Friday, October 2, 2020

October First Friday--Bell, Carenen, Manning

Edward Howell on Unsplash
 It's First Friday again, when three talented authors with different voices give their take on one photo in 150 words. Take a look at the authors--you'll want to see their books too.


Well, that didn’t work out so good. My name is Frank Pushman and I’m a confidential PI. The last thing I remember Vinnie the Snake Marconi hires me to investigate his wife. Seems Vinnie believes Lucille, the Las Vegas showgirl he married, is being unfaithful. I know Vinnie ain’t no rocket scientist, but he may be clairvoyant. Cuz, not even 24-hours into the case, I discover Lucille has a liaison on every corner. I deliver my report to Vinnie, and the next thing I know, Vinnie’s crying buckets. He calls in his goons, accuses me of disparaging the Missus. Now, with all those guns aimed my way, I admit I may need my eyes examined. I offer to write another report. I beg him to give me another chance. All I can say is, Vinnie and the Big Guy must have connections, cuz here I am in the body of a cat.


"The cat waited, knowing that all he had infected would eventually find their way to the cemetery he patrolled. During daylight, his smoky color allowed him the benefit of fitting unseen into shadows under porches, in bushes, near bird feeders. Then, at night, he would slip into unguarded homes and hunt for someone to infect with his blood-evaporating burden, the curse inflicted on him by The Evil. He liked having the weight lifted a little as he sank his teeth quickly into human flesh and rid himself of the terrible pressure. This night, several teenagers trying to scare each other among the tombstones would come by and he'd go up to one of the girls and purr and she would pick him up and rub his ears. And take him home."


The man in the tattered overcoat handed the thumb drive to the woman in the red dress. “Are you sure this is safe?”

She glanced around the graveyard. “There’s no one here but the dead and a cat. The cat won’t talk.” She passed him an envelope.

The cat, seated on a gravestone, stared with cool yellow eyes.

The man shrugged. “Can’t blame me for being nervous. If they catch me handing off the security protocols….Treason, you know.”

The cat’s tail twitched.

“It would ruin my plans, too. Why we’re meeting here. Schedule of production next week?”

He nodded. “I’ll be here, same time.”

They left separately.

The cat gracefully leapt off the stone and trotted two blocks where a blond man waited. The man offered her favorite treats on a plate and removed the collar with the camera and microphone. He rubbed behind her ears. “Good cat.”


Donnell Ann Bell

Donnell Ann Bell gave up her nonfiction career in newspapers and magazines obsessed with the idea she could write a full-length novel. Years later, she’s an award-winning author, including 2020 Colorado Book Award finalist for her latest release Black Pearl. Donnell’s other books include Buried Agendas, Betrayed, Deadly Recall and The Past Came Hunting, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers. Currently, she’s writing the follow up book to Black Pearl and her cold case suspense series.
How to Buy

John Carenen

John Carenen is a native Iowan and graduate of The Iowa Writers Workshop in Iowa City. His work has appeared in numerous periodicals. A novel, Son-Up, Son-Down was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. His three-part Thomas O'Shea Mystery/Thriller series has been called by William Kent Krueger, "the very best in midwestern noir." Carenen is a retired English professor living in a little cottage just a tad bit south of Travelers Rest, South Carolina. You can find his books at

How to Buy

  S. Lee Manning

S. Lee Manning (Sandy to her friends), a reformed attorney now living in Vermont, writes espionage thrillers and does the occasional stand-up routine, depending on whether she feels like torturing people or making them laugh. Her first thriller, Trojan Horse, debuts on October 16 from Encircle Publications, and introduces her protagonist, Kolya Petrov, a Russian Jewish immigrant to the United States working for American intelligence. (Kolya also makes an appearance in the above short story.) In Trojan Horse, Kolya is betrayed by his own agency in a devious plot to thwart possible terrorism by an anti-Semitic neo-Fascist Romanian.  Trojan Horse questions how far an American agency should go to fight terrorism, and also whether unspoken and unacknowledged bias can be as problematic as open and violent prejudice. Kirkus Reviews calls Trojan Horse "A remarkable tale that makes espionage rousing, demanding, and occasionally terrifying."  Diane Donavan, Senior Editor, Donovan's Bookshelf and Midwest Books, states: "Thriller readers looking for powerful plots replete with strong characterization and international intrigue are in for a treat.” The first chapter is available on S. Lee’s website, and Trojan Horse is available for preorder from Amazon, from Encircle Publications,, or from independent book stores.

How to Buy

Join in! Leave your idea in the comments--150 words.