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MECHANICSBURG, Pa.Sunbury Press has released A Dog Named Judy,  Frank Deter Jr.’s memoir of his late hunting companion, his beagle Judy.

case6.000x9.000.inddMany people agree that dogs are “Man’s best friend,” and when Frank Deter acquires a new hunting dog, he is excited to find the truth in this common expression. He and his family call the dog “Judy,” and Frank takes his son on many unforgettable hunts with her. Frank’s relationship with his son improves, and many friends and family members are astounded by Judy’s impeccable performance in the fields.

Throughout the story, Frank recollects some of his most memorable hunts, including one with a preacher, a colonel, and his aging father whom Frank accompanies on his last hunt. He also amuses readers with some of the challenges he had to face with a feisty, yet lovable dog.

A true story of achievement, love, and, loss, “A Dog Named Judy” will forever stay in reader’s hearts as they learn the importance of close family ties, and significance of forming an eternal bond.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frank Deter, Jr. grew up in the hill country of northwest Pennsylvania, where hunting and beagle ownership were a way of life. From his early boyhood he and his family owned and hunted with beagles.

AuthorPhotoAs a young man Frank left home to serve in the United States Marine Corp, after which he pursued a career in Architecture, Engineering, Urban/Regional Planning and Landscape Contracting in the Washington D. C. vicinity.

Upon retirement in 1995, Frank and his wife Alice returned to the Pennsylvania hills where they reside at their country home to this day.

Since retirement, Frank has been active in tree farming, forest management and community service. With his continued passion for outdoor sports, he’s hunted and fished on five continents.

A Dog Named Judy, true in every detail with exception of name substitutions, is the life story of a very exceptional thoroughbred beagle. As well as an outstanding gun dog, Judy was a beloved friend, companion, and family member. She will live eternally in the memories and in the hearts of Frank and his family and all others who shared the privilege of following her through forests and fields.

A Dog Named Judy
by Frank Deter Jr. (Author)
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 146 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620066092
ISBN-13: 978-1620066096
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
BISAC:
Pets : Dogs – Breeds
Sports & Recreation : Hunting – General
Juvenile Nonfiction : Animals – Dogs

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/A-Dog-Named-Judy-9781620…

fsl_fcMECHANICSBURG, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Found. Still Lost, featuring the black and white photography of Ashley Nichole and the verse of John Nester.

Photographer Ashley Nichole explores forbidden and forgotten places with her lens. These black and white images capture scenes of places found, but still lost to time. Ashley and poet John M. Nester assign verse to these images, envisioning situations that may or may not have been.

About Ashley Nichole:
Just a girl with a love of memories and moments. Black and white darkroom photography was my first love – the one I never got over.

BOOK RELEASE PARTY & ART EXHIBIT:
A book release party and exhibition of Ashley’s photographs will be held at the 2nd Floor Gallery at 105 S Market St, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 on Saturday July 18 from 6 to 9 PM. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Found. Still Lost.
by Ashley Nichole (Author, Photographer), John M. Nester (Author)
List Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 50 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (May 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620066025
ISBN-13: 978-1620066027
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
BISAC: PHOTOGRAPHY / Individual Photographers / Artists’ Books

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Found-Still-Lost-9781620…

MECHANICSBURG, Pa.Sunbury Press has released the bestsellers list for May, 2015. The Cranbrook Schools took the top spot with their Women of the Worldanthology. Chris Papst’s Capital Murder held strong at #2. Along the Bethel Trail, by the Friends of Bethel, showed at #3. Keith Rommel’s newly released The Devil Tree led Fiction from the 4 spot.

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for May, 2015 (by Revenue)
Rank Last Month Title Author Category
1 NEW Women Who Changed the World Cranbrook Schools YA Biography
2 1 Capital Murder Chris Papst Investigation
3 2 Along the Bethel Trail Friends of Bethel AME History
4 NEW The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Thriller Fiction
5 16 The Complete Story of the Worldwide Invasion of the Orange Orbs Terry Ray Paranormal
6 7 The B Team Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
7 Rockabilly Rebel Mack Allen Smith Music History
8 At the End of the Day Madelyn Killion Literary Fiction
9 Visions of Teaoga Jim Remsen Historical Fiction
10 24 The Fossils of Blackberry Hill Kenneth Gass Paleontology
11 The Closer Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
12 6 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last Mike Campbell History
13 21 H Is for Hershey Heather Paterno Childrens
14 22 Winter of the Metal People Dennis Herrick Historical Fiction
15 Keystone Tombstones Philadelphia Region Farrell and Farley Biography
16 NEW Where Elephants Fought Bridget Smith Historical Fiction
17 13 Pit Bulls Anthony Julian History
18 Head Over Wheels Ken Mercurio Medical Memoir
19 The Oxygen Factory Renee des Lauriers YA Thriller
20 Ambush at Dry Bone Gulch Sid Davis Western
21 The View from Four Foot Two Judi Markowitz Medical Memoir
22 5 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair War Memoir
23 Well I’ll Be Hanged Tim Dempsey History
24 23 That Night at Surigao M Ernest Marshall History
25 27 Forts, Forests, and Flintlocks John L. Moore History
26 Hour 30 Brandon Musgrave Medical Memoir
27 30 Rivers, Raiders, and Renegades John L. Moore History
28 17 The Sign of the Eagle Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
29 25 Bows, Bullets, and Bears John L. Moore History
30 29 Traders, Travelers, and Tomahawks John L. Moore History

wwctw_fcWhat a month! The company had its best month ever, topping March’s record. Compared to last May, sales more than doubled. YTD Sales are up 82% from last year. Hardcover books have grown to a 43% share of sales. EBooks recovered a bit this month, tracking at 4.2% of sales. Trade paperbacks slipped to 45%.

Women Who Changed the World, by the Cranbrook Schools, grabbed the top spot thanks to a promotion at the end of the school year. Chris Papst’s Capital Murder held strong due to author activity and breaking news about the Harrisburg financial scandal. Along the Bethel Trail, by the Friends of the Bethel AME, was helped by its release party at the Simon Cameron Mansion in Harrisburg. Keith Rommel’s The Devil Tree debuted at #4 thanks to author appearances in Florida. Terry Ray’s popular The Complete Story of the Worldwide Invasion of the Orange Orbs vaulted to #5 thanks to MUFON activities. Alan Mindell’s sports novels The B Team (#6) and The Closer (#11) were bolstered by author appearances and interest in The Kentucky Derby. Mack Allen Smith’s Rockabilly Rebel returned to the charts at #7 thanks to author activities. Madelyn Killion’s At the End of the Day took #8 thanks to author activities. Jim Remsen’s Visions of Teaoga returned to the chart at #9 due to author appearances. Kenneth Gass’s The Fossils of Blackberry Hill was climbing the charts to #10 before it was withdrawn from publication. Mike Campbell’s Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, held at #12, thanks to ongoing interest in the lost aviatrix. Heather Paterno’s H Is for Hershey rose to #13 due to sales in the Hershey region. Dennis Herrick moved up to #14 with his Winter of the Metal People. The book is popular in New Mexico. The Joes, Farrell and Farley, grabbed #15 due to regional interest in with their recently-released Keystone Tombstones Philadelphia Region. Bridget tdt_fcSmith’s new historical novel Where Elephants Fought charted at #16 thanks to sales in Mississippi. Anthony Julian’s ever-present Pit Bulls charted again at #17 because of ongoing interest in the subject matter. Ken Mercurio’s Head Over Wheels returned to the rankings at #18 thanks to author activities. YA Thriller, The Oxygen Factory, by Renee des Lauriers found #19 thanks to author events. Sid Davis’s western, Ambush at Dry Bone Gulch, took #20 due to author interest. The View from Four Foot Two, by Judi Markowitz, returned to the rankings at #21 thanks to author activity. Call Sign Dracula, the Vietnam memoir by Joe Fair, continued to chart at #22 thanks to steady sales in bookstores. Tim Dempsey’s Well I’ll Be Hanged charted at #23 thanks to author activities.  Ernie Marshall’s That Night at Surigao maintained #24 thanks to interest in the last fight between battleships in WW2. John L. Moore grabbed the four spots #’s 25, 27, 29 & 30 with 4 of the 8 books in his Frontier Pennsylvania Series. Interest remains strong from local bookstores and retailers. Brandon Musgrave’s medical school memoir Hour 30 took #26 thanks to steady ebook sales. Jess Steven Hughes was at #28 with The Sign of the Eagle. Hughes continues to benefit from his regular bookstore events.

The company released four new titles during the month of May.

SUNBURY PRESS – New Releases for May, 2015
Women Who Changed the World Cranbrook Schools YA Biography
Where Elephants Fought Bridget Smith Historical Fiction
Plain and Deadly Barbara Workinger Murder Mystery
The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Thriller Fiction

For a list of Sunbury’s best-sellers, please see the Sunbury Press web site:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/BESTSELLERS_c3.htm
For a complete list of recent and upcoming releases, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/COMING-SOON_c47.htm

BIRMINGHAM, Mich.Sunbury Press has released Women Who Changed the World: The Journey and the Joy, a compilation about important women by students from the Crankbrook Schools.

A talented group of 8th grade female student authors from the Cranbrook Schools, guided by three editors, collaborated in what they called “The Cranbrook Project,” to create a book of brief biographies about important women who have achieved great things in their lives. The girls wrote about the following women:

  • Dr. Sue Carter
  • Mamatha Chamarthi
  • Mildred Dresselhaus
  • Katharine Hayhoe
  • Justice Bridget McCormack
  • Justice Maura Corrigan
  • Lou Anna K. Simon
  • Dr. Xiangqun Zeng
  • Lynn Povich
  • Arlyce Seibert
  • Kym Worthy
  • Florine Mark

wwctw_fcAbout the Cranbrook Schools:
The Campus
Cranbrook Schools is located on a beautiful 319-acre campus, known as one of the masterpieces of American architecture. In 1989, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, an honor accorded only two other independent schools in the United States. Sharing the grounds with the Schools are the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Museum (1932) and the Cranbrook Institute of Science (1930), both considered preeminent in their fields. Cranbrook House, the home of our founders George and Ellen Booth, is surrounded by 40 acres of gardens, lawns, and woodlands.

Facilities and Buildings
School buildings include Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School – Cranbrook Campus and Kingswood Campus, Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls – Kingswood, Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Boys, Cranbrook Lower School Brookside, and the Vlasic Early Childhood Center. Other buildings include Lerchen Hall (the Schools’ performing arts center), Wallace Ice Arena, and the Williams Natatorium.

Student Body
For the 2014-2015 academic year, Cranbrook Schools enrolled 1659 students as follows: 504 in the Lower School, 351 in the Middle Schools, and 804 in the Upper School, 255 of whom are boarders. These students came from 16 states and 20 countries, reflecting a diversity of races, ethnic origins, and religious beliefs.

Academic Program
The school year, from September to June, is divided into semesters in the Lower and Upper Schools and trimesters in the Middle School. The Schools observe Thanksgiving break, winter and spring vacations, and national holidays.

The program at Cranbrook Lower School Brookside and the Vlasic Early Childhood Center has been carefully developed to introduce children to academic skills in a positive learning environment. The focus is on strong academics and a balance of fine arts in a liberal arts education. The single-sex program on separate campuses in the middle schools accommodates the specific physical, emotional, and learning differences between boys and girls in the adolescent years.

Recognized nationally for academic excellence, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School has been named an Exemplary School by the U.S. Department of Education. The curriculum is college preparatory, offering a broad selection of courses.

Women Who Changed the World: The Journey and the Joy
by Gerard Mantese (Editor), Theresamarie Mantese (Editor), Gregory Nowakowski (Editor)
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 50 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (May 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620065975
ISBN-13: 978-1620065976
Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
BISAC: Juvenile Nonfiction : Biography & Autobiography – Women

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Women-Who-Changed-the-Wo…

VICKSBURG, Miss.Sunbury Press has released Where Elephants Fought: A Story of Murder and Intrigue During the Civil War, Bridget Smith’s historical novel about the death of Confederate General Earl Van Dorn.

wef_fcFor 150 years, scholars and amateur Civil War buffs have misinterpreted the infamous murder of the well-known Confederate General Earl Van Dorn. Based on twenty years of intense research, the author suggests that all is not as it appears. The real motivation behind the doctor’s decision to murder Van Dorn is not a story of jealousy between a husband and wife, but of loyalty and sacrifice. This story reveals one woman’s struggle with the blame for another’s crime and the secret that fractured the Peters family forever. Perhaps most compelling is the impact the tragedy has had on the Peters family, with the continued perpetuation of the 150 year old lie to this day.

Excerpt:
The soldiers lay down a section of split-rail fence for use in repairing the Duck River Bridge and tied the rails end to end behind an old mule. When the mule got stuck in the frozen muddy road leading to Columbia, they walked on the planks to avoid the flooded roadbed, balancing themselves on the beams like delicate ballerinas. They avoided getting wet at all costs. They understood frostbite. Just keep out of the water was all a fellow had to do. The camp doctor had preached this ever since a bunch of them showed up with black toes after the last march from Ripley.

Crossing the washed-out road had taken more time than anticipated. Most of them were exhausted by the time they reached dry ground, and though he was eager to reach Columbia by evening, General Van Dorn announced they would rest there till morning. They had but a few hours’ march remaining, but complaints had been rumbling up the line since morning. The general knew well the repercussions of pushing the men beyond their limits. The train of men and horses stopped abruptly as orders were sent down the line. A few men grumbled from within the ranks about wasting time now with such a short distance remaining, but Van Dorn ignored them. Better listen to the ones who moaned and complained. Better to stop the procession. Corinth taught him that.

A handful of men from Company E, Third Texas Infantry, warmed their hands by the fire near a grove of trees at the far corner of an old cornfield. General Van Dorn floated from campfire to campfire, making small talk with the men. He stopped just as he reached Private James Thomas who sat at the base of a large elm tree. The private propped his journal against the mass of bark, pulled a pencil from his coat pocket, and scribbled across the top line of the page.

“Private?” Van Dorn smiled at him and leaned forward.

“Yes, sir!” Thomas shot up off the ground and saluted his commander. His face turned red with embarrassment.

“At ease, soldier.” The general leaned against the trunk of the tree. He picked at a blade of grass as he spoke. “About your brother,” he said in a whisper. “He was a fine soldier, son. I want you to know that.”

Private Thomas looked away and nodded. “Yes, sir. Will was a fine soldier indeed. Mighty nice of you to say so.”

Van Dorn put a hand on his shoulder. “You can tell your mama, too. In that letter you’re writing.”

Thomas turned to the general and smiled. “Yes, sir. I’ll tell her. He was mighty fond of you, sir, I’ll tell you that.”

“Thank you, soldier. It’s not often I hear—” But he stopped there. “Give your mother my condolences if you will.”

The private smiled. “Yes sir. I’ll do that right now.” He picked up the notebook and finished the letter as the general walked away toward another group of soldiers.

Van-DornFebruary 21, 1863

Last night we had some biscuits cooked at a house close to our camp. Consequently we fared finely today… The railroad is close to a town named Columbia. This is the place where General Pillow lives who built the fortifications at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi. M. D. Cooper and D. Frierson & Company also reside here. There is a large female Academy in town. We traveled all day in a very hard rain. The water run in my boots. The weather got very cold and I came very near freezing. The Yankee pickets are in fifteen miles of our camp.

General Van Dorn has just spent a private moment with me to let me know his sorrow over poor Will’s passing. He bids me tell my dear mother what a fine soldier Will was. I believe he is the finest soldier and man in the whole of the Confederate army.

From your loving son,
Jimmie

About the Author:
Bridget Smith was born and raised in Columbia, a lush Tennessee valley town filled with antebellum homes and sprawling farms, a setting that both haunted and intrigued her until she could give it life in her Civil War era novel Where Elephants Fought. From the first glimpse into the lives of Jessie McKissack Peters and General Earl Van Dorn, she felt a deep connection to the story and soon found herself immersed in the world of research, a task that what would span nearly twenty years. After receiving her MEd in English, she soon married and moved to a quaint Mississippi town, a town not unlike her beautiful Columbia and equally as steeped in Civil War history. She has taught English for over twenty years and currently teaches English Composition. Though her life is a whirlwind with her four children, she has begun writing her second novel, a modern tale of sin and eccentricities set in her beloved South.

Where Elephants Fought: A Story of Murder and Intrigue During the Civil War
List Price: $19.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
336 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620065983
ISBN-10: 1620065983
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Where-Elephants-Fought-9…

LANCASTER, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Plain and Deadly, Barbara Workinger’s latest novel in the Life as a P.I. hasn’t always been what Ellerie March envisioned for herself. With a caseload mostly resembling the domestic scenarios on Jerry Springer, she’s not exactly working high-profile cases or helping to stop deadly criminals in their tracks. That is, until she meets Liddy and Annie Beiler—two Pennsylvania Amish women who have discovered an abandoned baby … or so they say. El takes the case in hopes of locating the baby’s missing mother, only to find herself in the midst of a homicide investigation and all too close to the family who might be responsible for this whole mess. Set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish country, city girl El casts her net for suspects—some of whom are the very people she needs to rely on to solve the case. Though she knows about keeping friends close and enemies closer, the lines of who is who become blurred in this “whodunit” escapade … especially when an unexpected romance springs up in the middle of everything, much to the delight of El’s grandmother and investigative “partner.”Through the course of the investigation, El uncovers not only secrets about the Amish and their friends, but also discovers special relationships she could have only found by following her instincts and her heart. The desperate search for the truth reaches its peak in a land where El thought the world would always be simple and safe, proving that even the most unsuspecting of places can be both Plain and Deadly.

pad_fcExcerpt:
“Care to elaborate on who is in the waiting room? And why they are here?” I suggested, trying to sound more patient than I felt.

“Two Amish ladies. Dressed Amish at least, of course they could be.”

“Tracy, cut the speculation. Let’s assume they are Amish. Did they say why they wanted to see me?”

“It’s something about a missing person. That was all they said.” Tracy narrowed her eyes. I could almost see the black and white 16-millimeter film running in her one-track mind. “What do you think?” she asked.

“I think you’d better show them in, Tracy.”

“OK,” she whispered, removing handfuls of papers from the two chairs that faced my desk.

A few minutes later, the two women were seated across from me. Amish they were. I’d seen enough Amish in my growing up years in Lancaster to know the real thing when I saw it. And knowing that, I was as surprised as Tracy was to have the pair in my office. It was a first for me and I’d venture it was a rarity for any investigator. The Amish had little need to frequent a domestic investigator’s office.

The elder of the two introduced herself as Liddy Beiler. Liddy was in her early forties, I guessed. Hard to tell. Amish women, without any help from cosmetics and beauticians usually looked older than the “English”—which was how they referred to the non-Amish. Despite, or maybe because of the natural look, Liddy was beautiful in a serene, clear-eyed way. Glossy dark hair was pulled away from her face and showed only slightly from its containment beneath her black bonnet. She was also very plump. Maybe that accounted for the absence of lines in her face.

The younger woman, twentyish Annie Beiler, was Liddy’s daughter-in-law. If Liddy was beautiful, Annie was drop-dead gorgeous. Huge luminous blue eyes stared out from a perfect oval face. Despite her attempt to tame her ash-blond hair beneath a traditional Amish prayer cap, it curled out in becoming tendrils around her face. Amish or not, I imagine every male from nine to ninety noticed Annie.

In Annie’s arms a rosy-faced baby of about two or three months of age slept peacefully, wrapped snugly in a miniature Amish patchwork quilt.

“What a sweet baby you have,” I said, my not-so-well-hidden maternal instincts turned on full blast.

“Oh, he’s not mine,” Annie said. I thought she looked momentarily sad when she said it. I had obviously been spending too much time around Tracy: everything seemed like a scene in an old movie.

“Oh?” I said to no one in particular.

“He—we call him Jeremiah—is why we are here,” Liddy said, answering what was to be my opening question if I hadn’t been too besotted with small Jeremiah to remember to ask it. Liddy spoke formally, using very few contractions and had a decided Pennsylvania Dutch accent, pronouncing the “J” in Jeremiah like a “Ch,” making the name sound like Cheremiah. Her voice was smooth, the tone soothing. Reminded me of a few shrinks I’d met in my work.

“He is?” I said. In a few moments I mentally examined and discarded several of possibilities as to why.

“Yes. It is Jeremiah why we are here … and this note.” She fished in her commodious black purse, coming out with a neatly folded piece of paper. She handed it over, carefully lifting it high over the clutter of my desk. I wondered how Liddy, with her Amish sense of neatness and order, could stand my office. I would learn later that the Amish don’t judge the English, although they do wonder about us.

“We want to hire you,” she continued in the direct, no-time-for-useless-preliminaries way the Amish have.

I read the note, which looked to be hastily but legibly printed on the kind of lined paper I’d noticed the Amish usually used for correspondence.

“To Liddy Beiler, midwife: I am leaving this Amish babe with you because it is the only safe place for an Amish child. You must keep him for just two weeks already. I am in danger and he will be, too, if he is found with me. If he is given to the English I will maybe be killed. I need to fix up some trouble and I will come for him. Bless you.”

The note was signed “A Mom.”

About the Author:
In writing her mysteries, Barbara Workinger draws on her background as a research journalist, an antique dealer, and an interest in the art of quilting. She combines them with a fascination for the Amish area where she lived for over twenty years. Ten of those years were spent in researching the Amish.

Plain and Deadly: An Ellerie March Mystery
Authored by Barbara Workinger
List Price: $16.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
214 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620064634
ISBN-10: 1620064634
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Plain-and-Deadly-9781620…

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.Keith Rommel’s latest novel, The Devil Tree, based on the Port St. Lucie, Florida legend is has been released in hardcover.

tdt_fcAbout the Book:
Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.”  Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark.  People were hung there … and bodies buried there … exhumed by the police.  Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail.  Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers … one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

Excerpt:
PICNIC
The past.
The big oak tree had crooked limbs that reached for the sky and a trunk over twenty feet in circumference. The thick canopy above blocked the midday sun, making the air seem ten degrees cooler than the scorching ninety-degree heat beating down from the hot Florida rays.

Port Saint Lucie was a quiet town and seemed to be a world within its own. Dirt roads and cheap housing had the allure to invite northern folks in hopes of escaping the bustle of city life, high costs of living, and the brutal cold winters that took their toll on the mind, body, and spirit.

For Marion, so far the change of pace was nothing short of perfect. The house she lived in was beautiful, her neighbors were pleasant; the air seemed cleaner and the sky a different kind of blue.

Looking at the ground surrounding the oak tree, she thought it the ideal spot to have a picnic with her two children, Bobby and Judy. She had Bobby carry the white and red checkered sheet, which was folded into a neat and manageable square. Judy helped by carrying the wicker picnic basket but struggled with the weight. Neither her mother or her brother offered to help her because she insisted she could do it and didn’t want help from anyone. Headstrong and full of temper, she was a handful.

Marion fiddled with a transistor radio and tried to get a clear signal so they could listen to music while they spent some quality family time on this perfect day out.

“Right here,” Marion said to Bobby, pointing at the flat ground underneath the giant oak. She mopped the sweat from her brow and looked up the hulking trunk and into the intricate weave of branches that was marvelous to the eyes. Spanish moss hung down, and if it wasn’t daytime the oak might have left the impression of a creepy Halloween prop.

Bobby placed the blanket down and did a fine job of getting all the wrinkles out of it. Marion assisted Judy in placing the basket down on the corner of the blanket, and although she didn’t say so, Marion thought she was thankful for the assistance.

She kicked off her shoes and stepped onto the squares and sat cross-legged. The ground was soft enough, and a coolness from the soil seeped up through the blanket, adding to the relief of being out of the direct sunlight.

“Yes, this is perfect,” Marion said, and the radio caught the marvelous chorus of “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. “Put your shoes off to the side before you step on the blanket,” she told the children. “I don’t want you tracking dirt all over the place before we eat.”

The kids did as they were told and Marion looked around, admiring the spot she had chosen. It was the first time she had been to this particular part of town and was glad she’d come across it. She had seen a couple of fishermen on her way in, tugging on the invisible lines they had cast and drinking Blue Ribbon beer. The men had looked over their shoulders at the sound of her car, but she had pulled far enough into the oversized lot that she couldn’t see them from her space.

The water in the canal looked clean enough to cool their feet if they needed, and the flow of water was slow enough that it posed little to no threat of sweeping them away. But she would decide whether or not they would go into the canal after the children had eaten and if they behaved well enough.

Bobby and Judy sat on the blanket, their legs folded Indian-style just like their mother. Bobby’s face lit up as he admired the giant oak and the things that dangled over him.

“Do you think I can climb it when we’re done eating?”

Marion thought about it. There was no question the tree was strong enough to hold him. But the sharp angles of the branches and clumps of Spanish moss made her nervous. She’d heard something about there being chiggers in moss. Despite the warm weather, she shivered just thinking about those nasty biting mites.

“I don’t know, Bobby, let Mommy think about it,” she said but already knew the answer to be no. She just didn’t want to start the picnic on a negative. “Let’s eat some lunch then afterward I’d like to go down to the water there and have a look. Maybe we can get our feet wet.”

“Neat, Mom,” Bobby said.

Static filled the Zenith 500 transistor radio, and Marion fiddled with the small dial, delicately turning it until the tuning was sharp. The Beatles came back to life and she couldn’t help but sing along in an emotional whisper.

She opened the basket and handed Bobby and Judy their bologna sandwiches, which were cut into fours. The children placed them into their laps and ate neatly and with manners.

“How did you find this place, Mom? It’s really neat,” Bobby said and was unable to keep his eyes out of the canopy. The tree seemed to invite him up the hefty trunk and into the tangle of branches. The vantage point from up there must be spectacular, he thought, and he bit into his sandwich with an ailing whine in an attempt to sway his mother’s thinking.

Marion ignored him and continued to take in her surroundings. Their 1966 Studebaker Wagonaire was parked about thirty yards away, cooking in the midday heat. She grabbed her own sandwich and unfolded the foil. As she sat there, taking tiny bites, a sudden chill rocked her body. The cold that came up through the ground and the shade of the giant oak maybe took away too much of the warmth, she decided. Marion looked at her children with the flesh goosed on her arms.

“Are you guys cold at all?”

“No,” Judy said. “It’s nice here. I like it, Mommy.”

“Yeah, Mom, it’s really neat here.”

The Devil Tree
Authored by Keith Rommel

List Price: $29.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
192 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620065884
ISBN-10: 1620065880
BISAC: Fiction / Occult & Supernatural

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Devil-Tree-9781620065884.htm

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