Category Archives: excerpt

Teaser Tuesday, YA Romance

Teaser Tuesday, just for you guys! This is a story I am currently working on and I know you will love it. It’s ROMANCE and I have planned a late fall release of it for the Christmas season! 

You can get another free teaser for signing up for my newsletter. Just click the link on the banner at the top of the page.


Puppy Love, a YA romance teaser

The December wind crept through the windows of the rattling school bus, and the frail heater located in front by the driver did nothing to dispel it.

          Traci Cooper sighed. She wished Brandon Durham would find someone else to aggravate while they were on the bus. She slapped at her notebook to prevent him from taking it for the third time.  Then, she noticed her math book wasn’t on the stack beside her.

          She turned around and gave him her most hateful look. “Give it back.”

          “Give what back?” His face fell into innocent lines, but he couldn’t maintain the look and broke into a grin.

          “You took my math book, and I want it back.”

          “How do you know I took your math book? You’re so busy on your cell phone, you don’t know the world is going on.”

          She glanced at the phone clutched in her hand. She’d been texting with her best friend, Sally Jones. Traci shoved it into her bag. Fortunately, her bag was on the window side of the bus, and he couldn’t get to that.  

          “I need my math book, Brandon, give it back.” She hated how her voice rose.

          “You most certainly do not need it, Cooper. You can’t add or subtract, let alone do algebraic formulas.”

          The kid across from him laughed.

          “If you don’t give it back to me,” she said through gritted teeth, “I’m going to tell Ms. Miller.”

          He mimicked her which made her even madder.

          “God, you act like a first grader.” She turned away and tried to decide what to do.

          She couldn’t tattle to Ms. Miller, the bus driver. Then she’d look like a first grader. Anyway, the woman would likely be mad about having her attention taken off the road, then she’d probably kick one of them off the bus for a few days for being brats. Christmas vacation was coming soon, and she didn’t want to have to spend exam week being driven by her mother.

          If I only had my license!

          She took her other assorted books and notebooks and set them right by the window. Then, she scooted to the seat nearest the aisle, and turned around to try and take something of Brandon’s seat. He caught on to her plan quickly and snatched his own spiral-bound notebook out of her way.

          She slid into the now vacant seat and reached over him to get her book.

          “You want the book or me?” he said, laughing. “Ms. Miller, help! Traci Cooper just touched me.” Then in a quiet voice added, “And I liked it.”

          The bus driver didn’t even look up, but only shook her head at the antics that didn’t really require intervention yet.

          “You’re disgusting.” Traci hugged her math book to her chest and moved back to her seat. “Like I’d even do that.”

          The bus turned into their neighborhood, slinging them all sideways a little. Traci put her books in her lap and secured them from flying off, or being taken by anyone. The kids at the first bus stop got off, and she thought to move up to a front seat to get away from Brandon but refrained. He seemed to quieten down the closer they got to his stop which was before hers.

          The bus gears groaned as it rumbled down the street. Brandon lived in a cove close to the back of the neighborhood. When the bus stopped at the mouth of his cove, he tapped her on the head as he exited.

          It wouldn’t have been a big deal except he used his pencil to do it.

          Traci punched at him and missed. His laughter floated down the aisle with him changing into a whistle as he walked away.

          She sighed a breath of relief once he was off the bus. Why did he persist so hard at being a loser?

Thanks for checking out my teaser Tuesday offering. I hope you are intrigued!

Semblance of Guilt Blog Tour

About the Book

Ellen Davis’s husband left her for another woman. Post-divorce, she’s trying to reassert her independence and lands a job as a reporter for her local newspaper. One of her assignments is covering weekly items on the police blotter, which is how she gets to know Lieutenant Pete Sakura—a handsome, witty Japanese- American Ellen is drawn to immediately.

Another of Ellen’s assignments is interviewing for the paper’s “Around The Town” column, and in this capacity, she meets Graham and Sophia Clarke, newcomers to the community. He’s an administrator at Columbia; she’s his beautiful Greek wife. Ellen and Sophia become fast friends, so it comes as a great shock when Sophia ends up dead.

Sophia Clarke is found murdered, and to all appearances, Ellen is the last person to have seen her alive. When Ellen’s fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, she’s arrested, and evidence steadily mounts against her. Ellen takes matters into her own hands as her romantic feelings for Pete intensify. Closing this case could either save Ellen or lead to her destruction.


After navigating past the desks, she knocked on the door of the cubicle. No response. The second, more deliberate, rap was answered with an impatient “Come!”Ellen entered the office and was somewhat taken aback by the sight of an attractive Asian man in shirt-sleeves awkwardly poised by the side of his desk, arms out, legs spread one behind the other, the front one slightly bent, the rear rigidly locked. He looked, she thought, as if he were trying to keep his balance on a skateboard. His attention was fixed on an open book sitting at the edge of his desk. “Give me a second,” he said testily, without taking his eyes off the book and at the same time adjusting the position of his front foot to a more pigeon-toed angle.

“I won’t ask what you’re doing,” Ellen said.

“Smart.” There was a sound of raised voices coming from the outer room. “The door!”

She closed it. “However, maybe you’d like to know what I’m doing?”

He ignored her question. “Damn, I’m not getting it.” He glanced up. “Do me a favor, take a look at number fifty and tell me what the hell is wrong here.”

Ellen approached the desk and peered down at the open book. A two-page spread of photographs showed a man in what looked like an usher’s uniform demonstrating a series of exercises. “Is this tai chi?”

“This is a pain in the ass. Could you look at the picture, tell me where I’m off, please?”

“‘Fair Lady works at Shuttles,’” she read aloud. She looked up from the page at him then back down again. “I see where you are. Figure fifty-A. It says: ‘Elbow bent, your right hand comes to your center line, fingers pinched together…’” She looked up. “For starters, your fingers aren’t pinched together.”

“Just hold the book up so I can see it from a better angle, okay?”

She held the book, show-and-tell style. He went through a variety of disconnected motions, clearly becoming more frustrated. “Shit.”

Ellen had formed a perception of the Japanese male as meditative, controlled, mysterious, soft-spoken, one who quietly went about transcending the material world while politely manipulating it. She had never realized she harbored this fully defined and fallacious stereotype until that moment, as she was looking at what appeared to be its antithesis. “If your phone rings, should I answer it?”

“Forget it.” He dropped the pose, took the book from her and put it back on the desk. “I’m all out of sync.”

“Now I’ll ask. What are you doing?”

“Getting my goddamn yin and yang together. My doctor tells me I have an ulcer and prescribes pills, but I don’t like pills. I’m taking up the eastern approach.”

“But isn’t tai chi Chinese?”

“Yeah, so?”

“‘Sakura’ sounds like a Japanese name.”

“Let me ask you a question. You ever eat chow mein?”

“Well, yes.”

“I rest my case.” He waved her toward the chair on the other side of the desk and dropped down into his own. “Sit.”

She remained on her feet. “I’m Ellen Davis. I was told you had the data for the Chronicle’s ‘Blotter’ column. I’m just here to collect it.”

He threw up a hand. “What’s the point of that column? All it does is stigmatize the poor saps who appear in it. There’s no investigation of circumstances, no disclaimers stating charges could be erroneous. Just a cold-blooded list of citations.”

“It’s supposed to serve as a deterrent,” she said without conviction. “Actually, I don’t particularly like the column myself, but I don’t make up the rules. I’m sorry I messed up your exercise routine. May I have the material, please?”

She became aware of herself as an unattached, uncompromised individual as she once was at Penn. She sensed the boundaries of her being as clearly as she felt the hem of her knit dress pull tightly against her legs with each step she took. It was as if she had never been married, had instead dressed for an interview and walked straight out of west Philadelphia into Morningside Heights.

Mid-block between 109 and 108 Streets, as she was passing a shoe store and scanning the view across the way, her attention was drawn to the bright blue awning of Charlie’s Snack Bar. At that moment the door to the restaurant opened, and a tall young woman with cropped red hair and wearing a tight black turtleneck sweater, clingy black pants and black cowboy boots, stepped out into the daylight. The girl stood aside to allow the man behind her to pass, and as he emerged completely into the sunlight, Ellen recognized Graham. She was about to hail him, when he took a step toward the redhead and Ellen realized he was with her. Unable to tear her focus from the scene or insinuate herself into it, she backed up into the shadow cast by the overhanging eave of the shoe store.

While Graham snapped down and adjusted the removable sun-visors of his eyeglasses, the young woman reached into the breast pocket of his blazer, drew out a pair of sunglasses he must have been holding for her, and put them on, in the process grazing her breasts against his left elbow. The act defined them as intimate friends, yet the distance springing up between them immediately afterward seemed devised to refute it. They stood apart talking to each other, their postures stiff and formal, their not touching as conspicuous as an open embrace.

Ellen watched them as her years at Penn were sucked into a black hole, and all she could remember was her husband Kevin dropping the bomb, telling her he was leaving her. Watching Graham and the redhead across the street was like catching the discovery scene she had missed, seeing it replayed for her benefit, like a burlesque in which she was both captive audience and object of scorn.

Almost at once she felt a connection with Sophia.

Sophia pulled her hands away and struck out at Ellen in one continuous movement, throwing herself off balance and stumbling sideways. She stared in horror at the gouge one of her nails had made on Ellen’s chest, and Ellen, stunned by the violence and not yet feeling the pain, gazed in disbelief at the drop of blood tracking toward the scalloped edge of her white satin bustier.

“Go—get out of here,” Sophia rasped. “I’m afraid what I might do to you. Get out, get out.”

The blood trickled onto the rim of smooth white fabric, forming a small, irregular stain. Ellen looked up at Sophia. The woman she thought she knew had become a trapped animal, her eyes wary-wild.

A sharp pain from the nick in her chest jolted her from her numbing inertia. She moved quickly from the room, feeling the tears coming, holding them back, postponing them as she ran silently down the hall. She descended the steps with blazing deliberation, her pace quick and even, her focus on reaching the door and disappearing into the sheltering night. She could feel her eyes, static-wide in bewildered alarm, betraying her attempt to appear in total control. Still, she focused straight ahead, concentrating on her goal, hearing Anna calling her name but moving through the sound, pacing herself to simulate haste without flight as she sliced through the clear zone of the foyer and pushed open the storm door. Midway across the porch she collided with an incoming guest, all pearls and black silk, the woman’s staccatoed “Shit!” like a gunshot in an open field of combat.

Picking up speed, she hurtled down the bluestone drive, anticipating the sound of the engine starting up even before she could spot her car.


Tuesday, March 13. First day in court. The jury sat knit-browed and entranced, leaning forward so as not to miss a word, not yet settled in their role of deliberative body. To Ellen, they looked as if they’d been caught off guard at the supermarket, a rainbow assortment of shoppers rounded up one afternoon and transported to a box at the opera, best seats in the house.

Ellen sat in a heavy, slat-back chair drawn up close to a long oak table. She was wearing a gray suit and paisley print blouse because Rosenthal had told her to wear something conservative but not somber. The skirt buckled and slid around her waist every time she moved because in the last two months she’d lost ten pounds from under-eating and over-exercising. As she’d taken her seat in the courtroom, she’d snagged her pantyhose on a rough spot on the table leg and felt the rip crawl up her leg, making her feel exposed to the prying eyes in the room. She’d been unable to choose earrings that morning, vacillating between small and large, shiny and dull, gold and silver, fixating on this final aspect of her attire as if she could determine the decision of the jury by choosing the politically correct objects to hang on her earlobes. When Rosenthal blew his car horn in the driveway she’d grabbed for familiarity, the small gold hoops, before allowing herself to be whisked off to the mind-boggling unknown.

Sitting next to her at the oak table, “Try to relax,” Rosenthal whispered in her ear, leaning toward and away from her in one smooth, condensed motion.

Ellen sat back in the chair, her rigid spine meeting hard wood, the word “relax” banned from her body’s vocabulary. Through an impromptu technique of auto-suggestion and deep breathing, she was barely managing to bring under control the strangulating tension in her neck and the explosive blood-humming in her ears. It was not her lawyer’s fault she hadn’t been prepared for Mark Gilbert’s speech. Rosenthal had described the prosecutor’s meticulous approach, but there was no way he could have prepared her for the immediacy of the event: the way Gilbert cocked his left hip as he stood facing the jury; how his dark eyes seemed to glow from some deep passion or conviction; how he flashed her alternating looks of consternation and pity; how he stressed syllables unexpectedly, so that his words jumped against the wall of her chest—“enter the room,” “points of the scissors,” “homicidal violence”; how his brow suddenly furrowed as he reminded the jury—“You and I, we represent the People. We have been charged not to avenge a wrong, but to deliver justice.”


“Come up to the bedroom.”


“Stay the night.”


“Hurry.” She wanted to be taken on the spot, jammed against the table or pinned to the floor, but delay would set the act apart. She could foresee it, her first experience of absolute exposure—the loss of her true virginity on her sex-worn bed. The chaste and devilish nuances of amazing contradiction lifted the event to the peak of desire. He was one step behind her, holding on to her hand as they climbed the staircase. She was aware of every footfall, every breath, every sound of this outwardly conventional drama. She led him down the hall, almost turning in at the wrong doorway, almost forgetting where she slept, his presence casting an aura of unfamiliarity on the surroundings. He caught her hesitation and uttered a short, nervous laugh, sharing her bewilderment.

As they entered her bedroom, it seemed to lose all connection to her past, as if it had come into existence at that very moment just to harbor them.

In rapt silence they helped each other with the shedding of clothes, marveling at the unhurried pace of the ritual, as if their bodies had agreed to temper urgency with curiosity.

They lay on the white comforter, barely disturbing it in their intent exploration, the upheavals taking place inwardly, while over audacious globes and rises and along newly accessible furrows, their fingers, lips, tongues concentrated movement in targeted pressures, exacting exquisite modulations of sensation from each focal point.


Semblance of Guilt can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble


runs July 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: 99¢ $3.99 ebook, $21.99 paperback, $39.95 hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 328
Release: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Archway
ISBN: 9781480827851
Click to add to your Goodreads list.“A determined amateur detective who’ll garner fans with her refusal to either back down or give up.” –Kirkus Reviews


About the Author

Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt Rinehart and Winston. On her first novel, Reclining Nude, Oliver Sacks, M.D. commented: “exquisite—and delicate.” Her second, art suspense Stolen Light earned: “complex and intriguing” —Kirkus Review

Links to connect with Claudia:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday Teaser Excerpt from new book!

Here we are in May and you know what that means? The number two book in the Shannon Wallace Mystery series is about to bust out of here! That’s right. and I am going to give you a special sneak peek into the book but first…

The new TITLE!!!!!!

Yew to a Kill

Isn’t that snazzy?  I know, right? It’s a cool little twist to “View to A Kill” and I did it to match 

Disk of Death 

which is a twist on “Kiss of Death”.

Okay, so now that you are in the know, here is a bit of Yew to a Kill

Yew to a Kill by Kim Smith copyright 2016

I carried a deep respect for professional men and Jason Scott ranked right up there. His asking to hire Video Angels for his business did nothing but raise him in my estimation. He sat in my sparsely furnished office in his ill-fitting tan suit, his blond hair stringy and disheveled. He looked more like a worn-out beach bum than a funeral home director—the kind of bum who has seen too much sunburn and had too much sand kicked in his face.

Of course, these days he was a local businessman and member of the Chamber of Commerce, and he could afford to look any way he wanted to unlike in years gone by when appearance really mattered and only the best sufficed. His youthful good looks had smoothed his way into the inner circle of South Lake’s elite, the inner circle his wife was born into. Right now, I didn’t care if he’d married his way in or was dipped in the clique. I just wanted his money.

We sat silently, legs crossed, listening to the quiet of the second floor of Video Angel’s building. I gazed at the picture on the wall behind his head—a depiction of Guinevere and Lancelot that Dwayne Brown, my partner, had bought for my office when I’d said I wanted to make it interesting and visual. Of course, movie posters came to my mind since we were in the video production business, but obviously “interesting and visual” means different things to different people. Dwayne is about as different as they come.

“Do you think you can do it, Shannon?” Jason asked.

“Sure. No problem. You have any special requests?”

“Yeah. Don’t screw it up. Make sure you get something I can take to the cops.”

I stared.

His face turned red, and he dropped his gaze

“Sure. You want evidence of illegal activity. I get it,” I told him.

“The cops think it’s kids.”

“And you don’t think it’s kids?” I asked.

“Hell, no. Kids wouldn’t spend this much time tearing up crap. They don’t plan out their crimes like this.”

I didn’t tell him I disagreed, but I did. Strongly. My aunts had a neighbor whose kid, Jimmy, was a mastermind of getting into trouble.

“So all you need is surveillance on the cemetery grounds for a possible shot of anyone stealing or upsetting stuff?”

“You heard about what they did?” Anger flashed across his face.

“Heard a little gossip. Someone said gangs, someone else said devil-worshippers. Guess since we’re surrounded by churches in this town that’s to be expected.”

He lifted his hand and rubbed his chin. “Gangs? Good grief. It ain’t gangs or kids, either, I’m telling you.”

“Well, who do you think it is?”

“Got no idea. Almost think someone’s out to get me.”

“Who’s mad at you?”

He shook his head and shrugged but made no effort to answer.

“Okay. We’ll get out there and take shots of anything that moves.”

He slumped in relief and pulled out his wallet. “How much?”

“Three hundred.”

He pulled out three bills and laid them on the desk. “If they go to jail and I get to prosecute the creeps, I’ll double it.”

I gave him my most appreciative professional smile and shook his hand as he rose to leave. At that moment, Dwayne came through the front door to the offices, jangling the doorbell, and making a terrible racket. We joined him in the front lobby area. There wasn’t much in there aside from a reception desk and a table with magazines on it.

“Jason Scott,” Dwayne greeted him, shaking hands. “How’s the funeral biz?”

“Dead, man. Real dead.”

They both laughed, and Jason made his way out.

Dwayne gave me a raised eyebrow. “What’s up? You doing some pre-arranging?”

I walked back to my desk and waved the cash at him. “Nope. We got a job.”

A toothy white flash slashed across his ebony face. “Let’s see. Jason wants us to video a seminar on how to make a body look good, right?”

“Nope. Surveillance. On his cemetery.” I strolled to the oak corner cabinet, removed my faux-leather tote bag, and turned to see what reaction he’d give.

“Why do I always feel like Ethel on I Love Lucy at times like this?” he asked, grin giving way to that familiar raised eyebrow. I shrugged and headed for the door. “Maybe because Lucy and I are both redheads?”

He laughed. “You got red highlights, girl. But, nope, that ain’t it. Besides, I think Lucy got her hair did. I mean done-did. You know what I’m saying?”

A twitch started in my cheek. It was going to be a long night. “Dee, while you’re deciphering dye-jobs, let’s go get some footage at Jason’s cemetery and earn our keep.”

He muttered. “Die, or d-y-e?”

  Who’s excited to read more about Shannon and the gang? Because I’m excited:)

Also, don’t forget: you can get the first book in the series !

Here’s the link-just click on the image.

Another also, you can sign up for my newsletter here on my site over on the sidebar. My subscribers will get an inside look at my writing process, more teasers, and great giveaways. The Zanies already KNEW the title of this book because they got it first! 

Okay, I think that will be all for now. Leave me comments below.

Cover reveal coming soon!

Excerpt two: the sidekick

Well, did you like the first excerpt? The boyfriend? Yeah, I know. Good stuff huh? Well, here comes the second one … the sidekick. He is a gay, black, beanpole with attitude. And his devotion to the main character is unprecedented.

I hope you enjoy these excerpts and teasers to get you ready for the book, Deadly Array. And I am totally NOT stuck on this title. If anyone can come up with a better one, let’s hear it. Until then, enjoy!

stevepb / Pixabay

Excerpt two: The sidekick

“You getting hungry?” Dwayne asked.

I thought about it. “Yeah, actually I am.”

“Let’s go get our grub on, and maybe we can piece together a plan.”

“You up for a trip to the Underground? They have food, I think.”

He smirked. “I see the hamster racing around on that damn wheel in your head again. What’s at the Underground?”

“Maybe Charlie Fine. He hangs out there sometimes. I would love to trap him into spilling his guts to some broad. If that falls through, I plan on following him after the funeral service tomorrow. You up for a little surveillance work?”

“Sir Vay Lance is my code name.”

I saluted him with my beer can. “To finding this weirdo and getting my stuff back.”

He clinked it with his empty one. “Cheers.” After a few swallows, he asked, “Ever been to the Underground before?”

“Nope. Don’t know anything about it except what I’ve heard on the news. Why?”

He sighed, pulling his nylon basketball jersey out of his waistband. “I went one time before I found out it’s a drinking hole frequented by fat, white, straight dudes with trucker hats and belt buckles the size of Texas.”

“Sounds like you had a bad time.”

“Yeah, one of them had long hair and an attitude. I don’t relish a return visit. If I see a dude with a long ass earring that reads ‘My mama can whip your mama’, I am so out of there food—or no food.”

Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to give a shout out to my friends at Murder by 4 for the recent award we received from Writer’s Digest. That gold badge looks mighty good you guys!

Now, on to the post.

There are a lot of characters in a book. Sometimes they play multiple roles. There are about five main ones in my caper mystery, entitled Deadly Array, coming out soon. The boyfriend, who is also the boss, is also the victim. In this excerpt you get to meet him.

The Boyfriend – excerpt

I shifted my feet a little, taking inventory. No welcoming smile, no jovial invitation to sit and chat, which we had done on a number of occasions. Today he wore that superior look on his face that I hated. The look that screamed position and authority.

“I take it you’re not going to make it for Friday date night?”

He scowled. “Probably not.”

That was enough. Better just get down to business and get the hell out of his office. If he wanted to be a grouch, he could do it alone. “Well, here I am. What did you need?”

“Thanks for being so prompt.” He stood, snagged his suit coat from the back of his chair, and shrugged it on. “You’re always there right when you’re called, aren’t you?” The detached way he spoke unnerved me.

“I try.”

“Yeah, you do. Which makes this stuff I am about to throw at you even harder.” He tugged on the sleeves.

My stomach knotted. “What’s up?”

“You’re fired.” He stapled me into place with his baby blues. “You can pick up your last check from Payroll.”

“Are you kidding? What did I do?” I stared at him, doing my best to sniff out the joke.

He sank back into his chair with a defeated air.”Sorry.”

This was no joke.

The ecru-colored carpet blurred as I tried to focus on something. My heart pounded so hard that I couldn’t hear anything else. “Did I forget a journal entry or mess up one of your spreadsheets? What?”

“Let’s don’t make a scene, okay? I’ll see to it that you get a good severance package. A little something to take the sting out of it. And a good reference.”

I gazed at the fake Ming vase on the side table. I wanted to rush over, grab it, and fling it at his head. “What did I do? Why are you firing me?”

He avoided making eye contact and patted his pockets, feeling for his car keys. “Call it downsizing.”

More excerpts to come! I hope you enjoyed this one about the boyfriend!