An excerpt in celebration of International Bat Appreciation Day

Hanging upside down on a wooden perch was an animal that Louise had never seen before. It looked like a silver fox with demon wings. Piper hastily opened the locked and reached into the cage.
“Be careful!” Louise warned. “You don’t know what that thing is!”
“I know exactly what it is,” the girl replied. The animal’s clawed feet embraced her hand tenderly as she wrested it from its prison. “The one I know is much older.”
Suddenly a door on the back wall smashed open. A man in his late fifties wearing a safari helmet and khaki clothes leaped into the arena. He was holding a shotgun in one hand and a whip in the other. Continue reading


An excerpt to celebrate National Rhode Island Day

Houdini smiled at his wife with undisguised adoration. He had just finished a three-day run at the Providence Opera House and was still a bit wired. Howard Lovecraft had attended the show as his guest and then joined him for dinner to discuss their book about the roots of superstition.
“Right you are, my love,” Houdini said as the waiter set a plate of shrimp in garlic wine sauce before him. “But I can already tell that it will never measure up to one of your sumptuous feasts.”
“Oh, posh,” Bess said as the waiter presented her with a sizzling sirloin steeped in a Cognac flamed peppercorn cream.
Howard, who loved his Italian food, got the tagliatelle with meat sauce. The waiter bowed to each of them and left.
Houdini narrowed his eyes. It wasn’t the same waiter who had brought their appetizers. Though he was wearing a white shirt, black vest, and apron like the other waiters, his scalp was covered with a skullcap that was knotted in the back.
Something about the man bothered him. Maybe it was simply the incongruence of a Japanese man working in an Italian restaurant. Continue reading


An excerpt in honor of #walktoschoolday

“We should get going,” Sal said, securing the bag’s rusty buckles and slinging it over his shoulder. “First bell’s gonna ring soon, and you don’t want to be late for your first day.”
Sal went down first because he thought Piper looked a bit unsteady in her new shoes. He figured he’d catch her if she slipped on the ladder—or at least cushion her fall. But when he looked up to see how she was doing, Piper clocked him on the forehead with her heel.
“Stop looking up my dress, you cad!” she barked at him. Continue reading


An excerpt in honor of National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day

Being sent to stand in the cloakroom was the customary punishment for misbehaving in some of her other schools. So Piper walked toward it and reached for the doorknob. A booming voice stopped her coldly.
“Whatcha doin’ there, lass?” asked a man in denim overalls who was sweeping the floor with a wide push broom. His hair and beard were almost as red as his face. A patch on his left shirt pocket identified him as the school’s custodian, Mr. McFadden.
“I’m new here,” Piper said, dropping her hand. “I’m just trying to find the best place to hang my things.” She didn’t mention the detention notice because she didn’t want the custodian’s first impression of her to be that of a delinquent.
Mr. McFadden stopped sweeping and leaned on his broom handle. “You won’t be finding any coats in that room, missy. Hasn’t been used in over thirty years. Don’t even have a key for it no more.” Continue reading


Domino’s “Paving for Pizza” is an engaging campaign for all audiences. But where’s the Noid?

Several weeks ago, Domino’s Pizza rolled out (pun intended) its “Paving for Pizza” initiative. The TV spot features a man racing home, intently anticipating the taste of the hot, fresh Domino’s pizza perched precariously on the seat beside him. Suddenly the man swerves to avoid a crater in the road—but … Continue reading


An excerpt in celebration of Easter

Piper and Bess had grown even closer since Houdini had left to dazzle Chicago with his feats of daring and wonder. On Easter Sunday, Bess had taken her into Manhattan where she and two hundred-thousand other people flaunted their new spring clothing in the parade along Fifth Avenue. Seated in his customary chair as though he’d never been gone, Houdini lowered the paper and smiled.
“Come give your uncle a big birthday hug,” he said, opening his arms wide. When they embraced, she couldn’t tell if she sensed tension between them or if it was just her imagination. After all, how could he have known for sure that it had been her in Margery’s parlor? The only thing he could possibly have seen was a pair of glowing stars, which wouldn’t be out of the ordinary in a weird room like that.
Continue reading


An excerpt in honor of National Ferris Wheel Day

Before them, the Wonder Wheel rose one hundred fifty feet into the air. The sign at the center of the wheel was dark and none of the bulbs on its perimeter were lit. But Piper could make out the twenty-four enclosed cars as if it were the middle of the day. Eight of those cars were suspended from the wheel’s outer frame, like those on a traditional Ferris wheel. The other sixteen cars, however, hung from inner spokes so they could slide back and forth on tracks as the giant wheel rotated. Piper felt the wind pick up and heard it whistling through the spokes. Choronzon shoved Piper down the entrance ramp. Continue reading


An excerpt in honor of National Bootlegger’s Day

Piper took one step and almost twisted her ankle. She wasn’t used to walking in heels and stumbled twice more crossing the street to the Adonis Club.

It was Saturday night and a line had already formed at the door. But it moved quickly. When Piper reached the stairs, she was barely able to navigate the creaky steps down to the entrance. She rapped twice on the door and a small window slid open.

“What’s the word, doll?” A dark eye blinked at her. Piper opened her mouth and froze. The window slammed shut.

The people standing in line at the top of the stairs began to grumble. Piper thumped twice on the door again. The slot opened a crack.

“You again?” the eye said. “You got a spruce caboose, kid, I’ll give you that. Now haul it back to your dapper’s house this second or I’ll…”

“Bee’s knees,” Piper said with a plastered smile that looked like it belonged on a ventriloquist dummy.

The eye scanned her from head to foot.

“You ain’t old enough to be here.”

“Tell you what, you show me your liquor license and I’ll show you my birth certificate.”

The eye narrowed.

“You’re a real bearcat, ain’t ya?”

The peephole closed. Piper thought she had blown it until she heard the click of the doorknob.

“Welcome to the Adonis Club!” Continue reading