Monday, April 27, 2020

Highlights & Book Tours


1.      The year I played Mary in the Christmas Play. I've never felt so humbled or honored.
2.      The day I stepped off a plane in Fairbanks, Alaska. I'd finally found a home.
3.       My first apartment and the purchase of my first car. After I found my first job in Alaska as a payroll clerk. I bought a used car and found a great apartment. Finally, total independence. It was the best of times!
4.       My first view of the aurora borealis. I would lie on my bed and watch them dance across the sky. So beautiful!
5.       Falling in love for the first time. It was everything every romance book ever said it would be. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. Unrequited is not one of my favorite words
6.       The birth of my two sons. The very best of my creative abilities! Handsome, smart, and independent! I'm very proud of them.

7        Graduating with High Honors and achieving my master's degree. Another goal marked done, but I still want my Ph.D.! I hoped my writing would fund that, but...
8.       The publication of my first novel. One of those naïve, impulsive, and totally in the dark experiences. Now I know everything I did wrong, but that day, that moment will always be special.
9.       Doing a Blog-Talk Radio Show. Getting out of my comfort zone to create the first book talk radio program. It was a blast, and I miss doing it.
10.     Buying a condo on the beach. I feel blessed to be able to isolate here.

Tell me a highlight or two of your life.

If you want to know more about Murder, Just Because just follow the links for reviews and guest posts.

Christine Rain's Review

Monday, April 20, 2020

Horror Writer Shannon Lawrence

Meet horror writer, Shannon Lawrence.

Here to discuss her writing projects 
and answer a few questions.

1. What was your hardest scene to write?

In Blue Sludge Blues, the hardest scene for me was a deeply personal one. In the story "What the Fire Left Behind," I wrote a scene where the main character is fleeing a fire that has overtaken her neighborhood. She's on the phone with her family when something horrific happens. The story was based upon my experience fleeing the Waldo Canyon Fire as it swept through the nearby neighborhoods, burning to the corner across the street from our neighborhood. I was separated from my husband and a friend who had seen the fire sweeping down the final hill from the window of her workplace and rushed to our house to help us. It was about an hour before I knew they were alive. Every time I tried to call, the overloaded phone lines would say, "All circuits busy." Not only was the scene (and the story) hard to write, but I had a panic attack while reading it to my critique group, which told me I was definitely not over the horror of that situation. But it was incredibly cleansing to write, to face those fears head-on. (BTW, the stormtrooper in that story was real.)

2. What makes you run screaming?

Snakes. Given, I don't literally run screaming. I actually find them beautiful and fascinating, and I would never hurt one unless my life depended on it (or someone else's). But I'm deeply phobic. I frequently have nightmares about snakes. In fact, about two weeks ago, I had a night terror that a snake was coiled up next to my pillow. I sat up and flung a hand at it, trying to sweep it off the bed. What I actually sent flying in the middle of the night was the controller to my heated blanket. It made quite a racket. My husband's used to my night terrors (I also suffer sleep paralysis), so he just pulled me in close and fell asleep again immediately.

3. You're about to be dropped in a remote spot for a three-week survival test. Where would you go? What three tools would you take?

I'd do best dropped in the forest and/or the mountains. I've got an uncanny sense of direction, and I love the woods. I'd take some manner of water purifying tablets, moisture-wicking clothing, and a first aid kit. 

4. What behind the scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?

Horror rarely scares me. But true crime, especially concerning stalking, can make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

5. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Oh boy, that's hard. There are so many places I'd love to disappear to for a writing retreat. But honestly? I'd choose the mountains right here in Colorado. A cabin. Limited technology. It would be amazing. Some day I may be able to make that a reality.

6. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I'd tell that insecure gal to keep writing and submitting, and not to give up for so long after her first few rejections. 

7. What does literary success look like to you?

It looks like people reading my work and enjoying it. Hopefully, because it scares them or touches them in some way.

8. Tell us about the book you're working on now.

I've got a couple projects going right now. I just released another collection of horror short stories after I answered the questions for this blog. Bruised Souls & Other Abominations was released on March 13th.

I'm also planning a holiday collection (horror) for release in late fall 2020, plus a nonfiction book on the business of short stories (the stuff I most wanted guidance on, but couldn't find). As far as long fiction, I'm back to working on a project I loved, but that became tricky: a horror-comedy involving squirrels.

            Read my REVIEW of Bruised Souls HERE!


A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: a creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.

Read my Review of Blue Sludge Blues HERE!

Meet Shannon:

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes in her dungeon when her minions will allow, often accompanied by her familiar, Cleo. She writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in several anthologies and magazines, and her horror short story collection, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations, is now available. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings.

Shanon's website and social media links:

Congratulations Shannon!

And thank you for all my recent nightmares!

So folks, do you have a horror story to tell or a question for Shannon?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

WEP - Antigue Vase - Best Intentions


Angela took the vase out of the package she’d just received in the post and cursed. “All I wanted was the necklace. Instead, all I get is a stupid vase!”

“Quit bellyaching. Nana didn’t have to leave you anything. All you did was clean her house. Velda was her daughter. Of course, Nana’s going to leave her jewelry to family.”

“I know, but Velda doesn’t deserve it. I did more for her mother than she ever did. I just don’t understand. Nana told me that one day I’d be rich. Then she’d wink. You just wait, she’d say. You just wait.” Angela sighed. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, maybe someday you will be rich. Nana was the poorest woman on the block. Despite all those rumors. All poor Velda got was her jewelry and a measly $5000, life insurance payment. From what I was told, she had to use that to cover the funeral costs.”

“Yeah, but that necklace has to be worth something.”

“I heard it’s cubic zirconia, worth maybe a couple hundred.”

Angela sighed. “Oh well at least I have something to remember Nana by.” She picked up the vase and examined it. “Nana doted over the silly thing, reminding me every day to dust it ever so carefully. She refused to put flowers in it.”

“What are you going to do with it?” Betty asked.

“Last month, I sent a letter to one of those antique houses in New York. I sent pictures of all the sides, including the bottom, and I was hoping they’d write back and tell me it’s worth a mint. But instead, I think they just had a good laugh. So, I’ll keep it here on the bookshelf with Nana’s picture."

Betty picked it up and shook it. "What’s inside? It sounds like there’s something in there.”

“Nana said it was a love letter from her husband. The one and the only letter he wrote to her before he was killed in the war. That’s why she wouldn’t allow water for flowers.”

“How sweet. You want to get some tweezers and see if we can’t fish it out?”

“No. I find it kind of romantic. I even shoved a picture of both Nana and Harry inside. Now they’ll always be together.”

Angela put the vase on the top shelf. “As ugly as it is, it still means something." She checked her hair in the mirror. "Damn, now I wish I hadn’t agreed to that double shift tonight.”

“Better get going. Maybe some guy will give you a million-dollar tip?” She laughed and swatted Angela's butt when she walked by. “Go get em, sis!”

A week later, Angela burst through the door of her room to find her sister poking something metal into the vase. “What in the world are you doing?”

Betty jumped and dropped the vase to the floor. It shattered, but amongst the debris were dozens of folded pieces of paper.

“No!” Angela screamed, falling to her knees.

“It’s okay, Angela. Look,” Betty said as she unfolded the bills. They’re hundreds. Must be $3,000 here. Can you believe it? $3,000! Good riddance old vase, you're rich!”

Angela sank deeper into herself. White as a sheet, she groaned. “How?”

“Sorry, sis. I just had to read Nana's letter. I had a dream about it last night. So I thought I’d fish it out. I didn’t mean to drop the damn thing. But sis, $3,000! You’d never have known it was there!”

Angela handed Betty the letter she’d been holding then put her head in her hands and started sobbing.

Betty took the letter and read it. “Dear Ms. Finney: Your lovely vase bears the mark of the Qianlong Emperor who ruled from 1736 to 1796. We’d have to see the vase in person to make sure it isn’t a replica, but the colors and the appearance have all of us excited."

Betty swallowed, "If you’re interested in placing it in an auction…” Betty’s voice trailed off as the tears began to fall, but she continued in a whisper, “And if it’s original, it could be worth millions.”

“Holy shit!” She threw her arms around her sister. “Forgive me…”


My inspiration for this story.

700 Words

Yolanda Renée © 2020


Read More Stories - Just Follow The Links

Monday, April 13, 2020

Top Ten Literary Detectives

My Top Ten Literary Detectives

When I was younger, I read daily. My mother hated to find me with my nose in a book. She’d stand right over me and yell, and I wouldn’t hear a thing. I was lost in the story -- a new world. Reading was my escape.

I credit my fourth-grade teacher with my love for books because she introduced me to the library and the gift of a library card. Before that, though, I’d read newspapers and magazines: anything and everything I came across. My older brother had a collection of science fiction paperbacks, and Ray Bradbury was a favorite. In other words, I read everything in sight. Even now, I consume words at an amazing speed.

Today, my ability to escape to other worlds, other times, and other lives is still a gift of peace.

My top ten literary detectives are listed below in no particular order: Seriously, how do you choose a favorite? 

Please note - I did choose some by their TV/Movie persona. It matched perfectly to the character I saw. Even though the book came first.

1.       Nancy Drew --- Created by Carolyn Keene

2.       Judy Bolton --- Created by Margaret Sutton

3.       Mike Hammer --- Created by Mickey Spillane

4.       Hercule Poirot --- Created by Agatha Christie

5.       Nick & Nora Charles --- Created by Dashiell Hammett

6.       Miss Marple --- Created by Agatha Christie

7.       Sherlock Holmes & Watson --- Created by -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

8.       C. Auguste Dupin --- Created by Edgar Allan Poe

9.       Eve Dallas --- Created by J D Robb

10.     V. I. Warshawski --- Created by Sarah Paretsky

Do you have a favorite?

The Murder, Just Because Tour continues:

Today I'll be: 

April 13        Christine Rains – Writer – Review & Excerpt
                     Alex J. Cavanaugh Guest Post -Top Ten Murder Movie List

And then:

April 15          Elizabeth Seckman, Author Guest Post - Heaven on Earth
April 17          Writer’s Gambit Q & A & Excerpt

April 20          Tara Tyler Talks – Interview
                      H.R. Sinclair – Guest Post - How to Write a Thriller 

April 24          Write with Fey – Guest Post - Evil Exists
April 27          Just Jemi – Q & A 
April 29          Thoughts in Progress – Review
May 1             Celticlady’s Reviews – Feature

Monday, April 6, 2020

Creating a Serial Killer

Creating a Serial Killer

Who is Stowy Jenkins?

If you didn't know his killing background, you'd meet a handsome, charismatic man. Born in West Virginia, he's a transplant to Alaska, but he hates cold weather. Stowy owns his own computer design company and is an avid hunter and taxidermist. He lives with his mother but has a private cabin in the woods. He loves his toys, vehicles, hunting paraphernalia, and, especially, his killing tools.

In The Snowman, Stowy is convinced his killing is art, but once caught, the world imprisons him instead of appreciating him or his art. In Murder, Just Because, it’s ten years later, and Stowy Jenkins has escaped prison. His resentment has built, and his brutality has escalated. Revenge is his goal.

But why does he kill? Where did this man and his motives come from?

Obviously, from my imagination, but he's not wholly unique. His body count may be astronomical, and it is, but here in America, we had Henry Lee Lucas, the most prolific serial killer of all time with at least 350 deaths attributed to him and the possibility that the number could be as high as 600.

Stowy's charismatic persona helped him lure most of his victims to their death. Just as the handsome killer Ted Bundy did before his death by electric chair. However, Stowy took after Gary Ridgway in that he preferred a willing sexual partner, the prostitute, a person ready to climb into his truck.

Stowy's admiration and desire for blood were influenced by The Vampire of Sacramento, Richard Trenton Chase. Richard used to drink the blood of his victims and blend their body parts with soft drinks to make his favorite “milkshake” and was a known necrophiliac.

However, I set Stowy's underlying motivation for his desire to kill, at the feet of his abusive mother. A lifetime of sexual abuse by his own loving mother warped his sense of self and love.

If you're looking to create a notorious serial killer, do your research and know your antagonist from birth. I've found that whatever you can imagine, someone else already has, and the worst part of that statement--they exist and are ten times worse than anything you envisioned.

Photo by Reza Hasannia on Unsplash

Murder, Just Because - Tour Schedule

April 1            Denise CoveyGuest Post - Writing Your Real Life Experiences Into Your Novel
                        Mythical BooksQ & A with the Author & Excerpt
                              Rockin’ Book Reviews Feature
April 2            ConstantineFeature
April 6            Mystery Writing is MurderGuest Post How I Wrote My Mystery
                               Spunk on A Stick Feature
April 7            Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and InterviewsQ & A
April 8            The Warrior MuseFeature
                        Random Thoughts –  Feature
April 10          I Think Therefore I Yam - Susan Flett Swiderski - Interview With A Monster
                        Ellen Jacobson AuthorQ & A 
April 13          Christine Rains – Writer Review & Excerpt
                              Alex J. Cavanaugh Guest Post -Top Ten Murder Movie List
April 15          Elizabeth Seckman, Author Guest Post - Heaven on Earth
April 17          Writer’s Gambit Q & A & Excerpt

April 20          Tara Tyler TalksInterview
                        H.R. SinclairGuest Post - How to Write a Thriller 

April 24          Write with FeyGuest Post - Evil Exists
April 27          Just JemiQ & A 
April 29          Thoughts in Progress Review
May 1             Celticlady’s ReviewsFeature