Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon: A Preview

Here's a short preview of Book #4 in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series, by Rita Monette:

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon
A Nikki Landry Swamp Legend

Brought to you by Mirror World Publishing

(Available November 17, 2017)

Legend has it… if you go onto Lost Lagoon, you never return.

Nikki Landry and her friends are off on a quest to track down a prehistoric-looking bird that’s been flying around a nearby swamp island. 

However, their plans get sidetracked when they meet a stranger in their small town who apparently has some secrets to hide.

The sleuthing group soon learns of a legend about a hidden lagoon. Is it all connected? Before they can find out, they are kidnapped by a mysterious scientist who is on a mission of his own. 

Is there any truth to the legend that says if you go onto Lost Lagoon, you will never return?  Is the eerie whirlpool that sits waiting to suck you in really a wormhole to another world? Who are the Men in Black...and what do they want with Mr. Beekers?

Join Nikki and her friends, and one neurotic parrot, as they discover the truth behind the Mystery on Lost Lagoon. 

Want more? Here's an excerpt:

“What can you tell me about this man,” one of the men asked Mr. Lopez, while laying a picture on the counter.

Mr. Lopez picked up the picture and squinted at it. “What do you want him for?” 

He wasn’t about to give out any information without knowing what the consequences might be. Folks in a small town might gossip, but they weren’t too trusting of men in black suits and sunglasses asking about their neighbors, even if those neighbors were a bit on the strange side.

“We just have a few questions for him,” one of the men said. “His name is Leroy Baker.”

“Can’t say as I recognize him,” Mr. Lopez answered.

“Well, if you do see him, call us.” The man slid a card toward him.

Mr. Lopez tried to give him the picture back.

“No, you keep that...just in case it jars your memory.” They both walked back out the door. They stood just outside talking and wiping the sweat off their foreheads with white handkerchiefs. 

I walked up to the counter and looked at the picture. Mr. Lopez picked it up and threw it in the wastebasket. 

“But that looks like Mr. Beekers,” I said. “Except his hair is shorter and combed.”

“Don’t look like him at all.” He turned around and went back to straightening stuff on his shelf. 

Spikes and I stood looking out the door at the men walking toward their fancy black car. One of ’em tripped over my bike, which had no doubt slid off the sign. He cursed and kicked it.

“Hey,” I pushed the door open. “That’s my bike.”

It wasn’t the prettiest bike around, especially after me and my friends painted it several different colors trying to cover the rusty parts, but it was mine.

“Well, you shouldn’t leave it laying on the ground,” he growled. “It skinned my shoe.”

I glanced down at his shoes. They were pointy-toed and real shiny, except for the scratch.
“Sorry,” I said. “I had it propped up. It must have fell.”

He made a face, then turned toward his car.

Spikes walked up behind me and whispered, “I wonder who they are.”

“Hey, what do you want with that man?” I asked.

Spikes poked me in the side.

“Why? Do you know him?” one of ’em asked.

“Can’t say as I do or I don’t,” I said. “But in case I do, I’d like to know what you aim to do when you find him.” I took another drink of my Coke. 

“Smart little lady, aren’t you?” the one that kicked my bike said.

“I guess I am. You just don’t look like you’re from around these parts, so I figure it must be important for you to come way out here to find him.”

“Well, I’ll tell you this,” the one that was standing by the driver’s side of the car said, “He’s a criminal, and he’s wanted by the state of Ohio. So if you know something and you don’t tell me, you might get in real trouble for aiding and abetting.” 

I pursed my lips wondering if that meant I’d have to go to jail just for knowing something.

The one standing next to me handed me one of his cards also. Then they both got in the shiny car and drove away. 

I stared at the card. It had gold letters printed on a white background. I read it out loud.
“Jeremiah J. Jenkins, Ph D, Department of Geology, Ohio State University.” 

Spikes took it from my hand. “Well, they ain’t cops.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bewitching Hannah, by Leigh Goff

a witch is the last thing she wants…

Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Publish Date: September 17, 2017

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Romance

Follow the tour to read reviews, exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and book spotlights:

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Read an Excerpt:

Lightning flashed, followed by a rumble of thunder, jolting me alert. A tempest churned over the Chesapeake Bay and was rolling toward town. I stared at the clouds, ready to calculate how much time we had before the rain hit. Another bright flash of white-hot lightning forked across the purplish-black sky. One, two…twenty.


The storm was at least four miles away. I pressed a hand over my chest, feeling the thumping slow.

I glanced at Aunt J, who was no longer bopping her head to the bad music. Instead, she blinked over and over, and rubbed her eyes with one hand.

“If you’re tired, I can drive.” Who needed a license when I’d already mastered a moped along with the Green Briar golf carts?

Her slender fingers searched for me as if I were a ghost she could only hear. She grasped my arm tightly.

“Hannah?” Panic drenched her voice.

My eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t see. I mean, I see something, but it’s not the road. What’s wrong with me?”

I peered out the windshield. A distant telephone pole grew bigger as her foot stuck to the accelerator.

A frightening swell of adrenaline flooded my veins, sending my heart into a frenzy. “Stop!” I yelled, but she was frozen with fright. I grabbed the steering wheel and threw my leg over to jam on the brake pedal.

It was too late. Absolute silence fell over us in the grim second before we plowed into the pole. My lower body slammed into the dashboard while the seatbelt squeezed hard against my ribs. Metal groaned. White bubbles deployed. Glass shattered with a scream. Or maybe the scream was mine. The car groaned to a halt with a hiss and clank.

Stillness settled over us. My head was reeling as I checked myself for injuries. Bursts of pain sparked from my chest and leg.

“Hannah?” Aunt J’s quivering voice reached out.

I pried my eyes open. She had escaped her seatbelt. Her lips and hands were trembling, but I saw no blood or broken skin. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I sucked in a shallow breath. “Me? Fine,” I managed, not wanting to stress her out, but I struggled to breathe and my left leg was wedged under the intruding dashboard.

She reached over, wiping her hands across my cheeks and forehead, dusting away crumbs of glass. She touched her trembling fingers to the seatbelt release and pressed on it, over and over. “Come on, dammit. Let go.”

I pushed her hand away, restraining a whimper. “It’s okay. Go get help.”

She nodded and with a hard push, shoved her door open. “I’ll be right back.”

A heavy silence fell over the car’s interior until a hiss sounded from the engine. Within seconds, the smell of burning oil seeped in through the vents.

One toxic breath went deeper than I meant it to. “Ow!” I coughed and writhed beneath the unyielding seatbelt like a five-year-old having a tantrum. Panic swept over me as I struggled for freedom.

Stress vibrated deep in my gut. Self-soothe, self-soothe, I reminded myself. The air grew thicker with burning oil and a starburst of pain wracked my body. I was going to die. Unless…

No. How could I even think it? There had to be another way because what if I couldn’t send it back? What if it took me to the same terrible place it had taken them?

I peered out the windows, searching. There was no one. I turned my focus on the glove box. Maybe Aunt J kept a knife in there or a pair of floral scissors. I pushed the button hard, again and again. Jammed. My heart raced.

A burst of smoke puffed into the car’s interior. I coughed and closed my eyes. The pressure on my leg intensified and the sickening fumes filled me with dread. Eff it. I balled my hands into fists.

I recalled the spell I’d overheard my dad utter once. I recited it in my head before casting, making sure I had it right. “By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.”

I stopped breathing, trying to sense any changes. I felt no different. And then it filled my core like a warm sphere of energy. Quickly, the power expanded into a blazing inferno. My back arched, pressing me harder into the seatbelt as my internal fire surged. Every cell jolted awake. My heart pounded out of control as I imagined channeling the smoldering energy. Suddenly, my hands tingled with intense power. I swallowed hard and aimed my fingers at the strap. The fiery threads trickled out in a wiggly pattern until I steadied my hand. The seatbelt burned orange, then cooled to black before separating.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook:

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:



Barnes & Noble:

the Author:

Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥

Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author:



Amazon US: 

Goodreads Author Page: 



Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spellhaven, by Sandra Unerman

The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......

About the Book:

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure

Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Read an Excerpt:

Jane Fairchild lowered the flute from her mouth and curtseyed to the audience scattered around the lawn. She could not help smiling at their cheers, even as Toby Scott, the leader of their consort, bent down towards her and muttered, ‘You weren’t supposed to play that. You promised to behave.’

They had played one solo each, as agreed, but Jane had abandoned the Gounod she had rehearsed for some variations of her own on a nameless tune from her childhood. Toby despised that kind of music making and none of the others cared for it much. Jane had meant to be well-behaved this evening, when they wanted to impress Lady Waverley and her guests. The consort, music students in their final year, had been invited to play at this garden party in July chiefly because the Waverleys’ son had been at school with Toby, but their guests were likely to include several potential patrons and aficionados who might help them in their fledgling careers. The year was 1914.

The trouble was, as Jane had looked round in the deep evening light, she had felt a need to stir up the audience. They stood in little clusters under the trees or on the paths in the rose garden and listened politely between sips of champagne, but they were not properly engaged with the music. Most of them were young and busy flirting by whisper or touch, or staid and on the edge of somnolence. At least Jane had caught their attention and made some of them laugh.

She shook her head at Toby while she put her flute away and did not answer him. Now that they had finished their set, people were quick to surround the musicians and compliment them, and she was able to dodge round him without a fuss. She was thirsty, so she headed towards the refreshments promised earlier. She doubted champagne would be provided for the musicians but lemonade would be more welcome in any case.

A stranger stepped in front of her, a young man, dark and thin. ‘That last piece was the real stuff. Couldn’t you strangle your First Violin with his own strings and play some more of it?’ he said.

‘Good evening, Mr.…?’ Jane said.

The stranger inclined his head. ‘Lucian Hunter, at your service.’ There was a glint in his eye, as though at a joke he did not expect other people to understand.

‘Mr. Scott is a very fine musician and a friend of mine.’

‘But deadening. You ought to quarrel with him and strike out on your own.’

Jane drew breath to argue and then decided not to explain herself to this person, whoever he was.

‘I don’t think so,’ she said. ‘Excuse me, I should go and find Lady Waverley.’

‘Wait!’ Hunter’s voice was not loud but compelling. He spoke clear English but with the shadow of an accent Jane could not place. ‘I have something else to ask you. Will you meet me next week and play for me?’

‘I’m afraid not.’

‘I could pay you for some lessons. Surely you take pupils?’

Not arrogant young men, Jane thought. ‘It really isn’t possible,’ she said, and turned away.

She felt a hand on her arm and swung back to glare at Hunter. He dropped his clasp at once but he said, ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t. It’s the music I want, you know.’

‘Not from me. Or from anyone else I know if you lay a finger on me again.’

His smile was swift and infuriating.

‘I don’t need to, now,’ he said and turned away.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:

Amazon US:

Meet the Author:

Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with Sandra :


Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Goodreads Book Page:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bewitching Hannah Cover Reveal

Being a witch is the last thing she wants…

Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date:  September 17, 2017
Genre(s):  YA, Fantasy, Romance

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Pre-Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook: 

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:



Barnes & Noble:

Meet the Author:

Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥

Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author:



Amazon US:  

Goodreads Author Page: 



Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 


Monday, July 3, 2017

I am an American

With the blood of many cultures flowing through my veins, I am an American. I am not a Canadian-French-Spanish-Swedish-Italian-American. I’m an American. My ancestors all came to this country for different reasons, and in my case ended up in the state of Louisiana.

After years of extensive research up and down the branches of my huge family tree, I asked myself, what made them Americans, other than just setting foot on it’s soil, and swearing an oath. 

Each of my ancestors had their own challenges and reasons for coming to this country, and each of their stories are an integral part of what America is today, and who I am as a person. These are just a few.

Depiction of the "Grand Derangement" of the Acadiens
My Acadien (French Canadian) ancestors came here by force in the seventeen hundreds. Expelled by the English Crown because of their French allegiances, they were taken in bonds from their Canadian homes to the colonies of New England to become indentured servants—which meant they were slaves that could buy their way to freedom. Years later, they found their way to the French-controlled areas of Louisiana, where they were granted some land. It was swamp land, but it was land, and it was theirs. They forged a life out of those swamps, built canals and levees to control the water, so cities could be built. They planted sugar cane, trapped and hunted game, and traded with the native Indians. 

Sophia VonHolst [my great grandmother]
daughter of Moritz VonHolst,
from Sweden, and Jack Edmond,from

My Swedish ancestor came to this country in the early eighteen hundreds to escape religious persecution. He made his way to Louisiana to use his skills as a tanner to fill a need in the area for saddles and other leather products. He eventually opened a business, taught his grandchildren how to tan hides and create quality leather products, passing his trade down to his descendants.

Salvador Castigliola from Italy. In front is my
grandmother, Clara Angelina

My Italian ancestor came to this country as a young man in the eighteen hundreds to forge a new life. He started out gathering oysters from the gulf and selling them as a street vendor. He went on to open a restaurant in New Orleans and served up the Italian food he was used to his his old country.

Some came by force and some by choice. But, regardless of how or why they came here, they struggled to overcome the odds against them. Some had many children here, and some lost just as many. They built land out of swamps. They fished the bayous and grew sugarcane, peddled from a cart on the streets of New Orleans.

Their stories vary, but they all had one thing in common. They wanted a better life. So they gave up their country of origin, by force or by choice, and came to a new land, with big hopes and dreams. America offered them a place to use the skills and talents they each possessed to improve their situation…and their new country.

I learned from my ancestors’ stories that everything you want in life takes hard work and an ability to persevere outside of your comfort zone. I became grateful that, through no choice of my own, I was born into a free country and did not have to deal with the extreme challenges and hardships of my ancestors.

Are you an American?

If you are a person born in this great country, or If you came here seeking a better life and have sworn an oath to become a productive citizen; If you respect her constitution and laws; and if you hold her flag high, regardless of the sometimes bad decisions of her temporary leaders, you are an American.

Join me in celebrating America’s birthday. Enjoy some fireworks and have come birthday cake.  Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

They Called her Audrey: A Hurricane Survival Story

Sixty years ago, my family survived a devastating hurricane in Cameron, Louisiana...They called her Audrey 

Here are the memories of an eleven-year-old of that event:
Story by Rita Monette

It was late afternoon on June 27, 1957. My sister and I were playing in the yard with our ballerina dolls we’d gotten for Christmas the year before. Mama hollered for us from the back door and told us to get our things inside. The radio had said there was a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was predicted to hit land in a day or so. But since we lived right on the Gulf, we might get some rising water ahead of it. 

My dad and my brother headed out to the lake to get their crab lines pulled in. We waited for Dad to get home to tell us how bad it was and if we’d have to evacuated. The sun went down and my dad and brother were still not home. I fell asleep on my small bed with the window open, enjoying the unusually cool July breeze that made the curtains billow across my bed. 

I awoke with Mama shaking me, telling me we had to get out, the water was rising fast, and the hurricane seemed to be getting closer.

This was during the days when hurricanes were not tracked as easily. They also were not given categories. Audrey in retrospect was a level five, and came ashore pushing a tidal wave and over a hundred mile-an-hour winds.

“Daddy said the water's rising," she told us. "He's gone to the courthouse to find out if it being used as a shelter. He’ll be back in a little while to get us,” she told us.

While waiting for Dad to come back for us, we helped Mama put things on the tops of the beds and tables so they wouldn’t get wet if the water came into the house. I wanted to take my doll, but she said it would be safe on top of her bed with the rest of the things she wanted to save, such as family photos and documents.

By the time Dad got back home, the water was creeping into the living room. With one last look back at my doll, I stepped carefully down the four plank steps feeling the lukewarm water wash against my legs, then soak into my clothes. The tide had apparently risen several feet since my dad had left, causing him to have to leave his car and come for us on foot. Mama carried my one-year-old brother, and we all held hands to stay together against the current that kept pulling at us. It was dark. Rain was falling at a steady pace. The water covered everything so that it was hard to see or feel where the edge of the road was,  but Dad lead the way, treading through the water that was waist-deep to me. The push of the waves was so strong it was hard to stand. As we got closer to town and the courthouse, it was more shallow, until finally at the top of the court house steps, it was dry. The entrance of the big stone building was filled with other people that had already found their way to safety. The steps did not stay dry very long, as huge waves begin to roll in.

Although Dad said he didn't think the water would get much higher, he took us to the third floor where it was less crowded. Mama laid the blanket she had wrapped around my baby brother on the floor in the hallway. We all used that as our “space,” while others claimed theirs. Before the night was over, all three floors had been filled with the inhabitants of the small fishing town of Cameron.

A chill went through me as my damp skirt still clung to my legs. I sat with my knees pulled against my chest and wiggled my bare toes. “Mama I’m hungry.”

“The water will be down in a little while, and we can go back home,” she assured me.

I looked around. Some of the others had brought baskets of food. I wondered why my parents hadn’t thought of that. 

Me and my younger brother and sister decided to explore the courthouse, telling Mama we wouldn’t be very far away. We spent the next hour exploring, going up and down the stairs. We found an area that was filled with little glass boxes with tiny babies in them. Apparently they had been born too early. We were swiftly shooed away.

We went into a big room with a giant desk and lots of benches. We decided that was the judge's desk.  People had already made a bed on top of it, which I thought was kind of disrespectful at the time. Some people were sprawled out on the long benches that looked like pews. We saw a woman lying on one, screaming, clutching her prayer beads in her hands while tearing at her blouse.  I wondered why she was so upset. We'd been through hurricanes before. We were safe here. Daddy said so.

I don't remember feeling scared. At eleven, I didn't fully understand the power of wind and water. After all, we knew our dad would not let anything bad happen to us.

An announcement came that everyone was to evacuate the first floor.  The water was still rising. We knew Mama was on the third, so we scurried up the stairs ahead of the crowd of terrified people. 

As the daylight approached. Police officers were going up to all of the men and requesting they give up their cigarette lighters and matches due to propane tanks, torn from their lines by the rising water, gas no doubt escaping. They said the tanks may blow up if they were too close to the building and a flame. My dad asked Mom to hide his lighter and cigarettes, promising us that he wouldn't light them up until after it was safe.

As the day progressed, the water began sloshing up onto the stairway to the second floor. We played a game of seeing how long we could sit on a step before the water would chase us up to a higher one. We would go back and report to Mom that the water was coming up fast, not realizing that we were feeding into her fear, that she no doubt tried to hide from us kids.

With people beginning to crowd onto the third floor, there was more panic. It was getting stuffy and smelly. Bathrooms overflowed, and those that had to go, went where they could. 

People gathered at the large glass windows, wringing their hands, and murmuring or crying. We joined them to see what was happening outside, and saw houses floating by with people on the roofs screaming and shouting for someone to help them. No one watching could save them. They floated away, some being swept into the raging water, trying to hang on to whatever they could grab. We watched as the muddy water rushed further and further in from the Gulf, taking debris from crushed houses, downed trees, and propane tanks with it. Police officers urged people to stay away from the windows. The fear and panic around me began to sink into my chest.  Were we really safe? What about all those people that needed help and no one to help them? How much longer can the wind blow and the water rise?

The day went on and the storm surged on, wind howling and windows breaking from things flying against them, Some people screamed in fear. but my dad and my mom stayed outwardly calm, probably for us kids. I don’t know if either one of them ate at all that day. My baby brother had a bottle that was now empty. The three of us kids had gathered a few chips and cookies that people had given us from their own baskets. We munched on those, while Mom and Dad refused to take any. 

It began to get dark again, but the electricity in the courthouse had long since gone out. We huddled in our little spot throughout the night listening to the wind as it howled. An occasional tiny light appeared as someone took their chances with the gas leaks and lit up a cigarette.

As daylight appeared through the window, people started moving around, some gathering at the windows to see what was going on. The winds had quieted down and the water had stopped rising. By midday, you could begin to see the horrible site the waters and winds had left behind. The water started to recede as fast as it had come in.

Mama got up and went to the window for the first time. She spotted our house and called us to look. Sure enough there was a house upside down on the street in front of the courthouse, Mom's hand-made lime-green curtains flapping in the wind.

Daddy was gone, and we went to look for him. We found him on the first floor with a group of people that were coming into the building. They had the most terrified look on their faces. Some looked like ghosts. Some were crying uncontrollably. I listened as they blurted out their stories. Some talked about spending the storm in a tree, clinging to their families, some of which had been swept away. I saw my uncle and some of my cousins. They had spent the storm in a two-story farm house outside of town. A rescue squad had gone out and rescued them and brought them to the one intact building in Cameron. The court house. Five hundred men, women, and children are said to have lost their lives that day.

Dad and a group of men left to go out looking or more survivors and food for their families. They came back later that day with cans of food. He opened a can of beans with his knife and handed it to me. I ate it with my dirty fingers. It was the best tasting pork and beans I’d ever eaten.

Dad had also gone into our upside-down house and found the refrigerator right side up. Apparently it had floated upright due to being sealed. A glass gallon jug of milk sat intact on one of the shelves. My baby brother had milk for his bottle.

The following morning, we were escorted out of the court house in a long trail that had been laid with boards in order to keep people from stepping on power lines or boards with nails in them. We went single file to the river where we got on tug boats that took us to Lake Charles, a town a little higher up. We were herded into a school stadium that was lined with army cots, where we were fed hot soup and fresh cold water.

After listening to some of the survivors' stories, of being surprised by the tidal wave storm in the middle of the night, I became grateful that my dad, being a fisherman on the lake that day, anticipated what was coming out on the Gulf, and got us to shelter before our house got swept away and us drowned. 

For everyone Audrey touched that day, it changed their lives forever. And for years after, those that survived measured time by before, during, or after the hurricane.

The photo left is from a New Orleans newspaper, snapped at the arena where we were taken after leaving the courthouse. Mama had told us to look up at the cameraman so that Grandma, who lived in New Orleans, would see it and know that we were alive. 

Pictured are Mom holding my baby brother, Dad to the right of her, me, my sister, and brother up front. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shadow of the Hawk, by K.S. Jones

Since I'm a big K.S. Jones fan, I had to do another post and a review about her award winning book, Shadow of the Hawk. 

It is May 1932 and life in the timbered rise and fall of Western Arkansas has just gotten harder for sixteen-year-old Sooze Williams. With debt mounting and both friends and family fleeing, Sooze is determined to ‘do the right thing’. She promises her heart to a well-to-do man believing true love is just another loss along the way. But when her uncle is murdered and family is accused of the crime, Sooze vows not to be beaten. Is salvation within her grasp by relying solely on truth, or is it in the security of her intended’s money? Sooze must decide before it’s too late.

My Review 

Shadow of the Hawk is one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. Although, It is written for the young adult audience, I believe all ages will find it captivating. 

The story is about a family trying to survive harsh drought conditions in 1930s Arkansas during the great depression. The family with four children, from 18 years down to 6 weeks old, has decided to stay and keep their modest farm going while most of the folks in Coaldale are leaving for California to escape the dust bowl and to find work. 

Ms. Jones’ finely-tuned writing skills will awaken all of your senses by ushering you through the details of their meager meals, to experiencing the wildflowers in the fields and the grit in the air. You will share the family’s emotions through losing friends, falling in love, fighting for their lives as they know it, as well as the tragedy and death of loved ones. 

I loved her well-developed characters, from Rebellious David, responsible Sooze, Spunky Cora, to innocent baby Grace. The love and devotion of the parents for each other and for their family really shows through in the story.  I especially loved the court scene when Sooze has to testify on her brother’s behalf. 

Shadow of the Hawk, Ms. Jones’ debut Novel, has already won several literary awards. There is no doubt in my mind it will win even more. 

About K. S. Jones

Born and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley, I learned early that a good cotton crop would buy us our most prized possessions -- shoes and books. 

As each farming day ended, my father would retreat to the 'bunkhouse' to write magazine stories and articles for Golden West and True West. Alongside him was my mother, a newspaper journalist. Following in their footsteps seemed the natural thing to do, so when Tipton Elementary announced a school-wide American Legion essay contest, I picked up my stubby pencil and a blank page and looked to my father for guidance. "Write what you know," he said. At my young age, cotton-farming was king. This essay became my first writing award, being bested only by my older sister. 

Throughout my teens and early twenties, I sought the life of a writer in every nook, cranny, and corner I could find, but only minor writing successes found their way to me. It seemed I worked every job available trying to help pay the bills while raising my family: telephone operator, telemarketer, airline reservations, radio sales, receptionist, real estate agent, property manager, escrow officer, until one day I realized how fast time was carrying my dream away. 

Determined to be a published novelist, I began setting my alarm at 4am every morning and wrote like mad for 3 hours, then showered, dressed, and rushed to work. By day's end, I was simply too tired to write, but at 4am the next morning I was up and at my keyboard once again. It took another two years before I finished the novel I had been researching and writing for more than fifteen years: Shadow of the Hawk. Pinned to my computer on those exhaustive days were the trimmed lyrics from Sarah McLachlan: "I am so tired, but I can't sleep ... Standin' on the edge of something much too deep."

Then, one early morning, word came that I had won the Southern Writers 2014 Short Story contest. A writing dream had come true! While reveling in that wonderful glow of "I am a good writer!" I watched as another email popped in -- a publisher was offering a contract on my novel. I think all writers wonder how they'll react when an offer arrives. For me, I planned to call/text/email/shout the news to everyone I knew, but instead I sat staring at the two emails. Were they truly addressed to me? That same week, two other publishing offers arrived for the same book.

So long ago, my childhood dream while I sat perched high in an apricot tree reading The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, Call of the Wild, Lord of the Rings, The Time Machine, and so many more, was to be a writer ... and I am so afraid to open my eyes. 

Shadow of the Hawk is my debut novel. Black Lightning is my first middle-grade novel.


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