Saturday, March 17, 2018

Does fiction tell lies?

My older brother told me that writing stories was the same as telling lies. I was a pretty useless liar at the time, but convinced I was good at telling stories - after all, even said older brother liked my stories some of the time. Having been taught that telling lies is wrong, I struggled for a while to convince myself that telling stories was different. Eventually I concluded it's only a lie if it's intended to deceive. Otherwise it's fictional entertainment (books) or kindness (those gentle untruths that avoid causing pain or giving offense). Meanwhile I continued to read voraciously, never even beginning to imagine that those other writers were "telling lies." After all, they were adults and adults never sin. (Such was my youthful innocence!)

The worlds and/or characters of fantasy and science fiction are far enough from our own there can't be any intent to deceive - though sometimes, in urban fantasy perhaps, they're close enough to our own that the reader might dream... I wonder if I could have a superpower... if I could fly... Not that I'll try. Anyway, find some coffee and see what you think of the worlds these enjoyable reads portray. I shall remain, forever, a book addict, and that's no lie.

The world of The Alchemical Detective by Kirsten Weiss revolves around some very real locations, specifically Lake Tahoe in this second book of the series. The characters have real lives besides occasional powers. The ghosts want to be seen. The psychic doesn't want to be killed. And there's more to it all than meets the eye. Enjoy with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.

Part one of April Lynn Newell's The Overcome Trilogy, The Reconciling, starts off in a very real world too, where a young women wears gloves for a very surprising reason. Secrets in the Book lead her to a rather different place, and the story's short, intriguing, and enjoyably spiritual. Read with some well-balanced full-flavoried three-star coffee.

Thunder Horizon by Stephen Zimmer, is set in a far different place, but one intriguingly informed by real-world mythology. Complex well-wrought cultures (not all of them human), well-imagined heroes and monsters, and a cool sense of Rome vs. the Barbarian hordes make this an intense exciting read, and a good standalone novel, even though it's book two in a series. Enjoy with some dark, intense five-star coffee.

I'm not sure A Day In The Life by Theodore Ficklestein quite fits in this list. Male protagonist instead of female, read world instead of imaginary, comedy instead of fantastical terror and war... but it's a coming of age novel, it's oddly dystopian in perspective, and it's filled with story piled on story on story and more as in wannabe comedian protagonist offers a sarcastic monologue on everything he sees. Enjoy this one with some seriously intense five-star coffee.

And that, of course, is where A Day In the Life does fit in. Does fiction tell lies? Does sarcasm tell lies? Does exaggeration...? I learned to be brave and disagree with my brother. And I'm still writing stories (and reading them!). Hope you are too.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What comes first, ashes or fire?


I'm delighted to welcome author Bob Freeman to my blog today. I enjoyed and reviewed his novel Shadows over Somerset some time ago (click on the name for my review). And now he's touring the internet with First Born, which, it seems, is first of several books to come. As Bob Freeman will now explain,First Born arises from the ashes... So, over to you Bob, and welcome to my blog.


by Bob Freeman

A wise doctor does not mutter incantations
over a sore that needs the knife.

Lets cut to the chase: the Liber Monstrorum Chronicles are occult detective tales. What does that mean? The simple definition is that these types of stories adopt the tropes of the traditional detective story and combine them with those found in supernatural horror fiction. This is true of the collection I've called First Born, to be sure. Are some of the stories heavier handed than others? Certainly. Some of the stories you'll find stray into other territories. In fact, the lead tale reads more like a gothic romance, while the second story is all noir.

These Chronicles concern themselves with magic, with unseen forces, and with the men and women who find themselves entangled within a web of supernatural intrigue. There is a vast cast of characters, but at the center is one Landon Connors.

Dr. Landon Ashton Connors is an occult detective, ghost hunter, monster slayer, and ceremonial magician. He was born into a family of magicians who have dedicated their lives to combating the dark and sinister forces that have sought to shape the world in their image.

Connors is the caretaker of Caliburn House (a Second Empire manor in rural Indiana), a keeper of the Liber Monstrorum (a chronicle of his family’s warfare against all manner of dark wizards, ancient cults, ghosts, demons, and monstrosities), and a consultant to various organizations and private individuals who come seeking his expertise in the field of the occult.

I anticipate the Liber Monstrorum Chronicles to be at least four volumes: First Born, Descendant, Born Again, and Afterbirth. I may get to a fifth volume, Afterlife, and even a sixth, Transcendent, at some point, but that’s a ways down the proverbial Lost Highway.

First Born is made up of twelve short stories, two illustrated tales, and one novella. All have been published in one fashion or another in various forms, though many have been reworked here and there. This is the first time they’ve all been gathered under one roof, so to speak.

Here is a list of the stories you’ll find inside:

The genesis of several of the tales in this collection stem from the novel Descendant, a book that Seventh Star Press will be publishing later this year as the second volume in the Liber Monstrorum Chronicles.

I had originally sold the novel to a UK publisher that went bankrupt before publication. I was, however, pitched an interesting marketing strategy — I was to write five short stories, each released as chapbooks and doled out over the five months preceding Descendant's issuance.

The only chapbook that saw the light of day was Ashes to Ashes. The publisher went up in flames and became naught but ash themselves. But these stories were born from that  misadventure, and now, thanks to Seventh Star Press, they are released back into the wild and surrounded by complimentary tales of the strange and the unusual.

It all starts here with First Born...

authorpicrbobAbout the author: Bob Freeman is an author, artist, and paranormal adventurer whose previous novels include Shadows Over Somerset and Keepers of the Dead.

A lifelong student of mythology, folklore, magic, and religion, Freeman has written numerous short stories, articles, and reviews for various online and print publications and is a respected lecturer on the occult and paranormal phenomena.

He lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.

Mr. Freeman can be found online at

Author Links: Website:
Twitter: @OccultDetective 


FirstBornCover_1200X800About First Born: From the arcane sorceries of “The Wickedest Man in the World” to the supernatural exploits of Occult Detective Landon Connors and the harrowing investigations of Agents Wolfe and Crowe, this collection of macabre tales of the black arts treads the dangerous landscape between this world and that populated by angels and demons, gods and devils, ghosts and spirits, and the legendary creatures of our darkest imaginings.

First Born is the beginning of the journey into the Liber Monstrorum, the Chronicles of those Occult Detectives who are the last line of defense against those preternatural forces that threaten to destroy a world that refuses to believe that such things exist…

Kindle Version
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble:

Find out more: Follow the tour:
3/12 The Coming Evil Author Interview
3/13 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Author Interview
3/14 Hunting Monsters Guest Post
3/14 Book in the Bag Interview
3/15 Morgan Sylvia Top Ten List
3/16 Sheila's Guests and Reviews Guest Post 
3/17 I Smell Sheep Top Ten List
3/18 Jacob Floyd's Ghosts and Monsters Review and Interview

Monday, March 12, 2018

When Sheila meets Sheila, how's life at the beach?

Today I'm visiting Moonlight Harbor with author Sheila Roberts as she tours the internet with Pump up your Book. It looks like an enticing place - as you'd expect, since the author lives on the water in the Pacific Northwest. So, as we sit down to share a cup of tea, coffee, or beverage of choice, I do have to ask:

Is life good at the beach?

You bet. No matter what the weather!

And now to books. Having read a little about Welcome to Moonlight Harbor, it's interesting to see a novel where the wife is paying spousal support. What inspired the idea?

Real life. This is happening more and more as women become increasingly successful. Several years back,we had the house husband trend where men were starting to stay home with the kids while the wife (who often made more and was on a better career path) went to work. So this new trend in spousal support is hardly surprising. Whoever has stayed home with the kids is the one who gets the financial help. Sometimes this is a good idea, sometimes not. There are cases like Jenna's where the man is simply being a leech.

Ouch. Though of course that makes for interesting reading. Where does the philosophy Every Storm Brings a Rainbow come from? Do you live by it?

Actually, it comes from me, and I do try to live by it. I've certainly had some storms in my life, but God has always gotten me through them and while I've never liked the storms I've sure appreciated the rainbows.

Me too, and with one of my publisher's imminent closure, I'm certainly looking for rainbow. A trip to coast would be nice though, so... is Driftwood Inn based on a real place?

The Driftwood Inn is completely made up. But Moonlight Harbor was inspired by a real place: Ocean Shores, Washington, a fun little coastal town with cute shops, lovely beaches, and great people.

Ah, maybe I should try going there. Thank you, and thank you for visiting my blog, from one Sheila to another! And readers, don't forget to read on for a very enticing excerpt!

Sheila Roberts lives on the water in the Pacific Northwest. Her books have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS was made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.

When she’s not making public appearances or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.



Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 400
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Welcome to Moonlight Harbor
Once-happily married Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday – lucky her – she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman.

Still, Jenna is determined follow her mother’s philosophy – every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great Aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembered, but that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.

Order Your Copy!

 Chapter 1
To Do:
Clean office
Dentist at noon
Drop Sabrina off at Mom’s
Meet everyone at Casa Roja at 6
Or just tell them I’ve got bubonic plague and cancel

            The four women seated at a corner booth in the Mexican restaurant were getting increasingly noisier with each new round of drinks. Cinco de Mayo had come and gone, but these ladies still had something to celebrate, as they were all dressed in slinky tops over skinny jeans and body-con dresses, killer shoes, and wearing boas. There were four of them, all pretty, all still in their thirties. Except the guest of honor, who was wearing a black dress, a sombrero and a frown. She was turning forty.
            It was going to take a while for her to get as jovial as the others (like about a million years) considering what she’d just gotten for her birthday. A divorce.
            “Here’s to being free of rotten scum-sucking, cheating husbands,” toasted Celeste, sister of the guest of honor. She was thirty-five, single, and always in a party mood.
            The birthday girl, Jenna Jones, formerly Jenna Petit, took another sip of her mojito. She could get completely sloshed if she wanted. She wasn’t driving and she didn’t have to worry about setting a good example for her daughter, Sabrina, who was spending the night with Grandma. Later, if they could still work their cell phones, the gang would be calling Uber and getting driven home and poured into their houses or, in the case of sister Celeste, apartments, so there was no need to worry about driving drunk. But Jenna wasn’t a big drinker, even when she was in a party mood, and tonight she was as far from that as a woman could get.
            What was there to party about when you were getting divorced and turning (ick!) forty? Still, that mojito was going down pretty easily. And she was inhaling the chips and salsa. At the rate she was going she’d be getting five extra pounds for her birthday as well as a divorce.
            “Just think, you can make a whole new start,” said her best friend Brittany. Brittany was happily married with three kids. What did she know about new starts? Still, she was trying to put a positive spin on things.
            “And who knows? Maybe the second time around you’ll meet a business tycoon” said Jenna’s other bestie, Vanita.
            “Or someone who works at Amazon and owns lots of stock,” put in Celeste.
            “I’d take the stock in a heartbeat,” Jenna said, “but I’m so over men.” She’d given up on love. Maybe, judging from the chewed fingernails and grown-out highlights in her hair, she’d given up on herself, too. She felt shipwrecked. What was the point of building a rescue fire? The next ship to come along would probably also flounder.
            “No, you’re over man,” Brittany corrected. “You can’t give up on the whole species because of one loser. You don’t want to go through the rest of your life celibate.” She shuddered as if celibacy was akin to leprosy.
            “Anyway, there’s some good ones out there somewhere,” said Vanita, who, at thirty-six, was still single and looking. “They’re just hiding,” she added with a guffaw, and took another drink of her Margarita.
            “That’s for sure,” Celeste agreed, who was also looking now that This-is-it Relationship Number Three had died. With her green eyes, platinum hair, pouty lips and perfect body, it probably wouldn’t take her long to find a replacement. “Men. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t ...” Her brows furrowed. “Live with ‘em.”
            Jenna hadn’t been able to live with hers, that was for sure, not once she learned Mr. Sensitive Artist had another muse on the side - a redhead who painted murals and was equally sensitive. And had big boobs. That had nothing to do with why they were together, Damien had insisted. They were soul mates.
            Funny, he’d said the same thing to Jenna once. It looked like some souls could have as many mates as they wanted.
            Damien Petit, handsome, charming... rat. When they first got together Jenna had thought he was brilliant. They’d met at a club in the U District. He’d been the darling of the University of Washington Art Department. He’d looked like a work of art, himself, with brooding eyes and the perfectly chiseled features of a marble statue. She’d been going to school to become a massage therapist. She, who had never gotten beyond painting tiles and decorating cakes, had been in awe. A real artist. His medium was un-recyclable detritus. Junk.
            Too bad she hadn’t seen the symbolism in that back when they first got together. All she’d seen was his creativity.
            She was seeing that in full bloom now. Damien had certainly found a creative way to support himself and his new woman - on spousal support from Jenna.
            Seriously? She’d barely be able to support herself and Sabrina once the dust settled.
            Nonetheless, the court had deemed that she had been the main support of the family and poor, struggling artist Damien needed transitional help while he readied himself to get out there in the big, bad world and earn money on his own. Her reward for being the responsible one in the marriage was to support the irresponsible one. So now, he was living in the basement of his parent’s house, cozy as a cockroach with the new woman, and Jenna was footing the bill for their art supplies. Was this fair? Was this right? Was this any way to start off her fortieth year?
            Her sister nudged her. “Hey, smile. We’re having fun here.”
            Jenna forced a smile. “Fun.”
            “You can’t keep brooding about the junk jerk.”
            “I’m not,” Jenna lied.
            “Yeah, you are. I can see it in your eyes.”
            “I know it’s not fair you have to pay him money,” put in Brittany, “but that’s how things work today. You know, women’s rights and all. If men can pay us spousal support we can pay them, too.”
            “Since when does women’s rights give your ex the right to skip off like a fifteen-year old with his new bimbo and you pay for the fun?” Jenna demanded.
            It was sick and wrong. She’d carried him for years, working as a massage therapist while he dabbled away, selling a piece of art here and there. They’d lived on her salary supplemented by an annual check at Christmas from his folks, who wanted to encourage him to pursue his dream of artistic success, and grocery care packages from her mom, who worked as a checker at the local Safeway. And the grandparents, God bless them, had always given her a nice, fat check for her birthday. Shocking how quickly those fat checks always shrank. Damien drank up money like a thirsty plant, investing it in his art ... and certain substances to help him with his creative process.
            Maybe everyone shouldn’t have helped them so much. Maybe they should have let Damien become a starving artist, literally. Then he might have grown up and manned up and gotten a job.
            They’d had more than one discussion about that. “And when,” he’d demanded, “am I supposed to do my art?” 
            “Evenings? Weekends?”
            He’d looked heavenward and shaken his head. “As if you can just turn on creativity like a faucet.”
            One of Jenna’s clients was an aspiring writer with a family, who worked thirty hours a week. She managed to turn on the faucet every Saturday morning.
There was obviously something wrong with Damien’s pipes. “I need time to think, time for things to come together.”
            Something had come together all right. With Aurora Ansel, whose mother had obviously watched one too many Disney movies.
            Jenna probably should have packed it in long before Aurora came slinking along, admitted what she’d known after only a couple of years into the marriage that it had been a mistake. But after she’d gotten pregnant she’d wanted desperately to make things work, so she’d kept her head down and kept ploughing forward through rough waters.
Now she and Damien were through and it still didn’t look like clear sailing ahead. Sigh.
            “Game time,” Celeste announced. We are going to see who can wish the worst fate on the scum-sucking cheater. I have a prize for the winner.” She dug in her capacious Michael Kors purse and pulled out a Seattle Chocolates chocolate bar and everyone, including the birthday girl let out an “ooh.”
            “Okay, I’ll go first,” Brittany said. “May he fall in a dumpster looking for junk and not be able to climb out.”
            “I’ll drink to that,” Jenna said, and did.
            “Oh, that’s lame,” scoffed Vanita.
            “So, you think you can do better?” Brittany challenged.
            “Absolutely,” she said, flipping her long, black hair. “May he wind up in the Museum of Bad Art.”
            “There is such a thing?” Jenna asked.
            “Oh, yeah.” Vanita grinned.
            “Ha!” Celeste crowed. “That would serve him right.”
            Jenna shook her head. “That will never be happen. To be fair, he is good.”
            “Good at being a cheating scum sucker,” Celeste said and took a drink.
            Vanita tried again. “Okay, then, how about this one? May a thousand camels spit on his work.”
            “Or a thousand first-graders,” added Celeste, who taught first grade.
            “How about this one? May the ghost of Van Gogh haunt him and cut off his ear,” Brittany offered.
            Vanita made a face and set down the chip she was about to bite into. “Eeew.”
“Eew is right,” Jenna agreed. “But I’m feeling bloodthirsty tonight so I’ll drink to that. I think that one’s your winner,” she said to her sister.
Celeste shook her head. “Oh, no. I can do better than that.”
            “Go for it,” urged Brittany.
            Celeste’s smile turned wicked. “May his ‘paint brush’ shrivel and fall off.”
            “And to think you teach children,” Jenna said, rolling her eyes.
            Nonetheless, the double entendre had them all laughing uproariously.
            “Okay, I win the chocolate,” Celeste said.
            “You haven’t given Jenna a chance,” pointed out Brittany.
            “Go ahead, try and beat that,” Celeste said, waving the chocolate bar in front of Jenna.
            “I can’t. It’s yours.”
            Their waiter, a cute twenty-something Latino, came over. “Are you ladies ready for another drink?”
            “We’d better eat,” Jenna said. Her mojito was going to her head.
            Celeste overrode her. “We’ve got plenty of night left. Bring us more drinks,” she told the waiter. “And more chips.” She held up the empty bowl.
            “Anything you ladies want,” he said, and smiled at Jenna.
            Celeste nudged her as he walked away. “Did you hear that? Anything you want.”
            “Not in the market,” Jenna said firmly, shaking her head and making the sombrero wobble. Tonight she hated men.
            But, she decided, she did like mojitos, and her second one went down just fine.
            So did the third. Olé.

            Saturday morning, she woke up with gremlins sandblasting her brain and her mouth tasting like she’d feasted on cat litter instead of enchiladas. She rolled out of bed and staggered to the bathroom where she tried to silence the gremlins with aspirin and a huge glass of water. Then she made the mistake of looking in the mirror.
            Ugh. Who was that woman with the ratty, long, blond-gone hair? Her bloodshot eyes were more red than blue and the circles under them made her look a decade older than what she’d just turned. Well, she felt a decade older than what she’d just turned.
            A shower would help. Maybe.
            Or maybe not. She still didn’t look so hot, even after she’d blown out her hair and put on some make-up. But oh, well. At least the gremlins had taken a lunch break.
            She got in her ten-year-old Toyota (thank God they made those cars to run forever - this one would have to) and drove to her mother’s house to pick up her daughter. 
            She found her mother stretched out on the couch with a romance novel. Unlike her daughter, she looked rested, refreshed, and ready for a new day. In her early sixties, she was still an attractive woman, slender with a youthful face and the gray hairs well hidden under a sandy brown that was only slightly lighter than her original color.
“Hello, birthday girl,” Mom greeted her. “Did you have fun last night?”
            As the night wore on she’d been distracted from her misery. That probably counted as fun, so she said, “Yes.”
            “Looks like you could use some coffee,” Mom said, and led her into the kitchen.
“How’s my baby?” Jenna asked.
            “She’s good. She just got in the shower. We stayed up late last night.”
            Jenna settled at the kitchen table. “What did she think of your taste in movies?”
            “She was impressed, naturally. Every girl should have to watch Pretty in Pink and Jane Eyre.”
            “And?” Jenna prompted.
            “Okay, so I showed her Grease. It’s a classic.”
            “About hoods and ho’s.”
            “I don’t know how you can say that about an iconic movie,” Mom said. “Anyway, I explained a few things to her, so it came with a moral.”
            “What? You, too, can look like Olivia Newton John?”
            Mom shrugged. “Something like that. Now, tell me. What all did you girls do?”
            “Not much. We just went out for dinner.”
            “Dinner is nice,” Mom said, and set a cup of coffee in front of Jenna. She pulled a bottle of Jenna’s favorite caramel flavored creamer from the fridge and set it on the table and watched while Jenna poured in a generous slosh. “I know this is going to be the beginning of a wonderful new year for you.”
            “I have no way to go but up.”
            “That’s right. And you know...”
            “Every storm brings a rainbow,” Jenna finished with her.
            “I firmly believe that.”
            And Mom should know. She’d had her share of storms. “I don’t know how you did it,” Jenna said. “Surviving losing dad when we were so young, raising us single-handedly.”
            “Hardly single-handedly. I had Gram and Gramps and Grandma and Grandpa Jones, as well. Yes, we each have to fight our own fight, but God always puts someone in our corner to help us.”
            “I’m glad you’re in my corner,” Jenna said. “You’re my hero.”
            Jenna had been almost five and Celeste a baby when their father had been killed in a car accident. Sudden, no chance for her mom to say good-bye. There was little that Jenna remembered about her father beyond sitting on his shoulders when they milled with the crowd at the Puyallup Fair or stood watching the Seafair parade in downtown Seattle, that and the scrape of his five o’clock shadow when he kissed her goodnight.
            What stuck in her mind most was her mom, holding her on her lap, sitting at this very kitchen table and saying to Gram, “He was my everything.”
            That read well in books, but maybe in real life it wasn’t good to make a man your everything. Even the good ones left you.
            At least her dad hadn’t left voluntarily. Her mom had chosen a good man. So had Gram, whose husband was also gone now. Both women had picked wisely and knew what good looked like.
            Too bad Jenna hadn’t listened to them when they tried to warn her about Damien. “Honey, there’s no hurry,” Mom had said.
            Yes, there was. She’d wanted to be with him NOW.
            “Are you sure he’s what you really want?” Gram had asked. “He seems a little...”
            “What?” Jenna had prompted.
            “Egotistical,” Gram had ventured.
            “He’s confident,” Jenna had replied. “There’s a difference.”
            “Yes, there is,” Gram had said. “Are you sure you know what it is?” she’d added, making Jenna scowl.
            “I’m just not sure he’s the right man for you,” Mom had worried.
            “Of course, he is,” Jenna had insisted, because at twenty-three she knew it all. And Damien had been so glamorous, so exciting. Look how well their names went together - Damien and Jenna, Jenna and Damien. Oh, yes, perfect.
            And so it was for a time... until she began to see the flaws. Gram had been right, he was egotistical. Narcissistic. Irresponsible. Those flaws she could live with. Those she did live with. But then came the one flaw she couldn’t accept. Unfaithful.
            Not that he’d asked her to accept it. Not that he’d asked her to keep him. Or even to forgive him. “I can’t help how I feel,” he’d said.
            That was it. Harsh reality came in like a strong wind and blew away the last of the fantasy.
But, here was Mom, living proof that a woman could survive the loss of her love, could climb out of the rubble after all her dreams collapsed and rebuild. She’d worked hard at a job that kept her on her feet all day and had still managed to make PTA meetings. She’d hosted tea parties when her girls were little and sleepovers when they became teenagers. And, in between all that, she’d managed to make time for herself, starting a book club with some of the neighbors. That book club still met every month. And Mom still found time for sleepovers, now with her granddaughter.
Surely, if her mom could overcome the loss of her man, Jenna could overcome the loss of what she’d thought her man was.
            Mom smiled at her and slid a card-sized envelope across the table. “Happy birthday.”
            “You already gave me my birthday present,” Jenna said. Mom had given her a motivational book about new beginnings by Muriel Sterling with a fifty-dollar bill tucked inside. Jenna would read the book (once she was ready to face the fact that she did, indeed, have to make a new beginning) and she planned to hoard the fifty like a miser. You could buy a lot of lentils and beans with fifty bucks.
            “This isn’t from me. It’s from your Aunt Edie.”
            “Aunt Edie?”
            She hadn’t seen her great aunt in years, but she had fond memories of those childhood summer visits with her at Moonlight Harbor – beach combing for agates, baking cookies with Aunt Edie while her parrot Jolly Roger squawked all the silly things Uncle Ralph had taught him, listening to the waves crash as she lay in the old antique bed in the guest room at night with her sister. She remembered digging clams with Uncle Ralph, sitting next to her mother in front of a roaring beach fire, using her arm to shield her face from the heat of the flame as she roasted a hot dog. Those visits had been as golden as the sunsets.
            But after getting together with Damien, life had filled with drama and responsibilities, and, after one quick visit, the beach town on the Washington Coast had faded into a memory. Maybe she’d spend that birthday money Mom had given her and go see Aunt Edie.
            She pulled the card out of the envelope. All pastel flowers and birds, the outside read For a Lovely Niece. The inside had a sappy poem telling her she was special and wishing her joy in everything she did, and was signed, Love, Aunt Edie. No Uncle Ralph. He’d been gone for several years.
            Aunt Edie had stuffed a letter inside the card. The writing was small, like her aunt. But firm, in spite of her age.
            Dear Jenna,
            I know you’ve gone through some very hard times, but I also know that like all the women in our family, you are strong and you’ll come through just fine.
            Your grandmother told me you could use a new start and I would like to give it to you. I want you to come to Moonlight Harbor and help me revamp and run The Driftwood Inn. Like me, it’s getting old and it needs some help. I plan to bequeath it to you on my death. The will is already drawn up, signed and witnessed, so I hope you won’t refuse my offer.
            Of course, I know your cousin Winston would love to get his grubby mitts on it, but he won’t. The boy is useless. And besides, you know I’ve always had a soft spot for you in my heart. You’re a good girl who’s always been kind enough to send Christmas cards and homemade fudge for my birthday. Uncle Ralph loved you like a daughter. So do I, and since we never had children of our own you’re the closest thing I have to one. I know your mother and grandmother won’t mind sharing.
            Please say you’ll come.
            Love, Aunt Edie
            Jenna hardly knew what to say. “She wants to leave me the motel.” She had to be misreading.
            She checked again. No, there it was, in Aunt Edie’s tight little scrawl.
            Mom smiled. “I think this could be your rainbow.”
            Not just the rainbow, the pot of gold as well!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

In search of awesome

Today I was hoping to welcome author AshleyRose Sullivan to my blog. She's touring the internet with her novel, Lona Chang, and I'm eager to read it, having thoroughly enjoyed her earlier superhero novel Awesome Jones - find my review of Awesome Jones on Goodreads by clicking here.

But AshleyRose hasn't arrived... and I shall look forward to hosting her at a later date. Please let me know when we can reschedule.

AshleyRose_PhotoSmallAbout the author: Originally from Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan lives, writes, and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends. 
Her work has been published in places like The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, and Word Riot and her novels, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale and Silver Tongue are available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at

Where to find her:

Twitter: @

LonaChangCover_1200x800About the Book - Lona Chang: When one of the world's greatest superheroes dies in her arms, Lona Chang takes it upon herself to investigate his murder. Armed only with a power she barely understands and a mysterious coded book, Lona begins a quest for answers that leads her down a dark rabbit hole of secrets--secrets the ancient organization known as the Guild is determined to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, when a new threat descends upon Arc City, Lona's soulmate (and freshly minted superhero) Awesome Jones defies the Guild, dons the cape and cowl of his father and finds a group of unlikely allies. But can Awesome trust them--or himself? He'll have to fight his own demons first if he has any hope of defending the town-and the people-he loves.

As tensions rise between the Guild, Lona, Awesome, his allies and Arc City's criminal underground, Lona realizes that life, and the answers to its questions, are never as simple as they seem in comic books.

Where to Find the Book:

Kindle Version
Amazon Print Version
Barnes and Noble:
Find out more: Follow the tour

3/7 Book in the Bag Interview
3/9 Jordan Hirsch Review
3/10 Sheila's Guests and Reviews Guest Post
3/11 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Interview
3/12 Book in the Bag Review
3/12 Jorie Loves A Story Review
3/13 deal sharing aunt Review

Friday, March 9, 2018

Should Children Love Books?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Jennifer Chase to my blog. She's touring the internet with Pump-up-your-book... and with a Body of the Crime. But what body? What crime? And why? What leads a child to grow up and write a novel? Welcome to my blog Jennifer.

Obsessed with Books at an Early Age     

By Jennifer Chase

Many of my early childhood memories involve all of the great books that I had the opportunity to read. I was a typical kid who loved to be outdoors whenever I could, but I loved my weekly visits to the local library. I would grab books, stack them high, and take them up to the librarian.  They would be books about animals, adventures, mysteries, and anything else that grabbed my attention. I loved books!

As I got a little bit older, my book choices were always about solving mysteries and going on great adventures.  The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, Nancy Drew Mysteries, and The Secret Garden definitely made a lasting impression on me.  From that point, I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, The Hobbit, The Count of Monte Cristo, and many other timeless classics.      

I had always dreamed of one day writing a book of my own, and it was in the back of my mind as I ventured through the difficulties of life. So many thriller and suspense authors inspired and influenced me to write my first novel, such as Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Jeffrey Deaver, John Connelly, John Grisham, and many others.  You could say that all of these experiences with books in my life paved the way for me to become an author. 

Reading at an early age and being read to have some amazing benefits for children and for the continuing development that will affect the rest of their lives.  It has been established that just reading 20 minutes a day aloud to young children can help to strengthen relationships, promotes curiosity, encourages better listening and language skills, and overall helps to establish a strong reading foundation.  Just by reading aloud together, a child’s reading skill can be mastered over time.

“The magic of this process is the simplicity of action,” stated by The Children’s Reading Foundation.  They also suggest making the reading time together an important and happy part of life. A child’s brain develops faster during the early years and acts like a sponge that soaks up information with enthusiasm and the willingness to learn. Build upon and nurture that wonderful gift of reading.  

It has been suggested that the best time for children to start learning to read is when they are very young, generally at the preschool level.

Here are some tips for laying a strong reading foundation for children:

·         Build a new vocabulary through books, experiences, and interactions.
·         Observe others reading and enjoying books.
·         Recognize that words are made up of sounds.
·         Experience and pretend to read familiar books, poems, and alphabet books.
·         Enjoy and discuss a variety of books that are read aloud by others.

I have to wonder that if I didn’t love books and reading at an early age if I would be so curious and enthusiastic about forensic science and criminal psychology.

Thank you Jennifer. Like you, I was hooked on books from an early age (though it took me quite a while to learn to read). And I agree about laying a foundation for children - without words, how will they communicate? And without books, where will they find all those words?

It's so cool to see how that curiosity led to your later academic pursuits, and to your fiction!

Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Pages: 397
Genre: Mystery Suspense
Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction.

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—turbulent and deadly.

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?

Order Your Copy!

I HATED THE CURIOUS AND often skeptical looks, which came from the audience in the gallery. I gently eased my body into the chair and faced them directly. It felt more like I was a participating target in a firing squad than a courtroom proceeding.
Shifting from side to side in the cushioned seat, I fidgeted with my tie. It was the only thing I could do under the circumstances.
I waited patiently trying not to nervously tap my fingers.
At least the chair was comfortable as I rested my forearms and hands on the armrest. It was not easy to avoid looking at the two burly sheriff deputy bailiffs stationed at the back corners of the room. They watched everyone with an extreme somber, statue-like presence. I was not even sure if they actually blinked or not. 
All eyes in the courtroom fixated on me.
The room fell into complete silence. The audience readied themselves waiting for the show to begin. At least that was what I had imagined in my own mind. 
I realized when the prosecutor had finally called my name to testify and the bailiff escorted me into the courtroom that I had forgotten to change my shoes. Dirt and mud had affixed deep into the crevices of the heavy-duty rubber soles, which donated little chunks of dried soil as I walked from the back of the courtroom to the witness area. There were little piles of mountain soil left behind with every stride. It looked like I had stolen shoes from a homeless person.
It was only yesterday that I had taken an extra-long walk down a wooded path that was barely passable even for the native wildlife, but I did not let the rugged terrain scare me out of adding another specimen to my collection of California sediment. In the process, my shoes sunk deep into the mud. At one point my foot had slipped from the left shoe and then plunged my sock-clad foot directly into the sticky muck.   
I was all too aware of how disheveled I looked only two months before my fortieth birthday. It was not appealing. My appearance did not give the impression that I was an expert at anything, but somehow I managed to muddle through with an air of authority.
Crime scenes never lied, and it was my job to explain the scientific facts to the non-scientific community; but in the end, it was up to the jury to make the right choice of guilt or innocence. Twelve good people ultimately shouldered the justice burden, and I was just the messenger of facts—good or bad.    

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.