Book 3–Chapters 7 & 8 Excerpts

Hi, Kids and All Readers,

I’m back with more excerpts as we anticipate the November 9 release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider.

If you’re seeing this today, September 9, on my news page, it’s also Cover Reveal Day! I’ve added it below. I think the Phantom looks scary! I hope you do, too.


From Chapter 7, “Horse Sense and the Law”


The six detectives continue questioning Cody residents and are now at the sheriff’s office talking to Sheriff Buckley and Deputy Buchanan.


“It’s too bad more kids aren’t taking advantage of the great opportunity your parents are providing at the ranch,” the sheriff said with a head shake.

Ben shrugged and replied as politely as he could, “Maybe if we find out who’s been stealing things from the ranch, it’ll get more families back on board.”

The sheriff frowned. “Any more thefts out there since my last visit?”

“Yes,” Ben replied, then sighed. “Jax, our hired hand, told my dad this morning that more bridles and some spurs were taken last night. Dad’s going to call you about it later today to report it. Oh, and here’s another note the thief left. It was tacked to the barn door.” Ben handed the note to the sheriff, who observed that it was made from letters cut out and glued to a piece of dirty, crumpled paper like the last one. It read, “Get out now, or next, you will be injured!”



From Chapter 8, “Important Ranch Discussions”


The four Botanic Hill Detectives are back at the ranch and decide to question the two hired hands about the white Arabian stallion Lightning.


The kids were on their feet, heading for the stables, with Rani already out in front as usual. They found the two hired hands busy finishing the grooming and stabling of Bella, Zippy, and Mrs. Mayfield’s horse for the night. . . .

The kids stood there for a minute watching the men, hoping the two might remember something about the Arabian horse. But nothing more was said, so they turned to leave. . . . But as the four started to head toward the bunkhouse to clean up, they heard a scream followed by a moan. It came from the back of the ranch house.

Book 3–Chapters 5 & 6 Excerpts

Hello, Kids, and All Readers,

           Anticipating the November 9 release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, I am continuing to share excerpts from two chapters every Thursday via my weekly News Blog at


As a preview of coming attractions this fall, here are some scenes from Chapters 5 and 6:


From Chapter 5, “Papa Mayfield’s Treasure Box”


A discussion of the ranch’s different kinds of horses occupied the lunch feast of barbecued-beef sandwiches, potato salad, green beans with bacon

bits, a huge homemade apple pie—compliments of neighboring ranchers and friends Mr. and Mrs. Hollister— vanilla ice cream, and all the milk the

kids could drink.

Catherine dug into her thick slice of pie, then touched Mrs. Mayfield’s arm and whispered, “I think I’m already getting to like it here.” The two exchanged big smiles.

After eating the last bite of pie on his plate, Lanny set his fork down and asked, “Mr. Mayfield, do you have any information here at the ranch about Papa Mayfield?”

“You must have read my mind, Lanny,” he replied. “Ben and I are planning to show you detectives Papa’s big treasure box as soon as you’re finished eating.”



From Chapter 6, “Horseback Ride to Cody” 


[The six detectives] immediately spotted a beefy, middle-aged man in a cowboy hat sitting at a desk behind the big front counter. His nameplate

identified him as “Parker Wells, Assayer.”

“Well, hello, Ben and Gracie,” Mr. Wells said over the top of his newspaper as he rocked in his squeaky wooden chair. “What brings you kids in here

today? And who are your friends?”

“Hi, Mr. Wells,” Ben said with a wave.

He and Gracie introduced the detectives by their names but left out their detective titles. During their ride, Lanny had asked them not to draw attention to their case. “We have some questions

for you.” Ben looked at Lanny, who took his cue.

The boy got right to the point. “Mr. Wells, we’re wondering if you have a record of the claim for Papa Mayfield’s mine from the 1870s.”


So, get a clue, all Readers. Keep returning to my website each Thursday into November at for the next set of excerpts. I hope you’re enjoying them.

And please don’t forget to check my website events page on September 9 for the Cover Reveal for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider at I think you’ll like it!

Book 3–Chapters 3 & 4 Excerpts

Hello, Kids and All Readers,

Anticipating the November 9 release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, I am continuing to share excerpts from two chapters every Thursday via my weekly News Blog (

As a preview of coming attractions this fall, here are some scenes from Chapters 3 and 4:


From Chapter 3, “The Phantom Rider”


The Botanic Hill detectives were glad to finally know the details Moki had been keeping secret about the strange occurrences at the Mayfields’ mountain ranch. Ben’s additional revelation about a “Phantom Rider” certainly added more intrigue to their new mystery case.

“You said ‘him’ when referring to the Phantom Rider,” Lanny replied as the group huddled in Ben’s room. “How do you know it’s a guy?”

“Because of the way he sat in the saddle. And because he’s very tall and muscular.”

“Details, dude, details,” Moki added. “Give us the what, when, where, why, and how.”

“Please start with where and when you saw him,” Lexi said with her arms behind her back, resisting the urge to grab Ben’s forearm. She had a bad habit of squeezing skin when she was anxious or trying to pry information out of someone. It especially drove Lanny crazy.

“Well, the first time was about a month ago when my family and I were at the ranch house for the most recent saddle club session. I was woken late one night by the sound of a horse approaching. My room is on the second floor facing north, overlooking the side yard with a view of the barn and bunkhouse. I looked out the open window to investigate. The moon was full, so I could see him clear as day right below me.” Ben’s whole body shivered.

Rani said, “Ben, I know you’re nervous, but I need to ask. What exactly did you see? And why do you call him ‘the Phantom Rider’?” She felt her own heart beating faster as Ben spoke.

“I saw a man on a skittish white Arabian stallion between the barn and the ranch house. The guy sat tall in the saddle, the reins held high, leading the horse to rear up. Like something out of a corny old Western movie. As I said, the moon was full and bright, but the man was almost invisible. That’s why I call him a phantom.”

“Invisible?” Rani blurted. “Can you explain what you mean?”


From Chapter 4, “Off to Gold Mine Acres Ranch”


The large group, including the two Saddle Club kids Lionel and Catherine, and the detectives arrive with the Mayfields at Gold Mine Acres Ranch. After getting settled into the bunk house, they are escorted to the main house to meet the cook Aunt Maisie and have lunch.


Finally, the group walked toward the state-designated historic ranch house. It was an enormous two-story, brown wooden building with a covered porch. There was a bronze plaque near the front door commemorating the house being built by Papa Mayfield in 1875. Each generation of the proud family had carefully maintained the property and preserved its historical integrity.

A tall, older woman with short-cropped, curly gray hair and a chef’s apron around her narrow waist held open the front door. “Come in, come in,” she said brightly. She was introduced to the kids as Aunt Maisie. The woman smiled and shook hands with Lionel, Catherine, and the squad members, not forgetting to exchange hugs with Gracie and Ben. “Welcome to Gold Mine Acres Ranch. I bet you’re all hungry as bears after that long drive.” . . .

Aunt Maisie had excused herself and gone into the kitchen to get the platters and bowls of food. But instead of the meal emerging, the kitchen erupted with Aunt Maisie’s ear-splitting scream.



So, get a clue, Readers. Check for more excerpts on my blog every Thursday, or stay tuned for my end-of-month newsletters where I compile them for you. I hope you’re getting excited about the November 9 release. I am! And please don’t forget to check my website events page on September 9 for the Cover Reveal for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider at I think you’ll like it!

Book 3–Chapters 1 & 2 Excerpts

Hello, Kids and All Readers,

From now until Walnut Street: Phantom Rider is released on November 9, I will be sharing excerpts from two chapters every Thursday on my weekly News Blog (

As a preview of coming attractions this fall, here are some tidbits from Chapters 1 and 2:


From Chapter 1, “A Mystery from Walnut Street”

Moki Kalani couldn’t stop thinking about three things that warm October afternoon in Southern California. First, his pineapple-coconut upside-down cake, which he had baked for the Mayfields’ potluck barbecue on Walnut Street, was a hit. The guests had gobbled up almost every crumb, and the empty dessert plate in his hand provided the final proof. Second, the four amateur detectives—the twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Rani Kumar, and Moki himself—tended to learn of their next mystery case as a squad. This time, the thirteen-year-old Hawaiian boy had a heads up that required his pledge of secrecy. Third, the secret’s details could finally be revealed once the barbecue ended.

[Ben Mayfield] had convinced his parents to . . . hire [the four detectives] to solve an ongoing, annoying problem at the Mayfields’ horse ranch and youth saddle club about two hours east of town. Ben’s parents had confidence in their son and in Moki, so they had agreed to the plan. But now, Ben had his own private reason far beyond his parents’ motivation for wanting the detectives’ help. Last month, he alone had witnessed a terrifying spectacle at the ranch. He hadn’t shared it yet with his family—or with Moki.


From Chapter 2, “A Golden Mystery”

Ben and his father are about to share the ranch mystery details with the detectives. In the Mayfields’ study, the kids are looking at a photo of a tall, muscle-bound Black man in full cowboy dress wearing a large brass star on his vest. . . . He looked like a sheriff from the Old West. Ben explains who the man was:

“That’s my five-time great-grandfather, Aloysius Mayfield. He was a famous Black cowboy. In fact, he was an important Black deputy U.S. marshal for California in the 1860s—one of the first in our state. Deputy Marshal Mayfield. Friends just called him Papa, though.”. . .

“Ben, what are the chances Papa has something to do with the ranch mystery?” Lanny asked. Hope was evident on his face. Cowboys, ranches, and mysteries, all in one lump? Could they be that lucky?

“I strongly suspect so,” Mr. Mayfield answered instead, patting his corn-rowed hair. He was already seated in his overstuffed, brown leather easy chair. “You see, Papa was the original owner and builder of our ranch east of here in the mountains near the old historic town of Cody. He named it Gold Mine Acres Ranch.”

“A gold mine is involved, too?” Lanny said. “Best case ever!”. . .

On tiptoe, [Ben] led all four kids up the back staircase to his room. Once there, he shut the door. Perspiration beaded his forehead. “There’s more. I’ve seen something—or, to be more exact, someone—at the ranch.”

The squad quickly encircled the nervous boy. “Who, dude?” Moki whispered.

“I call him the Phantom Rider.”


So, get a clue, Readers. Check for more excerpts on my blog every Thursday, or stay tuned for my end-of-month newsletters where I compile them for you. I hope you’re getting as excited as I am about the November 9 release! And please don’t forget to check my website events page on September 9 for the Cover Reveal for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider at



Got Some Press!

Hello, Readers!

Authors love seeing their name in print in a news story, and I’m no exception.

Click HERE to check out this article in the Del Mar Times (a San Diego County newspaper) about the Barnes & Noble book signing event in which I and other Acorn authors will participate. I’ll be selling Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series.

So, get a clue, readers. If you’re in the San Diego area on Sunday, August 15, from 2 – 4:30 PM, please stop in. I’d love to meet you. Bring kids!


Be the First to Read Book 3!

Hello, All Readers,

Want to read Book 3, Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, in the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series before the general public?

The formatted files for my book are now out in the world! ADVANCE READERS are busy reading Walnut Street electronically to help me in two ways:

  1. To find any errors needing correction before the book is published on November 9, 2021
  2. To provide an honest review for posting on various sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, BookShop, et. al.) in November

If you’re interested in being one of my ADVANCE READERS for a free e-copy now in exchange for a book review later, please contact me HERE.

So, get a clue, readers. All readers and writers need reviews! Won’t you please help while getting your eyes on the book pre-publication?