THE MASKS OF UNDER

Chapter One

What do you do when you wake up with a tattoo you didn’t have the night before?

Huh. Well, that’s odd, was the first thing that ran through Lydia’s mind as she looked down at the mark on her forearm.

It looked like any old tattoo. It was small, about the size of a nickel, and done as if in a single pass with black ink from a needle. It was just a single symbol—archaic, strange, and nothing she recognized. After attacking it with rubbing alcohol and bleach, all she succeeded in doing was making her skin red. Slowly and reluctantly, Lydia concluded the ink really was under her skin.

Or, at least, it looked like ink.

She was pretty damn sure it wasn’t a spontaneously appearing black, thin-lined birthmark. One that looked like a backward N with a spiral cut through the middle. It really looked like tattoo ink.

The problem was, it hadn’t been there last night. Lydia hadn’t been out drinking and hadn’t blacked out. Sleepwalking? No. She had gone to bed at about two in the morning after being up late playing video games—no tattoo parlor in the city would’ve been open. She didn’t know any tattoo artists with a sick sense of humor. Lydia had gone to bed, woken up, and—poof. Nickel-sized tattoo. Right there on her forearm, no missing it, no mistaking it.

It was incredible how the human mind processed the seemingly impossible. After attempting to remove the thing for an hour, Lydia’s mind simply decided that it could not process the issue. The mystery was upended by the simple and much more approachable problem of being late to work. That one she could wrap her head around. That one she could solve.

Instead of sinking into the panic of debating what the thing was on her arm, she just…went about her day. Lydia scrambled to get ready, threw on some eyeliner, and brushed her hair before rushing to the T. She didn’t know why she bothered. It wasn’t like her “coworkers” would notice. They weren’t the most sociable, chatty, and observant people. Nothing against them—they couldn’t help it.

They were dead, after all.

Lydia was a forensic autopsy technician. With every person she ever met, she had to explain why her job was not like that thing they saw on CSI that one time. It was hardly that interesting. Her job was only to collect the data. Record the numbers. There were more important, better-paid, smarter people who sat at a desk and actually solved the crimes. She just stuck plastic sticks in dead people, cut bits and pieces out of them for various reasons, and took a whole lot of gross photos.

Now, that wasn’t to say Lydia didn’t have real coworkers. It was just funnier to think about the people on the slab that way, to put them in a slightly humorous, if sardonic light. Otherwise, she’d have to take her job seriously, and that was no way to live. Her real coworkers were friendly, ordinary people with details in their lives about which she had no clue. They were all okay with it that way.

Contrary to popular belief, nobody worked the night shift at a morgue, even if horror movies told you otherwise. She had a normal, nine-to-five, humdrum life, just like most people. Even if hers had to do with dead people. Well, hey, somebody had to do it. It did sometimes leave her with the scent of chemicals, though. She had to use mint shampoo because if she used anything floral, she just came off smelling like a funeral parlor.

Leaning against the side of the train car, she looked down at her phone and flicked her thumb over whatever soup-du-jour game she had downloaded that week. The green line was late getting into South Station. Again.

It was funny that in the city of Boston, you could hit the start of your workday by fifteen minutes in either direction, and honestly, nobody cared. Boston’s T was America’s oldest subway station, and it showed. At this point, she suspected if a pigeon shit on the rails, the train would have to wait twenty minutes for it to dry.

She didn’t even want to think about what happened when it snowed.

Lydia had come to enjoy Boston, if admittedly against her will. She’d moved out here from the New Hampshire countryside to go to college, got an internship, got hired, and got stuck. Now she had a typical life for a late-twenties single professional. Some houseplants, a job, some friends, some hobbies, and—a mark of personal progress in the city of Boston—a one-bedroom apartment to herself.

Lydia’s pattern was, like most people, wake up, work, go home, fill some time, sleep, wake up, work, day after day. Every few days, she’d hang out with friends or catch a beer with her breathing coworkers. Smatter in a date or two, and life was good.

That was a successful life, right?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Each day wasn’t too different from the last. That also was most people’s opinion of a successful life. Just slowly wandering into the sunset, doing the same thing—predictable and routine.

To be fair, today was just a little different than usual, though.

Lydia kept scratching her arm over her sleeve. The heavy chemicals she used on her surprise tattoo were itching like mad. Maybe she shouldn’t have attacked it with a Brillo pad and bleach, but she had been frantic. Rolling up her sleeve, she tried to surreptitiously glance at it to see if it had magically disappeared. Maybe the bleach had done its trick. But no. There, surrounded by a red rash of her own doing, was the mark.

It didn’t even hurt like she had expected a new tattoo probably should. It hadn’t felt like anything until she attacked it trying to get it off. It was like it had been there for years.

She knew how tattoo ink on human skin should look. She knew how it got that slightly grayish, fuzzy edge to it, no matter how good of a job had been done by the artist. She didn’t have any ink of her own, but more of the bodies that ended up on her table had them than not.

The thing on her arm wasn’t possible. It had no business being there. She should be rushing to the hospital, but what the hell would they say? Tell her not to do drugs, and maybe she wouldn’t wake up with a tattoo she didn’t remember? They wouldn’t believe her when she said she had a Diet Coke, played some PlayStation, and went to bed. They’d assume she either got drunk and didn’t remember it or got roofied at a bar.

Either way, the cops would be called in, she’d fill out a report, and absolutely nothing would be done about it. Nobody was hurt, nobody had been killed, nothing had been stolen, and there was nowhere to start looking. Best case, they’d come to check out her apartment for signs of breaking and entering. She’d already looked; there weren’t any. The cops would be left to simply shrug at the situation and go.

So what on earth was she going to do? Call out of work? Sit on her floor and sob uncontrollably? Call an exorcist?

Lydia wasn’t the type to cry and panic. She considered herself a rational, reasonable, logical human being. In college and med school, she had worked as an entry-level EMT. She had learned the “act first, panic later” mantra from a few of the older, far more beautifully jaded and saltier Boston paramedics.

They were a particular bunch.

The method was clear—solve the problem, then have a breakdown if you had to. More than once Lydia had shown up to an accident where the person who had the original issue was just fine and the person who had made the call needed help because of a panic attack.

Act first, panic later. Lydia kept repeating it to herself in her head to try and stave off the rising tide. She had a tattoo on her arm she didn’t remember getting, one that was impossible. But nothing was impossible, just momentarily unexplainable. Like stage magic, once you knew the secret, it was all a joke. Once she learned the trick, it’d seem obvious.

All the way to work, she scratched absentmindedly at the spot on her arm. Now it was seriously burning. Like a mosquito bite, rubbing at it only made it worse. But like a mosquito bite, she couldn’t help it.

Passing the front desk, she threw her bag onto the track of the x-ray machine. Government building, government security. It was the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, after all, and it wasn’t exactly in the nicest part of town. Even if it was attached to the Boston Medical Center, it was a few blocks from the corrections center and in that no man’s land between the South End and I-93 where it came back out of the Big Dig.

All sorts of people tried to wander in, some high, some nuts, most somewhere in between.

“Hey, Nick,” she said to the security guard. He was younger than most of the other guards. He had initially been a Boston University intern with her almost six years ago. Nick had a penchant for not trying very hard unless he was really interested. Very little interested him, and so security was the perfect spot for him.

“Hey, Lyd,” Nick said with a grin and looked up from his iPad. “Beer? Tonight?” The guy had an endearing, lopsided grin and scruffy brown hair. She figured he spent as little time as possible combing it without looking like a complete hobo. He was the kind of guy who always wore a t-shirt, over which he always wore either a hoodie or his uniform. That was pretty much all she’d ever seen him wear.

Lydia and Nick had hit it off as good friends years ago, and they were still close. He was crass, and most people found him to be more than a little bit of an asshole. The issue was that Nick didn’t know how to communicate, even on the scale of people who dealt with the dead every day. He couldn’t help himself and not say what he thought at every possible moment. Lydia found the humor in it, and he put up with her weirdness, so here they were.

“Sure,” Lydia agreed to after-work beers without really thinking about it. “Why not?” Screw it. She could use a drink. Maybe she could show Nick the mark on her arm and he might—might—not think she was crazy.

“Cool,” he said and went back to his iPad, dismissing her from the conversation. Oh, Nick and his stellar lack of people skills.

Lydia picked up her bag from the other side of the x-ray machine. Nick hadn’t even bothered to look at the screen; he never did. Lydia shouldered her pack and walked to the lab she shared with two other people. But as it was the week before Thanksgiving, most people had taken an extended vacation. Shannon and Dan, her real officemates, were both out for the rest of the weekend.

Today should be a dull day. But surprise tattoo chorused in Lydia’s mind. Fine, a slow workday. She sat down at her desk, flicked on her computer, and checked her email. She had a few cases to button up, boxes to click, photos to upload, and so on.

Lydia scratched the mark on her arm and sighed. It was like a fly, buzzing around her head. Hey! Hey! It was making it very hard to focus now that she wasn’t moving. Idiot, you have a thing on your arm. You should panic. Hey! Hey, idiot!

As she was in the room by herself, Lydia rolled up her sleeve and glared down at the mark. Sure enough, it was still there, under the skin that had now turned a pinkish-red with all her incessant scratching and previous chemical abuse.

Lydia leaned back in the chair and held it up to look at in the light. It’d take a tattoo artist all of five minutes, if that, to put down. So some goon broke into her apartment and set up all his equipment and tattooed her. And the noise and the pain hadn’t woken her up somehow. They must have drugged her first, then.

That seemed laughably like the most logical option. Lydia went to the bathroom and started searching herself for injection marks. She was good at finding them—that was her job, after all. Half an hour in the bathroom, using her phone on selfie mode, and no dice. Nothing to show for it except confirmation that looking at herself up the nose was never attractive, ever, and didn’t do anything for her self-esteem.

She even checked for the classic serial killer trick and looked between her toes and under her nails. Lydia let out a low breath, took her long blonde hair out of her ponytail, and combed both her hands through the loose waves and tried to think. She scratched her scalp with her fingernails as she desperately tried to get her brain to work faster. It was required to keep her hair under a shower cap while working on a corpse, so Lydia always kept it tied up. But honestly, she preferred it down.

No injection marks. Maybe it was somewhere really well-hidden, and Lydia was missing it. Well, she couldn’t just sit in the bathroom all day and look. Somebody was going to notice she wasn’t at her station eventually.

Flopping down at her desk, Lydia realized there was a body on her metal table. It was still in its bag, likely having just been dropped off. Lydia blinked. There wasn’t one scheduled for today. A folder on her desk had a sticky note on it, saying in fine-point Sharpie scrawl, “You’re the lucky winner. Jim.”

Jim was her boss. He was funny, they had a friendly and casual working relationship, and he trusted her to get her job done. Even better, he didn’t over-manage her, and in exchange, she didn’t ask him for a damn thing except for time off. Lydia was as self-reliant as employees came and managed her own time without an issue. It was a pleasant, peaceful coexistence.

But it also meant when he needed to get something done and done fast, it was her job.

Sighing, Lydia picked up the folder and opened it. The body would have been in the fridge, except Jim had pulled it specifically. Upcoming holiday weekend and schedule be damned.

Death was hard to plan, after all. Especially the kinds of death they handled. The gentle term they used on the website for this kind of death was “unexpected.” Lydia, with her off-color sense of humor, had long since dubbed it “murdery.”

There were a few different kinds of people who worked in the dead-people business. There were those who had simply turned that part of them off and handled everything they saw and did like a bank clerk. No big deal, nothing to see here, move right along. There were those who internalized it to the point they became dead inside themselves. And then there were ones like her, who handled it with humor. It was a crass and morbid way of dealing with the world, but at least it was good for a laugh.

Better that than winding up like that guy from Phantasm. What was his name again? The Tall Man. Right. It’d been a while since she’d seen that one, and if she could recall right, he’d been some weird brain-sucking alien or something. She didn’t remember, except that he had those bizarre floating silver orbs.

Lydia loved horror movies. She adored them. They were a pastime and a hobby. From the age of eight and on, her dad would take her to the local Blockbuster every Friday, where she could rent two VHS tapes. So she did, and every week, they were always from the horror section. Lydia had spent her childhood working alphabetically through from 13 Ghosts all the way down to Wolfman.

None of it ever scared her. As a kid, all she’d ever wonder about the movies was whether Michael Myers ever got lonely or how Pinhead slept at night with all those things in his face. Did he have to straighten them all back out in the morning with the back of a hammer?

It was part of her love of horror that led her to do what she did for a living. It was easier to handle, in some weird way, if you just pretended it was all movie magic. These weren’t real squishy people—they were just props.

The folder contained the police report. The guy had been found the night prior in an alley between some buildings in Boylston. All that was scribbled down was that the man had died from an apparent shotgun wound to the chest. No other descriptions, no other boxes checked. Even the little box that indicated if a weapon was found nearby was left blank. Freaking cops. They never wrote down anything that mattered. More than once, she had wound up doing a cast of a blade only to be told another department had the knife the whole time.

With a sigh, Lydia stood and walked up to the body. Putting on a sterile hair cap, she suited up and threw on a pair of gloves from the table next to it and unzipped the bag. She pulled it all the way down past the toes before opening it up.

“Well, hey there, buddy,” Lydia greeted the dead body incredulously and tilted her head to the side. That was something you didn’t see every day. The man was dressed in what looked like Victorian clothes. Shirt, vest, and coat, all extremely dated and all in shades of white and cream. Even his shoes were white and polished. Was this guy on the way to a wedding? Or a costume ball, maybe?

Blood had oozed from his forehead and ran straight down his face, revealing it had been there while the man was standing. It covered the right side of his face, obscuring what would have been otherwise reasonably handsome features. He had short black hair, the only thing about him that wasn’t white, cream, or in the case of his skin, the familiar lifeless pale blue of a corpse.

“Signs of an altercation before death,” Lydia mumbled to herself as she wrote it down on her notebook. That would be the only reason he had blood streaking down his face toward his chin. What had killed the man was pretty clear—a broad swath of small holes in his chest, each circled and ringed in dried blood. A shotgun blast to the chest, and it looked like it was done from close range and been packed with buckshot. Great. That would make for some serious fun all afternoon as she picked each individual ball out of his chest. Lydia sighed. So much for a short day.

The man had no identification on him at the scene. In fact, his pockets had been entirely emptied. That wasn’t uncommon, even if most people didn’t generally get mugged with a shotgun on the way to a costume ball. Lydia had to admit at least that part made it interesting.

First step, photos, then strip a layer of bizarre Victorian clothing, and more snaps with her camera. The clothes weren’t cheap and didn’t seem like they were costumes. Once the body was naked, she took more pictures, bagged and tagged the clothes, and put them in a little plastic bin on the bottom shelf for the more traditional forensic teams to examine.

The lab would want a blood sample. They always did, no matter how obvious the cause of death might be. Lydia took a red washable pen, circled a mark on his femoral artery on this thigh, and inserted a syringe. He’d only been dead twelve to fourteen hours, as far as she could tell, so it’d be easy to get a blood test. When she pulled back the plunger, it was dry. Just air.

What…?

She threw the needle into the hazmat bin by her feet and picked up another one, and this time circled a different spot on the femoral artery. Lydia drew back the plunger and…nope. Nothing. No blood.

The hell?

Okay, the subclavian, then. No blood. All right. Screw it. Screw this guy. Going to a stack of drawers, she rummaged through a bin and found a cardiac stick. Go for the gold. She unwrapped it, went to the body, and fed it into his heart.

Nothing.

Okay! Okay, fine. He had no blood in his body. Completely exsanguinated. Sure, why the hell not. She took off her gloves and started to write notes on one of her forms, detailing what she’d found, or, in this case, not found.

Lydia could start doing a cut-down and pull open the guy’s ribcage to see if he was utterly devoid of blood, but that was a hell of a lot of work to do without being explicitly told to do it. The corpse hadn’t started decomp yet, so he hadn’t been dead long enough that the blood would have pooled into the tissue. The man didn’t have bullet wounds large enough to have bled him out. Where did all the blood go?

Whatever. Let someone further up the food chain solve the mystery.

Lydia took a few more photos of the shotgun wounds on his chest before taking a swab and beginning to clean each one. It seemed that the only blood this guy had was the dry stuff on the outside of his body. Oh, well.

Picking up a small pile of little red sticks, she began to feed each one into the bullet wounds. It always reminded her of playing KerPlunk. Taking a photo, she wrote that the weapon was likely operated by someone standing between three to five feet away and at chest level. Pulling all the red sticks back out and dropping them into the hazmat bin, it was time to stop avoiding the inevitable.

Picking up a pair of thin, needle-nose tweezers, she began plucking out the little balls of lead, one by one.

Tink.

A little lead ball went into the tray. At least the wounds weren’t too deep. A few inches at most. Enough to kill and wind up in the lungs and the heart, but not enough that she had to really go digging.

Tink.

So much for a peaceful last day before Thanksgiving break.

Tink.

She was going to be at this for way too long. It had already been forty-five minutes, and Lydia was barely halfway through.

Tink.

Each time she pulled out a ball, she marked the wound with a tiny red dot of her washable pen. That way, she wouldn’t have to play the guessing game of which ones she had already done. That was the worst.

Tink.

The mindless, repetitive task let her mind wander. Of course, naturally, it strayed right back to dwelling about the mark on her arm. What the hell was it? How the hell did it get there? What kind of sick joke was this?

Tink.

How could she get the stupid mark off her forearm?

Tink.

At least she was almost done with the buckshot. Just a few more little pieces of lead to go. That last one had been deeper than the others.

Tink.

Lydia nearly jumped a foot in the air as her desk phone rang. With a sigh, she put down the tweezers, pulled off her goggles and gloves, and went to answer it. “Yeah?”

“Hey, Lydia,” answered her boss, Jim. “Wondering if you could take a mugshot of our dapper John Doe. Upstairs wants to circulate a description before they leave for the day.”

“It’s not even two in the afternoon.”

“Holiday.”

Lydia shook her head. Must be nice. “Yeah, sure, I’m on it.”

“You’re the best. Oh, and don’t forget a dental impression for I.D.,” Jim replied, and she heard the click as he hung up. Lydia hung up the phone and put on yet another pair of clean gloves. “All right, Dapper John,” Lydia said, having to give Jim some credit for the fitting nickname. “Time to smile for the camera.”

Taking a few more shots of his face with the blood smear, she then set to work cleaning the dry, congealed substance from his features to get a clean shot for the folks who had offices upstairs. It was when she went to get some of the blood off his temple that she paused. It looked like something else was there, under the blood.

What the hell was this? This guy was just full of surprises.

Tossing the bloody swab into the hazmat, she picked up another to scrub at that spot further. It looked like there was…white ink on his skin. Two marks looked as though they were tattooed on him. White tattoos were rare, especially on the face. A gang member, maybe? Once she had cleaned the rest of the blood off, she turned his head to the side, stiff but still flexible, to get a better look at the marks.

Lydia pulled back, her eyes wide.

It matched the symbol on her arm. Her “surprise tattoo.” His marks weren’t exactly the same—no backward N with a spiral—but the style was unmistakable. Like different characters from the same alphabet. Esoteric and strange, looking like a something out of Hellraiser or some other occult movie.

Wide-eyed and dumbfounded, Lydia froze. How was this possible? How was any of this possible? Lydia’s heart was pounding in her ears as she tried to make sense of what she was seeing. All at once she was thinking too quickly and not fast enough, her thoughts a jumbled mess as they tried to vie for supremacy.

Nothing had a chance to win the fight and rise to the surface.

A hand snapped around her wrist. Cold, deathly, and wrong. The face of the corpse turned to look at her of its own accord. Eyes, dilated and ringed in red, met hers.

Lydia screamed.

King of Flames Front Cover.jpgKING OF FLAMES

by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

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READ FOR FREE ON KU!

Everything about my life has been pretty normal working as a forensic autopsy technician. Until the day I woke up with a mysterious symbol tattooed on my arm.

Suddenly normal no longer existed. The barrier between Earth and a world called Under, dissolved…

Now I’m trapped with dozens of other people. Held prisoner by the creators of myths and legends, where the realm is ruled by two masked kings who want to turn us into creatures like them.

But even though I didn’t choose to be here, this new world manages to pull me deeper, affecting me differently than other humans. Unfortunately King Edu, also known as the King of Flames, notices this and I’m now considered a threat.

If I want to survive King Edu and the dangers of Under, I need to escape. The only problem is, there’s another masked king who seems to have an interest in me. Aon, the King of Shadows, wants me here in this world, and he wants me alive.

I just need to figure out why.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]KING OF SHADOWS

(The Masks of Under #2)

by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

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Some call him a madman. Others call him a warlock. Both are true.

But if it wasn’t for Aon, I’d be dead. I was mere seconds away from dying by Edu’s hands when the King of Shadows appeared in a flash of lightning, saving me from Edu’s murderous plans.

Now I’m under his protection, living in his home. The more time I’m forced to spend with him, the more I start to piece together the puzzle of why Aon and Edu are at war.

Despite how everyone else seems to hate Aon, there’s something that pulls me towards him—like gravity, refusing to let go. My heart is telling me to believe what he says is true, yet there’s this prickle of warning in the back of my skull cautioning me against falling for the King of Shadows.

In the world of Under trusting the wrong person can get you killed. Only the strong survive out here, and that’s what I intend to do.

Survive.

About Kathryn:

Kat has always been a storyteller. With ten years in script-writing for performances on Kathrynboth the stage and for tourism, she has always been writing in one form or another. When she isn’t penning down fiction, she works as Creative Director for a company that designs and builds large-scale interactive adventure games. There, she is the lead concept designer, handling everything from game and set design, to audio and lighting, to illustration and script writing. Also on her list of skills are artistic direction, scenic painting and props, special effects, and electronics. A graduate of Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Design, she has a passion for unique, creative, and unconventional experiences. In her spare time, she builds animatronics and takes trapeze classes.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/15/2019- BookHoundsExcerpt

4/15/2019- Dorky Girl and SkeletorSpotlight

4/16/2019- Lone Tree ReviewsExcerpt

4/16/2019- Jaime’s WorldExcerpt

4/17/2019- Bri’s Book NookReview

4/17/2019- ❧Defining Ways❧Excerpt

4/18/2019- Down the rabbit holeReview

4/18/2019- Writing on the Sunny Side of the StreetExcerpt

4/19/2019- Lisa Loves LiteratureSpotlight

4/19/2019- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

Week Two:

4/22/2019- Two Chicks on BooksInterview

4/22/2019- ParajunkeeExcerpt

4/23/2019- Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview

4/23/2019- Owl Always Be ReadingExcerpt

4/24/2019- Smada’s Book SmackReview

4/24/2019- Reese’s ReviewsReview

4/25/2019- A Gingerly ReviewReview

4/25/2019- Taking It One Book at a timeReview

4/26/2019- TheSecret ReaderReview

4/26/2019- Book BriefsReview 

Interview with Janet Finsilver author of Murder at the Marina (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)

About the Book


Murder at the Marina (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Lyrical Underground (April 2, 2019)
Print Length: ~200 Pages
ASIN: B07FC2C3BH

She’s got to solve this—or her friends are sunk . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is fond of the Doblinsky brothers, Ivan and Rudy, members of the Silver Sentinels, a crew of crime-solving senior citizens in their Northern California seaside hamlet. After she discovers a jewel-encrusted dagger—with what appears to be dried blood on the blade—on their fishing boat, they share their family history with Kelly, and she learns that the knife may be part of a set from their long-ago childhood in Russia. Its sudden reappearance is eerie, but the mystery grows much more serious when a body is found on the boat. The victim was staying at Kelly’s inn, in town for a Russian Heritage Festival, and some of the organizers were clearly harboring some bitterness. But the story behind this murder seems as layered as a nesting doll—and Kelly’s feeling completely at sea . . .

Interview with author:  Janet Finsilver

  • When I was a kid I loved Nancy Drew. How did you fall in love with Mysteries?

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. When I discovered Agatha Christie, I fell in love with mysteries.

  • The setting is a marina–are you an avid boater?

No, I am not an avid boater. The main reason is I am not a strong swimmer. I can tread water and have a fair sidestroke. That’s it! I enjoy being on a boat as long as it’s tied to a dock. In Murder at the Marina, the reader sees the Doblinsky brothers’ fishing boat. They no longer take her out, so she’d be a safe one for me to visit.

  • How do you research? Online? In Person? A combination of both?

I definitely use a combination of both. I was surprised not long ago when I was working on one of my books and didn’t have an Internet connection. I quickly became aware of how much I use it on an ongoing basis.

The town of Redwood Cove in my Kelly Jackson mystery series is based on Mendocino, California. I do trips up there for research. In Murder at the Mushroom Festival, I took a mushroom identification and cooking class from Assaggiare Mendocino. A couple of weeks later, I didn’t feel I’d learned enough and drove back up for another class held at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. It was very valuable to be able to talk with the instructors. I feel personal interaction makes a difference when I do research.

  • Are you more plot or character driven? Why?

Both are important to me. I’m a very logical person so there needs to be a strong, believable plot. My characters have to make wise choices when they are gathering information in terms of their safety and how they question people.

As for the characters themselves, I want people to be able to relate to them and be interested in being with them book after book.

  • How do you choose the names of your characters?

Sometimes the names just come out of nowhere. Some of them have been unusual, and I don’t have a clue how they jumped into my mind.

The foreign names I research and make a list. I go through the list until I see one I feel I connect with.

I keep an ongoing list of names that I like. When I’m looking for a name, I go through it until I find a match.

  • Apparently Hemingway never said, “write drunk, edit sober”, but it’s a fun phrase. What do you drink? Coffee? Tea? Water? Or other fun drinks while writing?

In the morning I drink black coffee. I sometimes have a small piece of milk chocolate to go with it. In the afternoon I usually have really cold sparkling water. My favorite is Pellegrino.

About the Author

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE was released on March 14, 2017.

 

Author Links

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 9 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

April 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 9 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 10 – I’m All About Books – GUEST POST

April 10 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 10 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 11 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

April 12 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

April 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 12 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

April 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

April 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

April 15 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 16 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

April 16 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

April 16 – ❧Defining Ways❧ – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 17 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 17 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

April 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 18 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST

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Baseball & Broadway by C.L. King & Katrina Marie

Baseball & Broadway
C.L. King & Katrina Marie
Publication date: October 22nd 2018
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Romance, Sports

A broken heart is never an easy one to mend.

Alice spent years forming a new identity while chasing her dreams. A fresh start was just what she needed. When she scores the leading role in a Broadway hit, a new world of possibilities opens up, including singing the National Anthem at the very game her ex was playing.

The biggest mistake of Easton’s life was ending things with Alice before they left for college. No woman has gotten close to him since. Instead, his primary focus is on his baseball career. While warming up before a game, a voice comes over the speakers as the Anthem is sung. A voice that causes something deep to stir inside of him.

Is it possible to rekindle a romance after so much damage was done? This game is bigger than any Easton has ever played. Two hearts are on the line. Either he’ll strike out or slide into home for the win. There’s only one way to find out.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the evening before I depart for college. There’s a twinge of bittersweetness coating the air surrounding our table. It’s the last time I’ll see my high-school sweetheart, Easton, until Thanksgiving break. The last time he’ll hold my hand in his, the way he’s doing it now, for a long while.

I’m not sure how well our long distance relationship will work, but we’ll do what we have to. We’ve been together for so many years, I don’t know what we would do if we weren’t one unit.

We’re at our favorite Italian restaurant, Ramona’s. The flickering candles on the table, our water in wine glasses giving us a look of sophistication, and the Dean Martin crooning from the speakers, keeps our last outing romantic. It’s exactly like I pictured it, down to a T.

It’s crowded in here, which is expected for a Friday night. I don’t hear the other patrons, though. My entire focus is on Easton, as I try to cement his looks in my mind to last me for a while. I’m going to miss his bright green eyes laughing at me when I do something ridiculous. The way his lips pull up into a smirk when I bust out in song and dance regardless of where we are. I won’t be able to cheer for him from the stands as he rounds third base and heads for home.

Just like that, my mood starts to dim. I try to keep my smile firmly in place, but I’m beginning to think I should have chosen a performing arts school closer to him. Even if they are subpar to the elite school I spent my whole life hoping to get into, and actually got the acceptance letter to attend a few months ago.

Easton brushes his fingertips across my palm, bringing me back to the present. He always seems to know when I start to get sad, it’s comforting. I know that I shouldn’t dwell on the future. Everything will work itself out. I glance down at our hands, feeling the butterflies come to life, as they always do. That’s how I know we’ll be okay. Even after the years we’ve been together he still manages to give me warm fuzzies. I always feel that new relationship giddiness.

When I glance up at him, he’s smiling, but it feels forced. His lips aren’t quite as upturned as they usually would be. My stomach fills with dread. Whatever he’s about to tell me isn’t good, and I’m pretty sure this boy I’ve loved for most of my teen years is about to break my heart. I just hope I’m strong enough to pick up the pieces afterward.


Author Bio:

Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, and fur baby. She is a lover of all things geeky and Gryffindor for life. Welcome to Your Life is her debut novel and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

When CL King isn’t hard at work writing you can usually catch her reading, baking cookies, dancing to music, or just simply being crazy. She has a huge passion for baseball and the theatre. But her true nerd side comes out when she is doing math for fun. She has an old soul which is evident with her love of the 70s show Emergency. If you want to get on her good side bring her an Ocean Water from Sonic. Even though she tries to focus on one project at a time she always seems to be working on multiple projects at once, it’s a good thing that she is highly organized. Just don’t take her to a bookstore, you do that and you are likely able to spend hours browsing.

Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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LAWRENCE IN THE FALL Author: Matthew Farina, Doug Salati (Illustrator)

LAWRENCE IN THE FALL by Matthew Farina & Doug Salati (Illustrator) is out today that I wanted to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Matthew Farina & Doug Salati (Illustrator), be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for 3 finished copies of the book, US Only, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion and Rockstar Book Tours.
So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About the Book:
 
Title: LAWRENCE IN THE FALL

 

Author: Matthew Farina,  Doug
Salati (Illustrator)
Pub. Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 48
Find it: 

 GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksKoboTBD

When Lawrence Fox’s teacher announces that students will be presenting their collections at show-and-tell, Lawrence realizes he doesn’t have anything to share.
Luckily, Papa knows just what to do to
help! Together, they venture into the woods. Lawrence is scared at first, but
as he grows comfortable in the forest, he starts to recognize its magic, and how beautiful and unique each tree and leaf is, allowing him to gather a splendid, one-of-a-kind collection of his own!

Excerpts:

 

 

 

About Matthew:
Matthew Farina is a painter and writer based in New York City. His reviews and essays have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, ArtCritical, and elsewhere. Matthew received a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. This is his first book.
Find Matthew online at 

www.matthewfarina.com|Website | Goodreads

About Doug:
Doug Salati is an illustrator living in New York City. He received his MFA from the Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts and was a 2015 Sendak Fellow. He is also the illustrator
of In a Small Kingdom by Tomie dePaola. See more of Doug’s work online at www.dougsalati.com.
Giveaway Details:
3 winners will win a finished copy of LAWRENCE IN THE FALL, US Only.
 

 

WORD OF SOUTH

VISIT ME at Cascades Park in TALLAHASSEE, Florida today

In April, we’ll again be sponsoring a booth at the WORD OF THE SOUTH festival celebrating literature and music on April 12-14 in Tallahassee.

Our booth will be up and running on the 13th and 14th (Saturday and Sunday) at the lovely Cascades Park.

www.wordofsouthfestival.com

Word of South

Sleuthfest Advert - Copy

Defined by Others (Defining Ways Series Book 1)


A word, a single word defines a moment for Anne. She needs to find a new one when her spouse, Frank, leaves her at the age of forty-seven, coming out of the closet literally in a closet.

She finds herself back in her hometown of Skvallerby, Connecticut among her high school friends which she had left in her past.
An inheritance from a frenemy leaves her with the means to meddle and spy on the lives of mutual acquaintances.
In an attempt to run from her reality Anne becomes engrossed in a game of fun and flirtation with her friend and fellow sufferer Connie.
Their fun games turn into a deadly reality. It is no longer a game. Life, death and not even a defining word can stop the reality of manipulation.

Buy on Amazon

About the Author

M.C.V. Egan

Or Catalina as her friends know her, was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. Communication in such a large family fueled her desire and need to find a voice and write. She spent her childhood in Mexico. Her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. In the early 1970s at the age of 12 she moved with her entire family to the United States. Catalina was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There, she won the English award; ironically being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs, she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977. She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (the Swedish, not the football player kind) Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She returned to the USA in the late 1980s where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish. Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son, who together with Taco, their five-pound Chihuahua, make her feel like a full-time mother. Her many hobbies include astrology and other divination tools used in this book. For more information please visit website TheBridgeofDeaths.com

Caught in the Storm Rachael Brownell


Publication date: April 9th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Love can be blinding and by the time the truth shines through, it’s too late to escape.
Fame.

Fortune.

Success.Is that too much to ask?All I need is to catch a break. To snag the attention of someone important. Someone who can help make my career everything I want it to be.Joseph was that man. Until the night the lights went out and I left with someone else. Someone who stole my breath and made me want for things I’d never considered before.

I should have known better than to trust a stranger. Especially one of his stature and class. Money means power and power means control.

Over my heart.

My career.

My entire life.

My dreams died the moment I agreed to his terms and a new chapter in my life began. I was blinded by my love for him and thought nothing would ever change the way I felt.

Then I uncovered the truth about him. About the kind of man he really was and the secrets he paid good money to keep hidden from everyone.

Now I’m trapped, with no way out.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my book. If you have questions or would like further information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“I don’t get you, Johnathan. You’re still a mystery to me, but I must admit, I like it. I like not knowing what will happen next. It’s exciting.”

Leaning across the table and taking her hands in mine, I kiss each of them and then whisper so only she can hear.

“And I like that the sound of your voice just turned me on. We’re going to need another bottle of wine before I can stand up from the table thanks to your dirty remarks, my love.”

A fierce blush spreads across Amelia’s cheeks, and a giggle escapes her. She covers her mouth, but it’s loud, and a few tables close to us turn in our direction.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I was just thinking about your little predicament, and I couldn’t help but laugh.”

“Yeah, well,” I start, releasing one hand and reaching under the table. When my hand meets silk, her laugh comes to an abrupt halt. “Two can play at that game.”

The challenge has been laid on the table, and she’s not backing down, uncrossing her legs for me and scooting closer.

“If that’s how you want to play—”

Amelia’s words are interrupted by a camera flash. I knew things were too good to be true. There are three reporters in the lobby taking pictures as Charles attempts to hold them back.

They’ve killed my hard-on, but that also means we can leave now.

 

Author Bio:

An award-winning romance author, Rachael is a midwest girl (yes, they say she has an accent but no, she doesn’t hear it) who loves to create amazing stories that tug at your heart strings. Keep your tissues handy.

When she’s not writing, you can find her on the golf course in the summer or cuddled up with a cup of coffee and her Kindle in the winter.

To keep up with what Rachael is doing at the moment, follow her on social media (IG is her fav) or sign up for her newsletter. bit.ly/2KDE5dG

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

GIVEAWAY!

-Enter to win a SIGNED PAPERBACK ARC of Caught in the Storm!

Enter here!

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~ Book Blitz ~ Room 11 by Mari.Reiza  Women’s Psychological Fiction

About the Book:

After an accident leaves his wife in a coma, he sits on a hospital chair day-in day-out singing to her. Nobody can pull him away from her as she threads through the rage that could save her. Meanwhile, a desperate nurse grows her admiration for him into obsessive desire.

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon
The Setting

A hospital room in a private clinic in London. The floors are squeaky clean. Patients smell lovely. Visitors sport well-polished shoes and smell too of expensive cologne; they’re not the kind you may suspect of stealing the antiseptic soap at the entrance, but instead talk in educated ways, despite concern for their loved ones sending them mad. In Room 11, a young comatose woman lies on a freshly made-up bed, her wealthy husband alongside a matronly foreign nurse diligently tending to them both.

Meet the Nurse

She has asked for Room 11 specifically, and for the best shifts to spend with its patient and her husband. On quiet night shifts, as she indulges on a hot-dog dinner with Maltesers before sitting in the dim quiet of the adjacent sleep-room reading secondhand romances, she listens to the husband sing. Her and him are on speaking terms, have shown each other their amulets, shared talk of their years spent in different Africas, even if she hides from him tales of her soulless apartment, her city’s horrific traffic and her lover scattered in pieces on a tree. How on earth can they keep going? Like her he deserves better. And now Dr. Patel has become a common denominator to both their destinies.

Meet the Husband

He arrived on his big feet one day, with his impotent rage and his books he has built into a confident pillar on the side of his hospital chair: every title about comas. On top, he rests his iPhone with her music. He puts his headphones on and sings. Sometimes he puts them in his wife’s ears and sings. He’ll know more about his wife’s condition than her nurse if he has read all his books, but only what he wants. He washes her hair daily in a shallow yellow bucket, rubs her legs caressing them; but her eyes remain shut. How can he see happiness in her outer beauty whilst inside she’s dead? He only leaves his guard to go home a few night hours, returning refreshed with a espresso in one hand and a cup of yogurt with honey in the other, and later to buy two sandwiches for lunch and dinner, both small enough to fit in his trouser pocket. He has left strict instructions, that he’s the only one allowed to visit, pretends the room should be as tightly guarded as a fisheries exclusion zone. He acts guilty. Does he have a secret?

Meet the Wife

She was labelled ‘Traffic accident abroad’ when she was first brought in from a foreign country where her family had stopped visiting, although her mother has since rang twice and her brother once, for a short call during which he only wept. In her sleep, she plunges into the abyss in search of why she’s here. She had been at a family wedding, with her husband. He knows she’s terrified of the lack of empathy between her and her mother dragging her down to the bottom of the ocean. And her own father won’t travel to meet her either; is he fine to stop seeing each other? Even when she had been sick nobody asked of her diagnosis, not even her brother who increasingly feels like her negative about to tear his chains to her. Does she have a son? Is he the reason why she ended here? Is he behind her urge to return?
About the Author:

Mari.Reiza was born in Madrid in 1973. She studied at Oxford University and worked as an investment research writer and management consultant for twenty years in London, before becoming an indie fiction writer. Also by her, Inconceivable Tales, Death in Pisa, Sour Pricks, A Pack of Wolves, STUP, Mum, Watch Me Have Fun!, Marmotte’s Journey, West bEgg, Room 11, Triple Bagger, Caro M, Opera, the Retreat, sells sea shells and aberri (homeland), all available on Amazon.

Author Links:

WebsiteTwitter * Instagram