When Mary Whispered to Me in a GraveyardI knew it as soon as I saw the place.  I could see it tucked into the beautiful shadows and lingering behind the gravestones.  This place had stories.

I was set-up to see it that day, prepped by my father-in-law and his memories that were scattered all around these Virginia mountains.  His Grandma Laurie and her skill with wringing a chicken’s neck as part of dinner prep. The time he and his friend Bryan both saw – in separate moments – a shadowy figure between the trees. His teenage nickname of Chainsaw.

So when we pulled up to Neriah Baptist Church, I would have had to intentionally turn off the words if I didn’t want them to draw me in.  But I didn’t turn them off. I turned them up, and as I strolled amongst the gravestones, as I looked for my husband’s relatives and wondered about the unmarked graves there on that hillside, a story whispered to me.

Now, more than two years later, that story has whispered herself into life, and on Tuesday, she will come into the world in the voice of Mary Steele, the protagonist of Steele Secrets.  

I don’t know exactly how stories come to live, but I expect it is at least somewhat like what Elizabeth Gilbert describes in Big Magic:

Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.

I could have turned away from Mary’s whisper, reminded myself I was a nonfiction writer and that I had no business writing fiction.  But today, three days before all of you get to meet her, I’m so grateful I didn’t.

I believe in this book. I believe in Mary’s story. I believe it has power.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have published it.

So today, I’m asking you to consider picking up a copy of Steele Secrets. If you pre-order it, you’ll get the electronic copy for just $1.99 and you can send me your receipt at [email protected], and I’ll send you a free electronic copy of The Slave Have Names as a thank you.  A low price and a free gift are perfectly great reasons to buy a book.

But more, I hope you want to read the book for yourself – because you love a good mystery, because history speaks to you powerfully, because you believe in the importance of African American cemeteries, because you appreciate a teenage romance that doesn’t involve a vampire. . . I just hope you’ll grab it, I suppose, because you, too, love the way a story can whisper itself to life inside of you, a gift from the creative heart of our world. 

The gift Mary gave me.

If you get Steele Secrets and read it, I’d LOVE to hear what you think of it.  Your honest opinion.  Really. 


By the way, if you haven’t yet signed up for Nick Stephenson’s FREE video training that will help you get your books to the readers who will love them, I highly recommend you do.  The information he gives is great and practical and has at its heart the need for good writing. Check it out here – http://andilit.com/YourFirst10000Readers3.