GHOSTWRITER Birthday #Giveaway - New Excerpt Every Day

All this month, I'll be celebrating the second birthday of my novel, Ghostwriter, with excerpts and prizes.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. My hero, Seth, was a witness to the terrible events of that war as an ambulance driver. Sara discovers his letters home in a trunk hidden in the attic of the island house she's renting.

Along with the excerpts, I'll be sharing some photographs that inspired me as I was writing the novel.

Today's excerpt:

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“Where did you say we were going again?” Sara asked. She was wearing a calf length sea green dress with a V-shaped neckline, and a double-layered skirt. The hems, cuffs, and collar were fur trimmed. The hat she wore had a wide, droopy brim requiring she tilt her head back so she could see where she was going. It was decorated in the back by two long feathers sticking out to the side.

“I didn’t say,” Seth replied with a grin. He put on his hat and extended his arm. “Miss Sara.”

“Mr. Fortner.” She rejoined and threaded her arm through his. They stepped out of the back door of the house into a dark alley between two brick buildings. Metal fire escapes clung to the walls above their heads. Trashcans framed the doors, some overflowing. A homeless man or woman—Sara couldn’t tell which—slept behind a pile of debris.

“Um, Seth . . . are you sure we’re in the right place?”

“I’m certain.” Seth walked up to the metal door at the end of the alley and rapped on it in a strange Morse code cadence. A slit at eye level slid open.

“Yeah?” a gruff voice on the other side demanded.

“Pauline sent me,” Seth said.

There was a loud clunk of a bolt being drawn back and the door opened. They walked past the massive guard who shut the door firmly behind them and locked it again, resuming his seat on the stool beside it.

“Who’s Pauline?” Sara asked.

“Pauline Sabin. She was an advocate for the repeal of the Volstead Act.”

Sara nodded as if she knew what he was talking about. They reached a second door at the end of the hallway and this time, the guard merely eyed them through the slot before opening the door.

“Welcome, my dear, to Prohibition.” Seth gestured at the room in front of them.

Elegantly dressed women, bejeweled and smoking cigarettes through long black holders, chatted and laughed as they circled the room. Some of them wore feather fascinators with long plumes sticking up into the air from jeweled headbands. Men in black suits gathered around tables, drinking from short glasses and smoking fat cigars. At the back of the room, behind a pair of screens, a small band played sprightly jazz tunes.

“Is this a speakeasy?” Sara asked, eyes wide and excited.

“Yes, it is. Would you like a drink?”

“Yes, please. Do they have Coke?”

Seth laughed. “Sweetheart, people come here to drink alcohol, not soda. I’ll get you a gin fizz. You’ll like it.”

Sara found a safe corner to wait and watch without being observed, her preferred modus operandi in public. Seth found her quickly and handed her a glass.

“I’ve never had one of these.” Sara took a sip and found it tasted just like lemonade. “It’s delicious.”

Seth shrugged. “Have whatever you like. It’s not like you can get drunk.”

“Where are we?”

“Chicago, 1923. I came to the city to meet with an editor and he brought me here one evening.”

“Had you ever been to another one of these places?”

Seth nodded. “There was a blind pig in Danvers.”

“A what?”

“I forgot that you probably wouldn’t know that term. A blind pig was a club where patrons were charged a fee to come in and view an animal exhibit, and they would be served alcoholic beverages for free. That’s how they skirted the law, because the owner wasn’t selling alcohol; he was selling tickets to see the animal.”

“Clever,” Sara commented.

The band struck up a jaunty tune and a few couples began to dance energetically. Sara recognized it as the Charleston, the dance from the school prom scene in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. A small crowd gathered round, cheering them on.

“Would you like to dance?” Seth asked.

“I can’t,” Sara said regretfully. “I only know ballroom dances.”

“In here, you know how to do anything you want to do.” Seth took her arm and led her through the crowd. He gave her a swift kiss on the lips and they fell into the dance like they’d known the steps for years. Their feet and hands seemed to move of their own accord, leaving Sara free to simply enjoy the fun of the dance. She threw Seth a smile of sheer delight and he grinned back at her.

When they finished, they were both laughing, exhilarated. The crowd around them applauded, and whistles rose as Seth kissed Sara’s smiling lips. Her heart felt like it would burst from the amount of love it held for the man before her. He thought he didn’t have anything to offer her when he had already given her the most joy she’d ever experienced.

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About the book:

Newly single, unemployed, and with her savings dwindling to an all-time low, Sara thinks things are finally looking up when she lands a job ghostwriting a popular politician’s biography, and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925. Strange things begin to happen as objects break, go missing, and terrifying visions appear, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is slowly losing her mind.

She gets no answers from his family who closely guards the secret of his disappearance. Through an old trunk of letters Sara discovers in the attic of her seaside cottage, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love, and the horrors of WWI. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?

Available from:

Ghostwriter - Lissa Bryan


Abe Books



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