Welcome. Toss a blanket down, sit for a while under the willow, relax, and enjoy what's written below.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter Four of the third Annie Ryan cozy mystery, Bones, Booze & Bouquets due out spring 2017. 

He turned to look at me doing his best to wipe the grin off his face. “You know, Annie, you may drive the rest of the city council and me crazy at times, but I can’t imagine Heavenly Corners without you. Not to mention, if I make you angry enough you may run against me in the next election.”
I stared at the man believing he did lose his mind.
Phillips added, “That’s not funny, she’d probably win.”
The mayor glared at Phillips and Phillips mumbled, “Well, this town loves Annie.” 

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31st of each year. Adults and children wear costumes and go trick or treating. Costumes range from the most popular fairy princess of the current year to frightening creatures no one would want to meet in a dark or well-lit alley. Children ask for candy at each door with the familiar yell of “trick or treat” and then invariably eat too much candy on their trek home. It is also a holiday that writers love to add to frightening stories. Why?

Many towns now have their trick or treat celebrations at night. Darkness adds to the story’s eeriness. The idea of everyone wearing a costume including the maniac who lives down the street or a traveling serial killer sets a creepy scene with little backstory needed. The serial killer dons nondescript jeans and a dark sweatshirt. He slips on a scary rubber mask and mingles with the very people he wants to kill. He is anonymous, and others may even enjoy his costume or antics. That is until he chases them with a large butcher knife.

Using Halloween as a backdrop for a story adds a layer to the story before the first words are written. Graveyards and abandoned houses take on a special, scary air about them on Halloween. If ghosts do not walk the grounds every night, they are sure to be there on Halloween. The reader will feel the fear of the holiday before the addition of whatever the writer wants to add. If the writer starts with the idea of something evil happening on Halloween night, the reader is ready to turn on all the lights before the end of page one.

It is what a writer strives for, to hook the reader from the first sentence or paragraph. Horrific tales can and have been woven around other holidays, but it is fun to start with one that carries fear in its name.

Another approach is to start with a sweet Halloween story and then turn it into a paranormal or horror story. Going back to the serial killer who blends in so well with the neighbors. Perhaps he is dressed as a clown and entertaining the kids and adults alike. When one of the young moms disappear from the party without a trace, everyone may point a finger at the clown who has also disappeared. However, no one can describe him/her except for approximate height or weight. 

The beginning of a frightening mystery is set.

Working the holiday into a story is a fun way to add that additional layer sometimes needed to grab the attention of your reader. Try it with different holidays. A clown at Halloween, Santa at a Christmas party, an Easter bunny during an Easter egg hunt, or a villain dressed as a turkey at a community Thanksgiving dinner can strike fear into the reader. Want to add a touch of paranormal? Make your costumed villain a ghost. It works every time.
Happy Writing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Tale Well Travelled

A Tale Well
Multiple Genre, Interactive Book

Which Path Will You Choose?

Presented By
Susan Horsnell, Kathleen Kelly,
Cherry Shephard, Dzintra Sullivan

and Margaret Tanner


When young archaeology student, Mitchell, discovers some unusual items, while digging up a paddock, he believes it could be a major find.
Following his instinct Mitchell risks his job and refuses to dig any further until Professor Phinneus Groves, the most respected archaeologist from the university gives him the all clear.

Will the find be significant?

What tale do they have to tell?

YOU now sit at the crossroads, YOU are in control, YOU have five unique tales to follow.

Which way will you go?

Which path will you choose?


A Tale Well Travelled

Chapter One

Two more hours and I can get off the damn front loader and go for a beer. Digging dirt for a new housing development is as boring as hell and, after ten straight days
I’ve had a gut full. One more year and I’ll have my Archaeology degree and yep, I’ll still be digging the stuff but it will be a hell of a lot more interesting. Instead of moving dirt from one place to another to add to the never ending concrete jungle, I’ll be moving it to uncover the past.
A flash of white in the long grass catches my eye and I shut off the machine. You can never be too careful on neglected sites where the undergrowth can be as high as three or more feet. It could be an animal, a child hiding from its parents or nothing more than a pile of stones. Whatever it is needs to be checked out. I could never forgive myself if I injured someone.
I jump down from the loader and stride through the grass which waves around me in the wind. I stand six feet four inches tall and the grass reaches my hips. Glimpsing the flash of white again, I warily approach. Pushing the vegetation aside, I find what appears to be a rock formation but it’s not natural. It’s shaped like a small pillar, around a foot high and two inches in diameter. My gut tells me it has been placed here for some specific purpose.
My curiosity is peaked and I crouch down to get a closer look. The rock of the pillar is smooth, weathered white, almost like marble. As the grass is blown by the wind, other pillars are revealed. I stand and examine each one. They are all identical, around the same height and arranged in a semi-circle. I’m intrigued. This is something my professor at University would be interested in having a look at. Pulling my phone from my back pocket, I punch the button for his direct number and wait for his answer.
“Professor, Phinneus Groves.”
“Professor, it’s Mitchell Symons.”
“Mitchell, what can I do for you?”
“As you know, I work a front loader for Dry River Construction Company during my breaks from University and I have uncovered something I think may interest you. It may be nothing, but my gut tells me it could be something of significance.”
“Hmmm, what is it you have found?”
“I was working at clearing the plot out by the old Dry River crossing, the one at the top of the hill that looks out over the river. I’ve found six stone pillars arranged in a semicircle. They’re all around the same height, weathered white and I think they were placed here a long time ago.”
“Are you there now?”
“I’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“Symons, what the fuck are you doing?”
Patrick Johnson, my boss, is standing over me as I crouch down having a closer look while waiting for the professor.
“I found these pillars and I think they could be archeologically important. I’ve called my professor from the university.”
Patrick crouches beside me and pushes the grass to one side. “Looks like a bunch of rocks to me. Get on with the job.”
“No, sir. This needs to be investigated. It could have important historical relevance and I will not destroy them until we know for sure.”
“I’ll take it out of your pay and if this land isn’t cleared by tomorrow evening, consider yourself out of work.” Patrick pushes to his feet and storms off. I will not miss that asshole when I finally quit.
I return to examining one of the pillars. I note small indentations and scrape marks and take photos with my phone. I hope this is a finding of some note, it will be disappointing if it proves to be nothing more than some quirk of Mother Nature.



Trailer: Maci Dillon

Cover: Dzintra Sullivan

Teasers: Dzintra Sullivan and Cherry Shephard

Beginning Chapters, Formatting and Published by: Susan Horsnell

Promotion: Cherie Cam from LLEP


Are the stones hold a secret from Mitchell's past?

Does the necklace might hold some magical secret?

Are the pillars are connected to the Dry River MC?
Are the stones could be cursed?

Western/ Native American Indian
Does the strange arrangement of stones have something to do with Native American Indians in the days of the Old West?

 The choice of where to begin is now yours. When one pathway has been read, visit another.
One book.
One Beginning.
Five completely different stories to solve the mystery of the arrangement of stones.
Which story will you believe?
Which story will be your favourite?


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter One of the next Kellie Conley/Lance Cain mystery, Deadly Wishes, due out fall/winter 2016. 

Detective Stellion’s door flew open, and a young officer rushed in holding a sheet of paper. The door partially hid Kellie, and the officer didn’t take the time to look around before he blurted, “It’s a fax from the coroner. He said he needs to contact all the local dentists about trying to match dental records to the severed head we found in that woman’s freezer.”

A slow smile spread across Kellie’s face.

“Get out,” Mike hollered leaning across his desk toward the officer.

The officer paled.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following is from Chapter One of Sarah’s Heart the next book in the Gentle Falls Mail-Order Bride Romance series. 

Matthew spoke directly to Sarah, "I tried to get another bride and that woman at the agency has the nerve to write and tell me I’m not qualified to be one of her grooms. Me? Not qualified? It’s Penelope’s fault and since she’s married and you’re not, you have to marry me today. I paid for one of her brides, and you’ll do just fine.” He crossed his arms and stared at both women.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Six Sentence Sunday

The following six sentences are from Chapter Three of the third Annie Ryan cozy mystery, Bones, Booze & Bouquets. 

Georgie whistled. “A skeleton, bootleg booze, and now a body. We have a mystery to solve.”
I grabbed her arm. “I think we do, but first, we need to know who died and how. I hope it was natural causes." 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Release

New Release and a new genre for me. Meet Penelope and the residents of Gentle Falls, Wisconsin.
Eighteen-year-old Penelope Langton lives a quiet life as a cook for a wealthy family in 1880 Chicago. She’s resigned that her life will remain routine and uneventful. Marriage is the furthest thing from her mind. Her best friend tries to convince her to leave before her employer’s despicable nephew returns for the summer. 

Penelope believes her friend’s plan to become a mail-order bride is foolish. With her friend gone and the family’s nephew’s early arrival, Penelope finds herself fighting for her virtue and looking for employment. 

Will Penelope find a way to freedom and safety by becoming a mail-order bride? A visit to the matchmaker seems her only way out, but will her new life as a bride be more complicated than the life she leaves behind? 

A sweet romance. Steam level=sweet. 

Available on Amazon