Short Stories

The White Rabbit

Published in Mysterical-e, Fall 2020

Click here to read the story

The Black Cat

Winner best Halloween story
Kings River Life Magazine, 2014

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The Secret of the Red Mullet

Fish Tales - front cover

A young sister and brother in 4th-century Rome follow the trail of a mysterious amulet spit up by their cat.

Available on Amazon


The Secrets of the Sibyl


A decaying villa filled with secrets

A mysterious box that belonged to a dead girl

A spectral woman in white

All of them hold

The Secrets of the Sibyl
(Arcana Sibylae)

A short Gothic tale set in the Roman world of 382 A.D.

When her father buys a dilapidated villa on the wild, rocky coast of Cumae, city of the ancient Sibyline oracle, fourteen-year-old Cellina encounters mysteries at every turn. Following the trail of a mysterious silver box, Cellina uncovers the secret of a decades-old crime committed within the villa’s crumbling walls.

Available on Kindle


The Spawning of “The Red Mullet”

When my online writers’ group, the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime, announced a short-story contest for publication in their anthology, I knew I wanted to base my entry on my historical series, which takes place in 4th-century Rome. Because the group is called “Guppies” (for Great UnPublished, though that is no longer true for several members of our pond), it was decided each story must include a body of water that could support fish. I was glad the contest had a theme so that I didn’t have to come up with a plot ex nilho.

The water/fish theme presented several possibilities that I bounced around in my head: the Tiber and its occasional floods, boats, fishing. But none of these lit that necessary spark. It was only when I recalled one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, “The Tin Soldier,” that the idea of having a vital clue swallowed by a fish came to me.

My main character, Marcellina (known in the novels by her nickname, “Cellina”) has a cat. Cats like to eat fish. The family was wealthy; they owned a big house with an atrium and an impluvium, the little pool set in the middle of the atrium’s floor to catch rainwater from the opening in the roof. Fish were a big hobby for wealthy Romans, and though the anecdotes I used come from earlier centuries, Rome was a conservative society and I thought it a good bet that wealthy Romans of the 4th century still enjoyed buying and raising fish as much as Cicero’s generation did.

Beginning with a rather detailed description of Cellina’s cat, Sagitta (the name means “arrow”), spitting up the fish she’d just snatched from the impluvium appealed to me. Humor isn’t always easy for me to write, but I hoped this scene would make the reader smile.

Many of the scenes in my novels take place in ancient Rome’s counterpart to the mall, Trajan’s Forum. The top floor of this multi-story complex was occupied by fish ponds, fed from the great aqueducts, so it was a natural setting for the first step in Cellina’s investigation. It occurred to me that it would be even more interesting if I wrote the scene as Cellina’s first-ever visit. This necessitated writing about a younger Cellina, which proved an enjoyable experience. I hope it is for the reader as well.


Saint Nick and the Fir Tree

a Christmas tale for grown-ups who haven’t forgotten the magic

Available in both

It’s the day after Christmas and Saint Nick’s on vacation.
His first stop: the little town of Greenwood, where he meets a most unusual Tree. Nick and the Tree go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

Click here for Book Club Discussion Questions

Praise for “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree”

“What a delightful tale of a deeply-rooted yew tree who longs to be a fir and is taken by St. Nicholas on a post-Christmas holiday, complete with sunglasses to disguise his treedentity.

This charming story by Nancy Adams is a perfect antidote to the after-Christmas blues, and it’s easy to root for the little tree taking its first draft of Ent juice. This particular Santa does swear a bit (“what the holly did I fall over?”), but he can’t help bestowing unexpected gifts in unexpected places.

And as for the little tree, whose greatest fear is an ax murderer (shudder), he learns a few happy lessons along the way.

Come to think of it, this story is also an antidote to the pre-Christmas blues. If you’re feeling a bit frantic, take a little jaunt with St. Nick and the Fir Tree.”

–Fran Stewart
Author of Violet as an Amethyst: the 6th Biscuit McKeemystery


“At this time of year, we become more and more frantic as Christmas approaches and it’s a pleasure when we find a few moments to just relax and enjoy the season. What better way to spend those few moments than reading—perhaps aloud to family and friends—such a charming tale as this? Saint Nick and the Fir Tree is the perfect little story to get one in the proper mood for the holidays.”

–Leila Taylor
Buried Under Books

Read the rest of the review:


“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go drinking with Santa Claus? Well now you can find out in Saint Nick And The Fir Tree. This is a short story by Nancy Adams and I thought it was great. I can’t give too much away but if you want to read short funny story with maybe a little bit of murder… I would definitely recommend it!”–Recommended: 16+
Reviewed By: Maegan Morin
Blog Reviewed For: Great Minds Think Aloud
Rating: 5 Ravens


“With ‘Saint Nick and the Fir Tree’ Nancy Adams gives us a fun, quirky, different take on how a tree celebrates Christmas. Not with lots of tinsel but lots of magic! A good, short read for the holidays.”

–Michele Drier
Author of Edited for Death in trade paperback, SNAP: the World Unfolds in ebook

Saint Nick goes on the Road

The E-Road, that is:

Posts from Saint Nick’s 2011 Blog Tour

Sunday Dec. 4 at Buried Under Books “Trees, Christmas and Otherwise”

Monday Dec. 5 at Suddenly Books Interview

Wednesday Dec. 7 at Lisa Haselton’s Reviews & Interviews

Thursday Dec. 8 Interview with Morgen Bailey

Friday Dec. 9 at Pens Fatales “Leftovers, Fir-Tree Style”

Sunday Dec. 11 at Great Minds Think Aloud Interview

Wednesday evening Dec. 14 at Potluck with Judy “Fir Trees and Christmas Cookies”

Thursday evening Dec. 15 Interview: On the Hot Seat with Cally Jackson

Saturday Dec. 17 Guest blog on Girl who Reads “Christmas Books”


Take the “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” Quiz!

Click here.