Please help me welcome today’s guest, Lee Renwick Steele, with her fabulous novel, Griselda Rella…
A fairy-blessed gift, an inherited burden, and a scheming stepsister… Cinderella reimagined.
Sixteen-year-old Griselda and her father have a secret—fairy sight, a trait punishable by death. Her world is upended when her father is killed, her mother remarries, and her new stepfather dies of illness. Griselda must grapple with her scheming stepsister, the burden of fairy sight inherited from her father, and a pair of fairy-blessed slippers. A young-adult fairy story, GRISELDA RELLA is a reimaging of the Cinderella story, by Charles Perrault, with the heroine and adversary characters reversed.
I strode across the dandelion dotted yard scattering chickens, robins, and fairies in my haste, an open-ended basket swinging from one hand, a pair of clippers clenched in the other, my mind whirling like a storm. No one could replace my father, not for me, not for my family, not for the kingdom.
Reaching the flowers bordering the yard, I threw the basket and clippers on the dirt near the dried-up hyacinths and daffodils. “Stupid bandits,” I sobbed, snot dripping from my nose. “Stupid, stupid bandits.”
The sun, now one-quarter of its journey through the sky, warmed my face but not my heart. I brushed past the flowering red azaleas and pink rhododendrons, skirted around Isabella’s arbor-covered garden bench, angled through the freshly sprouting vegetable and herb gardens, and stumbled my way past the sheds to the fallow field about an arrow’s shot from the cottage.
I threw my black-clothed self to the ground and glared back at the cottage. How could my mother marry this man, Lord Rella, not yet two months after my father’s death? He was wealthy to be sure, but the man had very little sense—I was sure of it. And he would never be a father to me.
Lee Renwick Steele lives with an orange and white kitty in a small home situated near red maples, rhododendron shrubs, and abundant avian wildlife: juncos, robins, white-crowned sparrows, towhees, and the occasional flicker pecking in the attic. She has an MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults and is a member of her local writers’ association and SCBWI. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, long walks, spending time with family and friends, and moments of quiet. GRISELDA RELLA is her first novel.
Please help me welcome author Susie Black with the moments that changed her life, and her latest release, Death By Pins and Needles.
10 Moments That Changed My Life
Getting my driver’s license was the moment I experienced tangible independence for the first time and it shaped the way I approached life. I learned to plan ahead, think proactively, and that with independence comes responsibility and ownership of ones decisions and actions.
Receiving my college diploma and graduating Magna Cum Laude was the moment that pride and a tremendous sense of accomplishment taught me to always reach for the stars and that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.
Answering the phone call from my apparel sales rep dad asking me to come to Atlanta and take over a trade show when he was called away to deal with a family emergency changed everything in my entire life. It precipitated a challenging and unexpected lifestyle and career change, leaving my friends and comfort zone with a cross-country move from LA to Atlanta to a region that was completely different in every aspect from the one I had lived almost all my life in. But most important, I learned to trust my gut, take chances, and not be afraid to fail.
My first solo road trip traveling the southern states after accepting the sales rep position my dad offered me was the beginning of a career where I successfully broke every glass ceiling in an historically male-dominated industry.
The first entry I ever made to my daily journal as a sales exec would someday be the foundation of leveraging my apparel sales career into a successful writing gig. Those journal entries gave me the characters and stories to tell.
Answering the phone call from my future husband and accepting a blind date with him set up by a mutual friend changed my life. A blind date was not something I was interested in, but my friend was so insistent, that I accepted out of sheer curiosity. By the end of the evening, I was glad I’d taken the call. Forty plus years later, I am still glad.
My wedding day six months after my husband and I went out on our blind date changed my life in countless, wonderful ways. My mother always said to marry a man who makes you laugh every day. I did, and he still does.
When the doctor put my newborn son into my arms for the first time, I was certain that my life was never going to be the same. And it wasn’t. Thank goodness. The awesome sense of responsibility and unconditional love that filled my heart was overwhelming and remains there to this day.
When I left my son at his college dorm, I cried tears of joy mixed with anguish realizing my reward for doing a wonderful job of raising him was that he would not be living under my roof again.
Signing my first publishing contract and then seeing my debut cozy mystery novel Death by Sample Size posted on Amazon the first time filled me with an unparalleled sense of accomplishment and pride. And proof positive that things happen for a reason, even when I didn’t always understand why. My Nana predicted when I began my career that the reason I became an apparel industry sales exec is because I was destined to write about my experiences. As usual, my wise Nana was right.
Susie has a giveaway for each of you… CLICK HERE to get your FREE copy of her Swimwear Fit Guidebook.
(Link for Fit Guide: Please insert this link at the end of the post with the instruction to click it for a FREE swimwear fit guide.)
She gave ‘skeleton in the closet’ a whole new meaning.
BLURB: Who wanted Lissa Charney dead? The list was as long as your arm….but which one actually killed her? The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer. Nothing turns out the way she thinks it will as Holly matches wits with a heartless killer hellbent for revenge.
I walked to Lissa’s in case God made a mistake, and by some miracle, she’d hung around. The Royal showroom lights were dark, but the internal ones leading to the offices blazed bright as a beacon. For giggles and squeaks, I pushed on Lissa’s showroom door. Remarkably, it opened. Hot Diggity Dog. Amazingly, the fabric Goddess covered my play. My envelope with the fabric swatches lay on the first workstation table. Now for the key, and I’d be all set.
“Lissa,” I called out, “It’s Holly from Mermaid. I came for my package. Thanks a bunch for accepting it. Listen, Patti left early and I forgot my mart key in my desk drawer at the factory. Can you give me my spare?” Dead silence. Weird. Maybe she’s on the phone with her office door closed?
“Lissa,” I funneled my hands around my mouth into a megaphone and yelled, “It’s Holly Schlivnik from Mermaid.” Still a whole lotta dead air. God short-changed me in the height department at four feet nine inches tall, but the Good Lord compensated for it by blessing me with a strong set of pipes. Unless the woman was deaf as a post, no way she couldn’t hear me.
The clock said eight minutes left. Crap. Buyers in this industry are famous for keeping vendors waiting. My luck, I get the one who’s never late. I stuck my head out in the hall. Hallelujah. Lady Luck smiled down on me. No Sue Ellen. If the congestion goddess loved me, the Queen of Mean sat stuck in Friday night rush hour traffic with the rest of the homebound Angelinos.
Since shouting at the top of my lungs failed to get her attention, I went back to Lissa’s office. Lights on, but nobody home. Her beige leather purse sat on the desk with her keys on top of it. I jangled the chain. Lots of keys, but none of them mine. I slid my fingers over the grainy purse to move it out of the way, and my digits got coated with dust. Weird. I opened all the drawers and rooted around her desk, but no key. Her jacket lay haphazardly draped on her chair behind the desk. She obviously hadn’t left for the day, but I’d combed the place from one end to another and found no sign of Lissa. Where the Sam Hill could she be? Not in the showroom. Not in her office. Not in the kitchen. Not in the copier room. In the ladies’ room? Abducted by aliens? Hiding in a closet? I was out of options and time; so, for giggles and squeaks, I pulled open the doors to the enormous sample closet that stretched across the back wall and peered inside. Good news. I found Lissa Charney. The question was; did she have my key?
Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Fashion & Foul Play Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Please help me welcome Kitty Shields with a fun interview and her new release!
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
Although I’ve lived in a few cities like L.A., Boston, Albany, right now I’m just outside Philly which is where I grew up. Interesting facts about me: I once helped move a curl of the Statue of Liberty, I started a Bookbinding Barbie Instagram account and she traveled around the country, and I’ve taken art classes in the back of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I have a black cat named Jinx, who I wanted to name after the cat from Hocus Pocus, but I remembered it wrong. (That cat’s name is Binks; can you blame me?) Generally, I’m an all around geek girl.
Where did you get the idea for Pillar of Heaven? Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
Pillar of Heaven came from the frustration of being stuck in a barista job post-college and trying desperately to get out of it. It was right before the 2008 recession, the economy was incredibly slow. No one was hiring and it felt like my entire generation was stuck. In response, I started writing this story and it’s evolved with me as I learned how to write. It’s set in Boston, which is where I was living at the time, and a lot of the places mentioned in the book are real. I did a #traveltuesday tour on my Instagram through a lot of those places to give readers an idea of where things occur. The funniest thing about Pillar is that the evil boss, Mr. Waites, is named after my boss at the time who was, in fact, the nicest guy ever. I really needed a surname though and I was so burnt out I couldn’t think of anything and then Waites stuck.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?
For me, my biggest “trick” is allowing myself to daydream. I don’t think people let themselves do that anymore, like give themselves time and space to space out. We’re conditioned to be always on the go, always moving. There’s this collective image we have of a writer sitting at a computer or in front of a blank writing book and being struck by lightning as the story magically flows out of them. Conversely, writer’s block is staring mournfully at the blank screen or page just waiting. It’s weird. I am constantly composing in my head. Whether that’s during my commute or in the shower or just lying on the couch—I spend time with my characters prompting them with new conflict and seeing what happens. When it feels right for that moment in the story and those characters, I’ll commit it to the page. And later I still might delete it. That’s okay. Like with any creative endeavor, you have to learn to let bits go.
My other trick is to not rush the story. If I hit writer’s block, I save, close out that document, and open another. Usually, I have anywhere from ten to fifteen stories in progress. Some, like Pillar, I’ve had for years and the story just isn’t there yet. I don’t worry about it. It’ll be finished when it’s ready or it won’t. I think, in this way, I’m on George R.R. Martin’s side of the time debate.
What book have you read that you wish you had written?
I’d have to say Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. She writes these sharp literary books that weave myth, identity, and tragic love together. Sexing the Cherry follows a few characters including the Dog Lady, a giantess who breeds dogs on the banks of the river Thames. Another character is the Dog Lady’s son Jordan, who goes on the journey with Darwin to the Galapagos and also falls in love with one of the twelve dancing princesses. It’s not a long book, but Winterson has this ability to cut with her words. I have legitimately flinched while reading her books, or stopped and put the book down, taken a deep breath, and had to marinate on a sentence I just read. She is not for everybody. And I don’t think it’s that she’s super profound or her work is life-changing. I do think she writes on a wavelength that affects me. My work tends to be a little absurd and (hopefully) funny, but I would love it if it’s on a wavelength for someone else. That my work affects them, in a good way, and stays with them the way Winterson stays with me.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
I am a certified bookbinder. Yup, that is still a thing. I do repair work, build custom boxes, and rebind books so that they look like they came out of the Hogwarts library. A few years ago, I did an internship with the National Parks Service, working on conservation for books from the library of FDR. That was super cool. Bookbinding is a great compliment to writing. Writing occupies the mind, whereas bookbinding forces you to slow down and be patient, while it occupies the hands. It’s sort of my resting space from writing.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
Philadelphia. No, seriously, as a city we are inordinately proud of ourselves and, let’s be honest, we don’t have real reasons to be. Our sports teams are meh, our fans are aggressive, and we beat up Santa Claus. But when you’re born here, you are genetically coded with this ridiculous pride in Philly. We love our pretzels, cheese in a can, and wooder ice. Linguists have studied our colloquial terms because they are unique in the entire U.S. Exhibit A: jawn, which can mean anything depending on the context. We have a museum dedicated to medical oddities. We were founded by a Quaker and have one of the highest murder rates in the country. If you had to categorize the “Philadelphian Spirit” it would be a poltergeist. But I can’t help it; I love this city.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Pillar of Heaven?
Honestly, I just want people to enjoy themselves. This is not a book intended to change your life. It’s about the absurdity of life, from coffee culture to corporate espionage to classic rock. If you come away feeling like it was money well spent, I’d be happy.
What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?
“All times can be inhabited, all places visited. In a single day the mind can make a millpond of oceans. Some people who have never crossed the land they were born on have traveled all over the world. The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calendar, the wrinkles and lines of the body. The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door which disappears at once.” From Sexing the Cherry by Winterson
What do you want your tombstone to say?
Boo! No other words on the front, just “Boo!” and then a side plaque saying there is no body here, just a writer who has a terrible sense of humor.
Your favorite Place you’ve visited
Edinburgh. Would totally visit again. Would live there if I could get a visa. That city just has history in its bones. Like you can feel it walking around. I loved it. 10/10 would go again.
Thank you, Kitty. Such an interesting and fun interview. I am fascinated that you’re a bookbinder. Very cool. I laughed at your comments about Philly. Although…your sport teams haven’t exactly been meh lately since the Phillies went to the World Series and the Eagles are in the Super Bowl! 😀
Do you stop assassins from killing your evil boss or help them out?
With the holidays looming and student loans coming to call, Kate McGovern needs to find a good-paying job and fast, preferably away from the masses of caffeine junkies and coffee snobs. But finding a job sucks. Finding your first proper job after college when you have no experience and no idea what you want to do really sucks. Then Kate’s favorite customer puts her up for an executive assistant gig with one of the richest men in Boston. And suddenly, Kate’s luck has changed. The catch? Her new boss expects her to read his mind. Literally. And she’s pretty sure he’s evil. No big deal. First jobs are always tough, right?
“I’m sorry,” Kate said. “We’re out of the cinnamon dolce syrup.”
In response, the man glared at Kate as if she, personally, had gulped down all of the cinnamon dolce syrup in the back room moments before he walked in just to spite him. Kate couldn’t really blame him. Honestly, she thought of doing things like that all the time. She called it coffee espionage, and it got her through the day.
For example, she’d spent the better part of the morning rush imagining grabbing a bottle of syrup, cinnamon dolce or otherwise, shaking it like a soda can, and spraying it all over the line of customers. Kate could just see of all those housewives with their Gucci bags and businessmen with their Rolex watches dripping with sticky, flavored syrup. It appealed to Kate on a deep level. This was coffee espionage, and Kate was a master. At least in her head. And also when she gave awful people decaf espresso instead of regular because they deserved it.
Coffee espionage was what kept Kate sane. Sometimes she wondered if she could be convicted of coffee espionage. Then she wondered if jail was better than the post-college slump and surmised, in this economy, it probably was.
Kitty Shields (she/her) lives outside Philadelphia, where she writes to overcome the fact that she was born a middle child with hobbit feet, vampire skin, and a tendency to daydream. In her spare time, she binds books, takes bad photos, and tries to avoid the death traps her cat sets for her. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University in 2015 and has been published in several journals including The After Happy Hour Review, Furious Gazelle, and Sick Lit among others.
Trial and error, time and a good reason are all you need to perfect your baking. Research for Shortbread Cookie Princess, the first book in my Highland Falls series was my reason to perfect my haphazard baking skills. Baking research was tasty as well as the most rewarding of all my fact-finding adventures.
Trial and error means that sometimes your recipe will fail. I watch a lot of baking shows and see professional bakers make amateur mistakes that often have me talking to the TV. They should know that cake is not cool enough to frost. Of course, time is often not on the bakers’ side in a competition. I once gave myself a time limit to bake a batch of cookies and failed miserably.
Tip-don’t rush the process you’ll have a better chance of succeeding.
My cakes are most often semi-home sponges that I make ahead of time and put in the freezer. I make everything from log rolls to multi-layers with a simple recipe I found while doing my research.
Tip-Always preheat before starting Preheat oven to 350
Tip – Have all your ingredients ready to go – butter needs to be softened and eggs may need to be at room temperature. Sometimes I’m all set to go and realize I don’t have enough sugar or eggs. My husband’s a good sport about going to the supermarket for anything I forgot, but he’s not always available. I also prepare my pans by spraying with a non-stick spray then cover the bottom with parchment paper. Ingredients
1 BOX ANY FLAVOR CAKE MIX All commercial brands work for this recipe, but my favorites are Duncan Hines yellow, white or devil’s food. These companies have been making these mixes for decades and have it down pat. However, this recipe doesn’t follow the list of added ingredients on the box. Instead, I add the following.
6 eggs beat on high until lemon color (if using a yellow cake mix)
add 1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup oil I like the hint of olive oil in chocolate cakes
For yellow and white I use canola oil
Add cake mix
The recipe states-bake for 15-20 min until the center springs back. Depending on your oven, the type of pan and altitude, baking time is definitely a trial and error moment.
Hope you enjoy the recipe. Thanks for taking time to read the blog.
Leave a comment for a chance to win an amazon gift card. Winners will be picked randomly from the mixing bowl.
A Whisk is a Baker’s Paint Brush
Modern day meeting of Cinderella and a handsome Highlander
“Who knows how many scraps of plaid have been preserved in mothballs and hidden away in family attics?”
His low voice held an edge of seduction. Sophia stepped closer. The underlying sensuality of his tone captivated her. In all the times she had dusted over the fabric, she never got close enough to inhale the faint scent of mothballs. She wrinkled her nose.
“You’re very lucky to have it.” Ian ran an index finger over a thin red line woven vertically down the plaid. “Highland dyers and weavers were highly skilled. It’s evident in pieces like this. Run your fingers along this line. Do you feel the thickness? The fabric was mended many times, perhaps torn by a sword or knife thrust.”
“Or it could have been caught on a rock.” Sophia reached out and touched the coarse wool.
“It’s possible.” Ian laughed. “If we settle for the simple explanations, we might never learn the history of the people who owned these valuable pieces. He placed a hand over her fingers, guiding her touch along the uneven weave. “This can likely date back before the British banned the wearing of kilts.”
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
Thirty years ago I moved from NY to S. Florida. My children are grown. I live with my husband and a very active two-year old Lab mix.
Any questions you’d like to answer that are specific to the book you’re promoting
The idea for Shortbread Cookie Princess came to me when I was watching a show on ancestry. What if someone doesn’t want to know about their past?
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book? Organizing my time is usually the most difficult for me when I start a book. Once the story takes shape I schedule writing time.
What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular? Doing research was difficult when writing Shortbread Cookie Princess. Ancestry research is very interesting. I spend too much time reading people’s experiences. Also, I had a craving for shortbread all the time.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story? I’m usually busy in the morning so I set a schedule to write by 2pm. I’m not a prolific writer and I set a goal to write a minimum of 1-2 new pages a day.
Do you collect anything? I collect yarn for crocheting projects and odds and ends for a shabby-chic dollhouse I’m working on.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read [your book]? I want readers to come away with a good feeling.
What is your favorite quote? “Perfection comes in little moments.” John Dutton on Yellowstone
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author? For years I worked as an ER nurse and developed a tough skin. I take criticism and turn it into something constructive. What has been the best compliment? A reader told me that while reading one of my books she felt like she was talking to my characters over a cup of tea. I loved hearing how she was drawn into their lives.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? My characters are a combination of real people and my imagination.
What character in your book are you least likely to get along with? In Shortbread Cookie Princess, Sophia has an evil stepmother. I would never be her friend. I don’t like mean, unkind people. I try to avoid them in real life but villains are necessary to a story. I give them some redeeming quality.
Happy Friday the 13th! It’s release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. Today, I’m pleased to welcome myself with my story, Mister 13…
While writing this story, I researched the dates for past Friday the 13ths and used the actual date for each year that was mentioned. One of the dates I used was January 13, 1984…which happens to be the date I got married. And, it was on a Friday the 13th. And, we divorced nearly 13 years later…coincidence or were otherworldly forces at work? 😀
*** Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents – grab them now before the price goes up!!!
Psychologist Giselle Bishop is treating a patient who suffers from friggatriskaidekaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th. When he was younger, his family was murdered on Friday the 13th by an unknown killer dubbed Mister 13 by the media. Since then, he’s been terrified to leave his house on the dreaded date. She understands his fear because years earlier, her roommate fell victim to Mister 13.
With another Friday the 13th approaching, Giselle convinces him to overcome his fear by facing the very day that paralyzes him, so he reluctantly ventures out. But when she sees a news report that a young woman was found murdered by someone with the same MO as Mister 13, she understands she has made a grave error and her patient is right to believe he is in danger. But he’s not the only one, because now Mister 13 is coming after her.
She answered the call, and Lydia cried out, “Did you hear what happened?”
Dread gripped her. “No, what is it? Are you okay?”
“Someone was killed…in your house. Yours and Darcy’s old house. The girl who lives there now was murdered. Tonight. Someone called it in to the media. Not even 911. They called the news station.”
The sentences rushed out, piling on top of one another in a panicked jumble.
“Oh my God,” Giselle gasped. “That’s horrible. Do they know who did it yet?”
“No,” Lydia said. “But I’m pretty sure it was Mister 13.”
“What? Why do you say that? Are the details the same?”
“I don’t know. They haven’t said much yet. But, come on, Friday the 13th. At your old house. I just know it was him.”
Giselle grabbed the remote and flipped over to a local news channel. The sportscast was on, but the story scrolled along the bottom, ‘Breaking news, a young woman was found dead in her home after a tip was called in to our station. Details are sketchy at this time, but it appears the victim was stabbed multiple times. Police are not releasing whether they were connected, but thirteen years ago, a young woman was murdered in this same house by an unknown killer. Police suspect it was the work of the serial killer known as Mister 13. Again, we are unsure if this latest killing is by the same person. More details as they become available.’
“Oh God,” Giselle murmured. Her mind went to Everett. She’d finally convinced him to face his fears, to venture out on this dreaded date, and the first time he summons the courage to do so, another tragic murder happens.
“I’m sorry, Lydia. I’ve got to go. Let me know if you learn anything else. Talk to you soon.”
She hung up and dialed Everett. The call went straight to voicemail. “Everett, please call me as soon as you get this. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” She hung up without mentioning the murder. If he was out and heard about it, he’d be terrified.
Fear settled in the pit of her stomach. It was irrational to think something would happen to him…the murder had nothing to do with Everett, but rational or not, she couldn’t quell the worry. And she wouldn’t rest until she knew Everett was okay.
Alicia Dean began writing stories as a child. At age 10, she wrote her first ever romance (featuring a hero who looked just like Elvis Presley, and who shared the name of Elvis’ character in the movie, Tickle Me), and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy.
Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley (she almost always works in a mention of him into her stories) and watching a LOT of television, which she calls research so it doesn’t appear that she’s wasting time.
Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Krysta Scott with her story, Tormented Whispers…
Recently, I had the opportunity to stay in a refurbished motel on route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was thrilled. My eldest not so much. One of the differences between a motel and hotel is that the location of the door to your room is different. In a motel, the door opens to the sidewalk and parking lot. In a hotel, the door opens to a hallway inside the building.
My eldest didn’t like the exposed feeling of opening the door and stepping right outside. Also, the motel had a huge window facing the parking lot. This meant that anyone who walked by could look into our room. It was a bit unnerving. She insisted that my husband and I occupy the bed closest to the door. Anyone who has watched Schitt’s creek knows that this is the ‘murder bed’. If someone were to break in, the people in that bed will be killed first. I am very pleased she was so concerned for our welfare.
It didn’t help that there was an Embassy Suite right across route 66. We had stayed there last year enjoying the hot breakfast and complimentary cocktails. Some of her objections are raised by Megan at the beginning of the story. Below is a photo of the motel.
*** Pre-Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents!!!
Raelynn Carter used to hear voices as a child but she silenced them long ago. When her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her, she and a group of her friends embark on a project to renovate an old hotel on route 66. Once there, she encounters a presence, and the voices start talking to her again– unloading their stories of torment, pain and longing.
Attempting to ignore them, she focuses her efforts into repairing the dilapidated hotel. But the voices become more insistent. Then someone dies. At first it looks like an accident but there is something more sinister lurking in the shadows. As the body count rises, Raelynn knows it’s only a matter of time before the evil comes for her.
I backed away. Another scream pealed out from inside the room. Shit! Someone had gone inside. Tentatively I took a step forward. “Susan?”
No response. I leaned in and flicked on the light. As I did, the lights came on. A gust of wind rose from behind me pushing me across the threshold. The door slammed shut. I turned to wrench it open, but it wouldn’t budge.
A whimper came from the far-left corner. I edged around the bed. A small figure crouched shivering by the wall. “Hello? Can I help you?”
Her head snapped up with wide deer-in-the-headlight eyes. Curly brown hair barely touched her shoulders. She couldn’t be more than seventeen. A rough whisper escaped her lips. “You shouldn’t be here. He’s coming.”
“It’s ok,” As I spoke, I could see my breath. I shivered as I reached out to the girl. “He’s not here now. Why don’t we go outside where it’s warmer.”
She shook her head. “He won’t let me.”
“It’s ok, let me help you.”
The lights flickered. She looked up, her face crumpling into terror. “He’s here.”
I followed the track of her gaze but saw only the ceiling. When I turned back to the girl, she was gone. A quick scan of the bathroom revealed it was empty. A small tremor skittered up my spine. This was the second hallucination in less than an hour. It was time to leave. I rushed to the door, yanking as hard as I could.
A rumble of laughter filled the room. There is no escape!
I yanked harder. My heart hammered in my chest. But the door wouldn’t budge. My hands were so sweaty they slipped on the handle making it hard for me to grip it. Still, I yanked.
The laughter grew more intense until it was shuddering through me. The humming followed urging me to turn my head to the mirror. It glowed in the center. I closed my eyes refusing to do its bidding. It didn’t matter. My feet moved anyway, propelling me until I stood in front of the mirror. My arm flew up and my palm connected with the cold fractured surface. On their own my eyes opened. This time I didn’t see my reflection.
Krysta lives in the southwest. She loves anything containing the elements of science fiction, horror and mystery. In addition to the Friday the 13th series, she is the author of a paranormal romance, Shadow Dancer.
Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Dex Rivers with his story, House on 13th…
I researched deadly, quick-acting poisons for the story, but they are surprisingly hard to obtain, so I had to use another murder method. If the authorities check my search history, I’m in big trouble.
*** Pre-Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents!!!
Newlywed Linette Holmes is ecstatic to have found her Mr. Right, but she’s less than enthusiastic about moving into the home he shared with his first wife, who met an untimely end. However, she wants to make him happy, so she reluctantly agrees and moves in, ready to start her new life.
When her husband abandons her for a business trip, she’s stuck alone with his morose housekeeper. Soon, things start to go very wrong and she has a close call she barely escapes. She assumes it’s just an accident, but when the ‘accidents’ escalate, she can’t ignore that her near misses appear more calculated. Is the housekeeper trying to kill her or is something otherworldly at play? When a visitor is killed in the house, she decides it’s time to vacate the premises. But easier said than done. In the beginning, the house didn’t seem to want her there, but now it won’t let her leave.
“You seem like a good person. I’m glad Brenton found somebody.”
“I’m sure he’s been lonely since he lost Gillian.”
Rex chuckled. “Oh, Brenton doesn’t allow himself to be lonely for long. It’s a shame about what happened to that girl.”
“You mean his wife?”
“No, the other one. Melody Delgado. Did you not hear about that?”
She wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but she said, “Hear about what?”
He winced. “I guess maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but it wouldn’t be too hard for you to find out.”
“Find out what? Please tell me what what’s going on.”
He hesitated for just a moment, then said, “Your husband was dating this nice little girl. Last May, she had a terrible accident. Right here at the house.”
Fear gripped her throat. “Accident? Is she okay?”
Rex gave a humorless chuckle. “I wouldn’t say she is. Poor girl is dead.”
Linette’s hands shook, and she nearly dropped her coffee cup. “How did she die?” The words trembled out of her.
“Seems she got disoriented and fell down the stairs. Broke her neck. They say she died instantly.”
Fell down the stairs? Regina’s doubts came to mind. Was she right in thinking that Brenton might have had something to do with his wife’s death? Surely the police wondered how two women could suffer accidental deaths in this man’s house. “Where was Brenton?”
“On a business trip. She was staying here at the house while he was gone. I met her a few times. Really nice girl.”
Dread tightened her stomach. “So the police cleared him?”
Rex frowned. “Yeah, the police definitely cleared him. He had a solid alibi he was in Chicago. You don’t suspect your husband of killing her, do you? Why, I know Brenton and there’s no way he’d do something like that.”
She forced a smile. “Of course not. I was just…”
They chatted for a few more minutes but Linette couldn’t recall anything they discussed. Her mind was racing with thoughts of two women who had been with Brenton both dying in this house. And now she had to live here. Chills raced over her flesh. Was she crazy or should she be scared?
I live on the East Coast where I spend my free time devouring horror novels. I enjoy them so much, I sometimes wonder if something is wrong with me… To be safe, I decided to channel my affinity for the macabre into writing about it rather than acting it out…you’re welcome.
Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Stephen B King (NO, not THAT Stephen King – he’sthe Australian one.) with his story, The Grimoire of Caligari…
After having 16 books published, I can honestly say I had the most fun I’ve ever had writing The Grimoire of Caligari. My loyal readers know that mostly I write serious psychological thrillers featuring serial killers. A study of the mind when it fractures, is a subject that has always fascinated me. A good friend of mine is a well renowned psychologist (though he works in high stress level recruitment, such as underground mining etc) and my youngest daughter has a degree in criminal psychology and justice (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) – both have given me invaluable insights into varying psychosis. I think we would all agree, serial killers must be insane in some form, or another, wouldn’t we? Mass murderers are ‘my thing,’ much to my wife’s chagrin, and I love writing about them.
In this story I was able to tell a tale not only steeped in my favorite subject, but I could also add the dark horror element of trying to reanimate the dead (a respectful nod to my more famous namesake) along with medieval history. Once I had the inspiration of Lucian Brufos’ struggle with deepest grief and guilt imaginable, the words flowed from me as if from a faucet I couldn’t turn off. It was as if they were coming through me, not from me; if that makes sense?
I believe that guilt can be one of the most powerful triggers for psychotic episodes, and poor Lucian blames himself entirely for the tragic death of his wife and twin daughters. Under such circumstances, who of us would not want to bring our loved ones back to life if we possibly could? When Lucian meets The Dark Man, who calls himself Jolly, (a character I have featured in two previous books: Glimpse, the Tender Killer, and Glimpse, the Angel Shot) he is flung headlong into the search for The Grimoire of Caligari. Caligari was a famous wizard who was burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church in Italy five hundred years before. Jolly assures Lucian he knows where the Grimoire had been buried, and that it contains the spells necessary to assist in a black magic ceremony to bring back Lucian’s wife and daughters from the grave. Lucian is more than willing to do anything to make that happen, despite a young girl who resembles an antique doll who repeatedly warns him not to, and that he will die if he continues.
The question for the reader is: Is Jolly a figment of Lucian’s troubled mind, or could he be some evil entity forcing him to comply?
*** Pre-Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents!!!
Ancient history lecturer Lucian Brufos has suffered the worst tragedy imaginable; his wife and twin daughters were killed in a car accident leaving him alone and so depressed he attempts to end his life. When he wakes he refuses to speak and is committed to a psychiatric ward for evaluation where he meets The Dark Manwho calls himself Jolly. Jolly assures Lucian he can help bring Lucian’s family back from the grave, but to do so, he must find one of the world’s most famous wizards in history’s book of spells, The Grimoire of Caligari.
“Lucian,” he said softly that first time he spoke in his sickly syrupy voice. “Lucian, can you hear me?”
I turned slowly, feeling some invisible hand tugging on my forehead, so I had to look at him. He was sitting on a straight-backed chair alongside me, which I don’t recall being there before. He wore a long black jacket, the kind a pilgrim father might wear, a black shirt with a black string bow tie. I glanced down and noted his pants were black, as were the western-style boots with scuffed toes. He held what looked like an ancient Bible, though I didn’t see a cross embossed on its cover, so it may not have been a holy book. “There’s no need to speak if you don’t want to; just think of any words you might have and project them. I can hear your thoughts just as easily as if you speak, so don’t fret. Or you can nod for yes and shake for no if you prefer. Is that all right with you, Lucian?”
I recall, with absolute clarity, that I turned back to the window and thought, please, just go away and leave me alone.
And then, something weird happened. It was as clear as a bell tolling out midnight. I heard him speak, but this time, not with my ears, but in my mind. “Oh yes, Lucian, I could leave you alone to suffer in your silent world of pain and angst. But then, if I did, I wouldn’t be able to show you how you could be reunited with Connie and the twins, could I? There is a way I can help you do that, but the question is, are you brave enough to converse with me to find out how to reanimate their corpses?”
I left school very early to join a rock band, and spent a few years writing poems, short stories and music. I’ve won two short story writing competitions, had poems published, and enjoyed being a long-haired rock guitarist before life got in the way and I settled down, married and had children. I’ve owned my own businesses and managed large vehicle sales dealerships and observed people from all walks of life. It is these observations which has aided in creating characters. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me if you think Jolly is real……..
Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Mary Coley with her story, The Thirteenth Victim…
I spent the night as a guest in the house I’ve written about, and decided it would be a locale for future stories! Spirits are lurking everywhere.
*** Pre-Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents!!!
Serial killer Zander Murphee’s hunt for his Thirteenth Victim gets derailed when he moves into a Tulsa mansion and the neighbors come calling.
As the elevator car inched upward, Zander studied the interior. Padded leather walls on three sides, stained carpet on the floor. The elevator jerked to a stop.
The door remained closed. He punched the OPEN button. Nothing. He punched TWO again. The elevator twitched.
He punched ONE hoping the contraption would return to the first floor of the house. The low hum of the motor didn’t change.
Sweat trickled through his eyebrows and into his eyes. His vision blurred. He blinked and peered at the inspection sticker again. Now it appeared to show an inspection date of fifty years ago, not last month. He rubbed his eyes and they stung with his perspiration.
The elevator lurched. The lightbulb in the sconce flickered once, twice, three times and went out.
“Freaking elevator. Help!”
He pounded on the wall even though he knew Desiree was long gone. He punched on the flashlight feature of his cell phone and shone it on the elevator’s control panel. He punched each of the keys with no result. The elevator didn’t even twitch.
Was there an exit panel on the roof? He shone the flashlight up.
A grinning head hung suspended in space above him. A drop of drool eased over the bottom lip of the apparition and fell past his face to the stained carpet at his feet. A wave of cold air passed over him. He froze in place. More drool cascaded down from the mouth of the distorted wide-eyed face.
Mary Coley usually writes mysteries. As an early reader with a voracious reader father, she was exposed to horror early on through Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Stephen King. She says that her story, The Thirteenth Victim, was easy to write, and “felt like coming home” in many ways. She recalls that her first penned stories in middle school were horror stories.
Coley set her story in Tulsa, OK, where she has lived for more than 25 years. Her character, Zander Murphee, is an antique dealer and an undiscovered serial killer. Intending to continue his murderous pursuits in a new locale, he relocates to Tulsa and buys an historic oil mansion with the help of Desiree Smythe, a gorgeous realtor who is assisting with a for-sale-by-owner house.
Both the mansion and Desiree meet all his expectations, but all is not as it seems. Zander encounters unwanted visitors to his home on the day he moves in, including insects, rodents, and—he refuses to believe it—ghosts.
Coley has eight published mysteries, a non-fiction children’s book and numerous short stories to her credit. In 2018 she won the Tony Hillerman Award from New Mexico/Arizona books, and was awarded the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction in 2022 for her mystery, Blood on the Mother Road. Visit her website at https://www.marycoley.com .
The Thirteenth Victim will appear as a Friday the 13th Story, releasing January 13, 2023 on Amazon as an ebook, and in the anthology of the same name which includes 13 creepy stories by 13 authors.
Happy 2023! It’s almost release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Brenda Clark Thomas with her story, The Surrogate…
I got the idea for my story after I did research on abandoned asylums. I learned that some of those places had back exits where they rolled coffins down a tunnel and into waiting hearses in order for the patients not to see how many people were dying.
*** Pre-Order the Friday the 13th stories for only 99 cents!!!
When Heather’s sister goes missing, she enters a photo contest to pay for a detective, but gets trapped in the abandoned sanatorium she’s photographing. An apparition with information appears but refuses to share until Heather agrees to do something she’s never dared to do.
Ashley ran through the front doors, picked her way down the cleared stairs, and into the morgue. The flashlight’s beam hit the wall, and then the plaster littered floor. It moved in an arc and lit the bag and tripod. She swept the beam across the room. The camera lay on its side by the medicine cabinet. She walked over and picked it up.
The morgue door slammed shut.
Screaming, she ran to it, yanked the metal handle, and pounded. “Help! Help! I can’t get out!”
She raced to the window and climbed up on the chair. The police car, fire truck, and ambulance bounced down the road and out of sight.
How could they leave her like this? But then Ronnie Carpenter wasn’t the brightest. He was probably too busy trying to get in front of that firetruck with his lights and siren to think of anything else.
She sat beside the rucksack and started to cry. Her parents thought she was spending the night with Heather. No one would realize she was missing until tomorrow. For now, she was stuck in the basement.
Wait, the bum had escaped through the coffin chute, so maybe she could get out that way too. But what if he were hiding in there? Or there were snakes?
She swept the flashlight across the room and shuddered at the blood-smeared cement. Three black feathers lay in a pile. Someone performed voodoo in this room.
The camera came on all by itself. She picked it up, then stared in disbelief. The preview screen showed a transparent hand and fingers touching the basement wall.
The camera flipped to the next shot of a ghostly child barely discernable in the gloom.
The picture changed again. This time the face of the snarling bum with wicked eyes glared at her.
“Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God.”
She switched the camera off and sat listening to the wind rattling the leaves outside the hole in the window. Clenching her teeth to keep them from chattering, she wrapped her arms around herself. She’d have to go through the tunnel, even if he were out there somewhere. It was better than staying here.
Far down the coffin chute, the rusty spring creaked as the door opened. Footsteps limped down the shaft.
Step. Slide. Step. Slide.
The bum jumped down into the room.
She swung the flashlight’s beam onto the man. A dirty, blood-soaked rag covered one eye.
He slapped his palm with a pipe. “Brandon said you was purty. Yessir, He was right. My little blondie.”
Brenda Clark Thomas is the 2020 fiction runner-up of the prestigious Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. She writes speculative fiction with a literary bent. Most recently, she’s concentrated on writing horror. Her flash fiction, “The Fire Man,” is slated to appear in a Crystal Lake Publishing anthology soon.