The Effect of a Short Story by Carol Shenold

Even in grade school I liked short stories. The one that stuck with me was a very short one I read in a comic book. It involved a child coming home after school, reaching her house, finding it dark when she opened the door, calling out and receiving no answer, reaching in to turn on the lights. Instead of the light switch her hand lands on a large spider. She screams, wakes up from the (wait or it) dream, still in class. 
After school she laughs at herself for being silly, reaches home, a dark house and no answer when she calls out. This time when she reaches out, touches the spider, she doesn't wake up.
I never forgot the story. Never reach for a light switch in a dark room without the spider visiting me.

I graduated to Poe, Saki and other horror writers, read better crafted stories, but none of them took hold with the same intensity as the first. Of course, even before I read the horror comic, my grandmother prepped me with bed time stories about a killer in the 1940's who scattered body parts in the sewers of Chicago, or the lady who kept hat boxes on her shelf with children's heads stored in them. Both supposedly true stories. If my grandmother had been alive when mother found out about the sweet bedtime visits we had, mother would have killed her.
Now, surprise, I write horror, dark urban fantasy, paranormal mysteries, and love it as much as I loved those first tastes of the macabre. Safe scares, that's what it's all about. And placing characters in the situation of realizing the monster under the bed is real.

Privy to Murder, By Carol Shenold


Mag the Ghost wasn't any easier to deal with in death than Mag the Terror had been in life. Living in Love, Texas, in her childhood home, wasn't the end of the world, but Tali Cates can't see the good things with her eyes clouded by murder and mayhem. The first party for her event planning business, Party On, is marred when Tali finds the hostess's dead body in the outhouse, the woman's ghost hovering above.

Ever since her paranormal gifts ruined her marriage, Tali Cates has tried to suppress her abilities. Now living at home with her son and her mother and trying to support her family, Tali is faced with a vengeful ghost, intent on ruining her life unless she solves her murder. Some human elements are showing violent intent and Tali has to come face to face with the very things she tried to leave behind, her gifts and violence.


The skunk headed straight for me. I tried to remember the rules—hold very still or run like hell? Hit it on the nose? No, that would be a shark. Pee was involved? Nope, jellyfish.

The skunk turned to spray. I bolted for the truck and gagged on the smell that now drenched my jeans. I shed them and leaped in, slamming the locks.

Now what? I was in the enemy camp in my bikini cut panties. I reached for my cell phone. Shit fire, it was in the pocket of my jeans, outside, smelling like ten skunks.

I crept out. How the blank was I supposed to empty the pockets without touching the jeans? I picked up a couple of sticks, slid them into the front belt loops, and tried to shake the stuff out.

I managed to get the scent on myself and nothing out of the pockets.

I heard brush crackling. Frank, Betty Ann, and Donna all stood there staring.

“What are you doing here in your underwear?”

“I always wear underwear, Betty Ann.” Just not in plain sight.

Coffee Time Review

Privy to a Murder is a fun and quirky murder mystery. It seems to have a little bit of everything, murder, love, mystery, and a haunting. The main character of Tali is a very likable character that is well written. The story flows well, and you can not help but manage to smile at all the mishaps, and bad luck that Tali finds her self being plagued with. This story had just the right mix of characters that it had you guessing until the end on who was the murderer.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

Privy to Murder
Carol Shenold
ISBN: 978-0-9804133-7-3
Eternal Press
October 2007
Rating: 4 Klovers

Tali Cates was starting life over. Not that she had much choice. Her husband, disturbed by her admission of possessing a special gift of being able to see the dead, dropped her and their two children by the side of the road. Now she was back in her home town, living with her mother, starting a new business, wanting nothing more than a fresh start.

But murder gets in the way of her fresh start, making it more of a challenge then anyone deserves. Every where she turns, she’s making more enemies then friends and the trail of murder keeps following her. Until she learns to embrace her gifts and use them to find the killer, life in Love, Texas will continue to be Privy to Murder.

This was a very enjoyable, cozy mystery. I was immediately drawn in to the little town of Love. There’s nothing like a small town where everyone knows everyone else as a background for murder. Everyone is a suspect and no one is completely innocent.

Carol Shenold does a lovely job of giving us familiarity with the characters from the get-go. Tali Cates is full of spunk and doesn’t let life get her down, no matter how many curve balls are thrown her way. She was fun to spend the weekend with, and I am looking forward to her next foray in Bloody Murder, releasing in 2008. This was a wonderful start to a great new mystery series combining a little bit of humor, small town charm, realistic characters and a solid plot that will keep you guessing.
Reviewed by Terri Dukes

Come visit me at http://www.carolshenold.comcaro


Marja said…
Isn't the effect a short story can have on us? Good blog!
4RV Publishing said…
I enjoy writing short stories, too. It's quite the challenge to condense everything to make it precise and concise enough to fit in one story.

Vivian Zabel
I'm not much of a short story writer so admire those of you who do. I think it's a real art. Thanks for commenting Marja and Vivian.
Jean Henry Mead said…
I'm also not a short story writer but would love to read yours, Carol.
Carol said…
Both "Fairy Dust" and "Museums are Murder" are long short stories, but I also really like writing short, short, under 1000 words. Keeps me writing tight and concise.
Beth Anderson said…
I couldn't write a short story if you pounded bamboo shoots under my fingernails and stood me up in front of a firing squad. Just can't do it, I always want to know 'but then what happened' and off I go. I really envy anyone who can write them. I'll be reading some of Carol's for sure. Nice blog, ladies!
Anonymous said…
I love your voice Carol. Thanks for sharing.
Helen Ginger said…
Sounds like she's packed a lot in a short story - and done it successfully! Short stories are a whole art unto themselves. They are not easy! Great review.
Anne K. Albert said…
Great feature. Thank you for sharing. :)
Mary Martinez said…
Wow Carol, congrats on all the wonderful reviews.

Great blog everyone!
I totally enjoyed the skunk scene. LOVED the "I always wear underwear, Betty Ann." The story sounds cute. I think I'll check it out first chance I get.

I've met Carol in person and she's fun to hang out with. I can wholeheartedly recommend going to meet her, if you get the chance.

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