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"Just finished reading Hawthorne, and I am still in awe. I don't even know how to write a review for this piece. It was hauntingly beautiful with a southern charm from days gone by. Absolutely stunning. A great read with a wonderful plus - the proceeds have gone to charity. Wow, Sarah Ballance...WOW". - Amazon reader review from "Mackinnon"

If you’ve gotten within smelling distance of my blog lately, you know HAWTHORNE is the story of the season. It’s also only a BUCK and all proceeds go straight to charity, so if you are not one of the great and wonderful many who have already grabbed a copy, please consider doing so today. It’s a 40-page read that’ll leave you shocked, stunned, and possibly sobbing at the end (so say my readers, and you know how brilliant you all are). 

HAWTHORNE @ ASTRAEA PRESS | AMAZON | B&N  Psst: Those are not so subtle hints, but no need to leave just yet. I’ll repeat them at the end! :c)

Today I’m posting a brand new excerpt, straight from the hallows of Hawthorne and the heart of the story. Join me, won’t you, at the dark, deadly apex of an old Southern plantation on the banks of the Mississippi. Here, things are seldom as they seem ….

Was it the scene of her grandmother’s crime? Emma tried to laugh to herself, but it came as little more than a nervous stutter. The widow’s walk atop the roof of Hawthorne Manor may have made lasting repercussions on Emma’s own life—to say nothing of Alma’s—but it was Emma’s favorite spot in the entire state of Louisiana. With the roof dropping from underfoot on both sides, the velvet sky seemed to surround her. She used to try to count the stars with Noah, but their attempts to touch the dark always ended with their fingers twined together. There was always a moment where their quiet laughter drifted to an end, and in its place was the kind of awareness which came with falling in love. And oh, how she loved him. And this night … the sound of it took her back and changed her all over again.

Truthfully, she had no intention of revisiting the spot of her fall. Even as she climbed the winding stairs into the cupola which led to the widow’s walk, she resisted the trip. She’d regain nothing but any hard edges time had scoured from her memories. Be they good or bad, the hurt and loss of her recollections would be real.

But to her surprise—and in spite of her inner protests—Emma’s first steps on the walkway in a decade were light, her heart oddly free. Even when her thoughts went to Noah, they came with peace and no trace of the regret she’d harbored for so long.

Enjoying the sensation, she sank into the familiarity of her home and stared over the railing at the sprawling plantation. In the distance, moonlight skated across the ruddy surface of the Mississippi, the small ripples of waves lobbing on a distinct course to the south.

She was home.


Alma’s home. Alma, who met her end in that precise spot.

What irony. What…truth.


The apparition grew from a shimmer—a mere blip in the atmosphere—to a fully embodied spirit, all in the space of time required for Emma’s jaw to drop. The instinct to run kicked in, and with it the terror of her fall came back to her.

But she didn’t run. Emma’s spine steeled. She would not back off. Not this time.

The silence was awkward, Emma unsure. But Alma didn’t chase Emma. Instead, she seemed to beckon her.

Emma took a hesitant step in Alma’s direction.

Then another.

Alma retreated, matching Emma’s distance with some of her own.

Where was Alma taking her?

Their cadence took them to the cupola and the entry to the widow’s walk.

“Emma Grace!” Noah’s voice cut through from a great distance, frantic. “Emma Grace!”

From the corner of her eye, she spied him on the lawn. But she didn’t dare look away from Alma, as if she could keep the specter from disappearing by holding the woman’s form captive in her gaze. I won’t fall, Noah, she thought, hoping he’d somehow feel her words.

Alma gathered her skirts and faded through the small doorway. Literally—she was gone.

Emma passed through the threshold with caution, finding herself alone in the eight-­‐‑sided structure. The glass and wood shut out the sounds of the night, and she could no longer hear Noah calling her name. Just dead silence.

Then, inexplicably, she saw it.

Want to see for yourself why HAWTHORNE peaked at #51 ranked paid Amazon ghost stories, even besting the original Frankenstein for a short? Please buy a copy today! It’s only $1 and all 100% of both publisher and author proceeds are donated to benefit Japan disaster relief!


PS: Congratulations to maw1725@xx, the latest winner of my weekly giveaway! For your chance to win your choice of a $10 gift card to Noble Romance or a $5 gift card to Amazon, all you have to do is subscribe to my blog by email. You’ll be automatically entered each week for as long as you remain a subscriber.