New Sci-Fi Romance Release by P.L. Parker!

My talented friend P.L. Parker has a new science fiction adventure romance coming out on April 20th, in preorder now.

P.L. Parker: Abaddon Rising, the third novel in my Star Brides Series, is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Release date is April 20, 2018. The Chalice and Breeder Slave are now available at reduced prices. If you like sci-fi romances, this series might be the one for you and it’s a good time to get your copies.


One of a million statistics in the intergalactic war, Jocelyn St. Germaine is captured, sold as a slave and then forced to fight in the Deg’Nara gladiator games. She’s slated to lose when Kanaan, the most feared warrior of all, claims her as his own. With his help, Joss’s chances of survival increase, but is it enough?

Kanaan filled his lungs and roared, head thrown back as he issued the challenge. “She belongs to me! I claim her!”
From behind him, he caught the female’s startled gasp.


Kanaan perched on a high ledge watching the drama below. The female crouched against the slave gate glaring at the horde of leering male slaves as they crept forward. She wouldn’t last the night. None of the females did in here. She’d be torn limb from limb but not before she was forced to endure the bestial attentions of the dominant members of the pens. Too bad really! He admired the female. She was feisty, skilled, a born killer, but a female all the same.
He found it odd that her handler put her in here. She’d proven herself with every match, winning each round and advancing up the ladder. Usually an asset was treated with a little more respect, especially a female no less who’d won every bout. The crowds seemed to side with her during combat and he knew for a fact she’d made Master Luidoc’s pockets a little heavier. Didn’t make any sense that she’d be thrown in here!
He scrubbed a hand across his jaw considering. The female interested him for more than just her fighting skills. She was different, her species unknown to him. In many ways she reminded him of the Arkogian females. The body type was similar and they were known for jutting mammary glands but her delicate build and graceful movements decried that lineage. Arkogians were block-shaped and coarse, even more so than Deg’Nara females. Perhaps she’s a hybrid! Lot of us around these days, he admitted ruefully.
She’d drawn his attention from the first time he’d seen her fight in the pits. Slender and elegant, she looked more dancer than warrior. She was controlled, seeming bored even but that façade swiftly melted away when her opponent entered the ring. The only time he witnessed her control slip was when the female, Anashe he remembered, fell.
A few more paces and the mob would be on her and then it would be over. He drew a deep breath and exhaled. He stood up, gauging the distance to the ground and then dropped landing in front of the female.
He was within inches of the frontrunners of the mob, so close he could taste their reek. He spat, clearing his mouth of the vile aroma.
“Back off,” he growled, snapping his teeth. “Or it’ll be the last step you’ll ever take!”

Pre-Order Link – Amazon

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Furbaby Friday with Merry Farmer!

I’m happy to have Merry Farmer here to share her precious kitties and new western romance, Heath’s Homecoming (The Langley Legacy Book 5).

Merry: When Beth asked me to do a Furbaby Friday post for her, I got really excited! Because I will never get tired of talking about the Best Cat in the Entire History of the World, my darling baby, my soulmate, the love of my life, Torpedo.

(Torpedo and Justine)

I’ve had Torpedo since the day he was born. In fact, he earned his name partially because he was born during the 2004 Athens Olympics, when I was having a blast watching the swimming rivalry between Ian Thorpe, the “Thorpedo”, and Michael Phelps, but also because he shot right out of his mom (a cat I had rescued from a coworker who was going to have her put to sleep because she wasn’t a cute kitten anymore!!!) and into my lap. I touched Torpedo before his mom did, and we’ve been bonded ever since.

(Baby Torpedo)

Torpedo had a sister, Butterfly (who, incidentally, was actually named after Michael Phelps. But “Michael Phelps” is not a good name for a girl cat, so, since he’d won the 400m butterfly the day they were born, “Butterfly” it was). I was originally going to give Butterfly away, but the people who said they wanted her never came to get her. So I kept both baby kittens. They moved with me from Alabama back to my home in the Philadelphia area, and through three other moves in the last few years.

(Torpedo and Butterfly)

Sadly, in December 2016, Butterfly passed away after a battle with diabetes. And I wasn’t the only one who mourned. I didn’t know this, but cats can go into mourning too. Torpedo was VERY bonded to his sister, and for weeks the two of us moped around, feeling all sad and lost, and clinging to each other. But Torpedo isn’t a solitary kind of cat, so for Christmas that year, I got him a baby, Justine.

(Kitten Justine)

So now I have my grumpy old man cat and my brand new, high-energy, slightly crazy baby girl cat. Justine LOVES Torpedo. She loves Torpedo way more than she loves me! But Torpedo still loves me to bits. So much so that he HATES it when I go away…for conferences and vacations, or just leaving the house for an hour to go grocery shopping. Heck, Torpedo yells at me if I’m not sitting in the right place in the morning, doing my writing. But I love him.

I know cats are not immortal, and I’m not looking forward to the day when Torpedo crosses the Rainbow Bridge to join his sister. But he’s only 14 right now, and since the last two cats I had lived into their 20s, I’m hoping we have a few more years together. I take good care of him…and he takes good care of me.

(Merry and Torpedo)

I guess you could say that a “pet” plays a major role in my next release, Heath’s Homecoming, which comes out Friday the 23rd, but is available for pre-order now. It’s the fifth book in a series that traces the same family from when they come to America in 1850 to the present. Heath’s Homecoming takes place in 1968. The hero, Heath, is a returning Vietnam War vet. The heroine, Barbie, has a job running Heath’s father’s ranch. A lot of the conflict surrounds a horse, Daisy, who belonged to Heath and Barbie’s best friend, Davy, who was killed in the war. Here’s a little peek….

Excerpt from Heath’s Homecoming:

They’d walked their horses along the edge of the old barrel racing course that Kathleen had made their dad build years ago. It had been cleaned up a bit since he’d left for the war. The splintering barrels had been replaced by stacks of old car tires, and the course itself was well-maintained.

But that didn’t prepare him for the sudden shout from Barbie, or the way Daisy jumped into action, flying toward the course. Heath’s heart shot to his throat as Daisy headed for the first set of barrels. All he could thing about was her bones breaking and the screams that would follow. His imagination mingled them with Davy’s screams and shouts on the battlefield.

“Barbie, stop!” he shouted, but she didn’t hear him.

Daisy made it around the first barrel and shot off toward the second. Heath stood in his stirrups, heart thundering against his ribs. She would fall. She would be thrown. Daisy would trip and it would all be over. He’d lose another friend. He’d lose Davy’s horse. There’d be nothing he could do about it. Again. He’d be helpless and hopeless, and his world would fall apart. Again.

His thoughts spun out of control so hard that it seemed as though he blinked and Daisy was through the course, trotting toward him. Barbie sat, smiling and panting, in the saddle.

“See?” she said, glowing with exertion. “She loves it. She’s dying to race.”
“No.” Heath gripped his reins hard to keep his hands from shaking. “Don’t ever do that again.” His voice came out rough and hollow.
“Why? It’s what Daisy was born to do.” Barbie’s frown held more than frustration. She was studying him.
“She could have been hurt. You both could have been hurt.”
“Come on. Give me more credit than that.” Barbie’s frown disappeared, replaced by a teasing look. She rode Daisy right up to Buck’s side and reached out to grip his arm. “I know what I’m doing.”

Part of Heath wanted to lean into her, wanted to pull her onto the saddle with him and hold her until his shaking stopped. The rest of him pulsed as though he were in a combat zone.
“I said no,” he snapped, yanking Buck’s reins to get away from her. “It’s too dangerous.”
“It’s not dangerous it’s—”
“Will you just listen to me,” he shouted. “I’m trying to save your life.”

Barbie’s mouth snapped shut and her face flooded with color. She swallowed hard, then stared at him with far more emotion than he wanted to deal with. She knew. He’d slipped up, and she knew him well enough to know that his leg wasn’t the only wound he’d brought home from Vietnam.

You can pre-order your copy of Heath’s Homecoming on Amazon (and it will be part of the Kindle Unlimited program when it comes out):

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Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Merry a comment.

April Online #Herbal Lore Class–Beth Trissel

If you missed my other classes, or want to catch the updated version, I’m giving my Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs class in April for Charter Oak Romance Writers. Non-members are welcome to join in. Register here at:

(Dill and heirloom poppies from Monticello in our garden)

This workshop spans centuries of herbs and their lore from the ancients, through the British Isles, Colonial America, Native Americans, the Granny Women and the Mountain People of the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies (general Appalachia). Mountains are all around us here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Nonfiction Herbal

Participants will receive the eBook of my herbal, Plants for A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles (also available in print if anyone’s interested).

There’s so much fascinating stuff to cover, I encourage participants to download and save files for later. I also welcome discussion and questions. My aim is for my workshop to be both informative and fun.

“As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul.”
– Anonymous


Furbaby Friday with Paty Jager

I’m happy to have fellow country gal, Paty Jager, here to share her little dog, Tink, and latest western romance from her Shandra Higheagle Mystery series.

My Furbaby Tink by Paty Jager

Tinkerbelle or Tink, as we call her, is a mini-pincher, chihuahua cross that I brought home when she was only five weeks old.
It all started with me making over an older couple’s dog that their granddaughter had given them. He was a min-pin/chihuahua mix named Mokie. I liked his personality, his manners, the way he carried himself. When we visited them, or they visited us, I would hold Mokie and talk to him. We’d moved into a new house we’d built and had lost our mini-schnauzer to old age. I told my husband, I didn’t want any more house dogs. We had three outside dogs. One was ours and the other two were our daughters’ that had been left behind when they went to college.

Molly, Boots, and Maverick

The older couple showed up at the house one day and told me to get in their van. I did, and they took me to a house with a mother dog and 8 puppies. “You get the pick of the litter,” they said. Mokie had sired the litter with a chihuahua mix female. There were four puppies who had the same coloring as Mokie. I sat on the floor and watched them moving around. One came over to me, crawled up my leg, and sat in my hand. She was as big as my palm. She had a kink in her tail. I said I’d take this one. The lady with the female dog said, “You might as well take her today. The mom doesn’t have enough milk and I’ve been feeding them puppy chow.” She gave me a small bag of puppy chow because I wasn’t prepared to take a dog home. But I did.

(Riding on a tractor)

Because she was so small, we named her Tinkerbelle, but call her Tink. We had snow, and she was so small she couldn’t walk through it. I had to clear the snow in a small patch so she could go to the bathroom. But she also didn’t like the cold and would shiver and not go. We ended up most of that winter using a pad in the utility room for her.
She also couldn’t get up the stairs to my writing area. I would carry her up, and she’d sleep on my lap or in a bed by the desk. She still follows me into my office every day and sleeps on a bed next to my desk as I write.

(Looking for Sage rats)

Because she was so young when I got her, she has never learned to play with other dogs. When they try to play with her, she puts her nose in the air and walks away. She tolerates another dog sniffing her, but then moves off. She will play with a toy and with me or my husband. She has been leery of the smaller grandchildren but will tolerate the older ones petting her when they first arrive. After about thirty minutes she’s had enough and finds a quiet place to sleep.
She likes to go on walks, enjoys laying in a chair on the porch in the sun, chasing sage rats, and riding in tractors and farm equipment. She thinks she’s bigger than she is.

(Mikey and Harlie)

We have two other dogs at this time. One is my husband’s dog, Mikey, who is two to three times the size of Tink. She tolerates him, and they go for rides in the backhoe with my husband. We also inherited my dad’s dog Harlie, she’s a border collie/boxer mix with a lot of energy and gentle disposition. She has tried to play with Tink but has been snapped at for the attempt.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when my 13 year-old Tink leaves us. She has been the best dog I’ve ever had. She only barks if someone comes and then she stops as soon as you tell her to. She has manners. I can leave open food in the car with her and she won’t touch it unless I give it to her. She knows the words, thirsty, hungry, kids, walk, backhoe, tractor and many more. She is clean, doesn’t roll in nasty stuff like the other two. And tolerates baths.

Because of my love of dogs, my character, Shandra Higheagle in my Shandra Higheagle mystery series, has a big, furry, goofball of a dog that in some cases helps her find clues to the murders.
In my current release, Artful Murder, Sheba, the dog, hears someone leave a package on the doorstep and keeps Shandra safe.

(Tink helping Paty sell books)

Blurb from Artful Murder, Book ten in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series
Secrets… Scandal… Murder…

An autistic boy and his brother need potter Shandra Higheagle’s help when a teacher’s body is found after a confrontation with the older brother. Shandra knows the boy is innocent. Digging into the teacher’s life, she and Ryan turn up scandal.
Detective Ryan Greer has believed in Shandra’s dreams in the past, but she can’t always be right. When his investigation uncovers a principal on the take, females being harassed, and parents kept in the dark, he discovers more suspects than the brothers. Shandra’s time at the school is coming to an end, and the killer has struck again.


Excerpt from Artful Murder:

“I’ll be fine. Besides, you’ll be there sometime this morning, won’t you? To talk to Jennifer?” Shandra buttered her toast and tossed half the slice to Sheba. Having a large dog made it easier to eat foods she shouldn’t. She could take a few bites of the forbidden food and then toss it to her furry companion.

“Yes. I’ll head there after I go by the department and fill in Sheriff Oldham. After the school, I’ll catch up with Mrs. Lawrence at her work. Someone, somewhere is bound to slip up and give me a detail that will give me a foothold on some information.” Ryan set his coffee mug in the sink and stopped beside her. “Please be careful.”

Shandra stared into his pleading eyes. He knew her well enough by now to not tell her what to do. But his caring always did more to shake her need to find the truth anyway.

“I’ll be careful. I just want to make sure the real killer is found.” She hugged Ryan, wondering how she’d been so lucky to have found him.

“Good. We have a wedding to plan for and it’s hard to do that without a bride.” He kissed the top of her head and walked into the living room.

The wedding! She still needed to get the invitations sent out. In all the hubbub the last week or so, she’d forgotten they were in a box in her suitcase in the bedroom. Sheba rose up off the floor as Shandra headed out of the kitchen. Before she crossed the living room, Sheba woofed and pounced on the door.
“You have to go out the back door.” Shandra pivoted toward the kitchen.
Sheba woofed and pounced on the front door again.

Shandra spun around. “You can’t go out there unless I watch you.”
The dog pounced at the door and dug at the floor.

“Okay. I get the point. You want to go out the front door.” Shandra snagged her coat from where it lay across the back of the couch and walked to the door.
Sheba whined and plopped down on her furry backside.

“What is wrong?” Shandra looked out the peephole on the door before opening it. All she spotted were kids headed to school. To avoid one of them getting knocked down by her overgrown puppy, Shandra grabbed the leash by the door and clicked it to the collar.

“Let’s go.” She opened the door and Sheba refused to move. “You’re the one who had to go out this door.” Shandra glanced down and found a shoebox.
She shoved back into the house and closed the door.

Where had she left her phone this morning? A quick look through the living room and kitchen didn’t find it. The second she stepped into the bedroom her gaze landed on the object of her search. She crossed the room, grabbed the cell phone, and hit Ryan’s speed dial number.

“You have reached Detective Ryan Greer—”
“Voicemail!” She hung up and dialed the Sheriff’s Department.
“Weippe County Sheriff’s Department this is Deputy Davis. How may I help you?”
“Cathleen! This is Shandra.”
“Hi Shandra. Ryan is in with the Sher—”
“I know. He’s not answering his phone. Someone left a shoebox on the front porch.” She knew there could be something innocent in the box, but given someone followed her last night, she really didn’t need to find a harmful surprise.

(Tink in the backhoe).

Get Artful Murder in Kindle

Universal Buy Link:

Author Bio: Paty Jager is the award-winning author of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what Mysteries Etc has to say about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

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Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Paty a comment.

Chronicling Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

I am a gardener, animal lover, author… Fortunately, I haven’t had to choose a single focus and incorporate my loves into my writing. Among my greatest passions is the Shenandoah Valley in general, and our farm in particular. The meadows are covered in a wash of green and looking far more hopeful than the brown hue we’ve lived with since November A blanket of snow is pretty but we haven’t had much snowfall this year. Thank heavens the rain has returned after months of drought. Fingers crossed, it stays.

Our drained and dug out farm pond is finally beginning to fill back up again. It was a dry crater all fall and winter like something on the moon. The barnyard geese were suspicious at first, but now go for swims. We are watching for the migrating waterfowl and birds who were once regular visitors here. Sadly, our place was off their radar last spring. Having an alive pond again is exciting. We’re consulting experts about what to do regarding fish, and I’m toying with getting ducks. The original pond had filled with silt over the decades and had to be redone. It’s located in a marshy spot in the meadow fed by wet water springs and is the head waters of Cooks Creek, which ultimately feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Fencing keeps the cows out. We have planted some trees and shrubs around it and will plant more.

(Geese enjoying the new grass. Ruins of an old barn visible behind our farm)

I’m in my ‘giddy about the earth awakening mode’, or was, until the wind storm hit. My spirits are a little battered, and the crocus are kind of sad after the roaring bluster. But I trust the blossoms will revive and new ones will open when this gale finishes with us and sweeps away. March really roared in this year. Inclement weather is a trial to gardeners everywhere. We hopeful souls go on. We must. I’m chronicling spring as it unfolds in my bit of earth.

(Early crocus and snowdrops)

I saved a lot of seeds last year, ordered many others, and started some early varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetables in my little greenhouse. One late February day was so balmy, it felt like May. I planted my early salad greens in the garden during the warm spell. Then the lion returned, and the seeds will slumber until the warmth comes back.

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.”
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

(Miniature iris return faithfully each year)

(Yellow crocus)

***For more on me follow my Amazon Author Page:

Furbaby Friday with Karen Rose Smith!

I am pleased to have cat lover, Karen Rose Smith, here to share her kitties and cozy mystery series, Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes Book 1, Daisy’s Tea Garden.

Karen: My husband and I have rescued and adopted five inside cats. Zander and his sister Freya are the youngest. In July, a dear friend found six kittens under a porch. My husband and visited them. That was the mistake! I planned to take one of the kittens—Freya, a little black beauty. But her brother needed a home too and no one seemed to want him. After another visit to the litter, my husband held him and that was that. We added these two adorable kittens to our family. Zander is the first male cat I’ve had inside even though I’ve been a cat mom since I was a child. He thinks he’s king of the house and he’s probably right!


Murder With Lemon Tea Cakes is the first book in my new cozy mystery series, Daisy’s Tea Garden. It’s set in Willow Creek, a fictional town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers–one at home and one who recently started college–along with her aunt Iris, are the proprietors of Daisy’s Tea Garden. Although Daisy’s aunt is in her golden years, she’s enjoying the company of Harvey Fitz, wealthy CEO of Men’s Trends. (Harvey’s favorite snacks at the tea garden are Lemon Tea Cakes.) The only problem is that Harvey isn’t yet divorced. When Harvey is murdered on the tea garden’s patio, Aunt Iris is the prime suspect. But Daisy soon discovers many residents of Willow Creek are suspects–from Harvey’s soon to be ex-wife, to his children to his business colleagues.

Daisy’s focus has to be on her adopted daughter Jazzi (Jasmine) who wants to search for her birth parents. But with the help of a former detective turned furniture store owner, Jonas Groft, she finds answers for both her daughter and her aunt. (Daisy’s two cats, a tuxedo feline named Pepper and a dark tortoiseshell with a unique split colored face named Marjoram, are important members of their family.)


Aunt Iris pulled her camel-colored coat from the coat rack, then went to the counter for the bag of lemon tea cakes she’d set there. “Don’t work too hard,” her Aunt Iris told her as she gave her a hug. “Oh, and can you pick me up in the morning and bring me to work? I’ll leave my car here because we’ll probably take Harvey’s. He’ll just drop me off at home.”

“That’s fine. Why don’t you have a cup of tea with me until he gets here?”

“He’s usually prompt, or even early. I’ll just go out to the garden and wait for him. I really should check the thyme and oregano. If they’re not producing as much as we need, you might have to order from the supplier.”

“Don’t sit out there alone if Harvey’s late.”

“I won’t,” her aunt assured her, gave her hand a squeeze, and then left through the back garden door, carrying her purse and the bag of tea cakes.

Daisy had picked up her two-cup vintage teapot with its hand-painted lilac pattern when she heard a blood curdling scream.

That was her aunt!

“Aunt Iris,” she called as she set down the teapot, exited the back door and ran through the garden.

She froze when she spotted Harvey’s body crumpled in the herb garden.~

Get Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes in Kindle:

Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith’s 100th novel is a 2018 release. She writes both cozy mysteries, romance novels and women’s fiction. One of her romances was aired as a TV movie on the UP tv network. Her passion is caring for her five rescued cats. Her hobbies are gardening, cooking, watercolor painting and photography. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. Even though she escaped into story worlds, she had many cousins around her on weekends. Families are a strong theme in all of her novels. She’s recently working on her Caprice De Luca Home Staging mystery series as well as her Daisy Tea Garden mystery series.

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Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Karen a comment.

Furbaby Friday with Shenandoah Valley Artist and Author Mike Reisenberg!

I am happy to have animal lover and expert, Mike Reisenberg, on the blog to share a beloved dog memory, and wonderful stories drawn from his life. I have known and admired Mike for years, and was a faithful listener of his radio show.

Abby & Mikey:

Sometimes we dog and animal lovers go looking for a dog. It’s time. We’ve been without a pup since our beloved Champ, Rex, Tinki, or Bear left us. The pain of that loss may have inspired promises we would never have another dog. The pain fades and being without a dog, for a dog lover, is a void more painful. We know the breed that fits us best because that’s the breed our family or we have always had. Pug people are pug people. Lab owners swear they will always have labs and that sentiment is extended to almost every breed by some group or another. Those of us lucky enough  to have shared a house with a Mutt, are not as limited in our search. A trip to the SPCA or shelter almost always guarantees a psychic connection and the next family K-9.

Sometimes happenstance inserts itself and delivers a dog when you positively are not thinking or looking for that K-9 companion.  Normally this happens to first-time dog owners, even those who say they do not like dogs. It often happens to dog lovers not quite ready to replace or add a puppy to their home. It especially happens to those of us thinking we may get a dog, but knowing our family or economic situation, we make the decision to wait. That is when the best dogs find us.

Pam and I and daughter Charity had owned cats. Charity liked cats. We didn’t want a cat and a dog, and I had a basement full of tropical fish and some cockatoos and a red rat snake. If Pam had let me, I would have filled our house with animals, and I’m sure a dog would have been included.

Instead of an in-house zoo that would have threatened my marriage, I purchased The Animal House Pet Shop. About that same time, we were thinking about adopting a baby. Any thought or talk of a dog was quickly hushed as being too much work with a new business et all. The Animal House took in mixed breed dogs for sale. We had them checked by a veterinarian, paid for the required first shots and worming to ensure good health. We then made a modest profit selling them to dog lovers. The idea was the new dog owner would purchase many dollars worth of toys, bowls, leashes, collars, beds and grooming services. Puppies were vet checked before they were accepted and any major health problems were avoided.

The litter of black puppies arrived before Christmas. Their mother was a Heinz 57; their father was unknown. The scruffy litter looked like Scotties and would sell fast. All had that ‘you have to love me’ look and the friendly playful way that endears dogs to anyone with a heart. They checked out, had their shots, and the adoptions started. After a few days, one of the smaller ones became sick. A follow up revealed an infection and hernia that would require surgery and shunts. The little pup needed compresses changed, and I brought her home for my daughter to nurse. I had full intentions of taking her back to the Animal House and selling or giving away a healthy pup.

Charity named her Abby. We took turns with the compresses, and Abby was there to stay! You’re thinking I should have known that? We then had a new business, a cat, and a puppy. Abby ended up looking like a long body Scotty fooling even some Scotty owners into asking who the breeder was. We also adopted a son, Mikey. Abby welcomed him by craping under his bed. He would become her favorite.

Like most of her kind, Abby was not a finicky eater. After a day in Charlottesville, we arrived home to find Abby bloated and her face covered in fish guts and scales. She had also perfumed her body by rolling in the remains of her feast. Our neighbor Jim had cleaned his fish and buried the guts and scales behind his shed. Abby was not a welcomed sight. As luck would have it, Pam’s mother was visiting, and Pam, in a firm, fussing rant, wanted to know why Opal and Charity hadn’t bathed the dog. They had twice! Three times Abby had figured a way out of the house to the waiting well aged fish. Pam’s mom said, she’s your dog and two baths were all she was doing.

Abby was mostly Mikey’s dog; she followed him everywhere. Mikey walked at ten months. The reason for his early two-legged jaunt was Abby. Mikey would grab hold of her back hair, pull himself up and then walk along beside her. Abby seemed to know not to go too fast. Mikey’s little legs grew strong as he gave up crawling for walking alongside his dog. His ten-month solo was at a Christmas Party. Abby barked with delight. They spent the next twelve years running and playing. As dogs often do Abby grew older faster and passed away.

A Pet Supply Christmas Catalog arrived and in it was a page of dog ornaments. One was the splitting image of Abby dressed as a winged angel. She has been on our Christmas Tree ever since. She hangs each year next to Mikey’s paper hand.

Beth: What a touching story, Mike. I loved it.

Mike: I am new to e-books and Kindle. My first five entries are short stories. The titles are  Boots, the Best Dog in the World. The Cave. Rooster Eggs? Fish-tales, Snappers and Fishhooks. The Haunted House at Hopkins Farm.

They were all taken from a larger book that I am still working on. Each event is from my preteen years to age fourteen. Here are some brief passages from each one.


The grownups in the neighborhood called us the Hartwell Boys. We called ourselves the Snakes. As soon as school let out for the summer, we would spend Saturdays hiking and exploring the woods behind Drake hospital. We would rise early, raid the fridge, make sandwiches, and pack our own lunch.

We ate anything and everything from apples to liverwurst to sardines. Our creative combinations between two slices of bread would make Dagwood Bumstead proud. Peanut butter could be spread with anything. Our hope was that Mom didn’t have any chores for us. We were a band of five to seven adventurers. Boots, our dog, came too.


After a drink from our communal canteen, we circled the sinkhole and felt the cool, inviting wisp of escaping air. The leaves had been washed away by recent rains, and the opening looked more friendly than usual.

I stood looking down at the dark hole and welcomed that most pleasant mix of fear, excitement, and anticipation. Like standing in line for your first rollercoaster ride. “We should have brought more ropes.” I heard myself say.

Rooster Eggs:

After Lenore’s first day, she sat at the end of the walk, her feet in the road, sobbing into her apron. She wanted to go home. Her hands hurt, her legs ached, her body cried for sleep, and her eyes tried to wash away the thought of dishes needing cleaning. She would have fled if she had had a place to go.

She may have left on tired legs down that dusty road if she had quit crying before Luther found her.

Fish Tales:

“That’s a BIG turtle” he boasted as if he had caught it himself. “What you fixin’ to do with it?”
“Take it back to camp and eat it.” declared Richard.
“They are good eaten that’s for sure. But hard to clean. You boys ever clean a turtle?”
I nodded yes.
“ Now I know no white boy young as you done cleaned a turtle. Not as big as this un.” He hedged.
“Yes, I have! I helped my Grand Dad in Virginia.”
“Helpings one thing, but cutting through that hard shell…

Haunted House:

The heavy door creaked open, and all but Fritz strode in. The dim was stripped with shafts of thinly sliced sun dancing dust in ribbons of gold, opaque against deeper, darker, bluer shadows. We walked and turned, mouths agape, as if part of a slow-motion square dance, choreographed to silent music, playing the same song, in all our heads. It felt as if the barn was turning around us. Our partner in a song of wonder.

The loft with hand hued ladder; hay bales still waiting to be used; horse collar and plow, buckets, hoes, rakes, egg baskets all placed ready for the days work. A workday that never came ‘till now. Now they would be our tools assisting our work. The best kind of work, the play of young boys.

Thanks for reading.

Beth: Fabulous stories, Mike. Some remind me of my childhood, and my brothers’. I remember your pet shop. The kids and I loved going there.

***Be sure to visit Mike’s Amazon Author page. He is a highly talented artist and also has some wonderful paintings  on that page. He designed his book covers.

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