The worst of times . . . #mfrwhooks

Alien Contact for an Enhanced Nutcracker, a holiday novella, is the sixth installment in my Alien Contact for Idiots series, though it can stand alone. The book opens five years from next November on a dark, rainy side street in Tacoma, Washington.

Squinting against needles of rain, Holly tried to find her car, which was silver and Japanese and looked like half the cars parked on this street. She wouldn’t see it until she was on top of it and the remote clicker hadn’t worked for months. It didn’t help that a streetlight was out.

Of course a streetlight was out. The only thing missing was an earthquake.

“Not far now, Thug.”

She frowned. Now she wasn’t just talking to her cat, she was lying to it. If a woman couldn’t be honest with her cat, who could she be honest with?

As though to punish the lie, the northern gods turned the rain into sleet. Holly never swore—well, hardly ever—but she thought some nasty thing about her lying, stealing Aussie roommate. Ex-roommate.

“There’s the car, for real this time. Soon, Thug, I’ll turn on the heater and you’ll be warm as a freshly caught mouse.”

Her hands were so cold she dropped the car keys into icy water running along the curb. She had to go to hands and knees, in a puddle of course, to get them. When she finally snagged the keys, it was too dark to see the keyhole so she had to feel around for it with fingers so numb they couldn’t have felt a chainsaw.

Eventually, though, the cat carrier was buckled into the passenger seat and she was sitting, and dripping, in the driver’s seat.

“There, didn’t I tell you?” Her teeth chattered.

Thug yowled, a piteous cry of despair that made her throat tighten with pain. She’d done nothing to deserve getting locked out of her apartment but Thug really, really didn’t deserve this.

She put the key in the ignition. Turned it. The starter clicked.

Not started. Just clicked.

She tried again, then again. It didn’t even click. This wasn’t the first time the car had failed to start in the rain, but it was the worst time.

The worst of times . . .

Be sure to check out the hooks by other great writers in the Book Hooks blog hop.

Alien Contact for an Enhanced Nutcracker

They both need a Christmas miracle

Holly Jansen, a young orchestra conductor down on her luck, is secretly hired by an alien king to conduct The Nutcracker on Kwadra Island as a Christmas present for his American wife. This big break seems like a Christmas miracle. But after she meets the lead dancer, she wonders if it’s a curse, instead . . .

. . . because the queen has secretly ordered Rafe Sekwa, dancer extraordinaire, to produce a potlatch ceremony honoring her husband’s ancestors — on the same day, time, and stage as The Nutcracker. The stubborn genius is determined to do so no matter what. Soon Holly finds her ambition melting in the face of her growing admiration — and love.

~ ~ ~

Alien Contact for an Enhanced Nutcracker will be available October 21, 2019. Pre-order your copy now.



  1. Oh, poor Thug. I can hear his “piteous cry of despair” in such a situation. Holly couldn’t have much worse luck. Great hook.

    1. I hope that by this point, two pages into the book, readers will be rooting for Holly! And Thug too, of course.

      1. Of course! It sounds like they will, Ed. 🙂

  2. Sleet is the absolute worst. I spent many years in the Boston area, sleet capital of America.

    This is a fantastic opening scene, Ed.

    1. Winter weather + one cat = success?

  3. Cathy Brockman · · Reply

    I love Thug! Great hook!

    1. Some people are suckers for a cat. (I know because I’m one of them.)

  4. Nothing worse than a car that won’t start. Poor confined cat

    1. Not even a cold, wet cat

  5. henhousepublishing · · Reply

    Great name for a cat, I love it! The scene is well-written, I could feel the cold and wet.

    1. The weather seems appropriate for this time of year.

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