New today, Exquisite Christmas: 21 Romance Authors Share Holiday Stories & Recipes by Rose Anderson and the Exquisite Quills Authors!
We hope you enjoy this collection of heartwarming seasonal tales and delicious recipes by twenty-one Bestselling, Award-winning, and Multi-Published Authors from the international Exquisite Quills community: Victoria Adams, Rose Anderson, E. Ayers, Beverley Bateman, Lily Bishop, Barb Caffrey, Helena Fairfax, J.D. Faver, Jennifer Garcia, Romy Gemmell, Vonnie Hughs, Susan Jaymes, Gemma Juliana, Jean Lamb, Lyndi Lamont, Zanna Mackenzie, Janis Susan May, Dee Ann Palmer, Jane Leopold Quinn, Kaye Spencer, and M. S. Spencer.
The e-book is now available for at Amazon and coming soon to Barnes & Noble, iBooks and other retailers. The paperback is already available to purchase at Amazon. Print Length: 324 pages.
My story, A Kiss and a Promise, is a prequel to How To Woo… A Reluctant Bride, and gives the reader a glimpse of Lydia and her brother Harry when they were young and carefree. It also introduces Lady Sophia, the love of Harry’s life. Now if I can just finish writing Harry and Sophia’s story. Next year, I hope.
Please welcome author Gerard Bianco with an “eggcerpt” from his short story collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road.
Gerard Bianco shares a fresh voice in short storytelling. A Sharp Bend in the Road redefines the art of the short story collection. Seventeen stories, built around absorbing characters, strong conflicts, and sometimes dark and absurdly humorous ingredients, prove that the journey through life never travels in a straight line.
Reviews:A Sharp Bend in the Road showcases a carnival of amazing and totally different types of stories. From a story about a young man’s encounter in an elevator, to a gay couple in a jewelry store, to a woman entering a retirement home, Bianco’s characters are real, yet colorful and unique. He has a gift in creating genuine dialogue making each story come alive. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories. 5 stars for sure! A fine collection written by one author who clearly knows his craft. –Susan Violante for Reader Views
“A virtuosic collection of stories followed by the sharp blade of a killer novella as the final act. Gerard Bianco’s stories do not creep up on you: they fall upon you like a raptor plummeting, wings folded, golden eye ablaze. Their signature swirl of caustic irony is bitter, often brutal – a gleam of talons and a sudden cry – resulting almost always in a small death of the heart.” -Dianne Benedict, Author of Shiny Objects
Synopsis of four of the seventeen stories:
From “A Process of Elimination.” When a man purchases a remote log cabin in the Adirondacks, he believes he has found a peaceful haven, until he discovers a stranger dead on his living room rug.
From “The Organization.” A man, looking for a new adventure, joins a unique organization and quickly learns that getting what you want can sometimes lead to unimagined consequences.
From “A Sharp Bend in the Road.” Following a devastating fall, Rita finds herself standing outside the dining hall at an independent living facility. She squeezes the handle of her cane, and her knuckles turn white. Her wire-rimmed glasses accentuate the tears she tries to hide. After eighty-two years, and a lifetime of memories, Rita believes she’s been abandoned at the mouth of a fiery dragon that will swallow her up-and she is terrified.
From “The Long Ride.” Two couples set out on a vacation in Maine, only to find their dreamy trip has turned into a getaway nightmare.
Excerpt from the short story, A Sharp Bend in the Road:
Rita was eighty-two when she fell. She was at home, alone, and like a lowly insect turned over on its back, she couldn’t get up. She was on the floor for six hours when her daughter found her. She hadn’t broken any bones, but she’d bruised her hip and now was forced to use a cane to get around.
Three months after the fall, Rita found herself standing in the corridor outside the dining hall at Shady Acres, an independent living facility. It was an hour before dinner, and the room was dark and deserted except for two young women who bustled about, setting tables for the residents soon to arrive. Rita watched them move with the speed and confidence she once had. She squeezed the handle of her mahogany cane. Her knuckles turned white. Her head shook of its own accord, and her wire-rimmed glasses accentuated the tears she tried to hide.
Her children had all agreed: Rita needed to leave her home and move into a facility that offered a minimum of assistance—a place where she could be taken care of, should she need it. They all thought it was in her best interest.
So, after eighty-two years, two husbands, three children, two grandchildren, three houses, and a lifetime of memories, Rita now stood at the mouth of the dragon she felt certain would soon swallow her up—and she was terrified.
Rita closed her eyes, raised her head to the ceiling and took the deep breath of resignation that one takes before journeying down the path of inevitability. “Thank God,” she said aloud. “At least it doesn’t smell like an old folks’ home.”
She opened her eyes and gazed past the dining hall toward a terrace that overlooked the tightly manicured grounds sloping away from the building. She needed air, and slowly hobbled toward the door. The two young women offered agreeable smiles as she passed. In exchange, she displayed an aggrieved expression that communicated her jealous resentment of their ages.
Rita opened the door and walked out into the early-evening light. She stood at the terrace rail that separated her from the rest of the world—the real, pulsating, working, laughing, making-love world where life flies by like a high-speed train. She was numb and unable to think of anything, either pleasant or unpleasant.
She grew tired and looked for a place to sit and rest. A white, wrought-iron table with three matching chairs sat close by. Two of the chairs were empty, the third was occupied by an elderly gentleman. He was neatly dressed in a denim shirt, a pair of well-starched jeans, and red-brick-colored moccasins. Round, tortoiseshell glasses rested gently on the end of his nose. He was playing solitaire and didn’t seem to notice her as she shuffled over to the table.
“May I sit?” she asked.
“Don’t let me stop you,” he said, without looking up. “The bathroom is inside and down the hall.”
Rita was embarrassed by his remark and felt she needed to correct his faux pas.
“No!” she said. “I didn’t say, well, I mean, what I meant to say was, can I—” And then in a loud voice she said, “Sit here!” She pointed to an empty chair.
“I don’t want to sit there.” He scowled. “I’m fine where I am.”
“I meant me,” she bellowed.
He glanced up at her, squinting into the light.
“Why are you shouting?” he asked. “And why are you standing there? Why don’t you sit down?”
Rita slowly pulled the heavy metal chair out from under the table. It made a loud, irritating noise as it scratched against the surface of the tiled ground.
She was about to sit down when the man yelled, “Wait!”
Rita stopped dead in her tracks. “What is it?” she asked.
“Can you get up by yourself?” he asked.
“Of course I can!” she said.
“Okay,” he said. “Just checking. You can’t be too careful in a place like this. I’m not as young as I used to be and I can’t go around picking everyone up out of their chairs.” He eyed her up and down. “But not everyone here is as limber as you appear to be,” he added, smiling.
Rita paused, uncertain of whether or not she should sit with him.
He pointed to the seat. “Well? Are you going to sit or not?”
She slowly sat down.
He stared at her. “You’re new here,” he said.
“I’m not here, yet,” she told the man. “My daughter is in the office, looking over some papers. We’re supposed to have dinner in the dining hall so I can get used to the idea that my family is shipping me off to Siberia.”
“Oh, I see,” he said. “You’re not happy about it. I understand. A lot of people are like that in the beginning—too proud to move here, too young to live with the old farts.”
“No, it’s not that,” she said. “It’s just—”
“You still have too much to do in the outside world before you get shuffled off to no-man’s land?” he said.
“Well, I suppose.”
“Let me tell you something,” he went on. “You may not be aware of this, but we have a hell of a lot more to do here than you could ever do at home. In fact, I’m willing to bet you don’t do much at all, right now.”
“Why that’s not true,” Rita said. “I certainly do plenty at home.”
“Yeah. Sure. You go to the theater?” he asked.
She didn’t answer.
“Every time the local playhouse puts on a new play, they hire a bus and take the residents to see it.”
Rita didn’t say a word.
“When was the last time you went to a movie?” he asked.
Rita said nothing.
“Yeah, thought so. They show one here every Friday night. How about bingo? You have bingo in your living room every Thursday afternoon the way they do here? And what about dinner? You get dinner cooked for you every night? With three entrée choices?”
She still didn’t answer.
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I came here with my wife three years ago. She was like you. She didn’t want to be here, and after about a year she left—in a box. Do you know what she said to me before she passed away?”
Gerard Bianco is an author, artist/illustrator, and writing coach. He holds an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College.
His works include:
The Deal Master (2006) A mystery/thriller novel. Won the Editor’s Choice Award and the Publisher’s Choice Award.
Discipline: A Play (2012) A love story and a laugh-out-loud comedy that uses wit to depict human frailty. It won the Editor’s Choice Award, 2012, and was a Finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.
His latest book, A SHARP BEND IN THE ROAD: 17 INTRIGUING STORIES, published January, 2015, presents absorbing characters, powerful conflicts, and sometimes dark and humorous ingredients, which prove the journey through life never travels in a straight line.
His short stories have appeared in various literary journals. His lessons, exercises, and advice on the art and craft of creative fiction have appeared on the web and in the book, Now Write! Mysteries: Mystery Fiction Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. (Tarcher, 2011; Edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson.)
Gerard divides his time between Portland, Maine and Boston.