Check your sleep.

Check the quality of your sleep. This monitors how long and how well you slept. It can even wake you up with a gentle vibrating alarm that won't awaken your partner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taking advantage of free ebooks

Smashwords often has free titles. Authors give Smashwords coupons. Gifts of ebooks are given through Smashwords.  But you own a Kindle and hate to manually upload ebooks.

I have a solution. Set your Kindle account to receive emailed attachments from your computer. Treat the new ebook like a personal document. First, when you download the ebook from Smashwords, save it to your desktop. (This is for ease of finding the ebook. If your computer is anything like mine, it likes to hide documents and let me scream at it all day until I find the thing. They're evil like that.)

Then, you must register your email account. Do it here.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200140600&#send

Once you have a kindle address, using your name and either "free.kindle" or "kindle.com"
simply open your email program, and attach your free ebook to your email to the above address. You must make sure that Kindle knows your personal email address. It's like not answering the phone when you see it's someone you don't know. Kindle likes to know who is sending it stuff.
Then all you have to do is turn on your Kindle, turn on your wireless, and it will download automatically.

I often download whole group digests, or large files that I want to read. It's easy, and I read them wherever I am relaxing. Try it. You'll love this feature.
Now, buy my book and try it. (Just kidding)
But, do try out some of Smashwords' other books. There are  excellent indie authors out there who offer excellent reads.And sometimes they're free!

Friday, September 23, 2011

There's a refugee camp in my city!

There, in the center of Moncton, New Brunswick, a refugee camp like none seen before around here.
Doctors without Borders, or better known world wide as Medicins sans Frontiers (MSF), http://www.msf.ca
has set up a display and I was
privileged to see it. A nurse took us through. First we were shown the housing. Some of the very items there were taken from refugee camps to show us exactly what the accommodations were like. Corrugated steel, wood, straw, twigs, even feed bags, and in front would be home made toys, such as soccer balls made of tape and plastic, dolls from rags, and toy cars from scrap metal or pop bottles. Shoes made from old tires, even. All sitting beside the gas cooker. Needless to say, MSF see burns on children as a result of playing too close to fires, but when you have less than 10 feet by 10 feet to call home for then next 20 years, you are going to be cramped.

We moved on to the food drop display, being shown the basic fat and meal biscuits that are dropped from planes in the early days of a disaster.
Nothing appetizing, but designed to fill tummies.

Moving on, we stopped at the latrines. We usually have four people to two or three bathrooms here, but a latrine in a refugee camp would be a double hole in the ground, far away from the camp, totally unsafe and designed to service about 700 people. The rubber mat and pictures are designed to show you how to use it. Some refugees have never even seen toilets or latrines.
Don't bother to ask for toilet paper. That's what your left hand is for.

We moved on to water. The average westerner will use 100-300 litres a day, but as a refugee, you will get 5. Yup. Five litres or about one gallon. If conditions improve,
you may get up to 20. No wasting water here.
We stopped at a tent that talked about the psychological effects of being a displaced person, and I nearly cried at the artwork, actual drawings by children of what they'd witnessed. You think your nine year old boy draws bloodied pictures. These kids actually saw this stuff, and the dismembered bodies and butchered livestock and raining bullets will cut you to the quick. We had to quickly move on.
Next was the Cholera station. We needed to pass through disinfecting spray and into the hospital, filled with folding cots that had holes in the center to catch the waste into a bucket beneath.
But Cholera kills, and needs to be treated quickly.
The tent we visited next was by far the most heartbreaking, and I thought it was the one with the pictures until I reached here.
The malnutrition centre weighed babies and measured upper arms and the nurse showed us what they do for starving babies. They're given a nut butter paste, enough to last two weeks, with instructions for mum.
But with mum going home to other starving family members, or the offer of a trade for rice that everyone can eat, or worse, to a culture that gives male children more than female children, the babies often come back the same weight. MSF called the nut paste medicine and gives incentive rewards to mums, such as blankets, if they fatten their babies up.
It's a complicated issue, and when MSF asks countries and governments to allow them to go in, they know they are facing difficulties caused by a variety of issues. But to see children suffer, it was hard.

We ended the tour with a trip to the vaccination clinic. And began
to learn that MSF offers hope to many displaced persons and works hard, is totally volunteer and its reward is knowing you, as a medical staff member have done what is right.
Such was the hope we were left with. And an eye-opening look at how much of the population lives. And how to be grateful for what you have.

Barbara Phinney
Souvenirs - a romantic suspense
http://www.amazon.com/Souvenirs-ebook/dp/B005AX7Z64/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1316810823&sr=1-3

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Catch


The Catch
Book #1 in The Twin Planets Series

By
Georgina Lee

Veseria, the fourth planet

Crouching, Lutus Mine parted the lush, tropical foliage to peer at their quarry. What he saw stole his breath.
With Veseria’s moons nearly full, and the twin planets still bright, Lutus could see the woman clearly. She glistened like the bright, rare coppers from the north continent. A breeze lifted her ruby hair as she tenderly set seedlings into crystal pots.
Almost immediately, his smile melted and a frown bit into his ebony features. This wasn't his hunt. He’d given it to his younger brother, Dorad. Lutus would have been content just to watch this woman, but Dorad would never agree to such foolishness.
Worse, he’d have plans for his prey that would make even Lutus shudder.
Lutus glanced through the greenery to see Dorad raise his net, all its daggerstones pointed at their quarry. Then Dorad launched it.
In that split second, the golden woman jerked up, her emerald eyes sharp with fear. Before she could leap away, the wide net dropped over her. The long daggerstones at its corners sank deep into the soft forest floor, ensnaring the shining beauty. Around Lutus, the hunters roared their thrill.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Excerpt of Souvenirs by Barbara Phinney

Souvenirs

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71597

An inspirational romantic suspense

By Barbara Phinney


Chapter One

Anna LaBonte woke up, slipped her hand between the smooth, cold sheets beside her and found unexpected relief washing over her like high tide washed over the soft beach sand that lay beyond their rented cabin.

Her husband was gone. And she knew, without understanding how, that he was gone for good. She couldn't explain how she knew. It was as if the wind whispered to her during the night, slipping into her mind through her unconsciousness and releasing itself into her waking moments.

And all she could feel was sweet, sweet relief.

But on the heels of that relief flowed out worry. Not for Serge. No, she would never be worried for him. But her callousness, the relief her ordeal with Serge was over, now that worried her. Had he also destroyed her gentle temperament?

Anna flipped back the sheets before padding barefoot out of the cabin's bedroom. Standing in the center of the living room, she stared at the empty couch. The bottle of wine Serge had bought yesterday stood unopened on the table. He would never leave wine alone, not the expensive stuff he insisted on drinking.

She hated alcohol, and all its effects. All the negative effects that turned Serge cruel.

No one saw that part of him. No one except Anna and God. But God had been turning a blind eye to her lately.

Abruptly, indignation pricked at her as she realized he’d denied her even the satisfaction of allowing her to end their relationship. All through the long, cold spring and all through his anger management counseling, she'd battled with herself until she realized she didn't need Serge and his abuse, contrary to what he was always telling her. She was strong enough to stand on her own.

And coming here to the Island had cemented that conclusion.

But Serge was gone. Really gone, her heart whispered. Gone as in dead.

Could he really be dead? Or was it merely wishful thinking? She swallowed. What a horrible thought.

The morning sun warmed her toes and she moved toward the patio door. The cabin they'd rented overlooked Murray Corner beach. To her, it was the loveliest spot in all of New Brunswick, with pristine views of the Confederation Bridge that led to Prince Edward Island. Beyond the sliding glass doors, beyond the sand and gently swaying grass and cloudless sky, the Northumberland Strait beckoned to her. All of Eastern Canada beckoned her.

She opened the door and slipped quietly onto the small deck. That wind that had somehow whispered Serge's fate to her had died overnight, but still it bled through her thin nightgown.

A good day for beachcombing, she thought, leaning over the deck. The stretch of sand was empty, the tide still receding.

Anna gripped the rail, feeling the cool morning air flutter her nightgown. Could Serge be dead? Shouldn’t she call the police? Would they believe her implausible intuition or would they suspect her of being involved?

Could she even believe her own intuition? It hadn't been around much when she'd married Serge. It was totally absent when the abuse started.

Her stomach knotted, she pushed herself from the railing and turned.

Then, she jumped.

On the deck of the all-too-close next cabin sat a man. That same soft breezes that cooled her anxious thoughts ruffled his dark hair. He sat quietly in one of the matching patio chairs, his jacket collar turned up slightly.

He wore sunglasses, but Anna felt his gaze linger on her.

Horrified, Anna ducked back into her cabin and dragged the patio door closed. Sighing, she pressed her hot cheek to the cold glass and waited for her heart to slow to a normal pace. Her breath steamed up the pane.

Pushing aside the embarrassment, she straightened up, and threw back her shoulders. That man was just another tourist, staring at her only out of curiosity. What man wouldn't, if their neighbour had just stepped out on a deck not more than fifteen feet away, dressed in a thin nightgown that barely covered her thighs?

Anna hurried into the bedroom. She'd seen that man yesterday, entering his cabin just as she and Serge were checking into theirs. Today, he wore the same lightweight jacket, zipped to the top, with the collar turned up. She’d watched him with only mild curiosity, wondering where he'd come from to consider the unseasonally warm weather cool enough for a jacket.

None of her business.

She should dress for breakfast. But just as she took a step toward the bedroom, she stopped abruptly. Serge had always insisted she be dressed with her hair and make-up done before breakfast.

No. Not anymore. Pivoting, Anna strode into the kitchen to make coffee. Alive, or even dead as her gut taunted her, Serge’s days of bullying her were over.

She deliberately made a light breakfast of coffee and the sugary cereal she had a secret penchant for, and grabbing both, she turned toward the table.

She stopped when she spied the door.

Would Serge walk in at any moment, alive and well, and insisting on fresh fruit, sweet yogurt and French press coffee?

Would she be forced to tell him their marriage was over?

Her hand started to shake, and Anna jumped when she realized she'd spilled coffee on her nightgown.

If Serge walked in right now...

No. She shut her eyes to stop the hated tears from rolling down her cheeks. Tears Serge had caused all too often.

No! Time to take back her life. And if Serge chose that moment to return from wherever he'd been, she would finally stand up for herself. It had taken ten years, but she knew now that she owed Serge nothing.

She sat down at the table, and ignoring the stain, began to eat her breakfast.

* * *

Major Brent Stirling peeled off his sunglasses and blinked. What the..?

Was that stunning woman the tiny mouse he'd seen yesterday waiting for her husband to check them in? Where was her old man now? Still asleep?

Brent shook his head, trying to dispel the image of long legs and horrified embarrassment. Poor thing, she'd nearly fainted when she caught sight of him, sitting out here. She must have thought she'd be the only person up this early.

Brent shoved his glasses back on his face and pulled his collar up further, all the while slouching deeper into the patio chair. Well, she was wrong. Not everyone wanted to lie in bed with his or her dreams.

Not when all of your dreams were the same nightmare, over and over again. Officially, the government in Ottawa did not place soldiers on the ground in North Africa. Unofficially, a half dozen men had been sent in to complete on very dangerous mission.

Brent craned his neck to one side, feeling the fresh scars tightened as he relived that last day in the desert.

Young Lieutenant Kenny had taken him aside that last morning, asking for leave. His wife needed him.

Brent had shaken his head. Leave was impossible. They'd been all through this at the first mission briefing. Kenny had said he was good to go. But that last day, the young guy had sputtered, calling him cold, heartless.

With political tensions high and an assignment that required such exactness, that one man could not be spared; Brent had lost his temper and ordered the young upstart to smarten up. They were needed to do this one mission. No one was leaving.

Two hours later, they were hit.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hop over to this blog to read David Wisehart's interview. He asks me some great questions and I tell him what I did when I was told my writing was bad.

http://kindle-author.blogspot.com/2011/07/kindle-author-interview-barbara-phinney.html

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Great give away!!

http://girlsgodgoodlife.blogspot.com/search/label/Win%20Free%20Stuff
Take a look at the layout you could win. Except one thing. I hope I win!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The ceiling is blurry

I am the mother of the bride. My daughter is not one of those Bridezilla creatures. In fact, she's very organized, very calm. But still, at night, I find myself unable to sleep. It's not that I am worrying, but rather all kinds of details that need to be done the next day all bombard my mind tormenting it so I can't sleep. And with the wedding being held here, I have even more details to keep ironing out.
So finding myself wide away, staring at a blurry dark ceiling, I lay there, hours on end, each night.
Insomnia runs in my family, but it's hitting me hard. The stress of an upcoming wedding,things that need to be done in the course of a regular day, and me being of that time in my life, have all conspired to keep me awake at night.
And it doesn't help that my hubby is sleeping soundly next to me as though he hadn't a care in the world.
So I pray, I reorganize my upcoming day, I meditate, I do pretty much everything I can to coax sleep onto me.
That's why I am here, at 4-something typing this out, asking for help.
What do you mothers of the bride or groom insomniacs do to cope?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An excerpt from Souvenirs



Souvenirs

Found at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71597

Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Phinney
All rights reserved.


Chapter One

Anna LaBonte woke up, slipped her hand between the smooth, cold sheets beside her and found unexpected relief washing over her like high tide washed over the soft beach sand that lay beyond their rented cabin.
Her husband was gone. And she knew, without understanding how, that he was gone for good. She couldn't explain how she knew. It was as if the wind whispered to her during the night, slipping into her mind through her unconsciousness and releasing itself into her waking moments.
And all she could feel was sweet, sweet relief.
But on the heels of that relief flowed out worry. Not for Serge. No, she would never be worried for him. But her callousness, the relief her ordeal with Serge was over, now that worried her. Had he also destroyed her gentle temperament?
Anna flipped back the sheets before padding barefoot out of the cabin's bedroom. Standing in the center of the living room, she stared at the empty couch. The bottle of wine Serge had bought yesterday stood unopened on the table. He would never leave wine alone, not the expensive stuff he insisted on drinking.
She hated alcohol, and all its effects. All the negative effects that turned Serge cruel.
No one saw that part of him. No one except Anna and God. But God had been turning a blind eye to her lately.
Abruptly, indignation pricked at her as she realized he’d denied her even the satisfaction of allowing her to end their relationship. All through the long, cold spring and all through his anger management counseling, she'd battled with herself until she realized she didn't need Serge and his abuse, contrary to what he was always telling her. She was strong enough to stand on her own.
And coming here to the Island had cemented that conclusion.
But Serge was gone. Really gone, her heart whispered. Gone as in dead.
Could he really be dead? Or was it merely wishful thinking? She swallowed. What a horrible thought.
The morning sun warmed her toes and she moved toward the patio door. The cabin they'd rented overlooked Murray Corner beach. To her, it was the loveliest spot in all of New Brunswick, with pristine views of the Confederation Bridge that led to Prince Edward Island. Beyond the sliding glass doors, beyond the sand and gently swaying grass and cloudless sky, the Northumberland Strait beckoned to her. All of Eastern Canada beckoned her.
She opened the door and slipped quietly onto the small deck. That wind that had somehow whispered Serge's fate to her had died overnight, but still it bled through her thin nightgown.
A good day for beachcombing, she thought, leaning over the deck. The stretch of sand was empty, the tide still receding.
Anna gripped the rail, feeling the cool morning air flutter her nightgown. Could Serge be dead? Shouldn’t she call the police? Would they believe her implausible intuition or would they suspect her of being involved?
Could she even believe her own intuition? It hadn't been around much when she'd married Serge. It was totally absent when the abuse started.
Her stomach knotted, she pushed herself from the railing and turned.
Then, she jumped.
On the deck of the all-too-close next cabin sat a man. That same soft breezes that cooled her anxious thoughts ruffled his dark hair. He sat quietly in one of the matching patio chairs, his jacket collar turned up slightly.
He wore sunglasses, but Anna felt his gaze linger on her.
Horrified, Anna ducked back into her cabin and dragged the patio door closed. Sighing, she pressed her hot cheek to the cold glass and waited for her heart to slow to a normal pace. Her breath steamed up the pane.
Pushing aside the embarrassment, she straightened up, and threw back her shoulders. That man was just another tourist, staring at her only out of curiosity. What man wouldn't, if their neighbour had just stepped out on a deck not more than fifteen feet away, dressed in a thin nightgown that barely covered her thighs?
Anna hurried into the bedroom. She'd seen that man yesterday, entering his cabin just as she and Serge were checking into theirs. Today, he wore the same lightweight jacket, zipped to the top, with the collar turned up. She’d watched him with only mild curiosity, wondering where he'd come from to consider the unseasonally warm weather cool enough for a jacket.
None of her business.
She should dress for breakfast. But just as she took a step toward the bedroom, she stopped abruptly. Serge had always insisted she be dressed with her hair and make-up done before breakfast.
No. Not anymore. Pivoting, Anna strode into the kitchen to make coffee. Alive, or even dead as her gut taunted her, Serge’s days of bullying her were over.
She deliberately made a light breakfast of coffee and the sugary cereal she had a secret penchant for, and grabbing both, she turned toward the table.
She stopped when she spied the door.
Would Serge walk in at any moment, alive and well, and insisting on fresh fruit, sweet yogurt and French press coffee?
Would she be forced to tell him their marriage was over?
Her hand started to shake, and Anna jumped when she realized she'd spilled coffee on her nightgown.
If Serge walked in right now...
No. She shut her eyes to stop the hated tears from rolling down her cheeks. Tears Serge had caused all too often.
No! Time to take back her life. And if Serge chose that moment to return from wherever he'd been, she would finally stand up for herself. It had taken ten years, but she knew now that she owed Serge nothing.
She sat down at the table, and ignoring the stain, began to eat her breakfast.
* * *
Major Brent Stirling peeled off his sunglasses and blinked. What the..?
Was that stunning woman the tiny mouse he'd seen yesterday waiting for her husband to check them in? Where was her old man now? Still asleep?
Brent shook his head, trying to dispel the image of long legs and horrified embarrassment. Poor thing, she'd nearly fainted when she caught sight of him, sitting out here. She must have thought she'd be the only person up this early.
Brent shoved his glasses back on his face and pulled his collar up further, all the while slouching deeper into the patio chair. Well, she was wrong. Not everyone wanted to lie in bed with his or her dreams.
Not when all of your dreams were the same nightmare, over and over again. Officially, the government in Ottawa did not place soldiers on the ground in North Africa. Unofficially, a half dozen men had been sent in to complete on very dangerous mission.
Brent craned his neck to one side, feeling the fresh scars tightened as he relived that last day in the desert.
Young Lieutenant Kenny had taken him aside that last morning, asking for leave. His wife needed him.
Brent had shaken his head. Leave was impossible. They'd been all through this at the first mission briefing. Kenny had said he was good to go. But that last day, the young guy had sputtered, calling him cold, heartless.
With political tensions high and an assignment that required such exactness, that one man could not be spared; Brent had lost his temper and ordered the young upstart to smarten up. They were needed to do this one mission. No one was leaving.
Two hours later, they were hit.
Kenny had been killed instantly, his own inattentiveness drawing his focus from his task as point man. And worse, Brent's own stubbornness pushing the distracted man to do a job for which he was unfit.
The next thing Brent knew, he was waking up in an Italian military hospital, bandaged and sutured all along his right side. Kenny and the two others hadn’t survived. The only reason he had, was that several NATO soldiers on another covert mission found him before the Libyan government forces got there.
Brent swiped his hand over the scarred ridges on his neck.
Lieutenant Kenny had been right. He was cold and heartless to force a man to do a job when his mind was on family back home.
Deciding he'd had enough of the wind and surf, Brent climbed out of his chair. The row of cedar shake cabins angled down a stretch of ruddy soil and lush grass, offset in such a way that the farthest edge of his back deck almost reached the back corner of his pretty neighbour’s cabin.
He slid open the patio door and stepped over the threshold. Neat, modern and touristy, the inside of Brent's cabin welcomed him with unbiased blandness. The few knickknacks about didn't give a hoot about him.
Unzipping his jacket just enough stop to the chafing, Brent walked into the kitchen to pour another coffee. With his windows open, he could hear the rhythmic surf pound the beach, white, sea foam breaking beyond the sandbars that appeared with low tide. He should take a walk out there this morning.
Maybe it would help him to forget Kenny.
His hand shook. The coffee sloshed in the carafe he held. And slowly, before his mind's eye, he could see the attack again. The barrage of gunfire as they exited the vehicle, the explosion of that one grenade that landed too close, the flash of blinding light against which Kenny was silhouetted the second before the blast tore his insides out...
Brent slammed the mug down on the counter, drawing in a deep breath to calm himself. He went slowly through the exercises the counselor had given him.
Yeah, maybe that walk on the beach he'd been avoiding was in order.
He should, however, wait until after supper when the families were gone and the oblique sun muted the side of his neck.
By then, too, he wouldn't be risking a meeting with that lovely thing who had fled from her deck at the mere horrible sight of him.
Brent's jaw tightened as he tried again to pour coffee into his mug. It did crap for his ego to know he frightened away beautiful women.
What do you care, Stirling? It's not like you're ever going to get one, again.
When his ex-wife had shown up one day at that London hospital, he'd been surprised she could look at him at all. But Mag had always been tough. She didn't get as far as she had in her own army career from shying away from anything. She hadn't even shied away from walking out on him all those years ago.
After declining her offer to recuperate at her new house, Brent had asked her to leave. He promised to call her when he got back to Canada.
He hadn't yet, still unsure what he’d do with the rest of his career. And he knew Mag would ask that question.
Yeah, Mag was a whole lot different than that bit of a thing next door. That dark-haired beauty was probably shivering in her old man's arms right now, but that long, thin guy he'd seen signing for the cabin didn't strike Brent as the sympathetic type.
His first sip of coffee soured on his tongue. Brent threw it into the sink, deciding against breakfast until he remembered his meds needed to sit on a full stomach.
Be thankful, Major Stirling, the army doctor had advised. You might have been one of the three soldiers who didn't come back that day.
The mug slipped from his fingers, falling the few inches into the sink. Three men under his command had died and the doctor told him to be thankful? His knuckles whitened where he gripped the edge of the stainless steel sink. Thankful for what? For not listening to Kenny when was asking for help? For ignoring the fact that one soldier had not been mentally prepared to complete that covert operation?
Be thankful for surviving a horrible accident that had been his fault?
The muscles in his neck tightened enough to snap and Brent forcibly relaxed them, before shoving himself from the sink to look for something for breakfast.


You can find the rest of the book, as well as more of this excerpt at

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71597

(I apologize for the link not working today. I can't explain it, but if you cut and past you'll be able to reach the site easily enough. Thanks for your patience!)


Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sharon Dunn

One of my critique partners, Sharon Dunn, as a new website. Take a look at the way she keeps track of her stories.

http://sharondunnbooks.net/

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ripples and the Tidal Monkey


Ripples MacLean gripped the edge of her bathroom sink and stared hard at face peering back at her. The gilded mirror could only say one thing.

She was ugly. And there was nothing she could do about it.

“Hey! I gotta go to school today, you know!”

Sighing, she opened the bathroom door and rolled her eyes. “It’s all yours, kid,” she told her younger brother, Wave.

Wave plowed in.

Ripples wrinkled her nose. “You stink! Where did you sleep, with a skunk?”

For her answer, all Ripples got was a door slammed in her face.

Shaking her head, she smoothed her new tee shirt and headed down the narrow hall of her parents’ trailer to the kitchen. Both mum and dad had already left for the day, which meant Ripples was in charge of her brother. No mean feat. Wave had been hanging out with some tough kids from Dorchester, and Ripples knew he’d been getting into no-good because of that.

And, she decided as she stared at the mess of banana and orange peels he’d left on the counter, he was getting worse.

At least he ate breakfast, she resigned to herself.

Grabbing a Popsicle from the freezer, Ripples headed out to catch the bus.

Art class was the highlight of her day. Her final project, worth 50% of her mark and a chance for an art scholarship at Mount Allison University, hinged on her collecting Popsicle sticks. Now, as she dumped the ones collected for her into her backpack, she knew she had enough.

Ripples smiled. Her airship was coming together.

That evening, while her parents were watching some stupid news show about a stolen primate, Ripples slipped out to the shed behind the trailer. She’d been building an airship and with all she’d learned in science class, she was sure the project would not only win her the scholarship, but also a patent for airship design.

But the smell! “Ugh!” she spat out as she opened the shed door. “It stinks in here.”

A screech cut through the air and Ripples jumped, her foot knocking the door behind her closed.

Then, swinging down in front of her, holding Popsicle sticks from her wrecked airship, was a horrible, stinking monkey!

She leapt back in shock and fear, her heel hitting the closed door and her hands grabbing anything to steady her.

The monkey jumped down, snatched the Popsicle sticks from her hand and swung back up to its safe place in the shed’s rafters.

The stink of dung and rotting fruit hung around her. Ripples could do only thing.

She tore out of the shed, screaming, “Wave! You moron! Get in here!”

The monkey swung down and sailed through the air to land on her back. She screeched again, and before she knew it, neighbours were descending on her.

The police, too. That crazy guy next door, Beattie Daniels, had called them.

Her parents tried to pry the monkey free, but its grip on her hair was as tight as its grip on the Popsicle sticks.

Snapping at anyone who came near it, the monkey held her captive.

And Wave was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, one police officer had the presence of mind to shove a baby’s toque on the monkey’s head. Disoriented, the creature released its painful grip.

“Well, that’s one mystery solved,” he said grimly.

“Oh, Ripples, how could you!” her mother wailed.

“Could what?” Ripples answered, rubbing her sore head.

“You’ve been going into that shed for weeks, now. You’ve stolen that stupid monkey, haven’t you?”

“No!”

“We would have paid your tuition if you didn’t win that scholarship. We’d have found the money somehow. I know I keep telling you how poor we are, but you don’t have to resort to stealing!”

“Stealing what?” Ripples asked.

“That monkey. It’s been all over the news. It’s a rare Apricot Monkey worth millions, and its owner says he’s received a ransom note on it.”

Shocked, Ripples could only stare at the group around her. The following hours were a blur. Her family’s ancient, (at least a year old), computer was taken as evidence. It held the ransom note in its files and worse, Ripples thought belatedly, Wave was nowhere to be found.

He was with his buddies in Dorchester, Smash and Divert Taptree, two siblings who were known for trouble ever since they emigrated here from the wilds of New Jersey.

Now, finally, back home, with Waves denying everything, Ripples sat in the shed. Thankfully, the police had released her under the care of her parents, who showed their support by ordering her to clean up the shed.

Shoulders slumped, she sank onto an old stool and sighed. Around her were the scattered remains of her Popsicle airship. The frame was still intact, but the monkey had strewn everything else. Not wanting to clean up something she didn’t mess, Ripples decided to finish her creation. She knew her parents couldn’t afford any tuition, and she had incredible faith in this airship.

Had. It was definitely past tense, here. Her airship would never be ready in time for the deadline.

Hours ticked by, until Ripples heard her mother call out to her. It was already late, and probably supper was on the table.

Ripples set down the nearly finished airship and rose, grimacing at her stiff muscles.

She stepped out of the shed, and directly into the stranger standing near the threshold.

He caught her arm to stop her from falling. Ripples looked up into his face, and found him smiling at her. His ball cap hid a straight crop of thick hair, and his summer tan shone on his youthful face.

She didn’t feel like smiling back. “Can I help you?” It was the most civil thing she could say to him.

“Ripples MacLean? I’m Trim Bronzal. Rufus is my monkey.”

Rufus? It took a minute for Ripples to connect the screeching demon from the shed with the name, but when she did, she backed up. “Are you here to charge me with kidnapping? I didn’t do it, you know.”

He smiled, and she could see he was far younger than she expected. “I know. I’m here to say thank you for finding him.”

“More like he found me. Or jumped out at me in a screeching attack.”

“That’s Rufus. Sorry.” His grin widened. “Look, your parents invited me for supper. Why don’t we go in? Then after, if you like, I can help you clean up.”

Now he was talking her language. Any help with this mess would be gratefully accepted. They walked into the trailer, and though Ripples felt a bit self-conscious about living in small quarters, she found herself relaxing. If Trim was bothered by the basic meal of Hamburger Helper and frozen peas, he didn’t show it at all. In fact, he charmed everyone from her parents to her nasty little brother. Before long, everyone was contributing to the shed clean up. Throughout, Ripples found herself telling him about her Popsicle airship design.

“I’d love to see it. I know some people who’d be able to help you perfect your design.”

“Thanks, but it’s too late. I had to have that design in by tomorrow morning in order to qualify for the scholarship competition.”

“But getting a patent would be worth more. Especially if it was bought by some company big in the aerospace industry.”

Ripples knew her eyes had lit up, but one big question remained. “But that doesn’t answer who sent you the ransom note, and how Rufus ended up in our shed.”

From the corner of her eye, Ripples spied Wave sneaking out. But her father was quicker, slamming the door shut on his son’s face. “Not so fast. Ripples has a good question and I think you have an answer for it.”

Wave shot Trim a frightened look. “It started out to be just a joke. At least that’s what Smash and Divert thought. They just needed a place to keep the thing for a day or two. But we didn’t know he was stolen or anything! Honest!”

“Stolen by whom?” Trim asked, his forehead creasing.

Wave hesitated, then blurted out, “Beattie Daniels. He’d asked us to do it!”

Ripples gasped. “I know why, too! I showed him my airship design and he was really interested. He wanted to buy it from me, but I said no. I bet he did all this so that monkey would wreck the ship.”

“More like discredit you. Then Daniels would steal your design.” Trim shoved his hands onto his hips and looked very, very angry. “Your ship is innovative and with you gone, and your family not knowing much about the design, he was free to sell it and make millions.”

“Millions?” her mother echoed.

“Yes, Mrs. MacLean. Ripples stood to earn that much if she had a good negotiating team behind her. I would have seen to that.” He smiled sheepishly. “I’d have liked to be a part of that team, too. We could help her get that engineering and design education, too.”

Ripples’ mum sank into the dusty chair nearest her. Ripples smiled at Trim, thankful that he was here with them.

“We’ll see that the police know about this,” her dad said, his hand still firm on Wave’s shoulder. “And we’re grateful to you, Mr. Bronzal.”

“Call me Trim.” He grinned broadly, right at Ripples as she blushed. “And I think you’ll be seeing more often.”

Ripples gathered up her battered airship. “Just as long as Rufus stays at home, okay?”

Trim nodded as he helped her pick up her tools. “That’s a promise. The first of many, I hope.”

As the rest of her family filed out of the shed, Ripples smiled back at Trim. “You bet!”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Coming Soon!

Hold on, it's coming! I participated in a talent show to raise money to help send some teens to Tidal Impact, where I took ideas for a story.
The audience shouted out ideas and though I had to weed out a few ideas not to be described here, I am proud to say that this story will be launched tomorrow morning!
Yup, get up early folks, and be the first to read Ripples and the Tidal Monkey.
Now, to those of you who are going to Tidal Impact, dust off your printers, print out the story and ask a dollar for each copy.
Have fun, and enjoy the story!

Monday, March 7, 2011

contest re-blog!

This author is fast becoming a big name. And she has a little giveaway!
http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/