Wednesday, January 14, 2015

No Ghouls Allowed and the Sandman {+ Giveaway}


No Ghouls Allowed - Thoughts in ProgressI’m thrilled today to welcome author Victoria Laurie to Thoughts in Progress to talk about one of the villains in her latest release, NO GHOULS ALLOWED, the ninth installment in her Ghost Hunter Mystery series.

In celebration of the release (thanks to Victoria and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group), I have a print copy of NO GHOULS ALLOWED to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Here’s a brief description of the book:

On a trip to Georgia to see her father, M. J. Holliday finds herself trapped in a haunted mansion and discovers…
THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN—FROM THE DEAD
        M.J. has had a distant relationship with her father since her mother died more than two decades ago. But when M.J., her boyfriend, Heath, and BFF, Gilley, take a break from their show, Ghoul Getters, and visit her family home in Valdosta, Georgia, they find Montgomery Holliday a changed man. The source of his happiness seems to be his new fiancée, the charming Christine Bigelow.
        But despite the blush of new love, Montgomery and Christine are dealing with a big problem in the form of the antebellum mansion she is having renovated. After a series of strange accidents, the work crew is convinced the place is cursed, and the contractor has walked off the job. At Christine’s request, M.J. and her pals agree to find out if they’re really dealing with some spirited saboteurs and a possessed plantation home.
 
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Victoria as she tells us about ‘The Sandman.’ Welcome, Victoria.

I spent a whole lot of my childhood and perhaps more than a bit of my adulthood being afraid of things that go bump in the night. Like,…terrified to the point of keeping a light on at all times and sleeping on a platform bed lest some spooky entity be able to crawl under it and stab me in my sleep. (Hello, Jason, a la Friday the 13th.)

Much of this was born of sensitivity to spooks from early childhood. My first spook sighting in fact was when I was just three years old.
It started one afternoon after we checked into some old hotel in Pennsylvania. The hotel was well over a hundred and fifty years old and, over breakfast on the way there, my sister had innocently asked why was it that, when she woke up in the mornings, there was sand in her eyes?

My father had replied that every night, to help her sleep, the Sandman came and dropped a little bit of sand there.

It’s funny to me to retell that part of the story, because, in today’s world, I think I’d hesitate telling my six-year-old daughter that every night some guy carrying a sack of sand visited her while she slept.

Anyhoo, my sister, being the logical type, took explanation in stride. I have only the vaguest memory of that part of the story – mostly because some kind waitress had set down a plate of strawberry covered pancakes topped with a generous portion of whip cream in front of me. The rest of the day was lost to a sugar coma, I’m sure.

So, that night my parents tucked my sister and me into the king bed in our suite, and headed off through the door to their suite. Sandy, my sister, lay way across the bed to my left, and I had the spot closest all the way to the right, by the door. Sands fell asleep immediately. I was still wound up a little and drifted only into a light doze.

Shortly after my parents wished us goodnight, I heard the sound of a door closing. It was soft, no more than a click really, but it made me open my eyes and sit up. There, at the foot of the bed, was a dark silhouette in the shape of a tall man with a stove-piped hat atop his head.

In the dim light of the room, he had no discernable features; he merely stood there at my feet. Watching me.

Feeling uneasy I rolled over to my sister’s side. The man at the end of the bed moved along the foot of the bed with me. I nudged my sister. “Whaaaaaat?” she moaned.

“Sandy! There’s a man in here!”

My sister didn’t lift her head from the pillow. “It’s the Sandman. Go back to sleep,” she told me.

I lay back down and rolled back to my side. The Sandman moved with me.

He continued to stand there, watching me for what felt like an eternity. So I rolled back to my sister’s side, (the Sandman following me), and nudged her again. “He won’t go away!” whispered.

“Close your eyes and let him put the sand in,” she advised, still not lifting her head from the pillow.

I remember being very frustrated with her. I didn’t want the creepy dude with the tall hat coming any closer to me. I didn’t even want him in the room. Still, if it would make him go away, I figured I’d give it a try. So off to the other side I went, with the Sandman in tow, and plunked my head down on the pillow, curling myself into the fetal position. Closing my eyes tightly, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened.

Sneaking a peak, I looked over my shoulder and the Sandman stood there ominously. It was like I could sense his mean little eyes boring holes into me. This time I rolled back over to my sister’s side of the bed and kicked her in the leg. She sat up angrily and was ready to yell at me when she caught sight of the dark silhouette at the end of the bed and began to scream her head off.

Finally! A reaction I could get behind! I began to scream too.

My parents rushed into the room, flipping on the lights as they came, and the Sandman vanished. Poof! Just like that. Gone.

We checked out of the hotel early the next morning after my mother shared more than a few angry words with the hotel staff after one of them admitted they’d given us a room that was reportedly haunted.

Since then I’ve had at least a dozen other such encounters – one that shook me so terribly that I couldn’t drive at night for months afterward. And I never really got over my fears of the dark until I started writing the Ghost Hunter Mysteries.

Writing has always been my therapy, and I can’t think of a better example than how much it’s helped me to write about the scary encounters that M. J., Gilley, and Heath routinely get themselves into. There’s just something about creating a super scary scene, which is so vivid for you as a writer that you can feel and see and sense everything that your characters are experiencing, except that, in this case, you have absolute control over the outcome. It establishes a feeling of confidence, and, after nine books in the series, I’d like to say that I’ve completely overcome my fear of the dark.

I realized just how much when I began writing this particular installment, NO GHOULS ALLOWED, and introduced a new spook to the scene. The Sandman.

Did I still get a little creeped out while writing the book? Definitely. But it was a good creeped out. One I had total control over.

Of course, the quart of ice cream I had on hand as comfort food whilst I wrote the book maaaaay have helped too. Smile

Victoria, thanks for visiting us today and sharing this interesting look at The Sandman. I don’t think I want to even think about going to sleep tonight.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Victoria, she shares her background.

I began writing my first Abby Cooper novel in the winter of 2003. As a professional psychic of many years, I really wanted to portray an intuitive as a normal person ... because we really are normal after all...we’re just a bit more “sensitive” than most.

Truth be told, even after Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye was published, I had no thoughts of becoming a full time professional writer too. Back then I firmly believed that I’d write two or three books in the Psychic Eye series, and move on to some other hobby.

It wasn’t until I was finishing my third book, that I could truly appreciate how much joy I had in telling a story. For me, there is almost nothing more satisfying than writing those final twenty pages of a novel after taking all my characters on something of a roller coaster ride. And I live for those moments when, creatively, it feels like I actually got it right.

I suppose I’d better love what I do, because now there’re three separate books for each of my three series to turn out every year. It is work, but it’s fabulous work if you can get it.

I no longer do psychic readings professionally, but I will admit, being psychic is super cool. Smile

For more on Victoria and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Now for my thoughts on this intriguing story.

Author Victoria Laurie quickly pulls you into her latest hair-raising mystery with drama, adrenaline-fueled action, family ties and good old-fashion Southern charm.

The characters are likable and well-developed. The evil spirits are scary and quite believable. The blend of family, friendship, and loyalty with the paranormal makes for a tantalizing tale with a touch of humor and romance intermingled for good balance.

The setting of an antebellum mansion in South Georgia is perfect for this story. The tension and strain between M.J. Holliday and her father adds another layer to the story. 

NO GHOULS ALLOWED will have you rethinking you bedtime rituals and wondering when you hear a door slam. This is the ninth installment in the series, but can be read on its own. New readers won’t be left in the dark with references to prior events and returning fans won’t be bored with too much rehashing of earlier cases. However to fully appreciate how the characters have evolved, one would have to follow the series from the beginning.

Once again Laurie draws readers into a world where the paranormal seems normal, even if it is scary at times.

No Ghouls Allowed by Victoria Laurie, A Ghost Hunter Mystery Book #9, Obsidian, @2015, ISBN: 978-0451470089, Paperback, 352 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of NO GHOULS ALLOWED. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Victoria Laurie’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Victoria’s visit. Do you remember tales of the Sandman from your childhood? Have you told your children or grandchildren about the Sandman? If so, what did you tell them? BTW, does anyone have any magnets they don’t want? I’ll take them. (You’ll have to read the story to understand why). Smile

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

17 comments:

  1. How absolutely fascinating. I have never seen a ghost, but there are definitelyplaces which make the hairs on the back of my neck rise. And others where I immediately feel comfortable - and welcomed.

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  2. Love the ghost hunter mystery theme; have not any books by this author, would love to, and thanks for the chance :)

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  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Victoria.

    Victoria - It is fascinating how you can really feel a certain presence - whatever you call it - in certain places. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I wish you success.

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  4. That is freaky. Nice of the hotel staff to keep that piece of information from your parents.

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  5. I love Victoria's other series so I'm sure I will love this one too.

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  6. This book sounds like my type of story! I enjoy reading about things that can't be totally explained - explains why I love Stephen King and E J Coppermann also. Can't wait to read this one.

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  7. My mother always told me that the Sandman was coming to put sand in my eyes so I could go to sleep.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  8. I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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  9. We never were told about the sandman but this book sounds intriguing. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. I know that I had heard of the sandman but I don't think that it was through my parents, I think that it might have been a Sat. morning cartoon, and no I don't think I've ever mentioned it to my kids, I really didn't want to glorify some strange man coming into their room at night, nope not doing it or I should say didn't do it. I find the whole thing with ghosts interesting, I'm always watching tv shows about haunted places, I think though that if I ever saw a ghost I'd have a heart attack and join them, LOL.
    I've started this series and so far am loving it.

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  11. I remember knowing about the Sandman when I was growing up but I don't remember who told me about him or if I ever passed the story along to my own kids. The encounter with the guy in the bedroom would have had me screaming at first sight.

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  12. This sounds like a fun book. I like ghost and ghoul related books

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  13. Victoria, thanks again for visiting with us. This look at the Sandman was interesting. Wishing you much success.

    Hi all. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  14. Wow, what an interesting story from your childhood, Victoria. Best wishes with your writing.

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  15. This sounds like a series I would enjoy! I'd love to start with this book! Thank you

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  16. what a great series!!
    cannot wait to add this to my collection!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.