Good-bye, 2016 … Hello, 2017!

I’m thrilled to announce that WDM Publishing has released my final SPUN YARNS Short for 2016: NEW YEAR … just in time for the arrival of our real New Year: 2017 😀

NEW YEARnewyear-2x3
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Science Fiction | General Audience | Short Story

A mother’s agonizing attempt to come to terms with the death of her beloved daughter turns to excitement as she realizes her adult child has solved the riddle of time travel

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Prompt Openings: Faeries and Dragons!

FaeryUn-2x3One of the first stories I ever wrote was based on the idea of a family curse (?) passed from grandmother to granddaughter down through the ages. It skipped every other generation, so the mother of the next to inherit had no idea about what was happening, but her mother did! I sold that very first story (Deirdre’s Dragon) to an online magazine…my first sale! But that initial story didn’t quench my thirst for the idea. I needed a larger format. A novel! And so, my first novel FAERY UNEXPECTED was born 😀

I still love these characters and may eventually find my way back to Claire’s world and discover just exactly what happened next. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy meeting Claire in these opening pages…

FAMILIES ARE GREAT, but there are times when they stink. I mean, I love my mom and dad, but wouldn’t you think they’d at least have asked me if I wanted to spend a month on the French Riviera with them? Honestly! I could’ve made arrangements to go, even studied while sunning in the south of France. The first few weeks of high school aren’t that important. But the parents refused to listen to reason. Instead, they arranged for Gran — Mom’s decidedly weird mother who never went anywhere without her even weirder toy dragon — to stay with me while Mom and Dad defected to Europe to laze in the sun. I figured by the time I survived the first week, I’d have earned a vacation of my own.

What a rip. I’d been searching for a solution to my high school dilemma, and they’d handed me the answer and then snatched it away, all in the space of a two minute conversation. Man! My first day at Jefferson High was racing down on me and I still didn’t have a concrete plan for leaving the middle school nerd behind. I didn’t need to be the most popular girl at school, but I definitely wanted to improve my social standing.

In middle school I’d been a dork, and Danielle, the cheerleader-from-hell, teased me mercilessly about my good grades, happy family, and that stupid book report on fairies I’d done in seventh grade. Hello, I’d done my Shakespearean research, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone? But that didn’t matter. She called me ‘Fairy Clairey’ for the rest of middle school. Even got her friends in on it. Made me sound like a complete idiot.

For a whole, shining minute I’d had my answer — before my parents ripped it away by uninviting me on their little European jaunt — but if I closed my eyes I could still picture the beautiful vision: me swaggering through the front doors of Jefferson High three weeks into the first term; my usually pallid skin crisp from a month of sun and sea; my unruly mop of short, curly black hair fashionably styled in the latest Paris do; my outfit straight off a tres chic fashion runway… Danielle would have a cow, and I’d be the reigning queen of the class. I might even have a chance at getting a boyfriend.

But no. Instead I got stuck with crazy Gran and her bizarre stories of dragons and centaurs and the magical adventures of her childhood. Gag!

So here I sat on the first day of September at Portland International Airport with my parents, waiting for Gran to show up. I stared out the window, watching her jet unload. I leaned my forehead against the glass and listened to my parents’ quiet conversation.

“Relax, Emily,” said Dad, a tall square man sporting thick glasses and a warm smile. “She can’t get lost. Everyone from the concourse channels past this waiting area. We won’t miss her.”

I glanced at my parents, but kept my forehead against the cool glass. Mom was dressed in creased gray wool slacks, ice blue blouse and a gray cardigan embroidered with small birds and vining leaves. She smiled and tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear. “I know, but it’s hard not to worry. I just can’t get over feeling like I should’ve gone to get her. She’s so helpless without Daddy. He did everything for her when he was alive…she never even had to fill the car with gas.”

“Yes, he was old-school to the core,” Dad agreed. “But I think he underestimated your mother. Don’t make the same mistake, Em. Deirdre is tougher than you give her credit for.”

A flash of golden light out of the corner of my eye made me glance back at Gran’s jet. For a moment, I swear I saw something hovering over the plane. More than simple heat haze rising from the tarmac, something shimmered in the air above the airplane, like a window into another world. I blinked, and it disappeared. But the green-blue after image burned behind my eyelids…a castle in the sky.

Great. Just the thought of Gran’s stories and I was already getting all stressed out and weird. Give her a month and my elevator wouldn’t go all the way to the top.

I used to love having Gran visit, but that was before I grew up and realized she was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. What little kid wouldn’t love a grandmother who told them dragons were real and made them believe they could ride the wind on the back of an awesome, intelligent beast? Every kid wants to believe in magic.

I scootched lower in my seat, found a cooler bit of window for my cheek, and tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t be so bad having Gran around for a month. I’d be at school all day during the week. I’d just have to make sure I had plenty of invitations for sleep-overs on the weekends. My birthday might pose a problem, though. What if she decided to throw me a party?

Oh. My. Gawd. I could just imagine what my friends would say if Gran started telling dragon stories. I’d have to head her off. Maybe let it slip that my heart’s desire would be dinner and a movie…just us girls!

I didn’t have time to hatch a better plan because Gran came striding purposefully around the corner. My heart thumped, and I jumped to my feet. She might be weird, but she was family.

“Gran,” I shouted above the general din of other sons and daughters, grandkids and friends calling to their loved ones.

“Here, Mother,” called Mom. “We’re over here!”

“Deirdre,” boomed Dad, visibly restraining himself. I knew he itched to grab her carry-on luggage out of her hands, but couldn’t do anything until she moved past the security barrier.

And then she sailed through the gate and we hugged and tugged, a mass of flailing arms and clutching fingers, until we managed to bob out of the stream of excited humanity into our own quiet pool of reunion.

“Claire! Look at you,” cried Gran, breaking from the jubilant tangle to hold me at arm’s length. “You’re practically a grown woman.

“You’ve blossomed, my dear,” she said with a wink. “But I’m pleased to see you haven’t overblown.”

Well! Nice to know my understated cleavage pleased someone.

“You look wonderful, too, Gran,” I said with a forced smile. She did. If you liked the psychedelic look of the sixties crossed with demented dandelion. Gran sported a cheese orange rain poncho, lime green rubber boots, short, wiry gray hair that sprang from her head with no discernible style or direction, and Roddy, the ever-present two-foot long toy dragon attached to her shoulder on his Velcro perch. But her eyes sparkled merrily and her smile illuminated the dreary waiting area.

My frosty welcome melted and I hugged her with genuine appreciation. After all, blood is blood. She might be a dingbat, but she was my dingbat, and I loved her.

“We’re going to have the best month of your life,” she whispered in my ear. “Just you wait and see!”

“Peter, if you’ll get my bag,” Gran said, taking charge. “Claire, bring Roddy, please, and Emily, tell me all your news!” She disentangled herself from me, dropped the toy dragon in my abruptly empty arms, grabbed Mom by the elbow and headed for baggage claim, her head close to Mom’s.

Dad and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and carried out our assigned tasks. I held the toy dragon up to my face and stared into his beady green eyes. “Okay, Roddy,” I said, only half teasing. “Here’s the deal. You stay out of my way and I won’t accidentally knock you into the trash compactor.”

Dad laughed, grabbed Gran’s rolling duffle in one hand and dropped the other on my shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine, Claire. Just fine.”

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Red’s Latest Adventure!

One of my first professional sales was a duet of short stories about a mischievous faery who had been imprisoned by the faery queen in a pane of ancient Irish glass. Red, the scoundrel in question, has remained one of my favorite characters, and now he’s back! This time, his pane of glass has moved from Flynn’s Bed and Breakfast in Colorado to an Irish pub in Portland, Oregon! Stop by for a visit…

SEEING REDSeeing Red
by Debbie Mumford
Audience: Fantasy Romance | General Audience | Short Story

Katie O’Malley needs to feel safe and welcomed somewhere in the world, but Evan Flynn’s pub—with its unusual inhabitants—is the last place she expects to find refuge.

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Be sure to check out Red’s other adventures in Red’s Magick, a collection of three rather, uhm, spicy romantic fantasy stories!

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Prompt Openings: Ghosts!

Lilah-2.12-2x3This week we’re moving from gambling to ghost stories. After all, it is almost Halloween!

Twelve-year-old Hannah Barnes is just like all the other girls in her small town, except for one little detail: Hannah’s best friend is a ghost. When the annual Sweet Pea Festival arrives, Hannah discovers the secret to freeing Lilah from her earthly bondage. Hannah has a big decision. Will she help Lilah move on, or will she cling to her best friend?

I hope you enjoy this opening to Deb Logan’s kid-friendly version of a ghost story: Lilah’s Ghost 😀

My best friend is a ghost, but sometimes I forget she’s dead.

I discovered Lilah at the end of June when my family moved into this old mansion on the remains of a Georgia cotton plantation. It’s not as grand as it sounds. The house is practically falling down around us and the live oaks, lining the drive, drip with grey-green moss. Very creepy.

The owner, Bill Richardson, lives in Oklahoma. He hadn’t been able to keep a tenant for more than a month in the ten years he’d owned it. I bet that’s because of Lilah.

I keep trying to guess when Lilah lived, but it’s hard to tell. She looks like a pretty normal girl, except she’s all silvery-white, so I have to guess at colors. Her hair is dark, like frosted coal, and she wears it in two long braids, the kind where each braid starts right at her forehead and ends in a little ribbon bow. She wears loose fitting jeans and a short-sleeve plaid shirt. My jeans aren’t baggy and rolled up at the ankles, but I have a shirt that looks just like hers. Her shoes are the biggest clue. I described them to Mom who said they were called saddle shoes, because the darker piece of leather that runs across the middle looks like a saddle. I don’t know anyone who wears shoes like that.

She’s really a very nice girl, but most folks aren’t too keen on chatting with the dead. Me, I’m used to it. Mom says I’m psychic and, since not every twelve-year-old talks to dead people, that I should keep this stuff to myself.

My name is Hannah Barnes and my family’s been here in Fraser, Georgia about six weeks. Before that, we lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dad met Mr. Richardson when he did some repairs on the guy’s office. Richardson liked Dad’s work and offered him this gig. A free place to live if Dad would make the needed repairs to keep the place standing. He forgot to mention the ghost.

Dad’s making good progress restoring the mansion to its former glory while Mom works in town as a legal secretary. She tried helping Dad with the restoration, but the mansion makes her jumpy. She says the only way she can live here is to escape for forty hours each week.

Lilah and I try to help Dad as much as possible, but he gets jittery whenever Lilah hands him a tool. I guess it’s ‘cause he can’t see her. Maybe flying nail guns would freak me, too. Anyway, he asked me to keep her away from his work area, said it wasn’t safe for little girls to play with power tools. Right. He never had a problem with me helping him in Tulsa.

So, until school starts, I’ve got nothing to do but shoot the breeze with Lilah. Killing time with a ghost has its ups and downs. Lilah’s shown me all the house’s secrets from the priest hole behind the cellar wall to the loose floor board in the attic where an ancestor kept her diary. She’s even shown me cool stuff on the grounds, like the secret spot under the roots of the huge, live oak by the river. The only thing she won’t do is go beyond the big iron gate that separates the driveway from the road.

That’s a real bummer, because the Sweet Pea Festival is next week and I really want to go. I know, just because Lilah can’t go doesn’t mean I have to stay home. But what fun is a Sweet Pea Festival if you can’t share it with your best friend?

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Prompt Openings: Gambling

spinning-cover-2x3I am not a gambler … in any sense of the word. BUT I was asked to write a short story dealing with games of chance. While SPINNING failed to make the cut for the anthology I wrote it for, I was pleased with the resulting tale. I hope you enjoy the opening 😀

BRETT D’AGOSTINO LEANED AGAINST the roulette table, hands clasped, eyes haunted, as he watched his life careen around a wheel of blurred red and black in the form of a little white ball. How had this happened? How could his entire existence be riding on a wheel of fortune?

He’d always been a solid citizen. The man who rose every morning with the dawn, dressed in a white shirt, dark pants, well-shined shoes, knotted on a conservative tie and, after a sensible breakfast of oatmeal and orange juice, made the commute to his office.

Numbers were his expertise. Accounting his profession. He knew the odds, probably better than anyone at the table other than the croupier, but that hadn’t stopped him from placing his chips and calling his bet, “Seventeen to the maximum, with approved override.”

Now all he could do was wait. With his heart in his throat, sweat beading his brow, his hands clasped to keep them from shaking. He’d signed his home over to the bank, scraped together every penny he could and then told management he wanted to place one make-or-break wager. Two hundred thousand dollars rode that wheel. When the ball dropped, he’d either be able to book passage to Arcturus Prime, or he’d be penniless, his family homeless.

How could he have been so stupid as to bet his family’s future on a spinning ball?

How could he allow his son to die?

He’d cast his lot with the Fates. He would live or die on the vagary of chance … and so would Jeremy.

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