October is "Ghostwriter" Month! Excerpts & Giveaways

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.

I'm starting off today with a longer excerpt, Seth's second letter to his wife, Marcella.

 March 23, 1916

Sweet Marcella,

I ask your forgiveness; it’s been so long since my last letter, but time has been in short supply these days. If I ever doubted the necessity of our presence here in France, our punishing schedule would have convinced me. We started at 6:30 a.m. and did not arrive back at our lodgings until nearly 2:00 a.m., and we still had to service our machines before retiring.

I’m surviving on two or three hours of sleep per night, snatching meals between runs or eating a sandwich while driving, and considering the condition of the roads, it is no mean feat. I hit a hole in the road yesterday and nearly choked to death until my quick-thinking partner, Carl, punched me in the stomach, causing me to expel the offending bite. I laughed until tears of mirth stood in my eyes, imagining I have dodged shells all this time only to be felled by a sandwich.

We get so little rest because the stream of wounded is never-ending. The other day, I crested a hill and had the surreal experience of watching a train of supplies and reinforcements winding up to the battlefield, and the endless parade of stretchers come back down on the other side of the road. I had to wonder what the boys thought as they passed the macabre line of wounded. Did they imagine they, too, would come down from the hilltop, feet-first, their bodies torn and bloody, or do they comfort themselves thinking injury is something which happens to others, not themselves?

If it is not the shells which get them, it’s the conditions in which they are forced to live. I transported a boy today  who had a horrific case of trench foot. I don’t think those outside of the war understand this condition and how terrible it really is.

The trenches themselves are between six and ten feet deep, dug in a zigzag pattern so an enemy cannot fire down the length of it. The men live in them while the battle rages. They eat, sleep, and answer nature’s call within, which attracts all types of vermin, adding to their misery. (I transported a man yesterday who had a badly infected rat bite.) The narrow bottom of the trench is quickly trodden into mud, which never seems to dry out regardless of how long it has been since the last rain. The boys stand in mud, ankle deep, and it causes small wounds on the feet—scratches, blisters and the like—to become infected. Even perfectly intact skin is attacked by fungal infection that creates great, weeping sores. The man with the rat bite sat in my ambulance next to a boy whose trench foot had gone gangrenous. He did not seek medical attention because he did not want to leave his friends. It was only once his fever caused him to hallucinate when his condition was discovered and he was sent to the poste de secour. He argued every step of the way, insisting he could still fight. Even in the cab, the stench from it was sickening. He’ll likely lose both feet, and he may be too far gone from poisoned blood to be saved.

Forgive me for these morbid thoughts. They occupy my mind more and more these days. You asked in your letter what lessons I had learned from my experiences here and would bring to my writing later. I can only say it is not what I thought I would glean from it. I had thought—and my naïveté makes me shake my head now—I would be able to write sweeping battle scenes of honor and glory, but what I see now is the sheer, senseless, damnable waste of it all. There is no honor, nor glory, in this and valor is just a word. I never knew such ugliness existed in the world and I wish sometimes I could go back to that innocent state. I feel like Adam must have felt after taking a bite of the fruit and the sudden, horrible realization which must have swept over him as he understood for the first time, what evil is.

I love you,

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



  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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