I enjoyed the illustrations throughout the The Haunting of Smock Hill. What was the art collaboration like for this novel?
I have an ongoing creative relationship with, I believe, one of the greatest artists ever. She goes by Ergoshwampy and we have collaborated on my last six books. When I get an idea for a drawing I relay to her what I am thinking and leave the complete design up to her. She never disappoints when it comes to the artwork. She also designs the covers for the books as well and again, I let her know what I am thinking of for the cover and she wastes no time in coming up with a fantastic cover.
The plot and it’s twists were really engaging. What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this story?
The challenges were trying to make sure I had the historical information as close to accurate as I could get. The coal industry in the late 19th and earyl 20th century did not have a lot of information. I managed to get a lot from the Smock Historical Society. As I started out writing about a haunting I had an idea as to what it would be like if someone was using modern technology for their own reward and how that same technology could be their downfall. The ending I left open in case I want to continue the story.
Do you plan to write more stories about the town of Smock Hill?
Yes, I do plan on writing more. This was my third storyline that takes place in Smock. My first was a four part series on an old Tai Chi instructor who mentors a young boy back to health using Tai Chi and Qigong along with other Chinese health practices.
A Dark Spirit has apparently returned to the former mining town of Smock, Pennsylvania, terrorizing the residents. Julia and her cousin Edward try to find out why it has come back and how to defeat it before the residents flee. What is this Dark Energy? What sinister reason does it have for returning?
Evil is everywhere. The one place we expect to be free of it is in our dreams, but even those are sometimes not free from the grip of terror and the foreboding sense of impending doom. Men and women are waking in cold sweats and glancing about in a feverish daze trying to convince themselves that it was just that–a dream. The most amazing and terrifying part of it all? These men and women cannot free themselves from these larger-than-life nightmares–and they are having identical experiences. Their sleep is no longer safe and their dreams are certainly not their own.
The Henna Witch, by G.J. Scherzinger, is the enthralling account of Ashia Verena’s mission to defeat a sorceress invading dreams and creating a long path of terror among mortals. Ashia, with a massive task in front of her, sets out to do what no other Guardian can. She isn’t alone on her mission, however, and finds herself facing the task of hosting a young girl on a mission all her own.
Scherzinger writes beautifully with vivid imagery and creates details that lead the reader on a fantastic visual journey. What we, as readers, are not able to conjure, Scherzinger lays out masterfully before us. Where some authors of this genre lean toward flowery language, Scherzinger manages to keep his narrative straightforward and simultaneously descriptive and elegant.
As a reader who is more interested in the relationships between characters, I am pleased with Scherzinger’s approach to writing. The Henna Witch is filled with rich dialogue between characters. The author includes dialects that give his characters an added appeal and make it even more likely readers will become lost in the plot.
I have to note that there were times throughout the book that Hansel and Gretel came to mind. For some reason, the imagery conjured by Scherzinger brings about the dark feel of the age old fairy tale–definitely not a bad thing at all for this fan of grim tales.
Yet another plus to The Henna Witch is the length of chapters. Scherzinger keeps his chapters concise and brings each one to a fitting end that urges the reader on to the next. The book is overall a quick read and difficult to put down.
The budding friendship between Ashia and O’la is a precious thing. As their travel ensues, Ashia attempts to be both a mentor and a protector. The two grow closer and Ashia shows O’la how to live off the land and become more in tune with the animals. I enjoyed being able to see Ashia’s thoughts as she observes the fruits of her labor with O’la. Her own desire to not mother her too much is relatable.
The Henna Witch is easily one of the most engaging books in the witchcraft/fantasy genre I have encountered. With a surprisingly relatable cast of characters and an engaging and fascinating plot surrounding the phenomenon of dreams, it will appeal to readers across genres.
Pages: 235 | ASIN: B07MHZQLND
Not Dead starts with the abduction of a little girl but slowly builds into something more ominous. How did this idea for the novel start and change while writing?
The doll on the cover exists. It’s sold as a prop for Halloween houses. Several years ago, the picture of the doll standing in a decrepit, ramshackle room was the subject for a short story contest. Intrigued by the image, I entered the contest. While the doll was designed to frighten, I wanted a different twist. That’s how NOT DEAD got started. The original story was 500 words, and the title was Not Dead, Not Dead. I won third place. And, that’s all it took to get me hooked on writing.
I have always wanted to go back to that first story and turn it into a full-length novel. With the foundation of the plot in place, it was perfect for the expansion of the characters, location, and the dolls.
I felt that the mystery and intrigue was built exceptionally well in this novel. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?
I enjoy creating a plot with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing, right up to the last page.
This novel highlights how difficult it can be to lose someone. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this novel?
I’m not certain there were any themes. It’s more my law enforcement experience and knowledge that add realism to my plots and characters. As a cop, children were the best and worst of my experiences.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
NOT DEAD is a deviation from my FBI Tracker novels. For the next book, I am back with the Tracker team in high gear as they deal with espionage and murder. I don’t have a title yet as my titles are inspired by a phrase or idea in the plot. So far, inspiration hasn’t struck, and the file is still titled—no name. My goal is to have it ready to publish by late spring/2020.
A small-town Texas cop who is haunted by his past.
A reporter who risks it all, even her life.
A kidnapping that crosses into an unearthly realm.
Focused on the abduction of four-year-old Mandy Norton, Chad Bishop, Meridian’s Police Chief, ignores the twinges of foreboding triggered by an eerie fog that shrouds his town. What he can’t ignore is the editor of the Tribune.
When Ashley Logan becomes embroiled in the search, nothing stops the hard-hitting, investigative reporter, including Chad’s threats to throw her in jail. She’s Mandy’s aunt.
As the mystery of Mandy’s disappearance deepens, unnerving details emerge. Chad refuses to believe they’re connected to his past until the case turns deadly. He’s forced to face the terror that haunts him. It’s waiting in the shadowy depths of the unearthly fog.
This time, it could cost Chad more than his sanity.
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The pieces are on the move. As one moves against the other, readers may wonder who is pulling whom and to what end? Does divinity mean the essence of purity or simply the chalice overflowing with power? Cries Of The Foresaken by Kristopher Jerome is a story full of twists and turns that will keep you hooked from beginning to end!
Normally I am very particular about fantasy worlds as many books start well but fail to keep it coherent throughout the story. That is not the case with Cries Of The Foresaken. Even though I realized a bit later that this is book one in a series, I didn’t mind it for two reasons. One, the story started strong and it kept me glued. Two, the author did not try to place undue focus on the background but kept the story well bound to a few characters. As I progressed through the book, I was not disappointed with the turns and twists that I never saw coming. The book is consistently engaging and sometimes there were twists where I didn’t even expect there to be one.
The other thing that I liked about this book was that the author did not try to make it a colossal work like the Tolkien series or the ones by George RR Martin. I prefer a book which does not conform to the stereotypes and is different from the rest. While Cries Of The Foresaken has room to expand, it’s not forced.
I felt that some of the characters were too rushed and I had to turn back to see previous pages. Some things get explained in the course of the series and characters are fully developed, but in this book alone, I felt, the characters were a bit hollow. One thing that I thought slowed the pace was a pause in the middle as the characters were pursuing side missions. Lastly, I felt that the ending was a bit too rushed, leaving too many open threads to tie up. This being part of a series I expect these will be tied up before the series finale, but I still felt the this novel on it’s own did provide me with a satisfying ending.
Cries Of The Foresaken is an exciting and riveting book that is an entertaining read and definitely in the top 10 books that I have read in 2019.
Pages: 299 | ASIN: B07YLC6JNY
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Tags: action, adventure, author, author award, award, book, book award, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, history, horror, kindle, kobo, literary award, literature, nonfiction, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, romance, story, supernatural, writer, writing
Winter Chills is a collection of provocative short stories. The greatest thing about this compilation is how every story is distinct and consistently entertaining. Every author wrote wonderfully, creating captivating characters and engrossing stories. In any collection of short stories there is a balance between brevity and detail. Winter Chills is able to balance conciseness with intrigue through the use of excellent writing. Every author is engaging and great when narrating events. Winter Chills is an exceptional book that is perfect for short bouts of reading that will awaken your curiosity about ghosts and how humans relate with them.
‘Departures and Arrivals’ was the first story I read. We follow Holly as she goes to the train station. The beauty of this story was how raw the author was. ‘Departures and Arrivals’ by D. B. Carter is that kind of story that makes you feel every emotion the main character in the story experiences. The text is fresh, and the events are authentic. Holly went to a train station that was anything but a comfortable place. The reader stays with her as she waits for the train to come. Something happens, and spirits from the past surface while terrible events get exposed. The story is chilling and scary. I enjoyed the narration regardless as I found the plot to be freakish and genius. The first story in the book sets the right mood for the other stories.
The third tale, ‘The Holiday Party’, was my favorite of all stories. I enjoyed this particular story the most because of the combination of suspense and a little action in the story. Nick and Marcy are headed to a Christmas party where, like any other typical party, everything was expected to be pleasant. I anticipated the party to go well as friends and acquaintances get together, have fun and make merry. The story flowed well, with compelling conversations and a supposedly happy tale. I was not ready for the twist that would come when Marcy took a break from the party, only to get back and find something else going on. The author had me with the new development. S. J. Lomas ingenuity and imagination had me completely fascinated.
‘The Carolers’. ‘Go With The Wind’, ‘The Christmas Card’ and ‘Defying Convention’ were equally captivating stories. The reader gets drawn into the characters’ lives, and I found myself completely engrossed.
Each author bring their own style and inventiveness to the book. I especially appreciated how diverse the authors are, even when narrating somehow similar stories. Reading this book was an enjoyable experience. I recommend Winter Chills to readers who love short and exciting stories with some macabre themes.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B07ZTT5KTR
The Haunting of Smock Hill by Steve Zimcosky is a short but fast-paced thriller about the peculiar ongoings in the town of Smock, Pennsylvania. Ed Zielinski our protagonist is from Smock Hill. He is informed that The Dark Energy has returned for the first time since 1961. The Dark Energy is allegedly a daunting black cloud with red eyes and massive arms that shows up to stare at miners a few moments before their death. Having enlisted a paranormal investigator, Ed visits the town, and, with the help of a few friends, finds out that a deeper and more nefarious plot is at play. Their investigation is met with various complications, from Russian meddling to movie production crews. The story takes plenty of wild turns and ends on a climactic but satisfying note.
Although the plot is a simplistic mystery story, Scooby-Doo style, it is written in a gripping and engaging manner. I polished it off in one sitting, which is probably what it is intended for. The story is realistic and logical, and easy to follow. I felt that the characters were two-dimensional, with some having more depth than others, but this is in service of delivering a quick and satisfying story.
The book is also interspersed with a lot of spooky pictures and illustrations, which can make this a pretty fun read for children. Smock Hill is great for a weekend or holiday read, when you need an engaging story to brighten up your day without signing up for a hefty literary commitment.
Pages: 90 | ASIN: B081BG5YH9
Mandy Norton loves her dolls. Every day, she likes to play with them in her yard. She names them and serves them tea. Mandy is in her own world–and she is being watched. From just beyond the bushes and out of her line of sight, she is being studied, and her every move is being noted. A man she cannot see is planning to take her from her yard and away from her family. He will use one of her favorite things to bring his plan to fruition–a doll. After carefully selecting a doll that matches her taste, he makes his move, and Mandy’s life and the lives of her family will never be the same.
Not Dead, by Anita Dickason, is the harrowing tale of the abduction of young Mandy Norton and the efforts made to bring her home. Mandy’s aunt, Ashely Logan, becomes involved from the moment she hears that her niece is missing. Ashley, also the editor of the local newspaper, deems herself an investigator and questions the local police department’s ability to handle her niece’s case. As the hours quickly begin to pass, Ashley forges her own path through the town from one suspect to another.
Dickason has managed to provide readers with a tale of horror–every parent’s nightmare. As the story progresses, readers are given more insight into the frustrating and heartbreaking process of trusting law enforcement to bring their daughter home safely. The introduction of Ashley, Mandy’s aunt, is more than helpful in driving home exactly how difficult the process of searching for a suspect can actually be. Ashley is the reader’s guide into the investigation process.
The insight the author gives into the mind of little Mandy’s abductor is chilling. I can’t accurately describe the terror I felt as I read how Mandy’s abductor targeted her and methodically planned her kidnapping. What was even more terrifying was the background information readers are given at the outset–this man is a repeat offender and has honed these skills over time.
Not Dead, though fiction, provides a thorough look into police procedures and the rigorous work that takes place when a child has disappeared. The bulk of Dickason’s work in this book is focused on the investigation itself and Ashley’s part in that process. As a reader, I would have liked to have seen more of the experience from Mandy’s point of view. From one chapter to the next, readers watch the clues multiply, the suspects narrow, and the case grow closer to a conclusion, but we aren’t as privy to the life to which Mandy is subjected while she waits to be rescued.
Readers who seek a mystery with rich characters and prefer frighteningly realistic plots will be more than satisfied with Dickason’s work. Dickason’s characters are highly-developed and memorable. The twist ending is an added bonus to Dickason’s meticulously crafted mystery. I highly recommend Not Dead to any mystery fan looking for a new author to follow.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B07ZMHYMDB
Pale Face and the Raven by Stacey Dighton is a terrifying murder mystery meets a horror story. It starts with a string of rape cases and murders taking place in the town of Westhampton. Luke Raven, a detective inspector and long-time alcoholic is assigned to the case. Unable to cope with his alcoholism and an inability to form long-lasting connections with other people, he is dragged down by the weight of his own past and present. On the other hand, there is a struggling author, Tony Richards. His life isn’t turning out as he had planned, and his flailing desperation leads him down a dark path. His own sordid past and tattered familial relationships are slowly unraveled throughout the story. It is a race against time and personal struggles as these men and the people in their lives are dragged into the horrific events taking place.
Throughout the novel, I was surprised to find myself sympathetic to the murderer’s motives. Not supportive of them, of course, but Stacey Dighton managed to build his character in a manner such that his motives and actions were entirely believable.
It would seem that the alcoholic detective and struggling author are overdone cliches. But that did not make the story any less compelling. They were well-fleshed out and so human that they managed to escape the common murder mystery tropes. Similarly, all of the other characters were plagued with their own flaws. Addiction, cowardice, dependency, all these traits were laid out realistically.
The interlinking of all the characters added depth and complexity to the narrative, but was myopic at times. It was as if the five to six main characters were the only people who lived in
Westhampton and the other people clearly lacked dimension. Although this aspect did intensify the plot, it turned it into a bit of a guessing game. Sort of like Big Little Lies. However, it was without a doubt a thrilling read, kind of like a Jack Reacher novel but with more interesting characters. Perfect reading for a long weekend.
Pages: 373 | ASIN: B07ZBPFBWK
A self declared angel of balance seeks to help a group of like minded people grow and hone their abilities. Preston Blake has hunted some of the most notorious serial killers. He will get them together by choice or intimidation. They will make each other better. If anyone falls out of line a Dreadnaught kind of fate will befall them. Preston, despite his demeanor as an alpha seems to have one weakness. Young, pure and entranced Grace Bennet. They are brought together by a force neither of them understands. Will Grace fall into Preston’s arms? Will the group serve its purpose? Is Detective Gabe Bastien a threat to the group or a potential?
Right from the get go, this book is disturbing to say the least. There is something dark and scary about the tone and feel of it. As soon as you begin to read it, you feel scared and vulnerable. Your skin crawls and you get an urge to either be very quiet or scream your lungs out. As you should when you are among serial killers. This is how vivid and in depth Wesley Boydd Thompson goes with this book. He leaves nothing to the imagination for the reader. He lets you go through every moment of it. You never forget Bethany’s screams and quick breaths no matter how far through the book you get. Perhaps it is the unabashed relay of frightening detail. Perhaps it is the blatant display of evil. Perhaps it is the chilling introduction to darkness.
The character development is really quite brilliant. Not in a way that makes you like them but in a way that puts you right inside their minds. It is like getting a front seat into the mind of a demented human being. The salaciously dark thought processes that occur even when they are not actively practicing their craft. For a minute there, you will think of it as a craft. You will be terrified by Preston’s evil confidence and charmed by Grace’s naïve innocence. You will be interested by Russel’s dark eagerness. The characters are multi-dimensional.
The book does have some grammar and spelling mistakes though. In some cases they can be distracting from the story however in some cases the reader will be way too engrossed and sufficiently freaked out to notice. I felt like some information was left out. Questions remain unanswered and some backstories are missing. Whether to be impressed by the cliff-hanger or exasperated will be a personal choice. The story feels unfinished and left me with more anxiety than satisfaction.
Serial Killer Support Group is a unique story with seemingly apt portrayal of serial killers. It is interesting and gripping. It is anticipatory and may leave you unable to close your eyes for a night but then most good stories will. Maybe refrain from reading if you are about to walk outside by yourself?
Pages: 37 | ISBN: 169945065X