Ahh…Lucid Dreaming…If the topic interests you, check out this article. And A MURDER AT ALCOTT MANOR where Layla Alcott has a gift for lucid dreaming that takes her in the most surprising directions — to reunite with a long lost love, and into the darker realms of Alcott Manor where her dreams become real… free w/ kindleunlimited at AMAZON:
Wow! I love this review of A Stranger at Alcott Manor!
“A STRANGER IN ALCOTT MANOR is the closest of all three books in this series to some of my favorite Stephen King stories. This is a story about ordinary people who do crazy things, are thrust into bizarre and unnerving supernatural situations, and malice hangs over everyone and infects what should be normal human interactions. The hauntings in A STRANGER IN ALCOTT MANOR are scary, but the humans are scarier.”
Haven’t read the series yet? Check it out!
I’m so honored to be mentioned among these amazing authors!
Fresh Fiction Blog recently featured my Alcott Manor series along with a bunch of great books by amazing authors.
“In the Alcott Manor series by Alyssa Richards, each of the three books in the series take on a slightly different tone, but the second installment is super scary with a Freddy Krueger-like otherworldly villain. The heroine and her new love battle the ghostly baddie in various dimensions and the stakes are high. The first and third books in the series focus more on traditionally haunted house goodness and lost loves.”
Haven’t read the series yet? Check it out!
Why do you write? How did you get started in writing?
These are two questions I am often asked and when I tell the story I tend to receive very puzzled looks. You see, until about ten years ago I didn’t read fiction – at ALL. Nope, not at all. Reading and writing came later in life for me. Here’s the scoop:
The ‘want’ to write came to me a little better than ten years ago. I had just finished the course work for my Master of Business Administration degree and found I had a boatload of time on my hands. I always held a full-time and part-time job while attending college at night, and suddenly I found I had nothing to do with my evenings which had previously been consumed with studying. I was bored.
An avid reading friend of mine handed me a Janet Evanovich book and I promptly said, “No thanks.” The last thing I wanted to do was read anything. I’d read enough text books to last me a lifetime, and up to this point in my life I had never read for pleasure. She pushed the book toward me and urged me to read it. I read that book in two days, and then I read every book Evanovich penned. When I was done with her I moved on to JA Konrath and Leanne Banks. I logged over 50 books read in the first year. They were much easier reading than text books I was accustom to. You know, those enjoyable 600 page Finance and Accounting textbooks. Then, one night, out of the blue, I dreamt up Detective Nick Spinelli and I thought to myself that he would be an awesome character for Evanovich to write. I told my avid reading friend about the dream and my thoughts that Evanovich should use him as a character in a new series and she looked at me and said, “Or, you could just write about him yourself.” Huh, how had that not occurred to me? That said, the character of Detective Nick Spinelli was born.
Easy, peasy, right? Write the book. Submit it to an agent. Land a contract. Let the money roll in. Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. Instead, I received rejection after rejection. Not understanding where went wrong, I decided to join a writer’s group in hopes to learn more about the craft of writing and the path to publication. Luckily, an experienced writer in the group took pity on me and offered to look at the manuscript. I almost cried when the manuscript came back from her so red-lined I could hardly see black letters at all. It was like a bucket of blood had been dumped on it, but once I got over the initial shock that I was a big fat failure that knew nothing about writing, I began to read through the comments she’d left on the pages. The first comment being, “It may not look like it from all the red-line, but this is actually quite a good story.” So, my story was GOOD! She went on to say that once I honed in on the craft of writing this story would sell. With that, the rewrites of book one of the Spinelli series started. It took me longer to do the re-write than write the original book. When I was finished, I submitted the book to two publishers and both made an offer for it!
So, that’s the how, and part of the why, I got started in writing, now for more of the why…I actually find writing to be therapeutic. I work daily in a fast-paced, detail oriented environment with a lot of deadlines at my day job. I find entering the fictional world of happy ever after’s, before and after work, is a refreshing change from the daily grind. It gets my creative juices flowing and provides and escape from reality. It’s reenergizing.
Now, writing and publishing is still not all unicorns and rainbows, but I did finally make it to the USA Today Bestselling Author listJ
Today, I’m taking us on a trip back to the past. We’ll take a look at the first Nick Spinelli romance mystery book, my first published book, titled Covert Exposure, a Nick Spinelli Mystery. In celebration, my publisher has marked it down to $.99 on Amazon.
Spinelli turned away from Shannon and took a step.
“Wait,” the desperation in her voice was unmistakable.
He spun around. She stepped toward him, reached up, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled him toward her. She pressed her soft moist lips to his. Her lips parted, inviting him in. His tongue caressed hers, slow, and controlled at first, but not for long. She met his quickening pace. She wove her fingers through his hair. He clasped his hands around her waist and pulled her tight to his body. Shock, pleasure, and heat spread through him like wildfire. He kissed her deeper, harder, wetter, and longer. He explored every ounce of her mouth absorbing her sweet flavor. His heart raced. He slid his lips from her mouth to her jaw, to her neck. She tilted her head back. A soft groan escaped her lips. He whispered her name and all of a sudden, as if hearing the sound of her name slapped her back into reality she pulled herself from him and stepped back. She looked confused.
He stepped toward her, and she stepped back.
“Are you okay?” Spinelli asked.
She threw her hand over her mouth and shook her head.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I did that.”
Spinelli raised an eyebrow. “Did what, kissed me?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
Spinelli went out on a limb. “Well if it’s any consolation, I didn’t mind,” he teased, trying to lighten the moment.
He fought the urge to smile.
“Didn’t you like the kiss?” Judging from her initial response their first kiss, he was confident it was safe to ask.
“That’s not the point.”
“So you did like it.”
She shifted her eyes to her feet.
“Well?” he pressed.
She lifted her gaze and met his. Her chest rose as she sucked in a breath. “It doesn’t matter if I did or didn’t, it’s not going to happen again.”
He stared at her, speechless, convinced his ears had deceived him. They’d perhaps just shared the most intimate sensual kiss of his life. Was it possible she could kiss like that and not mean it? Was she afraid, and if so, afraid of what?
His mind raced for something to say. He came up empty. He inched toward her, and reached for her. She stopped him with her hand. “It’s just not going to work. We’re two very different people. I’m sorry,” she stammered.
Spinelli stood in the hallway, dumfounded. In silence, he watched as she turned and entered her apartment, shutting the door behind her. That’s it. A crater the size of the Grand Canyon filled his chest where his heart used to be.
Valerie Clarizio is a USA Today Bestsellingauthor who lives in romantic Door County Wisconsin with her husband and extremely spoiled cat. She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into an outdoors enthusiast, of which her favorite activity is hiking in national parks. While out on the trails, she has plenty of time to conjure up irresistible characters and unique storylines for her next romantic suspense or sweet contemporary romance novel.
Connect with Valerie:
Facebook Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clarizioscronies/
But wait, there’s more!
Sign up for Valerie’s newsletter, follow her on Bookbub or Amazon, or join her Facebook street team and she’ll GIFTyou an ebook copy ofMissing the Crown Jewels! You’ll have to let her know you did this. You can email her at email@example.com. She loves connecting with readers.
Divorce Moved Her to Despair, But Now She Has A New Chance at Love
After a devastating divorce, Peyton Crown is finally surfacing from a dark hole of despair. She finds herself hoping for a new life with Mason ‘Storm’ Starr, her brother’s best friend.
>>>Striving to Overcome His Demons, He Seeks Solitude In The Country
Storm’s intent is simple: hide in the quiet confines of his best friend’s family horse ranch in Kentucky. The perfect place to sort out his life after walking away from the Army and fight his internal demons. His solitude is interrupted by his buddy’s little sister. The chemistry between them is off the charts, and he willingly surrenders the battle.
>>>Enemies Threaten To Upturn The Family’s Kentucky Derby Ambitions
The Crown family begins receiving threats, just weeks before the Kentucky Derby. The overprotective men in Peyton’s life vow to keep 24/7 tabs on her and the family’s prize horse—Prince Bourbonville—a hopeful for the next Triple Crown. Circumstances arise that threaten to keep Peyton and Prince away from the derby, but Storm and her brother Coach are determined they’ll attend, no matter the sacrifice.
>>>Missing the Crown Jewels is a thrilling and heartwarming romance novel that will leave you wanting more!
Sneek peek into A STRANGER AT ALCOTT MANOR
copyright 2019 Alyssa Richards
Ancient water oaks swayed in the warm, salty breezes and threw their inky shadows against the front pillars of Alcott Manor. Peyton Alcott stood next to the passenger side door of the rental and dropped the car keys onto the seat. She stared at the front of the house, tracing the outline of the bottle of Xanax bulging in her small soft-sided purse.
The manor’s first floor windows were warped with age, and the darkness inside appeared deep and cold and formless. The home’s secrets were palpable, but unseen. They shifted like forgotten spirits, hidden memories and old nightmares.
This visit to her family’s ancestral estate was her first alone in twenty years. The prescription bottle lid flicked open with a pop. Just one dose would cushion whatever memories came to light. She glanced at her overstuffed computer bag in the backseat. Remembering the mountain of work she had to do, she reluctantly recapped the bottle.
She lifted her work satchel, filled well beyond its unzipped brim with a laptop, client files and instructions from her mother. Rounded oyster shells crunched beneath her Jimmy Choos.
At a long squeal of brakes, she spun, squinting at the black car with its round headlights and narrow front grill. She lowered her bag to the ground, her stomach clenched. The car’s white-haired driver was a ghost from her past she’d hoped to outrun.
An oceanic updraft caught her work papers and they scattered. She snatched at them, catching only one. The rest danced and twirled down the stark white drive and away from Alcott Manor. She envied their ability to escape.
She cursed the wind and the lost papers, the manor and the land it was built on, and her own attendance at this godforsaken place.
The old Plymouth rattled to a rolling stop behind her rental car with another long screech of brakes. The elderly woman exited with a slowness that made Peyton wonder if it was wise for her to be driving.
“Hope those papers weren’t important.” Her smile was broad and welcoming, a gesture Peyton knew better than to trust. Her eyes were moist, more from age than emotion. One was glassy.
“My goodness, it’s been years.” Peyton leaned down to hug her. Mrs. Miller was frailer than she remembered, but her perfume was the same. The delicate scent of roses infused with Mentholatum.
“Well, let me take a look at you.” Mrs. Miller cocked her head to the side. She raked her good eye in a slow survey from the top of Peyton’s jeweled hair combs to the tip toes of her polished heels.
Peyton stood trying to hold her smile, feeling like the blue-ribboned pig at the county fair where winning made you the blue plate special.
“Still have your daddy’s good looks, I see. Let’s hope you kept his temperament. Your mother says you’re a big city girl now, but coming home to get married?”
“Yes, ma’am. I live in Boston, and the wedding is in four days.” Peyton wished she had remembered to spin her large diamond engagement ring to the inside of her hand. But Mrs. Miller caught sight of it and Peyton saw her lips tighten.
“Mmm. You still take all those pictures like you used to?” Mrs. Miller asked.
“No, sad to say, I haven’t had the time for much photography these days.”
“I thought as much.” She patted Peyton’s shoulders twice. “I’ve got just the thing for you. Carry these inside.” The rear car door groaned when she pulled it open. Mrs. Miller pointed to two large gray containers and instructed Peyton to be careful.
“These are more of the estate’s cameras and tintypes that we had at the museum. We’re bringing much of it here, now that you’re organizing the house for tours. You’ll need them for exhibits and whatnot. Jayne Ella insisted I bring these. You know how your mother is.” She raised one eyebrow.
Yes. She knew exactly how her mother was.
“Are you still working at the museum?” Peyton hoisted the first plastic carton from the back seat and directed the small talk away from herself.
“Lord, yes, honey. I’ll probably die in the place. No one else in Charleston knows as much about the city’s history. Or Alcott Manor’s history. Except for you, of course. I taught you especially well.”
“Yes ma’am.” She put the container near the double front door, and the tintypes shuddered with a metallic clatter. She stared at a sign that was pasted to one of the front pillars, and her stomach dropped to the floor.
Last Seen at Alcott Manor
Beau was in his early twenties, with bed-head-sexy blond hair and light blue eyes that were striking enough for a double take. The camera had caught him with his devil-may-care smile that won him a free pass whenever he wanted. Too many emotions knocked at the back door of her memory bank.
“Sad about Beau, isn’t it?” Mrs. Miller said.
Peyton started at the closeness of Mrs. Miller’s voice that squeaked like an old chair.
“He was such a wild child. Lord only knows if he’s really missing or if he just hopped a plane and left. Did y’all ever speak after he stood you up at the church?”
The question hit her like a slap, Peyton squeezed her eyes shut to stem the angry tide of memories: Waiting for an hour in the church parlor in her full-skirted wedding dress, her mother ultimately telling her they had waited long enough, that Beau obviously wasn’t coming. Her father saying he would make the announcement to the guests.
“No,” she finally said. “Do you know who posted this here?”
“His daddy, I’m sure. Austin Spencer has them posted all over town. He stuck one right on the museum’s front window.”
Beau had been gone for nine years, long enough to be declared legally dead. His parents had even held a funeral for him and erected a gravestone with his name on the front as if he were buried there.
Peyton peeled the tape from the white paint, folded the flyer in half, and half again.
Mrs. Miller’s phone rang like an old telephone bell. She retrieved it from one of the patch pockets of her cotton dress and tilted her head to look through the bottom half of her glasses. “Just a minute, honey. I have to take this.” She walked to the far end of the wide porch, her low-heeled shoes scuffling along the painted wood.
Mrs. Miller looked and moved like a woman far older than she actually was. She used to be a vibrant and beautiful woman, not much older than Peyton’s own mother, Jayne Ella. But when Mrs. Miller’s daughter went missing over twenty years ago, her hair turned stark white and everything about her physique withered and slowed and sagged.
Peyton loaded the other container to the front porch to keep herself distracted. Mrs. Miller was still talking on the phone. Peyton’s directions for the combination lock were gone with the wind, so she decided to wait. Maybe Mrs. Miller would have the access code.
She opened one of the containers and found seven neat rows of dusty tintype photographs. She hadn’t touched a tintype since college. The first captured memory—several Alcott family members posed in front of the grand staircase—sent a pang of anxiety from her head to her heart and back again. The threat of an old nightmare.
“Stop it,” she whispered to the fear as if she were the one in charge. She licked her dry lips and held a different glass plate to the light.
This tintype was a traditional wedding photo from the 1850s, and Peyton recognized the bride. She was a niece of the original owners of the manor, Benjamin and Bertha Mae Alcott. The wedding party had gathered in the ballroom and Peyton scanned the faces one by one. She knew them all, and their stories, thanks to her internship with Mrs. Miller at the museum.
One man at the side of the gathering sent a shiver of cold dancing across her back. His hair was shorter in length, though the layers had grown out. His light-colored eyes fixed straight ahead as if he looked right at her. The charm-filled smile he had often used as his ticket to get what he wanted was gone, but his lips were the same full shape she remembered.
It was impossible, though undeniable. The guest in the 1850s tintype was the man she almost married. He was the man who was missing, Beau Spencer.
continue with adventure with A STRANGER AT ALCOTT MANOR ~ AMAZON!