Excerpt Day: The Time Stone

A quick note for you audiobook listeners – the audio version of Flame & Stone is available now! Narrated by the truly excellent Kevin Clay, I think you’re really gonna love it!

I’ve mentioned the kid’s book I’ve been working on a few times lately, and thought you might a little taste. Keep in mind, of course, that this is just the unedited first draft, and subject to all sorts of changes…

Excerpt: The Time Stone
(The Stone Scavengers, Book 1)

Sydney Pointer wrinkled her nose at the nasty smell that hit her just as Ripley Edwards, boy detective found another important clue. Looking up from her book, she was surprised to see an old man in rumpled layers of dirty clothing with the kind of mountain-man facial hair she’d only seen on TV slide into the booth across from her.

She glanced around the nearly empty diner, but her mother was nowhere to be seen. Her heart pounded in her chest so loud she was sure the man could see it, but she tried to stay calm as she closed her book and reached for her bag. Surely he couldn’t move as fast as an eleven-year-old, she thought. She began to scoot out of the booth when he spoke.

“I have something for you, Sydney.”

She froze at her name, fear turning to panic as she wondered what else he knew about her. She tried to remember everything her mom had taught her in case a strange man ever tried to take her. She opened her mouth to scream, but stopped when the man slid a tattered piece of paper across the table.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. “But I need to give you this. It’s something your father was working on until recently. I’m sure he’d want you to have it.”

Sydney forgot her fear for a moment at the mention of her dad. He’d left when Sydney was a toddler – off on another one of the treasure hunts he was so fond of. An amateur archaeologist who could never be happy rooted in one place, her mother had always said with a wistful smile. He’d tried, her mother told her, but after a year of missed holidays and sporadic hour-long visits, they’d divorced and Sydney hadn’t seen him since, even though he still kept a house in town for the rare occasion when he wasn’t off treasure-hunting.

“You know my dad?” Sydney let her bag fall to the bench and looked closer at the man. He looked…tired. His hair was long and knotted, his beard in serious need of a comb and shampoo, his teeth crooked and brown, and the lines on his face etched in deep, sunburned furrows. There was something in his gaze though that seemed honest.

Something non-threatening in his hunched posture and shaking bent fingers.

“I know him very well, child.” He pointed to the list, but made no move to reach across the table. “Your dad was looking for these stone talismans – keys, he called them – when he disappeared six months ago. Insisted that together they would open some sort of ancient treasure trove. One that supposedly holds the secret to life-long happiness for whoever opens it.”

Sydney looked at the list, which consisted of six crude pencil drawings with a title scrawled in rough handwriting under each one. At the top the drawing was of a circle with a triangle standing on top. It was labeled Time Stone. There was also a flower blossom, an arrowhead, a heart with a crack down the middle, and what looked like a scroll of some sort.

“He was trying to find these? But how did he know where to look? And if they’re made of stone, aren’t they very heavy?”

The old man chuckled. “A talisman is a small object believed to bring good luck to whoever holds it. Your father found the first one – The Time Stone, he called it. I’ve seen it. It’s a sundial no bigger than a half-dollar coin.” He curled his gnarled thumb and forefinger into a circle to demonstrate. “Legend has it that each talisman has a clue on the bottom that leads to the next. Whoever follows the clues and finds the stones will eventually find the treasure as well.”

Sydney frowned. “He disappeared? What happened to him? Is someone looking for him?” She looked for her mother again. They had to do something. “Did you call the police?”

“I don’t know what happened to him, kiddo. And I suspect the police won’t be able to help.” The man hesitated, and then looked her in the eye. “He had some…trouble getting the first stone. As if there were something protecting it. The last thing he told me before he left was that I should pass this list on to you when you turn eighteen.” He coughed, a wet, phlegmy sound. “I’m afraid I’m not going to live that long, kiddo, so you’ll have to take it now.”

“Sydney Ann Pointer, what did I tell you about talking to strangers?”

Relieved that she’d finally showed up, Sydney looked up at her mother, who only glanced at her before turning on the old man.

“Who are you, sir, and why are you talking to my daughter?”

The old man raised his head, and Sydney’s mother gasped, putting a hand to her heart.

“Hello Daphne. It’s been a long time.”

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Monday Musings: On Alter-Egos, Black Wolf Print & New Projects…


My middle name is Marie.

So sometime in 2015, when you start seeing announcements for a new book from a new indie publishing house called Black Wolf Print with the name J.M. DeBree on the cover, you’ll know that it is indeed one of my stories. Why the initials? Because it will be totally, completely, utterly different than anything I’ve ever written before, in a genre I never thought I’d ever write in.

Yes, dear readers…I’m entering the world of Kid Lit., by special request.

I’ll admit, my first reaction when asked if I’d ever considered writing a children’s book was something along the lines of, “Have you read any of my other books?” My alter-egos and I don’t exactly write much of anything that’s really suitable for…well, anyone under at least 18 (and that’s pushing it in some cases). But I thought about it, and considered possible plots, and stories I could create a series around (because writing just one book in any genre seems kind of silly), and at the end of the day, I had an idea for a full series that I was actually kind of excited about. A fun side project that could really stretch me as a writer, because it will require me to learn & use some methods and skills that will hopefully carry over into my other projects.

So I said yes to fellow author & entrepreneur Edward Medina, and joined Glenn Starkey and Minnie Lahongrais as one of the first three (four, counting Edward) authors for Black Wolf Print. A web site is coming, but you can “like” the FB page for now to keep up with things as they progress.

As for the new project – the series is called The Stone Scavengers, and the first book in the series will be The Time Stone. Sydney Pointer is our young heroine at just 10 years old, and one day she meets a strange old man in a diner who gives her a list of stone talismans to find, along with clues that will lead her to the first stone. Each book in the series will chronicle her search for another stone, and in the end, the stones will grant her access to a treasure…of sorts.

Sydney’s answer to “how I spent my summer vacation” will never be boring again.

A project like this requires quite a bit more plotting and planning than I normally do, which scares me a little as I tend to lose interest in a project if I know too much about it before I start writing. So my plan is to get all the plotting done for the first book, finish off all the drafts I’m currently working on by October 31st, and then write The Time Stone in one fell swoop during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November.

It’s a great plan, aside from the fact that I have four drafts currently in motion, and to finish all of them by Oct. 31st will require some serious discipline and focus on my part. I’ll need to write at NaNo speeds every weekday for the next two months to make it, and I can’t generally handle that every day throughout the year given my day job and other responsibilities, but I’m going to make a valiant effort. We shall see.

So I have a busy fall lined up, and some fun new things in the works. I will still be working on drafts under my main names to publish under Brazen Snake Books as well next year, and I have a sci-fi project started that I really, really want to dig back into next January.

Between now and November, while I’m frantically trying to finish up a handful of drafts, I’ll be doing a lot of reading too…specifically authors who write kids in Sydney’s age range so I can get a feel for what’s out there. So if you have any suggestions for books that center around main characters aged 10 (or around there), that are written in 3rd person (I won’t get past the first chapter in 1st, so no point in wasting time), by all means, let me know!

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