This has been an exciting summer so far and I'm thrilled with some of the new adventures I'm involved in. First of all, Her Books, a collaboration of award-winning authors of women's fiction has released a second ebook, Coffee Break Reads. The book contains short stories by Steena Holmes, Elena Aitkens, Christina Nolfi, Bette Lee Crosby, Patricia Sands, and moi! The book is $2.99 and is available for Kindle or Nook. Each of the stories, while a complete story on its own, offers a sample of the authors' other work.
When I wrote my story for the sampler I wanted to promote my The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall stories so I wrote a story called “The Rhubarb Epidemic.” This is the beginning:
Despite the fact that it was a lovely, warm May morning and the scent of lilacs and honeysuckle drifted through the streets of Marienstadt, Pennsylvania, Chief of Police Henry Werner was not in a good mood. He got out of his Explorer in the parking lot behind Town Hall, opened the door to the back seat and lifted out a bushel basket, then locked the doors. He hated locking his car.
“What ya' got there, Henry?” Donna Lynch, the day dispatcher, asked as he came into police headquarters and hefted the basket onto her desk. She glanced inside and burst out laughing.
“Rhubarb,” he said, frowning. “Must be twenty-five pounds of it. Can you believe somebody left that in the backseat of my Explorer? I'm the damn chief of police!”
“I've told you before, Henry.” She reached for a tissue to dab at her eyes. “I know you don't like to think that Marienstadt is the kind of town where people have to lock their cars, but if you don't at this time of year, people will put rhubarb in it.”
He put his hands on his hips and glared at the long stalks of rosy fruit. “I live alone. Why would anyone think I needed a bushel of rhubarb?”
Donna grinned. “Folks are desperate. It's been so mild this year that rhubarb is ripening early and the plants are twice their usual size. I cut mine back last week to make pies and, I swear, they're growing all over again. I don't know what I'm going to do with all of it.”
Henry glanced up at her. “Do you want some of this?”
He sighed. “Maybe I'll take it over to Lola's. She serves rhubarb tarts in her shop. She can probably use it.”
Donna raised her eyebrows. “You can try.”
Lola Eckert scooped freshly ground coffee into the basket of her coffeemaker. The morning was a busy one. All the tables and booths in her strudel shop were full and there were only a few empty stools at the counter. Movement outside caught her eye and she turned to look out the window with the words Lola's Strudel Shop—Kissin Don't Last • Cookin Do painted on it. The morning sunlight glinted in Henry Werner's fair hair. She couldn't help but notice the muscles in his arms as he balanced a bushel basket on his thigh and opened her shop door.
“What on earth do you have, Henry?” She reached for a coffee mug, filled it, and placed it on the counter for him.
“Can you use some rhubarb?” he asked, tipping the basket to show her its contents.
“Oh my. I have a ton of it in my kitchen. You're the fourth person to bring me rhubarb. I've been cutting it up to freeze.” She smiled at him. “What can I get you for breakfast?”
“Just toast.” He settled onto a stool and turned to the slender man in a black suit next to him. “Morning, Father Nick. How're you doing?”
I hope that you'll give Coffee Break Reads a try. Oh, and by the way, I designed the cover.
The second collaboration involves the Her Books authors and for this we are planning a series of books that we are going to write in collaboration with one another as well as with our readers. This is how it works: Each of the authors will develop a group of characters—some are part of a family—of their own. All of these characters live in the same town and interact with one another. For each ebook we will select a theme and then each author will write a story based on that theme, allowing the characters to interact with one another but each of us will write our own story AND we will also be asking our readers for input. We are asking for suggestions about the town, what part of the country it is in, what it is named, etc. Some of the authors are asking their readers to name their characters. So if you want to participate, join us on the Facebook Her Books page, or “Like” my Facebook Kathleen Valentine's Books page and join in the fun.
I'll tell you more about my characters in my next post.
Thanks for reading!!!