Archive for October, 2012

Asylum Trilogy, Escaping New York, & Halloween!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Welcome to the Halloween edition of my blog. It has been a crazy week. One thing I think I’ve learned is that it is hard to travel to a conference and deal with the release of new books at the same time. Note to self…don’t do that. I was in White Plains, New York last week attending the fabulous Novelists, Inc. conference. My hubby and I planned to leave by Southwest Airlines this last Sunday at 1:25 in the afternoon. We got to the airport early, anticipating the place would be crazy because of all the people trying to escape Superstorm Sandy. We were right. The security checkpoint was a bit of a zoo. Although considering what it could have been like, it wasn’t that bad. Flights were canceled, and at one point our flight hadn’t come in yet. We wondered if it would be canceled as well. But lucky for us, even though it was more than thirty minutes late arriving and taking off, we made it out of New York! A little angel must have been lookin’ out for us because they told us we were one of the last Southwest flights out. The planeload of people cheered their good fortune.

On the home front I realized yesterday I have a creepy crud cold. But hey, no biggie. Traveling can do that to a body. Today I’m concentrating on the release of my Asylum Trilogy! What’s the Asylum Trilogy you say? Well, if you enjoy paranormal romance mixed with historical and with contemporary, you’ll like these books. Here’s the trailer to give you a spooky look. I decided to release all three books (Shadows Wait, Shadows Rise, Shadows Fall) at the same time to make sure you could get all three stories quickly. The rest of the week I’ll be highlighting each book on this blog, so be sure to stop by and say hello.

You can read excerpts on the Asylum Trilogy book pages and see the gorgeous covers. The Asylum Trilogy is available at Amazon and at Smashwords either as a discounted three book bundle, or you can buy the books separately. The first novel, Shadows Wait, is on discount for only 99 cents for a limited time at both Amazon and Smashwords. Don’t forget, at Smashwords you can purchase a variety of ebook formats. The books will also appear on iTunes and Barnes and Noble Nook soon.

Part of the day I’ll be running around the Internet promoting my new books. The rest of the time I’ll celebrate Halloween by chillin’ on the couch watching something spooky. Normally I also celebrate with a Witch’s Brew, but that doesn’t mix well with cold medicine. I need a nose mitten! ☺

Everyone have a wonderful, wonderful Halloween. To all of my friends and fellow writers in the eastern part of our country, I hope you are all doing well and soon you’ll be back on your feet in fighting shape. Hang in there!

Guest Author Selena Robins: A Message From The Other Side? Or My Imagination?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012


Everyone welcome my good buddy and awesome author, Selena Robins, as she gives us a great story that I think works right into Halloween…even if she doesn’t like Halloween. 🙂 Take it away Selena!
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“Life is like a snow globe; often it’s prettiest after it’s been turned upside-down.”

I love snow globes. I have an embarrassing collection of them, from Christmas themed ones to Christopher Robin and Winnie the Poo to the Phantom of the Opera, and ones that I collect during my travels, portraying a landmark of that particular city.

There is something soothing about looking at a snow globe, after turning it upside down. There is also something magical about one particular snow globe that my brother-in-law gifted me many years ago.

First let me tell you that I am a skeptic when it comes to ghosts and basically most paranormal activity and discussions, but I do keep an open mind and have enjoyed the many stories shared here on Denise’s blog.

When Denise asked me to share something to go along with her Halloween spooky/ghost story theme blog posts this month, I wasn’t sure if what happened in our household with this little snow globe would fit into these theme. Reason being; I don’t particularly care for Halloween. I’m not a pumpkin Grinch or anything (well, not anymore) and I do give out candy, and love to see small children in costumes, but I don’t decorate like mad, nor do I dress up, nor do I put on spooky music or watch horror flicks.

I’m going to share something that happened to us with regard to one of my snow globes, that to this day, I’m still unsure what was really going on.

My brother-in-law (husband’s younger brother) bought me this Santa Claus snow globe because he knew how much I love Christmas and decorating for this beautiful holiday. This snow globe has a music box inside it, but only plays a tune if you turn it upside down and crank it.

I put it out at Christmas time as part of my decorations and instead of putting it away, I decided to keep it in my curio cabinet even after Christmas, as it would remind me of my brother-in-law, who was struggling with cancer at the time and knew that he wouldn’t be with us for much longer.

Four months later, my brother-in-law passed away. On the day of his funeral, I was in the sitting room alone, waiting for my husband to finish getting ready and I heard a tune coming from the curio cabinet. I dismissed it, thinking it was my imagination and never mentioned it.

After his funeral, each time I would enter the room, the snow globe’s music box would kick in. I really thought I was imagining it, but decided to tell my husband. He checked to see if the crank at the bottom of it was stuck, but it wasn’t.

Since the curio cabinet is placed near a window, we both decided that it must be the sunshine giving it energy and making it the music box go off, however, that didn’t make sense since it needed to be cranked. As you can see, we’re both a bit skeptical when it comes to paranormal activity.

The music went off one night. No sunshine. So there went our theory about light giving it energy.

My husband at this point was convinced that it was his brother’s way of saying hello to us. Because we are all grieving deeply, I went along with it. Still not convinced.

We told his parents about it, and it brought them so much joy when my husband told him his theory, that I decided, yes, I will go along with that as well. And then thought; if my brother-in-law is around here saying hi, I hope he is turning his back when I take a shower. He had a great sense of humor, he totally got mine and besides his loving nature, that is one of the things I miss the most.

He did tell me before he died that he would come back and haunt me if I didn’t bake him his favorite cookies and muffins while he was in the hospital. I would joke back and say, don’t you dare look at me when I’m getting undressed or getting jiggy with your brother. Of course that made him want to hurl, because siblings making out is as bad as picturing your parents making out. We laughed a lot during his last days, and you know what, that’s how I would want my last days also. Teasing, laughing and joking and probably playing a prank or two if I could manage it.

His parents were convinced it was his mischievous side reaching out from Heaven.

Since I knew this brought my mother and father-in-law so much happiness, I wrapped it up and gave it to them as a gift, with a note that said: “Crank me up, when you miss me.”

They were appreciative and took great care of the snow globe, and it would go off on its own at their house as well, and they felt their son was really close by.

I slowly came to realize, that perhaps he was beaming down some of his energy into that snow globe and it was his way of saying hello to us all and also pulling a prank on me, knowing that I would be trying to figure out what was really going on.

My in-laws both passed away a few years later and the snow globe came back home with us. It sits in our cabinet once again, but it has never played another tune. I cranked it, shook it, and still no music.

The three of them are all together now, so perhaps the music stopped to let us know, they’re doing fine.

I miss you and love you all, and please if you’re around, just don’t peek when I’m taking a shower. Even though I really don’t believe you can see us, or maybe you can. Wherever you are, I know you’re happy and I will give out your favorite chocolates this Halloween in your honor.

Guest Author: Kimberley Troutte

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Please welcome guest author Kimberley Troutte to my blog today and give her a warm welcome as she talks about the inspiration for her ghostly novel Catch Me In Castile. If you comment, you could win the contest!
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Once a long time ago, let’s call in 1988, a young bride and her handsome groom vacationed in Spain. As they explored an ancient castle, the bride was swept away by the romance and the beauty all around her. There was so much history right there at her fingertips. What was it like to live in a thriving palace five hundred years ago? She imagined standing behind Queen Isabella in this very palace at the moment a young Columbus was commissioned to go in search of new lands–the land where our bride was born. It set the young bride’s mind afire.

She ventured outside the thick castle walls and wandered beneath the tall tower. There at her feet were bits and pieces of pearly-white bones. Curious about them, she picked up a few and carried them to the tour guide.

“Excuse me, señor. What animal did these come from?” the bride asked in her halting Spanish.

“Human,” was the guide’s shocking answer.

The bride nearly swallowed her tongue. As she grappled with what to do with parts of PEOPLE—no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t drop them, or toss them as far as she could throw them, could she?—the guide explained that in olden days dead bodies were tossed over the castle walls. She’d found one or more of those poor unfortunates.

Ewwww.

As she scrubbed her hands clean, a bold and beautiful plot bunny bounced into her brain:

What if a 15th Century lady from Queen Isabella’s Court was pushed out of the tower? What if her ghost still haunted one of these castles? What if an American woman with anxiety disorder is the only one who can see the ghost and the two of them must solve an ancient and a modern-day murder mystery? Ah-ha.

Catch Me in Castile was born.

Oh, and the young bride? She lived happily ever after of course and now writes Romance novels with a ghost or two in them. ☺

Happy Halloween!

Kimberley Troutte

Please leave a comment by midnight PST October 29 for a chance to win a pdf e-book of Catch Me in Castile.

Guest Author: Patricia Rosemoor

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Please welcome multi-published author Patricia Rosemoor to my blog today. Please comment on her blog today and you could win a free copy of HAUNTED.
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When I was a kid, I believed in ghosts. I remember that a friend and I used to ditch lunch at school and go to a local park. We would tell each other stories as we walked…just as if the stories were real. Ghost stories were my favorite, and when one day we deviated from our normal path back to school, we ran across a deserted house. It was ramshackle with broken windows.

To us, it looked haunted.

Of course that meant we had to go back when we had enough time to explore it. That was a long-ago time before everything was controlled and “safe.” There was nothing to keep us out of the place. I went in with great trepidation. After all, while I believed in ghosts, I didn’t really want to meet one. Exploring that haunted house was probably the craziest thing I ever did as a kid. Half the floor was missing. My friend and I traversed the open drop to what had been the basement by balancing ourselves on a single board to get across. And the whole time, I felt like we were being watched. Maybe we were, but whether by a spirit or a human, I never learned.

I must have real guts for a kid, because I wasn’t so brave when I learned about the ghost at the Lake Geneva house. For more than a decade, my critique group has gone to Lake Geneva several time a year for writers’ retreats. One of the members has a house on the lake.

We’d been staying there for several years when I walked into the kitchen and heard the owner talking about the ghost. Um, GHOST? Yep, the house was haunted. Several people had independently seen a man walking between the living room and the staircase – right outside my bedroom door. And I was the only one on the first floor. The other bedrooms were upstairs. Was I freaked or what? A late night person, I started going to my room two hours earlier than I normally would and locking my door because that’s when everyone else was going to bed. And I didn’t come out until daylight.

I guess my fascination with the idea of houses being haunted led to my writing HAUNTED. I wrote it many years ago for Harlequin Intrigue. It’s more of a fun ghost story rather than a horrific one, and I’m pleased to make it available once again in digital formats.

Tell me about your ghost story. One commenter will win a free copy of HAUNTED.

Guest Author: Nancy Lauzon

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Please welcome mystery author Nancy Lauzon to my blog today as she talks about a ghostly experience. Comment and you could win her contest!
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You see ghosts in the strangest places. I know I did.

This ghost didn’t present itself during a dark and stormy night, in the attic of a haunted house or a creepy alleyway at dusk. I saw it on a sunny afternoon while walking along the Nova Scotia coast. I was fifteen that summer.

As one of Canada’s easternmost provinces, Nova Scotia consists of miles and miles of shoreline, with a long history of shipwrecks, pirates, ghosts and treasure. One of my favorite books growing up was Bluenose Ghosts by Helen Creighton, (link) http://www.amazon.ca/Bluenose-Ghosts-Helen-Creighton/dp/1551090848 a collection of ‘true’ ghost stories told by the locals.

I would often leave our family cottage to roam the beaches that circled the bay, to collect shells and daydream. This particular day I wandered pretty far, clambering over several rocky points until I reached a beautiful sandy stretch littered with driftwood, bleached white. I turned away from the shore to examine the wood. When I looked back over the water, I saw a sailboat.

Startled, I couldn’t figure out where it had come from. During my hike up the coast the entire bay was visible as far as the eye could see. This boat seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I learned to sail at the age of ten, so I knew about sailboats. This boat was a small schooner, with a small main sail, a jib and a spinnaker, fully rigged. It moved along the water, buffeted by the mild breeze, completely white. The hull reminded me of the pale driftwood scattered on the sand. Shading my eyes from the hot sun with both hands, I squinted to get a better look, wishing I’d brought a pair of binoculars. I stared for several minutes, but couldn’t see anyone on board. The boat seemed to move by itself, rudderless, and a shiver ran up my spine. Somehow, I knew this wasn’t any ordinary sailboat, and it was time to leave.

Turning back toward home, I was too afraid to run in case my ghost schooner would see it as a weakness and come after me. So I walked as fast as I could while still trying to look casual, even as my heart pounded in my throat. I kept walking until I reached the rocky point, and dared to look back once.

The schooner had vanished back to wherever it had come from. I stared for a long moment, not believing what I was seeing, telling myself a boat couldn’t just disappear. And then I ran like hell.

Before that day, I didn’t really believe in ghosts. But whatever I saw that day made me realize there are things beyond our understanding of this world that defy logical explanation.

Shiver me timbers.

Contest: Comment on my story and receive a free copy of The Haunting of Haley – a Chick Dick Mystery

Please stop by my blog to say hello!

http://chickdickmysteries.com/blog/

Guest Author Rebecca York: Is It Real or Is It My Imagination?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Welcome to guest author Rebecca York as she tells us about an intriguing experience with the paranormal.She’s also holding a contest!

Writers have a vivid imagination. Ideas pop into our heads, and we put them down on paper. That’s great when we have a proposal due. It’s not so good when we’re little kids afraid of the monsters in the dark.

From age five to age eight, I was plagued by vampires, after we moved from Baltimore to an apartment on upper Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. It was in an old building, and we lived on the fifth (top) floor. Some mornings when I’d get up, my mom would kindly tell me about who had gotten stuck in the elevator the day or the evening before.

I was very sure that I didn’t want to ride that elevator by myself. Which meant that when I was leaving the apartment or going up to it alone, I’d take the stairs instead. A hard choice, because there were vampires in those dark stairwells, and they would follow me up and down, their silent footsteps pounding after me. I’d run as fast as I could, arriving out of breath, and they never caught me.

Like that brush with vampires, I’ve had lots of paranormal experiences, but I think only one of them was real. DH drove me, Patricia Rosemoor and Ann Voss Peterson down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to soak up atmosphere and scout out locations for a three-part series we were doing for Harlequin Intrigue.

Patricia researched B&Bs and found a charming old estate right on the Chesapeake Bay, which made a perfect setting for several scenes in our books. The first night, after dinner, Ann wanted to scout out good murder spots, and DH and I volunteered to go with her.

It was a night I will never forget, and a scene I’ve used several times in books since then. The moon was so full and bright that the trees and the three of us cast shadows as we walked across the wide lawns surrounding the Victorian buildings and down to the dock. And something else was memorable, too.

When we got back inside, I asked Ann and DH, “When we were out there, did you walk through places where the air was dead still and cold?”

Ann answered, “Yes.” DH didn’t feel it.

Was it from the ghosts lingering around the property? Or was it just some kind of strange atmospheric condition?

I love the Eastern Shore, and I’ve gone back to the same area to set my latest Decorah Security novel, DARK POWERS, about a woman, Sage Arnold, from a small town that I call Doncaster. She’s sure her sister has been kidnapped, but the police chief, the mayor and everyone else in authority say Laurel has run away. Sage hires Decorah Security to find her sister, and the agent they send with her is Ben Walker, whom readers met in DARK MOON. In that book, he was one of the bad guys. Now he feels guilty about some of the things he did as security chief on the Windward, an S&M slave ship, where he went in under cover to find his sister’s killer. A former Baltimore cop, Ben has a special talent that helps him solve murder cases. After a near-death experience, he developed the ability to touch a dead body and get the person’s last memories—a skill which puts him and Sage in considerable danger in Doncaster.

Do you have your own ghost stories? And what do you like about the paranormal in fiction?

I’ll be giving away a copy of my January Intrigue, SUDDEN INSIGHT, to one person who comments.

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Please visit Rebecca at her webpage.

Guest Author: Jana DeLeon

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Please welcome multi-published, award-winning author Jana DeLeon to my blog today. Sit back and enjoy her intriguing adventure in a haunted hotel! If you comment you could win a $25 egift card. 🙂
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One of the things writers hear most often is “write what you know.” Now, that doesn’t mean your heroine has to be the best toilet scrubber in the country or have the county-fair winning recipe for meatloaf just because you do. It just means you should take your life experiences – your emotions – and pour them into the characters to give them depth.

I’ve always loved a good ghost story – tales around the campfire, slumber parties with a bunch of giggling junior-high girls, the creepy, fun stuff of childhood. When I started writing I never thought about writing a ghost. After all, my single title books are contemporary romance and most people don’t believe in haunts and spooks. But I was determined to find a way, and booked a stay at the most haunted hotel in Texas, The Jefferson Hotel in Jefferson, TX.

I checked in on a Sunday afternoon, and the clerk handed me a key to my room and a code for re-entry into the hotel after five p.m., since there was no hotel staff onsite after that time. Then she added that I should feel free to walk around, sit on the balconies, etc. because as I was the only person currently staying in the hotel, I wouldn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone else. I couldn’t believe it – all alone in a haunted hotel! It was the kind of stuff those campfire tales were made of, and I could hardly wait for the sun to go down.

I’d like to tell you I saw a ghost, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Of course, you have to take into account that I sleep like, well, the dead, and then there’s that whole snoring issue. Heck, for all I know there were five ghosts in my room playing poker and singing karaoke.
But I did experience several interesting things.

Before I turned in the night before, I checked every room door to make sure they were locked. I was on the second floor, staying in the “most haunted room” and as I was on vacation and am an early riser anyway, I didn’t set an alarm. The next morning, I was awakened to the sound of an alarm going off.

It took me a second to realize it wasn’t in my room, so I jumped out of bed, threw on shorts and sandals and headed out into the hall. I drew up short when I saw every single room door standing wide open. I crept down the hall, expecting to find a housekeeper, but the hotel was empty. The alarm in one of the bedrooms was going off but when I checked the settings, it wasn’t turned on. I unplugged it, and finally the noise stopped.
As I walked back into the hall, the smell of lavender wafted by me. I checked for scent plugs and room deodorizers—I even removed the air vents to make sure no deodorizers were hidden inside (yes, I brought tools)—but I found nothing to explain the smell, which disappated quickly and never returned.

One of the most interesting things to me was talking to the residents in a café where I ate breakfast each morning. I typed away every morning over loads of coffee and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and on the third day, the waitress asked me if I was a writer. I told her I was and wanted to capture the ambiance of a haunting. I told her I was staying at the hotel and she nodded and said simply, “Oh, yeah, it’s haunted.”

Now, this wasn’t remotely surprising to me because people who grow up in small towns with the legends and lore of the place often believe it without question, but in further conversation, I found out this woman wasn’t a local at all. She was a former executive from a large bank in Houston. She’d had a heart attack and decided that Corporate America was killing her, so she relocated to a tiny town and took a job in a café. The woman held a master’s degree and had held a multi-six-figure salaried job.

Yet, she knew absolutely that she’d seen ghosts in the Jefferson Hotel.

My Ghost-in-Law series features the interfering, maddening ghost, Helena Henry. I had to work a bit to get a ghost in a contemporary humor story, but my editor went for it and three books feature the meddling Helena and her many escapades creating trouble for heroines and heros alike.
One of the most valuable things a writer can do to sustain a writing career is to diversify. I’d been reading the Harlequin Intrigue line forever and loved it, so that’s what I tried next. And guess what’s contained in my first book—you got it, a ghost! Intrigue was a totally different writing experience as the format is almost half the length of a single title book and there’s no humor. So I wrote a “gothic-lite,” complete with a spooky, old mansion deep in the Louisiana bayous. I’ve gone to contract for several more Intrigues since that first, and they all feature spooky settings deep in the Louisiana swamps.

I’m still holding out hope to one day actually see a ghost, but in the meantime, I’ll have to get my fix with books and movies. And of course, deciding what to scare people with next.
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Please stop by Jana DeLeon’s website for information on all her novels.

Guest Author: Caroline Mickelson

Friday, October 19th, 2012

A very warm welcome to my friend and author Caroline Mickelson. Caroline is not only one awesome lady, she’s an amazing writer. Be sure to read to the end. She’s having a contest!
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I admit I’m a first class wimp, especially when it comes to anything scary. I blame it on my father for taking me to see a vampire movie back in the 70’s. It FREAKED me out and I still haven’t recovered. I don’t even pretend to read paranormal romances if the cover is dark red or black or if there is an animal showing fangs I can’t even pick it up. Am I missing some fabulous books? I have no doubt I am. Sad, huh?

Fortunately for her, my fifteen year old daughter has not inherited my wimp genes. She loves nothing more than scaring herself silly with old horror movies. She wears all black clothing and loves to watch reruns of Ghost Hunters. Her favorite episodes are the ones shot at old asylums. She’s going to love Denise’s new trilogy! My daughter’s jewelry usually has skulls on it and she likes to wear black leather with spikes. Scary? Not to me. I think it’s massively cool that she knows who she is and what she likes. She rejects the idea that she should look like other girls her age. Conformity, she says, is too old school. That’s my girl!

Needless to say she thinks it’s goofy that I like to watch old episodes of the 1960’s tv classic Bewitched. But I like watching it and I like to read and write what I call ‘fun and fluff’ paranormal. A witch who has a nasty attitude? Right up my alley. Angels, witches, mermaids on a book cover get me every time. Of course, all of this causes massive eye rolling from my little Miss Horror. She insists there isn’t one thing about Bewitched that is the least bit scary.

Ah, but that is where she’s wrong. Remember Samantha’s mother Endora? She disliked poor Darrin from day one. What my daughter is too young to know yet is that there isn’t anything in the world more frightening than a mother-in-law who could pop in and out of your bedroom any time she pleased. Now that’s freaky!
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Please comment on Caroline’s blog today and you could win an ebook!Don’t miss Caroline’s awesome website.

Guest Author Vicky Loebel: A Light In The Attic

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Welcome to guest author Vicky Loebel. Today she’s talking about a paranormal experience worthy of a shiver!

I don’t have a supernatural bone in my body. Although I write urban fantasy, that’s mostly because I thought it would be easier to create a world where I got to make up the rules (hah!). As a result, I don’t have a lot to add to any discussion of paranormal activity. More things in heaven and earth, I’ll admit, but they haven’t dreamt themselves into my philosophy.

I did spend one childhood summer in the basement of our 1920s house playing Ouija with the neighbor kids (they pushed it). I also tried my hand at assorted wishes, spells, and positive thinking to try to get rid of my despised glasses (no dice).

Those youthful years were crafty ones. My mom believed in hand-made gifts, which meant our countertops were eternally cluttered with oranges stuffed with cloves, Styrofoam cones decorated to look like Christmas trees, and paper baskets packed with flowers and cookies for the neighbors.

This overflowing generosity outstripped the family’s artistic talent, so on delivering our crookedly pasted May baskets and Fourth-of-July banners that might or might not have recognized the state of Hawaii, Mom would jokingly assert—ala Charlotte Bronte—that our crafts had been produced by a five year old we kept locked in the attic.

Over time, something odd began happening. Occasionally, when we were all away, a light would come on in the attic. Nothing more. No chills, groans, or suspiciously relocated objects. Just the warm yellow attic light awaiting our return. Clearly our imprisoned five year old—perhaps because we’d neglected to send up food all those years—had turned into a ghost.

We went to some effort to catch our ghost, but nothing ever came of it. Mom is gone now, and the creaky old house has passed into other hands. I like to think if I drove by again tonight there’d be a light in the attic, recalling her laughter and openhandedness, welcoming us home.
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Vicky is having a contest. Comment on her story and you could win a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Please stop by Vicky’s web page.

Excerpt: Asylum 3: Shadows Fall

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Howdy all! In my neck of the woods I’m slow getting around to things today. 🙂 Here’s an excerpt of Asylum 3: Shadows Fall, the third book in my Asylum Trilogy which comes out on October 31. In this excerpt we see the hero discover there’s something else going on in the basement that shouldn’t be. I think it’s a scary scene. 🙂

By the way, if you’d like to be notified when the trilogy is officially available, sign up on my website to receive the monthly newsletter. This month I’ll be sending out a special announcement newsletter just to remind people the books are available.
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Pete’s gaze danced around the room, checking every corner. “There’s something down here that shouldn’t be.”

“Vermin? They were supposed to take care of that months ago.”

“Hell no. This is a lot worse than rats or bugs.”

Roarke shook his head, tired of dealing with this obtuse character. He stepped by Pete and past the boxes in the center of the room. He glanced around and saw boxes upon boxes, some crates, and others cardboard. It was all junk that worked well to create a creepy atmosphere, but should go to charity or find its way into the garbage. His gaze snagged on something–a purse stuffed under the corner of an old table. The purse looked familiar, but he didn’t know why. Black leather. One of those fold over type without a strap. What did women call them? He leaned down, picked it up, and perused it. He wondered if one of the haunted house patrons had lost it down here, but it had dust on it, so that didn’t seem likely. He opened it. Empty.

When he turned to place the purse on a shelf, he noticed the boxes seemed closer, as if they would close in on him any minute. That tightness, the enclosed and trapped sensation rose higher. Maybe Pete felt it, too. What was it about this damned corner that sucked him in, made him want to come closer? It made no sense. Two small windows at the top of the east wall needed to be washed. Covered with grime worked for a haunted house.
Darkness swam around him as the lights Pete had fixed dimmed. Words floated in Roarke’s mind.

Oppression.

Death.

Fear.

Murder.

Hate. Hate. Hate.

Roarke turned. The electrician stood at the edge of the boxes, wide-eyed. “Feel it now, do you?”

“What?” Roarke said through dry lips and tight throat.

The man drew in a sharp breath. “This place ain’t right. I’m leaving here, and I’m not coming back. I might even quit my job.”

“Why the hell would you do that?”

Pete shook his head. “You never heard about this place because you didn’t grow up in Simple. I did.”

“Tranquil View? That it was an insane asylum?”

“Yeah.”

“So what?”

Pete shifted on his steel tipped shoes and reached down to close and lift a big tool box. “Place is infected. Infected.”

“Haunted?”

“Evil, man. You see, it doesn’t operate on things you can see and hear and touch. Least not in the physical world. Best you get out of here, too.” With that, the man turned and left.

Let him. Maybe the guy was close to retirement and about ready to lose his mind. Hell, even old Marines could lose their minds. Roarke suspected he might have left his somewhere upstairs. He stood immobile, challenged by this place and the feelings inside of it. Pete ran from it; Roarke never ran from anything. At least he hadn’t until he came to Tranquil View and this damn town. That he might even consider running pissed him the hell off.

Ghosts. Evil. Bullshit all of it.

A nagging thing itched in his mind. It poked and prodded and demanded he pay attention. Something didn’t work in here. It was foreign and yet it lived and breathed in here. It was alive. As Roarke remained still, he heard breathing all around him, and the lights dimmed another degree. The corners went darker. Like cotton, the room stuffed his mind and ears. Like molasses, the air felt thicker. It was stuffy, and soupy to breathe. The darkness encroached and swallowed and ate the walls. It made tracks toward him one inch at a time, finding a morsel to nibble upon. Like a lion stalking prey it mesmerized and dominated. From complete rationality to utter chaotic madness, Roarke saw and felt the room devouring him. Encircling. Hoping he wouldn’t move. He was a dumb animal. A lower form of life. He couldn’t escape.

Inside his mind he panicked. His body refused to move.