I have so many friends who have new books out, all great writers, and I need to put up a post about ALL of them. But today I want to talk about Trish McCallan. Trish is a former critique partner and blog partner. I’ve been reading excerpts of her book as she wrote it, and her writing is strong and gritty and compelling. So are her characters. The title of her debut book, FORGED IN FIRE, is a good way to describe Trish and most every writer I know. Especially the ones who have been honing their craft for a few years. Learning and writing and rewriting.
It’s paying off for Trish. FORGED IN FIRE has been available for only two days, and right now on Amazon it’s 12,367 in the Kindle Store for paid books. This out of hundreds of thousands of books! So, here’s the cover (created by the amazing and gorgeous Laura Morrigan), the description, and below that an excerpt. You can see for yourself what I’m talking about.
Canvassing the rides took next to no time. Still, when they arrived at the shooting gallery, a crowd had gathered.
“Man, he hasn’t missed once,” a weedy teenager said.
“Neither did the other one,” someone to the teenager’s right responded.
They slipped between a balding man who reeked of cheap cologne and a brassy-haired woman who reeked of cigarettes. Beth gagged and held her breath.
“You wanna bet they’re cops?” a stooped man with graying hair said to his stooped and graying wife.
“I doubt it, dear. Those muscles didn’t come from donuts.”
They weaved their way through a flock of teenage girls wearing shorts that skirted the edge of decency, and discovered that the front of the crowd consisted of children.
They broke into the open as Rawls leaned down and handed a plastic doll to a tiny Asian child in a frilly sundress.
“Here yah go, darlin’,” he said, his blond head gleaming like platinum in the sunlight. “I’d have got pink to match that purty dress—but pink’s Cosky’s favorite color.”
“I’m not the one asking for dolls,” Cosky said with a pointed glance at the half dozen Barbie knockoffs clutched in tiny hands.
Beth glanced over the front row of children; they all held an array of cheap toys. Her gaze lingered on a red-headed little boy and the purple dinosaur he cradled to his fragile chest. Her heart started aching. Something about him reminded her of Kyle. Maybe it was the shyness in the dip of his chin, or the way he avoided everyone’s eyes, or that bright red hair.
“What?” Zane’s gaze was locked on Rawl’s grinning face. “You decide to break the vendor by winning all his toys?”
Rawls looked up and shrugged. “The guy we came for is off-site on lunch break. Since he’s not answering his phone, we figured we’d try our luck while we waited. Might as well give the rugrats some mementoes.”
“We’d have upgraded these cheesy toys by now if Rawls would spend more time shooting and less flirting with the ladies.” Cosky winked at the cluster of grade schoolers.
“Cosky’s just jealous,” Rawls shot his buddy a smirk. “Poor bastard couldn’t hit the hull of a sub from the dock.”
“Pay attention, prettyboy—” Cosky slapped a five dollar bill down on the waist-high counter and waited for the scowling attendant to scoop it up and move out of the way. “—while I show you what real shooting looks like.”
He raised the BB gun to his shoulder. A steady phuffitt, phuffitt, ping, ping filled the air, and the metal ducks toppled over in a massacre of sunny yellow.
Beth stared at the rifle. According to Chastain, his son had used one of those guns. Touched one of those guns….
She’d read various books through the years that had featured psychic heroes or heroines, and then there were all the televisions shows. In the movies and books, just touching an object could spark a vision. It was hard to believe she was actually considering the idea—Lord knows she’d never put much stock in psychic phenomenon. But it was little hard to dismiss the possibility considering everything that had happened since that damn dream.
She turned to Zane, and lowered her voice. “Can you pick something up off the rifle? Agent Chastain’s son must have touched one of them.”
He glanced at her, surprise flaring in his eyes. “It doesn’t work like that, at least not for me. I’ve never gotten anything from an object.”
“Oh,” Beth murmured, surprised by the quick rise of disappointment.
Zane studied her face for a moment, and then turned back to the counter.
It wasn’t until the last target fell and the puffing pinging sounds dissipated that Beth heard the excited whispers rising from behind. She turned to find half a dozen teenage girls admiring Cosky, Rawls and Zane’s long, lean frames. Several of the girls adjusted their blouses to display maximum cleavage.
“Hell,” Mac said from the sidelines where he stood with his arms crossed and his feet spread. “You call that shooting? Took fifteen seconds to take them down. If they’d been snipers we’d be dead by now.”
Beth stared at the smiling yellow ducks and rolled her eyes.
Dropping his arms, Mac stepped forward and snatched the BB gun from Cosky’s shoulder. Beth snorted beneath her breath. Good Lord, they’d regressed to kindergarten. Her gaze shifted to Zane. Well, at least three of the four had. Zane appeared to be the only one—
She dumped that comparison when Zane stepped forward and made a grab for Rawls’ gun. As Mac started shooting, and that oddly rhythmic phuffitt of escaping air and ping, ping of metal hitting metal once again filled the booth, Zane dug into his pocket and pulled out a money clip.
Beth glanced at the prices affixed to the post in the middle of the booth and did some quick mental gymnastics. A snicker escaped. If her calculations were correct, it cost two bucks to win a prize that cost about fifty cents at the dollar store.
“If you want to impress Beth with some fancy shooting,” Rawls drawled, “you better let me keep the gun.”
“Not another one!” The waif-thin teenager manning the booth groaned as Zane dropped a wad of bills on the counter. The attendant stalked over to the rope that stretched the length of the booth and plucked down the peach-colored pony Mac pointed to. He fired the stuffed animal to the commander and threw up his hands. “Why don’t you just give me your wallets and I’ll hand over the prizes. It’ll save time.”
Mac caught the pony and handed it off to a dark-haired sprite in a yellow dress. “We want to upgrade these shitty toys.”
As Zane brought the BB gun up to his shoulder, another man pushed his way through the crowd.
“What the fuck?” Freckled, skeletal hands plunked down on bony hips. He glared at the multitude of toys in the first row and then transferred his ire to the booth attendant. “You giving them away?”
Mac glanced over and froze, then lowered his BB gun to the counter. Beth turned toward the new arrival. From the commander’s reaction, he had to be the man they’d come to see. Zane set his gun down as well and just like that all four men morphed from competitive schoolboys, to steely-eyed men on a mission.