I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and Wild Rose Press. Opinions expressed are solely my own.
Jake Fontaine, a Texas Ranger, is hot on the trail of the vicious outlaw, Grizzly Duvall, when everything goes wrong.
Kat Collins is hellbent on escaping from her abusive uncle when she witnesses the ambush that will end the lawman’s life. She makes a rash decision to fire at the attackers and her actions save him.
Now, Jake is obligated. But because she’s dressed like a boy, he doesn’t realize she’s a woman until her hat falls off and her braid tumbles out. His Texas code of ethics won’t allow him to leave a woman alone in the wilds of Kansas. Frustrated that this new turn of events causes him to lose the outlaw he is so determined to capture, he offers to accompany her to the ferry that will take her across the river to St. Louis.
Kat is strongly independent. She needs no one. She will make it to St. Louis and start a new life as a seamstress. So, when Jake insists on accompanying her, she makes it clear she does not need his help.
Thus begins a tumultuous relationship. Each struggles to deny any attraction they feel.
Things go sideways when Kat’s uncle catches up to the pair and forces Jake to marry her. After all her uncle is a judge and the marriage is legal and binding. For me, this part of the story was not believable. That a man would go to all the trouble to track down his niece, then not force her to return with him seemed a little far-fetched.
But now they’re married and when one night of passion brings them together, maybe they are going to work out their differences after all.
Not the case. While Jake is sleeping, Kat sneaks away, taking his horse with her.
Throughout the rest of the story, Kat is running and Jake is pursuing and each time they meet up, their relationship switches from cold to hot in seconds.
The story ramps up when Jake’s grandfather goes to St. Louis to find Kat and get her out of his grandson’s life forever. But instead, in five short weeks, he falls in love with the woman who has given birth to his great-granddaughter and on his dying bed, wills the ranch in Texas to her.
Now things get really complicated. Jake is betrothed to another. He has no idea he has a daughter.
He and Kat are like oil and water. I grew a little frustrated with both of them at different times during the story when they lied to each other and danced around the truth over and over.
However, the story does culminate into an action-filled shoot-out and happy ending.
If not for the frustration I felt while reading the story, and a couple of plot twists that were not believable, this would be a five-star read for me. However, I give it a four-star rating.
If you enjoy westerns, and tumultuous romances, you would enjoy this story.
Thank you for hosting me today, Jan. There’s a lot to be said for crossing the pond “on a magic carpet” in these difficult times. I’m here to launch my first crime thriller, Shattered Lives, and the first thing I want to say is it is true escapism. I’ve ignored Covid19 – in the book! I am double-jabbed, and crossing my fingers, in reality.
Escapism with a serial killer? Maybe. This is a five-star Amazon review.
Callianne: A Very Different “Killer-Thriller”!
I loved the way the first murder happened right at the start, though it’s scary being inside the mind of a psychopath. Shattered Lives has a complex plot, and knowing who the killer was, and his real target made it truly enthralling.
Ralph Thyme, an addicted gambler, and his wealthy grandmother’s only acknowledged heir, discovers he has an elder sister, Olivia, who was sold at birth. Suppose Olivia discovers her true identity and claims half the inheritance he craves? How far will he go to eliminate the threat?
Olivia escaped childhood sexual abuse. Despite horrific memories, nightmares, and fear, she is determined to save a stranger’s little girl from the same fate, and the solution she offers takes all her courage… and then some.
DCI Croft investigates a heinous case of rape, murder, and mutilation. Next to die, are a private detective and his pretty daughter… and then another woman… and another. Can DCI Croft identify and capture a psychopathic killer hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stands in his way before he murders his sister… or is it already too late for Olivia?
Excerpt featuring the serial killer.
Ralph was bored and frustrated; Sykes Gambling Club was closed for the installation of new machines, and he had problems to solve before he killed again. He wandered out into the garden. It would all be his soon, and when it was, he’d have a fully-glazed shelter built at the highest point – what the fuck were two of the gardeners doing?
‘Hold it higher than that, Lofty.’
‘Sod yer, I kent ’elp bein’ short. What’s this ’ere trellis for anyroad? This ’ere fence ’ides the rubbish bins from the windas.’
‘It’s a new support to train Sweet Pea plants. Dame Edith likes the flowers for the house.’
‘In autumn? Pull t’other one.’
‘Lift up, blast it, and keep it still while I tie it in place.’
He stopped listening. If Ralph Thyme wanted to keep a girl’s wrists together, those ties would do the trick. He approached quietly and grabbed a handful. If the men ran out, so what? Grandmother wasn’t coming home to stink the place out with flowers.
Back indoors, smugness faded. He’d seen how the ties were used, but he hadn’t expected them to be so stiff. No woman would hold her wrists together and wait! Then there was the hooker who’d screamed. Suppose one of the slags in the flat below had taken a night off and heard her? Would a scarf make a good gag? November had arrived with cold winds, so a woman wouldn’t be spooked by him wearing one. He pulled a selection out of his drawer. How much sound would penetrate cashmere? Was wool the best material? He opened drawers where some of Grandmother’s clothes were still stored. Useless female colours… except one.
Kicking his bedroom door closed, he scowled. He still didn’t know which to choose. He could try it on himself and bellow loudly – and have Mrs. Sharnbrook overhear if it didn’t work and send men to disable a mythical attacker? He could wait until she went out…
Mrs. Sharnbrook shopped personally sometimes, but the house was never empty and choosing an innocent item that worked as a gag was urgent. His cock gave him no peace and his hands itched to kill. He was holding scarves against the light to assess their density when Candice walked in with coffee.
‘Shall I ask Auntie to turn up the radiator thingy, sir?’
Trust Candice not to remember it was called a thermostat. The half-wit would forget him experimenting on her with scarves; if she did and said anything, nobody would believe her. It was risky, putting his hands near that long slender neck.
‘Sir, I could light the fire.’
Drivel, drivel! It was her life on the line unless he got satisfaction elsewhere. ‘I’m not cold now, Candice. I’m trying to decide which scarf is the warmest for when I go out.’
‘They all look warm, sir. I haven’t got a scarf, but I only go to the bins with rubbish.’
‘You shall choose one of mine if you help me with an experiment, Candice.’
‘Ooh, yes, sir. What’s an experiment?’
‘A way of –’ she wouldn’t understand “establishing facts” – ‘finding out something. If I tie a scarf over your mouth, and you shout, I’ll know which one is the thickest.’
Candice still looked baffled. ‘Yes, sir.’
The first two scarves allowed him to hear “is that right, sir”. He said nothing, so she was sure to have shouted louder, and the third scarf smothered her words. ‘Well done, Candice. Now, which scarf would you like?’
She pointed at the purple one that belonged to Grandmother. ‘That one, please, sir.’
It wouldn’t be missed by its owner, but it might be noticed. ‘Tell Auntie that Dame Edith said I could give it to you, or you’ll be in trouble.’
Candice shivered. ‘Yes, sir, I will.’
The half-wit feared Auntie, but silence from a victim was assured. Using the ties must be done quickly, and he had a girl here to practise on, but he’d already rewarded her. ‘Candice, do you have nice warm gloves?’
‘No, sir. My hands get sore every winter.’
‘I could buy you a pair, but I’d need to know the right size and… and not everyone’s wrists are a pair.’
‘A pair, sir?’
God, this was difficult. ‘Hold out both hands close together.’
‘Like this, sir?’
‘Perfect, Candice. Now, keep very still while I use my special measuring gadget.’ It took him far too long to wrap it around her wrists and slip the pointed end into the hole. ‘Ah! I need to practise, or the gloves might not fit.’
‘It’s a queer looking thing, sir. Will it hurt if it gets tighter?’
‘I suppose it might, but I won’t let it.’ At his sixth attempt, he applied one in a few seconds, and it locked. ‘Got it!’
‘Got what, sir?’
He pressed the tab and released her. ‘The correct size for your gloves.’
It was dark when he strolled down the steep hill to Garton North underground station debating whether to get off a train at a stop in Garton Central or travel on to Garton South. The second was where he’d found hookers, but he wanted a woman the Garton Gazette would write articles about, and half their readers probably thought hookers deserved anything they got, so another murdered would only get mentioned to up the victim count.
Amongst the crowd emerging from the station was a girl wearing a fur coat with a matching hat and gloves, and high-heeled shoes. Blonde hair flowed from beneath the hat and over her collar. She was perfect, and she was alone. Any second, a husband or father would arrive to pick her up; she was hovering almost on the kerb looking to her left.
He pretended to light a cigarette. She waited, tapping now and then at a mobile she produced from her handbag.
Another crowd of passengers swarmed from the station and took the waiting taxies. The girl stamped a foot, thrust the mobile into her pocket, and set off at a brisk walk. He followed, keeping to the opposite side of the road and watching for a darkened shop doorway deep enough to hide them both.
Five-Star Readers’ Favorite Review by Anne-Marie Reynolds
Shattered Lives by Sarah Stuart is a fascinating thriller that delves deep into two storylines: the mind of a psychopath and that of a sexual abuse survivor who must save another from the same fate to heal herself. It isn’t a story for younger readers or the faint-hearted: child sexual abuse, necrophilia, and graphic violence are just part of the substantial subject matter. This story delves into how a psychopath functions and what makes them tick, leading you down some dark paths through a truly twisted mind. It also guides you on a journey of discovery through the eyes of a child sex abuse survivor, more dark paths that eventually lead to the light. Shattered Lives is a gripping tale that will hold your heart in a vise while you read it, and it will have you turning the pages deep into the night.
I am super excited to share a new-to-me author with you. Jean Grant has a trilogy set in Scotland in the 1200 and 1300s. I am intrigued by anything related to Scotland and Ireland, so these books grabbed my attention.
I’ll let Jean tell you about them.
Thank you, Jan, for letting me come on your blog today and talk about this trilogy.
The MacCoinneach family is gifted but afflicted. Deeply rooted powers of healing, feeling, and prophecy run in their bloodline. Descended from the Norse and mystical Ancients of the Isles, they must each face the curses associated with their ability…they must each find the path to love.
Gwyn of Uist is a merciful Healer but loses breaths of her life with every healing charm. She barters an alliance with a Scot bent on revenge against her Norse kin, in the hopes to save her brother from their abusive father. But can she and Simon MacCoinneach outwit her betrothed and bring an end to the Norse-Scottish bloodshed when it will take all her breaths to save Simon on the battlefield?
Deirdre MacCoinneach feels the lifebloods of everyone around her…but vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Under the facade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A cruel baron hunts him, leaving little room for alliances with the lass he meets along the way. Amidst ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses…
Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her and she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. Rosalie finds refuge in the halls of Eilean Donan castle deep in the Highlands, and in the arms of the laird’s mysterious son, Domhnall Montgomerie. Terrible visions plague Domhnall and he avoids physical contact to temper them. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight. Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even if it means exposing her lies?
Norse invasions, Scottish fights for independence, and the plights of the mystical isles’ people come together in The Hundred Trilogy.
What seemed ages ago, but in the grand scheme of life, only about 6 or 7 years ago, I sat down to write another manuscript. With three “practice” novels written but shelved, I dug into a new story. I changed my time period from 12th to 13th century during the Scottish Wars of Independence, wove a mystical element into the storyline, and on some invaluable advice of an agent, worked the heck out of that story to give it twists and turns to excite me, the reader. In 2017, A Hundred Kisses was born with the publishing house The Wild Rose Press.
The backstory of the heroine’s parents nagged at me. And guess what? When I looked at the history thirty years prior to the first book (which was 1296, and I looked back to 1263), lo and behold, it was a time rife with Norse-Scottish turmoil. The end of the Viking reign to boot. That story came forth in a flurry, and I found myself contemplating the third book in what was now becoming a trilogy. A Hundred Breaths (the prequel, and book one) released in 2019. Fast-forward to 1322, a time after the Scottish Wars of Independence, and A Hundred Lies was born, wrapping up my trilogy.
Each story is a standalone but can be read in or out of order. Each story tells a tale of a MacCoinneach family member “gifted but afflicted” with a mystical ability that comes at a cost: to heal but lose your own breaths in return, to feel auras/lifebloods but to feel others’ pain, and to see the future but to be unable to prevent the visions unless refraining from touch. Conquering Norse, Scottish lore, Ancient mystics, and invading English…the trilogy has a bit of everything. Can our mystical family hone their gifts for good, escape curses, discover mercy, find a home, and find love?
Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.
It is with great pleasure that I host a fellow Story Empire author today on my blog with her newest book release! D.L. Finn is not only a talented writer but an inspired one. I’ll let her tell you about her newest creation!
I’ve lived in the forest for thirty-one years. A couple of years ago, I had an experience that I shared through my poetry.
It was a beautiful mountain morning, and I was enjoying the warm sun while standing on our deck. I took that moment to appreciate my surroundings when I heard a sound. My first thought was it was a radio or someone singing. Puzzled, I looked around to see where this was coming from.
I quickly established it wasn’t the usual music my husband played in our garage, and it wasn’t from the other homes nestled in the woods. The hum was coming from below where I was standing. My attention was drawn toward a patch of orange flowers where the perfectly pitched “La-la-la” floated to me. Then, a bee flew away, and the song stopped.
In that moment I was positive a bee had just sung to me, and then later I wondered if an angel had been present. I never knew what I had experienced that day, other than something special had just happened.
When I started working on Tree Fairies, a knowing flowed through me. It hadn’t been a bee or an angel like I first thought singing—it was a fairy! The fairies wanted their tale told, and magic visited that day to remind my inner child of that.
Fun Finn Facts
1. I believe magic and miracles exist. They communicate with our souls.
2. I’ve selected the path to happiness instead of collecting “things.”
When reality and magic meet in the forest
It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy.
Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.
Roselle stopped midair to admire the pink, orange, yellow, purple, and red that filtered through the redwood forest as the sunset. She carefully scanned the area to make sure no one was watching, and then, with a huge grin, she dove into a double roll.
Her twirling skidded to a halt when an older fairy from the school office flew directly under her. Her always-braided gray hair had yellow flowers woven in like she was meeting someone special. The fairy made a sharp turn and shot out of sight without acknowledging Roselle’s childish frolicking.
Roselle couldn’t hold back a smile. It was hard to contain her exuberance because the forest was the best place to live. Everything about the redwood trees was amazing. They made tannin, a natural insect repellent that gave them that wonderful red tone and protected them from fires.
The only downside to a smaller number of insects was fewer birds, which she loved the most. The bright yellow Wilson’s warbler was her favorite. They added so much color to the deep green forest, and the male had a little black cap that she found endearing. Right now, her warblers and many others were on their way south as fall left summer behind, which also meant they would have winter bird visitors soon.
She found the year-round birds, the great horned owl and red-tailed hawk, beautiful but annoying. Those birds could ruin a peaceful moment like this. Both seemed to forget fairies weren’t their meals. Roselle reminded them with a powerful jolt that felt like a mini lightning strike. It didn’t hurt them, but they didn’t like it, either.
Her carefree moment quickly passed when she flew by her school. She sighed deeply and headed for the forest floor. “Darn paper’s due tomorrow. Why did I wait to write it?”
The paper stood between her and the upcoming fall break. It was normally a time when she could roam the forest uninterrupted and take in the deciduous trees as they burst into red, orange, and yellow. However, this break wouldn’t be the same without her human friends, Wren and Sierra. Roselle missed their company and all their silly jokes, including the ones about her putting off getting things done.
Sierra would say, “If they had an award for procrastination, you’d win first place.”
Wren would add, “But you’d be late and miss the ceremony.”
Okay, maybe she did put things off until the last moment and might be late for school now and then, but at least, at some point, it all got done. When Wren and Sierra left for college two months ago, it was like she lost a part of herself.
D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.
I am super excited about the new release from my fellow Story Empire writer, Joan Hall! I can’t wait to read this one as I loved the prequel! But I’ll let Joan tell you about it.
Thank you, Jan. I’m excited to be here to talk about my newest release. Cold Dark Night is the first novel of my Legends of Madeira series. Each book begins with a historical event that ties to modern-day. Today I’m going to talk about the musical inspiration behind the book.
I like silence when I’m writing, but music often inspires me to write. Cold Dark Night was partially inspired by a song. Growing up in a music-loving family with a brother twelve years my senior made me appreciate the song of the sixties as much as (maybe more) than those of “my time,” the 1970s.
One of the albums my brother often listened to was The Band’s first solo album, Music From Big Pink. Among the songs that stood out for me was “Long Black Veil.” The idea of someone singing from the grave about his own death intrigued me. First recorded in 1959 by Lefty Frizzell, several artists have recorded the song, but The Band’s version has always been my favorite.
“Long Black Veil” inspired the opening chapters of Cold Dark Night. The circumstances between my character Adam McLaury and the person in the song differ somewhat, but those familiar with the words will recognize some similarities.
In the following passage, Lillian McLaury visits her husband in jail. He’s awaiting execution for murdering a man on the streets of Madeira.
“I’m not sure I even want to live if you’re gone.” Lillian hung her head.
“Don’t talk like that. Isaac needs you. So does our unborn baby. You’re still young. Much too young to pine away. Someday you might meet someone else. If you do, it’s okay. And one day, in another life, we’ll be together again.”
She straightened, then wiped the tears from her eyes. “You believe that?”
“Of course, I do. I’m prepared to die. I can go to my grave with a clear conscience, knowing I’ve done nothing wrong. There’s one other thing I ask of you.”
“What is it?”
“Find the person responsible. See to it justice is served.”
“I promise to do everything I can.”
“That’s all I ask. And don’t give up. I’m still holding out for a miracle.”
But three days later, Sheriff Bass walked Adam to the gallows to die for the murder of William Skinner.
At the bottom of the steps, Ethan stopped. Scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m sorry, Adam. I truly hoped someone would come forth with evidence implicating the real killer. I know you’re innocent. Don’t need proof, but—”
“You were doing your job. I understand.”
The hangman stood at the top of the gallows. His no-nonsense demeanor had been the subject of several conversations among Madeira’s residents. Many of them thought him to be unfriendly. He motioned toward the crowd. “Come along, Sheriff. Can’t keep these good folks waiting. It’s time to get this over with.”
“Then, you do it. I did my job bringing him here. I’ll have no further part in it. I believe this man is innocent, and I’m washing my hands of his blood.”
And Pontius Pilate said similar words when he handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Adam nodded to his executioner as he ascended the steps on his own. Divine intervention hadn’t come. His knees buckled as he looked at the rope that would soon be placed around his neck.
Reverend Potts, the local minister, rushed to his side to steady him. Compassion shown in the older man’s eyes.
The hangman showed no sympathy. He took Adam by the arm, led him behind the noose, then placed it loosely around his neck.
Adam scanned the crowd. Entire families had turned out for the event. Some sat together in buggies, while others stood on the courthouse lawn. Children laughed and played, as if blissfully aware of what was about to happen. One small girl peered around her mother’s skirts, her eyes wide. A teenage boy peddled refreshments.
Why would anyone allow a small child to see something like this? There had been hangings in Madeira before, none of which he’d cared to attend. He wouldn’t bring his wife, much less his son. But many people acted as if hangings were a source of entertainment.
At last, he saw Lillian. She stood near the back, ramrod straight, not shedding any tears. Maybe she’d cried all she could cry. Perhaps she’d taken his advice to be strong.
The crowd began to sing “Amazing Grace.” When the song ended, Reverend Potts asked, “Do you have any last requests?”
“Look after Lillian, will you?”
The older man nodded. “Of course, my son.”
Adam met Lillian’s eyes again as she mouthed the words, “I love you.”
Her face was the last thing he saw before the hangman pulled the hood over his face. He would go to eternity confident in Lillian’s unwavering love for him.
Thanks again for hosting me, Jan. Cold Dark Night is available on Amazon. It’s on sale for .99 through June 15. After that, the price goes to $3.99, so this is a good time for readers to grab a copy.
New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.
Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.
But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s history, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.
Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, her husband will be the next to die.
Seven women have disappeared from bars only to be found murdered after asking for an Angel Shot. Detective Rick McCoy is handed the case after returning from leave following his wife’s horrific ordeal at the hands of the serial killer, PPP. Criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes lost her husband to the same killer and when her current partner makes her life miserable she jumps at the chance to work with Rick again. When they determine a man currently jailed for the crimes could not have committed them the mystery deepens.
But that is the least of Rick’s worries. An imaginary alter ego appears warning him his wife is suicidal. Will they be able to solve the riddle of the Angel Shot before another victim loses her life and save his wife from taking hers?
Two favorite passages:
“You have been busy, haven’t you? Thanks for interceding on my behalf. The thing is, I’ve been thinking of giving everything up and going back to lecturing. Besides, I won’t work with Pepperdick again, and apparently, all the other sergeants think I’m a liability and won’t partner with me.” She took another drink and looked back out of the window, blinking rapidly.
“Pat, you know as well as I do most cops are a superstitious lot. All you need is one more good investigation, one where you don’t get shot or stabbed, and there would be a long line of guys who would want you as their partner. Do you think if you had another chance, you could get through a whole case and not get wounded or slap your boss?”
She had been swallowing and choked as she laughed at his humor. “Depending who my boss would be, I could try,” she offered when she recovered, then turned her serious gaze on Rick’s.
“Yep. So, show me what you’ve got. Let’s say Brandon is not our killer. Have you got enough to profile who is?”
Pat made a pantomime of patting her pockets and looking around her, including under her chair. “What are you doing, Pat?” he asked, though he suspected what her answer would be.
“Oh, I was just looking for my magic wand; I thought I left it lying around here somewhere.”
They both laughed for a moment, and Rick’s heart swelled. They fitted together so perfectly. He shrugged, forcing the feelings down, which he had been doing with Pat for a long time.
“I don’t have much, Rick, but here are some thoughts.” She paused, composing her ideas. “People generally think rape is about having sex, yet we know often it’s not. That is the result, yes, but the cause is more about control, or even to some extent, sadism. Sometimes the rapist cannot achieve orgasm, which makes him more violent, so, we can postulate sex may not be a motivating factor; cruelty is. So, that’s the first point to consider. Second, not only was Ingrid Stapleton brutalized, but then strangled. Strangulation is a very hard, upfront, and personal way of murdering someone. Sometimes we see it in a case of domestic violence, where the killer is angry with someone else to the point of losing control. So, we can draw from that the man was angry with Ingrid, but why? On the face of it, Brandon O’Toole fits that description, he was rejected by her, and that could cause uncontrollable rage, rage enough to strangle, yes, but, in that case, not rape, do you see what I mean?”
Rick nodded slowly. “Yes, I think I do. If we are assuming O’Toole didn’t take Ingrid, then maybe the killer watched her in the bar, perhaps witnessed Ingrid’s altercation with O’Toole, and tried to rescue her. Possibly, he comforted Ingrid after O’Toole left and because he fancied her that could explain the Rohypnol and subsequent sexual assault. But why kill her by strangulation?”
Her brown-eyed gaze bored into his. “Rick, I think we are looking for someone in part with severe issues of anger and hatred toward women, yet in another way, he has a natural desire for them too. He couldn’t let her go because she would identify him. This man could have some sort of dissociative disorder, or dare I say even possible multiple disorder syndrome, and if that’s the case….”
“He’s killed before, or after. Jesus, Pat, you’re saying this could be a serial killer who got away with murder?”
Why did you write a Glimpse 4, wasn’t it meant to be a trilogy?
Well, yes, originally this was to be THREE deadly glimpses. I wanted to tell a story of inappropriate workplace desires and the effect on four people during three murder investigations of three different serial killers. I think in the same way good actors like a mini-series to be able to really portray a character, I wanted three books to tell the story with all the nuances two married people would feel who were attracted to each other. I believe I did tell that tale to the best of my ability, but after book 3, Glimpse, The Tender Killer was published, a groundswell of public and reader opinion made itself known by way of emails…..It seemed my readers, including my narrator, and editor wanted to know what happened to my characters next. Quite frankly, I was stunned by the response
I was genuinely flattered, but as a writer, I had ‘moved on’ and had other projects I was working on such as Winter at the Light, and a full re-write of Domin8, yet the calls for more continued. I truthfully never expected that, and was deeply moved that my characters struck such a chord with readers. But, still the ethos of the Glimpse series was to take the reader inside the minds of three separate serial killers and show why they were the they were, so to create a fourth instalment would require another killer, and that wasn’t so easy to do.
I am deeply fascinated by all things psychology, and in particular, what circumstances create the triggers which cause some people’s minds to fracture and create a serial killer. In Glimpse, The Angel Shot I use 3 quotes from one of America’s worst serial murderers, Ted Bundy, to give an indication how these types of people think:
“Murder is not about lust, and it’s not about violence. It’s about possession.”
“We serial killers are your sons; we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”
“What’s one less person on the face of the earth, anyway?”
For me, this is not only some of the most chilling words I have ever read, but deeply, and yes morbidly, interesting. So, for me to create another serial murderer for Patricia Holmes to profile, wasn’t easy, and it took some time to come up with the answer. My wife inadvertently came to my rescue when we were out one night at a social function and she said to me when she returned to the table, “You’ll never guess what is written on the back of the lady’s toilet door.” I looked up and joked, “Jeez, I hope it’s not my phone number advertising for a good time.”
Obviously, she is used to my warped sense of humor, and gave me a withering stare, until I asked her, “No, darling, what is on the back of the door?”
Her answer was like a bolt of lightning hitting me, and my two all-time favorite words came to mind: “What if…”
My loving wife gave me all I needed to create a man so troubled by his dysfunctional marriage he wants to rape and murder vulnerable women when they asked for help to be rescued from a troublesome date.
One thing about me readers may find interesting:
I am fascinated by how the human mind can fracture and have a tremendous respect for psychologists, and psychiatrists who try to help patients put the pieces back together. A good friend, and his wife are both prominent psychologists, and my daughter has degrees in criminal psychology and justice. I often wish I had studied the subject myself, but at that age I was far more interested in rock music, free love, illegal substances, and telling stories. The Glimpse series is named that because in each book I try to offer the reader a look into the killer’s mind set, and offer an answer to the question most people want answering; why.
One thing about Glimpse 4 I think readers will find interesting:
A character named Jolly appears in Glimpse, the Tender Killer as the evil alter-ego of the schizophrenic serial killer, Bobby Cornhill, whom the media nickname, The Biblical Killer, because of the religious quotes written in blood on the victim’s walls. I received a lot of emails from readers demanding not only to bring him back, but asking the question, was Jolly a real entity or just a figment of Cornhill’s very troubled mind. While I loved creating this character, I was stunned that readers wanted more, and in Glimpse, the Angel Shot, Jolly features a lot more. This time one of the main protagonists, Rick McCoy sees, and talks to Jollly. The question again is: Is Jolly real, or is Rick slowly going insane?
Who is Jolly?
I am genuinely staggered by the number of readers who wanted to know more about my character, Jolly. I wanted the reader to wonder, is Jolly real, or just a figment of a very troubled mind? And boy, did they.
I loved Jolly, and felt I was crossing the border into the supernatural, as if I was writing like my more famous namesake. I put a lot of effort into making Jolly feel real to not only the murderer, but make the reader ask that question, is he somehow real and chooses who he appears to?
I had so many requests, when I sat down to write Book 4, The Angel Shot, I knew I had to bring Jolly back, and, I did with a vengeance. The hairs on the back of my neck still tingle when I read about Jolly, and I know what happens next! I hope those readers who wanted to see him again are satisfied, and they can finally decide if he is just imaginary, or somehow, a sentient character who chooses who he will appear to, and influence. How could he appear to Bobby and make him murder liars in an internet chat room, yet confront Rick McCoy and offer a lifeline to save Juliet, his wife? And, then, when Jolly appears to Juliet and offers a way to find solace, and help to keep her sanity, is he helping, or hindering her recovery?
Suffice to say, my beta readers, my editor and narrator, enjoy the juxtaposition that Jolly creates. While Rick worries, he is losing his mind, supposedly, all Jolly wants to do is save his wife’s sanity, and life.
Could such a thing actually happen? As Pat says to Rick when he finally admits to her he is seeing Jolly “We all need help at different times in our lives, sometimes more than others. Often, speaking about what is inside us helps our fears and anxieties dissipate by bringing them into the open and letting you examine them in the cold light of day. I can see Jolly seems real to you, which of course, he would, wouldn’t he? If it weren’t so real, you’d shrug it off and laugh. A psychosis, no matter how severe, is always real to the person experiencing it. It should never be shrugged off, laughed at, or ignored for that matter. You’ve been under more stress than anyone should have to bear, I’d be amazed if you didn’t come through it without some, shall we say, quirks. It doesn’t mean you’re mad or need locking up or can’t function as you are. But I think the first step for you is to understand why this is happening. Guilt is one of the most powerful motivators there is, and I think once you accept that, work with it instead of trying to fight it, you will see Jolly less and less.
Will Jolly appear in a future story?
Hmm, I am honestly not sure. From my perspective, he is a wonderful, rich character to write for. Intelligent, deep, and he keeps quoting the bible to suit any given situation. So, maybe he will. I’m not saying Jolly is appearing to me, but I sometimes, in the still of the night, hear him whispering to: “Stephen, bring me back…”
I have been asked many times, will there be more Glimpse stories?
During writing Glimpse, The Angel Shot, I believed it was to be a standalone story, and a finale for my characters, Rick, Pat, and Juliet. But, I am frequently reminded of the James Bond quote, “Never say never!”
In fact, there is now a Glimpse 5, called Glimpse, The Dinner Guest, released 13th of November 2020. This is a special project I was invited to submit a story to, and I was humbled to be selected. Me? an ego? Nah, surely not.
The rules seemed simple and interesting enough. 13 authors each publishing a dark thriller, of only 13000 words. It must feature a broken mirror, and use the words, Friday the 13th. I jumped at the chance to make my favorite all time character, Patricia Holmes take a starring role in a scary, stand-alone story, without her protector Rick McCoy to ensure she doesn’t get hurt again.
Here is the blurb:
Detective Sargent and clinical psychologist, Patricia Holmes, has been invited to a murder mystery dinner party at a small luxury hotel located in Western Australia. The dinner is a reunion party for the psychologists and psychiatrists who work at Perth’s largest mental hospital, which treats the criminally insane.
But there is an uninvited guest–a former patient who is hungry for revenge. In fact, he is ravenous. He will stop at nothing until he murders the doctor who gave him painful, electroconvulsive therapy.
Detective Sargent Holmes must stop a frenzied killer on a vicious spree—but can she save the other guests, or will she be the last one left alive?
Here is a short excerpt:
Pat knocked on the door of number ten and hoped she had caught Ruth before she went downstairs to the bar. From inside, she heard a muffled woman’s voice. “Can you get that, Tony,” The next moment, the door was yanked open, and a tall distinguished looking man wearing a tuxedo performed a double take when he saw her.
“Jesus Christ, are you all right?” he said with concern in his voice, and Pat realized the effect her slashed and bloody top had on him.
Pat gave a small laugh, which, when she glanced again at his face, grew louder, and threatened to become hysterical. “I’m fine, thank you. Dress scary, the invite said, so I did. I’ve got to say; your tuxedo isn’t scary at all. I’m Patricia Holmes and would like to have a few words with Ruth, if I can, before festivities get underway.”
He grinned and stepped back, beckoning with his head for her to enter. “Yeah, we don’t do fancy dress-ups, sorry. We’re far too dull in our old age. Come in. Ruth is applying her make up with a trowel. I’m Tony. I don’t think we’ve met?”
“Thanks, Tony, please call me Pat, everyone does. I left Graylands quite a while ago now, and even when I was there, I was only part-time. I consulted to the criminally insane, the lifers, worst of the worst. By all means, call me morbid. These days, I’m with the police.”
He pointed to the chair by the desk for her to sit then turned his head to the bathroom. “Hon, it’s Patricia Holmes. She wants a word with you before we go downstairs. Do you want me to hang around, or can I go down and mingle?”
Ruth Hawthorne stuck her head around the doorway with a lipstick clutched in her right hand. “Hello, Pat, bloody long time no see, how are you doing?” She turned her glance to her husband, “You can leave us girls. We can go down together. Is that all right, Pat? My God, I love your outfit.”
“Thanks, Ruth. I thought I’d have a bit of fun. Going down together works for me. I need a private chat anyway…”
“Sounds ominous. You get off, Tony. Pat joined the dark side and is with the police now, but I don’t think she is here to arrest me.”
Pat shook her head and smiled as Ruth disappeared back into the bathroom. Pat sat down on the seat to wait, and Tony acted like most people do around detectives; nervous and in a hurry to get away.
“Righto, see you downstairs. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Holmes.” He scampered out the door quickly, eager to either get away from her, find a strong drink, or both.
My crazy world of irony:
I love some of the ironies and humor, I created in this short story. Pat, who used to consult with murderers attends a murder mystery dinner, dressed as a murder victim and is the only police officer in the remote location to try to stop a murderer kill all the attendees. I found it funny to write that she is the only guest to use fancy dress as the invite instructed her to do. This once happened to me, many moons ago when I dressed up as Count Dracula, but the other fifty or so guests at the party wore ‘normal’ clothes. I felt like an idiot all night, though I did meet a woman who became a playmate for a while…She thought I was interesting.
In Glimpse 4, Patricia was shocked to learn that most of the other detectives in the Major Crime squad don’t want to partner her because she had been badly injured in two previous cases. In Glimpse 5, she must face a man suffering extreme paranoid schizophrenia, intent on ridding the word of as many psychologists as he can, and Pat is a psychologist.
Why a short story in the Glimpse series?
I am reminded of the adage, less is more, and for writers, that means the less you say, the more impact it can have. So, the challenge for me was only writing 13000 words featuring a character I love writing for, when sometimes I could just write, and write and write… Then, before I know it, I’m approaching 100,000 novel limit. When I read through The Dinner Guest, as I have so many times now, I realize just how much I was able to say, with so few words, and I am thrilled with the result. I am tempted to perhaps write a few more short stories, or novellas for Pat, and Rick, in their own anthology. We shall see how Book 5 is received, and if there is a demand from my loyal reader.
Well, as I said earlier, never say never.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, and the chance to chat about my Glimpse world.
I am super excited to share my blog space with an author who is new to me. Mike Torreano is a Wild Rose Press author and has an intriguing new book release to tell you about!
Take it away, Mike!
What inspired this story?
A Score to Settle is set on the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail in 1870 New Mexico Territory. I was drawn to this locale by the iconic western series, Lonesome Dove. Author Larry McMurtry used an incident in Lonesome Dove that paralleled something that actually happened on Goodnight-Loving. On an 1866 cattle drive, Oliver Loving was shot by Comanches near Fort Sumner, NMT. After he died, his partner, Charles Goodnight, carried out Loving’s last wish by wagoning him back home to Texas. To me, this is one of the Old West’s most famous legends and I decided to weave a story around it. Hence, A Score to Settle, which also features a strong romantic element throughout.
Late afternoon rays warmed Rose as Kip built a sputtering fire. Her shivering quieted and feeling returned to her face. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
Kip grinned as he fed scattered wet kindling into the laboring fire. “Didn’t have a choice. Del would skin me if I didn’t.”
“You like him, don’t you?”
A nod. “There’s somethin’ about him. I don’t make friends easy and Del don’t seem to either, but we took to each other right off. He’s about as levelheaded as they come.”
“Yes he is and so are you.”
“Don’t know about that, but I never had a good friend. Don’t know if it was me or them. Del strikes me the same way.” Kip gathered some larger pieces and the fire popped as it went to work on damp wood. “And I know how much he cottons to you. Hard to miss the glint in his eye when he’s with you.”
Her heart jumped. “Does he say that?”
“Doesn’t have to. Easy to see.”
“Tell me about him, Kip. Tell me about Del. You’re like two peas in a pod. I don’t know much of anything, except for the misery he’s carrying.”
Broken after his family is murdered, rancher Del Lawson signs on to a cattle drive along the Goodnight Loving trail in 1870, unaware he’s still in danger. When he falls for a pretty Army nurse, the killers target her.
If he’s to recover from his grief and build a new life, Del must set out on a gritty hunt for the men who are hunting him.
Meanwhile, Del’s mother, Maybelle, doesn’t know her son survived that murderous night. When she discovers the gold the killers are after, she uses the treasure in an elaborate masquerade to take the murderers down.
Will mother and son’s plans reap justice-or destroy what’s left of the Lawson clan?
About the Author:
Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of history and the American West. He fell in love with Zane Grey’s descriptions of the Painted Desert in the fifth grade, when his teacher made her students read a book and write a report every week.
Mike recently had a short story set during the Yukon gold rush days published in an anthology, and he’s written for magazines and small newspapers. An experienced editor, he’s taught University English and Journalism. He’s a member of Colorado Springs Fiction Writers, Pikes Peak Writers, The Historical Novel Society, and Western Writers of America. He brings his readers back in time with him as he recreates western life in the late 19th century.
Welcome to another Sunday Spotlight! The artist in the spotlight today has something to say! He is a true-blue genuine-to-the-core man who chooses his words carefully. Then he delivers them with passion.
John Pops Dennie…honest, contemplative, sometimes…his voice is almost as thick as his big, grayish beard.” – Dallas Observer
His new album, “I’ve Got Something To Say” is timely as America trudges through a surreal 2020.
The first song on the album, “Rose Garden,” is nothing at all about the flowers and everything about the injustices of life. “We can’t feed our families on a seven dollar bill, work eighty hour weeks in conditions that kill, and we ain’t gonna live on scraps anymore…”
Since the album started out with a protest song, I thought the title track, “I’ve Got Something To Say,” would carry on that theme and to my surprise I found a great love song with a funky beat! “People say I talk too much, but I got a lot to say. When I think about your touch, I’m gonna shout it out night and day…”
“Adrift” is a poignant look at the state of affairs in America today. “I say it’s raining outside, my brother says it’s not. Sees only what he’s learned to see and he doesn’t learn a lot…He doesn’t see the fire. He doesn’t smell the smoke…”
One of the most melancholy songs I’ve ever heard, “Long Black Cadillac Train,” is a mournful refrain.
A compelling story, “Creole Lady,” is filled with powerful imagery and an easy melody. This song is the perfect example of how a writer can weave an entire story in just over four minutes. It is my #1 pick on the album. “It was a helluva day back in ’39, when they took her away to pay for her crime. Falling in love was how it all began, but she fell in love with a poor white man…”
Slowing it down, “You Can’t Hear Me” is another persuasive story song that tugged at my heartstrings.
Reminiscent, “Loving You Like Old Times,” speaks of lost love that will never be reclaimed, and it brought me to tears. “If I were a king, I would sell everything just to have you here with me again…I’d write your name across my heart in flames, if it would bring you back to me…”
“Gonna Move” is an upbeat story about a young man coming into his own.
A haunting melody, “The Pendulum Swings,” is the perfect depiction of Karma, and an addict you cannot save.
Another song that shows the versatility of this artist, “Escape From Bull Run,” takes us to a time in early American history.
The album closes with a strong statement with “Here We Are.” The lyrics say it all! “Never dreamed the likes of them would ever fall for the likes of him, oh, but but somehow, here we are…”
I cannot say enough about this album. The musical stylings run deep and wide with versatility and relevance. You’ll find everything from vintage country to rock, blues and folk. John ‘Pops’ Dennie’s twenty-four carat vocal delivery is warm and full. He is America’s conscience!
Please take a listen and pick up a copy! You will not disappointed, and at the same time, you will be supporting a music artist who is giving his heart and soul to the craft!
I am thrilled to introduce a new author to you and tell you about her new and very timely book, “How People Get Their Politics.” It’s different, insightful, and most interesting to see how political beliefs are ingrained in us.
Our political identities are as complex as we are as human beings, though with a single label -Democrat, Republican, Independent, progressive, liberal, conservative- we’re increasingly reduced to stereotypes. Told through the personal stories of sixteen Americans, born between 1923 and 1998, from all over the country and political spectrum, each story offers insight into how a person’s political beliefs were ingrained. The sixteen conversations captured in How People Get Their Politicsinclude how cancer, religion, race, and war shaped people’s politics. There are powerful immigrant stories. Two public servants share their opposite, but equally passionate, views of what would be the best policies to move America forward.
Why I wrote the book:
My idea for How People Get Their Politics was more than a decade in the making, as I witnessed the United States reach unsustainable levels of division. This book is not really about politics, it’s about understanding. I hope it can help heal the division our country is suffering. Even if we disagree with a person’s policy position, by knowing the full story, we’d at least understand what led to a position, which will allow us to find a common path forward.
Author bio – Julie Samrick is passionate about telling stories that capture the human experience. She is also the author of Murphy’s Miracle: One Dog’s Wild Journey, a story inspired by the miraculous return of a beloved golden retriever who spent two years lost in the Sierra Wilderness.
Julie lives in Northern California with her husband and four children. She holds a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and is a credentialed high school English teacher. For more information visit juliesamrick.com
Purchase links- would love to be in an independent bookstore near you!