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Book Excerpt: THE FRAGILE ONES by Jennifer Chase

Title: THE FRAGILE ONES
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 300
Genre: Crime Thriller

Purchase: https://amzn.to/38AVsdG

BOOK BLURB:

“Please Mommy, can Tessa and I go play on the swing by the creek?” the little girl begs, pushing a blonde curl from her eyes. “We’ll stay together, and we promise to be safe.” Hours later, their mother waits anxiously for her darling girls to arrive home with a list of reasons why they are late. But the front door never opens…

When the bodies of eleven and twelve-year-old sisters, Tessa and Megan, are found at the bottom of a ravine—dressed in matching pastel summer outfits, their small bodies broken from the fall—Detective Katie Scott is called to one of the most shocking and heartbreaking crime scenes of her career.

Carefully picking through the fragile remains, Katie makes the first of many disturbing discoveries: the girls were not biological sisters. The youngest, Megan, is a DNA match to a kidnapping case years before. The tiny number burnt into her skin the mark of a terrifying killer intent on keeping count of his collection.

Her PTSD from the army triggered, Katie is left reeling as she maps other missing children in the local area. Has this twisted soul found a way to stay nearby his victims? Could he be watching now as Katie hits one dead end after another?

A wild storm building, matching a fiber found during the autopsy to a nearby boatyard is the break Katie needs. But when another girl goes missing, just as lightning strikes and the power goes out, Katie only has her instincts, her team and her service dog to rely on. As time runs out for Katie to finds the stolen child alive, who will become the next number on this monster’s deadly list?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh, you better buckle-up for the ride of your life! BEWARE – this gripping crime thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night!

PRAISE

Wow!!!… a page-turningnail-biting crime thriller!!… absolutely fantastic… had me completely hooked… filled with nail-biting suspense… keeps you on edge.’ Bookworm86, 5 stars

Excellent… nail-biting… had me enthralled from page one gripped through each twist and turn… jaw-dropping and totally unexpected… brilliant.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

My heart was in my throat… kept me tapping my e-reader screen.’ Robin Loves Reading, 5 stars

Oh, my goodness!… non-stop!’ Diane is Reading, 5 stars

THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS PUTTING THIS BOOK DOWN!!!!!… I was literally holding my breath… I HAD TO KNOW!!!!! As for the explosive ending? WOW definitely not what or who I was expecting.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

BOOK EXCERPT:


“Please can we go?” whined Tessa as she followed her mother through the living room and into the kitchen. “Please,” she said again, pushing her blonde curls away from her eyes. “I really want to go to the swing by the creek.”

“Not by yourself,” countered Mrs. Mayfield, ignoring her daughter’s angry stare. “We’ve talked about this before.”

“Yes, and you said I couldn’t go alone, and I’m not. Megan will be with me.” Tessa’s older sister was barely a year older and her best friend. Her mother began emptying the dishwasher, putting plates and glasses away in the cabinet. It was unclear if she was thinking about what Tessa had said or not, so she tried again. “I’m almost eleven and Megan is almost twelve. We’re practically teenagers,” she said. “Besides, Janey and her brother will probably be there.”

Mrs. Mayfield laughed. “You know, you would be a good lawyer the way you make your case.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a vet,” Tessa said, grinning.

“Well, I know you are going to be whatever you want to be.” Mrs. Mayfield laughed to herself as she slipped the last piece of silverware into the drawer and turned to face her daughter. At the sound of her name, Megan had joined Tessa in the doorway and they both stood quietly waiting for an answer. Glancing at the wall clock with a sigh, she said, “You both have to be back by four thirty, not a second later. Understand?”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Tessa said, grabbing her sister’s hand in glee. Both girls were in denim shorts and pastel T-shirts with their favorite matching blue sneakers.

“Be home on time,” their mom called after them.

“We will,” chimed the girls.

Mrs. Mayfield heard the front door shut, followed by the sound of running footsteps.

She smiled and went back to her chores as the afternoon ticked by.

At 4:45 p.m. Mrs. Mayfield was waiting impatiently to hear the girls enter the house with a list of a dozen reasons why they were late—but the front door never opened. An hour after that, unable to wait any longer, she looked outside, thinking that the girls might be in the yard.

Debris from a croquet set littered the lawn; the wooden mallets abandoned and colored balls scattered as if the girls had been playing only moments ago. The trampoline in the corner had one of the girls’ bright blue sweatshirts hanging on the edge. It swayed slightly in the breeze.

There was no sign of them.

She ran through the house to the backyard, but it, too, was deserted. No whispers. No giggles. No shrieks of laughter. The wind was picking up and whistling through the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees—almost whispering a warning.

Mrs. Mayfield pulled off her apron and reached for her coat, deciding to walk to the creek and bring the girls back herself. At this point, she was more angry than concerned, knowing how they could be forgetful when they were having fun, and often lost track of time.

But surely they would be on their way home by now? she thought to herself asher pace quickened from a fast walk to a jog. Against her better judgment, and knowing that she couldn’t shelter them forever, she had crumbled and let them go down to the creek where one of the neighboring boys had constructed a swing that they loved to play on.

And now fear ripped through her body. “Tessa!” she yelled. “Megan!” Terrible scenarios shuffled through her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her emotions on an even keel.

“Tessa! Megan!”

She yelled their names over and over until her voice went hoarse. Her chest felt strangely heavy and her vision blurred as she ran, but her strength and mother’s instinct pushed her forward, down the trail leading to the creek. The trail was well-worn by local kids looking for adventure and fun. Stumbling as she ran, she frantically turned left and then right. There wasn’t a soul around… She was alone. She kept moving.

Looking up at the tall pine trees, everything spun in a dizzying blur of forest and darkening sky. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and open again, then stopped for a moment to listen.

The swing was only visible at the bottom of the path just above the creek and she could hear the water rushing below. Peering over the edge, there was no sign of them—or anyone. She kept turning, expecting to see her girls everywhere she looked. They weren’t there. All around her were discarded candy wrappers and remnants of fast food containers. Proof that children played here often.

There was no sound apart from the whisper of the trees. No children laughing nearby.

“Megan! Tessa!” she yelled again, but there was only silence. She ran all the way up the trail to the street, still calling their names in a full-blown panic.

Mrs. Mayfield turned her attention up the road, her mother’s instinct in high gear. Something blue lying beneath a bush caught her eye and she ran towards it.

She leaned down and her hand trembled over the light blue canvas before she forced herself to grab the abandoned blue sneaker.

“No,” she said, barely breathing.

Written on the side tread of the shoe with a thick black pen was one word: Tessa.

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

Website: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jchasenovelist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferChase

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2780337.Jennifer_Chase

Book Excerpt: The Fragile Ones by Jennifer Chase

We’re so excited to welcome Jennifer Chase, author of The Fragile Ones

THE FRAGILE ONES

The Fragile Ones

“Please Mommy, can Tessa and I go play on the swing by the creek?” the little girl begs, pushing a blonde curl from her eyes. “We’ll stay together, and we promise to be safe.” Hours later, their mother waits anxiously for her darling girls to arrive home with a list of reasons why they are late. But the front door never opens…

When the bodies of eleven and twelve-year-old sisters, Tessa and Megan, are found at the bottom of a ravine—dressed in matching pastel summer outfits, their small bodies broken from the fall—Detective Katie Scott is called to one of the most shocking and heartbreaking crime scenes of her career.

Carefully picking through the fragile remains, Katie makes the first of many disturbing discoveries: the girls were not biological sisters. The youngest, Megan, is a DNA match to a kidnapping case years before. The tiny number burnt into her skin the mark of a terrifying killer intent on keeping count of his collection.

Her PTSD from the army triggered, Katie is left reeling as she maps other missing children in the local area. Has this twisted soul found a way to stay nearby his victims? Could he be watching now as Katie hits one dead end after another?

A wild storm building, matching a fiber found during the autopsy to a nearby boatyard is the break Katie needs. But when another girl goes missing, just as lightning strikes and the power goes out, Katie only has her instincts, her team and her service dog to rely on. As time runs out for Katie to finds the stolen child alive, who will become the next number on this monster’s deadly list?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh, you better buckle-up for the ride of your life! BEWARE – this gripping crime thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Walmart | BookBub

Excellent… nail-biting… had me enthralled from page one… gripped through each twist and turn… jaw-dropping and totally unexpected… brilliant.’ NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars

Enjoy an excerpt from The Fragile Ones

PROLOGUE

“Please can we go?” whined Tessa as she followed her mother through the living room and into the kitchen. “Please,” she said again, pushing her blonde curls away from her eyes. “I really want to go to the swing by the creek.”

“Not by yourself,” countered Mrs. Mayfield, ignoring her daughter’s angry stare. “We’ve talked about this before.”

“Yes, and you said I couldn’t go alone, and I’m not. Megan will be with me.” Tessa’s older sister was barely a year older and her best friend. Her mother began emptying the dishwasher, putting plates and glasses away in the cabinet. It was unclear if she was thinking about what Tessa had said or not, so she tried again. “I’m almost eleven and Megan is almost twelve. We’re practically teenagers,” she said. “Besides, Janey and her brother will probably be there.”

Mrs. Mayfield laughed. “You know, you would be a good lawyer the way you make your case.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a vet,” Tessa said, grinning.

“Well, I know you are going to be whatever you want to be.” Mrs. Mayfield laughed to herself as she slipped the last piece of silverware into the drawer and turned to face her daughter. At the sound of her name, Megan had joined Tessa in the doorway and they both stood quietly waiting for an answer. Glancing at the wall clock with a sigh, she said, “You both have to be back by four thirty, not a second later. Understand?”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Tessa said, grabbing her sister’s hand in glee. Both girls were in denim shorts and pastel T-shirts with their favorite matching blue sneakers.

“Be home on time,” their mom called after them.

“We will,” chimed the girls.

Mrs. Mayfield heard the front door shut, followed by the sound of running footsteps.

She smiled and went back to her chores as the afternoon ticked by.

At 4:45 p.m. Mrs. Mayfield was waiting impatiently to hear the girls enter the house with a list of a dozen reasons why they were late—but the front door never opened. An hour after that, unable to wait any longer, she looked outside, thinking that the girls might be in the yard.

Debris from a croquet set littered the lawn; the wooden mallets abandoned and colored balls scattered as if the girls had been playing only moments ago. The trampoline in the corner had one of the girls’ bright blue sweatshirts hanging on the edge. It swayed slightly in the breeze.

There was no sign of them.

She ran through the house to the backyard, but it, too, was deserted. No whispers. No giggles. No shrieks of laughter. The wind was picking up and whistling through the branches and leaves of the surrounding trees—almost whispering a warning.

Mrs. Mayfield pulled off her apron and reached for her coat, deciding to walk to the creek and bring the girls back herself. At this point, she was more angry than concerned, knowing how they could be forgetful when they were having fun, and often lost track of time.

But surely they would be on their way home by now? she thought to herself asher pace quickened from a fast walk to a jog. Against her better judgment, and knowing that she couldn’t shelter them forever, she had crumbled and let them go down to the creek where one of the neighboring boys had constructed a swing that they loved to play on.

And now fear ripped through her body. “Tessa!” she yelled. “Megan!” Terrible scenarios shuffled through her thoughts as she tried desperately to keep her emotions on an even keel.

“Tessa! Megan!”

She yelled their names over and over until her voice went hoarse. Her chest felt strangely heavy and her vision blurred as she ran, but her strength and mother’s instinct pushed her forward, down the trail leading to the creek. The trail was well-worn by local kids looking for adventure and fun. Stumbling as she ran, she frantically turned left and then right. There wasn’t a soul around… She was alone. She kept moving.

Looking up at the tall pine trees, everything spun in a dizzying blur of forest and darkening sky. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and open again, then stopped for a moment to listen.

The swing was only visible at the bottom of the path just above the creek and she could hear the water rushing below. Peering over the edge, there was no sign of them—or anyone. She kept turning, expecting to see her girls everywhere she looked. They weren’t there. All around her were discarded candy wrappers and remnants of fast food containers. Proof that children played here often.

There was no sound apart from the whisper of the trees. No children laughing nearby.

“Megan! Tessa!” she yelled again, but there was only silence. She ran all the way up the trail to the street, still calling their names in a full-blown panic.

Mrs. Mayfield turned her attention up the road, her mother’s instinct in high gear. Something blue lying beneath a bush caught her eye and she ran towards it.

She leaned down and her hand trembled over the light blue canvas before she forced herself to grab the abandoned blue sneaker.

No,” she said, barely breathing.

Written on the side tread of the shoe with a thick black pen was one word: Tessa.

Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Chase. Shared with permission.

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. Find out more about Jennifer and her books at https://authorjenniferchase.com/. Follow her at Twitter and Facebook.

Character Interview: Bianca Brosnan from Lyla Oweds’ YA urban fantasy novel ‘The Grimm Cases series’

We’re thrilled to have here today Bianca Brosnan from Lyla Oweds’,  Young Adult Urban Fantasy, The Grimm Cases series. She is coming to us all the way from the Northeast United States.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Bianca. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Thank you for having me! To be honest, I have so many things to say—I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, everyone around me keeps throwing out the words ‘trauma’ and ‘recovery’, but I think they really don’t understand me at all. I’m completely fine. So what if I’m a little paranoid and anxious. As Finn finally admitted, almost everything I’ve ever worried about happens anyway, so it just means I’m right. I don’t understand why people can’t just take me at face value.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m clear-headed and logical. It’s everyone else who doesn’t get it.

Worst trait?

I have a tendency to be too trusting. Just look at what happened the last time I let someone in? My own best friend had me institutionalized.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be?

Demi Lovato

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I’m kind-of dating these four guys, but they’re not allowed to have a steady girlfriend either. So, it’s complicated.

But we are best friends.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Yes. I was positive I was going to be used in a cannibalistic ritual.

I was eventually right (or at least, they tried).

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Finn. Because I hate him.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Well, my story is still ongoing, but as of right now I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. I can be around other people without having an anxiety attack at least.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

I would say to stop putting me in all these dangerous situations. I’m really tiring of having to kill people. I’m a pacifist at heart.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

You sure will, I have thirteen more books to suffer through before Lyla finally gives me my happy ending.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lyla Oweds is an Amazon bestselling paranormal romance and urban fantasy author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. She grew up near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has a deep appreciation for the paranormal, hauntings, and Edgar Allan Poe. As such, she loves all things fantasy, mystery, crime, and horror.

When not reading, writing, or working as a web programmer, Lyla can be found doing adult-y things such as being a mom to small children, cleaning, and gardening. She also frequently enjoys makeup videos, massages, wine, and coffee.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://lylaoweds.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lylaoweds

ABOUT THE BOOK

The things I see aren’t for the faint of heart.

And I am no longer willing to ignore them. Not even when my family, and my best friend, tell me to keep quiet about what’s happening. They say people will think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

But the spirit haunting my professor’s house is definitely trying to tell me something, and I’m the only one who can see it.

The one person who can help me is my best friend’s brother. But I don’t know if I can trust him or his friends. Or if I can step outside the protective bubble I’ve built around myself.

At this point it’s a toss up: the ghosts will kill me or my panic attacks will.

Either way, I figure I’m going to die.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3r4qCRt

Interview with Kathleen Shaputis Author of His Kilt Dropped Here

Kathleen Shaputis, author/ghostwriter, lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats, two pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude, Brugh and Miss Jazzy, and an overgrown adolescent blue tick coon hound, Juno.

If not writing during her lifestyle in an acre of forest, she keeps busy reading from her never-ending, to-be-read pile and watching romantic comedies. Her hygge in the woods.

Her latest book, His Kilt Dropped Here, finds Rogue Bruce enjoying running a Scottish castle turned bed-and-breakfast with her Aunt Baillie from America. They specialize in hosting romantic Elizabethan-themed weddings, complete with resident ghost, Lord Kai. But love is something Rogue is not the least bit interested in. Content with her work, she requires no male accompaniment for happiness.

A new delivery service brings Bruce MacKenzie, a Thor look-alike in plaid and denim, fetching more than the usual number of groceries from town, while Jonathan Olson, a snobbish, dark, Rhett Butler type, arrives at the castle to administer a writing seminar for aspiring authors. With two men after the heart she’d thought safely locked away, Rogue is flattered and confused. But when things start to take a sinister turn, danger befalls Rogue and those dear to her. The musical soundtrack of Rogue’s life flares from complacent, to dizzyingly romantic, to heart-thumping scary in this sizzling triangle.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kathleen.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

I am grateful to say I am a multi-published author, a childhood dream come true. I’ve done a nation-wide book tour and I’ve taught classes to new writers. One last checkbox is having one of my books made into a movie and I have a walk-on part.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

My first book published was with 10 Speed Press, a non-fiction titled Grandma Online. I was peddling a rom com at writers conferences, and got a few nibbles, nothing exciting. I had been at two good-sized events, earlier in the year, where I heard a lot of “nonfiction is easier to sell.” I don’t write nonfiction as I am not an expert at anything. Around the end of summer, I woke up one morning and heard myself say, “I am a computer technician at work and a grandmother. What if I wrote a book for grandmothers about using a computer?”

I bought a copy of Eva Shaw’s book, Writing the Nonfiction Book. I studied every page about book proposals. My next conference was in January. I sold my pitch to the publisher over a glass of wine the first night. She had just had twins and her mother lived in Australia, she understood the concept immediately. We shook hands over a sweet deal.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

The book came out about fourteen months later. First there was a word count problem. After I turned in my manuscript, per the contract, and a month early, I was hit with a demand for thirty-thousand additional words in two months. The contract should have read 60,000 words and not 30,000 words.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

The night I shook hands over accepting the offer, I dashed up to my hotel room to call my husband. He wasn’t home. I called my sister. No one. Now this was before cell phones and I didn’t bring my address book with me, so I couldn’t call any of my girlfriends. I watched Run-away Bride on pay per view and ate some delicious cookies a dear friend had made me for luck to take with me.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I decoupaged a copy of the book’s cover onto a pair of earrings. Then made a couple of badges that said, “Ask me about Grandma Online.” I also bought a box of special pens with purple ink for book signings. The purple went with the purple cover.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Having a few nonfiction titles and a half-dozen novels, I’ve learned and stretched in a variety of ways. Grammar issues tend to jump out now. JK Rowling started one of her Harry Potter books with, “It was…” and I about had a fit. I was furious with her. An important part of a good story starts with a hook in the first line.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Publishing a book is hard work whether you self-publish or with a publisher. Having any modicum of success takes hard work plus luck. The industry contracts and expands constantly. There is never a “right” time to publish – there is just now. You can’t live with “if only…” If only I’d lived in the 1800’s like Jo in Little Women publishing would have been easier. eBooks did not kill hard cover or paperback books. And the Seven Sisters of New York Publishing are now the Big Five. Things will keep changing.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Being recognized by a fan, or when someone understands and loves one of your favorite characters.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This is my motto. Write the book you dream of. When things open up, sign up for a conference. Or take an online writing class. The creative energy of being around or with other writers in intoxicating, uplifting, magical. Learn, know, succeed.

Interview with Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson, Author of ‘Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight’

Rev. Dr. Johnson attended Evanston Township High School. From there he went on to study at Illinois Wesleyan University.  His professional education for his Doctor of Optometry degree was completed at the Southern California College of Optometry, now known as Marshall B. Ketchum University.  Rev. Dr. Johnson received his Master’s degree at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. “I plan on leading a crusade against blindness due to age related cataracts. I’m able to do all these things because I serve a great God who does great things and He has allowed me to do great things,” commented Rev. Dr. Johnson. He has set up a foundation known as the Rev. Dr. Leonidas The Optometrist and The Miracle Eyes Foundation. See this web site for more information http://www.revleonidastheoptometrist.org. Due to his work demands – Dr. Johnson lives in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

In Rev. Dr. Johnson’s book, Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight, readers will experience a concept called learning by comparison. Comparing physical vision with spiritual vision will help the readers see themselves and the world God created in a whole new light. Readers will see the world God created from a physical, mental, and spiritual vantage point that will enrich their lives, Rev. Dr. Johnson says. These vantage points help build a foundation for developing a decision-making strategy that is both liberating and biblically sound.

Beyond the Books: Nice to meet you Rev. Dr. Johnson. I’d like to begin by asking you how you found the time to write your book, Phenomenal Vision: Eyesight to Life Sight with your busy schedule?

Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson:  As with many things in life, you make time for the things you feel are most important and passionate about. Unfortunately following your dreams and passions can often conflict with what’s practical and required for survival. It can be a difficult balancing act at times but that’s one of the things in life that makes life’s journey interesting and exciting.

BTB: I’m really interested in finding out how vision plays an integral part of your book. How can we connect physical vision with spiritual vision?

Johnson: Vision is a physical, mental and spiritual phenomena of enlightenment. The physical eye is the part of the human body responsible for physical vision. The way we see physically can be studied, demonstrated, and illustrated. This mental understanding of how we see physically can be used as a template to illustrate how we see spiritually. This type of learning is called learning by comparison.

In the Bible physical light is contrasted with physical darkness and that understanding is used to draw a comparison between spiritual light and spiritual darkness. In the Old Testament when God talks about the Messiah, He talks about the Messiah coming to bring light. In the New Testament the theme of Jesus as the light can clearly be seen. Also, in scripture physical blindness is compared to spiritual blindness. In the Bible physical blindness is used as metaphor to represent the human condition of corruption and fallenness and the inability to comprehend Divine truth and spiritual realities. 

BTB: Do you remember your calling as a minister?

Johnson: When I accepted God’s call, I was already a licensed optometrist and I was serving as an ordained deacon in a Baptist Church. Also, at that time I was attending night school at a seminary as a part-time student. I realized my calling during a project to publish some of my father’s sermons.

BTB: I know your book is full of wisdom. Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

Johnson: “How do we keep looking and moving forward in life? Focus on the positives. I tell you as my father taught me, “Accentuate the positives, de-emphasize the negatives.”  P. 46

BTB: Where can people buy your book?

Johnson:  My book webpage is still being built because the ebook conversions are still not finalized. Currently waiting for iTunes. You can search the full title and find the book on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, iTunes, AALBC, etc. and buy from your preferred source.

THE MYSTERY AT TURKELTON MANOR by KRAIG DAFOE

AN EXTRAORDINARY MIDDLE GRADE MYSTERY NOVEL FOR KIDS 10+…. 

The Mystery at Turkelton Manor

Twelve-year-old Nathaniel Jones wants to be a detective. Though his imagination tends to run wild, Nate knows something strange is going on and he is determined to figure it out. Hearing noises at night, the young detective sees a strange figure lurking about. The Turkeltons are rich and Nate’s grandfather is their groundskeeper. As a result, Nate gets to spend the summer on the manor grounds. With priceless art and expensive jewelry in the mix, and someone creeping around at night, Nate becomes determined to catch a thief. There’s just one problem; nothing seems to be missing.

Chapter One
A Shipment Arrives
Mid-day Friday     
Picasso, Dali and Monet were just a few of the artists whose works graced the walls of Turkelton Manor. The museum-like display was worth a small fortune, but no ropes or security guards kept visitors from getting too close.
     Around mid-day on Friday, Nate was riding his bicycle along the long paved driveway of the manor when he noticed a small white delivery van enter through the open gates of the estate.
          Usually closed and controlled by remote, the twelve-foot double gate was currently broken, along with many other things at the estate, which its new owners were in the process of fixing.
     The day could never be boring if Nate’s imagination had anything to do with it, but it seemed he rarely had to depend on his imagination to keep him busy for long, and this sunny summer day was no exception.
     The vehicle had no windows except for the ones up front and, at first, Nate thought it might be Fed Ex, but a sharp glint of sunlight bouncing off the hood of the van kept him from seeing it had no Fed Ex markings, until it got closer and the glare went away.
     Nate was always paying attention to the little things, and his observation skills often amused his family, but it never surprised them as Nate’s father was a police detective and his grandfather on his father’s side of the family was a famous private investigator. Family members commented that it ran in his blood.
          The delivery van stopped just before it reached the  detective and the driver got out and buttoned his suit jacket. The idea that he wore a dark suit struck Nate a little odd, as he was driving a delivery van. The man was small, around five feet, eight inches tall, and very lean. He looked to be in his late forties or early fifties as his hair was beginning to gray above the ears and recede at the top, but it was possible that premature graying made him look older than he was.
     “Hello,” the stranger said politely as Nate stopped his bicycle and stood with it balanced between his legs. “I have a delivery of art for the Turkeltons. Do you know if they are at home?”
     There was something in the man’s tone that made Nate think he sounded like a bit of a snob, but he wasn’t able to put his finger on it. The man spoke as though he had an accent, though only with certain words.
     “I’m not sure,” Nate replied. “I know some people are working at the house though. Just follow the drive straight down,” Nate said, as he looked the direction of the house and pointed.
     The man smiled at him. “Of course,” he said, looking down the drive. The man gave him a little bow and then he unbuttoned his suit jacket before hopping back into the van. As he slowly pulled away, he waved and smiled again.
     The boy turned his bike and followed the vehicle down to the huge house looming in the distance. Pink Dogwood trees lined both sides of the driveway which ran pretty much straight down to the manor. The trees offered, aside from their visual beauty, an aroma that varied from day to day. This day they smelled as pretty as they looked, while other days the odor was downright unpleasant. Nate was familiar with these trees, but didn’t dwell too much on why their smell changed.
     Through the trees, Nate could see much of the grounds. To his right, as he rode toward the manor, was a thick batch of woods. The many oaks and maples intertwined with various other trees struggling for sunlight through the thick canopy. Where the woods ended, a lush green paddock for the horses began. On the opposite side of the driveway was a large pond, or a small lake depending on who was referring to it.
     The boy’s curiosity started getting the best of him and he wanted to see some of the art that was in the van. When the vehicle approached the circular round about in front of the house, the driver was careful not to hit the various other work trucks parked there or drive on the grass in the center. The house was under renovation and the construction crew was still hard at work.
     Nate rode around the circle a couple of times after the man found a place to park. An empty water fountain sat in the center of the grass circle and Nate couldn’t help but think it was big enough to swim in, if it were full. He watched as the man made his way up the curvy brick walk that had low flowering shrubs on either side of it, and then climbed the steep wide stairs leading to the large front door of the manor.
     Nate continued to ride around the circle and watch as the man waited for someone to answer the door. Typically, Nate would be helping his grandfather work on the grounds, but today Grandpa William was running errands and Nate opted to stay behind to help his grandmother with household chores. Nate’s grandfather, on his mother’s side, was the groundskeeper for the estate, which afforded him the opportunity to live on the property, which in turn meant Nate was able to spend the summer enjoying the surroundings.
     After a few moments, the main door of the manor opened, and the man entered, but Nate couldn’t see who answered the door. Aside from the family, there was a part-time staff of helpers plus the construction workers. He hadn’t yet met the Turkeltons as summer had just begun and the family was usually busy, but he knew there were four of them. The two children, one boy and one girl were about his age, but Nate was in no hurry to meet them as he didn’t feel comfortable around people his age and much preferred talking to adults. Nate was shy and this tended to trip him up in conversations. Kids at school often teased him, which is why he usually spent the summers with his grandparents, away from his hometown, alternating between them every other year.
     Nate was from a little town called Crape Myrtle Cove, just forty-five minutes north of Sleepy Shores, where Turkelton Manor is located. This was much closer than his other grandparents who lived just outside of Los Angeles, which was all the way across the country.
     Nate stopped his bike near the delivery van and put the kickstand down. The boy walked up to the van and looked inside through the driver side window to see how much art was in there.
     Though he couldn’t see the entire back of the van, he could see a couple of large pieces still in wooden crates and a dozen or so smaller framed pieces set in racks. There were also four small sculptures and a couple of busts, none more than a couple feet tall.         
     After a few minutes, the man exited the manor with a couple of the construction workers following him. One of the men was at least six foot, two inches tall and very muscular while the other man was smaller, but still in good shape.
     Nate quickly moved away from the van without the men seeing him and repositioned himself nearby, behind one of the other work trucks. He was close enough to hear the construction workers as they spoke and as long as he stayed crouched down, they wouldn’t be able to see him, though if anyone looked out the second floor windows of the manor, they would have no trouble spying the curious boy.
     “I don’t know why we have to unload this stuff,” the smaller one said.
    “Just do it Bobby,” the other replied without looking at his co-worker. “Get it done and we can get out of here for the weekend. The boss said we could cut out a little early today.”
     The three men approached the back of the van. The driver of the van opened the back doors and latched them to the side of the vehicle.
     “Gentlemen,” he said. “Please be very careful. Some of these pieces are priceless.”
     “Really,” Bobby said sarcastically. “I’m sure you put a price on ‘em when you sold ‘em.”
     The man held his tongue and smiled, while nodding toward the construction worker, acknowledging his correctness. The other worker seemed to take everything in stride where the smaller man seemed mad at the world. Nate watched the men as they unloaded the truck. They would have to make several trips up the stairs, which didn’t seem to make Bobby very happy. With each trip, the worker seemed to become more displeased with the task. At one point, he nearly dropped one of the busts and Nate could see the deliveryman flinch when it almost hit the ground.
     “Please be careful my good man,” he said as the man struggled to regain his hold.
     Nate wasn’t sure, but the bust looked like Mozart. The worker hosted the piece to his shoulder.
     “Don’t worry pal, I got it,” he replied sarcastically.
     The deliveryman disappeared inside as the workers came back for the last of the art in the van. They still had no idea Nate was watching them.
     “I wonder how much this stuff is really worth,” Bobby said.
     “Don’t know, don’t care,” the other man replied.
     “I bet these guys wouldn’t even know if something was missing,” Bobby commented. “They’re so rich; this is probably like us buying groceries or something.”
    “Whatever man, let’s just get it done,” the other man said. “I just want to go home.”
   As the two men made the last trip up the stairs, Nate got back on his bike and headed up the driveway toward the gate. After a few minutes, the man in the delivery van left. He saw Nate near the end of the drive and waved to him as he pulled out.
     A few minutes after the deliveryman left, the construction workers filed out, four trucks in all.  Nate saw the one named Bobby in the passenger’s seat of one of the trucks. The man had a scowl on his face as though he was still upset that he had to unload the art.
     Shortly after the workers left, Nate’s grandfather returned from running his errands and Nate spent the afternoon helping him with some odd jobs.
     “You trim the hedges by the manor and along the walkways while I prepare some of the flower beds for planting,” Grandpa William instructed.
     “No problem, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     Hours passed with the two hardly seeing each other. Around five o’clock Nate and Grandpa William went in for dinner. The boy loved his grandmothers cooking and the three would often have lively discussions about their day. William and Beatty Livingston, both in their mid-fifties, just recently moved into their new home on the same grounds as the Manor, which was a benefit associated with being the groundskeeper.
     “So, what did you do while I was running around today?” Nate’s grandfather asked him. “I could have used your help in town gathering supplies.”
     “After I helped around the house a bit, I rode my bike for a while,” Nate replied. “The Turkeltons got a delivery of art today.”
     “Really?” Grandpa William replied. “Anything interesting?”
     “Yeah,” Nate said. “One of the construction guys wasn’t too happy about having to unload it,” Nate responded with a smile.
     “And how would you know that?” Grandpa William asked.
     “I overheard him talking,” Nate said.
     “Overheard or spied on?” Grandpa William asked with a scowl.
     Nate didn’t respond as he stuffed some mashed potatoes into his mouth and averted his eyes.
     “What have I told you about eavesdropping?” Grandpa William asked.
     “I know,” Nate replied after swallowing. “I shouldn’t go snooping around.”
     “That’s right,” Grandpa William replied. “I know grandpa Jones encourages the matter seeing he was your age when he got started in the private investigation business, but I don’t think it’s appropriate behavior for someone so young.”
     “I’m almost a teenager, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     “You still have ten whole months to go,” Grandma Beatty replied. “Don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up Nathaniel. There are a lot of experiences for you to have and you have plenty of time to figure out what you want to be when you get older.”
     Nate already knew what he wanted to be. Though he was twelve at the time of starting his investigation firm, Nate’s Grandpa Jones, with the help and support of his friends and family, quickly made a name for himself and for almost fifty years, his firm, “The Three Investigators,” named for him and his two partners, has been going strong.
     Though Nate didn’t really have much in common with William, and he preferred the summers in California, he still loved William and Beatty very much and they loved him.
     After eating, Nate retired to the basement for a while and crawled into his secret fort to read. Nate built the fort out of the excess furniture and some old blankets and tarps, which were plentiful as the groundskeeper’s house was much smaller than where the Livingstons lived before. Still, the ranch style home was more than they needed and Nate had the basement to himself, unless his grandmother was doing laundry. Piled nearly to the ceiling in some areas, boxes and furniture cluttered what would normally be a family room.       Nate arranged the items so that he would have to crawl under a table piled high with boxes to get inside. A blanket hung to the floor on the inside of the table so it would take great effort to peek inside. This was the only way into his sanctuary and he knew neither his grandfather nor grandmother would crawl underneath to get into the area. Inside the fort were his books, a laptop, a writing desk, some old newspapers and magazines, a television, a chair, a couch and a lamp. The only thing missing from this space was his bed, so when he had free time, this was where he would spend it in the evenings, unless he was playing board games or cards with his grandparents, which they did often to appease him.
     The boy liked to keep up with the world through books, however, on this occasion, he decided on something a little more adventurous and read an Enola Holmes mystery. He had read all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and, after hearing about several of his grandfather’s old cases, Nate thought reading about a mystery from the female perspective would broaden his senses. 
     Just before dark, Grandpa William yelled down the stairs to his grandson.
     “Nate, can you go out and close the front gate and lock it?” Grandpa William asked.
     “Sure, grandpa,” Nate replied.
     “Make sure you don’t actually lock it though,” Grandpa William shouted.
      “I know, Grandpa,” Nate replied.
     Nate walked out to the gates, as they weren’t far from the groundskeeper’s home. They could be seen from the front windows if it weren’t for the trees that stood in the way. He closed the metal gates and ran a chain around them at the middle. He didn’t lock the gates in case of an emergency, but Nate looped a paddle lock through the chains to give the appearance of a locked gate. When the gate was fixed, they wouldn’t need the chain or lock.
     The sun was just setting over the horizon and the street lamps came on in the cul-de-sac outside the gates. Nate looked around at the other homes in the neighborhood, most of which sat much closer to the road than did the manor. This was definitely a much nicer neighborhood than he was used to.
     No matter where he stayed for the summer, Nate always called his mother every evening. Usually he was too busy to miss home, but he was never too busy to miss his mom and dad.
     Nate returned to the basement of the home, using the outside door on the side of the property that gave him direct access to the basement. It wouldn’t take the boy long to drift off to sleep, when the time came. He read a little more of his book and instead of drifting off in his chair, he opted for the comfort of his bed, not knowing that he wouldn’t be asleep for long. 

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3quD4tz

Kraig Dafoe was born in New York.  Kraig went back to college at the age of 42 earning his BA in English writing, and graduating cum laude from Washburn University in 2017. Deciding to continue his education, Kraig received his Master of Liberal Studies degree in 2019. Kraig is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society and The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Visit his website at http://www.kwdafoe.com.

OTHER BOOKS BY KRAIG DAFOE

The Rise of the Reaper: Duty Calls

Search for the Lost Realm

Skorch the Bounty Hunter

A Collection of Twisted Tales

Book Excerpt & Giveaway: Banewind by M.B. Chapman

Title: BANEWIND
Author: M.B. Chapman
Publisher: Light Messages / Torchflame Books
Pages: 268
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Fiction

Almost two weeks ago I was just a normal girl getting ready to start my senior year of high school, deciding where I wanted my life to go. And now?

I’ve kissed a boy. I’ve been to another world. I’ve seen death.

And I don’t know what my life’s become.

Banewind tells the spellbinding story of 18-year-old Genevieve DeWinter, a typical high school girl who finds herself entangled in the throes of adventure, romance, and survival after discovering the existence of a group of magical beings known as Formulists and their co-existing world, Banewind.

With the arrival of several mages in her hometown of Parma, Ohio, Genevieve soon learns that these extraordinary secrets are rooted deep within her family’s history when it is revealed her deceased mother was a heroic warrior in a long lineage of female protectors called the Holy Guardian. Now, a vengeful group of Formulists known as the Voidweavers have returned and set their sights on Genevieve, believing she might be the next Holy Guardian and the key to awakening their fallen leader, the Void King, who had been destroyed by Genevieve’s mother when she sacrificed herself a decade earlier to save Banewind and all of humanity from an unthinkable evil.

With the help of new allies, Genevieve must fight to stay alive as she unravels the mystery and danger that have shattered the stability of the life she once knew before the Voidweavers succeed in shadowing the world in chaos and darkness once again.

Now that he’s in better light, I can get a good view of him. I’m right on the age part—he’s probably eighteen or nineteen—and he’s very attractive. He has black hair that swoops over the side of his forehead, and blue eyes that are sparkling like sapphires. His face is beautiful, with high-set cheekbones and a slender nose. His skin is pale and ashen, but it suits him well. And his body appears fit beneath the turquoise track jacket and matching track pants he wears. “Want me to help you look for him?” He takes another step toward me. “It’s okay. Thanks.” I back up. “You don’t have to do that.” “I don’t mind.” He stares at me with a wolfish grin, and I feel as though his blue eyes are piercing through my body. “It really isn’t smart for you to be out here alone.” “What about you?” I snap back. “I mean, really. A girl can’t spend her time alone in the woods, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a boy?” His eyes widen in surprise. “I-I guess you make a good point.” He bites his lips. They have a blue tint to them. “What’s your name?” “Genevieve.” Can he tell I’m caught off-guard? “I’m Scythe. Nice to meet you.” We both stand there in awkward silence. “Okay. Well, I’m going to go find my dog. Take care.” “Wait.” He jerks his hand towards me. “Why don’t you stay here, and I’ll go find the dog and bring him back to you.” He looks proud of himself for suggesting this. “If not, you might get lost.” “These woods aren’t that big. I’ll be fine.” I’m beginning to get agitated with this punk. “I appreciate you offering to help. But seriously, I’m just going to—” The tree behind Scythe explodes into thousands of splinters, crackling while the red blaze ascends to the top. As I fall to the ground, I see him bound to the left and roll behind a hollowed trunk, taking cover from the hissing flames. The clearing illuminates with a fiery orange light as the trunk bursts into dancing embers. I cover my eyes, blinded by the fire’s brightness as it continues to engulf the shrubbery around me. My face is drenched in sweat, and my breathing is swift and shallow. Up and down, up and down, up and down. My chest rises and falls so fast I’m afraid I’ll pass out if I don’t get myself under control. Another explosion. I cover my ears and scream. I drag myself over to a stump and hide behind it, scanning the clearing to see what has become of the boy. About twenty feet from me, his body lies sprawled out, with flames flickering just inches from his clothes. A nearby tree explodes and falls to the ground, revealing a figure in a hooded red cloak standing in its place.


“This story has a great mix of fantasy and young adult romance. Love the strong female protagonist at the center of the story! It is like Harry Potter, but with a unique, imaginative world all its own. There is a rich backstory of the fantasy land woven throughout the book that makes me excited for future books by this author!”— Amazon Reviewer
“I think this could be the next big thing. I would love to see this made into a movie or tv show. The story is intriguing, the characters easy to imagine, and the writing is great. Super easy read and kept me invested the entire time! Ready for book 2!”— Amazon Reviewer
I don’t think this is a series but it sure could be! The mixture it has sets this into a good read! Especially if you are snowed in. Well written and thought out plot and characters! Very interesting read that you will find yourself completely drawn in and lost from the reality of life!– Amazon Reviewer

Amazon → https://amzn.to/36O4Ust  

Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/3kLolHjKobo books: https://bit.ly/36QgZx5

M.B. Chapman is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive your gift card
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 31.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on April 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/classic/19dbbbb/main.html

Matt Chapman grew up outside of Cleveland and now lives in St. Louis, Missouri where he is completing his residency in Psychiatric medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a graduate of Creighton University School of Medicine where he obtained his MD and a graduate of Saint Louis University where he majored in Biology.

Matt has had a passion for writing and reading since childhood and continues to find time for these interests among his other pursuits, including medical education and leadership studies. He is currently working on his next novel in The Banewind Series.

Website: https://www.lightmessages.com/mb-chapman

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mbchapman90

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/banewind_series

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mbchapman90/

THE SHADE UNDER THE MANGO TREE BOOK FEATURE

THE SHADE UNDER THE MANGO TREE
Evy Journey
Sojourner Books
Contemporary Fiction

After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference. She ends up in place where she gets more than she bargained for.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Months later, they meet at a bookstore where Luna works and which Lucien frequents. Fascinated by his stories and his adventurous spirit, Luna volunteers for the Peace Corps. Assigned to Cambodia, she lives with a family whose parents are survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide forty years earlier. What she goes through in a rural rice-growing village defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?

Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KFMR9SG

Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse who, wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

LAST GIRLS ALIVE: BOOK EXCERPT @jchasenovelist

LAST GIRLS ALIVE
Jennifer Chase
Crime Thriller

Half-buried in the muddy earth and surrounded by puddles of water lies the naked body of a beautiful young girl. Her pale skin looks like porcelain in the early morning light. Her fragile arms bent and crooked like a broken doll.

When Detective Katie Scott is called to the discovery of a young girl buried on the grounds of a former children’s home in Pine Valley, California, she’s hopeful it’s the end to a devastating cold case she’s been working on. No one has seen Candace Harlan since she ran away from Elm Hill Manor five years ago. Her death will be a tragedy, but it will also bring peace to those who miss her most. But the girl in the ground is not Candace.

The victim is almost identical to Candace in every way, but fear grips Katie as she takes in the black ink that decorates the girl’s back—a terrifying message tattooed on her skin after she drew her last breath.

Forcing down traumatic memories of losing her own parents, Katie is certain someone mistook this poor soul for Candace, and that this crumbling home for lost girls is at the heart of this terrible crime. She sets to work digging into the tragic history of the owners who lost so many children of their own and tracking down the last six residents and the staff who cared for them—but no one wants to talk, let alone remember.

The next day, as second girl’s body is found down by the creek at high water, the same words etched into her skin. Katie’s worst fear is confirmed: someone is picking off the last of the Elm Hill girls one by one. But what does the tattoo mean? And what monster would target these innocent girls who have already been through so much?

Katie must dig deep to confront her own fears and protect the vulnerable—but as the body count rises further, will there be anyone left to save?

An absolutely gripping, dark, and totally unputdownable serial killer thriller that will keep you racing through the pages all night long. Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh will read in one sitting!

“This novel is about Detective Kati Scott, Kati is a detective for the Pine Valley department. Her and partner work on solving cold cases together. Kati hasn’t had an easy life but things will be getting worst for her before getting any better.  Kati has a lot of anxiety but she makes it work.  She and her partner are put on a case where a girl from the past is found on the property of a former children’s home in Pine Valley. and it’s up to her and her partner to figure out who the killer is. This novel was so good. I was hooked from the start, I couldn’t stop reading I just need to find out what happens next with Katie and the case. Katie is a total badass. She is one strong lady. She is a very good female lead.  I loved the story soo much it was full of suspense and mystery.  I loved how it wasn’t very predictable. Things could change at any time and the ending was perfectly full of action. I really enjoyed this book. The writing was perfect and it flowed very well. This is my first Jennifer Chase book, I will definitely be looking for more. This book had everything I like action/mystery/romance/ suspense.”

– 5 Star Review NetGalley

“A nail biting, suspense packed action crammed thriller that keeps you on edge…”

– 5 Star Review Amazon

Amazon → https://amzn.to/3nQSoAe

Hurry,” Candace whispered urgently as she disappeared down the wooden staircase and into the pitch-black basement.

“Wait,” was Tanis’s breathless reply as she slowed to glance behind her. In just a flimsy yellow nightgown, the damp air from below chilled her bare arms and feet. She shuddered.

The padlock Candace had picked open swung precariously from the latch, ready to drop and awake the rest of the sleeping house. This was a bad idea.

C’mon,” urged Candace from somewhere down in the abyss. “Hurry up!

They were going to get caught.

The consequences would be merciless.

Shifting her weight on the wooden landing, Tanis pushed herself onward and pressed her foot onto the first wooden step. And then another. Each footstep creaked beneath her slight weight. She clutched the loose railing and clumsily made her way through the dark until her feet touched cold cement.

Hands fisted at her sides in fear, she frantically blinked her eyes, straining to see through the darkness—to the unknown. It left her powerless. There had been no time to find a flashlight, but it would only capture unwanted attention anyway.

A hand grabbed her arm.

“C’mon, we’ve got to go now.”

Candace took Tanis’s hand and pulled her toward the end of the basement and around a sharp corner to where a dim light from outside allowed her eyes to begin to focus.

The girls moved as fast as they dared through the maze beneath the old house.

Tanis could only see Candace’s long hair flicking from side to side as they ran. At one point, she closed her eyes and relied on her friend’s strong will and instinct to get them to safety.

They stopped abruptly at a storm door, the only thing standing between them and freedom. Panting in the darkness, a creak from upstairs lifted both their heads in fear—someone was awake.

Candace lunged forward and grabbed the large bolt locking the door with both hands and pulled. It gave way with a loud clunking sound, and she pushed the bulky door open to reveal the half-moon outside.

Cool air whipped inside, wrapping itself around Tanis’s shivering body as she watched her friend take the final two steps—to a new life.

With the moon behind her, and with her arms outstretched in joy, Candace resembled an angel in her white cotton nightgown, her dark hair blowing all around her. “C’mon,” she urged again.

Tanis froze. It was as if her feet were cemented to the basement floor. Doubts about running away from the foster home plagued her mind.

They would never stop searching for them—ever.

She and Candace knew too much about what went on at Elm Hill.

How would they survive without any money?

She realized that she just couldn’t do it—not now, not like this. She would soon be eighteen and then things would be different—the home would no longer be her prison. She would be legally free. No one would care anymore.

“What are you waiting for? This is our chance.”

“I can’t… I can’t do it. It’s just another year,” said Tanis. “Not even that long.”

“No, we’re doing this together. We have each other,” said Candace adamantly, shaking her head. “I’m not going to leave you here. We escape together.”

“You have to go. You can’t stay…”

Candace ran to the side of the house and retrieved a duffel bag, which had been carefully packed and stashed for their escape. Unzipping the top, she pulled on a pair of jeans and slipped on a pink sweater. It was her favorite color, always matched to her nail polish.

“Hurry.” Tanis changed her tone. She wanted her best friend to escape the abuse of the home—the authority and focus was always more concentrated on her anyway. Tanis knew that she could endure another ten and half months, but Candace couldn’t.

“No…”

“Yes, hurry. I can help misdirect the she-beast and the cops. You’ll be safe.” Tanis heard the rustle of branches in the distance and looked toward the edge of the property, near the hiking trail, and saw the outline of a man. She had never met Ray, had only seen him from a distance, but he was their ticket out of here. At least, that was how Candace had described him. “Go. We’ll meet back in ten months and three days at our secret spot. I promise.”

“I will come back for you.” Candace’s voice faltered. It was clear she wanted to stay, but as she looked to the south she saw Ray waiting; that was all she needed to push forward.

Tears welled up in Tanis’s eyes. She knew that she’d made the right decision to stay behind, but that didn’t make it any easier. One of them had to stay. It would soon be over. It all would be over.

Candace hugged Tanis tight. Whispering in her ear, she said, “I love you and I’ll be back.” She gave her a long look before she turned and ran.

Tanis watched her friend move quickly into the shadowed night—and soon disappear altogether.

I love you and I’ll be back.


Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

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Book Blast! THE WALTZ OF DEVIL’S CREEK by Justine Carver

Title: THE WALTZ OF DEVIL’S CREEK
Author: Justine Carver
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 496
Genre: Historical Fiction

Judith Campbell is dying, and she cannot take the painful truth about where her son came from to the grave with her. While on her deathbed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, Judith tells him the tragic story of his conception, and which of two men his birth father could be: the young man who professed his love to her, or the pastor who assaulted her.

Set in the Deep South in 1947, The Waltz of Devil’s Creek digs into the dark crevices of racism and women’s rights during a heated political climate in an era of segregation. Combined with Judith’s lack of social stature, and at a time when reporting sexual assault was unheard of, every injustice is stacked against her from the very beginning.

But there is a light in Judith’s young life: her best friend, Joseph Bird, who has loved her since childhood. Joseph stands up for Judith when no one else will and proves that even in the darkest of times, a light is always burning.

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Book Excerpt:

“But Mrs. Bird,” I said, looking over at her, “God don’t want people like Pastor Allman.”

She just looked at me for a moment, and then a smile slowly lit up her eyes again.

“YOU COME ON OUT HERE BIRD!”

The voice snapped Mrs. Bird and me from our moment, our heads simultaneously jerking toward the living room.

When we heard Joseph’s feet stomping against the floor as he ran down the hallway, Mrs. Bird and I dropped the dishtowel and the plate and hurried out of the kitchen.

“YOU GET YER DUMB ASS OUT HERE!” a second voice shouted, “OR WE’RE COMIN’ IN TO GET YOU!”

“That’s the Woodson brothers,” I told Joseph’s momma.

“Don’t you go out there,” she warned him as he thrust his big feet into his shoes. “I mean it, Joseph, don’t you go out that door!”

He flung the front door open anyway, and before he could step outside, the Woodson brothers jumped on him in the doorway.

“Joseph!” I screamed.

“Get out of my house!” his momma shrieked.

The whole house shook as the three fought; a small table underneath the window beside the door fell over, shattering the flower vase atop it; fists swung and legs kicked, and cuss words flew.

“You little piece of shit, you burned up my truck!” said the blonde-haired brother.

“I’m gonna kick your nuts right up yer throat!” said the brown-haired one. “What tha hell were you thinkin’ boy?!” Thwap! When his fist pulled back, his knuckles glistened with Joseph’s blood.

“Let go of him! Let go! Let gooo!” I dug all ten of my fingernails into the blonde’s arm, trying to stop him from pulling Joseph out of the house.

His momma was on the other side, screaming as she worked, unsuccessfully, to beat them off with a broom. The blonde shoved me away, and I fell onto my butt on the porch as they dragged Joseph down the steps and into the front yard.

“Don’t you touch my son!” Mrs. Bird roared, and the broom came down hard on the brown-haired one’s back.

He whirled around, seemingly unfazed by the blow, and yanked the broom from her hands and tossed it.

They nearly beat Joseph unconscious.

Mrs. Bird ran next door and called Sheriff Woodson, but he never showed; he’d stayed out of all the incidents between Joseph and his sons. But Joseph wouldn’t have had it any other way.

About the Author

Justine Carver was born and raised in the Southern United States on a heavy dose of creek-wading, lightning-bug-catching, and Saturday morning cartoons. She is a full-time writer, all-the-time reader, and every now and then, she pulls her head out of the clouds long enough to remember how much better it is up there.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://justinecarver.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_justine_carver/

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