Monday, August 25, 2014

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland (The Dreamland Series Book 1) by Judy Nickles

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland (The Dreamland Series Book 1) by Judy Nickles
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Newly-widowed Trixie Blake returns to her hometown of Dreamland, Arkansas, to see the building left to her in her grandfather's will. She has only vague memories of the town she left at almost five years old. After her mother divorced her father and moved away from Dreamland, she never saw her grandfather again. She has no idea why John Quimby Lloyd, Jr., left her a building and nothing to her older brother Bill.

On her first evening in town, she is delighted to reconnect with two high school classmates now married to each other and living in Dreamland. She is less pleased to learn that an unknown development company wants the entire downtown, including her building, for some yet to be explained business. The local front man, Guy Langley, has an unexplained relationship with her mother Lucy, and none with his son Mitch, a local attorney and widower.

Still reeling from her husband's sudden death and without roots, Trixie digs in her heels and decides to renew the Quimby Building's first floor lease held by two senior citizen sisters, the Misses Drummond, proprietors of the successful Sunshine Style Shoppe. She decides the second floor will be perfect for her own business, a gift shop and tea room.

Danger stalks her from her temporary lodging at the hotel to the small cottage she's offered by Hetty Green, a retired English teacher. Miss Hetty taught most of the town's residents, including Trixie's mother and also Doug Everton, the police chief who takes an instant dislike to Trixie. Then local historian Candace King—who has a few secrets of her own—fills Trixie in on the small town's past, including its most infamous part-time resident, Al Capone.

Though Al is history, the Drummonds insist he still haunts the Quimby Building. Even Trixie smells cigar smoke after a while. But it's the threats on her life that keep her guessing if she's made the right decision or not. To stay grounded, she has to take a page from the playbook of Danny Jefferson, a young man with Down Syndrome, whose gentle nature masks a keen awareness of what's really going on in Dreamland, Arkansas.

And she finds a special friend in Mitch Langley who knows about trying to move on, because he's been there—done that—and has the scars to prove it. 

How the Series Got Started
Author Judy Nickles retired near Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 2007. One of the first things she learned about the area was its history as the stomping ground of such notorious gangsters as Al Capone, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Owney Madden—among many others. Gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging ran rampant in the scenic resort area during this by-gone era. About two miles of underground tunnels run beneath the streets of Hot Springs. Their use (or non-use) by the visitors to the area has been told and retold in countless books and short stories. 

One afternoon the author stumbled upon the Ohio Club and ventured inside. From an upstairs table where a gambling casino once did a brisk business, she looked down at the massive antique bar and then read the history of the club from the back of the menu. Many famous people have patronized the establishment, including the aforementioned ‘gangsters’. 

She kept feeling she wasn’t alone and glanced up to see a life-sized cut-out of a grinning Al Capone complete with cigar. A story began to percolate. Later, on another visit (she likes to go have her soft drink during the quieter afternoon hours), she sat in a booth downstairs and was told that it backed up to the door Al Capone used to access the tunnels. Now the story reached full brew. 

Be sure to read more fun facts by following the links. If you ever visit Hot Springs, you’ll want to make sure you browse the Gangster Museum—and then amble down Central Avenue to the Ohio Club for a ‘cold one’. The service is friendly, the food is great, and nobody complains about a senior citizen who brings her laptop, claims old Al’s booth, and orders a Coke!

A Personal Note
One of the continuing characters in The Dreamland Series is a young man named Danny Jefferson. Danny, born with Down Syndrome, has carved out a good life for himself with his own determination and unflagging family support. A one-time special education teacher, Judy Nickles has professional knowledge of DS. 

However, she also has a personal interest. After the deaths of her parents, she set out to learn the facts about the brother who died as an infant. By piecing together scattered clues, she realized he had most likely been born with DS. The very week she began her quest to learn more about him, she visited the cemetery and found his grave had sunken in up to her ankles. It was almost as if she was being sent a message: Justice. Justice at last

Eight years later, she looked forward to the birth of her first grandson. When the call came, she rejoiced—and then heard the words, “He has Down Syndrome.” But she still rejoiced, knowing he’d been born into a family who would love him unconditionally and work tirelessly to ensure he reached his maximum potential. With a myriad of the health problems which often come with DS, the tiny little fellow clung to life through his first year. Now his smile lights up the lives of all who know him.
The Dreamland Series is, of course, light reading—but there’s a deeper message. The books are a grandmother’s love song to a little boy whom she prays will find his special niche in life—like Danny Jefferson. And she hopes readers will come to know Danny as a person, a young man, a functional member of society who pulls his own weight—not as ‘a DS person’. Perhaps the next time readers cross paths with someone who is ‘different’, they will be quicker to see how we are all the same.


But as Trixie hung up, the sound of a car gunning its motor and the smell of garbage burning sent her flying in every direction. The smoke seeping under the back door led her to a brown paper sack slowly turning to ashes on the steps. She recognized red lettering from Martin’s Market as the sack crumbled, revealing a hodge-podge obviously taken from a dumpster somewhere.
She brought a pan of water from the kitchen and doused the embers of the fire, then leaned closer to inspect the soggy mess and gagged. Entrails from some butchered animal trailed across the concrete. She went inside and leaned against the door, taking deep breaths and willing away the message she’d just been sent.
Trixie changed from jeans to slacks with a dressier pull-over and sat down on the bed to brush her hair. I can’t legally carry that gun, but I hate to leave it here in case whoever unlocked the window comes back for it—or whatever they were after—hopefully not me. I could lock it in the Cherokee. Surely nobody would break into my car parked in plain view in front of the Twilight. But somebody walked up to my back door in broad daylight and dumped that disgusting pile on the doorstep. Nothing’s certain, at least not around here.
After struggling with her conscience, she left the gun in the drawer and went out to her car. How much should she tell Rudy and Mitch tonight?
Going somewhere?”
The words sent Trixie whirling to face Chief Doug Everton who wasn’t in uniform. “What do you want?”
I was passing and thought I’d see if you’d had another disaster.”
Not unless you want to count the bonfire of animal guts on my back doorstep.”
He didn’t react. “Did you report it?”
Why? Nobody’s going to take it seriously or do anything about it.”
You should’ve called.”
The less I have to do with you and your bunch, the better, especially after what you did to Danny Jefferson last night. Accusing him of slashing my tires and lying about having a witness was a mean, nasty thing to do to anybody, much less someone who fights every day to be accepted as a real member of society.”
I didn’t accuse him of anything.”
Pardon me? I sat right in that house over there with Rudy, Dee, and Danny, and heard all about it.”
The man seemed to be considering something. “I picked him up and took him to the station to ask him what he knew about it. Danny’s sharp. People don’t pay attention to him, so they don’t think about what he sees and hears. But believe me, Danny knows what goes on in this town.”
Why didn’t you take care of him, Trixie? Danny’s words assaulted her again.
He distinctly told us…”
I took him downtown because something’s been bothering him for a while, and I didn’t think he’d open up there with his mother and sister. He’s very protective of them.”
You’re denying telling him the D.A. would be in touch with him?”
I told him nothing of the sort. I took him into a private room and got him a soda, and then I got called out to the telephone. I was gone maybe fifteen minutes, and when I came back I just asked him if he’d seen or heard anything that might help me out. He said he hadn’t, but he was really uptight. I talked a little more, hoping he’d relax and come up with something but no dice.”
Then who scared him half to death last night? Not that I believe you didn’t.”
I don’t care what you believe, lady. Now is that mess still on your doorstep?”
I didn’t touch it. I put out the fire and left it until I can get a shovel to scoop it up and toss it in the woods behind the house.”
Show me.” He followed Trixie around the cottage and hunkered down to examine the remains of the brown paper bag and its contents. “It’s a Martin’s bag.”
So, of course, now you’ll accuse Danny of doing this, too.”
The officer got to his feet so quickly that Trixie had to step back. “I didn’t accuse Danny of anything, but if somebody did, I’ll find out.”
Have you ever known him to make stuff up?”
No. He doesn’t think that way.” He glanced back at the pile on the doorstep. “Are you going somewhere?”
The Twilight.”
I’ll come back for this in a few minutes. You don’t have to hang around.”
I won’t.”
I guess Miss Hetty told you I went to school with your mother.”
I heard.”
Who dumped whom?”
It wasn’t like that.”
Then why are you treating me like something akin to what’s on my back doorstep?”
He looked at her for a long silent moment before he walked away.


  1. Great excerpt, Judy. Makes me want to read more.

  2. Thanks, Linda! Hope you'll get it free tomorrow!

  3. Can't wait till tomorrow to get it free...good read for the long weekend!

  4. Thanks for sharing the excerpt - I just downloaded it :)


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