Thursday, April 16, 2015

Scroll down for a spine-tingling excerpt!
Ashby Overton has everything to look forward to, including a promising writing career and her wedding at summer’s end. But, Overhome, her beloved historic family estate in Southern Virginia, is in financial peril and it is up to Ashby to find a solution.
Interfering with Ashby’s plans is a dark paranormal force that thwarts her every effort to save Overhome.  Supernatural attacks emanate from an old stone cottage on the property rumored to be a slave overseer’s abode, prior to the Civil War. As the violence escalates, Ashby begins to fear for her life. Who is this angry spirit and why is his fury focused on Ashby?

Mystery, suspense and romance flourish against a backdrop of Civil War turmoil and ancestral strife--where immortality infiltrates the ancient air breathed by all who inhabit Overhome Estate.

Author Susan Coryell returns today with her new book, Beneath The Stones, the recently released sequel to A Red, Red Rose, both from The Wild Rose Press. Welcome back, Susan!

Tell us about Beneath The Stones. Did you plan on writing a sequel? Will there be more? How is writing a sequel different from writing the original book?
    Beneath the Stones,  a standalone sequel,  picks up Ashby Overton’s life five years after the ending of A Red, Red Rose. She and Luke plan to be married at summer’s end, she has her college writing degree and a free-lance career on the uptick and her parents are retiring from educator jobs in New Jersey and moving to Overhome Estate to help with wedding plans. Everything in Ashby’s young life is in order—except—Overhome is in financial trouble and it’s up to Ashby to fix the problem. Of course, there’s a complication: Someone or something mean and powerful is doing its best to prevent Ashby from initiating her solution to the financial problem--selling off the back acreage for a housing development. 

     I thought when I finished A Red, Red Rose that I was done with Ashby and Overhome. But reader after reader in review after review expressed an interest in a sequel: “Eagerly awaiting the sequel!” was how one reader put it. It was then I realized there truly was more to the I got busy with Beneath the Stones. I’m already thinking through a third book—five years after the end of Beneath the Stones.

     Writing a sequel is tricky! The author needs to allude to certain events in the original without spoiling the plot for those who read the sequel first. Now that I have the hang of it, I think writing the third volume will be easier.

I thought the same after I finished my first novel. However, my characters had other ideas and insisted on a sequel or three. Do you have a favorite character? Why? 
Other than my protag, Ashby Overton, I dearly love the old, long-time housekeeper Miss Emma Coleville. She is what I call the conscience of the novel as well as the archivist of Overton family history. Miss Emma will never die in my books! 

Who/what influences or inspires your writing? 
     I do need an inspiration to write. For A Red, Red Rose, the inspiration was an actual historic estate in Virginia rumored to be haunted. One tour of the place and I was hooked. My inspiration for Beneath the Stones was the compelling characters who still had a lot of life left to explore. When I read in the local paper about the financial woes of a Civil War estate, I knew I had the perfect conflict for Ashby Overton and Overhome.

What authors do you return to again and again, if any? Where do you find new authors to read? 
     I am hooked on the classical mystery writers Daphne Du Maurier, Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. I also love the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. Classics only get better with age! I haunt libraries!

Libraries are the light of civilization. Do you have a writing routine/ritual? What distracts you when you’re writing? 
     A morning person, I create best before noon. Everything distracts me! My writer’s loft looks out on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake and I sometimes find myself paddling around in the water (figuratively) rather than concentrating on my writing.

Favorite non-writing activities?
     My husband and I have an active social life here at our lake. We both golf and boat and entertain family and friends regularly. I enjoy yoga, my book clubs and writing group. Each winter we travel to Hawaii to visit our youngest son and his family and we tool around from Virginia to South Carolina checking in with our other two children and our five grandkids. 

Advice for newbies? 
     Don’t get discouraged. Keep reading. Keep writing, Keep critiquing and submitting and eventually something will happen!

Where has writing taken you that you never expected to go? 
     The real surprise has been the collegiality with other writers all over the world. Electronic social media, blogs, writers’ loops have introduced me to so many interesting, intelligent and creative folks I’d never have imagined “meeting” before I was published. We’ve become true friends.

     Oh, I am such a plotter. I know the beginning, middle and end of my books before I ever write the first word. The in-between parts may fluctuate, but I never change the basic three.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers? How do they help? 
     I belong to a writers group here at Smith Mt. Lake. An eclectic group (well, we ARE all writers), they offer excellent constructive criticism. However, I am looking for an individual CP, if anyone wants to “apply.”

It's been a joy having you here today, Susan. Thanks for taking the time to answer all my nosey questions! Anything else you'd like to say?
     I’d like to thank Nikki for inviting me to guest on her awesome blog. This is what I mean about author collegiality!

     Luke climbed down cautiously, the old boards of the steps groaning and creaking under his weight. When he reached the bottom, he turned, held out his arms and said, “Come on down, Ashby. Just go slow.”
     “Not to worry. I’ve done this before,” I told him, reaching for the first step with my foot. Carefully, I moved toward the bottom, one step at a time, leaning against the wall for support. I was half-way there when it happened—so suddenly that I had no time to react. Frigid air swooshed down on me from behind, freezing my face so that I screwed my eyes tight shut at the same time something strong and determined pushed against my back violently—so violently that I stumbled, then tumbled forward, to be caught in Luke’s outstretched arms from several stairs below.
     “Whoa!” Luke exhaled from the impact of my body on his. “My God, Ashby. What happened?” 
     I slumped against him, unable to utter a single word, my breathing shallow and rapid. At last I found my voice. “Something pushed me, Luke. I don’t know what—or who—but it was powerful and deliberate.”
     Luke glanced up to the top of the stairs. “Nothing there. I’m going back to the loft to look.”
     I stopped him. “I doubt you’ll find anything.” I sniffed the air, expecting 
a new infusion of foul odor. “And what would you do if you did find anything?”
     Just then we both heard it. Hollow, chilling, trailing away from us with 

every syllable: “Go away. He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead....”

Available now at
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