Did you ever watch that show Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed in the 90s? Please tell me I’m not the only one. It simultaneously creeped me out and intrigued me. Truthfully the reenactment of creepy stories might be one of the reasons I look at things based on how easily they could kill me. Here are three urban legends that gave me chills.
3. The Babysitter’s Phone Call
With the children tucked into bed on the second floor, the babysitter plops onto the couch downstairs to watch television. The phone rings, and the caller tells her to “Check the children.” Thinking it’s a prank call, the babysitter goes back to watching her show. When she continues receiving the strange calls, the babysitter calls the police, who inform her they will trace the next call. The stranger calls again. After she hangs up, the police return her call, advising her to leave immediately. She runs out of the home and the police meet her. The calls were coming from inside the house. An unidentified prowler was contacting her after killing the children upstairs.
Not a fun story to hear when your only source of income is babysitting…
2. Embalmed Alive
A girl has a special event on the books, and she has to dress to impress her date. But, like most of us, she’s on a budget, so she hits the thrift store. She finds the perfect dress and when the big night finally arrives, she feels confident in the flattering ensemble. Several times during the evening, she’s overcome by a dizzy feeling, and her escort takes her outside for fresh air. Finally, she gets sick and runs to the restroom where she dies. The investigation showed that her dress had been used as the funeral dress for another woman. Before the burial, it had been removed from the corpse and taken to the thrift store. The dress had absorbed the formaldehyde from the corpse and seeped into the pores of its new owner.
I still won’t shop at thrift stores. Not because I’m proud, but I don’t want an embalming dress.
Tanning Bed of Death
As her wedding day approaches, a young woman decides she’d look loads better with a sun kissed glow. The tanning salon staff inform her there are time restrictions in place for her safety. Undeterred, she sets up appointments all over town. Yep. She’s going to be a knockout. The day of her wedding, her mother enters the bridal getting ready room (obviously, I’m not married, or I’d have some idea what this is really called.) She finds her daughter dead on the floor, a sickeningly sweet smell hovering around her. When the M.E. investigates, he finds the woman has been cooked from the inside out.
In case you were wondering. . .I’m perfectly happy being pale as Elmer’s paste.
What are the Urban Legends that have stuck with you? I’d love to hear them!
Do unsolved crimes bring out your inner Sherlock Holmes? Me too! Here are three cold cases that make me wish I could dig into police evidence rooms and get to work.
3. The Lizzie Borden
Since Lizzie was acquitted, there must have been some reasonable doubt. But who killed Andrew and Abbie Borden? And why? I wonder if there’s a way to get my grubby mitts on the court records…
2. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Wouldn’t we all like to know what happened to this airplane and the 239 passengers on board? A man named Mr. Boyer believes he found the wreckage in Cambodia via satellite. The expedition team failed to reach the site due to its remote location. If I were more outdoorsy, I might try looking through the jungle myself.
3. JonBenet Ramsey
I remember this case unfolding on the news when I was just a kid. The fact that someone killed this poor girl for who-knows-what reason and got away with it made my already anxiety-ridden mind all the more uneasy. I know the detectives ruled out the family members, but that leaves very few suspects. Of course, conspiracy theorists say JonBenet isn’t really dead and she became Katy Perry. So that’s weird.
I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Andy Brodrick! He’s an award-winning author who is posting chapters of his work on Facebook every Thursday and Sunday. You’ll want to follow him and keep with the story.
Let’s get crackin’ with the interview questions.
We all have books that make a special impression on us and change our view of the world around us. What’s the last book that had a significant emotional impact on you? It might be a story that made you cry or one that had you delirious with laughter. Why do you think it had that impact?
Andy: I loved Iscariot by Tosca Lee. That book had me in tears several times. Not only did it present the life of Christ from a unique perspective, it gave me a Savior who was both strong and kind at the same time. It was the first time I’d seen Jesus presented so well in a novel.
Sounds amazing. My TBR list just got longer. As far as your personal writing journey goes, all writers have projects that are a real bear. Which book of yours was the toughest to write? Why?
Andy: My novel Sober was a challenge on several levels. It was the first story I wrote where I took on the killer’s first-person perspective, and that was very uncomfortable. The main character is an alcoholic, so the ups and downs of his recovery were emotionally taxing. His troubled marriage is also a central focus and was very heavy to write. If I had known what I was getting into beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have written it. I’m glad I did though. That book taught me the beauty of redemption.
I can’t wait until it’s published! Sounds like a powerful story.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
Andy: I have to have a good supply of Cheez-Its nearby when I’m writing. And a steady stream of coffee (though not at the same time). I write better in silence and get too easily distracted in a coffee shop atmosphere. Most people are surprised to learn I’m pretty disorganized when it comes to writing. I’m organized in every other area of my life, so I kinda drive myself crazy with that one.
Gotta have that brain food. What do you love about the genre you write?
Andy: I mainly write suspense, and I honestly just love the thrill of it. Everyone loves a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but books are always ten times better at that. I like a well-written climax that keeps me frantically turning pages. I respect a book that keeps me up past my bedtime, and I want to give other readers that same experience.
How do you think your writing style has changed over the years?
Andy: I’ve learned to trust my characters. I don’t try to control them as much anymore. Any time I do, they fight back. And they are almost always right. Trusting the characters more has led to trusting the story more, and that’s when things flourish.
Bio: Andy Brodrick is a licensed mental health counselor by day and a writer by night. He makes his home in the Ozarks and loves hiking in the scenery they provide. Though he isn’t published yet, Andy has written several novels and short stories. One of his novels recently won the 2020 ACFW Genesis Award in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category. He’s an introvert who will almost always choose a good book and a cup of coffee over going out. A lot of people think Andy is quiet, but that’s only because they haven’t asked him about Superman, the Lord of the Rings, the Legend of Zelda, or his next writing project.
Where to Andy Find Online: Right now, the best places to connect with me are my author pages on Facebook and Instagram — @authorandybrodrick
Here’s another round of great suspense. I may be stretching what some would consider red, but these books all rest at the top of my list. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
3.Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark
Even though this book was written in 1991 and there are a few pop culture references that show it’s age, Loves Music, Loves to Dance kept me turning pages late into the night. Talking about it makes me want to read it again.
2. Chasing the White Lion by James Hannibal
In keeping with The Gryphon Heist from last week’s post, this list would be sorely lacking if I failed to mention Chasing the White Lion. So far, this book is the one to beat of all my 2020 suspense reads so far. I got so attached to the character that I wanted to start over as soon as I read the last sentence.
The King by Steven James
Have you ever read anything by Steven James? If not, you totally should. Patrick Bowers and Tessa are two amazing characters that will stick with you for the long haul. The heart-pounding suspense in this series and this book in particular are off the charts!
In case you haven’t already figured it out, I love suspense. So today, in honor of my favorite genre, I’m going to share three of my favorite suspense books with blue covers. Enjoy!
3. Haven of Swans- Colleen Coble
This book blew me away. The villain was super creepy, and the heroine was likable. If you haven’t read it yet, go but it immediately.
2. Last Light- Terri Blackstock
Suspense aside, this is one of the best books I’ve read . . . period. The story is so unique and applicable for our crazy world that if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend you do.
The Gryphon Heist- James R. Hannibal
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: James Hannibal is amazing and The Gryphon Heist is full of colorful and riveting characters. Read it. You’ll love it. 🙂 And P.S., it’s on Kindle Unlimited if you’re a subscriber.
Let’s be honest. 2020 has been a total rip-off full of plot twists none of us saw coming. Sometimes, my anxiety is off the charts, and prayer and a good laugh are the best medicine. Here are three of my favorite true crime memes. Hopefully, they brighten your day!
3. Maybe this is why I’m single…
2. Check yourself.
How many of you watch an embarrassing amount of true crime documentaries? Which is your favorite?
This is the last installment of Murder at 30,000 Feet! Hard to believe ten weeks have flown by so quickly (pun completely intended.) Next week I’ll hold the drawing for the $50 Amazon Gift Card. Anyone who leaves a comment on all 10 posts will have a chance to win. 🙂
As the plane begins it’s descent, you grab the seat back to steady yourself. A hollow ding sounds over the speakers, and the ‘fasten seat belt’ light flickers on. You meet Mara’s gaze and her brows raise. She’ll never admit to anything. Durland–if that’s even his real name– doesn’t look too forthcoming either with the firm set to his jaw and the steely determination in his eyes.
Maybe Claire Wilson’s social media page wasn’t taken down after her death. Would there be pictures of Mara? Maybe even her brother, Sam? You open your Banter app and search Claire’s name. Bingo! The page is active.
You scroll past a series of posts left by friends and family who mourned her loss and reminisced over happy times they’d shared. Finally, the photos. You thumb through the gallery and stop. There’s Mara. Her arm draped around Claire’s shoulders as the pair stood in front of what looked like a view of the Rocky Mountains. Family vacation, perhaps?
In the next picture, a familiar face joins the pair. You look up and lock eyes with Mashal Durland, who, according to the photo tag, is Claire’s brother Sam Collison. He looks away. Even if Durland–or Collison, rather–tries to smooth-talk his way out of this predicament, he can’t explain away the fact that he is on the same plane with the corpse of the man who most likely murdered his sister.
“This wasn’t the way to handle it.” You lower your phone, shaking your head. “There are laws to–“
“They failed.” Sam runs splayed fingers through his hair. “That monster killed my sister, and got away with it. There was no justice.”
“But you murdered him, and that wasn’t the answer.” Maybe it felt like Jeff Archer had gotten everything he deserved. But murder was always wrong. Your ears pop as the lights lining the runway come into view through the oblong window to your left.
“It wasn’t me.” Sam shakes his head. “I’ll admit, I’ve been tracking him for months. And I knew he’d be on this flight. He’s been tailing Angie. I had to keep an eye on her. Make sure she didn’t end up like Claire. But I didn’t cut that monster’s throat. I was just as shocked to see that dead body as you were, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about it.”
“Why impersonate an officer?” It doesn’t make sense.
“I’d have killed him. Planned to, but someone already finished the job.” He chews the inside of his lip. “The cop act would have been a cover. A way to get off the plane quickly.” He shrugs. “If I had a killer to return to Australia for extradition, they’d let me through, no questions asked.”
“Why should I believe you didn’t do it?”
“If you knew him like I do, you’d realize that I’m not the only one with a vendetta.”
You cut a glance at Mara, but she’s shaking her head. A smirk plays across her lips. Then she glances to something or someone behind you. You look over your shoulder.
Jessica is standing at the emergency exit, hand on the handle. The passengers who had occupied that row run to the back of the plane, shouting, fear lines their faces. Is she crazy? Opening the emergency exit with the plane still in motion could be dangerous, even if you aren’t at cruising altitude.
“Jessica, don’t. Running will only make things worse.” You take a step toward her. Probably not the best idea, but if someone doesn’t diffuse the situation, there might be consequences.
“He killed my sister.” Her knuckles whiten as she grips the handle. “He can’t get away with it. But I can’t spend the rest of my life in jail.” She swallows hard. “I need to help people. To do some good. And ridding the world of that evil man is just the first step.”
The wheels bounce off the runway. You grasp the seat back beside you. “Did you know he’d be on this flight?”
Jessica’s eyes dart to Sam and Mara. She squares her shoulders and yanks the handle. The emergency door flies open, and passengers’ screams punctuate the air. The sudden rush of humid air sucks at your clothing, pulling you toward the opening.
The flight attendant jumps onto the inflated slide and slips down. You cling to the seat, watching her descent. With the airplane still taxiing down the paved strip, the slide flails and pivots, sending Jessica flying through the air. She misses the safety of the cushion, and lands on the pavement. with a sickening thud.
How could she survive such a jarring fall?
The plane stops.
You run to the exit and peer outside, praying the scene won’t be as awful as you imagine. Maybe Jessica will brush herself off and run toward wherever to escape the consequences for her actions.
But her body lays in a mangled heap on the pavement. A dark stain spreads beneath her head. You look away, gut twisting.
Melani Hyatt screams then buries her face in her husband’s chest.
Angie Garrett hold her son close, facing him away from the grisly image that would probably scar his mind forever. Tears streak her cheeks.
Mara and Sam sit in their seats. Mouths agape and eyes glassy.
Griz bows his head. Perhaps honoring her with a moment of silence.
Flashing lights and wailing sirens drown the sobs in the fuselage. Medics rush toward Jessica’s form. One kneels beside her, places his hand on her neck, then shakes his head.
The pilot calls for the passengers to disembark. As if in a trance, the men an women pressing against the emergency exit scatter. Overhead bins click open and shut behind you, but you’re frozen in place.
Such a waste. It’s a blessing Jeff Archer can’t hurt anyone else, but you hate yourself for thinking so. You swallow past the dryness in your throat. Did Jessica really plan this alone? Sure she had motive, but it seems like too elaborate a plot for her to construct single-handed.
You turn, scanning the empty seats. Alone. They’re all gone. Back to their business as if nothing happened at all.
You grab your carry-on and walk the jetway into the airport. Men, women, and children bustle around you as if life hasn’t changed. As if Jessica didn’t jump to her death before your eyes. Somehow, everything feels surreal, like you’re floating through a dream.
Angela and Devon stand near the McDonald’s in the terminal. She has an arm draped around him as he licks at an ice cream cone. Griz stands beside her and rests a hand on her shoulder. Something between them feels familiar. How do they know each other? Mara and Sam join them, faces wreathed in smiles.
Sam glances your way. His grin widens, and he lifts his index finger to his lips.
Your heart plummets into your gut. Jessica didn’t act alone, but how can you ever hope to prove it?
I hadn’t planned on such an unsatisfying ending, so I hope you don’t black-ball me for it. As I was writing, the cut and dried ending I had planned just felt too much like cardboard. This is what came to me organically.
This has been a fun and challenging journey for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Would you like to do another? Is there a particular setting you’d like to see? Drop your ideas below, and I’ll do my best to make them come alive!
As I mentioned above, I’ll draw for the $50 Amazon Gift Card winner next week and post it here. Thanks for keeping with me. I appreciate each on of you!
In honor of my debut novel, The Purple Nightgown, that is set to release March 1, 2021, I want to share my top three favorite books in the True Colors series so far. I haven’t read all of them yet, but I’m working on it. That being said, this list may change as time goes on. I’ll also drop a cover image for The Purple Nightgown at the bottom, so you can share in my excitement!
Stories in the True Colors series follow historical true crimes, so if history and killing is your thing, this series would be a perfect choice. I had the honor of writing a book based on a blog post I wrote in January. Here’s the web address in case you’re interested in a little research before diving in.
In Boston, 1886, Harriet Peters commissions Sarah Jane Robinson to make her a new dress. Both widows are struggling to make ends meet, and they strike up a quick friendship. Harriet feels sorry for Sarah Jane, who has suffered so much loss in her life. But Harriet’s friend, Dr. Michael Wheaton, has concerns that death seems to follow Sarah Jane in mysterious ways Still, Harriet can’t imagine any deceit in her friend, who she comforts through the deaths of her daughter and nephew.
Will Harriet’s trusting nature lead to her own demise as a persistent stomachache starts to plague her?
2. The White City by Grace Hitchcock
While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.
Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?
The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock
On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.
With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?
At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?
And here is the cover image for The Purple Nightgown. It was a blast to write, and I’m hoping you enjoy it. 🙂