And so we begin…again. A relaunch of the Wallis Jones series along with a lot of new books and all of it starts, well, now. It’s been a crazy six months packed with a lot of learning new ways of doing things mixed with writing in every spare moment and a sudden bout of cancer that left a pretty cool scar. If you haven’t seen me in a while, now you know why.
Let me start from the beginning of this part of the journey.
I spent some time at the beginning of the year mentoring a young writer, Rachel, who has already written two full-length novels and is a freshman in college. So, when I got an email to come hear some guy named, Michael Anderle talk about how he started writing anything in November of 2015, pushed the self-publish button and then by May was making six figures – and in fiction (which is supposed to be impossible) – I grabbed Rachel and we went to listen. I figured at the least, Rachel and I would have a good time and maybe I’d even hear a useful tip or two.
Turns out, the guy’s legit, and in no time Michael and everyone else in 20Booksto50K, especially the Double D’s, Diane and Dorene, and Craig and Scott and Ashley, Dave Robbins for the new covers, Michael Bingham-Hawk for the new look to the website, and so many others started pointing out a few things. Vague covers, vague titles, vague descriptions – no wonder the books were hidden gems.
So, here’s a snippet from The List Conspiracy to get you acquainted with the series. Want more after you read this tidbit? Keep checking back, or better yet, sign up for the newsletter. There will be more snippets, some short stories, a lot more books. The List Conspiracy will be an InstaFreebie starting Wednesday, November 23rd through Monday, November 28th. Check back for a free link and more about when the series will launch, (also on Kindle Unlimited), preorders for upcoming books, a free app coming soon with a do-it-yourself Wallis Jones story and more.
From The List Conspiracy: First Book in the Wallis Jones series:
A cold snap had settled over the suburbs of Richmond during the night, making the tops of the trees heavy with frost. The tall pines bent slightly toward the ground, trembling in the cold wind. There was still another hour before sunrise.
Larry Blazney looked up at the trees and shivered as he pulled up the collar of his worn sheepskin coat, hunching his shoulders. His thick gray wavy hair was doing nothing to keep his head warm and the wind was easily cutting through the dark blue flannel pajama bottoms.
“Damn, it’s cold,” he muttered, giving the leash a shake to make Happy, his old yellow lab, stop sniffing and keep moving. “If you’re not gonna’ go there, keep movin’,” he said, his lips stiff from the cold. “Didn’t need a coat yesterday, today I’m freezing my butt out here. Damn Richmond weather. Come on dog! You’re trying my patience,” he said half-heartedly. He didn’t really mean it. Since his kids had grown up and moved out the dog was his pride and joy.
Happy was nosing the ground around the tall English boxwoods that lined the edge of the property in front of the neat gray Colonial. Larry gave a small jerk on the leash to try and make her start walking again. The large dog stumbled to the side for a moment and went back to the bush, burying her nose at the roots.
“What are you doing?” asked Larry, annoyed. He grabbed Happy by the collar and pulled her head toward him. The dog let out a low growl, her mouth shut firmly around something, as she tried to turn back to what she was doing.
“Oh, you think you’ve found breakfast, do you? A little road kill du jour?” Larry spread his feet wide and carefully grabbed hold of Happy’s jaws, prying them apart till she dropped what was in her mouth. The dog was old but she could put up some resistance to hold on to food.
“That kind of thing’ll make you sick, Happy.”
A small bone no bigger than the tip of his finger with the faintest bit of flesh still attached rolled out and came to rest at the tip of Larry’s shoe.
“What’s that?” he said, as he gave the bone a small kick to make it roll over. He held Happy back as he picked up the bone with his gloved hand, turning it around to get a better look.
“What have you found, girl?”
He walked toward the bushes, still bent over at the waist and brushed the dirt away uncovering two more small bones, the same size as the first.
He straightened up, feeling an ache in the small of his back.
“Oof,” he muttered, still holding on to the bone from Happy’s mouth.
Larry startled as he noticed the man slowly walking toward him from the other end of the street just as a cold breeze suddenly blew straight into his face making his eyes water.
He blinked hard and looked at Happy squatting by the bush getting ready to relieve herself, and gave the leash a hard pull till Happy gave up and started trotting slowly toward the man.
Larry let the small bone drop not noticing where it fell, and started walking again. “Probably some new dumb gardening tip,” he mumbled to himself.
“Morning,” he said, as he passed the man. The man nodded in return and kept moving. Larry stopped and turned back toward him.
“Your car break down?”
The man turned and looked at Larry, a faint smile on his lips as he squinted in the early morning sun. He didn’t answer and started to turn away.
“Your car? Wouldn’t it start in the cold?” The man turned back again and faced Larry. Larry took a few steps toward him as Happy trotted to catch up.
“Not too many people exercise in such a nice suit,” said Larry, admiring the open charcoal grey cashmere overcoat and polished wing tips. “You trying to walk to a bus line? Need to use a phone?”
Larry liked being helpful. He was raised on a farm just across the river and had never let go of some of the old ways even if he did sell the farm years ago to make way for a mall.
“No, have a cell phone,” said the man, patting his jacket.
“Oh, sure,” he nodded. “You must be new to the neighborhood. I pride myself on knowing everyone,” said Larry, smiling as he offered his hand to shake. The man made no effort to extend his hand.
“Larry Blazney, I live right back there,” he said, pointing over his shoulder from where the man had come from. “I’m the one with the purple door. That’s how people give directions around here. Go past the purple door and hang a left,” he said, letting out a small snort. “Was my wife’s idea. Which one’s yours?” He looked back toward home, trying to figure out which house nearby had recently sold. As he turned back he caught a glimpse of a leather shoulder holster.
Larry’s face gave him away, the surprise obvious in his raised eyebrows even if only for a moment. “Oh,” he said, as he quickly tried to get back his easy-going smile.
The man hesitated and looked pained for a moment before he turned away from Larry and gave a small wave in the direction of Pump Road, the main thoroughfare that would be busy in just about an hour with people heading to work, but was deserted so early in the morning.
“Oh, you have a ride,” said Larry, looking at the dark blue Ford Explorer as it crept toward them. He felt a chill underneath his coat and a momentary fear passed through him. He turned to walk toward home, pulling on the leash to make Happy walk faster. “Come on girl,” he whispered.
Larry’s last glimpse of his quiet little neighborhood was of his neighbor Wallis, turning around and around in an upstairs window, looking down at the ground. He tried to cry out to her, make her look outside, but the soft leather glove clamped down over his mouth didn’t let any of the sound escape.
A man in the front seat of the Explorer got out, pulling a handkerchief out of his back pocket as he bent down to scoop up two small bones. He wrapped them up tightly, pushing the small collection into his coat as he glanced up at the panicked look in Larry’s eyes before his head was pushed down into the car. Larry was straining to see his purple door.
The man slid back into the front seat as he quietly shut the door, scanning the street for any movement.
Happy let out shrill barks as the car turned around and headed back in the direction it had come from. She chased the car all the way to Pump Road, the leash dragging behind her, but stopped at the edge and sat down to patiently wait. Larry had trained her to never try to cross Pump Road alone. It was too dangerous.
See you back here soon and tell a friend. More adventures to follow – and thanks for sticking with me. Martha