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Lizzie Borden

My publisher is re-releasing my book, Lizzie Borden, as the first in their new Horror that Happened line.

lizzie cover

In celebration, I am posting the Prologue to that volume here.

Prologue – April, 1865

“Come over here, Lizzie. Sit beside me. That’s my girl. Your worm still on the hook?”

Little Lizzie Borden, age five, sat down on the stream bank and lifted her fishing stick to show the pale worm to her father.

“Good girl. Put it back down there now, and we’ll wait for a big trout to come and eat it.”

Slowly, feeling sorry for the worm, Lizzie lowered her stick. Her papa had whittled the stick for her the day before up at the farmhouse. Tied onto the end of the stick was a length of black fishing line, and tied onto the end of the line was a hook. Stuck onto the hook was a worm, a big one they’d dug out of the stream bank. But then it was happy, fat and red, and now it was kind of skinny, shriveled and white. Lizzie didn’t think too much of fishing.

“Isn’t this peaceful?”

She looked up at her father. Then she looked downstream for sight of Emma. Emma was squatting at the edge of the water, looking intently into its depths. She’d been like that for what seemed like hours. Lizzie was always amazed at the way Emma could be absolutely still for the longest time. Waiting was something Emma could do very well. Lizzie had no patience at all. But then Emma was fifteen. Emma knew everything, and Lizzie was sure that when she turned fifteen, she would be able to wait, too.

The country, at first, seemed silent, but then Lizzie heard the stream running, the flutter of the reed that had been caught in the water. She heard birds clucking and chirping and a sudden flutter of wings, she heard the underlying hum of all the insects as they went about their business.

Maybe Emma wasn’t waiting after all. Maybe she was listening.

It felt odd to be away from home, out in the country, all the way out at the farm. It was odd to have Papa home all day long, but that’s what they called a vacation. Lizzie loved the farm. She loved being out here with Emma and Papa. Mother was back at the farmhouse baking wonderful fruit pies. Lizzie had helped pull stalks of rhubarb with their gigantic green leaves. She wiped the dirt off one of the red stalks and took a bite. Just the right kind of sour that tasted good and made her mouth wrinkle up and go dry. With lots of sugar, Mother would turn that into a glorious pie. Then, Mother said, when they came back with their mess of fish to fry up, she’d be cooling those sweet pies on the windowsill. Lizzie had grabbed her fishing stick and was the first one ready to go. She wanted to get back home to those pies.

She looked down at her shoes. They were new, a pretty brownish red leather, but she was sure she’d get them dirty here and vacation or not, Mother would be cranky about it. She lifted up her fishing stick again to look at the worm.

“You have to leave the worm in the water, Lizzie. The fish won’t bite it if it keeps flying out of the water like that.”

“He’s cold.”

“He’s not cold. He’s a worm. Put him back.”

She let the worm go back down into the water. She leaned over and watched him disappear into the green.

“Isn’t this nice,” Papa said, and leaned up against a rock “Spring is my favorite time of year. The sun is hot and the air is cool. Everything is green and fresh—” he put his arm around her— “and I’ve got my best girl right here by my side.”

Lizzie leaned into his side, resting her head against his chest.

He stroked her hair. She closed her eyes.

“We have a nice mother, don’t we?”

Lizzie nodded. Her eyes felt sleepy.

“Yes,” he said, smoothing her fine blonde hair from her forehead. “We have a nice mother now, and Emma is old enough to take care of herself as well as you, and things are back to being normal.”

He reached down and took off his shoes, then his socks. His long toes were white and hairy, and his toenails were long and cracked. Kind of yellow. He wiggled them.

“This is the kind of day that you should try to memorize, Lizzie,” he said. “Look around you and see everything. Focus on everything. The way the water runs so shiny and fast in the middle of the stream, yet swirls slowly near the bank. The way the reeds grow in the shallows here. The color of the new leaves, the dampness of the earth. The clouds… This is the kind of day that you put in your heart and you remember during those times when life isn’t quite so good, when life turns hard and mean, you pull out this stream bed and you and me under the clouds…”

Lizzie looked around because she knew he wanted her to. Then she put her head back against him, hoping he’d start to talk again so she could hear his words through his chest instead of through her ears.

“I have wonderful dreams for you, Lizzie. Wonderful dreams. Do you want to hear?”

Lizzie nodded. She opened her eyes for a moment and thought she saw a fish come up and take a gulp of air on the other side of the bank, showing her its big orange mouth. Her eyelids were getting heavier and heavier in the warm sunshine. She’d tell him about it later.

“You’ll be beautiful when you grow up. Your blonde hair will be long and luxuriant. You will live in a big house in the hill with a nice view, and have many, many friends. Dozens of friends. Famous friends.”

Lizzie could feel him talk more than she could hear him. Her ear rested on the side of his chest and she loved the vibrations of his deep voice.

“I’m going to make us rich, Lizzie, very rich, very, very rich, and you will have your pick of thousands of eligible young men who will come courting. But you hold out for the very best. You’ll have a substantial dowry, and you should have the very best husband. The very best.”

Lizzie dreamed about the little rag doll that Emma had made for her.

“Lizzie, are you asleep?”


“Lizzie, I have to know. When you are so rich and popular, and I am such an old, old man, will you still love me?”

“Of course, Papa,” she muttered, her voice thick.

“You will?”

Lizzie looked up at him and she couldn’t tell if he was joking with her or not. He had a queer expression on his face, as if he didn’t know if he was joking or not. She nodded, then settled her head against him to hear his vibrations some more.

“That’s good, Lizzie,” he said. “That’s very, very good.”

Lizzie wanted to look at her worm again, but as she brought the stick up, something grabbed it from down below and began to pull on it.

Papa!” She came wide awake in an instant, holding onto the stick with both hands. “Papa!”

“He laughed. “It’s a fish, Lizzie! You caught a fish! Hold on tight and bring him up. Have you got him? Do you need help?”

Lizzie put her bottom lip between her teeth and held onto that stick as tight as she could. She dug her heels into the soft mossy grass at the edge of the bank and pulled up on the stick that was wiggling with life on the end of the line. Something silver flashed in the water below her.

Then her father’s hands were on her waist and he helped her to stand up. “Okay now,” he said. “Easy. Just bring your stick up and swing the fish right over here onto the bank.”

When she was steady, he let her go and stepped back.

She swung the fish—a big one!—onto the bank and began to giggle as it flipped and flopped, its pink-striped speckled sides flashing and throwing off raindrops in the sun.

My fish. My beautiful fish.

“Look at my fish, Papa. I caught a fish, Papa. Emma, come look!” she said, but Emma was already standing there, tall and gangly, staring down at the fish.

“You certainly did, Lizzie. A beauty, too.” Andrew Borden picked up a rock and slammed it down on the fish’s head.

Papa, no!” She grabbed onto his arm, but he shook her off and so she watched in horror as the bleeding fish flopped a few last times.

“It doesn’t hurt, Lizzie. It’s just a fish. We have to kill it.”

Again, he smashed the rock onto the fish’s head. Again. And again. He just kept doing it, over and over again, and when he finally stopped, beads of sweat stood out on his forehead and where the fish’s head had been was a red, pulpy mass.

“There.” He stood up and threw the rock into the stream. “Good catch, Lizzie. Let’s take this home and have Mother fry it up for supper.”

The fish had lost its shine, the day had lost its magic, and even Lizzie’s new shoes weren’t so nice any more, she noticed as they walked back to the farmhouse. Her father carried the fish by the tail because she wouldn’t touch it; it had been so beautiful and full of life just a moment before. He could have just let it die, it could have just died, or it could have flopped back into the water, that would have been all right, too. Anything, anything but smashing its head in with a sharp rock.

And Emma smiled.

Lizzie came to the dinner table that night, but she wouldn’t sit next to her father and she wouldn’t look at the fish. She kept her little fishing stick, though, and vowed to remember this day just like her papa had told her to.

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Lizzie Borden Blog Tour

lizzie borden banner

I’m doing a blog tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours for my novel Lizzie Borden during the month of July. This is the schedule. Please stop by to read what I have to say about the book, some Q&A, book reviews, and an opportunity to win some giveaways.

July 1

kickoff at Silver Dagger Book Tours

A Pinch of Bookdust

The Bookshelf Fairy

July 2

Eclectic Evelyn – GUEST POST

Readeropolis  – GUEST POST

July 3


The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’

Teatime and Books

July 4


Java John Z’s

July 5

Viviana MacKade – GUEST POST

Leigh Anderson Romance – GUEST POST


July 6


The Magic Of Wor(l)ds  – GUEST POST

July 7

All the Ups and Downs – GUEST POST

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!

July 8

What Is That Book About

2 chicks and a book

The Book Dragon

July 9

Romance – Sweet to Heat

Literary Gold

Twisted Book Ramblings

July 10

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

Bedazzled By Books

July 11

Always Love Me Some Books Blog  – GUEST POST

Reviews and Promos by Nyx – GUEST POST

July 12

The Avid Reader – REVIEW

JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder – GUEST POST

T’s Stuff

July 13

Book Corner News and Reviews

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

July 14

Books all things paranormal and romance

books are love

July 15

I’m Into Books – GUEST POST

Tome Tender

July 16

Breanna Hayse Romance

Craving Lovely Books

July 17

Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews

Chapters through life

Plain Talk Book Marketing – GUEST POST


July 18

Books, Authors, Blogs

Drako’s Den

Yearwood La Novela

July 19

Dragon’s Den

Educated Book Freak


July 20

Girl with Pen

Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read

July 21

Inside the Insanity  – GUEST POST

Midnight Book Reader

July 22

Luv Saving Money

Paranormal Romance Trance

July 23

eBook Addicts

Paranormal Palace of Pleasures

July 24

The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

4covert2overt ☼ A Place In The Spotlight ☼

July 25

Lukten av trykksverte

Authors & Readers Book Corner


July 26


AC Squared Book Blog


July 27

Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’

July 28

Scrupulous Dreams

July 29

Anna del C. Dye official page

❧Defining Ways❧

July 30


Book Reviews by Steph

SnoopyDoo’s Book Reviews

July 31

Maiden of the Pages – REVIEW

Better Read Than Undead

Stacking My Book Shelves!

Aug 1

IS HISTORY THE AGREED UPON LIE? Historical Fact & Historical Fiction.

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

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Horror That Happened

My publisher, IFD Publishing, has opened a new imprint, Horror that Happened. I’m delighted that the first will be my perennial bestselling Lizzie Borden.

This is the official announcement:

IFD launches New Imprint: HORROR THAT HAPPENED

 The outrageous is all the more extraordinary when we know it actually occurred.


Horror that Happened provides riveting stories in three categories: True Crime, Based on a True Story, and Lifted from the Past.


lizzie cover

The imprint will be launched with the release of Elizabeth Engstrom’s Lizzie Borden under the subcategory, Based on True Story. In the novel, Engstrom imagines an intimate view of the life of Lizzie Borden during the period surrounding the murder of her parents.


On September 1, 2019, IFD Publishing will release within the same category, A Parliament of Crows, by Alan M. Clark. The novel is inspired by the lives and crimes of the infamous Wardlaw sisters, 19th century American murderers.


 Following that, in the True Crime category, will be Elizabeth Engstrom’s Divorce by Grand Canyon.


Lifted from the Past will include unsettling works in the public domain, such as Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, and various writings about the Bell Witch from the 19th century.

We hope you will come back to IFD Publishing for your high-quality reading entertainment.


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The Tesla

In July, Al and I retired my 22-year-old Honda and bought a Tesla Model 3.

I’d ridden, briefly, in a Model S several years ago. Al has a friend who owns both a Tesla Model S (large sedan) and a Tesla Model X (SUV), and has ridden extensively in the X.

But neither of us had seen, driven, or ridden in a Model 3, the smaller, less expensive, mass-market sedan. I put a deposit down when they were first announced, sight-unseen. This July, we got the call to come pick it up.

Pick up day

Wow, what a car. Speed, dexterity, handling, second to none that I’ve ever driven. It’s a stunner. It’s a game changer. It’s revolutionary in the auto industry, and I’m not kidding about that.

There are so many glowing things that I can say about it, but all that information is readily available. I can tell you a few things that are important to me.

  1. I can just plug it into the wall. We had a 240v outlet installed in the garage, but before that, I just plugged it into the 110. Slow charge to be sure, but it still charged.
  2. Tesla’s network of superchargers (over 10,000 of them) will charge my car from 0 miles (it never falls anywhere near that low) to 100% in 40 minutes, or while I have a cup of coffee if I’m traveling. My car will go 320 miles on a charge. That’s Portland and back with plenty of mileage to spare.
  3. The car came with a plug adapter so I can use any of thousands of EV chargers around the world.
  4. There is virtually no maintenance to this car. The drive train is engineered to go a million miles. Some early receivers of the Model 3s have already driven 450,000 miles on theirs. Goodbye gasoline, oil changes, transmission problems, belts, air filters, noisy engines, and overpriced service centers.
  5. The car is a better car than the day I brought it home because of frequent software updates, done via wifi in the middle of the night. They are always making improvements.
  6. The closest service center is currently 110 miles away, but if I have a problem, they will send a Ranger to my home. Tesla has realized that it is cheaper to have a fleet of Rangers than it is to open service centers.
  7. I believe in the company’s mission. All their patents are open-source, meaning anybody who makes an electric car can use their technology. Elon Musk, regardless of what you may have heard or think of him, is not only a genius, but he is interested in making the world a better place.

If you’re interested in buying a Tesla, I’m happy to offer you a tour and a ride in mine.

Google all the information you need, even download the owner’s manual if you want and read about all the amazing things this car does automatically. Watch some YouTube videos. Join a Facebook group.

For a while, I said that this would be the last car I buy. Now I say “until I upgrade.” I am a Tesla customer for life.

And if you want extra goodies (what they offer depends on what you buy), use my referral code:



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Guys Named Bob – Free Ebook

Free ebook download today through October 16 from Amazon.  You can read more about it here, or you can read Chapter One on my website. 

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Guys Named Bob

It’s here!

My new psychological thriller from IFD Publishing.

GNB Cover image

“Carjacked at gunpoint by a young female desperado, middle-aged Darlene Martin drives the girl far away from civilization to a place unlike anything in Darlene’s experience. The girl and her lover take Darlene”s car and leave her in the remote cabin with a very unusual man, also unlike anything in Darlene’s experience.

“During a deep dive into the dark and disturbing, Darlene discovers survival techniques she didn’t know she had while her family at home frets, argues, and does everything in their power to find her and get her back.”

This is the book that made me research how to write erotica. This is the book that spawned my (infamous) weekend workshops and conference talks on how to write sizzling sex scenes. I had two unconventional people falling for each other in an unconventional setting amidst much turmoil and emotional upheaval. I discovered that I like my sex scenes with a light, significant touch. And so they are, in this book.

Read the first chapter here.

Buy it here.

If you like it, please leave a review. Thanks!

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The (Continuing) Melanoma Chronicles

I’ve had two melanomas, my husband was recently diagnosed with his second. We joke about living in Melanoma Manor, and indeed our dermatologist calls us the Melanoma Couple. An affectionate designation I could do without.

His latest melanoma is in his ear. Breslow’s depth .5 mm.


.5mm melanoma

So we get it biopsied, then we get a head and neck CT scan to make sure there’s no tumor elsewhere. Then we have a consultation, where I ask the ENT surgeon if they can get a 1 cm margin. “No need for a whole centimeter,” he said. “The biopsy took all the deep stuff. All that’s left is insitu.”

Hmmm. In my world, there is a reason that a 1cm margin is the standard protocol.

Regardless. They did the surgery, and did a fine job of it, in my opinion. While they were excising the melanoma, they included two other suspicious spots. This is what it looked like when we left the hospital.


Skin graft .5mm melanoma


Skin graft donor site

It is healing well.

But did they get margins? No. Of course they didn’t. The pathology report says they left melanoma  around the outside of the graft from the top all the way to the 5:00 position. We have to go back to have more tissue taken, more skin graft, but they can’t do it until this has healed, or they will jeopardize this graft.

So the melanoma grows for yet another six weeks.

Will they take a full 1 cm margin this time? How loud do I have to yell?

…To be continued…

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