Tag Archives: paranormal

An imaginative paranormal romp with a delightful vampire twist

May Your Heart Be Light: A Christmas Faerie Tale, by Sandy Lender. ArcheBooks Publishing. 225 pages. Paperback $7.95. Kindle e-book $5.95.

Suppose a 200 year old vampire needs to raise some funds. Might he turn his Colorado mansion, his Rose Chateau, into a hotel and go into business? Caleb Odan does just that, assisted by his driver, Roger, and his bartender, Niles. They create an extended vacation package that brings a couple of dozen people to enjoy about four weeks of Christmas season leisure. Most are looking for a quiet, relaxing time – even the four young women who are graduate school classmates finishing up business degrees.

Sandy Lender

Sandy Lender

Well, they are looking for fun, too. But not the excitement that comes from a nearby jailbreak with the prisoner on the loose.

Other vacationers include a young couple with two rambunctious young boys, an elderly couple, and an odd fellow named Graham Smith.

Caleb is an awkward host, just learning the ropes about interacting with his guests. He hasn’t had much social practice in the last 100 years or so. This 200 year old vampire, who has had to live an isolated life for the last century, just can’t keep up with the changing times. Roger, who has been in his service for twenty years, is his bridge to contemporary styles, values, and both material and popular culture. Caleb is a good student, but there’s just too much ground to cover.

At once macabre and humorous, “May Your Heart Be Light” gains some of its light touch from the banter between Roger and Caleb as Roger “translates” Caleb’s new experiences. To Caleb, a handsome fellow who dresses the brooding baron part, it’s the 21st century American humans who are the oddballs. But he needs to fit in with them as well as he can. It’s business.

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There’s something extra-special about one of these young women. Jenna DeVision is gorgeous, modest, and gets lost easily in Caleb’s cavernous home. She is especially attracted to Caleb’s library, a place jammed with the lore of the non-dead and swirling with threatening spirits.

Caleb is infatuated with her, but hesitant to hurt her. He keeps his vampirish desires under wraps as much as he can, but he does use his special powers to enter Jenna’s mind and plant visions that attract and confuse her. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 10, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 11 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – May Your Heart Be Light

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Hospice movement finds its champion in Shawn McKelvie

Bed 39, by Shawn Maureen McKelvie. CreateSpace. 220 pages. Trade paperback $15.00. Available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Mix features of paranormal fiction with medical history and you get “Bed 39,” where the spirits of the deceased hang out and the story of the hospice movement is revealed. It’s a strange combination, perhaps “unique” is a better descriptor. Somehow it works. At once romantic, upbeat, and weird, Ms. McKelvie’s novel has spiritual grace and a gritty cast of mostly believable characters.

McKelvie

McKelvie

The bed itself, housed when we first enter the author’s world in a decaying St. Louis hospital, is a kind of way-station for the terminally ill. It’s a place with special powers.

Our main narrating character is Tomas Kaminski, a young man whose boyhood in St. Louis (Dogtown neighborhood) is quickly sketched before we find out about the terminal cancer that brings him, as a young man, to Bed 39. He is its first inhabitant. It is a special bed donated by the hospice campaigner Dr. Cicely Saunders, a courageous British woman about whom readers learn much more.

Bed 39 has special properties. It’s a place where spirits hover and may be heard and seen by those recent Bed 39 residents transitioning to the hereafter. Tomas has such a visitor, the spirit of a man named David Tasma who tells him about Cicely Saunders, the woman whose outrage about the suffering and mistreatment of terminal patients led her to do something about it. The first thing she does is obtain the education and credentials she needs to energize the hospice movement.

While there is a good deal of solemnity and sadness in the narrative, there is also much joy and instances of deep, unconditional love.

The stories of those who have passed through the Bed 39 experience are often heart-warming stories of strong family bonds. Tomas’s Polish-Irish family history is delightfully presented, as is his late near-romance with a woman named Mia who becomes a nurse at the hospital. Their corporeal relationship is cut short by Tomas’ death, but their ethereal, eternal togetherness is assured.

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Weaving in and out of those tales is information about the development of the compassionate care concept and the hospice movement. Readers learn about the special people who were founders or major promotors of this movement. Ms. McKelvie’s authorial mission, in part, is to advocate support for further enhancement of hospice care, even to the point of creating hospices for pets. The author understands that caring for the terminally ill is a true specialty that calls for well-trained medical professionals who can help patients and their families cope with death’s inevitability and ease the journey.

My favorite character in the book is Nurse Libby, whose career of three decades gets detailed attention. Though there are some rough edges in her manner, she is still an exemplary figure whose dedication knows no bounds. She is a problem solver, an astute manager of her subordinates, and a woman whose sometimes brusque manner reveals a heart of gold. She leads by example. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the December 24, 2015 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – McKelvie 1  and here: Florida Weekly – McKelvie 2

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Uneasy spirits suffer and rage in complex psycho-thriller

Crazy Love You, by Lisa Unger. Touchstone. 352 pages. Hardcover $25.99. Ian Paine writes graphic novels about himself. His stand-in is named Fatboy, a name Ian had to own in the cruel public school days of his youth. Unattractive, friendless, and often repressing a desperate rage, both Ian and Fatboy relate in complex ways to a character named Priss. Ian’s relationship to Priss reveals the kinship of two terms: addiction and haunting. The Hollows, Ian’s upstate New York home town, is haunting central. Crazy-Love-You-Hardcover It is in The Hollows, as well, where Priss is most alive. I say “most alive” because her quasi-reality is one of the book’s puzzles and attractions. When Ian was a child, his only friend was Priss. He was bullied or ignored by everyone else. But she wasn’t a schoolmate. She did not attend school. No one witnessed them together. Was she really there, or only in Ian’s head? Was Priss, is Priss, the imaginary friend writ large? Since Ian is the first person narrator, credible within limits, Priss’s reality for him becomes – much of the time – her reality for the reader. However, those in Ian’s world who deny her reality are credible as well. The Priss in Ian’s Fatboy books is a seductive femme fatale. In his memory or present vision, she is not only his age – as if they had grown up together – but any one of the ages she might be – even the young girl he first met. Priss seems to be a time-traveling wraith, imprisoned by rage. Both Ian and Priss have suffered parallel family disasters in their lives, leading the reader to suspect that Priss is a projection. Like her Ian/Fatboy is never very distant from a rage that leaps out at times and controls his behavior. Though he has no memory of his destructive outbreaks, their consequences are unmistakable. Who controls whom?

Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger

Ian, now a success, no longer ugly and overweight, manages his anxieties with drugs. He uses them to smooth things out. At times, he frees himself, but dependency returns. Narcotics allow him to do his creative work. Priss is another kind of addiction. Can addictions ever be good for you? Necessary? Or only life-threatening. Good news comes into Ian’s life in the person of beautiful, generous Megan. She makes her version of normality shine brightly. Feeling his unworthiness, Ian is amazed at how quickly their relationship progresses. He can’t help but reveal his many faults, but Megan finds ways of accepting his excuses – up to a point. Her parents can’t stand him, but there’s nothing new about that plot point. She’s an adult. She seems sure of herself. They grin falsely and bear it. Slowly and with many setbacks, with Priss interfering in the most threatening ways, Ian builds the better self that will be worthy of Megan. It frightens him, however, that she wishes for them to live in The Hollows. So much that Ian has striven to escape is rooted there: childhood trauma, rejection, and Priss. How can this work? I won’t tell you. . . . To read the full review, as it appears in the February 18, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 19 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte edtions, click here Florida Weekly – Crazy Love You 1 and here Florida Weekly – Crazy Love You 2.

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One to Go by Mike Pace

Oceanview Publishing. 365 pages. $26.95.

Posted on Washington Independent Review of Books, January 5, 2015

Are dreams or demons driving the protagonist of this thriller?

Deux ex machina is not only a literary device, but also a theme in this unusual genre-crossing novel. Billed as a paranormal thriller, One to Go raises suspense by manipulating readers into wondering if the supernatural occurrences and personages perceived by the central character are hallucinations, hoaxes, or true manifestations of the spirit world — both godly and ungodly.Tom Booker’s high-pressure life as an underling lawyer in a world-class DC law firm pits the demands of the firm against his responsibilities as a father. The pressure has already ruined his marriage, but he is trying to hold onto his relationship with his 7-year-old daughter. Maintaining two households and paying alimony have compromised Tom’s lifestyle, and he often has to make excuses when his promises to young Janie are sacrificed to the demands of his superiors at the firm. To deal with these pressures, Tom has been relying on liquor way too much.As the story begins, Tom is supposed to bring his daughter and her friends to a field trip. Delayed by running into the head of the law firm on his way to the office garage, he is fearful about how angry his ex-wife, Gayle, will be if he once again doesn’t come through.Traffic conspires against him, too, and Tom is surprised to see the girls in his sister-in-law’s minivan. Wondering about a change in plan, Tom is forced into an accident. He awakens after a blackout to see the minivan teetering on the edge of the road and about to fall into the river. Janie’s face is pressed against the window. . .  .

To read the entire, juicy review, click here:  One to Go | Washington Independent Review of Books

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A grand passion that transcends time, but is rooted in place

The Widow’s Walk, by Robert Barclay. William Morrow. 320 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.

Since retiring from a career in business and industry-related consulting, the man with the pen name Robert Barclay has developed a remarkable second career as a romance novelist. The latest title from this Coral Springs resident follows the successes of If Wishes Were Horses and More Than Words Can Say. Ante-Bellum culture, architecture, time travel, and other paranormal occurrences combine to make “The Widow’s Walk” intriguing and heartwarming.  WidowsWalkPB

When young Massachusetts architect Garrett Richmond decides to purchase and restore the 1830ish home called Seaside, he knows that the task will be enormous, given the sorry condition of the house due to neglect and vandalism. However, it has been a dream of Garrett’s to meet such a challenge and reside in such a splendid Ante-Bellum home. In spite of the contrary advice of family and friends, he embarks on the journey.

What he discovers is that Seaside is haunted – but only for him. That is, the cry of a woman’s voice, unheard by others, reveals the suffering of its 150-year resident, a beautiful young widow named Constance Elizabeth Canfield. Like a ghost, she is caught between two worlds: the world of 1840 New Bedford, and the ongoing present. She has witnessed all the tenants since her husband Adam’s ill-fated voyage on his whaling ship, but she has had no presence to them, as she does to Garrett. She has lived a solitary half-life for seventeen decades. For Garrett, at first skeptical of a hoax of some kind, she proves to be very real – and overwhelmingly attractive.

Slowly, hesitantly, their passion grows and with it their sense of a shared destiny. Whenever they touch, it’s as if a cosmic energy bolt flows through them. They struggle to find out how to understand their unfathomable relationship, eventually turning to a woman learned in the ways of psychic and otherworldly phenomenon, Dr. Brooke Wentworth. She assures them that all of their difficulties have been a test of love and that there is an action they can take, though great risk is involved, that can possibly free Constance. However, there is a chance that Garrett will forfeit his freedom, if not his life, and end up in Constance’s lonely, shadowy netherworld situation.

 

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Mr. Barclay ties present to past and both to a malleable sense of identity and corporality by creating scenes in which Constance briefly returns to the life that was severed so many decades ago. What she encounters “back then” gives clues to the future, but she returns disturbed and frightened. This “flashback” experiences happens several times. Matters become even more complicated when Garrett is also taken back to that time of Adam’s final voyage. Of course, for Garrett it is not really undergoing a flashback as he is not returning to 1840s New Bedford – or is he?

To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 5, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the June 11 Fort Myers edition, and the June 12 Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions,click here Florida Weekly – Barclay 1 and here Florida Weekly – Barclay 2

 

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Susan Hubbard’s risks of the imagination

Susan Hubbard’s risks of the imagination: bloody good stuff

by Philip K. Jason              Special to Florida Weekly

Susan Hubbard, “The Season of Risks.” Simon & Schuster. 320 pages. $14.00

After reading Susan Hubbard’s “The Season of Risks,” the third installment of her acclaimed Ethical Vampire series, I can understand the special appeal of the vampire craze to young adults. Who feels more like an outsider than a thoughtful teenager? Who feels more unsettled than someone going through a sequence of identity adjustments? 

What better vehicle for probing these problems of “otherness” than that of the vampire? A changeling by definition, the vampire is in touch with the human sphere, yet divorced from it. A vampire most often must hide his or her true self. As Hubbard explores the nature of her protagonist, Ariella Montero, the issues of identity and expectation are further complicated by the fact that Ariella is a special kind of tweener: not only half child and half adult, but also half human and half vampire. 

Hubbard’s premise involves an underground vampire civilization with competing sects holding conflicting notions about their proper relationship with humankind. Yes, they live among us; but they live more fully among themselves. On one side of the value spectrum are vampires who secretly farm humans for the blood nourishment that the vampires need and feel entitled to. On the other side are those seeking to live openly and in a nonthreatening way within human society, perhaps building an inclusive society. A third sect is positioned somewhere in between. 

Vampire scientists have developed dietary substitutes for human blood; certain bars and restaurants, truly vampire haunts, serve Picardo and other specialized beverages. However, the desire for the defining act of vampirism may not be exclusively for nourishment but rather for energy of a different order.

Vampires dominate entire businesses. In Ms. Hubbard’s novel, the world of online social networking is presented as a major vampiric enterprise. What a fascinating metaphor!

Essentially, “The Season of Risks” involves the trials of growing up than any young woman faces, but with the added dimension of vampire (or half-vampire) capabilities: reading thoughts, becoming invisible, and interacting with ghosts – to name a few. The fact that Ariella, as a half-vampire, can see only vague reflections of herself underscores the issues of identity and self-knowledge that enrich the novel. 

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the October 20-26 issue of Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 21-27 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Susan Hubbard-pdf or Florida Weekly – Susan Hubbard

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Investigating Jackie Fullerton

Jackie Fullerton, who splits her time between Fort Myers and Westerville, Ohio, is an attorney and business woman who has launched an engaging mystery series featuring Anne Marshall, a young law student working as a court reporter. Circumstances lure Anne into detective work. Readers first met her in Fullerton’s 2009 novel Piercing the Veil. Anne is aided by the members of her law school study team, but some of the study partners, who also happen to be police officers, worry about her either getting into danger or interfering with their cases – or both. 

Her most able and dedicated partner turns out to the ghost of her father, the late James Marshall, who reveals himself only to Anne – suggesting the deep connection the two had when he was alive. This paranormal element gives Fullerton’s stories an unusual twist, and Fullerton exploits it for a kind of comic relief in the novel, often puncturing or punctuating the suspense.

The second novel in the series, Revenge Served Cold, finds Anne drawn to the aid of Kathy Spence, the wife of deceased law professor Elliott Spence from whom Anne had been taking a course. Those who have known the Spences, including Shirley (Anne’s courthouse supervisor) and the ghost-dad, are sure that Kathy could not possibly be guilty of the hit and run murder of her husband. She would seem to have no motive. However, that’s the way the evidence is pointing. At Shirley’s urging, Anne gets involved.

Readers learn that Professor Spence and his wife had each been visited, separately, by a former close friend from their college days. This man, Ross, was smitten by Kathy during college, and he became mightily disturbed when she fell in love with Elliott. We also discover that there is a woman in town who has longed to have Ross for herself, and thus has been extremely resentful of Kathy’s unintended hold over him.

Jackie Fullerton skillfully moves the reader back and forth through the thoughts of these and other characters, keeping the suspense taught as Anne and her father’s ghost put the pieces together. Every now and then, we catch a whiff of James Marshall’s pipe tobacco.

[Interview with Ms. Fullerton follows.]

To read the full article, as it appears in the July-August 2010 Fort Myers Magazine, click here: Ft.Myers magazine – Jackie Fullerton

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New Titles by Naples Authors

The following “roundup” was published in the Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2009 issue of the Naples Florida Weekly.

 Out of the Darkness, by Jaime Rush.  Avon Books.  $6.99.

Out of the Darkness is part two in Jaime Rush’s “Offspring” series, an ambitious sequence of linked paranormal romances. The characters, many introduced in A Perfect Darkness, have various supernatural abilities. One converses with the dead; another can image the future and release the vision in eerie paintings. One can set fires through psychic energy. They are particularly sensitive to one another because they are all part of an extended family: in part biological, in part the result of experiments that have produced or altered them.

Their common goal is to trace their origins, master their special gifts, and discover – perhaps to thwart – the ends for which they were engineered. A rogue government project has brought them into being. Like so many projects of super-patriots, the Offspring were designed to serve the national interest – but something has gone wrong.  They pose a threat to their would-be controllers, and The Offspring themselves have divided into adversarial groups. The controllers strive to exploit the supernatural abilities of The Offspring, conduct further experiments, and destroy those whom they cannot manage.

In Out of the Darkness, Ms. Rush introduces several new characters, while elaborating upon those already established. Rand Brandenburg and Zoe Stoker are forefront, their red-hot romance simmering. Zoe, who owns a tattoo parlor, is a Goth type who has yet to control her special power of telekinesis. Biker Rand is a loner who uses his future-view talent to gamble. The terms of their relationship and the ways in which they fit into the larger Offspring family hold our interest even while we follow their quest to understand their mysterious talents and origins and foil their enemies.

Out of the Darkness is high on action and thrills, featuring otherwise ordinary twenty-something individuals whose struggles to deal with their unusual psychic powers are presented in a convincing manner within a larger conspiracy plot that does not seem so far-fetched at all.

Kroopenpopper: An Everglades Adventure, by Virginia Saalman. Moson Publishing. $15.

Written to entertain children ages 4-8, Virginia Saalman’s book brings a Maryland family to a small Everglades town for summer vacation. The children, Mary and Tommy, are frightened by a large black bear. However, as can only happen in children’s stories, the bear befriends them and leads them on a journey through the swamp to satisfy Mary’s curiosity and find the home of the squirrels. Along the way, they meet several other Everglades denizens, and each decides to join in the quest. In this way, the children (and the readers) learn about the Everglades inhabitants: the deer, the beaver, the panther, the howler monkey (a zoo escapee), the snake, the barred owl, and others. Towards the end, they arrive at the squirrels’ home at the base of a tree, only to encounter a taste of danger.

 Fanciful additions to the expected characters include a giraffe (only because Mary wants to see one) and a night-flying woofing bird – or did they just imagine that scary creature?

The author, who also wrote the well-received Frog Poop and Other Stories, does a fine job of blending entertainment and instruction, these ends supported marvelously by the stunning illustrations supplied by Patti Tedesco Jones. Mrs. Jones, who is legally blind, runs the New Sight Greeting Card Company.

Naples Oldest Tradition: Swamp Buggy Days, by Lila Zuck. Collier County Historical Research Center. $24.95.

This dazzling presentation of Naples’ history is at once a must-have, lavishly illustrated coffee table book and a treasure trove of research. Lila Zuck has turned over every relevant document in local archives, public and private, to fashion a fact-packed narrative of community life.

Ms. Zuck traces, in meticulous detail, the origins and development of the yearly tradition, now sixty years old, by which the Naples community successfully branded itself for the purpose of attracting tourism, having fun, and fostering community solidarity and pride. In so doing, the author weaves together brief anecdotes involving colorful individuals who made important contributions to the town’s prosperity and culture. Through the lens of the Swamp Buggy competitions and parades, readers become more familiar with the doings of those families whose names are recorded on the community’s street signs and public spaces. They become familiar, as well, with the contributions of lesser-known individuals whose talents and efforts have helped fashion the unique blend of ingredients that is Naples.

Swamp Buggy Days is the lively story of how a dynamic, cohesive community invented and re-invented itself, winning a place on the national map of attractive destinations. It’s a book of record and a celebration. And it’s a bargain. See www.collierhistorical.org.

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Naples Novelist Gives Readers a Rush

On her new website, Jaime Rush offers readers her Naples post office box address. A series of photos marks her striking resemblance to Naples author Tina Wainscott. Indeed, the copyright page in the advance uncorrected proof for her book, A Perfect Darkness, reveals that Wainscott is the copyright holder. Often, publishers and agents recommend the nom de plume gambit when a writer veers off in a new direction. They fear confusing the existing fan base. My own guess is that the new series by “Jaime Rush” will draw readers who never heard of Tina Wainscott, and that Wainscott readers will have no trouble enjoying the Jaime Rush offerings.rushtitle

Tina Wainscott is a Naples girl. In her youth, the future novelist made up stories to tell her friends and relatives. She would also, with her friends, script and act out what she calls “mini-movies.” At nineteen, a couple of years out of Lely High School (class of 1983) and taking business courses at Edison Community College, Wainscott (her last name was Ritter until marriage) became more serious about a writing career. She took an adult education course in creative writing, and then she took it several more times. The course, led by Betzi Abram, got Wainscott more focused: she had to turn something in every week, and the criticism helped her develop the tough skin one needs as a writer. Her first novel, On the Way to Heaven, was published in 1995. She has been going nonstop ever since.  Several of her novels have Florida settings.

Wainscott/Rush crafted paranormal romances earlier in her career, while romantic thrillers have been more frequent in recent years. With the series launched by A Perfect Darkness, this prolific author for the first time envisions a multi-novel saga.

The term “paranormal” connects with “supernatural” – with an emphasis on unusual psychic powers. The characters in A Perfect Darkness have an arsenal of shared as well as unique abilities. One of them can see ten seconds into the future, another can converse with the dead, yet another can image the future and release the vision in eerie paintings. And one can set fires through psychic energy. The paranormal characters in this novel are particularly sensitive to one another and can communicate – and more – across time and space. This is because they are connected as the children of an extended family: in part biological, in part the collective result of experiments that have produced or altered them.

They are known as The Offspring, and their common goal is to trace their origins, master their special gifts, and discover – perhaps to defeat – the ends for which they were engineered.

We meet them as adults, some of whom have been long aware of their special gifts and others who are just discovering them. The novel’s central character, computer repair genius Amy Shane, is in danger, and what threatens her brings her into contact with some of her para-siblings. They mine their shared memories, putting some of the pieces together.

The reader discovers, along with the characters, that some kind of rogue government project has brought them into being. Like so many projects of super-patriots, The Offspring were designed to serve the national interest – but something has gone wrong.  They pose a threat to those who would be their controllers, and The Offspring themselves seem to have divided into potentially adversarial groups.  The controllers strive to exploit the supernatural abilities of The Offspring, conduct further experiments, and destroy those whom they cannot manage.

Sorting this all at will take Jaime Rush several novels, but she is off to a strong start, balancing revelations with new questions that keep readers guessing and turning  pages.  

The hook for romance readers is – believe it or not – paranormal sexual intimacy. A romance between Amy Shane and Lucas Vanderwyck – the artist and leader of the Offspring – develops in their interactive dreams, and in these shared dreams they know sensual rapture and emotional bliss. The lurking question: will it be this good when it’s not a dream? An intriguing question that interacts with many other questions in the novel.

Jaime Rush has set A Perfect Darkness in Annapolis, Maryland. This setting, a relatively small town not far from Washington, DC, seems a good choice for evoking the corridors of power without getting bogged down in iconic urban landscapes. While more could be done with the setting (state capital, sailing and seafood mecca, home of U. S. Naval Academy), the important aspects of setting and environment in this genre are the extensions of the what-if premise. And on these Rush is masterful, as she is in developing a cast of intriguing characters defined through vivid dialogue and action.

Aside from Amy Shane, whose talents include sensing and interpreting the emotional “glows” that emanate from people, the author provides readers with Eric and Petra Aruda – strikingly attractive twin Offspring whose psychic powers complicate their all too normal jealousies and frustrations. There is the mysterious Rand, whom the team must attempt to rescue late in the novel. And there is a host of villains, most notably Gerald Darkwell, over whom The Offspring must prevail. There is also an old friend of Amy’s father, a man from whom she seeks protection and guidance.  But “Uncle” Cyrus seems to have compromised loyalties and uncertain motives. Which side is he on? Riddle follows riddle.  tina-wainscott

Jaime Rush sums up the appeal of the series as “X-Files meets Friends.” She’s on target here, and it’s a potent combination. A Perfect Darkness is due from Avon Books in late January.

BEFORE JAIME’S BIRTH, Tina Wainscott was doing just fine. You can find several Book Beat Columns about Tina, and also, more recently, a brief review on another title by Jamie Rush. Run the names in the web site search box, right sidebar.

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BOOK BEAT 6 – Tina Wainscott

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   August 16-22, 2006

 by Philip K. Jason

 Tina Wainscott is a Naples girl. As a child, the future novelist made up stories to tell her friends and relatives. She would also, with her friends, script and act out what she calls “mini-movies.” At nineteen, a couple of years out of Lely High School (class of 1983) and taking business courses at Edison Community College, Wainscott (her last name was Ritter until marriage) became more serious about a writing career. She took an adult education course in creative writing, and then she took it several more times. The course, led by Betzi Abram, got Wainscott more focused: she had to turn something in every week, and the criticism helped her develop the tough skin one needs as a writer.

Short stories came first, then the novels. Her third attempt won a prize in a Romance Writers of America competition, and this distinction helped her find an agent in 1993. The manuscript was sold in 1994 and published the next year. The success of On the Way to Heaven led to a demand for a sequel, which Wainscott had already finished, so Shades of Heaven appeared only six months later. Paranormal romance was Wainscott’s first genre specialty, but she has branched out into wider realms, capturing wider audiences with suspense novels, though the romance element is pretty much a constant. 

 Wainscott’s seventeenth title, Until the Day You Die, will be released in July of 2007. Wainscott describes it this way: “It is about is about a woman who lies to put away the man who assaulted her sister. When he’s convicted, the danger really begins.” Her last novel, In Too Deep came out in October of 2005, so this is probably the longest that readers have had to wait for a new Wainscott release. It’s not that her disciplined writing schedule changed, but rather that the necessary give and take among author, agent, and editor took a bit longer than usual to reach a happy conclusion. Negotiations were complicated because the author decided to try something different – always a risk when readers are enjoying what you are already doing. After Until the Day You Die, the wait for her next title will be a scant six months.

Both of the forthcoming novels are set in New England, though Naples readers interested in introducing themselves to Wainscott’s work may get special pleasure out of the ones with Florida settings. Back in Baby’s Arms features a small Florida Gulf Coast town; A Trick of the Light takes advantage of her life-long residence in Naples; and I’ll Be Watching You fictionalizes Everglades City. This Naples treasure, Tina Wainscott, expects to set another novel in Naples in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, readers can enjoy In Too Deep (set in Miami Beach and environs). The protagonist is society writer Winslow Talbot, a woman who feels that her life is a sham. Her beautiful face is the creation of plastic surgeons after a car crash. Her wealth comes from a generous stepfather who’s funded a life she finds increasingly superficial. When Winslow learns of a hit-and-run boating accident that leaves a young Cuban girl disfigured, she becomes determined to make a difference by helping the child. Of course, this effort leads to trouble. Most of Wainscott’s books, like this one, have been published by St. Martin’s Press, the rest by Harlequin.

Readers can also enjoy Wainscott’s participation in the multi-author “serial novel” I’d Kill for That, recently available in paperback, in which each contributing author wrote a chapter and then passed the manuscript on to the next author, who added her own twists and turns. Marcia Talley conceived of the idea and set forth the basic storyline and characters.

 Characterization is the hard part of writing for Wainscott, the real work. The “what if” premise and the plot come to her rather easily. She says that discovering the “what if” is the most exciting part of the process. When the untarnished, uncritiqued inspiration hits this talented author, it literally gives her the chills. Months or years later, after the writing process is completed and the book is in print, it gives readers a jolt as well.

 In November of 2004, the Naples Press Club honored Tina Wainscott with a special dinner at which Councilman John Nocera presented her with the symbolic key to the city. She has for some time now had the key to her readers’ hearts.

 Keep track of Tina Wainscott at tinawainscott.com. And receive writing tips from her in February when she leads a workshop for the Naples Writers’ Conference at International College.

 Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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