Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011



HO HO HO! Santa Oliver has come to town to announce the winner of his contest. He wanted to know what Christmas carol or movie makes you sentimental and why. After making a list and checking it twice, he has a winner. With no further ado, here’s Oliver.

A ho ho ho and a Merry Christmas! Thank y’all so very much for entering my contest. Each of your stories have moved me to tears. Here are the entries.

Well my favorite is the movie   Frosty the Snowman. The reason why is that I was living in the Gulf and went on job interview. Well   a lady came  out of the house and then  I sat at the table and filled out the info for her;  well  she  said 'my husband has to decide. Well  what come out my Mouth, Fosty the snowman  it just reminded me of him and he laughed and he said 'you be here tomorrow at  8 am' and then I worked
for him and his wife and his friends for over  2  years

I love watching The Christmas Card.  Both and my husband and I come from military
families and it means so much to us.
Every year we would have soldiers over for Christmas and share with them.  It made
it special for both of us.  Some of those Christmases stayed with me for a very long
Debra Guyette

"It's a Wonderful Life"! I love this movie and every time a bell rings (lol around
christmas, at least) I always think "Huh, an angel just got his or her wings." lol
The reason why I love it is because this movie started me actually giving other classic
movies a chance, and I would have missed so many great movies if it hadn't 
Emily T

This year my christmas song is I'll be home for christmas . Last year hubby and my
dad wasnt able to get here for christmas but this year they are both suppose to get
home so i have been sing I'll be home for Christmas all month long .. there's just
nothing like have the whole family here :)
Jennifer Mathis

Hi Sharon,
My favorite classic movie is Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. I love when he
has a nervous breakdown and everyone want to go home and he blows up. At the end
he want some tylenol. That gets me everytime. I often wondered how many takes he
had to do or if it was one. Every year we watch this movie. I always feel like no
matter how bad things are they can never be as bad as Christmas Vacation. Especially
the turkey. LOL. Merry Christmas.
Thanks for the giveaway.
Sue Brandes


My son has a profound hearing loss. At the children's Christmas concert he & his
classmates signed OH HOLY NIGHT as the music played softly in the background. Tears
streamed down my face the entire way through. It was incredibly beautiful.
Mary Preston

My favorite holiday movie is ‘White Christmas’ with Bing Crosby and Fred Astair.
It just inspires me to think about other people during this time of the year when
we can all be overwhelmed by the commercialism of the season.   I love the songs
and the scenery, it does not hurt that it takes place in my neck of the woods up
here in New England.
Catherine Lemanski


Oliver grins. And the winner is Mary Preston. Congratulations love. You and  your sweet son win a box of chocolates. All other entries win a pdf of Winter Wonders. Christmas Angel stars yours truly as leading alpha male. Happy reading. Stay tuned for more stories in 2012 starring Oliver. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!


Sharon and Oliver

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Legend of Christmas Candle

According to legend, throughout medieval Europe, a large candle known as the Christmas candle was burned until the twelfth night in remembrance of the arrival of the Wise Men to Bethlehem. In Victorian times, the candle represented good will and was placed in the window from December 25 to January 6 to welcome any passerby in need of shelter and food.

Many legends and superstitions are associated with candles. Certain cultures believe the burning flame will frighten away evil spirits during the darkest evenings of the year. Norwegians believe that if the Christmas candle burns out on Christmas Eve, bad luck will befall on a family member.
Legends tell us that Christmas candles light the way for the Christ child on Christmas Eve as He wanders from house to house looking for a place to stay. For this reason, no traveler should be turned away on Christmas Eve should he be the Christ child.

The custom of lighting candles on indoor trees was started in Germany to symbolize stars and was a custom that found its way to America. In today’s culture, the lighting of Christmas candles signifies the season of Christmas.

In my house, we light blue candelabras in each window as a symbol of peace and tranquility. When it snows, nothing is more beautiful than serene blue flames reflecting on a blanket of downy white. In the living room, we light fragrant pillar candles to give the house and home a warm ethereal glow.

Where do you light your Christmas candles?

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

My radio interview is live!


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Winter Wonders
ISBN-13: 978-1-936167-66-1

Her Biggest Fan
An edge of your seat chilling suspense
ISBN: 1-60154-813-3

Mask of the Betrayer
Book one in the Mask series
Filled with so many twists, turns and surprises, you’ll be
hooked from the first chapter.
ISBN: 978-1-936167-06-7

Echo of a Raven

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Wonders released today

Winter Wonders
Genre: Winter Anthology 2011

When the cold of winter sets in and your body shivers, warm up with a cup of hot
chocolate, a warm blanket, a comfy chair and a good book. Join the authors as they
share stories that will scare you, thrill you, delight you, break your heart and
entertain you, all set with a winter theme.

Hearts of Fire by Regina Puckett
Mantequero by Jenny Twist
Christmas Angel by Sharon Donovan
Till Death Do Us Part by S.M. Senden
Long Winter by Paul McDermott
Christmas Hope by Jane Wakely
Burgers and Hot Chocolate by Angela Adams
Saving Santa by Melissa Hosack
If Only by Janet Durbin
December 12, 2011

Whimsical Publications,
LLC/paperback, 174 pages
Ebook $4.99
December 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-936167-66-1

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Legend of Rudolph

Origin of the legend

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is the only addition to the Santa folklore in the twentieth century. In 1939, Robert May, an advertising copywriter for the Montgomery Ward Department Store in Chicago conceived the idea for a shiny nosed reindeer, a Santa’s helper to distribute to parents and children. An artist friend, Denver Gillen spent hours at a local zoo drawing whimsical sketches of reindeer at rest and play. After many names, May finally settled on naming the reindeer Rudolph, the preference of his four-year old daughter. That Christmas in 1939, 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet were handed out at Montgomery Ward stores across the country.

Rudolph was reprinted as a Christmas booklet sporadically until 1947. That winter a friend of May’s, Johnny Marks, put the poem to music. One professional singer after the next declined the opportunity to record the song until 1949 when Gene Autry consented. The Autry recording rocketed to the top of the Hit Parade. Since then, 300 different recordings have been made and more than eighty million records sold. The original Autry hit is second only to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas as the best  selling record of all times.

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

My radio interview is live!


Follow me on Twitter



Her Biggest Fan
An edge of your seat chilling suspense
ISBN: 1-60154-813-3

Mask of the Betrayer
Book one in the Mask series
Filled with so many twists, turns and surprises, you’ll be
hooked from the first chapter.
ISBN: 978-1-936167-06-7

Echo of a Raven              

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Legend of St. Nick

The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in the ancient Southeastern Turkish town of Lycia early in the forth century. His generosity was legendary and he was particularly fond of children which led to his becoming the patron saint of children.

During the middle ages and well beyond, he was referred to by many names, none of them Santa Claus. Children today would not recognize the St. Nick who brought gifts to European children all those centuries ago. Except for a billowy white beard, he bore no resemblance to Santa. He wore red and white bishop’s robes and arrived on donkey opposed to fleet-footed reindeer.  And he arrived not late on Christmas Eve to leave gifts but on his Christian feast day of December 6th. Gifts he left at the hearth were fruit, nuts, hard candy, clay and wooden figurines.

During the sixteenth century, St. Nicholas was banished by most European countries, replaced by more secular figures who were not considered center stage at that point in history.

The Dutch kept the tradition of St. Nicholas alive. As the protector of sailors, he graced the prow of the first Dutch ship to arrive in America. The first church in New York City was named after St. Nicholas.

The Dutch brought two items with them to the new world that were quickly Americanized. In Sixteenth Century Holland, children would leave wooden shoes filled with straw before the hearth the night of St. Nicholas’s arrival. The straw was a meal for the gift-laden donkey. In return, the saint would insert a small gift in the clog. In America the wooden shoe was replaced by a stocking hung at the chimney.

The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas ‘Sint Nikolass’ which in the new world became ‘Sinterklass’ and eventually Santa Claus.

Much of modern-day lore, including a reindeer-drawn sleigh originated in America, and it was here that he put on weight. The rosy cheeks and roly-poly Santa are credited to the influential nineteenth century cartoonist Thomas Nast. From 1863 until 1886 Nast created a series Of Christmas drawings for Harpers Weekly. These drawings exhibited a gradual evolution from the pudgy elf-like creature to the roly poly bearded life-size bell ringing Santa recognized on street corners today.

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Maureen A. Miller

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! I have a very special treat today for lovers of Romantic Suspense. Maureen A. Miller is in the house! When the doorbell rings, the musical chimes floating through the mansion, Oliver swaggers down the corridor, a bouquet of freshly-cut red roses in hand. Answering the door with an appreciative smile, he presents the flowers and escorts Maureen to the parlor to join Sharon.

Designed with a distinctive New Orleans flair, feather face masks and faded murals accent the walls. From satire and humor to fantasy surrealism, the art decor evokes the essence of the time-worn French Quarter. A cherry wood log snaps in the hearth, the rustic scent permeating the air. Two silk chenille chairs face the fire, the blazing flames taking the chill out of the crisp autumn day. A cornucopia embellished with colorful acorns, pomegranates and gourds decorate the coffee table.

Sharon: Have a seat and make yourself comfortable, Maureen. How are you?

Maureen: Hello Sharon, I’m so happy that you invited me over, and I’m so grateful for the fire…it must have dropped to 40 out there!

Oliver appears, pushing a sterling silver butler’s caddy brimming with coffee, tea and pink party cakes. With a wink and a smile, he takes a sweeping bow. Ladies, refreshments are served. Would you care for anything from the bar?

Maureen:Coffee, Oliver, thank you, and no need to bow.

With a mischievous wink, Oliver pours coffee into two china cups.

Sharon: I am so thrilled to chat with you about my all time favorite genre, romantic suspense. I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn about your blog; in fact, that’s putting it mildly! Stumbling upon JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE was like receiving an unexpected present. Tell us all about it.

Maureen: JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE was born from a random internet search. I am a big fan of the genre. (Don’t roll your eyes, Oliver.) So one day I did a search for romantic suspense authors, and I found so many varied results. Romantic Suspense authors by publishing house, by RWA Chapter, by political party, suspense writers, mystery writers…but I wanted to find just romantic suspense. As a reader, I wouldn’t want to have to search all of these sites for one morsel of information. I would want all that information accessible to me in one location.  And that is my goal with JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE.

Sharon: Kudos to you, Maureen. With the onslaught of  so many cross genres  taking the nation by storm, is it just me or is romantic suspense taking a back seat to the darker, the bolder, the more erotic?

Maureen: I’ve heard rumors to that effect. Perhaps I’m a tad biased when I say the rumors are not true. The bold and the dark will draw attention just by the sheer nature of the beast, but the romantic suspense fans are a strong and resilient crew. Romantic Suspense has not sat idle over the years−with the damsel in distress running along the edge of the cliff. The genre has evolved with women who are strong, smart, and determined. The hero is now gritty and patriotic.

Sharon: Very well put. Tell us what draws you in to a romantic suspense?

Maureen: I am a romantic at heart, as most of us are. It is the complexity of the relationship in Romantic Suspense that draws me in. External forces enhance the interaction of our characters. A kiss is wonderful, and an act that makes us all sigh and feel warm inside. A kiss when your life is on the line is intense and desperate and full of a passion.

Oh dear, I do believe Oliver has turned a tad green in the face.

Sharon: He’ll get over it. LOL You know long before I began writing romantic suspense, I was influenced by many books and movies that fed my addiction. What authors and or actors influenced you?

Maureen: Initially I was riveted by gothic romances. Victoria Howard−even the Brontes. Then I read an Elizabeth Lowell novel and my metamorphosis began.

Sharon: Tell us about WIDOW’S TALE?
Maureen: Would you believe WIDOW’S TALE was an 8 page short story back in high school, a million years ago?  The setting of Victory Cove and the characters stayed with me for all those years until the novel was born. Serena Murphy is a woman who is at her lowest, and in that respect some might feel she is not too strong. Yet, aren’t we all a tad quiet until someone threatens those we love? When that happens, do we not possess superhuman strength?

Sharon: My goodness! A romantic tale that took such a strong hold is one that needed to be told. The thought of Serena standing on the deck of a tavern every night, looking for a sign of her husband’s body gave me chills, drew me right in. As a reader and writer, what elements do you look for in a romantic suspense?

Maureen: Call me strange, but I like the atmosphere of cold and stormy settings. ENDLESS NIGHT is another novel set in Victory Cove, with yet another storm. (chuckles) I wrote JUNGLE OF DECEIT in Guatemala just to warm up!

Sharon: I know exactly what you mean about storms creating atmosphere. Counts in her head. Yes, I do believe there’s a storm in all my books. Smiles at Maureen. Before you go, can you share a blurb and excerpt of WIDOW’S TALE with us along with a buy link and your contact information? Thank you, Maureen, for a delightfully intriguing interview. Chatting with you has been a pleasure. Wishing you and JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE the best of luck.

Certainly…if you let me have one more of those little pink cakes. Thank you so much for having me, Sharon. You have a lovely house.

WIDOW’S TALE (Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble)
Come visit Maureen A. Miller at her website.


Serena Murphy was losing her mind. 

Every night Serena stood on the deck of O'Flanagans Tavern, searching Maine's rugged coast for a sign of her husband's body. Though he was pronounced lost at sea, Alan Murphy still haunted her as only his malevolent spirit could. In the loft above her tavern, Serena hears footsteps pace across her living room floor, yet when she turns, no one is there. 

Alan would not let a little thing like death stop him from tormenting her. If she could just find his body, surely this torture would stop. 

It had been ten years since Brett Murphy saw his sister in-law, although the separation was by design, to avoid temptation. Now Brett was in Victory Cove, not to declare his feelings for Serena, but to discover the truth about his brother's death. In doing so, he must battle Serena's ghosts, both real and contrived.


For a moment, time seemed suspended. Brett was lost in the shadows at the far end of the deck, and the ocean stopped its assault long enough to allow her to stand. There was a perverse sense of calm as the screeching gale winds grew faint.

Using the rail for leverage, Serena forced her numb feet to cooperate, and managed a few awkward steps.

Something made her stop. That prickly sensation at the back of her neck—the same paranormal awareness that occurred just before her ghosts arrived.

Under the beacon atop the bordering trawler, Serena traced the arc of light. In horror she watched the surging black wall of water that came straight at them.

Her scream was severed by its impact.

Launched from the deck into the frigid void, suspended in churning darkness for an eternity, Serena surfaced, choking. She squinted against the onslaught of the storm and located the trawlers, shifting shadows several feet away. She struggled to kick her feet, and flailed her arms to keep above the waves.

Cruelly, Serena’s mind flashed to the past. She felt the weight of Alan’s hand on her head. Sputtering for breath, she tilted her neck back so that only her face reached the cold night.

Two kicks.


Serena’s legs ceased moving. With a last twitch of strength, her arms fell still.


Maureen's illustrious writing career started in the fourth grade with the blockbuster hit, Super Watermelon Man. Many years later, Maureen evolved into a full-fledged Romantic Suspense author with her first novel, WIDOW'S TALE, which was nominated for a Golden Heart by the Romance Writers of America.

A fan of gothic romance, Maureen enjoys the formula of danger, romance, dark cliffs, and sinister houses-aspects that she probably acquired from watching too much Scooby Doo. All these elements can be found in her latest thriller, ENDLESS NIGHT. Although, there's no accounting for her new novel, JUNGLE OF DECEIT, which is an adventure in Guatemala's humid jungle. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Raven Kelly

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! It is my pleasure to have the Diva Queen of Vampires in the house today. Hearing the raven chimes, Oliver, dressed in flowing black cape, glides down the corridor, eyes gleaming. Answering the door, he presents his guest with a bouquet of double-dipped chocolate covered strawberries. He escorts her to the Gothic-inspired parlor and seats her on the pink satin settee. A bottle of pink champagne sits on ice in a silver bucket on the coffin table. With a wink and a smile, he pops the bubbly and pours into two fluted goblets. To a backdrop of bleeding roses and violin music, the phantom’s voice floats through the parlor.

Do you have a day job? If so what do you do?

My name is Raven Kelly, I'm from Canada, and live in the beautiful province of British Columbia. I read and review paranormal and vampire books as a hobby, and I absolutelylove it. My fiance and I have our own Internet company together. He truly is my soul
mate, my best friend and the other half of me. I'm also the mother to four loving
fur babies named Blacks, Bouncer, Priscilla Pussycat Presley and Tili.

How did you become interested in vampires? What are your favorite vampire and paranormal romance books and/or authors?

I have always been interested in Vampires and Witches from a young age. I started reading Twilight (yes I know what you are thinking), and that ignited my interest in vampires again.

WOW, that is hard question to answer. I don't want to be biased, but some authors that instantly come to mind are Lyndsay Sands, Katie MacAlister, Christine Freehan, and Tabitha Shay are a few authors that I really enjoy.

Why did you decided to establish a book review site?

I read a few books in the vampire and paranormal genre, and soon after decided thatI wanted to give other Vampire and Paranormal fans like myself a heads up on good Vampire and Paranormal Romance books to read.

What is your favorite color?

I absolutely love the color pink. I wear at least one piece of clothing that is the color of pink every day. I even have pink streaks in my hair.

How many pieces of jewelry do you wear on a daily basis?

I wear at least seven pieces of jewelry. One bracelet, four to five rings, and one necklace.

What is your favorite junk food?

CHOCOLATE, I love chocolate. Anything that has chocolate on it, I'm eating. My fiance has to hide chocolate from me because I would eat it all day long.

What is your favorite movie?

Oh my, I can not just name one movie, I love watching movies. Here are some of my favorite movies that come to mind are:
- Twilight Series
- Star Wars
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- Braveheart
- Underworld Series

Please tell us about your various website's, blog, etc., and how authors and readers can get involved.
I'm the webmistress for four websites.,, and I review vampire and paranormal romance books. I also post author Interviews on, and would love to have any authors who would love be interviewed be part of my website. I hope everyone enjoyed learning a little about me, I enjoyed sharing myself with you all.
Please check out my website's here by visiting these URL's below.
My Blog:
Twitter Page:
ParanormalRomance Facebook Page:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011



Surrounded by flickering candlelight, Oliver stands before a bubbling cauldron, stirring the many names in the pot. After thirteen stirs, he pulls out the thirteen winners. With a wink and a smile, he turns to the audience. Good Evening! Thank you all for attending our Halloween Fest. With great pleasure, I present the winners. Drum roll. And the winners are:

VICTORIA RODER wins a PDF of The Wolf's Torment by Stephanie Burkhart!

SUE BRANDES wins an autographed copy of HER BIGGEST FAN by Sharon Donovan!


BIANCA SWAN wins a print copy of CROSSED LINES by Pat Dale!


Barbara Edwards wins a print copy of ABSOLUTION by P. L. Parker!

PAT DALE wins a print copy of TRIPPING THROUGH TIME by Mary Ricksen!

MONA RISK wins a t-shirt from Oliver!

Thomas olbert wins an autographed copy of MASK OF THE BETRAYER by Sharon A. Donovan!

WICKED LEANORE wins a pdf of TWO VAMPIRE TALES by Tony-Paul De Vissage!

SARAH J. MCNEAL wins a pdf of DANCING WITH FATE by Hywela Lyn and a $6 WILD ROSE GC!

CALISA RHOSE wins a box of Autumn Leaves Yankee Candles Scented Tea Lights, a Panera GC and a bag of chocolate by Stephanie Burkhart!

HYWELA LYN wins a critique for a partial manuscript by Lori Graham!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Editor Appreciation Day

“Good evening.” Oliver smiles, taking a sweeping bow. “It is my great pleasure to present the talented and lovely Lori Graham, Senior Editor of the Crimson line of The Wild Rose Press. Lori, my sweet, how are you on this most enchanted evening?”

Lori: Ah, my sweet Oliver, the stress of my day is fading away now that I am sitting with you.

Oliver: The pleasure is all mine. May I pour you a glass of Francis Ford Coppola’s deep red, my dear? Unless you would like Sharon to serve you something else? We’ve reversed roles for this hallowed event.

 Lori: I am content as long as you keep my drink from becoming empty.

A vampire serves drinks from behind the sleek mahogany bar. Music from The Godfather eerily drifts from hidden wall speakers. Standing candelabras flicker on either side of the crimson settee, and a log crackles and snaps in the hearth. Looking devilishly handsome in a flowing black cape with blood-red interior, Oliver escorts the lovely Lori Graham into his parlor where crimson roses, a bottle of deep red wine and chocolates are laid out on the coffin coffee table. The raven clock gongs thirteen times, announcing the witching hour.

Oliver: Your wish is my command. As we embark on the spookiest night of the year, there is nothing I enjoy more than drinking a glass of red before a crackling fire while reading a good thriller. As senior editor of a romantic suspense line, what do you look for in one of these chilling manuscripts?

Lori: I am looking for something that is unique and keeps the reader guessing. This “guessing” can come through a variety of methods - - maybe it is the identity of the villain. Maybe it is the reason behind his villainy.

Oliver: As a reader of spine tinglers, I rather expect certain things in a book of my favorite genre; otherwise, I’m not above burying the book in the mausoleum. Casting the coffin coffee table a wicked wink, he continues. The first thing I look at is the setting. New Orleans, reputedly one of the spookiest cities in the world, draws me in every time. After all, with the haunted mansions, land of voodoo and all the ghosts roaming the French Quarter, there are a million storylines that an author could create. Then after creating the setting and an intriguing storyline, there are the characters. I have to connect to the hero, heroine and villain or villainess. Last but not least, I want a satisfying closure. Tell me, Lori, as an editor, what do you look for in a crimson manuscript?

Lori: First, let’s look at the technical side. I am looking for an author who controls the story and not the other way around. Characters often have the ability to take a story in circles without the resolution needed. So the author needs to set the stage and guide the characters. From the plot standpoint, I am looking for emotion. I would like to feel, hear, smell, etc. the emotions of the characters. But I would also like to have my emotions pulled, touched, tweaked, singed.

Oliver: But of course, my dear. What character traits do you look for in the hero, heroine and villain/villainess

Lori: The villain needs to be creative. For this character to come up with something unique, he/she needs to think fast and thorough. For the heroine, I am looking for a woman who knows her own mind. Yes, there needs to be something for her to work on but there is nothing worse than a whiny female. (Excuse me, Oliver, but my drink is getting low.) Basically, I don’t want a heroine who is annoying. The hero is so much easier to define. Really want an alpha male—a man who is strong in his own beliefs. Yes, I like a nice physique – who wouldn’t. J But what I want more is a man who knows himself and is comfortable in his own skin. I want him to be able to protect me, keep me safe and yet not be afraid to wrap me up and comfort me. Oops, did I say me all of those times?

Oliver winks. You did, but that’s quite all right. Allow me to fill your goblet so that your cup runneth over. Now, if you had to pick one pet peeve, something that turns you off in a heartbeat when reviewing a manuscript, name it, grin.

Lori: “See Spot Run” writing. I want to see a variety of sentence structures, along with depth (creating many levels).

Oliver: On the flip side of the coin, what makes you shout with glee enough to offer a contract?

Lori: Writing that makes me tingle. Again, that control factor. I want to “feel” those kisses, “feel” the need to run from the villain.

Oliver plants a kiss on Lori’s lips with a wicked grin. Speaking of winners, I understand that you are offering a smashing prize for the grand drawing tonight when the clock strikes midnight. Before I sweep you into my arms for a spin around the dance floor to Henry Mancini’s The Waltz, do share, my sweet.

Lori: I would love to offer a free critique to an aspiring author. What phase are you at? If you only have a synopsis, I would be glad to tell you what I think and give you some pointers for fleshing it out. If you have the full manuscript done, I would be glad to review the first six chapters. I won’t do an edit, mind you, because that is what line edits are for but I will give you some suggestions and a short question/answer time. J I would also like to offer a challenge. It is one thing to write a full-length romantic suspense novel, but can you write a shorter length? As Oliver can attest, Sharon is a master of both lengths.

Ah, Oliver, it is getting really dark outside, will you maybe light a few more candles…that’s it, darling, you are the sweetest thing…
Sharon slinks out from behind the bar with a bottle of bubbly. Oliver smoothly plucks up the bouquet of crimson roses and a box of wrapped chocolates from the coffin coffee table. Together they present them to Lori with a sweeping bow.

In honor of Editor Appreciation Day at TWRP, we salute Lori Graham as NUMBER ONE EDITOR SUPREME. We love you, Lori!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oliver Presents: The Visitor

A full moon cast the cemetery looming high above the haunted mansion in an eerie glow. The dark woods surrounding the estate whispered with a danger so palpable, screech owls flapped their wings in fright. On Hallow’s Eve, the spookiest of nights, the visitor felt a presence as he scurried through the leaves and up the stone steps. A werewolf howled, its keening wail echoing through the thicket. Looking over his shoulder, certain he heard footsteps, the visitor yanked the hangman’s noose, the clanking of the dome in the bell tower so loud it rattled the windows.

Dressed in flowing black cape, the butler opened the door. You rang?

The visitor followed the butler to the parlor in silence. Blood-curdling screams rang from the walls. A funeral dirge played on the organ where no one sat. With a screech, a bat soared from the rafters and landed on the visitor’s shoulder. The butler beckoned his guest to be seated in one of the wing back chairs in front of the coffin table where goblets of deep red wine await. When the raven announced the thirteenth hour, the butler introduced the visitor.

Good Evening. On this most thrilling of nights, allow me to present Tony-Paul De Vissage. Tony has a chilling ghost tale to tell, followed by a sample of his work. Take it away, Tony.

ShortStory: Identity Theft (included in my anthology Sweet Sips of Blood, released this month by Vamptasy Publishing (UK)

Identity Theft


What was that?  Everett Stead glanced furtively over his shoulder as he heard a rustle behind him.


He forced himself to relax.  His imagination was getting the best of him.  For days now, he’d had the eerie sensation of being watched, was certain someone was following him though so far, he hadn’t been able to prove it.  No one lurking outside his flat.  No faces seen too many times to be a coincidence.

It started the evening he picked that toff’s pocket.  The gent had stumbled out of an alley and blundered right into him, practically begging to be robbed, so Ev obliged.  He didn’t wonder what a gentleman was doing in an alley.  From the cut of his suit, he was well-off, so Ev figured he’d been getting a piece.  Since Ev hadn’t had any in quite a while, he took the hand-tooled leather billcase out of spite, relieving Mr. Alexander Kuprin of five hundred quid in cash, his driver’s permit and one Visa Platinum credit card.

 The last was more than he’d expected and in the coming weeks, with the expertise of the career-hacker, he’d taken the information he had and gotten a lot more on Mr. Kuprin and put it to good use.

 Ev was an identity thief, one of the best, never caught and never even suspected.  He stole information, used it to advantage, then dropped it and went on to bigger and better prey, and that was why he’d never gotten caught…until now.  Because he was convinced somehow, he’d slipped up and that feeling he kept getting was a certainty someone was on his trail.

Maybe it was a good time to use his own credit card and take a trip to regions having no extradition to the UK.

He never got the chance.  As he walked past yet another alley, hands reached out, encircled his neck and jerked him into the darkness.

“Got you now, Kuprin!”

Fear sent adrenalin splashing.  He flung his attacker over his head, dashing him against the wall but the man recovered and whirled, raising something defensively.

A stake?  No!  Ev had one moment of scalding horror as it descended…

“Finally.”  The thief’s murderer sighed as he looked at his companion who’d stood by watching the entire episode.

“Get his head off, set the body on fire, and Lexei Kuprin’ll be the history he should’ve been five hundred years ago.”

The deed was accomplished with the swiftness of experts in doing just that.  Then, they strolled back onto the thoroughfare, blending into the crowd.  It would be several minutes before anyone saw flames or smoke and they’d be long gone by then.

Someone had noticed, however.   He’d been following Everett Stead for a fortnight, ever since he realized his wallet had been lifted, watching and waiting for the right moment to strike.  Berating himself for being so careless, he’d seen the others after the thief and stood back to let Nature take its course.  Gliding like a shadow into the alley to view the damage, he allowed himself gloating satisfaction as he watched the body burn, its severed head a flaming briquet a few feet away.

 “Serves you right, you little bastard, for stealing a vampire’s identity.”

 Hurrying to keep his appointment with the expert forger working on his new identity, Mr. Alexander Kuprin wafted into mist and left the alley, blending with London’s fog.


His mind was so befuddled with his blasphemous thoughts, Damien hadn’t paid attention to where he rode.  Just let the horse have its head.  Now they broke from the forest and found themselves in a man-made clearing, butts and limbless poles of trees stacked clumsily about.  At that moment, his horse stopped and the wind shifted, bringing a scent of decay and burnt flesh…and Damien knew where their location.
            The plague pits. 
In his distraction, he’d unconsciously guided his mount directly to the last place he ever wished to be.  Not that he could see much of it at the moment. While he was riding alone in a self-induced fugue, the sun’s last rays had long ago winked out through the trees’ shielding branches.
            Now he was alone.  In the dark.  At the edge of a charnel pit.
Got to get out of here. Damien pressed a rein against the horse’s neck, urging him to turn.  The animal balked, instead giving a chest-muffled nicker.  He touched ribs with his heels, pulled on the reins now.  The creature refused to move, legs stiffening.  This time, the sound it made was a protest, sounding almost…frightened?
            ’Tis the scent of death here.  How could anything living not be affected? Nothing to do but lead it, then. Damien slid from the saddle, walking to the horse’s head.  He gripped the bridle at the bit, stroking the fine Barbary muzzle and whispering some soothing nonsense.  And then, he raised his head, and did something he hadn’t intended.  He looked out across the pit.
            Nothing could’ve prepared him for that sight.  Not the woodcuts of Hell in the family Bible.  Nor the threats of Damnation Pere Gervaise heaped upon them at services.  Not even his own most secret nightmares.
            The hole was nearly fifteen feet deep.  It must have taken laborers a goodly time to dig it.  Dirt lay in high heaps around the sides, silhouetted like low mountains in the dimness.  It extended a fair fifty feet, more a gorge than a pit but to Damien’s horror-struck eyes, it appeared a valley into Hell.  How many bodies can this hold? A good number of la Croix’s population, to be sure, for beyond it was a mound of the same size, piled high with tamped dirt and beyond that another, testimony to how many were already buried here.
            The bodies in this one were still uncovered, a fresh layer, though the wagoneer and his helper would be back soon, pouring lamp oil over the corpses and tossing lighted faggots to send these unfortunates to their Reward.  Sometimes the flames would leap so high, they could see them at the chateau, tinting the sky a lurid red.  Like the flames of Hell, Maman would say and cross herself.  Damien pushed thoughts of his mother out of his mind.  He didn’t want to think of her right now.
            As the bodies burned, those under them, already reduced to human charcoal and cinders, would burn again, transformed into even finer ashes rising with the smoke to float away on the winds.  And when the pit could hold no more, it would be covered over by that waiting dirt.
            The horse snuffled again, an odd little choking deep in its chest.  That brought Damien out of his grisly regard.  He reached up, patting the dark neck.  “Quiet, now.  ’Tis all—”
            What’s that?  Whatever else he was going to say died away as he saw something move.  At the far side of the pit.  It seemed to have simply appeared.  He’d swear it wasn’t there a moment ago.  Hunched over, a dark, unwieldly shape, picking its clumsy way among the bodies.
            A survivor?  Some poor soul not yet dead, awakening to find himself covered by his friends and neighbors’ corpses.  Now stumbling over them in half-mad terror?
            The shape halted, bent as if peering at one of the bodies, and reached out.  The hand dropped and the dark form moved on.  It went a few more feet, then hesitated again.  This time, it seized a body, wrenching it from under another.  For a moment, it seemed to embrace the corpse it held. 
Is it actually kissing its neck?  Damien felt his throat clog in revulsion. 
The body was tossed aside, disgust in the movement.  It fell with a liquid thud.  The thing moved on, peering this way and that, searching for something it didn’t find, coming closer to where Damien stood. 
            The horse threw back its head, short, sharp squeals bursting from its throat.  It began to back away, pulling the reins from Damien’s hands.  He reached out to catch them, and the creature below him raised its head.
            Holy Mother!  It eyes were glowing.  Red as coals. And they were looking straight at him.  At that moment, the wind swirled into the pit.  It stirred the thing’s cloak, making it flutter away from the thin body.  For a moment, it looked like…
            Lord God, save us!  They are wings!  Now unfurling, great dark sails dwarfing the creature’s body.  Flapping as if preparing to take it airborne.
            The horse was moving again.  Backing frantically, Damien following.  It reared, and he felt the burn of leather across his fingers as the reins were jerked out of his hand.  He turned to make a futile grab for the flying straps but the animal whirled on hind legs, galloping wildly back into the safety of the trees.
            There was a sound behind him.  Something landing with a thump.  Damien spun around.
            The creature stood before him, eyes still glowing.  He could swear he saw flames flickering within them.  It collapsed its wings; once more they were merely clumsy shreds of cloth.  Then, it took a step toward him.  Hand curved into claws reached out.
            Damien didn’t run.  He knew now what the creature was and also there was no chance he could escape.  The priests told of such night-demons and of their incredible speed and powers greater than any mortal’s.  What had they said of ways to overcome them?  He couldn’t remember.
He could see the thing gathering itself for a leap.  It would be on him before he could run.
            And was.
            He barely had time to reach into the pouch at his waist, fingers scrabbling for the rosary tucked there.  Thank God I didn’t toss it away!  He thought of that irony as the creature launched itself.  Damien thrust out his arm, crucifix dangling from the string of beads wrapped around his hand.
            The creature ran directly into it.  With a scream it recoiled, falling backward so quickly it appeared to have been tossed by the holy object.  Perhaps it had.  It fell on its back in the dirt and Damien was upon it, pressing the cross into its chest through the filthy rags, one knee on its belly to hold it down.
            It gasped and struggled and a smell of rot and filth floated upward from the rags. Blackened flesh appeared under the edges of the crucifix. Damien swallowed and fought the urge to gag.  He forced himself to touch the creature, catching one flailing wrist and pinning it to the ground.  He was surprised at how light it felt, at the frailty of the body beneath his.  He thought if he pressed harder with his knee, it might actually crush the bony chest and go through.
            Suddenly, it stopped fighting.  Blinking, the red glow faded and it lay still.  For a moment, he thought it had died.  When it spoke, he was startled.
            “If you’re going to destroy me, go ahead.  Oblivion is better than the existence I now suffer.”  The sound was deep and hoarse.  Rusty, like a gate hinge grown solid with age suddenly being wrenched open.
            “What can you know of Oblivion?” Damien asked.  “You’re le sansmort, aren’t you?”
            There was a faint nod.  Another wafting of that frightful smell.  Damien swallowed, gulping back his disgust.
            “Oui, I’m le sansmort but what good does immortality do me?”  Damien couldn’t believe the whine in the creature’s voice.  It sounded so…human.  So full of self-pity.  “What pleasure is there in feeding on corpses?”
            “Why bother?” Damien surprised himself by laughing at that.  “There’s an entire village only a short distance…”
            “A dying village. No one has strength to invite me in.  I can’t get to them, so I hunt among the dead, disgusting as that may be.  Bah!”  He made a spitting motion.  Damien shrank back without releasing his hold upon the bony wrist.  “Blood thick and drying…solid in their veins…and if I find one still holding a spark of life… ’Tis too mixed with pus to be palatable.”  He shook his head.  “Go ahead.  Destroy me.  I no longer care.”

Author Bio:

A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage's first movie memories is of viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula's Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless--and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires. 
This was further inspired when the author was kidnapped by a band of transplanted Romanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South.  Having never seen a human who wasn’t frightened of them, they offered to pay his way through college if he would become an author and write about vampires in a positive manner.  He agreed, and continued to keep in touch with his supernatural  mentors.

Though the author didn't begin writing horror--or any other genre--until after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from a well-known Southern University (and a second in Graphic Art), that one particular interest--and the promise made to his mentors--survived a liberal arts' education and the scorn of friends and family.

Eventually that first story--a short story about the hapless vampire Clan Andriescu--was published.  A voracious reader whose personal library has been shipped more than 3,000 miles, Tony-Paul has read hundreds of vampire tales and viewed more than as many movies.

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