Friday, December 26, 2014

An Afternoon Surprise


I had submitted this story to the Jacksonville Times Union for their holiday stories competition, hoping it might win a spot in the top three. It didn't. Let's face it, you can't always be a winner and I'm happy to accept that. I still thought it was a fun story and hope you'll enjoy reading it.
Wishing you a Happy New Year. It is almost here!
An Afternoon Surprise
     Amy Morgan dragged herself from the car to her front door. It had been a wicked day at work. The last minute Christmas rush was always the time a sales clerk dreaded. She was looking forward to a cup of tea and propping her feet on the ottoman. What was that mysterious package on the front step? She wasn't expecting anything. As she grew closer, she could swear the box moved.
     There was a scratching sound coming from the inside. Maybe an abandoned kitten? The girls would like that. She opened the front door and lifted the wobbly box inside, placing it on the sofa.
     “Anybody home?” she called. No answer. Her guess? Libby and Carla had met friends after school.
     A flush spread over her cheeks. She should wait until the girls were home. Curiosity was getting stronger. Maybe one little peek wouldn't hurt. She lifted the cover a notch. Something black and fuzzy flew past her and landed on an end table lamp.
     A tiny spider monkey glared angrily at her. Well she couldn't leave him there. “Come on, you little monster.” She held out her right arm, enticing him to jump on. He jumped, but not to her arm. He was sitting jauntily on top of the drapes. Okay, she'd think of something to bring him down.
     She found a banana on the kitchen sink. That ought to do it. She hurried back to the living room.
Where had he gone? A screech from the top of the stairs startled her. “Okay, Monster, this nonsense has to stop.”  She held out the banana as she raced up the steps, her breathing growing heavier.
     Tiny black eyes looked dangerously menacing as he screeched again and slid down the bannister like butter off a hot knife.
     Amy plopped down on the top step. The monkey cocked his head from the bottom one. His screech became a chatter as his lips widened, showing tiny white teeth. Was he laughing at her? She stuck her tongue out in return and wagged the banana in front of him. Slowly, Monster started climbing each step, his nose sniffing the air.  He was almost within her grasp, when the front door slammed open.
     “Hey, Mom, we're home!”
     Monster took off like a stone hurled from a sling shot. He sped past Amy and disappeared into a bedroom. He sounded like a banshee screaming his lungs out.
     “What's that noise, Mom?”
     “Someone who hates me sent me a gift.” She pushed a stray lock of  sable hair off her forehead. She could feel the sweat running down the back of her neck. I'm too old to chase a monkey.
     Libby and Carla  sat down beside their mother. Their eyes were questioning. “Are you all right? You look beat.”
     Amy snorted. “You'd be too, if you had been chasing Monster around for the past half hour.”
     Carla's green eyes widened. “Who's Monster?”
     “Check out the front left bedroom. Libby, stay here with me in case I'm having some weird nightmare.”
      Her younger daughter quirked an eyebrow. “What's that supposed to mean?”
     Carla came running back. “Take this monkey out of my hair,” she cried.
     Amy pushed herself to her feet. “Is he hurting you?”
     “No, but it feels yucky.”
     Amy's lips curled into a smile. “I think he feels secure hidden  in your black hair. Can you manage a few more minutes?”
     Carla shrugged. “I- I guess. Why?”
     “You'll see. I'll be right back.”
     Libby eyed her sister. “He's kinda cute when you look closer at him.”
     “Not to me.” Carla grimaced. “What's taking Mom so long? I hope he doesn't mess on me. I just washed my hair this morning.”
     Monster peeked out from under Carla's hair. His tiny teeth glistened from the glow of the hallway light.
     Libby giggled. “I think he's smiling at me.”
     “Then you let him hide in your hair.”
     “He wouldn't be hiding in mine. It's too light.”
     Their mother walked slowly toward them, a dark brown bath towel gripped tightly in her hand. “Carla, no matter what happens, don't move.”  In one swift motion she caught Monster and pulled him into the towel. “Libby, grab the box and bring it up here.”
     The monkey almost broke away as she dumped him into the box and slammed the lid down. His  irritation at being boxed up again could be heard loud and clear.
     Carla  raced into the bathroom and started brushing her hair.
     Libby eyed her mother. “Now what?”
     “We take him to a pet shop and let them figure out how to handle a wild monkey.”
     Finally back home, Amy checked her watch. “Your father will be home any minute now. This afternoon never happened. You got that?”
     “Why? It was actually an adventure looking back on it.” Carla couldn't wait to tell the kids at school.
     “Dad would be upset. You know how he worries about us.” For once, her younger daughter hit the ball over the fence.
     “But nothing happened to make him worry;” Carla insisted.
     “I wouldn't exactly say that. One of us could have been bitten.” Amy hugged her two girls. “You can tell all your friends at school. Let's just keep what happened here our little secret.”
     Richard Morgan hugged his three women when he got home. “What kind of mischief did you girls get into today?”
     Libby's eyes widened. “Us? We just had a quiet time watching television.” Her father never noticed the crossed fingers behind her back.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

River House Christmas Extravaganza December 4

Ready for the adventure!
Unfortunately, the Christmas Extravaganza at River House didn't draw as many people as we had hoped. There I was, pen in hand, with a table full of books I was hoping would sell. They didn't, but the folks who did buy were a joy to meet. Frankly, I had a great time just mingling with the shoppers and vendors.  

Doris Oxford was on hand as usual. You can't hold us old-timers down. We wiggled to some fantastic music and will keep doing these shows as long as we have the stamina. Why? Because just getting to know the vendors and hoping for sales, keeps us alive and happy. 

Jean Willis and I go way back to when we had stores on Aviles Street. Jean had an art gallery, and I pioneered art rubber stamping. Jean's artistry is well known. When she retired, she joined our writer's group and a  friendship was renewed. 

Howard and Peter were there displaying the Council On Aging's anthology of memoirs written by the members of the writer's group. Peter heads up the group and has taught us how to tighten our stories so they are fun to read. Howard worked above and beyond the call of duty in assembling the book.  
Howard (holding book) and Peter

To my amazement, my best friend Claire Bishop showed up to give us her support. Weary from a hard day's work, I couldn't get her to smile, but I loved the fact that she cared enough to come. She owns Claire'sCollectibles, the best rubber stamp store on the east coast. (Link to her shop and see what I'm talking about!)

Two more friends, Tony and Jean, showed up to add their support. What would we do without good friends who love us? 
Jean and Tony

Believe it or not, I got to hug Santa Clause!  
Tried to convince Santa I've been good all year.

I'm embarrassed to admit that the young woman who helped me the most, Teri Lee, I forgot to take  her picture. Without her lugging my books around, handing out business cards and even making some sales, I couldn't have made it through the day. I'm still gimping from a broken foot that hasn't healed completely. But my spirits are high. 

So another River House extravaganza has come and gone. I'm already thinking about the show to come  in July 2015. The eternal optimist, surely that show will be the best yet.

There's a lot of writing in all those books. You see what I've been up to.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"A Cup of Christmas" Kindle Anthology Launches Today

Available on Kindle
I was excited to be included in this Christmas anthology along with thirty other authors. My story Simon was reconstructed to have a Christmas theme. It is one of my favorite pieces and it was fun to have it included in this book. The premise of the anthology - Why send a card when you can send an e-book? The book launched for free, but then priced at $1.99 with all proceeds going to First Book, a national children's literacy charity. To date, First Book has distributed more than 120 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.
Check it out on Kindle. Get a copy for yourself and for a friend.  Thirty-one writers, some award winning authors, traditionally published, self-published, and first time writers sharing stories, memoirs, poems and a few tasty recipes.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

River House Christmas Extravanganza December 4th

Mark you calendar for December 4th if you are in St. Augustine or surrounding areas. Promises to be a wonderful event. Stop by and say hello!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Nighttime Visitor

     It had been a hectic day and I was finally relaxing having my favorite rum and Coke drink before heading to bed. Whose eyes were watching me? I looked down to see a small lizard perched on the edge of my end table. He cocked his head and eyed me before climbing forward. He stopped, again his tiny eyes deciding if it was safe to move further.

     “Hello,” I said.

     Let's face it, when you sit alone every night, any kind of company is acceptable. Although tiny, the lizard didn't seem afraid of me. We eyed each other. What would happen next?

      A sudden explosive leap and he was swimming in my drink. I reached over and plucked him out of the rum. Couldn't have a tipsy creature running amok in my television room. Instead of trying to run away, I swear I heard him hiccup.

     I carefully carried him into the bathroom and washed him off.  Now what? I gently placed him on the floor. Hopefully, I could release him tomorrow.

     I finished my drink. How much could a dunked lizard contaminate it?

     My sleep was restless. I kept dreaming of lizards climbing over my bed. I awoke early the next morning to check on my friend. A pang of guilt engulfed me. He hadn't moved. I gently picked up his limp body, petted him, then flushed him down the toilet.

     The moral to this story? Well, there really isn't any. Just chase an inquisitive lizard away.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Release "The Healing Heart" Book 3 In The Heart Trilogy

Buy on Amazon

It is always exciting and a bit sad to finish writing a book. I fall in love with my characters and they are like friends keeping me company at night while I work on the computer! Book 3 of The Heart Trilogy is now available on Amazon and Kindle. While I am saying goodbye to those characters - new plots and stories are at work in my head! Keep checking back to see what comes next!


From Amazon:

Tragedy, turmoil and triumph speed their way through the final installment of the Heart Trilogy. Audrey Frank has once again written a book that will keep you enthralled to the end. Love and loss, hurt and healing are the themes running through this romantic novella. With a no-holds-barred approach, she tackles subjects that are true to life. Love at any age, death, miscarriage, rape, and marriage all unfold. Her realistic characters and fast paced dialog capture the reader’s emotions until the end. Audrey Frank writes realistically about people that could be your neighbors. She gets you involved in the characters so you think of them as friends and you want to know what happens in their lives.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Annual "Christmas In July" Arts, Crafts, and Writing Festival at River House


Setting up my table with all my novellas for sale.
Happy to be part of this event at River House second year in a row.
It wasn't the best day for sales. With 50 vendors, maybe 25 buyers, plus a very bad thunderstorm, what could you expect? 
Still, after a year of sitting at home trying to find solace nursing a broken foot, I was back in my element again. I had a blast chatting with old friends, handing out business cards, meeting new folks. If someone was there who didn’t have a business card, I even extolled the virtue of Vistaprint. If you hand out a business card maybe you’ll gain a future customer. It’s worth the small price to keep your name in your customer’s mind.  
Without my daughter Pam King, I don’t know how I would have handled everything. Not only is she the graphic designer who produces my beautiful book covers and book interiors, today she had to unload them all for the show. She was by my side the whole time, which was a blessing. 
I also want to mention Renate, the receptionist at River House. She has purchased every book I have written. Not only is she a fan, but a close friend.
Renate Hamza
Two of my buddies from the writer’s group I attend were there. Howard and Doris (my neighbor up the street) and I had a great time talking about everything and anything we could think of. Let’s face it – if there were so few buyers, we had to pass the time some way.
Howard Johnson
Doris Oxford
Still, to me this was a successful day. I felt alive. Something I hadn’t felt for a long time.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Secrets In The Night - My Latest Novella

Available on Amazon and Kindle
Life is not always as it seems. Every family has its secrets and the darkness of night can’t hide the truths of the day. Moving between St. Augustine, Florida, and a horse ranch in Hickory Hill, Georgia, this sequel to The Wary Heart takes place five years later. Love that blossomed earlier has faded. Families struggle to keep together in an ever changing world. Secrets threaten to tear lives apart as new beginnings take hold. Everyone will be changed forever and no one can avoid the consequences. "Secrets in the Night" is a contemporary romance, chock full of mystery, crime and love. With the fast paced dialog Audrey Frank is known for, her characters become alive. With a sexy, rebellious teenager tempting Afghanistan veterans, a hooker trying to change her life, and the murder of rancher, there is plenty of action and romance.
I loved writing about the characters in this new collection of novellas. Look for Book Three coming soon. The horse ranch in Hickory Hill, Georgia, brings back memories of the ranch in upstate New York where we used to take the children when they were young.
If you read my books and like them, please leave reviews on Amazon! I also answer all e-mails and would enjoy hearing from my readers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Story "Simon" in The Florida Writer Magazine


  So pleased to have my story Simon published in  the Spring 2014 edition of The Florida Writer, the quarterly magazine put out by The Florida Writer's Association (FWA). For their section Paragraphs, writers are given a choice of three topics that play an integral part of the 600 word story.
     Sharing my story below. Hope you will enjoy it. 
     On the night of the full moon, Simon came into Regina Osborne's life. For a year since her husband's death she had lived aboard their thirty-six-foot cabin cruiser. She never took the boat out, but preferred living on the water. The other boaters would give her a casual nod and move on. Tonight was different.
      She felt a presence close by and glanced around. A small boy leaned against a a nearby piling. His gaze fixed on her. His hair was scraggly, silver white like an Albino's. Dressed only in faded blue cutoffs he was way too thin.
     Regina sucked in a deep breath when their eyes met. He seemed almost ethereal, his eyes light and transparent. “What's your name?”
     “Simon.” His tone implied she should already know.
     “How strange. My son's name was Simon.” A sudden sadness brought quick tears. “He died when he was eight year's old.”
     An enigmatic smile played at the corners of his mouth. “I have to leave now, but I'll be back soon.”
     She watched until he was out of sight.
     That night Regina slept fitfully, haunted by a strange dream. Her husband and son were laughing, playing together. But something was wrong. The boy in her dream had silver-white hair, not brown like her son's. Yet Arthur hugged him as if he knew the child. They exploded into a kaleidoscope of colors and reached down to grab her. The three of them laughed as they catapulted toward luminescent clouds.
     Higher and higher they flew until Regina felt dizzy. Suddenly her grasp slipped and she plummeted down through a dark void, unable to breathe. She tried to grab hold to stop the fall. Her fingers only tore against the ragged walls of black night.
     “Wake up,” a voice whispered against her ear.
     Regina bolted upright.
     “Are you all right?” Simon stood staring at her, his eyes luminous in the glow of the brass lamp. The boy reached for her hand. “Let's go on deck.”
     Regina followed, her heart beating wildly. What was it about Simon that seemed so familiar yet distant?
     Simon eased himself into an adjoining chair. He steepled his small fingers. Brooding eyes met and held Regina's. “We must make a journey together. Someone out there is waiting for us.”
     Regina pressed her hands against her forehead. A migraine was forming. She looked up, her eyes daring Simon. “Get off this boat and never come back.”
     There was a calmness on the boy's face. “I can't do that. I've come too far in my journey.” He held out his hand. “Give them to me, please.”
     As though mesmerized by his voice, Regina reached into her pocket and drew out a set of silver keys. With glassy eyes she watched Simon insert them into the ignition.
     Simon beckoned to her. “You start the engines while I cast off.” He scrambled to untie the lines.
     Trance-like, Regina turned the keys. First one engine, then the other roared to life thunderously,   then throttled down to a steady bass hum. The cruiser pitched and rolled against the turbulence of a sudden storm that descended from nowhere, like a great hunching beast.
     Simon climbed onto the bridge seat. “Are you ready?”
     Regina stiffened. “Yes.” It was barely a whisper against the blasting wind.
     Simon slowly eased the throttles forward.
     The boat moved out of the slip and headed north toward the open sea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"The Wary Heart" Available On Amazon and Kindle

Now available on Amazon & Kindle.
Click here to go to Amazon and peek inside!
So excited my latest novella is now on Amazon and Kindle. This is the first book in my new trilogy. A quick read at 142 pages. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
A wary heart can sometimes do foolish things. Amanda Jennings is about to find that out.

She is fed up with the nomadic life she's led with her husband, Richard, and their three children. Moving seven times in sixteen years, with another move in sight, she finally gives an ultimatum. She is going home to her family in Georgia for the summer, with or without him. Richard goes his way, smug in the fact she will be there when he returns.

Once settled in Hickory Hill, Amanda runs into her old boyfriend, Steve, and a friendship is rekindled. Steve still has feelings for Amanda and wants more than Amanda realizes. He owns a stable of horses, and works his way into Amanda’s life through the children who want to learn how to ride.

Intrigued with Steve’s attention, but still in love with her husband, Amanda does not know her own heart. When Richard unexpectedly shows up, she has to make a decision. Will she make the right one?

A story of family, love, and the power of growth, set within the beauty of a horse ranch. Fast paced with dialog that captures you from page one.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Eighty-Sixth Birthday

     If  I make it to my eighty-seventh birthday, I will try to remember I'm an old fart and shouldn't act like I was still in my seventies.

     The alarm went off at six-thirty on my birthday, May 22nd. I groaned as I switched it off and rolled out of bed. Did I really follow this routine for the ten years I worked at the Government house? I have never been a morning person, so in order to get to work on time, I gave myself at least an hour to drink coffee and hopefully after that, get dressed and face the day. I was retired now. Why get up so early?

     My friend was taking me out for a birthday breakfast and she had a lot to do afterwards. I was the first on her schedule. We met three other women at the restaurant, one of whom had just turned fifty and was celebrating her birthday, too.

     Well, I'd show them I could keep up. No walker, just a cane. It was a  long walk to the front door of the restaurant, but I made it. Another walk to the table. Oh, my gosh, they were hard wooden chairs. Just what my behind needed. I had lost so much weight, I had no natural padding there. Okay, I could handle this. I shifted to my left hip and crossed my legs. That was my first mistake. My ankle started to hurt. There wasn't much to do at that point except grin and enjoy the companionship.

     When I finally got home, I was going to rest so I could enjoy my birthday dinner out. Who needed rest! Phone calls from faraway friends took up most of the afternoon.

     By the time I headed out for dinner I at least knew what to expect. Dinner alone with my best friend was wonderful, even with those hard chairs.

     At one point, while I was bragging about my age to the waitress, an elderly man, sitting with someone I guessed was his daughter – unless he could still remarkably get it up – walked over to wish me a happy birthday. “It's my birthday, too, but I prefer to just say I'm getting older.”

     “Why?” I asked. “Don't you realize today is the youngest you'll ever be? I'm proud of that fact. You should be, too.”

     He cocked a scraggly eyebrow. “I never thought of it that way but you're right.” He grinned. “I'm eighty-six, too.”

     That seemed to break the ice. For the rest of our meal, he kept looking over and waving. Another couple walked in and sat near us. He had a shock of white hair that most women would kill for. As we were leaving, I stopped by their table and asked was it his birthday, too.

     He slapped his knee and laughed. “Hell, no. I'm celebrating the fact I'm still alive.”

     It had been a delight meeting those couples and made for the end of a wonderful day.

      I want to thank those who love me enough to share their day with me. I learned a good lesson, though.

      Enjoy the friends you love, but remember you're too old to think you can keep up with them. Let them slow down to your pace.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Mrs. Angel" Available On Amazon, The Final Chapter of The Angel Trilogy

Available on Amazon and Kindle

Lovely reviews on the back cover from authors
 Jane-Ann Heltmueller and Revia Perrigin.

The trilogy is complete and I am off writing something new! I loved the characters in my Angel Trilogy and will miss them! The first book is Under Margret's Wing, followed by Whispering Angels, and the final chapter, my new novela Mrs. Angel

Mrs. Angel has the same fast paced dialog I love and plenty of surprises for you!

If you enjoy reading my books please leave a review on Amazon for me!

On a personal note - my ankle is finally healing nicely and I am driving again. Look for a few book signings later this spring and summer!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's Been A Long Time - But I'm Back!

Photo taken this week at lunch with daughter Pam who brought my proof copy of Mrs. Angel to review.

It's been a long fall and winter. Problems continued with my broken ankle and my lifestyle slowed down to a crawl as I went through physical therapy, a bit of out patient surgery, and boxes of doughnuts to keep my sanity. Unable to drive, I took to my computer and wrote daily. It is a blessing to lose myself in words and forget everything else.

I am finally on the mend and ready to publish the final book in my Angel Series. Mrs. Angel is full of surprises. Look for its release in my next post.

Happy, happy spring!