Hi folks, sorry I haven't been here for a while. So many things going on and so little time.
I've been working the Southwest Florida Writers conference to be held in Port Charlotte, April 13. More agents to meet and workshops to attend. If interested you better sign up now as time is quickly running out.
I've published two new books for authors. They are listed on the authors page with their covers and links to their Amazon page. Linda Eskin is a very dear phone friend who lives in New Hampshire. She's completed her fourth book with me. Ali Goebel is from Sarasota who wrote and illustrated her first book. I hope you will take the time you look at them.
I've also been working on my new novel and after a couple title changes have settled on The Alligator Dance. You can find the first chapter at the end of this blog. It's about alligator egg poaching in Florida. Yes it's a real thing. The main character is a handsome park ranger that happens to be a Seminole Indian. Reading this book will surprise you with the information about the Seminole culture and the illegal trade in alligator eggs.
The big news is that I'm going on a cruise with the Seymour literacy agency to the Bahamas. Along with meeting agents there will be reps from Hallmark and Netflix. I have my fingers crossed. Who knows maybe I'll have my paranormal mysteries on the Hallmark Channel.
As always please leave a comment or contact me via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
now for the first chapter of - The Alligator Dance
The Alligator Dance
“Remember, I’ll be back in two hours. If you’re not here I’m leaving without you,” Carl yelled at the men in the back of the truck. He was fed up with this early morning shit. The sun was barely up, but the heat and humidity were already oppressive. Carl was a good ol’ boy from Bartow, picking up odd jobs as they can around. The drop-off point was on the southwest side of the River Bend State Park. The men would have to climb a fence into the protected and posted nature preserve and be out of the park before eight o’clock that morning. Visitors hiking to Gator Basin could be coming along the two-mile stretch of road any time after that. Six men jumped off the truck. One of the men, Dr. Melendez, was a biologist. For some reason, the boss thought that having a biologist along made their raiding of the alligator nests more or less legal, but Carl knew there was nothing legal about what they were doing.
“Yeah, yeah,” grumbled Cody, a tall, well-built charmer with sun-bleached blond hair. He didn’t need a reminder. He’d taken this trip with Carl before and would much rather be at the beach surfing. The six men deployed out along the bank of the slow-moving branch of the Myakka River- heading for an area known as Gator Basin. The spot was an anomaly for attracting over a hundred alligators of all sizes to its deep depths. They had to be careful, quick and quiet so they didn’t draw the attention of the park ranger. The duty ranger had a way of turning up when least expected.
The men trailed off along the river bank-leaving Cody alone. He could see them off in the distance, poking around and occasionally stopping to fill their plastic containers.
Cody was the youngest of the crew. He was only working for Carl to help pay his way through college at USF. He needed the money. His football scholarship only covered so much, and his parents couldn’t help. The men were not very friendly and considered him an outsider. It was ok because he didn’t like them either. Cody’s Spanish was getting better, and he understood when they were making fun of him. He was graduating early next year because of the extra classes he was taking this summer. He would miss the friends he had made, but he was anxious to get on with his life. Cody hated working for Carl and knew what they were doing was illegal as hell.
Cody would like to be able to eat more than Top Ramen five nights a week. Last time out he got five hundred dollars. Not bad for a couple of hours battling the mosquitoes and heat, not to mention watching out for snakes and gators. He located a mound of leaves, and dirt and plant vegetation which was three feet high and about six feet around, Cody hoped to find thirty to fifty eggs inside. He got paid for each egg he turned in to Carl. Cody took a quick look around, checking to see if momma gator was close. He didn’t see anything, so he began to uncover his prize.
With his back to the water, Cody knelt to dig down to the eggs. “Momma you sure buried these down far enough,” he grunted as he dug with the short spade. Suddenly he realized that the world around him had gone silent. The birds had stopped chirping. Even the insects had stopped buzzing around his head. The hair on the back of his head stood up, and a chill raised goosebumps on his arms. Then he heard it. The low growl of momma alligator rumbled through the still air, and she was not happy.
Almost instantly as the thoughts raced through his head, excruciating pain raced up his leg. The gator was crushing his calf above his work boot with her sharp teeth filled jaws, dragging him through the mud, down to the water. He tried to grab anything to hold onto to save himself. Cody screamed, but the others were too far away. He prayed to God and knew his life was over.
“Did you hear something?” Hector asked. He stood over an open nest and looked in Cody’s direction.
“Nah, keep going there is another nest right there,” another man told him.
“I swear I heard someone calling,” Hector insisted.
“Probably one of those crazy birds or something. Come on we’ve only another half hour before we meet Carl. I’m getting eaten alive by these bugs,” Manuel complained.
The men finished destroying twenty nests, robbing them of the alligator eggs. On their way back to the pick-up spot they passed the section of nests that Cody had been raiding. “Where’s that smart-ass college kid?” Hector asked. Looking around he saw the open nest with the exposed eggs. Drag marks and blood in the mud led down to the water. Hector made the sign of the cross and hurried to catch up with the others, “Madre Dios,” Hector whispered. He had liked the smart young kid. He picked up Cody’s bucket of eggs and the spade and carried on to the pickup spot.
From the active mind of Brenda M. Spalding