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Get 2023 off to a good start: Add these books to your TBR Stack📚

How about a few book reviews to end 2022?

We know not every book is for every reader, but here are two books from entirely different genres that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Crossing The Witchline by T.L. Brown is the second book in the Bellerose Witchline adult dark fantasy series and Brook Peterson authored the cozy mystery A Collection of Secrets, the third story in the Jericho Falls Mystery series.

Crossing The Witchline is dark, delightful, dastardly, and dynamic!

T.L. Brown’s Crossing The Witchline, the second book in the Bellerose Witchline series, delivers a tight storyline, a crew of brilliant characters, descriptive settings, and a pace sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and flipping pages until the sun comes up.

Brown’s main character, Lucie Bellerose, is gutsy, smart, vulnerable and compassionate. Do not let her kindness fool you, though. Her witchline is strong and she will burn you if provoked.

Brown has created a world you will want to visit time and again. Her descriptive settings and her richly developed characters will suck you in because T.L. Brown’s storytelling magic leaps off the pages and wraps around your heart.

You can find Crossing The Witchline for Kindle or in paperback here: https://a.co/d/8nOkgoY

Crossing The Witchline Review

A Collection of Secrets is a thoroughly engaging read

Call out to all cozy mystery aficionados! Grab a copy of Brook Peterson’s A Collection of Secrets!
Peterson delivers a tight storyline, witty and charismatic characters, red herrings to keep you on your toes, and brilliantly descriptive settings. A Collection of Secrets is a thoroughly engaging read.

If you haven’t read A History of Murder, the first in the Jericho Falls Mystery series, or Brook’s Christmas novella, The Present Predicament, snap those up too! Brook Peterson’s Jericho Falls Mystery series should be at the top of your TBR pile.

You can find A Collection of Secrets here: https://a.co/d/f2Dge7c It is available in paperback, Kindle and audio.

Turvy Writing Challenge Image

Tis the Season for a Turvy! 🎄 #12DaysOfTurvy

Tis the season for a holiday Turvy! The Instagram writing community wrapped up the #12DaysOfTurvy Writing Challenge on Monday. It was a spirited event filled with amazing writers of varying genres.

Introducing the co-hosts👇

🕵️‍♀️@brookpetersonauthor –Writes the charming #JerichoFallsCozyMysteries
👻@saffron.amatti –Writes the spooky, ghosty, and oh-so-twisty #LucasRathboneMysteries
🐾@sharitmitchell –Writes the thrilling #MarnieReillyMysteries with canine companions and haunting spirits
🎩@writertracybrown –Writes the quirky #DoorToDoorMysteries + the🔥#BelleroseWitchline adult dark fantasy series


#12DaysOfTurvy Prompts


I typically write a new micro story for each Turvy prompt. This time around, I threaded the prompts together into a short story featuring the crew from the Marnie Reilly Mysteries series, including Marnie Reilly, Tom Keller, Danny Gregg, Gram, and Tater and Dickens, too. I hope you enjoy the story.

Note: This story does not fall within the timeline of the series.


Day 1, Turvy Prompt: Weather

A blazing fire snapped and crackled in the fieldstone fireplace on the veranda of Detective Danny Gregg’s log cabin. Snuggled up in a green-plaid fleece blanket, Marnie Reilly pulled her woolen toque over her ears and curled her legs under her on the porch glider. The front door swung open and two Border Collies bounded out the door, down the steps, and into freshly fallen snow. Danny pushed through the door, carrying two large and steaming mugs.

“Oo! Is that hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps?” she asked, swinging her feet to the decking and holding out her gloved hands.

“Yes, ma’am!” Danny sat and handed her a mug.

Her face shone with joy as she took a healthy sip. “So good!”

“Ha-ha! It’s heavy on the schnapps,” Danny said. “Are you sure you don’t want to enjoy this inside?”

“Nope. I love it out here. It smells like Christmas.” She rested her head on one of his big shoulders.
Tater and Dickens the Border Collies woofed at tires squeaking through the snow.

A moment later, Detective Tom Keller rounded the corner, stomped the snow off his boots, and climbed the steps.

“Isn’t this cozy?” he said dryly. “Your phone isn’t working or you’re ignoring it.”
Danny pulled his phone from his pocket. “No missed calls.”

“Not your phone. Her phone. I need you to come back to town.”

Marnie’s face pinched with worry. “Why?”

Tom held out his hand with a failed flourish. “Madam Séance, they need your spooky skills at the museum. It seems the spirit of our founder is wreaking havoc.”

“Ah, geez! I told him to stop doing that two years ago. What’s got him riled up this time?”

“A Ouija board,” Tom said. He reached for Marnie’s mug, sniffed the contents, and handed it back. “I’ll drive.”

Danny groaned. “I thought the story of Nolan Flannigan was an urban legend.”

“Nope. He’s my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side,” Marnie said, getting to her feet. “I hate to do it, but I think it’s time to pull back the veil and get some other-worldly help.”

“Yeah. Just make sure you can close it when you’re finished,” Tom said with a huff.

Day 2, Turvy Prompt: Family/Found Family

Every light in the building glowed through the windows of the Creekwood Museum. Mrs. Flood, the curator, paced the wide veranda, her coat haphazardly draped about her shoulders and her woolen toque askew.

“Thank goodness, you’re here!” the curator called out as Marnie and the detectives exited the Jeep. “I have tried everything to calm down old Nolan, but he is hell-bent on raising a fuss tonight.”

Marnie stood below her on the snowy sidewalk, hands on her hips. “Tom mentioned a Ouija board. Whose daft idea was that?”

The curator waved a gloved hand. “I didn’t think any harm would be done. We’ve done everything to raise funds for the museum, and a haunted Halloween event with a séance sounded fun.”

“Yeah, well, that depends on your definition of fun. C’mon! Let’s get inside.” Marnie stomped up the steps, with Danny and Tom trailing.

They stood in the formal foyer, but there were no ghosts in sight.

“Grandpa Nolan! I know you’re here!” Marnie shouted. “Get your butt downstairs! Now!”

Tom nudged her. “Do you really want to piss him off?” His voice cracked, and he took a step back toward the open door.

“There he is!” Danny yelled, pointing to the top of the stairs.

All heads turned and their eyes traveled up the grand staircase to see the spirit of Nolan Flannigan leaning over the railing, laughing at them.

“I don’t see him,” Tom said, taking another step back.

Marnie rolled her eyes. “Only because you don’t want to.”

“How are we gonna get him downstairs?” Danny asked.

“I’m going to insult him,” Marnie said with a giggle. “Oi! Flannigan! Get your thieving, lying, convict ass down here!”

“Wrongly accused!” came a thundering voice from above.

A gust of wind flew past them, the lights flickered, and the door slammed shut as Nolan Flannigan left the building.

“Uh-oh! We better get moving before he destroys Creekwood!” Marnie pulled open the door and raced to the Jeep.

Day 3, Turvy Prompt: Decorations

“Where are we goin’,” Tom asked, slipping behind the wheel of Danny’s Jeep.

“The diner,” Marnie said, leaning over the backseat.

“Calling in the big gun?” Danny asked.

 “Yup. Gram’s Irish charm is just the magic we need,” Marnie replied. “Plus, she has a Ouija board.”

“Ah, geez! Can I stay in the car?” Tom whined.

Marnie laughed. “Sure, if you want to be defenseless against an angry spirit, you can’t see.”

Tom maneuvered the Jeep through a snowdrift and parked at the curb outside Gram’s diner. They all hopped out and ran through the diner and up the stairs to Gram’s apartment.

She met them at the door with a surprised expression. “You sound like a herd of turtles racin’ up them stairs!”

“We need your help! Where’s your Ouija board?” Danny asked.

“Whaddya need that for?” She stood back and apprised them.

“Someone let Nolan Flannigan loose in the museum and then Marnie pissed him off and he escaped through the front door!” Tom tattled.

“Nolan Flannigan, you say?” Gram tittered.

Marnie kicked off her boots and circled the room nervously, stepping over crates of Christmas decorations. “The last time he acted out, I simply asked him to stop, and he did.”

“Why would they call you, lass?”

Marnie flopped down on the couch. “He’s my great-great-grandfather.”

Gram smirked. “I see. Well, there’s only one thing that’ll bring him to us, and it isn’t my Ouija board. Lucky for you, I have just what he’s looking for.” She disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a bottle of Guinness. “He’ll be along shortly. The last time he scarpered, this is how we got him.”

“Beer?” Tom asked, eyes rolling.

“It’s stout,” Gram replied with an indignant huff.

“He’s done this before?” Marnie asked.

“Oh, every twenty years of so. Let’s decorate while we wait.” Gram’s blue eyes twinkled as she fussed with the ribbon on a wreath.

“Decorating has to wait until tomorrow. We’re not allowed to decorate until after Shari’s birthday.” Marnie pulled a face. “I mean, I get it. I don’t like how my birthday gets lost between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she’s really a pain about it.”

“Hey! Don’t go off script!” I said.

Day 4, Turvy Prompt: Quirky Traditions (Mistletoe / Pranks)

“Expecting company, Gram?” Tom snickered, pointing to several bundles of mistletoe hung about her apartment.

“One never knows when uninvited guests will blow through the door,” Gram said.

“Like my great-great-grandfather,” Marnie huffed.

“Oh, I don’t hang it for him. There’s more to his story, lass.” Gram peered over the top of her glasses. “The mistletoe is for evil-doers. Nolan is a mischievous old fool, but he’s ne’er been evil.”

Danny held up a hand. “Hang on! I’m confused. What does mistletoe have to do with uninvited guests? Isn’t mistletoe for kissing?”

“Goodness, no!” Gram exclaimed. “Druids gathered mistletoe during the festival of Alban Arthan to ward off evil spirits and fill their homes with luck. You should pay better attention to your heritage, Daniel.”

Danny’s eyebrows shot up. “I’ve heard nothing about Druids in our family.”

“That’s for another time. Let’s focus on Nolan. Christmas carols and more Guinness should do the trick.” Gram crossed the room to her hi-fi and selected an album from the shelf. A moment later, the Clancy Brothers and Danny O’Flaherty’s rendition of Curoo, Curoo filled the room.

Danny added a log to the fire and Tom returned with five bottles. He popped the caps, passing a frothy Guinness to all, leaving one open in the middle of the table.

A whoosh of wind raced down the chimney, sparking the fire, before traveling around Marnie’s shoulders, and plonking down on the couch next to her.

She sputtered and choked on her stout as Nolan Flannigan reached for her Guinness, but she pulled the bottle away. “Stop that! Behave yourself!”

He chuckled to himself before turning to Gram. “Margaret, lovely to see you. This is the one they’ve been telling me about, yes?”

Gram’s blue eye twinkled. “She is. Now, drink your stout.”

Tom nudged Danny. “Do you see him?”

“Of course,” he said.

“Who’s been telling you about me?” Marnie demanded.

Gram held up a bottle. “Get in, Nolan. It’s time to go.”

Nolan bowed, puffed into a plume of silver smoke and swirled into the bottle, sloshing foam over the lip. Gram gripped a hand over the top. “Quick! Give me a cap!”

Day 5, Turvy Prompt: Entertainment (TV Shows / Movies / Plays)

The flicker of a fire danced across the room as Marnie, Tater and Dickens snuggled together under a quilt on the couch. They watched the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol—the one with Alastair Sim, because all others are rubbish. Dickens lolled on his back while Tater curled into the crook of his mistress’s legs.

Taking a sip from her wineglass, Marnie sighed and with her toe, she poked the bottle holding Nolan Flannigan. The Guinness sat on her coffee table because Gram told her to take it home. Shrugging off the blankets, she pulled her legs from under Tater’s chin, sat up and stared at the brown glass in the firelight.

Tater dropped his front legs to the floor and nosed the bottle. He looked up at Marnie when a tapping on the window startled them. Their heads snapped around to see a man waving.

Marnie scowled when she recognized him. “Thank goodness Gram gave me mistletoe.” She waggled the bundle of greens and berries at Sebastian St. Michel and turned back to the bottle. “Can you scare away a demon, Grandpa? Never mind. The mistletoe will keep him on the service porch.”

Dickens rolled awkwardly off the couch, tipped his head and pawed Tater’s shoulder, whose ears perked at the shrill whistle escaping the bottle. They jerked backward as the cap blew off, clattering against the chandelier above.

“Holy crap!” Marnie squawked as Nolan materialized from the silver smoke billowing from the bottle. He settled atop the coffee table, looking pleased with himself.

The dogs dove onto the couch, one on either side of their mistress. A chorus of growls in varying octaves followed.

“Shh. It’s okay,” she cooed. Then she glared at Nolan. “What in the name of all that is holy? You frightened us half to death!”

A deep belly laugh echoed through the house and the ghost stepped down from the table. “Oh, lass, I wasn’t tryin’ to scare ya. I was tryin’ to pop the plug from the bottle.”

Red-faced, she leapt to her feet. “What do you want?”

He chuckled. “Why, dear, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”

Day 6, Turvy Prompt: Outdoor Activities (Sledding / Caroling)

“Sledding? You want to go sledding?” Marnie’s wrinkled expression brought a chuckle to her great-great-grandfather.

“As I said last night, you need to have fun. Look what happened to me. You don’t want that, do you?”

Twirling her teacup in its saucer, she considered Nolan’s suggestion. “Well, there is a great hill on the other side of the barn.” She leapt up from her chair at the kitchen table—eyes dancing. “And then we can make taffy on snow and hot chocolate.” A glance out the window displayed a winter wonderland as huge fluffy flakes of snow drifted to the ground. “Should I invite the detectives?”

“The more the merrier!”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“Be mindful of Devil’s Hole,” Nolan said as he floated along the snowy ground.

“What’s that?” asked Danny and Marnie in unison.

“You’ve never seen it?” asked the ghost.

They shook their heads.

“What’s what?” Tom asked.

“Devil’s Hole,” Marnie replied with a shrug.

Tom snapped his fingers. “Oh! I’ve heard that story. There’s a trapdoor somewhere around here that leads to the cave where Nolan Flannigan stashed his ill-gotten gains. Another Creekwood myth. Ha-ha!”

“He-he! Like me,” said the ghost.

Danny and Marnie both laughed.

Tom frowned. “It wasn’t that funny.”

“Nolan is funny, not you. Open yourself up, Tommy.” Danny rolled his eyes before walking off, pulling a sled to the top of the hill. “Marnie, do you want to go with me?”

“Nah! You go ahead. I’ll see you down there.” She dragged her sled to a patch of fresh snow, sat, and Tom gave her a push before jumping on his sled—not wanting to be left behind with a ghost.

Nolan glided down the hill, weaving between the sleds, basking in his granddaughter’s joy. He watched with delight as Danny snowplowed to a stop and Tom crashed into a fence, toppling over with a thump.

Danny stood, brushed snow off his jeans and searched the hill. “Hey! Where’d Marnie go?”

Tom scanned the snowy field with a worried look on his wind-burned face. “Uh-oh!”

Day 7, Turvy Prompt: Music / Songs

“Marnie!” Danny called. “How could she just disappear?”

The detectives trudged up the hill, stopping every few moments to call out again.

“Look!” Tom shouted. “There’s her cap!” He pointed to a fluorescent blue baseball cap skittering in the breeze across the bright white field that was scattered with deer, raccoon, fox and bobcat prints.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“Ugh!” Marnie sucked in a breath, kicked away the sled and rolled to her knees. “Ah, geez! I forgot how much it hurts to have the wind knocked out after a fall.” She breathed in as a wave of nausea passed over. She got to her feet, brushed away the snow, pulled her phone from her pocket and turned on the flashlight.

“Halleluiah! Halleluiah!” she sang, spotting a door in one of the stone walls. She glanced around, noting canned goods on shelves, a pair of snowshoes, cross-country skis, and a broken ladder on the wall opposite the door. A fieldstone fireplace graced another wall, stacked with logs and kindling, ready to light. Her eyes followed the chimney that appeared to vent into the wall—not up.

“Hmm… I wonder where that goes.” Eyebrows raised, she crossed to the fireplace, shook her head, and turned back to the door. “I can check that out later. I’ll take door number one, Monty.”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“She’s found Devil’s Hole!” shouted Nolan.

Danny spun around. “Found? Ha! Where’s the trapdoor?”

The ghost shook his head sadly. “I don’t remember.”

Tom walked in a circle, searching the landscape. “Legend says there’s a hemlock tree thirteen paces from the hole.”

“Tchah!” Danny scowled. “They cleared this field for crops years ago.”

“Well, it has to be here. Let’s get Tater and Dickens. They’ll sniff her out. Tater’s done it before.”

Danny nodded. “Okay! Go back to the house. Nolan and I will stay here and keep searching.”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Tom burst through the back door. “Tater! Dickens! Come!”

When the dogs didn’t run to his command, he stomped through the house and found them in the den, digging at the rug in the center of the room.

“Tater! Dickens! Get help!” Marnie’s voice echoed from below the rug.

Tom looked at the smiling Borders. “Do you hear what I hear?”

Day 8, Turvy Prompt: Travel

“Marnie! I’m here! Hang on!” Tom herded the Border Collies off the rug and pulled it aside. He kneeled down, searching for an opening.

“It’s a door, Tom! I can’t open it from this side!” Marnie shouted.

Tom spied a candle and a box of matches on a shelf. He lit the candle and held it close to the floor, then blew it out. Smoke swirled from the wick, traveling down through the floorboards. “Gotcha!” he whispered. Tossing the candle and matches aside, he dug into his pocket for his knife, which he eased into the crack. He ran it around the edges, breaking through years of built up varnish and floor wax. “Marn, push up! I think it will give!”

She planted her feet on the stone step below, pressed her back against the door and pushed. Her head popped up, and she grinned. “Holy crap, Tom! You have got to see this!”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“Nolan, if it’s a trapdoor, it opens up, right?” Danny asked.

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” The ghost laughed, then noting Danny’s icy glare, he added, “It’s spring-loaded. It drops into a root cellar—so to speak.”

“Why would you do that?”

“One too many stouts,” Nolan said, shrugging.

With frustration, the detective ran a hand through his thick hair. “Where the hell is Tom?”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Tom peeked into the hole. “Is it safe down there?”

“Yeah! Grab the dog leads and a flashlight!”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“Wow!” Tom stopped on the bottom step, eyes wide. He marveled at the whiskey barrels sitting atop wagons, dusty canning jars containing amber liquid, old lanterns, and a crude table holding a deck of cards. “This looks like somethin’ out of a movie!”

 “C’mon! There’s a door. Let’s see where it goes!” Marnie tugged the wrought-iron ring, and the door creaked open.

As they traveled down a long tunnel, they realized they were in the heart of Creekwood’s underbelly. They’d heard stories, but this was proof! A hundred proof, most likely.

Day 9, Turvy Prompt: Gifts / Presents

“Tom! Call me! Where the hell are you?” Danny yelled into his phone. He jabbed “end,” and shoved it into his pocket. He spun around, a scowl lining his face. “Can’t you find her? You’re a ghost! You should be able to locate your granddaughter!”

“It doesn’t work like that,” the ghost said.

“Ha! You sound like Marnie. She says that all the time.” He turned away and kicked at the snow. “Let’s find Tom,” he called over his shoulder.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Tom clung to Marnie’s elbow as she led the way, the beam of the flashlight dancing up the walls. Tater and Dickens trotted happily behind them, stopping only briefly to sniff the air.

“I’ve counted six locked doors. I wonder where they lead,” Tom whispered.

“You know, there’s a drawer full of skeleton keys in the den. Maybe we’ve found their locks.” Marnie stopped in front of a door and tried the doorknob. Her eyes widened when it turned. “Oh! This one’s unlocked! Shall we?” She pushed through the door with a giggle.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

 “Ha-ha! We’ve found Grandpa’s stash!” Marnie picked up a bottle and pulled out the plug. She took a whiff and pulled a face. “Phwaw! That’s strong!” She held it up to Tom’s nose, who jerked back, waving a hand in front of his face.

“Whoa! That’s Irish whiskey!”

“Hey! There’s another door!” Marnie crossed the room, turned the knob and disappeared through the opening. She stopped dead in her tracks when she recognized the woman on the other side. “Gram?”

Tom poked his head into the room, his jaw dropping. Tater and Dickens raced to the old woman’s side and sat.

“Oh! How thoughtful! You brought me a present!” Gram eyes twinkled as she snatched the bottle from Marnie’s hand.

Day 10, Turvy Prompt: Holiday Dinner

Danny pushed through the back door. “Tom! Nolan, you check upstairs. I’ll search down here.”

The detective rushed into the living room, the library and then the den, stopping short when he saw the trapdoor laying open. “What the heck?” As he moved closer to investigate, Nolan appeared beside him.

“You’ll need a torch,” said the ghost.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

A propane fire burned beneath a copper still in one corner of the room and the drip, drip, drip of amber liquid filled a pot beneath it. A table beside held bottles and labels imprinted with a shamrock and “Flannigan’s Single Malt” in bold, gold lettering.

“Gram, you know this is illegal, right?” Tom asked, rubbing the back of his neck. 

She shot him an indignant look. “Not if I have a license!”

Marnie giggled, poking a finger at a distilling license hanging on the wall.

Tom glanced at the license and scratched his head. “Does Danny know about this?”

Gram’s coy expression told them he didn’t.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Danny and Nolan arrived at the open door in time to hear Gram’s explanation.

“Many wrongly accused Nolan of having a multitude of sins. Some were true. Some weren’t. He sold his whiskey to raise money for our town. Now, you can say that’s wrong—illegal, even—but his intentions were righteous. He kept food on the table and a fire in the stoves of many a Creekwood settler. The man was a hero. He died a tired and ruined man because he dedicated his life to helping others.”

“Oh!” said Marnie, remembering her conversation with her grandfather. “But how did you end up with the still?” she asked.

“Danny’s grandfather and I stumbled upon it after we bought the pub. We read Nolan’s diaries and recipes and carried on his tradition. Every penny of profit goes to charity. It wasn’t hard to find buyers. You’ll find a bottle of Flannigan’s Single Malt hidden on the top shelf of most pubs in the county. Those who know, know.”

“Gram, when were you gonna tell me?” Danny asked from the doorway.

“I’ll tell you over dinner. I have a lamb roast in the oven.” Gram scooted around him and out the door. “Come along, now!” she called over her shoulder.

Day 11, Turvy Prompt: Games / Board Games

Wink Murder

  1. Players sit around a candle-lit table. No electric lights allowed.
  2. A draw of slips of paper from a hat determines who the “murderer” is.
  3. While engaging in chit-chat, the “murderer” kills by making eye contact and then winking surreptitiously at another player.
  4. Winked at players must count silently to five before feigning sudden death by slumping forward on the table.
  5. If a player suspects they know the identity of the murderer, they raise their hand and announce “I accuse”. If they’re wrong, the accuser is out, the game recommences, and the murderer continues their wicked ways.
  6. The goal is to murder as many people as possible without being caught.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

“Fantastic dinner, Gram!” Tom pushed out his chair from the table, covering a burp with his hand.

Marnie hopped up from her chair. “C’mon! Let’s get the table cleared so we can play a game.”

The detectives exchanged glances, sighed and got to their feet, gathering plates, silverware and glasses.

“What game shall we play?” Gram asked.

“Wink murder!” Marnie shouted.

“Ooo! I like that one!” said Gram. “Nolan, you can’t play. Poor Tom can’t see you.”

“Being murdered once is enough for me.” The ghost shrugged before dissipating into a plume of silver smoke.

Danny and Marnie gasped, turning to Gram.

“Is that true?” Marnie asked.

“A story for another day.”

“Is what true?” Tom asked.

“Grandfather said he’d been murdered,” Marnie replied.

Tom pulled a face. “Huh. That seems to happen a lot in Creekwood.”

Danny added logs to the fire while Gram, Tom, and Marnie lit candles around the apartment. When the last wick glowed, Gram turned off the lights, and they gathered around the table.

Marnie pulled the four aces from a deck of cards, tossed them into a large bowl, and passed it around the table for everyone to choose a card. “Whoever gets the ace of spades is the murder.”

Everyone glanced at their card and then turned them upside down on the table

“Gram, tell us what happened to my grandfather. Was he really murdered?” Marnie’s aquamarine eyes fixed on the woman across the table.

“You should ask him, dear. I’ve only heard stories, and he has never confirmed or denied.” Gram sprawled speechlessly across the table.

“Do you think you could look into old police records?” asked Marnie, staring at the detectives in the firelight.

Tom shook his head. “We don’t have anything that old in records.”

“I’m with Tommy. The records don’t go back that far. There may be something at the library though.” Danny clutched his throat before collapsing in a heap.

Tom grinned and winked at Marnie. “We really need more than four people for this game.”

She rolled eyes. “Tom, you are such a winker!”

Day 12, Turvy Prompt: Wildcard

“Every room is chock-full of toys!” Marnie raced up the stairs from the tunnel and into the den to find Nolan standing behind her desk reading her Christmas cards, his eyes glistening—a broad smile upon his face.

“You have lovely friends, child,” he said proudly.

“Yes, I do. I’m very lucky.”

“Do you have any enemies, too?” the ghost asked.

She bit her lip and glanced out the window. “Hmm. One or two.”

“Be careful. Even family and close friends can be dangerous.”

She looked down at Tater and Dickens, who sat wagging their tails, smiling up into her face. “I know, but I have the boys to keep me safe, and of course, Danny, Tom, Gram, and other friends you haven’t met.” Marnie crossed the room and stood in front of her grandfather. “Grandpa, who murdered you?”

He stared down at the desk and sighed. “It’s a long story, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t a good husband or brother.”

“But Gram said you are a hero. She said you did so much good for Creekwood,” she cried.

“Ah! I did, but my family suffered because of it. I took care of everyone but them. Don’t repeat my mistakes, lass. Promise me.”

She nodded, her bottom lip trembling.

“The toys you found in the rooms… I made them all and was to deliver the packages to the tots of Creekwood on Christmas Eve—the night I met my demise. Rather than offering to help to make quick work of the deliveries, my wife and brother dropped a barrel of whiskey on my head.”

“How terrible!” she said, her cheeks burning with anger.

He waved a hand, dismissing her outrage. “They didn’t think they would kill me. They only thought they would stop me from leaving, and I suppose I deserved it. Four children at home, and here I was going out on the most magical night of the year. Never mind. In the end, you can take away a few lessons I have learned.”

Marnie edged closer, her fingertips pressed to her desktop.

“Make your loved ones a priority. Always look up, and last, Christmas in Creekwood is murder!” he said with a wink.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

A note from the author: May the spirit of Christmas be with you and not spilled upon you!


Check out all the other authors who participated in the #12DaysOfTurvy Writing Challenge. Their Instagram profiles are below:

@brasingtonbooks
@brookpetersonauthor
@brucespydar
@chloeblythauthor
@crisscape
@ellehartford
@helengarrawayauthor
@joannamonahanauthor
@kcfablesproductions
@la_alfano
@lldawnjm
@martensforkife
@neilwritesthings
@redheadedhippie44writer
@rosejfairchild
@saffron.amatti
@sharitmitchell
@thistleboundbooks
@writertracybrown

‘Tis the Season of Sharing – Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie Recipe

‘Tis the season to share a fantastic recipe for Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie! My mother gifted me a great cookbook many years ago, and this recipe was one of the first I tried. I have made it for every Thanksgiving since. It’s a little different from the traditional recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin puree can, but it is oh, so yummy!

The recipe comes from the Crisco® American Pie Celebration, and is credited to Sally Rodgers, Charlestown, RI.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 pecan halves

Unbaked 9-inch Classic Crisco® Single Crust (below)

Heat oven to 375°F.

For filling, combine sour cream, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl. Stir until blended. Set aside.

Bake empty pie shell at 375°F for 8 minutes. Sprinkle chopped nuts over bottom. Pour filling over nuts. Bake at 375° F for 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Garnish with nut halves. Bake at 375°F for 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Single-crust Pie Pastry (Crisco®)

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Crisco Shortening* (or butter)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Combine flour and salt in bowl.
  • Cut in Crisco® (*or butter) using pastry blender (or 2 knives) until all flour is blended in to form pea ­size chunks.
  • Sprinkle water, one tablespoon at a time. Toss lightly with fork until dough will form a ball.
  • Press doughball between hands to form5 to 6-inch”pancake”. Flour rolling surface and pin lightly. Roll dough into circle.
  • Trim one inch larger than upside­ down pie plate. Loosen dough carefully.
  • Fold into quarters. Unfold and press into pie plate.
  • Fold edge under and flute.
  • For recipe calling for un­baked pie shell, follow baking directions given in that recipe. For recipe calling for baked pie shell, heat oven to 425°F. Thor­oughly prick bottom and sides with fork (50 times)to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 425°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie
Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie Ingredients and Method
Single Crust Recipe

Enjoy!

August 2022 Writing Prompt Challenge!

Saffron Amatti, author of the Lucas Rathbone Mysteries, threw down the gauntlet with a monthly writing prompt challenge. August’s challenge is “Send Your Characters to a Theme Park.”

Writing Challenge August
Writing Prompt Challenge

While this may not come as a surprise, my crew were none to happy with me for agreeing to another #writingchallenge. They were downright cranky—so they changed the rules.


Marnie, Tom and Danny Break the Rules—Again!

“Well, Shari has done it to us again,” Marnie said with a roll of her eyes. “We have to choose a theme park for one of @saffron.amatti’s writing challenges.”

“Tchah! Not another one! Theme park? Boring!” Danny flopped into an Adirondack chair and ran a hand through his hair.

Tom scrunched up his face and scratched his forehead. “Does it have to be a theme park?”

With her bottom lip out and a quick shrug, Marnie read the post again. “That’s what it says, but since when do we follow the rules?” She raised an eyebrow and quirked up one corner of her mouth.

Tom sent a wink and a slow nod her way.

Danny rubbed his hands together. “Whitewater rafting it is!”


Later that day—Hudson River Gorge, Adirondack Mountains

Danny took a seat at the front of the raft, with Marnie in the middle and Tom at the back. The water at the top of Hudson Gorge rippled around small boulders jutting up from the bottom of the river.

“Okay, guys, Hudson River Gorge is 17 miles long. If we end up in Tapan Zee, we’ve gone too far.” Marnie giggled. “Say thanks to the Iroquoian and their predecessors for safe passage through the gorge.” She glanced up at the blue sky and gave thanks to the Native Americans who inhabited the region over 4,000 years ago.

Tom pushed them off the shore and jumped into the raft, settling into his seat. Danny expertly guided them around granite boulders to calm waters in the middle of the river.

“Everybody ready? Life vests secure?” Danny glanced back.

“Let’s go!” Marnie and Tom shouted in unison.


As they approached a fast-moving and rocky section of the river called The Narrows, a familiar uneasiness sparked goosebumps to rise on the back of Marnie’s neck and she turned to see a lone figure in a green kayak gaining on them. Tom followed her gaze and cursed. She nudged Danny in the back with her paddle, and then she turned to me with a scowl. The detective’s steely blue stare made me marginally uncomfortable, so I averted his eyes to their stalker.

“Geez! Can we have just one outing that doesn’t include an antagonist who wants us dead?!” Marnie shouted, her face contorted with anger.

I flashed her a wicked grin and said, “Hmm… No.”

Mwahaha!


As Marnie and the detectives recover from their daunting experience, I will drop them into another drama. That’s right! Fatal Vow, Marnie Reilly Mysteries #3, is in progress. I better get back to writing. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Cheers,

Shari

Christmas in July Giveaway! Only on Instagram!

🎄

It’s a Christmas in July Book Giveaway! Five fabulous #IndieAuthors have created one awesome prize!

The Authors:

@BrasingtonBooks
@BrookPetersonAuthor
@Saffron.Amatti
@ShariTMitchell
@WriterTracyBrown

The Prize: Author-Signed Books (SWIPE through the photos in this post) – all take place during the Christmas holiday season:

Festively Fatal, by Saffron Amatti (Saffron will mail a signed bookplate to the winner)

Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the manor…

Laughter echoed, and a rather harassed local newspaper editor is pretending he’s not at the party he’s been hired to report on.

But reluctant psychic Lucas Rathbone gets through the evening somehow.

Which is more than can be said for another guest…

As he investigates, Lucas uncovers family secrets best forgotten, betrayals, and scandal.

But which was motive for murder?

And can he solve the mystery before there’s another Christmas tragedy?

Cayman Island, by Jennnifer Brasington-Crowley

Jay Nightingale doesn’t know he’s being possessed by Jonathan Sharpe.

The bad thing is, Jonathan’s lover does know.

After three years of mourning the loss of her beloved, Cayman Stillwater finds him again.

The bad thing is, he’s inside another man. A man so unlike her Jonathan, she cannot fathom how she will get him back.

But she’s willing to try.

With the help (or hindrance) of her sarcastic, psychic brother, Cayman is determined to make Jay fall in love with her. But will she fall for this unassuming recovering addict with the bright red anime hair, or only the man she wants him to be?

Sometimes grief makes us do nothing at all, but sometimes it makes us do the unthinkable.

Cayman Island is a contemporary romance that’s as heart-wrenching as it is heartwarming. It is a story of remorse and recovery, of risks and redemption, and ultimately, of love.

Door to Door, by T.L. Brown

Two worlds collide when Emily Swift turns thirty and her late father’s journal lands on her doorstep… Seventeen years after Emily Swift’s father died, a door is opened to a new world, an Empire led by peculiar men and women called Salesmen – transporters of magical items. These Salesmen have the unique ability to travel from place-to-place, and even world-to-world, simply by stepping through the “right” door.

Now that Emily is thirty, it turns out that she can “door travel” too, stumbling unplanned into kitchens, bathrooms, and alleyways as her connection to the Salesman Empire is revealed. Fueled by the cryptic notes and sketches in her father’s journal, Emily discovers the real reason behind his death: he was targeted and assassinated by the Fringe, a terrorist group of rogue Salesmen.

After an attack that leaves an innocent woman dead, a rare book containing clues to the whereabouts of the Crimson Stone is missing. Emily is charged with getting it back. As she races through the Empire, she pursues John Templeton, the mysterious Salesman with extraordinary abilities, who seems to both help and undermine Emily at whim.

With new friends Anne Lace and the boyish Rabbit, she tracks Templeton, but the Fringe is not far behind – as two new murders prove. Along the way, Emily struggles to balance her desire to find out who killed her father against the task of recovering the legendary stone. The internal journey of reconciling the father she hardly knew, with the great leader she’ll never know, forms the foundation for a fast-paced race to keep powerful magic out of violent, fanatical hands.

The Present Predicament, by Brook Peterson

It’s Christmastime and Jericho House’s halls are decked to such an extent it resembles a mansion in the North Pole, not the mountains of Nevada. There’s only one problem, Elliot the tuxedo cat keeps climbing the behemoth Christmas tree in the parlour and breaking priceless, antique ornaments.
When Grandma Lily and Chloe decide the solution is to divert him with lots of presents around the tree, it sets off a domino effect of predicaments, culminating in the complete loss of Grandma’s Christmas spirit.

Will Chloe be able to revive Grandma’s holiday cheer despite being somewhat of a grinch herself? And what about handsome Police Chief Garner? Will he come to Chloe’s aid?

Join Chloe, Grandma Lily, their furry friends, and the rest of the Jericho Falls cast for a small-town Christmas caper.

Torn Veil, by Shari T. Mitchell

Christmas is coming, and so is a killer. Will the psychic psychologist save Christmas and herself? Marnie Reilly is back in Torn Veil, the sequel to Divine Guidance. Marnie Reilly’s sixth sense is working overtime this holiday season. A haunting sense of evil sweeping through the little town of Creekwood is disturbing her dreams and her waking hours. The ghosts of her past are trying to help, but the messages from beyond the veil are muddled and vague.

When Marnie’s childhood friend turns up dead on the wrong side of the tracks, police detectives discover her business card in the dead man’s pocket. Is it an overdose or murder? As tensions rise in the race to solve the case, so does the body count. Detectives Tom Keller and Danny Gregg are on the scene to protect Marnie from the evil lurking in Creekwood, or is it Marnie who is protecting them? Torn Veil, a murder mystery with a paranormal twist…

But wait, there’s more!

The gift basket* includes:

  • A sturdy, braided basket to hold your TBR pile
  • Cute Christmas ornaments from Brook and Tracy
  • An adorable “doggie paw print” metal bookmark from Shari
  • A beautiful, frameable print of Cayman Island’s cover from Jennifer
  • Christmas stickers, bumper sticker
  • Paper bookmarks
  • Milk chocolate, hot cocoa bombs
  • Tiny chocolate chip cookies to nibble on
  • Small, festive wreath
  • Pack of Jelly Bellys
  • Holiday Christmas hard candy (no sugar added candy included)
  • Silver & gold LED lights to set the mood

*fake poinsettia flowers pictured not included

Christmas in July Giveaway RULES + HOW TO ENTER for a chance to win:

✔Open to Instagram users 18+ years old

✔Winner MUST have a USA mailing address that the prize can be shipped to – winner will be contacted for address by @WriterTracyBrown

✔Comments from spam accounts NOT eligible (e.g., promote it on, hard DM)

✔One entry per person

✔Enter by commenting on this post (tag your friends!)

✔Enter between July 7 – 21, 2022

✔Winner will be picked at random via wheelofnames.com (or similar online name-picking resource) on July 22, 2022

✔Winner announced on July 22, 2022 & contacted via DM by @WriterTracyBrown (if you are contacted by someone OTHER than Tracy & told you are a winner – DO NOT RESPOND, it’s a scam)

✔Winner MUST be following authors @BrasingtonBooks, @BrookPetersonAuthor, @Saffron.Amatti, @ShariTMitchell, & @WriterTracyBrown on Instagram at time of drawing to be eligible

This giveaway NOT affiliated with Instagram, Meta/Facebook, or any of their affiliates.

Good luck! #BookGiveaway #Giveaway

Check out the authors on the links below:

https://www.saffron-amatti.co.uk/

https://www.brookpetersonauthor.com/

https://sharitmitchell.com/

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th: A Marnie Reilly Mysteries Short Story

This short story falls nowhere in the current timeline of the Marnie Reilly Mysteries series. It is simply a short story that popped into my head while I was falling asleep a few nights ago. Sometimes you just have to write what is handed to you in your dreams. I hope you enjoy it.


Marnie rolled to her side and stared out the window at the sun rising over the paper birches and hemlock spruces on the ridge. Her thoughts took her to a conversation she had with one of her clients yesterday.

If I tell you I am planning to hurt someone, you are required by law to tell the police, aren’t you?”

Jonathan LaRoche steepled his long, chunky fingers on his broad chest as he lay on the couch in Marnie’s consulting room. His shoulder-length black hair was in need of a wash—his clothes were grubby and he smelled of must, perspiration, and Axe body spray, and his beard was a matted mess of gray and black whiskers with flecks of food creased into the corners of his unwashed mouth.

Marnie worked hard to maintain her composure, her hand over her nose and mouth to keep from gagging at the odor. “Yes, that’s right. If you plan to break the law, I have a duty of care to inform the proper authorities. Is that why you wanted to see me today? Are you planning to harm someone?” Her tone even—her eyes watering from the man’s stench.

“I see. Client confidentiality only goes so far, then.” He craned his neck to see her reaction.

Moving her hand away from her face, she studied him. “Why would you want to harm someone, Mr. LaRoche?”

“Hypothetically, I would harm someone if they were to say, divulge my innermost thoughts. You know, things that I have discussed with them in confidence.” He waved his hand, and quickly sat up, hammering his size 16 shoes into the floor.

Marnie flinched and internally scolded herself for allowing him to startle her. “Mr. LaRoche, we have this conversation once a week. Why don’t you tell me what’s really on your mind.” She sat forward—eyebrows raised.

He pointed an accusing finger at her. “You don’t like me. How can you be my psychologist if you don’t like me?”

“Why do you think that I don’t like you?” She cocked her head, gripping her pen tightly.

“You judge me, Ms. Reilly!” He got to his feet and paced in front of the couch.

Marnie pushed her chair back while he wasn’t looking—shortening the distance between her and the door.

“Do I? I don’t believe that I judge anyone, Mr. LaRoche. I certainly listen to everything that you tell me and make a professional assessment. Is that what you consider judging?”

Whirling around, he lunged forward, placing his hands on the arms of her chair. His face inches from hers, he snarled, “You! It’s you I intend to harm!” Shoving her chair back into the wall with a jolting thunk, he turned his back and sang, “Pop Goes the Weasel.” Wheeling back around, he took a step toward her. She leapt to her feet as her consulting room door flew open.

Carl stood in the doorway, jaw and fists clenched.  “Your session is over, Mr. LaRoche.”

A blue jay squawked by her screened window, jerking her from her thoughts. Glancing down at her smartwatch, a wave of nausea washed over her. 

“Argh! It’s Friday the 13th!” She rolled to the other side of her bed. Tater sat at the edge, peering into her face. Dickens glanced up from his bed in the corner where he had been licking his foot. His ears perked up when Marnie looked at him. 

“You two don’t know what Friday the thirteenth means, do you?” Her aquamarine eyes filling with tears, she ruffled a hand through Tater’s thick coat and kissed him on top of his head.

The Border Collies, ears up, cocked their heads and mumbled. Dickens stood, stretched out his front legs—rump in the air—then trotted to the side of the bed. Marnie scratched him under the chin, leaned over and wrapped her arms around both of the dogs.

“It means that we stay close to home, keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.” She sat up and swung her legs off the bed. As her feet hit the floor, she saw a shadow move down the hallway outside of her bedroom. Pressing a finger to her lips, she shook her head at Tater, who stared at the figure disappearing around the corner.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan’s Diner buzzed with caffeine-induced energy as Danny and Tom tucked into their breakfasts.

“Your grandmother makes the best scrambled eggs in Creekwood.” Tom gulped his coffee while scooping up a forkful of home fries.

“Yes, she does. The bacon is cooked perfectly too.” Danny’s blue eyes sparkled as he picked up a crispy strip with his fingers and popped it into his mouth.

“It’s strange to have a day off. I’m lookin’ forward to fishin’—away from Creekwood. I haven’t been up north to fish in a long time.” Tom pushed away his plate and puffed out his cheeks. “I am stuffed. You ready to go?” He put his hand in his pocket, pulling out a twenty-dollar bill for the tip jar.

“Yeah. Let’s hit the road.” Danny slid out to the booth and took his wallet out of his back pocket, pulling a twenty out. “C’mon! Let’s go before Gram catches us.”

Tossing their twenties into the jar on the counter, they made a beeline for the door.

“Where are you two off to in such a hurry?” Gram appeared in front of them, an order pad in her hand.

The detectives glanced at one another.

“Uh. We’re going fishing,” Danny said.

Tom nodded in agreement.

“What about Marnie?” She studied them closely.

Both men shrugged.

“She’s home—she had stuff to do.” Danny fiddled with his phone.

Tom fished his phone from his pocket and glanced down at the screen. Looking up at the ceiling, he sighed. “We’re not goin’ fishin’ today. We’re goin’ to the ranch.”

His partner scrunched up his face. “Why not? We’ve been waiting all week for this trip.”

“It’s Friday the thirteenth.”

“Yeah. Okay. Are you tellin’ me that Madame Séance is superstitious?” Danny pulled a face, laughed, and glanced down at his grandmother with a grin.

Tom pursed his lips, anger flashing in his violet eyes. “Marnie’s parents both died on a Friday the thirteenth. We gotta go to the ranch.” He dropped his head to his chest, exhaling loudly. Looking up, he shook his head at his partner. “How can you not know that?”

“She never told me! If I had known…”

“Yeah. Well, you know now. Let’s go.” Tom pulled open the diner door and stalked out.

Danny glanced up at the little bell ringing violently over the door, and then back down at Gram. “I didn’t know.”

She looked up at her grandson—her blue eyes stormy. ”I knew, and I’m not a detective. You need to communicate better, Daniel. Marnie Reilly is an open book to those interested in readin’ her.  I hear her ask you about your day all of the time. When was the last time you asked her how she’s doin’?”

He rolled his eyes. “She’ll just say fine.”

“No. That’s what your late wife always said. Marnie will tell the truth. She always does, whether it’s what you want to hear or not. Perhaps that’s why you don’t ask her.” Gram nudged him toward the door. “Go. Make sure she’s okay—‘cause believe it or not, sometimes she’s not.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marnie crept into the hallway, the timber floors cool beneath her bare feet. Tater and Dickens walked in step on either side of her—ears and scruffs up. The old pine floorboards creaked—she held her breath and paused, listening.  Tater glanced up at her, waiting for a command. She gently tugged his ear, a signal that everything would be fine.  Holding up her hand, she made eye contact with both of the dogs.

“Sit. Stay,” she whispered. Both dogs sat motionless, awaiting her next direction.

As Marnie took another step forward, they all heard a shuffling in one of the guestrooms. The dogs tipped their heads, and Marnie tiptoed slowly toward the door, which was slightly ajar. As she pushed the door open, a flurry of darkness flew into her face. She screeched, lifted her arms to protect herself, and shouted the command, “Scootchem!”

Tater bounded forward with a high-bitched bark, chasing the shadow away from his mistress. He stopped short when the intruder slammed into the bedroom window with a dull thud. The dog lay down on the floor, resting his head next to a wounded crow. Marnie joined him near the window and knelt down.

“Ah, geez! The poor thing. You remind me of a pet crow my father used to have.” Reaching behind her, she removed a pillowcase from one of the pillows, and gently scooped up the bird. Cradling the bird in her arms, she ran her finger lightly over the bird’s wings, its head, and tail feathers. Tater stood and peered into the cloth bundle at the bird. “He doesn’t seem to have broken anything, and his neck doesn’t appear to be broken. Let’s take him out onto the veranda in case he wakes up. I don’t want him to fly into the window again.”

Marnie stood, and she and Tater went out into the hallway where Dickens still sat. Waving her hand, she said, “Free!” Dickens stood and walked calmly down the stairs behind his mistress and Tater.

At the bottom of the stairs, Marnie paused and glanced down at her dogs. “How did the crow get into the house?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Why are you so pissed off at me? I had no idea Marnie’s parents both died on Friday the thirteenth. How should I have known that?” Danny ran a hand through his hair and frowned at his partner.

Tom turned his attention away from the road for a moment to scowl at him. “How can you not know that? You know, she’s been goin’ through a rough time lately. She’s got a new home; a new direction for her practice; and she has a new court-appointed client who is giving her a hard time. When was the last time you asked her how her day was?”

Danny cocked an eyebrow. “Are you and Gram in cahoots? She asked me the same question.”
Tom slammed his hand onto his steering wheel. “No! We are not in cahoots. We notice things. We actually do ask Marnie how she’s doin’ and she tells us. Are you gonna ask me about the client who’s givin’ her a hard time?”

“She told me she’s got a painful client, but that’s all she said.”

“Did you push her? She probably would have told you more if you had.”

“No. She gets mad when I do.”

Danny’s phone rang. He answered it. “Hi, Carl.” He listened for several minutes, his jaw clenching tighter with every moment that passed. “We’re on our way there now. Yeah, he’s with me. We’ll see you there.”

“What’s wrong?” Tom turned on the signal light to turn onto the highway.

“You better get your grill lights on and floor it. Carl just filled me in on Marnie’s court-appointed client. The guy threatened her yesterday. She made him swear not to tell us, but he got worried. He tried to call her a few minutes ago and she didn’t answer the home phone or her mobile.”

Tom turned on the grill lights and pressed his foot down on the gas pedal. The big tires of the truck kicked up rocks, and the backend fishtailed before correcting.

Scowling at his partner, he growled, “Call her again, and keep calling until she answers.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marnie’s mobile phone vibrated and fell to the floor from her bedside table. Tater and Dickens woofed at the thump from above but continued following their mistress through the downstairs of their house.

Stepping into the library, she flipped on the overhead light, went to her desk, laid the wounded crow on the blotter, and pulled open a large file drawer. Taking a lockbox from the drawer, she punched in a code and it sprang open. The dog’s growls alerted her that they were not alone. Glancing up, she put her hand to her mouth, stifling a scream. The hulking mass of John LaRoche’s malodorous frame stood in the open doorway leading out to the veranda.

Her eyes never leaving the grotesque madman in her doorway, Marnie whispered, “Shush, Tater. Shush, Dickens. Sit. Stay.” The Border Collies sat, their intense and intelligent eyes trained on the trespasser.
LaRoche pointed a gun at the dogs. “Remove the mongrels, Ms. Reilly, or I will kill them.”

She turned to her dogs, making eye contact with Tater, and made a twisting motion with her hand. He tipped his head and put a paw on her knee. Pointing to the door, she gave the command, “Tater. Dickens. Out. Kitchen.” Both dogs obeyed, walking quietly out of the library. Marnie’s heart rose up into her throat as the click of their toenails disappeared down the hall. Turning back to the lunatic in her library, she lifted her chin and narrowed her eyes.

“Why are you here, Mr. LaRoche?”

Taking a step into the room, he ran his hand across the back of a leather chair. His mouth formed a grotesque grin—the gun in his hand now pointed at Marnie. “I told you my intentions yesterday.”
She kept her eyes on him as she reached out her hand to the lockbox.

“Ah! Ah! Ah! I wouldn’t do that. I will shoot you in the heart before you can retrieve your weapon.”

Dropping her hand to her side, she glanced down at her desk. One of the crow’s eyes opened and a wing ruffled ever so lightly. Inhaling deeply through her mouth, she lifted her gaze and saw the depth of the man’s hatred for her. His soulless black eyes judged her and his mouth moved peculiarly, as if he were reciting a spell. Narrowing her eyes, she studied the man’s face—there was something familiar.

“It’s you who is judging me, Mr. LaRoche. I can see it in your eyes. Why do you hate me? What is it about you that makes you hate someone you don’t even know?”

“Oh, I know you, Ms. Reilly. I know you too well. You play with people’s minds and then send them to mental hospitals to wither away and die. That’s what you were planning to recommend to the court, wasn’t it? You were going to tell them to lock me up for an eternity.”

Shrugging, she didn’t hide a smirk. “That is exactly what I did recommend—yesterday in fact. As soon as you left my office, I wrote a report to the court. I told them that you are a sick, twisted, maniacal creature. I told them that you are in bad need of soap, a shower, a razor, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. You disgust me, Mr. LaRoche. As a psychologist, I would probably not say that to a client, but you trespassed. You are standing here, in my home, uninvited and unwashed. You are a foul human being! I personally delivered the report to Judge Lawrence last night. And that is that. No matter what you do to me, your sentence has already been sealed.” Her aquamarine eyes wide, she laughed at him. “Now, you should be on your way. Detectives Keller and Gregg will be here soon for breakfast. We have plans.”

As he took a step toward her, Marnie weaved to the bookcase behind her desk. Picking up a marble statue of St. Francis of Assisi, she heaved it toward him, and sidestepped toward the door. The statue missed and fell to the seat of the leather couch. She crouched as the gun went off and she crab-crawled to the door as a loud shriek and the flurry of ruffling feathers attacked LaRoche. Throwing his hands in the air to protect himself, he dropped the gun.

Tater and Dickens appeared at the veranda door, as Marnie scrambled to her feet and raced out of the library—her dogs ran past LaRoche, knocking him down. Sprinting to the kitchen, she smiled when she saw the kitchen door standing open. “Good boy, Tater! Smart boy! Let’s go! We need to get to the barn!”
Snatching up her Wellingtons, Marnie hopped awkwardly, pulling on the boots as they ran out the backdoor. Too terrified to look back, she focused on getting to safety–the big red barn would most certainly provide that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carl Parkins kicked a flat tire on his blue, Chevy pickup truck. “I have never had a flat tire in my life. Why? Today of all days!” Scowling up the road, he threw up his hands in frustration. “Yes!” He waved down the approaching truck with flashing grill lights.

Tom stopped the truck and Danny rolled down his window. “Jump in!”

Carl reached into his truck for his briefcase, pulled open the back door of Tom’s truck, and climbed inside. “Crap! Am I glad to see you guys. I got a flat tire.”

Tom glanced into the rearview mirror. “Did you bring your gun?”

Carl gave a curt nod.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marnie and her dogs raced up the steps to the loft. Dropping the hatch door, she rolled two bales of hay on top of it. Her stomach lurched when she remembered that LaRoche had a gun. He could easily shoot up through the floorboards, harming her dogs and her. Peering through the wall of the barn, she spotted LaRoche running across the pasture. She looked around the hayloft, noting a pitchfork, a tall cabinet, a large chain with a hook, and work gloves.

“What can I do with these?” She raised an eyebrow and walked to the cabinet. The door of the cupboard was locked with an old padlock. Retrieving the pitchfork, she stuck one of the tines through the hasp and yanked. The hasp broke off, the door swung open to reveal two shotguns, and a shelf above the guns held boxes of birdshot. She turned to her dogs—both stared up—they were panting—not smiling. “What do you say we have a bit of target practice?”  She loaded five shells into one of the guns, pushed back the sliding door of the loft, and took aim. Boom! The ground in front of LaRoche exploded. He veered left but continued running toward them. She took aim again. Boom! She hit an old fence post, sending splinters into the air. Peering out, she couldn’t see him. He had vanished from sight. Below them, she heard whistling. It was a familiar tune from childhood—one she had heard last night.

Round and round the cobbler’s bench

The monkey chased the weasel

The monkey thought it was all in fun

Boom!

A bullet flew up through the floorboards, and the dogs leapt sideways as another bullet splintered the old boards, scattering loose hay. Marnie muffled a scream, and motioned with her hand for her dogs to come to her as the whistling began again. As the dogs ran to her side, she rolled a spent shell casing away from them.

Round and round the cobbler’s bench

The monkey chased the weasel

The monkey thought it was all in fun

Boom!

Another round pierced through the floor at the other end of the barn. Marnie tiptoed to the cabinet and took out a full box of shells. She rolled three together to the center of the loft. This time, the madman sang:

Round and round the cobbler’th bench

The monkey chathed the weathel

The monkey thought it wath all in fun

Pop goeth the weathel!

A chill ran up her spine and she swallowed her fear.  She stood stock-still waiting—for what, she wasn’t sure. Grabbing hold of her dog’s collars, she pulled them as close to the eaves as she could get them. “Okay, guys. We’re going to need some help. It’s time for a bit of divine intervention.” Marnie closed her eyes and whispered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny turned in his seat. “Okay, Captain Crystals, give us the lowdown.”

Carl rolled his eyes as he dug into his satchel for a file. He resigned himself to the fact that the nickname wasn’t going away any time soon. “His name is Jonathan LaRoche. He is a 58-year-old Creekwood native. He’s 6 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 280 pounds, and he threatened Marnie with bodily harm yesterday—which is why I can tell you everything I have about the ogre. Judge Lawrence referred him to us—well, actually, one of her clerks did. Ah, a Miss Annabelle LaRock.”

Tom glanced up into the mirror. “Did you say Jonathan LaRoche?”

Carl looked down at the file and nodded. “Yeah. It says here that he was recently charged with harassment and assault. He shoved a woman in the QuickMart when she reached for the last bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale. His excuse was that he wasn’t feeling well, and needed the soda. Uh… The woman sustained a minor injury—a contusion to her left shoulder. The lady pressed charges. LaRoche was ordered to see a court-appointed psychologist for anger management. It looks like Judge Lawrence’s clerk sent the asshole our way. Maybe she thought he would land on my desk.”

Clicking his tongue, Tom thought. “Hey, is there any history on the guy? Employment? Time served? Anything?”

“Yep. He was a kindergarten teacher here in Creekwood. Hmm… Probably back when you and Marnie were kids. Do you remember him?” He looked up, meeting Tom’s eyes.

“Yeah. I remember him. I’m surprised Marnie didn’t.”

Danny turned to his partner. “Why’s that?”

“Back then he was Mr. LaRock. He was our kindergarten teacher, and he was horrible. He picked on Marnie because she had a lisp and a slight stutter. He used to make her sing some stupid song over and over again, trying to get her to stop lisping. He was cruel, and he got fired for his behavior. Marnie’s parents took exception to a teacher bullying their daughter.” Tom glanced into the mirror, meeting Carl’s eyes.

“What was the song?” Carl asked.

“Pop Goes the Weasel.”

Putting his head into his hands, Carl groaned. Meeting the detective’s eyes again, he replied, “He said that to her yesterday when he shoved her chair across the room.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marnie, eyes closed, called out to her parents for help. “I’m breaking my own rule. Sorry to bother you, but I really need your help today. Do you remember Mr. LaRock? He’s trying to kill me. Do you think you could give me a hand?”

A slight breeze rose up in the hayloft, whirling chaff and dust into the air. Tater and Dickens whimpered, tilted their heads, and smiled at the figures in the center of the room. Tater leaned on his mistress’s leg and tapped her knee with his paw. Opening her eyes, Marnie watched as Jonathan LaRoche climbed up a rope and reached through the door at the other end of the loft. Pulling himself into the barn, he pulled his pistol from his pocket, aiming it at her. Glancing at her parents with fear in her eyes, she saw love in theirs as they looked back at her. Colin Reilly raised up his arms to the sky, and shouted, “Osiris!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tom pulled up the truck outside of Marnie’s home, and the men rushed into the house, calling her name.
Danny raced through the kitchen to the stairs, running up the steps three at a time.

“Marn!” Tom called out, sprinting into the library.

Carl walked into the living room, glanced around the room, and went to the library to find Tom, who was standing beside the couch holding the statue of the patron saint of animals—a gift he had given her from Tater and Dickens on Mother’s Day.

Danny called out from upstairs. “She’s in the barn! I saw her move in front of the hayloft door! She’s upstairs!” He jumped down the stairs, twisting his ankle at the bottom. “Árgh!”

Tom and Carl met him at the kitchen door. Together, they ran across the pasture to the big red barn.
“Marn!” Tom called up, but Marnie waved him off. “We’re coming, Marn! We’ll be right there!”

Danny limped up the stairs and pushed up on the door. It wouldn’t move.

“Come help me,” he shouted.

Tom and Carl ran up the steps, and the three of them pushed with all of their might.

“There’s a rope around the other side of the barn. We can climb up it.” Danny limped to the back of the barn to the far door. His partner and Carl followed.

Tom glanced up, and then pointed to a wall of tools. “I’ll climb up. You two see if you can get the loft door open with that pry bar over there.”

Danny nodded. “Good plan.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Osiris!” Colin Reilly called again, a caw came back in reply.

Gun still aimed at Marnie’s chest, Jonathan LaRoche took another step toward her. As sunlight streamed through the open loft door, a shadow broke through the sunbeams. The crow swooped over Marnie’s head, forcing her and her dogs to dive to the floorboards as a bullet flew over her. Osiris flew into the face of the madman, throwing him off balance and out the door of the hayloft with a fear-filled scream, followed by the sickening, dull thud of death.

Marnie got to her feet and turned to her parents. “How can that be Osiris? How can he still be alive?”

Her mother and father grinned. “He’s not, but neither are we,” said her mother.

“We have to go now. We’ll see you soon,” said her father.

Marnie looked at him with horror. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Her mother giggled. “Geez, Colin, don’t scare the girl.” Turning to her daughter, she smiled. “Don’t worry, darling. We’ll come to see you. You won’t be coming to us for a very long time.”

Marnie exhaled loudly. “Well, that’s good to know.” Her eyes filled with tears, and as she opened her mouth to speak again, her parents were gone.

“Marnie! Are you okay? We can’t get through the door!” Danny called up from below.

She rolled the hay bales off the door and lifted it up. “I’m fine. Nothing a bit of divine intervention can’t handle.” She reached out her hand to Danny and pulled him into a hug when he reached the top step.

He pulled a face. “You’re fine. Really? You’re fine? We just heard a gunshot, and you’re telling me you’re fine.”

“Okay. No, I’m not fine. I’m a mess.” She leaned into him and hugged him. Wrapping his arms around her, he hugged her tighter, and kissed the top of her head.

Tater and Dickens trotted over to them and leaned on Danny’s leg.

Carl stepped into the loft and looked around. “Where’s Tom?”

“Hey, Marn!” Tom called out from the opposite end of the loft, where he was swinging through the door from the rope. Pointing out the window, he said, “You know that you’ve got a dead guy down there, right?”

-The End-

Fun fact: Osiris was the Egyptian god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. 

A huge thanks to FGT for your kind support and input. You are an absolute treasure.

We’re at it again! #TurvyTruthOrDare! 3/27/22

#TurvyTruthOrDare Writing Challenge

Starting Friday, April 1st, authors T.L. Brown, Saffron Amatti and Nimmi Sheikh and I will co-host the 7-day writing challenge, #TurvyTruthOrDare. The challenge will run from April 1st though April 7th, inclusive.

What’s #TurvyTruthOrDare About

#TurvyTruthOrDare
#TurvyTruthOrDare — The Challenge

Details

  1. Every day we’ll give you a scene prompt. (Swipe for prompts!)
  2. Your character(s) will choose: Truth or Dare?
  3. Then write out a scene using the Truth or Dare prompt.
  4.  Tag your posts with #TurvyTruthOrDare so we can find YOUR creative scenes! 

Questions

? Can I do both a Dare and a Truth for each day? Absolutely! If that works for you, do it!

? How many words should I write? Long or short, that’s up to you!

? More questions? Ask!

Do the Marnie Reilly Mysteries Characters Love a Good Challenge?

No! My characters and I have been arguing non-stop since this challenge was announced. They still haven’t recovered (or forgiven me for) from the February #RockTheTurvy Challenge. Marnie, Danny, Tom, Tater and Dickens are spending the next week and a bit at my house, a spring break of sorts. I figured they would enjoy some time away from cold and snowy Creekwood. They have assured me that they would rather be at home.

I have assured them that their fate lies in their behavior during the #TurvyTruthOrDare Writing Challenge.

I will post daily to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Follow the Authors on Instagram

@nimmisheikhauthor –Writing a New Adult, sci-fi murder mystery trilogy planned for 2023 release: #Frostieverse

@saffron.amatti –Writes the spooky, ghosty, and oh-so-twisty #LucasRathboneMysteries

@writertracybrown –Writes the quirky #DoorToDoorMysteries + #BelleroseWitchline fantasy series

@sharitmitchell –Writes the thrilling #MarnieReillyMysteries with canine companions and haunting spirits

Attention Writers and Authors

#Authors and #Writers, whether your characters are in a published book or percolating in your WIP, this challenge is for YOU! This challenge is all about building relationships and getting to get to know more members of the IG #WritingCommunity – and their characters! 

You’re invited to follow challenge hosts @nimmisheikhauthor @saffron.amatti @sharitmitchell & @writertracybrown but it’s NOT required.

Doors Wide Open

Dive Into the Pages of the Door Wide Open

Doors Wide Open

If you have a busy weekend ahead, cancel your plans. Instead, snuggle down with Doors Wide Open, T.L. Brown’s rousing finale in the action-packed, paranormal mystery series, Door to Door Mystery Series

Brown’s quirky characters, Emily Swift, John Templeton, Rabbit, Lucie Bellerose, and the rest of her crew, are funny, flawed, intriguing, and highly engaging. I love these characters so much that if I could have a dinner party with fictional characters, they would be at the top of my guest list. 

T.L. Brown has woven together a rich story with descriptive settings, so much so that you will be right there with her characters. The twists and turns and “Uh-oh!” moments will keep you reading well past bedtime.

Here’s a bit of advice from a book lover: Buy these books! The whole series! Right now! Throw open the pages of the Door to Door Mystery Series and get lost in the magic, mayhem, and mystery of T.L. Brown’s world. 

Buy the Books on Amazon

Coming Soon from T.L. Brown

Bellerose Witchline Series

About T.L. Brown

Writer Tracy Brown lives in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York State dreaming up stories and quirky characters that make life all the more interesting. She believes magic still exists, you just need to look in the right places.

Tracy is the author of the Door to Door Paranormal Mystery Series, three books penned under the name T.L. Brown. She is currently writing the first book in the Bellerose Witchline series, due out in early 2022.

She’s married to one damn amazing man. Together they garden, cook, and raise chickens.

Read more about T.L. Brown’s books here: https://writertracybrown.com/door-to-door/

Divine Guidance Second Edition

Divine Guidance Second Edition Coming Soon

Divine Guidance

Divine Guidance Second Edition for Kindle Unlimited is on the way!

Way back in 2014, I released the first Marnie Reilly Mystery. When Divine Guidance was first published, there was a high degree of upheaval and stress in my world. Reading through Divine Guidance now, I see the stress of that time in my writing.

Why am I releasing a second edition? It’s simple. Divine Guidance is a wonderful story that needed a bit of love. Working with my editor and a dear friend who is an author and mystery bookstore owner, Divine Guidance has received the love and attention it deserves. If there is one thing that I have learned in this crazy thing called life, it is that second chances are important.

Release Date

The Divine Guidance second edition for Kindle will be released on March 27th, with the second edition of the paperback releasing in conjunction with Fatal Vow, Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book 3, later this year.

I will drop the link to my Amazon page as soon as the Divine Guidance second edition for Kindle is ready to go.

Fatal Vow Update

Yes, I am making progress on Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book #3. I’ve got new characters to introduce, including Kate Parish’s parents. When you meet Lawrence and Kitty Parish, you will understand why Kate is Kate. You will also meet Ransom Elliot, Marnie’s ex-boyfriend from her D.C. days. There is a lot happening in Fatal Vow. Your patience is most appreciated.

Cheers,

Shari

It’s been a long time since a book kept me up and reading past midnight. I just could not put down Shari T. Mitchell’s “Divine Guidance.”

T.L. Brown, author

If you haven’t yet started the Marnie Reilly Mystery Series, don’t wait a second longer. This is the perfect season to get familiar with Mitchell’s bunch! “Fatal Vow,” the third book in the Marnie Reilly Mysteries, is due out in 2022. I’m on pins and needles waiting for it. I know I’ll definitely be ordering the book as soon as it’s available for pre-sale. I. Can’t. Wait!”

T.L. Brown, Author

https://www.amazon.com/author/sharitmitchell

Marnie Reilly Mysteries – Meet My Unruly Characters

Marnie Reilly Mysteries’ characters are fun to write. Their personalities have developed from Divine Guidance (Book 1) to Torn Veil (Book 2), but my unruly crew wants more. As I write Fatal Vow (Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book #3), I am focused on giving them what they want. Marnie Reilly, Detective Danny Gregg, Detective Tom Keller and Tater are all quite pushy. They have all been through a lot the last few years. I owe them. It makes sense that they would want change – for the better or worse.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.

Ernest Hemingway, Death in the afternoon

My characters are very much alive to me. I have conversations with them – they speak to me. Marnie has been worried that she is a bit selfish and scattered. Danny believes that he should be more supportive of Marnie. Tater thinks that people don’t take him seriously. What about Tom? Well, he has been asking me to give him more depth. I have told them all that it is a process and that we are only on book 3, but they still want more. They disrupt my sleep and many awake hours with demands to be noticed.

Fatal Vow is a chance to let them off of their leads – so to speak. I am going to take the advice of William Faulkner and let all of them speak to me a bit more. My first draft is messy by design so that my characters can tell me where they want to go. I can always fix things up in the first or second round of edits. Does that sound funny? My characters telling me where they want to go. Perhaps, but that’s the path we’re taking.

It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.

William Faulkner

A few weeks ago, I spent most of my weekend “finding” my characters. I sifted through thousands of stock images. I waited for the images to speak to me. Once they did, I invested in images of Marnie, Tom, Danny and Tater. How did I do? I know! Danny’s hair should be a bit lighter – but the sun will take care of that come summer. Have I mentioned that Fatal Vow opens on the first day of summer?


Here they are in full-color – Marnie Reilly, Tom Keller, Danny Gregg and Tater Tot!

Marnie Reilly

Height: 5’ 10’”
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Strawberry Blonde
Eye Color: Aquamarine
Marital Status: Single
Age: 30-something
Distinguishing Features: haunted eyes, scar around her neck
Career: Psychologist
Nicknames: Marn, Madame Séance and Good Witch of the North
Best friend: Detective Tom Keller
Love interest: Detective Daniel Gregg

Marnie Reilly is a compassionate, ethical, sassy, quirky and loyal psychic. She is a force of nature for sure. Tall and athletically built, Marnie’s style is casual – she opts for jeans and boots over skirts and heels. Her job calls for skirts and heels – her home life the former. Her straight, strawberry blonde hair falls just below her shoulders.

Marnie is fiercely independent and guarded. People who know her well attribute this to the tragic and untimely death of her mother and, just a few years later, her father. She hates asking for help, and she doesn’t let people in easily, but when she does, she expects them to be kind, considerate and honest. She’s had her fair share of bad relationships. The worst was Ken Wilder; he was a cruel and abusive cheater with a penchant for pain – other people’s pain, that is.

The first thing that most people notice about Marnie is her eyes – aquamarine and haunted. Aquamarine is the color; haunted is her gift of clairvoyance revealing itself. The second thing that people notice about her is her undying devotion to her Border Collie Tater. They are a package deal.

Marnie is on a road to self-discovery. Working through why she rescues people is a big part of that process. Who should she trust? Who should she save? Who can she count on when everything turns upside down?

Tom Keller from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Detective Tom Keller

Height: 6’2½”
Build: Lanky
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Violet
Marital Status: Single
Age: 30-something
Things to know about Tom: Marnie Reilly’s best friend; dry wit; terrified of ghosts
Career: Police Detective, Sergeant
Nicknames: Tom, Tommy

Tom Keller is the comic relief in the Marnie Reilly Mysteries series. His comedic timing is terrible – but his humor is rarely malicious.

He is tall and lanky with a distance runner’s build. He has short black hair and his eyes are a deep violet. Many women swoon over the charming detective, but he is quite happy being single. He does not like being set up on dates and is quick to remind his best friend, Marnie Reilly, of this fact.

He is kind, compassionate and hates injustice of any kind. Tom is a lover of animals, history and the investigative process of being a detective. He does not leave any stone unturned when searching for answers.

The mention of anything paranormal makes him jittery. He is not a coward with things that he can see – but hint at the possibility of a ghost being present, and Tom will pull his feet up onto the couch and shiver in response.

There are many layers yet to peel back where Tom is concerned. Fatal Vow will reveal A LOT about Detective Tom Keller – and just how far he will go to protect Marnie Reilly!

Danny Gregg from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Detective Danny Gregg

Height: 6’2”
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Steely Blue
Marital Status: Widower
Age: 30-something
Distinguishing Features: dimples, scar on back from a stabbing
Career: Police Detective, Lieutenant
Nicknames: Danny
Love interest: Marnie Reilly

Danny’s dimpled smile doesn’t quite go with his grumpy demeanor. His thick, sandy brown hair is often messy from running his fingers through it when thinking or stressed. He is a tall man, solidly built and some would say a force to be reckoned with when angered or protecting the innocent. He has a sharp wit and an astute sixth sense about people.

A steely blue gaze is the second thing that most people notice about Danny. The first is his badge; he wears his gold shield with great pride.

Danny is a widower. He lost his late wife Sarah several years back to suicide. No matter how Danny has tried to forgive himself, just under the surface looms guilt for not saving Sarah from her deep dive into depression. He lost his mother Carol to depression and suicide, too. He still carries a great deal of guilt because he couldn’t save the two women whom he loved dearly. Danny typically steers clear of relationships. Investing emotionally in love is low on his list of priorities – until now.

Danny met Marnie while investigating the murder of her ex-lover, Ken Wilder. She annoys the hell out of him, and he finds her to be the most irritating woman whom he has ever met. Her kindness, independent nature, warmth, wisdom, sassiness and beauty have won him over. But will he cross legal lines to keep her safe? You will find out in Fatal Vow – coming in 2022.

Tater Border Collie from Marnie Reilly Mysteries
Tater
(photo by Tadeusz Lakota)

Height: 22’
Build: Athletic
Hair Color: Black and white
Eye Color: Gold/brown
Age: he doesn’t like to talk about it
Distinguishing Features: intense and intelligent eyes
Career: Service dog
Nicknames: Tater Tot

Tater is Marnie Reilly’s rough-coat, black and white Border Collie. He is an athletic dog with sharp, intelligent eyes and a cheeky disposition.

Marnie found Tater as a puppy at the side of a road in a burlap bag. He was the size of an Idaho potato – hence his name.

Tater knows a number of on-command tricks including how to play dead, how to crawl on his tummy like a snake, how to shake and how to open the fridge.

Tater has learned by watching Marnie – how to open doors; how to open his kennel; how to train humans. Adding to his impressive bag of tricks, he instinctively herds people, other dogs, sheep and bad guys. He’s a clever boy.

Chasing squirrels and eating tuna are two of his favorite pastimes.

He quickly responds to commands from Marnie and Tom, but Danny can be too gruff with him at times. It’s not because Danny is mean – it’s because he has never experienced a dog quite like Tater. He is fiercely loyal to Marnie. Readers will see the full force of his loyalty in Fatal Vow – Marnie Reilly Mysteries Book #3.


Carl, Gram and even Kate will soon have their faces on the website too. For now, I need to focus on writing. In the meantime, let me entertain you with a glimpse at Marnie’s new home. What’s that? You thought that she would be living with Danny? That was presumptuous!

Marnie Reilly's Home
Marnie Reilly’s New Home

Marnie's Red Barn at Wild Creek Ranch
Red Barn at Wild Creek Ranch

Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them ― in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box

For now, I will be taking Kurt Vonnegut’s advice. I’m not sure that any of them would be described as sweet, but most of them are good people. At least I think that they are.