Jul 232017
 

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

All Signs Point to Murder

by Connie di Marco

on Tour July 23 – August 23, 2017

Synopsis:

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

Rob Ramer was the perfect husband until he committed the ultimate family faux pas — he shot his sister-in-law to death. Believing himself under attack by an intruder in his home, he fired back. But when evidence is discovered that Rob’s wife, Brooke, was plotting his murder, Brooke is charged with conspiracy in her sister’s death. Geneva, a third sister, is desperate for answers and seeks the help of her friend, San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Geneva’s lost one sister and now it seems she’ll lose the other. Was this a murder plot or just a terrible accident? Julia vows to find the answer in the stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: August 2017
Number of Pages:336
ISBN: 0738751073 (ISBN13: 9780738751078)
Series: A Zodiac Mystery, 2 | Each is a Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | IndieBound 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

The building on Guerrero was a once proud Victorian with bow front windows. It had since been broken up into six small units and fallen into disrepair. I drove around the block several times before I managed to find a parking spot a few doors down. The shops on the main street were long closed and the streets deserted. I shivered and let the car heater run another minute to warm up before I left the comfort of my little metal box. There was something about this chore that made my stomach go into knots. Rummaging through a dead woman’s possessions was bad enough, but what if I found something that implicated Moira in a crime? Should I remove it and risk the police finding out?

I climbed out of the car, careful to lock it and approached the long stairway leading to the front door. The wind had died down and now fog danced around the streetlights. It was eerily quiet. No lights shone from any of the windows. I hoped all the residents were safely tucked up in their beds by now. I climbed the cracked granite stairs to the entrance. The weathered door stood ajar, listing slightly on its hinges. I grasped the handle and twisted it, but the lock mechanism was out of commission. Inside, a bare overhead light bulb hung from a chain. It cast a meager glow down the long corridor, cannibalized from a once grand entryway. The hallway smelled of dirty cat litter, moldy vegetables and cigarette smoke. I followed the corridor to the end, and stopped at the last door on the right.

I slipped the key into the lock. It offered no resistance. The door opened immediately. Had it not been locked? I caught a slight scuffling sound and cringed. I hoped no furry long-tailed creatures were waiting inside for me. I reached around the doorway and felt along the wall. My fingers hit the switch. A rusting chandelier with two bulbs missing illuminated the one large room that was both Moira’s living room and bedroom. I tested the key with the door open, locking and then unlocking it. Now I felt the resistance. The door had definitely been unlocked. I stepped inside and shut it behind me, making sure the lock was secure. Was it possible someone had been here before me and left without locking the door? Or had Moira simply been careless?

I had to make sure I was alone in the apartment. There were no hiding places in this sparsely furnished room. I checked under the bed just to be sure and opened the closet, terrified that someone or something might jump out at me. The closet was narrow, filled with a jumble of clothing, half on the floor. I walked into the kitchenette and spotted a doorway that led to the back stairs and the yard. I tested the handle on the door. Locked. I checked the space between the refrigerator and the wall, and then the shower stall in the bathroom. I was alone. I had been holding my breath and finally let it out in a great sigh.

I started with the drawers in the kitchen and checked the counter, looking for any notes with names or phone numbers. There was nothing. The kitchen was surprisingly clean, as if Moira had never used the room. Inside the refrigerator were a few condiments, a half-eaten unwrapped apple and a loaf of whole wheat bread. I quickly rummaged through the drawers and the freezer to make sure there were no bundles of cash disguised as frozen meat.

The main room housed a collection of hand-me-downs and broken furniture, ripped curtains and piles of clothing in various spots around the floor. Had she really lived like this? I heaved up the mattress, first on one side and then the other, making sure nothing was hidden between it and the box spring. Under the bed, I spotted only dust bunnies. I pulled open each of the bureau drawers, checked their contents and pulled them all the way out to make sure nothing was behind them. I opened a small drawer in the bedside stand. Amid a loose pile of clutter was a dark blue velvet box embossed with the letter “R” in cursive gold script. Could this be from Rochecault? I was fairly certain it was. Rochecault is an infamously expensive jeweler on Maiden Lane downtown. How could Moira have shopped there? Was this what Geneva had meant when she said her sister seemed to have a lot of money to spend?

I opened the box and gasped. An amazing bracelet heavy with blue stones in varying colors rested inside. The setting had the slightly matte industrial sheen of platinum. Moira couldn’t possibly have afforded this. Shoving the box into a side pocket of my purse, I decided I was definitely not leaving this for the police to find, and slid the drawer shut.

I scanned the room. Moira hadn’t been much of a housekeeper and it didn’t appear as if there were many hiding spots. I headed for the desk, a rickety affair with two drawers and a monitor on top. I clicked on the hard drive and waited a moment. The monitor came to life and asked for a password. It would take someone much more talented than I to unearth its secrets. Under a jumble of papers and unopened bills, my eye caught a small black notebook. This looked promising. Perhaps it was an address book that would give us all of Moira’s contacts. I dropped my purse on the floor and reached for the book. A searing pain shot through my skull. Blinded, I fell to the floor.

***

Excerpt from All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco. Copyright © 2017 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

GUEST POST

Julia Bonatti, my protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries solves crimes using astrology. And I hear from readers all the time – some love the subject of astrology and want to know more, while others aren’t particularly interested and are happy to skip those parts. That’s fine with me. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Julia just happens to have an unusual occupation. Hopefully, there are enough thrills and chills in her investigations that will keep readers turning the pages.

Mostly, people want to know how Julia figures things out and what she sees in a chart that alerts her to possible danger. She can tell an awful lot about an individual from a chart and can make an educated guess about how that person approaches life. Here’s an example that might help explain a few things:

This is a chart of a man born on July 26 at 7:29 p.m. in Kesswil, Switzerland. I won’t mention the year, not yet. What can we tell from the chart, without knowing the man’s name or his profession?

  • He’s a Leo with a Moon in Taurus and Aquarius rising. All fixed signs – he’s proud, stubborn and not easily swayed. There’s a heavy emphasis in his 6th house. Mercury and Venus are conjunct on the cusp. And the Sun and Uranus are also in the 6th. The focus of his life will be his work (6th house). He’s possibly involved in medicine. But since Mercury and Venus are in Cancer, a sign ruled by the Moon, there’s an element of “feeling” and “emotion.” The Moon/Pluto conjunction tells us he’s an intensely emotional individual. In the 3rd house he’d probably be a writer of some sort.
  • Aquarius rising — he’s eccentric and marches to the beat of his own drum. With Saturn on the Ascendant he would appear cold or clinical, but Uranus (the ruler of his Ascendant) is very close to his 7th house cusp. He’d be radical and eccentric in his relationships.
  • Sagittarius is on the cusp of his 10th house (Midheaven), along with Mars in Sagittarius. In his career, he would pay absolutely no attention to what his mentors or colleagues thought. He’d be fearless and innovative.
  • Neptune is in square (90 degree) aspect to his Sun sign. This would give him a mystical bent, but he could possibly misuse the Neptune energies and be vulnerable to addiction. He might avoid that escape as long as he is dedicated to his work.

Can you guess whose chart this is? I’ll give you a hint. He was born in 1875. He died in 1961 at the age of 86, a nice long life which he dedicated to developing analytical psychiatry (medicine and emotions). The chart belongs to Carl Jung. He was a prolific writer and a protégé of Sigmund Freud until he broke from his mentor to pursue his own path. He was married with five children and maintained an open extra-marital relationship for many years, heedless of what society at the time thought.

He was also an astrologer! (Uranus) He worked with dream states (Neptune) and observed recurring archetypes in his patients’ dreams. He came to believe that the archetypal images in astrology represented experiences and emotions common to all people and theorized that humans share a collective unconscious. He said, “Whatever is born or done at a particular moment of time, has the quality of this moment of time,” i.e., an astrological chart.

CARL G. JUNG
So that’s how Julia does it. How I do it is struggling to find a believable chart for my murderer or his victim. Just in case any astrologers out there are paying attention!

Connie di Marco

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. The first in the series, The Madness of Mercury, was released in June 2016 and the second, All Signs Point to Murder, available for pre-order now, will be released on August 8, 2017.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Some of her favorite recipes can be found in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of All Signs Point to Murder. The giveaway begins on July 21 and runs through August 24, 2017.

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Jun 152017
 

Feather Stone

GUEST POST

FORBIDDEN: CHARACTER AND SETTING DEVELOPMENT

Bart, aka Croak when he’s being a pain.

When the impulse to write a second novel began, I suppressed the images. Pretty dark stuff. I figured that I’d been watching too many murder shows, and overwhelmed by the global terrorism. Then, something weird happened.

On a stormy winter night driving home from work, I met a woman from Afghanistan. Yes, friggin Afghanistan. As if I was in a zombie state, I picked up this total stranger. Never had I done anything so bizarre. Well, maybe, but that’s another story.

When she got settled into my beat up SUV, I tried to make conversation with her. Blank stare. She didn’t understand a word of English. Damn! What have I done? To make a long story short, in the next twenty minutes, my life changed. Over the next month, I became haunted by images of being in the Middle East in the midst of chaos and suffering.

I knew my muse, Bart, was pushing the plot.

“Resistance is futile.” He gave me his wide toothless grin.

“You’re nuts, Bart, if you think I’ll write that novel. How ridiculous. I know nothing of the Middle East or Islam.” I thumped Bart on his little green head.

“Oh crap, you’re going to difficult again.” He massaged his skull. “Madame, he’s waiting.”

“Who’s waiting?”

“Captain Sharif. Big brute of a man but considered a hero by the citizens of the Republic of Islamic Provinces and Territories.”

I glared at Bart. A mistake. Trapped in Bart’s golden eyes, the mystical dance began. Swirling sapphire clouds descended transforming my surroundings, shifting reality, capturing time.

Several yards away, a man’s shadow emerged.

He stood, a sentinel – solitary, waiting. His fists at his sides, clenched. Moving closer, I noted more details of his uniform. Black, from his cap to the military boots. It was then I noted his death grip on an assault rifle. I swallowed and stepped back. He hadn’t yet acknowledged my presence.

My eyes scanned the direction of his gaze. Only mist. And yet, he prepared for battle. He crouched, a lion ready for the kill. My heart pounded against my ribs. “Who is coming,” I whispered.

“Be quiet,” he growled, a sound escaping from deep in his broad chest. “Damn. They’ve frightened her away.”

Brazenly, I stepped closer. “Who frightened who?”

“The mayor. He’s trying to keep her from coming here.” His shoulder slouched. “Eliza.” He spoke her name as if she held the status of goddess. As he turned back toward the mist, he muttered, “We may be too late.” Pain laced his grief.

Frustration clawed at my need to know what the hell was going on. “Who is ‘we’?”

Finally, the soldier faced me. Still only a vague outline of his features gave any hint of his face. I felt, more than saw, that he could be considered handsome, perhaps in his early thirties, Middle Eastern skin tone, short dark curly hair. Energy surrounded him. No horror would deter him from his mission.

“Who? Me, Sergeant Abdul-Muqtadir, imam Bashir, Captain Khattab, CIA agent Hutchinson.” He stepped forward. “And you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.” He towered over me. “You must write the story. If not, she’s going to get better at trying to killer herself. So far, she’s doing a lousy job. Praise Allah, the most merciful.”

“I’m certain there are authors better able to tell the story. I know nothing of Islam or what it is like to be Muslim. Why me?”

“Because, in many ways, you are much like Eliza. You know her. His voice softened. “You see my dear Ms. Stone, as long as she doesn’t get here, their plans for a most vicious crime is safe. They’ll bury me alive if I reveal their secret. But if she’s here, I’ll have a reason to do …. what is forbidden.

A gut wrenching scream tore through my chest. The sound came from beyond the gloom. It continued to echo as if someone was being tortured within prison walls. Suddenly, the soldier fell to his knees.

“What is that?” I shouted trembling with shock.

“That is Eliza.” He groaned and squeezed his eyes shut as if her pain became his. “Her nightmare is never ending. Her mind gives her no peace. She is going insane.”

A sense of hopelessness descended upon me. Yes, I had to write Forbidden. The woman from Afghanistan and Captain Sharif had shared their secret. Everything is possible through the power of love.

Read an excerpt:

(Eliza, held prisoner in RIPT, attempts to get permission for exercise time in the police compound):

Eliza wore the required black uniform, put on her polished work boots, and pushed her hair up under the black cap. At the bottom of the stairs she listened for sounds of the men. She approached Khizar’s office and sighed with relief to find he had left. Going down a short hallway, Eliza turned right towards the crew quarters’ door. She hesitated, listening for sounds that indicated the mood of the cops.

Belly laughter and smacks against the wall made the door shudder. The men were absorbed in their amusement and might not be interested in challenging her request.

Eliza knocked on the door, careful to sound neither cowardly, nor aggressive. The door was swung open by a constable.
She held her breath. Skilled at hiding her emotions, Eliza looked into the officer’s eyes. The officer relaxed a little. An intimidating smirk grew on his face. Three other men in the room gathered behind him.

The day sergeant, a heavy-set man, came forward and said in a trivializing manner, “The whore is mine. Leave her to me.”

The sergeant sauntered up to her. His eyes lit up like those of a child about to open a birthday gift. He lowered his gaze to her dark boots, and then raised his focus to her mid-section, then to her chest. Finally, he looked at her eyes.

Eliza did not change her expression from that of bland indifference to his suggestive piercing stare. He had called her a whore, but she repressed the impulse to admonish him. She resisted the urge to put her hands on her hips. That would be sexually suggestive and body language might defeat her faster than the wrong choice of words.

“My apologies for the interruption,” she said in Arabic, her voice trembling despite her resolve. “I’m going for a walk.” She swung around toward the exit door.

The officers chuckled as the sergeant stepped forward and blocked her. His face came uncomfortably close to hers. He spoke with a grin, accompanied by the rhythmic flexing and gyrating of his hips.

“Welcome. Come in.” The three men cheered as the sergeant grabbed her shirt and pulled her into the room.

Eliza froze. The four men closed in around her. She gasped as they taunted her, touching her shoulders, her hips. She shuddered as one of the men grabbed her hat and flung it to the side.

“No,” she cried out in Arabic. “Captain Sharif will -.” The sergeant slapped her face hard, sending her spinning against a muscular man. His hand pulled on her long hair and grabbed her belt, trapping her against his body.

Eliza shrieked as the sergeant took her shirt into his fist and in one swift move, ripped it away from her and flung it to the floor. Her white cotton tank top clung to her body like a second skin. The men gawked at the curves of her breasts.

She dug her elbow into the cop’s midsection. His grip on her hair released enough for her to leap for the door. “Let me go!”

More hands clamped onto her body.

“No!” Eliza shouted in Arabic. She reached to grasp someone’s throat. Her legs trembled, barely holding her body upright.

The sergeant gave the belt a firm yank and slipped it out of the belt loops. The men cheered. He pulled on the waist band. It held fast but scraped her skin. She shrieked in pain as she fell to the floor. Eliza screamed as he pinned her to the floor with his knee.

“Quiet,” he growled. A large sweaty hand covered her mouth.

The rest of the men pounced on her, grabbing her arms and legs. Before they got a firm grip on her, she twisted and squirmed enough that someone lost his hold over her mouth. Eliza let out another ear-piercing scream. Her self-defense training evaporated.

“That’s enough,” one said. “Let her go, sergeant. Sharif will hear her and kill us.” Two men let go of their grip on her legs.

“Fuck Sharif. Besides, Captain Khizar has plans to take Sharif’s head,” said the sergeant. “Shut her up!”

Kicking and biting, she escaped their grip, and once more bounded to the door. Just as she flung the door open, a man grabbed her by the hair, and she screamed again. “If Sharif can have her, so can we!”

Strong hands threw her to the floor again. She screamed until her lungs burned. A hand clamped down over her mouth, pushing her lips hard against her teeth. She tasted blood on her tongue. She kicked and twisted. Her muffled cries and tears seemed to excite the men. Their hostility escalated.

“Hold the bitch still,” someone hollered. A hand groped her chest, squeezing her breast. She gasped at the crushing weight of a man on her legs attempting to pull her pants down. The band around her waist ripped. A knife flashed over her mid-section.

In one last effort, Eliza opened her mouth wide. The hand slipped between her teeth. Like a vice, she clamped down on the fingers and bit hard. He hollered a curse and yanked his hand from her teeth. She took a deep breath and screamed till her throat hurt. A rag was shoved into her mouth.

The men paused as the sound of footsteps thundered down the stairs.

The men gasped. Their hands remained clenched onto her as if welded to her skin. The door flung open. It crashed against the wall. Captain Sharif rushed through the doorway, wearing only his boxers. His face twisted in rage as his raised his handgun toward the men. They threw themselves onto the floor and begged for mercy.

Eliza pulled the rag out of her mouth and scrambled on all fours to a far corner. She tried to stand but crumpled to the floor. Panting and crying, she crossed her arms across her chest.

“What are you idiots doing? Get up,” Sharif roared. “Up against the wall before I kill the lot of you swine!”

They scrambled to form a line in front of the captain. Each one got a dose of the disgust on the captain’s face. The men stood rigid, gasping for air. Sweat rolled down their faces. Sharif paced in front of the sergeant and his three men. He glanced back at her.

“Get your shirt on!”

Eliza reached for the torn shirt and put it on. Rage fought for dominance over her shaky legs.

“Get out, MacKay!” Sharif’s deep voice echoed his loathing.

She raced to the exit door, flung it open, and fell down the six steps.

Reeling with shock, she used the exterior wall of the building to guide her away from the front door. She ran, blinded by tears, and staggered around a corner.

The blood-stained compound wall loomed fifty feet in front of her. In an instant, ghostly screams and unrelenting gunfire pulled her back into the horror.

Traces of bullet holes and dark red splatter stains on the walls retold the story in gruesome detail. Eliza slumped against the station’s wall, slid to the ground and squeezed her eyes shut. She clenched her fists as her mind catapulted to the night she arrived four days ago in the captain’s compound.

She huddled against the cement wall. Her body ached. Bruises and scratches were on her arms and legs, golden tangles hung in her face. She clenched her fists and fought back the need to release a scream of anger and frustration.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the captain’s hurried approach. He had dressed in casual clothes, khaki pants and white short-sleeved shirt left untucked, only partially buttoned. Eliza had difficulty reading the man, his eyes hidden behind the dark aviator sunglasses. He stood in front of her and motioned for her to stand.

“Get up,” he said, glancing in her direction.

She braced for a stern reprimand and punishment. Get up and bow to the friggin’ iceman, she thought. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. I’ve been ordered about, shut up in a small apartment, sneered at, and treated like I’ve got the plague. Then, being treated like a whore this morning? Unforgivable. Damn! She stood.

Her torn shirt fell open, revealing more than the captain, or any decent Muslim man should see. Too damn bad! His gaze appeared in the vicinity of her chest.

Once Sharif was thoroughly tormented, she tied the shirt tails at her midriff, closing off her cleavage.

Sharif turned away. “Come with me,” he ordered and headed toward the arch-ribbed building.
“Come with me, please,” she snapped, remaining steadfast.

He turned and looked at her for a moment. Briefly, she saw a glimmer of a smile. Just a hint of his white teeth and the softening of his face.

The captain stood a good three inches taller than her five foot nine inches. His cropped, curly dark brown hair and stubble style beard defined his strong facial bones. His eyes were obsidian. During the night, when he did not wear the aviator sunglasses, she had discovered the black depths were as soft as velvet.

Author Bio:

On our cattle ranch in Alberta, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.

For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.

My creative DNA shocked me when I was driven to write a dystopian / paranormal / romance novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild. After taking several writing courses, I presented the manuscript to Omnific Publishing who published it in 2011. Just when I thought I could get my life back, another story took me prisoner – Forbidden. I couldn’t believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.

Retired and focused on home life, I’m back to being a mom to four pets and one husband. We travel and taste the excitement of other cultures. In between adventures, I’ve dabbled in water color painting, photography, needle work, gardening – the list goes on. In my next life, I plan to explore the cosmos.

I’ve learned a few things in my seventy years. Thoughts are powerful. Intention is everything. Passion is the key to success.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Feather will be back on March 22nd….Don’t miss the 4th installment for Author Of The Month

Check out my Review of FORBIDDEN here

See previous posts: June 1st and June 8th

Synopsis:

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone

Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.

The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.

Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.

When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah’s eternal wrath.

CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.

What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

An armored truck with a mounted machine gun roared up behind the two police motorcyclists. Something is terribly wrong. She ducked deeper behind the luggage and stared into the darkness. She desperately searched for a rational explanation. A cold knife pierced her core.

After speeding through intersections and red traffic lights, the vehicles came to a sudden halt. Gate hinges squealed in protest. The impulse to leap from the back of the truck fought with her intense need to remain hidden. If it were not for the armed vehicle at the rear, she would have jumped and disappeared into the night. In another moment, the opportunity vanished.

The vehicles lurched forward. Through the flap’s opening, she saw a massive iron gate. High walls extended on either side. The vehicles stopped.

The motorcyclists drove to either side of the truck. The armored vehicle surged forward, nearly crashing into the back of the supply truck (where Eliza is hiding). Eliza scrambled to put more of the luggage between her and the mounted gun. It bore down on her as if it had spied her. She gasped.

Eliza strained to hear a pleasant greeting, an apology for the change of plans, anything that would tell her heart to stop its thundering in her chest.

Someone shouted, “Ikhrog men al Araba,” then in English, “Get out of the bus!”

“Stay together,” Charlie called out. At first the volunteers sounded merely annoyed, but their mood rapidly deteriorated.

“Charlie, there’s a mounted automatic weapon on that truck. Something’s not right here.” The man’s alarm ricocheted through his companions. Quick footsteps reminded Eliza of nervous horses in a corral – wild-eyed, snorting and circling as they searched for an escape.

Charlie attempted to calm his group. “I’m sure this will all make sense. I’ll see why there’s been a change. Who’s in charge here?” he called.

Scattered thoughts fed her fear. The unmistakable sound of large guns being maneuvered sucked the air from Eliza’s lungs. Near the supply truck, she heard the ping, ping of a cell phone, then the trembling voice of a woman crying, “Ralph, pick up the phone. Please. Oh God ….” The woman screamed. With a blast of gunfire, her cries stopped. Bullets pierced the canvas and shattered a suitcase in front of Eliza.

Her body trembled violently. In minutes she would be killed. The luggage offered no protection. Terrified to make any sound, yet frantic to hide, she pressed her backpack to her chest. She gasped as if starved for oxygen. Tears ran down her cheeks as she heard the terrified people and Charlie beg for their lives.
This is only one of my nightmares. I’ll wake up and everything will be fine.

The truck with the mounted machine gun swerved around the supply truck. Deafening sounds of machine gun blasts and screams tore through her chest. She plunged down among the luggage.

A man came into her view as he lunged toward the gate. A police officer ran after him and fired several shots into the man’s back. The American dropped, bloody and lifeless.

Suddenly, an armed man dashed to the rear of the supply truck and saw her. She gasped. Oh my God, he’s going to kill me. I’ve got once chance. Get his gun. Her martial arts training kicked in. She lunged forward. As they grappled, both fell.

Falling on top of him Eliza punched his groin. He cried out in agony. She crab crawled on all fours toward his weapon several feet away. Too late she saw a boot aimed at her head.

She ducked for cover under the supply truck. Too late. The cop stomped on her head, ramming her forehead into the pavement hard. Her momentum pushed her under the truck’s back end.

Dazed, she checked to see if he followed her. He was struggling to free his boot, snared in her scarf. A gun’s muzzle appeared, aimed in her direction. Bullets ripped through her coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face.

I’m hit. Get out. Run. Eliza kicked and crawled out from under the truck on the far side of the killers. The deafening gunfire and screams surrounded her. Her mind froze. She pressed her body into the truck’s solid frame.

More bullets smacked the ground near her. More vehicles arrived. Bright headlights blinded her. She turned away to shield her eyes. Desperate, she ran an erratic, aimless course. Silhouettes of shapes, helmets, guns and bloody bodies flashed in front of her. Keep running. Dodge. Find cover. She ran like a wild animal, blind to the teeth that would tear her apart.

When the thunder from the machine gun stopped she glanced back. The man at the machine gun tumbled head first off the truck. His companions continued to fire their weapons, but now toward the gate. More shots came from behind the blinding lights. The men ran toward the front of the supply truck. Riddled with bullets, their bodies twisted and fell.

Silence.

Eliza gazed in bewilderment at the tall form appearing in the light. He raced forward past the open gate, his weapon raised in her direction. More men followed behind him. She ran, searching for cover.

He shouted, “Tawakaf and am, la tatharak Kiff.” Then in English, “Stop where you are. Don’t move! Stop.”

A short burst of gunfire. Bullets struck the ground a few yards in front of her. She skidded to a stop. Breathless, she turned toward the gunman. She could not make out his face below the dark helmet. He wore a police uniform like the killers had – black from head to toe. If not for his vehicle’s headlights, he would have been invisible. He raced toward her, his weapon held steadfast in her direction.

***

Excerpt from Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone. Copyright © 2017 by F. Stone. Reproduced with permission from F. Stone. All rights reserved.

AUTHOR OF THE MONTH ~ GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA


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Apr 292017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

A Kiss is Just a Kiss…

Or so states the line from “As Time Goes By,” the song made immortal when Dooley Wilson sang it for Ingrid Bergman in the movie Casablanca.

While a kiss might be “just a kiss,” most of the time, there are “special” kisses. I’ll bet you remember your first kiss and maybe a few others. Some kisses are so special you’ll never forget them.

When you’re writing about a kiss, you can’t just describe it and have it mean anything. No matter how great you are at describing a kiss, it has to mean something to the characters if you want it to have meaning for the readers. In other words, if a kiss is to have impact, it has to have a story.

Different Kinds of Kisses

Peck on the cheek
Reluctant kiss
Stolen kiss
Sloppy kiss
French kiss
Passionate kiss
Goodbye kiss
A kiss hello
A good-morning kiss
A good-night kiss
An I-want-you kiss
An after-the-fact kiss.
The list goes on and on. But no matter the kiss, it has to have a story. Think of some of the most famous movie kisses:

Gone With The Wind, when Rhett Butler proposed to Scarlett and kissed her while Atlanta burned in the background.

Pretty Woman, when, after proclaiming throughout the movie that she doesn’t kiss clients, Julia Roberts’ white knight finally came to get her and they kissed.

From Here to Eternity, when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shocked the movie-going audiences with their passionate kiss on the beach.

Casablanca, when Bogart reunited with Ingrid Bergman in his upstairs apartment.

The Princess Bride. Who can ever forget the “kiss to end all kisses.”

I was writing a scene the other night that had a kiss in it. I got to thinking about the different kinds of kisses and realized the one I was writing had no meaning. Then I thought of a story to get my point across. Of course the story was from one of the animals on our sanctuary. In order to appreciate it, though, you’ll have to get to know my dog…

Whiskers

I’ll start off the story by telling you flat out—if Whiskers were a human, she’d be a hermit. To call Whiskers independent would be a gross understatement. Aloof wouldn’t come close. Anti-social would be closer to the truth.

We have an animal sanctuary with forty plus animals, and twelve of them are dogs. Whiskers won’t sleep or eat with any of them. Dogs are pack animals; they’re supposed to want to live together. Not Whiskers.

We first met Whiskers when she was two months old. She was living in a drainage ditch under a little bridge. I used to joke that she was like the troll from the children’s story, Three Billy Goats Gruff.

For about a year or so she lived by herself on the street. One day she got hit by a car and couldn’t walk. We took her in and tended to her. For a month my son carried her outside every day to let her go to the bathroom. He took care of her until she was able to manage by herself again. She stayed with us after that, but it was on her terms.

Whiskers’ Rules

She wouldn’t drink from inside the house
Wouldn’t sleep with other dogs
Wouldn’t sleep inside at night
Wouldn’t live with other dogs
Wouldn’t eat with other dogs
Wouldn’t stay in the fenced area
In return for our generosity, Whiskers appointed herself guardian of our property, about 15 acres. Every night for the past ten years, she has stayed outside, through heat, rain, cold…it didn’t matter. She has fought with, and driven off, stray dogs; chased deer; fought coyotes; and even held her ground against wild pigs, though she stopped short of fighting them.

A Crippling Event

A few months ago, while I was writing, I heard a noise outside. When I looked, I found Whiskers dragging herself toward the house. Her back legs weren’t working; she was crippled. I carried her in, and the next day we took her to the vet. He didn’t give us much hope. We kept her in the clinic for two weeks, but she still couldn’t walk. We decided to take her home.

For three more weeks we gave her pills and carried her out every day. There had been slight improvement, but not much. She still couldn’t walk ten feet without falling down. We decided we’d give it another few weeks.

Disappearance

The next morning around 6:30, I fed Dennis, our wild boar, fed the horse, gave Whiskers her anti-inflammatory pill and took her outside, then went to the kitchen to make coffee. When I finished my coffee I went back outside to get her—she was gone!

I looked everywhere and couldn’t find her, so I got my wife and we both looked. Then we got the tractor and drove around the property—through the woods, around the pond… She was nowhere! I got that sick feeling in my gut. Something was wrong.

We started at square one. This time I walked every inch of the property, calling her name the whole time. After almost an hour, as I was making my way around the pond for the second time, I heard a whimper. I looked but couldn’t see her. I called her name, and again I heard a tiny whimper. It was coming from the pond!

Rescue

As you can see from the picture, the pond has been invaded by giant salvinia, a species of plant from South America that takes over in a matter of weeks. It is damn near impossible to get rid of.

When I got to the edge of the pond, all I could see was her nose, and, when she bobbed her head, a bit of her mouth. She went under just as I got there. I jumped in and briefly went under, all the time I worried that the giant salvinia might be much more than an invasive plant species. Images from Aliens which I had watched a few nights before came to mind. Suddenly the salvinia seemed to have “hands” or at least “grippers.”

I grabbed hold of Whiskers and tried getting to the shore. My headset fell off and submerged. My iPhone, always in my shirt pocket, went down for the third time, and I prayed that it was not the metaphorical “third time” like in the movies. All the while, Whiskers struggled to stay afloat in my arms, and I struggled to stay on my feet, as the bottom of the pond puts the definition of slippery to shame.

To top it off, I must tell you, I’m not a water person. I have no fish in my ancestry. Not anywhere. I grew up in the city, and while we had a public pool a few blocks from the house, I think it costs a dime to get in. Dimes were better spent on cigarettes in those days.

So there I was, slipping my way toward the very-steep bank, and struggling to keep Whisker’s head above water. Oh, and I wondered aloud, with more than a few curse words, why I ever wanted to live in the country.

I managed to get Whiskers to the side of the bank and push her up on it, but she kept sliding back. The floor of the pond had a steep slope and I couldn’t keep balanced. I finally found a foothold on a branch from a tree. I gave Whiskers one big push, stabilized my position, and managed to crawl out onto the ground next to her. While I lay there on the bank with Whiskers, I leaned in close and said, “You damn crazy dog. You almost killed us both.”

She let out a small whimper, and then she did something she has never done. Not once in the ten years I’ve had her—she reached up and kissed me.

That might not seem like much for you people reading this. It’s not much for any dog. But for Whiskers—it’s a lot.

Whiskers Has Never Kissed Anyone.

Not my son, when he carried her outside every day for a month after she was hit by a car.
Not my wife, when she spent days tending to Whiskers after a copperhead bit her and her face swelled until she looked as if she had a grapefruit attached to it.
Whiskers has never kissed my grandkids, my niece, or me. No one! Ever.
That kiss was magic! There’s no doubt in my mind what it was. It was a “thank-you” kiss.

The Bottom Line

If I told someone, “I got a kiss from my dog Whiskers today,” it wouldn’t mean much. But if they knew Whiskers, and what it took to get a kiss from her, it would carry a lot more weight.

So the next time you’re writing a scene with a kiss, think about Whiskers, and make that kiss magical.

PS. Now that I know what it takes to get a kiss from Whiskers…I hope I never get another.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Follow Giacomo’s WHISKERS & BEAR tour with Reviews, Guest Posts, Interviews and a chance to win an eBook copy starting May 1st at Providence Book Promotions

Apr 222017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

Character Development

When I’m writing blog posts I try to use experience gained from my animals and apply it to writing. Whenever you can use real-life experience, I think it’s better.

While pondering the topic of character development, which I happen to think is one of most important parts of a book, I thought about some of the things I liked and didn’t like. Near the top of that list was uncertainty. I laughed as that came to mind, because I had plenty of examples of uncertainty from the sanctuary animals. This is one of the stories, and like all of the stories, it’s true. I have no need to exaggerate as the stories are crazy enough as is.

Big Dogs Don’t Bluff

How a Character Can Interrupt Your Story

Sometimes characters do things on their own. Things you don’t want them to do.

You shouldn’t be surprised. It happens in real life too. I learned that lesson the hard way, and once again, through one of my animals. This time the culprit was Briella, the giant Great Dane. It was back when I used to play online poker. After a night of writing, and before I had too much wine, I would sit in the chair with my laptop and play a little poker. Often Brie, or one of the other dogs, would hover over my shoulder. Occasionally they would offer advice. That night it was Brie.

During a game of no-limit hold-em, a player bet \(75. The next three people folded, leaving me to act. I was up a few hundred bucks and feeling lucky, so I made a bluff at the pot, raising \)250. The people after me folded. It was now just me and the original bettor. He called.


Brie the Bluffer

The next card came off, and I still had nothing. The other person bet $300. I stalled for a few seconds, as if I had a decision to make, but I fully intended to fold. Briella had a different idea. Before I could hit the fold button, her massive paw slammed on my laptop and raised—almost $900, which was all I had left. As I watched the clock tick down, waiting for the other person to make their decision, my heart pounded. Depending on this person’s decision I was either going to give Brie some extra treats, or, I was going to threaten to kick her ass. I say threaten because she is too big for me to actually do it.

Story Climax

Now, this would have been a wonderful story if the other person folded, but…they didn’t. They called and I, or should I say Brie, was caught bluffing. Of course we lost. After that, I never played poker with Brie sitting behind me; she’s far too unpredictable.

What Does This Have to Do With Writing?

Sometimes a character does what they want, regardless of what you had in mind for them. (I know that’s impossible, but the longer you write the more involved you become in your characters.) You thought you had your plot nailed down, and suddenly—wham—one character or another does something unexpected.
You might ask, How does this happen? It’s easy, and logical. When you write, you create a character based on a specific personality. As the story moves along, that character reacts to situations based on that personality. Sometimes it is not what you anticipated.

The title of this blog was Big Dogs Don’t Bluff. Unfortunately, I discovered they really do.

Ciao,

Giacomo

Tell me what you think

As a reader, or writer, how do you feel about unpredictable characters?
Click the Book Cover to Be Taken to a Page Where You Can Buy Any of My Books

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Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Giacomo will be back on April 29th….Don’t miss the 5th and final installment for Author Of The Month

Apr 152017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

Favorite Characters

I’ve often been asked which character of a particular book or series is my favorite. I can usually respond quickly with not only a choice, but a reason. But when asked that question about this book, I was caught off guard.

It’s tough to list your favorite character when the story is true and the characters are real, even if they are animals.

You’d think being real would make choosing a favorite character easier, after all, you like certain people, one more than the other. Why not dogs?

I gave that some thought, and I came to the conclusion that after twenty-four years of running an animal sanctuary, I can say, without hesitation, that these dogs were a cut above the rest—truly amazing. That’s what makes it so difficult to decide.

Like all living creatures (and others), they were unique. Each had their own personality and their own quirks.

What Was Different?

Bear all but refused to sleep inside at night, but he was happy to oblige during the day. He seldom ate dog food, preferring to catch his own meals in the woods. And while he wouldn’t let an adult stranger come near him, he allowed children to do almost anything.

Whiskers wasn’t the opposite of Bear, but she was different. She also refused to sleep inside, but her refusal was not restricted to night; during the day, she curled up in a hole she had dug or a pile of hay. It’s wrong to say she was bashful when it came to cameras; she took off as soon as you pulled one out. Unlike Bear, she would eat dog food, but not with the other dogs, preferring to go solo and to eat it outside. Lastly, while Bear would attack anyone who trespassed on his territory, Whiskers wouldn’t bite anyone if you begged her.

Despite the differences, she was the best lieutenant Bear could have wished for. She was the true right-hand man we’ve all read about.

Together, they were Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and, at times, the Lone Ranger & Tonto. They were inseparable.

That’s why it’s so difficult to pick just one; they were both special. I guess you’ll have to decide. Read the book and see who you like best.

The Real Deal

This picture of Bear shows the repercussions of one of his nightly excursions (a run in with a raccoon CM).

Below is a picture of Whiskers (one of the few pictures we have) after one of her adventures.

So pick up the book and read it, or read it to your kids, or give it to a friend. No matter what you do, it’s for a good cause. The animals will thank you for it.

Giacomo

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

Check out my review HERE.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Click on WHISKERS & BEAR (in the sidebar) for a chance to win.

I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

Giacomo will be back on April 22nd….Don’t miss the 4th installment for Author Of The Month