Guest Author D L Finn: In The Tree’s Shadow

Hey, Readers. It’s always a pleasure to host other authors and today’s guest is my friend, D. L. Finn. Denise writes fiction and poetry and is also a contributing author for Story Empire. She has a new release and is here to talk about it today. Please welcome Denise!

Thank you for having me visit, Joan, to talk about my latest story collection, In the Tree’s Shadow.

Today I’m talking about a story close to my heart, The Dolphin. I originally wrote it for the much-missed and loved Suzanne Burke’s ‘Fiction in A Flash Challenge!’ The image was a beautiful photo of a dolphin jumping up in joy. So, with my name being dlfinn—or dolphin—I had to write a short. I was surprised by where it took me.

My older grandchildren, now teenagers, would spend the night, and we’d always make some popcorn and watch a movie together. For a while, their favorite was Mona, and the conversation turned to the grandma passing in the movie. Like the grandma who returned as a string ray, I assured them I would return as a dolphin. They liked that I’d still be around in a unique form. So, the story was written for them.

I hope that Suzanne has found her joy, and may the rest of us find ours— when we travel to the other side.


A collection of short stories where dreams and nightmares coexist.

Nestled inside these pages, you’ll meet a couple in their golden years who take a trip with an unexpected detour, a boy desperate to give his brother the Christmas gift he asked for, a girl with a small glass dragon who is at the mercy of her cruel uncles, and a young mother who has a recurring dream about murder. You’ll be introduced to worlds where people get second chances and monsters might be allowed their desires while angels and dragons try to help. Happy endings occur, but perspective can blur the line between good and evil in these twenty-seven tales. Since the stories vary between 99 and 12,000 words, whether you have only five minutes or an entire evening to settle into reading, there is something that will suit your time and taste.


The cool winter sun reflected off the blue ocean, making my eyes water. I blinked hard to clear my vision as I dove back in. Why did my children and grandchildren huddle on the white, sandy beach? Didn’t they want to swim with me? My oldest grandson, Peter, walked to the water’s edge. He tossed a lei of pink plumeria into the waves. Those flowers reminded me of the beautiful day Bob and I renewed our vows for our fiftieth wedding anniversary on a stunning Hawaiian beach.

I jumped high into the air and called out, “Where did you get the flowers, Peter?”

An enormous wave crashed against the rocks, drowning out my words.

Peter stood with his arms folded over a black shirt and the dolphin tie I’d bought him when he graduated from college last year. The incoming waves soaked the bottom of his black pants.

I shook my head and tried again. “The water’s great! Join me!”

Louder breaking waves masked my words, leaving only a whistle.

A small pod of dolphins approached and swam urgently around me.

“What’s wrong? Are you protecting me?” I scanned the area, but there were no sharks or other dangers.

A lone dolphin seemed to be watching me. A familiar chill ran through me as another gently brushed against my legs. I dove underwater to get a better look.



I have a signed poster next to my computer from Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.

I live with four cats. Our feral has his own room and is the only cat to go outside.


D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include children’s books, adult fiction, a unique autobiography, and poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:






D.L. Finn blog

Amazon Page

Doesn’t this sound exciting? Be sure to hop over to Amazon and grab your copy!

Guest Author Gwen Plano ~ Redemption: A Father’s Fatal Decision

Hey, Readers. It’s my pleasure to host Gwen Plano today. She is a friend and fellow Story Empire colleague. She writes fiction and poetry and is here to talk about her latest release, Redemption A Father’s Fatal Decision. Please welcome Gwen.

Thank you, Joan, for inviting me to your site today. It’s a pleasure to visit your readers and share a bit about my new release.

Redemption, A Father’s Fatal Decision is a mystery thriller that takes place in the Southeast corner of New York state, in the towns of New Rochelle and Cortlandt. The characters occasionally travel to Old Lyme, Connecticut, but for the most part, the drama is in New York. Having spent about twenty years in and around that area, it was exciting to visit as a writer.

The book tackles themes of forgiveness, redemption, and absolution through suspense. We accompany the son and daughter of the deceased as they try to uncover the reason for their father’s murder. What they discover prompts them to ask if they even knew him.

Sometimes complicated situations help us see our own challenges in a different light. That is my hope for this book. Most of us won’t experience threats like those of my characters, but pain is universal, as is joy. Seeing either in the extreme helps us recognize our own—and severe or elated, those emotions are impactful.  

In the excerpt below, Lisa and Trace Holmes meet with the New Rochelle police captain. His team had searched a secluded cabin owned by their father and found both damming information and important documents for his two adult children. The captain presents a deed to a property in Connecticut.


“Take a look at this and read the note. There’s a key taped to the paper.” The captain pulls the deed from a file and hands it to Trace.

Their brows furrow while they read:

Trace and Lisa, your mother loves this area of Connecticut. She dreamed of having a cottage of her own. Please, take care of her when I’m gone.

Trace covers his face with his hands and fights tears. “I’ve hated him for so long.”

Lisa rubs his back and wipes away tears.

The captain waits a few minutes before continuing. Once they compose themselves, he tells them a story. “A while back, a preacher talked to me about redemption. He said it’s like clearing debt. Action or actions a person takes to free himself from a burden. Sound familiar? I believe your father tried to redeem himself by taking actions he thought would clear his debt. I suspect that intention lies behind his final act of refusing to hand over the crown jewel. In his mind, it was payment.”

Trace’s lips tighten, and he thinks about what the captain has shared. “So, the jewel and money absolve him of thirty-five years of abuse?”

“No.” Davis shakes his head. “But, in his mind, he saw it as payment. Absolution is another matter entirely. That’s God’s work, not mine or yours. I’m not a preacher type, but I’ve lived long enough to put pieces of a puzzle together. I conclude that forgiveness is our responsibility, and I’ve arrived at my own definition, which I’d like to share with you.”


Family secrets can be deadly. When Lisa Holmes visits her parents one fateful Saturday morning, she hugs her father and walks to her childhood bedroom. The doorbell rings. Her father opens the door, and one minute later, he lies dead on the floor—three bullets to the chest.

The Holmes family lives on a quiet street, but no one really knows Eric Holmes. He travels for business and comes home a few days each month. Unbeknown to all, Eric has multiple lives.

In this fast-paced psychological thriller, Lisa and her brother, Trace, embark on a quest to solve the mystery involving the murder of their father. The journey takes them into a secret world where nothing is as it seems. As the puzzle pieces begin to coalesce, they discover the meaning of Redemption.

About Gwen

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Guest Author @StaciTroilo #NewRelease

Hey, readers. I love having guests on my blog, and there’s no better way to kick off September than with a visit from my friend and fellow author, Staci Troilo. She and I go back a few years, and it’s largely because of Staci that I’m writing fiction today.

It’s always exciting when she releases a new book, and this time is really special because she has collaborated with another friend and author, Mae Clair. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I’m honored to host the first stop of their promo tour. Please welcome Staci to tell you all about The Haunting of Chatham Hollow.

Ciao, amici! Joan, thanks for hosting me today. I’m so happy to be here and so excited to tell you and your readers about The Haunting of Chatham Hollow, a dual-timeline novel I co-wrote with talented author, Story Empire colleague, and long-time friend Mae Clair. This was the first either of us attempted a collaboration, and I have to say, it went beautifully. So well, in fact, I think both of us would be up for a second project sometime in the future.

But now isn’t the time to look forward. It’s time to look into the past. More specifically, 1793 and 1888, the historical periods in the novel. And to the present, where the rest of the mystery unfolds. This story encompasses ghosts, curses, missing treasure, arson, and murder, with a cast of characters whose descendants cross paths continuously throughout the ages. Our short tour will introduce you to a few of the major players via a discussion between one of them and a medium.

Today’s post takes place in the present. The psychic is Julia Hale, a resident of Chatham Hollow and a descendant of famous spiritualist Victor Rowe. The character she’ll be speaking with is her grandson, local reporter Aiden Hale.

Without further ado…



Julia: Thanks for joining me today, Aiden.

Aiden: You didn’t really give me much of a choice, Gran.

Julia: Watch your tone, young man.

Aiden: (frowning and mumbling) Sorry.

Julia: So, you’ll be writing multiple articles about the Founder’s Day Festival this year.

Aiden: You know I will.

Julia: And you’ll be part of the séance reenactment.

Aiden: You know that, too.

Julia: (staring pointedly at him) I know many things. For example, I know you’re going to regret talking to me that way.

Aiden: (nostrils flaring) Yes, ma’am. Won’t happen again.

Julia: I also know you don’t want the Spirit Search crew filming here. Now, why is that?

Aiden: Anything fueling the flames of that ridiculous curse is a bad idea. Best case scenario, we’re overrun with ghost hunters all year long. Worst case? We’re overrun with ghost hunters all year long.

Julia: Increased tourism is good for our economy.

Aiden: But not our way of life.

Julia: Are you sure that’s all that’s troubling you?

Aiden: I’m sure.

Julia: There’s not even a small part of you worried about awakening Ward Chatham and bringing his wrath onto the town?

Aiden: Of course not. Because ghosts don’t exist, and even if they did, no one living could talk to them.

Julia: So, you sit here in my kitchen, denying my powers? Denying yours?

Aiden: (rolling his eyes) Not this again.

Julia: Yes, this again.

Aiden: Well, look at the time. I’m on deadline and need to get my draft uploaded before Greer fires me.

Julia: She’d never do that. You’re the best reporter she has.

Aiden: (standing) Gotta run, Gran.

Julia: We weren’t done discussing this.

Aiden: (plants a kiss on her cheek) I was. Later!

Julia: (shaking her head as he runs out the door) This isn’t over!



One founding father.
One deathbed curse.
A town haunted for generations.

Ward Chatham, founder of Chatham Hollow, is infamous for two things—hidden treasure and a curse upon anyone bold enough to seek it. Since his passing in 1793, no one has discovered his riches, though his legend has only grown stronger.

In 1888, charlatan Benedict Fletcher holds a séance to determine the location of Chatham’s fortune. It’s all a hoax so he can search for the gold, but he doesn’t count on two things—Victor Rowe, a true spiritualist who sees through his ruse, and Chatham’s ghost wreaking havoc on the town.

More than a century later, the citizens of the Hollow gather for the annual Founder’s Day celebration. A paranormal research team intends to film a special at Chatham Manor, where the original séance will be reenacted. Reporter and skeptic Aiden Hale resents being assigned the story, but even he can’t deny the sudden outbreak of strange happenings. When he sets out to discover who or what is threatening the Hollow—supernatural or not— his investigation uncovers decades-old conflicts, bitter rivalries, and ruthless murders.

This time, solving the mystery isn’t about meeting his deadline. It’s about not ending up dead.



Thanks again, Joan, for hosting me today. I hope this little exchange gives you and your followers a bit more insight into the Hale family. A paranormal cable show—Spirit Search—is coming to the Hollow to search for ghosts, and Aiden tries his best to avoid them. He denies his gift (if such a thing exists) while Julia happily embraces her powers. I hope you’ll all consider reading the story to find out which of them is right. The answer to that mystery, and many more, can be found in The Haunting of Chatham Hollow. Mae and I truly appreciate your support. Grazie!


Connect with Staci:

Website | Blog | Social Media | Newsletter
Amazon ​| BookBub ​| Goodreads

Connect with Mae:

Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

Staci, it’s been a pleasure to host you today. I wish you and Mae much success. Readers, be sure to pick up your copy of this one. You won’t be disappointed!

A Voice in The Silence #newrelease by @dlfinnauthor

Today, I’m super excited to welcome friend and fellow author D. L. Finn back to my blog. Denise is also one of my cohorts at Story Empire. She’s just released a new book, A Voice in The Silence, and is here to talk about it.

I’ll post my review next week, but in the meantime, let’s welcome Denise!

Thank you for having me here today, Joan, to celebrate the release of A Voice in the Silence.

Would you want your pet to be able to speak to you? I’ve always desired that—well, most of the time. I can only imagine how they see us and the world. Our four-legged fur babies would have such a different perspective than us, if only from the places they view it, like under our feet or high on a shelf. Perhaps the first thing they would tell us is they don’t like the term four-legged fur babies.

I have pondered what they might ask for, and would they have any advice for us? Although their thoughts may only be about their next meal, a comfortable place to sleep, or where their play toy is, what if they were contemplating life like we do? A Voice in the Silence offers some answers to a few of these questions from a unique set of pets. With this trio of animals, nothing is simple. There are some things going on beyond normal communication, even for us humans. I had a lot of fun with that part.

Fun Finn Facts

  1. I like to write about women who are strong and able to deal with the worse in society.
  2. I have always loved being snowed in. I have fond memories of snow play, hot chocolate, and board games.


Drea Burr has experienced more than her share of loss when a stray dog, cat, and rat enter her life. Although the animals start to mend her broken heart, there is something very unusual about them. During a snowstorm, Drea discovers a chilling set of footprints leading to her front window. Both the police and a ghostly messenger warn her about a killer stalking widows. Help comes from her late husband’s best friend, Adam Hale. As the two try to discover answers, more questions arise— about a killer, ghosts, and animals experimented on in a lab.

Can Drea and Adam survive the threats coming from so many directions and save themselves and the animals they’ve grown to love? Or will more tragedy destroy her second chance at happiness? Find out in this thrilling, cozy paranormal adventure.


Green eyes peered up at her. “Are you lost too, kitty? I—” Drea started as a gray rat ran down her garage freezer, climbed on the black cat’s back, and lay down.

She backed up. “Well, I’ll be. Are you together? Or did you bring me a present?”

The cat turned its head and licked the rat.

“Okay, you’re buddies. Um, I still have a cat box and some sand. Plus a bag of food. What does your rat buddy here eat?”

The cat met her gaze without blinking.

Drea pointed at her head. “From what I remember when Robbie had one, rat food and lots of treats, like carrots and bananas. He was a sweet little guy named Rocky and sometimes got into the dog food. But bringing a stray rat in the house, I don’t know. Feels weird to me. You understand, right? But I don’t want to leave you guys outside. So do you want to come in and stay in the laundry room until I can figure this out?”

The cat continued its stare like it wanted to push its thoughts into hers.

“I’ll be right back. Stay here.” Drea hurried into the house and placed the cat box and litter in the laundry room. It was now ready for her new guests, who hadn’t moved.

She pulled on a pair of thick gloves and carefully approached the cat and rat. Each foot was placed flat like she was trying to walk silently, but it was more not to scare them. Encouraged when they didn’t run away, Drea bent down and gently touched the soft fur on the cat’s back. Loud purrs filled the silence.

“Good kitty.”

She touched the rat, who offered his belly to her.

“You’re both friendly. Are you with the dog?”

The cat’s head moved like it was nodding, but that couldn’t be.

“I’m going to pick you both up, okay? I won’t hurt you, so please don’t bite me. Deal?”

The cat meowed, and the rat grabbed onto the cat’s fur.

“I’m picking you up now.”

Drea scooped up the pair and held them to her chest, expecting them to smell, but they didn’t. She felt their bony frames through their fur. Like the dog, they hadn’t eaten in a while. Soon she had them on a towel next to the dryer.

“You have some food and water, guys. Get comfortable, and later we’ll try doing a bath, okay?”

The rat and the cat made all the food disappear in loud gulps and immediately settled on the towel.

She grinned. “I feel like I’m in a kid’s movie. What’s next, birds? Let’s see if you guys know each other.”

The cat looked up and put its head down again.

“Be right back.”

Drea carefully slipped the collar around the dog’s neck. She leashed him up and brought him to the laundry room.

“Be nice, pup,” she warned.

He licked her hand. Drea held tightly to the leash, ready to pull back if she needed to. The dog bent down and sniffed. His tail went into overdrive as he licked both the cat and rat. Neither recoiled.

Drea’s grip on the leash relaxed. “You had me worried there for a second.”

She watched the dog lie down next to the cat and rat. Who discards animals like this? It was unlikely she’d ever know, but it wouldn’t be the first time people had dropped off their pets to go live free in the forest. Idiots.

Amazon Purchase Link US
Amazon Purchase Link UK

Author Bio

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:





D.L. Finn blog

Author Amazon Page

Life and Soul #New Release by @harmony_kent

Hey, everyone! Today, I’m excited to have as my guest friend, fellow author, and Story Empire contributor, Harmony Kent. She’s here to talk about her brand new book, which releases tomorrow.

Welcome, Harmony!

Hi, Joan. Thanks so much for hosting me today. It’s always wonderful to visit with you. Here’s a little bit I’d love to share about my latest book of poetry …

From Friendly Soul:

Holding Hands

friends see

your highs and lows

share triumphs and failures

hold your hand when you want to die

of shame

help you see the light at the end

of your darkened tunnel

find the humour

in pain

This poem comes from a time when friendships were shifting, and a deep betrayal from my sister left me reeling. It brought me to contemplate what friendship is/should be.

Holding Hands is about the acceptance of both others and self, no matter how bad we think our mistakes are. If we have to pretend around others, it’s not true friendship. I hope you enjoyed this poem and would love to know what you think.


Life & Soul is the second book in the Soul Poetry Series by acclaimed author Harmony Kent.

This beautiful collection of over fifty poems will take the reader through the highs and lows of everyday life via contemporary poetry in a range of styles and themes. Within these pages, you will find reflections on the Lonely Soul, the Seeking Soul, Brief Soul, Friendly Soul, and the Loving Soul—states of mind and living and longing we each experience over the course of a life.

Life & Soul offers something for lovers of poetry from all walks of life.

Praise for Slices of Soul, Book 1 in the Soul Poetry Series:

“I found my answer in this wonderful treasure-trove and have already read it three times.” Robert Fear

“I found in Slices of Soul something approaching aesthetic bliss, a sense of being connected in some way to other states – like tenderness, kindness, ecstasy – where art is the norm.” Colm Herron

“A stunning collection of poems that I read in one sitting! Unable to simply put this down until I had read the last. I love the clarity of the short poems, such clear images created in so few words or phrases. Many of them touched my heart and I will be giving them a 2nd and 3rd read!” Audrina Lane

Universal Link:


Harmony Kent spent 13 years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, where she faced her demons and overcame devastating low self-esteem and found freedom. After a life-changing injury, Harmony returned to the world at the tender age of 40, and her life as a writer began.

Harmony is an award-winning multi-genre author, and her publications include:

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 1)

Life and Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 2)

Interludes (Erotic Short Stories)

Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Polish Your Prose (How to Self-Edit)

Creative Solutions (Creative Writing Inspiration)

Backstage (Erotic Romance and Thriller)

FALLOUT (Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony is always on the lookout for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.

Harmony’s Website

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: Harmony Kent

BookBub: Harmony Kent

Story Empire (co-authored blog): Harmony Kent