May 11, 2011

90 Degrees in Chicago and My Ice Cube Trays are Empty!

Time for an update, right?

Plumbing is all fixed.  Waiting for new carpet installation Monday the 16th.  After that, put everything that’s piled in my family room back.  End of story, I hope.  I got ashamed of myself for whining about the floors being wet when I saw how many people down south don’t even have their floors anymore, and no way to pay for any of it. I don’t put a lot of faith in our government helping them out to any extent because our government doesn’t appear to have the money to pay for it, unless you’re a U.S. Senator who wants to go on a trip somewhere. I wouldn’t mind having that job, I can tell you. Some of them, all they do is preen in front of the camera crews and lie. On second thought, not for me.

I’m making headway with my book promo.  Starting in a couple weeks, I’ll be having blogs by a lot of very good authors who will each have their week on my website.  12 in fact, for 12 weeks straight.  In case you’re thinking I’m getting all generous and altruistic, I’ll be on their different blogs for 12 weeks too.  I’ll let you know every week where I am, in case you miss me. This is called the 2011 Murder We Write Blog Tour.  I finished all mine and sent them to the various authors already, and tried to make all of them different and interesting.  I’ll post on here and Facebook each week who I’m hosting and where I’ll be.  The person who visits the most blogs of mine and leaves a comment will win a print copy of Raven Talks Back.  You do remember the heroine is an Alaska Native, lower 48 educated, and the hero is a great cop named Jack O’Banion, don’t you?

Book news:  Raven Talks Back is now available for only $2.99, folks, at both and B&  Here are the actual links.

Amazon’s Kindle edition:

B&N’s Nook edition:

They take you to my own pages on each site where you can see all of my books. I hope you’ll go there and take a chance if you haven’t read any of my books.  Raven Talks Back is my best book yet, and all my others have generated mostly five star reviews and not from family or close friends. I’d love for you to read them, especially this new one and leave a review at Amazon and B&N.  In a week or so, Raven Talks Back will be up there also in print, I know a lot of people are waiting for that. But if you have a Kindle or a Nook, you can get the book much cheaper.  Just sayin’.

Also, I’ll be at Sloane Taylor’s blog on May 13, then Ellis Vidler’s blog on May 24th, Jenny Milchman’s Suspense Your Disbelief blog on July 20, and Leila Taylor’s Creatures & Crooks on July 24.  June will pretty much be taken up by the Murder We Write blogs. I will post the blog addresses every week.

Same offer for all blogs.  At the end of them, in a couple months, I’m keeping track of who comments on these blogs and one person will win a print book, one person will win a chance to have a character named after them in the next Raven book.  So come on out and comment, I’ll leave links every week for a while so you’ll know where to go each week.  Can’t make it any easier for you without sending a police escort, right?  😉

I’ll be having family at my house early in June, can’t wait to see all of them!  Yay!

That’s probably most of the news so far.  I did get one review up on Amazon, five stars.  Hope some of you will add to them, that little one review looks mighty lonely up there.

Back to moving more stuff into this back room.  Can’t wait for the new carpeting to be down.  After this past month I’m really looking forward to that.  I’m trying to get everybody to levitate when they come in so they won’t get the floors dirty.  I’ll let you know how I make out with that.

Oh. I did, on my last blog, give you the opening page, didn’t I.  How about the whole first chapter, right here, right now?  Okay, you talked me into it.  Here goes:

The thought had never entered my mind that I might find myself standing in my back yard shuddering with nausea and disbelief, staring down at a nude female body with no head or hands, and equally horrifying, a painted rock close to where her head would have been. The only other thing missing was blood.

Mark Taylor’s men had graded and leveled our yard the previous week, ready to set the foundation for the attached greenhouse my husband, Red, had been promising for years. Alaska winter days are so short and dark that nothing grows without a heated greenhouse and ultraviolet light. Of all the things I longed for in the wintertime, I missed fresh flowers most.

As was often the case in Valdez, things got done whenever they got done no matter which day it was. I hadn’t known they were coming on Saturday. Mark and his men had simply pulled into the driveway and started working.

My eight-year-old son Timmy stood under the tall pine in the northeast corner of the yard with his thumb in his mouth. I froze when I turned and saw him because he hadn’t done that for three years, ever since he’d started school. I hurried over to him, pulling him close. He shivered when my fingers brushed over his arm and his skin felt cold, although it was quite warm that morning and the fog was already beginning to dissipate over the Sound.

“Timmy, are you hurt?” I forced my voice to stay calm because his black eyes were ringed with white and his lips were a bluish tint.

He pointed toward Jack O’Banion, our chief of police, without making a sound.

I frowned, puzzled by his silence. Timmy had never had a problem speaking; he’d been talking nonstop since he was eleven months old. Now he just shook his head and looked back down at the ground.

Alice, my daughter, was still at the door, where we’d brushed past her in our rush to get outside after she’d awakened us from a sound sleep a few minutes before. I beckoned for her to come.

A surrealistic film seemed to float over the yard as she headed my way. Although she was only twelve, she was constantly swiping her long black hair away from her eyes the way girls did on TV, and lately she had taken to walking in slow motion, her hips moving in a deliberate way that made me nervous. Her voice, shrill with fear before, was now flat and emotionless. “I don’t think he can talk. He saw it first.”

I glanced down at Timmy again. One of the straps on his overalls had come unbuttoned. His black hair hung down over his eyebrows, reminding me as it always did of my father and his father before him when they returned, sweaty and exhausted, from their caribou hunting trips.

His feet were bare, as usual. They were never cold until after termination dust, first snow, appeared on the surrounding mountains early in September, when the temperature would dip below twenty degrees at night. Other than that he went barefoot everywhere, but today his feet were blue and mottled. I tried to pick him up to carry him into the house where I could warm him, but he seemed to have gained twenty pounds overnight. I could not lift him and he could not move.

“Red,” I called, “I need help here. Come carry Timmy into the house for me, will you?”

Red turned to face me. “Why can’t he walk?”

“I think he’s in shock, Red. He’s ice-cold.”

At that, Jack strode over to us and knelt, lifting Timmy’s chin with his finger.

“You okay, son?”

I’d never before heard such a compassionate tone of voice coming from Jack. I’d always thought him distant and unreadable, but this time even the look in his eyes had softened somewhat, a real departure from his usual all-business behavior, and for the first time I found myself drawn to him, whereas before there had been nothing to like or not like.

Timmy turned away from him, still silent.

Jack felt Timmy’s forehead then glanced up at me. “He feels clammy. You’re probably right, I’m pretty sure he’s in shock. Mark told me he was watching while they were loosening up the dirt a little more and he saw it first.”

My heart almost stopped. “What did he do?”

“They told me he ran over to the tree where you found him and hid his eyes with his hands. He hasn’t made a sound. Let’s get him inside so you can call Doc Martin. Tell him I said to get on over here, he can check Timmy first and then I’ll need him out here.”

Timmy shuddered. Jack picked him up without effort and slung him over his shoulder. What a picture they made, Jack in his silver-tipped snakeskin boots and cowboy hat, long legs striding across the lawn toward the house, worn leather holster moving as he walked, and my sad, silent little boy lying limp on Jack’s shoulder with his eyes closed.

I followed them into the house but found myself glancing up into the nearby mountains as if someone were crouched, hidden from sight with binoculars trained on us, watching our every move.

Someone had to be watching. I could feel the certainty of it snaking along under my skin. Otherwise, why had the body been left in our yard?

Okay, Chapter Two next week, then Chapter Three.  Maybe four. After that, it’s up to you whether you want to read the rest of it.

Bye for now, please come back soon.  I’ll leave the porch light on for you. Love you all, you know I do!

Cheers, Beth, Denali, BooBoo and Sarge.


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  1. Wow Beth! First, I’m glad things are starting to get back to normal for you, and you don’t have to apologize for ‘whining’. Your reality is yours, theirs are theirs.

    Great first chapter. I just bought the Kindle version yesterday but haven’t started it yet. You got me hooked.

    Didn’t know about the blog sharing…or maybe I did and zoned. In any case, when you’re freed-up again, lets talk about an exchange.


  2. That’s be terrific, Julie. I finished your book last night and I think I commented on Facebook but things are moving so fast here I’m not really sure if I did or not, or when I did. I loved it, truly loved it. Loved the ending. I was wondering how you were going to get him out of that jam, but you’ve got your beginning for the next Testarossa. One of the best books I’ve read this year, seriously, it is.







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