Fiction Fest: A free sample of Carla Kelly’s ‘Safe Passage’

Safe Passage_2x3Carla Kelly is at it again, this time she’s crafted a tale set in the Mormon colonies era in northern Mexico. “Safe Passage” is the newest title from the award-winning author and will be released on Aug. 13, 2013.

If you can’t wait until then, you can pre-order it right now on,, and


Ammon Hancock, a freighter and member of the Mormon colony of Garcia in Mexico, has been forced to return to the United States because of the Mexican Revolution. He and his wife, Addie, have been estranged for two years. Now he is returning to the war zone to find her. First he encounters Serena Camacho, a soldadera with the guerillas whose soldier-brother has died. She is desperate to get home to her village, and Ammon helps her. Serena is starving, and he gives her a can of salmon, food the Mormon refugees in El Paso, Texas, were given by the U.S. Army, as they camped temporarily in an unused lumberyard.

While [Serena] loaded the Mauser, Ammon inventoried his saddlebags – tortillas and four cans of salmon that Ma had insisted he take along. He had, because he was a dutiful son, and figured that if he ran out of ammunition, he could chuck the cans at the guerillas. He took out the little can opener Aunt Loisa had given him in the lumberyard and worked it around the top.

When he finished without lacerating his fingers, he looked up to see Serena watching his every motion. His heart softened a little more to see her hunger. “It’s canned salmon,” he told er, all the while perfectly aware that neither word registered in her mind. “I’ll show you.”

He took out a tortilla and set it on a rock, then scooped the canned salmon into the center with his fingers. “Use the tortilla like a plate,” he said, holding it out to her. “You can eat the salmon with your fingers.”

Without hesitation, she took the tortilla from him, careful to hold it level. She paused only a moment when she brought the first bite of salmon to her lips, then downed. He eyes widened. “Fish,” she said.

Ammon nodded. “Salmon comes from the Pacific Northwest where it rains all the time and nobody shoots at anyone else,” explained, given her three bits of information that had no place in her world, or his, either, come to think of it. “Maybe we should all move there. How about it, Serena?”

She wasn’t listening to his gentle teasing, focusing her heart and soul on the salmon that everyone in El Paso’s lumberyard had grown weary of. Her expression told him that he had given her something priceless. He watched her, suddenly aware of the education he was getting, free of charge and courtesy of the enemy, if he could call Serena an enemy.

Serena didn’t waste a scrap. She carefully spread the last bit of salmon around the tortilla with her dirty fingers. She folded each side in on itself until she had a tidy package, not osing a single bite. She held it out to Ammon politely, but he shook his head. Even if he hadn’t eaten anything since some beans in the tienda at the border, he knew he had eaten more recently than she.

When she finished, she looked at him with a frown. “How does it get in the can?” she asked.

He considered the question and realized that he probably didn’t know any more about the process than she did.  “Perhaps the cans just lie on the ocean floor and the salmon curl up in them,” he teased.

At first, he regretted his foolishness when she nodded, serious. He changed his mind. His lame explanation probably made more sense than trying to describe a big factory where thousands of fish were cleaned and packed.