Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Blurb and Cover for the Soon-to-be-Published Seadrift

Life is looking up for Maisie Trent. Since the exciting, handsome, and wealthy Paul Leon wandered into her aunt's antique shop and swept her off her feet, she is taking her life off hold. No more marking time while dabbling in the history she's writing about Laguna Beach. 

But Laguna Beach, a place of perpetual blue summer skies, artist enclaves, and lazy sandy shores, has another side fused with scandal, the counterculture and something called Orange Sunshine. 

When Maisie tries to help a local homeless man, she uncovers a deadly string of events hidden beneath Laguna Beach's cheerful surface. And someone will kill to keep those secrets buried in the sand.

I wrote this book nearly ten years ago, back when I thought I wanted to be traditionally published and I had to write in the confines of a specific genre. But even then I wasn't very good at it. And this novel is proof of that. Part mystery, part romance...it's not quite sure what it is.

But there were a lot of scenes in it that I really liked so I frequently stole them and used them in a number of my other books. That's because I thought I'd never publish this story that was once called A Pebble in His Pocket. I liked this title because it tied in with a literary device, but an author I really admire told me it made it sound like a children's book, so I changed the title to Shell Charms. But then another author that I also really admire that's in my writers' group titled his story Monkey Charms, and I can't say why this spoiled Shell Charms for me, but it did. Also, Shell Charms sounded too upbeat for a murder mystery, although Shell Charms, like A Pebble in His Pocket, tied in nicely with the story in a way that Seadrift does not. Oh well.

I resurrected this story when it became glaringly obvious that I wasn't going to finish my Miss Maple story in time for it to be included in the Orange County Fictionaires' Murder, Mystery and Mayhem anthology (coming soon.) And I'm glad I did. I do love this story. It needed a little rewriting, though not a lot. 

Here's the cover. Isn't it cool?

When I first took it out of its dark and dusty drawer, I thought I would need to pull the scenes I had used in my other books. And yes, those few people who have read all of my books will most likely find the scenes I plagiarized from myself. But again, oh well. I hope you enjoy the story for what it is--whatever it is--mystery, romance, thriller, suspense...a history lesson.

It's darker than most of my other books. I wrote it back when I loved mysteries. And I still love mysteries--I love the puzzle and the who-dun-it of them. But around this time I was made the president of a women's charitable organization, and I saw a lot of ugliness, betrayal, degradation, and the world became a scarier place to me. Suddenly, the horrors in mystery novels became real. I stopped reading them. I stopped watching the crime shows on TV. And I stopped writing them.

What made me go back to mysteries? I'm not quite sure. Just like I'm an eclectic reader, I'm also an eclectic writer, bouncing around genres, picking up the stories that strike my fancy at the time. And this, I suppose, is another reason I could never be traditionally published.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Book Bio

I'm retooling my book bio. What do you think?

USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate has come a long way from small-town Washington. Her avid curiosity and love of reading have carried her to thirty plus countries. (She loves to travel to the places she reads and writes about.)

She's the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling and award-winning Beyond Series and the Kindle Scout winning Witch Ways series. She writes mysteries with romance, humorous romance, light-hearted young adult romance, and urban fantasy.

When she's not reading, writing, or traveling, she can be found playing games with her family, hiking with her dogs, or watching movies while eating brownies.

She is also a popular public speaker and presents writing workshops for schools, libraries, and fundraisers. All proceeds donated to charity. References available upon request.

Not to be published, but to use as references:

Stella (Orange County Public Librarian)
Carly (Director of California's GATE Program)
Greta (President OC Writers)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Baby Blue Christmas--an excerpt

An excerpt from Baby Blue Christmas, my novella in the upcoming Author's of Main Street Christmas box set. It's scenes like this that make me write...

The next morning, Sophie and Jamison sat beside Liz and Teddy on the front pew of St. Jude’s Church. Pastor Carl Mitchells, Liz’s husband, sat on the stand while Debra Jenks played Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” on the organ. Sophie hadn’t ever attended church regularly, but ever since her sister’s death she’d found comfort and a sense of community in the small stone chapel where her best friend’s husband led the congregation.
She’d first started attending because Liz had told her how hard it was to make Teddy sit through the sermons and how important it was to Carl that she and Teddy be there. So in the beginning, Sophie had gone to support Liz and help her with Teddy. She couldn’t pinpoint when that had changed—when, exactly, her Sunday mornings had become more about finding peace and grace than helping her friend shore up her marriage. But Sophie had grown to love and treasure the hour of reflection the service provided.
The calm she generally found in church shattered the moment Luke walked in and took his place beside her on the pew moments before the opening hymn.
He gave her a dazzling smile and took Jamison from her without even asking. Jamison, who was normally hesitant around strangers, sat on Luke’s knee and gazed at him with happy curiosity. The traitor.
Sophie’s lap felt cold without the baby on it and without Jamison, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with her hands.
“Good morning,” Luke said, bumping her with his shoulder.
Sophie didn’t know what to say, but fortunately, Mrs. Lawrence stood to lead the hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
Luke sang with a loud, clear bass voice she found almost hypnotic. She could barely hear her own squeaky words beside him. He chuckled as soon as the song ended.
“What’s so funny?” she whispered, hoping he wasn’t laughing at her singing.
“That song always reminds me of an episode of The Brady Bunch,” he whispered back.
The Brady Bunch? He hadn’t seemed like a Brady Bunch-watching sort of kid. She would have pegged him as an action hero watcher.
“My sister loved them,” he whispered, answering her unasked question.
“Shh!” Liz whispered good naturedly as her husband took the stand to begin the sermon.
Sophie’s gaze wandered to Teddy who sat beside his mother scribbling in a coloring book. She wondered what sort of child Luke had been. She hadn’t met him until Chloe and Matt had started dating. Back then, when she was a freshman and he a senior, he’d seemed so much older. But once, he must have been a child just like Teddy, and even a baby like Jamison.
Jamison deserved a father.
“Did you know that the Santa in that Brady Bunch episode also played Otis, the town drunk, in The Andy Griffith Show?” Luke whispered.
“Did you watch a lot of TV as a kid?” Sophie didn’t want Jamison to grow up to be one of those kids glued to a TV screen.
“Not so much as a kid,” he whispered back.
Liz reached over Sophie to slap Luke’s knee. “Excuse me, my husband is pontificating!” she whispered.
“Sorry,” Luke mouthed the word and turned his attention to the podium.
Sophie gazed at his strong jaw. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Something important. Something she should know. He was Jamison’s only uncle and, at the moment, the only male role model in Jamison’s life. Of course, that would all change if she married. Not that she saw that happening any time soon. She had been picky about who she dated before she gained custody of Jamison, but now that she had him to consider, her pickiness had ratcheted up to a whole new level.
She chastised herself for thinking about marriage when she should be focused on the sermon. She sent Liz an apologetic smile and tried to dial in to Carl’s message.
Unfortunately, Carl spoke in monotones. “Jesus, through Mary, his natural born mother and Joseph, his adoptive father, was of royal blood and would have been king if Israel hadn’t been under Roman rule. Let’s turn to Matthew 1:17 in our Bibles.”
Sophie reached down for her Bible which was in her bag by her feet, but her hand knocked against Luke’s and then she forgot about her scriptures as tingles shot up her arm.
He didn’t even react to her touch. This bothered her. Why was he sitting so close? She edged away, clutched her Bible, and tried to refocus.
  “We read in Isaiah, chapter sixty-one, ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified…”
Interesting. But not nearly as interesting as the man beside her. She wanted to touch him again to see if the tingles were a one-off sort of thing or if his touch had that power over her.
She reached over to take Jamison from him, intentionally brushing her hand against his.
Yep. Tingles.

He leaned over as if to say something, but she shushed him. “I’m listening,” she said, nodding at the podium. But she wasn’t. And then she began to worry that there might be a special level in hell for those who lied in church. On the Sabbath.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Arlington, Washington and my Rose Arbor Novels

Five of my novels are set in Rose Arbor, a fictional town loosely based on my hometown, Arlington, Washington. One reviewer claimed that I had obviously never even been to Arlington. But not only did I live at the end of East Fifth Street until I left for college, but since my dad still lives there, I visit often. Here are some pictures from my latest trip.

This was obviously taken from a car window. I wanted to show how beautiful it is there, no matter where you look. These photos are from Bowman Bay, which is actually in Anacortes near Deception Pass. I think all of my Rose Arbor novels include beach houses, even though, technically, Arlington doesn't have any beach front property. Unless you call a riverbank a beach....
This is a house on the top of Olympic Hill. It was the house I had in mind when I wrote about the Michael's house in Stealing Mercy. (By the way, Stealing Mercy is free for today and tomorrow.) You can get it here: STEALING MERCY FREE
This is the house on Cob Street where my husband and I lived in for three months before he went back to graduate school. It was full of mold and we were sick for the entire summer. I wrote about it in my novel, A Ghost of a Second Chance.
And this is the library in The Rhyme's Library. (Actually, it's a house at the end of my dad's street.) My babysitter lived here. Strange coincidence--in my novel, The Rhyme's Library, Charlotte suffers from dementia. The woman who used to babysit me died at 58 with a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimers. I didn't learn this until after the novel was published. I love this house, but it also had a spookiness about it. Probably because as a child I wasn't allowed to watch the TV program, Dark Shadows. My babysitter didn't know this, and so I watched it when I was at her house. So there was that. Plus, the interior was decorated in a really horrible French Rococo style--frilly furniture etched with gold. 

When I grew up, our house was surrounded by a dairy farm on three sides. Today there's a couple of schools, a church, a housing development and a retirement home where the cows used to be. The barn is now a thrift shop. All of this makes the town--and my dad's property in particular--a lot less smelly.

This is what's left of my dad's garden. It's the end of the season and most has been harvested. My dad is 96 and lives alone.
There's a line in a Paul Simon song that says something like, "Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town." And I used to feel that way about Arlington, but I don't anymore. When I left Arlington for college in the 1980s, there were about 5,000 residents. At the last census, there were 17,926, proving that we all can grow and change.

Here are a few more blog posts about Arlington:
The Arlington Rose Arbor Connection
O is Opiate
An Open Day
Three Weekends in October
Books for Oso

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why We Work

Image may contain: text
Some words that probably won't be on your children's spelling list, but that they need to learn anyway.


We need to teach our children to embrace failure and see it as an opportunity for growth. It's okay to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them. In "The Gift of Failure," by Jessica Lahey we read, "Every time we save our children, we send them a clear message that they are incapable."
Hunger is the cost of a forgotten lunch.
Detention is the result of poor choices.
Being cold is what happens when you forget your sweater
These are important lessons, but not nearly as important as their greater message of self-reliance. By letting our kids take their knocks, we're teaching them not only the importance of doing their homework, we're also teaching them who they are: strong, capable, responsible, and hardworking human beings.
We all need to belong to the pack.

But if we want something done right, we need to do it ourselves, right? Of course, but how important is it really to have our forks lined up exactly so? Or to have all the vacuum marks running in precise lateral lines? Or that there isn't a streak or two on the mirror? The big picture isn't a house worthy of a photo-shoot, but a home that fosters the values of your family. So, take a moment to decide what it is that your family truly values.

"To teach our children to work is a primary duty of parenthood. Our children have experienced unprecedented prosperity created by parents who have worked hard to provide what they themselves did not have as youngsters. If we are to save our children temporally and spiritually, we must train them to work. They must learn by example that work is not drudgery, but a blessing." J. Ruben Clark

And these lessons aren't just for our kids. They apply to us, too. The more we practice, pause, and make wise choices, the more we'll be able to rescript our lives and gain confidence in our own ability to choose. We won't need our moms, our bosses, or our teachers to guide us. We'll learn to rely on our own inner compasses. And we won't be afraid to make a mistake, or two, or ten, because we'll have learned that if we fall, we can always get back up.

Korsaren: “If you are poor, work. … If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrow overwhelms you, … work. … When faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead, work. Work as if your life were in peril. It really is. No matter what ails you, work. Work faithfully. … Work is the greatest remedy available for both mental and physical afflictions.” (The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life, New York: Forbes Inc., 1968, p. 427.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Some Back to School Thoughts

Mark Twain, dropped out of school at the age of twelve. H.G. Wells at eleven. Jack London at thirteen. Ever heard of Ray Bradbury? Stieg Larsson? Agatha Christie? Herman Melville? None of them went to college. Here are some more great quotes from not so great students, but very great writers.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. MARK TWAIN
An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.
It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.
The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes. AGATHA CHRISTIE
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. HERMAN MELVILLE
Remember how when you were in kindergarten and it seemed like the most important things were having the right lunchbox, the best cookies at the lunch table, and the coolest shoes?

And then when you're in sixth grade and everyone is wearing Star Jeans, and it seems like you're cast into social hell if you're not wearing a big star on your bum?

Or when you're in high school, and you think you'll die if you don't get a part in the play, or a solo in the concert, or a place on the team?

Or when you're in college and your entire life and future career depends on your score on the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT?

Or when you're employed and you think you'll never be able to support yourself and your family if you're not made a partner, or an officer, or a board member?

Do you think that maybe when we die and we get to the other side, we'll realize that the lunch boxes, Star Jeans, the teams, the scores, and positions were all things that we had to let go, and that the only things we get to keep and hold is the love of the people around us?
I’m all for getting a good education from brilliant teachers, but it’s important to remember that life with all its disappointments, frustrations, and kicks in the head, is by far the best text book, and, consequently, the prime tutorial for writing.

What are your thoughts on going back to school, even if your school is the hard-knocks sort?

Kristy Tate is a USA Today bestselling author. Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book, please visit http://www.kristytate.com/

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.  
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

It's summer. And it's hot. And I can't seem to find my writing groove. I decided to turn the novella The Little White Christmas Lie into a novel...and I wrote a few scenes. But it couldn't hold my attention for long. So, I resurrected my novella Making Music. It also really deserves to be a novel. And what about the murder mystery series I started? Today is the eclipse. Tomorrow I'm going to the beach. And then I'm going to Washington.

Vernon Howard in his book Psycho-Pictography tells us that we need to be "totally engaged in the act of the moment...the opposite of this is a scattered mind....You may wish to relax, but your mind is hopping...When the self-united man is relaxed he is like a cat dozing peacefully before the fireplace--he is in a mental state that knows nothing outside of itself. He doesn't merely feel relaxed. He is relaxation."

And that is the problem. I can't be like the cat relaxing before the fireplace--because it's hot. And that's because it's August. Maybe things will be better in September. Emerson tells us we need to trust in the process.

"All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first instinct then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. by trusting it to the end, it shall ripe into truth and you shall know why you believe."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Menagerie is Free (for a few days)

Menagerie is free for a limited time. You can get it here: http://a.co/b46mKk9

By Kristy Tate
Everyone talks to animals. Some do it every day. But very few stop to listen for a reply. Lizbet Wood does. And this is just one of the things that set her apart. But she really doesn’t understand how different she is until violence shatters her solitary existence.
While Lizbet seeks to understand why mother sought refuge on a deserted island in the Pacific Northwest, she comes face to face with the dangers her mother tried, but failed to escape. When her mother is gravely injured, Lizbet is forced from the island and thrust into a world even more complex and threatening than she could have ever imagined. A world where the animals have no say…or do they?
Copyright, September 2016


Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life") is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence.
From Declan’s Research

The birds heralded the storm, as they always did. They liked to be the bearers of scuttlebutt. Although, as Lizbet had learned long ago, not all birds were created equal, and some species were much more reliable than others. Not that they lied, very few creatures had the ability or cunning, but rather in their haste to be the first in the know, some blurted out misconceptions and half-truths.
Not that Lizbet had much familiarity with liars—or people, in general—but she’d read of several, as Rose, her mother, had accumulated an impressive library over the years. Not that Lizbet was in any position to know what was and was not impressive library-wise, or any otherwise, since Lizbet herself had never been off the island she and Rose called home.
The howling wind drowned out the calls of birds, and the chatter of squirrels and chipmunks. Opossum, skunks, and fox sought shelter in the forest’s thickets. Rats and mice scurried to find hidey-holes. Lizbet fetched an armful of wood from the shed to stoke the fire while her mother gathered candles.
Wind rustled the tarp protecting the woodpile. The pine trees, used to standing straight and tall, moaned as the wind whipped through their canopy, and bent them in directions they didn’t wish to go.
A man approaches,” Wordsworth whined, terror tainting his words.
Lizbet looked over the German Shepherd’s furry head to the storm-tossed sea. The Sound, normally a tranquil gray-blue slate, roiled as if shaken by an invisible hand. Lizbet couldn’t see anyone, but her heart quickened. “Are you sure?” She saw nothing but a curtain of rain, an angry sky, and churning tide. The gulls, who generally swooped above the bay, had wisely found shelter. The otters, too, had disappeared, and for once the noisy, boisterous sea lions, were silent.
The dog nodded. “He’s lost, but hopeful.”
“Hopeful? Of what?”
Wordsworth shook his head. When another flash of lightening lit the sky, his ears flattened and his tail drooped and he cowered as the thunder boomed.
“Come,” Lizbet said, “let’s go inside. Only an idiot would be out on the water today.”
“He’s no longer on the water,” Wordsworth whined. “His boat has landed.”
Lizbet peered into the storm, saw nothing more than before, and added another log to her collection. Their cottage was made of stone, but the adjacent shed which housed the woodpile, gardening tools, and bird seed, was constructed of recycled wood. Wind blew through the slats and rattled the shake roof. The cottage would be warm and dry in a way the shed never could.
Wordsworth whimpered again. Lizbet knew he longed for the comforts of the house as much as she did, but she also understood he had an important job to do, and he would never back away from protecting her and her mother from strangers.
“There’s no one there,” Lizbet said, stomping toward the cottage. She climbed the steps and pulled open the Dutch door. The warm comforting scent of the crackling fire mingled with the aroma of ginger cookies welcomed her in.
Rose stood at a large pine table, stacking the cookies onto a plate. Lizbet stared at the number of cookies, knowing that she and her mother would never be able to eat so many. Her mother was waif-thin with flyaway blond hair as insubstantial as her slender frame.
“There’s a man in the cove,” Lizbet said, wondering if her mother already knew, and if so, why she hadn’t warned her.
Rose kept her gaze focused on the cookies and blushed the color of her namesake. She was as fair as Lizbet was dark. We are as night and day, her mother would say, Together, we are all we need.
“Are you expecting someone?” Lizbet demanded.
“No, not really, but I…” Rose’s voice trailed away.
Lizbet clomped through the kitchen to the living room, weaving through the stacks of books to the fireplace. She dropped her logs onto the hearth, placed her hands on her hips, and marched back into the kitchen. She hated surprises, but she was also curious.
“Who is this man?” Not Leonard, the postman—her mother would never blush for the potato-shaped letter carrier. Besides, Leonard would never venture to the island in a storm. He only came every other Tuesday. Today was Saturday.
“You don’t need to worry about him,” Rose said without meeting Lizbet’s eye.
“Why is he coming? Will he bring books?”
Rose laughed, but it sounded strange—strained and nervous. Lizbet decided that she already disliked this man. She plucked a cookie off the plate.
Rose looked up sharply, an expectant look on her face.
Lizbet contemplated her cookie, suddenly suspicious. Her mother studied and experimented with herbs and she’d taught Lizbet a variety of recipes. Dandelions to lighten the mood, lavender to soothe worries, chamomile to bring sleep, basil to stimulate energy, and gingerroot to make one forget. Lizbet sniffed the cookie and touched it with her tongue.
Her mother watched.
Lizbet smiled, took a big bite and left the kitchen. In the privacy of her own room, she went to the window and pulled it open. A cold breeze flew in, ruffling the drapes, and blowing about the papers on her desk. Ignoring the wind, Lizbet stuck her head outside and spat the cookie out into the storm. She slammed the window closed.
“What are you doing?” Rose asked.
Lizbet started. She hadn’t heard her mother come in. Wrapping her arms around herself, Lizbet said, “I was looking for the man.”
Rose’s lips lifted into a smile. “Please don’t worry about him. Here, I’ve brought you some tea.” She set down a steaming mug on Lizbet’s bedside table. “Gingerroot, your favorite.”
“Want to come and read by the fire?” Rose asked.
Lizbet glanced back at the storm on the other side of the window. An idea tickled in the back of her mind. “In a second,” she said. After plopping down on her bed, Lizbet sipped from the mug, but she didn’t swallow. Instead, she let the tea warm her tongue.
Rose lifted her own mug to her lips and watched Lizbet.
Lizbet set the mug back down and met her mother’s gaze. After an awkward moment, Rose lifted her shoulder in a halfhearted shrug and headed down the hall.
Lizbet bounced from the bed, closed the door, and spat the tea back into the mug. She poured the entire cup out the window and climbed back onto her bed. She lay perfectly still, waiting for her mom to re-enter the room. She didn’t have to wait long.
A few moments later, her bedroom door creaked open. With her eyes firmly closed, Lizbet practiced her corpse pose and didn’t even flinch as she heard her mother steal into the room. Rose tucked a quilt around Lizbet’s shoulders before creeping back out and closing the door with a whisper click.
Lizbet peeked open an eye and met Wordsworth’s steady, brown-eyed gaze. “Who is he?”
“I don’t know,” the dog whimpered, “but he isn’t scared.”
“How can you tell?” Lizbet asked.
“The smell. All emotions have a smell.”
“My mom—what’s her smell?”
Wordsworth jumped up on the bed beside Lizbet and nestled against her. “She loves you.”
“I know. But I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”
Wordsworth whimpered again and snuggled closer. “You have to let me out so I can meet this man.”
“I can’t. If I do, she’ll know I’m awake. You’re on your own.”
Wordsworth blew out a breath, stood, shook himself, and jumped down. He went to the door to bark and whine. It didn’t do any good. Her mother ignored him, which told Lizbet two things. One: the potion Rose had given Lizbet must have been so strong that Rose didn’t worry about Wordsworth waking her. Two: Rose didn’t want to be interrupted.
Lizbet sat up as a thought assaulted her.
Wordsworth, as if reading her mind, jumped back up beside her and gazed into her eyes.
“This man is my father!” Lizbet blurted out.
“You cannot know this,” Wordsworth whimpered.
“She loves him enough to drug me just to spend time with him! Of course he’s my father!”
Wordsworth moaned a disagreement.
Lizbet had a lot of questions—mostly because she lived a solitary life with her mother on an uninhabited island in the Puget Sound. She had faith that all of her questions would eventually be answered, but the biggest questions in her heart and mind all centered around her father.
Lizbet kicked off the quilt and crawled off the bed.
Wordsworth placed his nose against her thigh, stopping her. “There must be a good reason your mother doesn’t want you to meet this man.”
“She never said she didn’t want me to meet him.”
Wordsworth snorted. “If she had wanted you to meet him, she wouldn’t have given you the ginger root tea.”
Suddenly Lizbet hated her mother. “She can’t keep me from my own father.”
Wordsworth parked his butt against the door like a giant hairy roadblock. “You do not know he is your father.”
“Of course he is. Who else could he be? Now move.” She grabbed Wordsworth’s collar to pull him away. His fur bunched up around his collar, but he wouldn’t budge.
Lizbet tried the doorknob, but since Wordsworth outweighed her by nearly fifty pounds the door wouldn’t open. Lizbet flounced to the window.
“Where are you going?” Wordsworth asked, his ears poking toward the ceiling.
“To meet my dad.” Lizbet threw open the window. The wind spat rain in her face and carried a breath of bone-chilling cold into the room.
Wordsworth stood and shook himself, but didn’t move away from the door.
Lizbet had one leg thrown over the sill, and her exposed foot was already soaking from the storm.
“You’ll look like a drowned cat if you go outside,” Wordsworth said.
She sent him a dirty look. He gazed back at her. She clambered out the window. The rain hit her like hundreds of shards of ice. The cold stung her face and pierced her clothes. She ran around to the side of the house so she could look in the windows.
Inside, sitting side by side on the sofa amongst the towers of books, snuggled together in front of the fire was her mom and a man. Lizbet knew she’d never seen him before—not that she could remember, at least—but there was something in her that recognized him. She felt as drawn to him as a bird to a worm.
But as she watched him laughing with her mother, Lizbet had another realization. She knew that even if she introduced herself to this man, because of the cookies on the platter, in time, he would never remember her. She’d only be a vague recollection—a face he couldn’t place.
Lizbet never drank gingerroot tea again.


“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
―Francis of Assisi
From Declan’s Research

In mid-April, when the crocuses began to lift their heads from the ground and the daffodils unfurled toward the bleak but not yet warm sun, a pod of gray whales splashed past the western side of the island. Lizbet loved this time of year when the plants and animals roused themselves from winter’s frozen grasp. The garden, still crusty with ice, yielded beneath Lizbet’s hoe as she worked compost into the soil. Lizbet longed to be out in the dinghy to hear of the whales’ southern adventures, but Rose kept her in the garden.
Lizbet slid her mother a glance. Beneath the enormous straw hat Rose always wore, a worry line etched between her eyebrows, and her lips pulled into a thin, straight line. Tension radiated from her, and Lizbet felt powerless against it.
Lizbet tried restating her argument. “I know a man came last night. What I don’t know is why you insist on lying about it.”
“This is not up for discussion,” Rose said.
“How can—” her words faded away when she caught sight of Wordsworth flicking his ears, something he did when stressed. He sat at the garden’s edge, his ears pricked, his eyes vigilant, despite the cataracts clouding his vision.
Tennyson, an orange tabby, perched in the branches of the maple tree, twitching his tail and complaining about the birds swooping around him.
“A man comes,” Wordsworth whimpered.
Lizbet braced against her hoe and glanced out at the tranquil bay. Wispy clouds trailed across the robin’s egg blue sky. She couldn’t see an approaching boat. She moved to the furthest edge of the garden, out of her mother’s earshot. “Is it him again?” she whispered to Wordsworth.
“No. Someone else.”
“The postman?”
Lizbet resumed hoeing when she caught her mother’s gaze on her. She’d learned long ago that her mother couldn’t hear or understand the animals the way she did. At first, this had bothered her. For years, she had believed her mother to be all-knowing and all-powerful, but in time, Lizbet had grown to love that she had an ability her mother not only didn’t share but also discounted as a childish whim akin to make-believe friends and monsters beneath the bed.
“The whales dislike him. His boat is loud and he’s disrupting their path.”
Lizbet frowned against the sun.
“Tired already?” Rose called out without looking up from her work.
“No, I thought I heard an engine.”
Rose’s head jerked over her shoulder and her spine stiffened. She cocked her head, listening.
Gulls cried out as they wheeled overhead. “A man, a man, a man.”
“I don’t hear anything,” Rose said slowly, resuming her hoeing.
“A large boat, yet manned alone,” Wordsworth said.
Not quite,” Tennyson said, twitching his whiskers as he lounged in a nearby apple tree. The tree’s pink blossoms offset his orange fur and Lizbet wondered if the cat knew this. He was so vain she thought he might. “He brings a creature.”
Creature was Tennyson’s word for dog.
Wordsworth’s ears pricked up. “I cannot smell him.”
Nor I, but the albatross spotted him,” Tennyson said. “He’s wolfish.”
Wordsworth began to pace along the garden’s edge.
Rose lifted her face to the sun. Lizbet saw the questions in her mother’s sapphire eyes, but she didn’t know the answers. She wasn’t even sure of the questions.
“There’s something I need to tell you, pet,” Rose began, drawing near. “Not just one thing, actually…” She paused and twisted her lips. “Things I should have told you a long time ago.”
Lizbet, Of course knew that her mother had secrets. The many books she’d read told her that very few lived in isolation the way that she and her mother did. There had to be a world beyond the island, a place peopled with more than friendly postmen and the occasional visitor.
An engine roared. A big beautiful boat slid into the cove. Sunlight sparkled off its shiny chrome and glass. This boat was bigger than anything Lizbet had ever seen.
“How?” Rose whispered, dropping her hoe. “He’s found me.”
“Who is it, Mama?” Lizbet asked.
Rose quickly bent and retrieved her hoe, but this time she carried it like a weapon. “No questions, love. I need you to run and hide.”
“Hide? Where? Why?”
Rose shook her hoe at Lizbet. “I said no questions! Go to the woods. There’s the old shack where Daugherty brewed her ale, go there.” Rose sucked in a deep breath. “No one can trespass in the woods,” she muttered beneath her breath.
Lizbet’s memories of Daugherty were vague, but she knew the shack. “But what about you?”
Rose gripped her hoe like a sword. “I’ll join you soon. Now go.”
Lizbet picked up her shovel for no other reason than her mom had a hoe and ran into the woods. Wordsworth loped beside her.
“Who is he?” Lizbet asked the birds flying above her.
“A big man,” a swallow answered.
“A wolf creature,” a robin put in.
“Hide in my tree,” a squirrel called out as Lizbet ran past. “It’s hollow inside. He’ll never find you.”
“Thank you, but no,” Lizbet said, her pace slowing. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hide from this man and his large boat. A wicked part of her wanted him to find her and take her to the cities where people and buildings resided. She had read of cars, trucks, and helicopters but never seen one. Occasionally, an airplane would fly overhead, so she knew—sort of—what a plane looked like from a great distance. But all other vehicles were nothing more than what her imagination could conjure up. She had a bicycle, a rusted contraption, but had never seen a motorcycle. There was so very much that she’d never seen, and this man, this stranger, may have seen everything. Maybe he could show her—introduce her to this word beyond the island. Her thoughts ticked over places she’d like to visit: London, Paris, Rome, New York, and Sherwood Forest.
“This man is not your friend,” Wordsworth warned her.
A friend. Lizbet ached for a friend, but even as she did so, a wave of guilt washed over her because she knew her mother should be enough. Her mother worked hard to keep them safe, to provide food and warmth, to supply the books for Lizbet’s entertainment and education. Lizbet knew her mother had sacrificed her own life—a life with John —to keep Lizbet sheltered from the world and its evil men and cunning women.
But what if I don’t want to be sheltered? The thought was so astounding it halted her. Lizbet froze on the path to Daugherty’s shack.
Wordsworth pressed his nose to the back of her leg, urging her to go on.
I don’t want to be here anymore, Lizbet thought.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry,” a friendly squirrel chattered.
“No!” Lizbet found her voice.
“Go! Go! Go!” The crows swooped around her.
“No! I don’t think so.”
“Not safe! Not safe! Not safe!” the crows contended.
Slowly, Lizbet began picking her way toward the shack because she knew and trusted the crows. They were much more clever than most of the animals and were almost never wrong. Although, unlike Wordsworth, they were self-serving.
“Why don’t you think it’s safe?” Lizbet asked the crows.
“A gun! A gun! A gun!” the birds responded.
“He has a gun?” Lizbet halted again. She’d read about guns. They were mostly used and possessed by villains and soldiers, and as far as she knew, there weren’t any wars being waged on the island...which could only mean that this man meant them harm. “I have to warn my mom!”
“Go to Daugherty’s shack as your mom asked,” Wordsworth said. “I will protect your mom.”

Lizbet brushed past him, heading for her mother. Moments later, her knees buckled as a blinding pain slammed onto the top of her head.