Today’s author is here with her award winning novel, the first in a series (so you can get started now!). The only reason you’d find her with a haunted doll is if she was attempting to exorcise it. What a Good Samaritan she is. Welcome Jan Sikes!
Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?
Hands-down, “Misery.” The thought of being trapped in an isolated, remote location with a deranged psychotic person who loves you to death is about as unsettling as it gets for me. It was such a great story premise, and the movie was equally as good as the book.
Would you buy a doll that you knew was haunted?
Not only NO but Hell No! Why invite trouble when life is hard enough! I might try to find a way to destroy the haunted doll and release the spirit, but I’d never knowingly bring one into my home.
Do you believe in any ‘mythical’ monsters like chupacabras or shadow people?
Yep. Myths and legends get started from somewhere or someone’s experience. So, I definitely believe some of these myths and legends come from actual occurrences. I haven’t seen any mythical monsters, but I have seen ghosts and UFOs.
How do you use social media as an author?
I think my response would be what most authors would say, and that is to forge connections and gain readers. I use Twitter exclusively for all things author-related. I use Facebook for personal reasons, as well as authorly. But ultimately, all social media platforms need to serve a purpose, or I won’t use them. My favorite social media platform is my blog.
Have you ever traveled as research for any of your books?
Yes! In May, I took a trip to a certain part of Missouri to learn about the area and to actually lay eyes on the landscape. I utilized a local library to go through reels of microfiche from the time period my story takes place. I found some pretty coincidental things such as a death notice for a person with the same last name of my character, which I adopted as my character’s father. It was also helpful to see the price of items in 1947.
What are you working on now?
This question goes hand-in-hand with the traveling for research one. The book I am currently working on is Literary Fiction or Historical Fiction set in 1947 in a tiny town in Southwestern Missouri. The title is “A Beggar’s Bargain.” And I am past the 50,000 word mark, so it is coming along. This is different from anything I’ve ever written. There are lots of challenges to staying true to the time period, but I am loving everything about this story!
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet, comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she,” a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after,” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. The entertaining true story comes to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books.
And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, Book 1 in The White Rune Series, in 2020, which won a bronze medal award from Reader’s Favorite. Jagged Feathers was released on January 31, 2022, as Book 2 of that series and garnered an Honorable Mention from Reader’s Favorite, plus won 4th place in the North Texas Book Festival Book Awards. Saddled Hearts, Book 3,will release on October 19, 2022.
She is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.
Happy Halloween! Here we are at the last day of Bad Moon Rising. I don’t know about you, but this month passed in the blink of an eye for me. A variety of books have been featured ranging from children’s books for the little guys up through adults. They’ve hit plenty of targets on the horror/thriller/supernatural spectrum from “What was that creak?” to “Think I’ll sleep with the light on tonight”, up to “I’m locking this book in a trunk and dropping it in the lake where nothing can escape.”
Today’s featured book is on the lighter end of the spectrum for readers who prefer their horror to be kinder and gentler. His book features a haunted house and judging by the three items he’d take to spend the night in one, he’s adequately prepared. Welcome James J. Cudney!
Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?
This is a tough choice! I’d be okay with either one, honestly… but I’ll choose the haunted house. I love to be scared, and the opportunity to sleep in one, maybe for a million dollars upon survival, seems really cool. Wait… that’s a movie plot that didn’t go very well for some of the guests. I’m sure I would make it through the night; I tend to be lucky, and I’d be the one trying to solve the mystery. But if I did choose the coffin, I would sleep well as long as it was dark and I could breathe easily. I tend to toss and turn a bit, so that might be uncomfortable if it were too small.
Name three items you’d take to spend the night in a haunted house.
Handcuffs to lock up the creep who was haunting it, since the likelihood is that it was not a ghost but a real human being. A heavy, thick bottle of whiskey to be sure I could drink some (for fun and energy) and knock anyone bothering me over the head with it. A camera to record exactly what is going on the whole night. It might also serve as footage for a future movie or to remember what happened when I write the details into a future book. I’m sure my cell phone would die, so that would be useless to bring… and guns and knives could easily be used against me, hence why those weren’t options. I’m trying to think ahead!!! Shall we partner up and protect each other, Teri?
Would you rather use a Ouija board or participate in a séance?
Definitely participate in a séance. I have used a Ouija board and it really comes down to who you are playing the game with. If someone won’t truly focus, it’s kinda boring and not helpful. But in a séance, if it’s done properly (fake or real), you could really have quite an amazing time. In reality, I would love to connect with spirits just to ask a bunch of questions and learn about the past. Not mean ones though… they can leave me alone!
Do you write to music?
No! I need completely silence. I think music influences the words or emotions I would place into the book. Sometimes this is good. I suppose I could listen to sad songs when writing a tearful scene or haunting music when writing a thriller scene… but ultimately, I’d get caught up in the music and not be able to focus. I usually hide in a room where no one can find me for a few hours; then I get a lot done!
What was the hardest part of writing your author bio?
I don’t like to talk about myself, and there is not a whole lot intriguing about me. I broke it up into chunks to talk about different aspects of my life, but it feels boring… if I read it on a site, I’d scroll through to the next page. Ultimately, I personally choose my reads by the description of the story and not the author. I don’t care much if he or she is famous or indie, boring or exciting… so I think that’s why I skim over my own bio. It’s the same thing for LinkedIn or my resume; I have accomplished tons but I can’t possibly think about how to present it in any way that makes clear sense. I just know which job I’ll like and hate having to fix my resume to work for it!
What are you working on now?
I am editing my next book, Weathering Old Souls, a co-written novel with Didi Oviatt. It is a contemporary fiction novel that delves deep into one and half centuries of history. Here’s a brief description:
Abigail has always struggled with strange voices appearing inside her head. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that forever changes her future. There are moments from previous periods that serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, but they also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of these voices while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator. Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between some of the people they meet during the journey, and secrets long thought buried come to light in devastating ways. With the twisting of elements, numerical alignments, and the trauma of spiritual entanglements, no one will be the same… and just a few might not even be around anymore.
We’re hoping to negotiate a deal with a publisher by the end of 2020, and it will publish in 2021. I’ve also begun writing the seventh Braxton novel, and I’ll be revealing the title in the next few days! It will also publish in early 2021, assuming I can stop listening to music this month and finish writing the book by my 11/30 deadline!
Haunted House Ghost is the 5th of 6 published books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries. In this book, it’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
Haunted House Ghost – Excerpt
My mother scooped a heap of aromatic fruit salad into one of Nana D’s cherished Halloween-patterned dishes—orange-glazed china with floating white ghouls—then passed the serving bowl to me. “I didn’t scope out your new place this morning, Kellan. Are you leaving those ghoulish turrets in place? If it were my house, I’d focus on fixing that exterior, so it doesn’t resemble a scary monstrosity.”
“I suppose,” I replied wryly, ignoring her accidental insult. Should I mention the weird, unnerving incidents the contractors had witnessed? I’d given little credence to their jokes about tools moving around while no one was home, but after my latest disturbing dream and the supernatural presence this morning, I second-guessed my decision. “Nicky Endicott offered me a good deal on the price of the reno, and he’s been handling most of the work. They even hired extra guys this week to complete the initial phase on schedule.”
“Are you still worried it’s haunted by ghosts?” Nana D drizzled syrup on her voluminous stack of fluffy pancakes—I suddenly recalled that everything was pumpkin-flavored for her in October—and ravenously swallowed a forkful. Between her tiny button nose and the lengthy, henna-rinsed braid she’d soon trip over, Nana D was an undeniably humorous vision. When she put on her tailored green twill suit, I’d call her my lucky charm. It usually resulted in a painful pinch on the underside of my arm, but the utter shock and frustration on her face was worth the temporary discomfort.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Emma stated with the assurance of a much wiser girl. When raspberry jelly unexpectedly dripped to her chin, she snorted. “It’s just magic fairies.”
“Whatever it is, I don’t like it. Nicky separately chatted with the new workers this week. The crew claims someone in a white lace gown was floating on the second floor when they arrived to begin construction.” I’d thought at the time they must’ve drunk too much the night before, but after my own frightening and hair-raising experience, a cavernous dollop of fear stirred inexorably.
“What else happened? Maybe Eleanor can solve this hocus pocus nonsense.” My mother, already stuffed from a nonfat yogurt parfait and the miniscule morsel of pie filling she’d snuck earlier, aimlessly pushed fruit around her plate. No pancakes for her, mostly since her vanity echoed that of the queen from Snow White. Despite being ten years younger than my father and looking at least ten years younger than her true age, she constantly fretted about her weight and fading youth.
“Tools moved when no one was in the room. A minor overnight flood when Nicky supposedly turned off the water. Scratching noises inside the walls.” I swallowed the remaining food on my plate and pushed back my chair with a flourish. I wanted to unhook my belt to gain some breathing room but refused to admit defeat. I’d increase my upcoming workouts to counter the impulsive overeating. The stress of construction delays was wearing me down. “Eleanor threw angelica root around the house and volunteered to sing a freakish chant about poltergeists. She claims it’ll protect me against evil spirits.”
“I’m confident your prankster is the ghost of Prudence Grey. We’re approaching the fiftieth anniversary of her disappearance. She lived there with Hiram and is probably rolling in her grave, seething that he sold it.” Nana D unexpectedly shivered with excitement, then directed Emma to check on Baxter. “Little ears shouldn’t hear what I’m about to tell you.”
“Don’t even think about embellishing the story, Mom. We’ve heard you complain interminably about Hiram Grey’s past.” My mother was adamant about controlling Nana D’s gossipy nature. Though often careful with her words, someday, loose lips would bite Nana D in the you-know-where.
“Pish! Last time, I only told Kellan that Prudence disappeared. The truth would’ve scared him from buying the house, despite Ulan’s imminent arrival in Pennsylvania.” Nana D smiled sanctimoniously as she shared the troubled history of the infamous Greys.
Prudence was Hiram’s first wife. Hiram, four years older, had just finished his senior year at Braxton College and enrolled in law school, obsessed with becoming a judge. Although Prudence had once been a stunning ingénue, she entered a rough period after giving birth to their son, Damien, and surviving independently while Hiram focused on his studies. Her parents had also died in a tragic accident, leaving her an emotional wreck. No one realized she’d suffered from postpartum depression.
“On Halloween in 1968, a gigantic organized protest against the Vietnam War erupted on campus. Everyone, professors and students alike, participated. Some were for it, others against it. It was a difficult time,” Nana D explained while scraping our plates into the trash compactor. “Hiram insists he’d left Prudence at home with Damien because he had to attend a vital class, but the professor recorded him as absent that day. When a bunch of students turned violent, the protest escalated, and the college library caught fire.”
Construction of a new wing on the building had been in process. Workers had finished early and already left the site. The protest was most volatile directly outside the oldest part of the library, but the Chief of the Fire Department was never sure how the blaze had started. Multiple people had witnessed Prudence enter the library during the demonstration, yet they never saw her exit.
“Your father was there, Kellan. He was only a teenager but remembers all the commotion. It was awful, and although no one actually died,” my mother began, casting a warning glance at Nana D, “it caused widespread damage and delayed the library’s renovation plans. By the time everything sorted itself out, the temperature had grown too frigid to break ground again.”
“What does this have to do with Prudence Grey haunting my new house?” I sighed, unable to decipher the connection between the two events. Time to further reel in the busybody yentas.
“Patience, brilliant one. I’m getting there,” Nana D rebuked, waggling a finger in my direction. “Prudence vanished. Hiram never spoke with her after he’d left the house that morning. The last place he saw his wife was allegedly carting a box into your basement. She loved that home so much… at least she’s not stuck haunting someone else.” Nana D wearily glanced downward, fanning herself.
“It’s possible that Prudence got trapped in the library and died in the fire. The winds were gusty that day and made the whole tragedy hard to contain. The firemen checked as soon as the opportunity presented itself but never found a body. All hearsay, since I was hardly out of diapers,” my mother added with a wink, eyeing the second round of fragrant pumpkin pies Nana D retrieved from the oven.
“Hiram claims Prudence suffered from a severe depression that prevented her from being a proper mother to Damien.” Nana D grew lost in the heartbreaking tale, eyes deep with remorse and regret. “I didn’t know her well, but Prudence was an innocent young lady before she’d married that fool and suffered his folly. Men suck. Don’t they, Violet, dear?”
“I’m not sure I understand. What precisely are you suggesting happened to Prudence? Is she buried under the library and moonlighting as a vengeful spirit in my new digs?”
“That’s the fifty-year-old mystery. Hiram moved out the next day and into the Grey estate with his family. No one’s ever heard from Prudence since then, and everyone who’s dared to live there flees within a week after complaining about peculiar noises and unexplained apparitions.”
“Didn’t you think to tell me that part before I bought the place?” I shot an emphatic gander of frustration and shock at my nana for her borderline treachery. Exhaustion had made me irritable.
Upon finishing her coffee, my mother placed the cup and saucer in the sink. “I don’t believe in all that hooey phooey. Hiram waited the necessary time to declare her legally dead, then he remarried. For all intents and purposes, Prudence is long gone. You shouldn’t worry.”
“But you think she’s haunting me because I bought her house?” I growled at Nana D.
“I assume Hiram got away with killing her. Prudence’s spirit must be restless, stuck inside the last place she lived before dying so dreadfully. I doubt she’ll hurt you,” Nana D suggested impishly while patting my hand. “Just be considerate of sharing her space, and I’m sure it’ll turn out fine.”
My mother tut-tutted. “Hiram can be ruthless, but no one suspects the judge of murder.”
Were they for real? At the very least, I deserved to know this tidbit of history before Nana D had convinced me to buy the place. My mind theorized outlandish scenarios about what could’ve happened to Prudence Grey. I’d been known to investigate suspicious deaths ever since moving home to Braxton earlier that year, but I had zero time to explore a fifty-year-old cold case.
“How’d the Fall Festival meeting go?” Nana D interrupted, her brow wrinkled and mouth hanging slightly open, ardently waiting for a response.
“Belinda Grey was obstinate and ferocious. I think you underestimated how angry she’d be when you declared us the head of the planning committee.” My mother ruffled through her gargantuan purse for the car keys. Did she hide an entire cornucopia of useless clutter in there?
“Belinda was derogatory all morning long.” I recalled how Hiram Grey’s second wife had also refused to congratulate us on securing Madam Zenya as the upcoming spectacular’s resident psychic.
“Hiram and Belinda Grey were perfect for each other. I could tell you stories about that churlish woman. Too bad that cantankerous old judge feels the need to find a new spouse every few years. Five sons with six wives makes him a menace to society.” Nana D reminded us that our local magistrate was a modern-day Henry VIII, only instead of beheading his wives, he compelled them to disappear. “Some were probably murdered like Prudence. He tortured the others until each caved in to escape his tyranny.” She chuckled aloud, then lifted her old-fashioned, canary-yellow phone from the wall.
“He just divorced number six last year, right?” my mother nonchalantly questioned.
Nana D counted the judge’s wives by using the fingers on one hand, running out of digits after the fifth. “Yup. They seem to get younger each time. Now, skedaddle. I’ve got calls to make.”
Once my mother left, Emma, Baxter, and I visited our new house. Although it was the weekend, Nicky had paid his team overtime to tile the bathroom and install the kitchen plumbing. I parked the car and suggested Emma lead Baxter into the enclosed side yard to play fetch. A bulky, hairy spider had woven a fresh maze of silky webs across the front porch, swaying in the gentle breeze from my hasty approach. It cautiously sat in the center and bundled its most recent prey in a sticky clump of white threads, staring and mocking me to swat it, if I dared. As soon as I ducked and strode through the door, Nicky anxiously approached me with his grease-stained palm glued to his forehead.
“Kellan, I’ve called for hours. Didn’t you get my messages?” Exasperation clung to the young contractor’s words. His awkward body language denoted something disastrous had occurred.
Grabbing the phone from my pocket, I realized I had accidentally turned it off. “No, I’m sorry. What’s going on? Is there an issue with construction?”
Nicky repeatedly shook his head and pursed his tense, thin lips. “No, you better see this for yourself. Follow me.” While dragging me through the main hallway toward the basement entrance, my impassioned contractor agitatedly explained how he and his crew had shown up at ten o’clock. “We let ourselves in using the only key to the front door. Look at what awaited us.”
My heart immediately raced like a bustling train as I absorbed the pungent scent of shock hovering stiffly in the room. In the same red paint I’d rolled on the walls in Ulan’s bedroom, someone had written a scraggly message on the locked basement door. It read:
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels, and suspense thrillers. I conjure characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.
Reader & Reviewer
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies, or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read two books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review, and post it on all my sites and platforms.
Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks,” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.
Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.
My Genres, Formats & Languages
I write in the family drama, suspense, and mystery genres. My first two books were Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I wrote a sequel, Hiding Cracked Glass, for my debut novel, and they are known as the Perceptions of Glass series. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available. All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, paperback, hardcover, large print paperback, pocket size paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.
“A PHONE RINGING AT 2:00 A.M. never means anything good. Calls at 2:00 A.M. are bad news . . . Someone has died. Someone is hurt. Or someone needs help.”
On a bitter cold January night in 1965, death came calling at an isolated little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Now, nearly 50 years later, librarian Sarah Gray has quit her job and moved into the same cabin, hoping the peace and quiet of her woodland retreat will allow her to concentrate on writing her first novel. Instead she finds herself distracted by her only neighbor, the enigmatic and reclusive MacKenzie Cole, who lives on top of the mountain with his Irish wolfhound as his sole companion.
As their tentative friendship grows, Sarah learns the truth about the heartbreaking secret causing Mac to hide from the world. But before the two can sort out their feelings for each other, they find themselves plunged into a night of terror neither could have anticipated. Now they must unravel the horrifying events of a murder committed decades earlier. In doing so, they discover that the only thing stronger than a hatred that will not die is a heart willing to sacrifice everything for another.
A story of evil trumped by the power of love and redemption, Wake-Robin Ridge will transport you to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and introduce you to characters you won’t soon forget.
I enjoyed the slower pace of this novel while getting to know these characters, along with their pets (you can never go wrong adding furry friends to a story). Being familiar with the Asheville, NC area, I loved the author’s vivid descriptions of the neighboring fictional small town of Wake-Robin Ridge. The mountains are beautiful, and I could completely understand why Sarah relocates there to begin her writing career. Ruthie’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and I wondered how the two stories would intertwine. And then the ghost showed up – color me thrilled. What follows is a harrowing, lovely, bittersweet tale that provides answers to years old questions.
Wake-Robin Ridge contains two touching love stories with a supernatural twist, a lesson on coming to terms with your past, dropping the barriers, and allowing yourself to find happiness. A true pleasure to read.
***I’ll be traveling today and tomorrow, so I may not get to comments for a couple days. Have a great weekend!***
Hanging out in a haunted graveyard or spending the night in a haunted house? This author has no problem with either – she’s done both. And if the Ghostbusters need a new recruit? She’s ready – already has the proton pack. Welcome Laura Smith!
Would you rather walk through a haunted graveyard at midnight or spend the night in a haunted, abandoned house?
I’ve actually walked through a haunted graveyard at midnight, and it didn’t really phase me. Cemeteries are pretty peaceful places at any time of day, and as long as your intentions are innocent, nothing should bother you.
I’ve also spent the night in old, eerie houses and even once slept over in a church as a kid which was pretty creepy, but as a horror fan, it’s also exciting. It’s everyday life that scares me, and having other people around me who are afraid of the paranormal always makes me feel braver not only to face a potentially scary situation but also to come out of my shell in response to that adrenaline rush that you get from being scared.
Would you rather spend a night in The Overlook Hotel with Jack Torrance or be in the high school gym during prom with Carrie?
While I’d love to experience the isolation of staying in a hotel during a blizzard, I’d be more in my element around Carrie. I feel like she would leave me alone, and I’d either be able to stop her from getting drenched in pig’s blood or at least get out of there before she freaks out. Also, Carrie is my favorite Stephen King book so that alone gets my vote.
Would you rather be part of the X-Files team or Ghostbusters?
Definitely the Ghostbusters. I watched both movies religiously as a kid, and my brother, sisters, and I had toy proton packs that we would use to play Ghostbusters while the cartoon played in the background. So, I feel like I’m really practiced in the art of busting ghosts. I’ve also never seen an episode of the X-Files. So, it was an easy choice.
What is your favorite cover of all your books? Why?
Saving Hascal’s Horrors is easily my favorite cover. I drew the image myself and chose the font. It’s not perfect, but it’s personal, and each silhouette perfectly represents each of the main characters in the story.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read, watch movies, draw, exercise, garden, watch YouTube videos, shop, and spend time with my family. I’m never bored. There are always projects or activities in progress in or around my house, and this year, I’ve taken on so many writing gigs, including starting my own blog, that there’s always writing to do. If I could freeze time or add more waking hours to my day, I would, but I always finish what I start.
What are you working on now?
In terms of novels, I’m working on a trilogy about a little girl who gets super powers after losing her eyesight in one eye in a freak accident. The series has a strong anti-bullying message. Each character is bullied for a different reason, and it’s populated with my most diverse cast yet. Two books in the series are finished. The first is in the process of being submitted to agents and publishers, the second is in the editing process, and the third is still being written. I’m determined to get this series traditionally published, even if it’s just by a small, independent press, but I’m still proud to be called an indie author.
Ten-year-old Mike Hascal loves horror movies. His family owns a horror-themed shop that his sister, Julie, inherited from their dad who died when Mike was only two. Before his death, the shop held a contest to see who could find and photograph a real live ghost. Two teenage boys went into some nearby woods looking to win this contest. One of the boys, Shawn Mackey, never made it out of the woods. Shawn’s father, a teacher at Mike’s school, then forced the Hascal family to close their shop to the public.
When Mike finds out about this, he and his friends, along with his new friend and horror movie lover, Freddy Nickerman, spend the summer planning a search for Shawn’s body in the now forbidden woods. Will Mike and his friends make it out and save the shop, or will the ghost of Shawn Mackey keep them from leaving too?
Laura Smith is an author, blogger, and freelance writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She has self-published three middle grade books, writes book reviews for LitPick, reviews movies for HorrorScreams VideoVault, and blogs for HubPages and her own personal blog. She is a life long horror fan, and her love of the genre led her to write her second novel, Saving Hascal’s Horrors, which is an homage to both the kid-friendly and adult horror books and movies that she devoured growing up. When she’s not writing, she’s usually watching movies, drawing, gardening, shopping, and spending time with her family.
One girl’s daring adventure turns into a long frightful night lost on the water.
Against her wishes, Dannie has to leave the California beach behind to spend the summer with her grandma in rural Tennessee. Things look up when a group of local boys invite her on an overnight kayaking trip. When her grandma refuses to let her go, Dannie finds an old rowboat hidden behind the shed and sneaks off to catch up to her new friends. It seems like a simple solution… until everything goes wrong.
Dannie soon discovers this lake is more than just vast. It’s full of danger, family secrets, and ghosts.
First, I’ll say this is a beautiful cover that catches the spirit (no pun intended) of the more eerie moments of this novel. This is such a pleasurable read, a bit of a coming of age story, in which Dannie discovers family secrets and inner strength and courage she was unaware of.
Driver perfectly captures the obstinate, sulky mood of teens quite well, and I found myself chuckling and nodding at Dannie’s comments and behavior. Her determination to be herself and not what others envision is admirable. Assuming she’s perfectly capable of handling a boat on such a vast lake despite her lack of experience is a common mistake in both teens and adults. I lived on a lake for thirteen years and know very well the dangers involved in being overconfident on the water. Being familiar with a lake doesn’t guarantee your safety – in the blackness of night, even with a light, it’s extremely easy to get turned around. The vivid scenes with Dannie in the darkness, sensing she may not be entirely alone, are deliciously creepy and likely to raise the hairs on your neck.
Lost on the Water is a mesmerizing read combining suspense and danger with supernatural overtones, and is perfect for the lower end of the YA spectrum on up.
Calvin Dean was one of the first authors to sign up for Bad Moon Rising when it began, and I’m thrilled to have him back for the third year in a row. I read Curses, which is a delightful blend of supernatural and humor, and wondered if Calvin had created a new category – cozy supernatural. It’s FREE over the next five days, so make sure to get your copy soon!
Curses is FREE (Kindle only) Oct. 18 – 22, 2017. Download your free copy right now.
Martin Gallagher buys an old house in the country. While pursuing Hannah, a widow from the neighborhood, he encounters a sexy but psychotic ghost named Agnes. To make matters worse, Agnes is dead-set on derailing his blossoming romance.
“Just my luck. A woman wants me and there isn’t a breath of life in her.”
Meanwhile, an eccentric medium offers to help Martin exorcise his home, but this means resisting the temptress, encountering the bizarre, and braving supernatural encounters. Can Martin overcome his desires and fears long enough to lift the dreaded curse?
“I recalled Madam Zelda’s advice—avoid Agnes. Have nothing to do with her. Yet there I stood, drool on my chin, tangled in her wicked web, rendered powerless to resist.”
“Curses” is three connected paranormal mysteries that elicit horror, laughter, warmth, even tears. Cozy up with Dean’s haunting cast of characters and enjoy a delightfully humorous tale of the paranormal. If you dare.
“Curses is just one of those books that you come to the end and think, now that was fun!” – By Hook or By Book Blog
Curses is a paranormal mystery with horrifying scenes and a haunting cast of characters that will make you laugh out loud.
Favorite Halloween costume as a child or adult?
The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies. One year, my girlfriend (now my wife) bought fabric and patterns, and sewed a Dorothy costume for her, and a Scarecrow costume for me. I still have it tucked away in my closet. Warning: accessorizing with hay can be itchy. Who knew?
Any paranormal experiences you’d like to share?
As a teen growing up in a small town in Mississippi, my friends and I heard tales of hangings and strange balls of fire in the night sky. Naturally, we formed a search party. One late night excursion took us down a narrow, gravel road with the branches of stately oaks hanging overhead. When we arrived at an old antebellum mansion miles from nowhere, we scanned the grounds for nooses hanging from trees or other telltale signs of murder. Though the anticipation of discovery gave us chills, we found no evidence of foul play. On another occasion, we rode a rural two-lane highway at midnight, the prescribed time when a ball of fire would allegedly descend from the sky and follow lonely travelers. Foiled again. I’m sad to report no supernatural experiences for me. Well, I tried.
Favorite Halloween candy?
As a child, Halloween meant walking the neighborhood with my older sister and cousins who lived next door. We’d go neighborhood to neighborhood, knocking on door after door yelling ‘Trick or Treat!” There was little concern for our safety in the early to mid-sixties. The man who ran the local print shop owned a house I always looked forward to visiting. Mr. Chapius always hid somewhere in his yard and would jump out from behind a bush or wherever and scare the living daylights out of us. One year, he wore a sheet and stood on his rooftop making ghostly gestures. I thought he was gonna jump. After the terror subsided, his wife gave us homemade candy coated popcorn balls. They were the best! As an adult, I wanted to honor these memories, so I took a vintage pine box coffin that looked like it came from a Vincent Price movie set, placed it on my front porch on Halloween, and climbed inside. With the lid closed, I’d pop it open at the right moment when kids came to my door for tricks or treats. I got some shocked looks on the faces of kids and more than a few parents. A few years ago, I ran into a kid from the neighborhood, all grown up now. He said, “I remember you. You’re the coffin man!” I smiled—made my day.
What are you working on now?
For the past several months, Geriatric Delinquents has been collecting dust in my hard drive. You see, during the spring and summer I umpire youth league baseball—USSSA and Dizzy Dean to be exact, including the Dizzy Dean World Series. And no, I’m not related to the St. Louis Cardinals legend as far as I know. I estimate that I’ve umpired over 200 games this year. By the time Fall Ball ends in late October, I’ll umpire another 35 or more games. So I’ve been busy as you might imagine. At some point this fall, I’ll dust off Geriatric Delinquents and see what the characters have to say to me.
When you finish a book, do you take time off or jump into another project?
After writing my first book, The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff, I immediately began outlining and writing the original draft of A Door Unlocked. I completed the book in four months. After this, I took time off from writing—a year or more. Then I started working on Curses, my latest release. But even Curses took time. In the middle of the book I took a little down time. Sometimes things have to percolate.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?
Yes. Though several come to mind, Martin Gallagher rises above the rest. He is the main character in Curses, my most recent book. Martin is witty, charming, and a nervous wreck all at the same time. I’d compare him to an older version of Mortimer, played by Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace. To be honest, I never intended to introduce humor in my character, but Martin insisted. By the time I had written six or seven chapters, I noticed this streak of humor coming naturally. I had to go back and rewrite portions to match the character’s evolving personality.
I want to thank Teri for giving me a chance to reconnect with you this year. I always look forward to Bad Moon Rising. Don’t forget to download Curses. The Kindle version is FREE Oct. 18 – 22, 2017.
Calvin Dean is the author of two bestselling novels: “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” and “A Door Unlocked”. “Curses”, a humorous paranormal mystery, is now available on Amazon and other booksellers. His short story, “The Rookie Umpire”, appeared in Junior Baseball Magazine and is now available on Wattpad. Calvin enjoys spring breaks on the Redneck Riviera, summers umpiring USSSA and Dizzy Dean baseball, and winters beside a fire sipping a frothy cappuccino. Calvin lives with his family in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee.
Today we welcome C.M. Blackwood to Bad Moon Rising! A decades old manor, murders, ghosts – doesn’t this just scream Halloween?
Life’s a bowl of cherries, as they say. Until someone chops your head off.
In the year 1933, an alcoholic, cynical 32-year- old named Mary Meade inherits a manor. She’s been emotionally scarred ever since her mother died. But you probably would be, too, if your mother had a heart attack after walking in on you while you were sleeping with another woman.
Mary’s great-uncle just passed away, so his house, and all his money, goes to her. When she arrives at the house, though, she finds much more than she bargained for: including strange servants, a murder mystery, and – oh, did we forget to mention? – GHOSTS.
Despite her cold demeanor, Mary is romantically drawn to a spirit named Jessica Price, who was killed in 1879 by a madman named John Drum. Mary and Jessica fall in love, but of course, the story is much more complicated than that.
Shortly after the death of Mary’s great-uncle, a young woman named Edie Montgomery was found gutted and beheaded on his property. Now her spirit is trapped inside the manor. John Drum killed Jessica Price. But who killed Edie Montgomery?
The first story I ever wrote was a historical novel called The Ballad of KatharineO’Brien. It’s a bit of a mess, but someone once called it (God bless ‘em) “an undiscovered masterpiece with fuzzy historical details.” The kindest way anyone could have put it, I’m sure.
Which fictional character would you most like to meet and have a drink with?
Ooohhh. Good one. I would like to have a drink with . . . Regina from Once Upon aTime. I’d always be wondering if she was going to go all “Evil Queen” on me after she had a few highballs. It’d be super exciting.
In the spirit of Halloween, what scares you?
The only thing that ever really creeps me out is taking out the trash after dark. My backyard is super dark, and it looks really big with the shadows at night, so I’m always wondering, is there some creepy person who’s going to jump out and murder me? Probably not – but I always wonder.
Favorite hero and villain in a book/movie?
Hmmm. I’ll use the movie The Boxtrolls. For heroine I pick Winnie Portley-Rind, voiced by Elle Fanning: the coolest, funniest little chubby champion I ever saw. She loved to talk about how the Boxtrolls would drink her blood and crush her bones – and even though she was glad to be able to help save them, she was a little disappointed that the trolls didn’t actually do any blood-drinking or bone-crushing. For villain, I loved Snatcher, voiced by Ben Kingsley – the Boxtroll catcher who wanted to wear a White Hat and eat cheese, even though he was allergic to cheese and got hives when he ate it.
What do you consider the hardest part of writing?
Yikes! Probably getting all of the facts in order. Everyone knows there’s a ton of research to do when writing a novel – at least, a novel that’s not a fairy tale. (Which is why I love writing fairy tales best. It’s like imagination on crack.)
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my second mystery, Who Murdered Dr. Damien? It’s set in an old mental asylum, where someone’s running around killing doctors and patients. It’ll come out in 2017.
I’m an indie author who writes, among other things, lesbian murder mysteries. I also write romances and fairy tales. On October 1, I’ll be publishing a middle grade fantasy novel under the pen name Athellia Lovegood.
There are ghosts and demons that wander among the living; they do not haunt in the traditional sense. Instead, they plague mankind with diseases and physical deformities, and once a ghost finds its victim it will haunt them for a lifetime. When George Sinclair discovered he could see these ghosts, and more importantly, he could kill them and save their victims, his life changed from ordinary to extraordinary, he’d become a ghost killer, one of the most powerful to be born in some time. George has embraced this new life and now works alongside his new friends, Billy Wilkinson and Phil James. Together they assist the Watchers, an international group of ghost killers and supernatural experts who monitor the world for ghostly sightings and demon infestations to maintain the balance between the living and the dead.
When San Francisco and the surrounding area are suddenly plagued by rogue groups of ghosts and demons, who appeared to have a leader of sorts, a 17th century musketeer demon, the Watchers know it isn’t random, nor was it the usual form in which ghosts and demons prefer to haunt. These monsters were also possessing their victims and forcing them to hurt others, and once the ghost killers arrived, the demons directed their human weapons on them. The question was, who was this musketeer demon and why was he directing these attacks?
As George, Billy, Phil and the Watchers investigate, they discover the 17th century demon is teamed up with a teenage boy, who they come to realize is a powerful ghost killer himself and more importantly, they believe he is being controlled by the demon and is now using its energy to kill people at will. Their search for the teenager and his demon lead them to the discovery of an enemy from their past and a mysterious prophecy. As they decipher the true meaning of the prophecy, they uncover a plot for murderous revenge involving a secret vault containing numerous malevolent souls and a plan to return those wicked dead to human form as directed by Satan himself. Unfortunately, they also discover the true purpose of the demon musketeer’s involvement, which is to become one with the powerful teenage ghost killer, creating a monster that cannot be defeated. With the clock ticking against them, they must find the vault and destroy it before it can be opened and kill the demon and his teenage host. – Goodreads.com
Let me start by saying I didn’t read the first book in this series, but the author includes some background information in this novel, so I wasn’t completely lost, and feel it could also be read as a standalone.
The whole concept of an international covert organization of ghost killers intrigued me from the start – then you throw in secret vaults, old diaries, and mysterious prophecies? Yes, please. I liked how there are both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ghosts and the way a person can be haunted for a lifetime – that definitely gives the ghost killers job security. The way the story develops is also intriguing, as George discovers connections between various hauntings and people. George is likable, but flat, and I didn’t feel as if I had as good a grasp on his character as Billy or some other supporting characters. The author did a wonderful job with Calvin’s character – he was equally disturbing and creepy.
The story begins and ends with exciting action sequences, but the middle is predominantly information gathering and sharing, making the pacing a little uneven for my taste. I was also overwhelmed with the sheer number of characters (there were many mentioned, even though some didn’t appear in the book) and had to backtrack several times to remind myself who they were. At the beginning of the book, there are some grammar and tense errors, but the last 80% or so seemed better edited.
I’d classify The Edge of the Cemetery as more of a supernatural thriller – and if you’re a fan, this is a book you’d enjoy – but with the mention of ghost killers, ghosts, and demons, I was hoping it would be heavier on the horror. But I’m probably in the minority on that preference.
I received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team in exchange for an honest review.
Today we welcome Sara Bain! The Ghost Tree evolved from a recorded account dating back to the 1600’s by Reverend Alexander Telfair about a poltergeist haunting his home. Make sure to read the link below – fascinating!
Five years after the death of his wife, MacAoidh Armstrong moves into a smallholding in southern Scotland with the intention of living a self-sufficient existence. In the nearby town solicitor Libby Butler is trying to find peace after her recent deadly brush with the unknown. On a hill by the steading stands The Ghost Tree: all that remains of the former Ringcroft of Stocking. Local legend says that when the last Ghost Tree dies, the Rerrick Parish Poltergeist will return. Just days after MacAoidh moves in, he is forced to contend with a number of strange events that apparently defy explanation, and distance him from the local community. Turning to Libby for help, they find themselves challenged by a series of bizarre and terrifying occurrences which defy all logical and scientific explanation. As the phenomena become increasingly violent and lives are threatened, Libby must delve into closely guarded secrets to discover the reason for the present terror…and come to terms with her growing feelings for MacAoidh. Can she save the pragmatic Highlander from an ancient evil, and in doing so will she lose her heart?
How long have you been writing horror/thrillers and what drew you to the genre?
I am quintessentially a writer of fantasy fiction and have had a huge epic fantasy on the back burner for a number of years. This is the book I cut my teeth on as a writer and is what I call “very raw” as my style has changed considerably since I first began writing. I can’t count the amount of times I have rewritten my first book and still it never seems right.
Out of sheer frustration, I decided to write a shorter contemporary thriller but the fantasy element wouldn’t leave me. My first book, The Sleeping Warrior, is a crime thriller with a very subtle fantasy factor woven into the narrative and even some horror, which is a genre of fiction that fantasy lends itself to very well.
My father gave me my love for Hammer Horror movies and a morbid fascination in the paranormal has stalked me throughout my life. I have read so many horror books and watched so many movies of the genre that I feel I have become desensitised to those shocking moments that scare the pants off an unsuspecting person. That said, I still can’t watch The Exorcist!
I wanted to write a book that scared me. I deliberately wrote at night time with the door open behind me to get that feeling of something creeping up behind me. It worked to a fashion and I think that’s why there’s so much humour in The Ghost Tree as laughter helped me to dispel my fear. I cut the silly bits out after the book was written.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I am a journalist and came across the real Ghost Tree when I was researching stories for a running feature on haunted houses in Dumfries and Galloway for my newspaper. The tale of the Mackie or Rerrick Parish poltergeist has haunted me for over a decade. The chilling account of the ordeal of a farmer and his family in a steading near Auchencairn in 1695 was published in an account that same year by the minister who performed the grueling two-week-long exorcism of the poltergeist that plagued his house. Rev Alexander Telfair carefully recorded his account and got the signatories from 14 members of the clergy and community officials, all of whom personally witnessed the paranormal activity at the steading. You can read the account here.
I spoke to a number of experts on poltergeist and to some of the people in the locality. I also visited the tree with a spiritualist medium but he didn’t pick up anything of a paranormal nature. A few local people told me that the old tree on a hill on the subjects of the old steading is the last living remnant of the Mackie plantation. There were three trees in living memory but only this old gnarled oak survives. Local legend says when the last of the ghost trees die, the Rerrick Parish poltergeist will return.
The picture of the tree on the cover of my book is the real Ghost Tree. I took that picture about 12 years ago and, so I am to understand, the enduring old oak is still alive and well.
I always wondered, however, what would happen to an ordinary person if the last Ghost Tree did die and the poltergeist returned. What would that mean to a person who staunchly doesn’t believe that the spirits of the dead can come back to turn your life into a living hell.
I am very inquisitive by nature and feel compelled to research all theories and aspects of a subject before I reach a definitive conclusion. My search took me into spiritualism, psychology, sociology and even quantum physics.
The main problem in concluding the story was finding an answer to the existence of a paranormal dimension. By its very nature, the supernatural defies the existing canons of science and logic and my main character, who doesn’t believe in ghosts, is forced to re-think all his existing beliefs when baring the full brunt of the inexplicable.
It is a truly fascinating subject.
If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?
Don’t go into the woods. I absolutely hate that cliche. Anyone who has grown up with the story of Little Red Riding Hood will understand why.
What are you working on now?
I will soon have some spare time to work on the third and last book in the Libby Butler series.
Favorite horror movie and book?
My very favourite horror book is Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice. I love her beautiful descriptive prose, the way she can turn horror into an almost erotic journey of the soul and the way in which she can make anyone fall in love with her main characters, even though that character would probably want to eat you rather than have a drink in the pub with you.
An imaginative thinker with a career as diverse as the number of genres her fiction crosses, Sara Bain is one of those people who has the ability to write to any formula but chooses to adhere to none. She was brought up in London, qualified as an English barrister and pursued a career in legal publishing where she learned to produce academic texts and draft complex legal forms.
She then left the bright lights of the city and moved to Scotland where she worked as a journalist for a local newspaper for 15 years and learned to write facts as well as creative features. Sara has been a law lecturer, computer tutor and is an able photographer and graphic designer. She now has her own company which provides press and publicity services and currently works on media campaigns for a number of Scottish arts organisations. She is editor of The Nithsdale Times. When she finds some downtime, Sara writes fantasy and paranormal cross-genre fiction which includes elements of crime, romance, horror and humour. Her debut novel, The Sleeping Warrior, has been described as “talented”, “imaginative”, “remarkable” and “simply brilliant.”
Over the last year I’ve gone against faceless women, disfigured spirits, and grotesque revenants. Some people keep dangerous hobbies; skydiving and driving at monster truck rallies and glacier surfing. Me? I cast my soul into the churning waters of potential damnation and wait for a bite.
It’s been two years since Tark Halloway’s nightmare ended. Free from the evil spirit that haunted him all his life, he now aids the ghostly Okiku and avenges the souls of innocent children by hunting down their murderers. But when Okiku becomes responsible for a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they seek out.
When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest’, both must resolve their differences and return to that country of secrets to find her.
Because there is a strange village inside Aokigahara, a village people claim does not exist. A village where strange things lie waiting.
A village with old ghosts and an ancient evil – one that may be stronger than even Okiku…Goodreads.com
Horror may just be my favorite genre – I’m a long time fan of Anne Rice and Stephen King, and it’s one of the couple of genres I tend to gravitate toward. Last August, I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series, The Girl From the Well, and found it to be one of the best YA horror novels I’d read in quite a while. When reading that book, I was disappointed that I didn’t learn more about Tark, as he was such a large part of the story. That definitely wasn’t the case this time around.
This book is written in first person from Tark’s POV, so I felt as if I got to know him so much better and just really liked the guy. He’s humorous, snarky, quick-witted, and just plain sweet at times and the interactions and emotions he experiences with Okiku seem very real and natural – or as real and natural as you can be with a ghost. As in The Girl From the Well, Okiku has her own brand of justice and strikes terror in the hearts of her victims, but she also displays more of her human side in this book.
Learning more about the Japanese culture was a pleasure, and the American film crew from a Ghost Hunters-type show lends a touch of reality to this story. The author gives vivid, chilling descriptions of the ghosts and Tark finds himself in some terrifying, suspenseful situations.
Something that didn’t mesh for me was the abrupt transition from the first few chapters of the book, with Tark in his everyday high school life continuing his ongoing search for killers, and the possibility of a love interest, to the next chapter thrusting him into the “Suicide Forest” in Japan. It almost seems like two different stories, but the ending brings it full circle somewhat.
The Suffering is a complex, well-developed, unique story with amazing characterization, and a must read for horror fans. This book is scheduled for publication September 8th, 2015.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.