Thursday Teaser: The Devil of Light

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You can win a free e-copy of Book 1 in the Cass Elliot Crime Series. Find out how at the end of this excerpt.

By Gae-Lynn Woods

the devil of light-finalGOOBER’S BREATH CAUGHT IN his throat as the lawn mower sputtered to a stop in the middle of Possum Creek Bridge. This was a lonely stretch of road, infrequently traveled. Rare farmhouses rested at the end of rutted dirt tracks masquerading as driveways, and the heavy forest obscured the welcome warmth of electric light. Goober hated the dark. Monsters did their dirty work in the dark. They hid in the dark, beneath beds and in closets, under bridges and behind trees, lunging when your guard was down. Cries for help went unanswered in the dark. Alone was worse in the dark.

It was no surprise that he was afraid of the dark, or of being alone, for Goober’s origins were a mystery. He’d been found one morning nearly forty years ago, nestled in the gnarled roots of the ancient hanging tree on the courthouse lawn, sleeping peacefully next to the town drunk. A scandal of magnificent proportions ensued. Who was this child? Where had he come from? And where were his parents? The grapevine drums were beaten, gossip smoke signals went up, and the newspaper and radio made repeated announcements encouraging his parents to come forward. But no one came to claim the gentle-natured toddler whose passion for chocolate covered peanuts earned him his nickname. An elderly widow had taken the boy in, and so his life as Arcadia’s child began.

Goober wasn’t retarded, but he was slow at formal education. He never learned to read or write beyond a fourth grade level and he dropped out of school when he was sixteen, picking up odd jobs and developing a talent for gardening. When the widow died, she left Goober her small trailer and her smaller savings account. For years he’d ridden a decrepit tandem bicycle, happily pedaling Forney County’s highways and byways. At some point, a generous soul had given Goober a red riding lawn mower with no blades. And at exactly that point, Goober entered the glorious world of combustible engines, whose maintenance requirements outstripped his abilities. Which brought him to his precarious position on the bridge this evening.

His eyes darted into the murky shadows surrounding Possum Creek as he twisted the mower’s key. Her engine whirred but refused to turn over, and as her groans faded into a desperate click, Goober was flooded with a sudden urge to pee.

Reluctantly, he lifted his long frame from the mower, his imagination running wild. He’d heard rumors of ghosts roaming the woods, the spirits of slaughtered cowboys and Indians seeking revenge for past wrongs. Standing stock-still with his stomach churning, Goober waited. When only the night noises reached him, he gathered his courage, dried his sweaty palms on his overalls and unhooked the small can bungeed to a platform behind the seat. Unlocking the mower’s gas cap, he prepared to tip the can up when starlight shimmered across the fuel tank’s gaping maw. He paused, and the memory of stopping at the filling station this morning streaked across his brain. Confused, he frowned at the mower, forgetting his fear as he struggled to understand why she wouldn’t start.

A sudden clanking rang across the still night and drove Goober into a squat. His heart pounded as he clutched the gas can against his chest and scuttled behind the mower, breath coming in shallow gasps. He tried to listen past the blood thrumming in his ears but the evening remained stubbornly closed, refusing to reveal its secrets. Rattled but reassured that the noise had stopped, Goober rose on shaking legs and relocked the tank before returning the can to its platform. One hand on her seat, he examined the mower with a mixture of dread and affection. His source of freedom had failed him and Goober’s childlike mind cranked through his options. Slowly, he realized that he had no choice but to walk to town, through the terrifying night.

He tried to swallow, but found that his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. Lifting his baseball cap to run a hand over his thinning hair, Goober turned resolutely away from the mower and sought the city’s glow arcing over the black forest. He firmed the cap back on his head and hummed a jumpy tune, walking steadily toward Arcadia, eyes fixed on the strip of road before him.

The blossoming of an unnatural radiance off to his left spooked him. A bright fire danced among the tall pine trees and the vague silhouette of a distant building engulfed in flames captivated him. A devilish ghost danced between Goober and the flickering light, startling him from his trance. Heart pounding, bladder releasing a warm torrent, he turned and fled from Possum Creek, too terrified to scream.

In the blushing night air, Hitch slunk to the edge of the road, taking in the man pelting toward town. He moved to the lawn mower, his amber eyes narrowing. Turning to the fleeing man with a look of recognition, Hitch took two steps forward and then stopped, head cocked to one side, seeming to consider the situation. Reluctantly, the monster left the road and melted back between the trees.

How to win your free copy

Answer this question in the Comments section:

What is the loneliest stretch of road you’ve ever driven? 

 

About The Devil of Light

A BIZARRE MURDER

When young Detective Cass Elliot responds to a 911 call at the home of a prominent businessman, she finds him violently murdered in the barnyard with his battered wife unconscious near the tool that killed him. Still raw from her own unsolved attack six years ago, Cass is stunned when confronted with graphic photographs scattered across their kitchen floor that lead to a shadowy sect called The Church of the True Believer.

A COVERT WEB OF LIES AND EXPLOITATION

Cass and her partner Mitch Stone delve into a cunning world of blackmail and violence – and find a cult concealed for nearly a century beneath the genteel, small town façade of Arcadia in East Texas. Their investigation triggers a brutal response from powerful men who will protect their identities at any cost. They unleash a ruthless killer whose actions create a media frenzy and destroy the fabric of trust within the police department.

A PERVASIVE EVIL

Cass and Mitch circle closer to the cult’s few members, following a slim lead into a night lit by fire. A night that begins with a blood ritual and ends with Cass holding a man’s life – or death – in her hands and struggling to walk the fine line between vengeance and justice.

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About the author

Gae-Lynn Woods 2015-08Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fence, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

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Monday Musings: Putting the “Social” in Social Media

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by Kathleen Valentine

smLast week I blogged about how to maximize your social media time by inter-connecting the various platforms. This week I want to remind people that the operative word in “social media” is social. We have to interact to make social media effective.

During the month of April I participated in the annual A to Z Challenge, a blogging event in which bloggers from all over the world are challenged to blog every day except Sundays following the alphabet. We each pick a theme—I picked Meet My Imaginary Friends—and blog on that. All of the participants are listed on the A to Z web site and each blogger then tries to visit and comment on as many blogs as she has time for. This year there were over a thousand participants but also this year, we were divided into categories. I picked BO—Books and when it came time to visit, I visited other blogs in my category. It was fascinating and fun! The variety of subject matter was amazing. A few bloggers started a story and continued it each day. Some wrote daily poems. Some wrote about herbs, their hobbies, traveling, cartoon characters, movies, books they loved. One guy  wrote an imaginary on-going conversation between Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud. A woman managed to find a serial killer for every day!!!

Within a few days, I had become familiar with quite a few people I’d never heard of before. I visited their blogs every day, they visited mine and we left comments. Some people wandered off, other new folks arrived, and by the final week of the Challenge we were like a bunch of people who had gone on a great adventure together and now had to go our separate ways. We exchange Twitter and Facebook handles, signed up for one another’s blog updates or newsletters, and promised we’d stay in touch. I bought a few books from them, they bought a few books from me. It was all very touching.

But what this did was remind me that the point of social media is to inter-act, to form relationships, to be part of a community. It’s not just there to use for advertising. Share posts on Facebook, comment on blogs, Retweet on Twitter. Learn to use hashtags, too. Learning to use Twitter hashtags can be very helpful to get your Tweets seen by the right people.

For example, every day I Tweet 4 or 5 inspirational quotes for writers. They are attractive graphics that I create and I use the same hashtags most days: #amreading, #amwriting, #writinginspiration, #writerslife. What including the hashtags does is allow anyone who follows that hashtag to see your post—not just your Followers. Say, for instance, you wrote a blog post about teddy bears and you want to attract the attention of people who love teddies. You can write a Tweet with a link to your blog and add #teddybears, #loveteddies, or something similar. That way all the people who track that hashtag get to see your post.

As I mentioned before, I use TweetDeck but there are other Twitter platforms. I set up columns for hashtags I am following and delete them when I no longer need them. I did this for the A to Z Challenge. I set up #AtoZchallenge and every day I would go through it and Retweet any Tweets with that hashtag that I found interesting. I also have columns for #MondayBlogs and #SundayBlogShare. You can follow hashtags for your favorite sports team or actor or author. The possibilities are limitless. But when you Retweet others you build, as Rachel Thompson says, good karma. Others my reciprocate or not but that’s not the point.

So, as you continue to use social media, whether for business or for fun, remember, the key word is social—be social. What goes around, comes around.

Thanks for reading.

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Thursday Teaser: Collateral Damage

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An Annie Ogden Mystery By Frederick Lee Brooke I sat without moving. My muscles weren’t reacting. He had invited me to his party. He had followed me around town, stalked me, and camped out in my sister’s apartment. He knew I was living with … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: Connecting Social Media

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by Kathleen Valentine Every time I read an article about book marketing one of the first things they tell you is to learn to use social media. One of the first things you discover when you start using social media is that it can suck the life out of … [Continue reading]

Teaser Thursday: Fatal Interest

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By Julie C. Gilbert “It’s nice to meet you. Who’s the handsome fellow?” “Blue.” “That’s a nice name. I see you’ve already met Dr. Ian Alton. He’s the biology teacher, but his true passion is his research into different genetic strains of grass. I … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: What’s All This Author Branding Stuff?

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by Kathleen Valentine I had lunch recently with two fellow authors who, like me, have been at this writing game for a number of years. One of us—probably me—brought up the perplexing issue of “author branding” which seems to be all the rage these … [Continue reading]

Teaser Thursday: Getting Even

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Win a free e-copy of newest novel by bestseller Claude Bouchard Leave a comment at the end of this excerpt. William stepped into the parking garage from the elevators and, with a glance, confirmed the presence of the Barrys’ vehicles. Though … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: To Go Free or Not To Go Free

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by Kathleen Valentine A few years ago I was in my car parked along the street waiting for a friend who was running an errand. It was trash day in Gloucester and the sidewalks were loaded with trash bags and recycling bins. Someone had put out a … [Continue reading]

Teaser Thursday: For Everly

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By Raine Thomas Cole looked back at Wyatt. “I don’t think it’s a great idea to receive treatment by a student, Wy, genius or not. What if she screws up my arm even worse than it is?” “Then you’ll get treated by a proper specialist, which you … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: “I felt like I was there!”

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by Kathleen Valentine Those words are music to this writer's ears. Nothing makes me happier than when a reader tells me that they were so engrossed in one of my stories that they felt like they were right there. I love creating a sense of place in … [Continue reading]