Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Excerpt: “If Love is a Crime: A Christmas Story”

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene of my new Christmas Story, where Beatrice finds an unexpected visitor shivering in the cold in front of her cabin. The full story can be purchased exclusively on Kindle for only $0.99 cents HERE!

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT:

She pulled at the nearly finished shawl hanging off the side of the table and skillfully bobbed and weaved the last few inches of the left tail, humming lightly a few bars of a Christmas hymn, randomly making comments to herself, most of which would have made no sense to another human being if one had been within a stone’s throw. She was ravenously intent on her shawl and stitched away for some time until Snowy, the plough horse tied up on the side of the cabin, grunted wildly.

“Now what is it, Snowy?”

Thud.

Something hit the side of the house. Beatrice stood immediately but didn’t move a muscle. She put her finger in her mouth and bit down in fierce concentration, intently listening for any other sound. She heard it. A scraping. Light and slow. It slid along the front of the cabin and stopped under the wooden, hinged panel, which swung open in the summer to let the breeze permeate the room. Beatrice stepped daintily, as if on thin ice, putting her head against the wooden shutters, packed tightly with wool strands meant to keep the drafts out during the winter months. She heard a faint whimper, like that of a frightened puppy. A hollow wailing, soft yet agonizing.

She walked over and lit the candle in the lantern, threw her new shawl over her shoulders, and slowly opened the front door. An early winter breeze startled her, but she lifted the light and shone it around the corner to the small divot in the ground where she had started digging a hole to replant her rhododendron but never got around to it. A figure, dark, blended into the night, huddled in a ball, shaking, panting softly with her head down in her knees.

“Hey, sweetheart. You’re shivering. Don’t be afraid. It’s all right. It’s cold out here, that’s for sure.”

Beatrice stepped two feet towards the shaking mass, who quickly backed away, slyly looking to her left at the lantern, which lit up Beatrice’s jolly-round face.

“Do you want to come in?”

The girl shook her head, tightening her arms’ grip around her knees. She wore rags completely torn at the bottom with shards of ripped cloth hanging down her legs. She had nothing on her feet.

“Well, I had a mind of getting a little fresh air myself. I think I’ll sit out here for a minute, if that’s all right with you.” Beatrice glanced over at the girl, who kept staring at her with no movement whatsoever. “Actually, I’m rather warm myself. I’ve been poking those hot coals in the stove all evening,” continued Beatrice. “I had the hardest time getting them to burn evenly tonight. I made a whole heap of biscuits.” Beatrice leaned in to whisper like she was about to divulge to the world a shameful secret. “Don’t tell anyone, but I almost burnt half of them. Don’t suppose you’re hungry, are you?”

Beatrice sat down on a log bench outside the front door and placed the lantern at the edge, illuminating the girl’s profile, who sat in the impending rhododendron pit.

“Well, are you hungry or not?”

The girl shook her head in a predetermined, mechanical manner.

“Well, I didn’t think so,” said Beatrice. “Young girls running through the meadows in rags on Christmas Eve are rarely hungry. Or at least that’s been my experience.”

Read the entire story HERE!

Banyan Tree – New Excerpt

I have a promotion coming up for The Reach of the Banyan Tree soon (hint, hint,), so I thought I’d post a couple excerpts of the next few days. Thanks for checking them out.

In this excerpt, our protagonist, Chip, is in a difficult situation, not completely of his own doing. A mysterious stranger shows up and hands him a small back booklet – the diary:

The Diary

After Long had left, Chip sat perplexed on his cot, looking at the plain black cover of the booklet in his hand.

Secrets are a tricky matter. One has to ponder long and hard if revealing or discovering them is advantageous or not. Is life better with an unknown ‘sleeping dog,’ or does ultimate truth somehow prevail through the muck and mire, through the pain and suffering, through the years of wondering if it was worth it after all? What would the story of Charles Regal Carson end up meaning for his life? Jail, after all, is one of the most philosophical places on earth. Chip stared at the decrepit walls with his memory—replaying the scenes of his past life over and over again—wrestling his demons with the best that Nietzsche and Kierkegaard could have offered. What unknown plan, brought on by a small black book, could possibly benefit his life?

He knew not. But he would find out as soon as his finger could flip open the cover.

At the five-minute mark, he did it. On the top of the lightly lined paper read the following:

July 16, 1945. Flying into Tonkin.

The Strange Ways of the Universe – an Excerpt

One of the things I really enjoyed doing with my soon to be released third novel, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, was to pepper small doses of history into the writing to better frame the time period. Here’s the opening paragraph to a chapter entitled “The Strange Ways of the Universe” which help set the stage of the crazy, confusing mix of political alliances at the end of World War II.

On a cosmic scale, it all seemed kind of absurd. Communist trained guerrillas fighting to overthrow the Japanese, so that they could get a chance to overthrow the French, whom they really hated. Communist trained guerrillas, working with the communist Chinese in cooperation with the nationalist Chinese to fight against the imperialist Japanese with the help of the Americans. Americans, working with the communist Chinese and the communist-leaning Vietnamese, while ignoring the French of Indochina who had kowtowed to the Germans and cooperated with the Japanese, even though their Free-French brothers fought side-by-side with the Allies in Europe. So it was. July of 1945 in Indochina was a political and military mystery—common threads tangled in the strangest of ways—just like a small fourteen-year-old boy who had become infatuated with one Charles Regal Carson.

Writing Excerpt from Novel #3 – to be released in 2014

My third novel is split into two completely different time periods. Here’s a short excerpt about Vietnamese villagers, caught in the complexities of war at the tail-end of WWII, in Tonkin, French Indochina – 1945.

The long hard sorrow doesn’t end easy in a place like Tonkin, but sometimes an epic struggle that demands justice dissipates just as easily as it starts when one too many deaths make one appreciative of what one already has. At some point, loss seems acceptable and further loss unbearable. Death has a commanding grip on reality in a part of the world where a meager existence is hope enough to move on, marry, plant rice, have children, and etch out a bigger patch of paddy for the next generation.The life of one more Frenchmen suddenly took on an insignificance. Their neighbor’s business was too great to talk about, too shameful to mention, too harmful to ponder, and too hopeless to do anything about. Gossip seemed like wasted breath and staring merely burnt holes in their fragile eyes, and so they blinked, turned from the fury, and went quietly back to their homes away from the madness. Even the characters in the house, playing out the complexities of war on a grand scale, had nothing to say and sat on the floor with insipid looks on their faces.