Ten Interesting Facts About the Mesdames of Mayhem

I’m happy to welcome the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine Callway shares ten interesting facts about this intriguing group and their new anthology,
In the Spirit of 13.

Here’s Madeleine!

1. We are 10 years old!

In 2013, Donna Carrick and I were enjoying our regular lunch together. We starting talking about social media and how to tackle this new beast. How could we best use – and understand – websites, FaceBook and Twitter?

From our business backgrounds, we knew that teaming up is the best way to handle a thorny problem. We decided to pool our resources and asked our two writing critique groups if they’d like to help. The answer was a resounding yes! And that’s how the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.

2. Thirteen is our lucky number!

The Mesdames write crime fiction in many different sub-genres and styles, ranging from comedy to cozies to thrillers to noir. How could we best showcase our work? We decided to create an anthology that did just that with a story from each of us.

Reading through the final version, we were once again struck by the variety of the stories. What would be the connecting theme? Was there indeed a connecting theme? Well, there were thirteen of us in the group and the number, thirteen, has a dark aura. Why not call our book simply, Thirteen?

Thirteen received warm reviews and award nominations. Ever since, we’ve used thirteen in the titles of our subsequent anthologies: 13 O’clock, 13 Claws, In the Key of 13 and most recently, In the Spirit of 13.

3. We are a national organization

Since 2013, we’ve almost doubled in size from 13 to 25 crime fiction authors who live and write across Canada, from Vancouver Island to eastern Ontario.

4. We have no age bias

It’s true that most of us are of a “certain age”, in other words over 50. Indeed crime fiction readers and writers tend to be an older demographic, but it’s wonderful that many younger people are interested in our genre.

The Mesdames firmly believe that age is just a number. In fact, our members range in age from their 30s to their late 80s!

5. We now include Messieurs of Mayhem

The first 13 Mesdames were all women and one of our goals was to promote and support the work for women crime writers. Most of us also belong to Sisters in Crime.

But did you know that Sisters in Crime also welcomes Brothers in Crime, men who support women writers? We now include three wonderful Messieurs of Mayhem for the same reason.

6. There’s a CBC documentary about us

Dig into our lives and you’ll unearth some strange and interesting facts about us. One author had dinner with dictator, Idi Amin; another grew up in a family linked to the Mafia. Yet another author grew up in South Africa during apartheid. And still another worked on the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital and met Queen Elizabeth II – though not at the same time.

Readers can learn all this and more by watching the CBC documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, on GEM.

7. We love to help emerging writers

Several Mesdames have taught creative writing for many years at both the University of Toronto and/or at community colleges, like Sheridan, Loyalist and George Brown. We’ve also taught seniors in the community and given numerous talks and seminars through the public library.

We also sponsored contests for emerging writers for two of our anthologies: 13 O’clock and 13 Claws. It’s been wonderful to see the winners and runners-up go on to publish several more works.

8. We adore our cover artist

Sara Carrick, a gifted graphic designer, created the cover for our first anthology, Thirteen. She used a mysterious purple background and we loved it. Ever since then purple has become our signature colour.

Sara has continued to design the cover for every one of our anthologies. We especially love the spectacular image for our latest book, In the Spirit of 13.

9. We write more than crime fiction

Though all of the Mesdames and Messieurs are crime fiction writers, several of us also write literary, historical, fantasy and speculative fiction. Many of us are secret Trekkies. We also enjoy writing more cross genre works, crime fiction set in historical times or stories that bring in elements of fantasy or futuristic settings.

We let our imaginations go wild in our latest anthology, In the Spirit of 13, where each of us interpreted “spirit” differently. It could be ghost or demon or even just evil itself. Others of us took it to mean alcohol – or the prohibition thereof. Readers will discover that most of the stories are cross-genre with supernatural elements – or not.

10. We welcome the future and its challenges

Ten years ago when we first got together, most of us barely knew how to use FaceBook. In short order, we had the Mesdames of Mayhem up and running with our own website, FaceBook page and Twitter account.

Many of us now run our own author websites and social media accounts. We’ve ventured into podcasting, thanks to Dead to Writes, hosted by Donna Carrick. And because of COVID, we’ve become experts at launching books on Zoom.

We have no idea what the future will throw at us – and at our crime fiction genre, but together as the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem, we’ll handle it!

Readers are very welcome to join us for our Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13, Sunday, November 13th, 2 pm EST. Entry is free but please pre-register at carrickpublishing@rogers.com.

Blurb

Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem have let their imaginations run wild to bring you their fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Does “spirit’ mean ghost or demon – or debunking of same? Or simply the evil in twisted human hearts? Or could it be alcohol? You must read these 23 tales to find out!

The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem are established award-winning authors as well as talented new writers. They aimed to keep their stories light-hearted to counter the world’s troubled times, but some of them have strayed into the dark. They are crime writers after all!

Laugh, shed a tear and prepare to be deliciously frightened.

Buy Links

Amazon CA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Mesdames of Mayhem Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Henry VanderSpek is the photographer of this signature photo. He was also the official photographer of the documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, by director Cat Mills and producer, Felicity Justrabo.

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Benji Starwell’s Ten Best Moments

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Amber Daulton. Today, Amber shares the ten best moments of her protagonist, Benji Starwell, and her new release, Arresting Benjamin.

I’m Benji Starwell, the hero from Amber Daulton’s latest romantic suspense novel, Arresting Benjamin. When Amber first told me she’d scheduled me to appear on yet another romance blog, I rolled my eyes. I mean, c’mon, she knows I’m busy at the garage. The engines aren’t going to fix themselves. But after she told me about all the guest topic options, I relented and dropped the wrench (I was in the middle of a client’s tune-up and not threatening her—I promise!).

Anyway, I’m excited to be featured here today on Joanne Guidoccio’s blog. It didn’t take me long to come up with my 10 Best Moments post, so what life memories made the cut? Read on…

1. The first time I met Belle Hamlin. I saw her at a restaurant with some of her girlfriends, and though I’m not shy and more than capable of approaching a sexy woman, I knew one of her friends. By using Mia as my in, I got to know Belle pretty well that night. Too bad I acted like an idiot the following morning and fled her bed.

2. Learning Belle was pregnant. At first, I was shocked our one-night stand had resulted in a baby. I even contemplated that she was trying to pass off some other man’s baby on me. I know, that line of thinking isn’t flattering on my part, but I’m nothing if not honest. Belle’s a good person, so I quickly trashed that idea. Getting her pregnant, though it was an accident, was the best thing I’ve ever done.

3. Getting hit with flowers. Belle was a hormonal mess during her first trimester, so when I gave her a bouquet of roses to apologize for skipping out on her months earlier, she took the flowers and whacked me over the head with them. Maybe I shouldn’t have added that to this post. It’s not one of my shining moments, but in hindsight, it’s hilarious.

4. When Belle popped the question. I’d asked her to marry so many times I lost count, so when she asked me to marry her, how could I refuse?

5. Lindy’s birth. My nerves were through the roof when Belle went into labor. I was with her every step of the way, and after all the screaming and her cursing me to the moon, our daughter was finally born.

6. The first time my sister, Meghan, brought her future husband home to meet the family. She’d always dated losers when she was a teenager and young adult, so I expected more of the same. Her new guy, Alan Harding, proved me wrong. He was kind, respectful, and a decent person. We quickly became good friends. Heck, he’s my best friend, the brother I never had.

7. Loving my nephew, Danny. Alan and Meghan’s brief marriage ended after their son’s birth, so I stepped in and helped Alan raise the baby. I don’t have a particular best moment when it comes to Danny—every moment I spend with him is special—but if I really had to choose, I’d say it was the first time he crawled into my lap and fell asleep. I’d always wondered if I’d make a good father, and Danny’s love and trust proved that I could.

8. Working with my father at the garage when I was a teen. At age sixteen, I replaced a distributor cap and a couple of sensors by myself. Dad was overseeing, but he didn’t tell me what to do. I did everything right on my own and even handled the business transaction with the customer. The pride in Dad’s eyes meant everything to me.

9. Taking over the garage when Dad went into semi-retirement. I learned everything I know about fixing vehicles and running a business from my dad. Instead of watching cartoons after school as a kid, I was running errands for the guys in his shop. So when Dad was ready to retire, I was prepped to take over. My first day as boss was both thrilling and nerve-wracking, but I loved it.

10. Having the chance to tell my story. Belle and I have had our ups and downs, but we made it through each obstacle and came out stronger for it. Against the odds, we survived. We’re happy and in love. I have no complaints.

Blurb

A one-night stand, a surprise baby, and a mysterious stalker.

Mechanic Benjamin Starwell can’t stop thinking about Belle Hamlin, the ballsy musician he slept with and skipped out on months earlier. He never meant to get her pregnant, but he’ll do whatever it takes to win back her trust and be a part of his child’s life. His desire for Belle drives him to be a better man, but he’s worn thin with a garage to run and his estranged sister dumping her troubles on him.

Belle’s juggling impending motherhood, her indie rock career, and a stalker who’s determined to see her fail. Even though she’s desperate to get her priorities straight, she pushes aside her past hurt and welcomes Benji back into her bed. She never expects him to slip into her heart.

When the danger escalates, they face the greatest challenge of all—protecting their unborn child.

Tagline – With enemies at every turn, how will they survive with their lives and love intact?

Excerpt

An eerie chill crept down her spine as he pulled into the parking lot. Her heart slammed. “What the hell? Benji, stop the truck.”

He parked in a vacant spot near her little green bug. “What is it?”

“My car. Someone trashed my damn car.” She jumped from the cab and hurried across the shadowy lot. Air puffed white from her mouth as she heaved.

A streetlight cast a dim glow across the shattered back windshield, four slashed tires, and broken taillight casings of her car. Someone had even keyed the doors.

Benji grabbed her arm. “Careful.”

Fear clutched her in a stranglehold. “The guy who left the photos did this. I’m sure of it.” She walked from one side of the vehicle to the other, stepping over glass and plastic shards. Nausea swam in her stomach. “What does he want?”

“That’s pretty obvious.” He nodded toward the driver’s side front and rear doors. “He wants you to stop singing, or so he scrawled here.”

Belle snatched her cell from her purse, smashed a button on the screen, and lifted the glowing phone to the passenger side doors. As the light lit up the keyed letters, she shuddered. “The word bitch is on this side. I can’t believe this is happening.”

He stomped around the car and scowled at the nasty word.

She gazed around the lot. No one was there from what she could see, but were they really alone? Was someone lurking behind a vehicle? Perhaps watching them from a window or rooftop with a high-powered assault rifle?

Don’t panic. The cold breeze raked her skin as she dialed for help.

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Download Links

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

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Ten Reasons Why I Participate in Anthologies

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Nancy Lee Badger. Today Nancy shares her reasons for participating in anthologies and her new release, Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology.

Here’s Nancy!

I stopped by today to share 10 reasons why I participate in anthologies. Participating is something I learned a few years ago that has helped me to sell more books than if I publish a story on my own. So, I decided to contribute.

1. An anthology is a compilation of several stories, generally of a similar theme. Themes run the gambit: neighbors in love, time travel, science fiction romance, or holiday themed.

2. Unlike a boxed set of stories written by one author, an anthology is made up of three, four, or ten authors. This way, you offer a reader a bunch of stories that one person did not have to spend years writing.

3. Writing for publication in an anthology can mean submitting a story that you published years ago. Sometimes this brings renewed life to an older series. I did this in 10 Timeless Heroes and Medieval Redemption. Cleaning up the stories was easier than writing a new one.

4. An anthology can also include brand new stories as readers will happily discover in my newest anthology compilation YULETIDE KISSES?

5. An anthology has many parts that need to come together to make a successful book launch. Each author submits their book along with their title, dedication, list of other books, and social media links. They sign a contract in order for Amazon to accept the book. One person formats them for a cohesive look. Another gets a cover made. Another works on advertising and distribution. Everyone helps.

6. Because more than one person is involved in one published book, all the authors will share the news of this book’s release. In YULETIDE KISSES, that means four different people from different parts of the world will share with their readers.

7. Social media such as twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this one will get the word out in many ways, but many authors will share different aspects of the book with readers I would never be able to reach.

8. I love all things Scottish. Ancestry.com/DNA says I have a decent percentage, which must be why I enjoy attending Scottish Highland Games. I love everything about the culture and find it easy to use my trips to these festivals to give me ideas for a plot.

9. Accepting the offer to participate in a multi-author anthology gives me the incentive to write. Knowing there is a deadline and that others depend on me to finish producing a fantastic story is the motivation I need.

10. I am a romantic. I write to share what is in my heart and head. I also love the holidays around Christmas or, as we say in the book…Yuletide!

Blurb

The book: Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology

Grab some hot cocoa and snuggle under the covers this season with four all-new medieval romances by best-selling and award-winning authors. From friends to lovers to a marriage of convenience, hidden identities and his best friend’s sister, you’ll be swept away to the magic of Christmas in Scotland where braw heroes will do anything for the women they’ve come to love.

Authors: Aurrora St. James, Allison Butler, Ria Cantrell, Nancy Lee Badger

Find buy links HERE.

Author Bio and Links

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while dreaming of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

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No Negativity Today

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Here’s a thought-provoking reflection from international speaker and bestselling author Joyce Meyer:

Have you fallen into a rut of negativity lately? Perhaps you are tired or dealing with a situation that causes prolonged stress, and you feel your joy is at an all-time low. I want to encourage you to take life one day at a time, so just for today, determine to get your joy back by thinking positively about every circumstance in your life.

You can begin to stir up your joy by realizing that any situation could be worse than it is and knowing that you are not alone in your struggle. People everywhere face challenges, and some are dealing with circumstances far worse than anything you or I could even think of.

Next, in everything you face today, ask yourself, “What is one good thing about what I am going through right now?” Or, “Where can I find just a little bit of joy in this situation, just for this day?”

I do understand that some situations are intensely difficult, sad, or emotionally draining. In those cases, simply whispering “God will never leave me or forsake me. He is with me” will help turn negative thoughts to positive ones. Whatever your circumstances are today, decide to think positively about them—and watch your joy increase. Tomorrow is another day, and you can do the same thing all over again.

Source: Strength for Each Day by Joyce Meyer

10 Facts that Inspired the Marketville Mystery Series

I’m happy to welcome back bestselling author Judy Penz Sheluk. Today, Judy shares ten facts that inspired the Marketville Mystery Series and her new release, Before There Were Skeletons.

Here’s Judy!

After a three-year hiatus, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is back in Before There Were Skeleton, book #4 of my Marketville Mystery series. I like to consider these “Cold Case Cozies,” but while there may be no sex, violence or bad language, the plots tend to be more complex than a traditional cozy. I thought it might be fun to tell Joanne’s readers 10 things that inspired the stories. Here goes:

1. Marketville is a fictionalized and smaller-town version of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, located about an hour north of Toronto. Considered a commuter community, Marketville is (according to protagonist Calamity (Callie) Barnstable), the sort of town where families with two kids, a collie, and a cat move to, looking for a bigger house, a better school, and soccer fields.

2. Marketville’s Cedar County, which includes the fictional towns of Lount’s Landing, Miakoda Falls, and Lakeside, is loosely (and I do mean loosely) based on towns in three municipalities/towns in York Region (Newmarket/Marketville, East Gwillimbury/Holland Landing/Lount’s Landing, and Georgina/Keswick/Lakeside). Miakoda Falls is the exception, inspired by my childhood memories of our family cottage on the Gull River between Moore Falls and Elliot Falls, with a hint of Fenelon Falls tossed in for good measure.

3. The idea for a series set in Marketville came to me while my husband and I were waiting for our lawyer to return from Newmarket court. We were there to update our wills and I wondered, “What if I was there to inherit instead? And what if there were strings attached?” By the time our lawyer arrived, I’d scribbled down what would become the first two chapters of Skeletons in the Attic.

4. Calamity Doris Barnstable is named after Calamity Jane, famous for her nineteenth-century Wild West shows, and Doris Day, who played a very fictionalized Calamity Jane in a 1950s movie. I wanted a name that was both unusual and could be shortened; Calamity/Callie just worked. I wrote a bit about Calamity Jane in the Facts in Fiction section of my website

5. While the series starts with Callie as an amateur sleuth, by book two, Past & Present, Callie puts her new sleuthing skills to work, opening Past & Present Investigations. Her first case, looking into the murder of Anneliese Prei in 1956, was inspired by 1952 travel documents I found in my mother’s closet, shortly after her death. My mother’s first name was Anneliese, and Prei was her mother’s maiden name.

6. A Fool’s Journey, book 3, was inspired by a newspaper article I’d read about a young man who left home 15 years earlier to “find himself.” The article was accompanied by a photograph credited to Ontario Missing Adults. The character of Brandon Colbeck, the missing young man who Callie is hired to find, is a compilation of several missing persons’ profiles on the site.

7. In Skeletons in the Attic, first published in 2016, Callie is 36 years old. I’ve always admired the way John Sandford ages Lucas Davenport in his acclaimed Prey series and decided to do the same thing. In Before There Were Skeletons, Callie is now on the cusp of 42, still single, but finally accepting that her self-proclaimed “loser radar,” is actually a fear of commitment.

8. I’ve also admired the way authors like Michael Connelly and Tana French take major characters from one book/series and employ them as walk-on or minor characters in another book/series. The inclusion of The Glass Dolphin Mysteries protagonist Arabella Carpenter, her ex-husband, Levon Larroquette, and references to other Glass Dolphin characters in the Marketville series is inspired by their work, and it’s been great fun to include these characters in a meaningful way.

9. We sold our house recently and in packing up I found some of my husband’s old university yearbooks. That gave me the idea for a subplot in Before There Were Skeletons, where Callie delves into her mother’s (Abigail Osgoode Barnstable) teenaged past after her grandmother gives her the five high school yearbooks belonging to Abigail. Callie knows there’s no such thing as closure, but she finds herself looking for it anyway.

10. While the police often make public appeals for information about cold cases, sites like Ontario Missing Adults, Canada’s Missing, and the Doe Network provide a permanent plea for assistance, a portal for families who are looking for information about police processes, or who may be hesitant to make first contact with police. It is my hope that Before There Were Skeletons leads to the awareness of compiled websites, and possibly, information on, or the resolution of, a cold case.

About Before There Were Skeletons

The last time anyone saw Veronica Goodman was the night of February 14, 1995, the only clue to her disappearance a silver heart-shaped pendant, found in the parking lot behind the bar where she worked. Twenty-seven years later, Veronica’s daughter, Kate, just a year old when her mother vanished, hires Past & Present Investigations to find out what happened that fateful night.

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is drawn to the case, the similarities to her own mother’s disappearance on Valentine’s Day 1986 hauntingly familiar. A disappearance she thought she’d come to terms with. Until Veronica’s case, and five high school yearbooks, take her back in time…a time before there were skeletons.

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/mqXVze

About the Author

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served as Chair on the Board of Directors. A longtime resident of York Region, she now makes her home in Northern Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior. Find her at https://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

Stay Consistent

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

Even when you’ve had a rough day. Even when you didn’t get much sleep last night. Everyone has tough days. Why do some people suck it and smile, while others feel the need the broadcast their pain and despair? This kind of inconsistency isn’t only harmful for the people who interact with the individual. It’s very harmful for the individual herself/himself.

Inconsistency is destructive, and you will find it leads down many different roads that you don’t want to go down. It can lead to a feeling of victimhood, it can lead to broken relationships, and it can lead to a feeling of being out of control, tossed by the waves of chance and life, really not making your own decisions. But when you start choosing your behavior, when you start intentionally being consistent, you’ll find your outlook on life changing.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

Taking the Risk: To Live, to Write

I’m happy to welcome West Coast author K. L. Abrahamson. Today, Karen shares an inspiring post about risk-taking and her new release, Trapped on Cedar Trails.

Here’s Karen!

I used to work with young offenders. We’d worry about their ‘risk-taking’ behaviours—drinking, using drugs, unsafe sex, and so on. We wanted those youth to take fewer risks so that we could keep them safe. On the other hand, we often see overprotective parents remove all risk from their children’s lives. The result is children who have very little understanding of adversity or the skills to overcome it.

To me, a certain level of risk taking is normal and necessary to our human development—after all, so much in life requires us to take a risk. From leaping into the old swimming hole, to changing a job or career, to taking a chance on love—all of them require a certain level of risk. You put your trust in the rope swing over the pool, in the new job being better than the last, and you put your vulnerable heart out there.

I enjoy adventure travel and I usually go on these adventures alone. Every time, before I leave, I go through a few days of feeling a little sick to my stomach with trepidation. Am I doing the right thing going to a place I’ve never been? Inevitably my life has been enriched by each adventure. I just have to get through that period of doubt.

Writers take a risk each time they sit down at the computer (well maybe not Stephen King or Norah Roberts, but the rest of us).We might have a brilliant idea for a new story or novel, but the risk is whether we have the writing chops to pull it off. What’s the old saying? You need to write a million words before you start to pick the right ones? It’s a pleasure when things go well when we write, but we need to keep taking risks and trying something new or else we’ll find ourselves mired in a rut of safety, and writing the same old, same old, again and again.

Our characters also need to be risk takers because who wants to read about the person who chooses safety again and again? If the character does choose safety, then there must be consequences for that choice. I think of my decision to leave a well-paying government job after seventeen years. All of my coworkers said they wished they were as brave as I was, but they chose safety, a pension, and the grind of a job they didn’t love, while I got uncertainty and freedom to write and the ability to choose my own direction. Choosing to take a risk, or choosing not to, comes at a price. Our characters may take their risks with less trepidation than we do in real life, but we still help them take their big leap—because that’s where the story generally is. The price is what comes after.

With writing, unlike real life, when things don’t work out, we can simply throw the manuscript out. Or rewrite.

We don’t find ourselves halfway up a Burmese mountain dealing with food poisoning.

Of course I lived through that little episode, too.

Blurb

The discovery of a woman’s body trapped in driftwood off a small, west coast town turns a five-day photography class into a nightmare for Phoebe Clay, her sister Becca, and Phoebe’s niece Alice.

The specter of murder hangs over the family as they join the other students at an isolated fish cannery guesthouse. On their first night, Alice spots ghostly figures outside and on the first morning, Phoebe finds a dead grizzly bear with parts removed. She doesn’t want to get involved, but there’s something wrong at the Bella Vista Cannery Guesthouse, and someone is not who they say they are.

Against her better judgment, she begins quiet enquiries. When Alice decides to pursue her own risky investigation, events take a sharp turn, revealing an insidious plot that threatens all their lives.

On the run on the cannery’s treacherous, rain-soaked, night-shrouded cedar trails, Phoebe and her family will face brutal foes determined to ensure the family doesn’t survive to reveal the cannery’s secrets.

Available here.

Excerpt

From this position by the water, there was only the still water, the mountains and mist, and the blue sky above. Ahead, gulls squawked and wheeled and a huge bald eagle circled overhead, then swooped in low, scattering the gulls. The eagle disappeared around the end of the point and didn’t reappear, but the wind brought a whiff of something unpleasant.

Carrion. Eagles and gulls were both scavengers, regardless of the esteem with which the eagles were held.

Stones creaking and crackling under her, Phoebe approached the headland cautiously, not sure what she’d find and not wanting to disturb the birds. Out on the water a lone sailboat coasted the blue-black water ahead of the breeze, toward the white-capped peaks of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

She reached the point of land that was partially blocked by fresh driftwood and stepped up on a log to see what waited on the other side. It took her a moment to understand.

A flurry of black raven wings beat in the sun. The eagle lifted up from the shore and settled again on a huge hump in the sand, sending the ravens scattering.

Ravens.

The huge black birds also liked carrion.

Phoebe squinted against the sun’s glare. The hump sorted itself out into a furred mass of dark brown with tawny flecks.

Bear. Except that there was only a vacancy filled by ravens tearing at bloody flesh where the head should be. Another gust of wind brought the stink of rotting flesh and she swallowed back the rebellion of her stomach.

Author Bio and Links

West Coast author K.L. Abrahamson writes mystery, fantasy and romance. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Derringer and the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence.

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