My new novel, The Devil’s Gospel, is out today. It’s a thriller set in the rolling hills of Kentucky. The novel delves into wayward parental expectations, religious fanaticism, endemic plants, and more! There’s even an orangumantis (what you get when you cross an orangutan and a praying mantis).
From the back cover:
Biology Professor Kevin Ballard finds his quiet life rocked by a series of vicious mysterious events.
First, his mother is slain in his childhood home. Then his girlfriend (and research assistant) is kidnapped from their cabin and he finds that the plant he’s studying is apparently being used in strange local rituals.
To top it all off, the police think Kevin is somehow involved. Who wants to wreck his life and why?
Big thanks to my editor at Wild Rose Windy Goodloe, the book is much stronger for all our work together. Special thanks to S.L. Kerns, Aaron Hawkins, Vivian Baumgardner, Juanita Wigginton, and Sherry Coomer for reading earlier drafts and making suggestions.
Happy reading, y’all!
Page Count: 226
Word Count: 56053
The storm broke before Evelyn could put any of the windows up. She had them open on account of the warmer weather. The spring was finally showing and, with it, the unexpected heavy thunderstorms she used to be so scared of when she was younger. She hurried about the first floor, slamming windows shut and sliding on the already wet hardwood.
She closed both deck doors and raced upstairs as the storm raged into culmination. It looked like a broken faucet, the way water was streaming into the house, soaking the carpets. She’d just had them cleaned, too.
“Stupid, fickle woman,” she called herself.
After closing all the windows, she set about soaking up the water from the carpets. She laid out thick bath towels under the windows and, on her hands and knees, pressed and pressed. She moved back downstairs and wrapped bath towels around her feet and scooted across the slippery hardwood.
The thunderous roar of the storm had settled into a kind of grumbling, like great sleeping beasts rested just outside the windows in the steaming fog. She had just dropped the last wet towel into the hamper when the lights cut out. She stood straight up and groped about blindly with her hands for something to steady herself on. She found the dresser and held onto it with both hands while squinting into the inky, hot darkness. She forced herself to slow her breathing but couldn’t help feeling that childish fright with each flash of lightning and rumble of thunder.
She made it down the narrow hall, her hand sliding down across the wall, keeping her path straight in the dark, looking out the window with a fear she didn’t want to acknowledge.
A soundless lightning strike illuminated the empty, wet county road out front. The wall she was guiding herself with ended. She crossed the mudroom into the kitchen slowly, just able to make out the shapes of the walls. She couldn’t recall it ever being this dark before. Not since she was a little girl. And most nights seemed as dark as dark could be.
She tried the kitchen light switch before she could catch herself; some things were just reflex. She cursed herself under her breath and felt her way around the kitchen to the cabinet with the flashlight. She switched it on, and it flickered to life, coppery and weak. She crossed the kitchen back to the mudroom, opened a drawer of the cupboard, and got out the matches and tealight candles. She lit the candles one by one and set them on tables, cabinets, and desks about the first floor.
The thunder bellowed loudly, the beasts threatening to unleash the full din of the storm upon the old house again.
She winced at the lightning strike so near to the house and dropped the flashlight. Just outside the window, in the front yard, it seemed. The flashlight had gone out, so she reached down to pick it up. She flicked the switch several times, still crouched on her haunches, her aged knees and ankles creaking. The flashlight wouldn’t come back on.
“Fickle, clumsy old git,” she cussed herself.
She took the broken flashlight in one hand and set the other on her knee and heaved herself back to her feet.
Lightning flashed out front. A tall, slender dark shape just off the front porch flickered in the strike’s incandescence.