Slant Well Launches!

Slant Well is hot off the e-press at Smashwords. This is my second novel to be published. It is the first I have self-published. A Texas tall tale set in my hometown and surrounding swamps, it is non-stop action. Magic, murder, and mayhem with a dollop of sex and love.

Here is its first review:

SlantWell_200x300_dpi72From the first page, you are riveted.  You’re drawn into a “magical” world of  murder, mystery, and a very special touch of “magical” love.   MR brings each character to life in such a way that their various personalities will enchant you, instantly.  A few of the characters you’re going to love from the moment you open the book but there are a few, you’re going to love to hate as each character plays their role perfectly throughout the story.

Who knew oil rigging could be so troublesome?  Who knew one little woman could cause so much trouble and turn a hardcore PI so soft, and  hard, almost simultaneously?  This book will captivate you with Texas oilmen, PI’s, Russian mobsters, eagles, hawks, dragons, magic and love.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  My review couldn’t possibly do it justice.  You have to read it to believe that all the above-mentioned things work so exceptionally well together.

Read it now and thank me later,

Rose M. Brate, author of: Broken Promises, A Promise Kept, and My Promise to You.

 

Ready, Set, Publish

I am going on a new adventure. The formatting is done. Soon, I will publish my novel, Slant Well, on Smashwords. I am as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. The adrenaline is exquisite. I haven’t felt this since the days of running bed races to get patients to the ICU to save their lives.

Slant Well is the result of my taking some Geology classes, having a wicked streak, and seeing the sign pointing out Big Hill Federal Oil Reserve while I traveled the roads on my Hospice rounds. The story started in my mind and grew to the point I had to write it or have my head explode. A long time and a lot of work later it is going to press, e press as it it now.

This is the blurb for the back of the book… P.I. and occasional hit man, Allyn Jones takes a job in Texas oil country. There, he faces the greatest challenge of his life…a woman. He must survive the deadly forces she commands to form a bond with her. Together, they unleash ancient magic against the murderous would-be oil thieves who sent him to kill her. Shapes shift, an oil well explodes, and a dragon is unleashed.

My friends who put up with me writing this Texas Tall Tale are cheering me on. My fellow authors are also supportive of this endeavor. Two of them are hands on. Ruth de Jauregui is coaching me on the publication process. Rose M. Brate read and reviewed. Here is the return email she sent:

SlantWell Review

First, let me say thank you so much MR for allowing me the pleasure of reading, “Slant Well”.  It was intriguing, spellbinding, well-written, and impossible to put down.  It has been a very long time since I’ve found a book that’s held my interest like this book did.  I loved it and I look forward to a “Slant Well 2”!  Winkie face….

From the first page, you are riveted.  You’re drawn into a “magical” world of  murder, mystery, and a very special touch of “magical” love.   MR brings each character to life in such a way that their various personalities will enchant you, instantly.  A few of the characters you’re going to love from the moment you open the book but there are a few, you’re going to love to hate as each character plays their role perfectly throughout the story.

Who knew oil rigging could be so troublesome?  Who knew one little woman could cause so much trouble and turn a hardcore PI so soft, and  hard, almost simultaneously?  This book will captivate you with Texas oilmen, PI’s, Russian mobsters, eagles, hawks, dragons, magic and love.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  My review couldn’t possibly do it justice.  You have to read it to believe that all the above-mentioned things work so exceptionally well together.

Look for this book online soon, read it, and you can thank me later!

Rose M. Brate

Another shout out to amazing cover artist, Dawne Dominique of DusktillDawn Productions for this cover that covers the story so well.

SlantWell_200x300_dpi72

 

Slant Well Cover Reflects Magical Realism

This is what I’ve been dreaming of for as long as the characters have been demanding their story be told. The cover for Slant Well is here. Award winning cover artist, Dawne’ Dominique produced this story-in-a-picture cover. Working from my descriptions, she captured the essence of the tale, a mixture of harsh reality and magic. She tweaked the type and shattered drill stem spells the title. It’s a pleasure to work with her again.

SlantWell_150dpi_eBook

Edits, Magic, and Mayhem

It seems an age of the Earth ago that I started writing Slant Well. It is the first novel I finished writing. I started several others, on my journey to become a writer and be published, but chalked them up to the learning experience and put them in the proverbial file drawer unfinished. Slant Well is a tribute to my persistence. I wrote until I got the story told, then cut out a large book’s worth of excess.

In order to get the story told, the characters in Slant Well took over my imagination and made their adventures happen. They taught me a lot. Now, the time draws near when they will go public with their story of murder, mayhem, magic, and vengeance. The first round edits are done. The manuscript is in the works to be typeset. One more round of proofreading and it will be formatted for the various e-book formats as well as for the print edition.

I went to the bayou in the book and took pictures of the beautiful and magical world there.

cypress in Taylor's bayou      Cypress across from Pine Tree Lodge     cypress knees in water.

May Day

May Day

MRJones

The brilliant ribbons of a May Pole fluttered in a gentle breeze on the back lawn of Evelyn Eden’s home. Later in the day, a dance would weave the ribbons into a colorful sheath. Smoke and the aroma of roasting meat filled the air. Allyn Jones stood in the shade of a live oak, watching Etienne Comeaux tend the barbecue when his phone buzzed. He pulled it out and read the text from Vassily Alexandrovitch Nabokov. He snorted.  The Russian got himself invited to the May Day festivities on a promise to bring vodka from his private stock.

“Vassily’s almost here.” Allyn put his phone in his pocket.

“He’s early.” Etienne put another chunk of oak in the firebox of the smoker. “Probably all excited about it being May Day.”

“More likely he’s excited about seeing Evelyn again. He’s smitten with her.”

“Smitten.” Etienne scoffed. “Aren’t you jealous?”

Allyn laughed. “No. I know she’s a sucker for tall redheaded magicians.”

Suddenly, shrieks came from the tool shed and two men tumbled out, flapping their arms around their heads. Bobby Boudreaux yelled, “Buddy’s attacking us!”

“There’s a nest in there!” Jason Thibodeaux ducked a small silvery creature as it darted through the air. “Buddy built a nest!” It clipped the bill of his Astros baseball cap, flipping it off him. “Allyn, do something! Call him off!”

Etienne turned to the redheaded magician and asked, “You let him loose?”

“No.” Allyn whistled, then called, “Gwibber!” The creature continued to harass Jason and Bobby as they swatted and cursed.

Evelyn stepped out onto the patio with Vassily. His smile faded when he heard the noise and saw the fracas going on at the shed. Glacial blue eyes grew wide in recognition. Shaking his head, he said, “This is not good.”

Jason left his cap where it lay. He and Bobby ran to the barbecue pit. He snapped at Allyn, “Do something with that flying lizard of yours! He’s trying to kill us!”

Vassily said, “If he wanted you dead, he would eat you.”

“That little monster can’t eat something as big as me.”

“Trust me, he isn’t always little.”

Bobby brushed singed hair from the back of his head. “What’s he doing out?”

Evelyn looked at the ground. One copper eyebrow went up. Allyn asked, “What have you done?”

She shrugged and said, “I let him out to get rid of the feral hogs that were tearing up the pasture.”

Allyn’s jaw muscles worked and veins stood out on his forehead. His head tilted slightly. “And he’s still out because?”

“I left him loose because he was doing such a good job.”

“You left him loose?” Allyn sounded unnaturally calm. “You left Gwibber Cymry loose? Unsupervised? We’re having a party and you left him loose?” Allyn seemed even taller as he glared at his wife.

“He likes being out of the amulet.”

“Yes he does,” Allyn said. “Please go get the amulet.” She went into the house. He started walking down the path to the shed. “Come on, let’s see what kind of damage he’s done.”

Vassily walked alongside him and said, “Do not be angry with her, big man, she is protecting her property.”

“She should have told me,” Allyn muttered. “She has no concept of the damage he can do on his own.” They stopped in front of the shed. From within, they heard high pitched chirps.

Bobby said, “Jason and I heard that when we went in to get the tractor to haul the extra tables and chairs up to the patio. That’s when Buddy attacked.” He rubbed a red welt on his forehead.

Allyn’s mouth set in a straight line when he stepped up to the door and looked in. In the dim interior, he saw a pile of twigs on top of the tool cabinet. The other men peeked around him. Vassily said, “That looks like nest. Something is in it.”

“KGB taught you to spot the obvious, didn’t they?” Allyn grouched. A buzzing sound rose from the nest and a glint of silver sparkled over it. As Bobby and Jason jumped away, a silver streak flew toward them. Allyn’s hand became a blur of motion. He caught the tiny dragon. It squeaked and wriggled as he inspected it. “This isn’t Buddy.”

Evelyn walked up and heard this. “Who is it?”

“I don’t know! It’s a female.” Just then, the dragon bit his finger and when he flinched, she got away and darted back to the nest. There, she turned to face the humans, hovering in place, ready to defend the tiny dragon who popped its head up and trilled.

“We have a baby dragon!” Etienne said.

“Great. Just what we need with all the friends and relatives showing up later,” Allyn grumbled. Blood welled and ran in large drops from his bitten finger. Suddenly, the air stirred as if a huge fan had been turned on. A solid thump shook the ground. Everyone turned to see a whole feral hog lying behind them. A gigantic dragon swooped in, landed, and folded his wings. Dazzling silver scales gleamed in the sunlight. Buddy stood taller than the shed. Brilliant amber eyes glittered as they darted from person to person. Flickers of fire shot from his nostrils with every breath. “Gwibber.” Allyn held out his hand. The large dragon lowered his head and made a cooing sound. His tongue flicked out and licked the blood off Allyn’s finger. The bleeding stopped.

Vassily turned to Jason, who stood gaping at the silver behemoth nuzzling Allyn’s hand. “I told you he could eat you. This is how I met him. He is not funny little toy.”

“No, he’s not,” Jason said as he edged away from the big dragon. He caught the sleeve of Bobby’s tee shirt and pulled his cousin along with him. Bobby yanked his shirt away from Jason and stayed close.

Allyn spoke Welsh to Buddy when two silver streaks bolted from the nest, flew like darts to the hog carcass and started tearing into it, rapidly stripping meat from the bones. Bobby’s eyes grew wide as he watched. “How can they eat so much?”

Allyn shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is they can eat like that every day and still shrink down to housefly size.”

“It is magic. Never ask how it works,” Vassily said. He reached out and stroked Buddy’s head. “You are good dragon. You need to be small now. Jason is afraid of you.”

Buddy snorted sparks. Allyn said, “You heard him. Get small or get in the amulet.” A rush of air filled the void left when the hulking presence reduced to lizard size. The female dragon sat on a rib of the polished skeleton, grooming. Buddy landed by her and twined his neck with hers. The youngster took to the air and flew around Allyn’s head chirping and trilling until it sneezed. Flames shot from both ends. “Give me the amulet.” Evelyn handed the silver dragon medallion to him. Faster than the eye could follow, his left hand shot out and grabbed the baby. He said a few words and clapped his hand over the amulet. The baby disappeared.  The adult dragons glared at him. “I’ll let him out after the party.” They went back to necking.

“It’s a boy?” Etienne asked.

“Yeah.”

“Can I have him?”

“Only if you promise to clean up after him.”

“Cool.”

“Bobby asked, “What’re you gonna name him?

“May Day.”

Swamp Irish and the Leprechaun

By MRJones

An unusually thick fog muffled the footsteps of the men as they followed the path to the tractor shed. It pooled under the huge water oak, making ghostlike shapes in the trailing Spanish moss. Bobby Boudreaux shivered and said, “I don’t like this. It’s spooky working out here in the fog.”

“You think there’s monsters gonna get you?” Jason Thibodeaux teased. “Maybe an alligator gonna swim through the fog and eat you.”

“Something just don’t feel right. It’s like the fairy fog in that story Allyn’s in.”

“I’ll get rid of it.” Allyn Jones stopped in front of the shed, held up his hands, and said a few words in Welsh. The fog dissipated. Tapping sounds came from the shed. Tick, tick, tap, tap, tap, like a small hammer being used.

Etienne Comeaux opened the door. The noise stopped. He looked around and saw nothing out of place. “Must be a rat or something,” he said as he climbed onto the tractor. Before he could start it, they heard it again, louder. Tap, tap, tick, tap. It sounded like it was coming from the cabinet where the hand tools were kept. Etienne got off the tractor and walked over to it. Tappity, tick, tick, tick. Allyn stepped in the shed. Tickety, tap, tap. Etienne asked, “Allyn, are you playing a trick?”

“No. Why would I do anything to slow you down? Evelyn wants the garden plowed today, not tomorrow.” Tick, tap, tick, tap, tick, tap.

Jason said, “Maybe it’s the alligator with the clock in his belly from Peter Pan.”

“Or maybe it’s a leprechaun. It is St. Paddy’s Day,” Etienne said with a grin.

“We’re not Irish,” Bobby said, “And we’re in Texas.”

“You’re all Swamp Irish.” Allyn yanked the cabinet door open. The contents were exactly as they should be. He ran his fingers through his red hair, shook his head, and closed the door. “Get the tractor started and out of here. We have a garden to get ready.” Etienne cranked up the tractor and backed it out. They hitched the plow up and he drove to the garden.

Allyn said, “Jason, Bobby, take those hay forks and loosen that pile of manure so I can scatter it before Etienne plows.”

On the first turn, the handle on Jason’s tool snapped in the manure. “What the heck? This was a new handle.” He looked at the steel fork stuck in the pile and the handle in his hands. When he bent to pull the fork out of the pile, he fell face down in it. They heard a giggle. Jason scrambled to his feet spewing and spitting. “Bobby, I’ll get you for pushing me!” he shouted as he wiped his eyes.

“I didn’t do it. I’m on the other side of the pile,” Bobby said. They heard another giggle and tap, tap, tappity, tick, from the shed. “That’s creeping me out,” Bobby said.

“Me too,” Jason said as he brushed manure off his clothes. “Allyn do you have any idea what’s happening?”

“Yeah, it’s St. Paddy’s Day and we’re plowing the garden. Step back.” He waved his hands at the pile of manure and it went flying to the garden where it spread out evenly. As it drifted down, a gust of wind caught it and blew some onto Etienne.

He coughed and yelled, “Allyn, that got me!”

“I didn’t do that.” They heard the giggle again.

Etienne set the plow and started. Throughout the day, they were plagued with minor setbacks. Every time, they heard that laugh and the tapping sound. By late afternoon the sun shone on the freshly tilled garden. Etienne drove back to the shed. As soon as he shut off the tractor engine, they heard the tapping again. Tick, tap, tick, tap, tap, tap.

Evelyn Eden and her cat Bob walked up just then. “What’s that noise?” Bob’s fur fluffed out and he let out a low growl.

Allyn said, “Something’s making a racket in there. We looked and couldn’t find anything.” They heard the annoying giggle again. Tap, tappity, tap.

Evelyn said, “Bob, get it.” The big bobcat bounded into the shed and began sniffing around. Tick, tap, tap, tap. Bob began clawing at the cabinet door. Evelyn opened it. Bob pounced. A shrill squeal turned into a string of Celtic curse words. The cat had his teeth on something that did not want to be dragged out into the open. His haunches flexed as he pulled. He shook his head and growled.

They all heard the voice say in a thick Irish brogue, “Turn me loose, you monster!” Allyn’s right eyebrow went up. He stepped over to Bob’s side and reached into the cabinet and took hold of some cloth with a limb in it. He and the cat pulled. They heard, “By all gods in Ireland, are you trying to kill me?!”

“Maybe I should, you little pwka!” Allyn looked over his shoulder. “A little help here?” Etienne grabbed Allyn’s shoulders and pulled. Jason and Bobby joined in and they heaved back. A sound like a giant cork being removed from a huge bottle filled the shed. They all tumbled back into a pile. Bob got to his feet and shook the creature he held in his teeth.

“Bloody cath paluc! Call it off!” the creature squealed.

Allyn sat up and saw what Bob had.  A little man was struggling to get out of the coat Bob had his teeth in. Allyn shouted, “Bobby, Jason, grab him!” They scrambled to grab the man by his arms and legs. He put up a fight, thrashing wildly. Allyn and Etienne joined the fray. The four men and the cat rolled around, trying to subdue the little man.

The melee stopped when Evelyn stepped up, reached down and touched the intruder, saying, “Stasis.” The wee man ceased to move.

Bob turned loose and stood back growling, his fur standing in a ridge down his back. Etienne, Jason, Bobby, and Allyn disentangled themselves and stood, looking at what had given such a fight. Only three feet in length, he wore brown knee breeches and a white linen shirt. His brown stockings were bunched around his ankles and his green jacket was torn where Bob’s teeth had latched on. Shiny silver buckles gleamed on his leather shoes and on the belt around his waist. His craggy wizened face was frozen in a grimace, his limbs in the position he was in when Evelyn touched him.

Bobby was the first to speak. “We just caught a leprechaun, didn’t we?”

“It’s the guy off the Lucky Charms box,” Jason said.

Etienne nudged him with the toe of his boot. “Sure looks like him.”

“He shoved me into the manure.” Jason said.

“He screwed with us all day.” Etienne said.

“What’re we gonna do with him?” Bobby asked.

“We can’t feed him to the gators today,” Allyn observed, “they’re all hibernating.”

“I could use him as a garden gnome,” Evelyn said. A tiny squeaky groan came from the static leprechaun.

“We need to find out why there’s a leprechaun in Southeast Texas.” Allyn looked at Evelyn. “If you would be so good as to release him from stasis, we can ask him.” He looked at the cat. “Don’t let him get away.” Bob nodded and put a big paw on the leprechaun’s chest.

Evelyn waved her hand and the leprechaun’s limbs went slack. He lay on his back looking up at the people who caught him. “I guess you want me pot of gold? Well, you’re out of luck. I was robbed before I got here.”

Allyn leaned down and studied the captive’s face carefully. One side of his mouth turned up in a wry smile. He laughed. “You lying bit of fairie dust. You never had any gold.”

The little man curled his lip back in a sneer. “And you’d know, wouldn’t you, you miserable overgrown ginger mongrel. I know who you are. You’re one of the seven.”

“And I know you. Tell me why you’re here or you’ll wish I’d killed you back then.”

“No need to get nasty about it. I was looking for a place to hide and gather me wits.”

“That’s a lost cause. What are you hiding from?”

“A bit of trouble.” Bob growled and flexed his paw, putting his claws through the shirt. “Call off this beast.” Bob licked the leprechaun’s face. The wee man fainted.

Allyn picked him up and shook him none too gently. He came to and started kicking. Allyn set him on the floor and said, “Ev, stick his feet to the floor.” She pointed at him. The leprechaun struggled, but couldn’t budge either foot.

Evelyn spoke. “Finnbheara.”

“Aye, that’s me. You have me by all rights.” At that, the little man’s ugly face blurred and changed to a handsome one with fine features and smooth skin. He looked her up and down, and said, “I don’t believe I’ve made your acquaintance, my lovely.”

“I’m not your lovely anything, you womanizing little troll. You’re on my land and here I’m the Queen. Behave yourself or you’ll never see Eire again.” She had her finger pointed at him. “You’ll be a lawn ornament.”

Finnbheara bowed. “Your majesty, I beg your forgiveness and your protection.” He looked at the four men standing around glowering at him.

“I’ll give you no protection from them or the cat.”

“You’re no better than the Morrigan,” he groused.

She raised her hand and pointed her finger. “You can be dust to make my garden fertile. The fairies can find a new King.”

“Oh me, you may as well,” he sighed. “Me wife tossed me out of me house because I was dallying with the pretty girls.”

“I should send you back to her trussed up and in stasis so she can do with you as she pleases.” Finnbheara cringed.

Allyn said, “He owes us some time in the garden. He slowed us down and broke every tool he could. He’s not going home to Una until he’s worked that off.”

“Thank you laddie. I’ll see to it you have a fine crop. Might I have a bite to eat and a drop to wet me whistle?”

Before Evelyn loosed Finnbheara’s feet, she said, “You’ll turn to stone if you even think of acting out.”

“You have me word. I’ll mind me P’s and Q’s. Now what do we have to eat and drink?”

“Alligator gumbo and Shiner Bock.”

“We’re eatin’ dinosaurs and drinkin’ weak beer?”

Evelyn pointed her finger and Finnbheara became still and silent. She said to Etienne, “Bring the garden gnome along, he can watch us eat dinosaurs and drink Texas beer.”

I ate a leprechaun

Characters in this story, except for Finnbheara, appear in the novel Slant Well.

Slant Well sales links

http://mybook.to/SlantWellAmazon

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/650695

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/slant-well-mr-jones/1124124405?ean=2940153130378

https://www.createspace.com/6453230

Formatting for SLANT WELL Done

I’m done. I finally got the formatting finished. Slant Well is in the hands of the editing staff at Eternal Press. I had more than enough delays and disasters along the way. Attacks by trojans and a messed up hard drive slowed me. If that were not enough, I came to believe that evil gnomes or gremlins were messing with my edits. I lost several days work. I kept going. I got it done. What I started in 2009 is on its way to print.

Along the way, I fell in love with the characters. They took on lives of their own and demanded to have little adventures aside from the book. I wrote short stories for them. I have people asking when they will see a collection of the shorts in book form. To that I say, “Some day.” In the meantime, I will post some here.

The path to getting Slant Well published has been an interesting and educational one. Along the way, I made friends, found fans, and had fun while I worked. I now have a marketing platform that is growing. I’m a long way from the hardly email savvy Luddite I was. I will continue this journey into tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.