Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

DP Denman Shares Her Inspiration for NAKED TRUTH : Saving Liam @DPDenman #LGBT #AmReading

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Saving Liam Series was inspired by a desire to bring a little-known tragedy to the public’s attention. Thousands of LGBTQI teens spend their nights on the street, abandoned by intolerant families. It was recently estimated that at least 40,000 kids fall into that category in the US every year (30,000 in Canada). The shelters are usually as intolerant as the families these kids left behind so, they live on the street in the cold eating out of dumpsters and barely surviving. There is no excuse for that but it’s impossible to change when most people don’t realize it’s happening.

Saving Liam gave me a chance to paint a vivid picture of that existence and help people understand the way most of these kids live and the challenges they face when few people care what happens to them.


Buried lies never die.

Liam has a new career, a new condo, a newfound sense of control and none of it is quite right. Shadows drift behind the bright sparkle of his life; things he's determined to ignore until a shocking revelation makes it impossible. With the help of Justin and a new friend, Liam must face the life he's buried.

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Genre - Contemporary Gay Romance
Rating – R
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Hank Quense Shares an #Excerpt from MOXIE'S PROBLEM @hanque99 #SciFi #Fantasy #Goodreads

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scene background: 
Tristan is rehearsing his latest play and Merlin wants to check it out.

Merlin entered the room in the back of the keep where Tristan rehearsed his new play, Rolf and Hild. The play’s premier was planned for Camelot’s annual Yuletide Feast and Merlin was curious about what abomination Tristan had hatched this time.

A few knights milled about the room while an apprentice knight with a bandaged arm stood on a chair. The apprentice had a woman’s wig on his head and didn’t look happy. Tristan placed a second chair alongside the first. “Let us begin with an important scene. One that will leave not a dry eye in the audience.”

Tristan grabbed a second knight and dragged him over to the empty chair.

“You are Hild,” Tristan said to the apprentice on the chair, “a rich maiden. Let us pretend the chairs are a balcony in a garden behind Hild’s house.” Tristan smacked the second knight in the chest with the back of his hand. “Your name is Rolf. You are wandering knight who has fallen in love with Hild as she has with you. Her family refuses to allow you to marry her or even see her, so you have to meet in secret. Is this clear?”

Both characters looked puzzled.

“Why don’t I just kill her parents,” Rolf asked, “and run away with her?”

“Because I didn’t write the play that way,” Tristan replied. “You stand over there,” he told Rolf, “until Hild calls you. Then you approach the balcony and profess your love.”

“How the hell do I that? And what does profess mean?”

“Never mind. Just go stand over there.” Tristan said in a threatening voice.

Merlin loved to watch Tristan lose his temper. One never knew what to expect when that happened and Merlin suspected a temper tantrum was about to break out.

Once Rolf had been positioned, Tristan stood behind Hild and her chair.

“I’ll whisper the lines to you, and you repeat them, all right?”

Merlin realized Hild couldn’t read and Rolf probably couldn’t either, so the actors had to memorize the lines as Tristan read them.

Hild braced herself, cocked an ear towards Tristan and then said, “Rolf, oh Rolf. Wherefore art thou, Rolf.”

Tristan pointed and Rolf moved to the chairs where Tristan whispered lines to him. “I’m here, Hild, my beloved. Say you’ll be mine forever and a day.”

“I will. Oh, I will. I will be thy wife and change my name to yours. What is in a name? A nettle by other name would still prick thy hand.”

Tristan directed Rolf to climb on the chair, embrace Hild and kiss her.

“I ain’t kissin’ a guy,” Rolf snarled. “What kinda nasty mind do you have, Tristan.”

“It’s a play and she’s supposed to be a woman, so it’s all right to kiss her during the play. It’s part of your role as a character.”

Rolf climbed on the chair and loosely embraced Hild. Hild closed her eyes and puckered up.

“I ain’t kissing’ her,” Rolf said. “She’s got stubble all over her face and her breath stinks.”

Hild opened her eyes and glared at Rolf. “You should talk. Your breath smells like a midden.”

Rolf and Hild both made fists and assumed fighting stances while still on the chairs.

Merlin shook his head. He had seen enough to confirm his suspicion that Tristan’s play writing talent was equal to his poetry talent. Merlin left the room while, behind his back, Rolf and Hild threatened to settle the dispute with swords.

Moxie's Problem

Do you enjoy untypical coming-of-age stories? Well, you won’t find one more untypical that Moxie’s Problem. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outsider her father’s castle. Until now. The real world is quite different and she struggles to come to grips with reality. The story take space against a backdrop of Camelot. But it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe. So, all bets are off!

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Genre – Fantasy, Sci-fi
Rating – G
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Rik Stone & Behind the Scenes of "Birth of an Assassin" @Stone_Rik #AmWriting #Thriller #SelfPub

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Nearly all stories have a general platform from which to launch into exclusivity. I wanted to write something that I felt hadn’t been done or at least something different to what I’ve read. Of course, there’s no such thing as a tale that hasn’t been told. All you can hope for is that you might create a unique twist. Mine was a simple enough idea. I would present a set of non-western characters. How is that different? Well, in the novels I’ve trawled my way through over the years I’ve found that even in the most exotic of settings there is an American or European hero to sort out the mess. If you read Birth of an Assassin you’ll see that needn’t be the case.
But what stage could I use for my story and what genre? Being a thriller addict the genre went without saying, but what about setting? Well, I have an uncle by marriage whose parents fled anti-Semitism under late 19th century czarism. My uncle passed on little odds and ends relating to the hardships Jewish people had at that time and I thought there might be a story waiting to be told.
I researched the period and there were lots of events that could easily be weaved into a single fictitious account. I’ll give a couple of examples to explain what I mean:
In the second half of the 19th century, a Jewish boy was conscripted into the army to fight on one of the many battlefronts against The Ottoman Empire. The boy was killed and tsarist police operating in The Pale, a barren stretch of land where the Jewish population was forced to live, came to the house of the boy. They didn’t tell the parents he’d been killed in action. No, they said he was a deserter, and that the family was left responsible for his crime. The parents were fined several hundred roubles. Their belongings were sold for 40 roubles, leaving the family with a debt of, yes several hundred roubles. This became ritual; they rebuilt and their belongings were taken and sold as payment towards the fine.
In the early 1900’s a Russian child was murdered. The Jewish population was blamed and a series of state supported pogroms followed, ending in Kishinev in 1903 where the worst of the persecutions took place. Later, it turned out the child’s family had been responsible for the murder – and police had covered it up.
I could go on, there were a multitude of travesty’s over many years. Enough to say, I collected the makings of a story, but looking into that period, I saw no believable way that anyone Jewish could possibly come out on top, so I worked my way through Russian history looking for a home for my plot. It wasn’t until reaching post war Soviet Russia that I found a window. That isn’t to say my hero wins out in Birth of an Assassin, but I needed a place where he at least had a chance. Unfortunately I had to take my protagonist’s religion away, but his burning ambition to be a part of the Red Army wouldn’t have worked with it.
So, I had someone to represent the Jewish population. Now, I needed a core of anti-Semitism: along came Otto to provide the conduit for my story.
If you read Birth of an Assassin you can be forgiven for not seeing my analogy. When all’s said and done it’s simply an adventure thriller with goodies and baddies. And if I were to itemise now what happens in the book against its past equivalent I would be giving you a series of spoilers.

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
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@LoniFlowers on Cosmetic Surgery & Horse Riding #AmReading #Contemporary #Romance

Things You Didn’t Know About Author Loni Flowers
What is it about me that you probably don't know already? I'm a very open person, so I really had to dig deep for these.

I'm the only one in my family to have Asthma.

I grew up with severe asthma when I was a child, but every time I had an attack and my parents took me to the hospital, I was be fully recovered by the time we arrived. We could never show them proof asthma attacks. It turned out the calmness of the car ride was a good trick to relieving an attack. It wasn't until my teenage years that a car ride wouldn't fix my problems and I was finally able to prove to a doctor my lungs weren't "normal." And worse, the seasonal weather changes are usually the main cause of an attack. Sucks!

I'm allergic to most dogs and house dust.

Weird right?! When I was five, my mother became obsessed with birds. At one point we had 20 different types. I know that sounds like a zoo or something, but it never felt like we were "the crazy cat lady" type. Most were small birds, but we had a couple really large birds too. Among the asthma flare ups, I would also break out in hives around my eyes and they would spread all over my body. My eyes would swell shut and itch like crazy. Test results confirmed I was allergic to dogs and house dust. This basically included any animal that didn't have hair similar to a human (like a Poodle or a Yorkie). I could still pet them and be around them, but I always had to wash my hands afterwards or else the eyes would swell shut and hives would spread. Fun times! We ended up getting rid of all of the birds but a few.


I had plastic surgery on my ears when I was about 7 years old.
Yep, cosmetic surgery to be exact. My ears stuck out like Dumbo the flying Elephant. Go ahead. Laugh. I know you want to, and it’s alright. It is But even in elementary school, children are cruel and I was picked on for it. So my parents took me to a wonderful doctor, William P. Magee Jr. who had just started a charity while I was in his care. You may have heard of it: Operation Smile. Their charity has done more than 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults who suffer from cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. So I pretty much got worked on by a rock star surgeon and have the best, most beautiful ears ever!

I competed professionally in horse shows when I was about 10 years old.
My family are animal lovers, if you can't already tell from the previous facts. At one point in my childhood, we owned seven horse. They are loving, friendly, beautiful animals. I was a natural, or so my parents and trainer said, when it came to riding and the ease of the sport allowed me to compete effortlessly in Equestrian riding. I entered basic classes, but I will never forget my first horse show. There were about twenty other competitors and all were adults except for about three children, including me. During one show you compete in three rounds and can win a ribbon and points for each round. Points are added up after the three rounds and a overall winner is names. I walked out of my first show with 2- first place ribbons and 1- second place ribbon earning me a Champion ribbon for my overall class. My mom was so excited and I was like, "What the heck does all this mean?!" I learned pretty quickly and by the time the showing season was over for the year, I earned Reserve Champion (2nd place overall) in point standing for the entire show year. Pretty awesome for a first-timer!

I know, I know. I’m so dang interesting it’s a bit hard to handle. Just kidding. I think most people find the whole ear surgery thing the most interesting. And despite my asthma and allergies, I will always have pets. I don’t ride horses anymore, but it was a part of my childhood I will always remember. I had so many great times when it was just me and my pony, Coco, enjoying a Big Mac and fries. Yes, she ate what I ate.

So that’s a bit about me. What is something not many people know about you? Please share!

Witness to my Heart
Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.

Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.

Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.

Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.

Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
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Sue Parritt's #WriteTip for Avoiding the Rejection Blues #AmWriting #Fantasy #SannahAndThePilgrim

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How to avoid the rejection blues

You open the white envelope (or email) with a mixture of hope and trepidation, skim through the obligatory ‘thank you for sending…etc.’ and focus on the vital sentence. ‘However’ and ‘But’ alert you to yet another rejection; two little words that instantly banish your buoyant mood. Bursting into tears, taking to the bottle or consoling yourself with chocolate might seem good ways to avoid the rejection blues, but in reality the only solution is to move on.

If the publisher or editor has provided any comment on your novel/poem/short story, and this is rare these days, take note and set to work on yet another rewrite/edit. Most of all it pays to remember creativity demands dedication, long hours tapping a keyboard, cutting, pasting, deleting. When sentences are sacrificed for brevity or clarity, there can be almost physical pain as narrative wrenched from murky depths vanishes at the touch of a key. But there is also pure delight when endless editing uncovers grains of gold, so allow yourself to hope this is the manuscript that will one day attract a publisher.

After the receipt of numerous rejections, it can be tempting to declare oneself a total failure, bury the manuscript in the depths of a filing cabinet or take the extreme measure of deleting the file from your computer. If you can’t face another edit, I would suggest putting the manuscript aside for a while and turning your attention to a new project. Research can be absorbing, focusing the mind on a new topic and evicting old clutter. Writing a short story or poem is one method I use to banish the rejection blues. Creating a complete piece in a relatively short space of time helps me revitalise my flagging confidence and proves (to me) that there’s life in the old writer yet!

It also helps to remember that few writers find a publisher at the first attempt. Think of the number of times J.K. Rowling submitted her Harry Potter books before she found a publisher willing to take a chance on a new writer. Whether we writers like it or not, the prospect of making money is what rules the publishing world. In a time of fiscal austerity, risk-taking is not encouraged, so there are no funds put aside for new writing. But despite all the doom and gloom about the current state of the publishing industry, I believe books, print or electronic, will always be around and a well-written inspiring tale will eventually find its place.

Sannah and the Pilgrim by Sure Parritt

General Information - Sannah and the Pilgrim by Sue Parritt
ISBN: 978-1-922200-14-3
Genre: Speculative Fiction / Sci-fi / Dystopian
Release Date: 26 April 2014 (Paperback and ebook)
Publisher: Odyssey Books (

An ePub is included in this pack for reviewers; the title is also available from NetGalley:

When Sannah the Storyteller, a descendant of environmental refugees from drowned Pacific islands, finds a White stranger on her domestep, she presumes hes a political prisoner on the run seeking safe passage to egalitarian Aotearoa. However, Kaires unusual appearance, bizarre behaviour, and insistence hes a pilgrim suggest otherwise.
Appalled by apartheid Australia, Kaire uses his White privileges to procure vital information for Sannah and her group of activists regarding new desert prisons that are to be built to house all political prisoners. The group plans sabotage but needs help, and Kaire is a willing accomplice. But when Sannah turns Truthteller and threatens to reveal the countrys true history, even Kaires White privilege and advanced technology cannot save Sannah and her daughter from retribution.

About Sannah and the Pilgrim:
Sannah and the Pilgrim is a tale of courage, defiance and deceit that asks the reader, Would you risk death by telling the truth about your country, or would you play it safe and spend your life as a storyteller?
Are you concerned about our governments (both past and present) failure to act on climate change and the detention and inhumane treatment of refugees? I am, so I have drawn on contemporary conservative attitudes to present a dystopian view of a future Australia in my speculative fiction novel Sannah and the Pilgrim. Read it and discover what could happen to ourlucky country.

Sue Parritt author pic

About the Author:
Sue Parritt is an Australian writer, originally from England. Her poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, Britain and the USA. After graduating BA University of Queensland 1982 (majors: English Literature, Drama and French), Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to pursue her long-held dream of becoming a professional writer.  Since then she has written Sannah and the Pilgrim, numerous short stories and poems andFeed Thy Enemy, a feature film script set in Naples in 1944 and 1974 and based on a true story (Sue is currently seeking a producer). She recently completed a second novel Safety Zone and is now writing a sequel to Sannah and the Pilgrim  the working title is Pia and the Skyman.

Kat de Falla's #WriteTip for Finding Your Voice by Writing in Third Person @KatDeFalla #AmWriting

Finding Your Voice by Writing in Third Person

“My fingers linger on the doorknob. Should I open it?”


“Heidi’s fingers lingered on the doorknob. She weighted her options. Should she open it or not?”

No one way is right. Do you want to write in the first person present tense? Or in the third person past tense?

Either way can create a superb novel. The first person and present tense create an immediacy. It creates a window through which you can take each step behind the eye of the speaker.

In Orson Scott Card’s wonderful book, Characters and Viewpoint, he says this about Voice: “A rule of thumb: Choose the simplest, clearest, least noticeable technique that will still accomplish what the story requires.”

I personally, chose third person past tense. I had a lot of characters I wanted my readers to meet and many things were happening at the same time across the world. I enjoy fast-paced novels and lots of twists and turns.

In my case, this viewpoint worked the best. What have you tried and what has worked for you?


2nd Place Winner in the LuckyCinda Book Contest 2014 for Paranormal
Semi-Finalist in the KBR’s Best Kindle Book Awards 2014
Indie Book of the Day Award Winner July 25, 2014
Genre:  Mainstream Paranormal/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Link to Book Trailer:

Book Blurb:

Calise Rowe's question of who walks among us leads her into an ancient war between seers and demons.
For years, Calise Rowe has been able to sense unusual energy from people, making her believe she is different. Pulled into an ancient war raging for centuries between demon hunters and seers, she's about to find out she's right.

Her search for the truth leads her to Lucas Rojas, a seer of angels and demons who walk the earth shrouded from normal human eyes. He's hidden his gift for years and refuses to endanger Calise by sharing it with her.

In the sultry Costa Rican Jungles, their worlds collide. As their passion and desire ignite, so does the ancient war between demons and seers. Will their combined efforts be enough to save themselves and the entire human world, or will their new found love be their downfall?


She traced a circle in the sand with her finger.

Why would she disclose her whole existence to someone she’d just met? Someone who talked so little about himself that she found herself talking to fill the void. Saying things she could barely admit in her own head.

His hand covered hers. “I’m lonely, too. Getting to know you this week has been the brightest point in my life and I don’t want you to leave, but I know the only place you’ll be safe is far away from me.”

She swallowed. He had read her mind.

He lay down on his back and closed his eyes. “Cali, you know when you hear a song for the first time and you kind of ingest it? You can’t possibly know right away that it will be one of your favorite songs for the rest of your life. A classic.”

“Yeah.” She hoped he was going somewhere good with this.

“That first listen,” he continued, “you pick up a little of the melody and some lyrics that catch you. But when the song ends, you have to hear it again because you want to memorize all the words and sing along. After you hear it a few times and learn the words inside and out, then you begin to let the melody seep inside you. Next thing you know, you’ve completely digested the song and find yourself humming it while you are doing nothing, like shaving or driving your car. Finally, the song becomes so ingrained it becomes a part of you. Forever. You can recall it and it’s with you whenever you need it. Am I making any sense?”

She nodded, blinking back the tears fighting to fall.

“Cali, I don’t want you to go back because you’re my favorite song.”
kat head-shot
Author Kat de Falla was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she learned to roller skate, ride a banana seat bike, and love Shakespeare thanks to her high school English teacher.

Four years at the UW-Madison wasn’t enough, so she returned to her beloved college town for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is happily employed as a retail pharmacist where she fills prescriptions and chats with her patients.

She is married to her soul mate, classical guitarist, Lee de Falla and raising four kids together ala the Brady Bunch.

Kat’s Links:
Author Website:
Twitter: (message me to join my street team!)
Lee’s Bio/Info:

Composer Lee de Falla, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was raised in a family of professional musicians. He picked up his father's guitar at age eight and hasn't put one down since. Although well versed at playing all genres of music, his love is composition for modern classical guitar and instrumental orchestrations. He is finishing work on two CD's which will be available later this year.
Composer Website: where FREE music requests are available that accompany THE SEER’S LOVER:
  1. Anna’s Dance is a jazzy bossa nova meant to accompany chapter two.
  2. Shane's Torment is a churning soundscape of despair meant to accompany chapter six.
  3. Cali and Lucas First Dance is a Latin fusion instrumental love song meant to accompany chapter twelve.
As I touch on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in this book, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to

 Buy Links:
Acclaim for THE SEER’S LOVER:
“Distinctly haunting and deliciously dark, The Seer's Lover is the debut novel from author Kat De Falla and it’s one to be read with the light on! A paranormal romance, it may not howl originality as the age old forces of Angels and Demons muster for yet another face off, but De Falla certainly distinguishes herself with the quality of her writing and the ability to weave a riveting and intriguing plot. With a meticulous eye for detail her characters are skillfully drawn, shunning the genre tendency towards stoic stereotypes to deliver flawed real world personas that quickly feel familiar and are ultimately endearing. The action is generous and well described, the twists served with perfect timing, it has all the elements readers expect from the best in genre and they are sure to keep the pages turning at a frantic pace.”
The Seer's Lover is truly an unusual creation in the e-world: it comes with musical interludes (which can be downloaded for free) and it tells of Calise, who has long known she has different abilities than most. What she hasn't realized is that her powers will draw her into an ancient conflict between good and evil, pitting her against some of the strongest adversaries in the universe.
If all this sounds familiar, it's because the classic 'good-versus-evil' plot has been done time and again: but as with any good book, it's not just the plot that makes for an exceptional read, but how it's done.
Kat de Falla places her main protagonist on a journey of discovery that leads to the Costa Rican forest, there to encounter a man who (much like herself) has hidden his abilities. Lucas can actually see the demons and angels who walk the earth; but not only has he concealed his abilities; he doesn't want to endanger her by sharing his gift.
What evolves is paranormal romance fiction at its best: a story steeped in passion with the overlay of deadly dangers and powerful talents woven into an ever-changing plot.
Now, the genre of paranormal romance has rapidly expanded. Over the last ten years romance writers have added a variety of elements to spice their creations, and entry into paranormal realms is just one of these newer devices. Another device used here is that of music which runs through the story line as a theme so that musical passages accompany the story.
The Seer's Lover is all about building atmosphere, from its eye-catching cover of a man and a woman on an island facing down blazing red eyes in the sky to these musical interludes that reinforce action.
And this atmosphere is created right from the start, where Calise is already involved with Lucas: "Why would she disclose her whole existence to someone she’d just met? Someone who talked so little about himself that she found herself talking to fill the void. Saying things she could barely admit in her own head."
There are no pat answers here; no formula approaches that would lend too much predictability to events. Calise is alternately brave and terrified, as her abilities are yet untested but her adversaries are seasoned and powerful: "This is not going so well. I’m turning out to be a pretty shitty Buffy the Demon Slayer."
And there are surprises peppered throughout: in the form of a mother whom Calise comes to realize as the wellspring of her powers, and in the guise of a romances past and present which rise up to haunt her. There are unexpected religious experiences, there's a search to find self, and there are elements of suspense tying all of these events together.
In the end Calise faces the greatest challenge of her life - and with prior events having helped her grow, she's in the strongest position ever to find peace in her life.
The open-ended conclusion leaves room for a possible sequel but in the true style of a superior read, it's not essential that more be written: The Seer's Lover is a self-contained novel that properly wraps up its story, and will satisfy any reader of paranormal or romance fiction.
Highly entertaining by anyone’s reckoning, The Seer's Lover from author Kat De Falla is an exciting debut novel and certainly one that deserves a place on your reading shelf. It is strongly recommended.
--D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, MBR

Thread End: An Embroidery #Mystery by Amanda Lee @GayleTrent #CozyMystery #AmReading

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I’d stayed up too late the night before; but even sleep-deprived, I was chipper as Angus and I pulled into our usual parking spot outside the Seven-Year Stitch. I had seen Vera and Paul only briefly at the museum exhibit, so I supposed Vera would be in sometime today. I hoped she would, anyway. It would be fun to relive the evening with her . . . going over the pieces we’d liked best. I wondered if she’d made the collector any offers. I grinned. Knowing Vera, she probably had.
I hopped out of the Jeep and snapped Angus’s leash onto his collar. He jumped out and sniffed the sidewalk while I unlocked the front door. As soon as we got inside, I took the leash off. Angus bounded over to the sit-and-stitch square where he’d left his favorite toy—a Kodiak bear Vera had brought him back from a trip she’d taken a few months ago.
I relocked the door. I still had about half an hour until the shop opened, and I liked to have the shop tidy and restocked when customers started coming in. The first order of business every Saturday morning was to take the trash out. The sanitation truck ran at noon every Saturday, so all the shops on our side of the street scrambled to get their garbage out to the receptacles before then.
Fortunately for me, the Seven-Year Stitch didn’t generate a lot of trash . . . especially when compared to MacKenzies’ Mochas. That shop produced more garbage in a day than the Stitch did in a week. In fact, Blake had to take their garbage out twice a day—double-bagged so the food scraps wouldn’t attract bears.
I was thinking about bears, Blake, Sadie, and how Sadie had talked me into coming to Tallulah Falls and opening my shop—for which I would be forever grateful—when I stepped out the back door with my bag of trash. I tossed the bag into the bin, turned, and then gasped as I saw something lying against the wall.
For the world, the . . . thing . . . looked like the kilim Reggie had admired so much last night at the exhibit. But it couldn’t be. . . . Could it?
I crept closer. It was the rug—I recognized the colors and the unmistakable patterns. But what was it doing here?
I took another step toward the rolled-up kilim and saw that it was badly stained. Had someone bought it, got something all over it, and left it here for the sanitation crew to dispose of? Surely not.
Maybe Vera had bought it, gotten it stained, and then left it here at the back of my store to see if I could clean it. No, that didn’t make any sense to me either, but I was really grasping at straws.
I took one more step closer and nudged the rug with my foot. I wasn’t about to touch such a valuable kilim until I found out why it was lying outside my shop.
When I pushed it, the rug rolled slightly. Then I spotted something . . . a hand! And the hand was attached to a body . . . that was attached to a face . . . a face that looked vaguely familiar.
With trembling hands, I fumbled my cell phone from the front pocket of my jeans and called Ted.
“You’ve got to come,” I said when he answered. “Here . . . to the shop . . . please. There’s this guy . . . a dead guy . . . wrapped up in Reggie’s rug.”
“What? Babe, you aren’t making sense.”
I couldn’t answer. I’d begun to hyperventilate.
“Sweetheart, I’m on my way. Sit down and put your head between your knees,” he said. “Is anyone with you?”
When I didn’t answer, he repeated that he was on his way.
I became vaguely aware that Ted had ended the call, and I returned my phone to my pocket. I didn’t know what to do. Maybe the man wasn’t dead after all. I guessed I could take his pulse to see. Or I should probably wait for Ted. The gray cast to the man’s skin made me fairly certain that there was nothing I could do to help him. And it wasn’t a stretch to assume that the stain on the rug was blood. I’d wait for Ted.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps pounding up the alley behind me. I whirled around, stumbled, and would have fallen had I not been righted by Blake—he whose thundering footsteps had startled me while he was sprinting toward me with a white paper bag in one hand.
“Ted called,” he said, panting for breath. “Are you all right? He said you were hyperventilating. Here—breathe into this. Let’s get you inside.”
I was sort of wondering if maybe Blake didn’t need the paper bag more than I did, but I simply nodded. With one strong arm around my shoulders, Blake started to lead me back into the shop.
As he turned, he noticed the body. “What the—?”
“Exactly,” I said. “Let’s go inside until Ted gets here. This is freaking me out.”
“You and me both.”
We went inside. Blake was now every bit as shaken as I was but was determined to be strong for me.
Angus was thrilled to see Blake and immediately bounded up to him.
“In a minute, boy,” Blake said softly. “First, let’s get Marcy settled on the sofa.”
Sensing something was wrong, Angus sat down and began to whine.
“It’s okay,” I told him as I sank onto the sofa. “Everything’s fine.”
Blake took a seat on the red club chair diagonal to the sofa. “Seriously, breathe into the bag.”
I shook my head. “I’m fine.”
“What happened?”
“I have no idea,” I said, petting Angus’s head in an effort to soothe us both. “I took out the garbage, and when I turned to come back into the shop, I saw the rug. I thought it strange that someone would throw it away like that, and then I saw the hand and realized someone was wrapped up in the rug.”
“That’s all you saw? A hand?” He shrugged. “Do you think maybe it could be a mannequin?”
“No. I saw the man’s face, too. He was real.” I glanced at the front door and realized it was still locked. “I’ve got to unlock the door.”
Blake jumped up from the chair. “I’ll get it. You sit there and rest.”
“Thank you. The keys are on the counter.”
He unlocked the door. “Do you want me to leave the sign as Closed?”
“No. Change it to Open please,” I said.
“Are you sure you’re up to having customers today?”
“Positive.” I smiled slightly. “I’ll take any normalcy I can get right now.”
He returned to his seat. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m still shaky—and I’m sorry for that poor man lying outside—but I’ll be all right.”
Sadie hurried through the front door carrying a large to-go coffee cup. “Marce, how are you?”
I assured her that I was fine. “I’m even better if that’s a low-fat vanilla latte with a dash of cinnamon.”
Sadie saw how my hand shook as I took the cup, and her big brown eyes flew to Blake’s blue ones. He gave her a nod, and they communicated volumes merely by holding each other’s gaze for a few seconds. They’ve only been married for five years, but you’d think they’d been together forever. Like every other couple, they’d had their share of hardships. But they’d always persevered . . . and always would. They’d be lost without each other.
I took a sip of the warm, delicious coffee, and Sadie sat beside me on the sofa.
Angus, still confused and upset by the anxiety in the room, sighed and plopped his head onto his paws.
“Aw, look how pitiful he is,” Sadie said. “Now I wish I’d brought him some biscotti.” She spoke to Angus. “I’ll bring you back some biscotti, sweet boy. Yes, I will.”
Angus wagged his tail. He wasn’t convinced everything was okay yet, but he knew it was getting there.
Sadie took my free hand and gave it a squeeze. Like Angus, she didn’t seem confident she knew what was going on, either. But she wanted me to know that she was there. Dog and human best friends share that trait. I quickly filled her in on the situation.
At last, Ted strode through the door. As he took my latte, set it on the coffee table, and gathered me into his arms, I finally felt that everything was truly going to be all right. So, naturally, I began to weep.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” I whispered against his shoulder.
“Everything’s okay, babe. I’ve got you.”
I didn’t know why suddenly feeling secure would make me weep, but it did. Looking back, I usually did hold up fairly well in the midst of a critical moment and fall apart when it was over. Okay, so looking back on my call to Ted, maybe I didn’t hold up that well in the critical moment. But what would you have done if you’d found a dead guy wrapped in an antique kilim in your alley?
Ted sat on the sofa, pulling me onto his lap. He gently wiped the tears from my cheeks and kissed my forehead.
Angus sat up and placed his head on my knee, making us all laugh. He could be such a clown.
“We should go on out back,” I said to Ted.
“Not yet. Manu is there. He said he’d handle that situation while I made sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Really. You should go—”
“Ted, come out here!” Manu called from the back door. “You’re not going to believe this!”
I got up. “Come on.”
“I think you should stay in here,” Ted said, standing and taking my hand.
“He’s right,” Sadie said. “You’ve had enough of a shock for one day. Who knows what Manu has discovered out there?”
“Besides, you need to be here to wait on your customers,” Blake said. “Speaking of which, I’d better get back down the street.”
Ted shook Blake’s hand. “Thanks for being here for Marcy.”
“Yeah, Blake, thank you for coming to my rescue,” I said as Ted headed for the back door. “And you, too, Sadie.”
Sadie stood and gave me a hug. “I need to get back to the shop as well. But call me if you need anything.”
I promised her I would, and then Angus and I were alone in the sit-and-stitch square. I waved to Sadie and Blake as they passed the window en route to MacKenzies’ Mochas. Then I picked up my latte, sat down on the sofa, and sighed.
“Big morning, huh, Angus?”
In response, he moved closer to me and lay at my feet.
I took a drink of the now lukewarm latte and mused aloud to my faithful hound, “I wonder who that guy out there is. And why did he look familiar?”
I fell silent as Angus rolled onto his side for a nap, and I searched my memory for a different image of the balding gentleman who’d been wrapped in a rug and dumped in the alley behind the Stitch. The man didn’t work in any of the local shops. The museum—was that where I’d seen him? I tried to recall the faces of the people I’d mingled with at the exhibit opening last night, but I couldn’t place the victim’s face. Still, I kept fixating on the museum. Then it dawned on me—the photograph. The victim was Dr. Vandehey, the professor turned art thief.
I scrambled out of my seat, startling Angus, and hurried to the back door. He came chasing after me, but I didn’t allow him to follow me outside. He jumped up so he could peep out and bark at all the excitement.
“Isn’t that the man from the picture you showed me last night?” I asked Ted. “The art thief?”
“The alleged art thief,” Manu said.
“But I thought he confessed,” I said.
Ted took me gently by the shoulders. “You’re right about the identity of the victim, but I still don’t think you should be out here.”
“Right,” said Manu. “You could accidentally contaminate the crime scene.”
“Crime scene?” I slumped against Ted. “This doesn’t mean you have to close down my shop, does it?”
“No, sweetheart. We’ll just cordon off this part of the alley. The inside of your shop will be business as usual.”
“Thank goodness,” I said. “I suppose I should go back in. My being out here is driving Angus crazy.”
A black SUV rolled right up to the yellow crime scene tape, and a short man wearing a dark suit stepped out of the vehicle. He had a “standard-issue” buzz cut and sunglasses. I think all of us—me, Ted, Manu, and the crime scene technicians, heck, maybe even Angus—knew before he’d introduced himself that he was FBI.
He flashed a badge. “Special Agent Floyd Brown of the Portland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Art Theft Division. What have we got here, and why did I have to hear about it over the police scanner rather than through a personal phone call from the chief of police?”
Manu drew himself up to his full five feet seven inches. He was taller than Agent Brown by at least two inches—maybe three. “Agent Brown—”
Special Agent Brown,” the man interrupted.
“You weren’t notified because we haven’t made a positive ID of the victim yet,” Manu continued. “Therefore, we don’t know that an investigation of this death falls within your jurisdiction.”
“It looks like Vandehey to me,” Special Agent Brown said.
“Well, just because it looks like him doesn’t mean it is,” Manu said. “Now I respectfully request that you step back and allow our crime scene techs to do their jobs.”
Since Angus was still barking and scratching at the door, I excused myself to go back inside.
“Wait,” said Special Agent Brown. “Who are you?”
“I’m Marcy Singer. This is my shop.”
“Are you the one who found the body?”
“I am.”
“Then I’ll come inside and take your statement,” he said.
Manu started to protest, but I shook my head slightly. If Brown was in the shop taking my statement, he’d be out of Manu’s and Ted’s hair.
“Right this way,” I said.
I opened the door and took Angus’s collar, gently moving the dog back so Special Agent Brown and I could get inside.
“Come on, Angus,” I said. “Special Agent Brown, would you like some coffee? It won’t take but a minute to put on a pot.”
“No, thank you,” he said, ignoring Angus, who was snuffling his pant leg.
I led the agent to the sit-and-stitch square, and he sat down on the sofa facing the window. I took the red club chair.
“Is there something you can do with him?” He jerked his head toward Angus, who was now checking out the man’s jacket pocket.
“I can put him in the bathroom, but he’ll bark so much we won’t be able to hear each other over the racket,” I said. “If you’ll pet him, he’ll probably go on and leave you alone.”
Special Agent Brown sighed, patted Angus’s head, and said, “Nice dog. Now go away.”
I picked up Angus’s yellow tennis ball and gave it a toss. The dog loped after it and brought it back for me to throw again. As I played fetch with Angus, I relayed my statement to Special Agent Brown.
“So you recognized the rug and the professor,” said Special Agent Brown.
“I thought I recognized the rug,” I said. “And it only dawned on me a few minutes ago that the victim looked like a man in a photo I’d seen last night. As Chief Singh pointed out, we can’t be sure of anything until the crime scene technicians and the medical examiner have gone over all the evidence.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t set much store in coincidences, Ms. Singer. I tend to take things at face value.”
“Have you spoken with the museum curator and confirmed that one of the rugs from last night’s exhibit is missing?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I came right here.” He narrowed his eyes. “Why hasn’t your esteemed police chief taken care of that?”
“I’m sure he has someone looking into it,” I said. I wasn’t really sure of anything except that Manu was thorough. I knew that as soon as he arrived, he’d put his team into motion. I figured that included sending a deputy over to the museum.
“Well, that’s not good enough for me. I’ll go over there myself. But first I want to know why this man was dumped behind your store, Ms. Singer.”
“Beats me. I imagine it’s because the museum is one street over and that if the rug is indeed the one from the exhibit, then the victim was dumped here because it was convenient.”
“We’ll see about that,” he said. He got up, plucked a dog hair from his jacket, and left.

Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer is about to have the rug pulled out from under her….

Marcy can’t wait to see the new exhibit at the Tallulah Falls museum on antique tapestries and textiles, including beautiful kilim rugs. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to terror when, the day after the exhibition opens, she discovers a dead body behind her store, the Seven-Year Stitch, wrapped up in a most unusual fashion.

The victim appears to be a visiting art professor in town for the exhibit. Did someone decide to teach the professor a lesson, then attempt to sweep the evidence under the rug? Along with her boyfriend, Detective Ted Nash, Marcy must unravel an intricate tapestry of deception to find a desperate killer.
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Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
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