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

 

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.”

Halloween at T’ Mamou’s by MRJones

Late afternoon sun angled through Spanish Moss and cypress trees, sending spotty light to the murky bayou. A small aluminum john boat, laden with bags of groceries and two young men skimmed over the water. The wake sloshed against the banks and disturbed dense mats of water hyacinths. At the tiller, Jason Thibodeaux followed the twisted path of the bayou. They passed egrets stalking through shallows in search of supper. Alligators floating at the surface, in hopes of an egret dinner, ducked under the water when the boat passed.

“Jason, you think it’s true that T’ Mamou’s house moves around the swamp?”

Jason laughed and said, “Yeah, it get up on its legs and walk around to find the best spot to be. “Seeing the look of fear on his cousin’s face, he added, “That old house don’t walk. It’s always been in the same place, just past the big cypress around the bend where the bayou double back on itself.”

“We should have brought Etienne.”

“Why you think we should bring him?”

“He knows this part of the bayou better’n we do. He knows magic, too.”

“Bobby Boudreaux, you think we’re gonna need magic to find T’ Mamou’s place?”

“I’m jus’ sayin’ weird stuff happens out here and this is Halloween.”

Jason gave the engine more gas as the sun dipped below the horizon. “The only thing we need is light an that’s goin’ away fast.” They rounded a sharp bend and passed a giant cypress tree with knees standing five feet out of the water. The rotted remains of a dock marked the spot. “Here we… ,” Jason started to say when the words dried up.

The house wasn’t there. The engine died and the drifted by the mouldering dock. Wisps of fog rose from the dark water. Bobby’s voice quavered. “The house ain’t here, Jason. T’ Mamou made it walk away.”

“Shut up, Bobby. We just ain’t gone far enough.” Jason pulled the start rope and the little engine fired up.

A crescent moon rose as they continued up the bayou, adding only a ghostly bit of light. Bobby pulled out his flashlight and shined it along the bank, watching for a dock by every cypress tree they passed. Around another bend and another big tree, they saw a small neat dock. Jason slowed the boat. There was no house.

A loud crunching and crackling came from the woods. Bobby shone his flashlight into the trees. In the beam, they saw something moving, something big. Spider-like, the house walked on its stilts to the edge of the bayou and settled in place. A flight of stairs rolled out from the porch to the dock.

“I told you, Jason! I told you her house walks!”

“Our eyes playin’ tricks on us in this light. Tie the boat up.”

“Both our eyes saw the same trick.” Bobby grumbled as he hopped to the dock and tied off.

A dry cackle came from inside the dark house. The screen door creaked open and a tiny skinny ancient woman in a long black dress hobbled out onto the porch. “You boys bring me groceries?”

“Yeah, T’ Mamou, we bring you groceries,” Jason said as he handed the bags to Bobby.

“Bring dem in. I got gumbo and boudain and fried frog legs for Halloween, We’re havin’ a party.” She turned and went back inside. Yellow light from a kerosene lamp glowed through the screen door, lighting the dock and stairs.

Toting the bags of groceries, Bobby and Jason climbed the rickety stairs. Each tread groaned as they stepped on it. The porch boards screeched when they crossed it. Bobby whispered, “I swear, Jason, this place is alive.”

“I think you’re right. I wish we had Etienne here.” As Jason reached for the door handle, a shadow filled the doorway and deep evil laughter wafted through the screen. Jason shrieked, dropped the bags he carried, and jumped backwards, falling over Bobby.

The shadow stepped through the door and said, “You jus’ in time for de party. I hope you bring dem chips and dips. De beer, it cold already.” Jason shrieked again as he scrambled to get to the stairs. A hand caught his tee-shirt, dragged him back kicking and screaming, and stood him in the front room.

The darkness wafted away from the shadow and there stood his cousin, Etienne Comeaux, grinning. Jason turned to see Bobby leaning against the door post, red-faced and laughing. Together, Bobby and Etienne said, “Trick or treat!”

“You two! I’m gonna get you!”

The odor of sulfur, like a freshly struck match, reached Jason’s nose. From behind him a deep voice said, “You don’t stand a chance, toad.” A large hand caught him by the scruff of his neck. “This is my holiday, so kick back, drink some beer, and enjoy the party.” The hand sat him in a chair. Jason looked behind him and saw Allyn Jones, the redheaded magician who married his aunt. He took the beer the magician offered.

“Okay, where’s Aunt Nan?” Jason asked. “I know she’s in on this too.”

“Right here,” Evelyn Eden said as she set a platter of smoked boudain on the table.

Several beers and lots of food later, Etienne picked up his accordion, Bobby and Jason got a couple of old guitars off the wall, and Allyn produced a violin from thin air. The strains of Jolie Blond filled the air and drove away any evil spirits that may have thought to join the party.

Happy Halloween from the swamp.