Thursday, February 4, 2016

Romance Readers Want to Know: Author Nancy M. Bell Answers Readers' Questions, Giveaway

Hello and welcome to the kick-off of the new series, Romance Readers Want to Know. On Thursdays the J.Q. Rose blog will feature a romance author so you can discover new writers or enjoy learning more about your favorite authors and their latest books. Prizes will be awarded to lucky commenters.

Thank you so much to Author Nancy M. Bell, She  is so brave to lead-off the series. This talented author is an animal lover and always includes animals in her books. One reader asks her why.

Inspiration and Other Things by Nancy M Bell

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is are my characters based on real people. Now, that’s a bit of a hard one to answer. As an author everyone I meet and everything I experience has the possibility to show up in some form in my writing. But, I must hasten to say, I never ever base my characters solely on one person or event. Rather my character(s) tend to blend traits from many people in my circle of existence. Same for events and experiences, I take elements from a variety of things and incorporate them into my stories.

Another common query is why are there always animals in your books. In short the answer is because my animals are a huge part of my life. In most cases my animal characters tend to steal the limelight. Ailim aka GogMagog from A Step Beyond is a prime example of this. He’s larger than life and exhibits quite the sense of humour for a horse. The dog in Storm’s Refuge is the catalyst bringing Michelle and Cale together.

Some readers ask how much research I do for my stories. Answer is TONS! I love research and even though most of my reading and searching doesn’t actually make it into the story, I really feel it contributes to the layers and richness of the plot if I, as the author, really understand what I’m writing about. The first book in my new series Arabella’s Secret is The Selkie’s Song which is full of the myths and legends of Cornwall which form an integral part of the story and serve to drive the plot forward. I have literally tomes and tomes of books, articles and internet sites bookmarked, but in reality only a very tiny bit ended up in the book.

One lucky person who leaves a comment will win her choice of any of Nancy's books. Winner will be drawn after 9 pm EST on Sunday. Be sure to enter to win.

Take a peek at her latest romantic fantasy, The Selkie's Song, Nancy's first book in the new series, Arabella's Secret.

FYI-A selkie is a mythical creature in Scottish and Irish folklore that resembles a seal in the water but assumes human form on land.

The Selkie's Song by Nancy M. Bell
Romantic Fantasy

Back of the Book: The Selkies's Song  

Arabella Angarrick wants nothing more than to leave Penzance behind and study nursing in London. Her Da has other plans for her though. Arabella would rather throw herself off the cliffs of Lamorna Cove than marry Daniel Treliving. On one of her rambles across the moors on her pony, Arabella meets a dark and handsome young man who captures her fancy. There is something strange about him, but that only makes him more intriguing. Headstrong and stubborn, Arabella sets out to chart her own course in life, but things take an unexpected turn. Vear Du rescues her from danger, but can he protect her from himself?

About Nancy:
Author Nancy M. Bell

Nancy M Bell has publishing credits in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Nancy has presented at the Surrey International Writers Conference and the Writers Guild of Alberta Conference. Please visit her webpage.

You can find her on Facebook 
Follow on twitter: @emilypikkasso

Books We Love Nancy M. Bell's Author Page  

Visit Books We Love for 99 cent reads Valentine event.
Books We Love
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Thank you, Nancy! 

Come back each Thursday in February and find out the answers to readers' questions. You can  ask the guest author questions you have about her writing process too. 

February Guest Authors

4 Nancy Bell
11 Kris Bock
18 Barbara Meyers
25 Helen Henderson

Please leave your questions for Nancy or just say hi in the comment section below. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop: Blogging Etiquette

Welcome to  the Internet Writers Support Group (IWSG) blog hop.  .

What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month.  The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page
* * *
Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. I'm J. (Janet or Jan) Q. Rose.

Yes, this is a rendition of J.Q. Rose from my friend Miss Mae.
This drawing does resemble me quite a bit!!
Last month I co-hosted the IWSG event. I'll admit I was a bit nervous about doing it. But I discovered instead of being insecure about hosting, I was exhilarated by purposefully visiting over 70 bloggers. My head swam with all the amazing, brilliant, funny, talented, wise people who participated on this blog hop. 

Kudos to you all for being insecure! Hmm...that didn't come out exactly right. But if we didn't air our insecurities during this monthly  event, then there would be no need for the IWSG. So thanks for sharing your insecurities and thanks to those who are here to support us all and lift us up with their assurance and advice.

I appreciate Alex and all the co-hosters who keep these insecurities alive. Oh wait, that didn't come out right either.  Just plain thank you for all the folks behind the scenes and the many bloggers who allow us space to come together as a community every first Wednesday of the month.

I'm looking forward to visiting with you here and on your blogs. 

Questions for you.
 Photo by Master isolated images
Courtesy of
Blogging Etiquette by J.Q. Rose

I have a question for you about blogging etiquette. When I leave a comment, is it wrong to leave my # on the list or to leave my website addy? I ask this because I must admit I didn't get to visit some of the folks who left their comments on my blog because I couldn't find their blogs. 

When I clicked on the commenter's name, sometimes I would find their google profile with their blogs listed. At other times, the G+ page came up and no blog information. 

As far as I'm concerned, if you leave a comment below, you're welcome to leave your blog address so I can find you. I appreciate you taking time to visit my blog and I would like to return your kindness.

What do you think? Is it wrong to leave my # on the list or to leave my website addy when I comment on blogs? Thank you.
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Romance Readers Want to Know Thursdays on the J.Q. Rose Blog

Come back on Thursday, February 4 when author Nancy Bell kicks off the new series, Romance Readers Want to Know. She answers her readers' questions and is generously offering her e-book as a prize to a lucky commenter.

Visit Books We Love for 99 cent reads Valentine event.
Books We Love

Sharing a little love with my readers by offering my latest mystery,  Deadly Undertaking, for 99 cents this month. Visit my publisher, Books We Love, to discover a wide variety of full-length novels for 99 cents.

Deadly Undertaking Buy Links::

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lost and Found Valentine's Edition 2016 Blogfest, Short Story by J.Q. Rose, This Week

Lost and Found Valentine's Edition 2016

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog!

I'm thrilled to be kicking off this month of romance by participating in a Valentine blogfest, Lost and Found Valentine's Edition. The bloggers are writing fictional or non-fictional short pieces about love, lost or found. You're invited to visit and celebrate February, the month of love, and luxuriate in the wealth of romance stories at these writers' blogs. Go ahead. Play hooky for the day and escape for awhile into the world of romance with a variety of short stories and poems. 

You can find the list of participating bloggers in the sidebar of Denise Covey's blog. Have fun! 

Big thank you to the following writers who are hosting this awesome blogfest. 
* * *
My contribution is below.

Hello Again by J.Q. Rose
Valerie removed the enclosure card from the vase filled with exotic greens and stunning white roses.  Her eyes narrowed as she studied the signature, “With love, T.B.”  Replacing the card in the holder, she turned to her daughter, Rebecca. “Do you know who T.B. is? I can’t think of anyone who would sign a card with those initials.”
Her beautiful Rebecca, dressed in a stylish black suit and white silk blouse, slipped her arm around her mother’s waist.
“I don’t recognize the initials either.” Rebecca’s brown shoulder-length hair flowed around her face when she shook her head.  “Come on, Mom, they’re waiting for us in the family room.  The service will begin soon.”         
Valerie turned from the display of floral tributes and smoothed her simple black dress that snugged her trim figure. She was thankful her daughter and son were by her side.  The colorful flowers from friends and family gave her comfort, but the heady fragrance of the blossoms overwhelmed her senses..
She gazed one last time at her husband lying in the casket.   Guy was as handsome in death as he was in life. The huge casket spray of rubrum lilies and red roses couldn't soften the reality of him lying lifeless in the bronze casket.
Tears surfaced in her eyes.  How could she have any more tears left?  Valerie had cried for days.  She dabbed her nose and wiped her eyes with a tissue. Taking a deep breath to strengthen her for the difficult day ahead, she squared her shoulders vowing to make it through this service, the cemetery, and luncheon after.
Valerie had to be strong for her kids even if they were adults, but her insides were whirling and her legs didn’t want to keep her upright. How was she going to say good-bye forever to her husband of thirty-five years?  Her best friend. Her lover.  Her life.
Sitting at her kitchen table a few days later, Valerie stared at the card enclosed with the white roses.  She couldn’t find a clue to the identity of T.B.  This was the only acknowledgement card left to be written, but she had no idea where to send it.  No one in her family could help her. The local floral shops had no record of the floral delivery.  Mr. McGrady, the funeral director, told her he had found the vase sitting on the table in the entryway. He'd seen a man leaving the building, but Mr. McGrady never saw him clearly enough to recognize him.
Valerie couldn’t explain why, but she felt close to the sender. She couldn’t stop thinking of the beautiful roses and the card simply signed T.B.  There was something very special about the sentiment, she knew.  But what was it?
* * * *
Spring eventually emerged after the dark days of winter and death.  Valerie had endured.  Seeing the snow melt, the daffodils bloom, and the earth green up helped to lighten her heart.
That spring afternoon Valerie felt the warm sun’s rays on her back as she dug into the soil to plant pansies in the flower bed by the front door of her house.  A large white limousine pulled up to her neighbor’s home and out jumped a teen-aged boy in his fashionable tuxedo.  Behind him two young couples piled out. 
The boys seemed so young with their fresh haircuts and fine looking tuxes and the girls dressed in elegant evening gowns of red, black, and deep purple. Their long, thick tresses were creatively styled in up-do’s for that traditional evening event in high school, the prom. 
The teens’ nervous laughter and banter echoed through the neighborhood.  Residents gathered to watch as the young people posed for photos with the neighbor’s daughter under the flowering crab apple tree in the front yard.  Soon the three couples entered the limo again and were off to make memories.
Valerie returned to planting her flowers remembering her high school proms, dresses, and friends. She smiled as she tamped the soil down around the colorful plants. Suddenly she threw down her trowel, ripped off her gardening gloves, and raced up the front steps to her house.  When she entered the family room, she didn’t stop to wash her hands or remove the floppy straw hat on her head.  Instead, she grabbed the phone book and turned the pages to a number she deftly punched into her phone.
“Hello, Valerie.”  A man’s voice greeted her.  Her eyes sparkled as a smile spread from cheek to cheek. It was the same voice she remembered from forty years ago when they had attended her senior prom together.
“Hello, Teddy Bear.” 
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Did your school have a junior/senior prom? Did you attend? Do you remember your date? Are you still friends with that person? Please share with us in the comments below.

This Week:

Wednesday, February 3--First Wednesday of the month is ALWAYS Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). Yes, we throw our insecurities out in broad daylight for everyone to see. And that's okay because the writers who participate are also filled with wisdom and support. Stop in on Wed and discover what makes me insecure.

Thursday, February 4

Romance Readers Want to Know is a brand new series beginning this week on the J.Q. Rose blog. Talented romance author Nancy Bell kicks off the series and is offering a giveaway to a lucky winner. Come back and discover what readers want to know about Nancy and her writing.

Romance Readers Want to Know on the J.Q. Rose Blog

February 1-7

Romantic suspense, Whispers in the DARK 
by Kris Bock
Back of the Book: Whispers in the Dark
Kylie Hafford craves adventure when she heads to the remote Puebloan ruins of Lost Valley, Colorado, to excavate. Romance isn’t in her plans, but she soon meets two sexy men: Danesh looks like a warrior from the Pueblo’s ancient past, and Sean is a charming, playful tourist. The summer heats up as Kylie uncovers mysteries, secrets, and terrors in the night. She’ll need all her strength and wits to survive—and to save the man she’s come to love. 

Whispers in the Dark is romantic suspense set in the Four Corners region of the Southwest. Reviewers give it a 4.3 star average: “A great read with a strong plot line & likeable characters!”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Celebrating National Chocolate Cake Day with Hot Fudge Sundae Cake, Recipe, Romance Readers Want to Know Next Week

Ooey-gooey Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Courtesy of Starr Roan
Hello and Welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog!

Yesterday, January 27 was National Chocolate Cake Day. Did you observe it? Well, I wanted to get out the box of Betty Crocker cake mix to celebrate, but the day got past me. So, instead, I celebrated today with our neighbors. This auspicious occasion needed a special chocolate cake, not a boxed cake mix. 

How lucky I was to come upon a recipe in my Church Ladies Cookbook. You know all the best tried and true recipes are found in these cookbooks. This cake is fun to make. No bowl or beaters to clean up after putting it together because it is mixed in the pan. Then you pour hot water over the batter. Yeah, really!

Here's the recipe! Thank you Starr for sharing this in The Fruit of the Spirit Cookbook, Fremont United Methodist Church.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Stir the following ingredients together in an ungreased 9 x 9 inch pan.
1 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Add the following ingredients to the pan
1/2 c. milk
2 T. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix with a fork (I used a spoon) until smooth.)
Spread evenly in pan. 

Mix together 1 c. brown sugar and 2 T. cocoa. Sprinkle over batter.
Pour 1 3/4 c. hot water over batter. Do not stir.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.Let stand 15 minutes. Spoon cake into dishes and top with ice cream. Spoon extra sauce from pan over top.
* * * 
Michelle Lee's eye-catching book cover design for my latest mystery, Deadly Undertaking, has been chosen for a book design contest at Author Shout's Cover Wars.

Deadly  Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
A handsome detective, a shadow man, and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
. Unfortunately it is the third from the last cover at the bottom of the display. If you get a minute, please scroll through the ten covers, then vote for Deadly Undertaking to recognize Michelle's talent in cover designs. 

Here's the link. You can vote all week. Much appreciated.
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Romance Readers Want to Know Series
Thursdays this winter on the J.Q. Rose blog
Thursday, February 4--We kick off the Romance Readers Want to Know series! Meet authors and learn the behind the scenes life of authors. Ask them questions. Win prizes!! Talented, experienced author Nancy Bell kicks off the series on Thursday. She'll be awarding an e-book to a lucky commenter!!
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Did you observe Chocolate Cake Day? I know, I know. We don't really need to eat chocolate cake just on that day. As far as I'm concerned, every day could be chocolate cake day. How about you? What's your favorite cake? Leave a comment below. Thank you.

Follow by email--Sign up to receive notifications of new blog posts.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Deadly Undertaking Book Cover in Cover Wars Contest, Country Singer Linda Davis and Band Inspired Me

OK, now my competitive nature is fired up! Michelle Lee's eye-catching book cover design for my latest mystery, Deadly Undertaking, has been chosen for a book design contest at Author Shout's Cover Wars.

Deadly  Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
A handsome detective, a shadow man, and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
. Unfortunately it is the third from the last cover at the bottom of the display. If you get a minute, please scroll through the ten covers, then vote for Deadly Undertaking to recognize Michelle's talent in cover designs. 

Here's the link. You can vote all week. Much appreciated.

Author Shout  

I just had to get that off my chest, so now I can smile and say, "Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog."

Country singer Linda Davis Band
Bill Whyte, Linda Davis, Lane Scott
Saturday night was date night with my handsome guy, Gardener Ted. We attended a concert by Linda Davis, her husband, Lane Scott, and comedian Bill Whyte. Linda is an award-winning country singer who has sung with a lot of the great artists including Reba McIntyre. Their performance of Does He Love You is one of my favorite songs. 

Here's a You Tube video of Reba and Linda singing the song.

YouTube Video--Reba McIntire and Linda Davis
Does He Love You?
During the entire performance I was in awe of the sound, the showmanship, the ease with which they did the concert in the "round." I couldn't stop wondering why they would be performing on the stage of our community center for only about 250 people. They're not ready to slow down. In fact Linda will be going out with Kenny Rogers on a Christmas concert tour this year with 160 engagements. 

Future Country Stars
Photos of the show courtesy of Cassidy Kinsman
I thought perhaps this gig was more to introduce new talent to audiences because four young girls ages 10 -16 performed. Amazing girls. Teen-ager Cassidy Kinsman, almost a Reba look-alike, sang Does He Love You with Linda. You could see how proud Linda was of Cassidy's performance as they sang and Cassidy hit the notes to blend together so beautifully. Linda offered fist pumps and smiles as they overwhelmed the audience with their beautiful sound.

Cassidy Kinsman singing with Grammy-award winner Linda Davis
At the end of the evening, Lane Scott answered the question niggling in my brain all night. Why are they here? Lane said they had toured the world and played for tens of thousands of people, but during that evening in the informal, intimate setting they have the opportunity to connect with people. These shows complete a circle in their careers to bring them back to the reason for getting started in the music business--connecting with people. 

I understand that feeling completely. With my stories, my biggest desire is to connect with a reader. When someone reads my books, I hope each one  feels entertained and touched by the story. Perhaps an emotion brought tears to the reader's eyes or put a smile on her face. Reaching out from my heart to the reader's heart through words.

Certainly the musical performances on Saturday night reached my heart.

Why do you read? Please leave a comment below to let us know. Thank you.

Please enter your e-mail addy to receive updates on the J.Q Rose blog. New series begins in February. Meet new authors and win e-books and prizes! Thank you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My New Year's Resolution--Write a Memoir, Bill Roorbach's Writing Life Stories Book Review, Tiny Tidbits on Writing and Life

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog!
Fairview Floral and Greenhouses circa 1990
Photo by Cheryl Sneller
My new year's resolution, goal, priority is to write a memoir about our first year (1976) as business owners. My husband, Gardener Ted,  and I were co-owners of a floral shop, garden center, and greenhouses for nearly twenty years. That first year was a year of firsts and a roller coaster ride with giddy highs and crushing lows. Butwe survived and thrived. My hope in the writing of the memoir is to inspire others who have a dream they want to make into a reality. Perhaps seeing that we could live our dream will help guide and assure others they can do it too.

The photo above is the shop and greenhouses in 1990. We opened the business in 1976 then relocated a block away after building a new shop and greenhouses which opened in 1986.

Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature
Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach
Okay that's a long introduction to what I really want to share today. I've led workshops on writing life stories and have written little vignettes of my life as I taught the workshops. Now I'm taking on writing a book, I mean a 30,000-50,000 word book about my life. Gulp. I haven't decided if I'll have it published or if I'll just keep it for family members. I guess I'll decide that after it's written to see if I might get sued for defammation of some of the characters in this story. Oh yes, there are some folks who "done us wrong!"

So I've been reading memoirs and studying books on memoir. Writing Life Stores: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature by Bill Roorbach is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and full of wisdom for burgeoning writers, as well as experienced authors. His literary grade language and insight into what writing really is made me appreciate my choice to become a writer. This book is an inspiring read.

Bill, if I may call him that, brings clarity to the memoir genre. Incorporating rules of fiction writing with non-fiction events is an art. I soaked up every bit of the information he shared. He's a teacher as well as a writer and allows us to explore this marvelous genre through writing our own articles as exercises at the end of the chapter. I wish I were actually sitting in his classroom so I could be in a lively discussion with him and students on all the topics he covers.

My vocabulary grew because of his expertise in the English language. I discovered words like "adumbration" and "enjambment." 

These are quotes by Bill I want to keep in mind such as:

In regards to the writer's voice--"Emotion is the sound of a writer's voice."
In regards to writing--"This is art we're talking about, not a job."

I don't usually do book reviews, but this is more of a love letter to this book. If you are looking for a book on memoir-writing, pick this one up. I actually borrowed the kindle edition through amazon Prime's program. You know it had to be worth reading because I broke down and actually bought the paperback book!

Tiny Tidbits for Writing and Living:

Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach is definitely a tip you can use even if you're a writer and not even planning on penning a memoir. I had planned to just include this book in the tiny tidbits, but as you can see, the topic is neither tiny or a tidbit. I decided it needed more space, and so the tidbit became a blog post! 

New Words to Me--Sorry if you already looked up these words--or you may already know them anyway--but I added the definitions from for you if you are curious about the meanings.
verb (used with object), adumbrated, adumbrating produce a faint image or resemblance of; to outline or sketch.
2. to foreshadow; prefigure.
3. to darken or conceal partially; overshadow.


nounplural enjambments 

the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break
Use hair spray to get ink out of clothing. Spray and blot.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr Day, Anna Simpson's White Light Cozy Murder Mystery Released, Giveway

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Washington, D.C.Photo from USA Guided Tours
Today, January 18, 2016, we honor and celebrate the life of 
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. 
His fight for equality through peaceful means 
brought about change for all of humankind. 

# # # # 

White LIght by Anna Simpson
Cozy Murder Mystery
Hello and welcome! 
I've been looking forward to cozy author Anna Simpson's visit to the J.Q. Rose blog. We met as fellow bloggers on the Insecure Writers' Support Group blog hop. Her name on her blog is Emaginette. And let me tell you, her blog handle is perfect for her because she has a fantastic imagination and is a creative writing talent. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to Anna and her new cozy murder mystery, White Light. Enjoy her article on small towns and be sure to take time to read an excerpt from her brand new release.
Welcome, Anna!
Small Town Living by Anna Simpson
Thanks for having me here today.
Did I use my small town as a template for White Light?
Small towns aren’t just a location on a map. They are a state of mind. A place where it’s okay to make a face at a kid in the grocery checkout, or wear a weird necklace because your first grader put it around your neck when you picked him up.
This way of thinking changes huge cities into warm comfy places full of memories and enjoyable places to visit. Where saying hello to a stranger isn’t that strange.
I wanted to capture that state of mind, that small town feel I grew up with, and share it in a cozy mystery. Lucky for me, cozies are only loosely based on the real world. Cozy lovers, and I do mean cozy mystery lovers, expect a certain amount of wholesome atmosphere, definite lines between right and wrong, and quirky characters.
So the answer to the question is yes I did draw on my small town experience, but it was a place I remembered as a child. I’m not sure how accurate it is. Even then, I had quite the imagination.
Have you used anything from your past to make your life more enjoyable? Family traditions or celebrations? Have you made them your own?
White Light Blog Tour
Anna is having a rafflecopter drawing during the blog tour. After her post, enter the raffle. Here's her schedule of hosts for the tour.

About the book:

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.
What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.
Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it’s haunted with guilt?

Goodreads link:
Purchase links:


To stay free, I perform a ritual every morning. It begins with stepping outside, where dawn streams through the leafy branches of my maple tree, landing, shifting, and dancing on the flowerbeds at my bare feet. A steaming cup of coffee warms my hands. The fragrant air fills my lungs. I sip, leaving the liquid on my tongue to capture a moment of rich goodness.
My name is Emma, and I need to stay grounded and calm. It’s important for my health, so I walk along the fence and let the cool blades of grass tickle my toes and dewdrops cling to my skin. For fun, I kick a ball of dandelion fluff. Little parachutes take flight catching the same breeze moving the leaves above my head. The seeds float up, and up, over the fence to land on Mrs. Perkins’ perfectly tended lawn. Not a dandelion or mat of moss to be seen.
In a half acre of green sits one flowerbed, brimming with Lily of the Valley. I remember the first time I saw them over fifteen years ago. The delicate white bells could only be fairy hats. Today, the round base of cemented river stone is still full of waxy green spear tips. I don’t see fairy hats anymore. No, now I enjoy the effects of nature—its simple perfection.
Mrs. Perkins does it best. In fact, everything around Mrs. Perkins is perfectly cared for—her home, her yard, her car—all perfect.
But not today. A dark line sits between the jamb and the edge of the door.
A few inches of shadow drives my calm away and prickles the long blonde hairs at the nape of my neck. Butterflies in my stomach tell, no scratch that, demand I find my phone and go next door.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not a snoop.
Mrs. Perkins, a wiry old bird, did everything herself. I’m not sure if it is because she’s the independent sort or if she has no one else to help her. Either way, when she suggested we watch out for one another, I agreed.
I’m also alone. It doesn’t bother me unless I catch the flu or something. Then I wonder if I will die and no one will notice. It’s a thought, or fear, I can’t shake. Mrs. Perkins’ house has my full attention, and within it sits the same worry. I’ll check on her because she would do the same for me.
I crash into my kitchen, slopping my coffee onto the counter as I slam the mug down. My phone could be anywhere. My gaze travels from the pine tabletop to the gray marble counter. It’s not here. I push through the swinging door to the living area, run my fingertips between the couch and chair cushions, scan the smoked-glass coffee table through my veil of long blonde hair, and sneak a peek under my overturned book on the throw rug. Desperate, I check around the bowl by the door where I toss my keys as I pass the spiral staircase to the loft. Still nothing.
Down the short hallway, I rush to my bedroom. I tug the midnight blue duvet off the bed and shake it. My pulse speeds up as something thuds on to the carpet. I pick up my smartphone and check the battery. Half power.
Excellent. I dash through my front door, across the lawn and unlatch Mrs. Perkins’ white picket gate. Her shiny yellow front door looks as solid as stone. I follow her path to the back wondering if danger lurks.
I gasp as I near the door. It’s like living a moment in a crime drama. I mimic what I have watched on television and bring up my phone to take a picture. Inching forward, heart pounding, I wonder if poor Mrs. Perkins is sprawled out on the bathroom floor, from a stroke, heart attack, or a butcher knife.
Don’t worry, Mrs. Perkins. I’m coming.
I pull my cotton sleeve over my hand and push the door wider. Her kitchen looks untouched as if it’s sterilized or newly installed. Tiles cool my bare feet with each step. Fear scratches at my nerves, “Mrs. Perkins? It’s Emma from next door. Are you okay?”
I raise the phone to call for help.
A small sound carries from deeper in the house. I should stop, leave, and make the call.
Following the sound might be dangerous or, worse, plain stupid. And I’m scared. So scared, my breathing is all I hear over the pounding of my heart.
I’d look stupid if I’m wrong. Ravenglass Lake is so small-townsville, and Benny the bully is like no cop I’ve ever met. He would be no help. Worst of all, they’d call me crazy for sure. I slip the phone back into my denim pocket, quietly open her knife drawer, and pull out a meat cleaver. Armed, I creep forward.
Thank goodness Mrs. Perkins likes an open airy room. Evil housebreakers have nowhere to hide in the dining room.
A small thump like a cat landing on carpet makes me jump. But Mrs. Perkins doesn’t have a cat…or carpet—only allergies.
I tighten my grip on the cleaver as I stick my head into the living room. All is quiet and undisturbed. I enter the corridor to the front door. To my right are stairs to the upper floor. Farther ahead is a hall closet and nook where she keeps a desk and a small bookcase. Nothing seems touched.
I glance up at the glittery ceiling, swallow, and pull my phone from my pocket. The sensible thing is to dial 911. I sidestep for the front door, but in my mind’s eye Mrs. Perkins, wiry but frail, shakes her head. Her arm outstretched urging me not to leave.
Thump, I freeze. The noise is right beside me coming from the hall closet.
Without thinking, I open the door and find Mrs. Perkins tied up with duct tape across her lips. Her green eyes, round and unblinking, grow wide, and her usual perfect curls are mussed. I drop the cleaver. It clatters on the floor, and I pull the tape free.

Anna Simpson
Author Anna Simpson aka Emaginette
About Anna:
Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.
She's easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

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