Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Interview with debut novelist Caroline Flarity

Debut author Caroline Flarity joins me today and we’re chatting about her YA paranormal (for older teens), The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter.

During her virtual book tour, Caroline will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!.

Caroline Flarity is a web content producer living in NYC. Her fascination with fringe topics and love of scary movies led her to begin her writing journey penning creepy screenplays. Her debut novel The Ghost Hunter's Daughter started life as a feature script, placing in the finals of the StoryPros Awards and as a semifinalist in Slamdance Film Festival's writing competition. She enjoys pitting her characters against both supernatural and cultural evils.

Welcome, Caroline. Please share a little bit about your current release.
“Supernatural meets Mean Girls” in this dark, YA paranormal mystery for older teens.

Sixteen-year-old Anna is the grieving daughter of a paranormal investigator. Anna is bullied at school because of her father’s profession. She wants nothing to do with his job, but it turns out that she has a knack for the family business.

When a parasitic entity invades her town (and mind), she must harness its evil power before it destroys the only family she has left. To do so, she’ll have to keep her increasingly dark urges at bay.

What inspired you to write this book?
To me, spirituality and the paranormal are closely connected. They both revolve around the idea that consciousness extends past the body, which I believe. The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter is a creepy paranormal tale, but it’s also the metaphysical coming-of-age story of a teenage girl. I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal and have long researched hauntings, near-death experiences, reincarnation and reports of entities with non-human origins. This book encapsulates a lot of what I’m passionate about as far as the supernatural and spiritual. It also tackles socials issues like the bullying, abuse and harassment that sadly many kids have to deal with.

Excerpt from The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter:
“Want a new nick name?” Sydney asked. “How ‘bout Frankenskank?”
            Damn. Anna had spent so much time on her eye makeup that morning that she forgot to cover her scar. Her fists clenched. She was microseconds away from smacking Sydney right in her perfect face. Her palm actually tingled in anticipation of the after-slap burn.  
“All dressed up and no place to go,” Lyric sneered, indicating the cleavage exposed by Anna’s scoop neck.
“Except maybe a whorehouse!” Sydney yelled, attracting the attention of everyone in the commons who wasn’t already watching.
            One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. Breathe. Anna restrained herself, knowing that in her current state of mind one slap wouldn’t be enough. In fact, while the river raged, she might also decide to go ahead and slam Sydney’s head into one of the metal lockers, perhaps several times. Nausea rolled in Anna’s gut. She was disgusted by the burst of pleasure the violent fantasy brought her. She took her eyes off of Sydney’s smug face and scanned the commons. Was there a portal here, too? There must be, but Bloomtown High wasn’t on Saul’s list.
Anna forced herself to walk away from Sydney and Lyric, ignoring their parting sneers. Was she being paranoid or was everyone in the hallway gawking at her? Anna picked up her pace, her heart dropping into her churning stomach as she passed a blur of scornful faces. Everyone was looking at her, and the worst part—she thought about Craig’s snub that morning—was that she might know why.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book is a psychological thriller with a sci-fi element about a woman who discovers the terrifying secret behind her family’s generations of criminal behavior.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Strangely, I’ve always considered myself a writer even when I didn’t write for long stretches.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a freelance writer of event-related and entertainment web content. I try to work on my new book in spurts of three to four hours at least a few times a week. I tend to write at night and always produce more when I have a deadline. That’s why I’m in a writing group. Deadlines are a must for me.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My handwriting is atrocious. But I still do the majority of my edits by hand and then enter them into my master word doc on a PC. I often have trouble reading my own writing, and this is quite frustrating. But there’s something about printing out my work and writing edits by hand that sparks my creativity. I’m forever scribbling new ideas into the margins of my printed pages and then struggling to decipher them the next day.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter is on Kindle Unlimited until July 11. I’m also running a promotion on amazon: the ebook will be 99 cents from June 28 through July 4.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for hosting, Lisa, and great questions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 14, 2019

Interview with debut mystery novelist Gregory Sterner

Debut mystery author Gregory Sterner joins me today to chat about his suspense novel Solving Cadence Moore.

Gregory Sterner is inspired by the great storytelling presentations of National Public Radio, including This American Life and Wiretap, as well as novels by Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and many others. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Albright College and is currently completing his Master’s in Philosophy at West Chester University while working as a supervisor for Penske Truck Leasing. He lives with his wife Abigail in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has four children: Jordan, Austin, Alexis, and Jack. His debut novel Solving Cadence Moore was released on November 7th, 2017. It is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Readers can connect with Gregory on Facebook and Goodreads. To learn more, go to

Welcome, Gregory. Please tell us about your current release.
My debut novel is Solving Cadence Moore, a mystery novel about a ten-year-old cold case. Cadence Moore was a famous young singer who disappeared without a trace in western Pennsylvania in 2002, never to be seen again. The case has recently been brought back to prominence by a smash hit documentary that has played fast and loose with the facts and many die-hard followers of the case believe the mystery remains unsolved. Public radio juggernaut UPR produces a podcast series and live midnight special to capitalize on the notoriety of the documentary and brash conspiracy radio host Charlie Marx is the unlikely choice to host the series. Charlie comes up empty in his efforts to solve the mystery until he starts taking crazy risks and telling big lies all in the pursuit of getting live on air with the long elusive truth. Readers will ride a roller coaster of suspense on their way to finding out if the real truth of Cadence Moore is finally revealed or whether Charlie Marx’s career will go down in flames live on air.

After a very long process of writing, editing, pitching, and re-writing, the book was published by Aperture Press, LLC (the realization of a life-long dream for me) and is now available at Amazon and all other major online retailers.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was attempting to write what was (in my mind) a horror novel about a girl who disappeared ten years ago and the haunting memories which torture her old boyfriend. I quickly realized I was not a horror writer and this book was not working. I kept turning the story around in my mind, trying to figure out a way to bring it to the page in a believable way. This was years before I completed the book. I was exposed to Ira Glass’s show This American Life on NPR. The way he broke down stories into “acts” and did a slow reveal on crucial facts made me realize that my own story could be told in the same way a “radio play” was put together. As I was deeply into the writing process and even as I pitched my first draft of the novel to publishers and agents, the podcast Serial became a super-successful hit. As I re-wrote my novel (initially incorporating my eventual publisher’s structural changes) I decided a topical change was needed and the podcast series and live radio special structure was introduced into my existing story and everything really came together at that point.

Excerpt from Solving Cadence Moore:
Chapter 1 – The Pitch
Charlie Marx sat with his arms crossed, refusing to visually sell his reaction to the sales pitch he was getting. As a successful conspiracy radio show host, Charlie had learned to trust nothing but consider everything, qualities which had made him very effective throughout his career.

His boss (as well as his mentor and friend), Tyler Reubens, had been in the public radio game for fifteen years, becoming a national celebrity by hosting a hugely successful syndicated show covering everything from intimate personal stories to murder mysteries called United Way of Life. Tyler, while still sitting at the helm of United Way of Life, was also now a big player at the executive level as a senior producer for WHHW (his home station) and programming liaison to UPR (the public radio juggernaut of which WHHW was an affiliate).

Tyler’s superiors were looking for on-demand content for various multimedia outlets (a trend the entire entertainment world had already been moving strongly toward for five years and public radio had been one of the first to plant a flag in podcast land, but had never had a smash hit). Tyler was reaching out to the one person who in his mind had the one show he was almost positive would connect with a large audience for the podcast mini-series UPR was prepared to push to the moon (or so went Tyler’s initial sales pitch).

The one man with the one show also happened to be a personal protégé of Tyler Reubens himself, Charlie Marx. Charlie was a former college DJ and conspiracy newsletter writer. Tyler had plucked him from obscurity and offered him an assistant producer job for United Way of Life, simply because he liked his work and was impressed by the buzz Charlie had managed to drum up for his conspiracy rag. Charlie produced a few conspiracy oriented segments for United Way of Life during anniversary years of the Kennedy Assassination and the Apollo Moon Landing. These segments had garnered such positive reviews that Tyler lobbied for Marx to be granted his own time slot on WHHW with a conspiracy-themed show called Underground BroadcastUnderground Broadcast eventually became one of the most popular programs on WHHW and had been considered at least on two occasions for national syndication over UPR stations, although that had never actually come to fruition.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have two big irons in the fire, both of which I’m about 20% through at this point.

The first book (working title: Tomorrow in Twenty-Nine Palms) is about a dying man who in his last act hands a small leather bound book to a total stranger as he utters his dying words, “It has to be you.” The total stranger is Jack Hayes, a lying con man looking for his next angle in life. He soon finds himself embroiled in an unbelievable situation, and before the night is over, dangerous men who want the book back are chasing him all over town. All roads eventually will lead to Twenty-Nine Palms, CA and the secrets that may be found there.

The second book (working title: The Gallem City Limits) is about a charismatic young man who has worked his way into amassing a large number of troubled young people into his circle and indoctrinating them into his philosophy of life, which revolves around “balance” at all costs. Before long, he and his followers will balance the karma of long-ago atrocities (the mass scapegoating murders in Gallem centuries before is his starting point) by staging current ultra-violent atrocities (only this time with the “good guys” and “bad guys” on different sides). Danny Drake is about to become the most notorious cult leader in America and Gallem is the site of his National emergence.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing since I was a kid, starting with stories of me and my dog having adventures in space. I started my first novel when I was about 22 years old and got about 100 pages through it before I lost all of it due to the floppy disc it was saved on becoming corrupted. I was too foolish at the time to have backed it up so it became a very demoralizing experience. I later decided to try again and just write a story for myself, to make myself laugh, and to show the finished product to my friends. That put some of the joy back into the process. After that, I began tossing around the bare bones of what would become Solving Cadence Moore. I felt, while writing it, that I was a writer. I felt, while pitching it, that I was a writer. But I did not feel like a “real” writer until the publisher agreed to publish the book. It’s sad that many writers feel the need to be validated by someone else saying they will invest in producing our novels for mass consumption to feel like we’re actually legitimate “real” writers but that seems to be the way it is.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I became good at balancing family life with a full-time job and college education over the last 10 years. This gave me some perspective on the amount of time someone needs to dedicate to complete something and complete it well, with quality in mind. I have brought the same approach to writing. I feel like a writer has to pick their spots so they do not alienate their family in the process of creating their “masterpiece.” That is my take anyway. It also helps to have an encouraging and understanding wife.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I seem to really like having characters drink and smoke as they go about their adventures. I think this might be my way of working through not being able to do these things myself, or at least not as much as I’d like to, so I live my former bad habits through my characters. This is a healthier approach than a writer drinking heavily and smoking like a chimney while writing. My advice: write it- don’t do it. You’ll survive longer and write more books!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pro-wrestler my whole childhood. I seemed to ignore the sad fact that I had the athletic ability of a bow-legged kangaroo while I was dreaming this dream. I think what I was really attracted to was the pageantry and presentation of a spectacular story being told in the ring and around the ring. I realized later I could do most of this on the page and then writing became my passion.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have learned so far in my brief membership in the worldwide club of published authors that it is wise to listen to feedback, especially from publishers or agents who have had more success than you. One has to be flexible and open to collaboration in order to move forward in the process of getting your novel published. I think it's important to embrace inspiration when it comes and don't be afraid to take risks, as long as you do so in the parameters of good writing. It can be easy to push things too far if you don't have in mind what a potential wide readership might enjoy. I'm still learning and feel lucky to have been granted the opportunity to get a novel published.


Thanks for joining me today!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Interview with writer Kelly J. Beard

Writer Kelly J. Beard is here today and we’re chatting about her new creative non-fiction (memoir), An Imperfect Rapture.

Kelly J. Beard practiced employment discrimination law in the Atlanta area for two decades during which time she was recognized as a “Super Lawyer” and one of the nation’s “Preeminent Female Lawyers,” and received a Certificate of Recognition from the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In 2016, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appears in Creative Nonfiction, Santa Ana River Review, Five Points, Bacopa Literary Review, and others. An Imperfect Rapture is her first full-length memoir.

Welcome, Kelly. Please tell us about your current release.
Let me paraphrase a couple of the authors who offered early blurbs for my memoir. This works for me, in part because it’s a complicated story that doesn’t quite reduce to an elevator speech, and in part because I love what they’ve said but it would be impolite to say these things myself. Harrison Candelaria Fletcher said, “An Imperfect Rapture is a story of personal grace and self-realization; it’s the story of one woman’s path through the shadows of a fundamentalist youth. The memoir itself is a kind of prayer, a kind of promise, in which the vibrant prose shimmers.” And this, from Andre Dubus III: “What Kelly J. Beard accomplishes here is stunning: by stepping nakedly back into her youth as the daughter of Christian fundamentalists, a life-long couple whose love for one another never seemed to wane, she also steps back into violence and neglect, poverty and the shame of the poor, the striving for one’s very selfhood when few seem to be able to help or pay much attention. And Beard renders all of this, and more, with a poet’s clear-eyed search for the truth. An Imperfect Rapture is a plaintive hymn of forgiveness, and it moved me to tears many times over.” And this from the Contest Judge, Janisse Ray, who I adore: “Haunting in its recall, this elegiac book spins through a galaxy of fundamentalism, poverty, and mental illness. Instead of “coming of age,” it’s a “coming to terms” story, burning with desire to cut loose from a demon-possessed past. It’s an eyewitness account of what happened inside a dark house. Beard’s writing is vast, engulfing, accomplished. In many ways, An Imperfect Rapture is itself a faith healing.”

What inspired you to write this book?
I’d been practicing law for about two decades when my daughter (and only child) left home for college. I’d been preparing myself for her departure (I took up pottery and also started participating in an on-line fiction writing course) because I knew it would be a difficult transition for me. I was not a happy empty-nester, to say the least. She and I – as far as I knew – had been really close all her life. Even in high school she was kind to me and we often hung out and watched movies or enjoyed each other’s company. She was never snarky or mean, the way we always hear about girls of a certain age being. Well, she made up for that when she went to college. In hindsight, she was doing exactly what she needed to be doing (and probably should have done a few years earlier) which was individuating. For my perspective at the time, though, I felt completely shut out from her life, and our relationship seemed frayed and tenuous, at best. Despite my intent to buffer myself with those other activities, I spiraled into a serious depression. I’ve experienced a lot of cyclical depression in my life, and when I say it was serious, it was. In an effort to relieve the pain I was feeling, I went in to therapy, this time I chose a Jungian therapist. The therapist was an elderly man who had studied in Zurich and with one of Jung’s proteges, June Singer, and he was brilliant. During one of our early conversations, I asked him if he thought I should write my daughter a letter telling her how sad and abandoned I felt, and how I wanted to stay involved in and relevant to her life. I expected him to say what a great idea! Instead, he looked at me and asked, “But what about any of that doesn’t she know? What would you tell her that shed doesn’t already know?” That question ended up being the catalyst for the memoir. I realized I had never shared my early life experiences with her – in fact, just the opposite. I’d hidden them from her and from everyone. That’s the story I needed to tell.

Excerpt from An Imperfect Rapture:

[Opening Pages]

Palm Springs, 1960s
I learned this while curled at her feet, eavesdropping on her conversations during Bible Study. She and three other women from Desert Chapel huddled around our kitchen table cross- referencing the standard King James with the red-letter Schofield Bible. Afterwards, they prayed for everything from straying husbands to Rock Hudson.
That day, my mother told the circle of women about a call she received the night before. A boy. A teenager who came home from Youth Services to find his mother naked, thrashing in the shallow end of their swimming pool, gurgling like a baby. I hugged my knees to my chest, curled at the center of their shuffling feet, listening to my mother concede defeat. Even with the strongest man in the world beside her, the demons won that night. They spewed curse words in three voices, she said, all deep, like men.
Coffee cups settled.
She sniffed, reached under the table and scratched her leg while telling the women how she and Dad stayed all night, praying with the woman in the pool.
The whole time she’s flinging spit and the nastiest things at us. And this awful, foul odor.
She took a shuddery breath that ended in something like a hiccup. Blew her nose, and wadded the tissue into her apron pocket. We did everything we could. There were just too many of them. They were too strong.
The women sighed and sucked their teeth. Sister Busby snapped her gum.
I thought about Mama waking me the night before, how I’d listened to Daddy peeing in the tiny turquoise and white tiled bathroom across the hall while she told me they were leaving to
pray for a lady. I begged to go along. No, she said, we think she’s demon possessed, we can’t let you get that close. The toilet flushed. She disappeared into the dark.
I lay awake the rest of the night, my cotton gown sticky as I listened to my sister’s rhythmic huffs in the bunk below. She slept through everything. The ceiling had gone from black to a pale blur by the time the car crept back across the gravel drive.
My mother held a mystical place in my small world, her presence so pervasive those first years I believed I was her shadow, a sightless thing always at her heels, following her around by day, lolling at her feet until she put me to bed at night. After the three older kids left for school, she’d crack my door and with a quick snap my small soles reattached to hers. All day, I drifted behind her, skimming the nubby carpet while she vacuumed, hovering against pale green walls while she made beds, bobbing in the greasy puddles on the floor as she scoured pans soaking in the sink. Sometimes she napped, and I lay flat against her back.
While the women prayed and wept, I felt a chill of evil lurking outside the circle of legs splayed under the table. I shrunk into my skin, listening to the women comfort my mother for her failure. When Sister Fee started talking about a demon-possessed man who roamed naked through a hillside cemetery, I thought she meant someone we knew until Mama finished the story.
He chewed right through chains the villagers used to tie him to the tombstones.
Villagers, I thought, not people I know! Still, this fact didn’t relieve the crawl of dread that threaded through my veins while she finished the story, describing how a slew of demons wheedled a concession from Jesus, how he’d agreed to let them pass from the man into a herd of swine feeding nearby. No one explained why the pigs chose death over demons. No one divulged why the demons had to beg to possess pigs but not people. No one revealed how to avoid falling
for them. I knew they wore disguises, knew that what looked beautiful or enticing was most likely of the devil, but I didn’t know how to protect myself. I took precautions. I didn’t look Brother Pine in the eyes. I crossed to the center of the street fifty yards before reaching the terra cotta colored house with the tiled roof and flowering Saguaro cacti, preferring the mortal danger of passing cars to the spiritual hazard of getting too close to the house where my mother saw demons flickering behind the windows. I never took the Lord’s name in vain.
But I knew I was vulnerable. This knowledge kept me pinned to the floor at her feet, week after week, my cheek pressed against the cream and black speckled linoleum, the yellow ties of her apron dangling out of reach. Her feet made a papery sound when she rubbed them together. A blue vein draped across her ankle.
Now, in late middle-age, I still see that little girl prostrate at her mother’s feet, her lower lip nearly bit-through with fear. She doesn’t know yet how the demons lurking beyond the table’s circumference will be nothing like she imagines. They will not swirl around her in ghostly bodies with blood-red eyes. Instead, they will appear in fires and floods, in her family’s fractured lives, and in the carnage of their violent faith.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m grateful to be able to say that I have a few readings lined up and that I’m focusing on getting the book into the hands of readers just now. That said, I’m also working on an essay collection that I hope to finish by the end of the year. After that’s out the door, I’m looking at writing another full-length memoir, but you know what they say about how it saps the energy of a creative project to talk about it talking prematurely, so I’m just letting that gestate in the dark for now.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It’s funny because since this is a second (or third) career path, and since I practiced law for so long, I still usually respond with “lawyer” when people ask about my profession. I’m intentionally changing that, but it feels strange because when you have a vocation like being a lawyer it’s very clear, right? You are one or you aren’t one, and it doesn’t matter what you say about it or what you call yourself. With rare exceptions people don’t say they are lawyers when they aren’t, i.e., when they don’t have a license to practice law. When you’re a writer you don’t get a license – all the MFAs and whatnot do not make a person a writer. writer, or at least most people are. notwithstanding, those aren’t what make a person a writer. In some ways, I think the label is both overly narrow and overly broad (aren’t we all storytellers and writers trying to communicate our sense of the world?) But that said, I didn’t start really thinking of (or calling) myself a writer until after my memoir won the Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award. I remember looking through the list of finalists (including a number of writers whose work I knew and loved) and thinking, wow, maybe I really am a writer!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I once read that Virginia Woolf could only write for two hours a day. After that, she didn’t have enough creative energy to warrant staying at the desk and writing. At the time I read this, I was heartened because I was still practicing law and I thought, well, great, writing two hours a day is doable. That’s what I did the entire time I was in the MFA program and finishing the memoir. I thought when I stopped practicing law I’d stretch those hours out to 4 or 5 or maybe even 8 or 10, the way I understand some people do, but I couldn’t. I think she onto something.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, to be facing a window that looks out onto a tree or something green and older than I’ll ever be, and I try to always open and close my writing sessions with a prayer or meditation.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A grammar school teacher. I still sometimes think about how fun and rewarding it would have been to teach little kids. I love the early grades, when they’re still sweet little sponges, and I have a huge soft spot for kids, especially kids who don’t have much privilege or for other reasons are at risk.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Fun fact: I share a birthday with Oscar Wilde and I used a quote from De Profundis as my north star when writing An Imperfect Rapture, and used it as my epigram. It’s a perfect mantra for anyone writing memoir about hard relationships.

Thanks for being here today!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Interview with mystery novelist Kathryn Long

Novelist Kathryn Long joins me today to chat about her new mystery, Buried in Sin – A Mackenzie Blue Mystery.

Kathryn Long is a retired teacher turned dedicated writer. She loves filling her days reading and writing mysteries. Her credits include romantic suspense, A Deadly Dead Grows and her self-published series, THE LILLY M. MYSTERIES. Buried in Sin is her latest release, published by Black Opal Books in March 2019. She stays active on social media where you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. She also belongs to Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. Kathryn lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and pooch Max.

Welcome, Kathryn. Please tell us about your current release.
I think the book blurb says it best…
Research assistant Sarah Mackenzie enjoys collecting information for her uncle’s local history projects. But when she stumbles upon an open grave in Cornplanter Cemetery, she’s startled to find the body reminds her of someone she knew, someone she believed died ten years ago. Like opening Pandora’s Box, the discovery is full of unpleasant surprises and definitely not the kind this researcher likes to collect. To make matters worse, the local sheriff has learned about Sarah’s strained relationship with the victim, and the clues drop one by one to shift suspicion to her as the favored suspect. As the murders escalate and one becomes three, Sarah confronts her fear and searches for the truth, venturing into the world of Seneca Indian culture. Confronted with mysteries from the past as well as the present, she must find their common link in order to discover the identity of the Grave Maker and stop his killing spree.

What inspired you to write this book?
Buried in Sin draws from both personal experience and my fascination with Native American culture. I grew up visiting the area of northwest Pennsylvania and the Kinzua Reservoir/Allegheny Forest where our family has a cabin. So, the setting inspired me to write a story about it. Since there’s a strong Seneca Indian connection to this area, especially in its history, and along with my interest in such cultures, I felt those characters and the Seneca folklore fit perfectly.

Excerpt from Buried in Sin:
“Ah, yeah. Hold on,” I said, once more moving forward. A fresh grave in a cemetery. This wasn’t anything unusual. Somebody who died would need burying. However, no one had been buried in Cornplanter’s since the first half of the twentieth century.

My pace slowed to a crawl as I sniffed a foul odor. The harsh chatter of crows perched in the tree above startled me, enough that I lost my balance. I gasped, and my arms flailed wildly until I found my feet planted on the ground once more. Counting to ten, I took a deep breath. Another step. One more, and I reached the edge of the hole. “Okay, Mac, you can do this,” I whispered before leaning in to take a peek. With a loud gasp, I stumbled backward. Doubling over at the waist, I coughed and tried to hold down the bitter taste rising up through my stomach and into my throat.

“What in blue blazes is all that noise you’re makin’?”

My legs weakened, and I crumbled to the ground. In another minute, maybe longer, I put the phone back to my ear. “I have to go, Uncle Chaz. There’s a body… in a grave. I need to call the sheriff.”

Chaz laughed. “What did you expect? Land sakes. You’re in a cemetery.”

I shook my head, hard enough to make myself dizzy. My voice came out breathy and weak. “This one’s different. I’ll talk to you when I get home.” I ended the call despite his sputtering protest. My knuckles blanched as I tightened the grip on the phone.

To be certain the long day with its heat and burning sunlight hadn’t played games with my eyes, I walked back to the grave once more. Another quick look told me this was no delusion. A man laid in the grave, a red-stained hole through the middle of his chest. For a brief moment, though it seemed insane, the face appeared strangely familiar. Somebody from my past. But that was impossible, wasn’t it?

As I began to turn away, something else caught my eye. A rather large, flat stone rested at the head of the grave, as if placed there with deliberate intent. Curious, I edged closer to examine the stone with steps distanced enough to keep from slipping into the hole. The smoothly polished surface was marred by crude lettering engraved in its center. I bent to read and puzzled over what I saw. “Sins of the soul,” I whispered aloud.

I forced my trembling hand to hold steady as I pushed buttons on the phone to call the Warren authorities. A tiny whimper escaped my lips as I stole another glimpse at the grave and tombstone. Twirling on my heel, I faced the other way. I took several steps from the grave and my heartbeat evened. As I waited for someone to pick up, my mind tossed around the insane idea of how familiar the face was and the conclusion it pushed me to form.

I fought the urge to look again, but it taunted me, as if I needed convincing to give me some kind of reassurance. Instead, I continued in the other direction and moved toward the front of the cemetery where Jacob Bluehawk rested. There I stopped. Taking one hand, I rubbed it harshly over my face, struggling to erase the image of the body. Reese Logan was dead. He’d died almost ten years ago. He wasn’t the man in the open grave.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a contemporary romance coming out early next year, titled When I Choose. Right now, my agent is subbing the cozy mystery I wrote, BOARDING WITH MURDER. The movie, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE inspired me with its old Hollywood charm and the eccentric sisters—though, at least in my story they aren’t poisoning and burying bodies in the basement! Besides that, I have a second book that will follow Buried in Sin, tentatively titled, PLAYED BY MURDER.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Around the age of fifty! Yeah, I’m a late bloomer. At least that’s when I wrote my first novel-length story and got it published. Actually, I think I became serious about writing back in high school when I joined the Writers Club. Of course, I’ve been creating stories and poems since I knew how to put words on the page.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a retired teacher, so you’d think I would write full-time. Yet, there are so many things going on in my life that keep me writing part-time. I love spending every chance I get with my family, especially my two grandbabies, and traveling to most any place I can, including to our cabin in Pennsylvania. And I don’t mind admitting, I love binge-watching shows on Netflix, mysteries mostly. As for my “work day”, I enjoy the freedom of retirement and find it difficult to schedule a regular routine for writing. That said, when I do start a project, my energy is like an elephant stampede! I’ll spend several hours a day to reach the end. If my creative flow is on task, I average 3,000 to 5,000 words per day, three to four days a week, and can finish a novel manuscript in three months. That includes the rereading/editing I do each day. During the process, I basically ignore daily needs like eating or sleeping. LOL And my hubby knows better than to disturb me. Seriously though, the writer fairy godmother must like me because it all works out.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is interesting or just plain quirky, but I like to tape index cards all over my office, (they must be colorful, like florescent orange is my favorite), one for each chapter with bullet points and a time-stamp so I can refer back to them as I write the story. Believe it or not, that quirk can be a time saver.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ooo, great question! Let’s see, I’d say my first memory of this would be when I was in middle school. I so wanted to be an archeologist. And mind you, this was way before the Indiana Jones movies came out. Then in high school, I changed and wanted to move to Paris and be one of those U.N. interpreters who spoke both English and French. Guess that’s why I majored in French in college. Of course, I never made it to France or spent my days digging up bones for a living, but I can sure write about them if I like!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think I’ve rambled on long enough, right? Seriously, enjoy reading and, if you’re so inclined, let the author know how you felt about the book by writing a review. Good or bad, we love feedback.


Thanks for being here today!