Impending Danger #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. Time for another WIP Wednesday. Today, I’ll share an excerpt from Cold Dark Night. But first, let me introduce you to someone and explain how I got her name.

I’ve used various methods for coming up with character names—random generators, popular name sites, keeping of a list of ones I encounter. However, this one came about unexpectedly while driving to work. Well, maybe I should have expected it since I am a Beatles fan and my favorite album is Abbey Road.

As usual, I was listening to music. Suddenly, the idea popped in my head. Characters named Abbey and Penny.

Not the “real” Abbey Road but a residential street in my hometown.

Abbey Lane grew up in the town of Madeira, went away to college, then returned to take a job as the local librarian. She has an older sister named Penny.

And yes, we have a Penny Lane (Funny I don’t see a barber shop or firehouse.)

Yes, her sister’s name is Penny Lane and no, Abbey will not marry someone with the last name Rhodes. She does, however, have a special “gift” in that she’s often warned of impending danger through dreams.

However, she doesn’t talk about it often as someone from her past hurt her deeply when they refused to heed her warning. Penny is the only one she confides in.

Abbey is a friend and neighbor of my protagonist, Tami.


Abbey Lane sat at the breakfast table, hoping a second cup of coffee would revive her. She’d tossed and turned for the latter part of the night. It had been a long time since she’d had one of those dreams.

Most of her visions were vivid and easily recalled. This time, she couldn’t grasp all the details no matter how hard she tried.

She rubbed her forehead in an attempt to remember. Someone was lurking outside a two-story house. She couldn’t tell if the person was a man or a woman, only that they were intent on harming whoever lived there.

Last night’s dream meant something. She hadn’t felt this strongly about one in years. If only there was someone to talk to. Maybe she’d tell Penny.

Abbey glanced at the clock on the stove. There was much to do before the library opened. Sleeplessness or not, this was no time to dawdle. She rinsed her coffee cup in the sink, grabbed her purse, then walked outside.

Across the street, Tami sat in the porch swing, watching as Jason drove away.

Abbey called out to her, “Taking advantage of the mild weather?”

“Yeah. I hear it won’t last long, so I thought I’d enjoy the outdoors while I can.”

“Don’t blame you. I need to run, but I’m looking forward to lunch.”

“Me too.”

“I’ll meet you at Maria’s at noon. It’s on Main Street. You can’t miss it.”

“See you then.”

As Abbey got into her car, a chill enveloped her. The house… older… two-story…

The memory faded as quickly as it appeared. Tami’s house was similar. No. The house in my dream didn’t have others nearby. I’m sure of it.

But when she drove away, she couldn’t shake the feeling someone close to her would soon be in danger.

While Abbey is a minor character, don’t be surprised if you won’t see more of her. Matter of fact, she’ll be the protagonist in the second book, Blood Red Dawn.

A Visit to Sleepy Hollow #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. We’re coming up on October, the time of the year when I think of ghosts and goblins, bright, full moons, and legends. Even a headless horseman. This week’s WIP Wednesday is both a work in publication and a work in progress.

Several years ago, when I did a First Friday Fiction post each month, I wrote a serial story about two longtime friends, Lauren and Hannah. Lauren taught history at the local high school, and Hannah was the school librarian.

During their summer break, they decided to take an extended road trip. Their first stop was a place called the Sleepy Hollow Inn—not to be confused with the locale in Washington Irving’s novel. However, with a name like you can imagine all sorts of possibilities.

It didn’t take long for the two friends to get caught in the middle of a century-old story. And Hannah’s superstitious nature and curiosity help lead to the solution.


“You’ll be in room 212,” Millie said. “It’s at the end of the hall on the left—one of two rooms with a private bath. We serve dinner at six. There are storms forecast for this evening. We often lose electricity, but don’t worry. We have plenty of candles and oil lamps.”

Millie pressed a vintage desk bell, and a man appeared in the room. He was tall and lanky with long arms and a head that seemed too small for his body. He was exactly how Lauren imagined Ichabod Crane might look. Hannah let out a soft gasp but was quick to cover it with a cough.

“This is Ivan,” Millie said. “He’ll help with your luggage.”

Millie stood. “Shall we all gather in the parlor for dessert and storytime?”

The others stood to follow, but Hannah pulled Lauren aside.

“Did you notice how many were seated at the table?” She whispered.

“I didn’t count.”

“Thirteen. Thirteen at dinner. That’s not good.”

“Reading Agatha Christie again? I hope that’s the reason. Please don’t tell me it’s because you’re superstitious.”

“A person can’t be too careful.”

“You are superstitious. Hannah, this is the twenty-first century. I admit a good old-fashioned ghost story is fun, but I don’t believe walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross my path will bring me bad luck. And I’m not the least bit concerned over the number of people at the dinner table.”

A farmhouse near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I picture the Sleepy Hollow Inn to look something like this place.

A Visit to Sleepy Hollow will be included in a book of short stories to be published next year. Others in the collection are The Dare and Woman in Black. (Click the links if you’d like to learn more about those stories.)

Originally, I planned for Lauren to be the main character. However, as characters sometimes do, Hannah quickly took center stage. I felt Lauren needed her own story and thought of using Woman in Black as a prequel.

In the meantime, I wrote a short story titled The Keeper’s House, which is included in an anthology titled Macabre Sanctuary. Lauren and Hannah appear in the story with Lauren serving as the main character.

You’ll hear more about Macabre Sanctuary and The Keeper’s House in the upcoming weeks.

Unclear Purposes Playlist #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. For today’s WIP Wednesday, I’ll share the third and final playlist for the Driscoll Lake Series. For this one, I began selecting songs while still brainstorming the plot. I shared in a post a few months ago, where Lyin’ Eyes inspired the storyline. (You can click here if you’d like to read that post.)

Two or three of these songs are mentioned by name in the book. There’s a scene near the end where Brian’s band plays Tom Petty’s “Refuge” at a local club.

As with the first two books, romance plays a role.

They sat in silence for a while, watching the flames dance in the fireplace. Even with the awkward moment earlier, Christine felt safe. Content. She could get used to this.

“Think you’ll ever marry again?” Vince’s voice was so low she almost didn’t hear him. Even so, she wasn’t sure she’d understood.

“What did you say?”

“Probably shouldn’t have been so blunt. I tend to say what’s on my mind.”

“I don’t have a problem with someone being frank, but your question caught me off guard.”

“Why? You’re an attractive woman. It’s been a while since Kyle’s death.”

“Guess I haven’t thought a lot about it. I’ve only been out on a few dates.”

“Easily changed. I’d like to make sure it does.”

She offered a tentative smile. “You don’t mince words, do you?”

“Everything that has happened the last few weeks has made me realize how short life can be. If someone has a chance at happiness, they should grab onto it and not let go.”

“Someone recently reminded me of that.”

“So, what do you think? Interested?”

Christine smiled. “I’m more than interested.”

And now for the playlist.

  • One of These Nights – The Eagles
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
  • Lyin’ Eyes – The Eagles
  • Let’s Live for Today – The Grass Roots
  • The Last Worthless Evening – Don Henley
  • Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Shame on The Moon – Bob Segar
  • We Have No Secrets – Carly Simon
  • Refugee – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • Someone to Lay Down Beside Me – Linda Ronstadt
  • I’m In You – Peter Frampton

So there you have it. Will I create a soundtrack for future works? I’m already thinking about which ones I’ll use.

Unseen Motives Playlist #WIPWednesday

Hey, everyone. It’s time for another WIP Wednesday. This week is another “work in publication.”

The idea of creating a playlist, or soundtrack for my novels didn’t occur to me until after I had published Unseen Motives. Given the main character in Unknown Reasons was a part-time drummer who loved music, it seemed fitting for that book.

But Stephanie Harris, the protagonist in my first novel, also has a love for music. She was largely influenced by her father. Unfortunately he died when she was only fourteen, but she never forgot the times when the two of them would go for drives in the car with the radio tuned to a Classic Rock station and the volume loud. (Her mother’s taste leaned more toward classical music, but that’s another story.)

I began putting together a list of songs. As with Unknown Reasons, the songs follow the book’s timeline. The only song mentioned by name in the book is Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” but I tried to select others that fit the storyline. And yes, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is relative to a scene near the end of the book.

Before I began writing this series, I didn’t intend for romance to play a part. It didn’t take long for me to discover Stephanie and Driscoll Lake Police Chief Matt Bradford were meant to be together. But they both have things from the past to deal with. Here’s a snippet from one of the scenes.

Matt and Stephanie lingered in the parking lot after the others departed. “Sorry about the crowd,” Matt said. “I should have known. Mary’s is always busy on Friday nights after games.”

“It’s okay. It was nice to visit with some of my high school friends.” Stephanie took a deep breath of the night air. “I’m glad I went to the game. I wasn’t sure how it would be, but I felt a sense of freedom tonight. Maybe I’m finally getting over the past.”

“But you still have questions. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have asked Kyle to write a second story.”

“Yes, I do. I realize the outcome probably won’t change, but I have to try.” She tried to blink away tears that threatened to fall. “I didn’t mean to get emotional.”

Matt wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Look, I know tonight wasn’t a real date, but how about dinner tomorrow? Just the two of us. We can go someplace in Brewster.”

Stephanie smiled. “I’d like that.”

“Good.” He leaned down and placed a light kiss on her lips.

Impulsively, Stephanie took her finger and traced the scar on his chin. “How did you get this?”

Matt took her hand and pulled it aside. Something flickered in his eyes. Pain? Hurt? Anger? Something else?

“It happened a long time ago. It’s getting late. You’re probably ready to go home.”

She jerked her hand away from his. “Maybe tomorrow night isn’t such a good idea.”

“Stephanie, I—” The ringing of his cell phone interrupted Matt’s words. He took it from his pocket and looked at the caller ID. “Damn. It’s the station. I’d better take this.”

Will they overcome their past and move on? You’ll have to read the book to find out. In the meantime, here is the playlist.

  • Out in The Country – Three Dog Night
  • Over My Head – Fleetwood Mac
  • Wild Night – Van Morrison
  • Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Brown
  • Drive – The Cars
  • Magnet and Steel – Walter Eagan
  • Moonlight Feels Right – Starbuck
  • Who’s Crying Now – Journey
  • Tell It Like It Is – Heart
  • Walk Away Renee – The Left Banke
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
  • Words – The Bee Gees

Next week, another snippet from my upcoming short story collection.

Unknown Reasons Playlist #WIPWednesday

Hi, y’all. Time for another WIP Wednesday. Today’s post is about a “Work in Publication.” Yesterday, my book Unknown Reasons got some attention over at Marcia’s blog. (If you didn’t read the review, click here to see the post.) I decided to share a little more about the background to this story.

When I began writing Unseen Motives, I planned for Brian Nichols to be a bad guy – a rebellious teenager who never changed his ways. I briefly introduced teenage Brian in the prologue. When I got to the first scene twenty years later, I couldn’t write him as I had planned. Or, I should say, he wouldn’t allow me to make him into a conniving snake in the grass.

So, I changed direction and added a couple of characters whose motives and actions would fit the plot. Brian became a respected citizen and construction company owner. But he wouldn’t let me stop there. He implored me to tell his story, and thus the sequel, Unknown Reasons, was born.

Yes, Brian is still a bit of a rebel. In addition to owning a business, he also plays drums with a local band. When he hooks up with Rachel Jackson, a respected physician who comes from one of the town’s wealthiest families, their chemistry is enough to set the town on fire. Except, of course, an arsonist beat them to it.

Since Brian is a drummer, the idea came to me to create a playlist on Spotify. Each song is either mentioned in the book or fits a particular scene. It’s a mix from various artists but all are in the classic rock category. I even picked a one-hit wonder that I hadn’t thought of in years.

In the first scene, Brian wears a Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt, so I picked a song from that album. He likes the Eagles, and I included several of their songs. Here’s the complete list:

  • Breathe – Pink Floyd (From Dark Side of The Moon)
  • Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  • You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oats
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
  • Waiting For a Girl Like You – Foreigner
  • I Was Made For Loving You – KISS
  • 1900 Yesterday – Liz Damon
  • Lotta Love – Nicolette Larson
  • In The City – The Eagles (Live version from Hell Freezes Over)
  • Bad Time – Grand Funk Railroad
  • I Can’t Tell You Why – The Eagles
  • Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
  • One – Three Dog Night
  • Life in The Fast Lane – The Eagles (Live version from Hell Freezes Over)
  • Invisible Touch – Genesis (Live Version from The Way We Walk)
  • Best of My Love – The Eagles
  • That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard it Should Be – Carly Simon

And here’s a snippet from the book.

They neared the outskirts of Driscoll Lake when a popular classic rock song played from the car’s speakers. Rachel glanced over to see Brian softly singing the words.
“Good song,” she said.
“Yeah. With a subliminal message.”
“Oh, yeah?”
“Maybe not so subliminal, but if you pay attention to the background vocals, you’ll know what I mean.”
“I know the words. The guy is afraid of having his heart broken.”
Brian was silent.
“Who broke your heart? Your ex-wife or someone else?”

Care to guess which song fits that scene?