Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Excerpt & Giveaway: LOW WATER CROSSING

Book Two of the Sulfur Gap Series

Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Saga 
Independently published
Date of Publication: July 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 476

  Scroll down for the giveaway!

Low Water Crossing is a tribute to those who endure heartache and nevertheless celebrate, to those who wait—and live full lives while waiting.

A backhoe unearths a human skeleton buried on Wayne Cheadham’s West Texas ranch. The investigation points a grisly finger at Wayne’s first wife. And so begins the wild ride through twenty-five years of love and heartbreak. 

Wayne’s a highly eligible bachelor who runs into trouble, first because he’s naïve, and next because, well, life is unpredictable. He’s a loveable guy with a peaceful outlook. Just about anyone wants the best for him, dang it. To cope with sadness, he arranges for an old steel-girded bridge to be placed in the dry pasture in front of his house. Says it helps him adjust his perspective. Others say it’s the world’s largest yard ornament. He takes in stray emus and abandoned horses and becomes a mentor to a loveable little boy without much family. He sits and ponders his plight at a low-water crossing over the creek.

A cast of characters from the fictional small West Texas town of Sulfur Gap
the staff of a high school burger shop hangout on the Interstate, coffee groups at the Navaho Café, hair stylists from the Wild Hare, a local sheriff and his deputies, and the band at the local honky-tonkknits together the community surrounding Wayne, and all bring their own quirks. People you’d find anywhere, some with thicker Texas twangs than others. 

The town, the ranch, and familiar Texas cities such as San Angelo, Abilene, and Austin provide a backdrop for universal themes of love, grief, and loyalty.

Prologue—A Skeleton Arm, 2013

Excerpt from Low Water Crossing

by Dana Glossbrenner


Junior lurches in his cab and kills the engine. He pushes back his cap and stares at what dangles from the scoop of dirt—a skeletal arm dressed in tattered plaid, waving its bone fingers in the stiff West Texas breeze. My sweet sense of peace at the prospect of easy money evaporates.

“Oh, hell!” I jump from my truck, and Junior slams from his cab, both of us mouthing curses, our minds locked on the sight of that decaying piece of a human. He saws his arms to catch the attention of the dozer operators and truck drivers. He whistles to his father, Tuna, the foreman. When I signed the contract with their company to sell rock, I joked about their names—Junior and Tuna Berger. But now, they remind me of how ludicrous it was to hope for a hands-off source of income on the Cheadham ranch. No oil wells. No wind turbines. Is it too much to ask to have a gravel pit without a skeleton?

Tuna inspects the chugging gravel sorter. He straightens at Junior’s whistle and fixes his eyes on the scoop, dangling the arm. Big trucks, other excavators and dozers—they all stop. Men climb from their cabs and jog to join me and Junior. In the sudden quiet, we stare at the limp arm. Tuna mutters as he reaches for his phone. He starts toward us as he makes a call.

“This is bad, Wayne.” He barely looks at me as he meets us and puts his phone in its belt case. “Looks like we’re gonna have ta suspend work awhile. We’ve found human remains.”

“Have you ever seen the likes of this?” I remind myself it’s not like we’ll lose the ranch if the gravel pit doesn’t pan out. After all, this is somebody’s unofficial grave. We walk to the hole left by Junior’s excavator scoop.

 “Nope. I’ve dug up all kinds of stuff in my days, but I ain’t never found no skeleton. Oh, man, look there.” A skull grins up at us from a layer of rock.

“Damn. Could it be Indian remains?” I forget the shreds of plaid shirt and ponder for a moment. The Smithsonian might be interested, a desperate wish. Better an archaeological dig than a crime scene.

Tuna’s quick to disabuse me of the idea. “Naw. It’s not that old. We have to notify law enforcement, which is what I done. Sheriff Sparks is on his way.”

“Oh, great.” I try not to look too irritated.

We stand around and try to change the subject to weather, sports, anything but speculation about the skeleton. If we’d simply heard about it, we’d be all over the subject, but standing over a deal like this, we don’t have much to say. Within minutes, the cruiser bumps through the cattle guard and stops inside the fence. I turn away and shoot some bull with Junior. “This is an odd day of work, isn’t it?”

“Oh yeah. Some find.” He cuts his eyes at the skeleton arm. I wonder for a moment if he’s about to cross himself.

“How’d you manage to stop so quick?” I ask.

Before he can answer, L.B. strides into our group, hitching his belt and resting his hands on his gear. His hat brim’s as wide as his skinny shoulders.

“Howdy, Sheriff.” Tuna offers his hand.

“It was hard to miss, Wayne,” Junior says. “I looked up and saw a dried-up arm dangling. When you see something like that, you stop what you’re doing purdy durn fast.”

L.B. takes over. “So, there’s been no other disturbance?”

“Naw,” Junior says.

The sheriff looks down at the skull. “We’ll have to get some investigators from Austin in here. And y’all have to stop digging.”

“How long ya think it’ll take, L.B?” I ask.

“Looks like somebody intended to bury a body, so it’ll be a homicide investigation. Might take a month or two.”

“Aw, shit!” I slap my cap on my leg. The oil deposits are too deep in hard rock for drilling to make a profit, and a big wind farm butts up to my east property line. Damn and double damn. No oil, no wind turbines. And now this. A month-long shutdown will probably put me out of the gravel business. Tuna will have to relocate. He’ll lose money, too.

“I’ll have all this taped off, so don’t tamper with anything, Wayne.” L.B. steps toward me but rocks back like he intended to shift his weight. I walk to my truck and head off before I say something I’ll regret, or maybe push L.B. in with the skeleton and kick in some dirt after him.

Dana Glossbrenner has lived in West Texas all her life. She is the author of Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers (non-fiction) and The Lark: Book 1 of the Sulfur Gap Series.

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TWO WINNERS: 1st winner gets signed copies of both books in the Sulfur Gap Series; 2nd winner gets a signed copy of Low Water Crossing. 
 October 6-16 , 2020
(U.S. Only)
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