How many iterations of this novel did it take to get it just right? As many as needed. I began it with an idea and a working title of Four Women and a Man. The earliest version I can find is dated in 2017, but I think I started it before that date. It went through many different versions and changes in point of view, plot devices, and character development. None of them ever seemed quite right.

I would get inspired and work at it for long spurts. Then grow weary of the direction. I’m not sure when I finally told myself to either trash it or transform it, but it’s only been a few months. Once I gave myself the ultimatum, my passion for the basic idea returned, and I was able to bring the novel to the publishing stage with pride.

The Kindle version can be pre-ordered, with release set for April 4, 2023. The paperback is available now. Check it out by clicking here, then scroll down for a tiny sneak peek.

The Grateful Fates – Excerpt

JACKIE DECIDED TO HEAD upstairs while Wendy called the police, and Charlene consoled the brothers. She didn’t know what she was looking for except maybe some sign the police missed that would exonerate Richard or give a clue who might have hurt Roxanne.

She slowly turned the knob dreading what she might find inside. Two years earlier, Roxanne and Jackie had gone on a redecorating binge. First, they had redone Roxanne’s master, and then, Jackie’s. The bedroom didn’t resemble the rest of the house. No, this room was dark and masculine with heavy burgundy curtains to keep out the light. Dark heavy furniture. Jackie had opted for pastels and white—a lighter more feminine touch.

All the drawers were open with clothes only slightly disturbed. It could be a lot worse, she thought as she straightened things and pushed the drawers shut.

Jackie walked to the window and pulled back the drapes. The room needed light and air.

Maybe there would be a clue in the closet. Jackie pushed the clothes on the racks aside and then remembered the secret storage space behind the wall of shoes. She gave one shelf a push and the whole thing revolved to reveal the room Roxanne called her “safe.” It contained all her valuables—jewelry, mostly. But Roxanne always teased that the closet would hold all the skeletons, too. Jackie shuddered to remember Roxanne telling them all about it.

“Not even Richard knows it’s there,” she’d told them after they uncorked the third bottle of wine. “It’s for all my skeletons.”

As she remembered, Jackie noticed a shoebox from Macy’s. Jackie recognized the box. New high heels Roxanne had purchased for New Year’s Eve when they’d gone Christmas shopping. Red and sparkly and spiky. Roxanne had laughed that she’d probably end up breaking a leg or hip when she wore the stilettos—something the other three had given up nearly a decade earlier. But not Roxanne. She still wore heels with her pencil skirts coming just above her knees and fitted blouses low cut to discretely show Roxanne still had great boobs. Jackie preferred her work attire—jeans and T-shirts and wide-brimmed hats.

I never did hear about the party. Something tells me they never went. Roxanne loved telling them about the movers and shakers she knew in the area. Jackie knew some of them from Adam, but she never bragged about it. Most of them weren’t even nice folks. But Roxanne had always kept her business life separate from her life at Cypress Marsh.

When she opened the box, her assumption had been correct. Roxanne hadn’t worn them. Brand new shoes. Now that she thought about it, she hadn’t seen much of Roxanne since before Christmas. The lunch a few days earlier had been one of the few times she’d seen her since the shopping expedition in December.

Jackie put the lid back in place wondering why the shoes would have made their way into the skeleton closet. She examined the back of the closet. She pulled aside Roxanne’s formal dresses and went into the recesses of the dark space. She rummaged around in built-in drawers and still found nothing except jewelry. As she was getting ready to shut the door, she noticed a medium-sized suitcase in one corner. She’d missed it before. When she pulled it out, its weight let her know something was packed inside. She placed it on the bed. Bingo, the metal clasps popped up, and Jackie opened the lid. Never would she have guessed what the suitcase contained. Not in her wildest imaginations.

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