Over the past week I’ve been working on a new cover for my horror novelette It Lives in the Basement.  I asked for suggestions from my Facebook and Tweeter peeps.  Boy, did that open my eyes.  My little experiment just proves, there’s no way you can please everyone.  So, let me remind you what my original cover looked like.  I’ve been wanting to update it for quite some time, but got busy with other projects.


When I mentioned to a friend that I needed help with a new cover, she found a different stock photo, and between the two of us we came up with the below.


I really liked the picture, and the font type and color, but I still felt it wasn’t right.  So I messed around with different color combinations for the title and fonts for my name.  Below are the covers I asked opinions on.


This is where the fun began.  Most people liked the eerie green drop shadow in the cover my friend had made.  But I wanted a  hint of blood/danger, so I added a red outline.  The third book was the most popular, but a few people mentioned that it reminded them of Christmas colors.  Hmm.  I didn’t see it at first, but once it was brought to my attention, I had to agree.  Not what I want for a horror book.  Back to the drawing board.

The second runner up was the first book, with the red drop shadow.  The people who liked it said the title was clear and easier to read, but I didn’t get enough votes to make me feel confident about that choice.  Would the cover entice a reader to buy my book?

As for my name, I’d read that when publishing multiple books, the author should always use the same font type as a brand for their name.  My last two books were published via Creativia Publishing, so I went back and looked at how my name looked on those two book covers.  And yes, my name was in the same font type.  I found the font and decided to use that one for my name, with some slight changes.

That still left me with the cover.  What to do?  Then it hit me.  Why was I keeping the title at the top of the image?  I worked on my magic, and ta da, my new cover.


I know, I know.  After all that fooling around and I went back to the first cover design, just different.  I feel it’s better balanced now.  As a ‘thank you’ for your help, I’m including part of the first chapter for your reading pleasure.


I hope no one reads this, because that means I’m dead.
“Hey, Lieutenant!” yelled a barrel-chested, young uniformed officer. “Better take a look at this. I think we may have something.” Leaning out of a smaller room adjacent to the living room, he was holding up a worn notebook with scrawled handwriting across the open pages.
A tall man, in a rumpled brown suit, strode rapidly across the room. “Christ, Daniels. Most of you street cops wouldn’t know what a clue was even if it bit you on the ass,” he admonished, running his hand through his disheveled more salt than pepper hair. “And didn’t I just tell you not to touch anything until I had a chance to look at it? Now we’ll have to eliminate your prints from the other fingerprints in the house.” Glaring down at the shorter man, he continued his tirade. “I realize investigating a ‘missing persons’ case is harder than chasing a speeder, or writing up a guy for having one too many, but would you please try to follow procedures?” Snatching the notebook, he ordered, “Now, go outside and find the landlord for me. You do remember him don’t you, Daniels? The fat guy who let us in?”
Looking anywhere but at the irate Lieutenant, Daniels sheepishly nodded his head.
“Oh, good. Now, go find him for me, would you?”
As the young officer hurried to the front door, then tried working out the mechanics of opening the screen door with just his elbow, the Lieutenant shook his head in disbelief. Where did these kids come from? He didn’t remember being that stupid when he joined the force. God, he was getting old.
Glancing down at the notebook, opened to the front page, he read a few lines. But his attention wasn’t on the written words. He had something else on his mind.
He closed the notebook, placing it back on the desk in the small bedroom, grumbling to himself, “I knew it was going to be one of those days.” The moment he walked into the squad room and read the note lying on his desk, informing him his partner of twenty-three years would be out on sick leave for a week, he knew.
He didn’t begrudge his partner the sick leave. Hell, he could use a week off himself. But the weather in Omaha, especially the week after Thanksgiving, wasn’t conducive to a weeklong vacation at home. Not being able to afford to go anywhere, he would have been trapped in his house for a week with his wife of twenty-one years, and at least five of the grandchildren she was always babysitting.
No thanks. He’d had enough of babysitting when he had to help with the raising of their own six kids.
Being pragmatic about his partner being gone, he knew he was upset because he would be working alone all week, and that meant he would be getting all the shit jobs. Even though they had their own cases to work, he’d get stuck for the week doing somebody else’s paperwork, making the never-ending telephone follow-ups, and answering all the ‘suspicious activity’ calls, like this one.
What the hell. He knew he couldn’t buck the system, and with three years left until retirement, he didn’t want to try. But it was going to be a long week.
Hearing another uniformed officer enter the house, the Lieutenant stepped back into the living room. “Mickosky, where in the hell is Daniels with the landlord?” Flynn asked in a snappish voice.
“Take it easy, sir,” Mickosky answered as he glanced around the living room. “He’s coming. The landlord was down on the corner talking with some neighbors.” Tearing a page from his notebook, he handed it to the taller Lieutenant. “Here’s all the information I got from the neighbors. It ain’t much, sir. Same old shit. The neighbors know the people that live here. The neighbor woman north of the house says the missing couple are good, quiet people. But the neighbor guy on the other side says the man’s a nutcase. That’s the neighbor who called the landlord. He says their car hasn’t moved for three or four days, and no one has gone in or out of the house. And their mail hasn’t been picked up since Monday. The neighbor’s name is, uh, yeah, Leaman, sir. He’s outside, if you want to talk with him. By our cruiser.”
The Lieutenant skimmed over the paper, folded it, and stuffed it in his pocket. With a heavy sigh, he said, “No. Not now, Mick. What I want right now is that damn landlord.”
Just then, the front door opened and Officer Daniels walked in, followed by a fat man in a heavy, gray, unbuttoned coat, greasy overalls and a sweat-stained shirt.
With a big grin, Daniels said, “Sir, here is Carl Santantovich, the landlord.” He gave a flourish of his hand, as if he had produced the large man from a magic hat.
Holding his hand out to the shorter, younger man, the Lieutenant introduced himself. “Hello. I’m Lieutenant Flynn. Do you mind if I call you Carl?”
Giving Flynn a soft, flabby, moist handshake, the landlord answered, “No.” Glancing around, he asked, “What’d you find, Lieutenant? Where are they?”
Wiping his wet palm on his right pant leg, Flynn told him, “Well, so far, nothing. I’ve searched over the house twice now, and there isn’t anyone here. There’s no sign of a break-in, a struggle or other violence that I can find. I was hoping you could give me some background information about the tenants that live here, Carl.”
“I can’t tell you much. The woman’s name was Pat Forbes. She worked for some insurance company out west. My wife has the name and address. The man’s name was John Sempek. He worked for a construction outfit as a laborer most of the year. When it got too cold, he would help me with some of my rental properties. John fancied himself as some kinda writer. He told me once that he’d half a dozen stories he’d been trying to publish.”
Listening carefully, the Lieutenant also watched as Officer Daniels took a small notebook and pen out of his coat pocket, presumably to take notes, but so far, hadn’t written down one word.
Officer Daniels puffed out his chest, asking in a deep, authoritative voice, “What type of writer is he?”
Flynn snorted, knowing the young officer was trying to impress him with his interrogation skills.
As the furnace kicked on, the overweight man stepped away from the heat vent, opening his heavy coat even more. “Ah, well, John said he wrote about science-fiction stuff. Shit about flying saucers and little green men. I ain’t no reader, and never read any of his stuff. Wouldn’t waste my time on that kinda crap anyways.”
Daniels was about to ask another question, when Lieutenant raised his hand, cutting him off. “Carl, why do you keep referring to these people in the past tense? Do you know something that I don’t?”
Eyes round with fright, the landlord took a step back, hands in front, of his chest, waving them back and forth. “Uh, no, Lieutenant. No. It’s just that Wamperely, the guy that rents from me down the block, well, he said John’s been drinking pretty heavy lately, and I, well, I thought maybe he’d killed Pat and took off or something.”
Flynn studied the nervous landlord. Was he lying? Did he know more then what he was telling? Flynn didn’t think so. Carl seemed genuinely concerned about his missing tenants.
With a brief nod, Flynn said, “Ok, I believe.” He sat on the tattered arm of an old chair, flipping through pages of his reports. “Let’s see if I have the facts straight, Carl. Three days ago, after you received a call from one of the neighbors, Mr. Leaman, you had your wife try to call Pat or John, at their house. After three days of not being able to reach them, your wife called Pat’s employers, who told her they hadn’t seen or heard from Pat since Monday. Then, at eight-thirty this morning, you had your wife call the police. Is that correct?”
With a relieved smile, the landlord swiped at the sweat running down his red face. “Yeah. My wife called this bar, Deans Place, where John usually drinks. They said John and Pat were there on Monday, after she got off work, but not since then.” Shifting from foot to foot, Carl continued, “See, Lieutenant? That’s why I figure something’s wrong. I’ve known Pat and John about five years, before they started renting this house. John never goes a day or two without stopping at a bar. Not always Deans Place. Sometimes he’d stop in at Newells Bar. Unless John’s sick, he’d go to a bar almost every day. The bar was like his office. That’s where I’d always find him, if I needed him to do some work. It’s not like him not to be at a bar during the day.”
“Right,” the Lieutenant said, nodding his head in understanding. “So you called the police, and asked them to meet you here before you went into the house yourself. Why didn’t you look for them prior to calling the police? They could’ve been here, just changed their routine.”
Wiping the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his coat, the landlord stammered, “I, ah, if something were missing, I didn’t want to be accused of stealing. And honest, Lieutenant, I thought you’d find at least one body in the house. I sure as hell didn’t want to be the one to find it myself.” Looking around again, he asked, “By the way, Lieutenant, where’re the cats? I know Pat has two white cats. One of the neighbors said she also had a small, black kitten. So there should be three cats running around here, somewhere.”
Shaking his head, Flynn replied, “Haven’t seen them. I’ve searched through this house twice now. I found a litter box downstairs, and some empty food and water bowls, but no cats. We did find strands of long, white hairs and shorter black and brown hairs.”
The sweating man explained, “Yup. Those would be from her cats. The next door neighbor, Mabel, told me Pat just took in a small, black kitten. Pat loved her cats. Where have they gone too?”
The Lieutenant slowly rose from the arm of the chair, stuffing his notes back into his pocket. “Look, Carl, I’m more interested in where Pat and John are right now, not some missing cats. It behooves you to help us, because if I don’t find Pat or John within a few days, I’ll have to list them as ‘missing persons,’ then you’ll have to file a petition for a court order to rent this property again. I’ll have Officer Daniels write you a receipt for the front door key. You’ll get your key back when we’re done with our investigation. Thank you for your cooperation.” As an afterthought, he added, “But before you leave, please accompany the officer around the premises, and see if you notice any items missing. And, Carl, please be careful not to touch anything.” Reaching out, Lieutenant Flynn plucked the house key from the openmouthed landlord’s hand. Turning away, he ambled into the front bedroom, Officer Mickosky following on his heels.
Flynn wandered around the small bedroom, maneuvering around a desk parked in the middle of the room. He’d already looked through this room before. Not much to see. He shook his head at the blue walls with gold carpet. Not quite his taste in décor.
There were two cheap, dressers against opposite walls, one under a window. On top of each dresser were neat piles of typed paper. He opened the drawers, riffling through them. Some of the drawers had winter clothing, others were junk drawers. He stopped in front of a small, opened closet. He peered inside. More clothes on hangers, and boxes stacked on top of boxes on the floor and shelves. There was a thin layer of dust covering everything. Seems these people don’t like throwing anything away. His wife would go crazy with the amount of clutter in this closet.
His next stop was the desk. It was a wooden desk painted over in a grayish blue color. That must’ve been a long time ago, as the paint was flaking off, wood showing through the paint. In the middle sat a new electronic typewriter. Flynn pulled out a chair with black painted, iron legs and a vinyl seat and back. The chair had seen better days, as the black paint was peeling, and the vinyl was cracked in many places, the white padding underneath sticking out.
Sitting at the small desk, the Lieutenant turned on the typewriter. He knew the typewriter had a correctible memory, and he wanted to see if there were any words stored in the memory, but unfortunately, it was empty. He scanned over the desk where there were piles of neatly typed pages. He peered down at the floor littered with handwritten, yellow legal paper. Flynn knew these were the originals and probably rough drafts, of the stories John had been working on.
“Whew.” Mickosky whistled low, peering around the room in amazement. “This guy sure wrote a lot, didn’t he, Lieutenant?”
Being a rhetorical question, Flynn merely nodded, asking, “Do you read much, Mick?”
The officer shrugged. “Nah, never got into books. I’m more a television man myself. Why?”
“Well, Mick,” the Lieutenant surmised, “The people who live here spend a lot of time reading, I’d say. There has to be more than a thousand books in this house, on every subject you can imagine. I read a lot at home, Mick, and they have books from all the top authors, and some I’ve never heard of. My wife says people who read a lot are sensitive people. I don’t know whether I believe that, but I do know people who read as much as these two, are sensitive about their books.
“If our ‘missing persons’ have left for parts unknown, they wouldn’t have left their collection of books. They might not have taken all of them, but they would have taken their favorite books.” Glancing toward the living room, he continued, “There aren’t any empty spaces on those bookshelves in the living room or dining room. So, I’d have to say all their books are here. To me, that’s a red flag something is wrong.” Rubbing his forehead, he confessed, “Something grabbed my attention before, but I can’t remember what it was. I searched over the house again hoping to find it, but never did.”
Flynn sighed in frustration. “My gut is telling me Pat and John didn’t take their cats and walk off somewhere. Their car is here, but we didn’t find any car keys, and the house was locked, from the inside. Remember? I had to cut the screen on the front door to use the key. The refrigerator is stocked, and there are eleven cans of beer from a twelve pack. There isn’t a single reason I see that would make two people just up and leave. Hell, even their rent is paid up for almost a month. But still, we have two people missing, along with their three cats.” He scratched his head. “I wish I could find whatever it was I noticed before.”
From the bedroom doorway Daniels piped up, “Well, the landlord is gone, Lieutenant. He said he wouldn’t know if there were any missing items anyway, except the cats.” With a trace of awe in his voice, he stated, “Christ. This place is like a library. Why would they have so many damn books?”
Smiling tolerantly, Flynn explained, “Well, Daniels, you see, people who enjoy reading tend to collect books so they can reread them on occasion.”
Turning, the young uniformed officer stared at the tall bookshelves lining the walls of the living and dining room. “You mean they’d read the same book more than once?” he said with incredulity. “The same book? Why would anybody want to read the same book more than once, if they didn’t have to?”
“It’s apparent to me, Officer Daniels,” Flynn said softly, “that you have never squandered your valuable time on the elements of higher education, nor on the dubious and possibly, to someone of your density, dangerous aspects of deep thinking.”
Beaming a proud smile, Officer Daniels said, “Why, thank you, Lieutenant.”
Turning away, Mickosky coughed into his hand, trying to hold back the chuckle he couldn’t stop.
“Uh, do you figure these people just left, Lieutenant? Coz it doesn’t make any sense to me.” Seeing the glare directed his way from his superior officer, Daniels hurried to explain. “I mean, their car is still here, and the house was locked from the inside, their clothes are still here, and that looks like a purse on the floor over there next to that bookcase.” He swallowed the lump in his throat. The last thing he needed was to have Hot Head Flynn upset with him. Most of the uniforms hated working with Flynn, especially when his partner wasn’t around.
Flynn snapped his fingers, jumping up from the chair. That’s it! Right out the mouths of babes. Thank you, Daniels. Good work.”
As Flynn rushed past him out the door, Daniels, blushing, remarked, “Uh, thank you, sir.” When the Lieutenant was gone, he leaned toward his partner. “Uh, Mick, what did I say?”
Smiling, Mickosky patted his shoulder. “Oh, Daniels. Don’t worry about it, you did fine. You’ll –-.” He was cut off as a call for squad car 306 blared from his radio. Mickosky went to find Flynn, who was kneeling on the floor next to a television, a large, black purse dumped out on the brown carpet. “Lieutenant, do you need us any longer? We have a bad accident a few blocks from here.”
Flynn glanced up at him. “No, Mick. Go ahead. And thanks for your help.”
Mickosky grinned, nodded, and gave a two-fingered salute, then headed for the front door, talking into his radio confirming that Car 306 was en route. Peering out the front window, Lieutenant Flynn winced as their squad car squealed down the street sideways, lights flashing, sirens blaring. Daniels was driving, a big grin across his face, while white-faced Mickosky clung onto the dashboard.
Shaking his head at their foolishness, Flynn knelt back down. Using his ballpoint pen, he shuffled the contents from the purse around. He unsnapped the suede-covered wallet and flipped it open. Inside was a checkbook, three credit cards secured in glassine envelopes, and a blue pen in a slot, with gold lettering on it spelling out the name ‘Patricia Forbes.’ Checking the account balance in the back of the checkbook, he said softly, “Okay, Pat. Talk to me, girl. You didn’t leave and forget to take your purse. Not with three current credit cards and more than seven hundred dollars in your checking account. So where are you? And where are John and your three cats? C’mon, girl, talk to me.”
Pushing a few more items around with his pen, he used his handkerchief to pick up a key-ring with a large silver tag that had a Libra sign stamped on it. Striding briskly to the front door, he used the first key on the ring to lock/unlock the front door. He walked out into the cold toward an old, rusty, red Mustang hatchback. Using the round key, he unlocked the hatchback and stared inside: an old paintbrush, a worn-out pair of gloves, a few empty beer cans, and bags from some fast food joints. Nothing else.
Shivering, he shut the hatchback and headed for the warm house. At the front door, Flynn turned around. None of the eight people standing around had spoken to him, although they watched his every movement. Turning, he went back inside, content to leave the eight sightseers standing outdoors in the crisp, nine degree air. He shivered again as he headed toward the kitchen, grateful when he heard the furnace kick on again.
In the kitchen, he took a coffee mug out of the dish strainer, filled it with water, and placed the mug inside the microwave, located in the pantry. After the microwave beeped, he added instant coffee, which he’d found on the counter. Sitting at the small, tan kitchen table, he lit a cigarette then sipped his steaming coffee. Leaning back in the kitchen chair, long legs outstretched, he surveyed the room.
He had never seen a kitchen with five doorways. Two of the doorways were on the east side of the room, one for the backdoor and the other for the bathroom. On the south side of the room, behind where he sat, was a doorway for the pantry, and right next to it, the doorway to the basement. The last doorway was on the west wall, leading into the dining room / library. The kitchen table sat against the west wall, and when he leaned back, he could see from the kitchen, through to the dining room, and into the living room.
He sat there, flicking his cigarette into the ashtray, waiting, but not sure why. One thing he felt certain of though, that Pat Forbes wasn’t going to come home, and demand to know who the stranger was sitting in her kitchen, drinking her coffee. And he also felt John Sempek wasn’t coming back home either. He couldn’t find any hard evidence indicating something was wrong, just some circumstantial clues. Making a judgment call without some evidence of violence, a break-in or other wrongdoing was difficult. Yet he knew these people weren’t alive any longer. He could feel it in his gut, as he sat in their kitchen, sipping their coffee.


About Sahara Foley

Bio: Until my husband died on Christmas 2012, I never thought about becoming a writer. In fact, the act of writing a story terrified me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading, just never had the knack for writing. The thought of writing dialogue scared the bejeebers out of me. See, Bob was the writer. He wrote stories for years but could never get a traditional publisher interested enough to publish even one. Now I understand why, as they were unpolished outlines. Then, after 30 years together, Bob passed away and my life was turned upside down.

About a month later, I was sitting around my apartment, trying to adjust to the worst event in my life, when a little voice spoke to me. Why not publish Bob’s stories? To be truthful, ever since the advent of self-publishing, I always wanted too, that’s how much I believed in his stories. But I knew I would have to fight him for every little change I made to his outlines. Sorry, honey, but they had to be done.

So, I pulled out the box of stories, dusted them off, and started on a new adventure: The World of Self-Publishing. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. I finally published several short stories early in 2014, then my horror novella, It Lives in the Basement. While I was working on them, I was slowly learning the craft of writing, and getting The Secret of Excalibur ready for publication. Excalibur was my favorite story of them all, and in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted a publisher. One day on Twitter, I ran across a tweet from Creativia Publishing, and that was another game changer for me. I signed up with them in December of 2014, and it was the best decision I’ve made.

One thing I’ve discovered on my new adventure, are all the really awesome and talented Indie Authors. If you find the right community of Indie Authors, all they want to do is help each other. I found that I love promoting them and their books, so that’s how I setup my blog. For readers to meet Indie Authors.

Anyway, enough about me. Here’s all my contact information:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/booksbysaharafoley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaharaFoley

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/saharafoley/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SaharaFoley/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sahara-Foley/e/B00J9ST32U/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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