Archive for the ‘Cover Reveal’ Category

A REFERENCE TO MURDER
by Kym Roberts
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Pub Date: 5/16/2017

 

 

SOMETIMES YOU GET WHAT YOU

NEED .. .

Charli Rae Warren is back home in Hazel

Rock, Texas, spending her time reading, collecting, and selling

books—at least, the ones that don’t get eaten first by her

father’s pet armadillo. Running the family bookstore is a demanding

job, but solving murders on the side can be flat out dangerous…

The Book Barn is more than just a shop,

it’s a part of the community—and Charli is keeping busy with a

fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town.

That includes dealing with the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity

cowboys, including Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who

gets overly rowdy one night with the local hairdresser . . . and soon

afterward, disappears into thin air.

Dalton’sbrother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown

about whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an

assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair),

and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to

team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets

gored . . .

Three career paths resonated for Kym

Roberts during her early childhood: detective, investigative

reporter, and . . .nun. Being a nun, however, dropped by the wayside

when she became aware of boys—they were the spice of life she

couldn’t deny. In high school her path was forged when she took her

first job at a dry cleaners and met every cop in town, especially the

lone female police officer in patrol. From that point on there was no

stopping Kym’s pursuit of a career in law enforcement. Kym followed

her dream and became a detective who fulfilled her desire to be an

investigative reporter, with one extra perk—a badge. Promoted to

sergeant, Kym spent the majority of her career in SVU. She retired

from the job reluctantly when her husband dragged her kicking and

screaming to another state, but writing continued to call her name,

at least in her head. Visit her on the web at kymroberts.com.

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This book sounds so fun. It would be a dream job to deal in books. I love my local used book store. I can spend hours browsing through the paperbacks. I also haunt thrift shops frequently, looking for that hidden gem.

Also, I’m a southern gal and the story is set in a neighboring state. I can relate to the possum on the half shell on the cover. LOL

What stands out for you?

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the-rise-of-miss-notley-gr

The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson

Synopsis

To escape an undesirable match, Miss Notley must give up her riches for rags.

When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow.

The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced for the position, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?

The Rise of Miss Notley is the delightful tale of a mysterious gentleman and a determined young woman, caught together in a web so tangled it begs the question: Will they ever get out?

Coming February 2017

add to goodreads

 

RachaelAuthor Rachael Anderson

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Website

 

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amazon or paypal

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 1/25/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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I can’t wait for you to see the cover reveal of When Ash Rains Down.

It’s spectacular!

The author is celebrating on Facebook with all kinds of fun.

Be sure to read to the end of the post for details.

Are

you

ready?

Here

it

is!

(more…)

friday-reveal-banner

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Today E.M. Fitch and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for OF THE TREES which releases February 28, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

 

A quick note from the author:

Of The Trees is a story about friendship, but the idea came to me in a graveyard — a favorite little haunt of mine, actually. What that says about me? I’m sure you have your own ideas. I can tell you that I’m a girl who loves a good scare, adores Halloween, finds entertainment in all things spooky, and has developed a pretty wicked sense of questionable humor. My stories reflect this. My own hometown ghost legend is weaved into this novel; it’s a tale that intrigued me as a teen, and continues to call to me now. I wrote large portions of this book parked alongside the inspiring little cemetery, in fact.

Although friendships and haunted places are the forces that brought this story into being, what grew from there was a tale of creatures in the night; men whose features slip and twist; best friends who get ripped apart; and a heavy helping of some of my favorite Irish legends, the old tales of the Fae. A particular influence for Of The Trees is the poem, The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats. For just that reason, a verse from this poem is the first thing you’ll see when you flip open the cover.

Of The Trees is for anyone who loves best friends who argue (but love each other anyway), dark tales, creatures who go bump in the night, and stories to make you question those little whispers of wind you hear from the forest. I so hope you’ll join me in exploring just who—or what—is watching from the woods.

On to the reveal!

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Title: OF THE TREES
Author: E.M. Fitch
Pub. Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 345
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Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD
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Only she can hear the deadly whisper of the trees.

 

High school seniors, Cassie and Laney, spend their days on ghost hunts, Laney trying to pull Cassie into belief. Cassie tolerates it for her best friend, but she doesn’t really believe … until the carnival comes to town.

The men who work there watch the girls, disturbing Cassie with the intensity of their collective gaze. Laney becomes fascinated with the older men, a curiosity Cassie knows is dangerous.

It’s not just their age or the unnerving way they stare. There is something else, something in the shifting of their skin, the way their features seem to change fluid in the shadows, that screams danger.

Cassie tries to ignore the uneasy feeling that something bad is about to happen, convinced that once the carnival leaves, life will return to normal.

But it doesn’t.

People start dying and bloody warnings appear around town.

Soon, Cassie enters into a nightmare where the trees whisper “join us” and strange, seemingly familiar, shape-shifting men haunt the backwoods of her small, isolated town.

The police don’t believe Cassie and no one else admits to hearing the whispers of the forest. No one, except Laney.

When Laney goes missing, Cassie knows it’s the men of the forest who have taken her. She knows that she’s the only one who can help bring her friend back. But the creatures that taunt and hiss through the trees aren’t ready to give Laney up just yet.

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Excerpt

Chapter OneThe deeper into the woods Cassie went, the more her best friend resembled a fairy-tale creature. Laney walked in front of her, the backpack she wore bulged out in the limited moonlight, and she looked, for the moment, like the grotesque silhouette of a skinny hunchback, her long hair swinging dark and loose past her shoulders. The friends shifted together through the trees, knowing the destination by heart.

The woods came alive at night. The lack of light drew things out, or perhaps it was only that the blackness accentuated the sounds. Claws scraped the dirt. Dry leaves flipped over. The mating calls of crickets and tree frogs echoed and pinged through the trees. Wings rustled through the air, followed by the inevitable swoop of a low flying creature. All barely noticeable in the day time, they screamed at night.

Nervous flutters took residence in Cassie’s gut. It was probably the darkness—the shadows—that hid the sources of the sounds. It made the animals braver, less apt to be seen, less prone to being caught. Bolder. The noises surrounded her, and it was possible that the feeling of being enclosed was what set her nerves on edge. She had walked through these woods at night before though. Tonight something else was bothering her, something undefinable.

The moon hung above the tree line, only half full. The luminescence struggled to push its way through the leaves that still clung to the trees, stamping wavering patches of silver on the forest floor. The moonlight was just enough, dim as it was, to allow Cassie to see the rocks and bramble, avoid the prickers, and step over the low hanging branches.

The girls’ intrusion into this place—the world of owls and bats and night creatures—was commonplace by now. The path they traveled had been stomped through so many times that the ferns stopped trying to grow back. A bare line through the trees, recognizable only to them, stretched from Cassie’s backyard to their destination.

Still, Cassie hated coming at night.

But, it was Laney’s birthday, September the fifth. She turned seventeen, and she had insisted.

“She only comes at night! I’m sure of it,” Laney had whined, begging her friend to come with her.

“Because a ghost cares if it’s day or night?” Cassie had shot back.

“You know why!” Laney said with a little stomp of her foot that got Cassie to sigh in resignation.

She did know why. Not that she believed any of it, of course. But she knew Laney’s version, the one she had researched and convinced herself was real.

It was over two hundred years ago that Lizzy Palmer went looking for her husband in a snowstorm. Legend said that Harold had been in town getting supplies when his wife was overcome with an awful, persistent feeling that he may never return. Crazed, she went out into the storm to look for him. Lizzy never found Harold; instead, she got caught in the blizzard, sucked into one of the boggy marshes that surrounded her home and the nearby cemetery. She had been pulled under the freezing, murky water, her screams muffled by the storm.

Some versions of the story had Harold finding her in time. People said he just stood there, watching his wife sink below the swampy muck, watching as her mouth was filled with mud and cold water. Some say that’s why she came back—to haunt him into insanity. Others say they have seen his ghostly lantern light, still out searching for the body of his lost wife.

Not that Cassie thought they would see anything. She and Laney hadn’t last week, nor the week before that. The girls had spent most of their summer sitting in the cemetery. Even after school started, Laney still hadn’t let it go. She was obsessed with the place—Gray Lady Cemetery. It had a real name, something registered in the town. Laney knew what it was, but everyone in school called it Gray Lady Cemetery because Lizzy Palmer, the Gray Lady, haunted it. She floated through, past her grave, in a blur of deathly gray. Supposedly.

Though on a night like tonight, the air hung with moisture, maybe Cassie and Laney did have a good shot at seeing something. Whatever misty occurrence happened to convince people that a ghost was hanging around, maybe the conditions were right for it tonight.

Their path ended abruptly at a small stone wall. The woods were riddled with them, old property markers back before the entire area became protected. Most were crumbling and low to the ground, but this one was higher and in better condition. It formed a rough square, enclosing the graveyard. Three sides of it cut through the woods, but just to Cassie’s left, the stone wall butt up to a dirt road. The dirt of the road gleamed a cool silver, a ribbon winding its way through the night. She could see nothing else from that direction except a concentration of darkness—a hole of blackness punched through restless leaves. Cassie watched as Laney climbed over the wall, one foothold at a time, her backpack swaying.

The light was better in the small, square cemetery. A patch of sky, dark velvet with no stars, hung like a blank canvas above the swaying of the black trees that reached into it. The dry leaves rustled together on long limb branches. They fell in bursts as the wind rushed through, covering the top of the rock wall.

The grass in the cemetery was long and loose. It tickled the backs of Cassie’s knees. The town maintained the graveyard—at least occasionally. It wasn’t mowed; there were no neat rows of headstones or miniature flags poking from flower vases. There was only one intact headstone in the plot, the rest were crumbling limestone stubs, poking up through the dirt. Cassie stepped carefully, edging around the corners of pale stone that came tilting up through the earth. She knew from experience how easily those bits could catch her toes.

Cassie followed as Laney wove through the stones, knowing her route by heart. The grass that rose was beaten back by their sneakers. Laney dropped her bag and bent over it, pulling a dark blanket out. Silently handing two corners to Cassie, they stepped back from each other, spreading the blanket ten yards behind the Gray Lady’s headstone.

“It’s the perfect night for this,” Laney said, her voice low as she sat down on one corner of the blanket. Excitement tinged her words, and Cassie thought she would have squeaked if she had allowed herself enough volume. But she wouldn’t; she might scare the ghosts away. “The boys better get here soon.”

It was the first time the boys had been allowed to join them in the cemetery. Ryan Buckner and Jon Sutkowski had teased the girls about their secret for so long, always bugging Cassie and Laney to let them join. Laney had been hesitant, this secret obsession of hers too sacred to share with others. She had invited them when the girls had gone to check out the remnants of an old, abandoned jailhouse that someone had told them about. They all had to trudge through the woods to get to that one, too. The boys always came with them at Halloween when they’d hit every haunted house and corn maze they could find. The four of them had been friends for years, but not nearly as long as Cassie and Laney had been.

Laney Blake was the first friend Cassie ever had. They were neighbors, playmates from the time their mothers had brought them to story hours together, back when they couldn’t even spell their own names. They had countless rides on the bus, classes, sleepovers, and vacations together. Cassie and Laney were inseparable, and that was why Cassie was always asked to come along, begged to indulge the ghost chases and midnight hikes through the woods; Cassie couldn’t say no.

There had been a time when Cassie was just as obsessed as Laney was; when the goblins and elves and ghosts were all real for her, too. But it had been a long time since she really believed any of it.

Part of her felt that these cemetery trips were a last ditch effort, one last strong pull by Laney to tug Cassie back into belief. Laney had researched and read and pestered the local librarians about the story surrounding Gray Lady Cemetery. She was firm in her conviction that this legend—finally, this—was the real thing. Laney was convinced that all she had to do was pick the right date and the right time, and so Cassie had been dragged out to the cemetery, time and time again, told forcefully to keep her voice down and all lights off, and made to wait.

“What time did you tell them?” Laney asked, a bit of anxiety leaching into her voice.

“Before midnight,” Cassie answered. She pushed strands of her auburn hair from her face. Her fingers felt for the smooth case of her phone in her hoodie pocket. She hit the home button, lighting the screen, and was just able to glimpse the 11:42 on the screen before Laney slapped at her.

“No lights!”

Cassie rolled her eyes, though in the darkness, Laney couldn’t see. She shifted on the blanket, stretching her legs out in front of her and brushing away the stray grass strand that stuck to her calf.

“So, what’d it say?” Laney asked, her voice quiet again. Cassie laughed.

“I thought you didn’t want any lights.”

“Well, it was already on,” Laney argued, grinning as she knocked shoulders with Cassie. “So, what was it? It’s midnight already, isn’t it? They’re gonna mess this up.”

“No, they have fifteen minutes,” Cassie said. “I thought you were sure it would be at one thirty, though?”

“Oh,” Laney said, shrugging, “well, midnight or one thirty. There were conflicting articles. Someone thought midnight because that’s when Lizzy first left her house, another guy thought later because that’s when she would have been caught in the storm. I figured, why not both?”

Cassie hummed in response. She stifled a yawn and laid back on the blanket she shared with Laney, watching the dark sky. The ground was lumpy and uneven. Her body tilted toward her friend. Laney leaned back, her elbows bent to hold her torso up, her gaze fixed on the empty patch of grass surrounding the tombstone.

The air was heavy, saturated with the scents of wet grass and the pulp of crushed ferns. Crickets echoed across the space, trills of noise bouncing off the trees. Cassie twisted on the blanket and looked behind her, scanning the pale line of the dirt road as it vanished into the tunnel of darkness.

Ryan and Jon would be driving. Jon had snuck out with his dad’s car. The dirt road that stretched behind the graveyard was terrible, filled with potholes and rivets that had been formed by bad weather and low maintenance; the girls should be able to hear the car before they even saw the headlights. Cassie lay back again, shifting a bit to get off a rock that lodged itself under her spine.

It was strange, Cassie would note later, that the first change she registered was the stiffening of her friend’s spine, the jolting of Laney’s muscles as her shoulders locked, and the tightening of her neck. That is what first caught her attention, but it was the bobbing light in the tree line that drew her eye to the forest. Then her own muscles tightened as her lungs froze midbreath.

Laney jumped to her feet as Cassie skittered back, dragging the blanket beneath her until her fingers were digging into damp grass and dirt.

“What are you doing?” Cassie hissed as Laney took off toward the light. It was moving deeper into the woods.

“Get up! I’m not missing this!”

Cassie got to her feet. Laney was already halfway across the cemetery as Cassie rushed to reach her. The light was clearly moving, darting through the trees and bouncing up and down, as though someone was holding it. It wasn’t a flashlight, not a cell phone either. It was a soft, orange glow. Even from here, Cassie could see that it was encased; the source of the light protected by metal and glass.

“It’s not a ghost, Laney,” Cassie whispered, completely sure, “It’s not him, not Harold.”

“A lantern, Cass?” Laney whispered back, hiking an insistent line after the light. They were closing in now, less than a football field away. “Out here? At midnight? We have to check it out.”

“It could be a psycho, a mass murderer!” Cassie insisted, reaching out and tugging on Laney’s arm. “It probably is. We should wait for the boys, at least.”

Laney snorted, jerking her arm out of Cassie’s grasp. She darted ahead, Cassie at her heels. They clambered over the stone wall together. A row of ferns spread from the moss covered rocks into the tree line. Laney jogged through, leaving a trampled path in her wake. The fronds were heavy with moisture, caressing Cassie’s bare legs and leaving her shivering even in the unseasonable warmth.

“Laney, wait,” Cassie begged in a whisper, but her friend darted ahead, the trees swallowing her. She lunged a bit, hissing when a low branch caught and scratched up her shin. She swiped her hand over the scratch, and her fingers came away warm and wet, the tips shiny black in the diffuse moonlight, coated lightly with her blood.

She cursed softly, jogging through the trees and trying to follow the sound of her friend ahead. Laney wasn’t exactly stealthy, so it wasn’t difficult, but it was hard to see her. That, combined with the night sounds of the woods—the crickets and owls, the bats that flew low through the branches, the rustling in the dead leaves all around her—made her feel more alone than she cared to be at the edge of a cemetery, at night, following a likely madman further into the woods.

The lantern was close now, the glow soft and yet reaching, illuminating the trunks of the trees and the darkened hand that held it aloft. It should be enough, seeing the outline of the fingers that grasped the handle. Laney should know from that that it wasn’t a ghost. But she wasn’t running back to the cemetery.

“Please, Laney,” Cassie hissed, searching now past the trunks to see how far ahead her friend had gotten. She could still see the cemetery behind her, and she wasn’t eager to lose sight of it for once. The cemetery was a point of reference, a way to get back home. She knew her path, and she knew the road; navigating the rest of the woods at night was not something in which she could claim confidence. She paused, listening now for Laney’s crashing footsteps to indicate which direction she had gone, but it wasn’t her footsteps she heard.

It was moaning. And, it wasn’t Laney’s voice.

The sound was low pitched and horrible. The crickets swelled around it. It didn’t say anything, not at first, just squealed a deep note that reverberated through the trees before ending on a single word.

“Lizzy.”

No. Cassie froze in shock and horror. No, it couldn’t be.

The forest to her right seemed to tremble all at once, the ground stirring and the trees parting as a dark shadow flew toward her. Cassie screamed and stumbled back, her hands shooting up in front of her face. Dark arms clutched at her and dragged her into a solid chest as a voice whispered in her ear.

“Gotcha.”

She froze, not in fear this time.

“You ass!” she hissed, struggling away from the laughing boy in front of her. He let her go easily enough, though she shoved him anyway. He stumbled back into a tree but didn’t fall completely. A ripple of vindictive anger swirled through her at that.

“Cassie!” Laney’s voice shouted from far away. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” There was some panic in her tone, which should have soothed Cassie a bit but it only angered her further.

“Fine!” Cassie gritted out, her voice carrying in the dark. “It was—”

Laney’s scream cut her off. It was quickly followed by a bout of cursing and a loud thump.

“Serves you right, Jon!” Cassie yelled, having no doubt that it was Ryan’s friend that was stalking about with the stupid lantern in the woods. Especially because it was Ryan still leaning into the tree and pinning her with a look that said he was only barely keeping himself from hysterical laughter at her expense, and only abstaining because he knew he’d get pushed again if he tried.

“You better not,” she said, pointing at him menacingly. He raised his hands in mock compliance, a snigger escaping anyway. Cassie stepped forward and thumped his chest, annoyed when he didn’t even flinch.

“Wow, poor sports!” Jon said, jogging up to them and ducking at the last minute under a branch. He was grinning like an idiot. “Just wanted to spice up the birthday girl’s night a bit and wham! She hits me with a tree branch!”

“You don’t look injured,” Cassie muttered.

“Yeah, well, tried to hit me, I should have said.”

“Stand still this time, and I won’t have a problem,” Laney griped, stomping up beside them. Jon laughed and dodged away, heading in a direct path toward the cemetery. “What time is it?”

Cassie pulled out her phone and lit the screen. Midnight. “Well, if she was going to come at midnight, we’ve scared her off.” Laney huffed and followed the path of crushed saplings and the distant laughter of Jon.

As soon as he broke into the square cemetery, Jon shifted his attention to his surroundings. He paused in front of the Gray Lady’s headstone and softened Laney by asking her questions about her favorite ghost. Laney gave in pretty easily, rolling her eyes, but joining him as he ran his fingers over the engraving. As she launched into the history, Ryan made himself comfortable on the blanket Laney brought, stretching out his lanky form and then shifting to the side when Cassie went to sit. He sat up straight when Cassie stretched her legs out.

“What’s this?” he asked, bending close to Cassie’s shin.

“Oh,” Cassie murmured, remembering. “I got scratched chasing Laney into the woods. It’s not bad.”

“I’ve got a first-aid kit in the car,” Ryan said, getting to his feet.

“It’s not a big deal,” Cassie called out, but Ryan was already jogging across the graveyard.

“Of course he does,” Jon muttered, flopping down on the blanket as Ryan leaped the stone wall.

“Well, yeah,” Laney agreed through a smirk, her tone low. She kicked Jon, and he moved over, making room for her on the blanket next to Cassie. “His girl Cassie might need it someday, so of course he’d have it.”

“Bring back the drinks!” Jon called out, laying back and lacing his hands behind his head. Cassie stiffened, looking toward Ryan to see if he heard their friend’s comments, but he only nodded before turning to be swallowed in the shadows of the empty street.

“You’re not funny,” Cassie muttered to her friends. Her neck felt hot, and she was grateful that in the moonlight no one would be able to tell. Jon sniggered but didn’t try to catch her eye. It was an old joke between the four of them. A joke Cassie hated. “It’s probably the one from his hiking pack. And lots of people keep first-aid kits in their cars. It’s basic safety stuff.”

“Sure,” Jon agreed, shrugging. “First aid, tire iron, flares, romantic picnic for two.”

“Spare engagement ring,” Laney added. Jon cracked up laughing, and Laney shushed him, elbowing his side.

“What’s so funny?” Ryan asked, jogging back up to the group. He handed a six pack of spiked lemonade to Jon. The hiss of a metal cap being twisted off cut through the still air of the cemetery.

“Nothing,” Cassie answered. “Ignore them.”

He shrugged and knelt down in front of her, opening a small white box. Cassie felt very warm. She wondered if Jon and Laney teased Ryan like they teased her. She hoped they didn’t. He’d take it as encouragement and Cassie didn’t want him to think she put their friends up to it.

“Here, scooch up a bit,” Ryan said, his warm fingers circling her ankle and tugging. She moved to the edge of the blanket, and he lay her leg flat on the soft, long grass. He let her go to break the seal on a small bottle. “It’ll probably sting a bit.”

Cassie hummed her acknowledgment, watching the dark shadow of his movements. He poured a capful of hydrogen peroxide on her shin, and she hissed as her cut fizzed white.

“Baby,” Laney whispered, nudging her.

“Shut up,” Cassie returned weakly. Ryan’s fingers were back on her skin, patting the area dry with a piece of gauze before pressing a Band-Aid over the scrape.

“All better,” he said through a grin, settling back at her side and lying flat on the blanket. Cassie thanked him, but stayed upright, leaning into Laney. She pulled her legs to her chest and sipped at the spiked lemonade Jon handed over, letting the lukewarm drink sizzle down her throat. It didn’t help the fluttering that had started in her stomach, but she knew from experience that not much would help that.

“How long were you guys out there?” Laney asked, her manner easing further with each sip of the lemonade.

“An hour, I guess,” Jon answered, the bottle swinging from his fingertips, his arms resting on his knees. “But see? We saved the alcohol for you guys.”

Cassie could feel the silent laughter shaking through Ryan. She turned to him, intending to glare, but hesitating at the sight of him. Ringed in moonlight, his color washed out and his features edged in silver, he seemed older, the lines of his face distinct and chiseled. He looked straight ahead, lines from laughter held back crinkling the corners of this eyes, his lip bit. The hair that fell just over his brow was shaking, outward evidence that he was ready to burst into laughter. Cassie felt a grin split her own lips, and she nudged him with her elbow. He caught her eye and lost it, laughing aloud.

“Oh, you are both so funny!” Laney said, turning to push Jon and reaching around Cassie to land a punch at Ryan. Cassie toppled, falling onto Ryan’s chest. He was shaking with laughter, and she raised her arm, intending to punch his shoulder but he reacted quickly, putting his bottle to the side and pulling her firmly into his chest. She squirmed, and then howled with laughter when he flipped her on the blanket, digging his fingers into her belly in a merciless tickle.

“No fair!” she shrieked, batting his hands away.

“I was taught to never hit a girl,” he retorted, still wiggling his fingers under her ribs. “This seemed like the fairest defense.”

“Oh fine, you win!” Cassie exclaimed, breathless.

“Say we’re hilarious!” Ryan taunted. Jon snorted as Laney muttered, “Get a room.”

“You are.” She breathed, giggling.

“Are what?”

“Freaking hilarious!” she huffed, squirming away from him. He let up with a smirk, sitting back and reaching for his bottle of lemonade. After Cassie had caught her breath and sat up, she found her own bottle had fallen, spilling the last of the beverage into the grass. She swiped Ryan’s away from him, daring him with a look to argue with her. He gave in with a grin, leaning back and staring through the canopy of trees to the dark sky.

“So how long do we wait this out?” Jon asked finishing his drink and putting the empty bottle back in the cardboard holder.

“If nothing shows by one thirty, we’re out of here,” Laney answered, staring past the gravestone.

“Have you ever seen anything out here?” Jon asked, twisting the cap off another bottle. Laney shook her head.

“I can’t find conclusive data for when exactly she died. There are lots of conflicting stories, so I’ve been trying out different dates and times.”

“And that will make the difference?” Ryan asked, gesturing for Jon to pass him another drink. “The exact time?”

Laney shrugged. She didn’t know. At this point, Cassie wished the stupid ghost would just show up already. She didn’t mind the occasional ghost hunt, haunted houses, or hayrides, but part of her wanted to go back to the way things used to be. She wanted to go to the movies and sleepover at Laney’s without having to make sure she brought her hiking boots and a flashlight. Laney had become so obsessed over this one legend that Cassie couldn’t be sure this wouldn’t continue into the winter. And as much as she loved her friend, trudging through the ice and snow just to freeze in a cemetery overnight might just be where Cassie would have to draw the line.

Ryan’s lemonade was warm as it slid down her throat. Her friends were pressed tight together on the blanket. Cassie was glad Laney invited the boys tonight. The summer had brought Cassie and Ryan indescribably closer. They had all been spending more and more time together, but Cassie and Ryan had been breaking off more often to spend time alone. That was something they had never done before. Over the years, the buffer of other people had always been there. It was nice, spending time alone. He had been planning for ages to hike the Appalachian Trail. It cut through part of their town before continuing both north and south in a trail that covered over two thousand miles. This summer he had started tackling it in pieces, every part of it they could drive to, and Cassie had joined him. Without the distractions of the others, Cassie could see just how much she and Ryan had in common, how well they got along. They fit together so nicely, had a similar sense of humor, and loved horror films.

Laney had been teasing her over how close they had gotten. Even Jon coughed up the occasional suggestive remark, but Ryan either seemed not to notice or was not affected by it. Cassie didn’t know what to make of that. He wasn’t asking her out. That she did know.

The night wore on nicely, though. Cassie was warm, pressed to Ryan’s side. He had finished his second drink and then laid back, stretching his arm out, and smiling at her in invitation. She lay back on his outstretched arm, using the crook of his shoulder as a pillow. He squeezed her slightly and then let his hand fall innocently to her side. They listened quietly as Jon and Laney played seven degrees of separation with their classmates.

“Jim Stevens is cousin to May what’s-her-name—”

“Cheater! You need their full names or it doesn’t count.”

“Struthers,” Ryan interjected, and Jon smirked.

“May Struthers! Who went out with Bill Wainsworth—”

“Isn’t that her cousin, too?” Cassie asked, and she could feel Ryan shake with laughter underneath her cheek.

“Eugh, I hope not,” Laney said. “I saw them making out in the stairwell that one time.”

They all groaned and laughed, Jon finally stuttering his way to connecting Jim Stevens with Laney herself. It continued until Laney connected Cassie with Ryan, which included mention of a brief and awkward romance with Jon in seventh grade.

“Seventh grade is the year that never counted!” Cassie said, her face heating whenever Laney brought up that brief part of her history.

“Oh, nice,” Jon said. “So going out with me equals erasing an entire year from existence?”

The relationship in question had lasted exactly one week and included two pecks on the cheek and five separate handholding episodes. “No, really,” he continued, pressing now. “How much time do we erase for Jeff?”

Cassie felt her blush flood her face, and she gritted her teeth, sitting up. “At least a year for him, too,” she said with a shrug. Her first real boyfriend had only met her friends a handful of times, the whole thing collapsing after a month.

“Well, at least you rate as high as Jeff,” Laney said with a conciliatory pat on Jon’s knee.

“I feel better then,” he said with a grin. “Makes me wonder about your recent dry spell though, Cass. Afraid of losing any more time, huh?”

“You two worry about your own love lives!” Cassie exclaimed, lying back down on the blanket. Ryan had been quiet through the teasing, but she was glad to find his arm waiting for her. She pressed close to him; it helped with the embarrassment to have somewhere safe to hide.

“I’m not worried,” Jon answered breezily. “Samantha Collins is in love with me.”

Laney snorted. “Right, because she’s ever even spoken to you?”

“It’s all changing this year. We have art together. I predict we’ll be together by the end of homecoming.”

“You have lofty goals, my friend,” Ryan said, laughing.

“I don’t need a love life,” Laney said, sitting up straight. “I’m gonna find a ghost by the end of this year, so help me.”

“How romantic,” Cassie quipped.

“Look who’s talking! What are your plans for this weekend? Babysitting? You wait until you’re chopped up and murdered because you spent all your free nights babysitting,” Laney exclaimed, firing back at Cassie.

“You know that just because I babysit doesn’t mean that some psycho will try to murder me. That’s really just in the movies. You know that, don’t you?”

“I know that all urban legends have to start somewhere,” Laney retorted. “Do you really think that out of all the mental hospitals in all the country, there’s never been an escapee?”

“Are you trying to tell us the movie Halloween is based off a true story?” Ryan teased.

“No, but Texas Chainsaw was,” Laney retorted.

“Loosely,” Ryan said, catching Cassie’s eye and shaking his head. It was hard to see much of anything, but Cassie’s eyes had adjusted well by now, and she could make out the quirk in Ryan’s smile. She grinned back before hiding her smile against his chest.

“Did you know that they’ve dug up coffins with scratches on the inside? People were buried alive and then woke up down there. That’s why it’s called a wake when someone kicks it. It’s to see if the person actually wakes up.”

“You are seriously creepy,” Cassie said.

“Which is, of course, why we love you,” Jon added with a yawn. “You almost ready to give up on the Gray Lady?”

“Oh, I guess,” Laney answered through a sigh. She pulled out her own phone and checked the time. “Stupid ghost.”

“Doesn’t she know it’s your birthday?” Jon asked. Ryan hopped to his feet and offered a hand to Cassie. She took it, and he hauled her up to stand.

“Thanks for those,” Cassie motioned to the empty bottles. Ryan shrugged.

“You guys are driving us home, right?” Laney asked, stuffing her blanket into her backpack and hauling it over her shoulder. They agreed, of course, and as a group, they climbed over the low stone wall that separated the graveyard from the road.

“Hey, wait,” Cassie called out, the last to stumble over the rocks. She had almost tripped, the toe of her shoe catching between two stones, and when she looked down, out of the corner of her eye, she saw it.

Light.

“You forgot your lantern.”

It was strange, though. It hung, not on the ground but as though Jon had hooked it on a low branch. Cassie stared into the woods, squinting into the darkness. The soft orange glow seemed to suck the rest of the light out of the air, as though from the very moon itself. The trees were black voids in the dusky night. The lantern bobbed softly, though the wind had died—or at least the wind felt still where Cassie was standing. Somewhere the wind must have been pushing through the trees because a noise, low like
a whisper, hissed from the forest. The sound was indecipherable. If Cassie didn’t know better, she would have sworn it spoke to her.

Go now. Go.

“I have it here,” Jon answered, and Cassie whipped her head around to look at him. There was a click, and he swung the glass-encased light up. She winced away from the glare.

When she looked back, the orange glow was gone.

“We should go now,” Laney said, her voice soft.

***

What was strange was that it wasn’t the glow she’d remember. Not the light or the way it seemed to bob in the non-existent wind, not even the distant breeze that mimicked a whisper. It was the feeling that would plague her. Something indescribable. The way the wind seemed to die down around them and yet whipped through the trees, the way the leaves flipped over on themselves, something in the quality of the darkness that shifted and thickened. It floated around them, around her, like a cloak, heavy and oppressive. If the others noticed, they never said.

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About E.M Fitch

E.M. Fitch is an author who loves scary stories, chocolate, and tall trees. When not dreaming up new ways to torture characters, she is usually corralling her four children or thinking of ways to tire them out so she can get an hour of peace at night. She lives in Connecticut, surrounded by chaos, which she manages (somewhat successfully) with her husband, Marc.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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3 winners will receive an eGalley of OF
THE TREES, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky Flamingos below!

Whitechapel Paranormal Society Cover Reveal Giveaway

October is the perfect time to unveil the debut covers from the upcoming Whitechapel Paranormal Society series.  Keep reading for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

New Victorian Gothic Horror Series Set in London’s East End.

The Whitechapel Paranormal Society is coming in 2017.

Until then, we have these gorgeous covers from Phatpuppy Art Studios and Sacred Oaks Press.

Eeper Weeper Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian Horror by E.J. Stevens

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Eeper Weeper

(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #0.5) by E.J. Stevens

The great and
prestigious man of science, Doctor Jameson Foster Hadley had
somehow made a mistake. I wasn’t good and I wasn’t normal. His
experiment had failed.

The tedium and terrors of Josephine “Jo” Hadley’s existence within
the stone walls of London’s Bethnal Asylum are interrupted by a
strange visitor, Cora Drummond, a woman who demands to interview
one of the asylum’s most insane residents. The patient’s rantings
include tales of ghosts and demons, but it is the bizarre,
near-riotous muttering of prophetic nursery rhymes that follow Jo
throughout the asylum wards that is most illuminating to Miss
Drummond.

Eeeper Weeper, chimney sweeper. Had a wife, but couldn’t keep
her…

Days later, Jo and her adoptive father receive an invitation to
attend an exclusive tea at the prestigious Whitehall Club. But the
request for Jo’s attendance is more than it might seem. She has
caught the attention of a secret branch of government working
directly for the queen.

Will Jo Hadley’s unusual talent for inciting prophetic nursery
rhymes prove useful to the crown? She is given one chance to
demonstrate her worth to the Special Paranormal Research Branch,
but this is one mission that even the most highly trained
operatives might not survive.

Eeper Weeper is a prequel short story in the Whitechapel
Paranormal Society series by award-winning author E.J. Stevens. One
for Sorrow
(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #1) takes place
six years after the prequel short story Eeper Weeper
(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #0.5). The Whitechapel Paranormal
Society series is a Victorian horror (dreadpunk) series set in
London’s East End.

Free Read:

Release Date: June 2017
Add to Goodreads TBR.
Official Website: WhitechapelParanormalSociety.com

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One for Sorrow Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian Horror by E.J. Stevens

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One for Sorrow

(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #1) by E.J. Stevens

Afternoon tea
had served us up a demon.

It is six years since Josephine “Jo” Hadley joined the ranks of
the Special Paranormal Research Branch and three years since the
S.P.R.B.’s mission was terminated. After their superiors declare
that the supernatural threat is quelled, Jo and her colleagues
returned to civilian life with varying degrees of success. But
when Jo, Edith, and Flan cross paths with a slogoth demon there is
no escaping the terrible truth. The supernatural threat was never
defeated.

One for sorrow. Two for mirth. Three for a funeral. Four for a
birth. Five for Heaven. Six for Hell. Seven for the Devil, his
own self.

Demons and necromancers went into hiding within the labyrinthine
warrens of Whitechapel, but after three years of secretly feasting
on the souls of London’s East End they are back stronger than ever
before. Will the Whitechapel Paranormal Society rise up from the
ashes of the S.P.R.B., or will all of London become the Devil’s
playground?

One for Sorrow is the first full-length novel in the
Whitechapel Paranormal Society series by award-winning author E.J.
Stevens. One for Sorrow (Whitechapel Paranormal Society
#1) takes place six years after the prequel short story Eeper
Weeper
(Whitechapel Paranormal Society #0.5). The
Whitechapel Paranormal Society series is a Victorian horror
(dreadpunk) series set in London’s East End.

Release Date: September2017
Add to Goodreads TBR.
Official Website: WhitechapelParanormalSociety.com

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Whitechapel Paranormal Society Cover Reveal Giveaway

We are giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is international.  Giveaway ends October 28, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of the covers?
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To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky kitty below!

halloween jack in the box photo: black cat in a box toy cat-ina-box.gif

Welcome to the cover reveal for Shadows Of The Forest by Emma Michaels.

Before we get to the big reveal, let’s talk about the book.

Did you know – Everyone is dying to live there?!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read any of Emma’s books, this would be a great one to start with.

Now

For

The

Cover

Reveal!

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Shadows of the Forest
Emma Michaels
Publication date: November 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.
They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:
1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.

This is what happened when I broke them…

Add to Goodreads


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Author Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is the award winning author of the Society of Feathers series with over 15 publications under her belt. With a love for all things story-telling this bibliophile plans to take over the world one cup of coffee at a time. A rule breaker who isn’t afraid to have uncommon opinions she is an avid lover of mathematics and stand out fiction which transcends both its genre and format whether books, games, movies, or otherwise. A good story is a good story. When she isn’t online she is out dancing in the Washington rain or seeking new adventures.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

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Today Charles Day and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for the Bram Stoker Award Winning THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF, which releases October 18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
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On to the reveal! 

 

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Title: THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF
Author: Charles Day
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads
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As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time itself, its intent not born of goodness.
Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching up the town’s pumpkins and why.
Unfortunately, as with all great detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . .
The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief.
Nick fears the legend as he embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high
price.
“Charles Day’s The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief should be every Halloween-crazy kid’s favorite book–and a lot of us adults will love this wonderful tale as well. Part mystery, part fantasy, and part perfect Halloween scary story, it all adds up to 100% sheer delight. Bravo to intrepid young detective Nick, that black-suited Pumpkin Thief, and Charles Day for putting them together in this
sweet-‘n’-spooky novella.”
~Lisa Morton,
four-time Bram Stoker Award winner and author of The Halloween Encyclopedia.
.
A quick note from the author:
As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time itself, its intent not born of goodness. Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching up the town’s pumpkins and why. Unfortunately, as with all great detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . . The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief. Nick fears the legend as he embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high price.
 
When I fist saw the cover, I was blown away at just how cool and creepy it was. I mean, it’s almost identical to the vision I had of the evil legendary character who shows up and a new town every year for Halloween. As an artist myself, I really dig all the colors and inks. Kudos and congrats to the artist. You rock, buddy. 
Hugs,
Jaime

 

Excerpt

Chapter OneNick sniffed the cold air that had started to settle in and around Chesterville, New York, his quaint, upstate hometown located in the Catskill Mountains. Halloween was one day away, a Friday this year. Nick looked forward to the holiday, one of his favorites, next to Christmas, of course. However, today he had something he enjoyed even better: a great mystery.

Nick flipped through the final pages of yet another mystery novel that fed his mind with exciting characters and great plots. As he sat in bed with his new favorite book held in his sweaty palms, the earth could have exploded into smithereens, his house pulled from its foundation by a tornado—it didn’t matter what catastrophe might occur at this moment; Nick found himself fully immersed in the final chapter with his favorite characters.

He loved stories about missing people, crazed or degenerate criminals intent on doing their victims harm, or a detective two clues away from capturing his suspects.

Although he was only twelve, Nick had already completed a good number of mystery novels in his short life. He kept his own personal collection in a large cardboard box on a shelf in his closet, safe above wooden hangers holding football jerseys, dyed T-shirts, and ripped blue jeans, and he was about to add this latest mystery to his library. Just a few pages to go and he would know what these characters were up to … until he heard a voice from downstairs.

“Nicky, time for dinner! I’m not going to call you again,” his mother yelled up the stairs, apparently for the second time. Yes, nothing interrupted his concentration when he neared the end of a good mystery book—except his mom, with her threatening voice.

Nick’s mother was not unlike other mothers in the neighborhood. He had some friends whose moms were the same when it came to gathering their families for dinner, but tonight was not the night. He wanted to finish the final pages before stepping back into reality.

“I’ll be down in a minute, Ma!” Nick screamed back, but his eyes still focused on the book. Sure, he knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t heed her call. Dad would eventually come upstairs and yell at him for not showing up at the table on time. So he bookmarked the page, took a quick peek at himself in the mirror on his way out of his room, admired the short blond hair, blue eyes, and thin physique—still looking good, guy—then quickly ran downstairs to join his family.

As Nick walked into the dining room, he saw Samantha, his younger sister, still ten but going on sixteen, already seated at the table with a generous portion of meat and potatoes
falling over the edge of her plate. Her dark hair, pulled up into pigtails, bobbed as she inhaled the aromas. And, coming out from the kitchen with freshly baked dinner rolls, was Mom.

“Sit down, Nicky,” Mom said, passing him by while the smell from those warm rolls filled his nostrils and made his mouth water.

As Nick suspected, Mom, adorned in a silk blouse, yellow skirt, and high heels, was dressed as if she’d just stepped out of one of those beauty magazines scattered about the house. However, he focused on those dinner rolls she’d placed on the table. He had to have one. As he went to grab a roll, Samantha’s annoying voice short-circuited his growing appetite to savor the warm goodness.

“Glad you could make it, snot-face,” she said, smiling at Nick.

There she was, in all her glory, his pigtailed brat of a sister.

Nick’s appetite suddenly disappeared. He stared at Samantha, who continued to smile, and wondered how … how he could make his sister’s life miserable at that very moment.

“That’s it, sis. Fill up on all that food you got there on your plate so you can keep getting nice and fat, because—”

“Ma!” Samantha yelled.

“Knock it off, Nicholas. Leave your sister alone and let her eat,” Mom said.

Of course, Samantha screaming was always his fault. Whether or not his sister was wrong didn’t matter; it seemed that he’d be the guilty one. In fact, Nick knew that even if she stood on the dinner table and kicked the plates full of food to the floor, with his parents witnessing the whole event, he’d still be the guilty one, accused of making her do it.

“Yeah, okay … I know it’s my fault. Even though she called me snot-face, I’m the one who’s guilty.” Nick gestured, using his hands to show his frustration. “Whatever.”

Nick watched his father come in while he argued.

“I don’t care much who’s at fault; what I want is for everyone to stifle it and eat your food … understood?” He sat down at the head of the table.

“Ma, have a seat and join us.” He looked to his left. “Nick and Samantha, not another word out of you two, or you’re both grounded.”

That’s what Nick wanted to hear—fairness. His dad was harsh when it came to disciplinary things, but he also was fair. Nick could reason with him on occasion, and he liked that.

“Oh, by the way,” his father said, looking confused, “I was coming in from the rain and noticed the jack-o’-lantern on the steps out front is missing. Anybody know where it went?”

He knew his dad wanted an answer from him, by the stare he sent deep into Nick’s eyes. The Stare of Death!

Nick felt singled out again. Sure, Dad, blame it on me. Score another win for Sam.

Nick heard the drops of water as they exploded on the roof. Loud tapping sounded against the windows from the windswept rain. Halloween is tomorrow. Maybe one of the local punks in the neighborhood took it to use as a flying projectile. I don’t know.

Nick figured that since eggs were hard to come by on Halloween, especially for kids his age, it had to be a teenager who’d stolen their pumpkin to toss around instead. That would make a nice mess on some unsuspecting neighbor’s driveway.

Then it hit him. Here was his chance to find out who may have taken the carved-out pumpkin and, just maybe, assist in the apprehension of the punk. After eating most of his dinner, Nick excused himself from the table and ran up to his room to gather a few items.

He shut his door, surprised his parents didn’t question his early departure from their nightly dinner ritual. Not even an evil eye glanced his way from his mom. That had certainly made him feel better. No need to get on Mom’s bad side.

There was another good reason to venture out and start his investigation: to be far away from his sister.

She was trouble.

Besides, there was a mystery to solve, the case of the missing pumpkin, and he figured he’d start by checking to see if any of his neighbors were missing their pumpkins.

The new mystery reminded him of the stories he’d heard among his classmates: the urban legend of the Pumpkin Thief. He’d cut out an article about this legend from the school’s newsletter a few years ago, when he’d first heard the story, intrigued by the creepiness of it all.

Nick wanted to read the article again. He went to his desk and rummaged through his stack of papers until he located the piece of tattered print, written by some kid, a Jeffery Beamer, in the Journalism Club. He’d certainly done his research on the urban legend. Nick re-read the whole thing while standing.

“Legend of the Pumpkin Thief, by Jeffery Beamer.

“One thing that truly amazes me is urban legends. I’ve heard a few good ones over the years, some from watching TV, others from Googling urban legends. So when some of my older friends in school shared with me the Pumpkin Thief legend, I just had to do a little bit of research. And this is what I found.

” Legend has it that around Halloween, this evil creature, the Pumpkin Thief—a tall, green-bean-thin figure in a black suit and large, orange tie, with a massive orange pumpkin for a head and carved-out eyes, nose, and jagged mouth—would sneak into a town of his choosing and snatch up the pumpkins at night. He’d collect as many as he could hold, then he’d carry them away to a secret location.

“Why did he snatch up all the pumpkins? Well, my dear readers, folklore said it had to do with him trying to stop the townsfolk from using them to ward off evil spirits. You see, without the pumpkins to protect their homes, they were prey to all the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that float around on Halloween, having fun on the one night when they get to celebrate all things horror. They run amok and frighten trick-or-treaters. It’s their night, and the Pumpkin Thief does what he can to allow them to have fun on this special night.

“Now, although the urban legend has been discredited, I was able to retrieve some stories from people who said they have evidence that he is indeed real.

“It appears that a few local towns had confirmed that this Pumpkin Thief visited them. They had their pumpkins stolen, and on Halloween night, weird things happened to a few of the townsfolk. Some said they saw ghosts peering into their homes through the windows. One person claimed that floating chased about his bedroom Another said his doorbell kept ringing, but no one was there. I even found a few photos from a nearby town that showed strange, large, orb-type lights floating above their homes on Halloween night.

Of course, experts discredited these allegations. It seems no one had concrete evidence of a Pumpkin Thief caught red-handed grabbing pumpkins; nonetheless, the legend continues. Which town will be next?

Nick stopped reading. He had enough to go on. One missing pumpkin certainly did not qualify as a visit from the Pumpkin Thief. But it was kind of cool, getting all worked up the night before the holiday, a special holiday devoted to celebrating evil and dead things. And the article intrigued him. Maybe I should look into this some more, find out who else might have been visited by this legend since Jeffery wrote the article. I need to track down this kid. I’m sure he’s got more to tell.

He replaced the article on the pile of papers and went to pack his jacket pockets with all the detective tools he’d need for tonight: a flashlight, cell phone, and a small pair of binoculars. Those were all he had, so far. He’d ordered some other items out of one of his detective comic books, but they hadn’t shipped yet. He loved all the detective gadgetry!

He knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to be a detective with the police department. He wasn’t sure how to get there, but between his parents, teachers, and those guidance counselors they had in the big high school he’d be eventually attending, he’d find his way. Once he had the title of detective, and access to all that high-tech gadgetry he’d seen on his favorite TV shows, he’d be happier than an ant in a picnic basket.

And now that his family’s pumpkin had gone missing, most likely stolen, he’d been given the perfect opportunity for an early taste of detective work. Just the thought of it excited him as he began preparations for tonight’s quick investigation.

Nick sat on his bed for a moment longer, still imagining how, one day, he’d succeed at what he wanted to do. Detective work. The girl. The cars. The life.

Nick had to stop thinking so much about the future and instead concentrate on solving the mystery afoot. He already had an idea about who may have put their grubby hands on his pumpkin. Lou, the bully of his neighborhood! He stood and walked out of his room, closing the door behind him, then to the top of the stairs. But when he approached the top step, he saw his evil little sibling with the pigtails at the bottom, looking straight up at him.

Samantha put both hands on her hips and smiled. “Where are you going? I’m telling.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Sam. What is your problem? You’re ten, but sometimes you act like a spoiled baby. Do you really hate me that much?”

Nick hoped a little guilt would soften his sister up, and possibly keep her from saying anything to their parents. She seemed to have a relentless desire to make his life a living mess.

For real.

“You’re playing stupid detective again, right?” She smiled, her arms folded. “Well, you’re going to need me if you want to solve a mystery because I know how to be a real detective.” She continued to smile while blocking Nick’s exit.

He knew her motive. She wanted to follow her big brother through a night of detective work, a complete gathering of clues, and hopefully witness a crime get solved through the quick actions of her detective brother.

He also figured she’d tell all her friends that her older brother could solve any crime that dared to enter her neighborhood. He could see it in her eyes. “Yeah, sure. Get your coat and let’s go. It’s getting dark out.”

Nick wasn’t the least bit happy about having to drag Samantha along, but he didn’t want her telling her friends and their parents any lies about his motives. Besides, she might be able to help keep an eye on things.

***

Nick and Samantha left the house together, first telling his parents he was taking his sister across the street to his friend’s house. He knew they would’ve noticed Samantha missing, with her always under their feet.

As they crossed the street, Nick took out his flashlight. He directed its yellow beam to his neighbors’ stoops and porches in search of pumpkins. He pointed the light at each home, every porch that may have displayed a pumpkin, as he walked farther down his street, Samantha by his side.

He was having trouble getting a clear view. Although the rain had stopped, a misty fog had taken over, reflecting the beam of his flashlight back into his eyes. That made it difficult for him to check for pumpkins, even with some porch lights on. But as far as he could tell, none of the houses had any pumpkins on their porches, either. That bothered him.

Eventually he made it to the last house on the left, the home of Mrs. Needlewhitter, an eighty-seven-year-old widow who hated children. Nick knew she was a mean old lady, and he usually did his best to steer clear of her. Tonight was different. He needed to check her porch, just like he’d checked the others.

Nick slowly approached the gate, then jumped back in sheer fright, pulling his sister to the ground with him. Baxter, the old lady’s German Shepherd, slammed up against the fence, barking, snarling, and showing off his white canines.

Samantha cried and screamed, “I want to go home!”

Her loud voice made the dog bark even more.

“Come on, sis, let’s go. He can’t hurt you. He’s behind the fence,” Nick said, lifting her up off the wet grass that left a fresh, green stain on the knees of her white pants. He shined his flashlight on Mrs. Needlewhitter’s porch, noticing a few smashed pumpkins by her bottom stoop.

Could that be it? Had he found the culprit? An eighty-seven-year-old, half-crippled, almost blind, gray-haired … pumpkin thief?

Baxter stood on his hind legs, his massive front paws hanging over the top of the gate, snarling and barking at Nick as he came closer for a better look. He shined his flashlight in Baxter’s eyes, turning them red as blood, reminding him of a movie he’d seen last week on the Chiller Channel about this dog gone bad, evil incarnate, determined to do harm to those who’d messed with him while he was still a pup.

Nick shook this thought from his head and, instead, focused his attention on the front porch.

The porch light turned on.

“What’s going on out there, Baxter boy? You see trespassers, is that it?” Mrs. Needlewhitter yelled through the screen door. “Get ’em, boy. Rip ’em to shreds. Dirty rat punks.”

Nick couldn’t understand why she said what she did, but he wasn’t waiting around to find out what would happen next. He grabbed hold of his sister and ran across the street, not looking back as they sprinted home. He still heard the old lady’s dog, barking in the distance.

When they reached their house, Nick walked his sister up the front porch steps, and then opened the door. He gave his tearful sister a nudge inside. “Go, and don’t say a word to Mom or Dad, you hear?”

She didn’t look back or reply as she walked indoors.

He quickly shut the door, then sat down on his front steps to think of what he needed to do next. He’d found a few broken and smashed pumpkins, and Mrs. Needlewhitter might just be the pumpkin culprit, but why?

How?

How could she manage to sneak around and grab all those pumpkins? Or could this be the work of Lou, the bully? Or worse. Has the Pumpkin Thief chosen this town for this Halloween? My town? Now Nick had even more reason to find this Jeffery Beamer.

In the interim, Nick knew he had to gather some evidence, so he thought up a plan, a great plan on how he’d get closer to those pumpkins scattered about Mrs. Needlewhitter’s yard. This was going to be his first real detective work, and he knew deep inside that he was so ready to accomplish the task.

 

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Charles Day is the Horror Writer Association’s Mentor Program Chairperson, Co­-Chair for the NY/LI Chapter, and a member of the HWA Library committee. He is also a member of the New England
Horror Writers Association, the American Library Association, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.
He is also the Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of the YA novel, THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF. He’s also published his first adult novel DEEP WITHIN and the first book in his
Adventures of Kyle McGerrt trilogy, a YA western heroic fantasy, THE HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER, and his first co­authored novel with Mark Taylor, REDEMPTION
His forthcoming publications and projects in development for 2014 include a comic book series
based on the ADVENTURES OF KYLE McGERRT trilogy, his first middle­ grade series, THE
UNDERDWELLERS, and his third YA novel, IMMORTAL FAMILY.
On the publishing business side of things, Charles is the owner of Day Media and Publishing in New York, which houses the successful imprints, Evil Jester Press, Evil Jester Comics, and Hidden Thoughts Press (mental wellness collections,)
He’s also an artist and illustrator, who is passionate about creating the many characters he’s brought to life in his published, or soon to be published works. You can find out more about his upcoming writing projects, check out his illustrations and art, or find out what he’s cooking up next with that evil dude­in­the­box, the evil Jester, by visiting his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/charles.day.92

 

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