26 September 2016

Quaking Hands and Slick Palms: A #HoldOnToTheLight Post


I’d like to thank the organizers of #HoldOnToTheLight for inviting me to join in on this wonderful and important cause: the treatment and prevention of mental-health related issues.

In the Charley Davidson series, my heroine, a female PI who was born the grim reaper, is often put through the ringer. After all, that makes for good fiction. But I feel it’s also important to show the real consequences of the risky life she leads. So, while she is a supernatural entity, she is also part human, and I think that human part of her, the part that is full of empathy and compassion and warmth, is what makes Charley who she is.

At the end of the third book in the series, Third Grave Dead Ahead, Charley is pushed to the edges of her limits in a horrific incident that leaves her scarred and agoraphobic. In the next book, I felt it was vital to show the human side of her, the vulnerable side, the side that had to deal with all the horrible things that have happened to her. I can only hope I did it justice.

EXCERPT: Fourth Grave Beneath my Feet

After another deep breath, I headed out the door only to lose steam when I came to the stairs. The same stairs I’d taken a gazillion times before. They looked steeper somehow. More dangerous. My hands shook on the rail as I paused on each step, working up the courage to take the next, wondering what in the name of thunder was wrong with me. True, it’d been a while since I’d ventured out, but surely the world hadn’t changed that much.

When I finally made it down two flights of stairs to the first floor, I studied the steel entrance door to the complex. It sat ajar, not quite closed, and daylight streamed in around the edges. I forced one foot in front of the other, my breaths shallow, my palms slick with a nervous energy. I reached a quaking hand for the vertical handle and pushed. Daylight rushed in, flooding the area and blinding me. My breath caught and I pulled the door shut. Leaning against the handle for support, I took in long gulps of air, and tried to calm myself.

One minute. I just needed a minute to gather my wits. They were always running amok, wreaking havoc.

“Ms. Davidson?”

Without thought, I drew the gun from my holster and aimed toward the voice coming from the shadowy entranceway.

A woman gasped and jumped back, her eyes wide, gaping at the barrel pointed at her face. “I—I’m so sorry. I thought—”

“Who are you?” I asked, holding the gun so much steadier than I thought possible, considering the irrational state of my insides.

“Harper.” She held her hands up in surrender. “My name is Harper Lo—”

“What do you want?” I had no idea why I was still holding the gun on her. Normally, nice women with no hidden agenda whatsoever didn’t scare me. It was weird.

“I’m looking for Charley Davidson.”

I lowered the gun but didn’t holster it. Not just yet. She could turn out to be psychotic. Or a door-to-door salesperson. “I’m Charley. What do you want?” I cringed at the sharpness of my own voice. Why was I behaving so badly? I’d eaten a good breakfast.

“I—I’d like to hire you. I think someone is trying to kill me.”

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to

BUMPER STICKER - Second Grave on the Left