Tuesday, July 26, 2016

31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die

"As readers of Deb Atwood’s blog Pen In Her Hand know, Atwood is passionate about ghost fiction. Since 2011, Atwood has read, re-read, and written about ghost literature. 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die presents a selection of the best of these posts. 

Among the books discussed are old favorites (The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson) as well as some indie gems few people will know about (The 20’s Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns). There are ghost novels for every reader, in genres ranging from historical to literary to romance. "

Deb Atwood holds an MFA and lives in California with her husband and rescue dog Nala. Her time-slip novel Moonlight Dancer was selected as a front page Featured Review by Book Ideas. Deb's work has appeared in numerous anthologies. Her interests include ghost fiction, Korean culture, quilting, and, of course, reading.

Connect with the Author here: 
 ~ Website ~ Twitter ~

Top Ten List
10 Things About the Author
1.  I like spiders, but I'm afraid of yellow jackets (the insect, not the garment).
2.  My hair is purple.
3.  I love to wander around old cemeteries.
4.  I have traveled throughout the Korean countryside (and treasured every minute).
5.  My heart goes pitter patter for big dogs and fat cats.
6.  If I had to choose one mode of travel, I would choose the train.
7.  I suffer from math phobia.
8.  One time in London I inadvertently spent a night in a homeless hotel, and it changed me.
9.  I'm a scaredy cat passenger in a car (as my husband will attest).
10. I'm passionate about ghost fiction and ghost movies.


So, here's the question: Was my insomnia the result of an inability to abandon Bag of Bones until the final sentence?
All I know is the night I started Stephen King’s novel, 2:53 AM found me munching cheddar cheese rice crackers and ploughing through page after page of Bag of Bones.
I was in love with this story from the first, empathizing with writer Mike Noonan as he struggles to come to terms with his wife's untimely death. I could not help but root for widow Mattie, her precocious daughter Kyra, and Mike who falls in love with both of them and joins their battle against a heartless and powerful grandfather.
I have to say that two thirds of the way through the book, the narrative veered into dark territory, and I experienced reader shock. My mistake. This is, after all, Stephen King. What began as a sweet damsel in distress love story (I don't mean that in a pejorative sense as Mattie possesses plenty of spunk and courage and strength) of the good guy vs. bad guy variety morphed into GOOD vs. EVIL on a magnified scale. (I’m thinking of the Richter scale here, and yes, I was quaking.)

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BoyzNite by Xane J. Fisher

BoyzNite-cover Law school wonder student Ian Peters chronicles his first night home for the summer in Piedmont, Washington. What starts with a pleasant drive up the Pacific Northwest Coast leads him into a night of self discovery, contemplative self-assessment, and ultimately the question of: what kind of man does he want to be? Along the way, he reconnects with friends, family, and an old flame who changes his world forever. What started as a typical night of partying quickly becomes BoyzNite.

BoyzNite Excerpt:

Ronny Van Zant once sang, “Don’t ask me no questions, and I won't tell you no lies." Now, that's probably the most poetic way of saying 'be careful what you wish for.' And I would be lying if I said I had some idea of how that summer would go. Lynyrd Skynyrd albums in my earbuds and a cracked iPhone screen kept me going the end of that semester. I remember that last afternoon walking the causeways of Webley Hall. Law school is boring, competitive, and political, so when Dad and Karen invited me to come home for the summer, I took it as a sign from God that I needed a break. The last class of the semester let out, and I was on the road before the lunch rush at In-N-Out Burger. The drive itself I only remember in pieces. Piermont isn't far once you hit the Oregon/Washington border. I always take the coastal highway home. It adds a couple hours, but it's prettier than taking I-5 all the way from Berkeley. As the tree line along the highway thickened, I felt the somnambulant change in my spirit take hold. People who've never seen the Oregon coast won't understand. It's as if memory and dream come together, beckoning even the simplest of folks to just come home. Come as you are. Those words mean much more up here than anywhere else. After the army, my old man never left Piermont. Mom did. She had her reasons, but Karen and Dad chose to stay after my parents’ divorce. The house was the same as I left it five years ago. Same seafoam green paint with white trim at the windows. Fake wood garage door and a small front yard. The sky was clear, the sun blinding. Cliché as it sounds, the day held infinite possibilities, weather permitting. Pulling into town, I passed the old baseball diamonds of my childhood. The local CVS still looked the same, and from there I turned into the residential neighborhood that had been my childhood stomping grounds. Soon enough I was embracing my brother Devin on the doorstep of dad's house. The old man met me in the front room, Karen in her sewing room.

CINDY'S REVIEW: This is a cool novella from the POV of Ian Peters, home for the summer from law school. It takes place in a single night of his life, but moves along at a brisk enough pace that you never feel bogged down in the mundane. His story moves from one thing to the next fast enough to hold your interest and makes the story go by so quickly that you're at the end before you realize it. Really good first piece from new author Xane J. Fisher. He has a great voice, so I recommend this for those who like edgier stories. 
Fair warning: there is some language, drinking, etc., for those who prefer clean novels.

About Xane J. Fisher:

XaneFisherAuthorShotOriginally from the Salt Lake City area, Xane Fisher has spent most of his life living out of a backpack or suitcase. Along his travels, he has been blessed with an amazing family, a college education, and the opportunity to see the world from the skyscrapers of Abu-Dhabi to the third world markets of Angola. From a young age, he has felt compelled to write and share experiences through a pen or keyboard. He is currently living in southwest Germany, serving in the United States Air Force with his wife Autumn and their son Judah. He hopes to have his first novel completed soon.


Enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a Q&A with Xane himself!

Click here to enter the giveaway
Visit Xane J Fisher's Facebook page or Royal James Publishing's Facebook page.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Great Summer Countdown: Day 12

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” has won writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she is a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions and her six children. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Q&A With the Author:

5.    What is your favorite part of writing?
The first few chapters of the rough draft are the most fun. Usually that evil little voice hasn't started talking to me yet--you know, that little voice that whispers it's not good enough? Yeah, that one. Getting a jump on it is great for my ego. The first few chapters of a rough draft is also the point where I have not yet realized that I don't have a very well thought-out plot. Ah, that part is bliss.

6.     Do you have any advice for other writers?

1. Don't listen to that evil little voice. 2. Finish the rough draft before you begin revisions. 3. Accept advice and critiques with grace and humility, even if you don't plan to do what they suggest you do. 

Connect with the Author here: 

"Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.                                                 Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone. Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance...and so does their love."

~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK


“How can I thank you properly?” Jocelyn said.
Mr. Amesbury blinked as if unaccustomed to such an outpouring of gratitude. “No need. Their safety is enough. I enjoy administering a bit of justice now and again.”
The corner of his mouth twitched and an unholy gleam shimmered in the hardness of his eyes. For a fleeting moment, a vision of Grant Amesbury hunting down the criminal who’d attacked her and exacting some form of vengeance upon him flashed through her mind. He was like a rogue knight with his own code of honor and his own methods of justice.
Jocelyn studied Mr. Amesbury’s profile, fascinated with his cautious probing. He was so solemn, so intense. If only he’d smile. But no, perhaps it was best he didn’t. He’d probably be so handsome she would be rendered unable to utter an intelligent word.
When the butler opened the door to announce dinner, she said quietly, “I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Amesbury, but I’ve seated you next to me.”
He blinked as if he’d forgotten she stood next to him. “Why would I mind?”
She huffed out a self-deprecating laugh. “You seemed a bit ill at ease yesterday when you came for tea.”
His pale gray eyes passed over her. Again came that intensity. His hard edges softened. “Not because I object to your company, Miss Fairley.”
It was ridiculous, really, the warmth that wrapped around her like a blanket at his words. She probably grinned like some kind of silly schoolgirl. His crusty, protective barrier returned in his posture and his expression. How long would it take her to break open his emotional armor and find the real Grant Amesbury?

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Great Summer Countdown: Day 11

I am retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Quest Books set in these worlds.
I also conduct Medieval/Short Story Writing Workshops in Elementary/Middle School classes. Contact me if you are interested in holding a workshop for students: ccarpinello@mac.com.

Q&A With the Author:

5.    What is your favorite part of writing?

When I’ve finally figured out the path that my characters need to take, and I get the rewriting finished.

6.     Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep plugging along even when what you envisioned isn’t working. There is a path to the solution, you just have to keep writing and thinking.

Connect with the Author here: 

At the dawn of Camelot, one young girl is about to take her place beside the greatest king in England’s history…. 

She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted—all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage. 

For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits? 

However, the wizard Merlyn—her teacher and friend—knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not. 

~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK


Guinevere stood by the door.  In between glares at Cedwyn, she kept looking out into the bailey courtyard.
            "Hurry up, Cedwyn.  Merlyn’s going to leave without us,” she whispered, not wanting to wake Brynwyn.
            "I'm comin'," he replied, pulling on his other shoe.
            Ready at last, the two hurried toward the castle gate and Merlyn.  The sun was just starting to peek over the horizon.
            "Humph!  About time!" Merlyn said as they reached him.  "Not able to get enough sleep?  Maybe dreaming of dragons?!"  He chuckled as Cedwyn's expression betrayed the fact that he had had a very restless night.  "Well, it's daylight now.  Dragons sleep in the light so we should have a very uneventful trip.  All we have to do is find King Pellinore and that darn bratchet dog!  Let's hurry up now.  We have plenty of forest to cover and who knows what we will come across," he finished as he marched out of the castle gate and toward the forest, his long strides threatening to leave them behind.
            "Do dragons really sleep in the day?  Merlyn, how come you said we would have an unev'ntful trip when we don't know what we will come across?" Cedwyn asked as he and Guinevere hurried after Merlyn.
            Merlyn just chuckled and motioned them to follow.  "One never knows what the forest will reveal, but at least it won't be dragons!"
            "What does he mean, Guin'ver?"  Cedwyn asked, confused by Merlyn's double talk.
            "I'm not sure, but let's not let him get too far in front."  She glanced ahead.  Merlyn was just ducking under the edge of the forest canopy.  Nervously, she looked around, mindful of the last time that she and Cedwyn had been in the forest.  Thankfully, nothing appeared to be moving in the tall grass on either side of them.
            "Do you think we’ll run into that wild pig again?  Will it remember that you were the one that shot it?"  Cedwyn asked.  He had additional questions, but Guinevere turned and put her finger to her lips.
            "If you keep talking so loud, it will find us.  So be quiet and hurry.  Merlyn's already out of sight."
            Cedwyn looked up the path, but Merlyn was nowhere to be seen.  He started to panic.  Once they stepped under the dark green forest canopy and out of the sunlight, Merlyn’s flowing grey robe appeared just ahead of them.  Cedwyn heard Guinevere's sigh echo his.
            Merlyn waited until they caught up before choosing a hidden path through the scrub brush.  The trio moved in deeper in the forest, Merlyn in the lead.  Guinevere came next.  She followed somewhat hesitantly, her and Cedwyn’s run-in with the boar still vivid in her mind.  Her heart raced faster at the thought of meeting another one.
            Cedwyn came last, at times having to run to keep up with Merlyn's pace.  Of course, it would have been easier if he hadn’t kept stopping to investigate the brown and green vegetation all around.  He wasn’t looking for the bugs, worms, or small creatures common around the castle.  No, what Cedwyn watched for was whatever Merlyn referred to when he told them that he didn't know what the forest had in store for them.  He wanted to be ready, but for what he wasn't sure.
            "Guin'ver?" he asked as he caught up to her where the path widened.  "What do you think Merlyn thinks might be in the forest?"
            "I don't know," she replied, catching herself looking around.  "Let's just stay close.  Merlyn can take care of anything that comes near.”
            "Now, I wouldn't be so quick to say that, Lady Guinevere,"  Merlyn said as he stopped.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Great Summer Countdown: Day 10

Musician, author, and avid Star Trek fan, Nanette loves anything that challenges her mind and enlightens her spirit. She got the idea for her book series from her faith and love of family. Wouldn’t it be neat to travel back and forth through time to discover hidden powers and your true potential? Nanette thought so, and thus began the Doorway series. Believe is the first of seven books designed to entertain and inspire both young and seasoned readers. She is a frequent hiker at Glacier National Park, loves her dear husband and family, and when she isn't writing, takes her dogs on long walks.

Q&A with the Author:

5.    What is your favorite part of writing?
I’m a plotter who lets the pantser come out every now and then. I’ve had the most fun lately writing the first draft of my 3rd and 4th books in my Doorway series during the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I would take a few weeks before the event to plot the basic beats of the novel, and I’d force myself to hold back until the event began. Then I’d write like a madwoman, connecting the beats with amazing scenes that would bring characters to life in ways I hadn’t anticipated. It’s so fun to see what my characters will do—as if they already know their story and I’m only the scribe.
6.     Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be teachable. Be humble. Take advice with grace and dignity. Don’t give up on your dream, especially if you get a bad critique. Don’t be such a perfectionist by withholding your story from the world. Someone is patiently waiting to be uplifted by what you have to offer—don’t let them down. You have a story to tell. You have a gift to give.

Connect with the Author here: 

Every great warrior begins by taking a stand.

Best friends share everything, right? Unless it’s a secret that could cost them their lives. Robyn and Kit are born with forbidden magic-sense, the power to see and hear beyond Earthly sight and sound. It’s a curse that haunts them, but the girls are strangely drawn to it—could there be more to this power than they’ve been told?

When they spill their secret, it opens a doorway back to Forever—a beautiful realm where magic-sense began. They learn the truth: they have been given a noble gift. It connects them to the Skyborn royalty of this new world. They’ve been summoned back by the forces for good to preserve the kingdom and revive the power where it once flourished—on Earth. It can thrive again, if Robyn and Kit are brave enough to follow.

However, the doorway awakens more than magical fairy-tales. A dark force is unleashed—one that has battled the Skyborn since time began, and it wants the girls dead, the Earth destroyed.

Beyond the doorway is where the adventure begins—trickery, kidnapping, a prison break, rescue teams, sword fights, magical gold-dust, holographic medallions, and singing orbs—but only for those who have the courage to believe.

~ Amazon ~ Goodreads
Amazon UKAmazon CA


After a few minutes of silence, Kit spoke up again. “Look at the geese.” She pointed to a flock of birds flying in V formation in the distance. She sat up to watch their approach. “Most people call them Canadian geese, but my dad told me the correct name is Canada geese.”
Robyn sat up too, and then cocked her head as she stared more closely at the oncoming birds. Their wingspan was awfully broad … and the necks were longer, thicker, with something feathery streaming from them. A mane? She shaded her eyes from the sun. Could it be? Were there four legs dangling underneath, with hooves? Robyn darted a look at Kit. Can she tell yet that there are twelve flying horses in the sky?
“My dad hates Canada geese. Back where I come from, they’re everywhere, and they poop all over the sidewalks and you can’t get them to leave. And the honking is so loud.” Kit shaded her eyes too. “See how they make that V?”
“Yeah … I see the V …”
“That helps them fly better—something about aerodynamics, and less stress on the whole flock. I’ve never seen other birds fly like that.”
“Or anything else, either …” Robyn clamped her lips shut. Yes, these were horses, flying horses. Twelve flying horses. Each one had a rider wearing shiny robes and armed with swords at their waists. The leader had his sword extended outward. Two riders from the tail end of the right side of the V veered out of formation—a man and a woman. They pulled back on the reins and their horses lifted their heads high, then changed direction and dove directly for the girls.
Robyn shot up like a rocket. “Come on. Let’s get going.” Kit was up too, eyes plastered to the sky. They bolted down the hill in opposite directions, headed for home.
Robyn looked back at the riders. The V formation was heading onward. The two lone riders circled above the hill, then picked up speed to catch the flock. That was like nothing I’ve ever seen. She slowed her pace and caught her breath as she watched them fade out of sight.


When Kit got home, she raced up to her room and slammed the door behind her, panting the entire way. She charged into her closet and dug out the hidden book, then flipped to the chapter on A Brief History of Magic. She read again—The gift of magic dates back to the beginning of time. When the dark poison of Sylvare was unleashed in the cosmos, Skyborn travelers brought magic to Earth as a gift from Barsoum and Calemir. It shielded the Earth from the dark poison created in the Before-Time. Below the paragraph was a picture of twelve flying horses with riders dressed in cloaks and wearing swords at their sides. The lead rider had a crystal object the size of an egg in his hand. He held it high between his fingers. A soft stream of glittering vapor swirled from the orb and floated in the air, trailing behind the squadron of riders. The picture was familiar to Kit—their formation was that of a V, like the Canada geese she saw today. Weird. She closed the book and got out the notebook she had been keeping on magic-sense.  If she didn’t write down what she’d heard on the hill, she’d forget the details.

Today was a strange day. The police were hassling Mr. LaCorte about his family flag. They said it was associated with magic, and he should take it down. Mr. Fischer stood up to them, and I thought he was going to punch that Grimmer guy in the nose! Anyway, the flag looked familiar, though, like something I once saw in Dad’s old box from the attic. (Note to self: check that out later). Then Robyn and I went to eat our cookies on Mountain Goat Ridge.  I almost told Robyn about my father’s stuff, but she was so quiet, I thought maybe I was scaring her with the stories about the police in my old town. Then a flock of geese flew overhead. At the same time, I heard that deep, kingly voice from before say, “Skyborn warriors, look below. See the two girls on the hill? They are almost ready for their Awakening. Michael, Gabriella, take a closer look.” Right after the voice said that, the strangest thing happened. Two of the geese broke formation and swept down at us. Robyn said, “Let’s go.” And I wasn’t going to argue! Then I heard two more voices say, “Yes, I see them now” and “I see them too.”  I got up and ran home.

To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page