I'm excited! It was one year ago that I was sent the manuscript for Haunted Journey to the printer. The following months have been very rewarding, as I received feedback from readers of all ages. In fact, the first was from a nine-year-old who read it with her mom and sister before it was printed. She literally bounced with excitement as she told me what must happen in the sequel she thought I should write!  Since then, many readers have offered similar suggestions. Most insisted there simply must be a wedding, perhaps two or three!  
Ideas have been percolating in my brain, and I now have several chapters of a sequel. Most of the same characters will show up again, but I also want this to be a stand-alone story, so that a reader who hasn't read Haunted Journey will enjoy it, so new characters will be introduced.  . 
 Here is most of Chapter One. Any more would be a spoiler, and I don't want to give away any surprises ! 
  If you feel like it, I'd welcome your critiques and suggestions. Thanks for your continuing support and encouragement!.

UPDATE:  June 3, 2018. It's finished!!!!!  Well, I think I've written the final chapter, anyway. There is much editing to do. However I hope to have it ready for the printer by August,  Now, if only I could come up with a title! 

UPDATE: January 22, 2019 Well, August came and went, as did September, October, November, and December! The new novel didn’t get to the printer, but I believe I do have a title. I am back at revising “Slingshot Justice” and hoping for a late spring publishing date. I needed a few months to contemplate several changes, which I hope have improved the story greatly.

MUSKOKA PIONEER SCHOOL circa 1888

MUSKOKA PIONEER SCHOOL circa 1888

    Chapter One

Outsider

Jamie MacGregor was on a mission Call it revenge. Call it justice. He didn’t care about words; he needed to act. In the tiny village, the handful of cabins and sheds he surveyed lay as silent and deserted as a cemetery at midnight. On this March afternoon, the occasional drip of melting snow from their roofs provided the only sound. No dogs barked. No wagon wheels creaked along the still frozen track. No farmers gossiped outside the general store. He noted its drawn window shades. The business was closed, a rare occurrence indicating the importance of the day.

Just days ago, the surrounding trees bowed low under the weight of heavy snow. Now their bare branches allowed him a clear view of the area. However, he would also be more visible to others. Coming to a brief halt, he watched one house in particular for signs of life. The imposing two storey, clapboard building had always impressed him, as it stood in stark contrast to the simple log cabins most people occupied. After a few minutes, it became clear no one was home. The doctor wasn’t seeing patients today.

Moving forward, he avoided the main route and passed through a small woods. In the distance, an unusual shape rose along the riverbank, and the soft sound of rushing water identified it as the new mill. Emerging from the thick trees, he approached his destination from behind. Most of the villagers had already gathered inside this house for a special occasion. He had come for the same event, but with a different purpose: he would wait on the outside.

In front of the house, a patient horse, hitched to a buggy, waited. Close to a side window, Jamie spied a tree thick enough for his purpose. He approached it with stealth, keeping an eye on the horse, not wanting to spook it and alert others to his presence.

Reaching the safety of the tree, he flattened himself against it. Nervous sweat poured down his face, blurring his vision and stinging his eyes, but he didn’t dare try to wipe it away. Someone might detect the movement. He held his breath and listened. A deep grunt and the scraping of wood on wood indicated someone pushing up the lower half of a stiff window. A whisper of soft voices floated onto the still air.

White hot rage shook his body, but he couldn’t afford to lose control now. He’d planned for so long and chosen his moment carefully. He would only have this one chance. He had to get it right.

Inside the house, the voices stopped. His heart raced. He’d lost track of time! How long had he been standing there? Had he missed the moment? No! He couldn’t. He had to do this. Leaning closer, as far as he dared without being seen, he heard a man’s voice ring out, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Unclenching his fist, he hefted the sizeable rock he’d been squeezing so hard his fingers ached, placed it in his slingshot, pulled back hard, and…let it fly! The shattering sound of the missile smashing through the glass at the top half of the window provided a fleeting moment of satisfaction before screams erupted inside.

He ducked back behind the tree as the familiar, red face of his neighbour, Jim Whylie, leaned out the window scanning the surrounding bushes. “Who’s out there?” he shouted, shaking a fist. “By God, whoever you are, you’ll pay for this, you bastard!” 

Quick! He only had a moment to crouch down and half-run, half-crawl into the bush and get as far away as he could before the others, now pouring out the front door, could spot him and give chase. He was fast on his feet and with a bit of a head start, he knew he could outrun any of the others. Even if one or two came after him on horseback, he knew the paths and trails where a horse couldn’t get through the underbrush. 

***

In the parlour, the shocked bride stared at the offending rock laying among the dangerous shards of thick glass glittering on the dark, threadbare carpet. Most of the men rushed to get outside and give cha+se to the culprit, as their stunned wives and daughters gathered around the newlyweds.

“Who would do such a thing?”

“At a wedding!”

“Shocking!”

“Disgraceful!” 

“No respect!”