Posted by authorcamilson
The Maine Nemesis
by R. Scott Wallis
Fiercely independent, insatiably curious, and always up for an adventure, public relations hotshot Skyler Moore is a hero for our time. She’s decidedly not a sleuth by trade, but mayhem often comes knocking as she and her friends visit the small towns and big cities of America.
In “The Maine Nemesis,” Skyler decides to spend the summer at her seaside cottage in Wabanaki, Maine, with her best friend—celebrity chef Brenda Braxton—and they have no idea that murder will be on the menu. But women are turning up dead in the once sleepy village where nothing ever happens. With the residents up in arms and the rinky-dink police force overwhelmed, Skyler and her friends feel compelled to lend a hand to save the town they love so much. The backdrop is classic New England Americana: lobster rolls, the whole town out for the Fourth of July, and summer evenings cooled by the ocean breeze. That…and an occasional murder, a kidnapping, and a few dangerous liaisons.
Skyler’s mile-a-minute adventure will keep you turning the pages to see what comes next for her and her Down East ‘friends.’
During one typically mild Maine summer, slightly more than a few decades ago, while the United States of America was celebrating the anniversary of its independence from England, fifth-grader Skyler Elizabeth Moore was celebrating her freedom from being the only little girl on her street. While she got along fine with most of the kids in her class, she’d not yet made a best friend—besides her beloved Raggedy Ann doll—so when Brenda Braxton, along with her brother and aunt, moved into the white clapboard house diagonally across the street, Skyler made it her mission to show the new girl around their tiny New England town in order to win her friendship.
There were only a handful of houses on the street and most of them were only used in the summer, making for a very sleepy, almost ghost town-like existence for a pre-teen girl during the school year. Skyler would stare into the houses’ dark windows as she walked to school, trying to catch a glimpse of something moving inside. A forgotten cat. A caretaker. Even a ghost. She believed in them and was certain that big old empty houses were where they lived.
When the biting winter winds that came off the ocean turned soothingly cool and the town sprung back to life after Memorial Day, Skyler would get her hopes up that a new family—with kids her age—would magically appear on the block. Specifically, a girl. So, when she finally spotted one that early July day, she wasted no time.
The moving truck was still in front of the house on the corner, and even though her mother told her to wait until the family settled in, Skyler marched herself to the open door and stepped into the front hall. She scooted to the left to avoid getting hit by a couch that two large men lifted through the doorway and then she followed them into the living room.
There she was. A girl her own age, sitting on a moving box, eating a banana.
“My mom would be very proud,” she said when she noticed Skyler. “She was always pushing fruit on me.”
“I love bananas,” Skyler lied as she moved closer. “I’m Skyler. I live across the street.”
“I’m Brenda. And I guess I live here now.”
“Welcome to Wabanaki.”
“Such a weird name for a town.”
“It’s named after an Indian tribe. American Indian, not India Indian.”
“I’ll never be able to spell it.”
“I’m good at spelling. It’s easy. W.A.B.A.N.A.K.I. Wabanaki. Almost like banana with all the A’s after the letters.”
“I guess. Did you just let yourself in?”
“I did. Is that okay with your mother?”
“I’m sure she doesn’t care. I’m glad you came in.”
“Me, too.” Skyler couldn’t stop smiling. “Me, too.”
Skyler noticed that Brenda was a little on the heavy side with a roll of fat around her middle that peeked out between her shirt and shorts, but it didn’t faze her. Brenda had a hearty, infectious laugh and positive attitude despite what Skyler would come to understand was an arduous childhood. Her homework could have been eaten by the dog, or the vacation she was looking forward to could have been cancelled at the last minute, and she’d always manage to find the silver lining. Brenda’s attitude would balance well with Skyler’s sometimes dark outlook on life.
Skyler didn’t know it at the time, but Brenda’s father went missing in action during some U.S. military action somewhere on the other side of the world and her distraught mother had been committed to a mental asylum. Her father’s sister took charge of the children and moved them from a bustling, unkempt New York City (at the time) to the more idyllic world that was sleepy Wabanaki, Maine.
For Skyler, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The girls had the rest of the summer to play outside, have sleepovers, and get to know each other before the school year would begin. And they did just that. Sometime between building a girls-only tree house and starting a weekly lemonade stand, they’d become blood-sisters, cutting their index fingers and pressing them together to form a lifetime bond. It had been Brenda’s idea. She’d seen her brother do it with his best friend, so it wasn’t totally insane.
“It seems insane to me,” Skyler said. “But I’ll do it. If you want me to.”
“I don’t want you to do anything that would make you feel bad. And I know blood makes you scream and cry.”
“That was just that one time, Brenda, and it was only because that stupid treehouse nail went right through my leg. I’m not afraid of blood. I’m going to be a veterinarian. I’m going to have to get used to it.”
“I’m going to be a cook, I think,” Brenda said. “So, if any of your animals die, you let me know.”
“You are not cooking dead animals, Brenda!”
“What do you think steak and pork chops and hamburgers are? Dead animals.”
“But they aren’t dogs and cats. I’m going to care for puppies and kitties.”
“Veterinarians also take care of cows and pigs and horses and stuff, you know.”
“Well, maybe. But if they die—which they won’t, because I am going to go to a very good veterinarian school—I’m not letting you cook them. There will be a pet cemetery in the back behind my pet hospital.”
“That seems wrong.”
“It does, you’re right,” Skyler said thoughtfully. “Well, we’ll get your stupid brother to take the dead animals away somewhere. But, I’m serious, Brenda, the animals are not going to die. That’s why I’m going to be a veterinarian, to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“Everything dies. My dad died. My hamster died. And our first dog died when he got run over by the trash truck.”
“That’s horrible. If I was older and if I had been there, I would have saved him.”
“She was a she and her head was smooshed into the road and they had to use a bunch of shovels to clean it up.”
“That’s so gross.”
“And sad,” Skyler said. “I’m super sorry.”
“It’s okay. I didn’t really see that happen. Actually, I don’t think that’s what happened to her. I made it up. I think she ran away.”
“That’s sad, too.”
“Not as sad as my dad dying,” Brenda said. “At least, we think he’s dead. He never came back.”
“Maybe he’s with your dog somewhere.”
“With your mom, maybe?”
“Well, that would just make me mad.” Brenda dug her fingernail into the bottom of her sneaker.
“Why?” Skyler asked.
“Because if they’re all together somewhere else, why are my brother and me here in Wabanaki without them?”
“Oh,” Skyler said softly.
“That would mean that they don’t love us.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But that’s what it would mean. And I don’t want to believe that.”
“Don’t. It’s not true.”
Brenda became uncharacteristically quiet for a few moments making Skyler a little uncomfortable.
“Maybe we should do it now.”
Brenda brightened when she remembered the task at hand. She pulled out her brother’s Swiss Army pocketknife. “Ready?”
“I am,” Skyler said confidently, even though she was trembling. “Because we’re going to be sisters forever.”
“That’s the idea. I don’t want to have to play with just my brother for the rest of my life.”
Brenda took Skyler’s hand in hers, turned it over so that her palm was facing up, and pressed the knife into her finger without hesitation. Skyler’s eyes widened as she watched a small bubble of scarlet red blood form. She looked into Brenda’s eyes. She smiled, cut her own finger, and they pressed them together while they screamed and laughed at the same time.
“There,” Brenda said when she was able to calm herself, “blood sisters.”
“Blood sisters,” Skyler echoed. “Can we go clean these cuts now? I don’t want to get tetanus.”
“What is tetanus?”
“I don’t know, but it’s something awful and if you get it inside you, you die.”
“I don’t want to die.”
“Me either. I have a lot of animals to save.”
“And I have a lot to cook!”
The girls took off to find water, soap, and Band-Aids, and to call it a night. The sun was setting and it was getting dark, the sign that another summer adventure must come to an end. But they’d have lots more. They ensured that with blood.
And an infection.
Brenda’s cut got infected, but it wasn’t tetanus…and she didn’t die.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
R. Scott Wallis is endlessly inspired by his surroundings and adventures. And he thrives on new chapters and creating unique projects to keep himself out of trouble. Scott started his working life as an advance person and assistant to a sitting United States Vice President. Later, he served as the creative director for a leading Washington think tank. That led to working directly for one of the richest men on Earth, conceiving and executing exclusive events for his billionaire friends. Tired of working for the man, Scott became a top-rated pop-culture podcaster and celebrity interviewer, while also dabbling in both the worlds of clothing manufacturing (creating his own baby clothes brand that was sold in over 300 stores nationwide) and retail sales, with his own well-received men’s clothing store.
Always willing to lend a hand or donate what he can, he’s an enthusiastic philanthropist, championing causes such as childhood bullying, animal adoption, and feeding the less fortunate. A wide-eyed world traveler, Scott has been to four continents, mostly by sea. While he loves exploring Europe and the Caribbean islands, it’s the vast United States that he likes best. He’s been to Alaska four times, Hawaii twice, and can’t wait to explore the eight states he hasn’t been to yet. Technically a Connecticut Yankee, Scott grew up in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and lived for 25 years in the Washington, D.C. area, before recently discovering that the American West is where he is most at home. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Learn more at www.rscottwallis.com
The book is on sale for only $0.99.
R. Scott Wallis will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Thanks for being my guest here today. Tell us about you as a person.
I’m constantly making up back stories for people—it’s a blessing and a curse, I think. Whenever I’m out in public and happen upon a stranger I think looks interesting, I instantly start wondering what they are all about…where they come from…what they do for a living…who they love. I’ve always had an overactive imagination—hence my fiction writing career—and making up things about people is one of my absolute favorite things to do.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
It won’t come as a surprise to any of my friends, but I think it would be super fun to trail Ryan Seacrest for a day. He has a career I’d die for. Even though he’s not a fiction writer (okay, I’d love to hang with Stuart Woods or Carl Hiaasen, too), he is a master at all-things media, with a successful national radio show and various television hosting duties. Sure, I can hang with Kelly Ripa in the mornings and hold my own during celebrity interviews! But, alas, I’ll have to settle for my silly little pop culture podcast, the Swish Edition, to tide me over until ABC comes calling.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
I spent a great deal of time in Maine as a kid and I have an absolute affinity for the state’s southern coast and the quint tourist towns like Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. Endless lobster rolls, cool old farm houses, chilly summer evenings…I love it all. It was so different from sticky, humid Williamsburg, Virginia, where I grew up. When I invented Skyler Moore for my new series, I just knew that she had to be from Maine and that the first book would take place there.
What is your writing process?
I’m best first thing in the morning. I get up with the sun—my two rescue dogs kind of insist on it—and I work from about 6:00 a.m. until 10-ish. Four hours of writing and editing is about my limit. If I have any music on at all, it’s classical or jazz, as songs with lyrics distract me. If I’m working on an exciting, action-packed scene, I might put on movie scores, like the ones from “Casino Royal” or “Batman;” those really get me in the mood. When I write my first draft, I go as fast as I can and don’t typically go back and read what I wrote until the very end. I don’t outline, but I work from extensive notes; I know where I want to go, but I have no idea how I am going to get there until I’m done. It takes me about two months to completely finish a novel and I work seven days a week until it’s done.
Tell us about your main character.
Skyler Moore is an unmarried, middle-aged public relations hotshot who splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Wabanaki, Maine. She’s on the road a lot, too, and wherever she goes, mayhem tends to follow. She’s independent, curious, sarcastic, and doesn’t need a man to define her. While she is open to the idea of love, she’s been burned in the past, so she believes marriage is off the table. Her most treasured thing in life is her best friendship with celebrity chef Brenda Braxton.
If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I will never answer this question! I believe very strongly that readers should envision the characters in their heads as they read along, and I’d hate to taint that by naming a famous person who I think could best play the role. That said, I have ideas of actresses who would make great Skyler Moores. But I’ll never tell anyone but the executive producers at Netflix someday.
What are you working on next?
Book two, THE NEW MEXICO SCOUNDREL, is also out now; book three, THE NEVADA SABOTEUR, is in the can and comes out September 27; and, a new thriller series kicks off with SCOUT’S HONOR: LIFELINE, on August 23. Yes, I have been crazy busy this year. Four books in 2019 is kind of insane, but it’s really all about building a following. I hope people will come on this journey with me.
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Marketing is a writer’s second full-time job. There’s just no way around it. Every single day you have to do something to get your name out there. Blog. Guest blog. Have a great website. Post to social media daily. Pitch your books to local book clubs (I’ve been invited to go speak to a Las Vegas-area book club this coming September!). Do whatever you can to get eyes on your books.
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
“Drunk on a Plane” by Zane Mitchell. It’s a beachy mystery with great characters and fun dialogue. It’s quick and perfect for a summer vacation. I can’t wait to take his second book in the series on my upcoming plane trip back east.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Besides my killer radio voice or my extraordinary fiction writing skills, you mean? I guess I’m good at being funny and sarcastic. I like entertaining my friends. I guess it’s not some great talent, but I enjoy it. Plus, like I said before, I love making stuff up; I have a very active imagination with endless ideas for new stories and situations. I never get writer’s block.
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
Oh, I’ve thought about this a lot: I would love to be able to teleport myself through space to another location. Getting places forever annoys me, especially commercial air travel these days. I just want to BE in Maui. I want to magically get to my parent’s house without taking two different flights and an hour car ride. That would save so much time and headaches, huh?
List 5 things on your bucket list:
- While I like being an independent author, I’d love a big fat publishing deal with one of the big five. Walking through an airport and spotting my book in a store there would be a dream come true.
- Two words: Private Jet!
- World peace (yeah, I kinda gotta get a P.C. one in here, right?)
- I’d absolutely love to design and build a custom house someday. I want to pick out everything, down to the location of switches and plugs. I’ve thought about my dream house since I was a kid. It doesn’t have to be a mansion, it just has to be all mine.
- More cruises. I’ve been on nearly 30 vacations at sea, to Hawaii (twice), Alaska (four times), Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. I am happiest at sea on a big ship and I constantly dream of my next vacation. We’re off to Mexico from L.A. in October and back to Alaska for my 50th birthday next May with a bunch of family and friends. I can’t wait.
Where can readers find you on the web?
The best place is rscottwallis.com where you can learn more about me and my books. There are links there to my Facebook and Instagram accounts and an easy way to email me, too.
Any final thoughts?
Read more books! Buy more books! Books, books, books. They are my favorite things. While I love television and consume a lot of programs, I’d be lost without words on paper. You should see my stack of books waiting to be read; I buy more than I could ever get through.
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