10 March 2017

*EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY* The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish

  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344

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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.



“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   -- Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist

"Kimberly Fish's unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character's life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can't wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish." -- Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address


As she (Lane Mercer) struggled to throw her legs over the side and hop to the ground, she saw that Zeke had somehow procured a blanket, a kerosene lantern, and his cooling box of beer.  

He tossed her the blanket and set the bags of food on top of the beer. “Keep a firm hand on that flannel. I got that from Willa Mae Rogers, and she swore it came right off the horse that Sherman rode into Atlanta.”
“And she’d give something valuable to you?” Lane wished he could see the arch disdain she sent his way, but it was dark as sin. “And you use it cover a hole in the floorboard of your Jeep?”  

“I didn’t say I believed Willa Mae, only that it was the story she batted around. Once you smell the blanket, you’ll agree there’s a realm of credibility.”  

With hoot owls calling out and crickets answering, she was not in the mood to appreciate his stories. She was tired, sore, and ravenously hungry. Any man could see that this was not the time to mess with her.  

Zeke didn’t seem to care. He was having the time of his life marching over magnolia roots like he wasn’t even worried there could be snakes hiding beneath the musty carpet of the leaves. Stepping where he’d stepped, she’d counted the thirty or so footsteps it would take to find her way back to the Jeep if she needed an escape. Not that she had any hope of getting the sorry excuse for a vehicle started. Her best idea would be hitchhiking Highway 80 and flagging down a truck full of roughnecks.  

“You’re slow as Christmas, Mercer.”  

Gritting her molars, she saw him disappear behind a hedge of tall, spiky leaves. “I hate you, Zeke Hayes.”  

“You wouldn’t be the first.”  

As she walked around the hedge, she blinked, three then four times. A crystal-topped lake spread far and wide, like a boomerang cut from the earth. Impossibly tall pine trees framed the edges, blowing with a breeze she hadn’t known existed, swishing like fringe on an old lady’s lampshade. And it was all here, a few miles from downtown and yet a world away 

“You’re in awe.” Zeke took the blanket from her limp arms. “Don’t feel bad. I didn’t expect you to believe me.”  

He shook the flannel draping it over a splintered picnic table that seemed to grow out of small cropping of rocks. He’d already set the lantern in the middle of the table creating a tableau straight out of a Paris bistro but with a substantially different view.  

“Is it too trite to say wow?”  

Zeke chuckled. “I won’t hold you to your first reaction.”  

She scanned the horizon looking for houses or parks that would naturally be surrounding something this beautiful. “Surely people have cottages or hunting cabins here?”  

“It’s privately owned. About the only thing here is a dock, a party pavilion, and a lodge that the owners let their friends use.” He shrugged as he reached for a fry. “I have associates who work as staff for the house parties and they showed me this spot.”  

A heron swept over the water. “So we’re trespassing?”  

Zeke crawled on top of the picnic table and unwrapped the burgers. “I have it on good authority that the folks who own the lake are out of town at the moment.”  

Lane’s nose was drawn by the smell of beef and grease. “As long as your conscience is clear.”  

He handed her a wad of paper towels. “You’re going to need these.”  

She stared at the mound of bread, melted cheese and beef oozing out from the bun. “I’ve gone to heaven, haven’t I?”

“It’s better than the alternative.”

Biting into the bread, she chewed slowly, savoring the flavors she’d been denied for two years. She’d ordered a version of a hamburger in Brussels, but it was so disappointing that she’d written off attempts since.  

But this delicacy took her straight back to childhood. Those days when Big Daddy would hold the annual summer picnic for the sawmill staff and he’d hire a fry cook from Panama City to drive north and grill burgers, shrimp, and steaks. Little Momma would save the garden ripe tomatoes for the big day, her aunts would bake pies, and there would be a potluck of potato salads and deviled eggs lined up as far as a ten-year-old could see.  

She wiped her chin and stole a quick glance to Zeke. He was enjoying watching her eat. “It’s been a while for me.”  

“You’ve obviously missed hamburgers.”  

“It’s just . . . They weren’t where I was.” She was sure her Beaune chef would think this fare was too pedestrian. “And these fries are to die for.”  

“Top Burger.” Zeke bit into his own sandwich. “I hope they never go out of business.”  
Lane’s shoulders relaxed the more she ate. Watching the night sky play over the lake’s silvery surface deserved the credit as much as the quarter pound of beef, but she couldn’t articulate her thoughts any better than simply being quiet and letting it all absorb into her bloodstream.  

Zeke popped the top on a beer and handed her a bottle. She drank deep, forgetting that she wasn’t much of a beer drinker.  

He set his bottle down next to hers. “Life doesn’t get much better than this, does it?”  

Lane’s memory cracked open, and images spilled. Life before the war had rearranged her future. Autumn when she’d first settled in to living with her grandparents, and she began to understand that not every day had to be a dramatic experience.  

Little Momma would smile if only she knew that those days of gardening, baking bread, reading day old copies of the Atlanta Journal after shelling peas, and tending to their tenants had taught her a lifetime of lessons in how good a simple life could be.  

Lane took another swig of beer. Her gaze roamed the lake. “Yes, I guess this might classify.”

He reached across the lantern and patted her hand. “I’m glad to hear you say that.”
She looked down where their hands meshed, enjoying the tingle under her skin. “You’re going to tell me we have to fly out of here, aren’t you?”  

He turned down the wick on the lantern. “We’re not as alone as I might have originally thought.”  

“I noticed lights in the lodge across the way. Dare I hope those are the owners?”  

“Probably not. I have it from a reliable source that some unsavory folks tend to use the lodge for poker because they think the sheriff won’t bother them out here.”  

Lane folded their paper goods and arranged them around the beer bottles in the box. “Can you find your way back without the lantern?”  

“Sure.” He didn’t sound as confident as she would have liked.
“I could probably get us back to the Jeep. It wasn’t too far from that crooked oak tree, the one that looks like it grew back after a lightning strike.”  

He folded the blanket. “You’re exceptionally observant. For a secretary.”  

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.



One Winner wins a signed copy of The Big Inch
One Winner who purchases the book during the tour wins a bag of Johnny Cace's Cheese Croutons March 8 - 22, 2017


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