Hello again, Readers and Writers! I hope this finds you all well.
Today, I’m just popping in to share some news—my debut novel, Whom Shall I Fear?, turns one year old tomorrow!
To celebrate, I’ve reduced the paperback price to $9.99 until the end of June.
In other news, I’ve been hard at work, putting together new posts for this site AND (drumroll, please?) working on my second book. God willing and if all goes well, Where Shall I Flee? will come into being sometime in 2021.
This second novel takes place in 1944, focusing the Allied forces that ended up surrounded and trapped on a beachead Anzio, Italy. I’m busy researching Allied and German medical practices, vehicles, weaponry, POW policies…it’s an undertaking!
Just for fun, below is a sneak peek of part of the story that I was working through this week. I’m on the second or third draft of this thing—only about a hundred more to go until I’m happy with it all. (Honestly, that’s only a slight exaggeration! :)) Still, I hope you enjoy it, and thanks so much for stopping by!
The night waned. The stars had paled and the eastern mountains, behind Leroy, stood dark and solid against the charcoal sky.
He stumbled, his feet so numb that he hardly noticed the twinging ankle. Leaves and wigs crackled underfoot, but it didn’t seem to signify. He hadn’t seen or heard anything for the last hour, or two, or twenty—time wasn’t measured in hours anymore. It had narrowed and refined itself to the action of lifting his bad foot, placing it carefully on the firmest piece of ground he could find, and supporting it with the stick he’d picked up as he swung his good foot forward as quickly as he could, to take his weight. Place. Step. Repeat.
His dragging foot caught. Stumbling forward, his hand shot out to catch himself. It landed on something smooth and hard that bit into his palm. Recognition pierced his foggy brain. Wire?!
Barbed wire! He yanked his hand back, expecting to feel the pain of metal spikes tearing his skin. To his surprise, he felt nothing. To be sure, he felt his palm with his other hand, then raised it to his eyes. Dirty, but not bleeding.
He reached out a probing finger. The wire was smooth. He followed it, trailing his finger along it lightly. Booby trap? Maybe. Or… His fingertip came to a narrow wooden fence post, then a bit of plant hanging over. He couldn’t see much, but it felt familiar, long, and thin, with a little curlicue hanging off it. Recognition flashed through his weary brain—it was the remains of a vine! This must be a vineyard! They didn’t grow grapes up on the Iron Range, but he’d seen pictures of them in Dad’s old illustrated Bible.
A vineyard meant shelter, maybe food. His fingers scrabbled over the vine, hunting for a cluster of grapes. Too bad it was winter. But nearby, there must be a house, a barn…
Maybe people. He hesitated at that. Italy was out of the war—they’d surrendered back in the fall, months ago, when the Allies first invaded. Some Italian partisans had joined up with the Allies. Most of the people he’d met in Naples had been pretty happy to see the Americans coming through.
Still, what if the farmer still had…sympathies?
Or what if the Germans had already taken over the farm?
Or what if…
The thoughts swirled around his weary brain. He wished George were there. George always had a plan, always had a way to work things out to their advantage. But George isn’t here. He’s somewhere with Jeannie and broken ribs, and I gotta get to the coast and help them.
So. He needed a place to rest. His ankle and hungry belly and dizzy head told him so. He staggered forward, following the fence line.
A dark shape loomed up to his right. A barn.
He staggered up to the wooden double doors. Pulling up the beam, he tilted his head, trying to get a look inside. The warm smells of fodder and animals wafted out, and it was all he could do not to fling himself through the door at once. Settle down. Could be booby trapped. Shorty was talking about Jerry booby trapping barns so we’d get blowed up when we try to sleep…but this should be ok, I’m behind their lines still…I think. His head was too fuzzy, and he was no planner. Not like George. He’d just have to do it. He muttered a little prayer, ending with “Thy will be done,” like he’d been taught, and ventured in.
The barn was dark and blessedly warm. Something rustled over to the side. He squinted—a cow stood, watching him from her stall..
Shush now, Bessie! I’m nothing to fret yourself about. “Bessie” seemed unconcerned. She swished her tail again and blinked at him.
A pile of straw waited in the corner. Without another thought or worry, he collapsed into the prickly softness and was asleep at once.
He didn’t wake up for hours—not until the sun had pulled itself over the horizon. It wasn’t the sun that woke, him, however, but a voice.