Tag Archive | mystery

Smothered by M.C. Hall

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Title: Smothered
Author: M.C. Hall
Publication date: December 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery

SmotheredFifteen years ago, Kitty Holbrooke was set to be the greatest child star since Shirley Temple. Days after completing her debut film, the young girl was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night. The next day, a rambling ransom note appeared in the family’s mailbox, but as the family scrambled to gather the money, police discovered Kitty’s body. Due to the media circus surrounding the case, changing testimony from key witnesses, and police missteps, lead detective Andrea Bennett was never able to bring Kitty’s killer to justice, and the case that rocked a nation went cold.

Today, an online tabloid has uncovered Kitty Holbrooke’s shocking case files including never-before-seen police interviews, confidential emails, secret text messages, and sealed grand jury transcripts. The Internet explodes as fans devour and comment on each piece of new evidence, desperately hoping that they, too, can help solve the mystery.

Loosely inspired by the Jon Benet Ramsey case, this unique, thrilling mystery is told through police transcripts and documents, and will keep readers guessing until the very end.

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Excerpt:

Interview: Katherine Holbrooke, January 26, 2002

Katherine Holbrooke: Did you need a picture? The other detective said you needed a recent photo. I hope these are acceptable. I also have two headshots, but in those, she has stage makeup on, and since she still has her baby fat, the headshots have been Photoshopped to make her look a bit thinner. This one is from a week ago. I printed it out for you. She looks so precious, doesn’t she? I hope we find her soon. [Cries]

Lieutenant Andrea Bennett: For the record, this is Lieutenant Andrea Bennett. I’m here talking to Katherine Holbrook. It is 11:28 in the morning on January 26th. Katherine’s nine-year-old daughter Katherine Holbrooke Jr., also known as Kitty, was discovered missing just over an hour ago.

Thank you, Mrs. Holbrooke. I’m sure these pictures will help. We’re doing a search of the neighborhood now, but we’ve put out an Amber Alert and the media will be on top of the story soon enough. They’ll want the description and the photos.

Katherine Holbrooke: The media. [Blows her nose] Do you think that’s really necessary? Ryan thinks she just wandered away somewhere. He said the other officer told him that’s probably what happened.

Lieutenant Bennett: The other officer said that? Son of a [Inaudible] I don’t know. She might have gone somewhere without letting you know. Lord knows, my own kids have done that enough times to drive me crazy. But we don’t want to jump to any conclusions. Her disappearance could be something else. Does she have a history of running away, or “wandering off,” as you put it?

Katherine Holbrooke: No. She’s never done this before. She’s such an intelligent little girl. I don’t know that she would… [Pauses]

What should I wear? Should I change now or wait?

Lieutenant Bennett: Excuse me?

Katherine Holbrooke: You said the media would be called in. I know how these things go, especially in California. They care more about appearances than they do about people. They wouldn’t give a damn about Kitty if we looked like you…

Lieutenant Bennett: If you looked like me? You mean if you were black? What exactly are you trying to say, Mrs. Holbrooke?

Katherine Holbrooke: No! Goodness no. That’s not what I meant at all. It’s just that you’re in uniform and you are sort of… Well, you have quite a natural look don’t you, and those shoes…

Lieutenant Bennett: These shoes are police issued, ma’am, and trust me, if I have to run after a suspect in this case, you’ll be glad I’m wearing them.

Katherine Holbrooke: [Sighs] Now I’m afraid I’ve offended you. All I’m trying to say is we don’t want to look like ragamuffins on TV. If Kitty’s really missing and the press are called in, I should try to look my best, shouldn’t I? Appearances matter. Thank goodness, she is… [Trails off]

Lieutenant Bennett: Thank goodness, she’s what?

Katherine Holbrooke: Nothing. Well, I only mean to say that she’s a very attractive girl. She’s famous, or she will be soon, anyhow. That should help, shouldn’t it?

Lieutenant Bennett: I see.

Katherine Holbrooke: I didn’t mean anything by it, Lieutenant. Only if she is missing, well, you know what people in Hollywood are like. God, listen to me. I don’t know what I’m saying or what I’m talking about. I must be in complete shock. God. My God! Who took my baby? Where is she? Why isn’t she in her bed? [Cries]

Lieutenant Bennett: You didn’t offend me, Mrs. Holbrooke. It’s understandable. You want to do whatever you can to find your child. You’re not wrong about the media, either. I might not care as much, but I would probably want to look my best too, if it were me.

Please stop crying, ma’am. I know this is upsetting, but it would help if you could try to calm down. Can you give me a description of the events leading up to the moment you realized your daughter Katherine had disappeared? Where were you yesterday?

Katherine Holbrooke: Yesterday? Yesterday, I woke the girls at around 7:00, their usual wake-up time. Then, we dropped off Ally at the middle school. Kitty and I went to her school. We got there around 8:00. I waited there while she completed her lessons for the day, and then at 12:30, I took her to the salon. She had an audition later that afternoon, and they wanted her to have a tan. Skin cancer causes wrinkles, especially if you start tanning when you’re young. So, we went to Sally’s over on fifth for the works—spray tan, leg waxing, eye lash extensions, and eyebrow plucking.

Lieutenant Bennett: Let me break in, just to get this straight. She was only in school from 8 in the morning to just after noon?

Katherine Holbrooke: Yes. [Sniffles] That’s correct. Don’t judge me, Lieutenant. I care hear the doubt in your voice.

I’m a good mother. Kitty was a child star. She has classes half days only. She misses a lot of school because of filming, not to mention auditions, and classes for acting, singing, and dance. Oh, and she has gymnastics. She goes to a highly recognized private school and she has a tutor on set when she’s filming. Her education is a top priority.

 

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Author Bio:

MCHall_Megan Cassidy Hall writes books for adults under the name MC Hall, and writes books for children and young adults under the name Megan E. Cassidy. In addition to writing, Megan works as an English professor teaching a variety of courses including Creative Writing and Children and Young Adult Literature. Megan’s novels include Always, Jessie, The Misadventures of Marvin Miller, and Smothered. Her poetry and short stories have been featured in numerous publications including Bete Noire, Pilcrow & Dagger, and Centum Press’s 100 Voices.

All of her short work can be found on her website.

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In 2016, Megan co-founded 50/50 Press with her husband Stephen Hall. You can visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

 

Guest Post by M.C. Hall:

Inspired By vs. Based On

 
When I was doing research for my novel Smothered, I came across an article by Lauren Bradford entitled “My Family was Traumatized First by a Murder and then by the TV Serialization.” In the article, Bradford describes her experiences with the media after her mother was murdered by her father and his mistress. In addition to living through the trauma of her mother’s death and her father’s imprisonment, Bradford also had to endure the publication of a book written about the case and a TV drama based on the book.
 
Both the book and television depiction were filled with errors. Bradford writes, “In the midst of trying to come to terms with the imminent release of the drama, our family endured the PR and social media build-up with sleepless nights and tearful days, while those responsible were being congratulated for a ‘brilliant’ production.”
 
It was articles like these that made me carefully consider how I wrote my novel. The murder case in my book involves a young girl who goes missing. A ransom note is sent to police, but a few days later, her body is found hidden in a shed on the corner of her family’s property. Because the book is set fifteen years after the murder, all of these details are given in the first five pages of the book.
 
Because of the premise of my novel, I’ve had several people ask me, “Is the book based on the JonBenét Ramsey case?” My answer is always, “No. Absolutely not.” I will admit that parts of the book were inspired by that case, particularly the detail of the ransom note I mentioned above. But other pieces of the novel were inspired by different cases throughout history, including the trials of Lizzie Borden, the Menendez brothers, OJ Simpson, and Casey Anthony.
 
As the victim in Smothered was a young actor, I also was also inspired by stories of various child stars such as Shirley Temple, Jackie Coogan, Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields, and Lindsay Lohan.
 
But taking inspiration from real life is incredibly different than basing a novel on one person’s story. Books and movies “based on” true stories are often only thinly-veiled fictionalizations, sometimes changing only the names and a few small details, while keeping the rest of the case intact.
 
In contrast, in novels of films that are “inspired by”, the writer may take an idea from an actual event, but the rest is fiction. Nothing in the book or movie happened, and the writer does not claim, “this is what could have happened.”
 
In this way, the murder mystery I wrote isn’t that much different from my other novels. My first book, Always Jessie was inspired by my own struggle recovering from eating disorders. I wanted to depict a girl going through a recovery process that was similar to mine, but Jessie is nothing like I was at sixteen, and her story was not based on my own. My second book, a middle grade novel called The Misadventures of Marvin Miller was inspired by some of the humorous stories my father told me about his childhood. Again, Marvin is his own person and things like my father’s “fireworks story” took on a life of its own.
 
Similarly, in Smothered, I started with an idea, and then created wholly fictional characters and a plot that didn’t follow any actual events. I didn’t want Kitty Holbrooke to be just like Jon JonBenét Ramsey, Charles Lindbergh Jr., or Caylee Anthony. I wanted to start with an idea, ask “what if,” and let the characters dictate where the story went from there. I hope that’s what I accomplished, and I hope people enjoy the book as a fictional story that has just a few hints of real life.

 

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Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

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Title:
Hunger Moon
Series: The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #5
Author: Alexandra Sokoloff
Publication date: October 24th, 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Revenge has no limits.

HMSpecial Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted…

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Excerpt:

The sandstone spires reach like alien fingers from the depths of the canyon.
         The gorge cuts through the Arizona tablelands, a vast, prehistoric gash. Inside lies a 230-million-year-old natural wonder: a cathedral of wind-carved sandstone walls in every possible hue of red, gold, and white, adorned with the gleaming black curtain-like sweeps known as canyon varnish. Ancient ruins of cliff villages nestle in natural caves at impossible heights. Sedimentary deposits lie in distinctive round piles, like stacked pancakes.
         And the famous double sandstone spires rise 750 feet from the canyon floor, at the exact junction of de Chelly and Monument Canyons.
         Navajo legend says the taller spire is the home of Spider Grandmother, the goddess who created the world. She stole the sun and brought fire to the Anasazi. At the beginning of time, monsters roamed the land, and she gave her children, Monster Slayer and Child-Born-of-Water, power to kill the monsters and protect the First People.
         Her stories are only told in the winter months.
         And only to those who will listen.

A bleak sky, streaked with white, stretches over the desolate South Rim of the canyon. There will be snow tonight.
         The grinding of a pickup truck grates through the silence.
         A four-door Tundra. Tonneau cover over the bed. Two men dressed in camouflage inside. Fast-food and jerky wrappers litter the wells at their feet. In the back seat, a cooler packed full of beer.
         And three rifles, three-inch twelve-gauge magnums, strapped to the padded back-seat gun rest.
         Hunters, driving the rim.
         The front-seat passenger sets his sights on something moving ahead of them, leans forward greedily. “There we go, there we go.”
         The driver follows his gaze, fixes on what he is tracking. Not a deer, but a young girl, shining black hair underneath the hood of her parka. Schoolgirl’s backpack on her shoulder.
         On the men’s faces, something crude and capering.
         “That’s some tasty-looking pussy.”
         “Oh, yeah, that’ll do.”
         “Let’s go.”
         “Get her.”
         The driver swerves the truck over to the side of the road, squealing brakes.
         The girl hears the sound, stiffens, is starting to run before she even completes the glance back.
         The truck skids to a stop in the snow. The doors fly open; the men are out of the car, grabbing for their rifles.
         The girl runs for the rocks, but her pursuers are bigger, faster. Two of them, grown men, against a teenage girl.
         They move forward into the strong wind, a military-style formation, heavy boots crunching in the sandy snow.
         They pause at the rock outcropping, looking out over the boulders. The girl seems to have disappeared. Then a scrabble on the rocks betrays her. Hearing it, the men grin at each other.
         The driver rounds the rock first, his mouth watering. He is already hard in anticipation . . .
         The tire iron bashes him across the face, breaking his jaw. He staggers back, howling inarticulate pain.
         The girl kicks him viciously in the knee, crumpling him, then swivels as the second hunter rounds the edge of the rock. She slams the tire iron against the side of his head.
         Now both men are collapsed on the ground, moaning and cursing.
         She steps forward, no longer feigning that youthful, hesitant gait.
         She lifts her arm and uses the tire iron on their skulls. Two, three, four blows, and there is no more moaning. Thick crimson drops spatter the snow. Her breath is harsh. Her face is ice.
         There is only the wind, swallowing the sound of her breathing.

Cara stands at the edge of the canyon, looking out at the spires of Spider Rock, the vast open gorge.
         Below her is an icy crevasse. The canyon has any number of them, deep splits in the rock wall where whole sheets of the cliff have broken away. Behind her is the hunters’ pickup truck.
         Their bodies lie at her feet.
         She drags one, then the other, to shove them over the cliff’s edge, stepping back to watch each body hurtle down into the crevasse, tumbling into oblivion.
         The snowfall tonight will cover all trace of them. Later, birds and animals will pick the bones clean.
         Another offering to the canyon, and the gods and ghosts that haunt it.

 

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Author Bio:

AlexAlexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, Cold Moon, Bitter Moon, Hunger Moon – now in active development as a TV series), and the supernatural Haunted thrillers (The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, The Space Between). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors,  Stealing Hollywood, and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA West and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with The Slice Girls and Heather Graham’s all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But not an addict. Seriously, it’s under control.

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Christmas in The Sisters by Becki Willis

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Title: Christmas in The Sisters
Series: The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series Book 6
Author: Becki Willis
Genre: Cozy Mystery

The latest book in the Award-Winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series!

Xmas-3_388x600Madison Reynolds can’t wait for Christmas this year. Rebuilding her life as a single mom hasn’t been easy, but after a challenging twelve months, she’s excited about the holidays. She and her twins have settled quite nicely here in The Sisters, renovations on the house are complete, her business is slowly growing, and, best of all, Chief of Police Brash deCordova is in her life. Visions of the perfect Christmas dance in her head.
 
The tinsel begins to tangle when someone targets the community for a series of ‘Christmas Crimes.’ Homes are broken into and wrapped gifts are stolen from beneath trees. Even vehicles loaded with presents aren’t safe, particularly on a lone stretch of highway. Things like this just don’t happen in Naomi and Juliet. Torn between solving the rash of burglaries and shutting down the gambling ring that’s active in the area again, Brash does the only thing he can: he hires In a Pinch to help with the investigation.
 
Finding the common link between cases is like finding the bad bulb on a string of lights. Every lead is a short circuit. The frustration mounts when Madison and the Angel Tree she’s involved with fall victim to the crimes. Only the worst kind of Grinch steals from needy children!
 
Brash has plans of his own for the perfect Christmas. With the help of a new jewelry store, he thinks he’s found just the right gift for Madison, until the Grinch strikes again. This wasn’t the surprise he had in mind.
 
Ready or not, Christmas is on its way, and time is running out to create the holiday of their dreams. As the house fills with unexpected guests, Madison and the twins honor favorite traditions from the past while creating a few new ones of their own.
 
Who has time for being kidnapped by men in Santa suits and bad beards?
 
This is one Christmas that no one in The Sisters will ever forget!

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Excerpt:

      Emergency lights clashed with the festive Christmas scene.
      Beyond the police car’s glaring strobe, cheerful strands of twinkling white icicles dripped from the eaves of the house. Each porch post was wrapped in green. A profusion of multi-color lights sprang up in the yard, garnishing every bush, every bird feeder, and every tree in sight.
      Wedging the cruiser into a slim niche between a Ford Expedition and a Pontiac Grand Am, Brash deCordova came within inches of a gigantic inflatable snowman. The chief of police picked his way between a stand of lighted candy canes, a herd of reindeer, and an animated gingerbread man. The obstacle course led him to the front porch, where a trio of wooden carolers greeted him, and a motion-activated wreath began the first bars of We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
      It came as no surprise when the doorbell twinkled out the tune of Jingle Bells. Brash shook his head in wonder. The Hutchins certainly loved the season.
      The door swung open and a plump woman motioned him inside. “Brash! You’re here.” The relief in Vanessa Hutchins’ voice was palatable. “Come in, come in.” She turned slightly away and bellowed down the hall, “Larry! The police are here!”
      “I’m sorry to come calling like this, Vanessa,” Brash apologized, tugging the cowboy hat from his auburn head. “Larry tells me you’ve had some trouble.”
      “I’ll say! Look! Just look at that!” She flung her arm toward the massive Christmas tree centered at the front windows. Dozens of bulbs, baubles, and ornaments covered every tip, illuminated by hundreds of miniature white lights. A red and green tree skirt peeked from beneath the lower branches.
      “Nice tree,” Brash murmured, wondering how it kept from collapsing.
      “Nice? It’s empty! Glory be, someone stole all our presents!”
      A groove of worry puckered the officer’s brow. “All of them? How many did you have under there?”
      “You mean an exact number?”
      “For now, an estimate will do.”
      Vanessa cocked her head to one side, mentally tallying up the gifts. “At least thirty. I’m almost done with my shopping. Or I was, until this happened!” She gave another emphatic wave toward the barren tree skirt.
      “Calm down, Nessa,” her husband said, coming into the room carrying a steaming mug. He thrust it at his wife before offering his hand to Brash. “Brash, thanks for coming out so quick. Vanessa, take a few sips of hot chocolate and try to relax. Everything is going to be all right.”
      “All right? You’re not the one who shopped for those gifts. And you didn’t wrap a single one of them, Larry, so don’t tell me to calm down!” Her voice rose with every word, both in pitch and volume.
      “Can we have a seat?” Brash suggested.
      Appalled by her lack of manners, the frantic woman immediately turned apologetic. She fussed around the officer, fluffing a snowman afghan at his back and producing a Santa-shaped ottoman for his feet. Brash politely settled among the excessive holiday pillows, grimacing when he activated one with music. Over the digital notes of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, he struggled to sound professional. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
      “We were robbed, that’s what happened!”
      “Were there any signs of forced entry?”
      “The back door was jimmied open, if that’s what you mean,” Larry Hutchins offered. “We didn’t touch anything, in case you want to dust for prints.”
      “Smart thinking. Was anything else taken?”
      “Not that we’re aware of. We checked the gun case, jewelry box, desk drawers where we keep the checkbook, that sort of thing. Everything else seems to be here.”
      “They were only interested in the presents,” his wife concurred. Hot chocolate already forgotten, she had taken to wringing her hands.
      Brash jotted down notes in his trusty little notebook. It traveled with him everywhere he went, tucked into his shirt pocket. “Take me through this evening. We need to establish some sort of timeline.”

 

Don’t miss the other books in The Sisters, Texas series!

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Chicken Scratch

Book 1

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When The Stars Fall

Book 2

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Stipulations and Complications

Book 3

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Home Again: Starting Over

Book 4

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Genny’s Ballad

Book 5

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About the Author:

BeckiBecki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of ’13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

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Deadspeak 2 by Ruth Bainbridge

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Title:
Deadspeak 2
Series: Deadspeak Mysteries Book 2
Author: Ruth Bainbridge
Genre: Mystery/thriller

 
BookCover_DeadSpeak2Things look different when you’re dead.

It’s Halloween and a group of teens throw a party at Harbinger Falls’ most celebrated haunted estate. It’s all fun and games until a session with a Ouija board guides the partygoers to the body of a young girl hidden in the attic.

Detective Kimberly Trent is assigned the case and quickly discovers that all is not as it seems. First, there’s the connection between the death and a string of petnappings terrorizing the neighborhood. Then there’s the suicide note that only leaves more questions than answers. A visit from Kimberly’s ghostly friend Griff Lindon sheds an unwelcome light. It seems she’s had a run in with the newly deceased who tells her she’s been murdered.

This is the second in The Deadspeak Mysteries. The entries are meant to be read in sequential order and do not standalone. In each book, you’ll find a new murder for Kimberly Trent to solve. You’ll also find the continuing search for who murdered Kim’s sister Elizabeth. Each book will take you closer and closer to finding out the identity of The Hex Killer, the serial killer who ended Elizabeth’s short life. It will also bring you to the heart of the evil that’s come back to life to wreak revenge.

Excerpt:

“This reminds me of when I was in summer camp and stayed up all night trying to contact the dead,” Julie Welch commented.

Mia or no Mia, the time had arrived and the Ouija board was placed in the center of one of the folding tables.


“You did that, Mrs. Welch?” Angie asked.


“Of course,” Julie confessed with a giggle. “I lived for those summers, and the camp counselors had no idea what we were up to. They only wondered why we were all so tired in the mornings.”


The atmosphere of the Halloween Party had changed. Ever since the announcement, things went from Party Central, to an eerie, expectant quiet. The music was turned off and the food lined up on the rented tables was bereft of pawing hands.


The six rested their fingers lightly on the planchette. “Remember: no cheating! Understood?” Mrs. Welch warned.


The participants nodded in agreement as the woman with the highlighted blonde hair inhaled deeply.


“Hello? Is there anyone with us?” Julie asked, starting off the questioning.


A soft scrape… and … movement! Infinitesimal at first, the planchette picked up speed.


Yes.


“What the—” Gen started. A loud moan interrupted the moment.


“Yes, I’m here,” a deep voice bellowed.


Fear spread quickly as attendees sprang up from their chairs and readied to run. Another unearthly groan penetrated the air. Angie latched on to Glenn’s hand.


Footsteps.


Someone was climbing the basement stairs.

 

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Author Bio:

AuthorPhoto_DeadSpeak2Born in the idyllic, sleepy town of Ithaca, NY, Ruth Bainbridge has been a lover of mysteries for her entire life.

Ever since a child, she has consumed detective stories at regular intervals, becoming enamored with all the superstars of crime. She loved nothing more than to match wits with the likes of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Thomas Pitt, Lord Peter Wimsey, Richard Jury, and Edward X Delaney, becoming inspired by their brilliance. Hoping to emulate her writing idol’s achievements in dreaming up such characters, she started composing her own short stories.

However, life interfered with her plans of becoming the next hopeful to try a life of crime—on paper at least. Devoting herself to her marriage and the raising of four children, the empty nest syndrome gave her the impetus to return to her first love—murder.

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Gone Daddy Gone by Cheryl Bradshaw

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 Title: Gone Daddy Gone
Series: Sloan Monroe Mysteries #7
Author: Cheryl Bradshaw
Genre: Crime Mystery, Thriller

From New York Times bestselling author Cheryl Bradshaw:

A single moment is about to change Sloane Monroe’s life forever …

ebook-2_400x600On an early winter morning, college student Shelby McCoy walks the quiet, snowy path back home. A tree branch snaps in the distance. Then another. A man is there with her, following close behind, whispering her name. She looks back, sees him gaining on her, and runs. Who is this man, and why is he carrying a gun?

*Can easily be read as a standalone!

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Excerpt:

 

The man stood across from Bonnie and Hank’s hotel, watching everyone say goodbye. From the looks of things, Cade appeared to be returning to Wyoming, and Sloane would stay behind.
Good.
It would be much easier for him to divide and conquer this way.
He took one last drag on his cigarette and flicked it to the ground, stubbing it out with the bottom of his shoe. He thought about leaving, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Cade and Sloane, holding hands, standing together beside the truck for one last embrace. The embrace was long. Too long. It made the man uncomfortable.
Get on with it already.
Leave.
Viewing such tenderness between two people turned his stomach, like a virus had entered his body and quickly spread.
Anger.
Slow, festering anger.
His heart beating faster and faster.
He reached out, clutching a tree for support, inhaling and then exhaling and then inhaling again.
Focus.
Remember what you’re here for and why.
You’re in control.
It’s all going according to plan.
Cade gripped the handle of the door, but then leaned back to Sloane, whispering something in her ear. For a moment it looked like she might cry, but she didn’t.
Seeing the display of emotion between them was almost like witnessing two lovers on a movie screen, a magical connection that seemed too unrealistic to be real. For a fleeting moment the man was reminded of a time in his own life when he too had been in love. A time so long ago, he strained to remember it.
Over the years he’d been with plenty of women. A few of them he’d even cared for on a marginal, detached level. The rest served a single purpose—a warm body on a cold, lonely night. He had only ever felt real love for a woman once, and that woman had been his wife, and when he lost her, he lost everything.

 

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About the Author:
 
cherylbwA New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Bradshaw writes in the genres of mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, and supernatural suspense. To date, she has published almost two dozen novels and novellas, including her New York Times bestselling mystery series based on a sassy, OCD challenged private eye named Sloane Monroe. In 2013, Bradshaw’s fourth novel in the series, Stranger in Town, was a finalist for a Shamus Award, and that same year, book three in the series, I Have a Secret, won best thriller of the year from eFestival of Words. She was raised in California and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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An Interview with Cheryl Bradshaw:

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in California and consider myself to be a California girl, although I’ve lived in Utah longer. I go back often, mainly because I miss being by the ocean.

 
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Driven, passionate, creative, nurturing, full of life

 
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

Reading and writing has always flowed through me in a way that made it obvious it was a talent I needed to explore. As a child I read books that were above my school grade. One of my teachers was concerned and approached my mom about it, but my mom understood that I was mature enough to handle reading books meant for a slightly older audience. By the time I reached high school I was writing and publishing short stories and poems. Then for almost two decades I stopped writing for the most part while raising my daughter and picked it back up in my thirties. Now I publish several novels a year.

 
How long have you been writing?

I’ve been published since 2011. It took a couple years for me to hit the USA Today bestselling books list, and about a year later I hit the New York Times bestsellers list. I’ve also been a finalist for awards, including a Shamus Award. It’s been an amazing journey.

 
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

It depends on the book. I spend the most time researching forensics so I can be as accurate as possible with my descriptions, but it’s always surprising the interesting things I end up looking up. For example, yesterday I watched videos on how to protect yourself from a frontal attack in a parking lot, and I actually learned a few things that are beneficial for me to know!

 
What inspired you to write this book?

My fans waited quite a while for me to write it. It’s the seventh in my Sloane Monroe series, and one thing I wanted to do was to bring back several of the secondary characters I’ve used throughout the series that they’ve been missing. It worked out really well, and I was thrilled to give my fans what they wanted.

 
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It was so much fun bringing old characters back that I’ve used in previous books in this series. They added a lot of flavor to the plot and weaved in and out of the story well.

 
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Sloane Monroe is driven by justice and seeing things through to the end. She’s a methodical character, who sees clues in different ways than most, and this ability allows her to solve even the hardest cases, where others fail. She’s flawed, of course, and struggles with OCD and anxiety, which sometimes works to her benefit, and other times cripples her. By layering her personality she comes across as a real and authentic, which makes her a lot of fun to write.

 
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

It’s a combination of both. I usually create main characters at the onset of starting a new book and then allow my secondary characters to be created as I’m writing their part in the story.

 
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

People who know me assume that Sloane Monroe is me. She is in many respects, but she also isn’t. I feel like there’s a piece of me in every character I write. As humans we are all multilayered, not single layered, and this aspect rings true for me in many of my characters.

 
A day in the life of the author…

It rarely the same two days in a row! A typical work day has me checking and responding to fan mail in the morning, working with my assistant on things we’re doing, dealing with different promotions I’m running or planning to run, and checking my social media. Once that’s done I write for the rest of the day.

 
Describe your writing style.

I believe I do a good job of keeping the action moving in my books and writing good cliffhangers to keep my readers turning pages. It’s always nice when my fans say they had only planned to read a couple of chapters and ended up staying up all night because they couldn’t put the book down. I don’t think there’s a compliment better than that!

 
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

I attempt an outline, but it’s always loose. For me personally, I find if I outline too much it takes away from the spontaneity of my characters and the plot. So I generally have an idea of what the next three chapters I’m working on will be, and then I allow my characters to take it in the direction it seems like it needs to go.

 
What can we expect from you in the future?

More Sloane. Always more Sloane! But I also have other a few other series I write as well, and I’m toying with the idea of starting a witch series once my ghost mystery series is finished.

 
What makes a good story?

Good characters and a good plot, characters fans connect to on a personal level.

 
What advice would you give to new authors?

If you’re just starting out, take time to research the genre you’re writing in. I spent a year familiarizing myself with the mystery and thriller genres while I was writing my first book, and it paid off in ways I couldn’t imagine.

 
What are you passionate about these days?

Aside from writing, I’m passionate about traveling and seeing the world, and I often find inspiration for my writing by visiting places I haven’t been to before. Recently I spent time in Spain and Amsterdam. Both places offered a unique perspective and insight into how others live across the world.

 
What do you do to unwind and relax?

I usually listen to relaxing music or watch a television show or see a movie that doesn’t require me to do much thinking and allows me to tap out, even if it’s just for a small amount of time. I also spend time with those I love, and that’s usually all I need to rejuvenate.

 
What is something unique/quirky about you?

My personality, I suppose! I’m an INFJ, which is the rarest of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, and classified as The Advocate. Less than 1% of the population is this personality, and while I enjoy being unique, I’ve always felt like I’m a lot different than most from a young age. As a writer, it seems to work to my benefit though, so I’ll take it!

 
What are some of your pet peeves?

Things like people not canceling the microwave out when they’re finished cooking, so it sits there at :15 forever (haha), bad drivers or drivers who sit in the fast lane and never pass, and people who lack compassion and kindness for others.

 
What kind of world ruler would you be?

I’m a blue (The Color Code), and not just a little blue, I’m pretty much a full-blown blue personality! This makes me reliable, creative, and practical (sometimes TOO practical, haha) so I surround myself with yellow personality types who help pull out my often reserved playful side. I’m not a big risk-taker, but as a ruler I would consider all options before making what I believed to be the best decision.

 
Who is your hero and why?

It’s honestly hard to choose one, so I’m going to list two here. The first would be Abraham Lincoln. I quote him at the beginning of every story I write. He was an impressive man, with values I admire. The second is the Dalai Lama, who I was fortunate enough to see in person last year. What an amazing man he is. He continually discusses compassion in his speeches, and I’ve always felt that if we had more compassion for others, the world would be a more peaceful, happy place.

 
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

I’d spend it with those I love, eating my favorite food, sharing memories, and letting those closest to me know how much I care for them before I made my exit from the world.

 
What book do you think everyone should read?

The Art of Happiness – Dalai Lama

 
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

If we’re talking one of my books, Sloane Monroe was the first character I created and the one my fans connected with first, so she will always be special to me in many ways. I still love writing her too and allowing her to grow and develop through the series.

 
What are you currently reading?

The Crime Book

 
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

  • Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  • Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie
  • The Godwulf Manuscript – Robert B. Parker
  • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  • The Art of Happiness – Dalai Lama
  • Codependent No More – Melody Beattie
  • Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
  • The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin

 

 

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Annalise Storm Chronicles by May Freighter

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Series: Annalise Storm Chronicles
Author: May Freighter
Genre: Dystopian Mystery, Romantic Suspense
 

Case: 0

Book 1

case 0 bestselling_388x600It’s the year 2330. At the end of the twenty-second century, the human race has divided into two distinct groups—purebloods and the ‘modded’. Those who are unfortunate enough to be genetically modified are now nothing but servants for their pureblooded masters.

Living in this time, you know your place, and you do not cross the line. So, when a violent death occurs in the Bronze District, Annalise is ordered to take this as her trial run at Divinity PD to prove that she can do the job as a member of the Human Possession Department.

To defy her father’s wish to marry her off, and keep her Chief happy, she is determined to solve this murder by any means necessary—even if it means going to districts she has only read about in textbooks and fighting her forbidden feelings for her servant.

With internal battles, dirty politics, and sinister secrets, just how exactly will Annalise solve her Case: 0? And more importantly, will she live to see her next one?

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Excerpt:

Prologue

CCTV March Street CAM, Bronze District, 22:47, March 10, 2330.

The queue outside of the Landon’s bar was nothing new. Chatter filled the air as people conversed about their day. A well-built bouncer stopped a man in his mid-thirties from entering and scanned him with his genetic scanner. Satisfied with the scan’s results, he gave a curt nod and let the man through.

A young brunette bypassed the people who waited in line. Her purposeful stride separated her from the rest as she sashayed her hips. Gasps and quiet murmurs spilt from the bystanders. Ignoring them, she drew closer to the door.

The bouncer glowered at her. “Get out of here beauty. No. Freaks. Allowed.”

Her top lip curled into a sneer, and she spat the words out. “Beauty? Scan me, idiot.”

He pointed the scanner at her chest. The result was displayed on screen in neon-blue text ‘PUREBLOOD, No modifications detected.’ Grumbling under his breath, he stepped away from the door, permitting her entry. The woman flicked her hair over her shoulder and sauntered inside.

CCTV Landon’s CAM 1, 22:52, March 10, 2330.

The patrons eyed her with suspicion. Whispers and exclamations of disgust filled the air as she walked past the tables to the bar in desperate need of a drink. Her hands balled into fists at her sides, and she sat on the hovering stool and waited.

The bartender edged closer. “What would you like?”

“Something strong.” She sighed, and her shoulders slumped. She was a pureblood who resembled an alabaster. Purebloods were rarely beautiful, and she was that rarity. She wanted to claw at her face when she saw it in the mirror. Every person in Silver looked at her as if she was a servant or worse—a worker.

“Just look at her! Someone in her family must have fucked their servant at some point.”

“I bet she went to the Black District to get something done,” someone else added.

Since the Modded Wars, when purebloods won a fifteen-year-long battle for their lives against the genetically modified humans, things had changed. The purebloods gave them a choice: live in servitude or perish.

The modded were then labelled and divided into four distinct genetic groups: beast, flare, alabaster and basilisk—each with special traits to benefit the purebloods. Something hard hit the back of the brunette’s head, and her hand shot to the affected area. Blood tinged her fingers.

“I don’t know how you’ve fooled the scanner, but you’re not welcome here, alabaster!” a woman said, rising from her stool.

Anger bubbled within the brunette. She was sick and tired of being treated as a modded freak, like one of them. Why couldn’t these people believe what the scanner told them and just leave her be? Scanners couldn’t be fooled. They were fine-tuned by the best technicians in the Divinity Police Department. Her agitation became ire and her body tingled with an unfamiliar sensation as if something climbed in, pushing her out of her shell. She bent over, clinging to her burning chest. The whispers in the bar morphed into shouts of outrage. More people hurled curses at her, but she no longer cared. She reached for the counter. Her hand slipped, and she tumbled off the stool. Her knees hit the ground hard and her conscience faded—all control gone… She faced the patrons as her eyes rolled back into her head. Within seconds, she launched forwards. Her hands landed in a woman’s mop of bleached blonde hair, and she yanked chunks of it out. A deafening scream filled the bar. Eyes of the onlookers bulged, watching the events unfold.

“The alabaster is possessed!” a man in the back shouted.

A few patrons rushed towards her. Others shrieked and ran for the exits or remained seated—too shocked to move.

Strong, masculine hands grasped the brunette’s waist, tearing her off the bleeding blonde. With a wild expression, she kicked and bit anything close enough. A loud wail of frustration escaped her. She turned and plunged her nails into the man’s eyes, bursting the whites in their sockets. His face contorted with agony. Clear liquid ran down her fingers as he blindly aimed for her neck. The crowd of men surrounded her. A moment later, their bodies swallowed her small frame whole.

RECORDING DELETED

 

Case: 1

Book 2

case 1 bestselling_375x600It’s official, Devlin is Annalise’s new partner. He’s charming, caring—a perfect gentleman who caters to her every need. That is until he starts to mix work with pleasure to convince her to marry him as per agreement with her father.

With her servant, Mavel, gone from her side, the cracks in the wall she created around her begin to come undone. To take her mind off the torment her heart is going through, she takes on another possession case in her old school, Montgomery Institute. But, what starts off as a simple case full of bad memories twists into a web of deception and lies involving everyone she cares about.

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Excerpt:

 
“Chief, is this some kind of a joke?” Annalise demanded, turning red with anger. “He can’t become my partner. He works for Falcon!”

Chief Sunderland reclined in his seat and released a heavy sigh. “Mr Madoc has a great track record in solving cases. You can take this offer or leave it. Remember, Storm, you can’t work without a partner.”

Devlin—the man she thought was killed during their escape from the Falcon facility in the Silver District—stood next to her with a beautiful smile on his face. He remained the same, strikingly handsome with majestic blue eyes that could keep any man or woman tethered on a spot for hours. She scanned his pristine charcoal suit, taking in his strong, broad shoulders and slim waistline. If she did follow her father’s wishes, she would be engaged to him and planning their wedding. She pushed the thought aside. He is part of the reason why Mavel is on the run.

“After what happened, I’ve been demoted,” Devlin explained. “I chose this department because there was an opening.”

She scowled at him. “Do you expect me to believe that?”

“Believe what you will, Annalise. Falcon has no use for people who help prisoners escape,” Devlin added.

That left her speechless. He did help them get out with their lives. After that, Rios and Jamen were given the location of the facility by Mavel. They raided the place, but everything was gone. There wasn’t a smidgen of DNA that indicated anyone had occupied the damn building. With that hiccup, she was made to look like a fool, and the physical damage she took pushed more suspicion onto Mavel over the past three weeks. She had heard the rumours whispered behind her back. People started believing that Mavel hurt her, and she was trying to cover it up by shifting the blame. Lowering her head, she looked at the ground. Mavel was no longer her beast. The moment he wrote that letter, he had severed ties with her. Even though it was only yesterday that she had read it, it felt like a thousand years had passed.

“So, what’s your decision? Are you going to accept him as your partner?” Chief asked, pushing a digital tablet across the table towards her. “I need an answer, Storm, because I have a case ready if you do.”

Sparing one last glance at Devlin, she grabbed the tablet. “What is it?”

Chief smirked. “We received a report this morning. A possessed basilisk was trying to attack one of the security officers at the Montgomery Institute for young girls. I chose you for this case as it’s a school listed in your file. It should be easier for you to investigate.”

Annalise cringed at the memory of the school she had spent most of her childhood and teenage years attending. The relentless ass-kissing she received from her teachers drove her mad. Each one wanted her to put in a good word with her father. She was planning to do that until the day she overheard her Physics and Mathematics teachers talking about her in the courtyard. She was nothing more than a pawn to them in the progression of their careers. Ever since, she avoided making any friends at school and spent most of her time with Mavel.

“Storm? For God’s sake, say something,” Chief huffed, smacking his palm on his desk to draw her attention.

Her head snapped up, and she forced a smile. “I’ll take the case, sir.”

“And him?” Chief nodded to Devlin who raised a brow when she glanced his way.

“I’ll take him as my partner as well, temporarily. In the meantime, I’m going to search for a new servant.”

Devlin offered her his hand. “It will be a pleasure to work with you.”

She shook his hand, feeling a light electrical current brushing her skin when they touched. Jerking her hand away, she marched out of the Chief’s office. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. While they worked together, she could press him to talk about the Falcon Group and find out more about them and how they operated. This could be an opportunity, and she had to take it. After all, he was only one man—a man who occasionally made her heart race.

 
 

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About the Author:

mayMay Freighter is an internationally bestselling author from Dublin, Ireland. She writes Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Sci-Fi mysteries that will keep you entertained, mystified, and hopefully craving more. Her only pets are cacti. They’re the only things that survived. It may be too dangerous to entrust her with an animal while she’s engrossed in writing.

On sunny, rainy, and overcast days, she spends her time with her fictional friends, putting them through dangerous adventures while wishing them the best of luck. Her hobbies are photography, drawing, and plotting different ways of a characters’ demise.

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The Alibi by Marilyn Baron

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Title: The Alibi
Author: Marilyn Baron
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Women’s Fiction, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Publication Date: September 13, 2017

In Marilyn Baron’s The Alibi,
a cover-up could cost heroine Merritt Saxe her life.

the-alibiMerritt Saxe, newly hired public relations specialist with the Florida prison system, answers an urgent plea from their division’s director, Willard Ware Baintree. Following his orders, she finds him in the apartment of his mistress, his bloody T-shirt and the mistress’s dead body convincing her the criminal justice superstar is himself a criminal. The director claims he didn’t kill the woman and coerces Merritt into being his alibi.

Meanwhile, as the director pulls her farther into his web of lies, Merritt breaks with her longstanding boyfriend and begins a steamy relationship with hunky attorney Israel Goodspeed, whose brother works for the director. Yet how can she trust Israel with her secret or her heart when she suspects the director has been orchestrating their relationship to keep her in line? Speaking out about the cover-up could cost her more than time in jail…it could cost her life.

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Fun Fact #1

The last line in Marilyn Baron’s The Alibi is “When you’re in love, who needs bagels?”

 

Excerpt:

Tear tracks stained his face. Blood stained his white T-shirt. His eyes were glazed over. He appeared to be in shock. He looked like hell.

“Director, are you all right?”

He didn’t answer.

“Director Baintree,” I shouted, “are you hurt?” My raised voice blew him out of his stupor and back into battle mode.

“What the hell does it look like? No, I’m not all right. I need you to take me home.”

“Where’s Miss Braddock? Does she need a ride somewhere?”

“Miss Braddock?” The director appeared confused.

“Savannah Braddock. The woman who lives here.”

“She’s gone,” he said simply, deflated, his face crumpling.

I don’t know what prompted me to do this, but I walked around him and ran from room to room. There weren’t many places to look in that tiny apartment. Apparently, all it needed were the basic necessities—a kitchenette, a bathroom, and of course, a bedroom.

That’s where I found her, half naked, sprawled out on the bedspread, a pool of blood soaking the white eyelet duvet cover. And the handle of an oversized kitchen knife sticking out of her abdomen. I wanted to scream, but no sound came out. I began hyperventilating. I was going to be sick—I knew I wouldn’t make it into the bathroom.

“For God’s sake, stop.” The director walked into the bedroom. He rounded on me, and my breathing calmed, but I continued to stand there, immobilized, staring at the once perfect, now bloody and lifeless body of Savannah Braddock.

 

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September 13 – October 7, 2017

3 winners

1) $25 Amazon Gift Card

2) eBook copy of Stumble Stones by Marilyn Baron

3) Stilt House print by Florida artist Sharon Goldman – “Stilt House,” a signed, matted decorative print by Florida artist Sharon Goldman. Stilt House is on St. George Island off the Florida Panhandle, where The Alibi is set. The location is representative of where the hero and heroine go for their weekend beach getaway.

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Author Bio:

marilyn-baronMarilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres, from humorous coming-of-middle age women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy.

She’s published 13 novels with The Wild Rose Press, five short stories with TWB Press and self-published three books. AmazonEncore republished her book Sixth Sense on September 15, 2015.

She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel With Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal//Fantasy Romance. She is a Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) Maggie Award winner. She is the Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Stumble Stones: A Novel in the Romance Category. She’s a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and GRW and winner of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award.

A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn graduated with a BS in Journalism and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. She worked in Public Relations for AT&T in Atlanta for 13 years before starting her own PR firm. She serves on the 2017-18 Roswell Reads Steering Committee. She was selected as a featured author in the 2016 Atlanta Authors Series. She presented on a panel at the 2017 AJC-Decatur Book Festival (the largest independent book festival in the country) on September 3, 2017.

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Fun Fact #2

Author Marilyn Baron spent a year in the Florida prison system, doing PR, not time, as the inspiration for her novel.

 

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