MURDER MOST FOUL AT MOM’S HOUSE

Blog fave Maighread MacKay returns with her sophomore paranormal novel, this time with a BIG difference. This time, she wades into the murder mystery genre with a cast of characters you will love. Maighread has always wanted to write a who dunnit, her blood-thirstiness heralding from ancient roots. If you don’t believe me, check her DNA! Her take on the after world is refreshing, as is her ghost protagonist’s unique approach to crime solving.

Congrats, m’lady, on the new book. Welcome back!

 

1.

Your new book, MURDER AT MOTHER’S, features an observant ghost with plenty to say. How did you get to her story?

 

I’ve wanted to write a murder/mystery for ages as I am a huge fan of the genre. Awhile ago, I needed to write a short story about sharks circling their prey, and I came up with MAM. It was only about 1500 words to start with, but when I got thinking about it, I thought, wow, I can make this into so much more… and it took off from there.

 

2.

MURDER is dark and humorous in the English tradition. What spirit guide directed your hand?

 

Ha ha. Probably the spirit of my ancestors. I did the Ancestry DNA and found out that I’m 58% Great Britain and 25% Ireland, so the English tradition is pretty well ingrained in me.

 

3.

You told me while you were penning it that the characters hijacked you and changed the ending. Without giving spoilers, can you tell us what that was like?

 

That was a weird experience. Throughout the whole process, and in the original short story, I had one killer in mind and at the very last minute, while I’m writing the ending, another person let me know they were the killer and it made sense. I could feel the madness and the reason why they were driven to commit the murder so I wrote it that way. It’s very strange how the characters take on a life of their own. The same thing happened in Stone Cottage. I had the characters going one way when, all of a sudden, the story turned around on me. I just go with the flow and let the characters speak for themselves.

 

4.

STONE COTTAGE, your previous work, is also a paranormal mystery. What inspired you to explore the afterlife?

 

I have always been in awe of the vastness and complexity of our universe. This enthusiasm has led me to study a variety of viewpoints from different scholars and scientists. We humans are so limited in our understanding of who we are and why we’re here. The genre I write is termed Visionary Fiction, which is defined as “Besides telling a good story, VF enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities. It helps them see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.” The ideas presented are by no means meant to be a definitive answer to any question about life, death and what happens next. They are presented to give the reader a starting point for their own exploration.

 

5.

Do you believe in it?

 

Yes, I do believe in an afterlife although to me, it’s all life. Only the body dies. We continue, just in a different form of energy.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

Stone Cottage gives a tiny glimpse of how reincarnation, past life regression and a love that goes across time and space could play out in a life. Murder at Mother’s illustrates what could happen to a soul immediately after death, the consequences of its actions while in the body and the energy that connects us all.  My new novel has a working title of “Inn Time” and explores a young woman’s journey through parallel dimensions and what she learns from her experiences. I am excited about the new science of Quantum and String Theory and, although I don’t even begin to understand it, the possibilities they open to understanding our existence and the universe in a whole new light. Such fun.

 

 

CATCHING A KILLER FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Murder_at_Mothers_Cover_for_KindleA killer lurks at the Bancroft estate and the Matriarch, Martha Bancroft is murdered. Royally pissed, she hangs around to see what happened. When she doesn’t go immediately to the light, a member of her soul group shows up from the other side. Gladys is adamant Martha needs to come with her, but Martha has no intention of going anywhere until she helps Detective Ian “Mac” MacKellar and Coroner Dr. Cecilia “Cissy” Walsh find the murderer.  Gladys joins Martha and the two set out on their quest.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR MURDER AT MOTHER’S 

 

I hope that Author MacKay had fun writing this story, because I know I had a marvelous time reading her latest book. – J.C. Henry, Author

 

This is a wonderful light weave of mystery, family drama, metaphysical and psychic threads …with a dark strand of greed added to the tapestry. I loved it. – R. Davies

 

This book has good pace, excellent characterisation and enough twists and turns to keep you interested. There’s humour too. – Becca from Amazon.co.UK

 

Excerpt

 

The fire was the first incident which caught Martha’s attention. One of the ranch hands needed a rope from the tack room and arrived in time to smell smoke and dampen the blaze. A few weeks later, Jared discovered a fence bordering the back forty was down. He repaired it before any of the horses escaped. She shivered as she thought about the danger they’d be in wandering around the forest at night. Both episodes could have been accidents.

Today, dressed in her favorite jeans and boots, Martha strode down the hill to the horses. As she walked, her cane stirred the dry ground with small circular puffs of sand. Her heart and pace were more accelerated than usual as she thought about her beloved mare. Her first baby. Wonder how she’ll take to being a mother. Jared said the delivery went well, but I’ll feel better once I’ve seen her for myself. As she approached the barn door she heard a call. “Grandma, look out.” Forceful hands grabbed her in a firm grip. Her cane went flying. Her hair lifted as something whizzed past her ear and caused a burning sensation where it grazed her arm. She clutched the arms which held her and looked up into the shocked eyes of her grandson.
 

Other Books by Maighread MacKay

 

STONE COTTAGE

book coverIf you could plan your life before you were born, what could that life look like? Rebecca Wainwright, successful, polished EVP tumbles into depression and panic attacks after a traumatic incident. Seeking a respite from the well meaning, but smothering care of her family and friends, she stumbles onto an old stone cottage where she feels like she has come home. After purchasing the home, she discovers it already has an occupant. Annie McBride has been trapped in her home for over 150 years. What do these two women mean to each other? Why meet now? A story of how love bridges the years and can heal even the saddest of hearts.

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR STONE COTTAGE

The reader gets to know how the events finally affected the characters’ lives and how they are dealing with a new reality. A lot of books omit this important piece and the future of the story is simply left up to the reader’s imagination. – Edna Marie

 

 I enjoyed the stories of the main characters, and found this book to be an entrancing read. – A Happy Reader

That the author weaves two parallel plots in different historical frames seamlessly is a joy for this reader. – A.B. Funkhauser, Author of Shell Game

 

Excerpt

The cacophony of the moaning wind and lashing rain concealed any sound of a horse’s hoofs.  She could see nothing, except the murky fog.  No light.  No Will.  Where are you?  Her anxiety escalated to new heights.  Her baby girl was asleep upstairs, but she seemed to have been sleeping for a long time. Was Maddy sick?  Victoria knew there was something important about the baby that she had to explain to Will, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was.  She needed her husband to come home to take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. Panic, like a bird’s wings trapped by the cage of her ribs, fluttered in her chest.  She leaned her head against the cold glass and clenched her fists. Taking deep breaths to try and calm herself, she flattened her hands on the window.

“He’s fine,” she said.  “I know it.  Oh, Will, where are you?  I need you so much.  Please, please come home.  Everything will be all right once you get here.”

Tears coursed down her cheeks. The old dog, sensing her unease, leaned into her leg and began to whine. Absentmindedly, she reached down to stroke his head.  She would just wait.  Wait for as long as it took for Will to come home.

Wait…wait…wait, her mind chanted to the ticking clock in the hall.

Tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…

 

About the Author

AuthorGhosts, spirits and things that go bump in the night. Ancient mysteries and the riddles of our vast universe. Questions – lots of fascinating questions about the reality of our cosmos. Are there other dimensions or planes of existence? Are they inhabited? Do parallel universes ever converge? Angels, Spirit Guides. Are they real? Can we communicate with them? What about other entities such as the Fae, Unicorns, or Dragons? Could they exist? What happens when we die? Has the soul that inhabits our body been here before? Why would we come back? What about animals? What happens to them when they die?

These questions have led me on a journey of investigating Christian Mysticism, Yogic Spirituality, Native Theology, Wicca, Celtic Shamanism, Quantum Physics, the Realm of the Fae and many other related topics.

Using my experiences to draw on, I weave tales of Visionary Fiction for both children and adults. Whether nine or ninety, I hope readers will join me in exploring alternate paradigms about life and the after-life experience.

 

Links

 

Website: http://mhefferman.ca/author/my-blog/

Amazon Author Central:  amazon.com/author/maighreadmackay

FB: https://www.facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaighreadMackay

 

Advertisements

A SHADOWY PAST AND A DESIRE TO GET CLOSE IN M. A. CORTEZ’ YA SISTER SLEUTHS

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, mystery writer M. A. Cortez crafted a tale of two sisters who meet two sisters with secrets to hide. Drawn to the irresistible unknown, the young sleuths pursue a line of inquiry that combines deduction with the acute in-your-face panache of youth. Welcome to the blog, M.A.

 

1.

Your character Samantha has Autism Spectrum Disorder. How did you prepare your character in terms of research?

 

Samantha’s character was inspired by a family member who is on the spectrum but is much younger than Sam. I did further research by interviewing teens and siblings of teens on the spectrum, and visited several online sites hosted by young people with ASD. There are many informative online resources that bring awareness to the understanding of Autism.

 

Book Description
cropped cover.png

Sandy and Samantha may be twins, but sharing the same birthday is where their similarities end. Sandy is desperate to find a friend she can relate to. Samantha lives life on the Autism spectrum, her social skills can be off putting to some, but her honesty is endearing to others. Sandy likes cute boys and cute clothes. Samantha likes math and mysteries. It seems like the girls will never find a common ground until they stumble upon another set of siblings. Sisters who are hiding secrets, telling lies, and living in the shadows of the past.

 

 

 

 

2.

Does Samantha’s ASD advance her deductive powers?

 

I would say she’s a natural born detective, but yes, I believe her fascination, (single mindedness tends to be a common trait among those on the spectrum) with the Nancy Drew mysteries gives her an advantage. Individuals on the spectrum often have an eye for detail, which of course makes for a good detective.

 

3.

Twin siblings I’ve known over the years acknowledge a shared telepathy: if her sister is ill, she feels it too. Do Sandy and Samantha possess the same ability?

 

They can definitely hone into each-other’s energy but not things like injuries, or physical pain.

 

4.

The girls find common ground when they discover the siblings. Can you tease us with a little more from the plot?

 

The second set of siblings, Adriana and Anabelle, had a quarrel that they never had the chance to resolve. It’s the bond of sisterhood that motivates Samantha and Sandy to help their new friend solve the mystery of her twin sister’s death.

 

Excerpt

I pace back and forth in front of my computer, compelled to check my messages again. A jolt of excitement rushes through me when I see the little exclamation point that means I have a message in my inbox. As I move the cursor to open it, I realize I’m not as angry with Annabelle as I thought. I’m more curious to see what she has to say. Sandy, I know you came to my house. I watched you from the window. Was that your sister with you? I tried to get your attention with the roses. I’m trapped up here. They won’t let me leave. I hoped she would let you in, but she sends everyone one away. Please try again.  I need a friend.

 

5.

Sister Sleuths is a mystery. Tell us how you got started in the genre. Who are your idols?

 

I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. The Sister Sleuths is my first attempt at writing a mystery. It was so much fun planting clues, asking questions and solving the mystery that I just had to write a sequel.

 

6.

The past is often characterized as ‘shadowy’ in literature. Is this a popular subtext in your writing? In 27xs and Moon Dance as well?

 

Not in those stories, but I have a WIP titled Dream Well that fits that subtext.

 

7.

You live in Colorado, a place that, to me, conjures up fabulous vistas and weather. What’s a day in your life like?

 

It’s not very glamorous. Most days are filled with typical household tasks. I try to write everyday or do something creative, like crafting or sewing. I love to spend time with my big family on weekends. When the weather permits I get outside and enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  

 

About the Author

head-shot

M.A. Cortez is the author of The Sister Sleuths and the Shadowman, 27xs, and Moon Dance. She lives in Colorado surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

 

 

 

Links

getBook.at/SisterSleuthsandTheShadowman

https://twitter.com/@maryanncortez16

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryAnnCortez

https://itsthewriteplace.blogspot.com

 

Thank you for joining us, M.A. Please come back again when the sequel comes out.–ABF

 

TOMORROW:  The blog takes a long weekend to rest, recharge and resume work on the WIP. We will return Monday with Texas native and paranormal romance author Rachael Tamayo. See you then!

PARANORMAL CRIME WRITER DAZZLES WITH MULTI-ERA ANTHOLOGY

witchee pooFresh off the Carnival of Parahorror in Buffalo, N.Y., author Susan Lynn Solomon couldn’t fly higher. Not only did she sell a ton of books, but she got to road test her brand new Turbo Charged 5.0 liter RT racing broom. Okay…some of this is not true — the broom blew a spark plug and wouldn’t fly — and Susan, with her dry sense of humor, would be the first to NOT point this out. Likewise her character Emlyn Goode who is a modern day witch coming to terms with her newly inherited power.

 

It was my great pleasure to read and review THE MAGIC OF MURDER and BELLA VITA in 2016. Now it is my additional pleasure to spotlight an amazing new anthology as well as the author that sparkles behind it. Ready, Susan?

 

 

1.

Your anthology VOICES IN MY HEAD covers so many different eras. From whence comes the historian, sociologist, and sage, and how long did it take you to complete the collection?

 

How long did it take to complete the collection of “Voices In My Head Stories…? Hmm. Leave it to you, my friend, to ask the hardest question first. At my very advanced age, it’s hard to remember back that far. Fact is, dear heart, these days it’s hard to remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. Maybe if I spread out my tarot cards… Sorry, got lost for a second in the research I’ve done for the next Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery.

 

Okay, I wrote the first draft of “Mystery of the Carousel” about 12 years ago. A friend asked me to do a story for the museum in what used to be Herschell’s Carousels and Amusements Factory.  I’d been playing with the story on and off since then—just couldn’t seem to get it right. Then, last year I figuratively pulled it out of my drawer while searching for my notes on another story. After reading the first page, I recalled an article on PTSD I’d recently read in the newspaper. “Oh,” I said to my bedroom wall (my bedroom is where I do my writing), “is THAT what this story is about?” Working late into the night, two days later the story was finished.

 

Ah, and “Witches Gumbo”. About 10 years ago I was trying to write a romance for a short story competition. Short? Right. The competition limited the word count to 3,000, but the story kept growing and growing until it slid into the novella stage. It was about a woman—a descendent of a Louisiana bayou witch—who’d been hurt and was afraid to love again. She was using her distant relative’s writings to get past her fear. Not terribly original, but hey, I was reading Nicholas Spark’s books at the time. Anyhow, I brought the story to my writer’s group one evening. After I received comments on it, Trudy Crusella, who was moderating our group at the time, told me that while the writing was good, she was more interested in the back story set in my mythical Bayou Lafit. Happily, I listened to her. A lot of research into witchcraft, the nature of bayous and the use of language by people who lived there at the time, and I had a story. I can’t begin to thank Trudy enough. Seven years ago (and a lot of rewriting later) “Witches Gumbo” became my first published story.

 

As to why these stories take on their historical settings… I have no idea. The places and people—what they do and say… I suspect those characters jabber away in my head all night, because when I wake up, they’re sitting near my computer, yelling at me to listen to them.

 

AND THIS JUST IN…

mandm-126x150-126x150

 

2.

In his assessment of you as writer Gary Earl Ross touts you as a “devilishly clever tour guide who puts us in touch with the ‘rhythm of our lives’.” Did you know you were doing that?

 

Aw, Gary’s just being kind to a frail old woman… And me, Devilish? Why, A.B., who could think such a thing… cackle cackle. All I’m doing is telling fantastic lies… What? Aren’t we authors just professional liars?

 

Okay, okay. I’ve been around a while, gone places and done things—for some of which my mother would have beaten me with a spoon. Once upon a time I was a campus radical, then a music business attorney, and then I spent some years as a contributing editor and page designer for an art magazine. What underlies my stories, whether realistic or more fantastic, is what I’ve seen. And heard. People I’ve met, and the fixes they, like I, have gotten into. You might want to again read “Kaddish”, the last story in Voices In My Head” to see what I mean. “Kaddish” is blushingly close to autobiographical, and tells more about me than I usually let on.

 

So, in essence, the journey I want to lead a reader on is actually… my life. Of course, I’m never sure if I’m motivated to warn people about sinkholes in the road, or to teach them how to cause those sinkholes.

 

3.

We’ve been friends for only a short time, but I know from our delightful conversations that you find it challenging to say anything in under 500 words. (She said it first *laughs*) Would you say that writing VOICES was more challenging than your longer pieces?

 

This is too true. People have noticed I even have trouble saying good morning in less than 500 words. Fortunately, I wasn’t limited to a word count in “Voices In My Head”. Well, in all but one of the nine stories, that is. That story is “Second Hand”, which was initially written for a flash fiction journal that had an 800 word limit. 800 words! Aaargh!

 

The story was easy enough to write—different names, but the characters are my sister, Robin, and I. And the story is true… uh, more or less. See, I’d just finished researching witchcraft for “Witches Gumbo”, and I’d decided that the material I’d read made sense. I mean, witches are caretakers of the earth, and they know the herbs to mix and chants to sing to make things come out as they desire. Also, they get to worship a beautiful goddess instead of an old man who wants to smite you (and there are a lot of things for which I could’ve been smited). Need I say it? I decided I would become a Wicca, and practice witchcraft. I went out and bought colored candles, and a double bladed knife with runes carved in the handle (I had the herbs I’d need in my spice cabinet). That summer I visited Robin in Florida, and while driving around one day we passed a second hand store that had a cauldron in the window. This was the last tool I needed. When Robin asked why we had to stop at that shop, I made the mistake of telling her. That’s when she grabbed me by the collar, pulled me back into her car, and explained in words I’d understand why I was the last person on earth who should know how to do such things.

 

So, writing the story. My first draft was about 1,200 words. I spent two days cutting and moving sentences, and finally got it down to 817. After another day, it was 809 words, and no matter what I did, I just wouldn’t get any shorter. Damn! As I recall, I sat in my room, screaming at my computer, and threatening to beat it with a spiked heel if it didn’t get rid of those last 9 words. Right then I swore a mighty oath I’d never again try to write a piece of flash fiction.

 

4.

Identity is a feature of your work. What comes after we figure everything out?

 

A better question, A.B., is what happens after I figure everything out. I think the world is safe, though. I doubt I ever will.

 

But, good catch there, my friend. Much of what I write IS about trying to understand who I am, and what it is I’m meant to do. I don’t have an answer to that, so I keep searching. And my search keeps leading me to more stories… or, at least, more voices jabbering in my head.

 

5.

You visited the Carnival of the Parahorror recently. How’d that go?

 

Ah, the Buffalo Central Station. What can I say that the Ghost Hunters program hasn’t already said? To paraphrase the old song: Ghosts to the left of me, demons to the right, and here I am, right in the middle…

 

This is an incredible venue. Marble floors and walls, high ceiling, and crowds of people as much into the paranormal as I. I loved meeting other writers, and talking to everyone about my work—even sold a few copies of my books. What could be a better way to spend a long weekend…?

 

I just hope a ghost hasn’t followed me home—I already live with a ghost, and she gets rather jealous.

 

6.

And you also released Bella Vita on the heels of Magic of Murder. Tell us about those and when, if ever, did you sleep?

 

Sleep? What’s that? Who can sleep with all these characters constantly yammering at me, and demanding I tell the world about them?

 

Bella Vita CoverAnd yes, my latest release is “Bella Vita”. I didn’t set out to write this as the follow-up to “The Magic of Murder”, though. In fact, I was more than half done with “Dead Again”, the novel that was supposed to be the follow-up. At the same time, I was working on a short story called “Smoker’s Lament”. Yes, I’m a smoker, and yes, the story is about some havoc I almost caused. I won’t say more about it, because it will be published in an online journal this fall, and it’ll be more fun if people read it then.

 

Anyway, in the middle of this, my publisher, Solstice Publishing, put out a call for short stories focused on the summer solstice. To my ears, this sounded like a dare—something I’ve never been smart enough to turn down. Besides, the narrator in “The Magic of Murder” is an author who’d just learned she’s directly descended from a woman whom the Salem witch trial judges decided should dangle from a tree limb. Since I was heavily into murder mysteries at the time I wrote this novel, I decided it would be fun to annoy my narrator by dangling a murder in front of her.

 

To accomplish this, I gave her a neighbor and dear friend who was a Niagara Falls police detective. Then, I killed the detective’s partner. So, when Detective Frey’s partner was discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, he swore vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward had forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode, my narrator, knew Roger would disobey his boss, which would cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cared for him more than she’d admit, she needed to stop him. Desperate, she could think of but one way.

 

41ZsodZxIJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Emlyn had recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She had a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by a vivid imagination, she intended to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger took revenge on the killer. But she was new to this “witch thing,” and needed help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix was a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca was not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumbled over spell after spell, the number of possible killers grew.

 

Then, to keep people at the edge of their seats, I set it up so the women had to quickly come up with a workable spell, because, when Chief Woodward’s wife was shot and a bottle bomb burst through Emlyn’s window, it became clear she would be next on the killer’s list.

 

So, “Bella Vita”. Since the history of the summer solstice all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and certainly the Druids, is filled with the practice of magic, and with the characters in “The Magic of Murder” already talking to me, it was as if Solstice Publishing called out, “Susan. Susan! Wake up and kill somebody else!” I mean, how could I refuse?

 

In this short story (well, short for me), a car burns in the parking lot behind Bella Vita Hair Salon. The corpse in the front seat has a short sword pushed into his ribs. Beneath the car is a cast-iron cauldron filled with flowers. This seems to be a sacrificial rite Rebecca Nurse had been teaching Emlyn Goode. But is it? The corpse has been identified as George Malone, and earlier on this summer solstice day, he and his wife had severe argument. Could it be that Angela Malone murdered her husband? Prodded by Elvira, the overly-large albino cat that wants the case solved so she can get some sleep, to Rebecca’s dismay Emlyn again dips into her ancient relatives Book of Shadows to find the answer before her friend and neighbor, Detective Roger Fry, can.

 

Both stories have received 5-Star reviews, and people tell me that once they start reading, they can’t stop. This makes me smile, because I can’t stop writing about these characters.

 

Oh, and by the way, the Bella Vita Salon is where I have my hair done, and the women who run the salon are front and center in the story. Fortunately, they like what I wrote, so I’m still allowed to go there.

 

7.

And Emlyn Goode is making a comeback?

 

Absolutely. I mentioned earlier that I was in the middle of the next Emlyn Goode story when I wrote “Bella Vita”. This new story, which I call “Dead Again” is finished—five drafts finished. The story is about— No, let’s wait until it comes out. Right now I’ll only say that Gary Earl Ross, who was kind enough to edit it for me thinks this novel is better than the first.

 

And now that “Dead Again” is in its final stages, I’ve begun work on the next in the Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery series. This one will be titled “Writing Is Murder”—well, it is, isn’t it?

 

8.

Any last words, dear mistress?

 

Oy, this sounds like a call for my obit. Well, then I write because I must—can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The people I create have become friends… well, most of them, and I can only hope those who read their stories like them as much as I.

 

Thanks, doll. Let’s dive in to VOICES IN MY HEAD.

 

Voices In My Head CoverIn The Magic of Murder, Susan Lynn Solomon let readers laugh at the antics of an albino cat and a witch. Now, in nine short tales she takes a serious look at relationships and their impact on characters who confront their pasts.

A young soldier returns, changed by his war. A young British girl faces the people of her town after parental abuse. An older man who as a teenager fled his hometown, returns when his childhood girlfriend begs a favor. A radical of the ’70s leaves the cemetery after her mother’s funeral, searching for where her life will lead.

In these stories and five others, Solomon explores the persistence of memory and the promise of hope.

 

 

Praise

 

Susan Lynn Solomon is a writer’s writer.

Suzy, as she is known to her friends, is a person driven by an inescapable need to tell stories. She can no more give up imagining characters and circumstances than she can give up air or food. She writes at a furious rate, producing novels and stories that captivate and delight. Her imagination is what sustains her, and we, her readers, are the better for her obsession.

Like all gifted writers, Susan is a universalist, unburdened by the curse of being able to tell only one kind of story. She gets an idea, then decides upon the best way to discharge that idea, the best characters, the best settings, and the best narrative voice to attain maximum effect. If reading is a way to slip into other times and places and faces from the relative comfort of an armchair, she is a devilishly clever tour guide who can take you to surprising places and surprising connections. In the nine tales in this book, she dazzles us with journeys into the unexpected and its impact on people we feel we already know.

War? In Mystery of the Carousel, she explores the link between a veteran of the Great War and the carousel on which, as a child, he imagined great battles. Incest? Where better to explore its devastations than early 19th Century England in Maggie’s End? Magic? Witches Gumbo takes us to Bayou LaFit and a powerful comeuppance. Mystery? Try The Holmes Society for a new take on amateur sleuthing. Death? Kaddish shows the unavoidable bond between death and identity.

In these and the other stories that comprise the voices in her head, Susan Lynn Solomon opens our minds, and the rhythm of our lives, to the voices in her heart. Enjoy.

 

Gary Earl Ross

Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo

Author of Nickel City Blues and The Mark of Cain

 

Excerpt:

The 9th life in Crisis: Kaddish

 

Pellets of snow stung my cheeks. I bent into the January wind, and reached for my brother’s arm. He glanced at me from the corner of his eye. For a moment I thought he might brush my hand from his sleeve.

“It was nice,” I said.

Linda, his wife of three years, leaned across him. “What was?”

“What the Rabbi said about Mom.” My chest tingled as I recalled the eulogy. “The only time she made her family cry was when she died—that was nice, wasn’t it, Robby?”

“Robert,” my brother corrected me in a voice as stiff as his shoulders. He stroked his moustache, then flicked snowflakes from his black hair, so flecked with gray it belied his age. Next month he would be forty-three.

“It was nice,” Linda said. She pulled her knit hat so low over her ears she nearly knocked the glasses from her small nose.

“I suppose,” Robert said. “But, he didn’t know her.” He drew his coat tight around his broad frame. “For a few bucks, he probably says the same thing about everyone.”

“I wish Phil were here,” I said. “He knew Mom.” Rabbi Bentley and his wife, Deborah, were old friends.

Robert shrugged. Who officiated at our mother’s funeral made little difference to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Mom—he and Linda had cared for her, seen to her every need during the nine months cancer gnawed at her lungs. But, for my brother, this rite—anything to do with religion—was merely to be endured.

“At least the guy kept it short.” He shook my hand from his arm, and wound his scarf around his neck.

Linda frowned at him. “Did you remember to ask the rabbi to come over and lead the prayer tonight?”

“Did you?” I said.

His eyes straight ahead, Robert’s lips tightened. It was as though I’d accused him of a breach of etiquette.

We were walking along the narrow road cutting through the heart of the old cemetery. To the left and right paths bent off, curled around a city of mausoleums, and ran through arches erected by burial societies named for the shtetls—the villages in Eastern Europe—in which our grandparents had been born. Beyond the arches were tall headstones which in the spring would be adorned by neat flower beds.

At the end of the road we passed through an iron gate, and into the chapel’s parking lot. I waved goodbye to my two surviving aunts and the cousins who’d braved the snow, and dropped my eyes when I received no more than half-hearted nods in return. This was the price of being the family outcast.

With a sigh, I pulled a set of keys from my purse. As I unlocked the door of my car, I called to my brother, “Is there anything we need? I can stop at the market on the way.”

We would sit shiva at Robert’s house, and I suspected he might not have bought enough food and drink for the relatives and friends who would stop by in the next seven days to share memories of our mother. Hosting this ritual wasn’t my brother’s choice: our father had passed away two years ago, so the obligation for shiva and gathering with a minion of nine other men to say Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—was wrapped as tight as the scarf around his neck. He was the only son.

“We’ve got plenty,” Linda said.

“And people always bring food,” Robert added, then muttered, “As if I can’t afford to feed them.”

Linda smacked his arm.

“Okay, then,” I said, “I’ll just stop at home to get what I baked.”

They didn’t hear me. My brother’s car was already exiting the lot.

 

***

The large colonial house in Roslyn Heights was by no means a mansion. Still, it announced to passersby a successful man dwelt within. My brother had become what my parents wished for their children. I, on the other hand, had been unable to do something as simple as make a marriage work.

What might have been a full stadium parking lot greeted me when I turned onto Robert’s street. Even his circular drive was jammed. A quick glance informed me my eight-year-old Saturn wouldn’t fit into the only small space, so I parked around the corner. Balancing two trays of noodle pudding—when I was a child, Mom had taught me Grandma’s kugel recipe—and fighting a wind that tried to rip off my coat, I made my way down the block. When I opened the front door, it seemed as though I’d walked into a cocktail party.

I saw no torn lapels, no covered mirrors or crates to sit on. I heard no soft-spoken remembrances of a woman’s life well-lived. Instead, laughter pealed from the large square living room, dining room, down the hall and up the stairs. Bottles clinked on glasses. Someone was playing the piano. My brother had made this an Irish wake.

Robert circled the corner from his den. He’d changed from his suit into a tan corduroy jacket, jeans, and oxblood penny loafers. His cheeks were red—they would get that way after only two drinks. He glanced at the trays in my hand. He glanced at my old wool overcoat. Speaking to the glass of tequila in his hand, he said, “Glad you could make it, big sister.” He didn’t reach out to take the trays I held.

Had I the desire, or at the moment the strength to point out his ill manners, he would have claimed he was being ironic. My brother had difficulty differentiating irony from sarcasm. He hadn’t always been this way. It’s just that he had little tolerance for failure, and a failure was how he viewed me since my divorce.

Mom had also thought me a failure—with good reason, I supposed. “You and Ron can work it out,” she’d told me the day I showed up at her house, suitcase in hand. “Your father and I always worked things out,” she’d told me each time I visited her at Robert’s house during her illness. Tied to a marriage which had gone sour, I had an affair, and moved out. The judge gave my ex custody of our daughter. Mom was again terribly disappointed in me, embarrassed in front of her friends. It had never been different: I’d been a hippy in college, a rebel, a nomadic wild-child disappearing who knew where, sleeping with who knew whom, and getting arrested in Birmingham and in Chicago. “No wonder you can’t get along with your husband,” she’d told me.

I’d lost my temper then. “Guess people are right when they talk about the apple and the tree,” I’d snapped. “After all, you named me for Dad’s great-aunt, and she got burned by the Tsar’s army for causing trouble.”

Unlike my brother, I recognized sarcasm when it bounced out of my mouth. I’d heard Mom crying when I stormed out my brother’s house a few weeks before she died. Though he never said it, I’m sure Robert blamed me for our mother’s death—he believed I was the reason she refused treatment which might extend her life by maybe a year.

Nights I sat alone in my apartment, I blamed me, too.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Susan Lynn Solomon PhotoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm.

After moving to Niagara Falls she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and since 2009 many of number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, and Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle).

Her latest short stories are Reunion, about an individual who must face family after undergoing a transgender operation, appeared in a recent issue of Flash Fiction Press, Captive Soul, which was included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Volume 1, and Niagara Falling, about a man returning to his hometown, which was written for the Solstice Publishing anthology, Adventures in Love.

Susan Lynn Solomon’s Solstice Publishing novel, The Magic of Murder, is available at Amazon.com, and Bella Vita, a short story written for Solstice Publishing’s Summer solstice anthology, continued the adventures for the characters from this novel.

Now, a collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice and is available in both Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon.

 

Links:

 

https://youtu.be/_58_goH7sU0

http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Head-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B01FURPIZE/ref=sr_1_1?s=dig ital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463655784&sr=1-1&keywords=voices+in+my+head+susan+l ynn+solomon

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01FURPIZE

http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-solomon-8183b129

 

Thank you, Susan, for your enthusiasm and artistry. You are my Wicca ‘go to’ person!

— ABF

 

 

HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND ONE AND ALL! The Blog returns Tuesday, September 6th with special guest Raymond Chilensky, whose topical F.I.R.E. Team Alpha series will surprise and scare while making you think…

 

 

 

 

INDIE AUTHOR ANG D’ONOFRIO BREAKS OUT WITH A RIFF ON INSPIRATION & BUSTER HEYWOOD

Well read and schooled in the art of Netflix and Chill, independent author Ang D’Onofrio brings enthusiasm and an indomitable spirit to the writerverse. With the tools of the trade always in reach, she is quick to record what she sees for translation later into her bold and inventive fiction. Welcome Ang!

 

 

Your character Buster Heywood lives in Aviario. A quick Google tells me that Aviario is in Costa Rica. Is FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD a South American novel?

 

Short answer: nope!  Long, more interesting answer: I named my fictional Connecticut town “Aviario” (pronounced AY-vee-uh-REE-oh) ages ago, back when it only had two inhabitants.  At the time, I had been writing my stories with the characters as animals – think Brian Jacques’ Redwall in a more modern time.  But I knew that I’d reach a wider audience with human characters … so the town name became a nod to the characters’ beginnings.    It took me until partway through my first draft in college to Google the word, and realize that there were other Aviarios.    Here’s a map I made of mine … minus the key, which is still under construction.  I keep it hanging next to my desk.

Map

 

So nice to meet another cat woman. My feline chap is also my muse. Do your kitties contribute to your process?

 

They supervise.  Bella likes to sit on the arm of one writing perch in the living room, but on days when I’m on my laptop, The Sneak sits under my chair and hopes I drop snacks.  One of the characters in my second novel, In The Cards, has some strong ties to cats, and I took a lot of inspiration from my girls when I wrote a couple of his scenes.

AngDsKitties

 

We met on Twitter. Care to tell the readers how?

 

It was #1lineWeds that brought us together, back before I started #2bitTues.  I noticed the theme of Heuer Lost & Found, and thought,”Hey! I have a mortician character, too.  And this lady seems super neat.  Maybe I should follow her.”   I had no idea what I was in for … but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Our conversations never fail to make me smile.

 

Ed. Lol. Morticians have a sense of humor. You didn’t see that coming! *wink wink* 

BE SURE AND VISIT ANG AND CREW EVERY TUESDAY ON TWITTER AT #2bitTues, A PLACE WHERE AUTHORS CAN TROT OUT THEIR CHOICE ONE-LINERS FROM WIPS. BE PREPARED TO BE AMAZED.

 

THE BOOK BLURB:

As lives go, Buster Heywood’s got it pretty good. His job with the town offices of Aviario pays him just enough to keep a roof over his head and food in his kitchen. His job even keeps him free from having to deal with his social anxiety. He’s always seen things a bit different from everyone else, and now that he’s found a comfortable little bubble, he’ll do everything he can to stay inside it.

But life never goes as planned, and a combination of the wrong place and the wrong time warp Buster’s cozy, quiet life into something he would never have imagined. His problems quickly become more than just a contest between his structured worldview and the way things are: soon he’s toeing a line between following his sense of duty and losing himself to a dark, dangerous underworld.

I love the book blurb and immediately think of Winston Smith from Orwell’s 1984. To what extent are we, as individuals, removed from the day to day world outside? Is this by intent or is it beyond our control?

 

BusterHeywoodFinalCoverWow, what a GREAT question!   I love getting the Big, Deep Ones.  I think both extent and intention depend upon the individual.  Introverted people are, no doubt, more removed due to their natures … but it doesn’t stop them from being curious, either (For example: my hero, Buster, avoids face-to-face interaction, but he’s a very, very avid reader, and likes to consider himself knowledgeable).  People have a very deep-seated, subconscious drive to protect themselves, and sometimes that protection is so amped-up that it shields us from our community and our world, whether we’re aware of it or not.

I like to think there are levels, too: someone can be a very gung-ho volunteer for their local community, but be oblivious to refugee plights or natural disasters in other countries … or, vice versa.  In a way, this sort of protection can be good: too much involvement would, without a doubt, overwhelm a human soul and tear it in too many different directions.

It’s my belief that if we’re lucky enough to notice that subconscious protection, overcome it, and make the effort to involve ourselves with our world, we need to be able to pick and choose our battles.  Sometimes, that’s a very hard choice to make: and most of the novels of Aviario deal in one way or another with those choices, and their consequences.   For me, the best stories happen when you push a character past their comfort zone and make them grow.

 

Available in eBook and print format, FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD, can be bought here: www.angeladonofrio.com/from-the-desk-of-buster-heywood.html .

 

You tote your tools around with you in case inspirational lighting strikes. Care to give us an anecdote?

 

Several years ago, my dad, bless his stubborn soul, injured his wrist in a fall at his job as a telephone lineman.  He was on workman’s compensation, and I had found myself unemployed due to some legal skullduggery at my workplace that ended up, shall we say, putting them completely out of business.  So we were stuck with one another, and usually pretty happy about that fact.   I went along with him to his check-ups for the injury, and we’d go out to lunch, maybe a movie, and generally make something good out of the miserable hand we’d both been dealt.

I was sitting in the cab of his truck, waiting for him to come out of such an appointment and dealing with an allergy flare-up … his dog, Lucy, loved truck rides to the dump and hardware store.  My nose did not love the dander she left behind afterwards.  I’d just managed to stop a particularly horrid attack of the sniffles, when I saw a very unique woman heading toward the hospital doors at a fair clip.  She was a consummate professional from head to … er, ankle.   The neon running shoes were the only exception.   I had a tiny little notebook stashed in my purse, and scribbled down the detail.    That scribble became one of the plot points of From The Desk of Buster Heywood, and since then, my friends & family have learned to be very patient with me, should I call a grand halt to whatever we’re doing and dive for the notebook.  Everything can be used.  Everything!

 

Ed. I hear you, although family are less tolerant, I find, when I go for the notebook in the middle of the night.

 

Do you Netflix and Chill? If ‘yes’ why? If ‘no’ why?

Oh, I Netflix, all right.  My fiancee, Laurel, is a huge TV and movie buff… bigger than me, which is saying something.  We’ve been known to burn through a season of something in a weekend, if we don’t have anything planned.  Currently our guilty pleasure is the animated Clone Wars series (we’re Star Wars fans), and I’m waiting until she’s in the mood to burn through American Horror Story: Freakshow.  As for the Chill part?  Well.  Let’s keep that private, shall we?  Wink wink.

 

Ed. I gotcha there. Maybe staying indoors isn’t such a bad thing after all???

 

What are you working on right now this minute?

 

InTheCardsFinalCoverRIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE?  These questions.   (Sorry.  I am a proven Grade-A smartass … something else I got from my father.  THANKS, DAD!)   Ahem.   Beyond that, I’m carving away at the stubborn, knotted block of wood that is my next villain.  My third book, The Proper Bearing, is set in a 1970s British Public School, and the sinister Biology professor, Cole Goddard, has been very tight-lipped about himself since last September.  I’ve just barely managed to get to the heart of the block, and I can see him much more clearly than I could when I started my draft … so hopefully, by the time Camp NaNoWriMo rolls around in April, I’ll be ready to dive back in.    If nothing else, it’s keeping me occupied while I wait for my beta readers’ feedback on In The Cards, so I can spiff it up for its September release!

 

Ed. I love, love, love NaNoWriMo. It’s the only way I can get new stuff down. Also love the block of wood analogy. Michelangelo said the same thing about marble and the figure inside. He was just taking the extra away, liberating the inner beauty.

 

Your favorite woman in literature or history? Your favorite man in literature or history?

 

I’m going with literature, because my history brain is really out to lunch, today…  I’ll probably have brilliant answers for historical figures at about 1 AM this morning, with my luck.  My favorite literary female is, hands down, Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs.  She’s written with such a perfect balance of vulnerability and strength!   The scene when she goes to review Frederica Bimmel’s body in the morgue will always be one of my favorite pieces of writing.  Clarice draws her strength from such a painful memory and uses it to her advantage: not just to do her job, but to overcome a bit of sexism, as well.   I know most people remember her for the showdown in Buffalo Bill’s basement in the film, but the novel gives that morgue scene so many more layers that show her strength.
My favorite literary male is a tougher question: I have a few that fight for first place.  Given the gonzo nature of your books, though, I’ll go with the zany answer: Zaphod Beeblebrox!  I’ve got a soft spot for characters with huge egos, questionable intellect, and an immense amount of dumb luck – and Zaph takes the cake.

 

Ed. In your face intellect always bears close examination for the awesome flaws it reveals!

 

The place you run to?

 

Great, now I have Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground” stuck in my head, thank you for that.   I have two.  The first is my bedroom, which is a careful mess of ancient books, art from around the world, my mask collection, and a snuggly cat.  The second is as close as a gal like me can get to a Mind Palace: the first building in Aviario I ever created.  Marlowe House is a big, Victorian mansion, the kind of house I want to own someday, and if I really need to get my head on straight, I go hang out there.  Sometimes I sit in the foyer window seat and read, other times I chill out in one character’s bedroom and let him play piano.

 

Ed. Great answer! And I love Madge BTW. 

 

Your greatest joy?

 

That lovely high that comes from writing a perfect scene that sucks you in as it unfolds.  The world drops away so hard and fast that I forget it’s even there, and I’m always a little baffled when it comes back in around me after I’m done.

 

Thanks for sharing, luv.

 

For more on Ang and her books, visit her website at www.angeladonofrio.com where you can sign up and receive regular updates.

 

ABOUT ANG

HeadshotAngela (or Ang, but never Angie) lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with her lovely fiancee, Laurel, two particularly eccentric cats, and one opinionated conure named Jupiter. She roots the places she creates in the places that she loves, and friends and family may just find hints of the familiar in the streets of Aviario. While writing is not currently her only bread and butter, she spends much of her free time on aspects of the process, toting around her tools of the trade in case inspiration strikes.

MEET DEBUT AUTHOR KAREN MILLIE-JAMES

 

KAREN MILLIE-JAMES grew up in north-west London and now lives in the Buckinghamshire countryside with her husband, daughter and their three dogs.  Karen founded her international business consultancy practice in 1993 and is widely recognised as an expert in the corporate field, sitting on many boards of directors around the globe in an advisory capacity.

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel.

The sequel, Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger,

will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Find out more at www. karenmilliejames.com

 

Blurb

41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_As soon as corporate forensic specialist, Cydney Granger, hears the crunch of tyres on her driveway, she knows they’ve come to report her husband is dead. After all, Captain Steve Granger had barely left for Afghanistan when she’d had the first of those terrible premonitions.

Although Cydney is a psychic medium, she’s disturbed by her inability to connect with Steve. But when she’s contacted by recently deceased Ray Gordon, he agrees to help her, on one condition – can she put a stop to his brother’s greed and corruption and ensure Ray’s family get the inheritance they deserve?

Sean O’Connell, Steve’s former sergeant, had promised he would always protect Cydney and the children in the event of Steve’s death. However, during Cydney’s investigations into the scrupulous activities of two high-powered businessmen, and when George Edwards appears on the scene intent on pursuing her, Sean finds himself out of his depth.

From the heart of Cydney’s corporate world in London to the ruins of war-torn Damascus, men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Faced with secrets, fraud, attempted murder, and blackmail, can Cydney come out of this unscathed? And, after four years, is she ready to let Steve go?

A brilliant plot that combines the heat of the business world with the secrecy of the Special Forces.

In a genre of its own encompassing crime and mystery, this unique thriller is impossible to put down.

 

 

 

A LITTLE Q & A

 

IMG_1833If this were a Twitter pitch party, you would squeeze your tag line into a 140 characters. Would you like to try?

Transported from the boardroom to war-torn Damascus, the suspense erupts with a background of romance and a hint of the paranormal

 

Who are your main characters?

Cydney Granger – a strong, self-assured businesswoman with a hidden side.

Sean O’Connell – ex Special Forces who always gets to the truth

George Edwards – lawyer with a background he never wants to reveal

Rupert Van der Hausen – South African industrialist, whose fortune continues growing despite the circumstances

Steve Granger – Captain in the Special Forces.  A born leader of men. Killed on a secret mission – but his body was never found.

Craig Benton and Robert Crossley – accumulated their wealth through insider dealing and corruption

Ray Gordon  – in spirit, desperate to stop his brother, Charles, from defrauding his wife.

 

Tell me about the title. Are there any hidden subtexts we should know about?

Cydney has everything to the outside world but her feelings are kept firmly under wraps and nobody is allowed in especially as a result of her father dying in her childhood, and losing her husband, Steve.  Can she release those shadows and learn to love again with George.

 

How many books do you have planned?

The sequel, Where in The Dark, will be released towards the end of 2016.  There will possibly be a third book in the series.  I doubt I can let Cydney go now.

 

Tell me about your home base. Country or city?

I now live in the Buckinghamshire countryside in a cottage built in the 1890’s which has been extended and modernised.  We love the outdoor life with our three dogs.

 

Are you a fan of self-promotion? What is your weapon of choice? (I love Twitter)

I love the interaction and groups on Facebook.  I am still learning about Twitter but the social media scene helps you meet so many new people.

 

If eyes are the windows to the soul, the telly is the window to writing prompts. What are you watching on the telly these days?

I love period dramas and have just finished watching War and Peace.

 

Share your method with us.

I have no actual method.  I sit down and the story flows.  After a few chapters I read through, maybe change things around, then carry on writing.  I think through the characterisation and how the various people would react to circumstances, normally in the early hours of the morning when I can’t sleep, or when I’m driving.  Sometimes I would think of an amazing sentence or description and have to write it down to use when the occasion arises.

 

All writing and no play makes the writer suffer. What do you do in your spare time (other than work the day job)?

Believe it or not, I read.  I always have done from an early age, especially the classics.  I go to the theatre and love musicals.  I dance, particularly Ceroc and jive, and play tennis or table tennis.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sherbet strawberries!

 

What are you doing right now this minute?

Watching Would I Lie to You on TV.  So funny and makes me laugh out loud.

 

What’s next?

Continue my writing.  Possible radio and TV interviews promoting my background in business, which are in the pipeline.

 

 

Excerpt

As Ray left her, albeit reluctantly, his body melting out of the taxi, Cydney’s skin returned to normal. She was now alone and the thoughts of the man faded to be replaced by the nose-to-tail traffic as the taxi driver turned south off the Marylebone Road and into Park Crescent, a beautiful area of London with elegant stuccoed terraced houses forming a semi-circle, which linked to Regents Park opposite. As they moved between the two halves of the crescent, Cydney looked into the private garden and saw between the railings the seven feet high statue of Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, wearing his field marshall uniform. Driving through brought pictures to her mind of old English gentry and41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ peers of the realm visiting in their private carriages.

Turning her attention to the day ahead, Cydney took the opportunity to read through her papers once again. It was important nothing should go wrong and that the client maintained his faith in her. However, thoughts of Ray wouldn’t leave her. She took out her mobile and dialled her assistant.

“Granger Associates – Jennifer Vere-Nicholson speaking.”

Cydney never tired of hearing the sound of the phone answered so professionally by the staff of her own company. Jenny was her right-hand woman and had started work the day she and Steve had established the company. She had built up her own client base and always explained that she was learning from the master. Her father had been knighted several years ago for his contribution to industry and Cydney liked the fact she had such a good pedigree. Jenny was in her mid-twenties and had joined the company straight from university where she’d read law and criminology, deciding she didn’t want to go into law itself but work in commerce. Cydney had taught her the business world she’d come to know and love and now she completely relied on her; she was worth her weight in gold. With no time for small talk she got straight to the point.

“I’m on the way to the meeting but I want you to do a complete check on a company for me called Rayshel Plastics. Get Richard to help you. I want everything by the time I come into the office tomorrow morning.”

“Not much notice then…”

“This is important – full report, records, accounts, criminal stuff.”

Cydney rang off. She knew they could trust Richard. Even though retired from CID he still had an ‘in’ to the powers that be. Now she could sit back and relax a bit whilst they did their work.

 

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel. Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger, will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Links – Multi-Media:

Find out more about Karen at:

Website: www.karenmilliejames.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KMillieJames

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Karen-Millie-James-1672621729620381/

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/karen-millie-james-098a911

 

Buy Links:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

USA: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

www.kingoftheroadpublishing.com

 

PRESENTING NATIONAL TREASURE AUTHOR SUSAN SOLOMON

Fall leaves and magic in the air. This is the season of Susan Solomon. Author, jurist, practitioner of the possible. Today on the blog she answers questions about her latest MAGIC OF MURDER as well as her penchant for snowy places. Welcome, m’ lady.

 Q & A

 

From Manhattan to Niagara Falls; Susan Solomon: please explain to our readers what draws you to snow? Describe for us your snow plow.

Actually I came to Niagara Falls from Long Island (pronounced Lon Gisland by those of us who lived there). In 1999, The VMC Group, the efficiency consulting firm I work for moved to Niagara Falls, and invited me to relocate with them. You can imagine the angst: leaving everything and everyone I knew. But at that time in my life I was ready for a new adventure. I remember the day I flew here to set up the new offices. A major snow storm hit the East Coast early that morning, and the puddle jumper that carried me was delayed for hours (oh, I just recalled a story to write about that flight). When we landed in Buffalo, I immediately learned about “white-outs”. It snowed during each of the 12 days I was here, and I remember thinking, This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ollie (yes, I’m old enough to remember Laurel and Hardy). This is the kind of snow storm described in Magic of Murder.

Funny, though. It didn’t take long for this place to feel like home. It’s the people, you see. So different from the big city in which I grew up. Here folks have time for each other. And the landscape: when spring, that coy mistress, finally unpacked her bags and moved in I drove around. Some of the places I saw were so beautiful, I had pull to the side of the road and cry. I think this is what pushed me to at last begin writing. It was then that I knew this was, and always would be my home.

But it’s the snow you asked about. Yeah. Through the years I’ve learned to enjoy even that—that is, until February when scraping snow and ice off my car every morning becomes old real fast. But at least I don’t have to plow. I have a lovely townhouse in a condo complex, so I don’t even need to own a shovel. My snow plow is big, noisy, and wielded by a couple of good-looking hunks (through my window, I get to watch then go at it—yum). One of those guys became the model for Roger Frey, the Police Detective in my novel. As to the roads…well, up here we know how to deal with the white stuff.

Your 2015 release MAGIC OF MURDER captivated me right off the bat in that it tugged at my inner girl ambition: having magical powers. Did you share the same dream/fantasy growing up?

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of magic—not the kind seen on stage, but that which people have practiced since the days of the Druids. I hadn’t begun to learn about, though, until somewhere around 2010 or 2011 when I began to write my short story, “Witches Gumbo”—you’ll find the link to this story on my www.susanlynnsolomon.com website. When I presented an early draft to my writers group, someone suggested that if I wanted the story to ring true, I should research witchcraft and herbalism. So, I got a few books on the subject, then a few more. In a matter of days I was hooked. Everything I read made sense to me. Within weeks, I decided I would become a Wicca and practice the craft. That lasted only until my Cousin Robin (who’s always been more my sister) found out what I was up to. She yanked me aside, and explained in simple words even I would understand that with my personality and sense of humor, I’m the last person who should know how to do such things.

By the way, how Robin found out and, “Second Hand”, the story that led to is also on my website.

The thing is, though, I’ve since learned where my fascination with the craft has its roots. Researching another story that still sits someplace in my mind, I engaged in a past-life regression session. If what shocked me about that is true, I actually practiced the craft in the distant past—and paid the price for it in a prior life. I suspect this shows up in my empathy for Emlyn Goode’s (my book’s narrator) ancestor, Sarah Goode, who was hanged in Salem in 1692.

Of course, I haven’t given up the idea of practicing the ancient craft. Every once in a while during a time of a new moon… Uh, maybe this is a story better left untold. Anyway, perhaps this is why I’ve always looked forward to Halloween.

 

I hear you have a ghost in your house. Fact or fiction? Give us an anecdote.

Ohhh, yes. A ghost definitely shares my home. If theories I’ve heard are correct, I invited her in a number of years ago when I wrote “Abigail’s Window”, an as yet unpublished novel about a woman haunting an old house in the Canadian town, Niagara-on-the-Lake. So, I call my ghost Abigail, though I can’t be certain that’s her name. I know she’s here, because there are middle-of-the-nights when I wake to hear someone walking at the foot of my bed. And there are times things disappear and show up later somewhere else, or as something else. As an example (and only one of a number), one evening I was doing a crossword puzzle while watching TV. I remember clearly, I was using a green pen—not the ink, but the pen itself. I put the puzzle and pen down on my end table, and went to make a cup of tea. When I returned to my chair, the pen was gone. I pulled the cushions from my chair, moved the chair, shook the cover I’d had on my lap. I moved tables. No pen. Then, the next morning while straighten up my living room, I found a green plastic guitar pick on the carpet near the end table. A.b., the pick couldn’t have been there. First, I hadn’t played my guitar in weeks; second, I had never owned a green or a plastic pick. I have no explanation for this—except Abigail.

Abbie isn’t the first ghost to share my space. Years ago there was another far less friendly one that tossed eggs at me. That episode is recorded in a scene I wrote for the short story, “Captive Soul”, that appears in Volume 1 of Solstice Publishing’s anthology, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”. The link to this is also on my website if you’d like to see a more horrific scene.

Your short stories are published in journals and you’ve won honorable mention. What inspired you to jump into novel writing?

Actually, I started out to write novels. The Niagara-on-the-lake house I mentioned earlier?—it was a bed & breakfast owned by the man for whom I work. One year, as Halloween approached he asked me if the story I written about the ghost in his B&B was true. You see, he wanted the local ghost tour people to stop by on Halloween night. I knew there really was a ghost in that house—friends and I had heard it roaming around—and had done research to learn who it was. I couldn’t find an answer, so I did what so many writers do: I made her up. Still, to please the man I work for—always a good idea—I broke the novel down to a short story, and sent it to the ghost tour people with a letter in which I swore the story was gospel, and I had witnessed the ghost (the Devil has me by the collar, and I’m headed south as soon as I die). Now I had a short story in hand—my first short story. So, I submitted it to the Writers Journal’s short romance competition, and it won an Honorable Mention. My first published piece of fiction—go figure.

Since that time I’ve stopped worrying whether something I start to write will result in a short story or a novel—in fact, I’m never sure of the length until I’m done. Also since that time I’ve had a number of short stories published. Often they result from a cue in an online journal I follow. Creative on-demand is something I learned during the years I worked at the quarterly magazine, SunStorm Fine Art where, as press-time approached I would be handed a group of slides of an artist’s work, and told to create an article of anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words about the artist.

As a cat owner, I’m immediately drawn to your Elvira character. Does this comely feline resemble a real life kitty?

I adore cats. Dogs, too. Elvira’s look and personality is a combination of many of the cats I’ve known, both real and fictional. And her attitude—every cat I’ve met certainly struts around with a bit of ’tude. As to Elvira being hefty (she hates being called fat) and albino…well, that part I invented because it so fits the animal I envisioned for The Magic of Murder.

As a working lawyer, did you bring any magic from your profession to the novel? (Be honest, have you ever binge watched Law and Order?)

Law and Order? Hmm. Being a writer, I lie for a living. I can’t about this because too many people know. Yes, I’ve binged on Law and Order, both the original and SVU. And I know the channels on which every day reruns of these shows can be found. Damn! I love these episodes because so much about them rings true.

Now, you asked about whether I’ve brought any magic from my profession to The Magic of Murder. Although I’ve had a lawyer narrate other stories—in particular “Kaddish” which was published by the “Tampa Review Online” on 2014, and “Yesterday’s Wings” which is in the October issue of the online journal, “Imitation Fruit”, Emlyn Goode, who narrates “The Magic of Murder” isn’t one. Still, when I write I’m constantly aware of my legal training. There’s a difference, you see, between legal writing and fiction. When I draft a contract, everything must be spelled out—the logic must be A, B, C, D, and therefore, E. On the other hand, in writing fiction leaps of logic—the things left unsaid—allow a reader to fill in the blanks, draw their own conclusions. This is part of what makes a story sing. It allows a story to ring true to different people, each in their own way. In a contract, leaving something to interpretation makes for disaster.

What’s next?

I’m currently engaged in what, for a writer, is sheer insanity (but—to use a bridge metaphor—sane has never been my strong suit). I’m about half-finished with a sequel to The Magic of Murder—in this new story, Emlyn Goode’s mother returns to Niagara Falls for her 42nd High School Reunion (a 42nd reunion should give you an idea that nothing will be as it seems). At the same time, I’m working on a fifth or sixth draft of another novel called “Search for Stonemaiden”, in which I’m having a wonderful time reliving my past as a ‘70s songwriter and rock musician. Also, I’m in the middle of a new short story, a fictionalized version of learning well after his death that my father was actually a hero in WWII—the things one doesn’t know about ones parents. And with my writers group, I’m working on a mystery short story about a group of young people who’ve formed a group they call The Holmes Society (it’s been suggested I turn this into another mystery series). All this, while I continue to be in-house counsel to an efficiency consulting firm. Does this explain why my mind seems to have taken an extended vacation?

For every writer, getting the word out is key. What events do you have planned in the coming weeks and what is your all-time favorite social media tool?

The Magic of Murder is still in pre-release mode, by which, as you know A.b., means it’s on Amazon and on the Solstice Publishing websites as available for pre-order in a Kindle version. However (oh, my, that’s such a lawyer word), I don’t yet have paper copies of the book, so actually scheduling events has to wait a few weeks. Yet, a number of friends and acquaintances—and several of my firm’s customers who’ve become friends over the years—have asked to schedule private readings and book signings as soon as the paperback is available.

Beyond this, I’ve begun to post about the novel on Facebook, and several friends (including, Robin) have begun to twitter about it. Twittering would be an impossible medium for me since on twitter one is limited to about 120 characters and, as you know, A.b., I’m incapable of saying good morning in less than 500 words. So, besides the wonderful blogs that have been done about my book, my social medium is Facebook. On it I’ve met some beautiful people who share my sense of humor, my love of cats, and my passion for a good mystery. I’ve learned so much from and about these Facebook friends—laughed with them, cried with them—I think of them as family. A number tell me they’ve already pre-ordered The Magic of Murder, and I can’t wait to hear whether they have as much fun reading it as I had in the writing.

Share with us your most inspiring witchcraft vehicle from any medium? (The old WB show ‘Charmed’ is a guilty pleasure of mine, while WITCHES OF EASTWICK by John Updike is my high brow pick).

“Charmed”, of course. Today being a day off from work, while I had my morning coffee and worked on crossword puzzles, an episode of “Charmed” was on TNT (as you can tell from my description of the stories I’m working on, I’m incapable of doing just one thing at a time). And yes, I enjoyed Witches of Eastwick (but then I’d devour anything John Updike wrote). I’m also fascinated by a series of made-for-TV films Hallmark did about “The Good Witch”—a few seasons ago this was turned into a series and, loving the characters, I try not to miss an episode when it’s on. I’m also ancient enough to recall watching the TV show about Samantha wrinkling her nose. And when Anne Rice dove into witchcraft—ohhh!

Any last words?

Someone once said if you survive childhood you have enough to write about for the rest of your life. I’m learning this is true. In everything I write is a smattering of me, what I’ve seen, how I grew up and things I experienced, family, teachers, people I’ve known. I believe we all have stories aching to be told, and I love hearing those stories. With all I’ve been through, I began telling mine later in life, and now that I’ve begun I can’t stop. For me, reading what I’ve written is a bigger thrill than passing the bar exam or my first job as an entertainment business lawyer. Bigger than the nights my band opened shows in front of crowds gathered for Lovin’ Spoonful performances. It’s second only to having seen my children grow. Had I been given a choice as to the life I’d lead, I can think of none I’d cherish more than that of a writer.

The Magic of Murder

magic of murder coverWhen his partner is discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, Niagara Falls Police Detective Roger Frey swears vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward has forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode knows Roger will disobey his boss, which will cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cares for him more than she’ll admit, she needs to stop him. Desperate, she can think of but one way.

Emlyn recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She has a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by, a vivid imagination she intends to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger takes revenge on the killer. But she’s new to this “witch thing,” and needs help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix is a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca’s not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumble over spell after spell, the number possible killers grows. They’d better quickly come up with a workable spell: when Chief Woodward’s wife is shot and a bottle bomb bursts through Emlyn’s window, it becomes clear she’s next on the killer’s list.

What people are saying

This book pulled me right in. I think it must have been the fact that Susan Lynn Solomon puts her characters first. The story revolves around the murder of a Niagara Falls Police officer… The adventure that ensues is absolutely entertaining and well-written. It is funny, exciting, and fast-paced. Every character has depth and is…believable. The Magic of Murder is one fun read and is definitely worthy of all 5 stars.

—Frederick Crook, author, Of Knight & Devil

Suspense, humor, compelling characters, a dash of the supernatural dating back to Salem, a powerful sense of place, and Emlyn Goode, a passionate and determined woman new to witchcraft and murder. Susan Lynn Solomon captures both the city of Niagara Falls and its quirkiest resident, an unusual sleuth. The magic of Murder is a winner and, we hope, only the first appearance of Emlyn Goode.

—Gary Early Ross, author of Blackbird Rising add the Edgar Award—winning Matter of Intent

Links Image

www.susanlynnsolomon.com

www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO/ref=sr_1_1?s=boo ks&ie=UTF8&qid=1443212271&sr=1-1&keywords=the+magic+of+murder+solomon

http://www.solsticepublishing.com/the magicofmurder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan author photoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney, and then a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Arts, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm.

After moving to Niagara Falls she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and turned her attention to writing fiction. Since 2009, a number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Journal short romance competition), Witches Gumbo, Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Second Hand, Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle), and Kaddish.

Her latest two short stories are, Yesterday’s Wings, about a woman searching for the courage of her past, appears in the October 2015 edition of, Imitation Fruit; and Captive Soul, which is included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

Excerpt from The Magic of Murder

March brought a worse storm than the one we were hit with in December. It seems that’s how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around here. When it ended after four days, a reserve unit from the Niagara Falls Air Base declared war on the snow. With military precision, the reservists piled the stuff into dump trucks and carted it to Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the Canal. They might have hauled it to the top of the mountains if their trucks’ tires could get enough traction. Since they couldn’t, it appeared as though they shoved what was left to the shoulder of River Road and into my driveway. When I gazed through the kitchen window at gray heaps so high my mailbox was buried, I was certain the dunes would still be there in July. They weren’t, of course. In two days the streets had been plowed and salted, and cars crawled past. Thanks to my neighbor, Roger Frey, even my driveway had been cleared. In Western New York we know how to deal with the white stuff.

My preferred way of dealing with it is to turn up the thermostat and remain inside, comfy and warm. At least until the sun pokes through the clouds. This is why, still in my robe and flannel pajamas with thermal socks pulled up to my knees, I was snuggled on the sofa under my grandmother’s grey wool afghan. I still wondered about the runes Grandma had sewn into the afghan. Maybe one day Rebecca Nurse would find a book to help me interpret them.

From a corner of what had become her wingback chair, the hefty albino cat—Elvira detested it when I referred to her as fat—glared at me. She seemed annoyed I was wasting the morning on a made for TV movie.

“What?” I said to her.

She rolled her eyes—well, that’s what it looked like to me.

“Give me a break, will you?” I said. “I was up half the night writing.”

She snorted.

“What do you mean I didn’t write anything that mattered?”

She tilted her head.

I shifted on the sofa and bent toward her. “I’m not bullshitting you!” My voice went up an octave. “You were there. You saw what I was—”

At the very moment I realized the cat had again drawn me into an argument, I heard a knock on my front door. My face hot—from anger at Elvira or embarrassment at letting her get the better of the argument?—I jumped from the sofa and yanked the door open.

“What?” I demanded with a sharp edge to my voice.

On my door stoop stood a black quilted jacket, green rubber boots laced over baggy jeans, a flannel scarf wound around the little I could see of a face, and a knit cap pulled so low on a head the figure looked like a cartoon character with no ears. The man on the stoop might have been a predator who intended to break into my home, ravish my body, and make off with my treasures. Okay, I’ve already admitted I have an active imagination. There are no treasures in my home, and my body—well, let’s just say it’s been a long time since anyone would risk jail for ravishing me. Besides, I knew who this was. Earlier, while I poured my coffee, through the window I’d watched my neighbor ride his snowplow like it was the mechanical bull at Flannery’s Bar.

On the frigid side of the storm door, Roger Frey swiveled his head from side-to-side, as if searching for who I hollered at.

At times, I’ve stood before a mirror, arguing with myself, and seen what I look like when I blush. My neck gets as red as my hair, then the color dashes uphill past my face to my forehead. So, I knew what Roger saw when he looked at me.

“Sorry,” I mumbled to what I could see of his face. “Cranky. I was up half the night.”

His voice muted by the scarf covering his mouth, he said, “No need to apologize.” He knew the hours I kept when the muse plopped down next to me.

The glass door misted when he leaned close to peer past my shoulder.

I looked behind me. Elvira had followed me to the door. She stared at us, head slightly tilted. The pale pink of her eyes darkened as if she’d decided something.

Roger nodded at her. “At least you’re not alone anymore.”

“Me or the cat?” I said.

“Both, I suppose.” When Roger pulled down the scarf, his grin showed the small gap between his front teeth.

“I prefer being alone,” I said. “If you want company, feel free to take the cat.”

My friend and neighbor had been alone since his wife took off for a warmer place three years ago.

Elvira sniffed once. Then she turned abruptly, wiggled her large derriere at me, and curled up on the floor at my feet.

Roger laughed out loud.

As if loosened by the laughter that exploded from deep inside him, a sheet of snow skidded off the roof. He must have heard the rumble, because he took a quick step backwards. He wasn’t fast enough, though. While half the snow thudded to the ground, the rest flattened his wool cap and spilled down his face. His hazel eyes rounded in surprise.

Now I laughed. With snow all over his body, it looked as though Frosty the Snowman was on my stoop. I opened the storm door and brushed the snow from his cheek. “Come in here,” I said. “Let me dry you off.”

He stamped his feet on the mat to rid himself of most of the snow.

As I stepped aside to make room for him to pass, I stumbled over the cat.

Roger moved faster than he had to avoid the snow drift from my roof. His arm shot out. “Careful!” he said, and grabbed me around the waist just as I began to flop like a rag doll to floor.

The man is certainly strong. In a single motion, he lifted me from my feet then set me down. His arms still surrounded me.

“You okay?”

I nodded, but couldn’t speak, not even to say yes. I’m sure it was because I was a little bit in shock.

At last he released me, and bent to stroke the cat. “That wasn’t nice, Elvira,” he said. “You could’ve hurt Emlyn.”

I also leaned down to stroke her. “This beast probably intended to do it.”

When I glanced at Roger, his face was precariously close to mine. The look in his eyes told me he might not mind being nearer still.

“Uh, yeah,” I mumbled, and pulled back to put a safe distance between us. “She probably did it on purpose…” My words drifted into a crimson haze.

His cheeks also a bit red—I told myself this was probably from the near-zero temperature outside—he straightened up, and unwound his scarf. His chin and upper lip were dark. The morning stubble enhanced rather than detracted from his chiseled cheekbones and slightly cleft chin. This was a handsome man by anybody’s reckoning. More than that, he was kind. He looked after his neighbors, and made sure we were safe. I’d often wondered why Judy, his ex-wife, would leave such a man.

“I, uh, stopped by to, um…” he said.

I looked down. I had nothing on but my pajamas and robe, and the robe had fallen loose when I nearly fell. Trying not to be obvious about it, I tied my robe closed.

Roger took a deep breath. “Yes, uh, the UPS guy brought this.”

He pulled off his gloves, unzipped his jacket, and took a cardboard box from a large inside pocket. Holding it out, he said, “It came yesterday afternoon. All the snow, the UPS guy couldn’t get to your door, so he left it with me.”

The box was about nine inches wide, a foot long, and maybe two inches thick. I turned it over in my hands, examined the label. The return address said the package came from Naples, Florida.

“It’s from my mother,” I said.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

I shrugged. “I’d have to open the box to find out.”

“So, open it.”

Glancing sideways at him, I smiled. “Later.”

“Come on,” he said, and reached for the package. “I hauled it all the way over here. Plowed out your driveway while I was at it. You gotta show me what’s in there.”

“All the way over, huh?” I laughed. “You live next door.”

“Yeah, well.” He took off his jacket, and draped it over the back of a kitchen chair. His black hooded sweatshirt barely made it to his hips. “I had to wade through three feet of snow to get here. That’s gotta be worth something.”

I laid the package on the kitchen counter. “How about some coffee?”

I yanked the wet knit cap from his head, and tossed it into the sink. Snow clinging to the fibers sprinkled onto his dark brown hair, and melted into the gray that had begun to invade his temples. While I brushed the wet beads from his curls, I said, “A gentleman takes off his hat when he comes inside.”

He picked the box up and handed it to me. “Don’t try to change the subject. I know you, Emlyn Goode. You’re dying to look inside.”

I was. But it was just so much fun to tease him. A girl’s got to do that now and then, just to stay in practice. I turned my back, and refilled my mug then poured coffee into a second mug.

He pushed the box in front of me.

“You’re a big snoop, you know that?” I said.

He let out the laugh that never failed to disarm me. “Of course I am. I’m a cop. Snooping is what I do.”

“Yup, and I’m your good buddy. Like in novels, it’s the sidekick’s job to give the cop a hard time. That’s in my job description.” I pointed at the package. “And see, it’s written right here.”

Another deep, resonant laugh burst from him.  “You’re definitely a piece of work,” he said.

Elvira seemed to grow impatient with my stalling. She leaped onto the counter and pawed at the package. How the devil did she manage to move her large body so lithely?

“Okay, okay,” I said. “I can’t fight both of you.”

I took the box to my dinette table, and sat, glancing around.

“What now?” Roger asked.

“I need something to slice the tape with.”

He tilted sideways in his chair and pulled a Swiss army knife from his pants pocket. As he flicked open the smaller blade, he said, “I was a boy scout, I’m always prepared.”

Settled on Roger’s lap, the cat smacked his hand with her paw. Then she glared at me. C’mon, knock off the flirting and get to it, she seemed to say—well, that’s what her growl sounded like.

I slit the tape and raised the cardboard flaps. Inside was what appeared to be a very old book. Without removing it from the box, I carefully lifted the leather cover. The words on the first page were faded. Still I was able to make some of them out.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

“Seems to be someone’s diary.” I suspect I sounded puzzled. Why would my mother send me something like this?

Between the next two pages was an envelope addressed to me. Inside was a note. I’ve been holding onto this, Mom wrote, hoping the line that’s led from Sarah Goode would end with me. Apparently it hasn’t, so I’m sending you this. Please, Emlyn, try to make better use of this than some of our ancestors have.

Elvira sniffed the book and purred.

Quickly, I refolded the letter.

Roger leaned over, peered into my eyes. “What is it?” he said.

“It’s…um, it’s…” I stammered as I searched for a lie he might believe. I didn’t want to tell him my mother had sent me Sarah Goode’s Book of Shadows. A guy like Roger—his life was built on the belief every mystery could be logically explained, and magic is nothing but sleight-of-hand. He’d remarked about that the night we saw David Copperfield perform at the Seneca Niagara Casino. The fastest way to end our friendship was to tell him I’m the latest in a 350-year line of witches. If I said that, he would stare at me as though I’d winked at him from a third eye in the center of my forehead. Then he’d leave and not come back. Oh, he’d be polite about it—Roger’s always polite. But our friendship would be over. I mean, if it ever got out Detective Roger Frey of the Niagara Falls Police Department had a witch for a friend, he’d die of embarrassment. Or maybe he’d have to resign his position or even move to Rochester or something. If he did, who would plow my driveway then knock on my door to share my morning coffee and help me with the Sunday crossword puzzle?

What? I already said I have a vivid imagination.

As if Sarah Goode’s book was catnip, Elvira dropped her head on it, mewed, and rubbed her paw across her face. Roger shoved her aside, and leaned over to see, I supposed, what caused my concern.

Before he could remove the book from the box, I closed the flaps.

“It’s, uh…um, just an old family diary,” I said. It wasn’t much of a lie. A Book of Shadows is a diary of a sort. Witches record their herbal mixtures in it, and the words they chant to work their magic. My friend, Rebecca Nurse, had explained that when she showed me hers.

Thank you so much for dropping by Susan. We’ll keep an eye on The Magic of Murder, a perfect Halloween read!

ABF

Giveaway: Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire by Rachael Stapleton

Welcome back! Author Rachael Stapleton has been busy working on the next instalment in theTemple of Indra Series while at the same time promoting Book 2: Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. It’s my great honor to shine a light on her newest offer: A Free Kindle copy available from June 15-19. Read on…

CURSE BANNER 

 

Looking for a great FREE mystery? June 15th -19th

Grab your copy of Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Now. Free for Kindle. #mystery #timetravel #romance #freebooks

 

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

The Temple of Indra MYSTERY Series

By Rachael Stapleton

Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Time Travel Romance

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Date of Publication: February 3rd, 2015

ASIN: B00SNAF018

Print Length: 215 pages

Word Count: 66, 400

Cover Artist: Rebecca Boyd

Book Description:

Sophia Marcil hasn’t escaped her destiny or the mad-man hunting her but she’s doing her best to evade both and making a life in Ireland with Cullen—the one person she can count on to pull her out of deep water. There’s just one problem, despite his connection, she hasn’t told him the truth of her time travel and her reality comes crashing down as he proposes with the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members and she struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves. When she fails and returns to her present-day life, she’s forced to confront the fact that her killer’s soul will always be tied to the sapphire and in every life she has, he will be resurrected as someone close to her. Her biggest question—who is he now? She doesn’t have to wonder for very long before she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew.

Available at    Amazon   BN   CHAPTERS

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Dublin, Ireland

Today I would tell Cullen the truth. I swirled the champagne in my glass in an agitated fashion. I would not allow myself to be distracted. I looked down in early defeat and noticed the dark limp waves cascading past my shoulders. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t even get ready for a dinner party without being distracted. All that work curling it, and then Cullen had walked in, glimpsing my lacy black bra, and poof, my hair was flat again. Twirling a strand around my index finger, I attempted to bring it back to life. If only the jewels could work their magic on my hair.

I spotted Cullen a couple of feet away, making his way over to me. He looked handsome in his sport jacket and tailored shirt. His hair, a coppery red with streaks of blond that looked almost golden in the sunlight, was slicked back so the ends curled at his neck.

I should be over-the-moon happy right now. I was sipping Dom Pérignon in an elegant restaurant surrounded by rustic stone walls, as a soft and whimsical Irish fiddle played in the background in honor of our one-year anniversary. It wasn’t technically our anniversary. He had playfully called it that when he’d invited me out to dinner with his family, but what he’d meant was that it had been one year since we’d met. Since that ill-fated day on the Lerins Island, half a mile off shore from Cannes, when I’d rejected the marriage proposal of that egotistical lunatic Nicholas Bexx and endured his wrath. Lucky for me, Cullen had been looking up from the deck of his family’s yacht and had seen Nick push me off the cliff. Cullen dove in and pulled me to safety, and subsequently into his life.

It was hard to believe that in a full year I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth: that the fall had sent me to another time and place and into the body of a nineteenth-century princess. But what sane person would believe what had been only seconds underwater to them had been another lifetime to me? I was the owner of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. I had time traveled into my past life and uncovered my destiny—had done so repeatedly—and was always reborn, only to be murdered by the same obsessed spirit, again and again.

“Sophia, ye all right?” Cullen asked, appearing suddenly at my elbow.

“No,” I said automatically and pushed away the bothersome thoughts.

“Gah. It’s the restaurant. It’s too fancy, isn’t it? I said so, but ye know Móraí.”

“What? I love this place.” The room buzzed with mixed conversation. “I just didn’t hear what you said.”

“Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth. I asked if ye were all right and ye said no.”

“I’m fine. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere. It’s so romantic in here.”

That was the truth. The place was intimate. A combination of comfortable leather and floral high-backed chairs surrounded the long table, and almost all of them were now full with Cullen’s family.

“It is getting loud in here. I thought this was just dinner, but it looks like you rented out the whole restaurant. Will this place hold your entire family?”

“Like that’d matter. Loud-mouthed arses. Let’s skedaddle and we can celebrate alone.”

I laughed as Cullen pretended to boot one of his cousins in the rear.

His eyes met mine, and it was just like that first day in the hospital after I’d awoken from the fall. There was no denying the attraction and it wasn’t just pheromones. It was as if my soul recognized his, which was exactly why I needed to be honest about the curse. I was giving myself an ulcer and all for what? I knew he felt the same way. For heaven’s sake, I’d overheard him tell his brother of his dreams, and they sounded suspiciously familiar. There were other clues. He shared a birthmark with Graf Viktor Ferdinand of Württemberg, who’d rescued me on three separate occasions when I was the princess, and of course his ancestor had been the one to sell the Purple Delhi Sapphire to my family.

Cullen bent his head toward me, his lips brushing mine, but at the last moment I turned my cheek.

“Cullen, your grandmother has arrived with your parents and she’s staring at us. It’s probably this dress.”

“Well now, she can be after findin’ her own frock, can’t she? ’Cause ye look bloody deadly in that one.”

He playfully tugged at the clasp centered between my breasts. He’d been the one to choose this low-slung, emerald-green dress. He said it reminded him of a shamrock, but I knew he really liked it because it provided a pretty little peek-a-boo if I moved just the right way. Truthfully, it was a little racy for this evening, but you only lived once. Well, maybe some people did.

His mother, Lucille, rushed across the polished wooden floor, playfully elbowing him out of the way in order to hug me.

“Ye best be behavin’ yerself, boy.”

She was a fine-boned woman with beautiful brown eyes and curly auburn hair. When they stood side by side it was easy to see he took after her with his ruddy locks, and lucky for him because she had great genes. His father—orDa, as they called him—wasn’t too bad himself. He had a charisma that both his sons carried.

“Sophia…”

My name was said in a strange, low whisper, and for a moment I froze as hands fell on my shoulders.

“Look at ye, lass.”

I smiled and turned to see Cullen’s brother with his dark, whiskey-colored eyes and raven’s-wing hair. A touch of gray at the temples made him look dignified. “Liam, I’m so glad to see you.” I hugged him back. He lived fairly close and was over for dinner at least twice a week.

“Aren’t ye a fine bit of stuff! For the life of me, I can’t be figurin’ why ye’re still with that gobdaw brother of mine.”

“Did ye hear that, Cullen?” One of the cousins, Ewan, called out. “Liam’s after ye’re wan.”

“Go ’way from her ye bloody jealous maggot, always after me scooter growin’ up too,” Cullen called back.

“Oh, here we go,” I said, preparing myself for their playful banter, most of which was lost on me.

Liam drew me in for a kiss on the cheek and lowered his voice, practically whispering into my ear. “I saw ye first.”

I smiled at the harmless peck. They were always teasing, although I couldn’t help but think sometimes Liam took it too far, especially for a priest. He let go and looked back at Cullen, who finished hugging his aunt on the other side of the table and strutted toward us.

“Hold tight. I’m on my way to rescue ye, luv.”

“No rescue necessary,” Liam said, grinning. “I’m a man of the cloth.”

“Bit of a holy joe is more like it,” Cullen slung back.

Ewan, the youngest of the three, jumped to his feet and pretended to step between them. Both Cullen and Liam gave their cousin a friendly shove, then gave each other a loving pat on the back as they hugged.

Cullen turned to me. “Ye sure ye’re all right, luv?”

“I’m perfect,” I said, finally beginning to relax. I’d made up my mind. I was going to tell him tonight, come hell or high water.

“Brilliant.” He kissed my forehead, his lips soft and warm on my skin. “I’ll miss ye next week. Ye gonna keep busy?” He fiddled nervously with his jacket pocket. It wasn’t like Cullen to fiddle; I gave his hand a squeeze. He was traveling to London tomorrow on business. He would only be gone four days, but he was never home long before he had to jet off again.

“I thought maybe I’d go to that fundraiser—see if one of your cousins wanted to tag along—and of course the bridal shower is the next day.” Maybe that was why he was so jittery. He knew I didn’t like being without him, and he’d mentioned once or twice the guilt he felt over leaving.

Someone clinked their fork off a glass and the musical tinkling made me look up.

“O’Kelley Clan, can I get yer attention up here for a moment?” Da called.

A champagne bottle opened with a satisfying pop.

“If ye haven’t noticed already, there’s a bit of the bubbly being passed about, so set aside the whiskey and grab one.”

The table quieted and we took our seats.

“I’d like to propose a toast to the lovely lass sitting at Cullen’s side.” Da raised his glass, and all eyes turned to me.

“Here here,” Cullen said. “To my Sophia.”

My glass clinked against his. “What’s going on?” I whispered.

He’d switched out my glass as the tray went by and now gave me his best I-have-no-idea look, extending an arm around my shoulders and pulling me in tight.

“T’was a year ago today she fell into our lives from Sainte Marguerite Island—or perhaps it was the sky, ’cause surely that one there’s an angel.”

“Quit stealin’ his lines, John,” Lucille chided smartly before he could go on.

The room roared with laughter.

“Aw sure look it. I did, didn’t I? Sorry, Son. Well then here’s another stolen line while I’m at it: to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear. Not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a darn sight more sincere! Anyway, Cullen, don’t run away now.”

“Yea, thanks, Da!”

The laughter faded as Cullen pushed his chair back and stood, pulling me gently to stand with him.

“Not sure how to follow that up, but how about: to passionate people, beautiful futures, and lovely lasses who fall from the heavens,” he said, knocking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, and I smiled as he set his flute down.

Then he lowered to one knee.

He grinned up at me—so charming and gorgeous. His green eyes, as always, were mesmerizing. They had flecks of gold in them that clung to the edges and danced in the center, like they were on fire. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that it almost drowned out the “awws” and “oohs.”

“Ye’re already mine, lass, in every way possible and I am yers, but I want the world to know,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly. The black velvet box squeaked open, and his aunts gasped in unison, as if on cue.

“Will ye make me the happiest man in Ireland, Aevil, and join our O’Kelley Clan?” He kissed my fingers as I stared down at him.

The marble-sized rock in the box swirled, and doubled in front of my eyes. Deep purple amethyst with a thin frame of diamonds, set in pink gold and accentuated with a slender shank and crescent details.

I looked past the ring, into his eyes, and found him still staring directly at me. He’d removed the ring from the box and was holding it out, ready to place it on my finger.

He cleared his throat. “It was my great-great-great-grandmother’s and I thought ye might appreciate it, since ye were so intrigued with her portrait.”

I nodded, trying to smile through the confusion, but my head swam with random bursts of chatter, the fiddle, and all the thoughts flooding me at once, mostly that Cullen had just proposed to me with the missing Purple Delhi Sapphire ring. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my cheek as the ring touched the tip of my finger.

Cullen’s face began to distort. A shimmery haze had fallen over the room as if the desert were closing in. The vibration from the ring traveled up my arm, and the room began to shift and blur at the edges. Another room, a darker room, was coming into focus. I could still hear Cullen’s aunt ordering someone to get me a glass of water.

There was something I should remember. Water. Rochus said water was necessary to ease the pain of time travel. Maybe this was what it felt like without. I tried to blink away the heat, tried to stop myself from going, but I couldn’t. The edges of the room were burning away fast now, like a Polaroid scorched by flames. I could hear the trickling of the fountain in the corner. I ran for it, or at least I intended to, but it was too late.

 

Reviews:

“Ms. Stapleton’s, The Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire, is extraordinary! She brings us the story of Sophia Marcil, a quiet librarian, who has found love in this life but is haunted by and trying to break the trail of destruction and death that has haunted her through many lives. If you want a great mystery, enjoy the idea of time travel and/or like a wonderful romance – do not hesitate to delve into this one.” — Book Me Mel Paranormal Romance and Authors that Rock

 

“Plenty of twists, a sprinkle of humor and a whodunit with a surprising ending, Curse reminds me of great old story telling, but with a fresh and vital voice.” —Author A.B. Funkhauser

“Just barely surfacing from her dangerous travel into the 1800’s…Sophia has become part of a lethal adventure in the 1920’s. She is haunted by the same curse—the never-broken, deadly hunt for the possession of the Purple Delhi Sapphire, which has been plaguing her lifetimes over…Rachael writes in a way that is intriguing enough to keep the pages turning. Each scene segues into the next with new information, new conflicts, new prospects, new possibilities, new theories, and new revelations…In Rachael’s storytelling, there is never a dull moment. Her imagination is one of her greatest strengths as a writer.” —Lacey Crowe Best Book Reviews and Edits

 

“Twists, turns, great characters, and time travel … what’s not to love! This was a fantastic read! Can’t wait for book 3!” —Author Marissa Campbell

 

Book One Trailer: http://goo.gl/6vtX2r

Book Two Trailer: http://youtu.be/VCeG9eA09Fg

 

About the Author: Rachel Stapleton lives in a Second Empire Victorian with her husband and two children in Ontario, Canada and enjoys writing in the comforts of aged wood and arched dormers. She is the author of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire and is currently working on the third and most likely final book in the Temple of Indra series.

Website: www.RachaelStapleton.com

Blog: http://RachaelStapleton.blogspot.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Rachael-Stapleton/137831156290570

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RaquelleJaxson

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7271862.Rachael_Stapleton

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Stapleton/e/B00IE9W804

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RachaelStapleton/posts

Buy Links:

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Paperback

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire Kindle

The Temple of Indra’s Jewel Paperback

The Temple of Indra’s Jewel Kindle