar argument he had often waged against himself in the past nine months. The outcome was always the same.
—Is that what you think? Have you learned nothing? Men are incapable of such nobility: only of evil and more evil.
“This time it will be different—it must be,” he said. His hands balled into fists at his side. “The errors of the old world cannot be repeated. They cannot; they will not.”
—Oh, but they will, his own malevolent thoughts whispered, mocking him with laughter. Open your eyes, fool, and look around you. The errors of the lost world are but beginning anew. Death hovers, eager to devour the sinful. Watch; and wait. Listen for the cry of this child for which you await so desperately. It will be the lustful cry of sin being reborn into the world. And there is none born of men who can ever change it.
“Of men… no,” Noach whispered, smiling, remembering another, far older, promise. “But of a woman…”

Relaxed Friday 8

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays. Let’s drop in on Will and Domo from William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope, book 2 by Arthur Daigle to kick off the party.

Domo walked around the chair and studied it. “What’s this?”
“This,” Will said proudly, “is what we humans call a chair. It’s the latest fashion where I come from.”
“That was either sarcasm or proof you shouldn’t do standup comedy,” Domo said. He poked the chair and watched it wobble. “Doesn’t look like woodworking is your thing, either.”
“No, but if I want a chair this is the only way I’ll get it. I can’t get one from the nearby human villages, what with me being broke and them expecting money for doing work.”
“Scandalous the way peasants behave these days,” Domo said. “We do have our own carpenters, you know.”
Will filed down the leg some more and tried sitting on the chair. The legs still weren’t even. “I thought of that. I asked four goblin carpenters to make me a chair. I wanted a bed to replace the pile of rags I have to sleep on, but I figured I’d start by asking for something small.”
“And?” Domo prompted him.
“Chairs shouldn’t have more legs than centipedes.”
The four dysfunctional chairs Will had received (and burned as firewood) weren’t proof that the goblins hated him. Quite the opposite, they liked and even respected him. That didn’t change the fact that goblins were stupid and crazy. When asked to make something as simple as a chair, they felt the need to make improvements. While he couldn’t actually sit on the chairs, and they’d looked like they were dreamed up by an impressionist painter and built by a one-eyed, drunken chimpanzee with arthritis, Will could at least take comfort in knowing there was no malice involved.

Speaking of birds, here’s a little teaser from Joanna McKethan‘s Stone of Her Destiny – Kenna, the heroine, is learning falconry from Lane.
“There now, ye see? He’s all yours. He’ll love you forever. Don’t mistake him for a pet, all lovey-dovey; they are always and still, birds of prey. But they will be faithful. Remember that.”
“Oh, I thought Bonnie Blue was a lady.”
“No, remember Bonnie Prince Charlie was a man,” he said, teasing.

We’re not quite done with the party.

“I had no beginning. I will have no end.” The voice rose up from the seated figure, whispering into the void. He lifted his gaze, focusing on the formless zenith. His right eye was a spinning orb, half Darkness, half Light; the other was a piercing shade of blue. His robes too were ever-shifting, at once light and dark and all-colored, patterned with the same mystic symbol. “The words are indistinguishable, and meaningless.” ~ from Michael Lynes‘ latest release, First Blood (The Blood Series Book 2), which released November 1st of this year. More specifically, the excerpt is from the third chapter, Time.

We’re on a roll. Let’s enjoy one more teaser before the weekend.

Carrie picked up the bag and walked to the door. When they were outside the general store, Aunt Em stopped her. “Did we get any mail?”
Carrie reached into her skirt pocket and handed over the stack. Josh’s aunt frowned at the letter on top. “What does Miss Leah want with Josh after all this time? I’ve a good mind to toss this in the wood stove.”
Carrie’s thoughts exactly. “No, we can’t. The letter belongs to Josh. He has a right to read it.”
Aunt Em snorted. “You would have to remind me. It’s temptin’ to accident’lly drop it along the way. Leah’s hurt Josh enough. I don’t want him hurt any more. ~ from Laurean BrooksNot What He Ordered

Relaxed Friday 7

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Relaxed Friday 6

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

We’re kicking off the party with a fun excerpt from Arthur Daigle‘s William Bradshaw and Urban Problems.

“I got him! I got the long eared thieving bunny!” the goblin shouted triumphantly while dancing around in a circle.
“Hold on,” Will began, but the goblin was too taken with his victory to notice.
“He thought he’d ruin the boss’ garden, but I showed him!”
“What’s this about?” Domo asked.
Feeling faintly embarrassed, Will said, “An animal got in my garden last month and did some damage. When the warrior goblins found out they assigned guards to watch over it, which would be a really nice gesture if they didn’t keep attacking innocent animals and salesmen.”
“Animals are guilty until proven innocent!” the warrior goblin shouted. “And even then they’re guilty!”
“The rabbit wasn’t anywhere near my garden,” Will told him.
“He was thinking about it!” The goblin poked the rabbit in the belly. “You were conspiring! Confess!”
Will said, “Just take it a few miles away and let it go.”
The warrior poked the rabbit again before he marched into the woods. “The King’s going easy on you, but this is still going on your record! You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say will be ignored or misinterpreted!”

We hope you enjoy the following breakfast teaser from the first chapter of Linda Ellen‘s award winning historical romance, Sweet Love at Honey Landing: A Mail Order Bride Story – with a Twist! (Maple Heights Series Book 1). Since we’re jumping in mid-conversation, it might be helpful to note that Noah is already sporting a milk mustache when we begin eavesdropping. We haven’t read the entire book, but based on the title of the book and the happenings in the first chapter, we strongly suspect a wedding will ensue before the end of the third book.

Relaxed Friday 5

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Relaxed Friday 4

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Today is officially the beginning of NaNoWriMo, when hundreds of thousands of writers (or more) begin work on a new novel. That’s a lot of new works-in-progress and we’re excited.

Relaxed Friday 3

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Relaxed Friday 2

This marks the second ‘Relaxed Friday’ we’ve hosted but unfortunately the first was apparently so relaxed, we failed to create a collaborative article. What can we say? Relax already. Don’t judge.

Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP ‘Relaxed Fridays.’

  • NO THEME – We’re encouraging authors to take advantage of ‘Relaxed Fridays’ by sharing interesting lines without the usual concern of whether an excerpt matches our announced theme.
  • WIP OR PUBLISHED WORK – Since every published work was once a work-in-progress, we want to see the polished product—but only on Fridays because CleanPublishedWorks Magazine didn’t sound right to our ears.
  • PURCHASE LINKS WELCOME – Since we’re sharing lines from published works on Fridays, we want a quick way to purchase something that catches our attention.
  • #CleanWIP NOT REQUIRED – Say what?! – This isn’t a mistake—or at least we hope it isn’t. Authors who have joined us in the CleanWIP Facebook group can also share links on the Relaxed Friday thread there to other hashtag game posts as well as pretty much any fun sort of thing readers are sure to love.
  • RELAX – It’s nearly the weekend. Why stress?

Fun Granny Excerpt!
By Jessica Marie Holt
“Henry, listen. That is Samantha Cooper at the door. She needs our help because she’s having . . . lady-troubles. Would you mind very much making yourself scarce for a while?”
Henry stared at her skeptically. “Lady-troubles?”
“Yes. Very personal lady-troubles.”
The doorbell rang again four times in a row. June jumped slightly. “Here, Henry,” she said, hurriedly shoving cookies into his hands. “Take these with you. Fresh out of the oven. You can eat them upstairs, In bed, if you want!”
Henry’s eyes widened, and his brow furrowed. “I can eat them . . . in bed,” he said slowly.
“Yes, yes! I’ll even let you read to me later from that book you like so much, and I won’t fall asleep this time,” she said.
Henry stared at the cookies with a familiar gleam in his eye. “Lady troubles.”
“Lots of lady-troubles,” said Ellie, nodding.
Henry shook his head. “All right. But I’m keeping an eye on you two.”
“Yes, Henry. You do that. But later.”

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From a WIP by CleanWIP Magazine’s very own Earl Chinnici – ~ We didn’t set out to be heroes, but heroes we became. I’m sure you’ve seen our faces on billboards and subway walls. We’re uncanny symbols of America’s determination and resilience. Some people claim we’re not human; some claim we’re not real. We want you to know we are. We do have feelings. ~