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presented by Betty Dravis

booksigning at bn san jose

Author Betty Dravis Talks ‘Toonies’ at Barnes & Noble Book-signing

Before we share what author Ashley Fontainne has to say on the subject of fulfilling our dreams, let me tell you a little about her. I’m sure most of you already know of her works, but for those who don’t: Award-winning and International best-selling author Ashley Fontainne is an avid reader of mostly the classics. Ashley became a fan of the written word in her youth, starting with the Nancy Drew mystery series. Stories that immerse the reader deep into the human psyche and the monsters that lurk within us are her favorite reads.

Her muse for penning the popular Eviscerating the Snake series was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Ashley’s love for this book is what sparked her desire to write her debut novel, Accountable to None, the first book in the trilogy. With a modern setting to the tale, Ashley delves into just what lengths a person is willing to go when they seek personal justice for heinous acts perpetrated upon them. The second novel in the series, Zero Balance, focuses on the cost and reciprocal cycle that obtaining revenge has on the seeker. For once the cycle starts, where does it end? How far will the tendrils of revenge expand? Adjusting Journal Entries answered that question: far and wide.

ashleys books for DOD

Her short thriller entitled Number Seventy-Five, touches upon the sometimes dangerous world of online dating. Number Seventy-Five took home the bronze medal in fiction/suspense at the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards contest and is currently in production for a feature film.

Her paranormal thriller entitled The Lie, won the gold medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense and is also in production for a feature film.

The suspenseful mystery Empty Shell, released September 29, 2014. Ashley then delves into the paranormal with a Southern Gothic horror/suspense novel, Growl, her latest release. Plus, she has teamed-up with Lillian Hansen (Ashley calls her Mom!) to pen a three-part murder mystery/suspense series entitled The Magnolia Series. The first book, Blood Ties, is due out the Summer of 2015.

ashley growl for DOD

Ashley also hosts The WriteStuff, a popular BlogTalk Radio show, each Friday night at 10 p.m. CST.

And now on to what this accomplished author has to say about overcoming fear:

ashley two books

Best-selling Author Ashley Fontainne

by best-selling author Ashley Fontainne

Do you have a dream? Something tickling the corners of your mind, wanting to be released, but you ignore it? Does fear of the unknown, how others will react, or the worry of failing keep it locked away?

Fear. No. More.

Unleash your creativity. Paint the first stroke. Mold your first piece of clay. Write your first story. Is it a scary thing to let go of your fears by showing the world what’s been crawling around inside your brain? Terrifying… Your stomach will clench in knots, your heart will pound, and your palms will exude gallons of sweat. Your brain will buzz with the annoying sounds of self-doubt.

Do. It. Anyway.

It took me reaching my forties to finally let go of my fears and publish my first novel. Since that moment in April, 2011, my life has changed in ways I never thought possible when I sat in my Creative Writing class in college, fiddling around with ideas for a book. It took the gentle urgings of a very dedicated professor to embrace my worries and then let them go. Once I did, even though I truly was petrified when I clicked “submit” on Amazon, I also felt a tremendous sense of joy.

Now, four years, seven books and two movie deals later, I still feel anxious on the eve of a new release. The entire creative process is akin to raising a child, hoping and praying you have done your best, waving goodbye with tears in your eyes as they leave the nest for the first time. After all, the world can be a cruel, harsh place. Some will love your little bundle, others will despise it. It is a gamble each and every time.

blood ties

The banner for the first book in The Magnolia Series that Fontainne is writing with her mother Lillian Hansen

But the rewards are well worth it. The sense of accomplishment is overwhelming. The biggest joy I receive with each new book is the knowledge that my words impacted the life of another human being. As a voracious reader, one who has found so much enjoyment in works of others, to even have the opportunity to try and do the same for others is amazing and humbling.

So, I challenge you today to step out of your comfort zone. Break the chains holding you back, and release your creative side, whatever it may be.

Paint. Draw. Sculpt. Design. Write. Embrace the fear and use it as a tool to hone your work… not to hold it back.

foreseen poster

Sneak Peek at the poster for the movie Foreseen, based on Fontainne’s book The Lie; directed by Jermaine Alexander, produced by Sabrina Stewart; in production


Confessions of a Shoeoholic
In 1890, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in Journal, “The sense of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of inner tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.” I couldn’t agree more except to add “perfectly well-dressed and wearing a pair of red stilettos.”
There are only two things I collect: books and shoes. My book collection is larger than my shoe collection only because books are more affordable. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d send each of my sisters a big check, donate to my favorite animal rescue organizations, and then I’d head for the nearest city and buy every pair of shoes that caught my eye.

shoes and butterflies

shoes and butterflies

I suspect my shoe obsession had something to do with the need to rebel against my mother, not that she denied me footwear. But I do remember my mother commenting once on one of her friends having owned sixteen pairs of shoes, and “who did she think she was?” I also remember my mother ogling a pair of red shoes, but not buying them because she already owned a pair on red shoes and “what would people think?” Because of my mother’s beliefs and her reluctance to live wild, I swore I’d never own less than sixteen pairs of shoes and I’d buy as many red ones as I could afford. Right now, I have six pair.
And guess what else? I saw a news flash the other morning announcing that women who wear high heels well into their seventies are less likely to experience life-threatening falls. Seems that high heels improves one’s balance.

Kathleen Kaska, author

Kathleen Kaska, author

My love of shoes found its way into my Sydney Lockhart mysteries. Being a private detective, and having to dress in disguise on occasion, Sydney’s usual footwear are saddle shoes (the series is set in the 1950s), and cowboy boots (Sydney’s from Texas). But when she’s not chasing bad guys, Sydney dresses up in snug sweaters, pencil shirts, and high heels. There’s also a bit of rebel in Sydney too. Much to her mother’s annoyance, Sydney refers to her high heels as her tart shoes. And her sidekick cousin, Ruth Echland, wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but the latest Ferragamos.
Check out my latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill.

Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries set in the 1950s. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country.

Murder at the Driskill by Kathleen Kaska

Murder at the Driskill by Kathleen Kaska

The third book in the series, Murder at the Galvez, is set at the Galvez Hotel in Galveston. Kaska also writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book, The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. The Alfred Hitchcock and the Sherlock Holmes trivia books are finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction. Her nonfiction book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida), was published in 2012.,

betty for pandora 3

Story Presented by Author Betty Dravis

It’s my pleasure to celebrate with my publisher Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House Publishing. I can’t believe I’ve been with CHP since 2011 with three of my e-books, Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons, 1106 Grand Boulevard and The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley. Time does, indeed, fly.

Since Wendy has contributed and been featured in Dames of Dialogue many times, our readers are familiar with her and we all look forward to hearing from her.

Wendy Dingwall is the most honest, caring and hard-working publisher I’ve ever had and I’m proud to be part of the great Canterbury House. It’s exhilarating to share her feelings about her business on its Fifth Birthday. Enjoy…and learn…

From the desk of Publisher Wendy Dingwall

wendy pic

Publisher & Author Wendy Dingwall

Whew! Where did the time go? It has certainly been a learning curve and then some. Especially given all the changes in the industry over the last five years.We are currently experiencing growing pains again due to our recent change of working directly with the wholesalers instead of using a distributor. The workload has increased and for the moment the process of new books has slowed as we adjust to new duties.


I am proud to say that we have published over thirty well-received books during our first five years. This includes our e-books.

I’d like to personally thank our super authors for their hard work in writing and rewriting, working with editors and last but not least in helping to market their books.

wendy's books

Yvonne Suarez Mystery books by Wendy Dingwall

I couldn’t have done it without our wonderful editors: Sandra Horton, Greg Kilgore and Donna Akers and our fabulous graphic designers: Ann Nemcosky, Aaron Burleson and most especially Tracy Arendt.

I’d also like to thank off-set printers: United Graphics and McNaughton & Gunn, and POD printer: Lightning Source, for turning out quality books each and every time.

We were pleased to celebrate our readers on our Fifth Anniversary by offering a 25% discount on all print book orders placed through the end of July, 2014. Now that the sale is over, we hope you will still purchase our esteemed authors’ works by ordering their books through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online bookstores.

Rita Plush, author

Rita Plush, author

Let Your Reader Hear Your Characters Speak on Audio
How we love to hear stories. The human voice, its richness and intonations takes us into make believe worlds.
And I love that my book, Lily Steps Out, has stepped off the monitor screen and printed page into the listening world as an audio book. After all the work of writing (5 years) and getting Lily into print (tack on another 7), it was pure pleasure to hear my story told through my characters. And because I think my fellow Indie Authors will benefit from my experience, I’m spreading the word—or words as we writers are inclined to spread.
I learned about ACX—Audiobook Creation Exchange—owned by Amazon (isn’t everything?) from a fellow author who said the procedure of getting a print or eBook into a listening format was “pretty much painless” and she was right. This this is the gist of how I did it:
First, I checked my publishing contract to see if I owned my book’s audio rights and the cover (yes and yes). If you don’t own the cover to your book ACX will help you put one together.
Thinking that the sales of the audio might in some way effect my publisher’s royalties on print and eBook venues, I ran the idea by them. Their only concern was that Amazon might “bundle” the print or eBook version at a discounted price with the audio, thus reducing their royalty—Amazon does what it wants with its pricing regardless of the publisher or author’s viewpoint (it’s good to be the king). A call to ACX assured me that if there was “bundling” it would be the audio that would be reduced, not the print or eBook version.
That bit of business out of the way I forged ahead and decided on the first of the three royalty options ACX offers. In a nutshell here they are:
1. Royalty Share—royalty payments are shared among ACX, the author, and the narrator (referred to as Rights Holder and Producer by ACX) with ACX getting 50 per cent of the royalty and the author and narrator each getting 25 percent. This plan is at zero cost to the author.
2. Pay for Production Exclusive Distribution—the author pays the narrator a one-time fee (this fee can be negotiated) and splits the royalty with ACX who is the exclusive distributor of the audio.
3. Pay for Production Non-Exclusive Distribution is the same as far as “author pays the narrator” goes, but the author can distribute to resources other than ACX which reduces the author’s royalty.
ACX handles all distribution of royalties and pays the narrator when she has earned $50 or more each month.
Next up on my to-do list was to create a personal profile, a blurb about Lily and provide a sample passage of the book. A click of a button put me in touch with narrators on the ACX website and I invited a handful to audition. The invites, auditions, and all correspondence between author and narrator are done through ACX’s website, with an 800 number if you have questions (I had many questions).
I also had a particular voice criteria for Lily Steps Out. A kind of New-Yorkish female voice, but I also wanted a narrator who could do male; there are men in the story who have a lot to say. Did I mention funny? There’s lots of humor in Lily and I wanted a voice artist who could put that over. So female, male, New York and funny.
Three narrators auditioned a fifteen minute, contract-specified, segment.
The first narrator lacked Lily’s spirit and liveliness, so she was out. The next was an improvement, but not quite right, so I emailed my reservations, suggested changes and waited for the revision (the seven year contract provides for two revisions of the fifteen minute segment). There was barely a difference between the first and second takes, and I decided she wasn’t for me. The third narrator nailed all the voices and patterns of speech but I felt that her emphasis was off in certain passages. My email to her explained the specifics, commented on her general performance and the recording quality (that’s the author’s responsibility) which according to the contract, can still be done after the entire recording has been presented.
Sheri Puggot, the narrator I chose, had other professional commitments to satisfy before she could start on Lily, and technical glitches and communication delays between her and ACX once she did start, making the audio production take a bit longer than the ACX website specified (three to four months turned into six months). Not a big deal, as far as I was concerned. We were in a partnership, she and I, both wanting the best reading of Lily.
From sign-on to breakout date, putting Lily Steps Out on audio was a learning experience, one in which I not only mastered a process unfamiliar to me (it’s not difficult, but it is involved and it does take time) but I was able to place Lily Steps Out on a new promotional track and put another notch in my marketing belt.
This post originally appeared on Indies Unlimited.

Lily Steps Out by Rita Plush

Lily Steps Out by Rita Plush

Blurb: Empty nest, retired husband… after thirty-three years of making beds and cooking dinners, Lily Gold has had it and decides to look for a job. Her husband Leon, however, doesn’t like not having her at his beck and call and puts the kibosh on her chance of opening her own antique store by emptying out their bank account. This is marriage? This is war! Follow Lily as she turns the status quo into quid pro and gives her husband a run for his money.
Rita Plush lives and writes in Queens, New York. Her writing practice includes both fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of Lily Steps Out (Penumbra Publishing 2012), and the short story collection, Alterations (Penumbra 2013).
During her forty-year career as an interior designer, Rita was the Coordinator of the Interior Design Decorating Program in Continuing Ed. at Queensborough Community College. There, she implemented and taught several classes in the program and remains on the faculty. As a speaker, Rita has presented at libraries and synagogues, at Hofstra University and CW Post Hutton House, on topics ranging from writing and publishing, the decorative arts, interior design and “Coco Chanel ~ The Woman–The Legend”
She is the facilitator of the Self-Published Authors’ Roundtable that meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Manhasset Library, Manhasset, L.I.
Links for Lily Steps Out
Links for Alterations:
To learn more about Rita visit her website.

Review by Betty Dravis, Amazon Vine/Top Reviewer

“Nobnobody has to knowody Has to Know” blazes through your mind with an original kind of perversity. I can’t believe how good Frank Nappi is, whether he’s writing about military veterans, an autistic baseball player and his caring coach (as in previous award-winning books, see endnote below) or about illicit feelings of love and lust between a teacher and his student…as in this shocking, gripping book.

According to Amazon’s book description: “‘Nobody Has to Know,’ Frank Nappi’s dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.”

Why is Baldridge attracted to the young girl in the first place, especially when he has such a good, normal life: nice job, lovely fiancée, the whole works? What problems does she share with him? What happens to interrupt their budding attraction/addiction to each other? After a tragedy, how does someone find out about his frightening predicament?

How does his fiancée react when she learns “another person’s” version of the truth? And most important, does this unfortunate teacher ever get his life back?

Nappi answers those questions and more as he transports his readers through an intricate web of lies, deceit and betrayal (first by Baldridge; later, directed at him). Although it’s hard for most people to sympathize with a man with such “lustful” desires–no matter how altruistic they seem to him at the time–Nappi weaves his story in such a way that Baldridge is, indeed, a very sympathetic character…a victim of circumstances beyond his control.

In fact, I generally view vice and foils with scorn, profound dismay and tragic sympathy, but my feelings for Baldridge are such that I view the actions of his extortionist (and others who may be helping) to be far more reprehensible than what he has contemplated… My heart goes out to him.

But you will have to read for yourself and form your own opinion.

Even though this is Frank Nappi’s first thriller, he pulled it off to perfection! He made his characters come alive in the high drama of real life. In my opinion, Nappi always hits his mark; I’ve never begun a Nappi book and been able to put it down. As always, he paints his characters in such a fashion that I feel like I know them. Just as in real life, I care for some and hate others, depending on their deeds. In this book, the only one I really cared for was this teacher; even though he was not always a paragon of virtue, he was human and tried to do the right thing.

And Nappi’s pacing is spot on; I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough…er, perhaps with so many people using e-readers, I should say “couldn’t scroll fast enough.” 🙂

Be forewarned: After a series of hair-raising twists and turns (that not even the most cunning reader will guess), the ending left me gasping for breath. I’m still panting as I think back on it (an unforgettable kind of book).

Frank NappiEndnote: I have been a huge fan of author Frank Nappi since I read his debut novel, the award-winning “Echoes from the Infantry: A Novel” in 2005. At that time I predicted he would be a huge star in the literary world. And my faith in his great potential was rewarded; since then he has gone on to write “The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel” which was released as a film last September and is now a DVD. Movie title is “A Mile in His Shoes,” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Next, Nappi penned “Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel,” the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.

Dare I say, “I told you so?” I dare! And now I say: “Frank Nappi will soon be a household name!” You know, like James Patterson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…and the list goes on. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer man; Nappi is a very popular school teacher in real life; happily married with two teen sons.

by Betty Dravis

Many of our readers grew up with TV series like Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, Tales of the Crypt and Dark Shadows, not to mention Alfred Hitchcock’s horrific heart-attack scary movies which are masterpieces of the craft.  I love all those shows, as well as the horror/thriller movies directed by our top-featured guest today, acclaimed Hollywood Producer/Director Armand Mastroianni.

In the 1940s, I recall the thrill of being in the front room with my parents and siblings as we listened to a very popular radio series Inner Sanctum. The program’s familiar and famed audio trademark was the eerie creaking door which opened and closed the broadcasts. Himan Brown, the originator, got the idea from a door in the basement that “squeaked like hell.” The door sound was actually made by a rusty desk chair. The program did originally intend to use a door, but on its first use, the door did not creak. Undaunted, Brown grabbed a nearby chair, sat in it and turned, causing a hair-raising squeak. The chair was used from then on as the sound prop.

Looking back on those shows, I can vouch that that creaky door made the hairs on my neck rise and stand at attention; it was just as effective as the immensely expensive high-tech sound effects of this new millennium. I had already started to write a few little things by then and I like to think those shows all contributed to my desire to one day write some horror of my own.

I recently teamed up with the noted “Queen of Terror,” author Barbara Watkins, to produce an anthology of six horror stories titled Six-Pack of Blood. Due to the success of our first Six-Pack, we are now working on Six-Pack of Fear which will be released in a few weeks. Six-Pack of Blood had the honor of Armand Mastroianni writing the foreword; it also won Best Paranormal/Horror award from Producer/Director Dimi Nakov of Zodiac Entertainment and placed No. 2 in Germany Occult, No. 1 in U.S. Horror and No. 34 in UK Horror, thus qualifying it for international best-seller. Barbara and I thank all who helped along the way.

Don’t forget, Six-Pack of Blood is still FREE through tomorrow, Monday. If you already have a copy, please get one for a friend and please pass the word that it’s FREE. We are pushing it like crazy because we were at No. Six in Amazon Horror/Occult this morning and have our eyes set on being No. One. Are you with us? 🙂

Barbara Watkins’s most prominent links:

Betty Dravis’s most prominent links:

Now it’s Halloween and the perfect time to share some “ghost stories” (paranormal is the preferred “lump” word of today) from friends in the film and literary industries. Don’t scream too loudly, but do enjoy!


The Case of the Dirty Window

by Movie Director Armand Mastroianni

Producer/Director Armand Mastroianni

We were shooting a night scene (of course) for my latest film Dark Desire and it involved a man sneaking around the property of a mansion, looking to gain access with deadly intentions. I had the art department clean all the windows and doors with glass cleaner so that I could get a clean shot of the stalker approaching the house through the windows.

We shot most of the approach successfully until we reached the study which had two large French doors with glass panes as its exterior entry. The art crew kept cleaning one of the panes with little success. There was a stain on the glass that looked like the outline of an old woman hunched and holding a cane; at least that’s what the outline of the stain appeared to look like after staring at it.

No matter what they did with Windex and other cleansers the stain seemed to be embedded in the glass. I framed it out of the shot and the shoot went off successfully, but it wasn’t until a week later when we spoke with the owner of the house and thanked her for the use of this location that she mentioned how much she enjoyed our company…

She was feeling quite lonely because her ninety-two-year-old mother had died several weeks before. She lived there with her daughter and died in that room we were shooting with the stain in the glass.

One other thing: the owner mentioned her mother had arthritis and used to walk with a cane.

DARK DESIRE  (formerly titled A Dark Plan) – Mastroianni’s latest film coming soon

A sneak peek at the pre-poster for DARK DESIRE, coming soon.

A small portion of the many feature films and TV films directed by the acclaimed movie director Armand Mastroianni.

For more about award-winning movie director Armand Mastroianni’s latest movie DARK DESIRE, check and LIKE this Facebook page:

For more about Armand and all his movies, check here:


Seattle, Haunted

by Author Emily Hill

Author Emily Hill

Midnight on Seattle’s Greenwood Avenue and I wrapped my coat even more tightly around me as the wind howled.  Not a soul in sight. The cabbie had just dropped me off at the entrance to my neighborhood and zoomed off–the taillights of his cab became glowing red eyes, taunting me.  My fingertips hurt from the cold.

I realized, for the first time, that the land in the Greenwood District does go downhill into what–a hundred years ago–could have been, as the cabbie said, a cemetery.

I rued uttering the words, “Drop me off here,” as I walked east.  My high heels clipped against the sidewalk.  The sound bounced between the houses, revealing my whereabouts.  The smell of musk hit my nostrils–turned earth.

A wave of arctic wind whipped around me, tangling my hair.  My eyes were tearing, and blurring my vision.  As I blinked toward the distant street lamp I saw the most curious thing: an orb of light moved across my vision.

My first reaction, “Fog?”

I heard a skittering noise behind me, like a rat scratching its way up a retaining wall, a frantic noise.  It was that sound that drove me forward, toward the orb.

I squinted as the vision took the shape of a woman.  A milky white “presence” dressed in a turn-of-the-century gown, she was proceeding across my path.  I hid in a neighbor’s shrubbery, fascinated.  She never noticed me; she just stared straight ahead as she moved.  What had been a “fog” was now a full apparition, unaffected by the cold.  The spirit of a woman who had lived in this same neighborhood–my neighborhood–going about her business, just as I was going about mine.

Only she was on The Other Side of the Great Divide.

SPECIAL NOTE: Emily Hill is an author of ghost stories, and a publishing coach for A.V. Harrison Publishing.  Her story, Seattle, Haunted, is a true story based on an experience she had while living in Seattle’s Greenwood District.  She has since moved from Seattle, and now lives in Edmonds, Washington…a safe distance from that city’s cemetery.

The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter in Paperback (Full Collection) and e-book (five New stories)


839 Agnes Street: A True Haunting

by Barbara Watkins

Author Barbara Watkins

Forty-five years ago, in 1967, I experienced my first encounter with the paranormal. My family and I (Mom, Dad and older brother and sister) settled into our new home at 839 Agnes Street. I was so excited to finally have my own room and a huge backyard to play in.

But my feelings of excitement soon turned into fear.

I slipped into my Winnie the Pooh pajamas, kissed my mother and father goodnight and crawled into bed. I closed my eyes when I felt the presence of someone, or some thing, take a seat on the foot of my bed. When I opened my eyes, I saw an indentation in the mattress as if someone had just sat down, but no one was sitting there. Frozen with fright, I pulled the blanket over my head and screamed for my mother.

My mother tried to assure me that it had only been a bad dream, but I knew better. Exhausted, she kissed me goodnight and tucked me back into bed. I curled up into a ball at the head of my bed and watched and waited for it to happen again. Although the strange occurrence did not happen again that night, it did many times after. Many nights I would get up and sleep in the corner of my closet because I did not feel safe in my own bed.

A few months after we moved in, my father was killed in an accident at work. Almost immediately, on a nightly basis, lights in the house began to go on and off by themselves. We saw dark shadows lurking about the house and often awoke to our names being whispered in our ears. Closed doors would mysteriously open and slam shut. Various items disappeared only to reappear somewhere else. I awoke one night to see a hooded figure dressed all in black standing over my bed starring down at me.

My mother tried desperately to make some kind of logic out of what was happening, but could not. We were frightened to stay but could not afford to move…

The house has since been demolished, but the ghostly events that we all encountered there will forever be imprinted in our minds.

Above are all of Barbara Watkins’s books. Congratulations to this author for the success of HOLLOWING SCREAMS which will soon be in pre-production for a film by up-and-coming, award-winning film producer Dimi Nakov of Zodiac Entertainment in New Zealand.

For more about this author’s literary works, visit:


Why the Ghosts in ‘White Heaven Women’ are Blue – A True Story

by Jessie B. Tyson

Author Jessie B. Tyson

We were two teenagers, miles from civilization. The last bus had left long before schedule.  Home was eight miles away. There were no street lights. We couldn’t see the road to walk…but walk we must. A white car pulled up beside us and a cold ominous feeling ran through me, as if I’d been thrust into a freezer or a new ice-age. The driver offered us a ride home. As we arrived at Barbara’s village, I exited the car to see her safely across the now-busy main street.

A firm voice said, “Do NOT get back in that car!”

I turned to see who’d spoken. No one was there… Tired, I ignored the warning and climbed in. The car slowed, turning deeper into the countryside.

“You’ve turned the wrong way.”

“No, I haven’t,” said the driver with a distasteful snigger.

I felt frightened.

The voice spoke again. “Stay calm. Do not panic and do exactly as I tell you!”

The car halted in an unlit lane with no buildings nearby. The driver groped at my firm young body. I cried and beseeched God to help me, not wanting to lose my virginity through an assault.

“God will not help you, girl!” laughed my vile attacker.

Suddenly, a brilliant burst of blue light lit the lane. I noticed a female hovering three feet from the ground, her arms outstretched toward me. She was glowing blue! Electricity seemed to burn through my veins. I felt fortified with the strength of an army. The voice dictated what I must do. “Turn in your seat, pound his face with your feet, exit the car, break the car aerial off, pretend it’s a knife, push it against his gut and say, ‘Touch me again and I’ll stick this knife right through you!’”

All the while, the glowing blue female hovered, arms outstretched toward me. I did everything the voice told me. Speechless, the man returned to his car and drove away.

Trembling, I headed toward my village as the brilliant blue light guided my way.

The voice returned. “He’s coming back.  Quick, jump into the meadow, crouch down and hide.”

Strangely, I felt no pain as long thorny spikes ripped at my clothes and face as I dived through the bushes headfirst as if into a swimming pool.

The man yelled, “Come on, girl. I will not hurt you. I’ll take you home.”

“Hush.  Stay quiet ‘til he’s gone, then amble toward the main street. You know the way. You played here as a child.” I wondered how the voice knew this.

I scurried alongside the hedgerow ‘til I reached a solitary house and pounded on the door, “Help, I’ve been attacked.  Please call the police.”

An elderly man let me inside. My attacker drove away.

The voice whispered into my ear, “Bye, my dear. You’re safe now.”

I turned, hoping to see my unearthly adviser and saw no one. I glanced down the lane…but the lady in the blue light had vanished!

To view video of Jessie B. Tyson reciting this story, go to:

This author’s Facebook link:

For Free promo copy of White Heaven Women visit Jessie’s Amazon link on October 29th and October 30th:


Children Playing
by Christy Bradshaw, M.Ed.

My family moved into a 1960’s-built home. A man that was wheelchair bound and his wife built this home. She passed away from brain aneurysm rupture, and then later he passed of cancer. We lived in this home for eight years.

There were paranormal occurrences in this home over the time that we lived there. About six months after we moved in, I had a brain aneurysm rupture (stroke). I suffered through all of the recovery from that and then one afternoon I saw our elderly neighbor outside so I walked over to speak with her. She told me the story about the previous owners. I thought that was extremely interesting, of course: the brain aneurysms that we two women had shared in that home.

Not long after this conversation with the neighbor, the lights in the house began to come on and go off by themselves at times. Once again, I stopped to think… hmmm…but again I passed it off in my mind as I was imagining things. You see, always the children and I would see these things and the children were very young. I never had a credible witness or anyone that could confirm things that were happening. A couple of years passed with occurrences of the children’s toys playing by themselves with no batteries in them. The lights flashing really often, and then it finally happened…

My daughter was around four years old. I had put her down for a nap and closed her door so I would not wake her. Doing dishes with the baby monitor on I thought that I heard something through the monitor. I stopped for a second to listen. Then boldly I heard children laughing through the monitor. It sounded as though they were playing. I dropped the dish in the sink and listened some more. Of course I was thinking that I really didn’t hear what I thought that I heard.

Quietly I stood at the sink, waiting to hear the sounds once more–and then all of a sudden the laughing began again, so loud that I grabbed the monitor and turned it off quickly. The laughing of these children playing did not sound harmful in any way. It was just really loud and very creepy knowing that the sounds were coming from my baby’s room. I slowly walked to her bedroom door…

I stood at the door with my hand on the door knob, listening for a second or two, but hearing nothing. I was afraid of what I would see when I opened the door. Finally, I used the courage that I could muster and opened the door:

There she was, quietly sleeping, the room was still and I was relieved. That was the very day, that I stopped using baby monitors in that home. From that point forward she took her naps on the sofa in the living room.

For more about Christy Bradshaw, visit her at:


A Ghost Named Kermit

by John Zunski

Author John Zunski

Some say our little town is haunted. I can say that the little ol’ bar that sits on the main drag has things that go bump in the night. I’ve heard them… I’ve felt them… I may have even seen something…

The weirdness started the week my wife and I took possession of the multi-dimensional watering hole. After closing one night, I was going about my business when I was overcome with a heaviness, like distant eyes pressing down upon my shoulders. I stopped what I was doing and turned around. Surprised faces stared at me. My heart stopped. It took me a second to realize it was my own reflection in dozens of mirrors. I took a deep breath and shared a nervous laugh with the room before burying myself in work. The feeling persisted. Every time I turned around, my freaked-out face returned my stare.

“It’s like the old-timers were watching me. Checking out the new guy,” I told my wife.

And that was it–for a while. Then my wife complained that five or ten dollars would be missing from her till. She would walk away before returning and recounting only to find it all there.

“Big deal,” I can hear you say. I agree, but it happens to me all the time. We decided it was Kermit, our name for the ghost. Kermit was also a customer who had passed away a few months after we bought the bar.

One night, years later, I had closed the bar. I thought everyone had stumbled out the door when in the casino, a Keno machine printed a ticket, footsteps marched across the floor and the Men’s Room door slammed shut. I didn’t think too much of it, reasoning that I had somehow missed a lingering soul.

Minutes passed… No one came out… I investigated…

The Men’s Room door was open and I was alone.

“Okay, John, they climbed out the bathroom window,” you say.

I would agree, if there were windows.

That incident has repeated itself over the years; twice with me and thrice with other bartenders. I don’t tell new bartenders about Kermit. When they report the weirdness, I share my experiences, including the one that leaves me with gooseflesh with each retelling:

It was a late summer morning… The sun was shining… I was opening the side door and securing it when legs walked past me into the bar. I stood up, turned around and said, “Excuse me, can I help you?”

I was answered by a compressor kicking on. Nobody was there…

This past May, a bartender asked: “Why didn’t you tell me about the ghost?”

“What did you see?” I asked.

“I was closed and I heard a Keno machine print. I looked up. A man in a long beard was staring at me and then he faded away.”

Did I mention Kermit had a long beard?

“What do you see in this picture? I see our ghosts helping Tammy and me celebrate the installation of the palm tree at my Sportsman’s bar. The picture was taken the first night the palm tree was lit. The person taking the picture was smoking a cigarette, so the wispy stuff is smoke–or could it be ghosts? The pic is what the pic is… I show it to people in the bar when conversations about ghosts come up. There are a few things in the ‘Rorschach test’ in the picture that relate to the town.” – John Zunski

For more information about Zunski and his literary works, visit him at:

by Betty Dravis

Happy Halloween from the latest star in cyberspace–the skeleton on the cover of our Six-Pack of Blood!

Before formally announcing the name of our “baby boy” skeleton and the contest winner, my co-author Barbara Watkins and I would like to announce that this is your last chance for three months to get a FREE copy of Six-Pack of Blood. Yes, my friends, our six-horror-stories anthology is FREE on OCTOBER 27th, 28th and 29th. Pick yours up at  While there, we’d appreciate it if you’d push the LIKE button and consider taking an extra second to Tweet it. Amazon makes it easy to help its authors. 🙂

Now bear with me while I tell you the latest news about our skeleton’s name and how he got it.

When Barbara Watkins and I wrote this book we had no idea our cover boy, designed by Matt and Danielle Drake, would be so popular…or that we would feel so much affection for him. He’s an ugly little ghoul, as monsters that grace covers of horror books are meant to be. (Please don’t tell Barbara I said that.)

Barbara surprised me when she began calling him our “baby boy of horror,” speaking of him as though he were our baby. I joined right in and he “grew on us” just as a child would do…well, almost. (You know how real-life mothers think their children are the most beautiful and gifted in the world? Well, that’s how we talked about that bony critter on our cover! And I blush to admit we even baby-talk to him. You know, like Goo-goo, Ga-ga… Ugh!)

Overlooking the fact that he’s just a bag of bones and all skeletons look alike, we love that cover boy (monster or no monster). Could it be because the book he adorns is sprinkled with stardust by so many acclaimed people: Movie Director/Producers Armand Mastroianni and Dimi Nakov, Actress/Producer Katherin Kovin Pacino, Screenwriter Lia Scott Price, Amazon Hall of Fame Top Reviewer Grady Harp, Publicist Paul Payer, Authors John Locke, Janet Beasley and more?

Or is it because this book made international best-sellers of Barbara and me (No. 1 in Horror, U.S.; No. 2 in Occult, Germany; No. 34, Horror, UK)?

Whatever the reasons, over time we came to care for our poor, sweet skeleton with the hole in his brain… We tried to come up with a name for him, but just couldn’t do him justice, so we decided to ask our Facebook friends for help.

On August 16th I wrote a blog, requesting your participation in a “skeleton-naming contest” with the winner winning all e-books published by me and Barbara. To our delight, you eagerly submitted sixty-eight names. We couldn’t believe how versatile and creative you all are. I won’t list all sixty-eight, but you would ROTFLYAO if you read them. Instead I’ll explain how Barbara and I selected the ultimate name:

We each chose five that we liked best and decided to chat on the phone about those names. The five I favored (in order of preference) are: James Bones, Bone Wild, Indiana Bones, Bone-Chilling Bobby and Bloody Johnny. Barbara favored these: James Bones, Jack Marrow, Rib Van Winkle, Bone-Chilling Bobby, Mr. E. Bon-E-Fide.

From that list, it’s easy to see we both favored James Bones and Bone-Chilling Bobby. I told Barbara I could picture our boy bowing as he repeats that famous James Bond introductory line. So even though we agreed on James Bones, we decided to seek his opinion. When he read our narrowed-down list, his bones rattled from laughing so hard when he came to Bone Wild, Indiana Bones, Bone-Chilling Bobby and all the ones referring to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character. But when he came to Catherine Zeta-Bones he would’ve split a gut by laughing so hard–if he had any guts left, that is.

We knew he had chosen right, though, when our endearing skeleton stood, bowed suavely before us and said, “My name is BonesJames Bones.”

And when he grabbed a top-hat and joined me and Barbara in the Happy Dance, we puffed up with pride… Like mothers, like son? 🙂

Congratulations to long-time Canadian friend Pierre Anthony Tremblay for submitting the winning name for James Bones! He wins copies of all of mine and Barbara’s e-books. Happy reading, eh?

So there you have it! Our baby boy now has the distinguished name of James Bones. Oddly enough, the name was one of the last to be submitted and it came from Pierre Alexandre Tremblay of Canada. Congratulations, Pierre. Please send me your e-mail address so we can get copies of all our e-books gifted to you from Amazon. (Send it to and I’ll forward it to Barbara too.

And that’s not all, folks! Since Joanna Lee Doster, author of Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit, sent in eighteen names, she deserves honorary mention. With that in mind, we are each presenting one book to her. Please check our list of books on our Amazon Author Central pages to choose one from each of us, Joanna. Let us know your choices and we will then send to you via Amazon.

Happy reading to Pierre in Canada and Joanna in New York…and thanks to everyone who entered, making this the most fun contest I’ve ever had.

Author Joanna Lee Doster with her special dog Jumping Jack Flash who has performed in three New York Metropolitan operas.

And how do you like my enhancement of the Jack Black bottles; just had to put our boy”s name on the bottles for a bit of Halloween fun. (Note my skeleton rings in various colors,) 🙂 HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

And one more for the road: Wanted to show you the bottles and the rings up close. You like?

Reader walking“Wait! Wait! She did what?” I’m yelling out loud to the absent, well-known author of the book I’m reading. The farther I read in the book, the more annoyed I become. The protagonist’s choices are stupid, her personality annoys me and the plot seems totally far-fetched. So why am I continuing to read?

When I was younger, my rule was that if I began a book, I ought to finish it. As I got busier, and my time more valuable, I modified the rule: I had to read 100 pages before I gave up; then 50. Then I edged down to 35, 25, and 10. Now if a book doesn’t grab me in the first few pages, it’s toast.

Girls readingWhat can an author do to keep me reading? Easy.

-Give me great characters. Make me sympathize with their goals and worry about the obstacles they face. Think Laura Lippman or Michael Connelly.

-Compelling plot. It doesn’t have to be fast, or convoluted, but it should be fresh. Ruth Rendell,  Elmore Leonard and Robert Crais are all master plotters.

Man reading on bench-Seductive setting. Make me feel like I’m walking around in the setting. I don’t mean only geographical places, but situations that come alive. Take me somewhere I haven’t been, or show me an aspect of a familiar place that I don’t know. I’ve never been to Beijing, but Lisa Brachmann put me there in ROCK, PAPER, TIGER.

-Believable dialog. Dialogue that brings characters to life. Denise Mina’s dialogue is incomparable.

-Rich and evocative language. Maybe even a little philosophical musing thrown in. Think Craig Johnson or Meg Abbott

I may keep reading because a book was highly recommended by a trusted source, or the author is one I have read and enjoyed in the past, even if it doesn’t grab me right away.

But back to the question. Suppose all or most of what usually keeps me reading is missing? What is the writer’s ace in the hole?

Young reader-Surprise. In the book I described at the beginning, just as I would decide to put the book down, the author would grab me with an unexpected twist—something someone said, or saw, or did that made me wonder how the author was going to resolve it. She was a master of “the grabber,” slipping it into just the right places. Even after I knew, halfway through the book, exactly what was going on, I kept being lured in, wondering how it would come together in the end.

Terry ShamesWhether it’s a thriller, with a life-threatening event every few pages; or a cozy, with subtler hints that things aren’t what they seem; or a PI or police novel, with a protagonist who digs for startling fact, surprise keeps this reader turning pages when all else fails.

 Terry Shames lives in Berkeley, California with her husband, two terriers and a cat who barely tolerates the dogs and is on the board of NorCal Sisters in Crime. Her first book, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL (Seventh Street Books) comes out in July, 2013. It is set in small-town Texas and features former Police Chief Samuel Craddock. Visit Terry’s website

by Betty Dravis

Barbara Watkins and Betty Dravis, authors of “Six-Pack of Blood”

Unless you’re related to Johnny Depp, the sexy, lovable star of Pirates of the Caribbean, I bet you have never been asked to name a skeleton before.  Well, there’s a first time for everything and I hope you decide to hang around to help me and Barbara Watkins, my co-author of Six-Pack of Blood and its upcoming sequel Six-Pack of Fear. We’re looking for a real cool name for our hot little skeleton boy.

The cover boy on our internationally best-selling, award-winning Six-Pack of Blood, as you know, is a skeleton created by graphic artists Matthew and Danielle Drake. At first, our skeleton comes across as pretty gory–that horrible wound in his head and all–but once you get to know him, he’s really a lovable guy. He’s not all evil; only on his bad days. On those days, he’s putting on a monster act, anyway, to lure millions of you into reading our books. Don’t begrudge him that. It’s his job and he’s a killer at it; bringing in all kinds of horror/thriller/paranormal/supernatural/ghost and occult fans.

In fact, he’s so good at promoting that we’ve even had a movie offer and are anticipating an original feature film on the order of Twilight Zone. It’s even been rumored that the dream actor Johnny Depp is scheduled to play our “skeleton” to serve as host for the six segments of this upcoming movie.

I’m here to put that rumor to rest! That would be Barbara’s dream—she’s nutso about Depp–but it just isn’t happening that fast, folks.

And I can’t give all the credit to our skeleton boy for grabbing the attention of the award-winning producer/director Dimi Nakov and encouraging him to award Six-Pack of Blood the Best Paranormal/Horror award. To give credit where credit is due, Barbara and I are working ourselves to the bone (pun intended) promoting this book and the skeleton, by extension. And our loyal friends, like you, are pushing it too.

Look who’s peeking over Johnny’s shoulder. Isn’t is fantastic that he has our own Barbara Watkins hanging out on his wall? 🙂

The first skeleton I ever saw was in an anatomical school book where we were studying the human body (and snickering, as youngsters will). It looked something like this and seemed creepy to me at the time. The only real skeleton I ever saw was in a doctor’s office and that thing actually scared me.

Time and experience changes people and I’ve matured into a woman who can write about skeletons with abandon and joke about them without cringing. In fact, I came to love skeletons and all kinds of creepy monsters when reading my first horror book by writer John Saul. Then I went from books to movies, from Saul to Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Dean Koontz and more. (Of late, you’ll most likely find me with my nose planted in my Kindle Fire reading newer authors like the Queen of Terror Barbara Watkins, Mark LaFlamme, Scott Nicholson and Jeani Rector, the popular founder of Horror-Zine.

Skullduggery Pleasant

In my search for skeletons, I found two that were rather dapper: Skullduggery Pleasant who is a skeleton/detective/magician in a popular book series by Derek Landy. Another lovely skeleton who won my heart is in an exquisite oil painting Late Lover by the genius artist and author Uvi Poznansky. This work of art and other pieces by Uvi can be viewed at

Although I adore the romanticism of the cape-wearing, flower-bearing skeleton in Uvi’s masterpiece, none of those skeletons are as pretty as mine and Barbara’s “baby boy of horror.” That’s our temporary name for our “boy,” but it doesn’t do him justice. (Well, you know how “mothers” are about their kids.)

“Late Lover,” oil on canvasette, used with special permission from artist Uvi Poznansky

Our “baby boy of horror” is begging for a good name. Please come through for the poor kid.

AND THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN: A few weeks ago I mentioned on Facebook about having a name-the-skeleton contest and many of you were in favor of it. Some even gave your name choices. So now, dear reader, Barbara and I are inviting you to help name our horrific (but most often angelic) boy. Please post your name choice in a comment at end of this blog for a chance to win e-book copies of all of my books and all of Barbara’s.

Are you with us?

And now for a bit of humor in closing: Another reason we love Johnny Depp, outside the fact he loves playing eccentric characters, is his sense of humor. I got a kick because he didn’t “get” Al Pacino’s joke in the following anecdote. (Don’t feel bad, Johnny, I didn’t get it at first, either. Our cover boy had to explain it to me. And isn’t Al a real living legend?)

Here’s the story, as reported in

Johnny Depp will always be tickled remembering his time working with Al Pacino on Donnie Brasco because the Hollywood great told him the same joke over and over again. The actors filmed the mob thriller together in 1997 and the Pirates of the Caribbean star admits Pacino’s sense of humor made it one of the most memorable shoots of his career–even though it took Depp a while to figure out the gag’s punch-line.

Depp says, “Al’s fantastic, he’s a legend. All I knew about Al prior to shooting was that he was certifiably insane. He’s a joker, but he’d like to tell me this one specific joke over and over. And I really didn’t understand it. I didn’t get the joke! He thought it was my problem. He inflicted it upon me and I could feel my IQ points drop.”

“I finally figured it out. He’d lean over and he’d go, ‘John. Skeleton goes into a bar. Orders a beer and a mop.’ On a loop. He would howl every time he told the joke.”

Still with us? If so, then get busy thinking of a name for our cover boy and leave the answer in a comment on this page (not on my Facebook page). Remember, we’ll select the one we like most and the person who wrote it will get four of my five e-books and four of Barbara’s. Go for it, kids! Barbara and I have been doing the Happy Dance ever since “Six-Pack” released because it’s been very good ot us. This book put us into the international best-seller category by going to No. 2 in Germany horror and in the 30s in the UK and it was No. 1 in the U.S. for a day or two when it first came out. Go, baby boy. No matter what we end up calling you, your Mommys will always love you and think you are the most beautiful in the world. 🙂

Even though my novel 1106 Grand Boulevard was the first one I wrote, Millennium Babe: The Prophecy was the first to be published. Grand was making the rounds of publishing houses during the submission process when I finished The Babe. I felt that the latter had to get out immediately since it was a new millennium book and the new millennium was fast approaching. With that in mind, I couldn’t wait to submit it to traditional publishers in traditional manner, so actually decided to self-publish this book. Time was of the essence and I could control that with Xlibris, so chose them. They are affiliated with Random House, so are a good company.

The big problem I found in going that route was that they always price the books too high; they justify it with charts and figures, but I actually had little choice. This book had to be out by January 1, 2001…the first day of the new millennium and the 21st Century!

It sold quite well, despite the prices, for about a year, but my other books outsold The Babe because by then I had more traditional publishers (small independents, but good, honest) and much more competitive prices.

With all the competition out there, I began to neglect my first “baby” and concentrate on other, more sure things! Since then I’ve published four more print books, two e-books (with total of five e-books on the market, including Millennium Babe: The Prophecy).

That said, The Babe did get thirty 5-star reviews and one 4-star before I started neglecting it in favor of what I felt were more timely projects.

When Dame Maggie Bishop asked me to publish the first chapter, I decided it was time to do right by my “first-born,” so here we go. I’ll start with the Amazon description:

World chaos erupts when David Wetterman––a popular Silicon Valley weatherman––makes a startling prophecy about the first baby to be born on January 1, 2001: Countries fight over The Millennium Babe; expectant mothers are terrified; abortion rates accelerate. “The Prophet” becomes an international celebrity, forced into hiding when some VIPs threaten his life. With his remarkable TV director, Bitsy Blodgett, by his side, the apocalyptic countdown to the third millennium begins.

As further example of how I have neglected this book, I don’t even have a readable copy of the first chapter. When searching my files, I found that since I had written it on an older version of Windows, the file had gotten corrupted somewhere along the way… So sorry about that. I could have retyped it, but actually don’t have time since I’m working on another book at the moment. See, there I go, being neglectful again. Favoritism, you might shout! 🙂

I hope the brief synopsis above and the great reviews on Amazon might help you. If you’re interested, you can always buy a copy at:

To check all my books, please visit my Amazon Author Central page:

My Main website:

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