Sunday, October 30, 2011

Writing For a Cure- Indie Chicks

Is Your Life Whispering to You?

By Cheryl Shireman

I believe life whispers to you and provides direction. I call that life force God. You can call it whatever you want, but there is no escaping it. If we are open, and brave enough to say yes, life will take us in directions we never expected, and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

Those whisperings often come in the form of a “crazy” idea or a nudge to move into a certain direction that seems odd or silly or daring. Then there is that moment when you think, Well, that’s weird. Where in the world did that come from?

And then there’s the second moment, when you have to make a choice. You can dismiss the crazy notion, and probably even come up with a dozen reasons why it’s a bad idea. You don’t have the time, the money, or the resources. Besides, who are you to do such a thing? What in the world were you thinking? So, you dismiss the idea. We always have that option - to say No.

But it comes back - that whisper. Sometimes again and again. But if we are practical, and safe, we can squash the notion until it is almost forgotten. Almost.
Such a notion came to me a couple of months ago. I began to think of an anthology composed of women writers. An anthology that would be published before the rapidly approaching holiday season. The title came to me almost immediately - Indie Chicks.

It was a crazy notion. I was working with an editor who was editing my first two novels, and was also in the middle of writing a third novel. Working on three books seemed to be a pretty full plate. Adding a fourth was insane.

But the crazy notion kept coming back to me. It simply refused to be dismissed. So I sent out a “feeler” email to another writer, Michelle Muto. She loved the idea. I sent out another email to my writing buddy, J. Carson Black. She loved the idea, too, but couldn’t make the time commitment. She had just signed with Thomas & Mercer and was knee deep in writing. I took it as a sign. I didn’t have the time for the project either. Perhaps after the first of the year, when final edits were done on my own novels. I dismissed it, at least for the present time. I’d think about it again in another couple of months, when the timing made more sense.

A week later I surrendered, started developing a marketing plan for Indie Chicks, and began sending out emails to various indie writers - some I knew, but most were strangers. I contacted a little over thirty women. Every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it.

One of the first writers I contacted was Heather Marie Adkins. Earlier this year, while I was browsing the internet, I came across an interview with Heather. The interviewer (oddly enough, Michelle Muto) asked Heather, When did you decide to become an indie author? Heather’s answer was: About a month ago. My dad had been trying to talk me into self-publishing for some time, but I was hesitant. One night, I sat down and ran a Google search. I discovered Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath, Victorine Lieski; but it was Cheryl Shireman that convinced me. This is the field to be in. I was shocked (Astonished! Flabbergasted!). I had no idea that I had ever inspired anyone! To be honest, it was a bit humbling. And,okay, yes - it made me cry. So, of course, I had to invite Heather to be a part of the anthology. Heather not only said yes, but she also volunteered to format the project - a task I was dreading.

As Heather and I exchanged emails, I told her about how I had been similarly inspired to become an indie writer by Karen McQuestion. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas of 2010. Honestly, the present angered me. I didn’t want a Kindle. I wanted nothing to do with reading a book on an electronic device! I love books; the feel of them, the smell of them. But, very quickly, I started filling up that Kindle with novels.

One day, while looking for a new book on Amazon, I came across a title by Karen McQuestion. I learned that McQuestion had published her novels through Amazon straight to Kindle. Immediately, I began doing research on her and how to publish through Kindle. I had just completed a novel and was ready to submit it through traditional routes. Within 48 hours of first reading about McQuestion, I submitted my novel, Life Is But A Dream: On The Lake. Twenty four hours later, it was published as an eBook on Amazon. Within another couple of weeks it was available as a paperback and through Nook. Did I jump into this venture fearlessly? No! I was scared to death, and I almost talked myself out of it. Almost. The novel went on to sell over 10,000 copies within the first seven months of release.

As I shared that story with Heather, another crazy notion whispered in my ear - Ask Karen McQuestion to write the foreword for Indie Chicks. Of course, I dismissed it. We had exchanged a couple of tweets on Twitter, but other than that, I had never corresponded with McQuestion. It was nonsense to think she would write the foreword. I was embarrassed to even ask her. Surely, she would think I was some sort of nut. But, the idea kept whispering to me and, with great trepidation, I emailed her. She said yes! Kindly, enthusiastically, and whole-heartedly, she said yes. Karen McQuestion had inspired me to try indie publishing. I had inspired Heather Adkins. And now the three of us were participating in Indie Chicks, that crazy whisper I had been unable to dismiss.

The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This was to be a book full of personal stories from women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted the proceeds of this charity to go to some sort of charity that would benefit other women. While we were in the process of compiling the anthology, the mother of one of the women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost immediately upon learning that, Michelle Muto sent me an email. Hey, in light of *****’s mother having an aggressive form of breast cancer, can I nominate The Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer? I mean, one of our own is affected here, and other than heart disease (which took my own mother’s life), I can’t think of anything more worthy than to honor our sister in words and what she’s going through. A daughter’s love knows no bounds for her mother. Trust me. I know it’s a charity that already gets attention on its own. But, that’s not the point, is it? The point is there are 25 ‘sisters’ sticking together and supporting each other for this anthology. I say we put the money where the heart is. We had our inspiration. All proceeds would go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.
The stories started coming in. Some were light hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring - stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.

Fast forward to just a few days before publication. Heather was almost done with the enormous task of formatting a book with twenty-five authors. We were very close to publishing and were on the homestretch. That’s when I received an email. An unlikely email from someone I didn’t really know. Beth Elisa Harris and I were involved in another indie project and Beth sent an email to all of the authors in that project, including me. She attached a journal to that email. For whatever reason, Beth had been inspired to share a journal she wrote a few years ago. She cautioned us to keep her confidence and not share the journal with anyone else. I tend toward privacy and don't tend to trust easily. This is a HUGE step for me. I've only read it once since I wrote it. Intrigued, I opened the journal and began reading. It dealt with her diagnosis, a few years back, with breast cancer! Before I was even one third of the way through the journal, I felt I should ask Beth to include this journal in the Indie Chicks anthology. It was a crazy notion, especially when considering her words about privacy and trust. We didn’t even know each other, how could I ask her to go public with something so personal? I tried to dismiss the notion (are you noticing a pattern here?), but could not. I wrote the email, took a deep breath, and hit send.

She answered immediately. Yes. Most definitely, yes.

Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories, with foreword by Karen McQuestion and afterword by Beth Elise Harris, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book includes personal stories from each of the women, as well as excerpts from our novels. And it began as a whisper. A whisper I did my best to ignore.

What whisper are you ignoring? What crazy notion haunts you? What dream merely awaits your response? I urge you, say Yes. Live the life you were meant to live. Say yes today.

Stories included in Indie Chicks:
Foreword by Karen McQuestion
Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
Never Too Late by Linda Welch
Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Battten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury
A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine DeMaio-Rice
From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
Have You Ever Lost a Hat? by Barbara Silkstone
French Fancies! by Mel Comley
Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey
Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith
Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris

Indie Chicks is available for your Kindle on Amazon and your Nook on Barnes and Noble. You may also read it on your computer or most mobile devices by downloading a free reader from those sites.

Stop by our Facebook page -

Follow our Indie Chicks hash tag on Twitter! #IndieChicksAnthology

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#samplesunday Coming in 2012 - Bet you can't....FIND ME.

A Psychic Thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages. This isn't the official cover, but one I've played with until the official cover can be designed.


Leaning against the cold steel door, she closed her eyes in prayer. "Father, why have you forsaken me? What sins have I committed that were so bad that you would punish me in this way?"

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.

"Fiank-o," she screamed opening her eyes and spreading her hands in front of her. Blood rimmed the manicured nails.

Her gaze fell to the blood soaked blouse sticking to her skin. So much blood from such a tiny body. Her clothing was soaked in it.

Ripping at her blouse she mewed like a wounded animal. "Then take my eyes so I no longer have to see the blood of my angel on my hands. Take my ears so I no longer have to hear the shrieks from below, the clanging of the chains."

Only silence met her cry. God was no longer listening. Sinking to her knees she ripped at her hair, bordering on madness. How could they do this to her? Had she not served them well for more than ten years?

"You know what you must do, Aggie. I have seen the feux-folet. She is the child of Diable and she has cursed you."

For a moment rage blocked the pain squeezing at her heart. "You!" She screamed, her eyes filled with hatred, fists clenched at her side. "You brought this upon us. You with your superstitions and your curses."

"Mom chere ti chou, you know I speak the truth. I was here when she was born without life. Her body blue, her soul already beyond this world. Five years have come and gone. As she grows so does the evil. They warned you this day would come."

The old woman's words washed over her like a river of ice, extinguishing the fire of her rage, leaving only a cold still emptiness. "I begged them, Mother. Begged for her life as her blood seeped slowly through my fingers. I BEGGED THEM!" She screamed.

Her scream tapered to a whimper, her voice a mere whisper. "She is only five. I have lost one already. Must I lose them both?"

The old woman knelt beside her. Taking her right hand she prized open the fingers and closed them around the cold steel of the knife.

"You can't cure a mad dog, Aggie. You can only put it down."

The silence in the room was broken only by her whimpers. The old woman had left as silently as she'd come. The knife lay heavy in her hand, like the task before her lay heavy on her heart.

Rising she opened the door to the basement, ignoring the shrieks and clanging of the chains. Her feet descended the steps slowly, the old woman's words echoing over and over inside her head. "You can't cure a mad dog, Aggie. You can only put it down."

I hope you enjoyed this prelude of things to come, and I hope you'll check out The Jacody Ives Mysteries while you're waiting. Tentative release date for Find Me is February 2012.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Excerpt - Sacred Secrets

Charity woke with another splitting headache. She struggled to sit up, her huge frame cramped in the tight space. Memory returning. He’d come back, made her lie down in the back of the jeep. Then he’d drove for what seemed like days. Made her get out, walk down steps. That was the last thing she remembered until now.

It was dark as a cave and smelled of mildew. Charity felt around in the dark, looking for something, anything to tell her where she was. Her fingers closed around what felt like a candle. Pulling it close she continued to feel blindly. Where there was a candle surely there had to be matches. God just wouldn’t be that cruel. Her fingers closed around the box. She shook it gently. One rattle. Okay, so she had one chance of getting light into this place. Did she really want to do that?

Charity chided herself for her cowardliness. What would Ms. Laveau think if she saw her, sitting here on the cold concrete shivering like a baby.
Opening the matchbox, she took out the single match, set the candle between her legs and steadied herself. Holding her breath Chastity issued a silent prayer before running the match along the side of the box. It sputtered, flickered--caught fire.
Charity swallowed the urge to laugh hysterically, the effort of holding her breath making her somewhat giddy. She held the candle to the flame, her hand trembling so badly she was afraid for a moment she’d drop them both. The candle caught, its flame casting eerie shadows around the small room.

Charity looked around her, her heart fluttering as reality closed in. She was in an old farm cellar. From the looks of it no one had been here for years. Tears formed, she bit her lip, steadied the candle. Her whispered words stirring fear into full blown terror. “Yous’ in trouble now, sugah. Yous’ done been buried alive.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Excerpt - The Gifts - never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee

“Fire’s out, Sheriff. We opened the windows, but the smell is still pretty bad.”

Sarah nodded, her eyes misting. “Thanks, Billy.” Swallowing hard, she tried to stop the gagging reflex that hit her the second she entered The Lodge. There was nothing in the world worse than the smell of burned flesh. Tommy and three of the volunteer fire fighters were still outside vomiting, and Joshua looked slightly green, although he was holding up better than most. Dammit! They weren’t prepared for this. She wasn’t prepared for this.

“Are you okay, Doc?” Sarah noted the grayness of the doctor’s face, the blueness around his mouth as he slipped on his mask and nodded.

Sarah allowed her gaze to drift around the room, looking for something, anything to look at besides the badly charred body of what she knew must be Marisa Hutchins. They had caught the fire in time to save most of the room, but the body was burned beyond recognition. She swallowed hard again, concentrating on breathing through her mouth. She had to focus on her job, not her feelings. Her gaze fell on the small pink card on the dresser. Picking it up, she shivered as emotions ran up her arm, making her skin crawl, chilling her to the bone. Evil had its own special feel, and this was evil. A gift from me. You’re next.

“Anything on McAllister’s whereabouts?”

Sarah felt Joshua’s keen gaze on her face. She would have to look at him eventually. Struggling to control the overwhelming fear that threatened to pull her into the darkness, Sarah placed the card inside a plastic package and handed it to Joshua. She wanted a hot shower.

“He told me he was going to Richmond, but I didn’t ask where. Said he’d be back tomorrow.”

“I’m finished.” Doc Hawthorne rose, his shoulders drooping more than usual. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. He’d delivered these children, watched them grow up. He shouldn’t have to sign their death certificates. “Not much more I can do here. I’d say it’s Marisa Hutchins. You can wait for the autopsy to make it official.”

Sarah grimaced. She didn’t need an autopsy.

“The Edgewood forensic team is on their way. Said they’d be here within the hour,” Joshua stated.

“Thanks, Joshua.” Sarah had hated calling in outsiders, but they just didn’t have the equipment, or the expertise, to handle this type of situation. Nothing like this had ever happened in Glade Springs. Gavin McAllister had a lot to answer for.

“What do you make of the card?”

Joshua was turning the package over in his hands. Sarah glanced at it, a cold chill running down her spine. . . . never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

“You’re next.” Joshua read the card out loud and glanced at Sarah. “Who do you think he means?”

“Not a clue,” Sarah lied. “We’ll run it through the system, see if anything like this has happened anywhere else.”

“Good idea.” Joshua hesitated, “Sarah, I think this card is for you.”

Sarah didn’t bother answering. She’d known the second she touched the card it was for her. You know, echoed in her mind.

“Joshua, stay here, lock it down and wait for Edgewood. Go ahead and do the photographs and sketches of the scene. I have to go tell the Hutchins.” Sarah knew her voice was quivering. She cursed silently at life’s cruel joke of giving her the ability to feel what others felt. She was having enough trouble controlling the pain and fear she’d picked up in this room. She didn’t know how she was going to handle the parents’ emotions.

“Sarah, why don’t you stay? I’ll go.”

Sarah met the concerned green eyes, not trying to disguise the pain in her own. “It comes with the territory, Joshua. It’s my job.”

“What do I do if McAllister shows up?”

Sarah considered her answer carefully. She knew Gavin McAllister hadn’t killed Marisa. The evil she’d felt in that room wasn’t attached to him. He could, of course, sue the city, but at the moment she didn’t give a damn. It wouldn’t hurt him to cool his heels for a couple of hours. And, dammit, he was partially responsible. If he hadn’t come here none of this would have happened. At least in jail he’d be safe and one less thing for her to worry about.

“Book him.”

Joshua nodded. Sarah was in charge. “The Hutchins are pretty religious people. Why don’t you call the new minister, have him meet you out there?”

“Bless you, Joshua. You always seem to know the right thing to do.”

“Comes with the territory, remember? It’s my job.”

Sarah exited The Lodge, her thoughts serious. Joshua would make a good sheriff. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about that when she left. She turned her thoughts to the new minister. She hadn’t had an opportunity to meet him or his wife. What was his name? Cooper. Picking up the cell phone, she automatically dialed the number and hoped it hadn’t been changed. How was she supposed to address him? Was it Reverend, Father, Pastor?


“Mrs. Cooper?”


“This is Sheriff Burns. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to call on you and welcome you to Glade Springs, but I wonder if I could speak with your husband, please?”

“He’s asleep, Ms. Burns.”

Sarah frowned. No Sheriff Burns, and the Ms. Had been spoken with disapproval. It was apparent Mrs. Cooper didn’t believe in women sheriffs. She probably didn’t believe women should work at all.

“Could you wake him, please? It’s an emergency.”

“Oh, no, I could never do that. Never.” The voice had changed, a slight tremor just beneath the words.

Good Lord, she’s afraid of him, Sarah thought. What kind of minister instilled fear in his wife?

“Mrs. Cooper, I’m sorry, I’m a little upset, and I’m afraid I haven’t made myself clear. I know it’s late, but we’ve had a,” Sarah paused. “We’ve had a death in the community. The family is going to need him. Please put your husband on the phone.”

“I’ll have him call you in the morning.”

“Mrs. Cooper . . .”

The phone went dead. And people wondered why Sarah didn’t go to church. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in God; she just didn’t believe in organized religion. As usual, she was on her own.

A half hour later Sarah stood outside, breathing deeply in an attempt to control the tears streaming down her face as she waited for Doc Hawthorne. Thank God he’d been here. She should have known he would feel an obligation to do just that. He’d been there for thirteen years through every broken bone, every cough or late night fever. He wouldn’t desert them now.

Sarah watched his approach, realizing for the first time just how old he was getting. She’d ignored the Mayor’s ravings at the council meetings that they needed to start looking for a younger doctor, someone more up to date. How much longer could he last? And getting a doctor to come to a small town like Glade Springs wouldn’t be easy. Of course, there was always Edgewood. It was only a two-hour drive, but what about emergencies? The next time the mayor brought up the subject, Sarah would be more open-minded. Not a replacement, because no one could ever replace Doc Hawthorne. Maybe a partner.

“I gave Irene a sedative. She’ll sleep until morning.” His eyes never left Sarah’s face, the question left unspoken between them.

“Dammit, Jim, I can’t stop him if he wants to see her.”

Doc nodded. Edsel Hutchins wanted to see his daughter. “Call me when he comes in. I’ll be there.”

Sarah nodded, not trusting herself to speak. He would be there, sedative in hand. They both knew sedatives weren’t going to help Edsel Hutchins when he saw his daughter’s body. It was almost two a.m. and Sarah felt a desperate need to hold Nikki. To know she was safe. That, like sleep, was a luxury she didn’t have. It was going to be a long night.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

#samplesunday Soul Retrieval

Sometimes I enjoy looking back at things I wrote years ago just for fun.  This one still makes me chuckle just a little.  Hope you enjoy a bit of Sunday humor.

Soul Retrieval

Prophetic. The things we say. The things we do. They all move us in a general direction, pushing us toward our final destination.

At ten a.m. this morning, Hon. Jeremiah Sed Mason had opened his mouth and sealed his fate.

Now here I was. Standing on a street corner. Waiting for fate to intervene. Destiny to arrive.

The cigarette tasted kind of strange. Not at all like I'd remembered them. The body was nice though. A real traffic stopper. Not like the last one. Seniority had its benefits.

"Hey, sweetheart, I've got a hundred bucks, if you know what I mean."

Tossing the cigarette I turned toward the voice. I knew exactly what he meant. I even knew who he was. George Chatman. By day a floundering accountant. Tonight a pawn in destiny's plans. He'd been standing across the street for over an hour trying to get up the courage to make this move. Problem was poor Gina had officially retired about ten minutes ago. Letting my gaze move slowly down the oversized, unattractive, virtually repulsive frame, I smiled slowly, coming back to the nondescript beady eyes. "Sorry, I'm busy."

Gina had a nice voice. Deep and rather sultry. She probably had a lot of repeat clientele. Undoubtedly she would be missed.

"Oh, I see, my money's not good enough for you."

Lighting another cigarette I took a deep drag, blowing the smoke in his direction. The taste might have changed, but the world hadn't. Still full of pompous jerks who believed that money was God and bought all things. I'd like to believe that even Gina would have turned this one down.

"That's right, sweetheart, your money isn't good enough, and neither are you."
I could feel the rage growing inside him. One too many rejections in a world full of rejections. And this time by a woman he considered low on the scale of humanity. Someone so beneath him that the mere possibility of rejection had never entered his mind. The beady eyes twitched, hands clenching and unclenching just as the red convertible pulled up to the corner and parked. Right on time.

"Hey gorgeous, you ready?"

Without even a glance at my would-be suitor I let those long, luscious legs carry me towards the car. Throwing in a little extra swing of the hips. After all, Gina had the package. I might as well work it.

I wasn't surprised when the bullets struck, but Jeremiah was. I liked the look of shock and pain that crossed his face right before his soul exited his body. Pain was something he would need to get used to.

Things happened rather fast. People screaming, rushing for safety. The police officer yelling at George to drop his gun. Which of course he did. Putz.
Pushing out of Gina's lifeless body I waltzed over to Jeremiah. Another benefit of seniority. I got to keep Gina's image until the next time.

"Let's go, Jeremiah," I stated in that deep sultry voice taking him by the arm.

"Where are we going? What happened? Are we dead?"

Always the same. "Don't you remember what you said this morning, Jeremiah?"

"What I said this morning?"

Some jerks were worse than others. "Yes, Jeremiah, this morning. When you signed those documents to let an innocent man take the fall for your good friend Judge Lehman. Don't you remember how the two of you laughed, and Judge Lehman asked you where you were going?"

I loved the look on his face as realization slowly dawned. I smiled. Gina's warm, sexy smile.

"You said, 'To hell if I don't change my ways'. "

Love mysteries with great plots and subplots that keep you guessing all the way to the end? Take a moment and download a sample of The Jacody Ives Mysteries or Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense. Not your cozy mysteries. Contains strong adult language and some graphic scenes, so be sure to check out the sample first.