Spotlight on ‘Emily’s Stories’

emilyebookEmily Walters is a sharp, inquisitive fourteen-year-old north Florida girl who loves maps, her rusty old bike, and the forest behind her house. Sometimes her dreams tell her the future and sometimes her waking hours bring wise birds and other spirits into her life.

When her family vacations in the mountains in “High Country Painter,” a wise Pine Siskin tells her she must quickly learn how to paint dreams into reality to prevent an afternoon hike from becoming a tragedy.

In “Map Maker,” she’ll need her skills—and the help of a Chuck-will’s-widow—to a fight a developer’s plans for from bulldozing the sacred forest behind her house and replacing it with a subdivision.

In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” she’ll learn the secrets of her grandmother’s favorite tree, the crumbling almost forever house down on the river, and why some ghosts would rather visit than haunt.

An Amazon reviewer liked Emily’s positive attitude and the “Secret Garden” ambiance the stories, two of which are set in the Florida Panhandle. The other is set in the Montana Mountains. I hope parents and children will share the stories, either by listening to the audio version together or reading them at bedtime.

While Emily doesn’t solve crimes, I did have a Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew feeling in mind when I wrote them.

Mountain setting for High Country Painter

Mountain setting for High Country Painter

Excerpt from “High Country Painter”

Her dream was contained within the rough branches and prickly needles of an Engelmann spruce. She hung by her legs from a limb as though it were no higher up than the trapeze on her backyard swing set. An upside down pine siskin hung from the pointed tip of a cone, extracting a seed.

“I am Paiota,” he said.

“Good evening, Paiota. I am Emily.”

“Emily, would you care for a seed?” he asked.

“No, thank you,” said Emily.



Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

“Wait here,” said the pine siskin as though Emily had a clue how to get out of the tree other than by the intervention of: (a) loggers, (b) wind, (c) lightning, or (d) tired legs.The bird returned while she was yawning without covering her mouth and, viewing her like a fledgling, poked a sweet-tasting red flower petal into her mouth. She swallowed it with the same lack of enthusiasm reserved for anything resembling salad.

“My goodness, what did I just eat?”

Paiota’s wings ruffled the moonlight as he flew back to the cone and regarded Emily with curious brown eyes that probably saw more than her brown eyes.

“Indian paintbrush.”

“What a pretty name.”

“You will find them while eating lunch at the small, icy lake tomorrow where you must paint your dreams into the world.”

“Paiota, I don’t know what that means.”

“For your father’s sake, you will learn,” said Paiota.

He dropped away from the cone into the river of night flowing between the spruce branches, leaving behind a goodbye chirp—or, possibly a warning.

You’ll find Emily’s Stories on Kindle, OmniLit, B&N paperback, Amazon paperback, iTunes, Nook, Audible/Amazon and Smashwords. The audio book is narrated by actress Kelley Hazen.

Books: Magic Between the Covers

“A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” – Caroline Gordon

My parents orchestrated Christmas Eve and the following morning with skill, making it a time of magic and expectation even though the gifts beneath the gifts beneath the tree were saturated with love rather than money. More often that not, one or more of the carefully wrapped packages beneath the spruce tree contained a book.

More often than not, each book was inscribed with my name, the date, and the name of the person who found the book and thought I might like the story. Pirates, space ships, wild animals and detectives waited between the covers for me to turn the page and enter an alternate universe. I didn’t see stories as alternate universes at the time, but now when I think of books, I smile at the concept of being in two places at one time.

There I was following the Hardy Boys in their latest attempt to help their police detective father crack a dangerous case AND there I was sitting in a comfortable chair in the living room next to a lamp. According to reports, I often didn’t respond when my parents called me to dinner when I was more there than here within the pages of a book like The Twisted Claw.

Portals, Portkeys and Magic Carpets

Caroline Gordon saw books as magic carpets. Ever fascinated with portals, I see books as doorways to faraway lands like the famous wardrobe in C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia. In today’s Harry Potter series terms, readers might well see a book as a portkey that whisks them away the minute they touch it.

While looking at the Amazon page for Mark Helprin’s upcoming novel In Sun Light and Shadow, I found the novel’s stunning 489-word prologue included there as part of the book’s description. The constraints of fair use don’t allow me to cut and paste the entire prologue into this blog as a shining example of an author’s invitation to his readers asking them to step through the door, touch the portkey or settle themselves onto a flying carpet. But, here’s a taste. . .

An Invitation

Helprin’s prologue begins with the line: If you were a spirit, and could fly and alight as you wished, and time did not bind you, and patience and love were all you knew, then you might rise to enter an open window high above the park, in the New York of almost a lifetime ago, early in November of 1947.

The prologue goes on to describe the view from that window, and then the room itself: full bookshelves, the Manet seascape above the fireplace, a telephone, a desk drawer containing a loaded pistol, and a “bracelet waiting for a wrist.” Then the prologue concludes with: And if you were a spirit, and time did not bind you, and patience and love were all you knew, then there you would wait for someone to return, and the story to unfold.

Even though I was, from the viewpoint of my three cats who were hovering around the den door waiting to be fed, sitting here at my desk, I had in fact stepped through a portal to an apartment in New York 65 years ago. I tell you this: I wasn’t ready to return when Katy, our large calico, rubbed against my leg with a no-nonsense purr because I was thoroughly enchanted by the magic between the covers.

Even though a small percentage of the books I read each year come into my hands as gifts, I approach every book with an interesting premise and a cover splashed with promises as a gift. Years ago, I watched a TV western called “Have Gun, Will Travel.” Today, I gravitate more toward Have Book, Will Travel. Each book is an invitation to adventure, lives hanging in the balance, twisted claws lurking in the dark, castles set high above green valleys, and frightened travelers walking down roads in sunlight and in shadow.

Books cast spells and carry us away and while we are gone, we are changed, writ larger by the experiences now living within our consciousness, and ready to see the word of here with the visions we had while we were there.


Travel to mountains and magic for $4.99. It’s cheaper than Amtrak and Delta Airlines.