Novel Excerpts

Featured image for “In Their Ruin: Inquisitor”

In Their Ruin: Inquisitor
by Joyce Goldenstern

The first evil thing that Samuel Stone remembered doing in his life happened when he was nine years old. He burned a martyr at the stake.
Of Gladys’s three sons, Samuel was the one who listened most intently to Gladys’s stories and asked the most questions. He was a practical child who carefully counted his allowance coins, but also a child who appreciated metaphors. Read more.

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The Year Coffee Was Illegal: Bad Brew
by Susan Hudson

June 1992
Scottsdale, Arizona
“So glad you could make it, Bill.” Al Church greeted his old friend, Surgeon General Dr. Bill Johnston.
“Well, under the circumstances, I think it’s better that I come to see you than the other way around. Can’t be too careful in D.C.”
“True. We both have enemies there.” Read more.

Featured image for “Her Own Devices: Chapter 9”

Her Own Devices: Chapter 9
by Geoffrey Dutton

For fifteen minutes Anna sat on the concrete wall, fingers interlocked, rhythmically rubbing her thumbs, until the curly headed man emerged onto the taverna’s patio. He was as thin as she had remembered, but taller, with that stooped bearing tall men fall into from peering down at the world. After briefly stabbing and stroking his phone, he put it in a back pocket, glanced in her direction, and sauntered down the sidewalk. Sensing he still hadn’t recognized her emboldened Anna to get up and warily trail after him. Read more.

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Indigo Lace
by Noelle Nori

The rest of March was not kind. The wind screamed off the harbor and whipped Nell’s hair from under its pinned hat as she walked to work each day. It seemed an endless series of gray days. She wrote to Mrs. Reilly, but with each day that passed without a reply, her hopes of a response grew dimmer. Read more.

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The Hunter Was Late for the Circus
by Orleans Saltos

The Hunter avoided public venues, well-traveled roads, and any place where officers might be present. He didn’t want any more incarcerations, DNA tests, or looks of disgust from self-entitled bureaucrats. Running into anyone who would detain him, even if only temporarily, would delay his intended mission. His immediate goal was to track down the circus that had recently entertained the residents of a small Peacelands town near the border. Read more.

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Out Stealing Water
by Roxanne Doty

A dozen empty paint buckets rattle in the truck bed as Emily and her two uncles, Dwight and Jay, head west on Van Buren to the ragged edges of downtown Phoenix. Dwight drives, and Jay dangles his arm out the passenger window, his palm spread wide to catch the wind, his feet tapping on the floorboard. Read more.

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Blood Harmony
by MoAde M. J.

Under low light, Zilla’s fingerpads brushed the floor feeling for that telltale groove. When she found it, she took hold firmly and cracked the floorboard away. It had been done many times. It would look the same after.
Here, in a shallow dug hole underneath the cabin floorboards, the wooden box came delicately as if it were made of the dirt around it, as if it crumbled. Read more.

Featured image for “A Burst of Ginger on the Tongue”

A Burst of Ginger on the Tongue
by Gloria Klaiman

Jacob’s death had left her disoriented about time and place, as if she were inhabiting two worlds at once, like a child standing on a schoolyard map of the world, one foot in China and the other in Africa. But normal chronologies no longer interested her anyway. She once had the notion that her life would move forward on a continuum toward a fixed point in the future. Read more.

Featured image for “Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza Delivery”

Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza Delivery
by Tomas Baiza

Giangrande getting on me for my lack of ambition still stings. Even here, with what I am about to do, I can’t completely pry it out of my head.
The weather is uncommonly pleasant for mid-November. Crissy Field is bustling with people playing frisbee, walking their dogs, enjoying picnics in their sweaters, some even wading into the cold water of San Francisco Bay with their pant legs rolled up. Read more.

Featured image for “Sleep of Bronze: An Iliad”

Sleep of Bronze: An Iliad
by Dawid Juraszek

What if it was a god?
Shivering, I look down. Parched earth. Withered vegetation. My own bruised feet. I feel the might of the heat on the back of my neck. The stream, its life-giving waters too close to bear, might just as well be flowing beyond the horizon. What’s below is hard as stone, what’s above is just as heavy. Me, I am petrified. Read more.

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by Meredith Spitzmiller

As dawn breaks, sunlight creeps into the mostly deserted parking lot of a decrepit convenience store. Abandoned items and trash litter the pockmarked asphalt. An exhausted young woman sits in the front seat of a filthy Chevy, so dirty, it’s hard to tell what color the car used to be. Kate slowly peels back the wrapper of a candy bar but does not consume a bite. Read more.

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Constance Companion
by Nick Gallup

In Jim Crow Mississippi, 1947, Ford Hayes and a group of his white friends play softball with a group of Blacks, and when Ford befriends one of the Blacks, Jesse, the local police beat up Jesse. The beating awakens Ford’s conscience to the inequities of racial prejudice. Constance Companion is the story of Ford, Constance and Jesse, as they live through decades of change, always fighting for justice and each other. Read more.

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When soft voices die…
by Bromme Hampton Cole

Let me begin here.
I often thought, as a young man, how different my life would have been had they not been killed, but since I have come to believe it was inevitable, I’m also convinced it happened at the best possible time. They died when I was three, a toddler, unknowing and oblivious, as if they had never been my parents or even existed. Read more.

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Nursing Intuition: How to Trust Your Gut, Save Your Sanity and Survive Your Nursing Career
by Jenn Johnson

It was the height of the pandemic; our visits to the emergency room had declined significantly, but the acuity had gone up as people had put off coming into the hospital unless they were really very ill. This was the case as someone rang the call bell in room four, and I was the only one available to answer it. Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Javan”

The Snitch: Javan
by M.D. Semel

Some say that Rikers Island is the largest penal colony in the world, and that contention is difficult to confirm or refute. The New York City jail complex may hold more prisoners than the gulags of the Soviet Union, but perhaps less than the re-education camps of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody has tried to count all the bodies. Read more.

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Domino Days
by Rosemary Adang

After giving up her once thick grey hair, all of her body fat, both breasts, and all of her savings to fight for her life, my mother, Penelope, died anyway. It’s been almost a year, and I’ve returned to grad school and Victorian literature, especially George Eliot, who once said, when writing a novel, to not hold anything back Read more.

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Glass Houses
by Victoria Costello

No one, not even Sunny Fox, knew that Sunday, December 22, 2019, marked the start of the final week of the before times. Leading astrologers around the world, Sunny included, had seen and discussed among themselves the fact that the planetary transits due in 2020 signified a terrible reckoning. They could not agree on the precise kind of comeuppance they expected to be visited upon humanity—just that it would be very, very bad. Read more.

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A Virtuous Man
by Joyce Myerson

I lied to her. Again. Will it be the last time? Can I go back and make it all right? I know, you’re always telling me to make up my mind before. Do I want to impress or do I really want to know someone for longer than a week? How come I haven’t learned? Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Lonzo”

The Snitch: Lonzo
by M.D. Semel

The elevator doors were almost closed when Lonzo jammed his foot between them. He was late. The doors reversed themselves and slid back open. He squeezed in, compacted his body and side-eyed the crowd. It was like riding the subway at rush hour except all of the occupants were men and most of them were white. Read more.

Featured image for “Signs of Amelia”

Signs of Amelia
by Kathleen Shemer

Great whooping sounds, a furious rattling, and a pounding like thunder spread through the lab. Brad felt the concrete building vibrate under him. The chimpanzees were banging and smashing on the steel slats of their cages, using their hands and feet. He dropped the bolt cutters he had used on the loading dock door and pushed into the sound. He had to find Amelia before someone found him. Read more.

Featured image for “Seed of Doubt”

Seed of Doubt
by Stephen Newton

It was late afternoon, with the room temperature well over ninety degrees, before Prominence County Sheriff Eli Martin was called to the stand and sworn in to testify for the prosecution against Gerald Hartley. Hartley faced charges of vehicular manslaughter, but so much time had passed since his arrest, there was little public interest in the trial. Most people assumed Hartley was guilty as charged. Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Hector”

The Snitch: Hector
by M.D. Semel

Someone yanked the watch cap off Hector’s head, and it took him a moment until his eyes adjusted to the light. His lids felt droopy, and his brain fogged in. With his head slumped down, he looked to his left, tried to orient himself and saw the jean clad legs of one of Tino’s cousins. He glanced right and saw Julio sitting next to him. Read more.

Featured image for “A Gift of Fire”

A Gift of Fire
by Laura Walker

When you first drive into Riverside, it has as much distinction as any other town in this smear of Southern California cities—that is to say, virtually none. But if you look closer, through the haze of pollution that browns the summertime air, beyond the stark graffiti that coats the concrete surfaces, past the drooping palms and withered storefronts lining the freeways, you’ll start to see some character. Read more.

Featured image for “Dogs, Post-Polio and the Poetry of Living and Dying”

Dogs, Post-Polio and the Poetry of Living and Dying
by Alpheus Williams

You have to wonder what it was like when the L’Esperance and La Recherche came into these uncharted waters. The young ensign Jacques-Bertrand Le Grand high in the rigging of the frigate’s mast, pitching and yawing precariously in big swells and rough seas, guiding ships and crews through the treacherous waters of the archipelago. Here they were thousands of miles from their homeland. Read more.