Monday, March 4, 2019


An unfortunate truth of publishing is the author's job is not done when they write THE END. There's editing, more editing, finding an agent and/or publisher (and that process can take years), more editing and then, if you’re very talented, and very lucky, you’re published (this process is slightly different for the indie and hybrid authors and in fact, can be much more difficult). But, alas, my friend, the work is not done.


And in a lot of ways, market yourself as well. Most authors I have the privilege of knowing are, like myself, introverts, who are happiest with books: the ones they’ve written, the ones they’re writing, the ones they’re thinking about writing, and the ones by other authors they hoard in every available format. And if they’re like me, the very idea of marketing strikes fear deep in the center of their cat video loving, society eschewing souls.

Enterprising persons on the inter-webs (thanks #RichardRawlings) have discovered this phobia and realized a previously untapped income source – socially awkward authors. Like me J I think I’ve probably spent more money marketing my books than I’ve actually made in book sales. Thank the Goddess I do this for the love of the craft and not the Benjamins. But another unfortunate truth, it’s harder to get a second, third, fourth, book published if the first didn’t sell well.

It’s a vicious cycle. Viscous even.

But then sometimes, a book advertising site takes on a life of its own and becomes a phenomenon in its own right. For example: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; Romance Rehab; Heroes & Heartbreakers; and Book Riot, to name but a few. And they offer real content: articles, interviews, and advice, in addition to reviews, cover reveals and book tours.

And I love the content on Book Riot. Like this one:

Monday, February 25, 2019

CRIMSON FALLS Review Book Tour with Giveaway

Crimson Falls
by DJ Davis and TR Kerby


GENRE:   Romantic Suspense



Troyan Pryce had it all—a forensic pathology career, loving family, baby on the way—until a Mob kingpin bought her. Forced to use her special training and exceptional looks to rob men of their millions, she’s given up hope of ever having a life again, let alone finding romance. Until she meets her next mark, Assistant District Attorney Zachariah Taylor.

Detective Grace Griffin dedicated years to breaking a human trafficking ring. When her best friend, Zachariah, falls for a victim and is taken by the Mob, she must risk her life, badge, and heart to rescue him and the woman he loves. Can she save them, or will they all end up dead?



The girl huddled on the concrete bench in the corner of the cell, her knees tucked to her chin. She appraised Griff with green eyes, then looked away. Her stretch leggings were a size too small and her top plunged to dangerous levels. Bright red nails and false lashes added finishing touches. The spike heels that completed the ensemble sat outside the cell door.

Griff sat next to her. “I’m Detective Griffin.”She turned her face away and remained silent.

“I want to help you. I know you’re a slave, not a hooker.. This isn’t your life. They took your life from you.”

The girl scooted closer to the wall. “You’re going to get me killed.”

“Give me a name and I can end this.”

“I talk to you, I’m dead.”

“Is it Rosetti? Just blink. Twice for yes, once for no.”

She swallowed and blinked twice.           

Griff opened the girl’s file and read the name. “Carrie. I’m going to help you. Hang in there, okay?”    

Keys rattled in the lock and the door opened. An expensive suit filled the doorway in front of the duty officer. Carrie got to her feet and squeezed out of the cell.
“I hope you weren’t interviewing my client without her attorney present,” the suit said.

Griff stood eye to eye with the lawyer. “Of course not. I check on all the girls to make sure they don’t need medical assistance. She fully exercised her right to remain silent, and seems perfectly healthy.” She snapped the file closed and shouldered past him.

“Well?” Stacey asked when Griff returned to her desk.

“Definitely Rosetti’s. One of his hounds showed up before I got very far.”

“Now what?”

“Get inside Rosetti’s estate.”

“Good lord. If you disappear, where should I look?”

“The river or the morgue.”

“That’s not funny.”

“It wasn’t a joke,” she said on her way out the door. The bruises on Carrie’s neck and arms weren’t from an affectionate boyfriend. She needed help and, apparently, Griff was the only one willing to try.

The traffic blurred as the sun sank into a lava flow of cloud. Streetlights blinked on as she took the long route up the hill. She parked in the shadow of a hedged yard and killed the engine. Through the binoculars, Rosetti’s gate resembled a castle entrance. Fine brickwork and scrolled iron. A guard station squatted on the left side of the cobbled drive. Strategically placed floodlights revealed security pacing the fence. Handguns and batons hung from their belts.

Cracks of golden light seeped through drawn drapes on the massive house. And behind those drapes, a varied collection of human product. Whatever their clients could afford, they could have. Rosetti made sure of it.

Straight up prostitution. Easy peasy. Kids? No problem. If the product gave him trouble, snuff. Have fun with it. Knock yourself out. Pay before play. That money trickled through the filter of a hundred businesses, dripping out squeaky clean at the bottom. His web of connections kept him untouchable.

Griff planned to touch him.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Crimson Falls was coauthored by two cousins.

DJ Davis is a Colorado native with mountains in her DNA. She is obsessed with the forests, lakes, and craggy peaks. The rugged high country and rich history of the state set the scene for her stories and provide drama, suspense, and natural beauty. When she's not writing or photographing the wildlife, she frequently disappears into the wilderness with her husband and dogs.

TR Kerby has led a life of high adventure and travel to exotic places…ok, not so much, but she has worn a lot of hats. She has been a fry cook, a trail guide, a horse trainer, and a veterinary technician as well as less other interesting things. Her weaknesses include chocolate and rescuing lost souls, mostly animals, but some sometimes people. She currently lives in the Rocky Mountains with some of her rescues including her husband, two dogs, and a herd of horses. She brings her varied life experience to the table in her books and short stories.

Crimson Falls on Amazon

Links for DJ Davis
Links for TR Kerby
This book is on sale for $0.99



DJ Davis and TR Kerby will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC - a Rafflecopter giveaway


There were many things I enjoyed about this book. The pacing is excellent: it kept me turning the pages, wanting to know not just what happens next but what happened in the past to these characters. While it wasn’t a who-done-it and there were no surprises or red-herrings or crazy twists (though, based on the tone of the story, I kept waiting for one), it was a suspenseful plot. And I love suspense. I also enjoy a complex and involved story like this one was. I’m not generally a big fan of insta-love and the romance felt a lot like that to me [two casual meetings and one date = a love worth dying for?] but because the romance felt secondary to the overall story I’m not holding it against the book.

I often found myself a little confused as to who was speaking when there were more than two characters conversing. And I found the jumps in point-of-view irritating at times. But none of that was invasive enough to detract from my over-all enjoyment of the story, either.

Despite the adult themes, the violence against women (and children) is never graphically described. Thank GOD because the suggestion itself was horrifying enough. This was so well done it was a day or two before I realized even the romantic love scenes were done “off-screen.” Kudos to both authors for that.

This was an entertaining read – one I’d recommend to others who enjoy suspense.

*This was a review copy provided in PDF format that I then converted to MOBI so I could read it on my Kindle. There were some formatting problems, distracting ones; in fact, it was my greatest complaint. But I do believe it’s likely those formatting issues were due to the conversion I put the book through and hesitate to mention it. However, if, in fact, the retail version contains those formatting errors, I thought I should at least note that here.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Finding the Words

2018 was *not* my year. Between personal, professional and financial difficulties, I struggled in every way. Including with my faith; and with my writing. I hadn’t realized before how deeply connected the two were. Have you read any of my stuff? Yeah, I bet you didn’t see a connect there either. But it seemed the further I felt from God, the harder it was to reach inside and pull out anything creative. It was hard to care about something that felt, for the first time ever, useless.

I’ve had moments, years even, in my life where I was too busy, or too scared, to pursue my dream but I still wrote in those moments. I never walked away from that, I just did it for me. In many ways, to keep myself sane, it often felt. Until this year when I couldn’t string a sentence together and wasn’t bothered by the lack. I could barely generate an interest in reading, my second favorite activity.

As Christmas approached, I began to feel a loss. A yearn for mass, for ritual and rite, for the feeling of peace my faith always afforded. I caught myself humming while doing housework and realized it was one of my favorite hymns. I went to confession at the start of Advent and my priest told me how blessed I was to receive an invitation back to church. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

As the Epiphany approached, coincidentally (ironically?) I experienced an epiphany of my own when the video reel in my imagination flickered back to life. The urge to write is back. I had no idea how much I missed it. 

2018 may have not been my year and I’m not going to declare 2019 a comeback, that would be too akin to jinxing myself, but I am going to take this year as it comes. With humor, patience, and with faith. And we’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Book Blast with Giveaway


Click on any of the below book covers to be taken to the page that has more information on the novel as well as the Buy Links!

Before you leave, don't forget to enter the Giveaway!!!

What scares you? #MFRWHooks

What scares you? I don’t mean clowns or spiders; those are irrational fears that develop over time or due to an inciting event. But as a member of the human race, what truly scares you? Is it dying alone? Or do you fear commitment? What roadblock are you creating to hide from true intimacy?
What mask are you wearing today?

Jayson Donovan and Kylee Parker [A Love Restrained] allow their fears and their masks to stand between them, creating a vulnerability exploited by their enemies. Theirs is more than a story of star-crossed lovers pitted against criminals. It is more than just a second, or third, chance at love. It’s about trust, intimacy, and risking everything for love.


Philadelphia police officer Kylee Parker is dedicated to protecting and serving. She sees the work in absolutes: right and wrong, black and white, good guys and bad guys. That is, until she chases a drug dealer into a dead-end alley and finds the bad boy she had a painful crush on throughout her teen years has turned into a more dangerous and more attractive man. 

Jayson Donovan knows he doesn’t deserve someone as good as Kylee Parker. As the right hand man to a local drug-pushing mobster, he’s solidly on the wrong side of Kylee’s moral compass. But he can’t help reaching for her time and again when he knows he shouldn’t. 

Even when his secrets threaten them both. 

A Love Restrained is on sale now for every Kindle reader only 99¢

Enjoy the following excerpt from A Love Restrained: 

“Look at me.”
She couldn’t ever remember him talking to her like that. Even the arguments they had, he’d never used that rough voice with her. Her head snapped up, and her anger flashed out.
“That’s better. You want to hear me say what you already know? You want me to beg? Is that it? Not going to happen. I told you how I felt, told you what I wanted the day I came back.”
She remembered what he said that day: I love you. I’ve always loved you. He wouldn’t beg, but his feelings hadn’t changed. She wished she felt the same. “I can’t give you what you want.”
“Then take what you need.”
She took the two steps necessary to close the gap between them. She placed her palms on his shoulders and leaned close. I’ve got to be out of my mind. She feathered her lips across his and with a sense of homecoming she hadn’t expected she sunk into the caress on a soft moan. He growled and his arms banded around her. He whipped around, bracing her back against the car and plundering her mouth.
She’d asked. He answered.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Run Wild and Wash Your Hands

Some years back, more than a decade of them in fact, I discovered a love for running. But I let it fall away and then I let myself put on a lot of weight. In January I started working out; after I’d lost a few pounds, and built up some stamina, I started running again. And convinced my two girls, Casey (24 years old) and Morgen (14), to do a 5k race with me at the Philadelphia Zoo. And then I set up about training for that race. My only goal?
Cross the finish line before my girls!
Things didn’t exactly go as planned. First of all, for the last weekend in April, it was unseasonably cold. Second, I got caught behind a incapacitated mini-van on the expressway literally within eyesight of the fricking zoo. Third, I had a large cup of coffee. Fourth, I forgot my damn earbuds.
I need music when I run – the sound of my labored breathing is demoralizing and distracting.
We line up, the three of us, shivering, and agree to meet at the finish line. The horn sounds and they dart out in front, taking off like cheeky little bats out of hell. I trudge along alone, missing my music, but certain the turtle will take the hares.
I passed Casey inside the first half mile. But near to a mile in, tragedy struck.
I had to pee!!!!  
Now I know serious runners, Olympic athletes and competitive marathoners for example, simply relieve themselves while running without missing a step. But I’m not hard core enough to piss my pants on a 3.1 mile run around the zoo and there was no way my bladder would wait for me to cross the finish line.
I ran off the course and into a restroom that, praise Jesus, wasn’t locked. And because it was cold struggled to get through the several layers of clothes I’d outfitted myself in. After I readjusted my clothing, washed my hands (hygiene is important, damn it) and rejoined the race assuming my children had passed me while I struggled with the lock on the stall door.
Just passed the 1.5 mile mark a woman fell in front of me. A woman that wouldn’t have been in front of me if I hadn’t had to pee when I did but I digress. A woman fell in front of me and she fell HARD. My options were 1) hurdle over her; 2) run around her; or 3) stop to help her. My mam raised me right and I stopped to help her up. Astonishingly, I was the only person who did though one guy did yell “You okay?” as he ran by. At this point, I figure I have no chance of catching up to my children and I’m just going to take the finish with grace and a sense of accomplishment for having finished at all. 
With only a ¼ mile to go (volunteers were set up at intervals shouting how far you had to go and offering encouragement), I see, at the top of a vicious hill by the cougar enclosure, CASEY. And she’s walking. Actually, she’s dicking with her phone possibly taking a picture of the big cats. And I think I’ve got a chance. I’m working hard to get up that hill and close the distance. But shit that was a hard hill to climb.
She glances back over her shoulder when I’m within a few yards of her. Shoots me a cocky grin and bolts. I crossed the finish 37 seconds behind her.
37 funky seconds. Damn my bladder.
She hugged me and laughed and told me I was a good person for stopping to help a stranger and how proud I should be of myself for what I accomplished. Then asked if I saw Morgen on the route. I hadn’t.
We waited, as agreed, at the finish. Thirteen minutes later, Morgen strolls over the finish line, happily chatting with an older woman. She saw me pass her only a quarter mile in and decided, since she knew she wouldn’t win, to just enjoy a nice walk through the zoo. We’re a family of fairly competitive people – Morgen’s lackadaisical view tends to baffle her sister and me.
The morning did not go as planned but we had a great time. We got brunch at a diner, went for much deserved mani-pedis, and were home before one.
Where I promptly took a nap.
My girls and I outside the finish line!

Friday, January 19, 2018

A RIVER OF SILENCE with Susan Clayton-Goldner #Interview

Today I am pleased to share an interview with Susan Clayton-Goldner, author of A RIVER OF SILENCE, the upcoming entry in her Detective Radhauser series.

Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?

A River of Silence is about a hearing-impaired man, Caleb Bryce, who is falsely accused and imprisoned for the murder of a 19-month old child. This is the 3rd book in my Detective Radhauser series. Because of pressure from both the small community of Ashland and his boss, Captain Murphy, Radhauser makes the arrest, but remains convinced Caleb Bryce is innocent. With the help of a young public defender, who wants to prove herself to her father, a world-renown criminal defense attorney, they set out to find the real killer and free Bryce.

The novel deals with issues of abandonment and the effects it has on the child even after he reaches adulthood. It also deals with alcoholism and its aftermath which can cling to the lives it affected for decades. Mental illness and disabilities is also a theme. And the book shows us that sometimes a person who is mentally challenged sees life in a more beautiful way than those of us who are “normal.” 

I’d also like to say that I’m so grateful to my readers. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a reader write a review or send me an e-mail about how much they enjoyed the book. It means more to me than royalties—just to know someone enjoyed and was moved by my story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing is hard work. It takes dedication and a willingness to spend long hours in isolation. There are times when family issues get in the way. Balancing can be difficult. And I’m often torn. I want to be the best possible wife, mother and grandmother. But I’m also driven to be the best storyteller I can be.   

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I’ve written 8 novels so far. I’d say my favorite is A Bend In The Willow because, more than any other of my books, this one draws from my life, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and what I regret.   

If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?

I would choose Timothy Olyphant (from the Elmore Leonard Netflix series, Justified) to play Winston Radhauser because of his rugged good looks and the way he fills out a pair of jeans and a Stetson.

When did you begin writing?

I don’t think I decided to become a writer. I believe I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Let’s face it, writing is isolating and doesn’t pay very well. I’m not sure many people would choose to write if they could avoid it or were of sane mind.  When I was a little girl, my father won a Smith Corona portable typewriter in a poker game. He gave it me. It came with 45 rpm records guaranteed to have you typing. It was the beginning of my life as a writer. I taught myself how to type with the help of those records and starting writing poems and stories. I’ve never stopped. I went back to college after my children started school. This time I majored in creative writing.

How long did it take to complete your first book?

It generally takes me about a year to complete a novel. I’m trying to work faster these days because I now have a publisher and that has changed everything. I recently read a book about a woman who’d taken her productivity from 2,000 to 10,000 words per day. She gave me some very helpful hints about writing faster. And I strive to get 2,000 words a day now. It doesn’t always happen, but I am writing faster than in the past.  

Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?

I believe the first book I ever read that inspired me to be a writer was To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child when I read it, but it remains my favorite book. Atticus Finch was such a wonderful character. He fought hard for what was right, for what he believed in, even though he knew victory was impossible. He was a man you never forget. He touched my life. I wanted to touch the lives of others by creating my own memorable characters.  

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

The best part of the writing process for me is when I get totally immersed in the fictive dream and all concepts of time disappear. People ask me if it is lonely being a writer and sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Yes, it can be. But once the dream has captured you, it is thrilling, filled with excitement and adventure, and there is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing.

Describe your latest book in 4 words.

Mysterious, heart-wrenching and human. 

Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?

I have just completed the edits and handed off a stand-alone novel to Tirgearr Publishing. It is entitled The Good Shepherd and is the story of a priest who falls in love with one of his parishioners and she ends up being murdered. I suspect it will release sometime in the summer of 2018.

I’m also working on the 4th book in the Detective Winston Radhauser series. It is entitled, A River of Shame and it is about the murders of two high school students in what appears to be hate crimes.


When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street address. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.

The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.

Enjoy this excerpt from A RIVER OF SILENCE:

Prologue ~ 1988

In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the CD speakers, Alabama sang You’ve Got the Touch. He hummed along.

He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.

“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”

She laughed. “Any guy intimidated by a couple 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”

He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”

The radio released some static.

Radhauser turned off the CD.

Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.

Her mobile phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.

“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”

She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”

His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”

Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”

The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.

She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.

He jogged around the back of the cruiser.

Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he were a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.

“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.

She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”

The bubble of anxiety inside him burst. “What happened? Are they all right?”

Finney turned on the siren, flipped a U-turn, then raced toward the hospital on the corner of Craycroft and Grant. “I don’t know any details.”

TMC was a designated Trauma 1 Center and most serious accident victims were taken there. That realization both comforted and terrified him. “Didn’t they say the accident happened near the Orange Grove exit?”

“I know what you’re thinking. It must be bad or they’d be taken to the closest hospital and that would be Northwest.” She stared at him with the look of a woman who knew him almost as well as Laura did. “Don’t imagine the worst. They may not have been in a car accident. Didn’t you tell me Lucas had an equestrian meet?”

Laura had driven their son to a competition in south Tucson. Maybe Lucas got thrown. He imagined the horse rearing, his son’s lanky body sliding off the saddle and landing with a thump on the arena floor. Thank God for sawdust. Laura must have ridden in the ambulance with him.

But Orange Grove was the exit Laura would have taken on her drive home. The meet ended at 9:00 p.m. Lucas always stayed to unsaddle the horse, wipe the gelding down, and help Coach Thomas load him into his trailer. About a half hour job. That would put his family near the Orange Grove exit around ten.

The moon slipped behind a cloud and the sudden darkness seemed alive and a little menacing as it pressed against the car windows.

Less than ten minutes later, Finney pulled into the ER entrance and parked in the lot. “I’m coming with you,” she said.

He shot her a you-know-better look, then glanced toward the back seat where their collar was snoring against the door, his mouth open and saliva dribbling down his chin. It was against policy to leave an unguarded suspect in the car.

“I don’t give a damn about policy,” she said.

“What if he wakes up, hitches a ride home and takes out his wife and kids? Put him in the drunk tank. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He ran across the parking lot. The ER doors opened automatically and he didn’t stop running until he reached the desk. “I’m Winston Radhauser. My wife and son were brought in by ambulance.”

The young nurse’s face paled and her gaze moved from his eyes to somewhere over his head.

With the change in her expression, his hope dropped into his shoes. He looked behind her down a short corridor where a set of swinging doors blocked any further view. “Where are they?”

It was one of those moments he would remember for a lifetime, where everything happened in slow motion.

She told him to wait while she found a doctor to talk to him, and nodded toward one of the vinyl chairs that lined the waiting room walls.

He sat. Tried to give himself an attitude adjustment. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as he thought. Laura or Lucas could be in surgery and the nurse, obviously just out of nursing school, didn’t know how to tell him.

He stood.


Sat again. The hospital might have a policy where only a physician could relate a patient’s condition to his family.

His heart worked overtime, pumping and pounding.

When he looked up, a young woman in a lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck stood in front of him. She had pale skin and was thin as a sapling, her light brown hair tied back with a yellow rubber band. Her eyes echoed the color of a Tucson sky with storm clouds brewing. “Are you Mr. Radhauser?”

He nodded.

“Please come with me.”

He expected to be taken to his wife and son, but instead she led him into a small room about eight feet square. It had a round table with a clear glass vase of red tulips in the center, and two chairs. Though she didn’t look old enough to have graduated from medical school, she introduced herself as Dr. Silvia Waterford, an ER physician.

They sat.

“Tell me what happened to my wife and son.”

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “It was an automobile accident on Interstate 10.”

The thread of hope he held started to unravel. “Are Laura and Lucas all right? I want to see them.”

Her throat rippled as she swallowed. “There is no easy way to say this, Mr. Radhauser. I’m so sorry for your loss. But there was nothing we could do for them.”

All at once the scene bleached out. The tulips faded to gray as if a giant flashbulb had gone off in his face. The doctor was rimmed in white light. He stared at her in disbelief for a moment, praying for a mistake, a miracle, anything except what he just heard. “What do you mean there was nothing you could do? This is a Level 1 Trauma Center, isn’t it? One of the best in the state.”

“Yes. But unfortunately, medical science has its limits and we can’t save everyone. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival.”

His body crumpled in on itself, folding over like paper, all the air forced from his chest. This was his fault. Laura asked him to take the night off and go with them. Radhauser would have avoided the freeway and driven the back way home from the fairgrounds. And everything would have ended differently.

He looked up at Dr. Waterford. What was he demanding of her? Even the best trauma center in the world couldn’t bring back the dead.

There was sadness in her eyes. “I’m sure it’s not any comfort, but we think they died on impact.”

He hung his head. “Comfort,” he said. Even the word seemed horrific and out of place here. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival. Nine words that changed his life in the most drastic way he had ever imagined.

“May I call someone for you? We have clergy on staff if you’d like to talk with someone.”

A long moment passed before he raised his head and took in a series of deep breaths, trying to collect himself enough to speak. “No clergy, unless they can bring my family back. Just tell me where my wife and son are.” His voice sounded different, deeper—not the same man who went to work that evening.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “But when deaths occur in the ER, we have to move them down to the morgue.”

Radhauser stood. Beneath his anguish, a festering anger simmered. Laura was a good driver. He was willing to bet she wasn’t at fault. More than anything now, he needed someone aside from himself to blame.

Outside, a siren wailed, then came to an abrupt stop. The sound panicked Radhauser as he headed for the elevator, waited for the door to open, then got inside. He pushed the button to the basement floor. He’d visited this hospital morgue once before to identify a fellow police officer shot in a robbery arrest gone bad. The door opened and he lumbered down the empty hallway.

As he neared the stainless steel door to the morgue, a tall, dark-haired man in a suit exited. At first Radhauser thought he was a hospital administrator. The man cleared his throat, flipped open a leather case and showed his badge. “I’m Sergeant Dunlop with the Tucson Police Department. Are you Mr. Radhauser?”

“Detective Radhauser. Pima County Sheriff’s Department.”

Dunlop had a handshake Radhauser felt in every bone in his right hand. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Detective.”

“Are you investigating the accident involving my wife and son?” Radhauser looked him over. Dunlop wore a pin-striped brown suit with a yellow shirt and a solid brown tie—the conservative uniform of a newly-promoted sergeant. The air around them smelled like antiseptic and the industrial solvent used to wash floors. “Have you determined who was at fault?”

Dunlop hesitated for an instant. “Yes, I’m the investigating officer. From the eyewitness reports, your wife was not to blame. A Dodge pickup was headed south in the northbound lane of Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove exit. No lights. He hit her head-on.”

Radhauser cringed. The image cut deep. “Was he drunk?”

“I need to wait for the blood alcohol test results to come back.”

The anger building inside Radhauser got closer to the surface every second. Silence hung between them like glass. He shattered it. “Don’t give me that bullshit. You were on the scene. What did you see? What did the breathalyzer read?”

Dunlop’s silence told Radhauser everything he needed to know. “Did the bastard die at least?”

“He was miraculously uninjured. But his twin boys weren’t so lucky.” Dunlop’s voice turned flat. “They didn’t make it.” He winced, and a tide of something bitter and hopeless washed over his face. “The idiot let them ride in the pickup bed. Five fucking years old.”

“What’s the idiot’s name?”

“You don’t need to know that right now.”

Biting his lip, Radhauser fought against the surge of rage threatening to flood over him. “Who are you to tell me what I need to know? It’s not your wife and kid in there. Besides, I can easily access the information.”

Dunlop handed him a card. “I know you can. But you have something more important to do right now. We can talk tomorrow.” He draped his arm over Radhauser’s shoulder the way a brother or a friend might do.

The touch opened a hole in Radhauser’s chest.

“Say goodbye to your wife and son,” Dunlop said, then turned and walked away.

In the morgue, after Radhauser introduced himself, a male attendant pulled back the sheet covering their faces. There was no mistake.

“Do you mind if I sit here for a while?” Radhauser asked.

“No problem,” the attendant said. “Stay as long as you want.” He went back to a small alcove where he entered data into a computer. The morgue smelled like the hallway had, disinfectant and cleaning solution, with an added hint of formaldehyde.

Radhauser sat between the stainless steel gurneys that held Laura and Lucas. Of all the possible scenarios Radhauser imagined, none ended like this.

Across the room, two small body bags lay, side by side, on a wider gurney. The twin sons of the man who killed his family.

The clock on the morgue wall kept ticking and when Radhauser finally looked up at it, four hours had passed. He tried, but couldn’t understand how Laura and Lucas could be in the world one minute and gone the next. How could he give them up? It was as if a big piece of him had been cut out. And he didn’t know how to go on living without his heart.

For an entire year afterwards, Radhauser operated in a daze. He spent the late evening hours playing For the Good Times on Laura’s old upright piano. It was the first song they ever slow danced to and over their fourteen years together, it became their own.

He played it again and again. The neighbors complained, but he couldn’t stop. It was the only way he could remember the apricot scent of her skin and how it felt to hold her in his arms on the dance floor.

Night after night, he played until he finally collapsed into a fitful sleep, his head resting on the keyboard. The simple acts of waking up, showering, making coffee, and heading to work became a cruel pretense acted out in the cavernous absence of his wife and son.

Releasing everywhere January 24th
you can pre-order A RIVER OF SILENCE
for only 99¢ at the following venues:

About The Author

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She has been writing poems and short stories since she could hold a pencil and was so in love with writing that she became a creative writing major in college.

Prior to an early retirement which enabled her to write full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. It was there she met her husband, Andreas, one of the deans in the University of Arizona's Medical School. About five years after their marriage, they left Tucson to pursue their dreams in 1991--purchasing a 35-acres horse ranch in the Williams Valley in Oregon. They spent a decade there. Andy road, trained and bred Arabian horses and coached a high school equestrian team, while Susan got serious about her writing career. 

Through the writing process, Susan has learned that she must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in her work.

After spending 3 years in Nashville, Susan and Andy now share a quiet life in Grants Pass, Oregon, with her growing list of fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. When she isn't writing, Susan enjoys making quilts and stained-glass windows. She says it is a lot like writing--telling stories with fabric and glass.