Monday, April 8, 2013

Beach News: BEHIND THE BLUE DOOR: 230 Periwinkle Place is available for purchase!

     My faithful facebook followers were with me when I pulled out my Baby Names book to name the characters in a new mystery novella (look for Skye, Libby and Blake as you read).  My faithful blog readers were here as I shared the excitement of finding a name generator on the Internet that helped meld first and last names (look for Nate Coffey in the story.) My faithful fans helped me celebrate as I revealed the cover (thanks again, San!)  My faithful critique partners have pushed me to get this done and published through the Kindle Direct Program so, at long last (well, maybe six months) my first venture into indie publishing is at hand.  So thank you one an all.  And now, for the big reveal....

BEHIND THE BLUE DOOR: 230 Periwinkle Place  
          Can you have a future if you can’t remember the past?
          When Skye Crenshaw Whitmore is shown a picture of a house with a blue door, she recalls living there as a young girl.  At first the memories are of the warm and fuzzy variety; little moments spent gardening or reading with her mother.  Upon learning that the house on Periwinkle Lane is where her mother died, darker memories bubble to the surface but fail to assemble into a complete picture.  With more questions than answers, she sets off to find out what exactly happened in that house thirty years ago. 
          Skye soon learns that old memories never die, they just wait…Behind the Blue Door. 
          This story is a novella, which translates to a book about 1/3 the length of a traditional novel.  By definition, the action is focused on one primary event with no exploration of secondary stories or characters.  This makes for a tight, quick read.  

     The book is now available for purchase on your Kindle device or downloadable to iPhone or iPad (I'm told as much, I've never personally tried it.)  For those of you without reading devices, Amazon offers a FREE program for your PC that will enable you to read the book.  

Click here to be taken to the Amazon site.

Click the Read More button below to read the first chapter of BEHIND THE BLUE DOOR: 230 Periwinkle Place.  

Chapter One

“You’re not gonna believe what happened to Mudge!”
That’s just like Libby Abernathy, my randomly assigned college roommate at the University of Virginia and my BFF for the seventeen years hence, to get right to the point. No small talk for that girl.
Snuggling my iPhone up to my ear, I continued pushing my cart down the frozen food aisle of my local Piggly Wiggly. As I passed by the pizza section, I reached into the freezer bin and pulled out two Stouffer’s Deluxe French Bread pizzas, my favorite go-to choice for a “home-cooked” meal. Hey, if I have to turn the oven on, then it’s “home-cooked” in my book.
“Go on, guess,” Libby said.
“Knowing Mudge, it could be just about anything.” Mudge, whose real name was Marcus Lee Abernathy III, was Libby’s husband, and the total opposite of what you might think a “Mudge” would look like.
“So you give up?”
“Yup.” I added a Stouffer’s family size stuffed green peppers to my basket for the next time I felt like “cooking.”
“Mudge’s Aunt Alice died,” Libby said.
I stopped my cart and let the news process. “My condolences on his loss.” I’d known Mudge as long as I’d known Libby, had attended many of their family parties, and was an honorary member of the Abernathy clan. I tried to invoke an image of Aunt Alice, but nothing came to mind. “Wait, which one is Aunt Alice?”
“You don’t know her because she’s from the Patterson side and lives down North Carolina way. His grandmother and Alice were half-sisters. Turns out Mudge was her only surviving relative, and even though the last time he saw her was back in eighty-three when he spent a summer down there, she left all her worldly belongings to him. She actually died last June but he’s just hearing about it—”
Two small beeps indicated I had an incoming call. I checked the screen. My twelve-year-old son, Blake. Cue the impending doom music.
“Hey Libby,” I said. “That’s Blake ringing in. He’s only supposed to call me if it’s an emergency. Gotta run.”
“I hope everything’s okay. Call me back.”
“Will do. Love ya.” I connected over to the incoming call, my stomach doing flip-flops while I imagined what emergency situation had arisen. “Blake?”
 “Mom? The dogs are puking their guts out, and I don’t know what to do.”
I sighed. Emergency is in the eye of the beholder. “Just clean it up and I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
“I’m not touching it.” The tone of voice made it clear that no amount of cajoling or bribery would get him to change his mind. It’s been my experience that the willingness to perform those “gross” types of tasks is a double-X chromosome trait.
“Well, do something.” I thought about the white carpet in the quaint Cape Codder we’d just moved into last week. The house had come with wall-to-wall saxony the color of a polar bear, because don’t think for a second I’m the type of woman who’s delusional and thinks it would stay white for more than a day, what with two dogs and a boy who’d never met a puddle he didn’t think needed stomping through. So far it still looked decent, but if the dog-vomit stains weren’t cleaned up quickly and properly, it would mean new flooring. And that just wasn’t in the budget right now. “I’m on my way.”
I abandoned my half-filled grocery cart and raced out the door. As I sped along the snowy streets of Danville, Virginia, the conversation with Blake niggled at my worry button. Had that been a note of hysteria in his voice? And a curious thought: Banshee and Bella-Boo, our precious pound puppies, had never gotten sick like that before. I dug my phone out of my purse and called him back. “How’re you doing?” I asked.
“Did you get everything cleaned up?”
“I turned trashcans over it so I don’t have to look at it.”
I sighed. If all of life’s problems could be solved so easily. “Any idea what made the dogs so sick?”
“Probably because they licked up some of the fire extinguisher stuff.”
“Fire extinguisher stuff?”
“Yeah. I had to put out a fire.”
“What fire?” My foot pressed the accelerator to the floorboard. The whine of the engine almost drowned out the sound of my heart hammering in my chest. Almost.
“The fire in the oven,” Blake explained, as if it were an everyday event. “One of the chicken nuggets slid off the pan and burst into flames. But don’t worry. I put it out so the house didn’t burn down or anything.”
I made the final turn onto Bellamy Drive and spotted my little white house at the end of the cul-de-sac. Nary a smoke tendril curled out of the dormer windows. I offered up a quick, “Thank you, God.”
After parking my Dodge Caravan at the curb, I sat a few minutes while my heartbeat slowed and my trembling hands stilled. Everything was fine.
Or not, as I soon learned.
While the house hadn’t burned to a crisp, there was a lot of collateral damage. All across my white house (yes, the previous owner had a white fetish) a layer of fine, yellow powder covered everything. Like a dusting of snow, the contents from the fire extinguisher had floated throughout the rooms settled on every surface available: floor, shoe molding, baseboards, sofas, chairs, tables, lamp shades, books. Everywhere there was a horizontal surface, there was yellow powder. I navigated my way around the upended trashcans leading to the kitchen.
The dogs scratched at the back door and yipped to be let in, but I didn’t want them walking through this mess and getting sick again. Not until I—make that we—conducted a thorough housecleaning. The exact thing I did not want to do right now.
Blake came and stood next to me by the oven, the yellow powder crunching against the white tile floor as he walked.
Ruffling my fingers through his curly blond hair, I reminded myself that in the grand scheme of things, a little (okay, a lot) of overspray from the fire extinguisher was a small price to pay for still having a house. My heart started pounding again at the mere thought of everything I held dear going up in smoke. Something about fires—or even the mere possibility of one—scared the beejezus out of me. I had no explanation why, though. Maybe something devastating had happened to me in a previous life. Not that I believe in past life regression or anything, but really, what other explanation is there for my innate fear of house fires?
I drew three calming breaths then asked Blake, “So, how big was this fire?”
“There were flames all over the bottom of the oven,” Blake said.
“Really?” In all my years of having nuggets or fries fall off the cooking sheet, I had never had one erupt into flames. Usually they baked into charcoal and laid like black lava rocks until I wiped them up.
I opened the oven and peered inside. More pale yellow powder, but no charcoal nuggets.
A thought hit me. I closed the door and turned the gas oven on, then opened it again. Cooking flames made a U around the bottom of the oven. “Is this the fire you saw?”
“Holy crap!” Blake turned and raced for the fire extinguisher on the kitchen table.
“Wait.” I shut the oven door and turned it off. I didn’t know whether to laugh or scream or shake some common sense into him. My son, who had only ever cooked with an electric oven, had extinguished the flames in our new home’s gas oven.
Before I could set Blake straight on the facts of cooking life, the doorbell rang followed by a familiar, “Yoo-hoo.” Moments later, Libby appeared in the kitchen, looking fabulous, as always. All designer, all the time, was her motto, even when dancing Zumba at the local gym. Today she looked like she’d been shopping on Rodeo Drive, but had probably only been down to the JCP at the Piedmont Mall.
“What the hell happened here?” She gave Blake a hug and opened the door to let Banshee and Bella-Boo in. Yipping and yapping and general chaos ensued before Blake got the dogs leashed up and off on a walk around the block.
“You look like you could use a glass of wine, sugar,” Libby said. “Have you unpacked the corkscrew yet?”
“Hand carried it from the old house to the new. Top drawer, left of the sink.”
“I’ll pour while you sit and look at this.” She handed me her iPhone. “That’s what Mudge inherited from Aunt Alice.”
On the iPhone was a picture of a grand Victorian home with rows of pink peonies lining a long sidewalk leading up to the pale-blue front door.
A cold feeling spread slowly through my veins, as if someone had hooked me up to a Slushee IV.
I knew that house…

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