Wednesday, May 07, 2014




Coleman and Dinah Greene are making names for themselves in the art world. Coleman`s magazine publishing empire is growing and Dinah`s print gallery is gaining traction. In fact, Dinah has just won the contract to select, buy, and hang art in the New York office of the management consultants Davidson, Douglas, Danbury & Weeks – a major coup that will generate The Greene Gallery`s first big profits. However, when Dinah goes to DDD&W to begin work, she discovers a corporate culture unlike anything she`s ever encountered before. There are suggestions of improprieties everywhere, including missing art worth a fortune. And when two DDD&W staff members are discovered murdered, Dinah and Coleman find themselves swept into the heart of another mystery. Revealing the murderer will be no easy task...but first Dinah needs to clear her own name from the suspect list. 

Rewriting Jane Austen: Why?

Jane Austen was a “British author whose six novels quietly revolutionized world literature, and who is considered one of the greatest writers of all time.” (The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, 2008)

Those who are in charge of the Harper Collins project of rewriting Jane Austen’s novels say they are doing this because of the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the X-rated Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. Since I have no idea why anyone would want to read either of those books, I didn’t find the announcement that Joanna Trollope was writing a “contemporary reworking” of Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility a cause for celebration. Did I buy it? Yes. Did I read it? Yes. Did I like it? No.

I have enjoyed Trollope’s original books, especially The Choir and A Village Affair—contemporary plots and good writing. Her rewrite of Sense and Sensibility reads as if she’d cut Austen’s work into little pieces, and scattered them throughout 361 pages, perhaps using an electric fan to make sure the pieces go in all directions.

A later announcement that Austen’s books are being rewritten for the “social media generations” seems to me an admission that the publisher is desperate, and that more books are being dumb-downed. This is very sad. Austen’s originals are written in clear and perfect English, do not use pretentious or pompous language, or slang or vulgarity. They have been read by many people for many years, and enjoyed so much that most of us read them over and over. I do not think the language in the new Sense and Sensibility will be understood nearly as well as the original (tosser? Unwrapped her fleece? Lots of Anglo speak and Anglo references?). Many Americans will need a translation.

Val McDermid’s rendition of Northanger Abbey, which is now a “vampire heaven” is not likely to please those of us who are thoroughly sick of vampires (we are overjoyed that Austen’s books, and other favorites, do not contain any). Worse, McDermid’s book is full of the loathsome slang and misused English many people write and speak these days. I was truly horrified: “cool” and “brilliant” (for everything except their original meanings), “twat”, and worst of all, “like” in the following way, “Glasgow? Isn’t that miles away? Like, on the other side of the country.” The best schools in the country are trying to rid students of the ghastly “like” disease, while a rewritten Jane Austen includes it. Horrors! There are more of these rewritings to come. Why?

Meet the Author

Reba White Williams worked for more than thirty years in business and finance—in research at McKinsey & Co., as a securities analyst on Wall Street, and as a senior executive at an investment management firm. 
Williams graduated from Duke with a BA in English, earned an MBA at Harvard, a PhD in Art History at CUNY, and an MA in Writing at Antioch. She has written numerous articles for art and financial journals. She is a past president of the New York City Art Commission and served on the New York State Council for the Arts. 

She and her husband built what was thought to be the largest private collection of fine art prints by American artists. They created seventeen exhibitions from their collection that circulated to more than one hundred museums worldwide, Williams writing most of the exhibition catalogues. She has been a member of the print committees of several leading museums. 

Williams grew up in North Carolina, and lives in New York, Connecticut and Southern California with her husband and Maltese, Muffin. She is the author of two novels featuring Coleman and Dinah Greene, Restrike and Fatal Impressions, along with the story of Coleman and Dinah when they were children, Angels. She is currently working on her third Coleman and Dinah mystery.

Monday, April 28, 2014

FIRST CHAPTER REVEAL | To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins

Displaying To Live Forever banner.jpg

About the Book:

Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 300
Language: English
Genre: Historical fiction/Paranormal/Suspense
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Purchase at Amazon

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.

Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen. 

Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another.  An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.

Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.

It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.

Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.

To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?

After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.


Explorer Meriwether Lewis Dead at 35

The Natchez Trace, south of Nashville, Tennessee - Meriwether Lewis, renowned co-captain of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific and territorial governor of Upper Louisiana, died Wednesday, October 11, 1809. He was thirty-five.

Accounts suggest his death was a suicide, though murder is still being investigated. He was found with gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen. No one witnessed the incident.

Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 near Charlottesville, Virginia. After a successful military career, he served as personal secretary to Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. Jefferson selected him to lead the Corps of Discovery, an expedition to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific. Along with William Clark, Lewis guided the thirty-three person team through thousands of miles of unexplored wilderness.

Upon his triumphant return in 1806, Lewis was appointed governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory, succeeding James Wilkinson. While he accepted the appointment with great promise, colleagues noted that he struggled in the position throughout his tenure. A source said he was more outdoorsman than administrator, more scientist than politician.

In September 1809, he journeyed to Washington DC, both to explain his gubernatorial affairs to James Madison’s administration and to publish his prized expedition journals. No one knows why he diverted from his planned water route through New Orleans to the notorious Natchez Trace in Tennessee, where he died.

Authorities are still evaluating the circumstances of his death. Lost in mystery, may his spirit rest in peace.

First Chapter:
A New Orleans Courtroom
March 24, 1977

A drop of sweat hung from the end of my nose. I watched it build, cross-eyed, before I shook my head and made it fall. It left wet circles on the front of my dress.

"Emmaline. Be still, Child." Aunt Bertie fanned her face and neck with a paper fan, the one with the popsicle stick handle.

A popsicle would be so good.

The waiting room of the court in New Orleans was full. People were everywhere I looked.

Reporters in stripey suits talked with some of Daddy's musician friends. I loved to watch their fingers play imaginary guitars or pound out chords on their legs. Once or twice, Daddy's band members came over to squeeze my arm or pat my head. “In spite of what they’s saying in that courtroom, we all love your Daddy, Kid.”

Everybody loved Daddy. Well, everybody except Mommy.

My nose burned when I breathed, because the whole room stank like sweaty feet. My face was steamy when I touched it, and my lace tights scratched when I kicked my legs to push along the wooden bench. I left a puddle when I moved.

I snuggled closer to the dark folds and softness of Aunt Bertie. She turned her black eyes down at me and sighed before pushing me away with her dimpled hand. "Too hot, Child. When this is done, I'll hold you as long as you want."

I slid back to my wet spot on the bench. The wood made a hard pillow when I leaned my head against it and closed my eyes. Wishes still worked for nine-year-old girls, didn't they?

I thought and thought. If I wanted it enough, maybe I could shrink myself smaller. It was hard to be outside the courtroom, imagining what was going on inside. Behind the heavy doors, Mommy and Daddy probably shouted mean things at each other, like they used to at home. Both of them said they wanted me, if they had to fight until they were dead.

I watched Mommy's lady friends go into the courtroom: Miss Roberta in her drapey dress with flowers, Miss Chantelle all in white against the black of her skin, and Miss Emilie in a red skirt and coat that tied at her waist in a pretty bow. They all went in and came out, and they always looked at me. Miss Roberta even left a red lipstick kiss on my cheek, but I don't like her, so I rubbed it off.

Aunt Bertie took her turn inside the courtroom, leaving me to sit with a reporter. He watched me from behind thick black glasses, and he asked me all kinds of questions about Daddy and Mommy. I didn't understand much. I knew Daddy was famous, at least in New Orleans, but I didn't understand what the word “allegations” meant.

My daddy was Lee Cagney. People called him “The Virtuoso of Dixieland Jazz.” He played the upright bass, and when he sang, his voice made women act silly in the middle of Bourbon Street. They cried and screamed. Some of them even tore their clothes.

I understood why women loved Daddy. I adored him, too. But some grown women sure did act dumb.


None of the lawyers asked me who I wanted to be with.

The Judge said I was too little to understand, and Mommy agreed. But if they asked me, I would shout it all the way to Heaven: I wanted to be with Daddy.

When he sang Ragtime Lullaby, the sound of his voice put me to sleep. He always splashed in the fountain with me in front of the Cathedral and gave me pennies to throw in the water. Thursday afternoons before his gigs, he sat with me at Cafe du Monde, sharing beignets with as much powdered sugar as I wanted. He didn't even mind my sticky fingers when he held my hand. He wasn't always there when I had nightmares, but he came to see me first thing in the morning.

People around me whispered about Daddy's “adulterous proclivities.” I didn't understand what that meant, but it had something to do with his loving other women besides Mommy. No matter what they said, Daddy didn't do anything wrong. When he wasn't playing music, he was always with me.

Wasn't he?

A skinny reporter held the courtroom door open. "The Judge's ruling." He whispered, but his voice was loud enough for everyone waiting to hear. He kept the door open, and I saw my chance.

I struggled through all the legs to the door. Mommy's red lips curled in a smile as the Judge addressed Daddy. The Judge's face was loose, like the bulldog that lived in the house around the corner, and his voice boomed in my chest. When he stood and leaned over his desk, his hairy hands gripped the gavel.

"In the case of Cagney v. Cagney, I am charged with finding the best outcome for a little girl. For rendering a verdict that will shape the whole of her life. The welfare of the child is paramount, regardless of how it will impact the adults involved.”

The Judge stopped and cleared his throat. I held my breath when his baggy eyes fell on me. I counted ten heartbeats before he talked again. “Mr Cagney, I simply cannot ignore the fact that you had carnal relations with your then-wife's lady friends repeatedly, both under your shared roof and in broad daylight. The photographic evidence coupled with the testimonies of these poor women damns you, regardless of your expressed love for your daughter. From everything I’ve seen and heard in this courtroom, the evidence does not support your claim that you were set up. Justice demands that your nine-year-old daughter be delivered into the arms of the person who has demonstrated that she has the capability to be a responsible parent."

He looked around the room and sat up straight in his chair. "I am granting sole custody of Emmaline Cagney to her mother, Nadine Cagney, and I hereby approve her request to block Lee Cagney from any and all contact with his daughter until she reaches the age of eighteen. Mr Cagney, should you violate this directive, you will be found in contempt of this court, an offense that may be punishable by imprisonment of up to 120 days and a fine of no more than $500 per occurrence. This court is adjourned."

He pounded a wooden stick on his desk, and everyone swarmed like bees. Daddy stood up and shook his fist. He shouted at the Judge over all the other noise. “Lies! Set out to ruin my reputation—my memory—in the eyes of my daughter! I'll appeal, if I have to spend every dime of my money. I'll—"

The Judge banged his stick again, lots of times, while my eyes met Daddy's. I ran from the doorway. The room was like the obstacle course on the playground, only with people who reached for me while the Judge boomed, "Order! Order! I will have order in my court!"

Daddy's lawyer held him and whispered something in his ear. It was my chance. I ran toward Daddy and his crying blue eyes. They matched mine, because I was crying, too.

Daddy elbowed his lawyer into the railing and reached out his hand. “Come to me, Baby.”

I kicked at pants legs and stomped on shiny shoes. At the front, I stuck my hand through the bars and stretched as far as I could. My fingers almost reached his when my head jerked like I was snagged at the end of a fishing pole.

Mommy had the ties at the back of my white pinafore. Her glossy red lips fake-smiled. "I'm taking Emmaline now, Lee. Good luck to you."

She squeezed my hand. Her red fingernails dug into my skin.

"Ow, Mommy. You're hurting me."

Her high heels clack-clack-clacked as she dragged me through the chairs and down the aisle toward the waiting room. I planted my heels and tried to get one last look, my mind taking a picture of Daddy. Before we got through the door, I saw his shoulders shake. Three policemen held him back and kept him from following me. The world was blurry like the time I swam to the bottom of a pool and opened my eyes underwater.

Mommy picked me up and cradled me in her arms. Her blood-tipped fingers stroked my hair, but her lips whispered a different story, one the crowd couldn’t hear. “Stop crying, Emmaline. You know this is for the best." She shifted me to the ground and adjusted the wide sash of her floor-length dress. Its sleeves fanned out as she pushed the bar on the door. I wished she'd take off and fly away.

Summer heat turned my tears to steam, and my eyes ached. Mommy struggled to pull me along through the reporters that blocked the path to the car. They shouted questions, but I didn't hear them. All I heard were Daddy's words. "Come to me, Baby."

Mommy smiled and pressed our bodies through the people. She kept her gaze glued on the car.

Aunt Bertie waited behind the wheel of Mommy's fancy red Cadillac Eldorado. Mommy always said the whole name with a funny accent. The engine was running. "There's Bertie. In you go, Emmaline. I'm ready to be done with this madness."

My legs squeaked across the hot back seat. Mommy ran her fingers under my eyes to wipe away my tears, but they kept coming. “Please. You’re upsetting my daughter.” She shouted over her shoulder.

The door slammed, and it was like a clock stopped. Like I would never be older than that moment. Everything would always be “Before Daddy” and “After Daddy.”


His face appeared in the slice of back window. I put down the glass, trying to slip through, but Mommy ran around the car. She screamed and hit him, over and over. "You stay away from her, Lee! You heard what the Judge said!"

Her black hair fell out of its bun as she pounded him with her fists. He tried to move away from her. Toward me. He reached his hand through the window and touched my face. His mouth opened to speak to me, but a policeman came up behind him and dragged him away from the car.

"I'll write you, Emmaline! Every day. I promise,” he shouted. “I'll prove these things aren't true! I’ll give up everything to be with you!” The policeman pushed him through the courthouse door, and he was gone.

"I'll write you, too, Daddy." I whispered it, soft so nobody but God or my guardian angel could hear. "Somehow, I'll make us be together again."

Purchase your copy:

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

To see other videos Andra is filming along her walk, click here.

About the Author

Displaying Andra Watkins.jpgAndra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years.  She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of MeriwetherLewis, a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809. 

You can visit her website at or follow her on Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Excerpt | Cocoon By Emily Sue Harvey


By Emily Sue Harvey

New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry has said that, “Emily Sue Harvey has a sure touch and strong voice. She`s a talent to watch.” New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Harvey’s first novel, SONG OF RENEWAL “an uplifting, heartwarming story.” Now Harvey returns with a tale as rich in drama as it poignant in the truths it tells.

When widowed Seana Howard meets Barth McGrath, a newcomer to their little town, she never dreams she’ll fall in love again. Despite his somewhat quirky ways, she falls for the man. The only problem is that her married children do not trust the mysterious stranger. Who is he? Where exactly did he come from? Why are there so many questions about his past? 

Against their wishes, Seana elopes with Barth and is happier than she’s been in years. Then her happiness shatters when a mysterious illness suddenly befalls her, exiling her once brilliant mind to a dark nightmare from which she may never return. The eclipse is startling and complete. Will Barth, with such a short history with Seana, love her enough to endure the trials of caring for someone under such dire circumstances? Can her family get past their suspicions and trust his motives and love for their mother? Will Seana ever escape her dark cocoon and reclaim her very purpose for living? Will life give her a second chance to spread her wings, like a beautiful butterfly?

COCOON is a life-affirming story of travail, obstacles, and the extraordinary lengths that undying love will travel.


I chose the following excerpt from COCOON because it’s at this point that Barth realizes the gravity of his wife, Seana’s mysterious malady. It also brings into focus the battle he fights with Seana’s daughter’s distrust of him. And he’s wondering, will his bride ever return to him?

Computer classes at tech went well. Only thing, on the third day, when new software was introduced that Tim’s Real Estate office was implementing, Seana began to feel strange and could not remember things the instructor said.

As the day wore on, she grew more and more disturbed. The words seemed to go in one ear and out the other. There was no pause inside her brain, not even for a second. She left the class distressed.

Panic washed through her like icy rapids.

What was happening to her?

# # #

Barth’s mouth dropped open when Seana joined him at the dinner table that evening. Her face seemed to belong on another person. It appeared frozen into a mask of stunned remorse.

“Something’s wrong, Barth,” she muttered through tight lips. “Something horrible’s happening to me.”

Barth scooted around and took the bar stool next to her. He took her icy hands in his. “What do you think it is?” Her distress was viral. His pulse began to pound in his ears. This is ridiculous, he told himself. Stay calm and reassure Seana.

“I can’t remember a thing the teacher said in class today.”

Pull it together, Barth.

Barth sucked in a deep, raw breath and drew Seana into his arms. She was limp as a noodle. “Listen, Babe, you’re okay,” he murmured gently. “You hear me? You’re okay.”

Her head moved slowly from side to side. “No, Barth. I’m not okay.” The lackadaisical words pierced his heart and shot terror clean out his fingers and toes.

“Yes you are.” He heard the edge in his voice then backpedaled to gentler mode “A good night’s sleep is what you need. After that you’ll feel better. You’ll see.”

# # #

Barth slept restlessly and every time he turned over, Seana’s eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. “You need to relax, darling, there’s nothing to fear,” he reminded her each time. “Close your eyes and just—let your mind drift.”

“I can’t.” That’s all she said. Just “I can’t.”

That in itself scared the dickens out of him. Now he knew what that southern term meant. He was living it. Still…he felt that this was only temporary.

Finally, around 3:30 a.m., he gently nudged Seana over on her side, into a fetal position, then he spooned against her back, wrapping her in his arms and warmth. The night had been dark and desolate. Endless.

At least he could give her solace.

Then, through the floor to ceiling window, he watched as daylight swallowed up the darkness and the mountain range grew clear and blue.

And he felt a spurt of hope.

That today, Seana would come back to him.

# # #

But Seana did not come back. Was not, in fact, able to function. She was barely able to go to the bathroom and crawl back in bed. She refused to eat unless Barth spoon fed her. Then she would turn her head away most of the time.

Barth called tech and cancelled her lesson for that day, then the next, and finally all of them.

Sunday came and Seana didn’t go to church, an unheard of thing as a rule. Barth asked Billie Jean to stay with Seana and he volunteered to teach Seana’s kindergarten age Sunday School class. Easy enough, he decided.

Joanie Knight volunteered to help him. “Sort of a teacher’s aide.” She grinned at him and her periwinkle blue eyes, which matched her top of the knees dress, twinkled as she watched the innocent faced cherubs enter the classroom.

Barth began to relax. Heck, what could go wrong with such sweet students?

Gaining their attention, after five minutes of getting them all situated in tiny chairs, wasn’t too bad. Curiosity won out. They’d not seen this gigantic male before in their little setting. They peered openly at him as he read the Sunday School story of the week, about David and the giant, Goliath.

Barth found himself getting carried away with the drama and began acting out the roles. Only thing, when he got to Goliath, he wasn’t sure how to demonstrate the actual murder. One child, little red-haired Harry Woodall, was on his feet in a heartbeat. “I know,” he pealed and ran to the corner toy box. There, he extracted a rubber sword. A long one. “Dis how Da-bid did it,” he lisped, spraying spittle in all directions. He grabbed a feeble looking doll from the box and plopped it on the carpeted floor.

Barth watched, transfixed.

Like a professional golfer, Harry boy grasped the sword handle, shuffled his feet, harnessed energy to his arms, raised the sword, then punched it down with all his might, sending the dolls head flying across the floor, hitting Judy Smith’s black patent leather shoe.

“Aaaaiihh,” Judy wailed. “He hurt da baby!” Then the wails turned to earnest sobs, tears big as his thumb dropped off her flushed cheeks. Her dimpled hands shot up to swipe her wet face as she snubbed and renewed her sobs.

“No, no,” Barth crooned rushing to her and dropping to his haunches. “He was only pretending.”

The blue eyes opened, peered tragically at him. “No.” Her blond head swung from side to side in denial, bouncing her curls about frantically. “Hawi hurt her. B-bad.”

Her huge snuffling hiccup caught Barth’s heart and tugged it mightily. “No, sweetheart. It’s not alive. Like you.”

“Aaaiiih.” Wails recommenced as other little faces watched and reflected emotions from curiosity to the beginning of tears.

Harry Woodall had shrunk into a corner chair, guilt written across his freckled face as clearly as the scarlet letter A.

Barth peered helplessly at Joanie, who shrugged mightily, took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and stood. “Come ‘ere, sweetie. Let me show you something.” She took the broken doll, put its head back in the hole and said, “Y’know, I might just have something that will fix this baby up like new by next Sunday. How about that?”

Judy’s tears stopped. She nodded, looking hopeful. “You fix it?”

“Sure as shootin’.” Joanie nodded big time. “She’ll be good as new.” Then she took the little girl on her lap, winked at Harry, and guided the attention back to the teacher.

Barth was able to finish the story, this time soft-pedaling the sword murder and majoring on the shepherd David’s sling shot expertise.

Now, that got their attention.

Even little Judy’s.

After class, Barth pulled Joanie aside. “Thanks. You saved my honor.”

Joanie giggled. “Aww. All in a day’s class.”

“How’re you going to fix the doll?”

Joanie stage whispered. “I know where they have a dozen of those particular dolls. New, dontcha know?”

Barth’s head rolled back in laughter. “You females.”

“What?” Joanie peered at him, speculation glowing.

“You are such glorious, brilliant creations.”

“And don’t you forget it,” Joanie trilled over her shoulder as she sashayed down the hall.

# # #

Back at home, Barth found Seana curled up in fetal position on the sofa, exactly where he’d left her. Her cell phone, lying on the coffee table near her, was loping away with its God Bless the USA melody. Seana stared blankly at the TV screen.

“Aren’t you going to answer your phone?” Barth asked, slightly annoyed. He knew she didn’t feel well but couldn’t understand this apathy.

Seana didn’t reply. He snatched up her phone, flipped it open and barked “hello?”

A startled silence, then, “ Barth, I’d like to speak to my mother.” Zoe’s request was cut in cedar.

“Of course.” Barth held the phone out to Seana, whose gaze never wavered from

The television screen. She shook her head.

A definite no.

“Ah, look, Zoe. Your mother’s not feeling well and--”

“I know she’s not.” As in I’m not stupid. “She wasn’t at church. Is she awake?” Zoe’s tone was definitely up there with royally ticked.

“Yes, she’s awake. But she doesn’t want to talk to anyone right now.” Barth knew it wasn’t setting well with his step daughter. Couldn’t blame her. He, too, was frustrated that Seana didn’t seem to be trying at all to function.

“Well, I’ll be right over. I want to know what’s going on with her.” The line went dead.

“Sure thing, Zoe,” Barth muttered to the dead phone, staring at it before clicking it shut.

“Have you had your shower?” he asked Seana, knowing full well she had not because she still wore her night gown and her hair was a mass of tangles.

“No.” The eyes remained fixed on the screen, yet—Barth was certain she did not really see it. For the past two days, she’d insisted on finding a ballgame on one of the sports channels. And she was not, as a rule, a really strong sports fan.

“Well, come on. I’ll help you,” he insisted, reaching to help her up.


Hands on hips, Barth sighed heavily, gauged his wife’s dug-in mien, then tried again. “Seana, you have to bathe.” He tugged at her until she finally let him help her onto her wobbly feet and to the shower.

There, he undressed her and guided her into the stall. He turned the faucet on warm and watched water cascade down her body. She made no move to lather up. Nothing. Just stood planted there like the danged sycamore tree outside their window.

Exasperated, Barth stripped off his own clothes and got in with her. He began to vigorously lather her all over with a nylon scrubby. She frowned at times as if in pain or aggravated and something about her pierced his heart. Vulnerability shimmered over her like an electrical current.

He paused in his ministrations and stared at her, looking into her eyes.

They were vacant. “Dear God, honey. What’s happened to you?” The words ended on a sob. He pulled her unresponsive body into his arms and held her as if she were fine crystal or a fragile egg, weeping as unrestrainedly as he’d ever done in his entire adult life.

When the sobs subsided, he gently dried her off and dressed her in sweats, simply because they were easier to manage. Then he combed the tangles from her chin length hair and silently thanked Joanie for the good cut and perm when the damp strands shaped up rather nicely. As soon as he finished, Seana turned from him and made her way back to the den where she curled up again on the sofa.

Barth shook his head, pulled on jeans and shirt and went to the kitchen to decide what to do for lunch. The doorbell pealed. He closed the fridge and went to answer the door.

“Hi Zoe,” he said and stepped aside for a splendidly angry Zoe, who swept past him without a word of greeting. He shrugged and followed her into the den where she marched over to her mother.

“What do you mean, not taking my calls?” Zoe crossed her arms and peered down at her mother, waiting for an explanation. Silence stretched out and Zoe wilted before Barth’s eyes.

“Sit down, Zoe,” Barth said softly.

Zoe did, practically collapsing on the love seat across from Seana. “How long has she been like this?”

“A week. I thought it was temporary. But it’s continued so I’m going to take her to the doctor tomorrow for a thorough examination.” Barth sprawled in the easy chair, anticipating some degree of turbulence.

But he didn’t bargain for Zoe’s next statement.

“I know about your first wife, Barth. I know about how she died.” Zoe’s eyes and voice accused and convicted Barth on the spot.

“Oh?” Barth struggled for composure amid the onslaught. The worst thing was happening…the thing he’d dreaded most. “Exactly what do you know?” He was proud that his voice at least sounded steady while his heart was flogging his ribs like a runaway bass drum.

“I know that she was murdered. And that you were arrested for it.”

Shock began to morph into anger. “Then you should know that I was released for lack of evidence.”

“Oh?” The lovely brow lifted. “How convenient for you.” Zoe smiled then. Not a pretty sight, her sly one. “But I also know that no one else has been arrested. The case is unsolved. Cold.”

“So you’re going to assume that I did it, even without proof?” He shook his head, disappointed and disgusted.

Zoe stood. “Look. I’m only interested in the safety of my mother. You’d have a lot to gain if something happened to her.” Anger crackled about her like static as she marched over to Barth’s chair, leaned over and in a deadly calm voice said, “I’m here to see that nothing happens to her. In fact, I’m going to ask that she get drug tests to see if you’re trying to poison her.”

Barth stood so abruptly that Zoe nearly lost her balance backing away. He narrowed his eyes and took a step forward before restraining himself. “Get out of my face, Zoe. I love your mother.” He gritted his teeth to stymie the tears burning behind his eyes. “That’s something you toss aside like garbage. And I plan to take care of her, whether you like it or not.”

Zoe smiled again but it didn’t reach her eyes. “What have you done to her, Barth? A person doesn’t just change overnight. It’s not just coincidence that you’re the one who prepares all her food and who shoves all sorts of additives and supplements at her. And voila, she turns into this—zombie.”

Barth cut his eyes down at Seana, who seemed detached from their discourse. But he knew that she could hear and discern some things. At least he thought so. “We shouldn’t talk like this around her,” he said quietly.

Zoe cut a glance at her mother and her face gentled. “You’re right. It’s not her fault.”

A flicker of hope sparked in Barth in that moment, that maybe Zoe would relent and at least do teamwork on her mother’s behalf. Instead, she pivoted and marched to collect her purse, then slammed out the front door. Without so much as a backward glance. Or a fare the well.

So much for Southern hospitality and charm.

He realized then that his legs were shaking and collapsed into the chair. Elbows on knees, he planted his face in hands.

He sat there for a long time, head spinning, emotions pummeled by Zoe’s words and accusations. Until he felt a cramp in his neck. Only then did he lift his head and roll his shoulders. His eyes locked with Seana’s. He felt a surge of guilt. How much did she actually hear and take in?

“Honey?” he ventured gently. “I love you.”

She blinked. Then looked away.

And he knew. Somehow, he felt it in his soul of souls. She was not there behind those lovely eyes.

She’s gone away inside herself.

Away from him.

Meet the Author

 New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Song of Renewal “An uplifting, heartwarming story of forgiveness, commitment, and love, and Kay Allenbaugh, bestselling author of Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul says “Emily Sue Harvey’s work will linger in the memory long after readers put it aside.” National bestselling author Harvey, who has written numerous inspiring works of nonfiction, writes intensely romantic novels that thrill the heart as they inspire the soul. Her stories have something to say to every family. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Friday, April 18, 2014

GUEST POST | Born & Bred by Peter Murphy

Danny Boyle was a born angel.
At least that’s what his granny used to say, and she should know – she raised him after his parents proved incapable. When she becomes ill, Danny is reunited with his parents but they do not get to live happily ever after, as the ghosts of the past haunt their days. And when the old woman dies, all of her secrets come to light and shatter everything Danny believes in.
In the turmoil of 1970’s Ireland, an alienated Danny gets into drugs and is involved in a gangland killing. Duped by the killers into leaving his prints on the gun, Danny needs all the help his friends and family can muster. Calling in favors from bishops and priests, police and paramilitaries, God and the devil, the living and the dead, they do all that they can. But even that might not be enough.
BORN & BRED is the first novel in the Life & Times Trilogy, a cycle of three novels that will chart the course of one star-crossed life. It is a work of vibrant imagination from a poetic novelist of the first order.
Read an excerpt here.

Praise for BORN & BRED

“Do you like Irish novels, with love of family, romance, humor and a feel for Dublin and Ireland as a whole?? Then this book is a must read!!”
– Celtic Lady Reviews

Buy this book at:

What inspired you to write this book?

A few years back, I was having dinner with my family in Dublin when the conversation turned to a recent gangland killing of an alleged drug-dealer. The consensus was somewhere between relief that there was one less gun-toting criminal at large, to sympathy and regret for yet another wasted life.
On the way back to my hotel, the old Phil Ochs song, There But For Fortune, kept running through my mind. That, and wondering about all that might have led that young man from his mother’s arms to lying dead in a ditch. Was there no one who could have intervened or were there many whose efforts had been in vain?
Sadly, in Dublin and beyond, tragic events like this are very commonplace and rarely command little more than a mention in the media.
For me, stories like these are among the most essential. I am a firm believer that a civil society must be judged by how it treats all of its people and in particular, those who have been marginalized or disadvantaged through circumstances over which they have so little control.
As a writer of fiction—one of the few truths we have left, in my opinion—I wanted to tell a story that might explore how things like this could happen. I cannot believe that anyone is born “bad” and in Born & Bred I wanted to try to tell the story of a young life blown off course.
Whether my character, Danny Boyle, was the architect of his own misfortunes or the hapless victim of the actions and reactions of others is for the reader to decide. I just wanted to tell a story that might bring to mind how unsure the path of life can be, despite the best intentions of everyone involved.
In a world of “informed opinions”—usually presented to lead to a foregone conclusion—I think fiction writers have a special place. A well-written story can take the reader deep into the hearts and minds of protagonists and antagonists, alike.
When reading fiction, a reader can cheer for the good and anticipate the bad getting “theirs” in the end, but they also get a chance to empathize and understand so many things that might normally be overlooked, or dismissed.
Through fiction, lives that are so easy to portray as black and white can be shown to be much more nuanced, complicated and much harder to judge. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Crime and Punishment, Catcher in the Rye, and A Clockwork Orange all spring to mind and, while not suggesting I’m in such company, I wanted my story to be about some of those who have been vilified and dismissed without due consideration.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


By Susan Israel

Delilah is accustomed to people seeing her naked. As a nude model – a gig that keeps food on the table while her career as a sculptor takes off – it comes with the territory.

But Delilah has never before felt this vulnerable.

Because Delilah has an admirer. Someone who is paying a great deal of attention to her. And he just might love her to death.

The debut of a shockingly fresh voice in suspense fiction, OVER MY LIVE BODY will work its way inside of you.

What inspired you to write this book?

One day out of the blue I started writing what would turn out to be Over My Live Body. I was modeling for art classes at Yale at the time and so I felt my main character, Delilah Price, who was also modeling to support herself while striving to be a sculptor, was a kindred spirit. (Except I made her younger and taller) I never outlined; I was a seat-of-your-pants writer, basically writing the same amount every day, about the same time of day, sometimes more, sometimes less. My wad of pages grew thicker and boosted my confidence. A story was taking shape, the story of a young woman who, through no fault of her own, became the object of unwanted affection which escalated from annoyance to mortal danger.
I immersed myself in Delilah's world and my background "music" was the world of 24/7 news radio, which provided its own noir inspiration. I'd been held up at gunpoint years earlier and this may have set me off on my life of crime- crime-writing, that is. I still modeled for art classes and a friend once asked me how I would feel if I went to someone's house and saw a painting I'd posed for hanging over their fireplace. No, I never experienced that, but in an opening scene I let my character Delilah wonder that very thing:


“Excuse me.”
I look up, annoyed. There’s no way I can be in anyone’s way, scrunched up as I am in this seat near the back of the bus. There’s hardly anyone on board now. I expect it to be some street beggar who’s going to try to shake me down for spare change; they’re everywhere now, even on mass transit. The mayor’s pledge to clean up the streets has only made them pop up and multiply in other places, like random phantoms in a computer game gone amok.
I look up at him. He’s staring at me. This is no street beggar, just some guy wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt and indigo jeans splotched with white blobs that stand out much more than he does. “What do you want?”
“Oh...I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I thought you were somebody...”
I am somebody.
“...somebody I knew. You look familiar.” He hoists a dirty green backpack and slings it over his shoulder, nearly hitting me with it. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.”
He sits splay-legged across from me and stares. I turn around and look out the window at the flash of brightly lit storefronts along Seventh Avenue. I must look familiar to quite a lot of people. I wonder how many people in this city have drawn or painted or sculpted me over the last two and a half years, uptown, downtown, all around the town. And across the river even. Hundreds. How many people have seen me nude, contorted this way or that, plus or minus five pounds, with and without a tan. Maybe this slightly strung-out looking guy is one of them, he could very easily be one of them. I’d never recognize him, but surely he would recognize me, especially if he’d seen all of me. How many guys who smile at me on the street are smiling knowingly or just because they’d like to know me?
I wonder if this guy has a sketch book in that grungy backpack, if there are pictures he’s drawn of me in there. How many pictures of me are out there and where are they? Are there some yellowed and curled, stored in the back of some struggling artist’s newsprint pad with all the other sketches of all the other models he or she has ever drawn, or matted and framed and displayed in a hallway or study or bedroom?
That was Ivan’s take on it. One man’s ‘fine art’ is another man’s jerk- off material.
I shrug it off. Ivan has made me paranoid. With just cause.
You’re not going to brush me off that easily. It’s not like I wasn’t warned a few nights ago.
The next stop is mine. I go down the three stairs at the exit and have to give the door a shove to make it open. The brisk air sends a chill up my spine. I turn down the corner at Waverly Place and go up the steps leading to my building, sidestepping the concrete flowerpot on the top stoop as I fumble for my keys. The minute I’ve unlocked the second door, the one with the beveled glass window you can’t see through, and step inside, I know I’m in trouble. Someone vaults down the stairs two at a time and grabs my arm. Anyone in the building would recognize him immediately and not question what he was doing here and he knows it. No one else would suspect what I might be in for. He looks so upstanding. He could have been waiting here for hours in his jeans and Brooks Brothers shirt and no one would think anything of it. He probably was. “I want in, Delilah.” Ivan’s voice is a deep guttural growl.

Meet the Author

Susan Israel lives in Connecticut with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review and Vignette and she has written for magazines, websites and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls Life, Ladies Home Journal and The Washington Post. She's currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, Student Bodies.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BOOK TOUR | Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Righting a wrong

Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father's been in an accident and needs help, and Cambr has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past. If only life worked that way. Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs. If only it were that easy.

RachaelAuthor Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Updated Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors. "Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love." Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver Book 6: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith.

Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/28/14 a Rafflecopter giveaway