I am honored today to have Trixie Stilleto as my guest, talking about her book, Do Grave Harm. Trixie will donate 100% of her October royalties to the battle against metastatic breast cancer, so put this on your calendar for an October 1st purchase!
Thank you, Alina, for letting me take over your blog today!
Though I normally write romantic suspense and hot contemporary romance, I’m here today to talk about my most recent release, Do Grave Harm, a mystery with light romance. Here’s some information about the story.
“Helpless” and “vulnerable” aren’t normally part of freelance writer Jennifer Atkinson’s vocabulary. But there’s nothing normal about her regularly scheduled radiation treatment, especially when she discovers that while she was fighting claustrophobia inside the massive machine aimed at her breast, someone was murdering the technician at the controls.
As the gruesome scene plays over and over in her mind, small details that didn’t seem significant at the time start the wheels turning. Soon she’s asking more questions than she’s answering for the seriously attractive investigating officer, Blue Bald Falls Detective Ben Manteo.
Despite Ben’s warning she should keep her nose out of it, Jennifer can’t resist using her limited energy to pick up seemingly unrelated threads that, inevitably, begin to weave themselves into a narrative. A story of lies, deceit, and betrayal that someone will go to any length to make sure never gets told…
I got the idea for Do Grave Harm while undergoing treatment in 2014 for an aggressive form of breast cancer called Her2+. I can’t speak for other people facing this diagnosis and treatment but it was life-changing for me. I no longer recognized my body. Not the outward appearance but what was happening on the inside. I’m not complaining. The medicine I was being given was shrinking the cancer. I’d always been healthy, almost disgustingly so. Now, every day, there were external and internal changes I had no control over. Then there was the treatment itself. It became my job, my focus. Day after day, especially during radiation, all I thought about, all I did, was go to treatment.
So, I came up with Jennifer. A woman who is facing the biggest health challenge of her life. In the midst of it, when she’s at her most vulnerable, there’s a murder. What can she do? If it were me, I’d probably run and never go back. Not Jennifer.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the short excerpt posted here. There’s a longer excerpt on my website along with links to the online retailers where Do Grave Harm is on sale.
I’m donating a portion of all proceeds from this book to metastatic breast cancer research. Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, 100% of the proceeds will be donated.
Thanks again, Alina, for sharing your blog with me!
Do Grave Harm
Something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to panic, but I was starting to feel claustrophobic. Having a two-ton radiation machine sitting only inches from your chest will do that to you, especially when it seems you’ve been forgotten.
You’re not truly alone, Jennifer, I reminded myself. There were dozens of people down the hall in the waiting room. And this was a hospital. People were constantly moving around, even though they kept the radiation section closed off.
Repeating these things and more didn’t help. At that moment, I felt abandoned, as if no one knew where I was.
“Excuse me,” I finally called, hoping the radiation technician who’d brought me in here would answer, reassuring me.
Robert. I picture his name tag in my mind. Raising my voice, I called again, “Robert?” Nada. The room was probably soundproof with the door shut.
Panic sped up my breathing as I stared at the machine. It hadn’t moved after my radiation treatment had ended. That was the problem.
In my mind, the six inches between me and it had shrunk to three. My arms were starting to go numb, as well as my feet and legs. No one was coming to help me. I had to do something. Now.
Moving while under the machine was kind of tricky. I was a large woman, and I’d never been dexterous on my back, much to my rat ex-husband’s lament, I guess.
I kicked my legs out of their rubber support and, after several tries, scooted my butt down the metal table. Then I did an ungainly slide, like I was slipping under a barbed-wire fence. Except this particular fence was the size of a VW Beetle, and it seemed to be inching closer to me with each passing second.
When I moved enough that my head and neck were no longer in the plastic mold that kept me still during treatment, I banged the back of my skull against the table. “Ow, ow, ow,” I muttered, inching my way farther down it until I cleared the machine.
Finally, my legs dangled off the end. I sat up, took my first relieved breath in eons, and waited for my head to stop spinning. Freedom! I looked around the room, and everything seemed normal. Walking over to the plastic chair to my left, I picked up my long-sleeved cotton jersey and put it on. Since I got topless for my treatment, most of the time I didn’t bother wearing a bra when I came here. It would be one more thing to take off.
I moved to the doors. They’re made of thick steel and tightly sealed. No wonder no one answered me. They wouldn’t have heard me even if I’d shouted. I pushed on one a bit, staggering under the unexpected weight. When it opened a scant few inches, I peered around the edge. I don’t know why I was acting like a guilty person, doing something or going somewhere I wasn’t supposed to.
I hid a giggle behind a cough. Jeez, Jennifer, get a grip. Something still wasn’t right. In fact, I felt an overwhelming sense that things were horribly wrong.
“Robert?” Still no answer, so I pushed the door open a little wider. Now I could see the second lab and computer station. It was as dark as it had been when I came into the radiation lab at the Blue Bald Falls Cancer Center no more than ten minutes ago. I opened the door wide enough and stepped into the bright lights of the hall.
Robert had his head down on the computer keyboard like he was napping. The scalpel sticking straight out from the side of his neck and the blood pooling on the table down to the floor told me sleep had nothing to do with it.
About the Author
A southern girl, Trixie Stilleto traveled north when she found the love of her life. Together, they enjoyed more than 20 years working as journalists. Now back home in Tennessee, she’s writing stories that range from short hot romances with a kiss of humor to southern-flavored mysteries. She lives seven miles from the neighborhood where she grew up with two cats, an aging beagle and a host of characters waiting for her to tell their stories.
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