Audra Grayson became a nurse in order to help save lives. But one night after a brutal beating, she almost loses her own. The near-death experience opens a door between the world of the living and the world beyond. Two Grim Reapers invade her life. One is charming, with the angelic blonde looks of a saint and the black soul of a psychopath. The other is dark, dangerously attractive and, in spite of her distaste for his reaper duties, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him.
When Audra’s patients begin to die unexpectedly and her loved ones are threatened, she will risk her life—even her soul—to save them. But can she risk her heart to an inhuman being whose very purpose is to take those she is trying to save?
Audra whirled. Dimitri stood a few feet behind her. He once more wore the leather jacket. His brow was drawn into a frown.
“Dimitri. You came.”
He moved closer, lowering his head to stare into her face. Her breath caught when the electric spark reached out to her.
“I didn’t know how it worked,” she murmured, her mouth suddenly dry. “I wasn’t sure you’d hear me.”
“Of course I heard you. You were yelling loud enough to wake the dead. No pun intended.”
She didn’t smile. “Gaylen. Do you know where he is?”
He shook his head. “Not at the moment. Did something happen?”
“Yes,” she whispered. “My patient. Mr. Neufeld. I think Gaylen…killed him.”
Dimitri reached a hand out as if to take hold of her arm. Although he couldn’t physically touch her, somehow it seemed as though he did. His hand hovered near her elbow, and she let him lead her to one of the visitor’s chairs. When she was seated, he took the other chair. Leaning forward, he rested his clasped hands between his knees.
“Tell me what happened.” His voice was low, mesmerizing…soothing. Not what one would expect from a dealer of death.
“Mr. Neufeld was scheduled for gall bladder surgery tomorrow. Nothing life threatening. I was with him only moments before, and he was fine. Then…” She looked down to where her hands rubbed back and forth over her thighs. “I saw Gaylen. Outside my patient’s room. He went in. Walked right through the door. By the time I got to him…”
“The man was dead.”
She lifted her head and nodded. “Gaylen was standing there, looking…satisfied, happy even. He killed him, didn’t he?”
Dimitri sighed and unclasped his hands. Resting an elbow on the arm of the chair, he rubbed his temple. “It seems so. I should have been there. I didn’t know.”
“You could have stopped him if you’d been there?” He nodded. “Then why weren’t you? Can’t you just follow him around? Make sure he doesn’t do things like this?”
He grinned, dimples appearing briefly. “I can’t just follow him around. For one, I have duties to perform. For another, I don’t always know when he’s up to his…shenanigans. Occasionally, I get a feeling…a premonition of sorts. Sometimes, I arrive just a few seconds behind, like at the mall, too late to stop him. There are times when I arrive ahead of him. In that case, he can’t do anything, because another reaper is already there. But it’s all just random and luck and timing. No pattern, no rules to follow, nothing I can do to ensure he doesn’t continue taking souls before their time.”
She wasn’t entirely convinced he spoke the truth. Dimitri was a reaper, too. He took lives, just like Gaylen. But there was something different about Gaylen. He seemed to delight in what he did. Then again, maybe Dimitri did, too, but he was just better at hiding it.
Please help me welcome author, Randy Overbeck, with an article on an important topic…
In the U. S., another teen girl is trafficked every 90 minutes!
Today, we have plenty of crises to deal with—political unrest, the traumatic toll of the Coronavirus, a devastated economy that will take years to recover.
But there is one crisis—tragic, devastating and universal—that is going on everyday, in small towns and large, in inner cities and suburbs, which gets almost NO headlines or news coverage. Based on the best estimates, in the U. S. alone, 5000 teen girls get sucked into the world of human trafficking every year. That’s a hundred young girls a week, fourteen a day, almost two every hour.
And almost no one talks about it.
That why, when I penned my new novel, Crimson at Cape May, a ghost story/mystery, I chose to tie the whodunit to the crime of human trafficking. The narrative is set in Cape May, New Jersey, a breathtakingly beautiful resort town on the East Coast with pristine, white beaches and the largest collection of beautiful Victorian mansions in the country. A perfectly apt, small town setting for a murder mystery.
And not very far from this idyllic getaway extends a network of human trafficking smugglers, who supply young girls and women as prostitutes, up and down the eastern seaboard.
Of course, all the events described in my novel are fictional. But the reality and the truth is amazingly close to the world captured in the novel. Crimson at Cape May has been described as a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story, served with a side of romance, all set in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. But it is also a novel that reveals the ugly truth about the scourge of sex trafficking and bondage.
The narrative for the novel is set more than twenty years earlier, in 1999, but the facts about human trafficking captured in the story are sadly still true, only more so today. In fact, did you know that in 2021, there are more people being trapped in human trafficking than at any time in human history.
Her is a link to a brief article with some astonishing—and depressing statistics:
Now, my new novel is no treatise on the subject of human trafficking. It is, as advertised, an award-winning, five-star amateur sleuth mystery and suspense with romantic elements, as they say in the business. I’m confident readers will be captivated by the breathtakingly beautiful scenery, fall in love along with Darrell and Erin, feel compelled to help the street-wise kid, Cassie, and solve the whodunnit of the baffling murder. Scores of Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub readers have already shared how much they enjoyed the novel.
But I also hope and pray that readers come away with a better grasp of the problem of human trafficking and maybe, just maybe, a desire to do something about it.
BLURB—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY
No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.
Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.
He can’t refuse.
Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims?
REVIEWS—CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY
“With both elements of mystery and suspense, readers across genres will find this second book about Darrell Henshaw intriguing…I highly recommend it.”★★★★★—Literary Titan
“It’s a ghost/mystery story filled with suspense and action. The plot is so engrossing it had me hooked from the very first page.”★★★★★—Nana’s Reviews, Greece
“An exciting paranormal mystery I couldn’t put down… A great read. Highly recommend!” ★★★★★—N.N. Light’s BookHeaven
“Rollicking good…Darrell is a wonderful protagonist, an ordinary man put into extraordinary situations and rising to the challenge..” ★★★★★ —Over My Dead Body magazine
“I loved everything about this book. As a ghost story combined with a mystery, a romance, a social injustice and stunning historical details, Crimson at Cape May has something for everyone.”★★★★★—ReaderViews
“Masterly spooky adventure…an accomplished work of haunting mystery fiction that fans of the genre won’t want to miss out on. Highly Recommend.” ★★★★★—ReadersFavorite.com
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker, capturing state and national accolades for his work. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, Blood on the Chesapeake (2019) and Crimson at Cape May (2020) have earned five star reviews and garnered top awards and recognition from sites such as Literary Titan, ReadersFavorite.com, ReaderViews.com and N. N. Lights Bookheaven. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
I am so pleased to share this fabulous anthology just in time for Christmas. Not only are Kathy and Amanda two of my ABFFs (Author Best Friends Forever), they are extremely talented writers. (Actually, they would be my friends even if they weren’t authors…I adore them!)
Check out their lovely stories here…
And check out the fun song Kathy’s husband, Al, wrote for the anthology…
Regency Christmas Kisses anthology by Kathy L Wheeler and Amanda McCabe
Take a walk back in time with this collection of five sweet Regency Christmas shorts and novellas.
Snowbound Christmas – Amanda McCabe
(A sequel to “The wallflower’s Mistletoe Wedding”)
Years ago, fate parted Helen Layton and Charles St. George. Now a wealthy widow and a famous artist, they are stuck together in a Christmas blizzard! Can old pain, and true love, bring them back together?
Lady Felicity’s FKeud with Christmas – Kathy L Wheeler
(Part of the Rebel Lords of London series)
Christmas does not come easy for a young woman who has seen too much tragedy around the holidays. Lord Lexum is snared into obtaining Lady Felicity’s assistance for a Christmas event. Can he find a way to show Felicity Christmas also means hope?
A Partridge in a Pear Tree – Amanda Mc Cabe
A National Reader’s Choice Award Finalist
Spend the holidays at a Regency England house party! Seeking an heir to her fortune, a widow challenges her family to a wild holiday scavenger hunt in the novella “A Partridge in a Pear Tree”–and two lost, lonely people find a lasting love and true family seeking the Twelve Days of Christmas…
Five Gold Rings – Kathy L Wheeler
(Part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology from the Oklahoma Romance Writers.)
The noblest of England’s finest families vie for the honor to attend Pemberton’s Annual Christmas Ball—most especially those with daughters of a marriageable age. Something Bartholomew Dixon, Viscount Weston, in all accounts, typically avoids like the plague but for one idiotic wager. He’s acquired four of the five rings required to win…but what of the fifth?
Nine Ladies Dancing – Amanda McCabe
(the sequel to A Partridge in a Pear Tree!)
Spend Christmas in the magic of Regency England! The lovely, red-headed Gordon twins, studious Jane and vivacious Kitty, are excited to attend their first Kirkwood Christmas Ball at Swan Court—-and are filled with plans for the future. Kitty has dreams of marrying the Duke of Tremanton, while Jane thinks the handsome new vicar, Harry Phillips, might suit her. But Christmas has a magic of its own—and the universe has its own idea of romance! Will all end well, under the mistletoe?
Kathy L Wheeler (aka Kae Elle Wheeler) loves the NFL, the NBA, musical theater (don’t ask how her how many times she’s seen Phantom of the Opera (12); or Wicked (7)), travel, (Europe, Grand Cayman, Mexico, All over the US), reading (practically a book a night), writing (15 books and counting) and karaoke (well….what can she say). She assists other authors in critiquing, formatting, and creating covers for their publishing dreams. She writes contemporary and historical stories where the heroines save themselves and the heroes who honor their courage with suspense and humor.
Amanda McCabe wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…). When not writing or reading, she loves yoga, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook. She also writes as Laurel McKee. historical Elizabethan mysteries as Amanda Carmack., and Eliza Casey…
Hello and welcome to the fifth of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Anna Kittrell’s “Scorned” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
While contemplating my upcoming “semicentennial” birthday, I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago. A woman approached me following an author presentation and said, “The whole time you were up there talking, me and the gal next to me were just sitting here trying to figure out how old you are, trying to get clues from the things you were saying.” It was then I realized that I do the exact same thing! Why is knowing a person’s age so intriguing? Maybe it’s because aging is one thing we all have in common. Or maybe we just want to see how we measure up in the gray hair and wrinkles department. Whatever the reason, for some of us, age-guessing makes for a fun and fascinating pastime.
Gwen, the main character in my Friday the 13th story, SCORNED, detests the thought of growing old. But as I pedal without brakes toward the big Five Oh, there’s one thing I’d love to share with Gwen—there are plenty of things left to look forward to in middle age and beyond. Why should all of the excitement in life be reserved for the first half? Why can’t the second half be even more fun? At age forty I was published in Writer’s Digest, learned to apply false eyelashes, and got braces on my teeth. At forty-one my first book was published, and at forty-three I had the divine honor of becoming a grandmother! Today I approach fifty with ten published books and several magazine publications under my belt. My advice to Gwen and anyone else who abhors the thought of growing older is this: LOVE yourself fully—including your age. After all, growing older isn’t an affliction, it’s an opportunity.
When bank manager Gwen Chester discovers her husband, Robert, is seeing a younger woman, she does what any confident businesswoman would do—doubts herself. But her quest to get into shape leads her to a local gym, she comes face to face with Tara, the young beauty who has stolen Robert’s heart and, more importantly, Gwen’s self-worth. Overcome with rage, Gwen threatens Tara who, to Gwen’s horror, is found dead the following morning.
With all fingers, including Robert’s, pointing to Gwen as the killer, she enlists a friend’s help in a desperate scheme to find out the true identity of Tara’s murderer. The plan goes awry when Gwen finds her friend lying dead in a retail storeroom. Gwen decides to conduct her own investigation and discovers that not only is her marriage in danger—so is her life.
Can Gwen escape an intricate web of deceit and murder? Or is “till death do us part” a vow her husband intends to keep?
Anxiety eased from Gwen’s mind while she worked her muscles. Inhaling positivity and exhaling negativity, she closed her eyes, envisioning the unsightly parts of her life melting away with unsightly pounds.
“Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you in an hour, if that’s okay. The oil change should be finished by then.”
Gwen’s eyes snapped open. The same voice she’d heard two months ago, through Robert’s office door, right before she’d burst in. “I love you too, Robert,” the voice had said sweetly, awakening Gwen to her own ignorance and inadequacy. The words had emptied her soul. She’d never forget Tara Sanlander’s voice as long as she lived.
Oblivious to Gwen’s stare, Tara gazed into the wall mirror and pulled her long hair into a high ponytail. A short middle aged woman stood beside her, looking hopelessly out of place.
“Not a problem,” the shorter woman said. “I’ve got all day.” She glanced at the floor. “Well, would you look at that?” She grunted, bending over. “A penny!”
“Careful, Mom. You don’t need another fall.”
“It’s my lucky day!” She stood up, clenching the coin in her fist as she left the gym.
Gwen turned her eyes back to Tara, who tossed her head and gazed at her reflection, making sure the blonde ponytail was just right. Her gaze met Gwen’s and her movements stopped. Gwen watched with amusement, the girl’s suntanned features turning white as a chunk of provolone cheese.
“Hello, Tara.” Gwen didn’t bother to drop the kettlebell as she took measured steps to the woman and stood beside her, facing the mirror.
Tara tried to turn away, but Gwen grabbed her wrist.
“Let go of me before I scream for help.”
“Oh, you’ll scream all right,” Gwen said, unable to believe she could hold her voice steady. Controlled rage—it was the best she could describe it. She didn’t know where this part of her was coming from, but she couldn’t stop it. She didn’t want to. Her marriage was a disaster. Tara had won. Might as well scare the hell out of her.
“I said, let go!” Tara jerked her arm from Gwen’s grip with all her might, whipping Gwen’s entire body, causing the kettlebell to strike the wall mirror—shattering it into a million pieces.
Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved Oklahoma hometown where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations–stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, written on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.
Hello and welcome to the fourth of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Margo Hoornstra’s “Dead to Rights” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
Several sources helped me create this murder/mystery. My husband was great with plot points and brainstorming. Good friends we camp with were instrumental in fleshing out various scenes. Although, plotting the details of a murder and its aftermath around our nightly campfires gave new meaning to telling spooky stories in the dark.
Police Dispatcher Whitney Rhoades has one word for her current life…contentment. Even after a disfigured body is discovered near her home. When word gets out she’s found a piece of a broken mirror, the deadly mishaps begin to pile up, and her peaceful contented world becomes a nightmare.
Veteran Detective Gabriel Tate knows a vendetta when he sees it. What he doesn’t know is who wants Whitney dead. But despite her terror, she tosses his offer of protection back in his face. She trusted him once and he betrayed her. He can’t…won’t let that happen again.
Unless he can regain her trust…and soon…the results could be fatal. Find a murderer or risk losing her again…permanently.
“What was I supposed to do? She attacked me first. With a mirror of all things. She would have sliced my neck open if I hadn’t punched her.” He let out a sickening laugh. “That stopped her. But then she started bleeding from her nose. Crying and choking. It wouldn’t stop. None of it would stop.” His tone lowered as if remorse had finally taken hold. “I had every right to defend myself, but I didn’t mean to hit her that hard. I never intended to break her nose. I sure as hell never expected her to die on me.”
Being forced to walk in front of him, she was hearing what amounted to a confession to murder. Without the benefit of cameras recording every word in an official interrogation room. Without the luxury of a confessed murderer being unarmed and in custody.
There was only one reason he’d be so freely confessing to her. What better way to clear his conscience? Then make sure she’d never tell anyone.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen.” His voice jarred Whitney out of her thoughts.
Her step faltered, which earned her another sharp jab from the gun barrel. Wincing as pain radiated through her ribs, she had no choice but to continue moving.
“It was an accident.” She spoke the first words that came to mind. “Everyone will see that.” Convincing him she was on his side was the only way she had a prayer to get out of this alive.
“You’re damned right it was an accident. Her fault. Not mine. She never should have resisted.” The strength of his voice rose before falling to a mere whisper.
When they reached the top of the ridge, he came along side and turned to face her.
“That mirror evidence is our little secret. Yours and mine. Of course, you’re not going to be around to talk about it. And I’m sure not going to tell. Don’t worry. If you don’t die from the fall, I’m an excellent marksman. You can even decide the location of the kill shot ahead of time. Brains or heart? Your choice.” With an ominous chuckle, he nudged her in the side one more time. “Should I push you, or would you rather jump?”
Wife to one, mother to four, mother-in-law to four, and grandmother to four so far, Margo is a Detroit native who couldn’t be happier now living in rural mid-Michigan. A communications specialist by trade, she has worked as a magazine editor, television producer, and speech and script writer. When not writing these days, she enjoys walking outdoors in every season, hates to cook, loves to read, and can be found at www.margohoornstra.com
Hello and welcome to the third of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Dianne McCartney’s “Vanity Kills” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
The subject of body-shaming has always interested me. I have a tall, stocky build and my daughter is on the other end of the spectrum, yet we have both suffered this behavior, mostly from other women. Those experiences are what spawned this story.
Detective Marcus Flint is hot on the trail of a demented killer. His initial victim, Carla Sharkley, is found with her body altered to look much bigger than her real size. Her face is made up like a clown’s. What bizarre message is this twisted killer trying to send?
Further investigation links her to a group of high school friends, cheerleaders, who were known bullies. Is the killer one of the victims of their abuse?
A search for similar crimes reveals several suspicious deaths, one in Marcus’s home state of Tennessee and two more out of state. All occurred on Friday the 13th.
When Marcus meets the lovely Eleanor Trask, one of the targets of their abuse, he is more determined than ever to solve this case. All bets are off, though, when the killer goes off script to reach his final goal.
Will Eleanor become his final sacrifice?
At one forty-five, he headed down to the morgue. Dr. Georges Appel, the medical examiner, wouldn’t let anyone in to watch the autopsy unless they were present from the beginning. A fastidious man, he made an excellent medical detective, never missing a thing.
He grunted a hello as his assistant set up the equipment. Autopsies were not for the faint of heart, but it had never bothered Marcus. His old trainer had advised him to think of the body as a box that no longer contains a person. It had helped.
The doctor entered the room, washing his hands at the sink before putting on gloves. “Your victim was dressed in size twenty clothes, even though she is perhaps a size six without the padding.”
He explained the reason behind the subterfuge or their best guess about it.
“People can be so odd. Is this his only victim?”
“We haven’t confirmed yet, but I don’t think so. We found a similar case upstate.”
“Before we begin, I assume you noted that she had signs of being restrained on her wrists. Probably handcuffs.”
“I did. Thank you.”
The doctor murmured his observations into a recorder as he worked, beginning with the surface examination of the skin, fingernails and toenails, taking scrapings. Y-shaped incision to open the torso. The initial blow to the heart had been the death blow. On examining it, he said, “Very deep, you see. Your killer is strong. The knife was likely a hunting knife, kept quite sharp as the edges are crisp. Maybe six or seven inches long.”
“Do you think the strike to the heart was intentional and the others were random?”
“Yes. He’s making a comment, don’t you think?”
He continued to work. “She didn’t bleed much after the initial wound, because the heart stopped beating. He accomplished his task very quickly. The poor girl never had a chance.”
Dianne McCartney is an award-winning writer, speaker and contest judge from Canon City, Colorado. Her books, Just One Night, The Daughter of Death and The Road to Justice are published by The Wild Rose Press. A long-standing member of the OWFI and The Rose Rock Writers, she has sixty writing awards from contests in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.
Hello and welcome to the second of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Leah St. James’ “Azrael’s Chosen” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
Fun Fact: Azrael’s Chosen is set in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, a giant wildlife area stretching across seven counties, marked by towering pines, more than 850 other plant species, and hundreds of species of mammals, bird and reptiles. Its most famous inhabitant is the legendary Jersey Devil, said to have been spawned in 1735 to the Leeds family. As the 13th offspring, thus cursed for eternity, this dragon-like creature roams the Pine Barrens on the hunt for unsuspecting prey.
Blurb: In the depths of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, teens play a game of life and death. Years later, a killer emerges, vowing to fulfill a teenage oath. As New Jersey State Police Detective Shannon Morgan tracks the killer, she finds herself the next to be chosen.
“I followed the dripping noise into the sanctuary. That’s when I saw her … there.” The priest convulsed and waved a limp hand toward the altar.
Shannon questioned him a bit more and, when she figured she’d gotten as much as possible, she tucked the notebook inside her jacket and stood. “Thank you, Father. As I’m sure you’re aware, this is an active crime scene, so we’ll have to cordon off the sanctuary until further notice. We’ll be as quick as we can with the investigation. We know you’ll want the use of your church back.” Although who knew what they’d have to do to sanctify the space.
Nevaro whipped out a hand and grabbed her wrist before she could turn away. “Wait.”
Tensing at the priest’s sudden touch, Shannon eased back onto the pew. “Yes?”
His mouth twisted, and he looked to the altar. “She is one of ours.”
Trying to stem the shock – and annoyed at herself for neglecting to ask that question – Shannon retrieved her notebook. “One of your parishioners?”
“Marge. Marjory Hanson. A regular.”
“Are you … sure?” Shannon didn’t want to make it worse by highlighting the obvious state of the body and lack of recognizable features.
“Her hair – same color, length. Same body type and size.” He pointed toward the body. “But more than that, her right ankle, inside. The tattoo.”
“Hold on.” Shannon hadn’t noticed that detail in her initial observation. She strode forward and to the side of the table for a better angle. There, where Father Nevaro had said. A circle in black with something inside. A word? Maybe an inch and a half long.
The forensic examiners would take photos, but she snapped one with her phone and returned to the priest. “Do you know what this is?”
“Legio.” At her blank look, he explained. “Latin for legion.” He grimaced once more but held her gaze. “I didn’t believe her. Now she’s dead. They’re back. The Legion.”
About the author:
Leah St. James writes thought-provoking stories about good and evil, the mysteries of life, and the enduring power of love. A native Jersey girl, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband where they enjoy not shoveling snow.
Hello and welcome to the first of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author. My intent was to post 1 per day beginning Nov 1 with the last one on Nov 13. But a couple of hospital stays threw a monkey wrench in that (because God forbid I plan anything ahead of time and pre-schedule the post… :))
Today, I am happy to share Jannine Gallant’s “A Deadly Game” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
A Deadly Game takes place in the Northern California redwoods where I grew up. I knew the towering trees, hanging fog, and small-town atmosphere I remember so well from my youth would be the perfect setting for a suspenseful story of murder.
In the heart of the redwoods, a madman plays a deadly game . . .
Deep in the redwood forest, a serial killer took the lives of three local women and devastated the small town of Woodvale. All in the name of love. Now, three years later, a delusional psychopath is determined to finish what his brother couldn’t . . . and punish the woman who betrayed him.
Sheriff Harley Boone is rocked to his core when the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the forest. Flashbacks to the gruesome murders that plagued his town won’t let him rest until he finds the man responsible—putting an end to the nightmare, once and for all. Because the killer is still out there, and his next target is the woman Harley loves.
Caroline Farnsworth didn’t believe she’d ever recover from the trauma of discovering her fiancé was a murderer . . . let alone dare to love again. But she’s back in Woodvale to make a new life with Harley—only to face the unimaginable. With a killer stalking her every move, she’s fighting for her future . . . if she survives.
“Harley, the car stopped.” Her voice shook.
“Drive away. Now!”
“I can’t. I’m penned between the SUV and a redwood tree. Maybe I can back up . . .” She turned to see what was behind her. Ferns and manzanita. “I’m not sure if I can make it.”
“Stay in your car and lock the doors. I’m on my way. Don’t try backing up unless the person gets out and approaches you. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Her teeth chattered as she stared at the other vehicle. Seconds ticked by before the driver’s side door opened. “He’s getting out. Oh, God.”
“I see your lights ahead through the trees. Almost there.”
A glow approached, just visible around the bend. When the lights grew brighter, the other driver got back inside his vehicle, slammed the door, and peeled out, roaring up the road toward town. Harley rounded the corner, passed the SUV, and screeched to a stop beside her.
Her finger shook as she lowered the window.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded, not sure she could speak coherently.
“I’m going after him. As soon as I flip around, drive straight to my house.”
“All right.” Her voice squeaked.
He pulled forward, made a three-point-turn, and raced away, his powerful engine accelerating loudly. She stared after him as shudders wracked her body. Finally, she shifted into gear and headed for home.
Write what you know. Jannine Gallant has taken this advice to heart, creating characters from small towns and plots that unfold in the great outdoors. A recent empty-nester, she grew up in a tiny Northern California town and currently lives in gorgeous Lake Tahoe with her husband. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Jannine enjoys hiking and snowshoeing in the woods around her home with her dog, Ginger. You’ll discover the beauty of nature woven into all her fast-paced romantic suspense novels. To find out more about this author and her books, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter. You can also find her on Facebook.
I am living proof that everything has its time and place, and cannot be rushed. My first publisher, Domhan Books, didn’t even exist when I started my first novel in 1982. It took me 18 years and 10 novels to get my first contract. My debut novel was actually the tenth one I wrote, Destiny Lies Waiting, and after eight years of research, writing and re-writing, I submitted to every major publisher, as well as many smaller ones. My first agent retired, and my second agent gave up on me. My work didn’t seem to fit into any of the molds cut out by the major publishers of romance.
But I never gave up. Something kept me going, and made me sit down to write. It was the belief that deep down, I knew somewhere in this world was a publisher willing to take a chance on me, who appreciated my style, my brand of humor, my unique voice. Now I realize that my first nine novels provided invaluable experience. Each novel was a vast improvement on the one before, but I needed to do more living, more maturing, and much more writing before Id be worthy of publication.
As I matured, the writing matured with me. There is no better way for novelists to learn their craft than to write novels one after the other. The late actress Vivian Vance said, There’s nothing like a lot of experience when the big break comes. Its so true. Seven novels later, I’ve made the most of my big break, and still have plenty of other novels bubbling away inside me.
So, to all you aspiring novelists slaving away: keep writing. Keep practicing. Most of all, don’t ever give up on your dream. Just having a dream makes you very special. If you get impatient because it’s taking so long, just ask yourself this: Why does 16-year Scotch take 16 years? Some things are worth waiting for.
Thank you, Diana. Very inspiring and something all struggling authors need to hear.
And now, some fascinating info about Diana’s latest book…
Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne called themselves Adam and Eve as he suffered the shame of his family’s connection to the Salem Witch Trials.
My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.
About FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE
Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.
In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.
Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.
When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.
But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.
Sophia Peabody’s home next to Charter Street Burying Ground, resting place of Judge Hathorne, Salem, MA
Sophia suffered severe headaches as a result of childhood mercury treatments. She underwent routine mesmerizing sessions, a popular cure for many ailments. Spirits sometimes came to her when mesmerized, and as a spiritualist and medium, she was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.
Sarah Good’s son Peter had kept a journal the family passed down to the Peabodys. Sophia sensed his presence every time she turned the brittle pages and read his words. John Hathorne’s legitimate son John also kept a journal, now in the Hawthorne family’s possession. Living on opposite sides of Salem in 1692, Peter and John wrote in vivid detail about how the Salem trials tormented them throughout their lives.
Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Wanting nothing else but to spend the summer enjoying each other, we became Adam and Eve, alone in our Garden of Eden, Sophia wrote in her journal.
The Old Manse, the Hawthornes’ first home as newlyweds
As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. But the curse he believed Sarah cast on his family still haunted him. In the book he asks for the curse to be lifted.
The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA, built in 1668
Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse. He told Sophia, “Writing it, and especially reading it aloud to you lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. I felt it physically leave me. I carried this inside me since my youth and couldn’t bring it out to face it. And I have you, and only you, to thank.”
But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.
Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.
John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. “You don’t have to say it out loud,” John said. “Just forgive him in your heart.”
Nathaniel whispered his forgiveness.
John, Nathaniel and Sophia went to Judge Hathorne’s gravesite to give the journals proper burial.
Grave of Judge Hathorne, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem, MA
Why I wrote FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE
I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I’m a kid. I’ve always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, including the witch trials.
I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him. Nathaniel wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the ‘w’ to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.
The Wayside, the only home the Hawthornes ever owned, in Concord, MA
Nathaniel added that room at the top for his writing studio
An Excerpt From FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE (Sophia and Nathaniel’s visit to his cousin Susan Ingersoll at The House of the Seven Gables)
I went over to a curio cabinet and swept my eyes over the items on the shelves—a china doll wearing a calico dress, a stack of gold cups and saucers, a red and blue glass checkerboard propped up to display its surface…and a wooden hammer on the top shelf. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a gavel that judges use in trials. Out of curiosity I picked it up and a shock ran through me as if electrified. Dear God, was it that gavel?
I dropped it to the rug. It landed with a thump. I bent to retrieve it. Somehow I knew it wouldn’t shock me this time—that was only an initial warning. “Something about it made me want to touch it, to pick it up and hold it.”
Nathaniel approached me. He stared at the gavel in my hand, horror darkening his eyes. His lips parted but no words emerged. I knew what he was thinking—the curse. He turned to his cousin, pointing at the gavel, his arm trembling.
Susan hurried over to us, took it from me and placed it back on the shelf. “Yes, it’s Judge Hathorne’s. What happened, Sophie? Are you all right?”
I looked down at my open hands, palms up. They burned as if I’d touched a hot poker. “That gavel—it carries something evil. Has anything happened to you with this, Susie?”
Nathaniel backed away and before Susan could answer me, he grasped her arm. “I begged you to get rid of that accursed thing! You know it shouldn’t be here!”
She looked from him to me, heaving a deep sigh. “I’m not inclined to dispose of it, Natty. It’s a family heirloom, notwithstanding its past.”
He gripped the chair, his face drained of color. “It’s downright evil. You know what he used that thing for.”
She held her hands up in surrender. “Very well, I’ll conceal it.” She took it off the shelf and slid it behind the checkerboard.
“That should not be in this house!” He stood his ground, his eyes fixed on the checkerboard as if it would melt in such close proximity to that horrid object.
“It’s fine there, Natty. It’s concealed from sight now.” She looked at me and gestured for me to sit again. I sat and gulped my sherry.
“Nathaniel’s always overcome with distress at the witch trials.” Susan explained what I already knew.
“And so should you be,” he cut in.
“If I must speak for Judge Hathorne, I heard stories of him from my grandfather.” Susan looked from Nathaniel to me. “The whole hysteria that caught up the judge was started by unscrupulous men to further their own riches. But spectral evidence was still admissible. No sane person could believe that blithery.”
Hi all…if you are curious about the recent password protected posts, let me explain. I am offering a novel writing course through Chapter Buzz, and we have set up the lessons as password protected blog posts. The first module is free but only for those who sign up through the Chapter Buzz site. More info can be found here: https://www.chapterbuzz.com/course
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