Home Coming Soon Catalog Authors Awe-Struck Hard Shell Phaze Submissions
catalog
imprints
genres
other
Subscribe to the feed!
Book Likes!
Book Likes!
Deadknots

A collection of short mysteries ranging from the melancholy to the whimsical, Deadknots opens portals into the lives of the Dead, the Undead, and some who don't know the difference! A child's grim discovery is revealed eighty years later in OLD BONES... Resident ghosts manipulate their way into the local CEMETERY COMPETION... A penitent bad guy with a CAT-ITTUDE develops a yen for his psychic charge... A poignant journey via PYRAMID TRAVEL illuminates more than a decades-old disappearance... An antebellum ghost fiercely protects her home from extreme modernists in THE HOUSEKEEPER AND PRIMARY COLORS... Upon witnessing one murder and causing another, the bored ghosts of Sainted Souls Cemetery use their detection talents and a computer to track down the killer in BUSYBODIES AND DEAD DIAMONDS. A psychic, called to a haunted house to uncover details in a murder case, finds more than anybody expected in WHO DIED IN HERE?... In BRIDE ROCK a bride left to die on a rock by her groom comes back to rescind her curse on the clan of Finochty castle... Peopled by banshees and elderly drama-queens and overrun by gophers, BANSHEES OF BAXTER COUNTY is a mind-boggling mix of murder, kidnapping, and romance in the local cemetery.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


C.J. Winters

     C.J. Winters was always more interested in Tomorrow than Yesterday. Then she discovered the American Past offers a wealth of backgrounds for some of her offbeat story ideas. Combining such backgrounds with her fascination for the extra-normal has led to ten-and-a-half books published or soon to be published by Hard Shell Word Factory. Show-Me Murder is a paranormal cozy mystery trio. Right Man Wrong Time, Sleighride, Moon Night, and A Star in the Earth are paranormal romances. The love stories of four generations of an American family unfold in Foredestined Summer, Fires of War and Winter, A Dazzling Spring and Autumn in Cranky Otter. Still to come is a contemporary romance, Mai's Ties, and half of a paranormal anthology, Deadknots. C.J. also has eight short stories included in five anthologies.

     Iowa born-raised-educated and Missouri seasoned, earth-bound C.J. feels compelled to follow her characters through their times, lifetimes, and the gauzy curtains separating them. Although she lives in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, she prefer rustic settings for her stories. Creating intense relationships and helping them unfold through intriguing, subtle or whimsical interplay is her idea of fun. She says, "Story plotting is like weight-lifting for the brain. You collect puzzle pieces and then find places to fit them."

     About herself, C.J. says, "My fantasy life began early, through movies more than books. Star-struck, I played Western roles on my pony, and kept a nightly serial story going in my head at bedtime, naturally casting myself as the heroine.

     "When my career as a copywriter ended, I began writing a different form of fiction--love stories with a different twist than those being published at the time. Then along came e-publishing, and a new, limitless niche opened. Admittedly self-indulgent, I first write to entertain myself, and it looks like I'm addicted to a life of fiction!"

     For more, visit my website, www.cjwinters.com

Jennifer DiCamillo

Jennifer DiCamillo is an award-winning poet, author and playwright, born Jennifer Holmes in Wabash, Indiana. She currently writes romantic suspense from a hideaway in Highlandville, Missouri. Her interests include history, horses, dogs, art and the strategies of love and war. Her first novel, The Price of Peace, is a 13th Century clan warfare novel set in Wales.

Reviews

5 stars!

"Deadknots, Paranormal Mystery Anthology is a collection of short stories by C.J. Winters and Jennifer DiCamillo. The stories are filled with ghosts, mysteries, and a talking cat. 'Old Bones' has an amazing twist. 'Cemetery Competition' is written with a lot of humor. In 'Housekeeper and Primary Colors', when new people buy the old home, the ghost gardener/handyman is concerned about the changes they will make; 'Busybodies and Dead Diamonds' is the story of Margaret Rose. She finds the life of a ghost boring until she witnesses a murder. An adult relieves a memory from his childhood in 'Who Died In Here'. Working with a psychic an investigator, Paul discovers the truth behind his brother's death. The ones I've mentioned were among my favorites. Winters and DiCamillo both are talented at spinning paranormal yarns. Short stories can be very difficult to write. It is difficult to develop characters and plot; however, both authors have succeeded in both areas. Deadknots, Paranormal Mystery Anthology is well-done! Fans of the paranormal will enjoy Deadknots, Paranormal Mystery Anthology."

Debra Gaynor -- Review Your Book



4 1/2 stars!

"Get ready for a lot of nail-biting mystery as the characters set forth to find murderers in this 'whodunit', haunting tale of intrigue. Together C. J. Winters and Jennifer DiCamello came up with a good supply of ghost stories. Deadknots are truly an account of an unforgettable read that should be experienced, especially on a stormy night as the lightening flashes and the rumbling of thunder rolls. The plots twist and turn effortlessly as each little mystery unfolds. This unique style of paranormal writing will lead the reader down unknown paths to suspense. In a quiet peaceful place where no one sees or hears anything, something is about to happen. What is the secrecy that is about to take place at the rear of the house of worship in this rural area? Read on to find out what happens as these fascinating events first lead you one way and then another."

Wanda Maynard -- Sime-Gen Reviews
Excerpt

Old Bones by C. J. Winters

THE OLD LADY in the wheelchair peered up at me from filmed blue eyes. "I need to tell somebody something," she said. "You got time?"

I set down the vase of peonies I'd brought Aunt Maureen, asleep in the other bed, and pulled a chair close to her roommate. "I have until my aunt wakes up from her nap. My name is Carolyn. What's yours?"

"Nina. But everybody in the family called me Sissie. Doesn't matter, they've all gone on."

"I'm sorry."

She brushed aside my trite consolation like an annoying fly. "You ever see a ghost?"

Whatever revelation I might've expected, this wasn't it. "No. Have you?"

Sissie's hands, the dark blue veins standing in high relief, trembled in her lap. "I reckon. Don't know what else it could've been. I was afraid to tell my folks. They were real religious and I figured they'd take me to the preacher and have him roast my feet in a bonfire till I said I'd storied." She chuckled, a dry, raspy sound that held little mirth. "You know the funny notions little kids get in their heads."

"Yes, I know. What is it you want to tell me?"

"I was five. I know because it was the summer before I started to school. It was real hot, even at night, and if you listened close, you could hear the corn growing ... little pop-pop sounds it made. Folks who never lived on a farm don't believe that. Anyway, one night it was too hot to sleep, so I knelt down by the open window and leaned on the sill and looked out at the stars. Then I saw something move, down by the old dry well. I couldn't see it too clear, but it looked like a lady. She was waving to me, like I ought to come down there."

I sneaked a look at Aunt Maureen. She was still asleep, her mouth open like a gasping fish.

"Well, since the lady seemed to think it was important for me to come out where she was, I crept downstairs so's I wouldn't wake anybody, and went out to the well. Sure enough, it was a lady in a long, white dress. Except that she and her dress looked kind of thin. You know, like the bandages they use on wounds?"

"Yes. Gauze." By now I was intrigued and hoped my aunt wouldn't wake up before Sissie finished her story. "What happened then?"

"The lady acted real excited. She kept pointing at the well, and then she'd make this motion--" Sissie folded her arms and swung them back and forth. "Like a little girl rocking her doll."

"And?" I prompted.

"I was only five years old! What did she expect anyway? But when she finally saw I didn't understand, she beckoned to me, like this, and I followed her. All the way down to our back pasture." She shook her head and sucked on her teeth. "If my folks had found out, they'd have skinned me alive! Sometimes I think my daddy liked using the razor strop."

I waited while her train of thought returned to its rails.

"I was afraid of our big black Angus bull, but thank goodness he didn't pay us any mind. The lady stopped and pointed to the ground. I remember I looked back and forth between her and the bull. Then she made this kind of shoveling motion, like I ought to dig right there where she pointed."

"Did you?"

"I ran back to the porch and got a hand spade. I was too little to use the big spade like my daddy. All the time I was gone the lady just stood there in the pasture, waiting, and that big old black bull, he just went on chewing his cud like there wasn't nobody within a mile. I dug and dug--that ground was so hard on account of we hadn't had any rain in who knows when. Then I saw something white sticking up in the bottom of the hole, and I started digging as fast as I could. It turned out to be a long, skinny bone. Well, I was real disappointed, figuring it belonged to some animal that died a long time ago. But the lady got all excited again, and she pointed back at the house ... except when we got back there, I realized she'd been pointing at the well, not the house."

"Was it an open well? Or did it have a cover?"

"Oh, it had a cover all right, a big, thick piece of cement. I couldn't have moved it no matter how hard I tried. But the lady kept pointing at it, and then at the bone I'd brought back from the pasture. It seemed so important to her that I hung onto it, and the next Saturday we went to town, I wrapped it up in the blanket I carried sometimes, like it was my doll, and took it along."

Sissie paused, apparently reaching back through eighty years in memory. I waited impatiently for her return, and Aunt Maureen slept on.

At last she resumed her tale. "I took the bone, still wrapped in my blanket, to the doctor's office--I don't remember his name, but his office was in one of those pretty turrets that overlooked the square. I told his nurse I had a problem and I needed to see him." She chuckled. "Imagine a little kid getting by with that today. Anyway, I showed the doctor the bone I'd found. To say the least, he was startled. He asked where I got it, and I lied. I told him I dug it up next to our old well."

"Then what happened?"

"When we got home, some men were digging all around the outside of the well. Of course they told my daddy what I'd shown the doctor. Seems the doctor told the sheriff it was the shin bone of a child, and they were looking for more bones."

"Did they find any?"

"'Course not! That's not where I found it."

"Then what--?"

Sissie's scornful glance suggested I was being deliberately obtuse. "I walked up, bold as brass, to one of the men and said they ought to look inside the well. And they did. They even dug into the dirt in the bottom of it, where they found the skeleton of a little kid. My mama fainted, and my daddy looked like he wanted to. There was lots of excitement. The men thought the skeleton had been there a long time."

Forgetting about my aunt, I demanded, "Did they find out who the child was?"

Sissie shook her head. "The doctor said it was a boy, about my age. He was mighty puzzled, though, about the bone I'd taken him. He said it belonged to an older child, ten or twelve years old."

Drained and weary, she leaned back in her chair.

I asked gently, "Is that all you wanted to tell me?"

Her head drooped forward in assent. "I always felt bad because I never told the truth about where I found that leg bone. I was afraid of what my folks would do if they found out I'd gone outside at night and done what the lady told me to." She looked up, her ancient gaze still penetrating. "Now I've told somebody, I feel better."

"The older child might have been buried ages ago. Maybe it was an early settler, or an Indian."

"Maybe."

"You don't think your--"

"No!"

How did she know what was in my mind?

Aunt Maureen was still asleep, snoring lightly, and my own family was expecting me home to prepare dinner. I rose, then bent down and kissed Sissie on her dry, cool forehead. "Thank you for telling me," I said. "It'll be all right now."

Lost in her own long-ago world, it was as though she hadn't heard me.

I turned and left, and on my way out, stopped at the nurses' station. "My aunt is still napping," I said, "so I'll come back tomorrow. I was talking to her roommate, Sissie."

"Sissie?"

"Her real name is Nina."

For a moment a puzzled frown marred the young nurse's smooth brow. "Nina ... Oh, I'm afraid you're mistaken. Nina Freeman was your aunt's roommate. She died yesterday."