Thursday, September 14, 2017

Magic Thursday--Janni Nell shares an excerpt of her new cozy mystery Secrets, Spells & Murder

I've been promising to write a paranormal cozy mystery for years and I've finally done it. Here's a sneak peak at Secrets, Spells & Murder.


Chapter 1
The day before Silver Moon Falls had its first murder, the townspeople woke up as usual, had breakfast, kissed their loved ones goodbye and went to work. I did likewise except for kissing a loved one, since I lived alone. After locking the door to my cottage on Appletree Lane, I began the walk to my shop carrying a newly made batch of Green Thumb spells.
On the way, I stopped to pet old Mr. William’s dog, while across the road, Erin called to her kids, just as she did every weekday morning, “Get in the car or you’ll be late for school.” As Erin pulled out of her driveway, she gave me a friendly wave. I waved back then turned the corner and set off down Main Street.
It promised to be a beautiful day. Wisps of white cloud trailed across the sky, and the breeze was heavy with the scent of the woods. I was all kinds of lucky to call this beautiful part of northern California home.
As I passed The Awesome Bean coffee shop, Sara Carter called out, “You want your usual this morning?”
“Please.” A few years ago, The Awesome Bean had been called Carter’s and they made the worst coffee in the entire universe. In an effort to improve their business, Sara had visited me for a custom-made spell. I worked hard at it, but even I was surprised by the results. Not only did she suddenly have the best coffee ever, the spell remained strong years later, which is unusual. As a thank-you, Sara has given me free coffee ever since. Win-win.
I was waiting for my cappuccino when Mayor Danny Blain stopped by for an Americano. He was around fifty, with strands of silver in his hair and eyes of muddy brown. Although of average height, he had an above-average physique and off-the-charts charisma. He was the mayor of both Silver Moon Falls and the larger town of Silver Moon Junction. Too bad he had no love for witches and our craft.
He acknowledged me with a curt nod. “We want to review your permit.” He meant the permit to practice witchcraft, which was at the discretion of the local council. Mayor Blain had been trying to close my shop for years. So far he’d failed, but that didn’t mean he’d stop trying. I wondered whether he’d change his mind if he knew that Sara’s coffee tasted so good because of my spell. I was tempted to tell him, but then he might decide to close the shop down and I couldn’t do that to her.
“I’m happy to meet with the council and discuss the matter,” I said, with a smile to let him know I was prepared to be reasonable.
He eyed the box I was carrying. “What’ve you got in there?”
“Just some Green Thumb spells. They’re very popular this time of year.”
“Hmm. Green Thumb, eh? People just throw it around their yard and a garden springs up?”
“It’s more like a really good fertilizer. Garden beds still have to be prepared, seeds planted and watered. But flowers are more abundant and they last a lot longer.”
“And that’s all it does?” he asked suspiciously. “I thought it was supposed to be magic.”
                I could’ve told him the spell completely eliminated weeds, disease and pests, but Sara was calling out, “Coffee’s ready, Maddie.”
“Excuse me.” I hurried to the counter to get my drink.
Sara handed it over. “Have a great day.”
“Hope yours is even better.” I waved to Sara, relieved to escape from the mayor, and headed off to work. 
My shop—Maddie’s Little Shop of Spells to be precise—was nestled between Kylie-Ann’s hairdressing salon and the Silver Moon Bakery. The aroma of cinnamon buns tickled my nostrils. Unable to resist, I bought one, holding the bag in my teeth as I juggled my coffee, the box of spells and keys to my shop. After opening the door without spillage, I dumped my box on the counter and bit into the delicious bun. I’d deal with the calories later by jogging to the falls. 
When I’d finished the bun and coffee, I got to work unpacking and displaying the Green Thumb spells. The entire back wall of the shop was lined with shelves containing everything from Happy Household spells, which were designed to create a soothing home environment, to Memory spells for finding missing objects. The jars and bottles had pretty labels handwritten by my assistant, Autumn, who burst through the door at that moment in a chaotic whirl of curly auburn hair, sunshine yellow blouse, pink-checked skirt and ballet flats.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day?” she said. “You want me to help stack those shelves?”
“Sure,” I said.
Autumn wasn’t a local girl. She’d blown into town one day with nothing but a small bag, a mysterious past and the desire to change her life. I’d decided to give her a chance, and I’ve never regretted it.
While she finished displaying the Green Thumb spells, I headed out back to the storage room, where a small round table and two chairs stood near our rarely used coffee machine. On the opposite wall were more shelves filled with carry bags, bottles of water, cleaning products, a box of tissues and special orders waiting to be picked up.

I was checking the stock when the bells above the door jangled announcing the arrival of a customer. I heard a woman laugh and say, “What a very strange shop. We just had to come in.” She sounded amused in a superior kind of way, as though she was too smart to believe in magic.

                                                                ***


Secrets, Spells & Murder now available for 
pre-order.

Amazon
Google Play













                                           

                                                                 ***

Janni Nell is the author of fun paranormal mysteries. Before she became a writer, she worked as a personal assistant, receptionist and sales clerk. Now she is happy to spend every day creating stories. When she isn’t writing, you can find her at dance class, Pilates or walking the dog. She is hard at work on her next book.





Thursday, March 9, 2017

Magic Thursday--Excerpt of Dead Lady Vanishing

Tash and Joe are back! Mystery, humor and romance combine when they investigate the ghostly goings-on at spooky Wildfinch Hall.

Dead Lady Vanishing is Book 2 in the Bolde and Baulsey paranormal mystery series. Here’s a sneak peak:

***

My flashlight illuminated the name Wildfinch Hall. Really? Somebody had been reading too many Brontë novels. And we weren’t even in Yorkshire. I wondered whether Heathcliff was at home.
“Stop messing around,” yelled Clover. She was already on the other side of the gates. Unlike me, she could walk right through them. “Come on.”
“The gates are locked,” I said, directing my beam onto the padlock and chain.
“Then climb over.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d trespassed at Clover’s insistence and I guessed it wouldn’t be the last. Sticking the flashlight in my pocket, I surveyed the curls and scrolls of wrought iron, which appeared to provide plenty of hand- and footholds. It wasn’t until I grabbed hold that I realized the metal was dangerously slick with rain. I slipped and banged my knee. Sucking in a breath, I tried again, more carefully this time. As I made my way up, the gates wobbled. The wind whipped around, threatening to toss me on my ass, but I clung on. When I reached the top, I swung one leg over and then the other. For a second I balanced on top then I jumped down, landing with a crunch on the gravel driveway.
Jagged lightning split the sky. For a moment it was bright as day. A large building—we’re talking Pemberley or Downton Abbey—stood on the crest of the hill at the end of the driveway. The scream must’ve come from there.
As I started toward it, Clover called, “No, this way,” and set off across a wide lawn dotted with swaying trees.
Forgetting about the pelting rain, my wet shoes, and the chill that turned my breath misty white, I went after her, flicking on my flashlight again as I ran.
“Is the woman still screaming?” I panted.
“No.” She sounded worried.
“Maybe you’ve gone the wrong way. The scream must’ve come from the place on the hill.”
“It didn’t.” She continued to move away from the house.
“You do realize I’m soaking wet,” I grumbled. Honestly I wished I’d stayed in the cramped car. At least that had been warm and dry. But Clover wasn’t sympathetic. Probably because, no matter how hard it rained, she was bone-dry. One of the advantages of being a ghost.
                I stepped in a puddle halfway up my shin and swore loudly. Mud squelched as I pulled myself free. Clover had gone on ahead. I trudged after her.
Suddenly she yelled and pointed, “Over there. Near the wood. It’s some sort of building.” She moved fast, gliding over the grass. I hurried after her.
The building had been constructed in the style of a mini Roman temple with stone walls on three sides. On the fourth side a short flight of steps led to a porch with a roof supported by columns. By the time I reached the steps, Clover was moving across the porch toward a wooden door. She could easily have passed right through it, but she suddenly stopped and took a step back. Had she met some kind of resistance? I moved closer so I could hear what she was saying.
“What the—?” She squared her shoulders. Then, raising her voice above the storm as though she was speaking to someone, she said, “Who are you? Why did you scream?”
As she listened to the answer, she tapped her foot like she did when she was pissed. “I’ll mind my own business when hell freezes over! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”
Frustrated that I could only witness one side of their exchange, I yelled, “Clover, what’s going on?”
But all her attention was on the other ghost. She looked it over from head to toe. “You’ve been here a while, haven’t you? When did you die? Nineteenth century?...No, I won’t go away. I heard a scream. Was it you?” Her hands rested on her plump hips, feet apart, in the determined stance I knew so well. She clenched her fists and demanded, “Get out of my way.” A second later, she doubled over. Had she’d been gut-punched?
“Clover!” I rushed up the steps.
“Stay back,” she warned, but I kept going. Her assailant was a ghost. It couldn’t hurt me. Not physically anyway.
I'd almost reached her when her head snapped back. Had she been punched in the jaw? She lashed out, one-two, with her fists. Then suddenly her hands were pinned behind her and she was being pushed toward the door.
“Let her go!” I launched myself at whoever was holding her and swung a punch. I’d never fought a ghost before. I was shocked when my fist sank into something thick, viscous, and bitterly cold. I yelped as the icy sensation crept up my arms and entered my chest. It was hard to breathe. For one terrifying moment, I heard the faraway sound of a woman screaming in torment.
Clover struggled to escape whoever had pinned her arms behind her. She yelled, “You have no right to—” Her voice was abruptly cut off as though someone had her around the throat. I wanted to help, but the icy cold that had settled in my chest moved up through my neck and into my skull. I’d had brain freeze before but this was much worse. I fell to my knees, cradling my head in my hands, moaning. What was happening to me? I couldn’t think straight, could hardly move. I huddled in a pathetic mound, willing the pain to go away.
“Tash!”
Clover was in trouble…I had to help her…somehow. With a huge effort I managed to raise my head. I saw her throw a punch then suddenly she was down on her knees, her back arched, head bent way back. Her bright blue eyes locked on mine. I heard her panted breaths, saw her struggling to defeat her opponent, but she couldn’t do it alone.
“Tash! Help me!”
I was on my knees, ice-cold, shivering. My head ached like a thousand knives were stabbing my skull. I could barely move, but somehow I had to help her. Slowly, terribly slowly, I forced myself to move, straightening my back, moving one leg into a half-kneeling position. Then, with a supreme effort, I pushed myself upward. Ignoring my pounding, throbbing head, I launched myself at Clover, twisting a little at the last moment, hoping I’d knock down her assailant. It was like hitting a wall of ice. I staggered backward, lost my footing on the edge of the porch, and tumbled down the steps onto the wet grass. Rain poured onto my face, making me cough and splutter. Groggy and disoriented, I rolled onto my hands and knees.
Clover called out to me again, but her voice sounded faint and very far away. I struggled to make out the words, but all I heard was a name. “Rosalind… ” Then suddenly my head cleared, just like that, and I was no longer in pain. I leaped to my feet. Scooping up the flashlight I’d dropped, I raked the beam over the place where I’d last seen her. All I saw was the little Roman temple looking dismal and forlorn in the sheeting rain. Clover was gone.


 ***


Dead Lady Vanishing is available now                    











Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 A-Z Author Name Reading Challenge

Love reading challenges?

Well we have one for you this year.




Place your reading against the First letter of either the DarkSider Author's First or Last Name and you can go into the running of winning a $25 Amazon gift card.


For details go to the Reading Challenge page.


~Happy DarkSider Reading~