As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, May 6, 2016

That Darkness - Lisa Black celebrates with the hostesses

Storm clouds fill the skies over Cleveland as the hostesses step from the taxi onto the sidewalk in front of the ramshackle bar. Rain drops begin to fall, and a chilling wind blows in off Lake Erie. The ladies huddle together beneath a single umbrella.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Mary asks, taking in the grimy buildings and deserted street.

Lyn glances at a piece of paper in her hand. “This is the address Lisa gave me.”

“We should be safe enough,” Lilly says. “I understand this is a cop hangout.”

Debby pats her big hair. “Policemen, really? I love a man in uniform.”

Laverne squeezes under the umbrella. “I’m getting wet, Mary move your bosoms out of the way.”

“It isn’t my bosoms, it’s Lilly’s backside taking up all the room.”

“It’s not my backside,” Lilly replies. “It’s Lyn’s large feet.”

Lyn rolls her eyes. “I suggest we all go in and get out of the rain.”

Low murmurs and the smell of fried food greets the hostesses as they enter the dimly lit room. Decades of
stale cigarette smoke permeate the air, and country music plays from an old jukebox.

“I’m still not sure this is the right place,” Mary whispers.

“Yes, see there’s Jack Renner, behind the bar,” Lilly replies.

“Lisa told us that even though the place doesn’t look like much, they only serve top notch liquor here,” Lyn adds.

Debby smiles. “Great, let’s find a seat and order a drink.” She lowers her voice. “There’s an empty table next to a group of cops, and one of them is awfully cute.”

They make their way through the crowded room, past hard-looking women and harder-looking men, until they sit down at a scarred oak table.

“Hey, look, there’s Oliver, and he’s bringing in the cake,” Laverne says.

“It looks like it’s shaped like a police badge,” Lyn says.

Mary stutters. “This place gives me the creeps.”

“An attractive female cop rises and comes over to their table. “Hi, I’m Maggie Gardiner, are you the hostesses for Lisa’s party?”

“Yes,” the hostesses reply in unison.

“Fantastic,” Maggie says with a smile. 

“The wings, cheese sticks, onion rings, burgers and nacho platter are all delicious. And here comes Lisa."

The hostesses all stand. 

“We’d like to welcome everyone to Lisa Black’s party. Congratulations, Lisa, on your new release, That Darkness.”

This week's skit written by Debby Grahl


It seemed like a typical week for crime scene specialist Maggie Gardiner--a gang boss shot in an alley, a lost girl draped over an ancient grave, a human trafficker dumped in the river--nothing all that out of the ordinary for the
Cleveland police department as spring turns toward summer along the Erie banks. The methods are usual, the victims unsurprising--but when she notices a pattern, a tenuous similarity among the cases, she begins to realize that her days will never be typical again. How much of her life, her career, her friends, will she be willing to risk to do what’s right?

            Jack Renner is a killer who does not kill for any of the conventional reasons…no mania, no personal demons. He simply wants to make the world a safer place. He doesn’t think of himself as a dangerous person--but he can’t let anyone stop him. Not even someone as well-meaning as Maggie Gardiner.

            Maggie has the self-sufficiency of a born bit-of-a-loner. She works with a bevy of clever experts surrounded by armed police officers. She is both street smart and book smart, having seen the worst the city has to offer.

            But Maggie Gardiner is not safe. And, until she can draw Jack Renner into the light, neither is anyone else.


He asked a question here or there about Brian’s early years, his troubles with the authorities, but paid minimum attention to the answers he already knew. He offered Brian Johnson a drink, a real drink, asking him to name his poison, then gently leading him around to the Crown Royal, Johnson’s favorite. Jack knew that , too. He had a number of bottles installed on the sidebar, its new granite countertop the only sign of renovation in the room, all top-shelf. His clients deserved a little top shelf in their lives. He set down the tumbler with its amber liquid, pushing aside the wariness in Johnson’s eyes with another explanation of the pilot program. It amazed him how easily they always accepted this story, but then guys like Johnson had seen countless doctors, counselors , and social workers of every type, the true believers, the burnt-out cynics, the slackers, the rich kids trying to feel good about themselves and the ones who just didn’t give a shit. Guys like Johnson had been through so many programs, schools, incarcerations, examinations , and therapies to know there was always a new bleeding heart with a new idea to save them from themselves. Why not try good food and quiet conversation? It might work. Nothing else had.

“So you never had much of a chance,” Jack stated. He didn’t have to explain what he meant.

“Never. Everybody, everybody, been fightin’ me since I took me my first breath. So I fight back. What else is there?”


“Don’t min’ if I do.”

Jack carried the glass to the sideboard between the windows, behind where Brian Johnson sat. He picked up the whiskey, tapping it against a liter of Grey Goose.

“I believe that when you meet your maker, He will take that into consideration.”

“I met who made me, and that whore is the reason I ain’t Donald Trump. Or the president.” Brian Johnson didn’t turn to watch what Jack was doing. Brian Johnson wasn’t concerned about what Jack was doing. The clink had nicely covered the extra movement required for Jack to open the low box behind the bottles and extract his grandfather’s Beretta .22, with an added suppressor. He’d already taken the safety off, but he checked anyway. Details. If you didn’t master the details, they would master you. Then he turned and placed the glass on the table near Johnson’s left hand. “There you go.”

The guy’s fingers closed around the crystal tumbler, just as Jack lifted the gun and pulled the trigger.

Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.  

To win a copy of Lisa's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.
(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)


  1. Thank you for the invitation to what looks to be a great party. THAT DARKNESS sounds fantastic,


    1. Hi Mary, thanks so much for stopping by - I agree, this sounds like such an intriguing read!

  2. Welcome to your party, Lisa, The Darkness sounds like an amazing read!

  3. Welcome to you party, Lisa. I got cold chills reading your excerpt. Is Jack a bad good guy? A good bad guy? Is he just a vigilante? Or is he something more? This one is definitely up my alley. And your day job sounds kind of cool too.

  4. Hello everyone, I'm so glad to be here. Congratulations Lisa on your release! The book sounds intriguing!

  5. Hah! Finally! I've been trying to post a comment all morning--finally I got a brainstorm and switched from Chrome to Explorer--who knew?

  6. Plus I've been dying to say--those onion rings look really good!!

    1. Mmmm, crispy and golden, just as I like them. But I have a sweet tooth and fancy a piece of that cake!

  7. The Top Shelf Tom Collins isn't bad either!

  8. Jack makes an killer Apsolut vodka martini!

    1. Of course he does!! One can never go wrong with Absolut.

  9. Hi Lilly, Hi Debby, - and Lisa I'm so glad you managed to get in! I never thought of changing browsers! Sorry not to have been around more, I had to go out for a while (well really I had a date with one of those hunky police officers, but don't tell anyone!

  10. Hi Lisa! Your book sounds right up my alley! I'm intrigued by Jack! He sounds very Dexter-ish who I absolutely love! I need more! :)
    Talking of more, I'm with Debby. That martini is to die for. Ummm...bad choice of words?


This is an interractive blog - please feel free to pop in and comment throughout the Roast as much as you like - and remember to leave your email address if you wish to be put in the draw to win this week's prize.