Her son just killed a man. How far will a mother go to save her child?
If you're a fan of dark thriller authors like Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, I've got a FREE short story for you to grab! This one is a fast-paced psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. It looks at a mother's love and how far a mother will go to save her child. This is the major theme of my upcoming Maternal Instincts series, so I'm super excited to offer you a glimpse into this idea for free.
This story is an ebook and a quick read, so even if life is cutting into your reading time, you can give it a try. It will also give you a chance to try out my dark, emotional writing style and see if it's your kind of read.
Click here to claim your free copy, and be sure to drop a comment below and let me know what you think,
To the dog who replaced my mastiff
"There is no joy since you left." That was the phrase I wrote after Henry, our mastiff, died in February. A few weeks later, you came along.
You came into my life at a dark, dark, dark time. You came into our house when we were still cloaked in grief from the loss of our beloved mastiff. He was more than a dog to me. He was my best friend, my world. My cheeks were still tear-stained when your crazy puppy self blasted into our house. I wanted the sadness to stop. I wanted to feel hope again. I know now that it probably wasn't the best idea to get a crazy puppy in the middle of winter while I was still drowning in sadness. But you came into our lives all the same, ready or not (and most days, I realized not).
I know now it wasn't really fair to you in those early days. You had crazy big pawprints to fill that you really had no business filling....and we should have never expected that of you. I was still mourning the friendship I had with Henry, one that I'd built over seven years. You came in with your puppy breath and wild energy...and you never could be him. Try and try as you might, you couldn't fill those pawprints.
At first, if I'm honest, that was really hard. Henry loved the snow and cupcakes. You were terrified to go outside to pee if there was a single snowflake or a puff of wind, and you didn't really like any food except canine carry outs. Henry loved to cuddle; you liked to run like wild, jumping all over and gnawing on me with those razor-like puppy teeth. Henry was a social butterfly, and you were afraid of your own shadow. Henry would lay his big, heavy head in my lap when I was sad. You would pee on the floor or chew on my shirt or get into a million things that seemed to make everything harder.
You were nothing alike. I realized that very quickly. You didn't really notice though. You probably wondered who the heck that Henry guy was I always mentioned.
As time went and spring broke, I still cried. A lot. I still grieved for Henry. In truth, even now, I still do. However, slowly, I started to realize the reality I should have known from the beginning: You weren't Henry. You never would be. And those pawprints I wanted you to fill...you would make your very own because you were your own dog.
Even though the weight of grief was heavy, you didn't mind. Even when I was crying and staring at his picture, you were having a blast with your new toy or tossing your rope in the air or chewing on the throw pillow. You made me laugh in spite of the sadness. You lifted the darkness from our house, and the rooms no longer echoed with the silence of our missing dog because there was a new energy there. One who liked to run on the sofa and stare at the fan. One who loved to dash around with his giant frisbee and roll on his back with his treats. One who loved sleeping on pillows and stealing socks and playing in the empty tub.
And even though some days I wanted nothing more than to sleep off the grief, you didn't let me. No longer could I wallow on the couch all day because you needed exercise, attention, and love. And so, I started lacing my shoes up at five a.m. to walk you. I had to be home from work to get you out. I had someone happy to see me when I got home, and someone who didn't care how many mistakes I made that day or how much I messed up. On days when it all felt hard, you were there, throwing your toy or being so damn happy over everything.
There were still frustrating days, of course. The day you ate your $65 Serta bed I just bought you, and all of the days you refused to listen. All of the cat chasing, pooping on walks, and middle of the night barking. The $35 you chewed up and your insane antics at dog school. You were exhausting from that very first week. You still are. You have pulled more stunts than Henry could've ever dreamed of in his lifetime.
Nonetheless, as I sit here with you now, eight months into our friendship, I can appreciate how special you are. You did the impossible. You walked into our lives in the middle of the darkest darkness I've ever experienced...and you brought us joy, laughter, and light. You didn't worry about filling Henry's shoes...because you brought your own pair. You reminded us that you could never replace our first beloved dog, nor should you. You reminded us that you would make your own path, your own memories. You would carve out your own bond with us that is wild and messy and sometimes a bit annoying....but filled with joy all the same.
So to the dog who replaced our mastiff: You could never replace him. And you don't have to. But you taught me in these past months that loss doesn't go away--still, with the right bond, it can become bearable.
Most of all, you taught me that every dog has its purpose, its reason, and above all, unconditional love.
When Henry died, there was no joy. I thought it would stay that way forever. Thank you, Edmund, for leading me through the grief of Henry and teaching me that yes, there would be joy again....crazy, energetic, expensive, exhausting, but beautiful all the same... joy.
To follow more of our journey and celebrate all things thriller, dogs, and a whole lot of fun in between, follow me on Instagram or Pinterest
Is there a bookworm on your holiday shopping list who loves thrillers?
Giving books as gifts during the holidays is one of my favorite things to do, but it can be difficult to know just what book would be the best to give. But don't worry! I've compiled a list of five recommendations for the thriller book lover on your shopping list. These books will satisfy every type of thriller lover and are choices that they probably haven't read yet.
I've read all of these and loved them. Scroll down to see which one is best for your bookworm friend.
1. For fans of realistic thrillers/ Ruth Ware
If the reader on your list loves realistic thrillers with deeply complex female characters, give Carissa Ann Lynch My Sister is Missing a try. I loved how developed the main character was. When her sister goes missing, she is taken down a twisty road of secrets and lies. Carissa's writing style is similar to Ruth Ware in that the suspense aspect focuses a lot on relationships. You can see more of my full book review here.
2. For the Gone Girl Fan/ Readers who love shocking twists
There's an arsonist on the loose, and no one can figure out who it is. When Pete Andrews' son becomes a victim of the sinister serial killer's work, he will be sent on a path towards revenge. However, as secrets are unearthed, Pete and the reader learn that nothing is as it seems.
If your book lover loves shocking twists and plots that keep you guessing like Gone Girl, this dark thriller by the USA Today Bestseller will give them a satisfying reading experience. This book was named a Quarter Finalist in the Book Life Fiction competition. Numerous reviewers have noted that The Arsonist's Handbook it truly kept them intrigued and guessing up until the last page.
3. For readers who can handle dark material
If your bookworm enjoys really dark material with heavy storylines like those in The Sinner show, My Dark Vanessa is the book for them. There are a lot of trigger warnings with this one (sexual assault especially), so beware of that. However, if your bookworm enjoys a really complex book that doesn't censor itself, this one is a powerful read. This deals with a relationship between a student and teacher, so it definitely has a taboo vibe to it. However, the writing is gorgeous, and the author really covers an important topic.
Gift with caution, of course...but if you know the reader really well on your list, this might be the kind of impactful read they are looking for.
4. For the True Crime Lover
For the book lover who can't get enough of true crime books and shows, A Serial Killer's Daughter is a moving, chilling account of Kerri Rawson, daughter of the BTK killer. It details what it was like to grow up with a father who was a serial killer. It also covers her healing process. Although the book has been noted as being a bit slow at points, I found it fascinating to learn about the behind-the-scenes life of BTK and to realize that he really did have two sides.
You can learn more from a full book review of Kerri Rawson's book here.
5. For the reader who likes their thriller on the horror side
Behind Closed Doors is a shocking thriller that will keep the bookworm on your holiday list turning the pages. It has an intense plot that is eerie and creepy, and the ending really does keep you up at night. This is a book I haven't been able to forget since reading it. Some thriller readers have actually noted it was too dark for them, but if your bookworm loves authors like Karin Slaughter and Gillian Flynn, I think they'll find this to be a good read.
Do you have any books you would add to the list? Be sure to comment below with some of your favorites. If you're looking for a FREE thriller read to check out now or gift to a friend, be sure to check out I'd Kill For You, my FREE short story thriller about how far a mother would go to protect her murdering son.
Chilling twists and turns. Shocking endings.
A good thriller sticks with you long after the final page or scene. There are so many choices out there, though, on streaming services and Amazon Prime. It can be exhausting to slog through movies and shows in search of that perfect psychological thriller that will creep you out and build the tension you're looking for.
Look no further, though. I've compiled a list of my top five choices. If you love authors like Ruth Ware, Gillian Flynn, and B.A. Paris, these twisted psychological thrillers will stick with you long after the credits start rolling.
1. Stonehearst Asylum
This is my favorite slow-burning thriller movie of all time. This movie is set in an insane asylum. We follow a young asylum doctor who is interning at Stonehearst Asylum. While there, though, he learns there are many secrets to uncover.
This movie, though, is so strong in its plotting and twist. The clues are subtle but deep; once you learn the twists, you will realize the hints were there all along. I promise you that when you think the movie is done presenting twists, it will present some more. You will NOT guess the ending but will love it.
This movie is based on an Edgar Allan Poe story and features an eerie backdrop, ever present tension, and, again, a look at what reality really means. I love movies that explore mental illness and what madness means. I think if you love thrillers that are emotional and complex with an atmosphere straight out of a Poe story, you will fall in love with this one.
2. The Babadook
This one technically falls under horror, but the ending, for me, throws it into a psychological thriller sort of status. Again, although it is technically creature horror, its dealings with unreliable narrators, what reality is, and heavy emotions makes it a great watch if you love a slow burn.
The ending is, again, a shocking, twisted ending that has high interpretive value that will keep you talking long after the last scene.
I was flipping through Netflix arguing with my husband about what to watch as married life sort of dictates when I came across this eerie tale. Usually, I am admittedly a subtitle snob (I hate reading subtitles. I know, I know, uncultured). But this plotline really caught my eye.
In a world where families are starving, an invitation to a ball is a prized treasure similar to Charlie getting the golden ticket. Thus, when the protagonists get to go to the actual ball, they feel like they've won the lottery. Fine foods, fancy dining, and a lifestyle they aren't used to awaits them.
However, they quickly start to realize that things in the mansion are anything but normal as a horrifying "play" unfolds. The maze-like status of the building creates a sinister backdrop to a mystery both the characters and viewer must solve. The ending provides an unforgettable scene of malevolence.
My husband and I talked about the ending of this one endlessly because it does leave a lot of questions. It is a movie with a slow build that creates that eerie feeling you find in the pages of a psychological suspense. I definitely think this one is worth checking out.
4. The Handmaid's Tale
I rave about this literally anytime I get a chance. The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's book, is a twisted, horrifying apocalyptical tale that will truly freak you out. Although it certainly could fall into the horror genre, the psychological and emotional terror along with the twisting and turning storyline is sure to satisfy suspense readers' needs. It has such an engaging plotline but also lets us in June's head for the entire show. It really does an excellent job at bringing Atwood's horrifying world to life.
June, named Offred in the world she lives in, is being held captive in Gilead after a faction takes over the US. The new powers are essentially a cult who follow the Bible literally when it comes to reproduction. Handmaids, those women able to reproduce, are essentially kept as slaves and forced to bear children for the wealthier families.
The show features gorgeous, award-winning film-making techniques. The plot will keep you horrified but also wanting to know more. Viewers both want to look away and can't stop watching because of the engaging plot and the extremely high tension.
5. The Woman in the Window
I will confess... I haven't had a chance to read this twisted psychological thriller. I had heard there was a major twist ending, though, and that the premise was creepy. When it hit Netflix, thus, I decided to give it a try.
This follows the story of a therapist who has become agoraphobic (afraid to go out in public). The story is told from her perspective as she watches the flat across the way. You start to sense that something deeply troubling happened to her. I thought that was the twist originally and sort of discounted the movie. However, as it unfolds and the storyline weaves in and out of unreliable narrators and crazy things happening, you start to realize there might be more at play. The ending totally caught me by surprise in the best way and changed my mind about the whole movie.
This movie definitely has "The Yellow Wallpaper" vibes to it with the unreliable narrator and the psychological turmoil. I have heard those who read the book say it isn't as good as the book, of course, bu I haven't had a time to verify that yet (let me know if the comments if you have).
It's easy to be grateful when life is beautiful and fun. Can you find the good, though, even when things are challenging? That is the real test, I think, in life and the real secret to true joy and long-lasting self-fulfillment. You need to be able to find happiness in the little things in order to truly unlock your potential for your future.
I watched the movie About Time the other day (yes, I am very late to the party). The movie wasn't my favorite, to be honest. I was in the mood for a romance/heavy drama, and it just didn't quite deliver. For me, The Time Traveler's Wife delivers a much stronger, dramatic look at time travel and romance. However, I did love the message that life doesn't have to be perfect. The main character learns that perfecting every mistake or bad moment in your life really isn't living. He learns that you just have to be looking for the perfect, beautiful, small moments even in the middle of disaster. The movie focuses on the idea that even the worst day has moments to be grateful for--we just get so focused on how busy we are that we stop looking for those times.
Our lives are always going to be messy and complicated. Most of us have learned that truth in adulthood, and especially in the past few crazy years. Still, the movie reminds us that the true key to happiness isn't accumulating more things or being perfect at everything. The real key to finding lasting fulfillment really is about mindset. If you can focus on the blessings, no matter how all, you start to see life as a gift and not a curse.
I know it sounds too easy, too simple. I know it sounds too good to be true. Still, since watching the movie, I've tried it out. I've focused on finding small, beautiful moments, even in the tough times. An extra five minutes on the couch with my puppy. A song I really love. An inspiring podcast episode that inspired. Life is still confusing and hard. It always will be. But when you start focusing on finding the good, you realize there really is a lot of good to be found.
So today, I hope you can find something small to be happy about. A funny comment from your spouse. A delicious lunch. A cup of coffee in your favorite mug. Snuggles with a cat before work. An outfit that makes you feel awesome.
Let's not just talk about gratitude one day a year. Let's start looking for it on a mundane Wednesday or a random, rainy Monday.
What little thing made you happy today? Tell me below once you find it.
Stay safe and be true,
Live your passion fearlessly.
I have watched Bohemian Rhapsody twice now in the past week....not because I'm a Queen fan, but because I got so inspired by the passion of Freddie Mercury.
He knew what he wanted and took so many risks to achieve it. When he was doing well...he dreamed bigger. And then he dreamed bigger again. Even when people thought he was crazy, he kept dreaming. He kept finding the confidence to chase his passion. He loved life big, outrageously, and to his own liking.
Certainly, there were struggles along the way. Identity struggles. Bad path struggles. Loneliness. Still, he spent his life knowing what his passion was : performing. And even if he got sidetracked, he didn't stop.
I think we all could learn a thing or two from Bohemian Rhapsody....chase your dreams. Dream bigger than life. Punch a hole in the sky.
If you are feeling lost or letting the doubts creep in, I think you should check out this movie. Even if you aren't a musician or even if you feel like you're never going to reach his level....watch it. Because I think we can all learn the most important lesson: confidence in your passions helps you become a legend.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?
Have you been feeling lost with your goals, dreams, and passions?
Have you been feeling like you don't even know what you want anymore?
Feeling trapped, dead inside, or just run-down?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I think so many of us at some point in our lives (or many points) struggle with the BIG questions of life:
*Who am I?
*What do I actually want?
*What makes me happy?
However, recently, I have noticed so many more people struggling with these questions.
I think the pandemic really forced a lot of us to slow down or even come to a standstill. And I think without the constant distraction of busy schedules, places to go, and events to soothe our inner turmoil, many of us realized we never really took the time to sort it all out. When we stripped down our lives to the bare basics, we realized we had been covering up our wounds with everything but the truth.
When we sat still for a moment and really listened to our core, we realized we no longer knew how to hear what it was saying.
So how do you fix it? How do you find your passion again, figure out what you want in life, and chase your dreams? I don't think there's any easy fix. But I do think there are some things we can do to help.
1. Look back to your younger days
What did you love doing as a child? What lit you up? Typically, if we look back to those early days when we weren't afraid of the world telling us "no," we can find true joy again. For me, I always loved writing. I filled so many journals with stories and poems. It was who I always was.
Adult life is exhausting. We get worn out by bills, by tragedies, by responsibilities, and by realities slapping us in our face. Our passions and joy we lived out freely in our younger days fade. If we take some time to revisit who we are at our core, what made us truly happy before the world said no, sometimes we can find the answer we are seeking.
We pigeon-hole ourselves into an identity in our adult years because society tells us we have to sort it all out. Because of that, we lose our sense of wonder and adventure. We forget to try new things because we get so stuck in our routines. Sometimes, though, trying something you've never done before can help you find a spark, a new joy, a new sense of life. Even if that thing you try isn't going to be your next career or your calling, it can reawaken a passion for life in you that maybe you lost along the way.
3. Be still.
I think the best thing to come out of 2020 was that so many of us had to be still. And even though that uncovered some scary truths for some of us about our lives, it helped us realize all the noise, the hustle and bustle--it's covering up our true selves. We're losing something in all the chaos.
Take some time to just be still with yourself and breathe. Give your brain room to think, and give your heart room to be creative. Even if it's a five minute walk around the block or a few minutes of sipping coffee out on your porch, take time to put the distractions away. Take time to stop listening to the world and start listening to yourself.
If you've lost your way, know you are not alone. Many of us are floundering through life trying to figure out just what it is that will bring us meaning and fulfillment. I think that's part of the beauty and struggle of being human.
I guess in the end it is a gift we get the chance to walk this crazy journey called life, even if it is wonderfully, beautifully confusing and hard sometimes.
Stay Safe and Be True,
L.A. Detwiler, Author
Not the "I need a nap" kind of tired."
The "I need a lifetime of sleep," "My bones hurt," "I need to disappear for a lifetime," "When did life get so hard?" Kind of tired.
It's a tired that seeps into your bones and sucks the joy right out of everything. It's the kind of tired that springs up from doing too much but also doing too little.....from checking off to-do lists but never checking off soul lists. From doing all the things but not doing the things that light you up.
And you know it's not supposed to be this way. You miss the days when that fire in your heart overpowered the sleepiness in your body. You miss the days when you felt like you could do it all....and wanted to.
The more exhausted you feel, the more distracted you feel. Because even though you are doing a lot, you keep seeing the things you aren't. The projects that aren't done. The work assignments that are shoddy. The people who are mad at you or who drifted away because you haven't had the time to see them. The weight you gained or the frumpy outfits you have or the fact you still can't seem to make a dinner everyone will eat.
Failure. Tired. Failure. Tired.
The mantra chants in your head on repeat. You miss the sunrise and sunset often because you are too busy trying to prove the mantra wrong.
But here's the thing. I see you. I see you trying so hard to make it all work and keep the smile on your face for everyone. I see you fighting it all alone because to ask for help is weakness.
But it isn't. It really isn't.
So reach out to someone. We are all here struggling in some way. We are all fighting the tired, failure mantra in some fashion. We all know that adult life....well, it's so much harder than we could have known.
Ask for help
Know it's okay to be tired.
Try to find the little luxuries in your life
today....because you deserve to take time for yourself. A coffee in your favorite mug. A short meditation. A moment of quiet.
Celebrate what you HAVE accomplished....because I know it's a lot, even if you don't realize it.
Rest. Sweet friend, take time to rest. The rat race only keeps going if you play the game.
Most of all, know you are beautiful, amazing, worthy, smart, and capable even on days when you can barely get out of bed.
Keep chasing your passion. Keep finding your passion. I promise if you do, you'll find that spark again.
And for goodness's sake....pause and look at the sunrise or sunset today. Don't forget that living today is a gift, even if it doesn't always feel like it.
Stay safe and be true,
Want more inspiration? Want to connect with others who are chasing their dreams? Be sure to follow me on Instagram. We talk a lot about chasing your passions.
Perfection is an illusion. Imperfection is beautiful
It's something I've battled with my whole life. I've always been a dreamer, a go-getter, a goal setter. I've always fought hard against living an ordinary life...which meant I never wanted to be ordinary.
I wanted the 100% on every test.
I wanted to master my goals and rise to the top, no matter the cost.
I told myself being a workaholic would guarantee success, and success guaranteed happiness.
However, in my 30s, I started to realize that you will never, ever, be perfect at everything. And sometimes, when you reach that highest goal, you'll realize that happiness comes from within not from an award or title or success.
These days, I'm a little nicer to myself. I take breaks. I don't feel the need to work all the time. I don't feel the need to be perfect at my hair and makeup and fitness goals and friendships and social gatherings and work and everything else on our plates.
I've realized that I need to pick and choose my priorities based on what I need at the moment. I've realized you don't have to be perfect at everything to be happy.
Life is a balancing act...which isn't easy. Nothing ever is perfectly in balance. But if you let your attention be pulled in 100s of ways and if you try to achieve perfection in all things, you're going to be burned out, tired, and passionless.
Focus on what matters to you. Not to the media or the industry you're in or the world. To you. Listen to your inner voice. Be still and really listen.
And then, remember that happiness is found within and from living the life you really, truly want and need.
I wish I had known.
I wish I had known it wouldn't be the huge, flashy moments that I would think about. The ones you are supposed to photograph and remember. The holidays, special occasions, the big adventures.
I wish I had known that it would be the tiny moments that I would come back to. The summer day when I put my lounge chair in the grass to guard the bunny nest and you slept beside me in the sun.
The days we ran in the sprinkler or took a walk together. The days we snuggled on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast, eating turkey dinner from The Dream in sweatpants.
The mornings I kissed that big, squishy nose. The night we went out to look at the meteor shower.
The small moments. The moments that were the everyday moments. The ones we don't have photos of.
I wish I had known. But I do now. And thanks to you, I soak in those moments a little more. I breathe them in, savor them, take note of them.
I still miss you, but just know....I still live in those moments all the time. And I am grateful for that.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books