A Haunting at Marianwood by E.M. Munsch


A Haunting at Marianwood
Dash Hammond 
Book Six
E.M. Munsch

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC
Date of Publication: October 18, 2022
ASIN: ‎B0BJ4GYGD2
ISBN-10: ‎1949281213
ISBN-13: ‎978-1949281217
Print length: ‎217 pages

Book Description: 

Life is good for Dash Hammond. He’s recently remarried his childhood sweetheart, Dr. Maevis Summers, and together they’re raising his four-year-old son, T.J. in the Hammond family homestead in Clover Pointe, Ohio. A retired Army colonel, Dash now keeps himself busy fixing everything from a leaky faucet to an unsolved murder.

It is no wonder that his cousin Billy McCafferty calls on Dash for a road trip to Kentucky when  his oldest sister is in trouble. The president of a religious order, Sister Miriam Patrice, Miri Pat to those who knew her before she took the veil, has been hearing things, seeing things and misplacing things. A very competent woman, she refuses to accept an unearthly reason for all this.

Marianwood, the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Mother of God, is located on an old plantation thought to be haunted by its original inhabitant, Miss Victoria Harris, who is rumored to prowl the grounds and cemetery in search of her murdered beau. 

When the Ohio contingent arrives, they discover that things are not as simple as your ordinary haunting. 

In a battle of wits, will the victor be supernatural or a very corporal retired Army colonel?


Excerpt:

A HAUNTING AT MARIANWOOD

Sister Miriam Patrice slid back from the kneeler. The quiet of the church soothed her as it wrapped its velvet cloak of serenity around her. She sat, hands folded, once in prayer but now to stop the trembling. Glancing at the sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows casting a rainbow on the empty pews, she drew in deep slow breaths. She looked at the watch pinned to her tunic. Time to get back to work. She rose to leave the church, her place of refuge, a place free from the distractions of the running the community and the new retirement home the sisters established to help make ends meet.

The members of the Sisters of the Blessed Mother of God found their numbers dwindling. New recruits, as Sister Miriam Patrice called them mimicking her cousin Dash Hammond’s military jargon, were very rare. The teaching congregation once had more than a hundred sisters. Vocations, callings to either the religious or the educational side of the community, had fallen to less than a handful each year.

As she walked down the aisle to the back of the church, she heard it again. Tap, tap, tap. She stopped to listen, making sure she wasn’t mistaken. That sound sent shivers down her spine. Squaring her shoulders she walked to the doors next to the church exit. One led up to the choir loft, the other down to the cellar. In days past she had gone up the stairs; today she would go down.

Pulling the doorknob, Miriam Patrice met the resistance of a locked door. She pulled out her keys and unlocked it. She struggled with the door, suggesting to her that no one had gone to the cellar in a while.

The stone steps were worn but sturdy. She moved cautiously into the darkness, one hand on the wall to steady her nervous knees, the other searching for the handrail. Her hope was that the security guard forgot to close the door one day and some critter, not two legged, was trapped down here and making the tap, tap, tap sound. Logically she knew this was wrong, but the alternative could be worse.

Decades ago they discovered one of the newer buildings constructed during a period of rapid expansion had been built on an underground spring. It wasn’t long before the building tilted, as did their finances. What a waste of time and money. Fearful that what she would find was a tell-tale pooling or bubbling of water, she moved forward slowly. She said a silent prayer that she would not stumble into a puddle, a precursor of the inevitable unwelcome news.

Her trek seemed unnecessarily slow though reason told Miriam Patrice she should alert one of her sisters where she was just in case she lost her footing. But her reasoning had not been the sharpest of late. She blamed her sleepless nights, not because of an uneasy conscience but an overabundance of concern for her congregation and its uncertain future, both financially and individually.

After spending a half an hour poking into the corners, searching for the origin of the sound, Miriam Patrice gave up. She needed a flashlight if she wanted to do a proper search. Next time she would be prepared. Next time, she told herself, she would be less skittish, more confident that she could deal with whatever sprung up from the tap, tap, tap. After deciding this, she nodded to herself. At least she didn’t hear a drip, drip, drip.

The sound had stopped so she returned to the church. As she locked the door behind her, the tap, tap, tap began again, louder this time. If she permitted herself, she would have said damn.


About the Author:

Elaine Munsch is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, but has spent her adult life in Louisville, Kentucky.  She graduated from Nazareth College of Kentucky located outside of Bardstown and attended The Ohio State University for her graduate work. She has been a bookseller for fifty years working in both large and small, chain and independent bookstores. She opened the first Barnes & Noble in Kentucky where she set up a mystery reading group which is still active today. She also taught classes in the mystery genre for the Veritas Society and joined the local chapter of Sisters in Crime.
  
With Susan Bell, she co-edited MYSTERY WITH A SPLASH OF BOURBON, an anthology of bourbon related stories.

As E.M. Munsch, she writes the Dash Hammond series set on the shores of Lake Erie. The latest title, A HAUNTING AT MARIANWOOD, is set to be released at the end of October.






The Man Who Came and Went by Joe Stillman


From the writer of “Shrek” comes “The Man Who Came and Went,” a magically realistic novel about a grill cook who can mind read orders, and a small town diner that changes lives. 

The Man Who Came and Went 
Joe Stillman

Genre: Magical Realism / Mature YA / Literary Fiction
Publisher: City Point Press
Date of Publication: 3/1/22
ISBN: 9781947951389
Number of pages: 240
Word Count: 64,000
Cover Artist:  Barbara Aronica-Buck and Susan Stillman

Tagline:  
A grill cook who mind-reads orders.  
A diner that changes lives.
Tips appreciated. 

Book Description:

Fifteen year old Belutha Mariah, our storyteller, is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life’s goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and then to leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school. 

Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell’s Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. As word spreads, the curious and desperate pour into this small desert town to eat at Maybell’s. Some believe Bill knows the secrets of the universe. Belutha figures he’s probably nuts. 

But his cooking starts to transform the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening as Bill begins to show her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

Amazon     BN     BaM     Bookshop     Indiebound


Excerpt

            That day, the day Bill arrived, my mom was serving up eggs and complaints.

            “Dammit, that daughter a mine,” she yelled to Dolene, across the diner. Shes like walking birth control. Does she think Im trying to have babies? Scuse me, Darlin’” Maybell gave Clovers bubble walker a little kick, sending it between tables 4 and 6 so she could get by and dump a load of dishes behind the counter.

            Dolene was homegrown, like the tumbleweed, with eyes like a golden retriever that never quite looked at you directly. She was smart enough to add up a check, but you could tell she was never getting out of Hadley. I take it you didnt get laid last night.”

            Maybell pointed to her sour puss. Does this say laidto you?”

            There was a harrumphfrom booth 5 by the window. That was Rose. Rose was an old woman by the time she was 30. Now she was in her late 60s, a widow since before I was born—in other words, forever. She liked to spend her afternoons at Maybells Diner, reading her book and keeping an eye on the goings on around her, as if she was the towns homeroom teacher.

            “Look at Saint Rose,” Maybell said, stuffing dirty plates into the plastic tub under the counter. Thinks she smells better than Mentos. I aint running a library here, Rose. Next time bring Readers Digest!

            There was another sound from Rose, something between a welland a pfffft.She never took her eyes off her book.

            The door opened with a DING from the bell that hung on it. No one noticed Bill entering. He was about average in height, but his skinny frame made him look taller. You could tell from his face that he was in his mid-20s, but those were hard years he had lived, and his body looked frail and geriatric. His clothes were old and clung to him like an extra layer of skin, with a smell that would never wash out.

The angles of his face were sharp and careworn. But his eyes, those were different. His face was hard and weathered, but his eyes were soft. They seemed brand new.

No one in the diner even looked. If they did they would have seen those eyes taking in every little detail: the people talking, forks carrying food, the string lights behind the counter, Dolene ringing up a check. But what drew Bill more than anything else was the grill. Harley, the grill cook, must have had four meals going at once, each with its own set of sounds and smells. Most of those meals involved eggs. His spatula made a metal-on-metal scrape as he turned them. Bill was riveted. He went to sit at the counter to watch.

            Down the counter, a porkish-looking man named Earle—probably one of three men in town who had never slept with my mom—raised his empty cup. Can I get a refill, Maybell?”

            Maybell stopped and faced him. Seriously, Earle? Is it so goddam much trouble for you to get up off your ass and get it yourself? Cant you see Im working here?”

            “Well…” he stammered. I just—was I—I was—”

            Maybell pointed to the coffee pot. How far away is that? Two feet?”

            “Sure, I guess…”

            “Am I your personal slave, Earle? Is that why God put me on earth?”

            “No, I dont think youre—”

            Maybell grabbed the pot and sloshed coffee in his Earles cup. There. You happy now?”

He nodded meekly.

            While she had the pot in her hand, Maybell filled the cup sitting in front of Bill. Ill be by to take your order in a minute, hon.”

            Maybell walked on. Bill just sat there and stared at the coffee. For him, there was no diner anymore, no Maybell, no clanking dishes or dumb conversation. He leaned closer to that cup like it was the only thing in the world. And there he was, smelling coffee for the first time. And it smelled like life. Like a whole world. Like this is how a planet smells if youre up in space and could take a deep breath. Bill was motionless for who knows how long. And then, when he was good and ready, he took his first sip.

            Those eyes, the ones that didnt belong on his head, they closed as if he was praying. No, more like he was hearing a prayer. The coffee was praying to be heard, and Bill heard it.

 

About the Author:

Joe Stillman co-wrote “Shrek” for Dreamworks which earned him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Annie and BAFTA Awards.  Other produced features are “Beavis & Butthead Do America”, “Shrek 2”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, “Planet 51” and “Joseph King Of Dreams”. 

In television, he was co-producer and writer on “King of the Hill,” for which he received two Emmy Award® nominations. He was a writer and story editor for Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” and a writer on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead”. More recently he worked on Nickelodeon’s “Sanjay And Craig” and “Kirby Buckets” for Disney. Other TV credits include “Albert” for Nickelodeon, “The War Next Door” for the USA Network, “Clueless”, “Doug” and “Danger And Eggs” for Amazon.

Joe is currently working on “Curious George” and “Half-Baked 2” for streaming on Peacock.










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Crazy Witch by C.S. Edwards


Crazy Witch
The Witch Doctors 
Book Three
C.S. Edwards

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: C.S. Edwards
Date of Publication: October 31, 2022
ISBN: 9798215161517
ASIN: B0BH6JKM82
Number of pages: 142
Word Count: 36,382
Cover Artist: C.S. Edwards

Book Description:

What does Bart Babington’s love life, a legendary key, and the Goddess of Death, have in common? Well, Bart is about to find out.

The not-so-famous witch doctor cosmetic surgeon is sick and tired of his two meddling sisters trying to mate him up at every annual Samhain celebration for the last ten years. So, Bart enlists his two best wingmen to help him find a fake date to take to Rabbit Hash for the party.

In his grand plan to get his sisters off his back, what he didn’t count on is falling for a pigeon raising, southern witch on a moped. Nor did he expect to lose her during the couple’s championships for the Loving Cup. But he’s on a ghostly trip to sort out his past and make room for true love in his life.

Will Bart find his witch, or will he never unlock his heart?

Excerpt:

The Townhouse in Mt. Adams

“Bart, this is your mother.” Blanche’s disembodied voice seeped through the speaker system embedded in every room of the three-story townhouse. Echoing throughout the sparsely decorated spaces, her tone was calm and rational with a tinge of caution—which sounded pretty normal for Blanche Babington. “Your sisters and I are planning on seeing you this weekend for the Samhain festivities in Rabbit Hash. Let me know when you expect to transport. Seems Betsy and Betty have some big plans for you again. You better call me back.”

Bart stepped out of the shower, wrapped a bath towel around his waist, and strode to the sink. Tussling his auburn hair with his hand, he spoke to his reflection in the mirror. “I know what my sisters are up to. They do this shit every year. No more.”

Bart tapped the left corner of the mirror and a ripple of waves moved from the corner of the mercury backed glass across the once still and solid surface, “Amelia, call Reggie and Sparky.”

The mirror answered in her distinctive AI rhythm, “calling Reggie and Sparky,” and emanated an old-fashioned ring of a corded phone. With a plop, Reggie appeared in one corner of the mirror and Sparky in another. Amelia displayed the trio of friends in a single line across the elegant mercury backed glass, which hung above a sleek marble double vanity in Bart’s master bathroom and doubled as a smart screen. “I have your BFFs, Bart. What else would you like me to do?”

“That’s all. Thanks Amelia.” Bart dismissed his smart assistant and smiled. “If only all women were like Amelia.”

“Yo, brother, why you got to be showing up on my Copy Reveal screen half naked?” Reggie grimaced.

“He’ll say it was unintentional, but we all know the truth. He didn’t get enough attention as a child.” Sparky chimed in.

“Shut up. It’s go time. Are you boys ready for The Lemon?” Bart stretched on his shirt.

“I’m not sure The Lemon is ready for your look, bub.” Reggie grimaced and looked away.

“What?” Bart looked down to see his emerald green towel still tightly wrapped around his waist, topped off with a navy-blue pima cotton, boutique brand, polo. “Oh hell. I’m going to grab some jeans.”

“Don’t forget your tightie-whities, Marky-Mark.” Sparky yelled.

“Rightfully so. Who wears tightie-whities, ever? Even back in the day, when he dropped his drawers to impress Miss Mona Lisa Giorgio—who was not feeling the vibrations—the tighties were not a good look.” Sparky grinned and straightened his ball cap.

Reggie nodded. “True. No matter how good the package, sometimes it’s all about the wrapping.” The two friends gave each other a virtual high five that spawned an undulation of swells in the mirror.

Bart returned clad in jeans and his polo. “Fuck off, both of you. I looked good. It wasn’t my choice of underwear she didn’t like. Miss Mona Lisa was into rich Italian guys. She wasn’t into young, just starting out, witch doctors.”

“Whatever makes you feel better, man.” Sparky waved him off.

“I’ll feel better when I pull this weekend off. I’m ready to get this plan started. I’ve got to find a witch worthy of hanging out with for the next three days, and that’s willing to play along like we’re a real couple. I’m determined to put an end to the ‘set-up Bart’ bullshit my sisters pull every Samhain. It ruins the whole weekend. Besides, it’s gone on long enough. Time to move on. I’ve moved on. Everyone else needs to, too.”

“No shit. Last year was ridiculous. I thought Betsy was never going to quit introducing you to all those models.” Sparky shook his head, and his silver and black hair dangled over one eye. “It was like a line of Wictoria Angels walking the catwalk just for you.”

“You poor asshole.” Reggie scoffed. “You could help a brother out and throw some of your misfortune my way, you know. I am a single warlock now, too.”

“Trust me, none of those witches were your type. They weren’t my type either. Besides, you and I are not the settling down kind. Not anymore. That’s why your three-year shit-show with Brigette didn’t work out Regg. I mean, how the hell did you expect to settle down with a hippie witch? You’re mister conservative?”

“She wasn’t a hippie witch.” Reggie rubbed his chin. “She was crazy.”

“Crazy witch. Definitely.” Sparky agreed.

“Well, whatever. Good riddance. You’re better than that, man. We don’t do crazy because crazy witches just up and disappear for no reason what-so-ever.” Bart leaned on the counter and eyed both of his best friends. “We do this. Us. Brothers.”

“Yeah. But don’t forget Misty.” Sparky’s eyes lit up at the mention of his wife.

“Of course, I always include Misty in our crew. Hell, she’s a better wingman than you are Sparky. Just something about a female fox Shifter that witches love.” Reggie waggled his bushy eyebrows, licked his thumb and forefinger, and slide them across both unruly strips.

“Is she coming out on this little manly adventure to get Bart a weekend play date? Or are we rolling with the homies only?” Reggie asked.

“She’s sitting this one out. Something about getting all our crap together for the Samhain festivities. I think she’s been plotting and planning with your sister’s, Bart. So, frankly, we need to keep your plan to trip up their matchmaking on the down low Or, Misty might blow your cover.” Sparky looked over his shoulder toward a shadowy door in the distance. “Hence, why I’m hiding out in the basement? I didn’t want her to sniff us out.”

“Good luck with that. Misty’s got a better sniffer than you do, man. And I’m bummed she’s not coming out with us. Like Reggie said, she’s the best wingman we got.” Bart thrust his hands in his pockets to straighten his jeans

“You lookin’ to find the next Mrs. Darington, Regg?” Sparky asked.

“Could be? You know, the third times a charm.” Reggie mussed his dark hair and smoothed his pale green button down.

“Charm my ass. I never believed in that crap. The two previous witches should have taught you a lesson. Love and Reginold Darington don’t mix. You’re free and clear, bro. Enjoy that freedom.” Bart bobbed his head and stuck out his chest.

“Don’t do that. Whatever that ‘trying to look badass’ thing you’ve got going on there. You look real silly.” Sparky laughed.

“Shut the fuck up, Sparky, before I ask Amelia to vape you out of this conversation.” Bart blew out a long breath. He was already worried enough about this whole fiasco he’d cooked up. But he was so tired of everyone trying to make him forget Samhain was associated with the worst day of his life.

“Go ahead, buddy. I’ve got my woman. I don’t need to help you one bit.” Sparky crossed his arms and leaned back in his desk chair.

“Alright you two, just cool it with the machismo shit. Time’s a wasting, and I don’t even know what that plan is for this hairbrained scheme Bart’s got us doing. But we better get to doing it before the evening gets away from us.” Reggie looked at a glowing watch-like contraption on his wrist.

“You’re right, Regg. We need to get a move on. My plan is to start out at The Blind Lemon here in Mt. Adams. I’m thinking there’ll be a healthy crowd of witches there on the eve of the two biggest nights in the witch world. Samhain always brings the ladies out. So, all I have to do is find the one that will be cool with playing a little game of pretend with me.” Bart shrugged. “Easy peasy.”

“The Blind Lemon. Don’t you go there all the time, man?” Reggie asked.

“Sure. But never around the holidays. It gets stupid crazy with crowds.” Bart said.

“I’m not so sure The Lemon is the best place, either. But what the hell? Let’s give it a whirl. If that’s a bust, we’ll trot back on over here to my neck of the woods. The Rhine is always hopping.” Sparky got up from his chair and put his face close to the screen. “We transporting now?”

“Give me twenty minutes,” said Reggie.

“Twenty minutes. What the hell, dude?” Bart barked.

“I gotta do some stuff. Lock up the place, settle Max in for the night. You know. Just stuff. Besides, I’m coming all the way from Indian Hills. You know, it takes me a bit longer to transport from way out here. You and Sparky can light it up in a few minutes and be at The Lemon’s passageway. Hell, Bart, you can walk quicker than you take to transport.” Reggie puffed.

“Max will be fine. He’s the coolest Shepard familiar ever. I’m sure Barty needs to tuck little baby Pricilla piggy in, too.” Sparky said in a mocking baby voice.

“Don’t you worry about Cilla. She’s with Blanche and my sisters. They’re doing all the girly things for the party, and she couldn’t miss that. Besides, Cilla is the baddest bitch flying pig familiar around.” Bart loved his little pink flying pig and doted on her. She’d come into his life at a very dark moment, and he’d never forget the joy and love she showed him. Priscilla was the reason Bart stayed the course to become a witch doctor.

“Exactly, dude. She’s a flying fucking pig. Seriously, I was just teasing you. Literally, you couldn’t ask for a cooler familiar.” Sparky threw a cap on his head.

“I know. Okay, enough. I’m giving you guys thirty minutes. Under the garden sign on Hatch Street.” Bart pointed first at Reggie, then to Sparky. “Thirty minutes.”

“Cool.” Sparky nodded.

“Should I wear a hat? A ball cap like Sparky. Is that a thing now?” Reggie pulled a faded maroon and off-white hat, accented with a beer label patch on the front panel, from a hook on the wall next to him and slipped it on his head.

“Dude. It doesn’t matter. Just get your ass moving.” Bart rolled his eyes and tapped the mirror, which rippled again like water washing away the images of his two friends.


About the Author:

C.S. Edwards is a southern author of small town adventures sprinkled with romance, mystery, and occasionally some paranormal and fantasy. Her newest release, Crazy Witch, The Witch Doctors Book 3, is a saucy, fun, romantic romp. In her catalog, you’ll also find the darker small town mystery Welcome to Lovely, that shows a spicier side of crime and romance.

C.S. Edwards lives with her family on the Kentucky side of Cincinnati, where they are all just doing their part to make the world a little more interesting and entertaining.

“My kids, all five of them, swear I talk to myself way too much. What they don’t know is, I’m not talking to myself, I’m talking to my characters. Sure, that makes me a little crazy, but come on, it also makes me super interesting—right?! Probably not, but a girl can dream.” — C.S. Edwards

Check out all of C.S. Edwards’ books here:

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