Top 5 Mistakes When Writing YA

Top 5 Mistakes When Writing YA, guest post by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge

I’ve been writing YA for a little over five years now, and as you can imagine, when I first started, I made mistakes. Boy, did I made mistakes! Writing YA, as it turns out, was every bit as hard as I’d thought it would be. It’s a daunting task, to be sure, so I’m here to pass along my Top 5 Mistakes and how I corrected them.

I made them so you don’t have to.

Top 5 Mistakes When Writing YA, guest post by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
1. Not Reading in the Genre
I’ll list this first since it was my biggest mistake. How could I expect to write YA when I didn’t have a good grasp on it? I had no knowledge of how to portray believable young adults, and yet I wanted actual young adults to read my book. Fat. Chance.

How I Corrected It
FaceBook and Goodreads were my saviors here. I friended people who I knew were YA fans, and I asked them what was good. I joined YA groups and engaged in conversation. I asked specific questions and asked for specific recommendations (e.g., solid female characters, non-heteronormative, etc) and I said thank you for their time and answers.

In addition, I searched Goodreads for LGBTQ YA and came up with a list there. I looked at other people’s reading lists. Then, I went out and bought a Kindle Paperwhite, which is ONLY for e-reading, and I began downloading samples. I read and read and read. I am still reading.

    Friend other YA fans/Join YA groups on FaceBook

    Ask for specific recommendations

    Be polite and say thank you

    Check Goodreads for lists of YA books

    Read, read, read.

2. Whiny Heroine
Okay, this one was hard to admit. My heroine, while she kicked a lot of butt, kind of whined about it the entire way. That wasn’t my intent, of course. I intended to create a layered character who had real problems and needed real solutions. The problem was, like many people in real life, she complained but had no plan to change anything. This made her unlikable and a complete Miss Whiny Pants

How I Corrected It
I started to read like a writer. That is, I read, analyzing what the authors I liked did. I went back to the heroines I liked. They, too, had real problems. And sometimes they did whine a little bit. I’ll emphasize the a little bit here. But whine or not, they always had a plan. And they always picked themselves up no matter how down and out they were. They were go-getters, not stay here and whiners.

When I went to my manuscript, I did two things. First, I made sure the heroine’s plight was sympathetic. To do that, I made it universal. This is because while very few people can identify with the physical and mental hardships Frodo suffers in Mordor, everyone can identify with fear of failure, fear of letting down our friends, the fear and pain of loss. That’s where to put your focus. On your hero’s very basic internal needs, wants, and desires.

Second, I allowed my characters 1-2 lines max to whine and feel sorry for themselves, and then I made them realize they’re being completely Miss WhinyPants and they need to get up and move forward. These two techniques in conjunction made it so the character was both relatable and likable. Because, it’s easy to like someone who, when faced with failure, picks herself up, dusts herself off, and tries tries again. 

    Read like a writer

    Analyze how other authors make their heroines likable

    Do that thing

    Make the heroine’s plight universal

    Make sure she has a plan

3. The Stakes Weren’t Evident
While this error happens a lot to writers in every genre, I’m listing it because it came out of my preconceived notions of what YA is.

I made the mistake of thinking that YA had to somehow be “fluffier” than fiction for adults. Boy, was I wrong! Once I started reading in the genre, I discovered that a lot of YA tackles some serious material—drugs, abuse, rape, teen pregnancy, coming out, transitioning, suicide, loss. Let’s be honest, it’s darn tough to be a teen and pre-teen in today’s world. Kids have a lot of pressures these days, and watching heroes and heroines tackle those challenges in fiction is affirming. We need more stories like this. I’m a firm believer that most young adults would rather hear terrible truths than pretty lies.

How I Corrected It
I stopped making it fluffy. I let my heroine get hurt. And I showed how she’s stronger for recovering, for never giving up. I let her feel pain, and I let her react to it, but I was conscious that she should be proactive and have agency and consistently adjust to the curve balls that life threw at her.

    Stop making it fluffy

    Let your hero get hurt

    Have your hero make continual adjustments and keep going

4. Purple Prose
Oh, holy cats, this is my weakness in, like, everything. My first draft was seriously waxing poetic—a lot of ten-cent words and imagery, which was beautiful but extremely distancing. In YA, that just wasn’t the voice that would capture my target audience.

For the most part, YA readers want to be in the hero's head, which means a lot of internal dialogue, a lot of close POV. The problem with that is, purple prose by its very nature is very distancing.

How I Corrected It
First, I changed the verb tense to first person present tense. Now I know a lot of people don’t like this tense, but you really can’t beat it for immediacy and being in the mind of the POV character. And, honestly? It changed everything. It gave me more immediacy and more of a feeling of being connected to the heroine.

By no means am I advocating for anyone to change their verb tense. Do what works for you is what I’m saying. In my case, it was first-person present tense.

Second, I went for short, punchier prose with a healthy dose of snark and wit, and you know what? It worked. The characters’ voices suddenly worked because they sounded authentic.

    Don’t clutter your story with long descriptions and overwrought text

    Stay in the heroine's mind and let the reader know what she thinks about all of this.

5. Wrong Age Group
So, when I first began writing YA, I thought that young adults wanted to read about other young adults their age. It seemed so elementary, right? Again, I was completely wrong. So very completely wrong. What I learned was that young adults tend to read “up.” That is, thirteen year olds want to read about fifteen and sixteen year olds. Someone once said to me, “Well, you looked up to your big brother, right?” And then it all made sense.

How I Corrected It
I changed the ages of my protagonists to suit my target audience. In Circuit Fae, I made the primary heroine, Syl Skye, fifteen and a high school sophomore. I’m hoping younger adults see her as someone cool to look up to!

    Young adults like to read “up.”

    Make your heroine a few years older than your target audience

And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are any number of “big mistakes” you can make, but these are my five biggies—the Top 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made So You Don't Have To.

Top 5 Mistakes When Writing YA, guest post by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance--where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds. 

She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she's clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.    

She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.

GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.

Author links:
Join GIE's newsletter at Monster House Books and never miss a release:

Top 5 Mistakes When Writing YA, guest post by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge


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Things Authors Need To Know About Book Bloggers

Things Authors Need To Know About Book Bloggers

Continuing the series of posts about book blogging, today we're taking a closer look at some of the things authors need to know about book bloggers.

Book bloggers want to share their love for books with the world, and serve one or all of the following: the reader, the author, and the publisher.

Book bloggers offer more than retail stores

Readers want to hear from readers. Book bloggers have an audience that is specifically looking for information and opinions about books: an authors target audience. Some also concentrate on specific genres and so reach a very niche audience.

Book bloggers will post to their blogs, but also to their various social media platforms, giving authors a wider audience.

Post review etiquette

Thank the book blogger, and share their blog post everywhere. Help drive more traffic to their site. The bigger their audience, the better it is for you.

The biggest challenges for book bloggers

Book blogging takes a large amount of time. Between reading and blogging, book bloggers can often feel overwhelmed. For many, it's something they do in their free time, and not as a full time job. Sometimes it can be hard to meet a deadline and they then worry about upsetting the author. The best thing you can do to help them, is be flexible and understanding. 

The book blogging community

The book blogging community is very supportive of one another. They like nothing more than discussing the books they've read and giving reading suggestions to their fellow book blogging buddies. It's part of the reason they do what they do. They may also share information about authors who were a pleasure to work with (and those that weren't).

PR Research indicators

Book bloggers may also share their opinions about book tour companies they have worked with. If you are thinking of using a book tour company to do a virtual book tour for your book, check the sites of book bloggers to see which ones they regularly work with. It's a good indication that the company is doing a good job. 

Things Authors Need To Know About Book Bloggers

Also in this series: 

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Interview with Douglas Board

Interview with Douglas Board

Today's interview is a little different from the one's I usually post here, but brings some light on a genre that doesn't get discussed often; the life of a satirical writer.  

Disclosure: Political views are that of the author. Writers and Authors believes in discussing books of all genres. 

Douglas Board is a British satirist. His first novel ‘MBA’ (why is so much of the world managed by assholes?) was published in 2015. The UK’s Bookseller compared it to Franzen’s Freedom or Eggers’ The Circle; Booklist Online called it a ‘hilarious fiction debut [which] takes no prisoners’. ‘Time of Lies’, a taking apart of post-truth, post-Brexit British politics came out last summer. British political writers acclaimed it as ‘a milestone in dystopian fiction’ which ‘has our Brexit era nailed’.

Interview with Douglas Board
On both sides of the Atlantic, these are crazy political times. What challenges does that pose for the satirical writer?

Giant, for any writer on book-like timescales. For example ‘Time of Lies’ was conceived around 2013; the writing started before a referendum on Brexit was on the cards. At the very least you must have a deep story which isn’t fast-moving. In ‘Time of Lies’ that story is deep social division – the mutual ignorance and contempt between ruling class and ruled which I see in my country, in the USA and more generally. Social division can’t change fast (sadly).

So don’t shoot at a moving target.

That’s fundamental, but not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Readers only get to the deep story through plot and a host of details: in that shallow water the crazy political weather can wreak havoc. The writer’s challenge is a bit like this: your target may not be moving, but the clothes you’ve worn to the range could suddenly look inappropriate.

Literally days before the release of your White House satire, we’re reading ‘Fire and Fury’, Michael Wolff’s tell-all exposé. What’s the deep story in ‘The Rats’, and how are the story’s clothes looking?

The novelette’s deep story is exploring delusion. I think anyone who has led or coached senior leaders (I’ve had the good fortune to do both), knows more than they might like to let on about delusion. ‘The Rats’ builds on that. How are the clothes looking? I did miss that there are 3 TV screens in Trump’s White House bedroom but overall I think I’m grinning: I’d no idea that the Trumps are the first Presidential couple since the Kennedys to have separate bedrooms, but the story has an intuition in that direction; in a scene hinting at the Emperor’s new clothes, the president in ‘The Rats’ appears naked but for a dressing gown. In ‘Fire and Fury’, the newly inaugurated Trump spends forty-eight hours roaming the White House insisting that he didn’t own a bathrobe. ‘Do I seem like a bathrobe kind of guy, really?’. Actually, I count that as a win; but the prize has to be when Wolff pictures Trump thinking of Comey: ‘And always there were rats. A rat was someone who would take you down for his own advantage. If you had a rat, you needed to kill it.’ I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Interview with Douglas Board
How did having leadership experience help you satirically? Have you had the experience of being attacked or mocked?

I think the laughter which comes from being willing to laugh at yourself, or an important part of yourself, has a different feel, and more insight, than just laughing at others. I believe that’s true in both of my novels – perhaps most obviously in ‘MBA’, given that I help teach at a business school in London.

And I have been mocked. I had the privilege of serving for several years as trustee and then treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Collectively we were constantly mocked as ‘liberals’ by the right-wing Daily Mail, although the kind of causes to which we allocated funds (such as fighting AIDS or helping refugees) were precisely those where Diana had set an example. When I stepped down from the Fund to chair Britain’s largest refugee charity, that drew the Daily Mail’s fire.

Imagine if Diana were alive today, and going to meet Trump on his forthcoming British visit … wow!

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Writing Great Historical Fiction

Writing Great Historical Fiction Guest post by Samuel Marquis

In Blackbeard: The Birth of America, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis, the ninth great-grandson of Captain William Kidd, chronicles the legendary Edward Thache—former British Navy seaman and notorious privateer-turned-pirate, who lorded over the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. A Robin-Hood-like American patriot and the most famous freebooter of all time, Blackbeard was illegally hunted down by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, the British Crown’s man in Williamsburg obsessed with his capture. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death.

Writing Great Historical Fiction Guest post by Samuel Marquis
The story of Blackbeard the pirate is a story that has been lost to us in a “fog of legend, myth and propaganda” for three hundred years. So, when I had to recreate the world of swashbucklers for my historical fiction book Blackbeard: The Birth of America, the task before me was a daunting one: I had to tell the truth. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.

The image of Jamaican Edward Thache as a villainous cutthroat was spawned by the overactive imagination of the world’s first pirate author, Captain Charles Johnson (Nathanial Mist), who wrote A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates in 1724 six years after Blackbeard’s death. As Blackbeard historian Arne Bialuschewski states about the book upon which the last nearly three hundred years of pirate literature has been based: “This book has been plundered by generations of historians, despite the fact that it is riddled with errors, exaggerations, and misunderstandings.” So to get the story right in my historical recreation of Blackbeard—in other words, to portray the legendary Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, as accurately as possible—I had not only to synthesize available records from countless primary sources from colonial archives and the most reliable modern researchers, I had to resist the temptation to indulge in the myriad Blackbeard and pirate myths that have regurgitated Captain Johnson’s handed-down tropes and permeated books like Treasure Island and Captain Blood, movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, and TV shows like Black Sails and Crossbones.

As I said, it wasn’t easy—and it won’t be easy for you in writing your historical fiction novel—but you must do it. To accurately portray your historical figures in your breakout novel that every agent and publisher will want, it is most helpful to place the actual historical figures where they physically were during a given recorded historical event and use, to the extent possible, their actual words based on case files, contemporary transcripts, trial documents, memoirs, and other quoted materials. Like Michael Shaara in his excellent historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels, do not “consciously change any fact” or “knowingly violate the action.”

At the same time, the interpretations of character and motivation are up to you. That’s because the book’s characters are ultimately a part of your overall imaginative landscape and are, therefore, the fictitious creations of the author, reflecting your personal research interests and biases. But the scenes themselves and the historical figures should be as historically accurate as a non-fiction history book. Why, you ask? You want your story to be accurate because all the other important things—sympathetic characters, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and unexpected twists and turns—spring from portraying your beloved heroes and villains in all their glory and infamy just like the real-world, flawed historical figures they were. You also want to pass muster from history aficionados and your most demanding readers, who will pick you apart if you don’t get the details right. The bottom line is that history itself provides plenty of conflict, tension, and drama, and does not need to be consciously changed to generate more excitement. It is up to you as the author to select those scenes of historical significance and bring them back to life in vivid color, while filling in between known historical events with scenes that shed light on the historical figures’ true motivation and character.

Of course, this means that you will need to go full-method on your research. Like an overzealous Hollywood method actor who stays in character through a film’s production, when I write my books I become literally immersed in the world of WWII spies, modern intelligence officers, or pirates by reading everything I can get my hands on. To develop the story line, characters, and scenes for Blackbeard: The Birth of America, I consulted over a hundred archival materials, non-fiction books, magazine and newspaper articles, blogs, Web sites, and numerous individuals, and I visited most every real-world location in person. These principal locations included London; Bath Town, Ocracoke, Beaufort, and Charles Town in the Carolinas; Bermuda; and the Bahamas, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and other locations in the Caribbean. At the end of my books, I provide a full listing of all my primary sources and secondary references for readers to explore on their own, which many often do and tell me so in their book reviews.

You can do the same. Going full-method on your research helps ensure historical accuracy and that you don’t put forward an “agenda” to make your history-based works more palatable to today’s readers, a common sin of historical fiction authors. Just tell the true story, while injecting your own subtle spin on character and motivation since that is the subjective part where some degree of freedom makes sense.

What about the level of historical detail you might ask? Many so-called writing experts would have us believe that one of the most common mistakes historical fiction authors make, particularly neophytes, is to overload their books with historical details because they cannot resist the temptation to show off their research skills. Actually, I find just the opposite to be true. Many historical fiction novels, often those by major brand name authors, have too little detail and are technically wanting, or they simply contain too much detail without actually advancing the plot or having characters that captivate us. The objective, of course, is to immerse the reader in a new and exciting world, like WWII or the Golden Age of Piracy, while still propelling the plot along at a furious pace and making the reader feel as though the details are not details at all, but at the very heart of the characters and setting in which they live. The key to consistently achieving this goal is to maintain a brisk pace with ample external historical events, to create characters that are both memorable and lovable (or at least intriguingly despicable), and to construct a historical world that is absolutely authentic. If the overall pace is fast enough, and the reader loves your characters and is able to empathize with them and believe what they believe or is at least able to understand them in a deep way, she will love your book even though immersed in a world of historical jargon.

It all lies in the pacing and freshly bringing out the real historical characters and the most important events in their lives —without tampering with the truth. Thus, pacing and historical truth must go hand in hand. As WWII suspense writer Alan Furst says, “You must not bore the reader, whatever else you do.” I would add a caveat: “But in doing so, you must tell the truth.

Writing Great Historical Fiction Guest post by Samuel Marquis
The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of historical pirate fiction, a World War Two Series, and the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest Best Book, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, Next Generation Indie, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers Bodyguard of Deception and Altar of Resistance to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, and Alan Furst. Mr. Marquis’s newest historical fiction novel, Blackbeard: The Birth of America, commemorates the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. His website is and for publicity inquiries, please contact JKS Communications at
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Book Showcase: Act of Revenge by Dale Brown

Book Showcase: Act of Revenge by Dale Brown

Title: Act of Revenge

Author: Dale Brown

Book Showcase: Act of Revenge by Dale Brown
About the book:
When terrorists attack Boston, Louis Massina races against time to save the city with a high-tech counteroffensive . . .
On Easter Sunday morning, the city of Boston is struck by a widespread and coordinated series of terrorist attacks: an explosion in the T, a suicide bomber at Back Bay Police Station, and heavily armed gunmen taking hostages at the Patriot Hotel.
For robotics innovator Louis Massina, aka the Puppet Master, this is far more personal than a savage act of political terrorism. Boston is his city—and one of his employees, Chelsea Goodman, is among the hostages facing certain death. As Chelsea fights from the inside, Massina leads his team of tech geniuses at Smart Metal to deploy every bot, drone, and cyber weapon at their disposal to defeat the fanatics and save his city and friend.
That's step one. Step two: Find the twisted mastermind behind the attacks and make him pay.

Book Showcase: Act of Revenge by Dale Brown
About the Author:
Dale Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, from Flight of the Old Dog (1987) in 1987, to, most recently, Iron Wolf (2015). A former U.S. Air Force captain, he can often be found flying his own plane over the skies of Nevada. Jim DeFelice is the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller American Sniper. DeFelice is the author of Omar Bradley: General at War, the first in-depth critical biography of America’s last five-star general. He also writes a number of acclaimed military thrillers, including the Rogue Warrior series from Richard Marcinko, founder of SEAL Team 6, and the novels in the Dreamland series with Dale Brown.

Catch Up With Our Dale Brown On his WebsiteGoodreads PageTwitter, & Facebook Page!


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Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Title: White Witch 
Author: Larry D Thompson

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson
About the book:
When a ruthless American aluminum company plans to strip mine the Jamaican rainforest, they send former Navy SEAL Will Taylor to Montego Bay to deal with local resistance. But he’s unaware that the British had signed a treaty deeding it to the Jamaican Maroons, descendants of escaped slaves, over 300 years ago. The Maroons fought and died for their land then, and are willing to do so now. Upon Will’s arrival, a series of inexplicable murders begin, some carried out with deadly snake daggers that were owned and used by Annie Palmer, a voodoo priestess better known as the White Witch. She was killed 200 years prior, but is said to still haunt the island.
Forced into the middle of it, Will is finally convinced to join the Maroons, headed by Vertise Broderick, a Maroon who resigned from the New York Times to return to Jamaica to save the rainforest. To stop the mining, they hire a Jamaican attorney to prove that the Maroon/British treaty is still valid, and they take it upon themselves to solve the White Witch murders, because the legend of the White Witch can’t possibly be true…
Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson

Warning this excerpt contains some strong language


Will returned to his room, too wound up to sleep. He stripped to his underwear and flipped channels on a large screen HD television until he ran across First Blood with Sylvester Stallone. Having lived that life for a few years, he never passed up the opportunity to watch it again. He settled back and had drifted off to sleep when his cell chimed. He glanced at the television to make sure it was not coming from there and found Fred Astaire waltzing Ginger Rogers around a ballroom. He turned off the television and reached for his phone.


“Will, Alexa here.” It was nearly three in the morning and Alexa was still at her desk. Smoke drifted from a cigarette in her ashtray while she sucked on a Tootsie Pop. She was on the speaker phone. When Will answered, she walked to her window and stared at the lights of Baltimore.

Will turned on the nightstand light, glanced at the clock, and swung his feet
into a sitting position on the side of the bed. “Yes, ma’am. Little late for a booty
“Cut the crap. Kaven was just found at Rose Hall. He’s dead.”

“What? Are you sure? I just saw him a few hours ago.” Will got to his feet and began pacing the room. “Shit.”

“Must be those goddamn Maroons. He called me last night once he got back from Accompong. He told me about what happened up there. By the way, they let the pilot go. They said they had no beef with him.”

“So I heard. What was Kaven doing at Rose Hall? When I saw him, he was going to his room.”

“How the hell should I know? I got a call from some local detective. They found his employee identification in his wallet. When the detective called here, the operator knew I was still in my office and put the call through to me. You need to get to Rose Hall now.
“Yes, ma’am,” Will agreed.
“And I’m flying down there tomorrow before this gets any more out of hand. See if you can keep anybody else from being killed until I get there.”

Will’s cell went dead. He put it on the nightstand and picked up the hotel phone. Pleased to find it working, he punched the key for valet parking.

“Good evening, Mr. Taylor. How can I be of assistance?”

“Bring my company Land Rover to the front as quickly as possible.”

Getting assurance that it would be there when he got downstairs, Will hung up and walked to the bathroom. Five minutes later he was met at the hotel entrance by a valet.

“Can I give you directions, Mr. Taylor? It’s a little late at night.”

“No thanks. I know exactly where I’m going.” Will got in the car, fastened
his seat belt, and left the hotel.
When Will got to Rose Hall, he turned onto the road they had just come
down the evening before. At the top of the hill he could see the mansion, now
well lighted. He dodged tree limbs and utility wires and parked among several
other vehicles. Police cars were positioned so that their headlights focused on the
steps of the mansion where Will could see the yellow police crime scene tape. He
walked up a path from the parking lot between the police cars that faced the
mansion to the yellow tape where an officer stood watch. The officer came to
attention as Will approached.

“Sorry, mon. I can’t let you past here. We’re investigating a murder.”

Will kept his voice even but controlling. “I know, officer. That’s why I’m here. Name’s William Taylor. I’m head of security for Global American Metals. Here’s my identification.” Will tried to hand him an ID. The officer just shook his head. “Officer, the dead man is one of Global’s employees. Can you get someone in authority to let me up there?”

Before the officer could reply, Miles Harper, the St. James Parish Chief of Detectives, approached. Harper was a lean, fit man with a shaved head and a no nonsense manner. He was dressed in a brown suit, yellow shirt, and matching tie. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ Magazine, even at three in the morning.

“Mr. Taylor, I’m Miles Harper, Chief of Detectives in this parish. I was told by your company to expect you.”

Will extended his right hand. Harper ignored it. Instead, he nodded at the officer and motioned for Will to follow him. Harper went up a dozen steps and turned to Will as he stood beside Kaven’s body, sprawled on his back with dagger in his chest. Will bent over for a closer look and found that the handle of the dagger was in the shape of a snake. At the top of the handle was the snake’s head. The snake’s eyes were two bright rubies.

“Shit,” Will muttered, “He was almost killed because of one snake on the road today and now someone finished the job with a, what would you call this, a snake dagger?”

“That’s as good a name as any, Mr. Taylor. My officers reported what went on up in Accompong and the incident with the boa.”
Will continued to study the body. “Looks like he’s been dead a couple of hours. I last saw him about ten last night. Who found him?”

“The hotel has a security guard that roams the mansion grounds and up to the club house in a golf cart. He spotted the body.”

“Where’s your coroner?”

“He’s a local Justice of the Peace, not a medical doctor. He won’t set foot on these steps until morning. My men here won’t go past the tape either. They believe the White Witch did it.”

Will shook his head in disbelief. “Come on, Chief, this is the twenty-first century.”

“Old beliefs die hard, Mr. Taylor. Come on. Let me show you something.”

Harper stepped around the body and climbed the steps with Will behind him. Entering the ballroom, Will said, “I was just in this room yesterday evening during the storm.”
Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”

Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”

Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”
Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been broken and the daggers were gone.

“You see this case when you were up here?”

Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.
It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer. evening during the storm.”

Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”
Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”
Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”
Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been broken and the daggers were gone.

“You see this case when you were up here?”

Will studied it and thought back to the day before. “Can’t say I did, Chief.
It was pretty dark in here, lit only by candles since the storm knocked out power. I wandered around the room but never glanced toward this case. And I don’t believe anyone else mentioned it. Now that I think about it, Vertise told us the legend of Annie Palmer and her using a snake dagger to kill an overseer. Surprising that she didn’t show us these daggers when she was telling the story.”

“Interesting,” mused Harper. “You have any idea why your man would come up here in the middle of the night?”

“Not a clue. Have you checked his cell phone? He always carried it.”

“Yeah. The last calls were with you yesterday afternoon and one with Ms. Pritchard later in the evening.”

Will nodded. “He called me from Accompong, warning me of trouble up there. I should have gone with him.”

Harper shook his head. “Whether you were there or not wouldn’t have made any difference. Just would have been one more person that was in my police car that rolled, assuming, of course, you didn’t take a bullet up on the mountain.”


“How did you get in the mansion?”

“Vertise said she knew where a key was hidden and let us in.”

“Strange that she could get into the locked mansion. It was my understanding that only the manager of Rose Hall had a key. He locked it and left when the storm was hitting. The hotel spent a fortune on period pieces to recreate how it looked two hundred years ago. One of his jobs is to make sure they are not stolen.”

“Any signs of a break-in?” Will asked.

“This is not for publication, you understand, but when I got here the mansion was locked and the lights were off.”

“So, you’re saying that someone got into the mansion, stole two daggers, let themselves back out, killed Kaven, and left no trace.” Will paused to absorb all that he had just said. “Wait a minute. If someone wanted to kill Kaven, why not
just use a gun? Why go to all the trouble of getting that dagger to do it?”

“I’ve been wrestling with that very question,” Harper said. “It’s illegal for a private citizen to own a gun in Jamaica, but that doesn’t mean they are not available if you know the right people. My working hypothesis is that the killer or killers wanted the public to think voodoo was involved, or maybe even the White Witch. The only other possibility that comes to mind is that the Maroons are trying to send a message to Global. They tried to kill Tillman in Accompong and failed. Maybe the message is that they finish what they start. Either way, someone is trying to make trouble for your company. I have another problem
that may not be apparent.”

Will looked quizzically at the detective.

“As you can see, there were two snake daggers in this case. One’s accounted for out on the steps. The other is gone. Nearly everyone around here thinks that they are voodoo daggers with magical powers. They were found in an overseer’s grave during the restoration of the mansion thirty years ago.”

“Does ‘everyone’ include you? Looks to me like the killer or killers are just trying to mess with the minds of my co-workers, maybe keep some locals from
hiring on with us.”

Harper stuck his hands in his pockets. “Not up to me to decide if they’re magic or not. I’ve got a murder with one of those daggers. My job is to solve the murder and along the way, find that other dagger before someone uses it.”
Will’s eyes searched the room in a futile effort to see any clues to the crime.

Then he focused on the chief. “Look, I’m going to need a gun. My company is
obviously under attack. I’m licensed to carry back home.”

“No way, Mr. Taylor,” Harper exploded. “Foreigners are not permitted to have guns in Jamaica. For that matter, as I just told you, neither are Jamaicans.
And I want you to stay the hell out of my investigation. We don’t need your help. Understand?”

“Yeah, I understand. You know that each of our mines on this island is permitted a certain number of guns for our guards. I’ll just get one of those.”

“The hell you will. Don’t you dare go behind my back. Those guns never leave mine property. I have an officer that inventories them. If one turns up missing, I’ll confiscate every damn weapon that Global has and put you under house arrest. Clear, Mr. Taylor?”

Will clinched his fists and tried to hold back the anger that was apparent in his face. Without another word, he turned and stormed out of the mansion, pausing only to gaze at Kaven and say a prayer for him and his family. At the bottom of the steps, he got in his car and glanced toward the mansion. The lights from his car somehow caught the ruby eyes of the snake, making them appear briefly to be alive. Will shook his head, put the car in reverse, and returned to the hotel.

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About the Author: 

Excerpt: White Witch by Larry D Thompson
After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Larry spent the first half of his professional life as a trial lawyer. He tried well over 300 cases and won more than 95% of them. Although he had not taken a writing class since freshman English (back when they wrote on stone tablets), he figured that he had read enough novels and knew enough about trials, lawyers, judges, and courtrooms that he could do it. Besides, his late, older brother, Thomas Thompson, was one of the best true crime writers to ever set a pen to paper; so, just maybe, there was something in the Thompson gene pool that would be guide him into this new career. He started writing his first novel about a dozen years ago and published it a couple of years thereafter. He has now written five highly acclaimed legal thrillers. White Witch is number six with many more to come.
Larry is married to his wife, Vicki. He has three children scattered from Colorado to Austin to Boca Raton, and four grandchildren. He has been trying to retire from the law practice to devote full time to writing. Hopefully, that will occur by the end of 2018. He still lives in Houston, but spends his summers in Vail CO, high on a mountain where he is inspired by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Catch Up With Larry on larrydthompson.comGoodreadsTwitter, & Facebook!


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