Sample Saturday: “Bayou Fire”

smartmockups_khewgcr0Hi, everyone.  Today’s sample is from my multi-award winning dual-timeline historical, Bayou Fire. Enjoy!

Alcide presented himself at a small law office in the newly-established town of Chicago, operated by one Aloysius Bryan. He was wearing a new suit, and had removed the earring he’d sported since his earliest days as a river man. He presented a letter of introduction, from John Gallagher of New Orleans, and asked for an opportunity to read the law and serve as a clerk. He also presented the letter of reference from Daniel Harper, attesting to his skills. Bryan found the young man on the other side of his desk well-spoken and, upon discovering that Alcide could write a tidy hand and had some experience in Missouri under his belt, hired him on as a clerk with a promise of steady access to the law books. That he got a lawyer for the price of a clerk was not lost on Bryan.

Alcide was now ready for to keep the promise he’d made to himself.

He started attending meetings at the local Quaker establishment, having learned that members of the faith were ardently opposed to slavery. At first, the quiet in the meeting house was difficult for him; the services were radically different from the pomp and circumstance of Catholic mass back home. But he stayed, and he listened. Soon, he was invited to remain for coffee and a piece of cake … and before long, people started talking to him. When he let it be known that he was sympathetic to abolition, he was finally approached by a congregant, John Silas, who asked for his help.

“If you can write free papers, Mister Devereaux, it would be a huge help to us. We can get people more easily into Canada if we don’t have to hide them in wagons. Your imprimatur from a law office would be a huge help,” the man said.

“I can, and I will.”

“Now, Mister Devereaux, I need to remind you that you could get in a lot of trouble if you get caught, maybe even lose your license to practice law. You might end up in jail, or worse. If you don’t feel up to the risk, I will certainly understand.”

Alcide extended his hand to the gentleman in front of him. “Sir, you have my word.”

Want your own copy of Bayou Fire? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links.

Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of BAYOU FIRE?

Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart presents her first full-length historical paranormal tale, set against the backdrops of modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

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Sample Saturday: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s sample is from one of my two works in progress. As always, this is an early draft and there may be changes. Enjoy!

Pompeii Fire v 2One man in particular noticed the intimacy between Suetonius and Drusilla. Stephanus, the fuller, glowered at the pair, refusing to admit to himself that he was envious. He could only watch them from a distance; his couch was in an unfavorable position far from the tables and he had to wait for slaves to bring the trays around after the other guests were sated with each course.

Drusus’ daughter had, as he’d observed many times, grown into a beauty, and Stephanus found his lusts stirring as he watched her share a plate with the magister ludi. Despite the fashion for small-busted women, Drusilla’s corded dress showed off her curves and tiny waist. Stephanus wished he’d worn a circlet of some kind; he pushed at his lank brown hair in an effort to cover the bare spot on the back of his head. Even his freedman’s cap would have helped, but he didn’t like to call attention to the fact that he’d been a slave.

Well, if he was no longer young, he was at least wealthy. And he didn’t make any pretenses with his attire, either. His tunic was of the finest wool money could buy, dark blue with green ribbon binding at the neck and hem: understated and costly. He had never been a handsome man, but a smart father would overlook that when making a match. And not for his son, Vorenus, either; the nerve that boy had, taking the robes of Isis. No, she would be his. Stephanus would not hesitate to draw on his friendship with Drusus Gaius in order to press his suit, and perhaps would lean on forgiving him the loan made so many years ago before Drusus went to Herculaneum in exchange for the girl.

Sample Saturday: “Down on the Corner of Love

DOTCOL V2Hello, everyone, and happy new year! Today’s sample comes from the fourth entry in my Pocketful of Stories short fiction series. Enjoy!

When Jo Cooper introduced himself to me (“I’m Jo, no E.”), he seemed like an elfin version of Oscar Wilde. His blonde curls hung in a riot around his face, and his pink ruffled shirt set off his coloring perfectly. He was barely taller than me, and chattered a mile a minute. We were in the basement laundry room of our San Francisco apartment building. My hair was tied back with a thick, purple hank of yarn that didn’t quite match my sleeveless, mock turtleneck shell and coordinating pedal pushers. I was also wearing a horrible pale lipstick. Revlon’s Silver City Pink, to be precise; a color that Jo says really only looks good on the sisters. Against my pale skin, it was almost sickly. Fashionable, but sickly. I could almost hear Jo tut-tutting my outfit as he looked me up and down over the rims of his wire-framed granny glasses. Not that I blamed him.

Jo told me which apartment he lived in and asked if he could borrow some of my fabric softener. I handed over the jug, and he poured a capful into a washer full of colorful clothes.

As for me, I was swearing like a stevedore. Despite having consumed my quarters and dimes, the washer would not start. Jo gave the recalcitrant machine a sharp kick and it began to fill.

Jo lived exactly one floor above me. We were both lucky enough to have units with bay windows overlooking Cole Street. Almost immediately, we started running back and forth to visit each other; it was as though we’d been friends forever.

I lived alone. My apartment had simple furnishings in far too many shades of beige. My closet was filled with A-line skirts and jumpers that I’d run up with yardage from Discount Fabrics and patterns by Butterick. Coordinating Peter Pan collar blouses and some rather matronly cardigans filled my work wardrobe; slacks and tops for weekends took up the other side of the closet. Jo said I needed much more color in my life.

Want your own copy of Down on the Corner of Love? Here are the back cover copy and purchase links:

To find love…

…she needs to meet someone who understands her.

Being a civil rights activist isn’t easy in rural Louisiana. Raine’s found herself ostracized and alone because she’s a woman who speaks her mind.

Fed up, she leaves her country world behind for beautiful San Francisco, where the culture is thriving with exciting new music and fashion.

These are her people.

Raine meets a new best friend, Jo, who is free-spirited and living life to the fullest, but Jo’s entangled in more danger than Raine’s ready for.

Raine’s world turns upside down when she meets the most far out man she’s ever encountered.

Readers who love history, flower power, and the wild times of the 1960s will be wowed by Down on the Corner of Love.

This edition of Pocketful of Stories also contains a sample from Sharon E. Cathcart’s award-winning novel, Bayou Fire.

Amazon (geo-targeted link will take you to the store for your country); Apple Books; Barnes & Noble; BOL (Netherlands/Belgium); Booktopia (Australia); Gandhi (Mexico); Kobobooks (available for 2400 SuperPoints if you are part of the program); La Feltrinelli (Italy); Livraria Cultura (Brazil); Mondadori (Italy); Overdrive (via your local library); Porrua (Mexico); Rakuten Japan; Scribd; Smashwords.

Sample Saturday, Currently Untitled

Hi, everyone. The gifts have been unwrapped at our house, and it’s pouring rain. We’re warm and cozy inside, biding time until we head out for our holiday meal.

My Jacquie Lawson Advent calendar gave me an idea for a story that’s been burbling around for a while. It’s an early draft, and I expect it to come in at 15-20K words — in other words, a short story. The words are coming easily; I’ve put down nearly 5K since Wednesday night. It’s a contemporary romance, set in England. We’ll see how it all goes. Anyway, here’s a bit of it:

The first day the gardener showed up, I was a little worried. Gareth Llewellyn had long dark hair in a thick braid nearly to his waist, a bushy beard, and generally looked disreputable in corduroy pants, a baggy shirt, battered fedora, and green Wellingtons. He was accompanied by a delightful little boy who introduced himself as Timothy, age 7, and the boy’s Cocker spaniel, Flash. I reminded myself that looks could be deceiving; Llewellyn’s manners were impeccable, and he and Timothy did their weeding and trimming with alacrity.

“I’ll see you next week,” Timothy called out as they put their tools in the car. “I get to see my uncle Gareth most weekends in the summertime.”

After settling the boy in the car, Llewellyn walked back to the door to talk to me.

“I’m sorry, Miss Davis. He’s my sister’s boy, and can be a little enthusiastic at times. He lost his father last year, so I try to see him regularly. If he’s too much for you, just say. Mrs. Tremaine told me that you’re a writer, and I’m sure you need your peace to do that.”

“On the contrary, Mr. Llewellyn; please bring him with you. He made me smile. And please, call me Rose.”

A smile through the beard. “Thank you, Rose. Call me Gareth.”

I watched them drive away, Timothy waving enthusiastically from the rear window until they were out of sight.

Sample Saturday: “Pompeii Fire”

Pompeii Fire v 2Hi, everyone. I know it’s late in the day, but I wanted to share a sample from my current work-in-progress, a dual timeline historical set in both modern-day and ancient Pompeii. This scene is from the modern portion. As always, this is an early draft and particulars may have changed by the time of publication. Enjoy!

When they got to the landing, tiny dinghies were taking on tourists two at a time. Dom helped Stephanie down, and the guide began rowing them around the island. Dom pointed out the high limestone cliffs and talked about how they made the island readily defensible.

“This is why it was a favorite place for emperors to come for their holidays, and also why Tiberius decided to just stay here and leave Sejanus in charge. He felt safer.”

When the boat came around to a tiny gap in the cliff wall, with a narrow chain coming out of its entrance and attached to the rocks, Damiano slid down into the boat below the gunwales.

“You will need to lie down, principessa. We have to go through that tiny gap and you cannot sit up.”

“No, Dom. Just no. I’m claustrophobic; I can’t. I didn’t know the opening would be this small; please, we have to go back.”

Blue_Grotto_IMG_0207“You will be safe, I promise. I will never let any harm come to you. Slide down next to me and put your head on my shoulder.”

Stephanie did as he asked, burying her face in his neck. His skin smelled of warm sun and limes; Stephanie breathed in as she closed her eyes and settled against him. Dom held her gently in his arms as the guide grabbed the chain and pulled hard against it to slide the boat through the narrow opening.

“You can open your eyes and sit up,” Dom said. “It’s safe now.”

(Blue Grotto photo credit: Deror_avi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)