31 Days to Book Launch!

So, I decided to take a little time off to give my eyes (and brain) a little break. Yeah, right. Let me share with you how that went.

The first 2 days, I did actually stay off of the computer, and all other digital screens (they really drain my eyes). Instead, in between loads of built up laundry and cleaning chores, Frodo demanding to play with the frisbee, and the cats getting into everything, I managed to catch up on a little reading.

As I read through the next section of the 90 Day Challenge, my brain went into overload with questions and ideas. There are so many possibilities, so many little details and choices to make.

Having published 2 previous books, and helping several other authors to publish their books, I’m not a novice. However, I was disappointed in the sales of my books. But I learned from the experiences.

I learned that there are many more hats to wear as an independent author than most people are aware of. So, I made it my mission to learn every aspect of the writing industry, and learn how to become efficient at each job. I won’t say that I’m an expert in all of it, particularly in the technology area, but I learned how to perform all the duties for each different job title.

After the rough draft was completed and being reviewed, the next phase is creating the book cover.

Being an artist, I love the creation aspect, though I’m not proficient in using the modern art programs on the computer (I still prefer paper and pencils, but I’m old). It takes a little longer for me to figure out how to work some of the programs, but with a fierce stubbornness, I finally managed.

Once I figured out how to use my art software, I created 3 different cover designs that I felt represented the feel of the story.

I also created a private Facebook group, where I posted pictures of the 3 designs and took a poll for the members to vote on their favorite.

While the voting process was going on, my mind jumped ahead to the actual uploading the book to Amazon, along with creative marketing ideas. (Sometimes, I start wearing several different hats at the same time, and it gives me a headache.)

Knowing that Amazon changes their formatting requirements from time to time, and this part of the technology is confusing to me at times, I decided to check for any changes. And of course, there were several.

It took me a few days to work out the details, and I had a few issues with the computer along the way. At one point, I felt like throwing the computer out the window, so I took a break and played with the dog for a while.

Once I got the bugs worked out of the computer, I tried to create a sample cover, but part of the process involves giving a page count to build the correct size spine for the book.

I used KDP’s template to create the proper trim size, but of course, in the conversion process, it changed the chapter layouts. So, I had to change quite a bit of formatting, which took a few days. And since I’m still working on editing, there may still be more formatting work to be done in the days to come. But I at least got the majority of the work done for the cover.

The poll ended last night, and the winner is:

As of today, there are 31 days left until the book launch, and still much work to be done. But for today, I’m celebrating one more check off the list of to do’s.

The next phase will be where I’m going to need the most help in making this book launch successful. So, if anyone is interested in helping out, things like spreading the word, it would be most appreciated. (You might even win a prize for your efforts.) You can let me know here in the comments, or on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmberLeaLeggette/  I’ll be posting more details in the coming days.

In the meantime, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone for all the support and encouragement. I am so excited to see this all coming together!

Have a great day, and share a smile.  – Amber

#MakeADifference

Wish You Were Here.

Dear Christian,

I finished the rough draft of your story late last night. I didn’t quite make the deadline of 30 days, due to some technical difficulties (aka cats and your dog). But publishing is still scheduled for the middle of September.

I thought as anxious as I’ve been to keep my promise to you, that I would be happy to get the writing done. And I am…somewhat.

But the truth is, it feels bittersweet.

My first thought last night, as I placed the period after the last word, was remembering how excited and happy you were for me when I published my first book.

You took me out to dinner to celebrate. You were only 10 years old, but you had been saving money just for that special occasion. I remember how proud you looked when you told the waitress that you were buying me dinner to celebrate, and how insulted you looked when she handed me the bill afterwards.

I wish I could take you out to dinner to celebrate your story.

I remember when I first read the essay you wrote. The concept and the ideas were very strong, and I knew it would make a good book, maybe even a series.

While I was writing the words, it was your voice that I heard saying them in my head. I miss the sound of your sweet voice so much!

I changed the names you had for some of the characters, replacing them with names of your friends. I didn’t think you would mind. Your friends miss you too, so I think they will like being included with you in the story.

It was really hard getting started at first. So, I put this sticky-note on the wall above my desk. It kept me going through all the long hours, skipped meals, and throbbing eyeballs. And it fueled my heart, knowing that even if it was the last thing that I would ever accomplish on this earth, no matter what it takes, I am keeping the promise I made to you.

I hope, and I pray with all my heart, that the words I have written are what you would have wanted, that this book would make you proud.

But more than anything else, right now, I just wish you were here.

Baptizing Cats…

So, I totally forgot to write the Friday Fun post yesterday. I was so focused on finishing up the rough draft on the book, I forgot what day it was!

I decided to share my Saturday with you instead, since I’ve been distracted from my work today, once again, by the cats.

Coal and Pretty went out after breakfast for their usual morning business, and I went to work. Things went along fairly well for about an hour.

Then I heard a loud thud, followed by the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen. Just as I finished cleaning up the mess, I heard loud cat screams coming from out front.

So I went outside and found Coal and Pretty locked in a ball of claws and flying fur. As I reached down to grab them, Coal managed to pull himself loose and got away, but I scooped Pretty up and brought her inside.

As soon as I walked through the door with her, Mo began hissing and growling, and the other 2 stooges took off into the bedroom to hide.

I brought Pretty into the office (the critters aren’t usually allowed in here) and held her close, trying to comfort her and check to make she was alright. Then I began to notice the aroma.

Apparently, she had been visiting the small farm across the street, and rolling in horse poop.

So then, I too smelled like horse poop from holding her.

I went back to the door and let Coal in, who also reeked. Something about the smell seemed very offensive to the kittens, and Larry, Curly, and Mo, all began growling and hissing at him…and me.

By this time, my whole house smelled like a barn, and all of the cats were in a foul mood with everyone. Poor Frodo even got his nose smacked a few times.

So, I decided it was time to baptize the cats.

I thought about filling the tub and just dunking all 5 into the whirlpool together…it would have been a real furricane!

But since I couldn’t catch all 5 at the same time, I decided a shower in the kitchen sink would have to suffice.

Mission accomplished, and I still have most of my skin left. Though now, I have five furious felines, and I’m pretty sure they are plotting my eminent demise at this very moment.

(I wasn’t able to get a picture of Mo, as she’s using her cloak of invisibility right now.)

So, if you don’t hear from me in the next day or so, please send help, as they may have figured out how to open their own cans of food and no longer have any use for me.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend! See you next week (hopefully).

The Soul of Autumn

Last night was an evening of poetry and music, and melancholy reflections.

The coolness of the gentle rain brought a reminder that Summer here is quickly coming to an end, as witnessed by the full blooming of the fireweed, and the ripening berries on the bushes.

Autumn will soon arrive, in its splendor and glory, announcing its harvest with joy and beauty, as the fruit is ripe and ready to be plucked, and the withering leaves are carried away on gentle breezes.

This time of year has always stirred a restlessness in my soul, and it is particularly strong this year. I can’t explain it, nor do I understand it. But somehow, I found comfort and peace in the words of the following poem and song:

While I may remember (and sometimes miss) the days of my youth in the Spring, and the glory and strength of my Summer, I am contented in these days of my Autumn.

Winter will come soon enough, softly blanketing the earth with its silence, muffling the sounds and signs of life, and I will grow old and the spark of life will fade away in the fulfillment of promised rest and deep slumber.

But until then, I will be here, writing, and remembering.

Friday Fun #11 – Of Mice and Cats.

Just a short story for today, describing my morning. (When you share a house with 5 cats and a German Shepherd, there is entertainment a plenty.)

Cats are notorious hunters…at least most of them are. And my cat, Pretty, is no exception.

Though I was extremely worried about her when she disappeared 2 weeks ago, she appeared to be in good shape when she finally returned. But still, after worrying so much, I decided at first, that I was not going to let her go back outside.

But to my dismay, she has continually insisted on being free of the 3 stooges and Frodo, at least for short periods throughout the day (they all seem to get on her nerves quite a bit).

So, I’ve been allowing her some outside time during the day, and then keeping her in at night.

Since she returned last week from her 6-day (unapproved) leave of absence, she has been bringing me daily peace offerings of several voles, which are small, 3 to 7 inch long rodents, similar to mice with a short tail.

Though I would prefer a delivery of a Wendy’s cheeseburger, Pretty seems quite proud of her gifts, as she loudly announces each delivery as she places it on the porch or nearby in the driveway.

Last night Pretty discovered a hole in my living room window screen and managed to squeeze through, escaping for a short wandering through the yard.

She was recaptured, and the window was closed for the night.

This morning the window was reopened after Pretty went out for her morning stroll. (I had planned to fix the screen before lock down this evening.)

A short time later, while I was busy working, I heard a strange noise coming from the living room and went to investigate.

Pretty had decided to use the hole in the screen to bring her offering inside, and proceeded to drop it in the middle of the living room floor…AND IT WAS STILL ALIVE AND UNHARMED!

This was the look on Larry’s face as the vole took off across the room…

His sisters, Curly and Mo, needed no prompting as to what to do, along with Frodo, though they lack experience (and grace). And the chase was on!

Finally (after wrecking the house), I managed to put Frodo outside, and the girls cornered the vole, while Larry hid under the couch, crying the whole time. (As I said, MOST cats are good hunters. But Larry apparently isn’t one of them.)

Feeling a little guilty for stealing their trophy, I rewarded Pretty, Curly, and Mo with a can of tuna. (Coal was outside during the battle, missing out on all the fun.) They gladly accepted the exchange, while poor Larry watched their victory feast from under the safety of the couch.

After spending over an hour cleaning up the war zone, I let Frodo back inside and gave him a treat, Pretty went back outside, the window is staying closed until I fix the screen, Larry is hiding in a bucket now, and I’m ready to take a nap.

But, alas, I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go…

I hope everyone enjoys a peaceful and happy weekend! See you next week. – Amber

Another Sneak Peek

Dalton Highway (or Haul Road), Alaska

Have you ever been captivated by thoughts or ideas, becoming so engrossed that you forget about everything else?

That was me yesterday. I completely forgot about Wednesday’s post! (Sorry)

The good news is, I have completed 2 more chapters of our book. And I am happy to say that so far, what I have shared has received positive feedback.

I am still looking for a few more beta readers to preview the book for free before it is released. Please click here to join my email list if you are interested.

Here is another sneak peek, as promised. The following excerpt is a scene from chapter 2, describing a brief background of two main characters, Brian Harrison, and his wife, Sarah:

When Brian and Sarah had first been married, Brian had taken a job as a long haul driver delivering fuel. He was earning a good paycheck, but he often spent days at a time on the road, away from his new bride. His plan was to save up enough money to retire early so that they could travel the world together. Other than the time apart due to his job, their life seemed almost like a fairytale romance. They were truly and completely in love, and very happy.

Brian and Sarah’s dream of raising a family together was already on its way to becoming a reality by the end of their first year of marriage, and everything seemed perfect in their life. Although Brian’s job kept them apart for days at a time, it also afforded them uninterrupted days in between.

Going into the winter months was always a busy time for the fuel companies, making sure the remote towns had a good supply of heating and cooking fuel. There were often times when the roads were impassable, sometimes for several days, due to the frequent snowstorms. So the deliveries were critical for their customers’ survival in the months of sub-zero temperatures.

Brian did not relish the idea of being gone for an entire week, but one of the other drivers had broken his leg and could not make his deliveries. So Brian had been asked to cover the additional route, and knowing that the extra money would be very helpful, he accepted the job.

Since this trip was going to be for an entire week, he asked Sarah to come with him. The cab in the back of his truck had a bed that was large enough for two people, and he thought it would be nice to have Sarah along with him. And since she had always wondered what it was like for her husband to be on the road, she accepted. She said, “It will give us a chance to see what traveling together will be like for when we retire”.

Though being cooped up in a small space was not as comfortable as their home, and the bed was not as soft, the young couple made the most of it, enjoying each other’s company. Sarah greatly enjoyed the scenery and the wildlife they encountered, remarking that it was like an Alaskan safari adventure.

On the fifth day of their trip, as they were about halfway to the next town, a terrible snowstorm hit. This was the kind of unexpected storm that brings extreme winds and heavy wet snow. The roads were getting slippery, making it hard to see the road at times. But the truck was outfitted with heavy duty snow chains that gave good traction, and Brian decided to keep pushing onward. Since they had to slow down, the trip was going to take longer than planned, and Brian was a little anxious about getting the delivery in on time.

Even though it was getting late and he had been driving for almost 16 hours that day, he joked with Sarah about his ability to survive off of his thermos of coffee for at least a couple of days. Sarah was getting tired, so finally Brian suggested she climb in the back and get some sleep. She agreed, saying he should join her for a nap. But he didn’t want to stop. So she climbed into the bed alone and quickly fell asleep to the rhythm of the large diesel engine.

Brian pushed on through the night and into the early morning, and was about 2 miles away from reaching the town of Ashburg. As the truck was winding its way down the last steep hill coming out of the mountain pass, Brian could feel his eyelids growing heavy. He thought about stopping to get some fresh air and stretch his legs, but since he was so close, he decided to keep going. Unfortunately, this was a huge mistake.

The next thing Brian knew, he was jarred awake as the big rig scraped against the guardrail. As he woke up, he instinctively hit the brakes as he tried to get his bearings back. But the truck was already beginning to slide and drift sideways. Brian turned the steering wheel, trying to guide the direction of the slide, but it was too late.

When the truck slammed into the rock cliff on the other side of the road, it lifted up on the driver’s side, and the impact of hitting the hard rock caused the truck to flip over. The steepness of the hill and the speed and weight of the truck caused it to keep sliding forward and back across to the other side of the road, right through the guardrail and down over the embankment. Brian yelled Sarah’s name as he heard her scream, and then everything went dark.

Brian woke up in the hospital the next day. He had a concussion and dislocated shoulder, but otherwise was okay. The truck had been found by one of the locals from Ashburg just after dawn, and with the help of a few more people, they had carried Brian and Sarah into town on sleds pulled behind snowmobiles. 

Even though his head was reeling and he ached in every part of his body, his first thought was of Sarah. He asked the doctor where his wife was and if she was okay. But Brian knew from the look on the doctor’s face that it was not good. The doctor assured Brian they were doing everything they could for her at the moment, and a helicopter had been dispatched to take her into Fairbanks, to the closest major hospital for further treatment. But due to the snowstorm, the helicopter had been delayed.

Sarah had been thrown around inside the cab compartment during the rollover, and by the time the truck had come to a stop, she had sustained several injuries, including a severe break in her lower spine. In addition, she was also suffering from hypothermia, a dangerous condition where the body temperature has fallen far below normal and can cause internal organs to begin shutting down. Sarah was literally in a fight for her life. But remote towns such as Ashburg do not have large medical facilities equipped for such severe conditions, so it was imperative that she be transferred to a major hospital as soon as possible. The doctor feared she would not live long enough to get the help she needed.

“I need to see her” Brian exclaimed. But he was not prepared for what he saw. His beloved wife looked so pale, and the doctor was struggling just to keep her breathing. She didn’t look anything like the vibrant young woman that he knew, and Brain was afraid. Very afraid. In that instant he knew he might lose the love of his life, and to even think of such a possibility put him in a state of panic. Without even knowing why, Brian did something he had seldom ever done…he began to pray. He said, “God, I know I don’t know You that well, and maybe I have no right to ask. But please…save her! She is a good woman, and she is all that I have. This is all my fault. Please don’t let her die because of me! I promise I will do anything You want, just please save her!”

*****

I’ll stop there for today. My head is reeling with ideas and images right now, so I should take advantage of these creative juices and get back to the work.

As mentioned earlier, I will be keeping the list open for 1 more week for those interested in signing up to become beta readers. Each reader will receive a free PDF version of the book, before it is released to the public. If you would like to sign up, just click here.

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

I’ll be back tomorrow (I actually set an alarm so I won’t forget). Have an awesome day! – Amber

Friday Fun #10 – Alaskan Style

A collection of Alaskan memes…

There was a whole lot of shaking goin’ on (11/30/18)…

Laughter is good medicine. That explains why Alaskans are so healthy.

And last, but not least…YES! Some of us do live in igloos…

Well, that’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, filled with lots of laughter.

I’ll be back next week with another excerpt from the book.

Blessings. – Amber

A Day of Remembrance and Thankfulness

Today is Christian’s birthday. He would have been 17 years old today.

For the past couple of weeks, I have tried to avoid thinking about this day. The pain of missing him is quite unbearable at times, and his birthday is one of the hardest.

In addition, one of my cats, Pretty, went missing 6 days ago. It’s not like her to disappear, as she usually stays within hearing distance and comes in when I call her. So, I started worrying (and praying) after the first night, for her safe return.

I must admit, though, that by the 3rd day, I was beginning to lose hope, and I could feel my faith weakening. But I fought to hold on, not wanting to give up.

So, just before bedtime last night, I took Frodo out and tossed the frisbee a few times, and I called for Pretty again. But a voice inside me said, “Why are you torturing yourself? You know she’s probably gone and not coming back”. And I felt my heart sink.

But I stood there and shook my head, and said, “No! I’m not giving up!” and I called her again. And I prayed, again.

You see, I’ve learned that even when I am at my weakest, in His faithfulness, God holds me up when I do not have the strength to stand.

This morning, about 15 minutes after I had let Frodo out, I heard the rain starting. So, I went to call Frodo in before he got all wet and muddy. As he came running to the door, there was Pretty, running along right behind him, meowing a happy “Hello”!

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! I scooped her up and held her close, and I just started sobbing, and laughing, saying “Thank You Jesus”! All of the pent-up emotions I had been trying to hide just came pouring out like a flood.

It may sound silly to some, but for her to return today, of all days, felt like a birthday gift sent from heaven.

I just melted, continuing to sob and giving thanks. My heart was filled with love, joy, and renewed faith.

So, I’ve been crying all morning now, tears of joy and thankfulness, along with tears of remembrance.

I am truly thankful, even though there is pain in this day, for I remember the blessings. I remember that it was Christian, when he was just a small child, that taught me what real faith looks like.

But Jesus called them to Himself, saying [to the apostles], “Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God [with faith and humility] like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:16-17 AMP

I am thankful for his faith, and for the love we shared. And I am thankful for a mighty God who answers prayers and blesses us in more ways than we can even count.

I don’t think they celebrate birthdays in heaven, though we may wish it was so. But I will celebrate Christian’s birthday today, with remembering the joy he brought into my life, and the love he shared with everyone he knew, including a small cat named Pretty.

Friday Fun #9 – My 3 Sons.

Funny (but true) stories.

Just about every parent I’ve ever met has a good “pee” story about their kids, especially boys.

So, today, I’m going to share my 3 favorite stories for my boys.

Jason…

Just before his 3rd birthday, I took Jason to a local state park, to visit with some friends. One of my friends brought her niece who was about a month older than Jason, and they were busy running around and playing games.

The restrooms were still out of service from the winter months. So, when Jason told me he had “to go”, I escorted him to a large tree behind the restrooms.

He did his thing, and we returned to the group.

A short time later we (the adults) noticed that the kids were not in sight, and we went looking for them.

As we came around the corner of the restrooms, we could hear voices…

“No, you have to push it harder”, said Jason.

“It’s all the way”, said the little girl.

“You’re not doing it right”, said Jason.

As we came around the tree, we found the little girl with her pants down, trying to pee on the tree as instructed by Jason, but instead, she had pee’d on her pants and shoes.

Jason looked up at us in frustration, and said, “Hers don’t work right. It’s broke” and shrugged his shoulders and walked off.

Luckily, we had towels and extra clothes.

Daniel…

When Jason and Daniel were little, they had a large toy box designated for their car and truck collection, filled to the top with everything from small Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars up to large Tonka trucks.

When Daniel was about 4, and Jason was 6, Jason came running down the hallway and into the living room. He yelled, “Mom, Daniel just pee’d in the toy box”!

Before I could say anything, Daniel came running into the room, grinning from ear to ear, and announced proudly, “But I only pee’d on the little cars, momma, not the big ones”!

I sat there dumbfounded for a moment, trying to figure out just what difference that was supposed to make, and then just started laughing at the thought.

That was 31 years ago, and I still haven’t figured it out.

Christian…

Growing up in relative seclusion in the country (where you can’t see any of your neighbors), Christian was accustomed to peeing outside rather than running all the way back to the house every time he had to go.

On his 5th birthday, we had a barbeque and he invited several friends.

While the adults were getting the food ready, the kids were over the hill down in the clearing, jumping on the trampoline.

When the food was ready, I went to the edge of the hill and called them to come and eat.

After about 5 minutes, only 1 kid had showed up. I asked him where the others were, and he said, “On the hill”. So, I went to see what they were doing.

As I got to the edge of the hill, I found Christian, standing in the middle of the hill, peeing, and still carrying on a conversation with his buddies.

I yelled, “Christian! Couldn’t you at least use a tree?” but it startled him, and he turned around toward me, peeing on one of his friends’ foot in the process.

To his credit, the little boy took it rather well. He simply picked up the garden hose, sprayed Christian first, then washed off his feet.

We spent a good deal more time after that, working on manners and etiquette.

***

Today’s post has been a little shorter, as exhaustion has set in from the continued heat wave here in Alaska. (But I’m still working on the book in the early mornings, before the sun starts melting my brain.)

Are there any parents out there with a good “pee” story you would like to share? We’d love to hear them!

In the meantime, I wish everyone a cool and happy weekend!

Blessings.  – Amber

The Beginning of the Story…

As promised, here is the beginning of the story inspired by an essay that my son, Christian, wrote.

Aided by Christian’s essay and the rough outline we designed together, I am working to fulfill a promise I made to my son, to complete this work and publish it. In following the 90 Day Challenge, my goal is to publish the book by mid-September.

I am currently working on chapter 6, staying on target for the completion of the rough draft. The following excerpt is the beginning of chapter 1, and unedited. Please feel free to comment with any feedback.

A work of Christian fantasy fiction, this is the story of a fight to save a small Alaskan town from utter destruction when it is caught in the middle of a supernatural battle between good and evil.

Chapter 1 – Nightmares

The blood curdling screams pierced the night, waking Ellie from a deep sleep. As she was stumbling through the dark toward her grandson’s room she wondered, “Will the nightmares never end”? She turned on the light as she entered Jason’s room and once again, found him thrashing around wildly in his bed and screaming in terror.

Ellie reached out and gently touched Jason’s arm, speaking softly in her thick Irish accent saying, “Jason, wake up! It’s only a dream dear boy, it’s only a dream”. Ellie knew not to get too close, as Jason had swung at her before in waking, bruising her jaw in the process. She knew her grandson would never hurt her intentionally, but the look of terror in his eyes at that moment told her of a desperate scene being played out in the young teen’s mind, one where he was literally fighting for his life.

As Jason sat up, shaking with fear and gasping for air, Ellie tried to reassure him. “There, there, now laddie. It’s alright, I’m right here with you”. She gently patted his hand for a moment, while his mind began to clear. After a few seconds, Ellie wrapped her arms around the boy’s shoulders and held him as he began to sob deeply. “I tried, Grammie! I tried to save them!” Jason’s voice was so full of pain and desperation, it was almost unbearable for Ellie to hear. “I tried to pull ‘em out, but…those things wouldn’t let me, they wouldn’t let go!” As Ellie sat holding her grandson, gently rocking back and forth and trying to comfort him, her mind wandered back to that night four years ago.

Jason’s parents, Jack and Marie, had both been tragically killed when the family’s house burned down. For some strange reason, none of the neighbors heard or saw anything of the fire until the next morning. Jason was found unconscious in the yard, still in his pajamas, with burns on his hands and arms, and claw marks on his face and chest. He was in shock, and he repeated over and over, “I tried to pull mum and dad out, but they wouldn’t let me”. The doctor that treated Jason for his burns suggested that Ellie take him for counseling. Having lost Marie, her only daughter, she thought perhaps counseling could help them both. So, she made an appointment with a priest from the local church.

Father Elliot had seemed rather unsettled as Jason tried to describe for him what had happened the night of the fire. Jason said, “When I woke up there was fire everywhere, and I could hear Mum screaming for me”. He said, “I tried to get to the door, but it felt like someone was holding onto me and I couldn’t move”. He continued, “All of a sudden, the door burst open and Dad rushed in and grabbed me up. He ran out into the hallway and shoved me down the stairs, yelling for me to get out of the house”. 

Ellie sat quietly, wrenching her fingers as she listened to Jason. She was fighting the urge to cry, wanting to be supportive of her grandson, but still feeling the pain of her own loss. Jason continued.

“I looked back and saw Dad grab Mum, trying to pull her down the stairs, but she wouldn’t move. Then the stairs began to collapse, and they both fell down onto the landing. I was reaching out for them, but Dad suddenly lunged forward and knocked me out the doorway onto the front porch”. The tears were flowing down Jason’s cheeks and he began to shake as he said, “When I turned back toward the door, I could see Mum. She was reaching out for Dad and screaming, ‘let go of me’. Then I saw something that looked like a man, but with a face like an animal. It was holding onto Mum, trying to pull her back into the fire. There was another one trying to grab onto Dad. I ran back into the doorway and tried to reach out to them, and Dad grabbed my hand. I could see his eyes…he was afraid”. Jason paused for a moment, then said, “I tried to pull as hard as I could, but something jumped out at me and knocked me out into the yard”. He continued, “The last thing I remember is hearing Mum and Dad screaming, and another voice that sounded like it was hissing and laughing. Then everything went dark”.

Ellie had hoped that by leaving Ireland and moving to America to start a new life, that it would end the suffering of Jason’s constant nightmares. Almost every night for the past four years, Jason had awakened, screaming the same thing over and over. Though Father Elliot had been sympathetic to their loss, he didn’t believe Jason’s story. He said that it was probably just Jason’s mind trying to deal with an unfortunate accident by trying to find someone or something to blame for it. The cause of the fire was never discovered. But there was some speculation that it was intentional, that it had been started by Janet, Jason’s older sister…

Ellie was snapped back to the present when Jason’s alarm clock went off. They were both startled by the ring, then smiled at each other, trying to bring back some normalcy to their morning. Jason said, “Well at least this time, it was almost time to get up anyway”. Ellie smiled and said, “I’d better be getting onto making the biscuits. Young Blake will be here soon, and I’m sure he’ll be hungry as always. He’s such a skinny lad, I don’t know where he puts it all”.

*******

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more exciting excerpts in the coming weeks. If you are interested in becoming a beta reader, or want to receive updates for the book’s launch party, be sure to subscribe to my email list here.

Thanks for joining me in this adventure, and as always, I welcome your friendship!

Blessings.  – Amber

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