Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ghostly Fun

With Spring in the air and Summer just around the corner, it's the time of the year when readers start choosing their great summer reads or the books they are going to pack in their vacation luggage.

Today's guest in My Writing Corner, Beth Henderson, has a new book that sounds like great summer reading.


Beth has been a published author in romance since the year 1990 when her first romantic suspense/comedy was published. Since then she has been a busy writer. She's had a long list of titles released through various publishing houses and under a variety of names.
In 2021 she launched a 4-volume paranormal lite cozy mystery romantic comedy series, the Whichur-Wolfe Detection novels, all of which swept up 5* reviews. 


Her latest release is GHOST NOTES, a romantic suspense released by The Wild Rose Press that has just become available. She also writes Old West historical romantic mysteries.


Tell us about your road to publication. 


As my first book was published back in the Jurassic Era (1990) before there was Amazon or the Internet or eBooks or the Internet, I’m not sure how far back to go! It took 12 years of rewriting and resubmitting my first three books before the first one was picked up. But there were many tumbles from the published pedestal after that, like when Clinical Depression hit and I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag, or the years when I moved back in with my parents to be their 24/7 caregiver. I started to clamber back on the pedestal in 2019 when an urban fantasy series was picked up, then in 2020 Wild Rose Press snagged a historical romantic western mystery (released in 2021) and then the current book, GHOST NOTES, a contemporary romantic suspense released this month. Still lots of stories to tell, thank goodness! But I decided I wanted to be a published novelist when I was 12 and at least I hit the goal…more than once considering I’m closing on 40 novels written now!


What do you enjoy about being an author?


Well, obviously, it’s a great ego booster to have readers fawn on you and gush about the characters. But I think losing myself in my own story words is the most fun I’ve ever had. I get to be all these people! I get to hang out with the heroes, guys I’m far more attached to than any I ever dated or married. Actually, I tend to call each of the stories by the hero’s name rather than the title. Oddly enough, I’ve met a few other writers who confess to doing the same thing.


How do you develop characters?


The characters just walk onto my stage and do their own thing. I have had to argue with at least one guy who wanted to be the hero when I’d cast him as the hero’s best friend, but once I promised him his own book, he was copacetic with the idea. I’m a total pantser, never knowing quite what will happen though do know how it has to end…and that’s with the hero strolling into the sunset with the heroine (figuratively) after the two of them have wrapped up the mystery.


Tell us more about your latest book and how you came up with the idea to write it?

GHOST NOTES started materializing the first time I heard Jason Gould’s recording of Misty. Only my hero now performs it in my head, naturally. I love music themes, but I also love mystery. Once Pel Flannery told me how he’d nearly died a decade ago and that the guy who tried to kill him was still out there…well, there was no turning back after that. The story flowed as smoothly as Pel’s fingers glide over the keys of his grand piano.


How about a blurb:


Jace Hastings, rising music star, is presumed dead in a vehicle collision, courtesy of a stalker with deadly designs. Ten years later, P.I. Gaelen Wyndom can’t believe someone wants her to find him.

Pelham Flannery rejoined the world from ICU, fully aware someone had tried to kill him. To live, he went under the radar, distanced himself from music, and disguised everything that would give away his identity as Jace. After a decade, is it safe to come out of hiding?

Gaelen, delighted to be trained as a professional investigator by her new husband, continued in her new career after he was killed. Assigned to locate Jace Hastings, she isn’t told who wants to find him, but she puzzles it out. If she’s right, it’s the man who tried to kill him before. Which means she needs to find Jace Hastings and save him.

Now, let's get an excerpt:



    When a percussive knock sounded on his open office door, he glanced up. The once soggy guest hovered there, his shirt swamping her upper body, though she’d tied it at her waist. She lifted the carryout bag. 

    “Just wanted to thank you again,” she said.

    He wondered what her rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” would sound like. There was simply something in her voice that hinted at the ability to sing. Yet he doubted that was why she had come to the restaurant that day. 

    “Listen,” she said. “While this sounds like a really bad pick-up line, and that’s not my intention in the least…”

    “No woman’s tried to pick me up in a long time,” he told her. “Go ahead. Shoot. It’ll do my ego wonders.”

     She grinned at the lie. 

    “It’s the least I can do to show my appreciation over the loan of your spare shirt.” 

    “So, what’s the line?” he asked. 

    She tilted her head to the side. The sweep of chestnut hair swung with the motion. “Have we ever met before? There’s something familiar about you, but I can’t put my finger on it.” 

    Warning bells clamored in his mind. 

    “Maybe I’ve got that kind of face,” Pel said and hastily attempted to undermine any lingering suspicion she might have. “You know, overburdened with mediocrity. Are you here auditioning for the vocalist job?” 

    “Oh, no. I just came with my friend. She’s the singer. Are you C.C. Pelham’s son?” 

    “Guilty.” 

    Her smile was back. “Then that’s probably where the sense of déjà vu comes from. You probably have features in common with her.” 

    “Yep, that’s probably the case,” Pel agreed. 

    “Sorry to have disturbed you, Mr. Pelham.” 

    “Flannery,” he corrected. “Pelham Flannery.” 

    “A man with two last names, huh?” 

    “Sadly, yes, though Pel will suffice,” he allowed, then surprised himself by leaving his chair again and heading around the desk. “What were you drinking before the collision?”

    “Coffee,” she said. “I’m probably wearing some of it, too. I sorta fell against the table when the drenching occurred.” 

    As dangerous as it might be, Pel found he wanted to stay within the range of her smile a bit longer. “Not a water-resistant model?” 

    “Not much water to avoid in Phoenix, so I skipped that feature.” 

    “Come with me,” he said, joining her in the hall and pausing only to close the office door.


What’s your next project or what are you working on now?


I’ve got two urban fantasy manuscripts due by the end of the year, but the next romance project will be back to another historical romantic mystery set in 1852 in California Gold Rush country. My bachelor’s degree is in American History and, although I’m an Ohio gal, I spent 22 years living between Las Vegas, Nevada and Tucson, Arizona, following where husbands’ jobs took us. I love the old west, particularly the mining camps. Yes, I married twice and did a lot of personal romance research between the two of them! This next romance has been on a back burner for years. I think it’s time to let the hero take the reins…or attempt to wrestle them from the heroine.


What advice do you have for beginning writers?


Be patient. Continue to develop your craft. I’m a far better writer and spinner of tales today than I was when my first books were published in the early 1990s. But as that was still the era when no one in their right mind self-published (because that was vanity publishing), patience was what it took to work through the submission process, wait for a reply (I waited 18 months on one manuscript because the editor apologized so nicely for the delay…but she did send me a contract on it finally!). The agents and editors get floods of new manuscripts every day and it takes time to wade through them. If your prose or storyline don’t match what they are looking for, there is always someone/someplace else to submit manuscripts to. And, should any rejection (though they call them “passes” these days) actually include a suggestion to improve an element, or the magic words “if you rewrite this, I’d like to see it again”, take the suggestion to heart and do the rewrite. I followed one editor who did this through three publishing houses (she moved to a different one every few years) before she gave me the longed-for contract, although it was for an entirely different book. Still, her suggestions landed that original manuscript a contract elsewhere around the same time. It’s tough to wait, but patience is a virtue that in publishing can pay off.


You are so right! How can readers buy your books or get in touch with you?

Buy Links

Amz getbook.at/GhostNotes

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghost-notes-beth-henderson/1141022856?ean=9781509241798

https://books.apple.com/ro/book/ghost-notes/id1612001433

Social Media Links

Website: www.4TaleTellers.com 

Twitter: @Beth__Henderson 

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2GvFyog

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=Beth+Henderson&qid=RQNZb2Izfd

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/ghost-notes-by-beth-henderson

Thank you for being my guest today.  Any questions or comments for Beth?

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Joy of Writing

We're moving toward the lazy days of summer, and I don't know about you, but summer has always been one of my favorite times for reading and discovering new authors. When I was young, I walked to my town library once a week looking for new books and new authors to enjoy. I'm still on the hunt for new authors. Usually those book contain romance and today's guest in My Writing Corner fills that order with what sounds like a wonderful new book.

My guest today is L.B. Griffin. She has been happily married for over 40 years and is surrounded by her family in Wiltshire. She says she has always written around her full time paid job. She has held a range of jobs from cleaning, barmaid, childminder, social worker and is proud to have lectured for 21 years.  She absolutely loves writing fiction. Her stories touch upon social issues and are filled with gentle hints of romance. Her women don’t see themselves as courageous, strong, or survivors, but they certainly are. Let's find out more about L.B.

Why do you write? 

I love writing. Its as simple as that. I get an idea and I have to put it down. But its when I hear back from my readers, when they tell me something positive about themselves or the book, it really makes my day. One reader wrote after reading Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox: “I’m so glad Harriet was fired from her job. At least she didn’t have to put up with that dreadful employer!” Another person: “I hated that CJ. What a monster!” My heart sang. It’s such a compliment, and so heartwarming to know that they’ve enjoyed my book. It means that I have done my job. What more can I ask? I’m truly humbled to think my stories provoke thought and emotion with people they can identify with.

What do you write?

In four words:

Romance>Mystery>Suspense>Crime 

How do you come up with your stories?

Coincidences. How many times have you been on holiday and bumped into someone you know in a far-flung country? Or met someone that you knew as a child and found lived for years just a stone’s throw away? What are the chances? But they’ve happened to me. I bet they have happened to you. Or maybe you know someone who has talked their experiences anecdotally at a party or over coffee.

Plus, my characters are really bossy! They often wake me up in the middle of the night shouting “hey listen, I’ve got something to say, come on write it down. Now!” How can I possibly ignore that? They are real, honest, lovely hardworking people but of course, there’s always that pesky villain that shines and everyone loves to hate. 

What’s the fun part of writing and why? 

I love the way the characters grab me by the hand and lead me along paths I could never have dreamed of. They tell me what they want to say, and what’s going to happen next. Who would have thought it? I love that, and I love them. They are survivors, though they don’t see themselves that way, they sure are! 

Why did you write The Twenty-One-Year Contract that we’re talking about today?

I’m an observer of life. Like most writers I imagine, and I’ve been fortunate travel and to have worked alongside and taught some amazing people. But those I taught, taught me so much more! I’ve admired their strength of character, their courage, and will to live. I learned so much from them it has been astounding. I needed to share their experiences in a way that doesn’t affect them, but hopefully shows others they can be brave too. Just read my books. 

Let's get a blurb:

Talented, a little wild, at times rebellious, but always popular—has a fun, easy life in rural Somerset, with a doting family. 

Suddenly, they are gone, everything is changed, and she has only Uncle Jack. Try as he might, he cannot be father and mother to her—he has a business to run and his own life to manage.

Kathleen takes a chance and becomes Kate Westfield, fending for herself in London, with a new life built on her hopes and dreams and new friends. She could hardly have imagined that one of those friends has a shoebox full of answers.

Let's turn things over to L. B. to learn more about her characters:

Kathleen Gray is our central character of The Twenty-One-Year Contract. Kate, as she is now known, agreed I could ask her a question for this blog. I think I floored her when I did. It was difficult for her I have to admit. 

“In a nutshell Kate, why did you run away?” Kate gave me such a look.

“In a nutshell?” Her eyes watered, I felt guilty for asking, but she plowed on ever the determined character she is. “I think you know the answer to that, but honestly, I wanted to find my birth mother. But then of course there was Uncle Jack. I absolutely adore him.  Since my parents died… he had to take care of me… I knew he needed to get on with his own life. He needed to settle down, get married, have a family of his own. He couldn’t do that with me hanging around.”

*****

Dorian Craddock is a secondary character in The Twenty-One-Year Contract. She’s pure evil, but in my opinion, she shines out as one of those people you love to hate. I thought I’d push one of her buttons to get a response.  

“Dorian, I think you owe an answer to our readers as to why you feel the need to be so mean to so many people.” I handed her the mic. And started typing furiously.

“I owe the readers an answer, do I? Seriously? Who do you think you are, pushing me about, asking me to tell the readers about my business? Really, I’m mean? Besides, you know full well Harriet and Kate got everything they deserved! It could have been so much worse.” She gave me one of those sly smiles.  “Read the dialogue, read between the lines. You wrote it. I’m owed plenty, as you well know, and I’m going to get what I deserve.”

(Little does she know!)

The Twenty-One-Year Contract - snippet

‘After a glass of water, Jack made himself a cup of tea and returned to the job in hand. This was going to be much harder than he could ever have imagined. Working deep through the night, Jack methodically sifted through volumes of paperwork until light inched its way through the curtain. Though he felt thoroughly ready for bed, he continued searching, his aim to find at least a smidgen of information about his niece. Randomly tidying up as he went, Jack noticed an encyclopaedia oddly extended over one of the top shelves. He tried pushing it back into place. It was jammed. It looked awkward. Pulling it out to check the depth of the book, he found a box file hidden behind. Upon the side panel was one word, capitalized in thick bold lettering: KATHLEEN As the hazy sunlight grew, puzzled, Jack pulled the curtains to lend natural light, took the file off the shelf, sat back in Henry’s chair, and looked inside…’

The book sounds great. Now that we've heard from your characters, we'd like to hear from you again! As the author, what do you think is the most difficult part of writing and why? 

Okay, well let’s get down to brass tacks. Finding time and that difficult word: Marketing! It stops me doing what I love most. Writing!

For me marketing is a real issue. Unless you are a natural born salesperson, which I am not. Some people can sell snow to the Inuit’s or send sand to the Sahara! But I’ve never been good at bragging about myself, and that’s what it feels like. Selling my brand, telling everyone I’m great, my books are great. Go out and buy my books. Really, that’s not me. I’m shy enough as it is! But it would be wonderful if you did buy my book! My sincere thanks go to every reader who has, or is considering buying my book.  Without you lovely readers, writers wouldn’t be needed. So, thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

How do you get to know your readers? What do you learn from your readers? 

Reviews are brilliant. They tell a story. I learn from that and thank them for their valuable time and effort who have shared their kind thoughts.

I also blog. I offer simple writing suggestions for budding authors and share what I’ve learned and am still learning!

I offer to host authors, new and experienced, to give my readers a chance to see who else is out there and listen to how they work. 

If there’s anything else I think might be of interest, I post again on social media. And I get a real buzz to hear back from them. However, here comes an apology with regard my blog. www.wifeinthewest.com because I have temporarily stopped responding to my blog readership. Why? Because unfortunately I have had over a 1000 scams/trolls ruining perfectly good dialogue my readers, with genuine questions. I take hours to read through messages to weed out the good from the bad. I’ve begun with a clean-up program, hopefully that will resolve the issue.

Oh, and I’ve also recently listed my recent up to date program on my blog so readers knew what is available, rather than them having to trawl through every post.

Thank you L.B., for being my guest today! Here are her buy links and social contact information:

Buy links

https://fb.watch/b3c2bZPyRF/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0971T3RGC

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0971T3RGC

Also available : Blackwells >Barnes&Noble>Waterstones>and all good bookstores

Social Contacts and blog link:

Blog: www.wifeinthewest.com

www.facebook.com/lynngriffinauthor

www.instagram.com/lynngriffinauthoruk/

www://twitter.com/LBGriffinAuthor/

Does anyone have any questions or comments for L.B.?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A Winning Romance

Having always enjoyed reading (and writing) books that are part of a series, I was very interested in the series that is being written by today's featured author in My Writing Corner, C. Becker. Her newest book, Saving Euphoria, has just been released so of course, I wanted to know more about her series.

The first book in the series was Finding Euphoria which was featured on this blog earlier. Her newest book, Saving Euphoria, was released yesterday. She tells us she is currently working on the third book in the Euphoria trilogy. As a medical technologist in a former career, Becker says that she has never outgrown the attraction of using science in everyday life. 

She says when she isn't writing a new book, she enjoys hanging out with her family and Jack Russell, playing the piano, reading, and gardening.


Let's learn more about Saving Euphoria and its characters. How about a blurb?


Hailey Langley and her children struggle to cope with the shocking and mysterious death of her husband Mark. Her teenaged son is rebelling, and Hailey is dealing with physical and mental challenges as well.


Tom Parker, Hailey's former partner from the Special Crimes Agency, comes back into her life. He warns her to trust no one even as he tries to rekindle the flame that connects them.


Everyone has secrets, even Parker, and some of those from the past threaten to destroy the present. Hailey fights to move forward after losing Mark, but she needs to figure out if she can trust Parker and risk taking another chance on love.


Sounds like an interesting story! I wanted to know more about these characters so let's interview them, starting with Hailey.

 

What do you want most in life at the moment?


 I’d like my husband back alive. If I could go back in time eight months and prevent Mark from leaving home the day he died in the fire, life would be perfect.

 

What draws you to Tom? 


Parker is safe. That’s what I’ve always called Tom Parker—Parker. I feel secure when I’m around him. He was doing his residency at the hospital in Texas when I was his patient at seventeen. For many reasons—my assault, my parents’ deaths, my trauma—I was afraid to live. I was in a dark place and Parker pulled me out of my depression. Now with Mark gone, I feel comfortable talking to Parker. Maybe too comfortable. I had a major crush on him when I was his patient and when I worked cases with him for the government.

 


What frightens you about being involved with him? 


We were close twice before. We only kissed, but wow, what scorching kisses. Parker was married when he decided to switch careers and become a government agent like me. His wife was livid. All his medical school went down the drain, but Parker didn’t like practicing medicine as much as chasing criminals.

 

What frightens you about the future? 


Moving on without Mark. Starting over with someone new. Mark and I did everything together. My son and daughter are as lost without him as I am. Truth be told, I’m attracted to Parker, but until I find out what happened to my husband, I don’t want to start a relationship.



Now let's talk to Tom:

 

What draws you to Hailey? 


I find Hailey attractive on so many levels. She’s adorable when she’s flustered, which isn’t too often. Her eyes sparkle when she smiles. I think she’s brave, resilient, strong-willed, empathetic, and intelligent. Her personality is fun and upbeat. Her laugh warms my heart. I’ve learned a lot from her. Despite life’s hard blows, she always stands back up.

 

What frightens you about becoming involved with her? 


Nothing. Actually, that’s not true. I hope Hailey can love me even half as much as she loved Mark. I’ve liked Hailey the moment I met her. Unfortunately, I was married at the time and my first wife was suspicious, I never pursued Hailey because of her age. There’s eight years difference between us. My wife Grace and I adopted her baby after Hailey’s assault. Grace wanted a baby so badly that she didn’t care we weren’t in love. When I found Hailey again seventeen years later, I didn’t stick around because she was married with a family. A guy has standards, you know. When I learned that Hailey’s husband had died in a fire, I transferred jobs to Virginia, hoping we’d run into each other, and we did. Once we figure out what happened to Mark, she’ll be ready to move on with me.

 

What do you wish for most in your future? 


That’s an easy question. I wish Hailey and I have many years together. Her kids are great. Hopefully, Hailey and I will marry and someday we’ll be a family.

 

What obstacles do you see about becoming involved with Hailey? 


Her son Ethan doesn’t care for me, but I think I’m growing on him.  The thirteen-year-old Anna seems to like me, though. The biggest obstacle is finding out why Hailey’s husband ended up in a burning building—away from his work in Washington, D.C. Something is very suspicious.


Want more? Let's get an excerpt:


He moved closer, his breath warming her face. “I don’t want to be a friend. I want more.”


Her eyes blurred. “It’s only been six months since Mark died.”


“Life goes on, Hailey. Mark’s gone.”


“Six months, Parker.” Tears burnt like acid splashing in her eyes. Six months was not nearly enough time to let go.


“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say it that way.” Parker reached over and held her hand.

The tenderness in his touch made an instant connection to her heart. Ashamed at her heart’s betrayal, she yanked her hand away and wiped a tear off her cheek.


He held her hand again and whispered. “I love you, Hailey. I always have. Somehow, life or fate, or whatever it is you want to call it, got in our way. I kept my distance when you married Mark, but I never stopped loving you.” He tightened his grasp on her hand. “Now I feel like an idiot because I waited too long.”


“Parker, please. I’m not sure I even want to get involved with someone again.”


“You’ve become so miserable. You’re a strong woman.” His face hardened. “Mark wouldn’t want you to waste your life grieving. He’d want you to go on—and at least try to be happy.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb. “I think deep down, you know it.”


Few people had her pegged so well. She bit her lip, “I do.”


***


This makes me want to read more. If you're also intrigued, here are the Buy Links:


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09SVMXYZT?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_1&storeType=ebooks&qid=1645764358&sr=1-1


The Wild Rose Press: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/bookauthor/c-becker


B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/saving-euphoria-c-becker/1141022852


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/saving-euphoria-c-becker/1141022852?ean=9781509240807


iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/saving-euphoria/id1612065577


Contact info:  https://cbeckerauthor.wixsite.com/cbeckerauthor


And here is how to reach C. Becker or get more information about her books:


Website address: https://cbeckerauthor.wixsite.com/cbeckerauthor

http://cbeckerauthor.com/



Social Media links:


Twitter https://twitter.com/cbeckerauthor


Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CBeckerauthor/


Instagram https://www.instagram.com/beckercee/?hl=en


Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19026691.C_Becker


BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/c-becker


Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/C.-Becker/e/B07NRWPWX3?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000


Get to know C. Becker better by signing up for an email newsletter https://mailchi.mp/7a51fa024f7a/cbeckerauthor

Thank you, C. Becker, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments?

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Bridging the Gap through Romance


There are some places you live that you never forget. San Diego is one of my favorite all time locations where I've lived and I'm pleased today to host a writer who has had the privilege of living there all her life. My guest today is Linda Griffin. She tells us that as soon as she learned to read, she knew she wanted to be a “book maker” and wrote her first story at the age of six. She retired as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library to spend more time on her writing and has had stories published in numerous journals. Her latest book, Bridges, is her fifth novel from the Wild Rose Press. It’s a departure from her romantic suspense titles, a slow-burning sweet romance with a more formal tone.

Let's get a blurb:

In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist” is working as a chauffeur at Westfield Court. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind, Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?

Sounds like a good book. Let's hear from the main characters, starting with Neil:


Tell us a little about your past, Neil.


My father died when I was young. My mother was a Quaker and strongly pacifist, so it was tough for her to see me join the army at eighteen. I thought I was a man and had a patriotic duty to fight. After the war, I just stayed in that life, but I grew tired of being rootless and restless. I took the job at Westfield Court because it offered a more peaceful existence, with plenty of time to read.

Why do you enjoy reading so much?

Reading is a means of escape, into other lives and into the world of ideas. Books have enriched my life in a way nothing else could. I think everyone has a thirst for knowledge, and I’ve always satisfied mine with the printed word.

What are you looking for in a woman?

I don’t think I’m looking for a woman at all. I didn’t have much opportunity to meet the kind of woman I would want to marry in my former life. Jane was already working here as a maid when I arrived, and we fell into a comfortable, casual relationship with no expectations. What I like about her is that she’s honest and straightforward, with no pretensions or unnecessary drama. I admit to being a little leery of commitment.

What attracts you to Mary Claire?

First and foremost, her bright, engaging mind, and then her kindness, her courage, her simple faith, and the positive outlook that earned her the nickname Sunny among her college friends. I think she should go back to school, but I’ll miss her if she does.

What frightens you about her?

She is so young, and vulnerable in so many ways. She faces a future she didn’t choose. I want to help her, but I don’t know how, and I don’t understand my own feelings toward her. How did we become friends so quickly, in spite of our differences? And why do I find it so hard to refuse her anything?

Thank you, Neil.  Now let's turn our attention to Mary Claire:

Why is your aunt pressuring you to marry?

My grandfather’s will specifies that I have to let her live at Westfield Court for the rest of her life, but if I don’t marry, I won’t inherit, and the estate will go to the state of Massachusetts. She would have to find another place to live, and she doesn’t have much money of her own. In her place, I suppose I would feel the same way. She wants to choose my husband herself, to make sure he’s worthy of our family, I suppose.

What bothers you about the man your aunt wants you to marry?

I don’t want to marry someone who only wants the money I’ll inherit, and especially not Drake Whitman. When I was a child, he thought it was funny to tease and bully me, to trip me and tell me I was ugly. Neil said he must have grown up since then, but I don’t think so. He’s still stupid. He doesn’t read. I would never be able to talk to him about books, or anything really, and I certainly don’t want to go to bed with him…And he’s not Neil.

What draws you to Neil?

I liked his voice first. He was a bit stiff and formal with me in the beginning, but I could hear that he was kind and intelligent. He’s the smartest person at Westfield Court, and he loves to read as much as I do. He gives me good advice, and he makes me laugh. Unlike my Aunt Edna, he talks to me as if I were an intelligent adult, an equal, even though he has a lot more knowledge and experience than I do. And he’s always on my side.

What do you want for your future?

Before my grandfather’s will changed everything, I wanted to finish college and become a teacher. I didn’t expect to marry or have children, even though I like babies. Now I have to marry if I want to inherit. If I don’t, I can’t help my family financially, Neil and Jane and the other servants will lose their jobs, the horses will be sold, and Aunt Edna will be homeless. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here with her trying to run my life either, not to mention living with a husband like Drake Whitman. I guess what I want is for everything to be simpler.

Let's get an excerpt:

When the train rumbled in, he got out of the car. He stood patiently on the platform as the passengers disembarked, holding up a small slate on which he had chalked DEWINTER in large capitals. There weren’t many passengers, but they were briefly delayed while the conductor helped a blind woman navigate the steps. Neil’s gaze fell expectantly on a woman in her thirties, with an awful hat, but she was immediately met by a portly man and a teenage boy. No other likely prospects appeared, and he waited for someone to respond to the sign. No one did.

Finally, only two passengers were left on the platform—a small, homely man and the blind woman. Blind girl, really. She couldn’t be more than twenty. She had a jointed white cane, and her large sunglasses didn’t cover the edges of the scars on her face. She would not have been beautiful even without the scars—too thin, for starters, of average height but with small bones. On the other hand, her face might once have been pretty, and her hair was clean and shining, raven black, and well brushed. She was too pale, and the scars around her eyes were red and ugly. She looked a little lost.

Feeling foolish, he lowered the slate. “Miss DeWinter?” he asked as he approached her.

“Yes,” she said, turning toward his voice with a smile.
         
*****

Ghostly Fun

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