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Eye of the Beholder

September 30, 2022 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , ,
Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

Amy dipped her pen into the container of ink and added a few lines to the portrait of the white-haired man before her. Evaluating the results, she nodded slightly. Done. With a quick spray of sealer, she unfastened the paper from the holder and offered it to the patron.

His face crinkled into a smile. “My lord, you made me look charismatic, dear.” He stuffed a twenty into her tip jar and walked away with a bounce in his step.

It was just after one p.m. at the Art in the Park summer fair, and Amy ticked off her day’s productivity: Since the event opened at ten, she had sketched at least twenty people, and the queue of those waiting stretched toward the ice cream stand a hundred feet away.

“You are amazing,” gushed Beth, the fair organizer, sweeping past Amy on her rounds. “We’ll definitely want you back next year. I can’t believe the crowd.”

If I don’t burn out first, Amy thought. She had taken the gig at a friend’s urging, expecting to be bored with no clientele. Instead, she was giddy at the response. Old or young, tall or short, happy or glum, the people had flocked to the novelty of having their likeness drawn. A selfie on their phone was one thing; Amy guessed it was her unique perspective that was the attraction. Patron after patron had remarked, “You’ve zeroed in on the essence of me.”

“Next,” Amy called. Better keep the line moving while she still had the energy. 

A slender man with a shock of chocolate hair perched on the stool and looked at her. His eyes seemed like pools as dark as the ink she used. She tried to guess his age, but he could have been thirty or sixty.

“Hold that pose.” She dipped her pen into the liquid ebony and went to work. For each person she drew, so rapidly did the portraits come together, it was as though she was channeling directly from her eyes to her hands. But something was wrong with this one. The minutes ticked past, and the line of people fidgeted. She looked from the model to the paper and back. And once more, to check. 

What she had sketched bore no resemblance to the man on the stool. 

“What is that?”

The question from behind her shoulder made her jump. It was Beth, passing through again. With a quick grab, Amy crumpled the paper and dropped it into her makeshift trash bag. “My pen is acting up,” she lied. “I’ll just start over.”

Beth tsked sympathetically. “Take a break. You’ve been going nonstop.” Without pausing, she strode toward the queue. 

“Folks, our artist needs to give her hand a rest.” Beth’s tone was friendly but authoritative. “She’ll start up again in twenty minutes.”

A few people groaned, but no one challenged her. They drifted off to buy a hot dog or visit the crafter booths. The aroma of barbecue and wood smoke drifted in from the food trucks on the park perimeter.

Taking a deep breath, Amy turned to the patron still seated on the stool. She hesitated, then plunged ahead. “You’ll be first when I come back.” She closed the ink container and cleaned her nib with shaking hands, then shut her supply box with a click. 

She walked away from her portrait stand, pitched in the shade of a massive oak tree. Maybe the odd fellow with the wild mop of hair would move on, and she would not have to sketch him a second time. 

What had she drawn? She puzzled over the image, which was already fading from her memory, yet she could recall with ease the other faces she’d captured that day.

Fifteen minutes later, her shirt damp with sweat after wandering past the flea market tables and the used book tent, she was back at her easel. She relaxed to see that the stool was unoccupied, with the slim fellow nowhere nearby.

“Hey,” Beth called to her, hurrying over. “If you’re ready to start up again, I’ll make an announcement.”

“Sure.” Amy unscrewed the ink container, wiped her hands, and checked her nibs. 

“He left you this.” Beth held out a olive green sphere the size of an orange and etched with a pattern of dark lines that seemed to dance across the surface. “I don’t know what it is, but he said to tell you thanks.”

“Why?” Amy mused. The who was implicit. She turned the ball in her hand. Its coolness made her think of metal, but the exterior with its etching seemed organic, like a seed pod. “I didn’t finish his sketch.”

Beth shrugged. “He dug it out of your scrap bag. Didn’t seem to mind that it was wrinkled. I hope that was okay.”

Amy nodded. “Of course. It was his to take.” Although she could no longer recall what the fellow looked like or what she had drawn, she knew what to do with his gift. The answer floated into her head unbidden: a terracotta pot filled with rich, dark earth, daily sunshine, and regular watering, and the pod—because that’s what it indeed was—would sprout.

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Normally I Wouldn’t Mention It

May 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , ,

            May 3, 2021 was National Paranormal Day. In keeping with the spirit of the day, nothing went right. I played tennis that morning, but every time the ball came my way I miffed it, missed it, or muffed it. Poltergeists, I decided, were having their way me.

             As they say in sports I shook it off, and went home deciding a long hot bath was what I needed to set the day right. Before I got in the tub, I looked in the mirror to see one of those pesky chin hairs. Unable to manage to pluck it out with the tweezers,  I reached for one of those fancy little shaving blades and sliced my thumb. The little cut bled profusely, and my attempts to bandage the awkward injury were a dismal failure.  I sat on the edge of the edge of the tub, with a towel on the cut watching the room fill with steam. But maybe it wasn’t steam. Just maybe it was a ghostly presence swirling around me. Something – someone – pushed my hand and made me cut myself. The silver lining was that the thing didn’t want to kill me because it missed my wrist by a mile.  

         Evening came. I was scheduled to do a Zoom with Patrice Samara, COO of Wordee.com, and author Mara Purl. The topic was writing the paranormal. I was going to discuss Before Her Eyes. This is the book of my heart. It was inspired by the last days of both my dad and father-in-law and the strange things they experienced in their waning days.

 As requested,I logged in fifteen minutes before the assigned time only to land on the tenth level of hell. I glimpsed Mara and the hostess through undulating, writhing, tongue wagging, screaming, pierced and tatted young men and women. My ears were blown out by the most God-awful heavy metal music. My eyes were assault by a scrolling list of vile, generic curses that eventually were directed at me by name.

            My first thought was, “This doesn’t seem normal.”

            My second thought was, “I wonder if I should mention this. What if these ladies like a little shock value to their interviews and this is normal for them?”

            My third thought was, “Don’t be an idiot, Rebecca! This is bizarre.”

            I kept the third thought to myself and waited because sometimes when things get really weird the best thing to do is wait. Watch. Listen. Finally, I decided to dip my toe in the water. I said:

            “The music is very loud, do either of you know how to turn it down?”

            That seemed neutral enough. Either they would tell me how to turn it down or they would unleash the hounds. They did neither because Mara, realizing we had been hacked, shut down the Zoom. The vile devilish hackers were sent back to the inferno, and three very normal ladies were left looking at one another from our little Zoom boxes. We laughed and went on to record the interview, Writing the Paranormal, to be posted later.

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Loving Modigliani Book Tour and Giveaway

February 17, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,



The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne


Paranormal Ghost and Love Story



Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published: December 2020

Publisher: Serving House Books




A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.


PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne–wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right–haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne’s work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.


Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.



Praise for Loving Modigliani:


“LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night” –Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist’s Illusion


“Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin’s Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night.” – Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian






About The Author




Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.



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The Notebooks of Jeanne Hébuterne: 1

Saint-Michel- en-Grève, July 19, 1914

I like to sit here on this rock and look out over the ocean as I scribble in my notebook. I could spend hours, gazing at those inky clouds, drinking in the colors with my eyes and my skin. I love the ocean in all weathers, even like today when the wind is raw and the salt stings in my throat and the mud from the field clings in globs to my shoes and dirties the hem of my cape.

I’ve always been attracted to storms. When I was still very small and we were on holiday in Finistère, I’d slip outside and ramble over towards the headland whenever I heard the wind rising. As soon as Maman saw I was missing, she would send my brother André out to find me. He always knew where to look: perched as close to the edge as I could get. Shouting my name into the wind, he’d run to me through the scrabbly heather.

 “Come away from there, Nenette, you’ll fall!” Gently, he’d draw me away from the precipice. But I knew how to keep myself steady: I’d just look down at my shoes on the salt-frosted furze and feel my feet in the earth. Hand in hand, we’d squint out at the waves of steely water. I kept hoping we’d see something burst up from the foam. A whale or a seal. A sunken ship up from the deep, dripping seaweed and barnacles from its sides, a skeleton at the helm!

 I can’t explain why I keep watching the horizon, but I feel that my real life is waiting for me out there somewhere across the water. Who am I? Who will I become? Maman says I am going to be beautiful–but that my hips are too round, my face too full, and when I am older, I will have a double chin, like hers. But my eyes are the color of southern seas in summer, changing from green to gold to turquoise. I have seen those waters in the pictures of Gauguin, who is my favorite painter.

I am J.H. and I am sixteen. Everyone has an idea about who I am and what I shall be. For Papa, I will marry an engineer, or perhaps a doctor, like Rodolphe, the young country doctor who treated his grippe last winter, and become a proper wife and mother, accomplished in music, bookkeeping, and domestic skills, like turning tough chunks of old beef into edible stews.

Maman would rather I marry Charles, the son of the neighborhood apothecary, Thibideau, in Rue Mouffetard. He is a friend of André’s and when he comes to visit, he always brings Maman licorice or lavender pastilles, but he is not beautiful like André and doesn’t know anything about art or poetry. He spends hours in the laboratory helping his father make pills and suppositories, and his clothes and hair smell of ether, valerian, and cod liver oil. Maman opens all the windows after he leaves. I cannot imagine living with such a presence, much less being touched by those fingers.

 Sometimes after dinner, when André has gone out with his friends, Maman and Papa discuss the merits of both, debating which one would suit me better as a husband. I sit there smiling as I listen, sketching or sewing a hem.

“A doctor is a fine addition to any family,” says Papa.

“But an apothecary will do just as well and if he owns his own shop, why he’ll be richer than a doctor,” says Maman.

 They are both so absurd–they never ask me what I think. How can they imagine I’d ever be caught dead with someone like Rodolphe or Charles? The man I marry will be someone special. An artist or a poet. And he must be as beautiful as a god.

Papa thinks women should not work outside the home unless economic circumstances require it. Maman says that teaching is a respectable profession for a young woman if she wants to do something useful in society. She thinks I could be a teacher–of English, perhaps, so she is always making me study English grammar. But I find it hard to concentrate on English verbs. I’d much rather learn Russian. But what I love to do most is paint. It is a passion I share with my brother.

André is studying at the Académie Ranson in Rue Joseph-Bara in Montparnasse, where the Maître, Serusier, says he is very gifted. Over the bed in my room back in Paris, I have hung a painting he made of a poplar tree which he copied from a postcard when he was only sixteen. There is life in that tree, you can feel the leaves flutter as the summer wind shatters the heat and makes shivers run up your arms. When a painting makes you feel, hear, smell and taste, the artist has talent, or so Serusier says.

On every excursion to country fairs or old churches here in Brittany, I buy more postcards for André to copy so he can develop his talent. André plans to become a professional artist — though it’s a secret between us!  Papa and Maman don’t know yet that what they believe is merely a hobby will be his career.

André thinks I have talent too. After every lesson at the Académie, he teaches me something new, and this week it’s been about landscapes, but I’d rather paint people than cornfields. In any case, the human body is a sort of landscape. I like to study how our bodies are made, the waves of muscles and hair and the textures and colors of skin. The dimples in elbows and knees fascinate me, like the labyrinths in ear whorls and fingernails. I also like the way clothes fit on bodies and the crisp turnings of caps and collars like the Breton women wear and soft draperies in long clean lines and a bit of fur on a jacket cuff.

André says I should become a clothes and costume designer because I have a way with fabrics. And I love making clothes for myself, though Papa and Maman think my turbans and ponchos are too fanciful. This dress I am wearing I designed and sewed myself, inspired by a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Sometimes I wear my hair in two long braids all the way down to my hips, with a beaded bandeau around my forehead, just like an Indian princess. Other times, when I want to look older, I let it flow loose, under a black velvet cap. I made a promise never to cut it and when I am old enough to have a lover, I will wrap him in my hair and keep him safe.

 July 22, 1914

Here in Saint-Michel, every day André and I go out painting morning and afternoon. But if it is raining, he stays home and reads or sketches, but I get restless and have to go walking for an hour or so along the beach, and up to a spot on a cliff where an old paysan keeps his goats. I watch the goats for awhile, then traipse home through the sand and mud, clean my boots, hang my cape in the doorway, and shake the rain from my hair. Tomorrow Papa goes back to Paris and we will follow a few days later. Although I love it here, I admit, I am starting to miss Paris too!

I go straight to the kitchen where fresh sole are sizzling in melted butter and thyme in a skillet on the stove. Maman is grating celery root into a big blue enamel bowl and Celine, the girl who helps in the kitchen, is whipping up crème fraiche and mustard in an old stone crock. The leather-bound volume of Pascal lies closed on the sideboard. Papa has stopped reading aloud for the edification of the ladies and is now absorbed in his newspaper, but I can see the news is upsetting: His pink mouth scowls above his gray goatee. André sits on the edge of a chair, long legs crossed, puffing his new pipe by the open window, reading a book of poems.

“War is coming,” Papa says, rustling his newspaper. “André will have to go.”

“I am not afraid,” André says. His voice, so determined and grown-up, makes me feel proud and scared.

“But I am,” says Maman, “I don’t want my son to go to war. Against the Germans.”

She grates the root vigorously. Flakes fall like snow into the bowl.

“I won’t wait to be conscripted, I will sign up and defend my country,” says André.

Papa stares at him, proud and apprehensive, then folds the newspaper and puts it aside.

“And you, Achille?” my mother asks.

“All able-bodied men will be mobilized,” my father replies.

Mama puts down the celery root. I can feel she is sick with fear. We always have similar reactions. Our minds work the same. I go over to her and take her hand. Her fingers are cold and damp from the celery root; her wrists are threaded with fine lavender veins. I cannot believe that both my father and brother will be sent to war, though I know all over France, men will be leaving their families. I squeeze her hand to give us both courage.

We eat our lunch in silent dread. The food tastes like ashes in our mouths.

 July 23, 1914

Why am I a person of such extremes? When I am here in Brittany walking in the wind, I am happy for an hour or two, but then I feel gloomy and begin to miss the little alleys around Rue Mouffetard, the noise and turbulence, the bookstalls, street vendors, and cafes. But once I am back there again, soon enough I feel I can’t breathe, even the Luxembourg Gardens seem like a prison to me, and I long to escape to the seaside. It’s always back and forth with me, I never can decide which place makes me happier. But now that we know that André and Papa will have to go war, I don’t want to go back to Paris at all. Why does André have to enlist in the army? I asked him this afternoon while we stood on the rocks above Ploumanach where we had come to spend the day painting the pink cliffs.

“A man has his duties, Jeanne. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be a man. Making a choice and sticking with it is what gives a shape to our life.” He was painting a brooding seascape in bold lines of cobalt, with a fine thread of yellow foam scribbled across the sand.

I added the last strokes to my watercolor. “I know I change my mind too often.”

“That is because you are only sixteen-years-old, Jeanne, and you don’t know yet what you want out of life.”

“And you, aged philosopher? Do you know what you want out of life?”

“Yes, I want to paint! Doesn’t matter where. Here in Brittany, in Paris, maybe when the war is over I will go to Morocco or Egypt…”

“To paint blazing deserts, camels, exotic women in yellow silk veils?”

He laughed. “You would look charming in a yellow silk veil. But show me what you have done today.”

I step back from my easel to let him have a look at my work, holding my breath as I watch his face. I can guess his reaction by the way his mouth tightens at the corner and his eyes squint. He is never very generous with praise. But today he says —

“Not bad, for a girl of your age. You have captured the lay of the shore in that sweeping line quite admirably. Your brushwork in the clouds here is a bit clumsy, but the colors are subtle. This violet, tangerine, and gray truly give the sense of an impending storm.” He holds up the picture to study it closer, then nods. “There is feeling and emotion in it.”

The ocean wind scrambles a loose strand of my hair, blowing it into my mouth and eyes. “Passion.” I suggest, brushing the hair from my face. “Violet and tangerine are the colors of passion.”

André rolls his eyes. “Peut-être. But why not red, scarlet, orange, fuchsia? Besides what would you know about passion?”

 I shake my head and do not answer, kicking at a stone with the scuffed toe of my shoe.

Finally, I say, “Who will teach me to paint if you go off to war?” But what I mean is, “How can we possibly live without you?”

“I know you are sad that I have to go. All of you.” He blinks and turns away so I won’t see his face. “They say a war can’t last long. I will probably be home again in a matter of weeks.”

We are silent for awhile, looking out at the ocean. Far below the pinkish cliffs, we can hear the waves pounding the shore. Along the yellow beach,  a little boy in a red jacket runs along the sand with a prancing dog. It must be the lighthouse keeper’s son and I wonder if the keeper will have to go to war, like André and Papa, and if the lighthouse will be left deserted.

I swirl my brush in black and purple and daub some more paint in my clouds. “Perhaps I could enroll in a school to study painting while you are gone.” I say this partly to change the subject, but also because it is something I have been thinking about.

André looks at me, surprised. Clearly, it never crossed his mind that I might want to go to art school. Now he ponders the idea and says at last, “Why not? Many girls enroll in the School of Decorative Arts, these days. There are courses for decorators at the academy of Montparnasse in Rue de la Grande Chaumière. You might learn a skill you could practice at home.”

“But I want to paint portraits and nudes.” He raises his eyebrow at that.  “I want to make art! Not decorate teapots with rosebuds. I want to be a painter! A real painter.”

“Being a painter is a very hard life even for a man.”

“But Marie Laurencin and Susan Valadon, they are successful women painters.”

“Yes, but for a woman to be a painter, she must be rich and have an independent income! Or she must be the lover of a very important painter herself, and being a painter’s mistress or lawful wife is almost worse for a woman than being a painter. I don’t say this to discourage you from painting. But it cannot become your profession. Maman and Papa would never want you to lead such a life.”

“But you will lead an artist’s life,” I object.

“Girls don’t become painters for the same reason they don’t become soldiers, or chefs or the President of the Republic.”

“And why is that?”

André sucks in his cheeks and doesn’t answer straightaway. The granite cliffs seem to take on animal shapes as the violet dusk deepens around us. Overhead, screeching gulls reel back to their high nests. My brother puts away his paints and folds up his easel. It is almost time to go home.

 “If you don’t know the answer to that question, it means you haven’t grown up enough.”

Why must he always treat me like a child? I turn on my heels and stalk off towards the old lighthouse, leaving my easel and paint box behind, forgetting, just like the child he accused me of being, that this might be our last lesson for a long time to come. I glance back to see him packing up my things, then gazing out at the ocean. He looks so miserable and lonely that I run back up to him and throw my arms around him.

“Let’s never argue my little Nenette!” he says, “You will be what you wish! The gods will decide.” He kisses the top of my head.

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Spotlight on Jaclyn Roché

January 24, 2020 by in category Pick Six Author Interviews, Spotlight tagged as , , , , ,

Meet Jaclyn Roché

Jaclyn lives in the woods of Maine on a Mountain next to a lake. She shares her version of utopia with her husband, two sons, and furbabies! She’s a recovering English teacher who loves digging in the garden, but seems to kill everything she plants and cooks daily, but burns more dinners than she can count. Good thing she knows how to write!

Follow her on social media:


Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

Funny you ask this! I never did until this year when a fellow author mentioned that she likes to form her writing year around one word to define her year. So, I decided that I would give this Word of the Year a try and this year it’s Create. To remind me that is my goal and what I am driven to do. Create stories. Create an engaging author platform to connect with readers. I want to share the worlds I am creating and the stories I weave from those worlds. I’m finding that this word is driving me to produce not only books, but also create ways to engage readers in my life and get them interested in my work. It’s also forced me to create a network with other authors so we can help each other and learn from one another.

Last night, I decided another word needs to be in my office and life too. UNPLUG. I’ve been so driven to create I can’t forget about the other things in my life that need attention too. So, I’ve started turning off my mobile and other electronics so I can create and maintain meaningful relationships where I am present and engaged.

What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

I am finalizing edits on my debut – Dark Legends: Curse Breaker that will be released on March 15, 2020.

It’s a novella about the Goddess Isis who is reborn into this century in the body of Kalissandra Doe though Kali doesn’t know it yet. She must travel across the world to a remote Island and break a curse to free not only herself but also the man of her dreams.

Kalissandra Doe has a to-do list worthy of the reincarnated goddess she could be.
Break a curse, or die.
Raise a long-dead god, or die.
Reassemble the Osiris Stone…or die.
But when she comes face-to-face with the man, she has literally dreamed of all her life,
Kali realizes that much more than her life is at stake.

The other project I have in the works is called Charming.-
It will be featured in the limited edition Once Upon Another World: A Twisted Fairy Tale Box Set on October 6, 2020.

It’s a re-imagined take on some of your favorite fairy tales with some wicked twists. If you were a fan of Once Upon Another Time, you’re going to love this series. Charming is about a runaway princess who escapes a dark fate by being transformed into a boy. She hides as a servant in a brothel, where she has a chance meeting with a charming prince who persuades her to follow him on a quest. Will they escape the clutches of evil, break curses, and find their happily ever after?

What’s the best thing about being an author?

When I was little the best thing in the world to me was a bookstore. I called them my mecca and being there was heavenly for me.

At 11 years old, I’d walk over two miles from my house just to go sit and read crossed legged in the aisles of the closest bookstore being transported to the many different worlds the author’s crafted. Every detail of that store is etched into my memory; including the way it smelled of freshly printed books and promises of adventure. I’d always buy a book or two with any money I saved up, but there were so many I wanted. I could, and probably, did spend hours choosing the right ones. I traveled the world and through time as a knight, a princess, evil queen and many more in that store.

When it closed, I was sad. There wasn’t another bookstore within walking distance. No longer could I stop in after school or spend almost every weekend with new books to enjoy. That is until I learned how to drive of course. 😉

That’s the best thing about being an author. The potential to one day to be that, do that, for a reader. Inspire them to walk distances and sit on a hard floor for hours reading the worlds I craft. With all the technology now, that looks different than when I was younger, but the sentiment is the same.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Yes, I listen to custom created playlists on Spotify. I have one’s I listen to for each work in progress and a general #amwriting playlist.

When I am distractible and need to concentrate I listen to Ambient Sound Mixer. I love their Scottish Thunderstorms channel and the Ravenclaw lounge. Fun fact – when I was writing Curse Breaker, I exclusively listened to a channel I made myself.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love the sound of a Diesel Engine most specifically a Diesel Train.
I used to live on Long Island and commute by train 2 hours to Manhattan. I would wake up at 4am getting to work an hour early every day and leaving a half hour later just to take the Diesel train. The whole truth is that I couldn’t nap on the electric trains. Something about the rumble of the Diesel makes me sleepy to this day!!

What does a perfect vacation look like?

My husband and kids on the beach. Sand, sun, fun and no electronics or responsibilities. Just hanging out, being present, and making memories with them.

Readers can pre-order both of Jaclyn’s books below. While you’re waiting for them to arrive, you can read two of Jaclyn’s stories for free. Kiss Me I’m Irish , is a flash fiction short story she wrote last year for Charmed Writers and is available here on A Slice of Orange. Another piece of flash fiction, Harvest of Memories, is available in Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019. This collection of short stories will only be available for a short time, so down load your copy today.

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April 2, 2018 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , ,

It is no wonder that Mary Castillo is a paranormal mystery and romance author. She grew up in a haunted house.

Her mom once found her in the closet talking to the nicest lady who had a daughter and two sons. Mary was the only person in the closet and the more questions her mom asked, the plainer it was that her then three-year-old child described the previous (and deceased) resident of their house!

Mary grew up in the same town as the psychic detective of her paranormal mystery series, Dori Orihuela. She even “gave” Dori her dream home, a three-story white Edwardian mansion based on a real historic property. (And no, there are no bootleggers buried in their backyard!) Also, Mary made Dori a tough, smart robbery detective because Mary has discovered from practical experience as a former reporter that is not cop material. She likes to think that Dori is a psychic version of Wonder Woman!

With her degree in history, Mary also loves to find and share untold histories such as bootlegging women and no-nonsense World War II era nurses. Mary’s background is in marketing, public relations, and journalism, proving that yes, you can make a living as a writer! Combining her love of the paranormal with historical, Gothic fiction is a dream come true. Mary now writes the books she loves to read—chilling, psychic suspense novels with sexy heroes and courageous heroines.

However, her current home in Orange County, California is not haunted.


Jann: We’re here today with the remarkable author, Mary Castillo, to talk about haunted houses, a Mystery series and audiobooks.

Jann: What are some of the best things you have learned since your debut novel, Hot Tamara, in 2005?

Mary: The best thing I learned since Hot Tamara is how we can touch our readers’ lives. A few months after its publication, I received an email from a woman who never thought she’d laugh out loud in the chemo infusion room. But she did thanks to reading my book! What a beautiful gift. Ever since then, she pops into my mind and inspires me to do the very best I can with each story because I never know how or when one of my books will come into someone’s life.

Jann: What was it like to have Cosmopolitan magazine select Hot Tamara as the Red Hot Read in April of 2005?

Mary: It was very unexpected and so exciting. The only problem was that my grandma read that issue of Cosmo first before reading the book. Her first impression of my writing was well, spicy to say the least! But she was so excited to see my lifelong dream come true. I must lay the blame on her because when I was 12 she lent me Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins and told me that being an author would be the best job in the world. Good thing I listened to my grandma because she was right!


Jann: What was it like to grow up in a haunted house?

Mary: My parents were very open and natural about our resident spirit, so it didn’t occur to me that it was odd until I was old enough to tell my friends and either scare the heck out of them or be teased! My mom got a few concerned phone calls from parents. Honestly, our ghost was like a nosey, shut-in spinster aunt. Every now and then she’d switch the lights on and off, or open and close doors. We knew she was around when the room would turn cold and we’d just say hello and ask her not to scare us.

Jann: If your house hadn’t been haunted, do you think you would be writing the Dori O Paranormal Mystery series?Lost in The Light | Mary Castillo | A Slice of Orange

Mary: Lost in the Light is heavily inspired by the classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (I listened to the soundtrack while writing and editing the book). I was also edging into the paranormal with little touches in In Between Men and especially, Switchcraft in which the heroines switch bodies and live each other’s lives.

Jann: Tell us about Detective Dori Oriheula and the series.

Mary: Dori first appeared in a novella I wrote with my author friends titled, Names I Call My Sister. I loved her from the start: she’s beautiful, smart, tall and can take down a grown man without messing up her hair. She’s the least likely person to be psychic and I’ve had a lot of fun watching her wrestle with accepting this fact. She’s getting there.

Jann: Dori is getting a second chance at love with Gavin Salazar. Where do you see their relationship going?

Mary: I can’t tell you or else I’ll ruin the series! But I can say this: as long as they’re together, there will be challenges. He is a laid-back, creative surfer guy who loves his little daughter. Dori is quiet, fact-driven and on the surface, isn’t cozy. While he’s open to the idea of the paranormal, Dori is very guarded which only adds to their trust issues. When I threw them together, I knew they had something if only they’d open-up to one another. It’s been fun to make their lives difficult and see them come together as a team.

Lost in Whispers


Jann: You have published three books in this series, Lost In The Light, Girl In The Mist and Lost In Whispers–is there a book four coming soon?

Mary: Yes, I’m preparing the fourth book (a novella) for October 2018. It picks up right where we left off with Lost in Whispers. My mom begged me to tell her what happened to one of the main characters who was in a coma at the end of the book. I didn’t even tell her. She’ll make me pay for it, one way or another!


Jann: All three books are available on iTunes and Audible and you are the narrator. Why did you decide to do your own narration?

Mary: I really, really wanted an audiobook. But we didn’t have the budget to produce one. I have a background in drama and video production, and I’ve always had so much fun performing at book readings. In January 2016, I did some test recordings and began narrating my audiobook. I fell in love with this method of telling stories. Now that it is a finalist in the ABR Listener’s Choice Award for Mystery, I may have found a new career!Girl in the Mist | Mary Castillo | A Slice of Orange

But the unexpected gift of recording Lost in the Light while I was editing Lost in Whispers, helped with continuity because I recalled details that I had forgotten! Once I finished Lost in the Light, I jumped into Girl in the Mist, which taught me that it is fun to write a steamy love scene but a bit awkward recording it! I’m now recording Lost in Whispers which I plan to release in the fall and then the fourth Dori novella to be released in Winter 2018.

Jann: Thank you Mary for letting us into your writing world. You can contact Mary at the following sites.

Website: https://marycastillo.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marycastillo/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MCastilloWrites/




A selection of Mary Castillo’s books are available below. Hover over the book cover for the buy links.


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