Release Event: Langston’s Ghost ~ Aftermath

Welcome to the release event for Langston’s Ghost: Aftermath by Juliette Harper. This is a short story of 25 pages that can be read in about 45 minutes. It is a companion story to the Lockwood Legacy books and the events in the plot are concurrent with those recounted in Langston’s Daughters. You can read either first as there’s no spoilers in this book. Langston’s Ghost: Aftermath is now available for .99 cents on Amazon.

*****About the Book *****

Langston Lockwood contemplates his suicide with great care, envisioning every possible outcome of his actions. He crafts a last will and testament designed to ensure that his iron-willed control over the lives of his daughters remains intact even from the grave. But he does not count on waking up in exactly the same spot where he died, or finding his own father waiting for him. In this first installment of The Lockwood Legacy Short Story series, Langston finds out the afterlife is not what he expected and that his own role in the events still unfolding on the Rocking L ranch is not over.



 *****About the Author *****

Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson.

As a writer, Juliette’s goal is to create strong female characters facing interesting, challenging, painful, and at times comical situations. Refusing to be bound by genre, her primary interest lies in telling good stories.

Five of Juliette’s series are currently available. The best-selling Lockwood Legacy, is a nine-book chronicle of the lives of three sisters who inherit a ranch in Central Texas following their father’s suicide. The first three novels appeared in early 2015: Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw, and Alice’s Portrait. The fourth, Mandy’s Father, in hot demand by readers, will be available in early July.
Descendants of the Rose is the first installment of the Selby Jensen Paranormal Mysteries. The second book, Lost in Room 636, will be available later this year. Selby’s business card reads “Private Investigator,” but to say the least, that downplays her real occupation where business as usual is anything but normal.
And don’t miss the hilariously funny “cozy” Study Club Mysteries, a light-hearted spin off of The Lockwood Legacy. Set in the 1960s, this series takes on the often absurd eccentricities of small town life with good-natured, droll humor. The first book, You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet, is already listed in the Amazon store with You Can’t Put a Corpse in a Parade coming soon.
Juliette’s latest creative efforts are in the short fiction arena. Her debut “Before” series is a collection of light, sweet romance stories that can be read in less than an hour. The first installment is Before Marriage with the second, Before the Affair, to be released shortly.
Fermata: The Winter is the first in a four-novella post-apocalyptic survival series. Five years after an unknown virus divided the world into the living and the dead, four survivors stumble into a winter sanctuary. Brought together by circumstance, but bound by the will to stay alive, a concert pianist and a girl from South Boston forge a friendship and a purpose to cope with their new reality.
Juliette is planning other short stories and novellas in the coming weeks and months. These pieces are available for Kindle only and will include companion shorts to her other series as well as stand-alone works.
Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan, worked as a journalist and university history instructor before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2002.

Review + Giveaway: You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet

Blog-Tour-You-Can-Get-Blood-out-of-Shag-Carpet

Welcome to my tour stop! I am happy to share an excerpt from the beginning of the book that kicks off the plot. I am also debuting a new structure to my reviews, so I’d love to hear what you think! To see what’s going on at the rest of the tour stops, visit the tour schedule.

ShagCarpetEbookCoverTitle: You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet
Author: Juliette Harper
Publisher: Skye House Publishing
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 147 pages
Series?: A Study Club Mystery #1
Genre: Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Wanda Jean Milton discovers her husband, local exterminator Hilton Milton, dead on her new shag carpet with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. Beside herself over how she’ll remove the stain, and grief-stricken over Hilton’s demise, Wanda Jean finds herself the prime suspect in the case. But she is also a member of “the” local Study Club, a bastion of independent Texas feminism 1960s style. Club President Clara Wyler has no intention of allowing a member to be a murder suspect during her administration. Aided by her younger sister and County Clerk, Mae Ella Gormley; Sugar Watson, the proprietress of Sugar’s Style and Spray; and Wilma Schneider, Army MASH veteran and local RN, the Club women set out to clear Wanda Jean’s name — never guessing the local dirt they’ll uncover in the process.

***** Excerpt *****

Sugar Watson took a long drag on her Camel and critically appraised the height of Clara Wyler’s black bouffant. “You want me to go a little higher, honey?” she asked, punctuating the question with a well-developed smoker’s cough. “If I rat it up real good, I can get you another 2 or 3 inches on top.”

Clara squinted at herself in the mirror. “I think I’m good, Sugar,” she said. “What with Wanda Jean finding Hilton dead in the living room, I don’t want to look insincere at Study Club.”

Sugar leaned in conspiratorially. “I know we don’t ever throw anybody out of the Study Club, but my Lord, what in the world are we gonna do if she really did kill him?”

Clara glanced around to confirm that all the other women in Sugar’s Style and Spray were safely tucked under the dryers. “Well, she called me herself to assure me that she didn’t do it,” Clara said. “She owned up to wanting to, but she didn’t do it.”

“Well, hell,” Sugar said, “we’ve all thought about killing our husbands. That’s just part of being married. But nobody’s ever walked in my house and found Slim laying there with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. What did Wanda Jean say about finding him?”

“She told me the first thing she thought about was how hard it was gonna be to get the blood out of that new shag carpet they put in last month,” Clara said. “You know they went with the deep pile.”

“I know,” Sugar said. “I looked at it too when T.J. put the ad in the paper, but my vacuum cleaner just won’t suck up dirt good enough for that. Is it a light carpet?”

“I didn’t think to ask her,” Clara said, unclipping the plastic cape around her neck and handing it to Sugar. “Anyway, she said she just stood there thinking about how you can’t get blood out of shag carpet. Then it dawned on her maybe she ought to check him for a pulse.”

“I hope it wasn’t a light carpet,” Sugar said, rearranging cans of Aqua Net on the counter. “Those boys from the ambulance service never think to wipe their feet before they go in to get a body. You should have seen the mess they made when Blake Trinkle died. They just ruined Maybelline’s carpet. She spent as much getting it cleaned as she did on the funeral.”

“That’s so inconsiderate,” Clara agreed. “People just don’t think. Now you’re not gonna be late this afternoon, are you?”

“Of course not,” Sugar said. “Flowers knows not to book me on the third Thursday at three. Study Club day is sacred.”

“Good, I have to go by the bakery and . . . ”

The look on Sugar’s face stopped Clara mid-sentence. “Good Lord, Sugar,” she said. “You look like you swallowed one of your Camels.”

“I think we’re gonna be one short for Club,” Sugar croaked. “Look.”

Clara glanced out the front window in time to see Sheriff Lester Harper helping a handcuffed Wanda Jean Milton out of the backseat of his car. “What is that man thinking!” she exclaimed. “Parading her in front of God and everybody on the courthouse square!”

*****Review *****

The Skinny

This book is a spin-off series of The Lockwood Legacy. It features who I called the “old ladies” in Alice’s Portrait. Even though The Lockwood Legacy was published first, this first installment in the Study Club actually happens at least four decades before the Lockwood girls return to their little Texas town.

The ladies – backbones of society, I suppose you could say – have formed a Study Club. It’s 1968. They really don’t study much except town events, as far as I could tell, but it sure does come in handy when one of their own is labeled a murderer.

These are some tough Texas gals, and they won’t stand for the arrest of Wanda Jean. Since the local law enforcement seems very lax in duties, the women take the investigation into their own hands and discover things about Hilton Milton’s life – and those he was involved with – that are getting really fishy.

Societal proprieties sometimes go by the wayside when you’re investigating a small town murder! More than one mystery is solved in this first installment of A Study Club Mystery series.

The Players

There was more than one women’s study club in town. But the Study Club gained its prominence based on the sheer reputation of the women who were its members and officers. 

The Study Club: There are other members, but these are the “driving force” to the selective group.
  • Clara Wyler – a rancher wife of 29; President of the Study Club; known to be strong-headed
  • Sugar Watson – owner of the local beauty salon, Sugar’s Style and Spray; in love with Camel cigarettes, Aqua Net and bouffants
  • Wilma Schneider – local town nurse; former MASH unit nurse in Korea; only single member of the Club
  • Mae Ella Gormley – Clara’s younger sister; County Clerk
Other Key Players:
  • Flowers Wilkes – Sugar’s mentor; does nails at the salon; unofficial member of the Club; reads people well
  • Wanda Jean Milton – wife of exterminator Hilton Milton; a housewife and Club member; prime suspect in her husband’s murder
  • Sheriff Lester Harper – leaves the vast majority of responsibilities to his deputy; can be found fishing every day of the week
  • Deputy Hank Howard – the sheriff’s protégé; head of the Hilton murder case; takes an incredible interest in his appearance
  • Maybelline Trinkle – sister of Wanda Jean; recently widowed

The book does not lack for humor. These women are hilarious and have no problem getting straight to the point. The relationships between the women are very tight knit and realistic. Each of the main women of the book, and even the secondary characters, are given a little spotlight at some point in the book in which backgrounds and particulars are given to readers.

“Okay, Ida Belle, how about you live it up and get a good red on your nails today?”

Ida Belle’s look of overt disapproval was answer enough. “Right,” Flowers said, “two coats of old lady pink coming up.”

My favorite character was Sugar. I feel like she gets the most face time in the book because so much of it is set in her salon. Sugar knows how to work people to the point of confessions with nowhere to escape. I mean, they’re stuck in a salon chair getting their hair ratted, with a haze of cigarette smoke hanging over them like a black cloud and a trigger-happy Sugar doling out Aqua Net like it’s ambrosia of the gods. Nobody wants to risk setting her hair aflame from Sugar’s dangling Camel cigarette!

First Impressions

At first I thought the book would be set following the events of The Lockwood Legacy series, and that the women would be a bunch of old biddy busybodies. Of course, they are the grapevine of the town, but not quite in the way I thought they’d be.

Second Thoughts

In a small Texas ranching community where the best price for an Angora goat at the auction ring constituted “big news,” the untimely demise of the local exterminator set tongues wagging. The event was compared to other historic tragedies and seemed to only pale in comparison to “when the Browning girl got killed in that wreck at Christmas time.”

My favorite scenes in the book where the ones when the women of the Club took it upon themselves to individually visit town citizens at the top of their suspect’s list. These women know how to use blackmail efficiently! There are so many town secrets that are revealed that these women keep quiet about. They conduct their business in style with a strong dose of Texan stubbornness. From reading The Lockwood Legacy books I already knew what was coming when Wilma had a private chit chat in the funeral home, but other suspects kept surprising the other Club officers when they did their individual investigations.

“Well, I will just be damned,” Sugar declared. “That man sure had a lot of secret friends.” 

“I assume you are speaking of my fellow horticulturist…”

Sugar sat back against the sofa cushions with a shocked expression. “I thought I knew everything that went on in this town,” she said, “and here I am find out there’s this whole…”

As you can tell, nothing is spared from discussion or dissection by the Club women, or in fact any of the characters. Despite being set in the late 1960s, where many issues were still taboo to discuss and were handled within the home, these things are not exempt to be brushed under the carpet. They are revealed within the context of the time period and West Texas location.

Clint never told Clara what to do and he was a good man, but what about women like Lura Belle Taylor? Why were people supposed to look the other way when a sorry son of a bitch was beating on his wife? Because you were supposed to tend to your own business? And she was getting what she deserved for marrying a piece of trash? The last line of thinking really set Clara off. No woman married a man thinking he was gonna hit her.

I think my absolute favorite scene was when Flowers and Wilma go sneaking around under a suspect’s window – knowing another of their suspects will show up and they hope to gather intel about Hilton’s murder – all planned out perfectly so that everyone will be glued to their TVs and the latest episode of Gunsmoke. I could not stop laughing about the women’s interactions, and especially about Wilma’s doggedness over Flowers’ cats. Serious cat lady right there.

After she signed off with Clara, Sugar placed a call to Wilma at Dr. Kitterell’s office. She listened to the whole recitation without comment and then said, “I survived the Korean War and you want me to risk getting shot skulking around people’s back yards?”

“Nobody’s gonna shoot us,” Flowers said into the receiver Sugar held out to her. “If we get caught, we can always just say one of my cats is missing and we’re looking for it.” 

“How many cats are you feeding now, Flowers?” Wilma asked. 

Flowers scowled at the phone. “Just 32. Why?” 

When she hung up, Flowers looked at her suspiciously. “Was Wilma talking bad about my cats?”

“Of course not,” Sugar said, occupying herself with a fresh Camel. “Nobody in their right mind would ever say anything bad about your cats.”

I had no clue who the murderer was, and I (like the Club), thought I knew exactly who it was, along with motive and all that jazz. Unfortunately, Hilton had his fingers in quite a few pies around town. I know that sounds bad, and it seemed bad in the book, until all was revealed by his customers, but that just left more loose ends to go following.

I’m a Texan, so I could easily identify with the women’s grab-the-bull-by-the-horns attitude. They had me laughing continuously, despite the fact that this is a murder mystery, and poor Wanda Jean just lost her husband, as did her sister Maybelline, for that matter. The women seemed more concerned with the bloodstain on her brand new, on-sale shag carpet for the longest.

This is just the first installment in the Study Club Mystery series, and I will definitely be reading more about these crazy women and their small town secrets in the second book, You Can’t Put a Corpse in a Parade. If you are looking for a break in your normal reading selections, or you just need a good laughing fit, I highly recommend!

***** About the Author *****

julietteJuliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet is the first installment of Harper’s debut cozy Study Club Mysteries, an hilariously funny look at the often absurd eccentricities of small town life. The second book, to be released in coming months, is called You Can’t Put a Corpse in a Parade.

The droll series, set in the 1960s, is a light-hearted spinoff of Harper’s Lockwood Legacy a nine-book chronicle of the lives of three sisters who inherit a ranch in Central Texas following their father’s suicide. Three of the novels are currently available: Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw, and Alice’s Portrait. The fourth book, Mandy’s Father, will appear in Summer 2015.

And don’t miss Harper’s first foray into the world of the supernatural, Descendants of the Rose, Book 1 in the Selby Jensen Paranormal Mystery series. The second Selby Jensen book, Lost in Room 636 is also scheduled for a Summer 2015 release.

Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan, worked as a journalist and university history instructor before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2002.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

One (1) winner gets a $50 Amazon Gift Card (INT), one (1) winner gets Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw and Alice’s Portrait in paperback (US) and one (1) winner gets Descendants of the Rose in paperback (US).

The giveaway ends June 29th.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

A Nurse: On the Other Side

I’ve tried keeping this blog strictly review & book related, and this post kind of fits into this category.

Last year, I started dating this sweetheart of a guy. The sweetheart I almost dated in high school…but that bitchy ex crawled out of whatever hole she had crawled into, fangs and talons barred. We all know someone like that, right? Yeah. But through D. I have inherited a wonderful group of his friends.

One of these newly inherited friends is the lady who got me into book blogging. She had no qualms about me guest writing for her blog, The Eclectic Bookworm. She has welcomed me with open arms and helped me get started. I would not have had the opportunity, the resources or the gumption without her and her support.

high school sweethearts
high school sweethearts

Mandi is a Texan by birth, but she grew up in Pittsburgh and moved back to Texas a few years ago. Last year was a big year for her: she turned thirty, and a few short months after that she married her high school sweetheart. They met in the old-school chat rooms, came together and then life happened. They both married other people and had a child. They both realized their marriages weren’t the marriages they’d intended. Mandi was a victim of rape and domestic violence.

Mandi and her HS sweetheart both filed for divorce. They decided that they had both met the person they were supposed to be with a long time ago, and moved to Texas together. Since then, they have troubled the murky waters of child custody and unpleasant dealings with their ex’s. None of that is ever easy, even with one parent dealing with it in a new marriage. They had both! Despite that, they have tried very much to bridge their families, and they have two wonderful, adorable children.

But through all of those life events, Mandi has suffered with the pain of fibromyalgia and horrible migraines. She was diagnosed when she was 23, just when she was starting to enjoy “adult life.” Many Americans suffer from this painful condition, and there are more studies and active research into this condition that affects over 10 million in our country alone.

wedding day
wedding day

Mandi has dealt with her fibromyalgia for eight years now. She graduated college with a nursing degree and pursued her calling: helping others who can’t help themselves. She was a nurse and she loved it. Growing up she learned compassion in almost the same way as I did, and she put this to use in her field.

But last year, things took a dramatic turn for the worse. The very week of her wedding, she started getting sick. Her doctors diagnosed her with two things: a systematic auto-immune disease called sarcoidosis, and an auto-immune disease in her eyes called pars planitis. Sarcoidosis is the very disease that caused the death of the humorous Bernie Mac. Since the pars planitis is only in her eyes, the only way to definitively find out anything conclusive is to cut open her eyes. Obviously, that’s not a route she can take.

Due to the rare nature of her case of pars, there is no specific medication for treatment. Her doctors have been trying to find something that works. She went on chemotherapy drugs and steroid injections, some directly in the eyes. Methotrexate (the chemo drug) had to be discontinued because it was causing liver toxicity. After a year of being on steroid injections, they are causing cataracts to form, creating a more dire need for laser eye surgery before the year is out.

getting an eye injection
getting an eye injection

The combination of these drugs and the shockingly high dosages have taken a toll on Mandi. In August/September of last year, she was forced to leave her job as a nurse for Hospice Austin. She is now on the other side of the health equation. Since leaving her job due to these mounting medical reasons, she could no longer afford her skyrocketing healthcare coverage. She cannot qualify for Medicaid to alleviate some of the medical bills. Her husband is diligently working two jobs to hold down the fort, and neither of them offer health insurance.

Thankfully, Mandi had some help from her parents throughout this past year. But the clock keeps ticking, she’s not getting substantially better and the money is running out. Her medications and dosages have changed, she’s put on a lot of weight due to the medications and her relationships and marriage are strained. Just a few weeks ago she was in the emergency room twice within the span of a few days’ time, with over $3,000 in those bills alone.  She is missing out on other aspects of her life due to the steadily mounting medical bills and her declining health.

Mandi's beautiful family
Mandi’s beautiful family

Mandi started doing serious book blogging as a hobby not long after leaving her job. Often she reads late into the night and early morning hours and posts during  that time from her bed, due to her insomnia. Once the new year rang in and she started feeling a little better, she got on board as a writer for Examiner.com. Her focus is on gun rights, issues, laws and anything gun-related in Texas. Although this is supplying her with a little income and she can do it from home, it is not even a drop in the bucket. She gets paid based on the traffic to her articles and through the ads that Examiner uses, *if* readers click on the ads. She is currently debating about obtaining a part-time job once she knows how her new medications will affect her. But even then, she won’t be able to drive. It would need to be a flexible job, and we all know it is like finding a needle in the haystack to find a flexible PT position.

post eye injection
post eye injection

After much deliberation and family strife, Mandi has created a GoFundMe page to try to reduce her medical debt. It has not been a well-received idea from her family, but she is running out of options. Due to all of the medical bills, other bills are also mounting. She is also owed over $8,000 in child support and medical bills for her daughter. She is not sure how long she and her family will be able to stay in the apartment her daughter calls home.

post eye injection
post eye injection

I implore all of my subscribers, followers and readers to please share this post on all of your social media sites and blogs. It will take the kindness of strangers to help Mandi. Please, go donate something, even $5, to help Mandi. Go to her GoFundMe page. Anything will help in her desperate time of need.

To find out more about Mandi, her medical battles and her day-to-day struggles and joys, keep up with her on her True Life Is Stranger Than Fiction blog.