Derek has a wonderful philosophy centered on helping authors become successful with self-published or indie-publishing projects. When I finished my first book I did a ton of research on publishing options and made the conscious and informed decision to follow the indie path. I’d love to pick Derek’s brain and have him help me reach more readers and make my books (both my women’s fiction Hometown Harbor Series and my Cooper Harrington Detective Novels) visible to buyers. I know Derek could help me with the marketing part of this business, leaving me more time to enjoy writing my books instead of worrying about where and how to sell them. It would be wonderful to have the benefit of Derek’s knowledge and experience for two whole weeks.
Not to mention, a view of the sea, the scraggly coast, or the vibrant green countryside would be the ideal inspiration for this writer to finish her fifth novel in the Hometown Harbor Series. I don’t have a title yet, but you know it will have the word “Home” in it. This book will focus on Kate, but as always readers will get to catch up with all their old friends in Friday Harbor. For a special sneak peek, here’s the first chapter. Keep in mind it’s rough and hasn’t been through much of an edit process.
A light breeze ruffled Kate’s silk robe. She tucked the soft blanket under her chin. The air held the clean smell of morning and the sky promised another perfect day. The pleasant aroma of fresh coffee drifted from the kitchen while she absorbed the peaceful view from her back patio. Kate’s slippered feet rested on the soft cushion of the outdoor ottoman while she closed her eyes and drank in the quiet, interrupted only by the sounds of birds chirping.
The scrape of a mug against the glass table stirred her from the edge of sleep. “Here’s your coffee, hun,” said Spence, taking a chair next to her.
She smiled at him and took a sip, cradling the warm ceramic. “Good morning. Are you packed for your trip?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’m all set. I should be back in a couple days, maybe less.”
She yawned and took another swallow, “Mmm, thanks for the coffee.”
“You didn’t sleep well again?” he asked.
She crinkled her nose. “I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I read until it started getting light and then came out here.”
He put his hand atop hers. “If it’s any consolation, this should be my last trip, at least for a few months.”
She smiled. “Don’t worry about me. This time of year I always get a bit sad. It’s harder to keep my thoughts about Karen in the background. Mother’s Day is always hard and so close to her birthday.” She focused on the plants along the fence. “Mitch is planning a visit soon, so that’s good news.”
“I know he was sorry he couldn’t be here for you for Mother’s Day.”
“It’s okay. I just have to work through these feelings.” A fat tear fell from her eye and plopped onto her robe.
“I’m sorry, Katie.” He squeezed her hand. “I’ve got to get a move on to get the ferry. Are you going to be okay?”
She nodded. “I’ll be fine. I’m just wallowing a bit. I’ve got a busy day to distract me.”
He bent and kissed her before disappearing into the house. She heard his footfalls and then he hollered out to her as he left. The front door banged shut and the engine of Spence’s car came to life. She listened to the tires roll out of her driveway and shut her eyes again.
She breathed in the scent of her lilacs in bloom and felt her shoulders relax. She smiled as she rested, remembering her sweet daughter and the happy times of Karen’s life. Her mind, like a reel of old film, flicked through the memories of birthdays and celebrations with both Karen and Mitch. She purposely stopped the playback before Karen’s college years.
The gentle warmth of the sun touched her face and she opened her eyes to a new day. The sun had risen bringing the fresh morning light. Kate gathered her cup and went inside to ready herself for the day ahead at Alexander’s.
* * *
All signs of sadness had been wiped from her face by the time Kate walked into town to open her shop. She flicked on the lights and flipped her open sign around, propping the door to take advantage of the weather. She stowed her things upstairs in her office and caressed a photo of a young Karen and Mitch she kept on her desk.
The tourist season didn’t officially begin until Memorial Day, but the past few days had been busy with island visitors. Late yesterday she had sold two paintings and busied herself wrapping and boxing them for shipment.
“Good morning, Kate.” Sam poked her head in the open doorway and waved. “I brought you a coffee.”
Kate turned from the wrapping counter. “Aren’t you a sweetheart? I had a cup at home, but would love another. I got up too early today.”
“I got an early start today on baking and am heading home now. Just popping over to the hardware store to see Jeff.”
A group of four women entered the store and Kate moved to greet them. “I’ll catch up with you later. Thanks for the coffee.” Sam gave a nod and scooted out the door.
Kate was never alone the entire morning. Customers came and left with their purchases until it was past lunchtime. Kate’s stomach grumbled prompting her to call in an order for lunch.
She was surprised when Blake came through the door a few minutes later. He held the takeout bag in front of him. “I was getting lunch to go and told them I’d drop yours by on the way.”
“That was kind of you. You should join me.”
He glanced at the time and shrugged. “I could do that. Ethan’s at the winery, so I can spare some time.”
She retrieved some plates and they sat down in the backroom. “How’s Ellie?” she asked, opening the containers.
“She’s still shell-shocked, I think.” He swallowed a bite of his sandwich. “She’s been so sad about her uncle and then when Ted showed up like that…I think it’s overwhelming.”
“Is he planning to stay long?”
Blake shrugged his shoulders. “Not sure. I think they’re both playing it by ear. I told her to take some time off and spend it with him. I’m not sure I could handle seeing my dad after twenty years of no communication.”
“I’m sure her emotions are running the gamut,” said Kate, spearing a forkful of salad. “She’s had a rough few months.”
“That’s the truth.” He finished off his sandwich. “Where’s your partner in crime?”
She smiled. “Spence had to go to Seattle. He has to testify at a trial, but will be back in a few days.”
“I guess that comes with the territory, huh?”
“Afraid so. His retirement didn’t’ halt the wheels of justice. He’ll have to go back periodically, until all his cases are prosecuted.” She gathered the empty containers and wiped the table. “I’ll be glad when he’s home.”
“We’ll have to get together when he gets back and when Ellie’s feeling up to it.” He made his way to the door. “If you need anything, just let me know.”
As Blake stepped through the door, Nate hopped from his delivery truck, carrying boxes. “Hey, Kate, here’s your delivery for the day.”
Blake greeted Nate with a firm hand on his shoulder and nod as he made his way back to his own truck.
Nate stacked the boxes next to the wrapping counter and hustled back to the truck. He returned with a beautiful arrangement of white roses. “I was at Buds and Blooms and Linda said these were for you. I offered to drop them, since I was coming here.”
Kate’s eyebrows rose and her smile widened. “Those are stunning.” She took the glass vase and set it near the register.
Nate grabbed his electronic signature pad and jogged to the door. “Catch ya later, Kate.”
She plucked the card from the bouquet. Miss you already, Katie. Love, Spence.
She held the card to her chest and inhaled the sweet aroma of the tight buds.
The afternoon was quieter with only a scattering of customers, but right before closing time, business increased. Two couples on vacation, who were avid collectors, explored every nook and cranny of the shop and amassed a large number of purchases.
As she was ringing up the orders, the phone rang. She snatched the receiver and continued to write out the order. “Alexander’s, how may I help you?”
“Kate, it’s Sherrie at the Haven. I hate to bother you, but wanted to catch you before you closed today. There’s a guest here, a woman, who knows you.”
“Really?” Kate’s eyes scanned the shop and she saw the foursome deep in conversation in a corner of the store. “Who is she?”
“Maggie Fields. She arrived yesterday.” Kate sucked in a breath and said nothing.
“Kate, are you there? Do you know her?”
Kate’s mouth went dry and she stammered, “Uh, sorry, yeah. It’s, um, been a long time.”
“She asked about you and mentioned you. She seemed hesitant to contact you. It may not be my place, but I wanted to let you know she was here and I, uh…um, I think it would be a good idea if you came out to see her.”
Kate’s furrowed her brow. “What —”
She was interrupted by a tapping on her sleeve. The woman stood inches from her and said, “Excuse me, I’ve got a question about this piece.”
“Sherrie, I’ll have to call you back. I’ve got some customers. I’m sorry.” She hung up the phone and turned to the woman asking about a piece of furniture.
It took all of her strength to focus on the shoppers. They were in a buying mood and she wanted to give them her attention, but the thought of Maggie Fields in Friday Harbor was mind-blowing. She pushed the mystery to the back of her mind and ran two large credit card sales through the machine before she closed for the day.
She closed out the register and sunk into the sofa in her office, contemplating what would bring Maggie to the island. She hadn’t seen Maggie in almost twenty years. At one time they had been best friends—inseparable. That had all changed after Karen’s death.
She shook her head. Maggie had drudged up the sad memories she had been working so hard to forget. She let out a long breath and rested her head against the back of the couch. “What are you doing here, Maggie?” she whispered.
If you’re a writer reading my blog, I’d encourage you to check out Derek Murphy at http://www.creativindie.com/writing-contests/ for more information about his free retreat offer and his passion for authors and creativity. He provides a large amount of free material to assist authors.
In addition to this exciting contest, I’ll soon know if my second mystery novel in my Cooper Harrington Detective Series is a winner in another contest. I was thrilled to learn it is one of six finalists (judged by a panel of librarians) and will know by mid-September if it wins, which means I’ll get a huge prize package covering all the costs associated with publishing and marketing the new book.
Here’s hoping I’ll be posting from Ireland soon…Cheerio!