Genre: Time Travel/ Mystery
Publisher: Can’t Put it Down Books
Date of Publication: 03/28/2016
Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 76,000
Cover Artist: Genevieve LaVO
Time is running out for Philadelphia’s Divine Hotel…One woman is tasked with saving two children who lived at the once majestic hotel but she soon learns that there is more to their history and the hotel than she ever thought possible. To save them she’s going to have to re-set the clock for everybody at the hotel and the only way to do that is to go all the way back to 1964. Righting the wrongs of the past will be no easy feat, because there are those willing to fight to keep their sins buried in history.
A long time ago, before most people can remember, a palace stood over Philadelphia. It was a place of refuge for the weak and weary of the city, a shining monument of marble, oak and brass that towered over the metropolis.
Good and evil were kept in balance there, until one day the scales tipped and evil won out. As the years passed, the marble and brass were stolen, and the oak was stripped of its shine. As the hotel fell into ruin, its inhabitants followed. All was not lost, though, for there was one chance to save the hotel—and its inhabitants—from this fate. Hidden not far away was an otherworldly gift meant to right the wrongs of the past, if only the right person could find it.
“You can’t catch me,” the boy shouted as he flung open the doors to the dilapidated dining hall. The room was lit by slivers of sun that peeked through the cracks in the high ceiling, and sporadic beams of light that shone through hastily fastened boards covering the room’s many broken windows.
All that was left of the once great hall were water-stained plaster ornaments positioned high up on the ceiling, far out of reach. Everything of value was gone. The light fixtures, hardwood floors, door knobs, and every last bit of shined marble and brass had been stripped away. The floors were an uneven terrain of warped wood and broken boards. The edges of the room were a tapestry of trash, but the center of the great space, which had once housed long oak dining tables, was completely bare.
The girl in pursuit walked gingerly over the broken boards. She kept her eyes on the ground and squinted to keep the dust floating through the air out of her eyes.
“Slow down, Darrius!” she shouted.
She paused in front of a hole in the floor, which blocked her passage into the great room. She stared down and saw only darkness, which could mean the hole opened only down to the next floor, or could possibly reach as far down as all ten floors.
“Come on, Carol,” he shouted. “You aren’t gonna fall going over that tiny hole.”
She watched him move with feline grace over the broken boards and gathered her courage. She involuntarily held her breath, took two steps back, and focused her eyes on a point just past the opening.
She ran as fast as her legs would carry her toward the gap. She pushed off and wobbled as a loose board slid away from her. She fell awkwardly forward and threw her arms out to catch herself. She scratched her palms reaching out for the ledge and only managed a precarious hold. If she’d weighed just a bit more she might have fallen in.
Darrius raced to her. The strain of holding on was too much for her, one by one her fingers were slipping, the pinkies first, then the ring fingers, and then all at once the rest gave way and she fell. Darrius grasped her wrist just before she slipped out of sight. He grunted as he pulled her up and out of the hole. As soon as he had her over the edge he fell backwards and she landed beside him with a thud.
Carol lay back and caught her breath as Darrius joked, “I could’ve made that jump with you on my back, you chicken.”
She stared up at the ceiling and pointed at a plaster fruit basket. “Darrius, look, the ceiling. It’s changed again.”
He looked up and said, “I don’t see anything different. You always think that ceiling looks different. Who do you think would get all the way up there and fix the ceiling?”
“It does change,” she exclaimed. “It always looks like it’s about to fall apart, then it’s patched back up. Yesterday that fruit basket was just a hole in the ceiling.”
He laughed so hard the ground shook beneath him. When he stopped he realized the floor was shaking without any work from him, and he bolted upright.
“What is that?” Carol demanded, as she jumped up and looked down at the floor.
“It’s somebody pounding,” Darrius yelled as he, too, jumped up to his feet.
More knocks rang out around the hall, shaking up dust, which floated freely through the room. Suddenly a shout could be heard below their feet. “Keep it down,” followed by a more distant yell, “Shut up.”
When the pounding ceased they could hear the wail of sirens outside. Darrius jumped up and ran to peek through the boards.
“What?” Carol asked.
“It’s the cops.”
“What do we do?”
About the Author:
You may know Nicole as the syndicated humor columnist, “The Starter Mom,” or from her Best-Selling Saints Mystery Novels. Because of the series’ popularity, Amazon chose it for their Stipend Program to be turned into an audiobook at their expense.
An award-winning journalist and author, she was recognized by Writer's Digest as a top fiction writer in 2015 and won honorable mention in genre fiction from the Writer's Digest annual self-publishing competition for her Saints Mystery Series.
Nicole writes for two daily newspapers in the greater Philadelphia area and as a columnist for Happenings Media. Prior to working as a writer, Nicole was an Agency Social Worker for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, where she first learned about the subject of her latest novel, Divine Hotel.
Nicole grew up on a rural farm in Southern Michigan, but she was always a city girl at heart. She still has a penchant for straight-from-the-dairy cheese, but otherwise prefers to spend her days in New York and Philadelphia and her adopted hometown in Bucks County. The mother of two, she is a soprano in The Bucks County Woman’s Chorus and an amateur pianist.
Where are you from? A small town in Michigan. If we were face to face I’d hold up my palm and point to the middle. When somebody uses their hand as a map you know they’re from Michigan.
Tell us your latest news? My new book is launching today, how exciting is that. And On April 11th, I will be giving a talk at the Wynnefield Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on my inspiration. In May my publisher is taking me to Book Expo America for a book signing, which will be very exciting.
When and why did you begin writing? I’ve been writing since I was about eight years old. I wrote a book called, “The Bunnies Got Scared” which won a contest to be published in a local newspaper. More serious writing didn’t begin until high school, when I joined my high school newspaper.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? I’ve been writing for newspapers since 2000, but I didn’t consider myself a novelist until I finished my first book. I felt a lot more comfortable calling myself an author after people started buying my books.
What inspired you to write your first book? My Saints Mystery Series books were inspired by my visits to my brother in New Orleans. He is in construction and after Hurricane Katrina he decided to go down there to find work. He stayed very busy down there. So much in fact he never came back. My sister and I went down to New Orleans to visit him and my sister stayed too. I’m the lone northerner amongst my siblings now, but you can tell from the Saints books I have some of the south in my heart.
Do you have a specific writing style? Absolutely, short and to the point. Many people comment that they can tell I’m a journalist, just the facts Max. I take it as a compliment.
How did you come up with the title? The Divine Hotel was easy. The Hotel I was inspired by was called The Divine Hotel and it fit perfectly with the theme of the book. Divine can also mean of a deity, it implies magic, something a bit more than the rest of us. There are hints at magic in this book from the first page.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? This book is in many ways a parable about the dangers of unchecked greed and good intentions gone awry.
How much of the book is realistic? The book is time travel fiction. And, unless the government is hiding something, there is no real way to travel through time. But some of the historical happenings, such as the cameo by Jim Jones, known for his cult which poisoned its followers with Kool-Aid really was poking around at that period in time. The larger things were happening but my guest stars were made up characters. I would say it’s sort of like Outlander with a lot less romance.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? This book was inspired by the real Divine Hotel and my time as a social worker in Philadelphia. None of the people are real, though there is a historical cameo by a fictionalized version of Father Divine, the very famous civil rights leader who used to, with the help of his followers, own the hotel.
What books have most influenced your life most? I have been most influenced by short stories. One of my favorites is Poe’s “The Murders at Rue Morgue.” I also lugged the very heavy Stephen King book “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” across the country with me and read it during my cousins college graduation. I still remember them making me put the book down to take a picture.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Erin McNelis, she is a short story writer and literary writer. While she has not published many things she has been a wonderful sounding board over the years. She has been a great source of encouragement. I don’t know if I would have gotten this far without her.
What book are you reading now? I’m supposed to be reading Orphan Train for my personal book club. I’ll get it finished, hopefully.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? I have been very inspired by Allison Janda. I worked with her when we both started out. She has unbelievable energy. She’s written a series of food based mysteries that are so cute, the Marian Moyer series.
What are your current projects? A children’s book about Llamas, “There’s a Llama at my window.” and A new Saints Mystery Novel, “Searching for Saints.”
What would you like my readers to know? If any of your readers are looking to write a book I heavily encourage them to get down to business and write it. Once you have written one book you know you can do it. Technology and the climate of publishing have made it the best time ever to write a book and actually find an audience.
You can find Nicole’s latest book Divine Hotel for sale on Amazon for an introductory $2.99 special. Her Saint’s Mystery Series are also available on Amazon starting with To Murder a Saint.
a Rafflecopter giveaway