Today we have Leslie Bowes visiting us to share about her latest release, Heart Healer. Ms. Bowes says that writing was always something she did for fun but when she went back to school she had to take a writing class and was hooked. The idea for Heart Healer came about because she loved the idea of a heart being healed by love. She is working on the second book in the series now, The Choices for Love. Welcome, Leslie!
A bit about Heart Healer...
Catherine Andrews is an English woman living in the 1800's. Her father sells her to Blake Von-Clyer to be his wife to pay off debts owed to Mr. Von-Clyer. Catherine soon finds out Blake is a cruel and horrible man.
On their wedding night, to escape his cruelty, she throws herself into the river. Death is better than marriage to a beast.
Christopher King is living in 2014 doing his best to raise his young son Ryan after his wife left him. One night, Christopher finds a woman in the river unconscious and barely breathing. She is also wearing old fashioned clothes. Christopher does everything in his power to help the young women. When Catherine regains consciousness, she finds herself in a strange and unbelievable situation. Terrified, she does her best to keep her guard up against Christopher. But as she gets to know him, she can't help but fall for the man who saved her life. When Catherine's dangerous past comes back to haunt her, it has Catherine and Christopher fighting for each other and their love.
How about a little more with an excerpt...?
“That’s true, but I don’t need a servant. I need a wife.”
Catherine dropped the spoon as her whole body shook. What was her father planning to do? Hard work? A wife? What was going on? She was not her father’s slave to trade as he wished. She was his daughter. Too nervous to turn around, Catherine prayed that she heard wrong.
“What did you say?” her father asked, shocked.
“You heard me.” Mr. Von-Clyer laughed. “You had no problem selling her to me as a servant Mr. Andrews, but now that I want her for my wife your conscience haunts you. What’s the difference? Either way your debt to me is paid.”
“Catherine, get over here now!” her father yelled drunkenly. The longer she stared at the vein in her father’s neck; she realized that she was making him angrier than Catherine had ever seen before.
She slowly walked over to the table and stood in front of her father. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she watched him drink his last bit of wine.
“You will be Mr. Von-Clyer’s wife to pay off my debt.”
“What debt?” Catherine asked angrily.
“Catherine, do not speak unless you are spoken to,” her father snarled.
“What debt?” Catherine yelled.
Her father jumped up from his chair with an angry shout, bumping the table, but James jumped in front of him.
“You cannot treat Catherine like that, Father. She is your daughter and my sister, not your slave!” James yelled.
Catherine’s father was having none of that. He lunged for James, but Catherine got in between them before her father could do anything. She knelt in front of James and wiped his tears. All the while she prayed for strength.
“Thank you, James, but I need you to go to your room.”
“No buts. Go to your room and stay there until I come for you.”
As soon as James was in his room, Catherine’s father grabbed her arms and shook her hard.
“Don’t you ever speak to me like that again, Catherine! Do you understand me?”
“Yes, sir,” Catherine whispered, scared for her life.
“Good. Now go with Mr. Von-Clyer and pay off your debt.”
“Father, I beg of you. Tell me what my debt is?”
I hope you check out Leslie's book, Heart Healer, which can be found on Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
Thank you for joining us today, Leslie!
Kathy Otten is the published author of multiple historical romance novels, novellas, and short stories. She is also published in contemporary romance and historical fiction. She is a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner and Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. A Place In Your Heart is her fourth full-length novel. Currently, she is putting the finishing touches on a contemporary young adult novel.
She teaches fiction writing online and at a local adult education center, and is a regular presenter at area events. Kathy also does manuscript assessments and editing. She lives in the rolling farmland of western New York where she can often be found walking her dog through the woods and fields. She has been married for thirty-four years and is the mother of three grown children and one grandson.
Let's spice it up and do the speed round first!
Oxford Comma? Yes
Ice cream (Vanilla or chocolate)? Chocolate
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
What does your desk look like? Fairly neat.
Writing must haves: Assorted colors of markers, pens, pencils and highlighters. And notebooks.
Describe your perfect writing day. On a day when I’m not working and have no place to go… Up at 8 a.m., go to the fitness center, shower, breakfast, then go into my office. I do 1 hour sitting at the computer and 15 minutes moving around. Do some dishes, throw in a load of wash, etc. Then back sitting for another hour. Those hours I’m in my office, I check and answer emails, work on critiques/ or editing I do for other people, any online classes or workshops I’m presenting, my newsletter or blog. Then around mid-afternoon I take my dog for a walk, and spend my remaining hours at the computer working on my own stuff, writing, researching, editing, etc. I quit around 6-7 p.m. and make dinner. Clean up the kitchen, read or watch TV, and go to bed. Of course days like this are few and far between.
In an ideal world, right? (That sounds like my ideal day)
In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job? I'd be a teacher.
What’s your favorite place you’ve visited? I grew up in Vermont, so beautiful and favorite places equaled home. Now I live in a farm town, surrounded by woods and rolling fields, out on a road with horse and buggy traffic most of the day. I have lots of wildlife, beautiful views, a nice deck, and peace and quiet. So, I’m quite content to be home and have little desire to travel.
What do you like to do when not writing? Read and walk my dog.
Okay...that was fun! Now on to the more serious and traditional questions...
When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing?
I don’t know of anything specific which drew me to writing. I used to make up stories when I first learned to write. Lucky the Dog, I wrote in second grade I believe. The Lost Uranium Mine when I got a little older and The Mystery of the Old Yellow House in fourth grade. TV westerns were popular when I was a little older and I used to make up stories about my favorite characters, like Johnny Lancer and Heath Barkley. I guess they would be considered fan fiction today. That early hook for westerns became my comfort zone I guess, which is why I write romance in that genre.
What was your inspiration for A Place In Your Heart?
This novel takes place during the Civil War and during my early research phase, I came across Mary Ann Bickerdyke, a nurse at Cairo, Ill. She never let anything stand in her way with regards to the care of, “her boys.” She was in charge of the supplies which came from the Sanitary Commission, and guarded them fiercely. At one point she discovered the cook and his friends had been eating the fruit intended for the wounded. So she cooked up a peach compote, put in a purgative and left the pot on the stove. When she returned to the kitchen and found sick and groaning men, she told them next time she would add rat poison. Another time she tackled an orderly in the ward and sat on him while she pulled off his shirt, (which she’d discovered bore the initials for the North West Sanitary Commission) and whirled it around above her head while the patients cheered. She then stripped off his socks and slippers. She left his pants on, as they were his.
Because of her tenacity and dedication to the men she sent officers running in fear. I loved this woman so much, she became my inspiration for Gracie McBride, the heroine in my story.
Wow, what an interesting nurse to inspire you!! (I'm still laughing at the purgative)
Gracie McBride isn’t looking for love; she’s looking for respect. But in this man’s world of Civil War medicine, Gracie is expected to maintain her place changing beds and writing letters. Her biggest nemesis is the ward surgeon, Doctor Charles Ellard, who seems determined to woo her with arrogant kisses and terrible jokes.
Charles is an excellent surgeon. He assumed he would be well received by an army at war. He was not. Friendless and alone, he struggles to hide the panic attacks that plague him while the only person who understands him is a feisty Irish nurse clearly resolved to keep him at a distance.
But, Charles is sent to the battlefield, and Gracie is left with a wounded soldier, a box of toys, and a mystery which can only be solved by the one man she wishes could love her, both as a woman and a nurse.
Did you go the traditional route to publication?
I actually did submit this story to a couple of agents and traditional publishers, but didn’t hear back from any of them. Nothing for my rejection slip collection. Later, after the story won in the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star writing competition, I had two requests from e-publishers for a full manuscript. I decided to go with The Wild Rose Press, as they have published most of my work.
What was the hardest part of the story to research?
The medical stuff was the hardest. My hero was really smart, but he couldn’t have medical knowledge which did not exist at the time. It was tough to find that balance. I read several journals from doctors who fought in the war, as well as medical books of the day.
Now for a short excerpt from A Place in Your Heart:
“No. I want you to go home before the death of that ten-year-old boy becomes so ordinary that one day you wake up and realize you no longer have the ability to feel.”
She squared her shoulders and stepped toward him. “Me own husband was a doctor, sir. I’ve birthed babies and stitched wounds. I stood by William’s side during surgeries and passed him instruments. I helped him clean the intestines of a man gored by a bull, before putting it all back inside that man’s belly. Me delicate sensibilities did not send me into a swoon then nor will they here. I thank ye for yer concern, Doctor Ellard, but ’tis who I am. And by the saints, as long as I have breath in me body, I will feel, and I will care.”
Their gazes locked in that moment and something flickered in his icy depths, overshadowing his usual cynicism with what she suspected might be admiration. The harsh lines of his face softened.
“Saint Jude must indeed be watching over you, Mrs. McBride.”
“That he is, Doctor Ellard, that he is.”
He gave her a brisk nod and opened the door. “You’re not going home then, are you?”
She turned. “Ye know us Irish, Doctor Ellard. We don’t know what we want, but we’ll fight to the death to get it.”
Thanks for joining us today, Kathy! Good luck on A Place in Your Heart!
Today I welcome Lin Weich to my table!
When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing thrillers and suspense novels?
My writing journey began by accident. On our way to kayak off the Island of Haida Gwaii (located off the west coast of Canada), we passed a huge sign warning girls not to hitchhike on the Highway of Tears. Many unfortunate young women have disappeared on this section of highway. I then noticed a car in front of us and thought that its trunk would easily hide a body. While on the mothership vessel hosting our kayaking tour, I asked the captain if he had ever seen any smuggling going on. All this combined to inspire me to write my first novel Strength of an Eagle. From then on my life has not been the same and I was hooked on the writing process.
Oh, now that gives me chills! I love an interesting backstory on a novel's genesis!
What was your inspiration for Widow's Luck?
My inspiration for my latest novel Widow’s Luck developed from a short workshop I attended called How to Kill Your Characters Correctly. I love research and after delving into studies of serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths and various poisons and medications I set the story in South Africa and the Chilko Lake area in Canada.
It sounds like you draw a lot from your own experiences in your writing.
Yes, in all my stories I draw from my life experiences. I have been fortunate to travel widely, grew up in Nigeria, taught school in many areas of Canada, and most importantly love talking with people…everyone has a story.
Behind her back they call her “The Black Widow.”
Daphne McNeil has been widowed four times in ten years. Each time, her husbands have left her considerable sums of money. She finds that she must use these inheritances to support her beloved charities. The money does not go far enough and with increasing financial pressures, she becomes desperate.
When Steve Johnson, a forensic scientist, discovers human remains in an isolated lake near Daphne’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, he unwittingly puts himself in danger.
He begins to suspect the beautiful widow is not as innocent as she seems. Will he become her next victim?
Widow's Luck can be found at:
I have also written four other thrillers/suspense novels: Strength of an Eagle, Half Truths Total Lies, and Alone.
Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.
Chasing agents and publishers does not interest me. I just want to write and have my stories read. After a small attempt at the traditional route I decided to go the self publishing way and have not looked back.
Any new projects on the horizon?
Right now my life is in chaos but I am starting to think about the short story genre or a sequel to Strength of an Eagle.
Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?
Writing the story is the easier part. Be prepared for the revising and editing that must be done in order to have a quality product.
Sounds really gross, but making sure I had all the killing methods correct was the hardest and most unusual part of the research process!
Lin in some of her favorite places, Africa and Australia.
Oxford comma, yes or no? (Be careful how you answer this! Ha) Yes!
Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla
Coffee or tea? Wine should be an option, if not coffee. (Yeah, I think I need to add wine to this list!)
What does your desk look like? A total mess. I write, run a small business and am dealing with an estate. Tidying it up does no good because I continually throw more paperwork on top of the piles!
What is your writing vice or must-haves (e.g. for me it's post-its, red pen, and coffee)? Quiet, time, and a dictionary.
Describe a perfect writing day. There isn’t one.
What are some of your go-to methods for writing? I am a blend of an outliner and a pantster. I know exactly where I am going but enjoy the creativity of letting the action flow. If I get stuck I think about the problem before I go to sleep and the answer is often there in the morning.
In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? A shepherdess in Greece or a ranger on a game reserve in Africa.
Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited? I can’t pick between Uluru, Australia and Karegia Game reserve in South Africa.
What do you like to do when not writing? Kayaking, photography and chatting with all sorts of people.
Thanks for stopping by today, Lin! Let's end with an excerpt from Widow's Luck:
He stood up to his knees in fetid muskeg, his breath coming in jagged gulps. Adrenaline pumping through his exhausted body, he slid his hand into the cavity under the edge of a crumbling bank. Sweeping his fingers around the dark, narrow space, he struck a solid, cold, hard object. He tugged and pulled at the plastic container, easing it out of its hiding place.
Success. The rush from the find made the hours of trekking through this swampy scrubland worthwhile. He forgot the mosquitos and blackflies biting every inch of exposed flesh; forgot the chill seeping up his legs; forgot the numbness in his toes from his waterlogged hiking boots. He’d found this geocache using only a compass and topographical maps. He had honoured the memory of his dad and did it old school.
Smiling and chuckling, he peeled off the duct tape surrounding the faded, green plastic container. Inside were half-a-dozen rabbit foot key chains, the usual logbook and pencil, and a note that simply said, ‘You’re fortunate to have found this cache. I wish you the best of luck as you journey through life.’
Reaching into the zippered pouch on the front of his backpack, Steve withdrew his own treasure: a piece of amber with an ancient insect trapped inside. Holding it in his hand for a few moments, he remembered when this memento had been given to him. His father had found the amber on one of their hiking trips in the foothills of Alberta. Later that evening while sitting around the dying embers of their campfire, his father had made a bit of a production giving the pretty stone to him. While mumbling something about always remembering their trips in the wilds, he’d gruffly passed the hand-warmed treasure over to him.
Steve gave the amber one last stroke with his thumb and placed it in the worn tub. He hoped the treasure would pass through many hands as it continued on its own journey.
Today I welcome C.B. Clark to our Visiting Authors corner. She has four published romantic suspense novels by The Wild Rose Press.
Her latest novel is Bitter Legacy, which released in March of this year. This month, the audio book just released on Audible in June. If you're like me, I love audio books. Haven't tried them yet? Well...they are a perfect way to listen to books while working or doing chores, on long commutes or drives, or when your eyes need a break from reading. I’ve always enjoyed the narration and voices and get lost in the world and lyrical nuances of the narrator. (No, it doesn’t distract me from driving!) If you've not yet tried them, I highly recommend listening!
What is Bitter Legacy about?
Sharla-Jean Bromley returns to her hometown after a seventeen-year absence with vengeance in her heart. From the very beginning, her plans go awry when she meets devastatingly handsome Josh Morgan, the man to whom her father left half of his multi-million dollar lumber mill.
Josh, suspicious of Sharla-Jean’s reasons for returning to town after such a long absence, vows to keep control of the company he feels is rightfully his. She is equally determined to prove she can run her father’s mill, even though it means working side-by-side with Josh, a man whose very presence evokes an attraction that is increasingly difficult for her to ignore. In the process, they must overcome a villain who’s determined to destroy both the lumber mill and their lives.
Will Sharla-Jean succeed and heal the anguish that has long filled her soul? Will she and Josh find the passion of a lifetime?
For those who need more of a teaser, here is an excerpt:
Even as the dreaded word reared like a monster inside her head, a thin trickle of smoke crept out of the dark storage room. Terrifying images of flame, smoke and searing heat threatened to overwhelm her. For a nightmare second, she was back in the midst of scorching heat and roaring flames.
Using all her strength of will, she tore free of the chilling memories. Instead of fleeing, she placed one wobbly step in front of the other and shuffled toward the storage room. Her nostrils flared at the acrid tang of gasoline and smoke. With a shaking hand, she gripped the door handle and opened the door.
A figure burst out of the darkness, crashing into her, knocking her back.
She yelped at the pain of the blow and the shock of falling. A jolt of agony and blinding light as her head hit something hard.
Heavy boots pounded across the tile floor. Cold air washed over her. And then darkness.
Thirsty for more?
How about an Audible excerpt? :) (give it a moment to load in your MP3 player...)
Now for a little fun…speed dating round!
Ice cream: vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate.
Coffee or tea? Definitely wine. (well, that wasn’t an option, but I like how you think!)
What does your desk look like? Why not a photo?
Since I'm a hiker/travel-lover, what's your favorite place you've visited?
I love to travel. In the past four years, I’ve hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, Kayacked on Lake Titicaca, cycled through Central America, Toured Vietnam and Cambodia, hiked in the deserts of Jordan and the glaciers of Patagonia. My favorite country was Jordan. The archaeological sites, the warmth of the people, the delicious food, spectacular Petra, and the stunning stark beauty of the desert.
What do you like to do when not writing?
Travel. I also love to hike, camp, and canoe…any activity in the great outdoors. (Wow, sounds like we are kindred spirits in this regard! It looks like you've already been to some pretty amazing places.)
Thanks, C.B., for joining us today. It was a pleasure to speak with you and learn more about your interests. Good luck with your audio book Bitter Legacy!
Her books can be found on:
Audible Buy Links:
Where can you find her online?
What do you get when you cross ghostly mysteries with a sprinkle of romance and Southern humor? You get Penny Burwell Ewing's Haunted Salon series.
Penny is our guest today on Visiting Authors. She writes full-length paranormal mysteries with a dash of romance and smidgen of southern humor and hopes to spin out a couple of novellas in the future.
When did you first become interested in writing?
My interest in writing began in the early 70s after the publication of The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. After reading the mega-hit, I consumed every historical romance by the industry’s top authors. A couple of years later I decided to entertain myself, so I sat down and wrote a historical novel set during the American Civil War. After that, I was hooked, and have been writing ever since.
Where did you get the inspiration for Dixieland Dead?
The inspiration for Dixieland Dead came from my years as a cosmetologist. While practicing Aesthetics, a client had a severe reaction to a facial mask I’d whipped up in the facial room. The frightening incident stayed with me for days and left me asking a question: How easy would it be to kill or maim someone with a facial mask?
Love that! (as I chuckle to myself about a few villains I’ve concocted). Aren’t twisted plots inspired by our own lives (or daydreams) a joy to write?
Yes, indeed. I’ve added many kooky incidents behind the stylist chair to my Haunted Salon Series. You can’t imagine how many silly and interesting ‘accidents’ happen in a beauty salon every day.
Oh, I love romance (naturally) and magic!
How bumpy was the road to publication?
After many unsuccessful attempts to hire an agent, I submitted to small presses and contracted with The Wild Rose Press. My experience has been positive with each book in the series. My editor, Amanda Barnett, has become a good and close friend. She's offered excellent editing advice and has kept me from making wrong choices. I re-wrote the ending to Book Four, Bein' Dead Ain't No Excuse, upon her recommendation. Her expertise saved me from disappointing my readers.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I loved writing all the books in the Haunted Salon Series, but I’m taking a break to write the Casa de Bella Trilogy. Romantic suspense set against the lush backdrop of Florida's Lake Okeechobee, the century-old Spanish Hacienda has endured nature's finicky hand, an ancient curse, and most recently, two grisly murders. The land is steeped in history and dangerous secrets—but nothing good can come from unearthing secrets from the past. A story spanning three generations—One house, three strong, independent women woven together by tragedy and triumph.
Sounds intriguing! Curses and magic? You and I must be kindred spirits.
What would you tell a new author on this journey?
Never give up and never stop learning. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Listen and pay attention. Also, lastly, be true to yourself.
Dixieland Dead is a wonderful cozy that offers a little mystery, a little romance, and a lot of magic:
When the economy tanks in Whiskey Creek, Georgia, hairstylist, Jolene Claiborne expands her business to include skin care. A wise move until Scarlett Cantrell, a local celebrity, is murdered in the facial room. The police brush aside Jolene’s suspicions that the incident is tied to a recent break-in, and to complicate matters, the victim’s ghost threatens to make Dixieland Salon her permanent place of residence if Jolene fails to expose the killer.
Scarlett’s last words provide the only clue: “Find the jade elephant. Explains everything.” That is until a book of poetry turns up with a dangerous secret inside. Dealing with a diva ghost ain’t easy in the Bible belt. Throw in a sexy police detective, a crooked mayor with connections to the mob, a family cover-up, a mother who hasn’t cut the apron strings, and you get one stressed out middle-aged hairstylist with murder and mayhem on the brain.
Speed Dating questions!
Oxford comma, yes or no? Oxford commas are sexy.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee.
Your desk: Organized. I can write blindfolded.
Writing vices: Visual boards and mood music.
Perfect writing day: No phone service or distractions. The dog would feed himself and leave the neighbor's cat alone. My computer wouldn't slow down, and I could stay off of Amazon. Oh, and my muse would show up when summoned.
Writing go-to method: A phone call with my best writing buddy, Darlene C. Hancock. Together, we discuss different methods of approach and hash out my problem areas. She motivates me.
Alternate reality job: Pastry Chef (seriously, are we twins separated at birth?)
Favorite place: The Texas Hill Country
What do you do when not writing? I enjoy fine needlecrafts and counted cross-stitch. I also love to tinker in the garden. (be still my heart – gardens…ahh, happy places, right?)
Where can we find your books?
Bonus…an excerpt from Dixieland Dead. Thanks again, Penny, for joining us!
The facial room pulled at me like a magnet. Where did the human life energy go after departing this life? Could Heaven and Hell truly be our last destination, or could we linger here trapped in the last peaceful or hellish moments of our life? Thoughts like these had troubled me since Daddy died. For years afterward, I’d studied books on the afterlife, religious teachings from various faiths, the great philosophers, and the occult, and even ancient alien theorists, always trying in vain to contact him.
This morning’s strange incident at the cemetery resurfaced. I removed the yellow-crime scene tape, the door vibrating under my hands. Call it déjà vu or precognition, but I suddenly knew something monumental waited on the other side. Slowly, I turned the knob. The hairs on my nape prickled as a voice whispered in my ear, “You can’t go in there.”
I snatched my hand from the doorknob. "Crap, Deena, you scared the hell outta me. Must you sneak around?"
“I never sneak. You simply weren’t listening.”
The kitchen door swung open. Mama stood in the doorway. “What’s going on out here? Stop horsing around. Go find Billie Jo. I’m ready to leave.”
“Jolene’s going in there.” Deena jerked her thumb toward the closed facial room door.
Billie Jo rounded the corner. “What’s all the commotion?”
“Jolene’s going in there,” Deena repeated.
“No, she’s not,” Mama said. “The police will accuse us of tampering with evidence. We’ll go in when Sam gives the okay.”
“We can’t leave before making sure that multi-function Skin Care Station is properly shut off,” I said. “It cost over fifteen hundred dollars.”
“No one’s going in there,” Mama huffed. “Got it?”
Billie Jo reached out and tested the knob. “It’s locked anyway.”
“That’s strange. It wasn’t a moment ago,” I said, twisting the knob and finding it locked. “Go get the key, Deena.”
“We lost the key years ago.”
“Wait,” I said excitedly. “I’ll get a butter knife from the kitchen.” I turned to leave, but Mama grabbed me by the arm, causing me to stumble against the door. With a thump, it flew open, propelling me into the room. As I stumbled for balance, something white fluttered in the semi-darkness. Regaining my balance, I quickly switched on the lights before Mama could protest.
"Ahhh," I said with vexation, my eyes taking in the discarded jars lining the countertop. A dusting of fine powder covered the floor. "This room's a mess. It'll take hours to clean."
"They must've taken a sample of everything," Deena piped up behind me. "What's on the floor?"
Billie Jo bent down and ran her finger over the floor, leaving a thin trail. “It looks like oatmeal. Carla said she mixed everything into that death mask.”
Mama stuck her head in the doorway. “Don’t touch anything and get out of there right now. We need to get over to the hospital. Jolene, if you don’t come out of there right this instant, I promise you that when the roll is called up yonder, you’ll be there!”
Deena backed out of the room. “She’s right; the hospital is expecting me.”
“I’m ready to leave, too,” Billie Jo said, joining Mama and Deena in the hallway.
There wasn’t any need to try and argue my point with them—my vote would be vetoed immediately. The facial equipment was unplugged, so I turned off the lights and shut the door. A loud crash sounded from inside the room. Quickly, I flung open the door, flipped on the overhead lights, and screamed with every ounce of my being—for there, on the facial bed, sat the faint, ghostly image of Scarlett Cantrell.