Novel Excerpts

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Jude
by Lydia Landrum

I always hated driving. More than that, I always hated the backseat, and I always hated riding shotgun, even. I hated it back when I was a little girl in the backseat of my daddy’s Ford Super Deluxe. I don’t know why, really, maybe it’s because someone always lights up a cigarette and chokes up everyone in the car, or maybe it’s the way I get carsick if the windows ain’t up. I don’t know, I just don’t like it. Read more.

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Under the Microscope
by Joanell Serra

Deep down, I will always be the pastor’s daughter. While Inspector Corrick has come to Keystone School as a private investigator, my roiling stomach imagines he is a messenger from God, a toad-like minion in the army of St. Peter. Is he here to decide whether there has been a crime committed, and if so, my part in it, or to ascertain whether there has been a moral failure? Read more.

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Iben… I’ve Been Through Some Sh#@!: Unbroken
by K.E. Mullins

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror one last time before entering the building. The gym was packed. As I took the podium, one young man, then another, clapped. “Thank you,” I said before beginning. “I’m Iben Okafor and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you today. Before I get started, how many of you have brothers and sisters?” Read more.

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I Don’t Swoon: Chapter 1
by Esperanza Cintrón

The Reverend Cletus Jenkins was stretched out in the front yard of Miss Mattie’s whorehouse. Stiff like that wooden Indian that Virgil Parker sets outside his general store every morning, Jenkins looked like somebody had shoved him off the porch with the business side of a heavy boot and he’d landed splat on his back. Read more.

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The Serpent Papers:  The Serpent of the Apocalypse
by Jeff Schnader

The reality of the draft and the resultant paranoia which had descended upon my collegiate brothers precipitated a sense of indecision in me. Forgetting about the library, I grabbed my coat and fled the dorms like a shell from a cannon, my trajectory at random. Questions squirmed in my head, challenging me as to why I, son of a warrior, would be so panicked by talk of the draft or possible rendezvous with war. Read more.

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Her Own Devices: Part 2, Chapter 8
by Geoffrey Dutton

For his imminent fifth birthday Ramadi told Anna he would like pizza and cake and an airplane and certain of his preschool pals in attendance. That would be awkward, Anna explained, as Daria, the mother of Yasmin, the girl he wished to exclude, had volunteered her four-room flat for the festivities. Ramadi considered Yasmin a bit of a show-off, he had complained, who went on and on about the clothes she wore and the clothes she wanted next. Read more.

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The Serpent Papers: Jump
by Jeff Schnader

A small truck stood curbside in front of a narrow store; a florist was taking delivery as I approached. The shop’s metal cellar doors, normally flat and flush with the sidewalk, were opened and upright revealing the steps to the storage area below the shop. Read more.

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Stumbleweed Valley
by Stephanie Sandmeyer

“Isn’t there some other way we can go?” she asked, looking warily at the work crew only a few yards ahead of them. She buried her hands in her muff, although she wished she had insisted on taking the reins. It was, after all, her horse and carriage… Read more.

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One Silent Moment
by Ted Olson

I found Dad’s typewritten manuscript in his filing cabinet three days after his funeral. It lay flat and about an inch thick in a 9×12 envelope. The flap had been sealed, the metal clasp spread open. It was in a drawer that also contained insurance documents, the title to his car, and his honorable discharge certificate. The envelope had my name on it, written in copperplate pencil. Read more.

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The Serpent Papers: Echoes of Sunshine
by Jeff Schnader

Christmas break arrived, and I elected to stay in the city. Without any school or family obligations, I could explore the landscapes of Gotham, a student on furlough, looking for random adventures flowing with women and rivers of beer. Nebraska was gone—God knows where—and I had the room to myself, sleeping at any hour, traipsing naked if I wanted. I could have women without any concern for Nebraska’s rights to his space. Read more.

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The Serpent Papers: Headed to Babylon
by Jeff Schnader

There are things I’ve never told anyone, secrets hidden away in a vault with the doors clanged shut, forty years ago or maybe fifty, in the deepest recesses of my head. Secrets not previously told because they might have jeopardized my future by branding me a pot fiend, a beer hound, a left-wing radical or a white pointy-headed bigot. But I’m older now with a dwindling future, and the story is ready to be told.
Everything starts with the seed, and then come the roots. Read more.

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Mouthbrood
by Saskia Nislow

When I am young, I dream that I die. In this dream, I am sitting cross-legged beneath the dining-room table. In front of me sits myself in the same position. I am both selves at the same time, though sometimes I am just one. One of my selves – I am not sure which – has been poisoned. I know I am about to die. I know it both as a fact of my body and as a kind of empathy. The me that is not dying is filled with self-pity and begins to make small choking sobs like a caught zipper. The other me makes the same noises but does not feel self-pity. Read more.

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She Was A Child
by Fredric Koeppel

The Messenger
Baltimore, May 1832
Virginia Clemm sits with Cousin Eddy on the small stoop in front of the little brick house in Baltimore, Maryland, in the Republic of the United States of America of which the president is Andrew Jackson, known as Old Hickory, slave owner and Indian killer. The street is unpaved, but a slave on the other side sweeps the dirt with a long-handled broom because his mistress says he must. A brown and white dog sleeps in the wagon ruts, and he will be run over if he doesn’t move; drovers are hauling produce to market in their rattling, trundling wagons. Read more.

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The Year of the Rat
by Faraaz Mahomed

What woke him was the sound of a fist on the front door, a thumping that signified in its speed and its impertinence that his landlord was coming to collect the rent again.
The scar tissue wasn’t healing well, so he was constantly in pain. Clad in just boxers and a vest, Bill winced as he took the five steps from his bedroom into the living room, crouching and running his hand down his uncovered leg, feeling the bristles and the indents, soothing himself. Read more.

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Secrets of a Different Kind
by Linda Heller

Before he met and married my mother, my father used to go to Orchard Beach in the Bronx, so he could strip to his trunks without seeming like the exhibitionist he actually was. Other guys his age also flocked to the boardwalk with their muscles oiled and their stomachs drawn in. Summer flings were rampant. The air was heavy with two kinds of heat. But my father offered more than mere youthful swagger. He was the spitting image of Harry Houdini. Read more.

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The Price of Tea
by Nadine Gallo

On the way to Dublin Nora O’Neal stopped in Kilkenny to see Olga Kerensky. Olga’s house was on the main road. Nora remembered it well but not the big brass knocker on the front door. Maybe it was new. She reached up for it and slammed it down a few times. She sniffed the air around her and wondered where the beautiful roses were. She could smell them as if she was standing among them. There wasn’t a sign of them anywhere. Once she was in a bog and the rose smell made her think of a lot of butterflies in a garden. Read more.

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Samuel’s Way
by Paul Clark

14th March, 1643.
An eccentric old woman. Creaky and bent. Snarling. Haggard. Annie Parsons hunched in her chair, dribbling and murmuring. Clumps of lank, grey hair shrouded part of her face. Grime made the whiteness of her shift barely visible. It clung to her body like a loose skin. Her bony wrists and ankles bore the sores of a long spell in irons.
Samuel Hawke loomed over her, arms folded, about to perform his service for the town and the county of Hampshire, and more importantly, for God. Read more.

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Her Own Devices: Chapter 3
by Geoffrey Dutton

That unseasonably warm October day marked the first, but not the last, time Anna leaned on Andreas to mind the boy. She tried to minimize the inconvenience, rewarding him with bottles of wine, home-cooked meals, and Swiss cheek kisses. By the following autumn, she’d stashed a playpen and stroller from a thrift shop in his storage room for his convenience, she told herself. Andreas said he didn’t mind keeping the items and now and found the playpen a handy restraint, but drew the line at strolling. Read more.

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Shades of the Deep Blue Sea: Saya
by Jack Woodville London

Saya had not decided whether to let Olafson see Ambon. She left him tied up in a water-filled pit that was lined with bamboo spears, not so much as a test but merely to keep him occupied for a few hours. He stared at her, wild-eyed with fear, and she disappeared into the rainforest.
She had not visited the spice plantation for more than two weeks, not since the day she had taken possession of Olafson. The home where she had grown up, what was left of it, was much higher upland than the cannibal hamlets and the hidden kamp where Saya now slept. Read more.

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Charlatan
by Yennie Jun

When the girl wanders into the living room in the morning, her mother is seated cross-legged on the piano bench, phone pressed to her ear.
The girl toes the rattling skeletons of the open boxes. How can it be, she wonders, that as the boxes are emptied, the house only feels emptier? Does the emptiness come from the boxes? Is that the secret of moving? That you move the emptiness from one place to another? That you stuff boxes full of books and clothes and photographs and toolboxes, but the true heaviness comes from the emptiness, an emptiness that leaks from the boxes and sinks into the pit of her stomach? Read more.

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

Take the exit when you see the sign and leave the highway. A small narrow road will take you there. You’ll not be surprised how you missed it, nestled away from the day-to-day neurosis of shopping therapy, road rage and commuter traffic. A medley of native trees and shrubs line the road in places interspersed with glimpses of ocean blue in the distance. As the land flattens, the road lines with melaleucas, their raggedy white trunks a wall of papier mâché bones, and clears to low growing coastal heathland and saltmarsh. In spring it will come alive in a multitude of tints, tones and textures. Read more.

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The World So Wide
by Zilla Jones

CHAPTER 34
Winnipeg, September 8, 1983
Dolores stood for a moment outside the door of Neil Rosenblatt’s office, checking that the bow of her blouse was properly tied.
“You can just go on in, Mrs Alexander”, sang the assistant from her desk, where, under cover of the school calendar, she was surreptitiously re-reading a letter from her boyfriend who was travelling abroad. Dolores straightened her shoulders.
“You wanted to see me, Neil?” she asked.
The man behind the desk pushed his glasses down his nose and set aside the pile of student information forms that he was perusing. Read more.

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The Potrero Complex
by Amy Bernstein

MISSING: A teenaged girl with lanky blonde hair and a sunburst tattoo on her cheek.
The holographic posters, brighter than day itself, lit up the air on every block of Main Street. They were the first thing Rags Goldner noticed as she and her partner Flint Sten turned onto the street.
The girl’s name was Effie, and she was sixteen. Read more.

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Able Archer: Distant Early Warning (Part III)
by Lawrence Lichtenfeld

A red rotary beacon was mounted over the door to the communications room. In all his days at the Marne Kaserne, he had never seen it illuminated. It was never supposed to be. If that lamp was illuminated, it meant that the Telex machines had urgent messages. Even when they were running a com drill that was supposed to mimic an actual situation, they never used the lamp. When the reflector inside the red, plastic dome began rotating, no one paid much attention. Then the light came on. Read more.