Sunday, April 17, 2022

Lands of Jade by Justine Alley Dowsett

Darkness falls…so I can… see the light of day again 


Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the 1-week book for Lands of Jade: Crimson Winter, Vol. 2 by Justine Alley Dowsett.


About Lands of Jade:

Darkness falls...

For the first time in eight hundred years, the sun sets on the desert world of Crimson Winter, throwing the planet into unexpected darkness and further chaos. And with the setting of the sun comes the unexpected rise of hordes of undead creatures from the endless Sand Lakes.

...so I can...

Yukari Namikoya, Japanese high school student turned Chosen of Sapphiros, must rise to the occasion and use the powers she has been given to try and protect those she's come to love against overwhelming odds.

...see the light of day again.

But when each night lasts a little longer, Yukari soon realizes that their days might be numbered and a sinister force beyond even the menace of the Vile Emperor might be behind the terrors that are besieging the planet during such a desperate time. The worst part is that Yukari doesn't know if her powers, or even the combined forces of her allies will be enough to protect the Kingdom of Taiyou, let alone the whole world.

Genres:  Young Adult, SciFi, Fantasy, Adventure 

Page Count: Approximately 434

Sale Information:


Buy Lands of Jade and get 50% off any other Mirror World title from their store until the end of April. The discount is automatic for anyone who buys Lands of Jade as an ebook or paperback.





Read an Excerpt:


“So it’s a children’s toy that goes down the stairs?” Rama asked. “On its own, you say?” 

I listened only half-heartedly as Hotaru tried, once again, to explain another tidbit of Earth culture to someone who had no frame of reference for what she was talking about. Hotaru was my best friend, but I was often exasperated by her lack of good judgment. I prided myself on having a solid grasp on the facts of any given situation, but it was not lost on me that my round-faced, dark-haired friend was my complete opposite. It was a wonder we got along at all. 

Beyond Hotaru, Kaji rolled his eyes to indicate what he thought of the current topic of conversation and I smiled at him, despite myself. Like Hotaru, I had known Kaji my entire life. We didn’t talk much, but when we did we often saw eye to eye, which was refreshing compared to the arguments I often had with Hotaru. 

Yue, the other one of us who had been chosen by Sapphiros, was another matter altogether. I looked up as I saw my friend appear at the base of the staircase and grab a couple of buns from the soldier handing them out, her impossibly long, chestnut brown hair falling down to cover her face in shadow. Yue and I had been close enough on Earth, though even then she had been quiet and generally preferred to be on her own, rather than socialize or study. Since arriving on this world, she had, if anything, become more distant from the rest of us. In the last three days she had been mostly silent, using her power to increase her walking or running speed until she was no longer visible as she passed from place to place, in order to avoid having to actually encounter anyone. 

She turned, buns in hand, and made as if to flash-step back in the direction she had come when she stopped suddenly, her back stiffening. I sat up straight in alarm before I realized what had caused Yue to pause. A familiar grating noise filled the air and I looked over my shoulder in disbelief to see the doors of the temple were opening at last. 

The group of us on the steps hurried to our feet as two at a time, sorceresses and sorceresses-in-training emerged from the massive temple, fanning out from the doors themselves and down the sides of the staircase. Prince Narlhep emerged slowly into the light of day from the dark confines of the Jade mountain. He walked stiffly, but I was glad to see him exiting the temple under his own power – after three days of his continued absence, I had begun to worry he would not emerge at all. The prince took a few more steps and stopped between Kaji and Rama, but he didn’t make any move to take his helmet off, nor did he speak. 

“All hail the new King of Taiyou!” Kaji called out, his voice amplified by his power so everyone could hear him. “All hail King Narlhep!” 

“King Narlhep!” The cheer was repeated by those of us on the steps, Rama’s troops, and the Roughlanders beyond, though the many sorceresses remained silent and stony-faced. 

My eyes were trained on Narlhep, who still had not made any move to remove his helmet – something was amiss here. After a long moment, Narlhep retrieved his sword from Rama and started making his way down the stairs. I fell in step beside him as the sorceresses began to disperse and the others talked excitedly amongst themselves. 

“Narlhep, are you all right?”

He didn’t answer me, confirming my suspicions. I quickened my pace to keep step with him as he broke free of the crowd at the bottom of the stairs and continued on away from where we had set up our encampment. Ahead of us lay the partly-destroyed small village that decorated the one side of the mountain, where we had commandeered most of our remaining supplies. 

“Narlhep?” I tried again as he marched deliberately toward a wooden cabin, which was slightly larger than the majority of the huts still standing in the village. 

I entered the cabin on the heels of the prince – or the king now, I suppose. The cabin was still not very big, despite being larger than most of the buildings in this village. The main room – perhaps the only room, I couldn’t tell – contained only a few rickety chairs facing a wooden desk. Behind the desk was a woman I had met before, but didn’t much like. She was small of stature and elderly, with a bun of grayish-white hair held atop her head by a black net of spider-like webbing. As the armoured King of Taiyou entered her presence, the matronly sorceress stood and gave a slight bow of her head in his direction. Narlhep did not wait for the woman to finish acknowledging him before he removed her head with a single, powerful swipe of his sword. 

I gasped, my eyes widening in shock. Narlhep, like me, was only fifteen. I had never killed anyone before, though since coming here I had seen my share of death. I had read in the museum of Taiyou that Prince Narlhep, like the other princes of his line before him, had been responsible for the death of his father, but until now I hadn’t fully believed my friend to be capable of murder. Her head rolled to the ground as her body crumpled and a slight green mist, like a gas, wafted from out of her body to dissipate in the air. 

“She was the last of the Oujou.” Narlhep’s voice sounded muffled from beneath his helmet, but I could hear him struggling to keep his voice controlled. “I had no choice.”  

“Narlhep, please, talk to me,” I pleaded with him, wanting my friend back. “Tell me what happened in there.” 

He gave no response, but stood tightly gripping his bloody sword a moment in his gauntleted hand before walking past me. I couldn’t let him just walk away. I tried a different tactic, though it would cost me to do it. “Your Majesty?”

He stopped with his back to me and he didn’t turn his head. “Don’t call me that,” he said. “I’m not the King of Taiyou.”

“If you’re not the King of Taiyou, then who is?” 

Narlhep took a deep breath, audible through his helmet. “The Chosen of Jedeite. I’m to act as Regent until he returns to Taiyou, then my time is finished.” 


Meet the Author:









Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of ten novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and role-playing with her friends.

Connect with Justine:


Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mirrorworldpublishing

Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/mirrorworldpub

Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2obPWUL

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/28439132-mirror-world

Blog:
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.wordpress.com/

Publisher Website:
http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/


YouTube: 

Enter the Giveaway:


Contest is for a Kindle copy of Ruins of Sapphire, Crimson Winter Vol. 1. Contest is for US and Canada only. 
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Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series

 Behind Every Legend Lies the Truth

Written and illustrated by Rita Monette

Published by Mirror World Publishing



Set in the 1950s, and steeped in South Louisiana Cajun culture, Nikki Landry draws you into her world of gators, moss-covered cypress, and gumbo gurgling on a kerosene stove in her raggedy old houseboat.

But bayou country is also bathed in mysterious tales of swamp creatures and strange happenings that might make you wanna sleep with the light on. 

papa says there's always truth behind a legend. And Nikki is determined to get to the bottom of the age-old beliefs that sometimes terrify the folks living in her small town.

Each episode finds Nikki, along with her quirky pals and her loyal but lazy beagle, Snooper, on a new and spooky trail to uncover the truth. And nothing is going to stop her.

If you liked the Nancy Drew Mysteries, you'll love the Nikki Landry Swamp Legends.


The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

The Curse at Pirates Cove

The Secret in Mossy Swamp

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon

The Haunting near Battlefield Ridge

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Haunting Near Battlefield Ridge Release



Welcome to the 1-week book tour for The Haunting Near Battlefield Ridge!!











“I never believed in ghosts… then I met Oggie.”




About the Book:



Nikki Landry and her friends discover strange white smudges in photos Patti’s grandmother had snapped at an old gravesite. No one can explain what they are.

Did Nikki’s little brother mark them up with a piece of chalk?  Did a low-lying fog move in just as she snapped the photos? Could it be just a smear on the camera lens?

Spikes insists it’s a ghost.

Then Mrs. LeBlanc remembers a legend her grandfather told her of a spirit that haunts the small family cemetery located near an old Civil War battle site. 

Will Nikki and her legend busting gang discover it’s just an old tale, or does the ghost really exist?  If so, why is he there? What does he want?


Join Nikki and her friends as they go searching for the answers…and the truth behind the Haunting near Battlefield Ridge.




Make sure to visit all of the tour hosts and leave comments about the book, read the guest posts, and enter the giveaway!!


Book Details:


Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition

Publisher Website: Mirror World Publishing

Publication Date: April 17, 2020

ASIN: B085MMZLFF


Purchase Your Copy:



Mirror World Publishing eBook


Mirror World Publishing Paperback




Meet the Author:


Behind Every Legend Lies the Truth!




Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. After retiring from her “real” job as an administrative assistant for the State of Michigan, Rita began doing what she always wanted to do…write and draw. Her stories are set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. The Haunting Near Battlefield Ridge is the fifth book in her Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series. Rita now lives with her husband, two lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.





Social Media Links:






Enter the Giveaway:




Winner's choice of a Kindle copy of one of the books in Rita Monette's Nikki Landry Swamp Legends series. Go to Amazon to learn more about the books in the series


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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Groundhog Day - The Truth Behind the Legend

Ever wonder why on earth we look to a groundhog to tell us what the weather is going to be?  And why February 2?  As with all legends, there's always a truth that starts it all.  And here's the truth behind this Groundhogs Day legend:

Here's a little history I found in the Farmer's Almanac, a most trusted source for Farmers since 1792.  That's a long time!

It turns out February 2 marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox, also known as "Candlemas." Around this time, farmers needed to determine when to plant their crops, so they tried to forecast whether there would be an early spring or a lingering winter.

Sunshine on Candlemas was said to indicate the return of winter.  It was not a good omen if the day itself was bright and sunny, for that was said to bring snow and frost for six more weeks, or until the hiring of the laborers on Lady Day.

If the day was cloudy and dark, warmth and rain would come soon to thaw out the fields, which would then be ready for planting.

Today, our celebrated Groundhog Day is a remote survivor of that belief.  According to the legend, if a groundhog sees its shadow on this day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it doesn't, then spring is right around the corner.

For centuries, farmers in France and England looked to the bear. In Germany, they kept their eye on the badger.

In the 1800s, German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought the tradition with them.  Finding no Badgers there, they adopted the groundhog to fit the lore.  Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil has announced spring's arrival since 1887.

Other groundhogs also have carried on the tradition, including Ontario's Wiarton Willie.

Although we recognize that animal behavior isn't the only way to judge planting dates, the tradition continues, often with a wink and a smile.

For more legends and the truth behind them, check out Nikki Landry and the Swamp Legend Series.  at Mirror World Publishing.  or my website.





Friday, August 17, 2018

Interview with Nikki Landry, of the Swamp Legend Series




Nikki Landry is the ten-year-old main character of the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series, by Rita Monette

Following is an interview with Nikki by Musa Publishing


-So Nikki, what is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is what might be in that swampy place Papa calls Ghost Dog Island. Does it really have a creature out there that steals dogs? Will it come after my best buddy, Snooper?

-What is your best or worst childhood memory?

Well, that can’t be too long ago, since I’m only ten. But when that gator got after my little brother and my dog tried to save him. That was pretty memorable.

-What would you say is your biggest strength? Weakness?

My biggest strength is that I am a good riddle solver. Just ask anyone.  My biggest weakness is that I get myself in trouble sometimes by not telling the truth.

-What is your biggest pet peeve?

What’s a pet peeve? Is it something like a possum? I’ve never had one of those. I hear they are mean.

-Is honesty always the best policy?

I guess it is, since my Papa gets awful upset with me when I’m not. But sometimes I forget.

-If you were stranded on an island and could only have 3 things (items or people), what would you choose to have and why?

Island? I don’t want to be stranded on no island. I went out there to Ghost Dog Island with my friend, Spikes, and I wouldn’t want to be out there by myself, what with gators, snakes, and mosquitoes. But if I did get stranded, I’d want a flashlight for sure, and my dog, Snooper. A boat wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

To learn more about The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, Nikki, and her friends, go to http://ritamonette.com or http://ritamonette.blogspot.com


Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Importance of Voice in Writing Fiction, by Rita Monette




What is Voice?

by Rita Monette


You may have heard the term voice in writing. However, there are two types of voice in writing fiction. 

One is the voice of the author: How you write and express yourself, tell their stories. That usually comes natural and develops over time.

Another important voice is that of the characters in your story.  Everyone has a unique way of speaking, and giving a strong voice to your characters helps bring them to life. 

To some, character voice comes easy, yet others may struggle with it. Here are a few things to remember when deciding on a voice for your character.

  1. Where are they from? Most regions have a certain dialect. Listen to someone speak from that area and try to mimic their speech pattern.
  1. How old is your character? It’s pretty obvious that someone that is ten years old will have a different way of speaking than say a fifty-year-old.
  1. When does your story take place? Look up words and phrases used during that period.
  1. What is their world view? Does your character have some background issues that fill him or her with sarcasm? Are they optimistic about everything, overly religious, or just plain grumpy/annoying?
  1. Still having problems? Trying interviewing your character and let them tell you about themselves.

And in all of the above, use in moderation. You don’t want to overdo dialects to the point where the reader gets frustrated trying to read it. 

Point of View in Using Voice.

An important rule is to know when you should use your character’s voice or your author’s voice.

If you are writing in first person, every word should be in the narrating character’s voice, except those that are in the dialog of a different character. 

In limited third person narration, the point of view character will usually carry the voice. 

In omniscient point of view, the author’s voice will narrate the story except during dialog. 

The Character Voice in my Series.

In my middle-grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, writing in first person, the main character, Nikki, is a young girl growing up in the bayous of Louisiana in the fifties. She lives a simple life, doesn’t care much for school, and would rather be fishing with her Cajun French-speaking papa, or looking for clues to some swamp legend. Proper English is not her strong point. Taking all these things into consideration, I found my way into Nikki’s head.

Her friends, on the other hand, needed to have unique voices of their own. We can’t have them all speaking the same way. Patti is always prim and proper, and tries hopelessly to keep Nikki on the right track, while Spikes uses language typical of fifties’ teens. Together they are the legend busters and each contributes their own “voice” to every conversation.

Here is an excerpt from the Mystery on Lost Lagoon, which includes examples of their voices:

The August air was steamier than a pot of boiled crawfish. Tiny bugs danced like fairies on the gumbo-colored bayou. Cypress trees on a nearby swamp island dipped their moss-draped branches into the still water, trying to stay cool. 
I had been sitting in my new tree house for days trying to catch a cool breeze, and pondering on how to turn a plain old fort into an official club house, when I decided what it needed most of all was furniture. My friend Spikes had come over to help me build some. He was pretty good with tools.
“I saw that strange bird again.” Spikes stood beside me with a hammer in his hand.
“What bird?” I asked, busy with trying to arrange some old boards in the shape of a table, just before they collapsed into a heap. “Drats!” I folded my arms in front of me.
 “You have to lay them on the floor, Tomboy,” he said. “We need to nail them together first.”
“So you have to build it upside down?” I wiped the sweat off my brow with the back of my hand.
Spikes’ real name was Spencer Sikes, but I’d never heard nobody call him that ’cept for his grandpa. He was twelve years old, a whole year and a half older than me. I couldn’t imagine being almost a teenager. Me and him argued a lot, but we always stayed friends. He told me once he only liked me ’cause I wasn’t like other girls, and could climb trees and didn’t mind getting dirty. He sometimes called me Tomboy instead of my real name, Nikki.
He grinned, showing his broken front tooth. “Yeah.”
“We need some nails.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of bent nails. “I was over at my grandpa’s yesterday. We took a boat ride out to Flat Lake, and I saw it flying around Pelican Pass, see.”
“Saw what?”

“The bird.” He sounded annoyed. “You know, the one that makes that screeching sound. The same one we saw over in Mossy Swamp.” He sat on the floor and began straightening the nails by laying ’em on their sides and tapping with his hammer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

First Pages in Writing, by Rita Monette

First Pages 
in Writing


by  Rita Monette




How important are the opening pages of your novel? VERY important. 

First of all, you must keep in mind that busy agents and publishers will usually judge your writing and your book by the first few pages, and oftentimes by page one! 

Also, readers, who might be grabbed by your title, tagline, and your cover blurb, still will judge whether they want to continue to read on by the first chapter, or even the first page. So you’d better work really hard at getting it right.

How do you do that? you might ask. Well here are some well-worn tips to accomplish that.

Prologue or no prologue…that’s a good question.

Although there are quite a few great books on the market that use prologues to introduce their novel, many experts agree, that a good rule of thumb is to leave it off. 

Instead of telling the reader your character’s background and motivations, use your writing skills to weave that information in, letting your reader figure it out. 

I’ve been told most readers don’t bother to read prologues anyway. I know I don’t like them. I usually want to jump right into reading the story. So just jump right in writing it. But where DO we start?

Tension is the key.

Every movie-goer knows that the first scene of a film usually begins with a huge car crash, guns blazing, or a murder... then jumps back to why on earth all this went on. Many books begin this way also. But wild action isn’t always the key. Most times it’s tension.

On page one, feed the reader some intriguing questions they will surely want the answers to. What is your character doing, saying, observing, or thinking that makes the reader want to know what’s going to happen next, or what the character plans to do about the situation at hand?

The Character.

The reader will want to know something about your main character. What is he about? What does he want? Is he relatable or liked enough for them to want to know more and to invest the next few hours of their time in. What is he doing in that first scene that tells us something about his personality, his ambitions, his goals? First impressions count. 

The Setting.

Give the reader an idea of the setting on that first page also. Where is your character? Is the time period important? What is the season? Is it hot, cold? Don’t let the reader have to figure that out as he reads along.
The Hook.

This seems like a lot to cram into a first page, but you want to draw the reader in from the very start. It’s called the “hook.”

Sometimes it takes many re-writes to get those elements in effectively. 

Feedback. 

Get an honest opinion from a person or persons…typically not your mother or spouse. Join a critique group or a group like Critique Circle. 






Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Whirlpools, Wormholes, and Time Travel, by Rita Monette





WHIRLPOOLS, WORMHOLES, AND TIME TRAVEL

by Rita Monette

What do wormholes, whirlpools, and time travel have in common? In reality, probably nothing. But in Nikki Landry’s historical, yet fictitious world, legend has it that if you go into Lost Lagoon, you may never return, but just might enter into a land where strange creatures live. 

A FICTITIOUS WHIRLPOOL

When a mad scientist arrives in Nikki Landry’s hometown and hears the legend of the mysterious Lost Lagoon, he decides to build a machine that can traverse a whirlpool—which he calculates just might be a wormhole to a prehistoric time. 

Nikki has been warned to stay off Flat Lake due to the frequent whirlpools and strange disappearances. But snooping around Mr. Beekers’ camp boat gets her and her friends kidnapped and taken to a hidden inlet in a swamp off of the large lake. Soon they learn what’s behind the mystery on Lost Lagoon.

A REAL WHIRLPOOL

In reality, in the South Louisiana bayous, there are many, many salt caverns beneath the ground. There are also oil companies drilling for oil. Those two can spell disaster, especially if those caverns are under a lake. 

One such disaster occurred in November of 1980, when an oil drilling rig and a salt mine created a whirlpool that became large enough to engulf the rig, eleven barges, and a tugboat, sucking water in from the Gulf of Mexico, and changing the landscape—as well as a once shallow fresh water lake—forever. 

While drilling for oil off Lake Peigneur, near New Iberia, Louisiana, a drilling rig owned by Texaco, drilled too far and punctured into an active salt mine. Fishermen on the lake that day saw the whirlpool that began pulling their boat toward it. Luckily they got away before it sucked them into the abyss. Beneath, fifty-five miners, seeing the water rushing in, managed to escape via an elevator. Amazingly, no one lost their life, but it cost Texaco millions of dollars.



AN EXCERPT:


Spikes stuffed the papers into his shirt. “I need to finish reading this.”
The three of us dashed for the door. But a shadow covered the opening, and Mr. Beekers stepped into it, blocking our way out.
He looked at the broken door and then glanced around his home. “What have y’all done to my house?” he scowled.
“We didn’t do it,” I said. “Honest we didn’t.”
“Don’t lie to me. You kids have been nosing around here before. What do you want here?” 
“Just let us go,” Tim said. “We promise not to come back.”
“No, you’re not going anywhere until I see what you’ve taken...or destroyed.” He stepped in and closed the crooked door behind him. “Now all of you sit.”
Spikes found a chair. Tim and I pushed some newspapers to the side and sat on a tiny sofa with springs poking out. 
“Now, which one of you broke my door in?” 
“It was some men,” Tim said. “I think they were detectives or something. They had on suits and ties, and drove an official looking car.”
Mr. Beekers looked around, then ran to the window. “Where did they go?” 
“They’re from Ohio,” I said. “I think they’re coming back. So you better let us go before they get here. Whatever you did, they might get you for kidnapping us too.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” he said. “I’m not letting you go. You brought them here, didn’t you?” His eyes were wild and his mouth turned into a snarl. His whole face turned really evil looking. “I know what they want, and they won’t get it.” He grabbed up some rope and began to tie Spikes to the chair. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Mystery on Lost Lagoon: A Preview, by Rita Monette


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.”