reviews_tcotsmcover

Now through Dec. 2, I will be publishing special book shopping offers for your holiday gift list. Drop in each day for the latest. On Small Business Saturday, we start off with some deep discounts:

KINDLE COUNTDOWN SALE

Nov. 26 – Dec. 2, the Kindle version of The Curse of the Strawberry Moon is drastically reduced.

Buy it at Amazon.com for just 99 cents HERE.

Buy it at AmazonUK for just £0.99 HERE.

PAPERBACK BOOK SALE

Get the paperback version of The Curse of the Strawberry Moon for 50% off the list price of $19.99 by using the coupon code RUH4EJ4U during checkout at my online store HERE.

mondaycoffee

The Kindle version of The Curse of the Strawberry Moon is currently on sale for 99 cents.

As part of this Kindle Countdown, the price will gradually rise this week back to the list price of $4.99.

What can you get for less than a buck? According to reviews of this mystery…

thecurseofthestrawberrymoon_cover_150x228“It was truly ‘you cannot put this down until you finish it’ kind of book. I absolutely LOVED it. Cannot wait for the next one.”

“Loved the characters and the setting of the story so much that we took a drive to beautiful Keuka Lake to see it’s beauty for ourselves. Kept me guessing to the very end.”

“This easy-going, well-written novel is a discovery in the way that finding a great local restaurant, seeing a brilliant production by a regional theater company, or hearing an outstanding concert by local musicians are discoveries. I am looking forward to reading the next Caviston sisters mystery.”

Countdown deals, giveaway winners

reviews_tcotsmcoverIt’s almost time to start the Kindle Countdown!

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 17 at 6 a.m. EST, the Kindle version of my new mystery The Curse of the Strawberry Moon will be marked down drastically.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
The Kindle version of the book has a list price of $4.99.
On Sept. 17, the price plummets to 99 cents and then gradually rises back to the list price at the end of the week.

Price increases go from 99 cents to $1.99, to $2.99, to $3.99, and then back to $4.99 on Sept. 24.

How long will it stay at the lowest price? It’s a risk waiting buyers must figure out. Remember, the clock will be ticking. The longer you wait, the less you save.

DID YOU KNOW: With the free downloadable Kindle app, you can read the book not only on Kindle but iPhone, Blackberry, Android as well as Windows and Mac tablets/desktops. The app is available at Amazon.com.

BUY YOUR COUNTDOWN COPY HERE.

Congrats to the GIVEAWAY WINNERS

Three people are the lucky winners of digital and paperback copies of The Curse of the Strawberry Moon. Congrats to Debra K. who won a Kindle copy through my Amazon giveaway, and Arlene D. and Angel L. who won signed paperbacks through the Goodreads giveaway. Stay tuned for more prizes!

The Curse of the Strawberry Moon is now available at Amazon and CreateSpace.

Here’s a description of the novel, the first in the Caviston Sisters Mystery series:

thecurseofthestrawberrymoon_cover_150x228A full red moon rises over a wedding at a Finger Lakes winery as fireworks explode unexpectedly above the celebration. Was it a timing accident, or were they set off early on purpose to cover up the murder of ’80s rock star Jeremiah Redfern nearby?

Across Keuka Lake, the Caviston sisters watch the show from their deck on a warm June evening, unaware of how their lives will soon become entwined in the unfolding mystery. Curiosity about a Seneca Indian curse draws them deep into the investigation before they realize their own lives may be endangered as they help Detective Tyrone Kane decipher motives tangled tighter than a grapevine.

The Curse of the Strawberry Moon‘s riveting plot delves intimately into the Finger Lakes wine industry with a touch of rock-and-roll attitude.

Here are some details about the paperback version:

ISBN/EAN13: 1530532639 / 9781530532636

Page Count: 396

Size: 6″ x 9″

Language: English

Genre: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Cozy

List price: $19.99

Book Reveal!

thecurseofthestrawberrymoon_cover_450x684Here it is—the title and cover of my new rock ‘n’ roll mystery. This is book one of the five-part Caviston Sisters Mystery series. Each one takes place in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, specifically Keuka Lake.

Sorry for the delay in posting. I was a bit distracted yesterday by my favorite band Chicago’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Woohoo! (Appropriate, don’t you think?)

On this snowy morning in upstate New York, there is much more work to do on the novel now that I’ve heard back from my editors. Stay tuned for updates on the actual publication date. Can’t wait until my readers return with me to beautiful Keuka where I’ll introduce you to the Caviston sisters and a few other nefarious sorts!

 

Twenty Questions with Cheryl Solimini

CSolimini-21. Name 

Cheryl Solimini

2. How long have you been a writer?

Officially, since 1964, when I won the Edgewater (NJ) Bicycle Contest Safety Award for my essay on  proper two-wheeled vehicular etiquette. I was in first grade. Memorable last line: “Safety first!”

3. What formats do you publish in?

Print, Kindle, Website, napkin

4. What genres do you write in?

Mystery, humor, nonfiction—and my first children’s poem (five riveting lines!) was just published in Highlights High Five magazine

5. Are you on Twitter or Facebook?

Yes—as myself on Facebook and on Twitter as @jerseygirl4evah (yes, I’m now embarrassed by that choice)

6. How do you want your readers to feel after they’ve read your book?

I want them to want to hang out with the characters for a while longer.

Across-the-River-COVER7. What’s your current book?

Across the River, a mystery featuring a reluctant tabloid reporter sent to investigate a high-profile murder in her childhood hometown

8. What’s your next book or project?

Amaze Your Friends!a Kindle-only paranormal (sort of) minimystery

9. What types of jobs have you had other than writing?

Thankfully, I’ve been employed as a writer and editor throughout my adult life,  as I have no other skills.  I did cherish my college summers as a clothing-store security guard, which for me meant reading the Lords of the Rings trilogy while hiding in a dressing room).

10. What did it feel like when you were first published?

Every time feels like the first time—I can’t believe it!

11. What’s your go-to song when you’re writing muse needs to be recharged?

Born to Run

12. What do you do when writer’s block strikes?

Duck!

13. What’s the best compliment your writing has ever earned?

“Hell, even the cover is good.”


14. If you’re stranded on a desert island with a solar battery recharger, what would you be reading on your Kindle?

The latest by Tana French, Harlan Coben, Lisa Lutz and MaryPat Hyland (Blog owner’s note: I swear I didn’t pay her to say that.)


15. If you could have dinner with three other writers, who would they be?

Living: MaryPat Hyland ( it’s been too long!) (Ditto. And, yes it has!)
Dead: Rex Stout
Fictional: Jo March

16. What’s your blog and/or website address?

chesol.com and acrosstheriver.info

17. Cats or dogs?

Dogs who like cat videos

18. Cake or death?

Death by Chocolate

19. What fictional character do you identify with most?

Jo March—not so much for her writerly passion, but because I’m always burning the back of my frocks or soiling my gloves at parties

20. What’s the closing line of your latest book?

To hell with Tom Wolfe. You can go home again.

 

NEW RELEASE: Ty Hutchinson

tenderloineBOOK TITLE: Tenderloin (Abby Kane FBI Thriller)

PRICE:  $2.99

GENRE:  Thriller/Mystery

DESCRIPTION:
Life in San Francisco could not be better for FBI Agent Abby Kane and family. With white-collar crimes dominating her work schedule, chasing deranged killers is a thing of the past, until the body of a dead DEA agent pops up in Bogotá.

Ordered to Colombia for answers, Abby’s investigation takes her deep into the Amazon jungle where she discovers evidence of strange experiments at a rundown lab. When she later crosses paths with one of the scientists involved, she learns that a new drug has been invented, and its danger isn’t the addictive high but the terrifying side effects.

Abby believes the cartels are behind the drug, but the locals think it’s one man. They call him The Monster.

REVIEWS:
“If you’re looking for a gutsy female, a woman who is tough and gritty yet has a mothering instinct that is second to none, Abby Kane will reel you in.” — SeattlePI

“The suspense grabs you right from the start and never lets go.” — SE Wolf Book Reviews

“While the murders are brutal, Hutchinson finds balance in his character’s personalities, often with wry humor.” — Literary R&R

Purchase Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Tenderloin-Abby-Kane-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00D6EVPJM

NEW RELEASE: M.A. Comley

soleintentioneBOOK TITLE: Sole Intention

PRICE: 99¢

GENRE: Thriller/mystery

DESCRIPTION: Former police officers Ellen Brazil and Brian Lynx have joined forces to start a successful missing persons investigation firm which has just been contracted to find the wife of bodybuilder Will Endersbe. Ellen discovers that a number of women with similar features and hair colour have also vanished in the Worcester area. Ellen and Brian suspect a serial kidnapper is to blame, and without a body, the police are happy to leave the case in their hands to solve.

Hoping the women are still alive, Ellen digs for clues and races to find the women, despite her troubled private life and a meddlesome stepfather with a violent secret.

REVIEWS:
“This is yet another great thriller from Mel Comley – fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat, you won’t want to put it down!” S. Hodge

“I loved the whole Lorne Simkins series by Mel Comley so was really excited to find that she had released a new book. Within around 10 mins I had downloaded and started to read. This is a great story which moves at a breakneck pace. What really sets it apart though is the author’s typical characterisation. From practically the first page we get an insight into the personalities of both Brian and Ellen. Although in this book Ellen is the stand out character, I imagine that if this develops into a series we will learn more about Brian’s background. I love the way Ellen’s family are woven into the story, the situation with her mother is almost as interesting as the main plot.
I couldn’t put this book down and sincerely hope that Mel has more stories planned around these characters.” Kittycat2000

PURCHASE LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Intention-Missing-Persons-Hotline-ebook/dp/B00EM9KUZU

IWU! Interview with Liz Schulte

Twenty Questions with an Indie Writer

1. Name: Liz Schulte

2. How long have you been an indie writer?
It would depend on where you start counting from. If we go from when I first published, then it would be June 10, 2011. If we go from when I first wrote by book, though I was considering traditional at the time, it would be for a couple years.

3. What formats do you publish in?
I publish e-books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Then I also have paperbacks available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

4. What genres do you write in?
My first book, Dark Corners, is a mystery/horror and my next book is an urban fantasy. I really like all genres. I have a dramatic fiction in the works for some point in my writing career, but my heart really belongs to the creepy, scary, and paranormal sort of books so that is my main focus.

5. Are you on Twitter or facebook?
I am on both. On Twitter I am @LizSchulte and you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liz-Schulte/182081915177084

6. How do you want your readers to feel after they’re read your book?
Satisfied and ready for the next one.

7. What’s your current book?
My current book is Dark Corners. It is a woman whose husband was murdered and she is trying to dig through the past to find out who or what the killer is. I just so happen to have they blurb for it.
Ella Reynolds knew from the first moment she walked into the old house someone or something was watching her. Waiting. Her husband’s violent murder sent her spiraling into a world of grief and isolation, but Ella isn’t alone. Who or what is responsible for her husband’s death is still with her. Darkness has engulfed the past year of Ella’s life. Everyday reality slips a little more between her fingers as she struggles to break free from her memories. She must look deeper into her past as well as the present to discover truth of her husband’s homicide. A string of uncanny events takes place and practical explanations run thin as Ella follows the terrifying road to closure. As the past and present come to a head, Ella must decipher who or what the murderer is before it takes her as well.

8. What’s your next book about?
My next book is Secrets, Book1 of the Guardian Trilogy. It is an urban fantasy about a woman whose life falls spectacularly apart as secrets begin to crumble.
While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the abyss gazed back at her. She discovers mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved. Olivia is about to find out there is a lot she doesn’t know and sometimes what you don’t know can kill you.

9. What types of jobs have you had other than writing?
I have a day job. I go to work in an office from 8 to 5 five days a week. I find time for my writing and editing in the evening and on the weekends.

10. What did it feel like when you were first published?
Nervous. Ahaha I am actually still nervous. I don’t know if it ever goes away. I am pretty comfortable with Dark Corners now, but I worry about Secrets. Any time you are putting a piece of yourself out in the world like this it is enough to make you nervous.

11. What’s your go-to song when your writing muse needs to be recharged?
It depends on the scene or the book. I have emotional songs for emotional scenes and faster upbeat songs for fighting scenes. With the Guardian Trilogy I have three songs that every time I hear them I think about one of the books. Samson by Regina Spektor makes me think of Secrets, Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri makes me think of book 2, Choices, and Gravity by Sara Bareilles make me think of book 3, Consequences.

12. What do you do when writer’s block strikes?
Normally talking about the book to someone works for me. Once I start having to explain it to a friend in detail then I am pushed back into that world and I can continue or work out the issue I am having. Also if I go out for a run or a walk I can often clear my head and work through a scene.

13. What’s the best compliment your writing ever earned?
It was from a review of Dark Corners. It made me smile from ear to ear and consider hugging complete strangers in the street. “In short this is a masterpiece. I urge everyone to give it a try. For a début novel it is amazing. You won’t be disappointed.”

14. If you’re stranded on a desert island with a solar battery recharger, what would you be reading on your Kindle?
All the books on my never ending reading list! I actually might need this to happen so I can catch up. I have so many friends who have released books and so little time to read. Not to mention the other books I just want to read. There are just too many to name. Maybe I will do a blog post this week with my reading list.

15. If you could have dinner with three other writers, who would they be?
Any dead or alive it would be: Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, and Hunter S. Thompson. Current authors is would be: Stephen King, Jim Butcher, and JK Rowling.

16. What’s your blog and/or website address?
http://enteringbatcountry.blogspot.com/

17. Cats or dogs?
I have two of each.

18. Cake or death? (To soothe the boisterous Eddie Izzard lobbyists…)
Uhhhhh, cake please. (We’ll run out of cake at this rate. Hahaha)

19. What fictional character do you identify with most?
Mort Rainey. Hahahaa No, I am actually not sure who I identify with. I identify with most of the characters I read and love. It is part of my love for them. This is like asking me to pick my favorite child.

20. What’s the closing line of your latest book?
I swear I am not trying to be mysterious but I can’t give you the last line on either the current book or the following without giving things away. No spoilers here.

Every week I’ll feature a sample from a Kindle book.

Title: Take the Monkeys and Run

Author: Karen Cantwell

Price: 99¢

Sample:

Chapter One

The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot. I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty. And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air. Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka. Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness. “Three thirty in the morning. Am I totally insane, Indy?”

“Mew.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat. What’s the big deal? My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated.  Pshaw I say. Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy. As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr. I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator. I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity. Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses then flip them for a profit. In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments. I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenage daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage. Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond. True love. True fidelity and commitment. That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out. So perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements for which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brynner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin. He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters. We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on You-Tube and got over twenty-five views. It was very exciting. Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies. I love the movies. Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science-fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep. Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name, ChickAtTheFlix.com, with the intention of building a movie review website. I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three. Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.

After putting the girls to bed, I needed a way to keep my mind off Howard. I plotted and planned a grand design. The website would contain reviews of current release movies as well as DVD releases of older classics. I would also have a weekly blog where I waxed enthusiastic on different subjects of the cinema. Since I had just recently watched a Men of Mystery Film Festival on the Classic Movie Channel, my first blog title would be, “Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes? Whodunnit Better?”

At two a.m., I was too tired to think about the website, but too upset about my marriage to sleep, so I turned on the TV. Movie fare included The First Wives Club, A Bill of Divorcement, An Unmarried Woman and The Breakup on HBO. Disgusted, I turned off the TV, turned out the lights and contemplated learning voodoo so I could hex Howard with a festering urinary tract infection.

By three a.m., I had been crying for at least twenty minutes when I heard the rumble of a truck outside my bedroom window. Suddenly, I had something else to occupy my frazzled mind. The truck was back at House of Many Bones.

And that was how I ended up outside on a cold, fall night with no shoes on.

*****

Howard hadn’t changed the porch light bulb before skipping out, so I was resigned to forging ahead with my crackpot scheme sans illumination to guide me. I’d give him a piece of my mind the next time I saw him.  Not that I knew when that would be.

With teeth chattering, I crossed my arms and shuffled forward blindly down the brick walk from my front door, intent on catching a glimpse of the activity next door at House of Many Bones.

“Come on boy,” I said to my cat. “You can protect me.”

Indiana trailed behind, but I detected trepidation in his gait.

Nine Hundred White Willow Circle, dubbed by me as House of Many Bones, was the neighboring house to my left, and the current source of my midnight madness. A contemporary style home with avocado green painted siding and beige trim, it camouflaged nicely with its wooded lot and appeared to be like any other house in our quaint and quiet town.

But appearances can be deceiving.

This particular house had been vacant for nearly thirty years. Even stranger, none of the retired couples who had lived on our street long enough to have some knowledge of its history would talk squat about it. They’d talk about the weather, how much their new roof cost, or the woes of their latest hip replacement, but they wouldn’t give up one itsy bitsy little word about the strangely vacant house. In my twisted mind, there could be only one reason a place stays uninhabited that long: skeletons. Be they literal or figurative, I was sure that house just had to be full of skeletons.

I had developed my skeleton theory and coined the nickname five years ago – not long after we moved into the neighborhood. Every Tuesday, rain or shine, I observed a rusty El Camino pull into the driveway of Nine Hundred White Willow Circle at one o’clock sharp.  One hunched-over, arthritic man would crawl out of the car, do various jobs around the place then leave. After a few weeks, being the neighborly sort I am, I attempted contact. He had just finished mowing the lawn. The meeting remains vivid in my memory.

“Hi there!”  I remember saying, offering my hand for a friendly shake and smiling my friendliest smile. “I’m Barb. Barbara Marr.  We just moved in next door.”

He didn’t return my smile. Instead, my hand lingered awkwardly mid-air. I pretended to swat at a fly instead, just to avoid looking foolish. I highly doubt that I accomplished that goal.

Undeterred by his silence, I bumbled forth. “So, I notice you don’t actually live here. Do you own the place, Mr . . . .”

Mr. Whoever-He-Was just stood there staring. Bent, wrinkled and mute. As the silent seconds ticked by, I started getting nervous like a dog that doesn’t like eye contact. If I’d had a flea to scratch, I would have scratched it. He broke the stare by pulling a hanky from his back pocket and wiping the sweat off his face. Then he blew his nose. I cringed.

“So,” he said finally, replacing the hanky. “You like your life?”

“Excuse me?” I covered my mouth, trying not to gag. That whole, blow-your-snot-into-a-piece-of-cloth-then-cram-it-in-your-pants thing has disgusted since I was five and saw Grandpa Joe blow a loogie the size of Texas into a dinner napkin thinking it was his trusty, crusty nose cloth. I still turn green remembering.

“It ain’t a trick question, Toots. Do you like your life?” He pointed a gnarled finger in my face.

“Yes,” I gulped, a little disturbed by his manner, but also surprised to hear someone actually say “Toots.” I was sure only criminals in 1940’s gangster flicks used that word. “Yes,” I coughed.“I do like my life.”

“Then don’t come over here again askin’ questions.  Very simple. Stay away from me. Stay away from this house.” He moved off, pushing the lawnmower to the garage.

Needless to say, that was the beginning and the end of our relationship. And that’s when I decided there was probably a whole lot more in that house than dust and cobwebs. Who knew what madness lingered in the mind of Grumpy Lawnmower Guy? Maybe years ago he chopped up more with that lawnmower than just blades of grass, and now only the bones lay hidden within the walls of that house just waiting to tell their sad story.

So at three o’clock in the morning, nearly five years later when I heard a truck with muffler issues rumbling into the driveway next door for the second night in a row, my curiosity was piqued. Uber-piqued. Grumpy Lawnmower Guy was scary, but he was predictable to a fault. Middle-of-the-night errands were not his style. Not at all. Something was definitely up in my generally calm little corner of Rustic Woods, Virginia and I wanted to know what. And Lord knew I needed a diversion from masterminding painful plots on Howard’s well-being. Hence my frigid barefoot foray into the cricket infested dark night. Truth be told, I was probably also channeling a bit of the Chan-man after watching that Men of Mystery Film Festival.

Regardless the reason, I was moving forward and the only question really was, should I keep going? Reaching my driveway, I realized that acquiring a reasonable view of the house or the mysterious truck was going to be harder than I thought. First, the black of night was a major impediment. With no moon or streetlights to help, I was like a bat with radar malfunction. Secondly, the significant distance between the two houses and the fact that they were separated by a line of dense trees and shrubbery meant I would have to walk out into the middle of the street to really see anything of worth.

“What do you think, Indy,” I whispered. “Out to the street or back to our house?”

He didn’t answer. He purred and rubbed, but he was keeping mum.

“The street is cold and the house is warm, and at least I was able to see the top of the truck from my bedroom window. And one of the girls could wake up and get scared if they don’t find me in bed. Whadaya say?” I was weighing the pros and cons with my hands moving up and down like the Scales of Justice. “Street? House? Street? House?”

“Mew.”

“Great minds think alike.”

The cat and I agreed that a warm and toasty house was a far better alternative to a frigid and fruitless expedition. Turning back toward the front walk, I stopped when my eyes caught a hint of light glowing through the trees between my property and House of Many Bones. Based on the location of the light and how low to the ground it was, I had to assume it was coming from one or more of its basement windows near the rear. Aha, thought I. Maybe there was something to see inside that window. The gears of my curious mind were turning again.

“Look at that,” I whispered again. “Maybe we should just take a gander over to those trees, peek through and . . .”

“Out for a nighttime stroll?”

With a jump, I grabbed my pounding chest and stifled a scream that, left un-stifled, might have aroused the entire neighborhood. Luckily, it was just my neighbor and friend Roz, who had sneaked up from behind, nearly causing me a major myocardial meltdown.

“Don’t scare me like that.”

Roz Walker lived in the house on my other side. She was smart. She was wearing shoes. Fleece lined.  And a puffy coat over a flannel robe. Playboy wouldn’t be calling her anytime soon, but she was warm.

“Sorry.” She handed me a flash light. “You look like you could use this.”

I turned on the flashlight. “Thanks. How partial are you to those shoes?”

“You’re spying aren’t you?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“You first.”

“Of course I’m spying. So are you. Your turn.” I shined the light onto her shoes for emphasis.

“Keeping the shoes. Not necessarily partial to them, but I like my feet. You can keep the flashlight though. I won it in a raffle.”

“What are you doing awake at this hour?” I tucked the flashlight under my arm so I could blow warm air into my icy hands.

“The truck woke me up.  You?”

“Never fell asleep.”

“Howard?”

“Instead of counting sheep, I tried counting my blessings. When that didn’t work, I tried counting ways to hurt my hideous husband.”

“Did that help?”

“I’m awake, aren’t I?” With fingers warmed enough to function again, I shined some light onto my lawn illuminating a maze of carved pumpkins and Styrofoam tombstones.

“Can you see the truck from your house?”

Roz shook her head. “Barely. I could see you real good though.” She tugged at my sleeve. “Did you know your pajamas glow in the dark?”

“They’re Halloween pjs – those are little ghosts.” I pointed to the glowing white figures on my top. “I’m trying to stay festive despite the sad state of my life.” I shined the light toward House of Many Bones. “Do you think it’s a moving truck?”

“Could be.  mall one.” Roz’s breath was visible when she talked.

“Did you see Grumpy Lawnmower Guy?”I started bouncing to get my blood flowing.

“I didn’t see anybody. Maybe the house has been rented or sold and someone’s moving in.”

“At three thirty in the morning?”

“Actually, it’s after four now. You should go back inside and try to get some sleep.”

My ears detected a faint noise from next door.

“Wait!” I stopped bouncing. “Did you hear that?”

“What?”

“That.” I turned my ear. “You don’t hear it? It sounds like . . . hmm.”

“What?”

“It kind of sounds like a monkey.”

“It’s your cat.”

“No.  No it’s not.” Reaching down, I picked up Indiana Jones and held him under one arm. The noise was still there.  lmost a vibration. Barely audible, but definitely from House of Many Bones.

“I’m going a little closer.  I’m sure I hear something.”

“Well you’re on your own. Peter made me promise to come out just long enough to give you the flashlight and find out what you were up to.”

“Then give me your shoes.”

“No way.  I have to walk through sticker vines to get back to my house. Come by tomorrow for coffee. Or lunch, depending on when you wake up.” She flicked on her own flashlight and stepped gingerly away, leaving Indy and me alone to fend for ourselves.

Stepping out onto the frosty grass, I had second thoughts. The icy blades felt like millions of needles pricking the bottoms of my nearly gangrenous feet. Damn! At the very least, I was going to need a pair of shoes if I was going to attempt a peek through those trees. The minor noise had faded anyway. And maybe Roz was right. Maybe this was as simple as new neighbors moving in. Neighbors who worked odd hours. A bartender perhaps.   bartender bringing a few things by after his shift ended at two. 

Reason trumped wild imagination. I took two steps backward onto the driveway and put the cat back down.

“Let’s go, Indy. We’re not cut out for adventure after all.”

I hadn’t even turned back toward my own house when out of the blue, piercing the dead still of the night, a high pitched howl stopped me in my tracks and sent my heart rate racing at breakneck speed. This was no vague sound drifting through the crisp night air. This was loud, sharp and painful to the ears.  Sort of a man-beast howl. Hard to describe, but every decibel was chilling to the bone. Seconds later, I heard a door at the rear of the house swoosh open followed a flurry of activity on the ground behind House of Many Bones. Leaves rustled wildly and there was a pounding of footsteps. I couldn’t see what was happening, but it didn’t sound good.  It seemed that something very violent was going down. I looked back for Roz, but she was long gone.

Forgetting my feet altogether, I flew up the driveway, across the walk and up to my front door. Indiana had beat me there and was clawing to get in. As my hand landed on the door knob and turned, I heard a man yell from the backyard.

“Toes!” he screamed.

Wow, that was one mad bartender.

Indiana and I leapt across the threshold. We were inside, but not yet safe in my mind. Just before the door slammed shut, I heard the man yell again. 

“Toes, you chickenshit fuck! Get back here!”