Tag Archives: murder

Posed in Death by Judi Lynn #Newbook

Let’s all welcome Judi Lynn today. She’s got a new book to talk about, and I love her explanations for how it came about. I tend to read and write like she does. Check out the book, and feel free to use those sharing buttons to help spread the word.

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I want to thank Craig for inviting me to his blog. I’ve been a fan of his writing and his blog posts on Story Empire for a long time. I’ve been waiting for the third and final novel of his Lanternfish trilogy since I fell in love with Serang in the first one.

I’m here today to promote my latest novel, POSED IN DEATH. I usually write cozies, but this time, my story is much darker. And I’m blaming it all on Louis Kincaid. I’m hooked on P.J. Parrish’s series about the P.I./detective. I don’t know about other writers, but what I read affects what I write. I read a lot of cozies, historical mysteries, and only a few thrillers. That is, until I bought my first Louis Kincaid. Now, I read more thrillers than I used to.

I can’t read any one author over and over again, back-to-back. I get more critical with each book and bore faster. I need to change things up. So, I usually read two cozies, a historical, another couple of cozies, something outside the mystery genre, then a cozy, then a thriller, and on and on. I’d never make it as a binge reader or TV watcher. And I learned that if I write the same characters back-to-back, even though I love them, I get just as bored. So, I need to switch things up. (Luckily, in real life, I don’t have this problem. I haven’t gotten bored with HH yet😊 But I do have to constantly find new recipes to make because I’ve already made some of mine too many times.)

For a while, I wrote paranormal mysteries between my Jazzi and Ansel cozies, and that helped. I tried to write a few different cozies with different characters, like my Lux novels and A Cut Above, and it helped, but not as much. Those had the same FEEL. They didn’t quite do the trick. It was like reading a Lynn Cahoon Tourist Trap cozy and then going to a Kim Davis Diva cozy. They were both fun, but I was ready for something different. And that’s when I discovered Louis Kincaid. That’s also when I got the idea to write something darker. And it was wonderful. It did the trick. I’m ready to tackle another Jazzi and Ansel now.

Writing darker is a gamble. I’m not sure readers who like my cozies will want something that features a serial killer. But my agent said I had too many cozy elements in the story to call it a true thriller. And that’s true. But I wanted to focus on the theme of marriage. And this worked for me. So, it felt like a gamble worth taking.

Posed In Death: Nick and Laurel Mystery/Thriller 1 – Kindle edition by Lynn, Judi. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Thanks again, Craig, for sharing your blog with me!

Bio:

Judi Lynn lives in Indiana with her husband, a bossy gray cat, and a noisy Chihuahua. She loves to cook and owns more cookbooks than any mortal woman would ever need. That’s why so much food sneaks into her stories. She also loves her flower beds, but is a haphazard gardener, at best.

My blog & webpage: http://writingmusings.com/

My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter: @judypost

On BookBub at Judi Lynn with a link to Judith Post (for my urban fantasies): https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn

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Legends of Madeira

Joan Hall is with us today to tell us about her new book. It’s the first in the Legends of Madeira Series. There is also a sidecar/prequel called House of Sorrow, that I highly recommend.

Joan is a big supporter of the independent author community, one of my partners over at Story Empire, and just and all around good person. Let’s give her a big welcome, and make sure to use those sharing buttons to help her launch this project. Take it away, Joan:

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Cold Dark Night: A Lunar Trifecta

Thank you for your generosity in hosting me today, Craig. I’m delighted to be back with you to kick off this tour for my latest release, Cold Dark Night, the first novel in the Legends of Madeira series.

As you know, I’ve long been fascinated by the full moon. Several years ago, I discovered Native Americans had names for each of them. Up until that time, I’d only heard of the Harvest Moon or a Blue Moon (when there are two full moons in a calendar month).

In 2018, a rare event occurred. January had two full (or blue) moons, as did March, meaning there was no full moon in February. This is sometimes referred to as a Black Moon.

This rarity occurs every nineteen years or so and is dependent upon time zones and leap years. But January 31, 2018, there was an even more uncommon occurrence, the trifecta of a blue moon, a supermoon (close proximity to earth), and a blood moon or eclipse.

I had an early meeting that day, and as I arrived at work, the eclipse had just begun. The event fueled my imagination. I had to write a story around this unique event. The idea for Cold Dark Night began to take shape.

Excerpt:

He looked toward the western sky. The earth began to pass between the moon and the sun, casting a shadow on the lunar surface. Before long, it would appear blood-red, the brightness completely obliterated.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

How many times had he heard his grandmother say those words? It was years before he knew where the quote originated, or that it was metaphorical, not literal.

He’d come to a remote area of the Vaughn ranch to view this rare celestial event. Stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts gathered in various places outside Madeira to watch, but he didn’t want to be around others. He wanted to be alone, and the chances of the ranch’s owners spotting him were next to nothing.

A twinge of excitement ran through him as the lunar surface turned a coppery hue. Astronomers called it the Super Blue Blood Moon—a rare trifecta of the second full moon of the month, its nearness to earth, and a total eclipse.

An eerie stillness surrounded him. His pulse quickened—not from fear, but in anticipation of what was to come. Part of him wanted to go ahead with his plans. Too bad he hadn’t thought of it before now. A killing taking place during the blood moon would have been perfect.

But no, he had to bide his time. Wait for the natural course of events. He’d waited thirty-eight years. Another couple of weeks wouldn’t matter.

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

He would see the morning. But for some, darkness would soon last forever.

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Thanks again for hosting me today. Cold Dark Night is available on Amazon for the introductory price of .99 through the end of June. The price increases to $3.99 on June 15th, so now is a good time for readers to grab a copy.

Blurb:

New husband, new house, new town… and a new mystery to solve.

Tami Montgomery thought her police chief husband was going to be the only investigator in the family when she gave up her journalism career and moved with him to Madeira, New Mexico.

But after the historical society asks her to write stories for a book celebrating the town’s history, she becomes embroiled in a new mystery. If she can’t solve this one, she could lose everything. Her research uncovers a spate of untimely deaths of local law enforcement officials. Further digging reveals a common link—they all lived in the house she and Jason now share.

Tami isn’t a superstitious person, but the circumstances are too similar for coincidence. Then she unearths an even more disturbing pattern. And if history repeats itself, her husband will be the next to die.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0968CXZQ9

Connect with Joan:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Bookbub | Goodreads | Instagram

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I Am Mayhem #newbook

I want to welcome back an old friend today. Sue Coletta writes these amazing murder mysteries, and if you haven’t discovered her you’re missing out.

Make her feel welcome, and make sure to use those sharing buttons to help with her latest release. The new book sounds wonderful, so I’ll let her tell you all about it.

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It’s impossible to talk about my Mayhem Series without the mention of crows. For those who don’t know, Mr. Mayhem has three top crows: Poe, Allan, and Edgar. When I first introduced crows into the series, they were supposed to be sidekicks—someone for Mr. Mayhem to chat with during his late-night excursions—but Poe evolved into so much more. I’ve read some reviews that say he’s their favorite character. Not the humans mind you, but Poe, the lead crow of Mayhem’s murder. In I AM MAYHEM, I introduced one more “special” crow, but I can’t tell you why without ruining the surprise.

As an aside: Poe’s based on a real crow who comes when I call.

With each new book, I take another plunge into crow research. After years of studying crow behavior, one might think I’ve learned all I could about corvids, but I always find something new.

Humans often believe we are the only species to possess certain traits, behaviors, or abilities, especially with regard to cognition. Occasionally, we extend such traits to primates or other “higher” mammals—species we share fundamental brain similarities.

Few look toward the sky. Yet, crows, ravens, and other corvids are making multipart tools like hooked sticks to reach grubs, solving geometry puzzles, and one particularly kind magpie even nudged a clueless hedgehog across the highway before it became roadkill.

A crow’s brain is enormous compared to their body, and they don’t waste a morsel of it. Crows have long impressed scientists with their intelligence and creativity.

Now, crows can add one more feather to their brainiac cap: A new study unveiled in Science magazine found that crows inherently know things and can ponder the content of their own minds, a manifestation of higher intelligence and analytical thought believed only capable by humans and a few other higher mammals.

German scientists put crows through a series of puzzling tasks. During which they measured neural activity in different types of neurons, with the goal of tracking how crows sensed and reasoned through their work. They sought to study a specific kind of thinking called sensory consciousness.

Sensory consciousness isn’t as simple as the definition: awareness of the visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, and taste qualities of stimuli. Sensory consciousness arises from specific brain processes. In simpler terms, the sensory feel of an experience is not something that happens to us, but rather, it’s a skill we exercise. It also differs from other mental phenomena, like conscious thought or memory.

Consider the difference between physically feeling pain vs. imagining that you feel pain. Or rubbing the softness of fleece between your fingertips vs. envisioning how fleece might feel. We writers use our sensory consciousness all the time.

Do crows have this ability, too?

To answer that question, we first need to understand the difference between our brains and birds lies within the design. Mammals’ brains are layered like club sandwiches, while birds’ brains are arranged more like pizza. All the pieces are there but they’re not stacked like ours.

Another important note about sensory consciousness: The ability to have subjective experiences that can be explicitly accessed and thus reported arises from brain processes that emerged through evolutionary history, and dates back 320 million years ago when birds diverged from mammalian lineage.

After the crows got comfortable within the testing environment, scientists introduced a rule—a red cue for “yes, they’d seen the stimulus” or blue for “no, they hadn’t.”

The results stunned scientists, and affirmed crows do in fact possess sensory consciousness.

To reconcile sensory consciousness in birds and mammals, one scenario would postulate that birds and mammals inherited the trait of consciousness from their last-common ancestor, and crows tucked this superpower in the ol’ memory bank for at least 320 million years. Amazing, right?

As bloody, severed body parts show up on her doorstep, Shawnee Daniels must stop the serial killer who wants her dead before she becomes the next victim.

But can she solve his cryptic clues before it’s too late? Or will she be the next to die a slow, agonizing death?


With crows stalking her every move, Shawnee can barely function. Things worsen when body parts show up on her doorstep. An unstoppable serial killer wants her dead. Mr. Mayhem threatens to murder everyone she loves, sending Shawnee a piece at a time.

As Mr. Mayhem sits in judgement, his cryptic clues must be solved before the final gavel drops. The game rules are simple—win the unwinnable or submit to a slow, agonizing death.

When Shawnee tries to fight back, she discovers her very existence is based on lies. But the full impact of the truth might become the headstone on Shawnee’s grave.

Preorder on Amazon for 99c.

Book will be delivered to your device on April 20, 2021 (release day).

You can catch up with Sue at the following places:

Website Facebook Twitter Amazon Goodreads Tirgearr Publishing Globe Pequot (Rowman & Littlefield)

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Pretty Evil New England

Sue Coletta is a long-time friend of mine. Her fiction is fantastic, but today she has something that isn’t fiction. It’s going to make your skin crawl, and is perfect for this time of year. Make Sue feel welcome, and make sure to use those sharing buttons at the end.

Thanks for inviting me back to Entertaining Stories, Craig!

Ever wonder what drives someone to kill?

While researching the cases of the five female serial killers in Pretty Evil New England, I examined their entire lives, not only their crimes. To show a complete picture — and perhaps, to help explain their motivations — I delved into their backgrounds, childhoods, and early adulthood.

The horrors I found could rattle the foundation beneath even the most stoic, and I couldn’t help but be affected.

Jane Toppan in particular had a brutal beginning. Her mother died when she was a mere toddler and her father — nicknamed “Kelley the crack” as in “crackpot” — was such a severe alcoholic, the townsfolk would catch him stumbling down the street while muttering to himself. You know the type. When Jane was only five, Peter Kelley (her father) dropped her off at an asylum. Yes, you read that right. An asylum!

Imagine what that does to a child? And that’s only one small piece of what led to her ultimate destruction, and sadly, to the destruction of many others as well.

Now, you may be thinking, no matter the circumstances, she still didn’t have the right to murder innocent people. You’re right. But it does shed an interesting light on why she turned out the way she did.

This sounds like a segway into an excerpt about her childhood, doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s not. LOL What fun would that be? The following excerpt continues from the story I shared on Staci’s blog, where Jane is in the middle of murdering her friend, Mattie Davis, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The passages in italics are Jane’s words, taken from her confession. Enjoy!

EXCERPT

The following afternoon, Wednesday, June 26, Genevieve arrived at the Beedles’ home to find her mother lying unconscious in a darkened room hung with ice sheets; Nurse Toppan sat by her mother’s sickbed. Even though Jane said she could care for Mattie without assistance, Genevieve insisted on calling a physician to take a look at her. But the blistering eastern heat wave of 1901—the most destructive disaster of its type in US history—caused many to flee the city. Finding a doctor wasn’t easy under these circumstances.

After telephoning four different general practitioners, the Beedles finally reached Dr. John T. G. Nichols—the same man who misdiagnosed arsenic poisoning fifteen years earlier in the Sarah Jane Robinson case. Now, he would be called to the bedside of another victim of a female serial killer. Would he redeem himself or cause this patient to perish by misdiagnosing her symptoms? And more importantly, allow “Jolly Jane” to keep on killing?

Only time would tell. Unfortunately for him and Mattie Davis, Dr. Nichols had no idea who he was up against.

Jane introduced herself as “Nurse Toppan, an old friend of the Davis family.” Then she informed Dr. Nichols that Mattie was a diabetic. Earlier, Mattie had refused to heed Jane’s warnings and treated herself to a nice slice of Mrs. Beedle’s white-frosted velvet cake at dinnertime, Jane claimed, collapsing shortly thereafter, probably due to her overindulgence. There was no need for the doctor to take more urine; Jane had collected a sample for him to test before he arrived.

By all accounts, Jane appeared to be a competent caretaker. With no reason to suspect Nurse Toppan of anything nefarious, how could he have known she’d tampered with the sample?

Under the watchful eyes of Dr. Nichols, Genevieve Gordon, and Mr. and Mrs. Beedle, Jane toyed with Mattie Davis, reveling in her control over life and death. By varying the doses of atropine, a derivative of belladonna, which counteracted the effects of the morphine she’d also administered, Jane produced a wide range of symptoms.

If Jane lessened the dose of narcotic, Mattie would shake out of the foggy haze of partial consciousness. She even allowed Mattie to rise to full lucidity, as though to offer the family a glimmer of hope before plunging her back into a medicinally induced coma.

I always had my own way. I would not allow either the doctors or members of the family where I was working to dictate to me. They usually liked me, though, because I was so jolly, and didn’t mind my bossing them.

After “playing” with her patient for a solid week, Jane administered the fatal dose on the Fourth of July, and Mattie died.

No one in Cataumet was particularly surprised by the news of Mattie’s passing. The eastern heat wave of 1901 claimed the lives of 9,500 men, women, and children that year. Mattie Davis, the townsfolk said, really hadn’t been well for quite some time.

Genevieve in no way suspected Nurse Toppan; in fact, she begged Jane to return to Cataumet with her. She couldn’t bear to take her mother’s body back alone.

Reluctantly, Jane agreed.

There were many friends of the family who had come down from Cambridge to attend the funeral. I thought to myself and I wanted to say to them: ‘You had better wait and in a little while I will have another funeral for you. If you wait it will save your going back and forth.’

“I went to the funeral and was as jolly as can be,” Jane gloated, “and nobody thought anything of it.”

Available for Preorder Now at these Retailers:

Amazon (all countries, Kindle & paperback)

Barnes & Noble (NOOK & paperback)

Books-A-Million (ebook & paperback)

IndieBound (paperback)

Globe Pequot

Rowman & Littlefield

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Kicking it into Overdrive

It’s September now. The best month of the year is just over the horizon. I can taste the pumpkin spice in my beer, and detect the crispness of the occasional morning. We’ll still dabble with the occasional 100 degree temperature, but October will be here before we know it.

It’s been my favorite since I was a small child. All the spooky Halloween oriented things. The changing colors, I love all of it.

Late summer was busy. It seems like Lanternfish sailed all over the world in the last month. We visited a lot of old friends and managed to get Lisa Burton out of the writing cabin. I’m hoping that my free promotion of the first book will walk some new readers into this series. It’s time to send the ship to dry dock now. She has holes to patch and barnacles to scrape before I take her back out for her last cruise.

I’m going to be popping up here and there this month to promote Murder They Wrote. This is an anthology of seven different short stories with a theme of murder. My character, Jason Fogg, is a private detective on the trail in my story.

I’ll be on the lookout for review posts. With Lanternfish’s free days, plus the new book, plus the anthology, one or two could pop up. If I find them, I’l try to share them here.

You might be thinking, Craig’s had a busy year. He’s probably going to relax for a while. That’s just not the case this year. I try to have a Halloween themed promo of some kind every year, and 2020 be damned, I’m doing it this year, too. I have another book I hope to release on October first. I only have part of my promotional artwork, but I have a cool cover. I’m sure the rest of the art will arrive in time. I don’t even have the formatted MS back, but it will be here.

I decided to post some teasers this month. Simple, visual and auditory at the same time. With this post, I’ve officially promoted three new books in one week. Take that 2020. Check it out. Are you teased? Are you intrigued?

Lisa Burton

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Murder They Wrote #Anthology #Murder

I’m visiting with Gwen Plano today. The topic is the anthology I contributed to, and my character, Jason Fogg. Stop over and meet this amazing author.

Summer is slowly slipping away, but at least in the Midwest, family pools still offer a welcomed escape from the heat. If you’re searching for a good poolside book, I have one for you. It is a collection of short stories by seven writers, each using a different genre for their story. Murder They Wrote features award-winning authors and edge-of-the-seat dramas.

One of the writers, C.S. Boyack, is a friend from Idaho. His stories always bring a smile, because in his paranormal world, anything is possible. Even unlikely creatures such as a yak, speak. Really? Yes, really. And, to top it off, he writes great stories. Craig visits with us today to tell us about the anthology. Let’s see what he has to say.​


Thanks, Gwen. I believe this is my first appearance here, and I’m excited about it. My door is always open to you if you ever want to spread the word about one of your projects.

​Today, my topic is an anthology called Murder They Wrote. Seven fabulous authors contributed a short story, and I’m honored to stand among them. Keep reading here.

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I’ve been kind of quiet lately

The work week has kept me pretty busy lately. That brings a certain amount of satisfaction, but it doesn’t make for good blog material. Fortunately, I was able to reblog a couple of good things, and I was up at Story Empire yesterday.

Still, that isn’t the same as fresh content. My daughter is visiting this weekend, and that’s always good. She’s also promised to give my son a haircut and I’m excited about that. He’s starting to look like that creepy girl from The ring. Maybe a member of the Manson Family.

We decided to rent a movie and watch it together last night. We went with ‘Birds Of Prey.’ Color me disappointed at best. Margot Robbie was so good as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, I didn’t see how this could miss. It missed. It felt rushed to market to capitalize on the prior success. Characters were under developed and it was kind of a mess. It wasn’t as bad as the second Ghost Rider movie, but it wasn’t good either.

There hasn’t been much writing time available, but I sent out a bit of Lanternfish for critique. I already have one sample back, but will save it until I have them all.

I forced a bit of time today and managed a thousand words of, well, it’s another new project. I was invited to send a short story to an anthology and committed. They like the idea of getting a speculative author to contribute something. These are all going to be murder mysteries.

There is a bit of a time crunch, but not too bad. Fortunately, I already have a private detective that I don’t need to create from scratch. It looks like Jason Fogg is on the case. If you’ve enjoyed Jason from either of the Experimental Notebooks, or Viral Blues, you might want to watch this space for more information as it unfolds.

I’ll probably continue to tap away at it this weekend. Lanternfish and Mrs. Molony are at points where they require more concentration. Right now, I’m still introducing characters and setting up the murder ideas with the Jason story. It’s easier to hack away at, and can be fine tuned later.

I still need to work up my next Story Empire post and get it scheduled. This will bring an end to my Character Archetypes, and I’m sorry to see it go. I may, or may not, do a wrap up post to it later on.

Hope you’re all finding something fun this weekend. Old What’s Her Face give up on finding a puzzle. It seems like everyone else got the idea before she did and there are none to be found.

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Cover Reveal: Unclear Purposes

Joan Hall is sharing her cover art across the internet today. I hope you’ll all make her feel welcome.

Some people take secrets to the grave…

Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained. 

 

Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator. 

When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.

 

As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.

 

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Website and Social Media Links:

 

Website   |  Goodreads  | Twitter   |  Facebook   |   Pinterest    |  Facebook Group   |   BookBub

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Macabre Macaroni, second helping

Lisa Burton

Flipping

I pulled into the driveway, and my tires pushed down weeds as I pulled up to the parking circle. It was a long day at work, but I decided to start a little demolition before heading home.

Three stone steps led to the elaborate old front door, but I had to shoulder it open against years of rust and weathering. A thick layer of dust covered the stone entry.

I wound my way to the kitchen and pulled open the tattered old curtains to let some of the setting sunlight into my work area. I worked my crowbar under the stone countertop and looked into the breakfast room. With new windows, that morning view would add another twenty-thousand dollars to my resale value.

My shoulder pushed against the bar, but the stone wouldn’t budge. Then a crystal decanter and glasses appeared on the counter. Had I missed that somehow?

Slow clacking footsteps echoed down the hall to my right. A shapely woman, possibly in her fifties, walked into the room like she owned it. She wore a short, sleeveless dress and pearl colored heels that must have made the sound.

She picked up the decanter and poured herself a drink. An overstuffed chair and end table appeared across the room. Had I overlooked this stuff while I was measuring, or was she a squatter.

She sauntered to it and sat down, crossing her legs. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke straight up.

My hand tightened around the crowbar, and I nervously checked my exit routes.

“So, what are we going to do about you?” She said in a husky voice.

“You need to leave,” I answered. “This is private property. My private property.”

She picked some invisible tobacco from her tongue. “Is it now? This is my home, and I intend to keep it that way.” She took a sip from her drink, then smirked. “I’d offer you one, but I don’t think it’s possible.”

“I’m the deeded owner of this property. I’m going to gut it, revamp the whole thing, then sell it for a huge profit.”

“Oh yeah. How much did you pay?”

“Over two million.”

“They saw you coming. My husband only paid seven-fifty when he bought it. You’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful place though. And I’d appreciate it if you’d quit destroying my counters.”

“I’ll have you forcibly evicted if I have to–”

She leaned into the arm of the chair, and I could see the falling wallpaper moving behind her – through her head. “Something tells me that’s not going to work. See I own this house too, and I’m not leaving.”

“But it’s a dump. Maybe you want to check out something better.”

“It’s not a dump. This is one of the top neighborhoods in the city.”

“It was, maybe fifty years ago.”

“Well, it not a dump the way I see it. My beautiful floral wallpaper, the polished wood of the breakfast set. It’s all still here.” She stubbed out her cigarette in an ashtray that appeared right before she touched it.

“Those things will kill you.”

“Too late. Besides, if you knew all the things I put in this body, a little cigarette is the least of my worries. Oh the parties I used to host. They were all here, you know. Politicians, movie stars, musicians. We use to put out drugs on one of those three tier serving dishes like some people place out canapés.”

“W-w-we who?”

“Larry and I. He was my husband. House went to me after he died. You can ask him yourself, he usually shows up near the pool on clear nights.”

I pulled the kitchen curtains back. A flurry of moths startled me. The stone around the pool was cracked and small trees pushed up between the stones. A foot of green scum floated on the partially filled pool.

“Not there tonight? That’s where I buried him. A lieutenant detective helped me dig the hole.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I thanked that man proper, right up there.”

“I, I, I don’t need to know this.”

“Lots to know about this place. One night a rockstar banged a socialite on that countertop you’re trying to destroy. The rest of his band cheered him on.”

“Anybody I’d know?”

“Meh, flavor of the month. You know how that business goes.” She finished her drink. “Now what are we going to do about you?”

“I’ll hire an exorcist or someone to clear this place out.”

“You can try. Lot’s of cons in that business, but there are some legit ones. Of course, I could do the same thing.”

“Wh- what do you mean?”

“Things on my side of the veil aren’t so different. Maybe I’ll hire someone to get rid of you. In fact, that would be kind of fun. Tell you what. You hire someone, and I will too. We’ll get them all together one night, and see who prevails. First one to blink has to leave. What do you say? Sounds like a party to me.”

“I’m not playing your stupid game. I’m on the hook for a lot of money here, and I’m in the right.”

“Maybe you could sue me. Good luck serving papers though. No, we’re going to do this my way. We each get two weeks to find someone, then we do battle. If you win, I’ll leave.”

“What about Gary?” I cocked a thumb toward the back.

“Larry. And he’ll do whatever I tell him. He’s a lot calmer since I pulled the trigger. He doesn’t question or doubt me any more.”

“You aren’t giving me much choice here, and I’m the aggrieved party.”

“On your side of the veil, sure. On my side, I’m the aggrieved party, and I’ve owned this house since before you were born. What’s your name again?”

“Carl.”

“You seem like a nice young man, Carl. Find your witch or whatever, and I’ll do the same. And don’t get any ideas about selling this to someone and running off. What I’ll do to them is guaranteed to get you sued at minimum, maybe killed at maximum.” She faded away, along with the chair, decanter, and the rest.

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Two Shorts & a Snort, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re calling back into the nineteen-sixties. I just need to hook up this Einstein-Rosen switchboard.

Done, and we’re connecting.

“Eastham Correctional Facility.”

“Good morning. This is Lisa Burton, and I have an appointment to speak with Charlie Riddle.”

“Very good, ma’am. The prisoner is standing by. I’ll connect you.”

“Hello. Lisa? Lisa Burton?”

“Is this Charlie Riddle?”

CR: Yeah, it’s me.

“Charlie, I’m sure we’re all sorry about your circumstances. We’d like to understand how you got to this point in your life.”

“It’s a long story, but if you’ve got time, I have plenty to spare. I grew up in Odessa, Texas. If you’ve never been there, it’s flat land with nothing but sand and oil wells. My ol’ man worked the rigs, so as soon as I turned seventeen, I hired out. The oil field was a tough damn way to earn a living, but it was all I knew. I’ve seen men lose fingers, toes and even their lives working the rigs. But, I was good at it. I wasn’t afraid to climb to the top of the derrick or grab a pair of three-hundred-pound tongs. Hours were long. Money was good. Cocaine was cheap, and the Texas honkytonks was where I spent my days and nights off.”

“Sounds like a hard life, but I don’t see how that would lead you to Eastham.”

“It was a woman.”

“Isn’t it always?”

“Oh, but this one. She was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. Nelda Sue could make me weak in the knees. But, she made it clear from the beginning, that until she had a ring on her finger she was free to go with anyone she wanted to. We’d spend lots of time together when I wasn’t working, but let’s just say we weren’t exclusive.”

“So it was more casual. That can be fun.”

“I wouldn’t say it was casual. I was head-over-heels in love with Nelda Sue. I even paid the rent on her trailer over in Monahans. I’d work overtime to buy her pretty things that she wanted. But, it was never enough. I was working hard to save enough money to buy her the biggest diamond ring I could find, then she’d be mine and we could start a life together.”

“Oh, Charlie. You had it bad, huh?”

“Yeah, I can’t lie. I did. But, the night I saw her out with that oil company bum…that’s what we called the men that owned the oil company…well that’s when things went sideways. I couldn’t take it.”

“I don’t know, Charlie. Something seems to be missing here.”

“There’s a lot missing. I got really messed up on Cocaine and whiskey. I drove around looking for them. I don’t know what in the hell I thought I’d do if I found them, but somehow in my messed-up mind, I thought Nelda Sue would leave him and come with me. Anyway, I never found them.

“I wound up sitting in The New Rainbow bar drinking and thinking when in walked this older woman lookin’ richer than sin. But, what caught my attention was the size of the diamond on her left hand. I watched her. She was waiting for someone, but they never came. So, when she left, I followed her. I never intended to do more than take the ring from her. But, then she screamed and before I even thought about it, I pulled the trigger.

“I killed that poor woman and took the ring off her hand. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.”

“How did you wind up getting caught?”

“I drove to Monahans to Nelda Sue’s trailer and waited for her to come home. Then I put that ring on her hand and she said she’d marry me. I warned her not to show the ring to anyone. I needed her to wait two weeks until I could draw another paycheck, then I’d marry her, and we’d take off to Alabama where I could work the rigs. I thought she understood. But, she started showing the ring off to all her girlfriends and it only took a couple of days for word to get back to me. When a buddy of mine came to work and congratulated me, I knew I had to run. So, I jumped in my truck and headed for old Mexico. I figured they couldn’t get me there and I could send for Nelda Sue. But, somewhere between Odessa and El Paso, my mind disconnected. I snorted all the Cocaine I had on me and followed the broken white line until my truck ran out of gas. I was picked up in El Paso for vagrancy. It didn’t take long for them to connect the dots. Nelda Sue married that oil company bum and has just given birth to his son. I lost everything.”

“That’s all so tragic, Charlie. Sounds like a bunch of bad choices. Besides, you can’t expect a woman not to show off a diamond ring. That’s asking too much. Any closing remarks for our listeners today.”

“Just this. If the price is too high, folks, walk away.”

“Thank you Charlie.

“Listeners can learn all about Charlie and Nelda Sue in the first short story, “Obsessed” in Two Shorts & a Snort, by Jan Sikes. I’ll post all the pertinents on the website after I go off the air.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

Obsessed:

How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.

Maggie:

Is it possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.

Friends Instead of Lovers:

Sometimes it’s better to remain friends, instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.

Tow Shorts and a Snort is available in ebook and paperback at this site: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

You can get autographed copies directly from Jan at her website: http://www.jansikes.com/

Multi-Award-winning author, Jan Sikes, weaves stories in a creative and entertaining way. She has been called a magician and wordsmith extraordinaire by her readers and peers.

Jan published a series of four Biographical Fiction books with a musical twist; “Flowers and Stone,” “The Convict and the Rose,” “Home at Last,” and “Til Death Do Us Part.” They chronicle the life of Texas musician, Rick Sikes, a pioneer in the Outlaw Music movement before it ever had a name. She also released a music CD of original songs which match the time-period of each story. She also published a unique book of poetry and art, which combines heartfelt poetry with pen-and-ink drawings.

Four of her five books have won literary awards. She has won several short story writing contests and most recently won the grand prize in the RRBC 90-day Alpha/Omega Short Story challenge.

Jan has written songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays, and novels. She resides in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals and has five grandchildren who keep her busy in her spare time. She sits on the board of directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History. She hosts an internet radio show, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE and is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. She serves on the RAVE WRITERS – INT’L OF AUTHORS Executive Committee.

You can catch up with Jan at the following places:

WEBSITE:

http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG:

https://rijanjks.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

TWITTER:

http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks

PINTEREST:

http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

LINKEDIN:

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=65865260&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8DK

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