Posts Tagged ‘Ghosts’


Join Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace, as she tours the blogosphere January 2 – March 29 2013 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!  This tour is part of a huge Kindle Fire HD Giveaway. You can enter HERE.


ImagePamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.




About the Book:

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.



Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Pamela. It’s great to have you here. Tell us, would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely. Writing is my go-to form of expression. When my husband and I were dating, he wooed me with his spoken words. I would stare back at him, big-eyed and speechless. He worried that I didn’t feel the same way he did. It wasn’t that I lacked his feelings. It was that I needed to write it down to “say” it to him. He received some lovely letters for me before I found my physical voice.

What was your inspiration for Saving Grace?

I lived in the Caribbean for nearly ten years, part of that time in a big jumbie (ghost) house in the rainforest. My experiences in that amazing house inspired me to write Saving Grace and the rest of the upcoming Katie & Annalise series.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I am intrigued by the struggle to master oneself, to achieve growth and self-control while remaining serene enough serenity to release the things that are outside of one’s control.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I started the Katie & Annalise series five years before I published Saving Grace, the first novel in the series. The actual book took me six months to write.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.  

I am driven more than I am disciplined. I may go weeks without working on a book, although I write every day for other, smaller projects. But when it is time to meet a book deadline, I write around the clock, stopping for nothing but food, ibuprofen, and ice.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Saving Grace was my debut novel, but, by the time it was published, I had finished writing the entire series. In writing the series, I found that I had to go back and completely (and I do mean completely) rewrite the story of Saving Grace. I salvaged 15,000 of the original 85,000 words and ended up with a fresh 85,000-word book. So, for me, the hardest part was letting go of the original version, pulling out that proverbial blank sheet of paper, and having the oomph left to do it one more time when I was really ready for a break. When I did the rewrite, though, it was magic and flowed like nothing I’d ever written before.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love feeling the rightness of words flowing one into another, of perfect images that bring a secret smile to a reader’s face, of crying and laughing out loud as I write a story. I love living it. I become my protagonist. My entire family prays for me to finish the book so we can all quit living out the drama of the scenes, one by one, over and over.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I am an author-preneur who indie published with SkipJack Publishing (http://SkipJackPublishing.com). Since I have been told I am a control freak (perish the thought), I know that indie publishing was the right path for me. I have been elated with the results, although the process was long and hard. I had to learn the business of publishing from soup to nuts, and I still have a lot to learn. But it went so well that we will be open for submissions at SkipJack later this year, for women’s fiction and mysteries for women.

Where can we find you on the web?


Thanks, Pamela, and best of luck with Saving Grace! 



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In order for paranormal fiction – any fiction, really – to have an impact on the reader, you’ve got to strive for that old cliché, “the willing suspension of disbelief.” In effect you’re inviting the reader into funhouse of your own creation. You meet him at the entrance and whisper in his ear: “Hey, look, dude: We both know that there’s no such thing as vampires, and demons, and ghosts, and all that. But let’s pretend, you and I – just for a little while. And who knows, maybe you’ll feel a bit differently about such things – in the dark. Now take my hand – it’s time to go inside.” Then the reader turns to page one – and so it begins.

So how do you help the reader get to that cooperative frame of mind that will allow you to really mess up with his head? The answer, in a word, is plausibility. Apart from the vampires, or ghosts, or werewolves (or, as in the case of my novel Hard Spell, all three and more) everything else in the story has got to seem as realistic as possible. It seems to me that there are two ways to achieve plausibility, and the wise speculative fiction writer will use both of them.

One is consistency. Not only do the supernatural elements have to remain consistent with each other (if sunlight fries vampires in your world, then you’d better not have one going for a noonday stroll later in the story – unless he’s using a lot of sunscreen), but also with the reader’s understanding of the real world.

So, say you’ve got a couple of cops, in a universe where the supernatural exists and everyone knows it. Sometimes supernatural creatures break the law, and you’ve got to bust ‘em. But the writer should treat it as normal police routine. You bust a vampire – perhaps you have to use the threat of a crucifix or some garlic to subdue him, but you’ve done it before. You put on the cuffs – maybe a pair that’s silver-plated – read the vamp his rights, and take him to the station. On the way, you and your partner talk about sports, or women, or bitch about your boss. You don’t make a big deal about having a vampire in the back seat, because in your world it isn’t a big deal. Your cops are acting consistent with the way cops act in “normal” TV and movies (which presumably reflects real life, more or less), and that gives you plausibility.

The other route to plausibility is detail. You make your world seem real by putting real things in it, to the greatest extent possible. Your cops don’t stop at “a fast food place” and have lunch. They stop at the Mickey Dee’s on 4th Street where one cop orders the Double Whopper with Cheese and the other gets the nine-piece McNuggets, even though he’s always getting the barbecue sauce on his shirt, which pisses his wife Margaret off no end when she has to launder it. And those cops, they don’t carry “guns.” Each holster contains a 9-mm Beretta, the same model used by the U.S. military, even though Harry’s brother, who’s with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan, says the things haven’t got near the stopping power of the old .45s that used to be standard military issue. Stephen King does this a lot (and very well), and some critics get on him for it, saying that a King novel is a “pop-culture extravaganza, full of brand names and trademarks” (that’s not a real quote, but it’s close). They say that like it’s a bad thing – but its not. It’s one way of making it real. And for your reader to believe the unbelievable, he or she has to be visiting a world that seems real. That’s the only way to gain willing suspension of disbelief – which in paranormal fiction is just another word for “entertainment.”

So take my hand, and let’s go through the fun house together. Yes, I know it’s dark, but the floor is even – you won’t trip. Probably. And if something should reach out for you from the dark – something with cold flesh and sharp claws and breath that reeks of the graveyard – just remind yourself: “It’s only a story.”

About the author:

Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings. After earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

He was married to Patricia A. Grogan of Toledo, Ohio, from 1977 until her death in 2007. He misses her a lot. Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read. In the Summer of 2008, he attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

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The Blurb:

Amanda Thorne is an embattled clairvoyant, who refuses to believe in God or the afterlife, even when the ghost of her murdered husband confronts her from his grave. More ghosts confront her when she finds herself stranded in a tiny town in Arizona.

Two of them mistake her for a prominent woman who was murdered 79 years ago. One of them wants to avenge him for the murder, and the other wants to kill her all over again. She and her misplaced deputy friend must uncover the truth about the murder before history repeats itself.

The Author:

Deborah Woehr is a writer, artist and problogger who lives in San Jose, California. She is well-known for her blog, The Writers Buzz. Currently, she writes for Syntagma Media’s Paranormal Watch.

The Excerpt:

“You’re dead.”

“I know. You put me here.”

Amanda Thorne gazed at her dead husband, who stood five feet in front of her, his head and face perfectly intact when they shouldn’t have been. She had gone to the funeral home to view his body. He had no business standing here, in front of his grave, accusing her of killing him.

“You’re not going to get away with this!” Joel’s eyes darkened as the familiar rage grew inside of him. “You should be here, not me.”

“I didn’t do this,” Amanda said in a tight whisper. “You did this to yourself!”

He punched her square in the chest, sending her sprawling across the wet grass. “You sent him after me, you lying, sneaking, conniving bitch.”

Joel stood over her. “I’m going to get you,” he promised her.


Amanda stared at the overcast sky, Joel and his punch an instant memory. She pulled herself up, aware of her bare feet and her silk pajamas. A middle–aged police officer stood on the road that separated the section where Joel’s grave lay from another section of the cemetery.

“What are you doing here?” he said, as he appraised her with bloodshot eyes. He had caught her in here at least an hour before the cemetery opened to the public.

“I don’t know,” she said hazily. The last thing she remembered was going to bed, but her house was four miles away. “I don’t know how I got here.”

“You look familiar to me.”

Amanda shrugged her shoulders. She looked past him, and then to her left, towards the cemetery’s entrance.

“What’s your name?”

“Amanda Thorne.”

The officer turned to his side so he could see what she was looking at, and to keep an eye on her.
“What are you looking for?”

“My car. I don’t see it.” She hugged herself against a sudden cold gust of wind. Did I walk all the way out here?

“Where do you live?”

“The Garden Apartments. Do you know where that is?”

“Yeah. How did you get here, if you didn’t drive?” The officer was intrigued.

Amanda cleared her throat. “I think I walked. I woke up in here.”

“Ho! No, shit? That’s a pretty long way to sleepwalk, Mrs. Thorne.” He stared at her as though he were still trying to place her.

She didn’t recognize him, although she had had many interviews with the San Jose Police detectives, both before and after Joel had died. He was just another uniform, as far as she was concerned. “Will you take me to Valley Med? I think I’m having a reaction to my prescription.”

“I don’t think that’s the cause of this.” The cop walked past her and up to Joel’s grave.

Amanda let her gaze wander around the cemetery. Monterey Highway was visible from her vantage point, allowing her to watch the beginning of the morning commute.


“What?” She looked over her shoulder at the cop.

“Let’s go.”

“Are you taking me to the hospital or to jail?”

“I’m taking you home.”

Amanda walked with him to the entrance. The chapel sat on the left side of the gate. She couldn’t figure out if it was an English or Dutch style building. The walls were painted an ugly cream color, mottled with dark brown stones.

It had stained–glass windows and a stone chimney. The roof matched the stone insets, but it didn’t look like any roof she had seen in San Jose. It looked like someone had draped a wet, scaly skin over the top of the building, and left it there to dry. The eaves curled inward, giving the impression that she was looking at a fat toadstool.

She knew what it was, a chapel and a mortuary. Joel’s casket had sat inside that chapel. His father and sister were the only family who had attended the funeral. The rest of his family stood by his mother’s “deathbed,” making sure she didn’t OD on martinis and Valium. ‘I just couldn’t bear the thought of burying my Joely,’ she would later tell Amanda.

“You okay?” the cop said, shattering her reverie when he laid his hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry.” Amanda gave him an apologetic smile when she realized that she had stopped to stare at that awful building. The wind was picking up again, carrying the spray of the water fountain with it. She clutched at her pajama top in vain.

“You want my jacket?”

“No, thanks.”

The cruiser sat next to the curb, its yellow lights flashing. Amanda walked alongside the cop, grateful that she wasn’t wearing handcuffs for the world to see. It was bad enough to be walking around in her pajamas and bare feet.

“Do you have anybody you can talk to?” Moreno asked with sincerity.

“Yes,” Amanda lied. Joel had alienated her friends, but his murder had chased them away for good. She had no one but her psychiatrist, who was more interested in doping her up with Paxil than listening to her.

This experience was a fluke, she told herself. It won’t happen again.

Moreno sat her in the front seat of his cruiser as another cruiser pulled up behind him. Amanda turned around in her seat after he closed the door, and watched the two cops meet on the sidewalk. They began talking about her in hushed tones.

A lot of people had talked about her after the murder. Few had approached her with direct questions, or to ask her how she was “holding up.” As far as everyone was concerned, she had killed her husband. Five months later, the police were still watching her and waiting for her to confess to the killing.

Amanda turned away from the officers, who were laughing at some private joke. She couldn’t remember the last time she had laughed or smiled. It had been a long time.

Without warning, the radio belched out static. Then a female voice uttered some cop code, followed by plain English. A shooting had occurred in the Capitol and Quimby area, which was nothing new. Most likely, it was gang–related. Amanda tuned out the radio and looked at the cops through the side view mirror.

They were still talking.

“Open the glove box.”

Amanda’s eyes widened at the urgent whisper of a male voice. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a jean–clad leg. Someone was sitting next to her, and it wasn’t Moreno. It was a Mexican gang–banger, with a ragged bullet hole in the side of his neck.

“Come on, bitch! Open the fuckin’ glove box before he comes back! I don’t want him to see me like this.”

Amanda gaped at the kid’s neck. “What?”

Before he could answer, the driver’s side door opened. “You okay in there?” the cop said, hesitant about getting in the front seat with her.

“Could you take me to Valley Med, please? I’m hallucinating.”


PROSPERITY: A GHOST STORY VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will continue until the end of February. If you would like to follow Deborah’s tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/. Leave a comment and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this page on February 29!

Purchase the book from Lulu.

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