Book #Reviews! @JoanHallWrites @harmony_kent @WendyWrites1 @judypost

I have had a month of fabulous reading and want to share the cream of the crop!

Blurb:

Bounty hunters come to Muddy River to capture its amiable bartender, Derek Fang, Raven Black, a demon and the town’s enforcer, warns them off because the vampire hasn’t committed any crime. But a succubus who was Derek’s lover centuries ago has finally found him and wants him back–enough to pay big money to whoever brings him to her–alive.

MY REVIEW:

This is book 5 in the Muddy River Mystery series and although I haven’t read the other books in the series, I was not at all lost reading this segment of the story. Muddy River is a town inhabited solely by supernatural characters. Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Demons make up the population. In this segment of the story, Derek, a Vampire is hunted by a succubus who wants him back as her plaything and will stop at nothing to get him. I love how the town comes together to protect one of their own. I won’t give away the plot but will say the story is a page-turner and a quick read. If you love paranormal activity, believable characters, and plenty of action, you will love this story! Great world-building!

Blurb:

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Premiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened. Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner, Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

MY REVIEW:

This story is a well-written whodunit mystery that also includes some fascinating history about purses. When Katherine, a world-famous purse designer, comes back to her hometown of Bayside to establish a purse museum in their old victorian family home, things could not go more awry. Her best friend, the mayor of the small town, is murdered at the museum’s opening gala. The list of suspects is long and Katherine doesn’t trust the police to find the real murderer. So, she begins her own investigation which leads her into danger more than once. Policeman, Jason and his K-9 Hobbs become an integral part of the story along with many other characters. I loved Katherine’s eccentric mother, Moonjava. She embodied the sixties hippy image and although she came across as being flighty, when it counted the most, she stepped up to the plate. Katherine’s grandmother was another unforgettable character. So who murdered Brenda? Her husband, Russ? A pushy reporter? Someone on the City Council? A crime novelist? The list grows as Katherine digs deeper into discovering the identity of the killer. If you love a cozy mystery with bits of humor thrown in, you will enjoy this story. The author did a great job of keeping the identity of the murderer hidden until the end of the book.

Blurb:

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees with the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

MY REVIEW:

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story and wanted it to continue. It all starts with a beautiful one-hundred-year-old Victorian home in a small town in northern New Mexico. I fell in love with the town, the people, and the house in this introduction to the Madeira Legends series. This close-knit community has everything you’d expect to find in a small town, from friendly neighbors, to children who play on the streets until after dark, to mystery and intrigue. And the house is the center of attention.
Ruth Hazleton and her husband Lee move to Madeira after Lee lands the job as Chief of Police. I really related to Ruth’s character. She is friendly, outgoing, and caring. She is the lady that bakes cookies for the neighborhood children, organizes Easter egg hunts, and decorates for every holiday. Set in the sixties, the author weaves historical events throughout this short story, from the Kennedy assassinations to the first Apollo landing on the moon and the break-up of The Beatles. She makes the story believable along with the characters and the mystery surrounding the old house. Could the house truly be cursed? I cannot wait to find out! I enjoyed that the author put the first chapter from the first novel in the series at the end of this short story. It whets my appetite for more. I highly recommend this if you love a good mystery set in a believable small town with unforgettable characters.

Blurb:

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust?

MY REVIEW:

Talk about a nail-biter! This story begins with some backstory that is essential to what happens as the main story begins. Carole lost her husband, Harvey, to cancer. That left only her and their son, Jayden. As the story begins, Carole is texting with eighteen-year-old Jayden about when he’ll be home. Even though he’s of age, she still worries. After all, he is her entire world. She makes the mistake of taking sleeping pills with wine before going to bed that night. She missed the calls and frantic text from her son. And, he never made it home. Guilt-ridden and terrified, she searches everywhere for him and comes up empty-handed. Finally, she involves law enforcement. The author not only shows this mother’s terror, but she also places you right inside it with her. I sat with Carole as she scrolls through page after page of social media looking for any clues as to where Jayden might be. As she continues her frantic search, she is mortified to realize she knows little of her son’s life. She’s been so locked into her years of grief that she’s shut him out. I won’t go into details, but over a period of five days, Carole moves from one horrific moment and event to the next. The only thing keeping her going is her favorite Macchiato coffee and knowing in her heart that her son is still alive somewhere. I was on the edge of my seat through this entire story and devoured it as fast as possible just to find out what happened. Talk about a shock! If you love a psychological roller-coaster and don’t have a weak heart, I highly recommend this story! While the numerous scenes of Carole sitting at her table and making yet another coffee became repetitious, it was not enough to deter me from finding out the ending to this tale. It depicts a parent’s worst nightmare in a visual and emotive way.

I only post 4 and 5 star reviews. I highly recommend any or ALL of these books!

#Indie Author William H. Venema @WHVenema Releases new Thriller!

I first met William Venema through my daughter, who is an attorney. It just so happened that she and Bill worked for the same company. He purchased copies of my books and we talked some about writing. That was many years ago.

Now he has two books under his belt and I’m happy to showcase them here today!

Death In Panama

BLURB:

Captain Robert E. Clark arrives in Panama on his first tour of duty as a lawyer. He struggles to reconcile his Southern upbringing and West Point training with a strange new environment. Panama is a muddled mix of conflict and corruption, where, among other things, marriage vows don’t mean what they did at the First United Methodist Church of Pemberton, Georgia. When Clark is assigned to prosecute a murder case involving the death of a thirteen-month old little girl, his ambition causes him to neglect his wife and daughter more than usual and—even worse—bend the rules in ways that call into question what kind of man he is and what he truly values.

In this riveting novel, William Venema tells an intriguing, thought-provoking tale of unrestrained ambition and its consequences. Death comes in many forms, each lethal in its own way.

Reviewers say, ““Allows us to see life in all its strange, rich complexity through the eyes of a very human and believable protagonist. . .” “Swept me back to another time and place. . .” “As good a legal thriller as those of Scott Turow and John Grisham. . .”

Pick up a copy today on Amazon! PURCHASE LINK

William Venema’s latest release is:

Dawn In Dallas

BLURB:

Set in the late 1980s, Dawn in Dallas follows the journey of Robert E. Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army JAG Corps and embarks on a career in private law practice.  He secures a position at Underwood & Crockett, a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas, even though his young daughter and ex-wife reside in Pemberton, Georgia, the small town where he grew up. 

Things get complicated when Robert receives disturbing news from home at the same time he is confronted with unethical behavior by one of the senior partners in the firm.  The challenges of his new career and his responsibilities as a father pull him in opposite directions, and he doesn’t always make the right decision. 

Dawn in Dallas has its share of plot twists and interesting characters and along the way reveals some of the darker secrets of life inside a large law firm and the serious deficiencies of the court system.

Dr. Ryan S. Davidson, Professor of English had this to say about Dawn In Dallas, “William H. Venema is able to cross genres to create a novel that is at times a legal thriller, a love story, a tale of morality, a historical look at race relations in America, and a criticism of the legal system that is both poignant and delicate. A perfect story for our times. Venema has done it again.”

PURCHASE LINK:

About William H. Venema

William H. Venema’s legal career spans almost forty years and includes time in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, in law firms, and as general counsel of major corporations.

Death in Panama, published in 2017, was Bill’s debut novel.  The story is loosely based on his experiences in Panama when he was assigned there in the early 1980s as an Army lawyer, including his prosecution of a murder case.  

Dawn in Dallas, published in 2020,follows the journey of Robert Clark, the protagonist from Death in Panama, as he leaves the Army and embarks on a civilian legal career.

In 2006, Bill published a non-fiction book, titled The Strategic Guide to Selling Your Software Company.  In addition, he was a contributing author for two other legal texts and has published over twenty articles on various legal topics in journals such as The Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance, The National Law Journal, The Corporate Board, and Bloomberg Law Reports.  

Bill is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was awarded the Thomas J. Thompson Memorial Award for writing and the Freedom Award, Order of Lafayette, for proficiency in French.  He was also inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  Several years after graduating from West Point, he earned an MBA from Georgia State University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law.    

Prior to entering private practice, Bill served in the U.S. Army in Germany, Panama, and several stateside assignments.  He is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools, as well as the Command and General Staff College.  

He and his wife reside in Georgetown, Texas.  

Connect with William H. Venema!

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

Thank you for stopping by and I hope these two books intrigued you enough to grab your copies today!

Voyage of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack

It is my privilege to host C.S. Boyack on my blog site so that he can tell you about his newest book release!

Jan, thanks for inviting me back. I’m here hawking my newest book, Voyage of the Lanternfish.

Excerpts are a time honored tool for blog tours, and that’s what I’m bringing you today.

Lanternfish is a pirate fantasy. It’s filled with monsters, magic, and fantastic creatures. It also has gunpowder, so cannon, muskets, and pistols are included.

To set the scene, the characters are forced into starting a war with a neighboring country. They came to this city to do some historical and political research. It isn’t coming together very fast, and James is on the verge of a new plan.

***

James strolled up and down each dock, occasionally checking the mooring of a ship. Putting a finger to his hat whenever a crewman spotted him.

The end of the third dock was empty. Even the lamps weren’t lit. The only light came from quarters on a ship tied to the second dock.

“Hello, mate,” a rough voice said.

James cleared his coat away from his pistol before turning.

“No need for that. I mean you no harm. Seen you down here walking the nights away. Been watching you.”

“What for? And come forward so I can see you.”

“You’re a cautious man, I see that. Well armed too.” The man stepped forward. Long grey stubble covered his face. He wore a small tricorn, and carried a cutlass. “I seen your type before.”

“And what type is that?”

“Long stares out at the water. Touching the ships as you pass. Hand on your face while you’re thinking of something. Probably a big loss of some kind. Family farm? Lost love? Maybe a title? Something along that route.”

“Pretty close, mate.”

“A few of my mates and I been lookin for a fellow like you. You’re a man of the sea, and can’t wait to get back to it.”

“I’m sure there are plenty like me around. Good luck in finding someone.”

“Hold up, mate. We’re just talking. Names Johnny Jump Up. There’s men around like you and I, but not too many with money to invest.”

“I don’t have any money, sorry.”

“Your mates bought a chest. Carried it back to the Ghost yesterday. Looked real heavy. They spent some too. Nice kit the lady bought. Kind of pricy. Seems like you own a slave too.”

“How long have you been watching us?”

“Longer than that fella all dressed in black. He only showed up the other day. Asks a lot of questions about who’s new in town. Asked if anyone’s been flashing a lot of gold around.”

“Speaking of him, maybe you wouldn’t mind continuing this conversation back at the tavern.”

“Naw. Too many ears at the Ghost. There’s another tavern, just down the way. It has ears too, but nobody cares. Called the Dead Man’s Rest. Heard of it?”

“Saw it from a distance last night.”

“Don’t want you to think I’m leading you into a trap. You go there. Order a bucket of beer. I’ll be along in about half an hour. It’s a safe neighborhood, but you might want to tuck your purse in your boot. If you know what I mean.” Johnny held out a lantern. “Use me lamp if you’re worried.” He struck a match and lit the flame, before placing the lantern on the dock and stepping back.

James picked up the lantern and Johnny stepped aside. “I’ll make sure your shadow ain’t around. Then I’ll join ye inside.”

“Any particular draft?”

“Get the yellow one. The dark one’s gone off, give ye the shits now.”

“Good to know.”

***

Blurb:

An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.

He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.

James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.

Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.

Purchase Link: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B07MP8V633

Author, C.S. Boyack

Bio:

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

MY REVIEW:

What I enjoyed most about this new book from C.S. Boyack is the fantastic job of world-building he accomplishes through creative writing. I had no difficulty visualizing the cities, the boats, the monsters, or the people that make up this story. The root monsters are a surprise and it’s fun to see them take on personalities and start to become somewhat human. The goal of James Cuttler is often different from that of his makeshift crew, but he manages to keep everyone happy with enough looting to satisfy any good pirate. His goal is to start a war between two countries and rescue his fiance. The adventures along the way, the battles, the exploration and discoveries kept me turning the pages. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite character. I love Mal for his devotion to James (aka Captain Bloodshot) and for his incredible ability to grow monster creatures in dirt, using his special magic. I love Serang for her fierce loyalty and amazing physical abilities. Plus, she has her own surprising brand of magic. The romance that blooms between Fala and James’ best friend, Dan, is believable and adds a touch of sweetness to the story. But I think my favorite character is the half-goblin half-human woman, Halfrid, who ultimately gives James the magical tool he needs to accomplish his goal and rescue his fiance. The action and battles are intense. The ending is satisfying. Anyone who loves adventure on the high sea mixed with fantasy and magic will enjoy this story as much as I did.

January #RRBC Spotlight Author – Mary Adler

It is my privilege and pleasure to help shine the spotlight on an incredibly supportive RRBC and RWISA author, Mary Adler. Today, she shares her thoughts on telling stories about real characters who lived and died. I’ll let her explain.

TELLING THEIR STORIES

When I am bogged down writing, when I can’t think of any words, let alone the right words—whatever they may be—I persist no matter how much I would like to quit. The driving force that propels me to sit in the chair day after day, to hit the keys even when I know I will scrap the hard-won scenes, is my need to bring to life the reality of forgotten people.

Don’t get me wrong. My first purpose when writing a mystery is to entertain, to surprise, to take the reader on a trip to another time and place and community. But the reason I write the Oliver Wright series is because I want my readers to know what it was really like to live in America during World War II, to hear the stories of the people who lived then.   

When I was full of doubt while writing my first Oliver Wright and Harley mystery, my friend Steve, who is psychic, encouraged me.  For more than one good and sufficient reason I believe he truly does communicate with the other side.  (But that is a story for another time.) He told me that they wanted me to tell their story. 

I assumed my relatives, Italians who had been discriminated during World War II, were clamoring to have their story told, but I was wrong.

Steve told me he saw a group of soldiers holding rifles, some standing, some kneeling.  It was the soldiers who wanted me to tell their story, to try to make people understand what it was like to surrounded by death, to watch their friends die day after day after day, and not have time to mourn.

Steve’s vision prompted me to write this passage in In the Shadow of Lies.

Oliver, a homicide detective on medical leave from the Marines, is back home and remembering what happened on Guam.

I was back in Pt. Richmond, but Guam was only as far away as the next night’s sleep. It wasn’t the memory of fighting, of being wounded, that tortured me. It was the memory of walking away from the endless graves, from the rifles stuck bayonet-down in freshly turned dirt. My men had buried too many friends, friends who had died beside them, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly they had begged their buddies to finish them off.

            Then the living had moved on­­­­—on to more killing. The war allowed no time to mourn, to grieve, to honor the death of a man they might have loved as deeply as they would ever love anyone. They moved on, they fought, they buried more men, they moved on — and no one could see they were drowning in unshed tears. 

            I had hidden my face when the hospital plane taxied down the runway on Guam. The medics expected me to be grateful that I was leaving the fighting, but grief filled my heart. I was leaving behind friends willing to sacrifice their own lives for each other and for their dogs. It was why they fought. Forget the pretty speeches about preserving democracy and freedom—they died for each other, killing and being killed to end the endless killing.

I can’t know if I have honored the soldiers in my friend’s vision in the way they wanted, but I believe they sent Oliver’s thoughts to me to share with my readers. I did my best.

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

End of Day by Mae Clair – Cover Reveal!

Book cover for End of Day, mystery/suspense novel by Mae Clair shows old dilapidated church with bell tower and a cemetery in the background overgrown with weeds

Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint

BLURB:
The past is never truly buried…

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?

As the descendants of those buried in the churchyard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

End of Day can be read as a stand-alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.

End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website & Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

 

Bio Box 8-27-2018 (1)

Amusement Park – 3

If you’ve just tuned in for this story, you can find segments 1 and 2 in my archives. I post a new episode every Sunday. This story is a writing exercise for me on two levels. I am writing it in first person (I hardly ever do that) and I am working on ways to make horrible things happen to my characters (which I struggle with.)

Last week, Mr. Parker had rounded up all the employees who were still in the park and organized a search for six-year-old Emily who seems to have disappeared off the roller coaster ride earlier. Her older sister, Jennifer, is panicked. She is responsible for her sister. Let’s head to the amusement park and see what’s going on.

***

I half-listened as Mr. Parker assigned each man a different area of the park to search.

Fear gnawed at my gut. Time was wasting. I had to do something.

Finally, he turned to me. “Jennifer, I know this is not what you want to do, but I need you to check at home and see if Emily might have gone back there. And bring your mother with you when you return.” He shoved a cell phone into my hands. “I’ll call you if we find her.”

I nodded and dashed out the gate. I ran like the wind to our two-story wood-frame house six blocks over. I suppose she could have gotten bored and walked home.

What would I tell Mr. Parker when I returned without our mother? Bitterness arose in my throat. I couldn’t even say the word without feeling angry and sick.

No real mother would take off with some strange man and leave her fourteen and six-year-old daughters to fend for themselves without so much as a fare-you-well. She’d been gone for over six months this time. It didn’t matter much that old lady Jobe lived in the house. At 93, she was blind and almost totally deaf. She depended on me to help her with the smallest of tasks. But, she paid her rent every month and that kept the lights on.

“Oh, Emmy, where are you?” This could get really messy. Attention was the one thing I’d managed to avoid until now. I couldn’t lose Emmy. I just couldn’t, and I wouldn’t let them put us off in some strange foster home.

If nothing else, the woman who called herself my mother had taught me to lie…and lie I would.

I reached the front door out of breath and shoved it open screaming. “Emily! Emily, are you here?”

Old lady Jobe stirred in her chair. I shook her and yelled in her ear. “Have you seen Emily?”

“Huh?” the old lady looked dazed and confused.

“Emily,” I repeated. “Has she been here?”

“I don’t think so, child. What’s wrong?”

It took less than two minutes for me to scour every room in the house. Emily wasn’t there.

Without another word, I ran back to the amusement park. Maybe they’d found her by now.

Oh, if only our papa hadn’t gotten killed. None of this would be happening. Tears flowed as I remembered his strong arms around me in the warmest bear hug. Had it already been two years? Emily barely remembered him. It was after that our mother quit caring about anything or anyone but herself. I didn’t mind that she’d left. I’d been taking care of everything anyway.

From that day forward, it fell on my shoulders to take care of Emily and now I’d failed.

I sprinted through the amusement park gates.

To Be Continued…

 

Amusement Park – Part 2

Last week I started a new story and introduced you to a young girl in a panic because she cannot find her little sister. We don’t know much about these two girls yet except they appear to be on their own without parents. The setting is a small amusement park. Let’s check in and they have found Emily.

***

A rough callused hand grabbed my arm. “Hey! Slow down there, girlie. Where’s the fire?” Mr. Simpson had been the grounds caretaker since the amusement park opened, and that must have been at least fifty years ago. He’d always spoken kindly to me. But, right now, I didn’t trust anyone. Rheumy eyes stared down at me.

Rheumy_eyes_at_91

My breath came in ragged gasps. “It’s my little sister, Mr. Simpson. I can’t find her.”

“There, there.” He patted the top of my head. “She has to be here somewhere. Maybe she fell asleep.”

“I’m afraid something happened to her. Maybe she fell out of a ride and hit her head or what if someone took her?” I choked back tears.

“No need to think the worst, Jenny girl. Let’s go talk to Mr. Parker.”

I nodded.

“Come on now,” he prodded me. “Runnin’ around here helter skelter ain’t gonna do you or her any good.”

The old man moved like cold molasses and I resisted the urge to scream. Time was wasting. My gut told me Emmy was in trouble. I always trusted my gut.

But, I matched my steps with his shuffling feet while my eyes darted right and left looking for any tell-tale sign of Emmy.

We finally reached the office and I rushed inside. Cool air relieved my flushed face.

Mr. Parker sat behind his computer pinching the bridge of his nose. He looked up with kindly blue eyes. “What is it, Jennifer? Is something wrong.”

“Oh, Mr. Parker,” I blurted. “I brought Emily to work with me today and kept an eye on her until right before closing when it got busy. Now I can find her anywhere.” I brushed tears away with the back of my hand.

He pushed his chair back and stood. “Otis, who’s still here?”

“I saw Darren, Tom, Mickey, and Bart a few minutes ago,” Mr. Simpson replied.

“Go gather them up. No one leaves until we find the girl.”

Mr. Simpson nodded and shuffled away.

“Don’t worry, honey. ”  Mr. Parker put a hand on my shoulder and steered me toward the door. “Now, where was the last place anyone saw her?”

I quickly told him everything I knew.

“No one goes home today until we find her,” he declared. “We’ll search every inch of this place.”

Nothing would stop my heart from pounding until we found Emmy safe and sound. I’d never considered any of the guys that worked there dangerous or possibly pedophiles.

Had I been wrong? What had I done to jeopardize the only blood kin I had left in the world? Oh, God! What had I let happen to Emmy?

Cusp of Night – New Release from Mae Clair

Hi, Jan! Many thanks for inviting me to your blog today. I have a new release I’m thoroughly jazzed to share with your readers. Cusp of Night is a mystery/suspense novel that weaves timelines of the present with those of the past. Dual timelines are becoming trendy in fiction today, a pattern I’m more than happy to embrace. As a reader I’m thoroughly besotted by the idea. As a writer, I found it challenging to undertake.

Writing a book with dual timelines means you’re not telling one tale, but two. That means two sets of characters and two plots.

In Cusp of Night I have a mystery involving an assault and a mysterious “creature” set in modern day. Running parallel to that story is another tied to a murderous creature and the Spiritualist movement of the late 1800s. Both mysteries have to dovetail into a tidy bow at the end.

Challenging? Yes! Enjoyable? Thoroughly!

I had a blast working on this novel and can’t wait for readers to discover it. My lead character in the present is Maya Sinclair, a woman who has recently relocated to the town of Hode’s Hill to accept a job as a reference librarian. Maya is readjusting to life after a near fatal accident that left her clinically dead for the span of two minutes and twenty-two seconds.

In the past, Lucy Strick, and aerialist in a seedy carnival is eking out a living, when a strange enigmatic man offers a proposal. This short excerpt—which sets the tone for her future—is the moment when they meet:

Vintage circus poster advertising a performance by the "amazing Blue Lady" of the air

May 1, 1897

“Hello. Have I come at a bad time?” A tall, thin man strode into Lucy Strick’s tent as if he were an invited guest.

“Who the hell are you?” She lurched from the stool in front of her small dressing table, knocking a pot of face paint to the floor. Damn. Where was Burt? The roughy was supposed to keep cretins away. May Day always brought a good take for the circus, but seedy folk showed up right along with the local farmers. Sodbusters, she could handle. Rubes in colors as drab as the earth they plowed, slow and simple as mules.

This man didn’t look anything like them—or the lechers who thought the entrance fee to her aerial act bought a free grope on the side. Put her visitor in an audience and he’d stand out like a sleek crow in a flock of cowbirds. Fancy frock coat, weathered face, hair and eyes as black as the coal her brothers dug from the Blind Boy Mine. Odd sort. He might have been as old as her pap or as young as Anton, the Strongman.

“You ain’t answered me.” She hadn’t liked people staring at her when she was a kid and wouldn’t tolerate it now. She wasn’t a freak, no matter what her kinfolk said. “Who are you?”

He didn’t hesitate. “A man who finds you extraordinary.”

“That so?” She snorted. Indelicately. “Well, that uppity accent don’t impress me none, so you best skedaddle ’fore I holler for Burt and have him bend you fifty ways backward. I ain’t unarmed, you know.” She groped through the silks, feathers, and tinted creams on her dressing table. “I got a knife.”

“I don’t. I’m not armed, dear lady.”

“Lady?” She’d never heard the word attached to the likes of her. Charmed, she shoved a curtain of black hair from her shoulder and eyed him openly. “You got a strange way of talking. I bet you’re a snoop, huh? This ain’t no fleece or racket joint, mister. Oliver’s Emporium and Traveling Show is on the up-and-up. Just ’cause we pull up stakes after a spell don’t mean—”

“You’re wasted here.”

She clamped her mouth shut. Even soaring through the air, the ground a death trap below, she remained in control. But this man threw her off balance with his bold comments. Dumb slug. Didn’t he realize what she was? Didn’t he have eyes?

“There ain’t nowheres else for me.” She’d known the truth every time her ma held her down and scrubbed her skin till it bled. Every time her pap cuffed her and called her Hades-spawned. When she was twelve, a preacher slathered her in whitewash while her pap watched stonily and her ma prayed for her deliverance. Lucy had run off that same night, stumbling over Ollie’s traveling circus two days later. She’d never regretted her decision in the eight years she’d called the carnival home.

Raising her chin, she stood her ground. “Ollie takes good care of me.”

“Yes. It must be gratifying to go from backwater town to backwater town, eking out a meager existence.” The man’s voice lowered, his cultured accent crisp with reproach. “Do you enjoy the way men leer at you? The barbs women toss behind your back, labeling you devil-witch and daughter of demons?”

Lucy stiffened. Pious folk were the worst. Hiding behind crosses and Bibles, as if the Good Lord loved her any less because of her appearance. Maybe Ollie traded on her unusual looks, but he treated her like family. Far more than her own blood kin.

“You need to leave.” She hated being reminded of what she was.

The man’s expression softened. “Child, I don’t see you as any of the ignoble names you have been called. I see you as special. Do not be ashamed of your exotic beauty.” Looming over her, he turned her fingers toward the light. The kindness in his voice almost made her believe she was attractive.

Until she looked at her hand and saw the same damning color that covered every inch of her body—blue.

Tears threatened her eyes. Crying was a weakness she hadn’t embraced in years.

“I see the pain on your face.” The man tightened his long fingers around her hand. “Memories of cruel taunts and unjust words. Leave here with me, and you will never be ashamed of your lovely blue skin again.”

Oh, to believe!

She stared into his eyes. There was something hypnotic about his gaze, the rich timbre of his voice. Even his touch spoke to her, his palm not smooth as she’d expected, but lined with callouses earned by a life on the road. “Who are you? What do you want?”

He smiled, his eyes flashing with lightning and promise.

“My name is Simon Glass. I want to make you famous.”

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae Cllair
BLURB
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Release date is June 12th
PRE-ORDER FROM ANY MAJOR BOOKSELLER HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair

 

Amusement Park – Part 1

Pixieland-Amusement-Park-Entrance

“Emily!” I yelled. “Emmy! It’s time to go home. Come on out wherever you are. The game’s over.”

She must be playing hide-and-seek with me like she did the other day in the grocery store. My patience was growing thin. I knew I shouldn’t have let her talk me into bringing her with me today. But, she begged and pleaded and said how much she hated staying with old lady Jobe on Saturdays while I tried to earn enough money to feed us.

Mr. Parker, the owner of Pixieland amusement park, had been generous enough to give me a job, even knowing I wasn’t old enough to work. Truth be told, I’m sure he felt sorry for me. Such a young girl on her own trying to take care of her little sister.

“Emmy! Where are you?” I looked under the empty chairs on the tilt-a-whirl then moved on to the carousel, sure she was hiding behind one of the horses or benches. She’d jump out any minute and yell “boo!” Then she’d giggle and I’d reprimand her for hiding and scaring me.

Sweat trickled down the back of my neck and my stomach growled. Funny how the atmosphere of the park changed when all the laughter from children was gone. I shivered in spite of the heat. Where was she? This game wasn’t funny anymore.

“Tom, have you seen my little sister anywhere?”

Tom methodically wiped down the safety bars on the rollercoaster. He was an odd man, tall and thin with a full beard and black mustache that curled at the sides of his mouth. He had a habit of chewing on it. Mr. Parker seemed to collect strays.

He never looked up. “Saw her get on the roller coaster.”

“Okay,” I said. “Did you see where she went when she got off?”

“Nope.” He paused and sprayed Lysol on a rag. “Didn’t get off.”

My heart pounded. “What do you mean she didn’t get off? She’s only six years old. She couldn’t just jump off. Are you sure she got on it?”

Tom nodded. “Yep. I’m sure. Wasn’t on it when it came back around.”

My hands shook. “And you didn’t bother to say anything to me? She could be hurt or…”

I couldn’t even say the words.

I took off running. The soles of my shoes pounded against the planks beside the Wooden Warrior keeping rhythm with my heart. “Emily,” I screamed. “Emmy! Where are you?”

wooden-warrior-roller

Thanks for tuning for the first episode of “Amusement Park.” I’ll put up a new segment every Sunday.

 

The Alternative by S. Burke – Cover Reveal!

 

Hello, and welcome to the Cover Reveal of my New Thriller Anthology

“The Alternative”

The ALTERNATIVE BANNER HEADLINE FOR COVER REVEAL BEST

The Alternative

The Alternative
by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW.
Release Date: Monday June 18th 2018
Mystery> Thriller & Suspense > Anthology.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “The Alternative”

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “The Alternative” my latest Thriller Anthology. “The Alternative ” is due for release on June 18th.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to everyone participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

Presenting “The Alternative” A Thriller Anthology.

“The Alternative”

THE ALTERNATIVE COVER IN HIGH RESOLUTION BEST

BLURB:

The Alternative.

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

An excerpt from Chapter 1. Picasso.

February 1990.

The tall man stretched his arms and flexed his long artistic fingers. He stood back to gain a different perspective of his latest work of art. He’d spent a great deal of time sketching his outline and was well satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps this one would be the perfection he craved above all else.

His other efforts were upstairs in the gallery, and while they were far from his lofty imaginings, they each represented another step forward toward his ultimate goal. He knew this exhibition would prompt worldwide interest, that was a given. His reputation was on the line. That at least was something he valued.

He grunted and moved the newest piece into the workroom. The more difficult application of his talent needed to begin.

***

NEW YORK JULY 2015

Meredith keyed in her code, shouldered the door open and dropped her briefcase onto the polished boards of the entry. Working on autopilot, she flicked on the light and bent to collect the mail from the floor; throwing it onto the small bureau without bothering to check the sender. She shrugged off her coat and draped it over the arm of the sofa. Too damned weary to be bothered with any external interruptions tonight, she removed the home phone from its cradle and headed to the kitchen to fix enough coffee to sustain the long evening ahead, deliberately ignoring the well-stocked bar. She was well aware that she’d need every bit of concentration she could muster. She removed the Glock from her handbag, and out of habit, she placed it on the coffee table next to the perpetually full ashtray.

Her head was already pounding and she rubbed at her tense neck muscles until her fingers ached. Relief from the unresolved tension still hovered … just out of reach. She held her breath for a moment, stilling her impatience. If all went to plan, this thing would be finally ended. If justice existed at all, it would go well. All the years she’d worked to bring what was the only course left open to herself and the others to completion was coming. ‘Soon now’, was her daily mantra. But the darker visions still danced vividly in her mind’s eye and tormented her rare sleeping hours … it had been that way for almost twenty-five years.

The memory haunted her, dark and unforgivingly brutal. It replayed in clear and explicit detail every time she was forced to reflect on it … and its aftermath.

***

THE ALTERNATIVE IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

“The Alternative” on AMAZON.COM

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