Tag Archives: murder

Check out Saddled Hearts

Let’s all give a rousing welcome to Jan Sikes today. She’s here to tell us about Saddled Hearts. This is the third volume in her White Rune series. Jan is a long-term friend, a contributing member of Story Empire, and just an all around neat lady. Please help her out by using those sharing buttons today.

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I am super excited to be visiting at your blog site today, Craig. Thank you so much for offering to let me take over. Your support is much appreciated.

Every story must have conflict. Without it, there is nothing for the characters to achieve. And our job, as writers, is to keep ramping up the conflict throughout the story until we reach the black moment.

When my protagonist, Colt Layne, is arrested and charged with murder, it increases the tension and gives him a pretty big obstacle to work through. He must prove his innocence, but the evidence against him is strong.

Today, I want to share with you the moment when he realizes he’s been framed for the murder of Jeremiah Tompkins.

EXCERPT:

“Colt Layne.”

He jumped to his feet. “Yes, sir.”

“Follow me, please.”

Colt nodded and fell in behind the young, uniformed officer.

The man stopped behind a desk in the back corner and motioned to Colt to sit across from him. He pressed a button on a digital recorder, then opened a file. “Mr. Layne, I’m Officer Daly. I understand you’re here to make a statement about the events from last night regarding the death of Jeremiah Tompkins.”

“I am.”

“Just so you are aware, this conversation will be recorded.”

Colt cleared his throat. “I understand.”

The policeman rattled off the time and date and Colt’s name in a bored monotone before he proceeded.

After Colt relayed every detail from the night before, minus his foreman being with him, he leaned back in the chair. “That’s all I know.”

The rookie officer clicked off the recording. “Okay. Thank you for your time. You are free to go. We’ll contact you if we need any further information.”

Colt had expected a barrage of questions. He breathed a sigh of relief, stood, and shook hands, then weaved his way through the desks back to the front door.

As he was about to walk out, Toby called out his name. “Hey, Layne. Wait a minute.”

He turned to see two men in suits and ties standing with Toby. “Yes?”

“These men need to speak to you.”

What now? Colt took a few steps toward them. “What can I help you with?”

One man flashed a badge. “I’m Detective Lopez, and this is Detective Roberts. I think you better come with us.”

“I’ve already given my statement. The officer said I could go.”

“Yeah, well, something’s changed. Come with us, please. Or do we need to cuff you?”

“Cuff me?” Colt frowned. “What in the hell are you talking about?”

One of the men stepped forward. “Colt Layne, you are under arrest for the murder of Jeremiah Tompkins. You have the right to remain silent…”

The thudding of Colt’s heart drowned out the rest of what the man said. What in the holy hell? This couldn’t be happening.

Over the next hour, they took Colt’s fingerprints, mug shot, and confiscated his personal belongings. His head spun. Nothing made sense.

No matter how many questions he asked, no one told him anything. Finally, he was allowed his one phone call.

“Jag.” He breathed a sigh of relief when his friend answered the phone. “This is Colt. I’ve got a problem.”

***

My late husband was arrested and convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, and that personal experience gave me fodder for writing this scene. Have you ever had one of your characters falsely charged with a crime? Let’s talk!

BLURB:

Colt Layne owns the Layne Horse Sanctuary. He lives an idyllic life between caring for the animals and playing music with his band. That is until a stranger appears with unreasonable demands. When someone murders the man, Colt is arrested. He’s been framed, but by whom and why?

He needs to talk with his deceased grandfather. But that’s impossible. Or is it?

Sage Coventry is gifted with the ability to communicate with the deceased. Skeptical but desperate, when Colt consults with her, he gets more than messages from beyond the grave as she breezes into his heart with sweet patchouli fragrance and tempting lips he longs to kiss.

The race against time to clear his name and save the ranch launches them on a mission that brings shocking revelations.

Let’s go on a scavenger hunt! Hidden within the blog posts are clues you will need to look for.

The theme is “Things You’d Find On A Ranch.”

When you find these clues, email your answers to me at

SaddledHearts@gmail.com

With CONTEST

In the subject line.

The person with the most correct entries will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The runner-up will receive an eBook of Saddled Hearts! 

It Pays To Play!

BOOK TRAILER: https://youtu.be/_MQ9fYH5PrI

UNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK: https://linktr.ee/Rijanjks

SOCIAL MEDIA:

WEBSITE: http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG: http://www.jansikesblog.com

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/jansikes3

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095856.Jan_Sikes

BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jan-sikes

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/sikesjan/

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK

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The Stakes are High

Let’s all welcome Judi Lynn today. She’s a long-term blogger/author friend, and she has a new book to tell us about today. Please check it out, maybe consider it for your summer reading list. Before you leave make sure to use those sharing buttons. All of us struggle to get the word out and a click or two is pretty simple.

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I’ve been a fan of C.S. Boyack for a while now—his blog: Entertaining Stories | Just a fiction writer, trying to reach the world. (wordpress.com), his posts about writing on Story Empire: Suspension of Disbelief | Story Empire (wordpress.com), and his many wonderful books: Amazon.com: C. S. Boyack: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle. So, I’m happy to be his guest today to promote my cozy mystery, THE STEAKS ARE HIGH.

This is the second book in my Karnie Cleaver series. Karnie works in her family’s butcher shop with her parents, brother Chuck, Aunt Aida, and Aida’s son and daughter. They not only work together, but they get together every Sunday for suppers. They like each other. That led me to write a story that focused on family dynamics, the good and the bad. When Karnie married Matt Roeback, Chuck’s best friend, his family is close, too. And she inherited his two kids, Chelsea—almost three—and Jackson—five. When Matt’s ex-wife left him, Chelsea was only six months old and doesn’t remember her mother. Jackson doesn’t want to. They’re both ready to have a woman who loves them. So was Matt. And I wanted to show how all of them bonded as a family in this book.

I also wanted to show that even when people love each other, sometimes the need to do your own thing can cause chasms. Karnie’s older brother, Porter, left the butcher shop and moved to Florida soon after he graduated high school and never looked back. He was always their parents’ golden boy who could do no wrong. He’s handsome, smart, and maybe a little too into himself. He didn’t come home for weddings and rarely answered phone calls. Until now. But when he gets into trouble, home looks better than it once did. Karnie and Chuck aren’t jumping up for joy when he wants to return to the family business, but their parents greet Porter with open arms, their prodigal son returned.

And then there’s the mystery. And it emphasizes relationships this time, too. Farley Rawlins is the victim, and people would line up who disliked him. He and his wife can barely tolerate each other, but she stays with him. Why? He’s such a pain, she doesn’t want to bother with one court battle after another to get rid of him. Then there’s his mistress, Cecilia, who’s not happy because he’s left her for someone else. Not his wife. And there’s the myriad of people who rent from him, and he’s threatening to throw them all out so that he can raise his rents.

I also wanted to show the hardship of parents who have kids with special needs. Don’t get me wrong. They love their kids with all their hearts, but they always worry what will become of them once they’re gone.

I enjoyed writing this book. I didn’t even fuss through the messy middle (and that’s unusual for me). And I thank Craig for helping me promote it. If you try it, I hope you like it.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Steaks-Are-High-Cleaver-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B6D731ZD/ref=sr_1_1?crid=31Y3GUAIWDOR7&keywords=the+steaks+are+high%2C+judi+lynn&qid=1657829492&sprefix=%2Caps%2C53&sr=8-1

***

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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A Voice in the Silence

It’s my honor to welcome D. L. Finn to Entertaining Stories today. She’s here to tell us about her newest publication, and it sounds pretty good to me. Denise is a friend, a Story Empire partner, and a great author. I hope all of you will make her feel welcome, and don’t forget to use those sharing buttons at the end.

***

Thank you for having me here today, Craig, to celebrate the release of A Voice in the Silence.

I’ve never had a pet who wanted a bath. Our dogs thought it was a punishment when I went from water to soap, while the cats would attempt to end all water contact with their front claws and propelling back legs. So, I had fun writing the bath scenes that included animals.

Imagine Drea’s surprise that they seemed to enjoy it, not only the dog Charlie, but the cat Jane, and rat Ben too. You’d either think they were the best-behaved and trained animals ever—or wonder. I know my mind would come up with an unusual scenario or two, but never consider these animal’s truths.

Still having a dog, cat and rat show up just when Drea needed it was an enormous boost for her in the depressed state she was in. She deserved that small moment of peace to bond in everyday chores like bathing these animals before her life, and theirs, unraveled.

Fun Finn Facts

1. Could there be labs trying to create talking animals? If they do and they escape they are welcome at my house.

2. Do our loved ones who have passed on try to communicate with us? I believe so.

Blurb

Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.

Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.

Excerpt

Drea gasped and sat up on the couch. Her heart was racing like her nightmare of falling off a cliff had been real. Although it was still dark out, dawn was peeking through the veil. She had slept soundly through the night. The familiar crackling of the fire was absent. She shivered in the cold room, wrapped the blanket tightly around her, and took the simple route of turning on the central heat over rekindling the flames. This time of year, she preferred the warmth of a woodstove over forced hot air, but since becoming a widow, she chose where to put her energy.

The animals were curled up on the blue wool hearth rug and hadn’t stirred. A pleasant sensation passed through her— a sense of belonging, or being needed. That inspired her to pull on her snow boots, coat, and gloves and grab her new black fabric wood carrier. She shut the door quietly behind her without letting it latch. The garage door creaked open, exposing her to the winter chill.

The headlamp fit snuggly across her brow. A simple flick of a switch lit her path across the pristine snow to the woodshed. As the narrow beam of light guided her forward, her boots sank into the covered landscape. She quickly filled her carrier with oak and turned to go back into the house when her path crossed another set of footprints.

Her heart raced as she studied the tracks. They were bigger and deeper than the ones she’d made. The square heel left out any possibility of being a forest animal, and the tracks led away from the house into the trees. A quick scan of the area didn’t offer any answers.

She took a deep breath to push her fear away. Next time, she’d bring her gun. How stupid to go outside alone with a killer on the loose.

Charlie’s paw swept the door open, and he sprinted to her side.

She met the dog’s wide-eyed gaze. “Someone’s been here.”

Charlie sniffed the air, nodded, and fell in behind her. His head bumped against her legs, quickening her sluggish pace. Looking to her right, she spotted more footprints—right outside her front window. Time inched forward as goosebumps crawled over her skin.

Finally they were inside the garage. She dumped the load on the concrete floor and raced to the button that would shut the door and offer her protection from the outside world. Charlie stood statue-still next to the closing door, which moved at the speed of a turtle. She sighed in relief when the outer metal door thumped shut and quickly gathered up the wood.

Amazon Purchase Link US
Amazon Purchase Link UK

Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

Author Amazon Page

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Heck of a deal! #freebook #murder #mystery

Hey, everyone. A couple of years ago I got an invitation to contribute to an anthology of murder mysteries.

This is a little outside my orbit, but they didn’t care if mine was a speculative tale. I decided to give Jason Fogg another spotlight and my story came together.

Jason is a private detective who has the ability to turn himself into fog. This allows him to get inside places and poke around for evidence. Even openings like keyholes are enough for him to pass through.

Jason originated in the first Experimental Notebook, earned another tale in the second Experimental Notebook, and was part of the team in Viral Blues. I might trot him out again some day.

This brings me to Murder They Wrote. I am honored to appear beside some stellar authors in this collection. If you feel like diving into murder mysteries, this is the collection for you, and you might find a new favorite author in the mix.

The best news is this collection is absolutely free for a couple more days. Grab your copy now. I like to read anthologies as lunch-break material to stretch them out. (It’s okay if you want to read them all at once. You do you.)

Here’s the universal link and it should work no matter what country you’re in. http://mybook.to/Murder_They_Wrote

I hope you’ll check this one out. It’s rising on the list, but it will take a lot more “FREE” downloads to get us to number one.

Don’t forget to use those sharing buttons at the bottom. Maybe one of your friends might like a copy.

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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:

***

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.

><><><><

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.

***

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.”

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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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