KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
“The last memory I had of them was filled with spilled blood and vacant eyes, the smell of baking, then burning. Cookies and blood.”
What would you do if you came home to the aroma of chocolate chip cookies and the sight of your mother’s blood pooled on the kitchen floor?
Would you make a promise to your seven-year-old self to find the killer?
In the novel Arm Farm, university student Natalie Hartman finds herself trying to convince others that her parents’ case is more of a priority than her own safety. The forensic science student flies across the nation looking for answers. And so does her stalker.
Arm Farm takes Natalie on a journey of self-discovery to find out not only who she wants to be but who she is. Her life may seem simple to unassuming classmates, but to those close to her, it becomes a terror with twists and turns they never want to experience. Will Natalie find out who killed her mother and father before her own life is taken?
By SARAH BUTLAND
As I walked through the valley of the shadow of arms, I quickened my pace to just less than a jog. For better clarity and my own sanity I felt my first visit should have been during daylight; instead my professor insisted on meeting at dawn, knowing I was always early for appointments. It was still dark, with the sun barely above the horizon, and rain clouds threatened to make me even less comfortable. My professor was late, as he often was, but he always thought it was OK as long as he apologized.
Looking around me I understood exactly what my professor had warned me to expect. Arms grew out of the ground like dandelions in the summer, only they weren’t bright with petals; they were dreary with disturbing protrusions. It certainly wasn’t like any forest I’d ever seen. Even the books didn’t depict the finality of the Arm Farm, which was sinking in quickly.
Save for the sinewy arms against the dreary backdrop and the random chirp from faraway birds, I was alone. The only immediate sounds were my footsteps, the pounding of my heart, and quiet words. I was confused — unsure of where the words were coming from — but listening more closely, suddenly realized that it was me praying.
“…Stay inside me as I dare to tread, be beside me in case I stumble. Dear God, guide me through this…”
Unfortunately, this was the first moment I had ever put my trust in God so I found it difficult to believe He would suddenly appear. Years without feeling His presence wasn’t a strong indication that He would suddenly take an interest in me, because He had done me so wrong when I was a little girl that I found it difficult to let myself embrace His existence.
Without much looking around I knew I had found the right tree where our meeting was to take place. It appeared exactly like the professor had described; it was hard to miss a tree shaped like a ‘D’. Looking at the tree’s void of branches and foliage I sat right in its belly, which offered only a bit more comfort and safety than one of its protruding limbs. I was slightly shocked at the health of all the trees despite the bombardment of decomposing appendages. There wasn’t a barn or any livestock in sight, not a sound to hear without straining. I was left to my own devices with only my imagination, which too often played cruel tricks on me. The text books discourage wild flights of imagination, but those in the field embrace them. Harder than any test my professor could offer was my own task of learning to embrace — and control — my wild imagination.
The hands below began waving at me; the arms with missing hands were swaying despite the lack of wind. Sinew had collected on each protruding arm and swayed softly in the light, warm breeze. My own hand began to tremble and I began trying to concentrate on calming the shakes away, but they insisted on staying. I wouldn’t give up trying. One by one the waving hands began to point at me and then seemed to turn to point to an approaching vehicle that looked nothing like the professor’s. My nerves peaked, and then relaxed when I saw a familiar face emerge from the red PT Cruiser.
“Professor!” I shouted, knowing he could only barely hear me, but wanting to make his presence concrete in order to slow my racing heart. I thought about running to him, but decided that the professional thing to do would be to wait. My trembles had reduced to a minimum and I remained seated on the tree. The professor, dressed simply in tight, dark-colored jeans and an old plaid sweater, strode more confidently than I had a few minutes prior. His hair was combed much like he wore it at school, but he looked much more at ease than I had ever had the pleasure of seeing.
“Natalie, you made it. Terrific! And punctual as usual. I know you won’t want to spend your whole Saturday here, so let’s get started whenever you’re ready.”
The professor’s light blue eyes peered at me like he had known me all of his life. I sensed we were starting to become more than teacher and student — and I liked it.
“Ready and waiting. Thanks again for this opportunity. I realize you probably don’t want to spend your entire day with me here either, not to mention that you’re teaching for free.”
“It’s no trouble at all. I love teaching when I know the student is absorbing the material. Besides, I can only teach so much in class and you are the only student who realizes this. You have a lot of potential and I want to embrace that. Just remember me when you’ve made it to the big league.”
Despite the chill in the air, my face flushed; Professor Matthews was the only teacher who could do that to me. I realized that he noticed my embarrassment even though he tried to conceal his knowledge.
“I trust you brought your tools,” he said.
Jumping down from my perch, I stumbled over the top of my bag and Professor Matthews saw what broke my fall. Great, my second embarrassment that day — not that I was keeping track. Opening my backpack, I pulled out a notebook and my forensic evidence kit as he pointed to the nearest protruding arm and asked me to get started. When I bent down to get a closer look, I was startled by the smell emanating from the test area; Professor Matthews noticed my reaction.
Sarah Butland was born in Ontario, the year was 1982. She was moved to New Brunswick for over 15 years and now resides at home in Nova Scotia, Canada. Butland has been married to her high school sweetheart and has a superstar son named William. Besides home schooling and working part time, Sarah finds time to follow her dream of being an author and teaching others that they can do the same.
Butland started creating while still learning to walk and in years to follow was able to put a writing utensil to paper to document her creations before they were completely lost. Of course, her first manuscripts were in dire need of editing but she didn’t seem to mind nor did her readers.
The first “big break” for Butland came when she was still a teenager feeling like she was unlike every other teenager she knew. She heard from a poetry contest that her poem “Wrong Shell” would be published in their anthology; would she kindly send them thousands of dollars to continue on in the finals. Butland’s parents refused. So began the struggle of discovering which awards were actually earned not bought.
Limiting herself to contest submissions from then on, Sarah Butland realized her career of writing would be a difficult struggle no matter the talent she held inside or was forced out. Many stories, attempts at novels and thousands of ideas later, Butland created BananaBoy and the Adventures of Sammy was born with Sending You Sammy, her first published children’s book. Then came Brain Tales – Volume One, a collection of short stories, Arm Farm, Blood Day the Short Story and the list goes on.
Links to Sarah’s website, blog, books, etc.
My books include Arm Farm https://www.amazon.com/Arm-Farm-Butland-Sarah-ebook/dp/B006Y2R88K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488755257&sr=8-1&keywords=arm+farm.
Blood Day the Novella (ttps://www.amazon.com/Blood-Day-Novella-Sarah-Butland-ebook/dp/B012KT01N4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488755335&sr=8-1&keywords=blood+day+the+novella) and, as mentioned, Sending You Sammy for the kids https://www.amazon.com/Sending-You-Sammy-Butland-Sarah-ebook/dp/B00YIEQ17K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488755547&sr=8-2&keywords=sending+you+sammy) and many more!
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Sarah is giving away a print signed copy of Arm Farm to a reader in Canada or US who comments on her **Author Peek** or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs.. (If international she’ll gift an ebook copy.) A second winner will get a copy of Blood Day the Short Story ebook.
Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!