Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

Piper Bayard

Each year, the beautiful August McLaughlin orchestrates a celebration of women and beauty. Drop by her site this week at the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest V for prizes and tributes to the Beauty of a Woman.

 

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

 

Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

I am the body that learned to walk, that ran in the sunshine and kicked off shoes to dance in the rain – the body that thirsted for life.

I am the body that was “too tall,” “too fat,” “too feminine” for boys to let join in their games – the body so embarrassed that it had to hide.

I am the body the men whistled at, honked at, and devoured with their eyes – the body that strutted with sexual pride.

I am the body that was violated, shamed, and silenced – the body that wanted to die.

I am the body that choked on its anger, was strangled by cancer, and fought back with faith and laughter – the body that was no longer whole.

I am the body that thrilled to a lover’s caress, rejoiced at the quickening of my womb, and writhed in the primal screams of childbirth – the body that gave life and by it was made whole once more.

I am the body that cooked dinner, nursed wounds, taught letters, and did not sleep for a decade – the body that fed its children on its flesh and bones.

I am the body that grew crooked and crippled before its time, suffered surgeries and rehab, and contorted with agony – the body that learned to walk again.

I am the body that looks in the mirror and sees wisdom etched by laughter into its face and beauty carved by blood into its scars – the body at peace with itself.

I am old.

I am beautiful.

I am the body of a woman.

1-800-ZAPP-ASS: Shock Those Politicians into Shape!

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Are you feeling abused by your political system? Disgusted with your congressmen and their yes men? Ready to move to Central America to find some semblance of organized government?

Fear not! Bayard & Holmes stand ever prepared to turn your problems into our opportunities. We are proud and excited to bring you our latest ingenious program calculated to lower your stress and increase your happiness. We call it 1-800-ZAPP-ASS. Here’s how it works. . . .

 

Actual photo of Political Offender  hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

Actual photo of Political Offender
hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

 

For a meager donation of $1.99, you can dial or text 1-800-ZAPP-ASS and deliver an electric shock to the Political Offender of your choice—congressmen, elected officials (no Executive Privilege applies), or a fervent, annoying, neighborhood political party radical. You can even use this device to zapp some sense into social media ranters, or those college kids still young enough to know everything who come to our doors, clipboard in hand, and tell us how misguided we are in our political views.

All proceeds will go toward the Bayard & Holmes Charitable Foundation, benefitting loyal Americans (us) who don’t support any politicians or their self-serving political agendas. The Bayard & Holmes Charitable Foundation will then use that money to promote their Matching Funds Campaign Funding Reform. Under our proposed system, all contributions to political parties and/or candidates would require matching funding to reputable veterans’ charities such as USA Cares, the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. That way, instead of politicos SAYING they support veterans during campaign seasons to garner votes, they could actually DO it.

 

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs in an IED attack in Iraq in 2007, shares a moment with fellow artilleryman, Capt. David Evetts, commander of Battery D, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, at the Ledward Theater, Sept. 29.

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs in an IED attack in Iraq in 2007, shares a moment with fellow artilleryman, Capt. David Evetts, commander of Battery D, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, at the Ledward Theater, Sept. 29.

 

Sound amazing? But wait! There’s more!

The top 12 most-zapped Political Offenders will win all expense paid vacations to Camp Cheerful Summer Camp for Adults in the beautiful blue Caribbean on the coast of Cuba.

Our highly trained Happiness Specialists will be waiting for your favorite Political Offenders with a very special fun activity designed just for them. We call it Politicalboarding.

 

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play Image by US Marine Corps, public domain

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play
Image by US Marine Corps, public domain

 

With Politicalboarding, the Political Offenders are restrained in a room together where they are subjected to each other’s company. Then, they sit through 72 non-stop, fun-filled hours of Ted Cruz filibustering, only interrupted by diaper changes and electric shocks when their eyelids droop. After that, the Political Offenders will be forced to stand at attention until they have memorized each one of the over 2,500,000 words in the Obamacare statutes and regulations.

No worries! This is nothing like waterboarding. In fact, Political Offenders at Camp Cheerful aren’t even given water.

Once they can recite Obamacare like a Baptist Circuit Preacher quoting the Holy Bible at a tent revival, the Political Offenders will be treated to a sumptuous banquet of gluten-packed, dairy-packed, sugar-loaded, freeze dried, GMO whole wheat bread crust and a draught from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”).

After their meal, the Political Offenders will be strapped to chairs and turned upside down in a dunking booth. Then, since Baseball is not only our religion but the All-American Sport, major league hopefuls will practice their throws. Just so you know, this isn’t waterboarding, either. It’s Strategic Dunking.

 

A well-disguised C.C. Sabathia showing how it's done. Image by Tim Evanson, wikimedia commons.

A well-disguised C.C. Sabathia showing how it’s done.
Image by Tim Evanson, wikimedia commons.

 

Text, phone, tweet, email, or FaceBook now and contribute your $1.99 to zapp Congress into action. Let’s remind these self-serving bozos who exempt themselves from everything from NSA spying to Obamacare that we have a special interest, too. We call it “America.”

If you would like to suggest anyone to receive a shocking wake up from 1-800-ZAPP-ASS, please feel free to do so below. However, in the interests of delicacy and the fact that social media platforms take years to build and can be destroyed in seconds, please only refer to your Political Offenders by clean and clever code names.

Now, now! No crowding, and no personal attacks on each other in the Comments Section. We’ll leave that sort of unethical, unprofessional behavior to the politicians.

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Don’t miss The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge!

Click HERE for details.

Or The Spy Bride Giveaway!

We have some wonderful prizes for readers to celebrate the release of our debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the RISKY BRIDES Bestsellers’ Collection. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter Link–Click Here to Enter

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

 

RISKY BRIDES . . . 8 genres. 8 novels and novellas. 8 takes on what makes a RISKY BRIDE. Now on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

 

The Spy Bride Challenge and a New Release!

It’s a big week here at Bayard & Holmes!

We are proud to announce the release of our first novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the Bestsellers’ Collection RISKY BRIDES. Bayard & Holmes are honored to join USA Today Bestsellers Vicki Hinze, Rita Herron, Donna Fletcher, Peggy Webb, and Kathy Carmichael, and veteran authors Kimberly Llewellyn and Tara Randel as we each share our unique take on what it means to be a risky bride.

8 novels and novellas. 8 genres. 8 risky brides.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

To celebrate, we’re having two contests!

The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge

We are inviting all bloggers to write a post about absolutely anything espionage or wedding related. Link back to this post to be entered in a contest for a $25 Amazon card and a copy of RISKY BRIDES.

Write about your favorite Bond movie, your favorite historical spook, or how you used to spy on your siblings. Tell us about your wildest bachelor party, you favorite wedding, or your worst bridesmaid’s dress. If you manage to write about both spooks and weddings in the same post, you’ll have your name entered twice.

Be sure to link back to the post at our web site so we see your entry!

The winner will be chosen on Thanksgiving Day. I will attach the names of all entries to a shooting target. Then I will blindfold my lovely daughter, DD, and she will shoot the target. The name that is shot will be the winner of the coveted Amazon gift card.

DD ready to determine the winner.

DD ready to determine the winner.

And for our awesome readers . . .

We have some wonderful prizes for you, as well. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter Link–Click Here to Enter

Feel free to enter both contests!

Best of luck to all of you. Can’t wait to see your entries!

 

 RISKY BRIDES

 

 

RISKY BRIDES is on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

 

THE SPY BRIDE by Bayard & Holmes — Spy Thriller Quick Read

With her wedding only days away, a CIA operative and her mother must thwart a top-level traitor before he delivers computer technology to international crime cartels, allowing them to hack US security systems and target thousands of innocents for slaughter.

THE MARKED BRIDE by Vicki Hinze — Romantic Thriller Novel

Nine months after breaking their engagement, Mandy sends Tim, a private security consultant and former Shadow Watcher (spies who spy on spies), an SOS. She’s in trouble. NINA caused the breakup and, though Mandy and Tim have been apart, NINA has struck—targeting Mandy.

THERE GOES THE GROOM by Rita Herron — Romantic Suspense Novel

A jilted bride is arrested for her fiancé’s crimes when he goes on the lam!

THE IRISH DEVIL by Donna Fletcher — Historical Romance Novel

The infamous warrior the Irish Devil was promised a bride by the King of Ireland for services rendered. Faith is as kind as she is beautiful and wants no part of marrying the fierce warrior, but has no choice, and once wed she discovers just how sinful the devil is.

ELVIS AND THE BURIED BRIDES by Peggy Webb — Cozy Mystery Quick Read

Bad boy Jack Jones is finally retying the marital knot! But where is the bride? When Callie and cousin Lovie both go missing, everybody is crying in the chapel. Can canine sleuth Elvis and the Valentine gang find them in time to croon “Love Me Tender” at the wedding?

SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING DEADLY by Kathy Carmichael — Mystery Quick Read

When the groom is found murdered hours before the wedding, can bridesmaid and owner of the Skullduggery Inn, Ashley Sands, clear the bride from imminent arrest? With numerous suspects, all with strong motives, Ash must figure out who-dun-it before the murderer strikes again.

LOVE AT THE SWEETHEART INN by Tara Randel — Sweet Romance Novel

Wedding planner Kara Delaney has had her heart broken too many times to expect a wedding of her own. Lucas Winfield can’t promise forever to any woman. As they work together on a wedding, the attraction is undeniable, but can they overcome their pasts to have a future together?

ALMOST A BRIDE by Kimberly Llewellyn — Sexy Romance Novel

After getting dumped at the altar, Ivy Hammond enters a sexy research study with one rule: don’t fall in love. But with each sizzling assignment, her hot research partner, Kip Lockehart, convinces her some rules were made to be broken.

Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction: And the Winners Are . . .

Two weeks ago, I challenged readers to a contest telling us how a rose would end up atop a desert cliff in the middle of nowhere. Their stories had to include the words “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.”

See The Cliffside Rose–Flash Fiction Contest

For the last week, readers voted here and at our sister WordPress blog to determine the top three winners of The Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest with the combined totals. With some brilliant entries, this was no easy task, but three entries tied at the top.

And the winners are . . .

Olympic Ring Espionage image from Ebay.com

Olympic Ring Espionage
image from Ebay.com

BrickHouseChick:  Olympic Ring Espionage

Dixie was conflicted about being on The Bachelor, but she wanted the chance to meet her Prince. And that she did. Thor was very CALIENTE and had cheese-grater abs. The problem was, that he was a spy in Russia during the Olympics and they were ‘on’ to him. Putin blamed Thor for the 5th ring not lighting up during the opening ceremonies and was not happy. Thor was about to give Dixie the FINAL ROSE. If she accepted the rose, she would enter the program with him (no TVs allowed in the witness protection program), if she didn’t, she would have to let him go, forever. After much pondering, Dixie decided that she could NOT miss the Oscars, and opted for the RED CARPET rather than the RED ROSE. She kissed him goodbye and ran home to watch the E channel. Thor was devastated and jumped off the cliff.

You want to WHAT? image via Canstock

You want to WHAT?
image via Canstock

Michelle Morrison:  You Want to WHAT?

After six years in witness protection, Diane was free. She moved home and reconnected with loved ones. She rescued a dog and named her Dixie, and they had lovely walks by the cliff near her house.

Diane met Peter. It was love. Peter seemed smitten also. “You’re special,” he told her.

She smiled. “So are you.”

Diane and Peter went for walks by the cliff. They watched the sun go down and threw sticks for Dixie. Peter gave Diane a rose each month.

At the fourth month, Peter gave Diane four roses and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve met someone else.”

“What is this?” Diane asked. “You’re unhappy?”

“It’s not you, it’s me; we can still be friends.” Peter said.

Diane beat Peter to death with the cheese grater she always carried. She left the roses by the body. The judge ruled justifiable homicide and she got probation.

Motorcycle or Death image from Canstock

Motorcycle or Death
image from Canstock

Gry Ranfelt:  Motorcycle or Death?

“You said it didn’t matter.”

Tom flexed his jaw and refused to look away.

“The court cares. Think of our daughter. What life will she lead if you refuse witness protection?”

Dixie swallowed the dry mountain air. Had he brought her to these uncomfortable heights just to tell her to do what she’d refused four times?

She slammed the roses into his chest. They fell to the ground, petals still intact.

“The entire evening was an act so I’d warm up and give in.”

“No, I –”

She turned away. “Take us home.” She hated the thought of wrapping her arms around him on his motorcycle.

His sigh trickled her neck. She stiffened.

“I can’t.”

He grabbed and pulled her towards a waiting car. “Sorry. I’m not letting you get the fucking mafia on us.”

She screamed. She struggled. The cliffs scraped her skin bloody like a cheese grater.

 Congratulations!

Each of you has won a copy of USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze‘s clever tale of death and romance, Down and Dead in Dixie.

Down and Dead in Dixie Cover

I will forward your emails to the awesome Vicki Hinze, and she will get in touch with you to send your your prize.

A Big Thank You to all of the participants.

May your remote wanderings never include cliffs

and/or cheese graters.

Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest — Vote Now!

By Piper Bayard

Last week, I challenged readers to a contest telling us how a rose would end up atop a desert cliff in the middle of nowhere. Their stories had to include the words “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.”

See The Cliffside Rose–Flash Fiction Contest

The Cliffside Valentine

The Cliffside Valentine

This week, we ask you to vote on these outstanding entries. Voting will take place here and at our sister site, Bayard & Holmes, and we will combine the totals. The top three will receive copies of USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze‘s clever tale of death and romance, Down and Dead in Dixie.

Down and Dead in Dixie Cover

And the entries are . . .

Olympic Romance image from Ebay.com

Olympic Ring Espionage
image from Ebay.com

BrickHouseChick:

Dixie was conflicted about being on The Bachelor, but she wanted the chance to meet her Prince. And that she did. Thor was very CALIENTE and had cheese-grater abs. The problem was, that he was a spy in Russia during the Olympics and they were ‘on’ to him. Putin blamed Thor for the 5th ring not lighting up during the opening ceremonies and was not happy. Thor was about to give Dixie the FINAL ROSE. If she accepted the rose, she would enter the program with him (no TVs allowed in the witness protection program), if she didn’t, she would have to let him go, forever. After much pondering, Dixie decided that she could NOT miss the Oscars, and opted for the RED CARPET rather than the RED ROSE. She kissed him goodbye and ran home to watch the E channel. Thor was devastated and jumped off the cliff.

Death by Margarita image by Zalmac, wikimedia commons

Death by Margarita
image by Zalmac, wikimedia commons

Shawna Coronado:

Naked, bleeding, trembling, and frightened-out-of-her mind; Dixie teetered at the cliff’s edge with a pitcher of margaritas in one hand and a single red rose in the other. Behind her stands 350 pounds of hate, the stranger who had been stalking her for the last 9 years and who dragged her out of witness protection to bring her here. He says, “One last drink, my sweet, before we fly over this cliff together and crash like cheese grater at the bottom.” As he lunges for her throat she swings the margarita pitcher smacking him hard on his temple. Arms wheeling, he falls screaming over the side, landing with a deafening crunch. She drops the rose and falls to her knees, happy to be alive and rid of her torment. Death by margarita.

Motorcycle or Death image from Canstock

Motorcycle or Death?
image from Canstock

Gry Ranfelt:

“You said it didn’t matter.”
Tom flexed his jaw and refused to look away.
“The court cares. Think of our daughter. What life will she lead if you refuse witness protection?”
Dixie swallowed the dry mountain air. Had he brought her to these uncomfortable heights just to tell her to do what she’d refused four times?
She slammed the roses into his chest. They fell to the ground, petals still intact.
“The entire evening was an act so I’d warm up and give in.”
“No, I –“
She turned away. “Take us home.” She hated the thought of wrapping her arms around him on his motorcycle.
His sigh trickled her neck. She stiffened.
“I can’t.”
He grabbed and pulled her towards a waiting car. “Sorry. I’m not letting you get the fucking mafia on us.”
She screamed. She struggled. The cliffs scraped her skin bloody like a cheese grater.

Tire Iron Freedom Maneuver image from ebay.com

Tire Iron Freedom Maneuver
image from ebay.com

Melissa Borgioli:

THE TIRE IRON FREEDOM MANEUVER

“Shut up, Carol Ann!”
She kept talking. “I can’t believe you got us lost and broken down in the desert! ”
“Shut up, Carol Ann!”
Still talking. “What did you say was busted? MacGyver could have fixed it with a cheese grater!”
“Shut up, Carol Ann!”
“My Mama said not to go to the desert on vacation. She said we’d be all alone out here like we were in the witness protection program. And I said, ” You ain’t just whistling Dixie, Mama! ”
“Shut up, Carol Ann!”
Of course, she didn’t shut up. She never did. A nice whack with the tire iron would do the trick, he thought. He’d bring a rose to this very spot every year on the anniversary of the tire iron freedom manuever.
“Well? Is it fixed? ” Carol Ann screeched in his ear.
His fingers tightened around the tire iron, then relaxed.
“Yes! Now get in the damn car, and for God’s sake, shut up, Carol Ann!”

Valentine Cheese Grater image from houzz.com

Valentine Cheese Grater Surprise
image from houzz.com

MrMeanGenes:

O Cliffside Rose,
My Valentine
Stands here before me:
Hear her whine ?

She dreamt of roses-
But not much later
Wound up with a used
Cheese grater.

Ol’ Dixie made a poor selection:
Orlando’s not a happ’ning Dude-
He’s just a Witness in Protection–
A Baby Daddy-truly crude.

Our Cliffside Rose
Thinks he might shtup her:
Instead, he merely wants
His supper.

Desert Dejection image via Canstock

Desert Dejection
image via Canstock

Kathleenjanzanderson:

The morning sun crept over the distant mountains as Dixie sat next to a tent sipping coffee & dabbing her swollen eyes. Beyond the fire a lizard poked its head over a paper plate and nibbled on a stale cheese grater. A vase of red Valentine roses looked out of place next to the cactus and endless grays & browns of sand & rocks: the only green was on its leaves & the body of her jeep. Ever since she’d entered the witness protection program this was Tim’s & her favorite spot, where they had planned to wed.

“Damn you Timothy Boon for not showing up!”

She leaned and yanked the flowers from the vase, bolted to her feet and to the cliff, stems dropping all the way. Raising her arm she was ready to heave what was left when she noticed a black car winding up the narrow road.

Victim No. 6 image via Canstock

Victim No. 6
image via Canstock

Kay:
Looking over the edge of the cliff at victim number 6, Detective Bayard thought to himself “I have no choice now! I must convince Dixie to go into witness protection before she is the next victim.” His partner, Detective Holmes was busy scaling down the cliff to get what little evidence was on the ledge. Seriously? Another cheese grater? What is the significance of a cheese grater? Just like the last 5, all Holmes finds is a single red rose, a dead female and a cheese grater.
You want to WHAT? image via Canstock

You Want To WHAT?
image via Canstock

Michelle Morrison:

After six years in witness protection, Diane was free. She moved home and reconnected with loved ones. She rescued a dog and named her Dixie, and they had lovely walks by the cliff near her house.

Diane met Peter. It was love. Peter seemed smitten also. “You’re special,” he told her.

She smiled. “So are you.”

Diane and Peter went for walks by the cliff. They watched the sun go down and threw sticks for Dixie. Peter gave Diane a rose each month.

At the fourth month, Peter gave Diane four roses and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve met someone else.”

“What is this?” Diane asked. “You’re unhappy?”

“It’s not you, it’s me; we can still be friends.” Peter said.

Diane beat Peter to death with the cheese grater she always carried. She left the roses by the body. The judge ruled justifiable homicide and she got probation.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

A huge THANK YOU to all of our participants!

The choice is a tough one. I’m so glad it’s yours, readers, and not mine. Please show your appreciation for these creative powerhouses and vote between now and midnight on Tuesday, March 11. All votes will be tallied at that time, and winners will be announced next Wednesday.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTE!

MyPhotos Dixie watching sunset in desert Feb 15, 2014

FIRELANDS–It’s Back & Nominated for 2014 Best Indie Novel!

By Piper Bayard

I had the pleasure of waking up and finding out that my Nine Year Baby is

nominated for  a book award!

Dystopian thriller FIRELANDS was first released last June from StoneHouse Ink.

Firelands Cover

Then it was acquired and re-issued by Shoe Phone Press on February 25, 2014.

FIRELANDS_2ndEd

It’s now available on Kindle,

and it will soon be up in paperback at Amazon,

and on Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

As an excellent “welcome back,” FIRELANDS was honored with a nomination for Indie ReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award 2014.

Indie ReCon Logo

Voting is at Indie ReCon. If you are inclined, click on the link below to vote. Voting is open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 27.

Vote here for

FIRELANDS 

Indie ReCon Best Indie Novel Award 2014

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Thank you for your support and for such a warm welcome back for FIRELANDS.

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FIRELANDS

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who dies in the ritual fires that atone society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble. A gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

Field on Fire Canstock

Flash Fiction Contest — The Cliffside Rose

By Piper Bayard

Since my writing partner, Jay Holmes, is a covert intelligence operative, we often meet and work in remote locations. The day after Valentine’s Day found us plotting our next novel while we hiked up a cliff in a remote section of a desert. Near the top, I noticed a rose. Yes, a rose. In the middle of nowhere. Then another, and another. A trail of four roses that led to the very edge of the cliff.

The Cliffside Valentine

The Cliffside Valentine

I immediately turned to Holmes and expounded on how two lovers quarreled the night before:

Dixie arrived first and watched the sunset from the edge of the cliff, remembering Orlando’s kiss. Just because they had met at a meth lab three weeks ago…Just because they were only sixteen…Just because they were cousins…None of that would keep them from testifying and entering witness protection together before the baby was born. Surely he would make her a Valentine’s bride.

MyPhotos Dixie watching sunset in desert Feb 15, 2014

Orlando topped the rocks behind her and held up four roses. “Check out what I scored from dad’s new girlfriend. Oh, and I got you a cheese grater. Let’s go back to dad’s trailer, and you can make me a pizza.”

Dixie, stunned by his words, numbly took the flowers. “A cheese grater?”

Orlando shrugged. “What else would I bring? Come on. I’m hungry.”

Furious, Dixie flung the roses at Orlando with such force that she lost her balance and toppled over the cliff. The mountain lions rejoiced.

When I finished, Holmes rolled his eyes and said, “Back to our spy thriller . . .”

We agreed to leave the romance to you and to USA Today bestseller Vicki Hinze. So today, we offer you a flash fiction challenge.

Come to the Bayard & Holmes website and tell us your story of the Cliffside Valentine Rose in the comments below. Tell it in 150 words or less, and include “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.” Click here . . .

Bayard & Holmes

The Cliffside Rose — Flash Fiction Contest

Next Wednesday, March 5, come back and vote for your favorites. USA Today bestseller Vicki Hinze has generously donated three copies of one of my own favorite books, Down and Dead in Dixie, about a young woman who stumbles into the middle of a mob turf war and finds out that to live, sometimes ya gotta die.

Down and Dead in Dixie Cover

“Dixie” and “witness protection” are some clues as to what you will find in this clever, humorous novel. Cheese grater? Nothing to do with Vicki Hinze’s book, and everything to do with a reason to throw flowers at a boyfriend. But that’s another story.