Friday, September 23, 2016

Bravo: Blood Road Review Copies (VERY Limited Spaces Available!)

Attention, readers! Bravo: Blood Road will be available as an Advanced Review Copy for a limited time, with a very small amount of slots open for readers. This time around, there will only be 15 spaces open for reviewers. 

I ask that you only review if you are committed to actually finishing the book in a timely manner and sharing a fair and honest review online! 

The form to request an ARC is below. Thank you so much for your readership and support. Don't worry if you're not among the first 15 to sign up - the book will be available on October 21, 2016 for just 1.99! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Storm Song: Interview with Aspiring Author Allison Griner

These days, the worldwide web has made it possible for writers to connect with readers all over the globe in just the blink of an eye. Allison Griner is one of those young writers who has discovered this truth. 

Her book, Storm Song, is currently an entry on Inkshares, a crowdfunding website for books. Think of it like Kickstarter for the written word! In order for her book to be printed, she has to win a place in the top three entries. Sounds cool, right? I thought so. So here is Allison, talking about her novel. I encourage you to support her book! 

Interview with Inkshare Contestant Allison Griner 

Hello, Allison! Let's talk about your for a moment. Who are you, and where are you from? 
I'm a 29 year old woman from Indianapolis, Indiana. I'm the big sister to three wonderful brothers, and Aunt Alli to two nieces and two nephews.  I studied Creative Writing and graphic design at Ball State University. And I'm an absolute nerd for board games and tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons. 

Allison Griner.
How did you become interested in writing? 
Even before I could write, I wanted to tell stories. I remember being little, too young to read, and I would sit with a book in my lap, telling myself stories about mermaids going on adventures, or princesses running from dragons. As soon as I figured out how to put my own words on paper, it was game over. It was all I ever wanted to do. I 

Your novel, Storm Song, is on Inkshares.Com. Tell us about the book, and about what Inkshares is all about. 
Storm Song is a story that I've had in my head for a long time. When I was in college, I ran a Dungeons and Dragon campaign for my friends. In that game, a character sprang out of me, fully formed. His name was Thoster Chatwyn and Storm Song is his origin story. It's the story of who he was and how he became the man that existed in that D&D game. He's a family man, trying to take care of his younger siblings. Every choice he makes has them in mind. Thoster is a character that I've had in the back of my mind for the better part of a decade. Being able to tell his story is so important to me, and Inkshares has made it something that could very well become a reality. 

Inkshares is a site that operates similar to Kickstarter. People pre order the stories they want to see published, and if enough backers support the project, the book is professionally edited, designed, and printed to be put on bookstore shelves.The Inkshares contest I'm currently entered in will print the top 3 entries, regardless of if they meet the standard Inkshares goals.

What is your goal with Storm Song? 
I wanted to tell the story of the kind of character that's just trying to do the right thing, even if it doesn't always seem like it. Thoster makes mistakes. He's not very good at much beyond talking himself into and out of trouble, but he continues to do what he can to make sure his family comes out of it all okay. My goal is to tell a story that people can relate to. I know that I've made some questionable decisions in my day, but at the time they felt like my best course of action. And in the end, I learned something from the experience. I also just wanted to tell a story that I thought would entertain people. Pirates, magic, buried treasure... it's the sort of book I would love to read, so I want to make sure it gets the chance to exist in the world.

Do you see yourself writing more books in the future? If so, in the same genre or in a different story world? 
I will absolutely write more books after Storm Song. There's plenty more for me to go into within the world of Thoster and Elysia, but I would love to dive into other worlds and genres outside of this one as well. If people want more of Thoster's story, I have more to give, but I also want to try my hand at something of a more modern setting- or even something with a futuristic spin.

How do you find inspiration to write? 
I read a lot when I need to recharge my writing mojo. Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind is my go-to for that sort of thing. Falling into a story reminds me why I want to write. I want something I put out in the world to give someone else that feeling. I also listen to piano playing while I write. There's no song in particular,  but something about the piano keeps the words flowing. Maybe it's something about connecting my fingers on the keyboard to the playing of each piano key. 

Do you have any favorite authors who inspire you?
Patrick Rothfuss, for sure. Terry Goodkind and Irene Radford are also some of my favorites. I find myself returning to their books over and over again, never growing tired of those stories. That's incredibly inspiring to me. 

Please include the synopsis of Storm Song below:
Thoster Chatwyn has spent his whole life in the city of Merrowport. When the captain of a ship steps off the dock and into his life, everything changes. Captain Calvin Roff offers Thoster a job, and the means to help keep his family afloat. More than that, he offers Thoster the one thing he's always dreamed of- a chance to see the world and experience it for himself. Thoster has always been the man to tell stories of far off places, but now he finds himself setting sail and about to see them firsthand. The crew is in search of a powerful magical item called the Luck Diamond. And unbeknownst to Thoster, a magic within him is deeply connected to this item. Dark forces hope to thwart him from finding his true potential, but perhaps luck will be on his side. 

Where can readers connect with you online to support your work? 
You can find my Inkshares entry, which includes 5 sample chapters of Storm Song and more information about the world of Elysia here!

Monday, September 12, 2016

AVENGING FATE by Jennifer Derrick (And International Giveaway)

Avenging Fate
Jennifer Derrick
(Threads of the Moirae #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: September 12th 2016
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult

Still reeling after killing the man she loved, Atropos turns her attention to the twin tasks of avenging his death and freeing humanity from the deadly grip of the Keres. When she sets out on a murderous mission to retrieve her shears, her only aide is her temperamental ex-boyfriend, Ares. He is fickle at best, traitorous at worst, and assistance from him may be worse than none at all.
Along the way, she allies with a group of powerful supernaturals and learns that the crimes of the gods are more twisted and far-reaching than she realized. What begins as a quest for vengeance becomes a journey through betrayal, loss, love, and hope. It ignites a war that will pit Atropos against the gods in a battle for the freedom of humanity.
Avenging Fate is the second book in The Threads of Moirae Series by Jennifer Derrick.

Grab book 1 – Broken Fate – for FREE!

When we reach Alex’s house, I’m not surprised to see that it’s been vandalized. With no residents to defend it, it was easy pickings. The front door’s been kicked in and the frame is splintered so it won’t close properly. A couple of the windows are broken, too. Once we’re inside, I’m relieved to see that most of the damage is limited to the kitchen. Whoever came here was looking for food and not much else. The presence of a rotting, stinking corpse on the kitchen floor probably made them hurry up and get out.
I leave Ares and Elaina to gather up any dog food and supplies they can find as I make my way down the hall to Alex’s room. Stopping in the doorframe, I grip it hard to keep myself upright. The memories and the grief come fast and hard, threatening to overwhelm me. The hospital bed is still in the room, as is most of the medical equipment that kept him alive those last few days. No one’s made the bed, so the sheets are still rumpled from Alex’s body.
The IV still hangs on the pole next to the bed, and the oxygen tank is on the floor under the bed. The needle and tubing for the IV and the cannula for the oxygen rest on the mattress where I dropped them the night I took Alex away from here to die in peace. The book we were reading together lies facedown on the mattress, open to the page where we left off. Everything is frozen in time, except the most important part. Alex is gone and he isn’t coming back.
Alex’s bookcases still droop alarmingly, although they aren’t as orderly as they once were. It appears the looters rifled through them, probably looking for stray cash tucked in the pages of the books. I force myself to cross the room and scan the shelves for anything that might indicate where Emily has gone. I also check the desk, but find nothing in either place.

I cross to the bed and can’t help myself. Picking up the pillow, I hug it to my chest, burying my nose in it. I catch the last whiff of Alex’s shampoo, the same fruity-spicy scent he always used. I’m aware this isn’t good for me and it’s not helping us with our mission, so I reluctantly put it down. But I can’t resist one other thing. Grabbing the book, I fold down the corner of the page we were on and tuck it in my waistband next to the gun. It’s sentimental and dumb, but I want to remember our reading time.
When I turn to leave, Ares is standing in the doorframe, watching me with an expression that is both pitying and concerned. I can stand the latter, but I don’t need his pity.
“Don’t say anything,” I warn as I push past him and head down the hall toward Emily’s room.
“I just came to see if you’re okay. I figured this would be hard for you.”
“Just getting up in the morning is hard for me, but I do it,” I say. “I’ll be okay.”

About the Author 
Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official

Partnered With:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Reapers: An Interview with New Author Josh Collins

Title: Reapers: The Shadow Soldiers 
Author: Josh Collins 
Release Date: Available Now! 

Amid a violent terrorist takeover on the icy planet of Silverset, Ben Burns, a troubled former black ops assassin, is forced to join the fight. Assigned to a mysterious team of misfits, and equipped in illegal battle armor, he stands a chance at becoming the hero Silverset needs. The real question is, who will save him?

Josh Collins is a young author who just released his first self-published novel, a science-fiction adventure sure to thrill young and old readers alike. Check out his book and lend your support! Josh also took a few moments to answer some fun questions for Writing Belle. 

Here is an interview with the up and coming writer. 

Interview with the Author

When did you start writing? 

Creatively, I didn't start seriously writing until early 2014, when I came up with the initial idea for Reapers. Though, I've always been a natural with words. 

How did the idea for Reapers come about? What was the story-creation process like? 

Some of it came from TV shows or movies I liked. Other bits came from the real world.

How long did it take you to write the book - from day one to publication? 

Honestly, it was a bit of a loopy process. It took many forms, from movie scripts to animated features, and was put on hold a lot. I worked on two other books before coming back to this. There was just something about this story that I couldn't give up on. Once I began working on it seriously, it took most of 2015. So, I'd say a year and a couple of months. 

Why do you think people would enjoy your book? 

It's labeled science-fiction but it's really a human story. Most are going to be able to understand the themes in this novel. There are no scientific principles or theories being thrown out. The topics here: depression, hope, hatred and love are all inherently inside each of us. We deal with them every day. Yes, it has soldiers in seriously cool armor beating up intergalactic terrorists, but at it's core it's about people.

What authors do you enjoy reading - and which ones have influenced you as far as inspiration goes? 

This is probably strange, but I actually don't read all that much. I watch a lot of movies. That's where I began to understand story structure. 

Do you plan on writing more books in the future? 

Absolutely! In fact, I don't think it's physically possible for me to stop.

How did the idea for Reapers come about? What was the story-creation process like? 

It was a single 'ah-ha' moment followed by several months of forming it all up. 

Why science-fiction? 

Tough question. I'm not really that into science, which is probably why Reapers isn't really that scientific. I like to be creative, I guess. I like to make stuff up. It's not that I don't like to learn or that I'm afraid of doing serious research, it's just a lot more fun to come up with an idea and run with it.

What advice do you have for those who are struggling to finish their own manuscripts? 

Just do it. Write. Get it on the page. It's a lot harder to give up on a 350 page manuscript than it is on a 5 page scribble. Even if that 5 page scribble has perfect sentence structure. Look, writing books isn't like most jobs where if you make a mistake it's permanent. If you make a mistake, you've got MANY edits to fix it. So, just write. Get it out there and then go back and fix it. Trust me. I am a perfectionist with a capital P. I spent several months working only on chapter one. If I kept up that rate, Reapers wouldn't even be done yet. I just had to write and not give a crap. You can always fix it later. 

Where can readers connect with you online (all social media links that you want my readers to know about) 

If you're interested:
You can follow me on twitter at:
Give my Facebook page a like at:
Or check out my website at: www.

Where can we buy your book? 

Currently, it is only available on Link:

What's next for Josh Collins? 

The sequel to Reapers, actually. More on that will be posted in the coming months on my various social media profiles!

About the Author 

Josh Collins was born in the state of Colorado. He always enjoyed intriguing stories and had a knack for the written word.  His debut novel, Reapers: The Shadow Soldiers, is available now!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sign-Ups for BLOOD ROAD are OPEN!

Good afternoon! It's nearly Labor Day Weekend, which means (for some of us, at least), that there is a glorious three-day weekend ahead. Oh, and my birthday. That's right, I LOVE birthdays and my birthday is just around the corner! **releases balloons into the sky**

In other news (and in fact, the point of this entire post), the blitz sign-ups for Bravo: Blood Road, the sequel and final installment of the #1 bestselling Bravo Saga, are now officially open, hosted through the always-efficient and incredible Xpresso Book Tours! The post window begins on October 21st and runs through October 25th of this year. 

I would love if you participated! It's bloggers and tweeters and Facebookers and Instagrammers (and everything else in between) that makes the world go 'round for authors. Thank you for your support! I would be very appreciative of your help, as I always am! 

As an added bonus, you are welcome to enter the nation-wide giveaway to win a Kindle Fire with the release of the novel! 

Sign up right HERE

Monday, August 29, 2016

The 30 Day Novel: How I Get It Done

There have been many books written about writing a novel, and even more written about writing a novel in a month. I can tell you from personal experience, you can have all the guidebooks in the world, but the bottom line is this: if you don't sit down and WRITE, you're never going to get a book written in that short amount of time. 

My favorite author of all time: Jack London.
The harsh reality is that most people never finish writing their books, either because they become distracted, they don't possess the self-discipline to finish the manuscript or "life happens." All are valid reasons, but when it comes to writing a book, no excuse is a good excuse. And let me tell you: when it comes to writing a book in an extremely short amount of time, it only gets harder. 

I have written too many books to count, but I've only published 13 of them so far. I've had to write or re-write novels at least 4 times in the last 3.5 years. One of my novels - and I won't say which one - was re-written almost completely from scratch in just 4 weeks, and then went to publication twenty days later. Yikes! 

I am a very fast writer, but even I sometimes struggle to churn out a book in just 30 days. In fact, it often seems downright impossible in light of all of the other things I have going on in my life. But guess what? It CAN be done! Here is how I pull it off. Hopefully my tips can help you do it, too! 

1. I make a plan. If I am writing a book in 30 days, I DO NOT mess around with the plot. I plan the entire thing out ahead of time, hitting all my major plot points right up front. I will "ad-lib" the in-between scenes, but I never go into a 30 day sprint without a plan. Otherwise, if you decide 15 days into the task that you want to change the story...too bad! I speak from experience. I have shed many frustrated tears doing this. I now know better.

2. I set a daily goal. I set word quotas for myself daily for every single book that I write, but if I'm doing a one-month novel, I basically have to write at least 2,000 words a day to hit a basic 60,000 word novel. AT LEAST. When I'm not on a tight deadline, the rule is that I have to write 1,000 words every day. The only excuse I have to escape that quota is if I'm sick or embroiled in some kind of familial or business emergency. Otherwise, SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP.

"I'm just going to write because I cannot help it." - C. Bronte
3. I am firm with myself. Nobody ever gets anywhere by being a pansy. (Such harsh rhetoric, I know.) I set daily, weekly and monthly goals for myself. I reward myself when I have had a good work day - I allow myself to rest or grab dinner outside the house, or read that book that has been calling my name. I deprive myself of such simple pleasures until I have completed my work load. When I am done writing and working in general (I have other duties other than just straight-up manuscript creation), I relax. But until then, there are no excuses. NONE. Do you hear me, private? Only failures make excuses. I know I sound terrible and insensitive, but facts are facts. If you want to get something done, quit making excuses and start setting goals. Be firm with yourself, even if you don't want to be. 

4. I break up the day. Sometimes I'll write 20 pages in a couple of hours. Sometimes I'll write 6 pages in 6 hours. Sometimes I'll be in the office for 13 hours and barely get two chapters done. It depends on my energy level and how creatively spent I am. I find that a good way to break up the monotony and sometimes downright torture of a massive writing workload is to break it up. I make sure to take a break every 2 and a half hours. I walk outside, I grab some tea, I close my eyes, I look at Instagram pictures of dogs (woof!), or I simply sit and do nothing. I am often so drained at the end of a workday that I can barely do anything aside from lay down and sleep. To make life more bearable, I break it up. If you're trying to do a 30-day novel, I'm telling ya: take it in baby steps. 500 words the first hour, 500 the second, and 1000 the third, for example. Find your formula and stick with it. 

5. It's okay to reward yourself. This has been a personal struggle of mine. I used to have a really hard time accepting my achievements. I would briefly acknowledge them and then move onto the next project. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to celebrate your success and hard work. Did you get a thousand words done today? Buy yourself a coffee, dang it! Did you finish your novel? Make a fun dinner, watch a movie, kiss your spouse. IT'S OKAY. Allowing myself to relax and enjoy my successful endeavors is the hardest thing for me to do. I am learning to accept it, and I'm telling you, you're amazing and you deserve to celebrate your work! 

My 13th bestselling novel, #1 bestseller
6. Stay focused. Okay, so this one is a no-brainer, but allow me to elaborate. It's easy to get distracted by things like FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM or TEXTING. You're never going to get your word-count done if your phone is making crazy noises at you all day. Set it aside, put it on vibrate. Only answer calls that are of the utmost importance. Don't keep the television on when you write. Don't listen to the radio. Don't agree to let people come visit you during work hours. No, no, no. Be firm, stay focused, work your cute butt off and I promise you, it will all be worth it. 

7. Find a routine. Lastly, I always suggest having a writing routine. Whether you're a full-time writer/novelist/publishing house owner/creative writing teacher like me or writing is simply a part-time gig or even a hobby that you hope will someday turn you into the next Gillian Flynn, listen up. A routine is the key to writing greatness. I always write in the morning. Always. The earlier, the better. I get it done first, usually by lunch time, and then if I'm feeling good about it, I'll keep going. (My workday is a typical 8-hour day, sometimes longer) If you have a dependable writing routine, you will produce more. Your brain will actually anticipate the rush of creativity to arrive at a specific time. No, I'm not joking. It's a fact, Jack. 

I hope these tough-love tips helped you. The thing about writing is that I can't sugarcoat it for anyone. It's hard. Gritty. Frustrating. But it's also a joy, a love, an adventure. Jack London said, "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." He also is quoted as saying that he wrote at least "A thousand words a day." Emulate success. Do the hard stuff now and reap the benefits later. 

You can do it! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Lost Eye of the Serpent: Brand New Young Adult Novel

The Lost Eyes of the Serpent
Jeremy Phillips
(The Rose Delacroix Files, #1)
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: August 8th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

It may sound crazy, but Jonathan Delacroix is certain his sister Rose really is Sherlock Holmes…
Girls are not detectives. But in the summer of 1893, in the small western town of Hope Springs, Rose Delacroix is bound and determined to prove them all wrong. When the famous Emerald Serpent Jewels are stolen from the Delacroix family hotel and the blame lands solely on her older brother Bill, Rose recruits Jonathan as her Watson-like counterpart to solve the case.
Proving your brother innocent is difficult when the evidence keeps stacking up against him…
Before Rose and Jonathan can properly start their investigation, another robbery is committed. The rusty revolver purported to have once belonged to Wild Bill Hickok has been stolen from the general store and found hidden amongst her brother’s belongings. With Bill in jail, and the owner of the Serpent Jewels planning to sue the Delacroix hotel, Rose knows she has to find a lead, and soon.
A witness comes forward claiming they saw Bill steal the jewels, but Rose isn’t about to be bullied into ignoring the facts…
Rose and Jonathan must put their sleuthing skills to the test or witness their family fall to ruin due to…
…the lost eye of the serpent.

Bonus Scene (short story):
Rose Delacroix Versus the Box
By Jeremy Phillips
Rose Delacroix sat on a stump in the bare and dusty yard behind the Delacroix Hotel, staring at a metal box sitting on another stump, a few feet away from her. She regarded the box with an ever-increasing intensity, not sure how to proceed. Time was very short, and she wished that she had more of it available to her right now.
“Whatever am I going to do with you?” Rose said to the box.
The box didn’t look like much. It was the size of a shoebox, but constructed of solid steel, with tight, straight corners. Its only visible feature was a place for a key to fit, in the front of the box. Really, it seemed simple enough. But looks, as Rose knew very well, are often deceptive.

In her hand, Rose held a couple of metal clips from out of her hair, clips which she had straightened out to use for this particular purpose. Except, it hadn’t worked yet. Rose approached the box again, the box which had at first glance appeared to be so simple, and yet had thwarted all of her prior attempts at entry.
Rose shook the box, which was deceptively heavy in addition to being deceptively difficult to break. Something solid thunked around inside of it. Whatever it was, Rose meant to have it out of that box, and soon.

Drawing a deep, calming breath, Rose tried once more to pick the lock on this thing. The books she’s been reading, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in addition to other lesser Detective tales, always make this seem so simple, don’t they?
Using one of the hair pins that she had straightened out, Rose carefully massaged the top of the lock, to where she believed the pins that she needed to trick ought to be. She could feel the pins moving, so that was good. With a second hair pin, she applied a constant pressure on the bottom of the lock in the hopes of popping it open, when the pins were all equally deceived into believing that the proper key had been applied into the keyhole.
After another long effort, she stopped again. What time was it getting to be, now?

Really, she needed to pop this lock open. She needed, rather desperately, to know what was inside of this thing. All of her logic told Rose that whatever was inside of this deceptively secure box, was of vital importance to her investigation. Even as she sat there in this yard, monkeying around with this locked box, her brother Jon was confronting the box’s owner. Jon needed her, and he needed her now, not whenever it was that she managed to finally get this thing open.

Perhaps the problem was too obvious. This box, which she had confiscated, perhaps inappropriately, from its hiding place in a guest room of the Delacroix Hotel, belonged to a man who liked to think of himself as the world’s greatest “cracksman.” This was a term that Rose had only recently learned, but which referred to the man’s impressive ability to break into locked safes. Given the great trouble that this person had managed to cause to Rose and her family in the last few days, he had a point concerning his abilities, after all.
Rose took a moment, and tried to think about the problem logically. She had in her possession the small personal safe of a man who considered himself to be the greatest safe-breaker in the world. It only stood to reason, that the security on the safe of such a person would defy any normal attempts at lock picking.

Really, attempting to pick the thing was ridiculous, given the fact that she was an amateur at this sort of thing in the first place. Rose was self-taught, having only popped a few locks around town during her free time when no one was looking, to see if she could do it. To Rose’s way of thinking, skills such as lock picking were just the sorts of things that a self-styled Detective simply ought to know, after all.

Not that everyone was likely to understand this. She put this into the same category of small-minded thinking as seemed to possess most people that she met, the same type of small-minded thinking which implied that, given her status as a female, she was simply incapable of actual logic thought. Or much else, either. This was in the category of things that she simply refused to agree to wholesale, in other words.

Turning the safe around and looking into the keyhole with the aid of the heavy summer sunlight, Rose suddenly understood the problem more fully. The lock itself seemed to run deeper than most locks did, and what’s more, there appeared to be pins on the right interior side of the lock too. Those extra pins were placed at a different angle than were normally seen, in all of the others locks that Rose had encountered around the town of Hope Springs. This was actually a rather extraordinary lock, which would take a rather extraordinary key. It was a lock the likes of which Rose had never encountered before.

Given enough time, Rose was fairly sure that she could have broken the lock anyway. It would require another hair pin, and perhaps another hand too, to apply pressure to the lock with the tension wire while she worked at the pins from two different angles at once. But, time was something that she simply didn’t have much of. This was going to require a different approach.

Rose placed the box back on the tree stump, then went into a large work shed, which was attached to the barn in the family’s back yard. She returned a minute later with the heaviest wood chopping axe that she could find, and took a mighty swing at the top of the metallic box.

The first blow did nothing but mildly dent the box, causing it to bounce a foot or so up into the air with the force of her assault. A second and third blow did little more. But on her fourth attempt, after getting a reckless running start at the metal box from the other side of the yard, Rose managed to lodge the blade of the axe into the top of the steel box. Rose’s arms were feeling sore already, from the exertions of trying to break this thing.
It was almost comical. The axe was now lodged directly into the lid of the steel box. Feeling her anxiety increase, Rose wondered what time it was now getting to be. She wondered how things were going for Jon, who was even now confronting the burglar…a man who, the night before, had proven that he was not above pulling a gun on her brother. He might not be above murder, even.

With great effort, Rose was able to pry the axe blade back out of the top of the box. This left a large cut along the middle of the lid of the thing, but she could still not get to the contents of the box, or even really see what those contents were, rolling around inside of that damned box.

Rose set the box up on its edge. This time, it would have to work. She stepped back again, hefting the axe up over her head. She stepped back farther, and farther yet. An absurd feeling came over Rose, as though she were a baseball player up at bat, facing the third strike in the last inning of a tight game.

Well, and wasn’t that pretty much what this was, after all? How much time did Jon really have, facing off with that criminal? This was her last inning, and what all was on the line? Only the freedom and future of her other brother, Bill, who had been framed for two robberies and one attempted murder that he didn’t commit. Oh, and the possibility of the entire Delacroix family losing their ownership of the Delacroix Hotel to another criminal, and being kicked out into the streets of Hope Springs in the summer of 1893; there was that minor detail, too. Only those things. And Jon.

Steadying herself, Rose took a deep breath. In her mind’s eye, she imagined the cut that she would have to inflict to make this thing happen. She’s read someplace about the power of the mind, the power to make things happen by carefully visualizing them, first. This was something she believed in wholeheartedly.

The blow would have to be perfect. It would have to land squarely on the edge of the lid, to exactly where the hinge must be. Only that. Or else, perhaps she could go over to the Blacksmith’s shop and see if he couldn’t pop the thing open for her somehow. But there would be a lot of questions asked, then. And a lot of precious time wasted. She thought again of Jon, headed over to the Bromwell Hotel, across the street.

With a cry, Rose ran wholeheartedly up towards the box, to where it sat there on the tree stump. She brought the axe down with all her might, producing a bone-jarring ringing in her hands clear up to the shoulder, an ear-cracking SMACK when the unstoppable force of her axe came down on the immovable object of the steel box’s lid…and then the miracle happened.

The blow was perfect, more perfect than seemed fair. The hinge of the box gave way, and the contents of the box flew everywhere, scattering around to land everyplace on the dusty ground.

Rose quickly rushed around the yard, ignoring the ringing pain in her arms, picking up the box’s former contents and placing them back in the now-broken box.
There was a little leather pouch full of lock picks, proper ones, made of some fine thin steel that Rose had never seen before. These she would keep, if things turned out as she hoped they might. There was also a collection of paper money and coins. And there, sitting separate and apart from the rest of the stuff, was a round object about the size of an apple.
Quickly picking the object up, Rose examined it closely.

After a few moments a large smile came across her face, as she realized what the object in her hand was…and what it meant, for her and her all-consuming Investigation. This was becoming like a Sherlock Holmes story after all, Rose thought, which filled her with excitement and a powerful sense of adventure, although she might not have admitted this to anyone, perhaps not even to her twin brother John.

Holding on to the object and rushing out to Main Street, Rose found herself running as quickly as she could to go help her brother. Yes, this might help fix things. It might help fix things very well.

About the Author
Jeremy Phillips has been interested in Buddhist philosophy for more than twenty years, and attends services at a Shin Buddhist temple in Spokane, Washington. When he isn't writing or keeping busy being a father and husband, he works as a Respiratory Therapist at several different hospitals. He lives in Spokane with his wife, children, dogs, and bonsai trees.