Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Super Spies and the Pied Piper


It’s Here! The third book in the Super Spies Series! Below are the cover, blurb, and an excerpt! Check it out!




Sarah Cole and her sister Lacey are at it once again when they learn their missing parents’ cell phone has been traced to Alden, Michigan. When the FBI declines to continue the investigation, Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She calls upon the Super Spies and they delve into the situation. Suddenly, the teens find themselves immersed in small town intrigue and mystery involving a menacing stranger, who Sarah dubs “The Stalker." But when Sarah learns he’s connected to her parents’ disappearance, she’s determined to find out what that connection is. The Super Spies embark on a journey that leads them into a web of corporate corruption at its highest level that leaves innocent victims in its wake. Can they find the proof they need to stop the greedy corporation before it’s too late? Sarah Cole and her sister Lacey are at it once again when they learn their missing parents’ cell phone has been traced to Alden, Michigan. When the FBI declines to continue the investigation, Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She calls upon the Super Spies and they delve into the situation. Suddenly, the teens find themselves immersed in small town intrigue and mystery involving a menacing stranger, who Sarah dubs “The Stalker." But when Sarah learns he’s connected to her parents’ disappearance, she’s determined to find out what that connection is. The Super Spies embark on a journey that leads them into a web of corporate corruption at its highest level that leaves innocent victims in its wake. Can they find the proof they need to stop the greedy corporation before it’s too late?
 
Read an excerpt:


Chapter One
 
“What do you mean you lost them?” Sarah Cole fidgeted as she waited for Agent Gray to answer. I can’t believe it! He lost the only clue to our parents’ location. What is wrong with this picture? Agitated, Sarah shifted in her seat and chewed on her lip. She was uncomfortable in the folding chair and rearranged her petite frame so she wouldn’t feel the cold metal against her bare legs. Shivering, she glanced around the all-too-familiar room.

The gray cement block walls no longer gave her that creepy, closed-in feeling she’d used to get when she first came to the interrogation rooms. She remembered the first time she’d been in that tiny space. It had been the day she’d discovered the Cat Lady’s dead body. Sarah shuddered at the memory and then smiled when she remembered forming the Super Spies and bringing the Cat Lady Killer to justice. Glancing around the room again, she realized she’d been in this room quite a bit these last few weeks, not only during the Cat Lady investigation, but the High School Bomber investigation as well. Shivering again, Sarah rubbed her arms but she really wasn’t cold. Her mind filled with the image of the bomber the Super Spies had helped apprehend just a week earlier.

Wow! Was it just last week?

She tugged at a lock of her honey colored hair, then brushed it away with an impatient hand. She sighed and glanced at her younger sister. Lacey sat beside her with her legs crossed, jiggling her foot at such a rapid rate it seemed like her whole body was electrified. She caught Sarah’s eye and for a moment her eyes glittered like emeralds before she shifted her gaze to Aunt June, who had placed her hand on Lacey’s leg in what appeared to be an attempt to quiet her. Sarah shifted in her chair and sighed again. Are we ever going to find Mom and Dad?
A commotion out in the hall drew everyone’s attention. Sarah leaned forward and craned her neck to see what was happening.

“Chief, we’ve got an OD!” An officer yelled.
“What?” Chief Johnson yelled as he rushed by. “An OD on what? Give me the details.”
“The parents found their son unconscious in his room this morning, and an empty bottle of prescription medication on his bedside table.”
“What was it?” Chief Johnson asked.
“It’s Myodine.”
“Who makes it?”
“Ah… Piper Drugs.”
“Call Poison Control with the name and manufacturer and ask them what to do about an overdose. Instruct the parents to get their son to the hospital pronto,” Chief Johnson ordered.
“They’ve brought him here.”
“What?” Chief Johnson exclaimed.
The sound of policemen rushing through the hall pulled Sarah and her sister out of their seats. They hurried to the door, unable to stifle their curiosity. Peering down the corridor, Sarah caught a glimpse of a young man sagging between two officers as they desperately tried to keep him on his feet. One officer gently slapped his face while the other officers held him up. The young man blinked and then gagged, puking on the officer in front of him.
The rancid stench of fresh vomit filled the air. While plugging her nose, Sarah ducked back inside the interrogation room, followed by her sister. Sarah closed the door, hoping it would keep the smell from penetrating the room.
“Did you hear that, Lace? Piper Drugs! That’s the company Dad works for,” Sarah whispered in her sister’s ear before proceeding back to her seat.
Lacey opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when Agent Gray cleared his
throat and motioned for them to sit down.
He continued his conversation as if they hadn’t been interrupted. We were on our way to the location of the ping… but before we got there it disappeared.”
“So, what does that mean? Did you find our parents or what?” Sarah blurted out as she sat down. She stared into Agent Gray’s icy blue eyes, trying to read his mind. 

Meet The Author 
Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then.  “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews.

After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side.  The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.


To celebrate this new release the first two books are on sale for $.99! Check it out! It’s a series you won’t want to miss!
 
The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer
 


This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

Get your copy now at: Astraea Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

The Super Spies and the High School Bomber
 

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?

Get your copy now at:  AstraeaPress,
Amazon, or  Barnes and Noble.

 Connect with Lisa at:  

Twitter

Website  
 
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

We have winners!!!

I decided to give away two books instead of one.  So here are the winners.

Katrina Angele and EG Kaufman.

Thank you for participating. You both win a signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, along with a grab bag of kiddie goodies.

Hope you enjoy!!!!

Rita

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Children's Book Week - Giveaway Hop


 
 
Hello Hoppers! I am giving away a signed copy of my middle grade book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, along with a grab bag of kiddie items.


Now here's a little excerpt from the book:
 
Mama closed the door behind her. She knew once Papa got going on one of his tales, there was no stopping him.
The last traces of daylight seemed to disappear in a hurry, as if Papa had ordered it away. The glass globe of the kerosene lamp clinked. He touched a match to the wick and adjusted the flame until it filled the room with pale light and gray shadows. He motioned me to sit next to him on the worn sofa.
I hurried to his side, not knowing what spooky legend he was going to tell this time. But as scared as I’d get, I always enjoyed hearing ’em.
Mais, there’s a legend told around these parts.” That was how they always started out. He leaned down so the light from the lamp made eerie shadows across his face.
I rolled my eyes, determined not to get spooked this time.
“Folks say there’s something living out yonder,” he went on. “Legend has it the monster lures dogs to the island using evil spells. Then at the peak of the full moon, they’re turned into hollow spirits with glowing eyes.” Papa put on his eeriest sneer. “That there’s Ghost Dog Island.”
“Ghost dogs?” I pulled my knees up against my chest and wrapped my arms around ’em tight. My mind conjured up images of a huge monster with drippy fangs and dogs with bright yellow eyes. I thought about the feeling I had of something watching us. Was there really a creature out there? Did it have its eye on my best buddy? I shuddered.
IEEEOWWWOOOO-oooooooo! The howling sound echoed again across the bayou.


What about a short book trailer?


 
Now here's how to win!!!

 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Louisiana Bayous

Photo by George Monette

Today, I was going to write a post about Louisiana bayous, since it is the main theme for my blog and for my book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island. I found instead this wonderful article in USA Today and decided to share it.

Facts about Louisiana Bayous
By Lee Morgan, Demand Media (from USA Today Travel Tips http://traveltips.usatoday.com/louisiana-bayous-59733.html)

Located primarily in the southern reaches of Louisiana, the bayou is a defining feature of this unique part of America. The bayou is home to many people living in the Pelican State as well as to an abundance of wildlife. Unlike the rest of Louisiana, bayou life has its own pace and culture. The swamps and the gators might not be for everyone, but the people of the bayou feel right at home. This often-misunderstood area remains a mystery to many Americans.

Photo by George Monette
The Bayou Name

The name "bayou" is even native to Louisiana. According to the Famous Wonders website, the term "bayou" is believed to have originated from "bayuk," a word meaning "small stream" in a local Native American tongue. The word was first used in Louisiana and has come to mean the braided streams that are fed by the Mississippi River in the low-lying areas of Southern Louisiana. These marshes or wetland areas move very slowly and make ideal homes for creatures like alligators, crawfish and catfish -- all of which are popular bayou foods.

Bayou Culture

The bayou culture is actually more diverse than many may think. There is no doubt that the most closely associated culture to the bayou is the Cajun culture. The Cajuns were French-speaking settlers relocated from Nova Scotia. They were actually known as "Acadians," but the local dialect eventually led to the word becoming "Cajun." In South Louisiana's bayous the culture is as diverse as the ingredients found in the local gumbo. In addition to the French Canadians that were the foundation of much of the bayou culture, there are also significant influences from Spanish, German, African and Irish settlers as well as Native Americans. In modern Cajun culture on the bayou, the people are a blend of all these cultures. In the Southern Louisiana bayous today, you can often find people who consider themselves "Cajuns" who primarily speak French, but have last names like Smith, McGee or Manuel as well as the French surnames common in the region.


Photo by George Monette
Disappearing Bayous

The bayous are disappearing. Since the 1930s, the coast of Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles of marshes and coastal wetlands. This is an area the size of Delaware that has been swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico. Despite recent efforts to reduce the erosion of the bayou, Louisiana still loses about an acre of land every 33 minutes. That results in a loss of 25 square miles per year. Levees have funneled marsh-building sediment into the ocean; engineers have cut 8,000 miles of canals through the bayous to help the petroleum industry, all of which contribute to the faster erosion of the bayous.

Bayou As Protector

Many people do not understand the importance of the bayou, not only as a natural habitat for many species of animals, but also as a protector of inland areas. Cities like New Orleans are under an increasing threat from hurricanes as a result of coastal erosion. When the bayous shrink, it means the storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes can reach further inland. These storm surges can result in greater flooding. An example of this effect was apparent when the levees were overrun by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge in 2005.

About the Author


Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dinner on the Bayou with guest, Linda Benson

Today, I'm cooking up some Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo with my guest author, Linda Benson.
 
Welcome to the Bayou, Linda.  We'll be serving up dinner in a little while, but first, tell us a little about how important setting is in your writing.

Just as setting plays a big part in your book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, many of my books have been inspired by setting, also. I am a country girl, surrounded by forest and farm land, and because this is such a large part of who I am, elements of nature and the land sneak into to everything that I write.
Your wonderful book, Six Degrees of Lost, is on sale right now for an amazing price.  Tell us something about it.
A Lost Dog,  A First Love, A Journey
Six Degrees of Lost, set in the Pacific Northwest where I live, tells the story of two teenagers who are both looking for their place in life. If you love animals, plots with twists and turns, and stories told in two voices, you’ll enjoy this richly-layered novel, available as an E-Book. Get it now until May 15...for only 99 cents at AMAZON.


Thirteen-year-old Olive, with nowhere else to go, is uprooted from sunny California and dumped in rainy Washington State like a stray. That's exactly what she feels like surrounded by her aunt’s collection of homeless dogs, cats, and horses.

Fourteen-year-old David’s future is already carved in stone. From a military family with two brothers serving overseas, he’s been pointed towards the Air Force Academy his entire life - but a rafting trip gone awry might ruin his chances.
When a runaway dog is almost hit by a car, the search for its owner leads Olive and David, two teens from entirely different backgrounds, to an unlikely bond. Will their growing attraction to each other be enough to keep Olive from a foolhardy journey to find her mother? Will David risk his family’s plans to save her?

Here’s a short excerpt:
“So what’s with all those dogs barking in the back yard?”

“They’re foster dogs. My aunt takes them in when they get too crowded at the animal shelter. Some of them aren’t adoptable, and would be put to sleep otherwise.”

“Really?” I gulp.

“We’ve also got six cats in the house, plus the horses out back. Come on, I’ll show you.” The yellow dog jumps up and down, begging for the stick. Olive flings it down the driveway. I see a small shelter out back, with sagging fences. Olive is already headed that way, taking short barefoot steps on the gravel, so I follow.

A sway-backed pinto horse, with a mouth full of hay, sticks his head out from the shelter and then turns and goes back to his breakfast. It looks kind of bony. “Wow,” I say. “Skinny.”

“Yeah, that’s Paintball.” She grins. “Well, that’s what I call him. He was found wandering loose up in the National Forest. Aunt Trudy says somebody just dumped him there.”

“Why would anybody do that?”

Olive shrugs. “I know. Hard to believe, huh? I guess they couldn’t afford to feed him, but still, that’s just mean.”

A huge brown horse wanders over to the fence. “Who’s this one?” I reach between the strands of wire and pat his head. He’s just as skinny as the first one.

“My aunt says he’s ancient, and we’ll probably never get his weight back on. They found him tied to a tree in front of the animal shelter, but they don’t really have any facilities for horses there, so he came here instead. He’s sweet, huh?”

“Yeah, he seems nice.” The old horse pushes his head underneath my hand, clearly enjoying the attention.

“I call him Shakespeare. ‘Cause he looks so noble and elegant.”

Elegant? I think. That’s a stretch. “Can you ride them?”

“I don’t know. Aunt Trudy says we don’t really know that much about them. Anyway, it’s been too hot, and she’s always busy. She’s a clerk at the animal shelter thrift shop, and she takes turns working down at the shelter, besides feeding all these animals here at home.”

Olive talks so fast she makes my head swim. She barely takes a breath, and rattles on. “So besides the ones she takes in from the shelter, my aunt is always finding animals, too. She says there must be an invisible sign at the bottom of the driveway that says: Lost Animals Stop Here.”

“Is that how you found this dog?” I stroke the big lab’s ears, and he presses against me.

“He was standing in the middle of the road,” she says, “and almost got hit by a car.” She smiles. “Maybe he was reading the sign.”

About the author:

Linda Benson is the author of several middle grade and young adult books, including Walking the Dog, Six Degrees of Lost, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, Finding Chance, and The Horse Jar (which has been translated into Spanish.)

Her passion for nature and animals often finds its way into her writing. She has been a veterinary assistant, zoo keeper, race track groom, realtor, children’s librarian, and owned both a native plant nursery and a saddle shop.

Ms. Benson lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a variety of animals, all of them adopted. When she's not petting a dog, cat, horse, or donkey, traipsing through the woods, or gardening with native plants, she's most likely working on her next book.


Linda, I've read and really enjoyed Six Degrees of Lost, and can't wait to read the others. How can our visitors find more about you?

You can reach me at:  http://www.lindabenson.net

Now for dinner!!!
Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
    Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs (I much prefer dark meat in a gumbo)
1 1/2 lbs richard's smoked sausage, sliced (or your favorite smoked sausage)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
salt and cayenne pepper
green onion, chopped
parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. Brown chicken thighs and sausage in a cast iron dutch oven. Remove from pot and let cool.
2. Add oil to the pot. With wire whisk, blend in flour. Continue stirring constantly, until flour is the color of chocolate syrup. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CONSTANTLY STIR THIS! Once the flour has browned to this point, quickly add onions, bell pepper and celery. Cook until onions are transparent. Add enough water to fill the pot about half way. Simmer.
3. Meanwhile, debone chicken. Add chicken and sausage. If needed, add more water to cover the chicken.
4. Add minced garlic, salt, and cayenne.
5. Let simmer for about an hour.
6. With a large spoon, skim as much fat as possible from the top.
7. Serve in a soup plate, over hot cooked rice.
8. Sprinkle green onions, parsley, and file in the bowls.

 

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Nutria

What is a nutria anyway?

Also known as Coypu, the nutria (sometimes called nutria rat) is a rodent. They average ten pounds and look like a cross between a beaver and a rat. They have large rear webbed feet, which makes them good swimmers. They are native to Argentina, but found their way to the states in the 1930s.

They are cute, but I don't think they would make good pets because those large front teeth are three inches long and can penetrate your hand very quickly.

My dad, who was a trapper in the 1940s, said he was trapping for beaver when he caught one of these for the first time. They were rare in Louisiana back then, and their thick hides were worth a "pretty penny." By the 1960's they had become so plentiful in the state, the wetlands began to suffer under their ravenous appetite and wasteful eating habits, along with their high rate of breeding.

 
Nutria have large incisors that are yellow to orange-red on the outer surface.   (Photo from U.S. Geological Survey.)

How did they get so plentiful so fast?

Science Daily says: The biology of the nutria species allows it to reproduce at rapid speed, making it an unwieldy animal to control if released into the wild. A female nutria averages about five young per litter, but can birth as many as 13 at a time. A female can breed again within two days after giving birth, meaning one nutria can have up to three litters per year.

To get a sense of their productivity, 20 nutria brought to Louisiana in the 1930s bred an estimated 20 million animals within two decades, according to a wildlife group in Maryland that tracks nutria data, quoted in a recent report by Louisiana journalist Chris Kirkham.

Although nutria were brought to all parts of the country, said Kirkham's report , warm weather in Louisiana has boosted their numbers. Already under pressure from saltwater intrusion, the marshes also have to deal with the nutria and their voracious appetite for the vital marsh roots that keep wetlands intact.

Did Mr. McIlhenny of Tabasco fame bring them to Louisiana?

For many years, Tabasco sauce magnate E.A. McIlhenny received most of the blame for introducing the rodents from South America to Avery Island in the 1930s. McIlhenny wanted to expand the fur trade in Louisiana at that time, so he brought nutria from South America to his home on Avery Island, the story went. But a hurricane blew down the nutria pen, releasing them into the wild.
The myth held for decades, sometimes perpetuated by family members themselves. Five years ago, a historian hired by the family found records that McIlhenny actually bought the nutria from a St. Bernard Parish fur dealer in 1938. He did eventually set the nutria loose, but not because of hurricane damage, said McIlhenny historian and curator Shane Bernard, quoted in reporter Kirkham's recent newspaper interview.

"I'm confident that all the myth has been stripped away," he said. "Anybody who knows oral history or folklore knows how stories can change when they're passed down from one generation to the next."
(Science Daily)

Nutria rat in the water eating. (Credit: iStockphoto/Per Jørgensen)

What do they sound like?

It is said that after Hurricane Audrey, in 1957, during which many young children were swept away into the marshlands, the cries of the nutria were mistaken for lost babies, crying "mom."

In my book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, set in Louisiana in the 1950s, there is mention of the eerie sounds these animals make.




What are the Louisiana People doing to save the Marshes from this over-abundant critter?

Check out Nutria Documentary.