It’s In The Works…Again

Finally! I have been able to get back to the second Sophie Collins Mystery — The Secret of Trail House Lodge. I have been writing on it off and on for the past 18 months. Now the ‘finish-it-up’ bug is biting and I’ve been writing 1,000 to 1,500 (or there about) words every other day. Would like it to be every day, but I do have jobs from my graphic design business that I need to take care of first.

While searching the many, many, many images on the web for the perfect one for my cover, I came across just the one. I contacted the photographer, Richard Dawson, for permission to use his photo on my cover. He was delighted and we came to an agreement only to discover he no longer had the original, hi-res image. He went and re shot the building, but unfortunately all of the brush and high grass had been mowed down or removed. Well, I did a little landscaping in Photoshop and I now have the high grass and brush back. Oh, and this was only a two story building. I had to add a third floor to match the lodge.  This is the finished cover.


Since I am working on it again, I thought I would share the first chapter with you and see what you think about it. Your thoughts and comments welcome. Be nice. I don’t mind constructive criticism, but I draw the line at criticism for the sake of just wanting to say something negative. Like the little rabbit in “Bambie” said…”If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Chapter 1

Grayson inhaled deeply, squared his shoulders, and gently tapped on Sophie’s bedroom door.

“School day. Time to get up, Miss Sophie. The bus will be here in ninety minutes. Remember, you still have homework to finish … and … brush your teeth.” He waited a few seconds for her usual muffled grunt before going back downstairs.

This was a new experience for Grayson. He’d been Mr. Hustus’ ‘man’ for over twenty years and in all that time, he’d never had to deal with a ‘child,’ and he used that term loosely when he spoke about her to Millie, the cook and housekeeper.

Millie would just smile and shake her head saying, “Oh, don’t be such a stuffed shirt, Grayson. Just give the girl some time, she’ll settle in. It’s only been a couple of months since she discovered she was Mr. Hustus’ granddaughter. How would you feel if you had been on your own, answerin’ to no body and then thrown into a situation where you had everyone tellin’ you what to do. You’d find the shoe a bit too tight, too.”

Grayson would just stare at Millie. She just doesn’t understand he would think. He knew just what a handful Miss Sophie could be, to say the least. She definitely had a mind of her own, and it didn’t make any difference how much he pleaded or cajoled, Sophie did exactly as she wanted … good or bad. Millie just seemed to overlook all her antics, chuckling and shaking her head. The child needed structure and discipline if she was going to take her place in society as the granddaughter of Hustus Morsey. He would not let her become fuel for the town’s gossipmongers. He owed it to Mr. Hustus and made a solemn promise Come hell or high water, he would see that she was brought up as a proper lady!


Sophie stretched, yawned, and grunted at Grayson’s attempt to get her up for school.

Yuck! School!

She wrinkled her nose in disgust as she slid off the side of the bed. It was bad enough when she had been back in Trenton where nobody wanted to be friends with her … but here … everybody wanted to be friends with her. She knew exactly what the stuck up little twits in their tight little cliques wanted, and it wasn’t to be her friend.


She stuck out her tongue at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and pulled the toothpaste and brush out of the holder that Millie had bought for her. Loading the brush up with toothpaste, she began brushing, something she had neglected to do when she had been on the road. Old man Johnson, her official guardian now, had set up an appointment with the dentist to have her teeth checked.

Only one cavity! How lucky can you get? She gave herself a toothy grin as she examined her toothpaste-covered teeth in the mirror; a ring of toothpaste circled her mouth.

Old man Johnson had told Grayson to be sure that she brushed her teeth twice a day and Grayson had bugged her everyday since to make sure she did.

“Eeesh, Grayson get a life,” she’d told him.

“Miss Sophie, Mr. Johnson taxed me with making sure you brushed your teeth twice a day, and that is what I intend to do, whether you like it or not,” he’d told her, looking down his nose at her.

Sophie could barely keep from laughing at his stern expression. “Oh give it a rest, Grayson,” she’d said, laughing as she ran past him out the door.

Unfortunately, Sophie could see Grayson wasn’t going to let up on the teeth brushing issue, so she decided to let it go and just brush. She didn’t want to be toothless at sixteen.

There‘s lots of other stuff I can annoy Grayson with, she’d gleefully thought.

Popping in the kitchen, Sophie danced over and gave Millie a big hug.

“Mornin’ Millie. Ummm, that smells awesome!” she said, pulling out the chair and flipping her leg over the back before sitting down.

“Girl, when are you gonna start actin’ like a lady instead of a tomboy?” Millie laughed, placing a plate of sausage and eggs in front of Sophie.

“Oh, I don’t know … maybe next year?” Sophie replied as she dove into food on her plate. She didn’t want to be a lady.

Too many rules and definitely no fun, she thought taking a big swig of orange juice to wash the eggs down.

Millie just shook her head and turned back to the stove.

She’ll come around one of these days. I just hope it’s before Grayson blows a gasket, Millie thought.

Grabbing her books, Sophie bounded out the front door and ran down to the end of the drive, just as the bus pulled up.

Whew, that was close. Old Grayson would have had kittens, if he’d had to drive me again today. Sophie smiled to herself as she made her way down the bus aisle looking for an open seat.

She spied Tyler Blakemore’s sandy hair just above the seats in the next-to-the-last row. Coming closer, she could see Tyler was sitting sprawled across the seat and waved to him. He smiled, his blue eyes sparkling. He sat up as she approached.

“Here. Saved ya a spot. Didn’t think you’d wanna sit with ‘miss priss Jessica.’” A wide grin spread across Tyler’s sun-freckled face, as he patted the seat beside him.

“Thanks. How’d you know?” Sophie laughed, glancing around to see if Jessica had heard Tyler. Not that she cared, but she knew Jessica could be very vindictive if crossed, and Sophie didn’t want Tyler getting in her crosshairs.

Oooh our lucky day! Old Jess ain’t here today, she thought as she slid into the seat beside Tyler. Placing her book bag on the floor she grinned at Tyler. “Thanks.”

“Wanna go explorin’ after school?” Tyler asked. “Tommy said he ’n Matt found an old abandoned building a little ways off Trail House Road, up by the old winery.”

“Sounds excitin’, but old man Johnson and his missus are coming over for dinner tonight, ’n I gotta help Millie gettin’ stuff ready. How ’bout tomorrow? It’s Saturday ’n we can take the whole day to explore.”

“Ok. Sounds like a plan.” Tyler and Sophie high-fived as the bus pulled up in front of the school.