Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In the Spotlight: Yvonne Ventresca ~ Author of "The Third Ghost"

The IWSG Anthology blog will be featuring posts from each of the contributing authors over the coming weeks, and I’m thrilled to kick it off!
My story in the Voyagers Anthology is “The Third Ghost.” In one sentence, here’s what it’s about: Among the darkened, arson-damaged streets of Hoboken in 1981, Lewis stops to help two ghosts until he realizes his own family is in grave danger.

A picture containing animal, invertebrate

Description automatically generated

Some background about the story: Several years ago, I went on a haunted tour of Grand Central Station as research for a fictional Haunted Tour of Hoboken that takes place in my young adult novel, Black Flowers, White Lies. During the Grand Central tour, the guide told us a ghost story about a girl on the train tracks. The story stuck with me, and for the IWSG anthology, I thought about that girl and what it might be like for someone to meet her on a spooky October night.
Because I spent several years living in Hoboken (New Jersey), I envisioned setting the story there, which includes a historic train terminal. As I researched the city’s tragic arson fires in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the pieces of “The Third Ghost” clicked into place.
I have two novels published for young adults, and my story “The Art of Remaining Bitter” was included in IWSG’s Hero Lost Anthology. “The Third Ghost” is my first published middle grade story.


“The Third Ghost” by Yvonne Ventresca

Hoboken, New Jersey
October 1981

Lewis checked on his little sister before he snuck out in the middle of the night. Christina slept peacefully, clutching the most recent book they’d been reading together. Despite the fact they were still several sizes too big, she wore his old Bugs Bunny pjs again. As he tucked the blanket around her, a weird sense of foreboding overcame him, as if he should wake her and say goodbye one last time. But that was ridiculous. Nothing had ever happened the other times he’d slipped away. He would be home soon enough.
Usually, he took the stairwell from their second-floor apartment and crept out the back door. The wooden steps often creaked, but he’d mastered the art of moving quietly and slinking along undetected. But tonight, just as Lewis cracked the door to leave the apartment, his neighbor stumbled down the hall toward him. The man always asked too many questions in his booming voice. Luckily, he stopped a moment to light a cigarette with unsteady hands. When the flame of the lighter flickered, Lewis used the distraction to jerk the door closed, cringing at the click that seemed magnified in the night.
That was close.
Plan B: the back window. He returned to the rear bedroom. Moving slowly, he pushed the screenless window open. His sister stirred, fluttered her eyes a moment, but went back to sleep without noticing him.
He stared at the ground below, strewn with broken glass and garbage. I’ve done this before. He put his right leg over the sill. No broken bones yet.
As he climbed out, he hung from the window ledge, shortening the distance of his drop. Mom had told them about the hanging technique, instead of jumping, in case they needed to escape in an emergency. All the parents worried about fire after the recent arson deaths.
Mom’s shift ended at midnight. He was nearly there, with plenty of time to spare. Focused on his destination, he almost tripped over the boy crouched by the corner mailbox. It was as if he’d appeared out of nowhere.
“Whoa!” Lewis dropped his voice to a whisper. “You scared me.”
“Sorry.” The boy, dressed in sweatpants and a Smurf sweatshirt, was maybe eight or nine, like Christina. “I need help,” he said. “Henrietta’s stuck. See?” He pointed to a metal pipe under the mailbox. It wasn’t attached to anything, as if someone had discarded it. From inside the pipe came a plaintive cry.
Lewis bent to look. Two green eyes blinked at him from inside.
“I need to leave on a voyage,” the boy explained, “but I can’t go with Henrietta in trouble.”
A voyage? The word made Lewis think of ships heading out to sea. The boy didn’t look dressed for a boat ride.
“I can’t reach her.”
“Can you tilt the pipe?” Lewis asked. “Maybe she’ll crawl out.”
“Too heavy.”
Lewis tried to lift it, but it wouldn’t budge. A big guy in construction boots hurried past them toward the train station.
“Can you help us?” the boy called, but the man rushed onward, ignoring them.
“Don’t worry,” Lewis said. “We’ll figure something out. What if I push her toward you, then you slide her out?”
The boy nodded.
Lewis tugged the sleeves of his jacket down, not wanting to get scratched. He checked inside the pipe. All he could see was a ball of black fluff. He gently put his hand on the back of the cat and eased her forward.
A loud meow was followed by a cry of triumph. “Got her!” the boy said, cradling Henrietta until she squirmed. After he placed her on the ground, she meowed again. But on closer inspection, her fur wasn’t black. She was a tabby cat covered in soot.
“She doesn’t seem hurt or anything,” Lewis said as Henrietta sauntered away.
No reply.
When Lewis turned back, the boy had gone. “Hello?” he called. But he stood by himself on the corner.
Weird. It’s almost as if the boy was…No. The wind blew from the Hudson River and he shuddered. Alone in the night, he did not want to think about ghosts. Shaking off the fear, he continued to the train station.

Yvonne Ventresca is the award-winning author of Black Flowers, White Lies (IPPY Gold Medal for National YA fiction) and Pandemic (SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award).

In addition to her novels, Yvonne’s other work includes two nonfiction books and several short stories selected for anthologies, including the previous IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life

She is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can learn more at, where she features resources for writers.

Coming on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 . . .

Next up is Katharina Gerlach who shares her backstory for "Winter Days," a suspenseful tale in which twelve-year-old Katie fears her family’s arrest when a blizzard traps them in East Germany.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Meet the Authors of Voyagers: The Third Ghost

Come meet the ten authors showcasing their talents in the latest Insecure Writers Support Group anthology Voyagers:  The Third Ghost.  Their juvenile fiction stories that earned them a place in the anthology are exciting, suspenseful, and surprising, and they range throughout time and place from from Hoboken to Pompeii, Port Royal, and Cahokia.

Yvonne Ventresca
"The Third Ghost"

Yvonne Ventresca is the author of the award-winning young adult novels Pandemic and Black Flowers, White Lies. In addition, Yvonne has written two nonfiction books and several stories selected for collections, including the previous IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can learn more at, where she features resources for writers.

Katharina Gerlach
"Winter Days"

Although Katharina Gerlach was born in the late sixties, she’s still a child at heart. She inherited her love of fairy tales and words from her mother, an ex-secretary and avid reader, and her love of all things nature and science from her father, an ex-forester. Memories of her rather interesting life in Germany flow back at the smallest trigger, even though she tends to merge her three brothers into one when she tells stories about their childhood adventures. And more often than not, she recalls events truthfully. Supported by her husband and her three children and distracted by her dog and grandchild, she currently writes stories of varying length in fantastical and historical genres. She runs the Indie Authors’ Advent Calendar each year, a free for all story feast.  Learn more about Katharina at

Roland Clarke
"Feathered Fire"

After diverse careers, Roland Clarke was an equestrian journalist and green activist when chronic illness hastened retirement. But he hasn’t stopped exploring rabbit holes and writing - mainly mysteries and alternative history. Roland and his wife – both avid gamers - now live in Idaho (USA) with their four fur-babies, although their hearts are in North Wales (UK).  Learn more about Roland  at roland

Sherry Ellis
"The Ghosts of Pompeii"

Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. when she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world.

Ellis' books include  Don't Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Mama is a Grouch; That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN; Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China; and Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure.

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information about her work, she invites you to visit her website at

Louise MacBeath Barbour
"Dare Double Dare"

Born in Nova Scotia and raised throughout eastern Canada, Louise is a writer and blogger who now lives in Colorado.  She writes fiction and nonfiction with the encouragement of her supportive husband.  A passion for reading, photography, geology, and travel round out her enthusiastic embrace of life.  "Dare Double Dare" is her first published middle grade story.  Learn more about Louise at her blog Standing Into Danger.

Charles Kowalski
"Simon Grey and the Yamamba"

Charles Kowalski invites you to read the full story of Simon, Oyuki, and their adventures through haunted Japan in Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts (Tokyo: Excalibur Books, 2019), and keep an eye out for sequels. In addition to middle-grade fantasy, Charles' thrillers for adults, Mind Virus and The Devil's Son, have won prizes and nominations including the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold Award, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, and the Adventure Writers Grandmaster Award. Charles lives in Japan with his wife and two young Muses.  He invites you to his website

Bish Denham
"The Blind Ship"

Bish Denham is from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where her family has lived for over a hundred years. The author of two middle grade novels and a collection of retold Jamaican Anansi stories, she says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book.”  Learn more about Bish at her blog bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.

Rebecca M. Douglass
"A World of Trouble"

Rebecca Douglass grew up in Idaho, Arizona, and Washington states, and now lives and writes in California. Her imagination resides where it pleases, in and out of this world. Her passions include backpacking, hiking, books, swimming, biking, and moderately adventurous travel. Rebecca has two grown sons and a husband with whom she travels. Rebecca is the author of the delightful Ninja Librarian books, as well as a picture book for outdoor families, a mystery series for the parents, and her middle-grade fantasy, Halitor the Hero. After more than seventeen years working at the library, she has retired still without learning all the secrets of the Ninja Librarian.  Learn more about Rebecca at her blog

Beth Anderson Schuck
"The Orchard"

Beth Anderson Schuck is a retired librarian who believes reading can take you anywhere. She writes historical fiction featuring willful female characters. Being in nature whether hiking, birdwatching or gardening makes her whole.  Visit Beth at

L.T. Ward
"Return to Cahokia"

LT hails from the Land of Corn, otherwise known as Central Illinois, where weather inspires her literary works. When not writing speculative fiction shorts and novels, she spends her days raising a brood of plague monsters (a.k.a. her children) as well as satisfying her never-ending thirst for knowledge through reading, meeting people, and first-hand life experiences.  Visit LT at Twitter: @Ltward2

Coming on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 . . .
Each of the authors in Voyagers:  The Third Ghost will be posting over the coming weeks about writing and their anthology stories.

The first author up is Yvonne Ventresca.  Her story "The Third Ghost" placed first in the 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest.  The title of the book and its cover are tributes to Yvonne's accomplishment.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Off to Reviewers!

The IWSG's latest anthology, VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost,
is flying through publication.  Review copies have been ordered,
and copies are going out to reviewers this week.

That's a bit of news to make this author's heart beat faster,
and I'll bet the other anthologies authors are feeling the same excitement!

It's an honor for each of us to be included in the anthology,
and I want to thank Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press
for moving us through the publication process smoothly and professionally.

The release date for VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost is May 5, 2020,
but purchase links are available, and you can preorder a copy now.

I've preordered mine, and I can't wait to read the adventures
the young voyagers undertake around the world and throughout history,
adventures sure to be filled with excitement, suspense, and fantastical twists.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press

Amazon - Print Kindle

Barnes & Noble -

ITunes -

Kobo -

Journey into the past …
Will the third ghost be found before fires take more lives?
Can two children escape the monster on a Japanese mountain?
Will a slave ship reach port before everyone goes blind?
Can two outcasts in rural Utah help each other survive?
What if the warm weather gods don't reach the pyramid?
What happens when a dare sends kids back to 1600s Canada?

Come back next week on January 15, 2020
to meet the authors featured in the newest IWSG anthology:
Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis,
Louise MacBeath Barbour, Bish Denham, Rebecca M. Douglass
Beth Anderson Schuck, L.T. Ward, and Charles Kowalski.

One finally thing ...
If you know of middle grade reviewers,
especially reviewers you have worked with,
could you please pass along their names, websites, and email addresses
to Dancing Lemur Press, and DPL will contact them.
Send the information to:

Till next time
Fundy Blue/Louise MacBeath Barbour
Standing Into Danger