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Title: Hotter Than Helen
Author: Susan Wingate
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Pages: 201
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Psychological Women’s Suspense


When Georgette’s old friend, Helen, comes back to Sunnydale, the town begins to sizzle. Is Helen attracted to Hawthorne Biggs, Georgette’s new beau or is it just Georgette’s imagination? But when Helen goes missing, all seems lost. Will they find Helen dead? Does Hawthorne truly have Georgette’s best interests at heart? HOTTER THAN HELEN is a psychological women’s suspense.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Sunnydale, Arizona, 2009

Steel shackles jangled at his ankles, sounding much like the ghost of Christmas future when he shuffled to a stop on the cold travertine floor. Cabling, the kind used on bicycle locks, wrapped around his thin waist and angled off in a Y, snaring each of his wrists. He held his arms close to his stomach, monk-style as if praying, but unlike a monk, he held his head high, not down.

At a thick, red mahogany podium, the orange-clad prisoner stood next to a smaller-framed bailiff. The bailiff’s hand cupped the man’s elbow when someone called out, “All rise. The Honorable Judge Lindon.” The bailiff stepped back to the right, but the prisoner’s eyes shifted left where his lawyer stepped up. The packed courtroom stood almost in unison.

Everyone watched as the judge walked in from a door along the courtroom wall where his desk sat. Sidling behind the wide bench, a dense desk spanned no less than eight feet long and three feet wide of the same rich mahogany as the podium where the orange-clad

man stood.

The judge sat, pausing midway down to eye the prisoner over his black-rimmed reading glasses, sitting slowly before lifting the docket in front of him and reading from the papers.

He looked pissed.

Once settled, he slid his black leather and wood chair under the bench. Everyone else in the courtroom sat. Everyone except, of course, the prisoner and his lawyer. 

The judge wasted no time. “Your sentence, sir…in light of this…” he hesitated briefly, rolling his hand in a circle as he spoke, then continued, “…this new information and these errors,” he glared at the lawyer, “in allowing this new information from reaching the court at the time of your trial.” The judge kept a hard scowl as he looked between both men but mostly at the man’s attorney. “I have no other reasonable choice than to reduce said sentence to a lesser term, no more than two years beginning today.” He slammed his gavel so abruptly he made the stumpy, tightly-combed, gray-haired court recorder jump. She looked up suddenly but went back to typing.

Book Information

Release Date: November 16, 2022

Publisher:  The Wild Rose Press

Soft Cover: ISBN:978-1509243501; 329 pages; $15.99; eBook $4.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3VjBCu9

About the Author

Susan Wingate writes about big trouble in small towns. She lives with her husband on an island off the coast of Washington State where, against State laws, she feeds the wildlife because she wants them to follow her. Her ukulele playing is, “Coming along,” as her Sitto used to say.

Susan’s eight-time award-winning novel, How the Deer Moon Hungers was chosen by The International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club as their October 2022 Official Book Selection of the Month. 

Susan has an insatiable appetite for online word games and puzzles. She thinks it might be obsessive-compulsive but is fine with that.

Susan’s poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in journals such as the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Superstition Review, and Suspense Magazine, as well as several others.

Susan is represented by Chip MacGregor and is a proud member of PENAmerica, Int’l Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Her latest book is the mystery thriller, Hotter Than Helen (The Bobby’s Diner Series Book 2).

Visit her website at www.SusanWingate or follow her at Twitter and Facebook.

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Chances are rare, change is valuable.

Barry Wilker spent forty-three years working as an interior designer for a myriad of clients across the United States. Retirement has provided him time to assemble all the fragments of his wild imagination into this, his first novel. He lived for a number of years in the Los Angeles area and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.



Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about “The Lapone Sisters” and what compelled you to write it.

Author: I hatched the idea of The Lapone Sisters over a period of almost forty years. Being an interior designer for forty-three years was at times a tedious and sometimes a stressful profession. During downtimes in my business, ideas for the story sprang like seedlings that over time grew and multiplied into pieces I knew someday would be a fully realized story. During those free times, I wrote thoughts about these imaginary sisters on pieces of paper and put them into a folder or squirreled them away in the back of my mind. I am really not sure how or why this novel finally came to fruition. Possibly because of Covid and retirement I suddenly had the time to concentrate on the entirety of the story. I pulled out my folder and separated the scraps of ideas into piles in my home office. As I already mentioned, bits and pieces of the story had incubated for more years. I had stacks of unrelated ideas sitting on my desk. For nine months I began to sew together a story and imagine events that propelled my characters into the story they became. It was a fun, tedious, and stressful time.

M.C.: What is your book about?

Author:  The Lapone Sisters is a smart and seamless coming-of-age novel centered on the lives of three sisters–and a thoughtful and thought-provoking tale that unfolds against a backdrop of a simpler time and place. The Lapone Sisters introduces the reader to three dazzling and decidedly different sisters: Schmellda, Sorina and Esmerelda. They are wildly disparate, wholly entertaining, and mesmerizingly comical individuals. The three sisters are swept up into a whirlwind of adventure when each begins to chart a course toward discovering purpose, meaning and direction for their lives.

In the summer of 1976, the three sisters launch a journey like no other when each begins the task of uncovering her individual course in the world. Schmellda, the eldest daughter, is a frumpy, self-appointed mother hen cautiously setting out on her own for the first time in her life. Middle sister Sorina is a stunning-and-stuttering beauty tentatively venturing out in search of her dreams. Esmerelda is the youngest and boldest of the three who is outspoken, sharp-tongued and an unfiltered fireball ready to catapult from the nest.

Born to loving parents who provided a safe and nurturing environment, Schmellda, Sorina and Esmerelda could not be more different. When the sisters are swept up in an unimaginable spiral of events that change their lives forever, they discover more about themselves and each other than they had ever dreamed.

The girls compete and commiserate. They take road trips and chances. They get makeovers and they make waves. They grow and bloom and blossom. Even though they change, they remain true to their core selves. Most of all, they follow their hearts. They even fall in love. Over the months of a fateful and blissful summer, the sisters cross paths, cross wits and come across a menagerie of misfits, loners, losers and dreamers making for an adventure like no other. For these three sisters, life will never be the same.

The Lapone Sisters is a beautifully rendered tale that celebrates taking chances, embracing individuality, innocence, and the unmistakeable power of love. Resplendent with charm, peppered with wry humor, sometimes seasoned with satire, and replete with a richly drawn cast of characters, their story is destined to stay with readers long after the last page is turned

M.C.:  What themes do you explore in “The Lapone Sisters?”

Author: Individuality. Innocence. The power of love, acceptance, and coming of age. Stuttering and the power of language. The capability of change. The importance of knowing we are all part of and have contributions to make to a community much bigger than just ourselves.

M.C.:  Why do you write?

Author: I write now because I have the time. Being retired, I feel able to do anything. I don’t write for income. I write because I want to write. I wrote this novel because I wanted to show life in an absurdly creative way. I wanted to create a lightness on the surface that opens the reader’s mind to what I consider the truly important themes I mentioned above.

M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?

Author: Since I am not creating beautiful homes for a living any longer and constantly thinking about them 24/7, my imagination is still at full speed. I feel creative all the time.

M.C.:  How picky are you with language?

Author: I am very conscientious about language. I consider my writing to how I performed as an interior designer. I was meticulous with my jobs. It was my goal to execute a beautiful and liveable environment for my clients using the best materials and craftsmen available. Words are now my floor plans, fabrics, art and furniture. I want language to be perfect.

M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

Author: No. Not in the least.

M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?

Author: When I am a loss for an idea. When I am at a loss for the correct word. When I wake up in the middle of the night and realize that I missed something in a time line. When I am somewhere and I have a great idea and have no way to write it down.

M.C.:  Your best?

Author: The opposite of all of the above . . . the times when thoughts, ideas and the rest flow seamlessly.

M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

Author: I suppose if my debut novel does not work out for Joe Public. I would not stop writing. I would stop publishing.

M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

Author: When the three editors and I came to the “Aha!” moment that set my manuscript free to go to print.

M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?

Author: It certainly was an obsession while I was writing The Lapone Sisters. Long ago in school I loved to write poetry. At the moment, writing isn’t quite the obsession it was. I’ve told my primary story. Now I have other loves. I paint, sculpt, read. I am 69 and retired. Now is mostly play time.

M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

Author: The only part of The Lapone Sisters that connects me to my novel is I was once a stutterer. I still am at times. I really wanted to raise awareness of how stuttering as an adolescent affects a person.

M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Thoughts?

Author: I don’t agree. I wrote this novel as a contrast to the chaos, hate and negativity in today’s society. I wanted to write a happy and meaningful book that was filled with positive and humorous distractions.

M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

Author: www.TheLaponeSisters.com. But really, after anyone reads this blog they know more about me than what is on my website. I would like to thank you for reading this and hope that you will read my novel The Lapone Sisters. I also want to emphasize to readers that I have two footnotes in my novel on pages 199 and 300 that reference songs I sincerely hope they will listen to before turning the page. And again, thank you!

Barry’s book, The Lapone Sisters, is available from:

www.ArchwayPublishing.com, www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com,  www.Target.com, www.Walmart.com, www.Booklife.com, www.Bookshop.org and your favorite bookstore.

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Victoria Dougherty is the author of Breath, Savage Island, The Bone Church, Welcome to the Hotel Yalta, The Hungarian, and the forthcoming Of Sand and Bone. She writes fiction, drama, and essays that revolve around lovers, killers, curses, and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in the New York Times, USA TodayThe International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere.

Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing, and acting in several Czech plays. Her blog – COLD – features her short essays on faith, family, love, and writing fiction.

WordPress, the blogging platform that hosts some 70 million blogs worldwide, has singled out COLD as one of their top Recommended Blogs by writers or about writing.

Most recently, Victoria has launched the Cold podcast, which offers a deep dive on the creative life. Listeners have called it “the storyteller’s church.” Listen to Cold right here!

Welcome to the Dark Phantom, Victoria! Few writers start their careers in fiction. How did you come to it?


As a kid, all I wanted to do was be Carol Burnett. I wrote comedy skits all the time and filmed movie spoofs. Throughout High School and college I did a lot of improv and performed in and wrote plays. But after college, things went a little sideways. I worked in theater for a few years in Chicago and in the Czech Republic, but when I returned from living in Prague in my late 20s, I felt burnt out.

So, I started a gourmet chocolates business of all things. I sold to big stores like Dean & Deluca and Neiman Marcus, and found it fun and interesting, but every chance I got, I sat down to my desk and started writing.

At first, I was just trying to record my family history. I come from this war-torn line of poets, priests, spies, and political prisoners, who told me all of these amazing tales. Real life stories of adventure and danger.

Perhaps inevitably, these family stories started morphing into fictions. My first novel, a historical spy thriller taking place during WW2 and in the early days of the Cold War, was born of these stories. So was my blog, Cold, where I write personal essays about family lore and the writing life.

My historical fantasy series, BREATH, along with the newest novel from this series, Of Sand and Bone, is a departure from any direct family history, but it has heart and a similar spirit.

So you switched from writing historical spy thrillers, to launching a historical fantasy series. What prompted that?

I don’t know if I switched as much as expanded into a new genre. Whatever the case, the themes I like to write about, that I’m obsessed with, are present in both my Cold War thrillers and my historical fantasy series. I’ve found my readers can enjoy both genres, too. Even the guys who became fans because of my thrillers have been really great about reading the BREATH novels and have written such thoughtful and brilliant reviews about those books. I think when it comes down to it, I write about lovers, killers, curses and destinies. If you’re interested in those themes, you’ll likely be a fan of my work regardless of genre.

Was it a difficult change?

Difficult but thrilling. I know the Cold War world very well. I lived it with my family; I moved to Prague right after the Iron Curtain came down and travelled extensively in Eastern Europe; I read dozens of books – both fiction and non-fiction – in that genre and about that time period.

When I started writing the BREATH series, I had none of my own “institutional knowledge” to rely on. What I had was a big idea. I had this crazy plan of world-building a fictional ancient civilization that was being excavated by archaeologists in the modern day, and then somehow making the characters from both of these worlds collide in a compelling, mysterious and romantic way.

You call yourself a slow lit writer and use that hashtag on Instagram. Your books are certainly long – particularly your BREATH novels. But what do you mean exactly by slow lit?

I mean that literally. Even writing full time, it takes me a good couple of years to write a novel. It used to take a lot longer, but I’ve learned to streamline, and I’ve gotten better at organizing my ideas and making hard choices. As you probably know, historical fiction readers will take you to task if you get something wrong, so I’m a stickler. I also write intricate plots and really enjoy the editing process. To me, editing is like sprinkling fairy dust onto a story, and I take my time about it. I think long and hard about my characters and what I’m putting them through and why. I look for the areas where I avoided conflict and address them. I like to put my characters through the wringer and watch them come out on the other side, so I’m careful about not avoiding conflict.

Speaking of putting your characters through the wringer, your lovers in the BREATH series are called Nin’ti – souls who are trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth and must find each other in each new life. In Of Sand and Bone, your newest BREATH novel, they are being stalked by a vicious killer from their first life together. One who threatens everything they hold dear. Is it difficult for you to look such painful events in the eye and write about them?

Oh, yes. Very much so. I have a creative philosophy on scenes of love and violence though, and I do my best to execute to it. These scenes must equal one another in intensity, I believe, or the story will feel out of balance. The stakes must be very high. Love scenes should be an emotional kick in the gut and violent scenes should make a reader wince and gasp. Often, I’ll take such scenes farther than they need to go, then scale back to make them palatable.

There was an awful scene I wrote in Breath (Book 1) that I based in part on the Rape of Nanking (now known as the Nanjing massacre), which is a real and horrific historical event that occurred during World War II. It was very hard to write that scene. There were times I didn’t know if I could go on and would have to get up and take a short walk or go talk to my husband. But I felt the entire BREATH series hinged on a sufficiently terrible event in my characters’ first lives together in the ancient civilization of their origins. This event had to be shocking and painful enough that it would echo throughout the series, not only binding my lovers together throughout multiple lives, but giving them a formidable enemy. That enemy really comes to prominence in Of Sand and Bone and knowing what he is capable of creates considerable tension throughout the story.

There’s a huge focus on the visual in your social media – a lot of black and white photographs, all kinds of art, a lot of strong images. Can you tell me about that? How do you use the visual – if at all – in your writing?

I use the visual a lot. I love photography and fine arts painting and sculpture. I love architecture and design and nature. It’s a huge pleasure for me to build the world in which I’m writing. I like it to drip with atmosphere and aim to make it a place my readers not only come to know well, but never want to leave.

The way I do that is by collecting images of the places I’m writing about. I might find hundreds of images for a single novel and consult them for inspiration. They might be old photographs of houses, tombs or vistas, or links to ancient jewelry or period furniture. I had to build Breath (Book 1) from scratch, visually, since so much of it took place in a fictional civilization, but with Of Sand and Bone (Book 2), which is centered around Cairo in 1902, I had plenty of fodder for my imagination. I unearthed countless old photographs of Cairo from around the turn of the 20th century and snooped around travel blogs for stories and pictures of Egypt, London, and Alaska. I still get Trip Advisor notifications asking me if I need more help planning my excursions!

Reviews can be a thorny subject for authors. Do you read your reviews? If so, how do you process which criticisms to keep or toss?

I read reviews to a point. Probably the first 20 or so. By then it’s pretty clear in which direction they’re headed. I do make sure to read bad reviews, because I learn a lot from them, and it’s easy to discern which ones are legitimate. By legitimate, I mean if they were written by someone who actually read the novel and isn’t just a troll, or if the reviewer’s problems with the story make any sense at all. I had one bad review, for instance, in which the reader complained that the story took place in Europe, because she hated stories that took place in foreign countries. The plot summary of that particular novel made it abundantly clear that the story took place in Eastern Europe, but apparently, the reader hadn’t consulted it before ordering the book. The same reader also wrote that she hated thrillers and the novel she was reviewing was a thriller. Go figure.

But such reviews are rare and most readers make an honest effort to describe why a particular novel didn’t work for them. And if several readers take issue with a timeline, a plot point, or a particular character, I’m interested in knowing why, even if those readers are in a minority.

I also want to know what readers love about my work, what moves them. I think my favorite review is from the BREATH series and goes like this, “From the moment I opened its pages, I fell into an otherworldly, enchanting time and place that felt dreamlike and mesmerizing. As the pages flew by, I realized that there is so much more to this story than what it appears to be.”

That was exactly what I was going for. It’s as important to know when you hit the mark as when you miss.

If you were to act as your own reviewer, which of your novels would you identify as your favorite?

That’s easy. My newest, Of Sand and Bone. To be fair, I always think my latest book is my favorite, but I really do think it’s true this time. As a kid, I was absolutely fascinated by Egypt and the Golden Age of Archaeology. Even before the Indiana Jones movies came along. I’d always wanted to write a story that took place in that era, and when I finally did, the experience turned out to be every bit as magical as I imagined! Each day when I sat down at my computer, I got to tour the tombs of the Pharaohs, wander the expanse of the desert, visit enchanted archaeological excavations, and sail down the Nile. Through my characters, I fell in love under the light of a lantern in an age-old city filled with ghosts. I still get goosebumps thinking about it!

Book Link:

Of Sand and Bone

Author links:








COLD Blog  

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Title: The Atlantean Horse: The Feathers of the Phoenix Book 1
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Silver Quill Publishing
Pages: 149
Genre: YA Paranormal/Supernatural


Ancient Mystery…Mystical Prophecy…Biblical Horsemen

One Epic Task

The Task: Retrieve the Five Feathers of the Phoenix to raise Atlantis so its people can return home.

The Chosen: Cousins Rosa & Jerome embark upon a perilous and personal quest to retrieve the first Feather. Rosa’s special gift, kept far in the Past, will be revealed, and Jerome will discover his.

The Opponents: The Four Deadly Horsemen of the Apocalypse will stop at nothing, not even murder, to possess the Feathers.

Join Rosa & Jerome as they risk all in their search for the First Feather!

Book Information

Release Date: September 23, 2022

Publisher: Silver Quill Publishing

Kindle: 149 pages; $5.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3eHdTmT

Chapter One

Chapter 1 – Stranger

It’s late April here next to the foothills on the edge of the Denver suburbs, and yesterday’s storm dropped two feet of snow. Overnight, it turned into a roaring blizzard plummeting temps below zero. The snow has moved on, but not the biting cold. The wind gusts not only create impassable drifts, they keep the wind chill factor far below freezing. Even sheltered behind this window in my darkened living room, I find myself rubbing my arms for warmth.

Outside, newly leafed trees fight against the ice coating their branches, a fight lost for several. The crackle of breaking limbs echoes through the glass. I shudder from sadness at the thought of the new life coming to an end so soon after emerging. But that’s Colorado for you. Here the weather changes from one day to the next, sometimes from one hour to the next.

For the second day, schools are closed. My friends are inside playing video games or chatting online hoping that the afternoon will be calm enough for sledding and snowball fights. I’m usually one of those. Nothing like a wet spring snow and a roaring ride down the hill below my house. I might even talk my dad into sledding, if it’s not too dark once he and Mom get home from work. I’m not a fan of the snowball fights—though my cousin Jerome, who lives across the street, is—after having my nose broken by an errant snowball. On these days, I can still feel the impact, the pain, and the blood running down my face and throat. A warm liquid that is nothing like a cup of hot chocolate, soothing as it goes down. This almost gags me even now.

Usually I welcome Mother Nature’s little tantrums, but not this late. A wet chill hangs in the air, and in my body, refusing to let go. And today, in particular, I long for the stifling heat and that burning orb of the desert sun on my skin. Heat so thick I can see it rising in twisting streams from the blistering sand. And the sun literally baking my body, my hair, my skin. Never thought I’d wish for that again.

I don’t hear dead people anymore, and that makes me sad. You heard right, sad. After all I went through with Tut and Hesena in ancient Egypt…thirteen thirty B.C. to be exact…I miss it. Well, let me rephrase that. I don’t miss the dead who talked—complained is more like it—before Tut came to me. I miss Nana’s gift that let me help Tut find Hesena, his love, and helped him restore his family’s good name.

Those others, the ones who wanted a second chance at life, are gone now. I’ve even gotten through almost two years of school without the other kids wondering if I’m ever going to be sane. I’m sure they’re as relieved as I am that those dead don’t interrupt my classes or my tests. A small part of me even misses the challenge of defeating General Horemheb, though not the almost dying part.

Glad I took my driving test before this storm came. Tomorrow, with any luck, I’ll get to drive the Jeep to school for the first time. I was one of the last in my junior class to get my license. Grandpa’s early birthday gift of car insurance cleared the last hurdle. Using all of my savings from my part-time fast food job, I purchased a used Jeep last month. I may even give Jerome a ride to school. At 15, he still has another year to go until he can get his license.

Movement at the end of the block catches my eye. I blink several times to be sure what I’m seeing is real. A man out walking in this weather. I watch as he stops and hesitates at each house he passes.

What in the world? It’s a miracle he isn’t frozen where he stands, dressed as he is. Instead of a winter coat, long pants, and boots, he’s wearing a dark blue tunic over what looks to be…no way! But it is, lightweight pants in a powder blue. He has no hat, and the wind’s blowing through his dark brown hair without stopping. And sandals! Talk about not dressing the part. Nobody in their right mind would be out in this freezing weather dressed like that. At least no one I know. 

Something’s going on. I run my fingers through my dark blond hair with its fading sun-bleached strands mixed with those dyed emerald green. Puzzled, I massage my scalp, determined to push out the tickling in my brain. I haven’t felt that for a long time.

The stranger slows as he reaches my driveway, pausing to look down at his hand. He looks at the curb and then at his hand again. He takes a step toward the house, stops, looks at my house, and then at his hand once more. As I watch, I see his chest expand as he draws in his breath and straightens his body, adding a couple of inches to his height. He resumes his approach to my front door, standing there almost as if he isn’t sure what to do.

Instead of waiting for him to make a move, I open the door, cringing as the cold air penetrates my heather grey sweatshirt and blue jeans, chilling my body.

“Hello there,” I say through the screen. “Can I help you?”

He stares at me, opens his mouth, but closes his lips tight. 

I wait. 

He opens his mouth again to speak, but doesn’t. Instead he continues to stare at me, really stares hard. The heat from his black orbs threatens to melt my skin.

I take a step back. My skin cools. No. It’s not possible. The tickling in my brain continues. “No,” I say.

Yes, Rosa. I am real, but not real.

I shake my head violently in an attempt to rid myself of the voice inside my mind. Too late. Who was it who said be careful what you wish for? 

I’m still here, Rosa. We are waiting for your help.

“No,” I say out loud. “I can’t help you.”

The one who gave you that golden ankh sent me to you.

I finger the ankh made of solid gold that hangs around my neck. My gift from the Window of Appearances. My gift from Ankhesenamun and Tut. The gold warms my hand as it always does when I touch it. Silently, I move my hand from the ankh to my hair fingering an emerald green tress, an acknowledgement of my ties with ancient Egypt.

She also said you have her eyes. And you do, the greenest emerald in all the worlds.

Taking a deep breath, I wonder—for the first time in two years—at the ties that bind me, ties I now think of as a gift rather than a curse.

She said you would help. She said you could help because you walk in two worlds.

“What…what do you want?” Idiot, I tell myself. You know better than to ask that question.

This time the man speaks out loud. “The time is now.”

I finger the ankh again, squeezing it, absorbing the warmth. “Time for what?”

“It is time for Atlantis to rise again. It is time to gather the Feathers of the sacred Phoenix bird to set the island in motion.”

I blink as images of a sunken island and fleeing people, animals, and birds fill my head. “What…what do you want from me?”

“You are the one who must gather the Feathers on the Sun Days and bring them to the Atlantean Horse so that my people and my land can once more be united. It’s been too long, and our people wish to come home.”

“Me?” My eyes widen in disbelief.

The man nods. 

Putting my hands around my head, I try to block out the hundreds of voices from the visions running rampant through my brain. Voices crying out for help. 

A shiver travels down his body shaking me out of the trance. His hands vigorously rubbing his arms prompt me into action.

“Get inside. You have no business being out in this weather dressed as you are.” I open the screen door and move to the side to let him pass. No, don’t start. Don’t say a word. She sent him here. She wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I know what I’m doing. I hope. I glance around the neighborhood to be sure no one else, especially Jerome, is around. Maybe I’m the only one who can see him, like Tut. 

“Thank you, Rosa,” he says, continuing to briskly rub his arms. “She didn’t tell me that your world is wrapped in ice.”

About the Author

Cheryl Carpinello

I’m a lover of mythology, myths, legends, and tales from the ancient/medieval worlds. I enjoy exploring how these have transcended time/space to influence our world today. Myths and legends don’t fade away; they are just repackaged for a new audience.

As a high school English teacher, I continually challenged my students to find connections between today and times long gone by. Some took more digging than others, but the connections were always there. One of my favorites, Star Wars, borrows several concepts from the Legend of King Arthur. The Star Trek series goes even further back into the mythology of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt as well as others.

I write Arthurian Legend for young readers and teens (I never refuse to let mature readers enjoy my stories!). These stories exhibit what I consider to be cornerstones of that Legend: Courage, Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship.

My tales from Egypt and my new series Feathers of the Phoenix meld the ancient/medieval worlds with today. The Atlantean Horse (Book 1 of Feathers of the Phoenix) also brings the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse out of the Bible and into the modern world. They and my main characters are after the feathers of the Phoenix in order to bring Atlantis alive again.

P.S. I believe in magic and Unicorns!!

Website Linkhttps://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Blog Link: http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com/

Twitter Linkhttps://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Facebook Linkhttps://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1

Goodreads Link:    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2924554.Cheryl_Carpinello

Instagram Link: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/

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Dr. Erica Rosen is perplexed when she sees a young Chinese girl with blue eyes in her San Francisco pediatrics clinic. The girl’s mother, Ting, is secretive, and Erica suspects she has entered the country illegally. Later, Erica encounters Ting’s son and discovers he has an unusual mutation. Erica learns that Ting’s children underwent embryonic stem cell gene editing as part of a secret Chinese government-run program.

The Chinese government wants to murder Ting’s son to prevent others from learning about his unusual mutation and the secret gene-editing program. At Ting’s urging, Erica heads to China to expose the program and rescue the infant Ting was forced to leave behind, all while attempting to evade the watchful eye of the Chinese government.

Book Information

Release Date: January 7, 2021

Publisher:  Black Rose Writing

Soft Cover: 289 pages; $4.53; eBook $4.65; Free with Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3wv8hlN  

Black Rose Writing: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/unnatural?rq=deven%20green

Dr. Erica Rosen’s world is turned upside down after a suicide bomber explodes amidst a large crowd entering Oracle Park baseball stadium, near her San Francisco home. Many are killed or injured, and police have no leads in solving the case.

Erica becomes involved after a teacher of young autistic men contacts her. The teacher believes her students are involved in the bombing but is afraid to contact law enforcement. She reaches out to Erica, who has experience with special needs children. 

Erica arrives at the school but finds the police already there and a young autistic man doing a jigsaw puzzle, oblivious to his murdered teacher on the floor. The young man has information about the mastermind behind the bombing but has limited ability to speak. Erica is determined to protect him, prevent further bombings, and find his missing classmates.

Book Information

Release Date: October 21, 2021

Publisher:  Black Rose Writing

Soft Cover: 281 pages; $17.38; eBook $4.99; FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qe4zJP

Black Rose Writing:


Pediatrician Erica Rosen is stymied when two of her patients don’t respond to medicine as expected. When other patients later develop strange, unexpected illnesses, she is determined to get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, the department’s newest pediatrician, Dr. Nilsen, appears to be trying to steal her patients. Erica suspects he is after her job as the clinic director. She also discovers Dr. Nilsen has become romantically involved with her trusted assistant, Martha. One evening, while looking for patient information on Martha’s desk, Erica comes across a list with the names of some of her patients. A boy who recently became ill with a mysterious malady is on the list and has an asterisk by his name. What does that mean?

Erica is convinced something nefarious is underfoot, and Dr. Nilsen, rather than simply being after her job, is engaged in a dangerous scheme involving her patients. Unable to recruit the help of law enforcement in a timely manner, she realizes she must take matters into her own hands. As she proceeds with her investigation, she is unaware of the dangers she is about to encounter.

Book Information

Release Date: August 18, 2022

Publisher:  Black Rose Writing

Soft Cover: 329 pages; $21.95; eBook $6.99; FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Tp8u3J

Black Rose Writing:



Deven Greene is giving away autographed copies of the whole Erica Rosen MD Trilogy to one lucky person!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the set of books
  • This giveaway ends midnight December 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!




Fiction writer Deven Greene lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Ever since childhood, Deven has been interested in science.  After receiving a doctorate in biochemistry, she went to medical school and trained as a pathologist. She worked for several decades in that field before starting to write fiction. Deven incorporates elements of medicine or science in most of her writing. She has published several short stories. Her debut novel, Unnatural, is the first book of the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, and was released in January 2021. Unwitting, released in October 2021, is the second Erica Rosen MD novel. Unforeseen is the final book in the Trilogy.Visit her website at www.devengreene.com or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Tom Roy shares his wisdom and knowledge and shows how transformational leadership can change everything. He gives easy to follow examples and lessons and reminds us all of what matters most when we are leading. He follows the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and reminds us that we cannot go wrong if we follow the Kingdom principles from the Bible that have changed the world. Read this book! It will encourage you and help you to be a better leader!

Book Information

Release Date: June 6, 2020

Publisher:  Tall Pines Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN:979-8645083878; 97 pages; $12.99; eBook $8.99

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3QvRu9Q

Longtime baseball coach Tom Roy served as the assistant coach for & team chaplain for Grace College’s baseball team in 2019. Roy has worked with the Lancers in three different decades. He was the Lancers’ head baseball coach from 1980-83. He led Grace to two winning seasons in 1981 and 1982. He was also the squad’s pitching coach from 1970-73 and graduated from Grace with a Bachelor’s degree in 1974. 

Roy has spent close to 15 years as an associate scout for Major League Baseball. He was an associate scout for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1976-79 and was an associate international scout for the Atlanta Braves from 1993-99 and for the San Diego Padres from 2000-05. Roy also served as the varsity baseball coach at Tippecanoe Valley HS from 1974-76 and was the pitching coach at Huntington College from 1987-89. 

He has visited over 65 different countries teaching and coaching the game of baseball. He is the former president and founder of Unlimited Potential, Inc and started SHEPHERD COACH NETWORK in 2019. He played briefly in the San Francisco Giants organization before starting his career. He authored an autobiography about his experience with UPI entitled “Released.” Roy serves as a board member for the Warsaw YMCA, UPI, and Fellowship Mission. He has authored four books entitled “Released”, “Shepherd Coach”, and “FLOCK” and has co-written six books entitled “Beyond Betrayal”, “Take it on, Suit up, sit down”, “9 Innings of Memories and Heroes”, “Sandusky Bay”, “Ellison Bay”, and “Lake of Bays.” He resides in Winona Lake with his wife Carin. They have daughters (Amy and Lindsay) and 6 grandchildren.

His latest book is the Christian leadership book, Flock: Lead Your Tribe, Feed Your Team, Protect Your People).

You can visit his website at www.shepherdcoachnetwork.com or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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In 1859, Junie Benson was a twelve-year-old genius and enslaved. His older sister, Sari, had her own difficulties, including being auctioned to the highest bidder. She was also beautiful, flighty, and had a repetitive dream about a hazel-eyed white stranger. Everybody with the good sense God had given them knew even her dream was forbidden.

In the present, three things troubled ex-Special Forces Lt. Colonel Zachary Trumble . . . his new job as director of security for Burstein Labs, his loveless marriage, and the green-eyed siren who won’t let him sleep in peace. 

Then time’s fickle hand brewed a recipe for a miracle . . . Stir in three runaway slaves, an avalanche, one mad scientist, and an unhappy, in-love hero to create a dish for revenge best served . . . Later.

Book Information

Release Date: September 1, 2022

Publisher:  Intentional Entertainment LLC

Soft Cover: 204 pages

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dyfTxg 


We’ve been here a long time, me and the other shacks. We started out long ago as log cabins. The occupants spoke prayers of hope over shallow grunts as they flexed hardened muscles to build us strong. Then after backbreaking days in the tobacco fields, they made our dirt floors and grass-mixed-mud walls. Our wooden chimneys and brick hearths were the heart of our homes. It was a one-size-fits-all room, where they nursed their aches and caressed their wounds.

It wasn’t all bad. We could sometimes smile as they made babies in a fevered pitch, good groans of satisfaction rolling through the air and out the window. Then we would rejoice, whispering up and down the quarters that it was a good night.

That’s how we used to talk to each other, back and forth through the howling of the winds or the gentle flow of a breeze. There were days we’d moan with the pain of our inhabitants, who were too tired from the grueling work to tend to our needs. Took us a while to decide what to call them . . . inhabitants, occupants, residents? We never could decide. Inconsistency was a malevolent characteristic we all endured. They never owned us. Just stayed a bit while they could. And, to be fair, they tried to keep us up. Oh, we got a hit and a lick of mud before the winter winds blew, but it was meager labor. Neglect was easy when profits were the owner’s goal, and the fields were a harsh partner.

Years later, our dilapidated wooden logs would be eaten, digested by termites with fat bellies. Laid out in a row like coffins after the war. No hero’s welcome for all we had endured. We whisper about it even now through broken windows that no longer hold our secrets. Others may think it’s the wind howling, but those are our screams, held captive for years while we watched, waited, and hungered for habitation. Hungered while generations of slaves and sharecroppers had nothing to share . . . No more to give. Watched as Big Mama, who carried large pots of water to an iron tub, whittled down to nothing but bones as she lay on my dirt floor every evening, moaning in pain . . . waiting for change.

At first, new folk moved in when others gave up. And each added their blood and mud to slather yawning cracks and holes to keep the walls standing. Our neglect could not be camouflaged, but the Missus, she’d hang little bits of cloth on the window and add dandelion flowers to a tin can, hoping to add a touch of pretty.

Just a mile away, majestically, stood the big house. Cruel in its taunting of us as it was painted and scrubbed and loved on—even by those who hated it. It defied the old man’s hands of time. Tick, tick, tick.

Every inch forward of its hand proclaimed a litany.

Poor folk got it bad. Poor folk got it bad. We chanted out of walls with exposed spaces.

We tried hard, this holding on of bones. We struggled when it rained; our roofs had few shingles, more wet than dry, more holes than substance. The hearth hungered. No remembered warmth dwelled here.

I saw the change when the doors fell, one by one. Then it was the disrespect—no knock—just folk walking inside without a “Come in and sit a spell” invite. No longer hardworking folk, slaves, sharecroppers, but now, drug-addled brains lighting up and dozing off. A few of us went up in flames while others watched and bled rusted nails.

One of us lost our balance, teetered . . . and fell over. Me and the other shacks yelled back and forth about it.

No reason to whisper now. No one to listen.

We were ready. Maybe some child could rumble through the wood and find a piece left good enough to make a kite and fly me down the street.


Colette R. Harrell
 made her debut as an author with the book, The Devil Made Me Do It. As a published author, she has enjoyed meeting her readers; for her, it’s all surreal. She holds a master’s degree and worked as a director of social services, which allowed her a front-row seat to the conflict and struggles of everyday people. 

Her day is filled as an Author, Playwright, Story Editor, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, and child of God. She wears many titles allowing twenty-four hours a day to meet the challenge. 

 Her goal in writing is to engage readers and provide them with golden nuggets of wisdom that feed and titillate. Her biggest lesson is that it takes a village to raise a dream. She loves and appreciates her village. 

She prays everything God has for you manifests in your life. And that you stretch and reach for it! 

Colette’s latest book is the historical/interracial/supernatural/paranormal Later.

You can visit her website at Coletteharrell.com  or connect with her on TwitterFacebookGoodreads or Instagram.

Sponsored By:

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5 Things You Should Know About Moon Deeds and the Star Children Saga

By Palmer Pickering

1. The Star Children Saga is an adult science-fantasy cross-genre series. It features magic in space and other alien worlds, mixing the hard science of moon colonization with shamanic magic. I think of it more like epic fantasy in a science-fiction setting. Think of Star Wars or Dune in the way spirituality and unseen forces and powers are placed in an offworld setting involving other planets, space travel, alien species, space colonization, etc. 

2. The premise of the long story arc of the series is that humans are descended from an alien race, the Star People, who reside on a lost planet across the galaxy. The Star People colonized several planets, and so we have cousins on other planets. Every thousand years, we need to reconnect with our ancestors in order to stay healthy and overcome our darker tendencies. However, the connection to the ancestral planet has been broken, and it’s up to our heroes, the Star Children, to find the Star People in order to save Earth and the galaxy from descending into a permanent Dark Age.

3. The story arc of the Moon Deeds Trilogy is that one of our alien cousin races, the Cephs, have invaded Earth and are turning it into a slave colony. One of the only remaining free places is the moon. Our heroes want to escape to the moon, using deeds to land on the moon that they inherited, and try to save Earth and their parents. The Cephs and their half-breed army, the Tegs, have alien weapons technology, and the only defense against it is magic.

4. The magic systems are largely based on shamanism. This includes things like elemental shields, plant-spirit medicine, power animals, and lucid dreaming. Other magic systems include clairvoyance, the use of crystals, and portals. The protagonists suffer various challenges and aggressions as other people recognize their power and want to take it for themselves. The more severe the challenges, the more the protagonists unlock their power.

5. The books are long, with adult language and mature themes. Not YA. Some people think because the protagonists are twenty-year-olds and there is some coming-of-age aspects to it that it is YA or New Adult. But really it’s targeted at adults who love epic fantasy. While it is mostly a quest story of hope, family, and friendship, there are dystopian and dark undertones and some graphic scenes. Moon Deeds is available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. Light Fighters is available in trade paperback and ebook. You can find them anywhere books are sold.

About the Author

Palmer Pickering has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.

She currently works in Silicon Valley in the gaming industry and high tech. In addition, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.

She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

Her latest book is the scifi fantasy for adults, Moon Deeds: Star Children Saga Book One.

You can visit her website at www.MythologyPress.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

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Author: Jennifer Chase

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 402

Genre: Crime Thriller

The water ripples as the girl’s body escapes the reeds and floats silently upwards. Her beautiful face—blue eyes frozen open, skin as white as snow—breaks the surface. But it’s too late, this innocent soul has taken her final breath…

When camp counselor Carolyn Sable’s body is found floating in a lake beside Eagle Ridge Summer Camp, Detective Katie Scott must dig deep to stay focused. As a child, Katie spent many happy weeks at that camp toasting marshmallows on the fire with her best friend Jenny… until the day Jenny disappeared. The loss will always haunt Katie, but Carolyn’s inconsolable family need answers.

Searching the area, the devastating discovery of two more bodies sends the case into a tailspin. Suddenly on the hunt for a serial killer, Katie’s blood turns to ice when she finds newspaper clippings about her own past cases planted near one of the bodies. Was this twisted killer banking on Katie taking the lead? And why?

Carolyn was adored by children and staff at the camp, so Katie thinks her sudden resignation is key to cracking the case. Uncovering a tragic accident involving a group of children in the weeks before Carolyn left, Katie knows she’s getting close.

But when the carefully laid trap Katie sets to catch Carolyn’s killer backfires, Katie finds herself in unthinkable danger and unable to even trust her own team. Can she stay alive long enough to crack the toughest case of her career, and how many more innocent lives will be lost before she does?

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author. Fans of of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh will be sleeping with the lights on!

Everyone is talking about Silent Little Angels:

I still have goosebumps! Omg……… amazing…I flew through the pages with Olympic speed. I was hooked from the very first page.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

One hell of an unpredictable rollercoaster ride with several twists and turns along the way… I almost had to read through my fingers… A brilliant, and highly recommended read.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

“It kept me guessing right until the end. There is plenty of action, suspense, and tension. I’ve become so invested in these characters. I was glued to this one and up way past my bedtime. I couldn’t put it down.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

“I read this in one very short sitting, I couldn’t put it down. It was well written with well-developed characters and a gripping storyline that was full of mystery, tension and twists… a thrilling read.” NetGalley reviewer

All-time favoriteI was shouting in my head, don’t go back therewow!” I Spooky’s Maze Of Books, 5 stars

THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN!!!!!… I was literally holding my breathI HAD TO KNOW!!!!! As for the explosive ending: WOW definitely not what, or who I was expecting.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Book Information

Release Date: April 19 2022

Publisher:  Bookouture

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1803142319; 402 pages; $11.99; E-Book, $3.99; FREE Audiobook with Audible Trial; eBook FREE with Kindle Unlimited Membership

Amazon: https://amzn.to/38HWeJ2  

Chapter One


Tuesday 0930 hours

The luxurious dark-gray sedan crept along the rural road that led up to where Eagle Ridge Camp was nestled in the beautiful, wooded hills of Sequoia County, California. In places along the track, large pine tree branches arched downward creating makeshift tunnels. As the car climbed, the views of the rolling hills and the picturesque town of Pine Valley became even more spectacular.

William and Jane Faulkner grew increasingly uncomfortable the closer they approached the property. They watched from the car as the beautiful forestry hills turned into a heavily wooded area that was almost impassable. The attraction of the potential investment property seemed to become less valuable the closer they got to Eagle Ridge Camp.

Mr. Faulkner glanced at the real estate agent Daniel Green, who had been highly recommended, and watched him grip the steering wheel tighter as he navigated around road hazards. He turned to the backseat and observed his wife as she strummed her long, polished nails on the door handle: sour expression with a downturned mouth. It was clear that she was not happy about being dragged this far out of town. He had second thoughts too.

“We’re just about there,” Daniel said, forcing a smile.

“The road is… barely passable,” said Mr. Faulkner. He gripped the handle of the door to steady himself.

“It’s nothing that couldn’t be easily cleared in a few hours with some bulldozers. It would be a cinch to clear the heavy brush—maybe remove a tree or two. The road itself is in pretty good condition, so it wouldn’t be difficult to scrape and level with a good construction company. There’s also another utility road that comes into the property from the other side. But…” he continued, mustering some zeal, “this road gives you the best view of the most beautiful fifty acres in the county. It’s an amazing investment opportunity.”

The couple stared silently out the windows—seemingly not convinced.

Daniel pushed the high-performance car up the last incline to where the land then leveled out and opened into spectacular views of stunning meadows and groupings of trees.

“Wow,” Mr. Faulkner said under his breath. Finally, he could see past the overgrowth and grasp the potential. “This is amazing. And thank you for making time for us today. We’re on a flight to France tomorrow.”

His wife leaned forward to get a better look through the windshield. Her face softened in wonder as she gazed at the rolling countryside unfolding around them.

Daniel pulled to the left and parked. “You ready for a bit of a walk? You brought your hiking shoes, right?”

The couple nodded.

“Great,” he replied and opened the car door while the couple changed their shoes.

He checked his pockets to make sure he had the keys that opened the main buildings. Filled with nervous energy, he jingled his own car keys against them as he paced in front of the car, surveying the area.

The pines arched and swayed around them in the breeze, blowing their sweet scent through the air. Daniel turned to look down the valley at the various towns he could see in the distance: pretty as a postcard. Fresh air, birds fluttering in the trees, and the warmth of the gentle rays of sun upon his face.

Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner emerged from the car and slowly closed the doors.

“How about we check out the main buildings and then have a look at the lake?” Daniel said.

“Sounds good,” Mr. Faulkner said, still surveying the area. “So, how long has this camp been closed? It’s been on the market, for what, almost two years?”

They began walking along a narrow trail. Before them were some large buildings, clustered around the main clearing, the gentle rolling hills visible behind them. Weeds crunched underneath their shoes as they weaved along the unkempt path.

“It closed about five years ago,” said Daniel.

“I see.”

“We’ve had several interested parties, but something always went wrong with the escrow. Investors pulled out. Money didn’t get transferred. Things like that. We’ve even had a foreign investor wanting to turn it into a family theme park for a while now, but it’s moving slowly.”

As they walked around the area, Mr. Faulkner felt his enthusiasm grow. He glanced at his wife, and she, too, smiled and raised her eyebrows in growing expectation.

Daniel made an abrupt left turn on the path and began to move downward. The trees clustered closely again around them, before the huge trunks opened into another serene clearing surrounded by gently rolling hills. “This is the south end of Echo Valley, where the lake begins.”

“Echo Valley?” Mrs. Faulkner asked.

Hello, hello,” he called out, letting his voice resonate around them before fading away.

All three of them stood for a moment and listened. The calmness and beauty of the area was worth a moment of silence.

“C’mon. You’re in for a real treat,” Daniel said. He quickened his pace around two large trees. An enormous lake glistened before them, surrounded by the hills. There was not a ripple across the surface, and the reflections of the nearby trees, grasses, and the partly cloudy sky were cast back at them like a visual echo. Just to Daniel’s left, a little boathouse and wharf sat at the lake’s edge.

“I told you,” said Daniel. “This is only one of many amazing views on the plot. Can you imagine taking a kayak out at sunset? Or building a dream house here? Just breathtaking.” He paused and took a gentle deep breath.

The Faulkners walked over to the dock to get a closer look at the birds swooping and diving around the lake. Daniel followed silently behind them, as the weathered boards creaked gently underfoot.

A soft bumping sound could be heard from within the boathouse at the end of the jetty, and curious, Daniel took a detour to take a quick look. He pushed open the door, which hung cockeyed off its hinges. They gave way with a prickling screech. Inside was revealed a long wooden deck along with several well-worn hooks, used to secure canoes and kayaks.

Hearing the couple behind him, he called out, “Watch your footing, one of the planks is missing.”

The couple followed him inside.

Mr. Faulkner looked closely at the structure. He wondered how much it would cost to build a proper boathouse. He saw Daniel looking down into the water at something dark, something that bumped against the underneath side of the deck with the lapping of the wavelets created from the mountain breeze.

“What is that?” asked Mr. Faulkner, straining to see.

Mr. Faulkner watched Daniel awkwardly kneel down to grasp the end of a piece of rope that was floating nearby. It appeared to be clean and new, totally out of place in a boathouse that had been abandoned for years. The agent pulled at it until there was a resistance.

The dark mass came closer into view with every tug of the rope. As it broke the surface, it rolled to one side and, to Mr. Faulkner’s horror, they stared at a woman’s face; dark eyes fixed open, skin opaque and shiny like artificial rubber. Brown hair swirled in the water around her pale cheeks, framing her face.

Daniel gasped.

“What?” said Mr. Faulkner, not believing what he was actually seeing.

“It’s…” Daniel couldn’t form the words. “She’s…”

“What?” demanded Mrs. Faulkner before leaning in for a closer look. There was a pause before she registered the face staring back at her, screamed, and then ran from the boathouse, her hurried footsteps crashing through the valley path.

“What the hell. Is she dead…?” Mr. Faulkner whispered over Daniel’s shoulder.

Daniel leaned forward. His eyes locked on the dead woman’s gaze.

Mr. Faulkner had never seen a dead body before. Sucking in a breath, he watched Daniel pull at the rope once again, dragging the woman’s body closer. Her torso, oversized from bloat, rolled over so her face was forced downward with one arm out to her side. The other arm was… missing. He could see that she was dressed in dark pants and a light short-sleeved shirt. Shoes missing, her feet ballooned and, cartoon-like, floated on the surface.

“Call the police,” Daniel whispered to Mr. Faulkner without looking back at him.

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a 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 psychopath, 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, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Her latest book is the crime thriller, Silent Little Angels.

You can visit her website at www.AuthorJenniferChase.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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Title: Dangerous Waters
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Ottawa Press and Publishing
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery


Old habits die hard…

Sgt. Windflower tries his best to ease away from life as a Mountie, but the lure of an investigation is too hard to resist.

After a missing man turns up dead, Sgt. Windflower is pulled in to investigate. Meanwhile, the arrival of a group of unique foreign visitors during a snowstorm in Grand Bank offers up another mystery. Even with so much going on, Windflower can’t resist the enticement of a good meal and a trip to the island of Saint Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland.

But when things get rough, Windflower can always rely on Eddie Tizzard and the gang to have his back.

As always, Windflower’s wife Sheila and their daughters are beacons of love and support as he navigates dangerous waters.

Grand Bank beckons you to another great story in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series.

Book Information

Release Date: April 30, 2022

Publisher:  Ottawa Press and Publishing

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1988437828; 288 pages; $16.95; eBook $4.99: FREE Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3RczNNA  

Chapter One

Eddie Tizzard looked down at the three files on his desk. Three men, all in their early sixties, reported missing from their homes and families in Grand Bank. One, Cedric Skinner, was found floating at the far end of Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s. The other two, Paddy Slaney and Leo Broderick, were still missing. 

He had just finished talking to Leo Broderick’s wife. She was doubly distraught, first by the unexplained absence of her husband, then by the death of Cedric Skinner and the disappearance of Paddy Slaney. “What’s going on?” she’d asked Tizzard. He had few answers for her or the other women in this small community on the southeast coast of Newfoundland. 

“We’ll do everything we can,” he told Leo Broderick’s wife. But truthfully, right now, there wasn’t much anything he or anybody else could do to bring her husband back. He only hoped that it wasn’t too late.

Tizzard leaned back in his chair and looked out the window. There was snow on the ground and more falling by the hour. Nothing unusual there. February in Newfoundland at the easternmost tip of Canada was cold, wet, and snowy. What was unusual was the fact that this wasn’t his chair, and it wasn’t his office. He looked down and saw something else that was new: corporal’s stripes on his uniform. Two chevrons, to be exact, and an Acting Corporal title to go along with them.

He was acting head of the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Mounties. He had been a corporal before but was demoted when he had an altercation with a superior officer. But now they needed him, so they gave him back his stripes, at least on a temporary basis until they figured things out. What caused all of this to unfold was the sudden resignation of his old boss, Sergeant Winston Windflower. That’s whose chair Tizzard was sitting in as he looked out at the snowy morning in Grand Bank.

Winston Windflower wasn’t looking out the window, nor was he thinking about Tizzard or the Mounties this morning. He and his co-worker, Levi Parsons, were nearly done refinishing the hardwood floors at the beautiful old B&B that Windflower and his wife Sheila Hillier owned and co-managed. Levi was a shy and quiet young man who had somehow built a friendship with the much older Windflower, and under his tutelage, had been working at the B&B for a couple of years now. He was even taking hotel and hospitality classes to learn the management skills he needed to help run the B&B. 

But today the skills he needed were more of the manual labour type. They had already sanded and buffed the floors over the weekend, and now they were applying a new coat of stain. Tomorrow, they would start on the finish, and three coats of that later they would have perfect-looking hardwood floors to welcome their first dinner guests.

The B&B had been closed for over a year since the pandemic, and they were using this time, and Windflower had lots of it, to fix up the place before what they hoped would be a stellar tourist season. It had better be, thought Windflower. They would soon be without any steady income when his last few cheques from the RCMP dried up. Sheila had lots of business ideas cooking, but none were ready to provide them with the finances they would like to support their lifestyle and two small children. 

Levi went off to clean their brushes while Windflower poured himself a coffee in the kitchen and walked upstairs. He went to the small veranda on the second floor and opened the doors. The cool, fresh air flooded in, aided by the ever-present wind. He stared out, past the lighthouse and what was left of downtown Grand Bank, into the vastness of the ocean. It always calmed him to have this view, and today was no exception. He paused for a few moments, gave thanks for the view and the beautiful day, and went downstairs.

He went out the back door of the B&B so as not to disturb the good work they had done so far on the hardwood floors. He was going to head home when he saw a familiar face waving at him from across the street. Herb Stoodley was the co-owner of the Mug-Up café, the best and only diner in Grand Bank. Herb and his wife Moira were also self-adopted grandparents to Windflower’s two children. Stella was a bright and curious five-year-old and Amelia Louise was a two-and-half-year-old whirlwind. 

Herb and Windflower had hit it off from near the beginning when Windflower was first assigned to Grand Bank. They shared a love of the law, with Herb being a former Crown attorney, and under his tutelage Windflower was learning to share his love of classical music as well. The latest offering that Herb had provided was a version of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 recorded by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Windflower liked listening to classical music when he went on his weekly runs on Sunday morning with Amelia Louise on his back. This piece was perfect, thought Windflower as he thought about the swirling of the instruments and the haunting piano that pulled you back in.

“Morning, Herb,” said Windflower. 

“How are ya, b’y?” asked Stoodley. “You bored yet?”

“The B&B is keeping me going right now,” said Windflower. “Although I have to say that it’s hard to drive past the office without stopping in. My car just naturally wants to turn into the parking lot.”

“It may be like that for a while,” said Herb. “How’s Sheila and the girls?”

“They’re all well,” said Windflower. “Sheila’s working on getting some financing for some of her projects, and the girls are great. Stella is getting figure skating lessons in Marystown, and Amelia Louise is as rambunctious as ever.”

“They’re both so much fun,” said Herb. “Moira is knitting new hats for them, but don’t tell them, it’s a surprise.”

“They love surprises,” said Windflower. “Anyway, I gotta run. Sheila needs the car to pick up some groceries. We’ll see you soon. Oh, and thanks for the Rachmaninoff.”

“Glad you liked it,” said Herb. “It’s one of my favourites. When you’re ready, I have another one for you.”

“Thanks, Herb,” said Windflower as he waved goodbye to Herb and drove slowly home. He paused by the RCMP detachment, just for a moment. It looked busy, he thought, with one car pulling in and another leaving. With a small pang of something that might be regret, he passed by and headed for home. Sheila and Amelia Louise were glad to see him. Sheila, especially. She kissed him on the cheek and took the car keys from his hand. “I’ll see you soon,” she said. “There’s soup on the stove.”

The other one who was pleased that he was home was Lady, his Collie and four-legged ally. There was another pet in the house, Molly the cat. But Molly did not move from her basket in the kitchen, even when Lady started her happy dance around Windflower and Amelia Louise. Windflower looked over at her once and thought he could see her peeking, but she gave no indication that she could care one way or another that the so-called master of the house was home.

She and Windflower had a like-hate relationship. He tried to like her, but she clearly showed him only disdain. “Never mind,” said Windflower, mostly to himself as he looked around at the random display of toys in the living room. He understood immediately why Sheila needed to get out. Fast. Amelia Louise was adorable, but she was also a nonstop Energizer Bunny. Before she could loop Windflower into her next game, he preempted her with an offer of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

They went to the kitchen, and he lifted her up so she could see the pea soup in the pot on the stove. 

“Pea soup,” he said. “My favourite.”

“My favrit, too,” said Amelia Louise.

She helped him get the sandwiches ready. Helping consisted of her eating a slice of cheese and telling him a story that really had no beginning and clearly no end. Windflower knew this game and played along by nodding at what he thought were the most important moments in his daughter’s monologue. He put the sandwiches on the frying pan, and while they were cooking, he took up a bowl of soup for her to cool as they were waiting.

When the sandwiches were done, he put her in her chair and tried feeding her the soup. That lasted about three spoonful’s and then she grabbed the spoon from his hands. There would soon be soup everywhere, but Windflower would clean that up later. He gave Amelia Louise part of her sandwich and sat to enjoy his soup.

The pea soup was excellent, and he savoured every drop of the thick and creamy broth with flecks of salt meat and chunks of carrot and turnip. He was just finishing up when Sheila came in with her bags of groceries. He helped her put the things away, cleaned up Amelia Louise and the kitchen and then got everybody, including Lady, ready for a walk around the neighbourhood. With Amelia Louise in her wagon and Lady on her leash, they walked down their street and then headed down to the wharf.

As Windflower and most of his family were enjoying walking around Grand Bank this snowy afternoon, Eddie Tizzard was on the phone with his new supervisor, Inspector Bill Ford. Ford was actually acting, like Tizzard. He had almost retired but was pressed back into service when the previous inspector, Ron Quigley, took a promotion in Ottawa. 

“I’m sorry, Eddie, but we haven’t got a body to spare over here either,” said Ford. “We’ve got two active drug investigations underway and a hit-and-run that needs to be looked into as well. We’re just getting by in Marystown as it is.”

“There’s no way I can do justice to this case by myself,” said Tizzard. “And we’re getting tons of pressure. Not just from the families of the men who are missing, but throughout the community. We need to figure this thing out.”

“Well, do your best for now,” said Ford. “I’ll call up the line to see if we can’t get you another body somewhere.”

“Thank you, Inspector,” said Tizzard wearily. He hung up and went to the back to get himself a snack. His dad always said never to try to think on an empty stomach. He quoted Albert Einstein to him once: “An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.” Good advice thought Tizzard as he poked around in the fridge and found a piece of leftover pizza that he popped into the microwave. He sat to enjoy his pizza when his cell phone rang.

It was Constable Rick Smithson, the youngest member of his RCMP team.

“Hey, what’s up?” asked Tizzard.

“There’s a body,” said Smithson. “I’m down by the brook, closer to the dam. I got waved down as I was coming back from Fortune. Roy Saunders found him. He was out walking his dog.”

“Do we know who it is?” asked Tizzard. 

“Roy says it’s Leo Broderick,” said Smithson. “I’ve called the paramedics.”

“Okay,” said Tizzard. “I’ll be right over.”

About the Author

Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 12 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Dangerous WatersA Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Mike has also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Some Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are now available as audiobooks and the latest A Long Ways from Home was released as an audiobook in 2022. All audiobooks are available from Audible in Canada and around the world.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers and Capital Crime Writers.

His latest book is the mystery, Dangerous Waters.

You can visit his website at https://SgtWindflowerMysteries.com/  or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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