The Vanishing Woman by Kelly Dean Jolley

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I love good Christmas stories this time of year. If I’m being honest, I love them anytime, but the holidays make them even more special, nurturing the spirit of the season and that warm, fuzzy feeling. Kelly Dean Jolley has a novel that does just that and joins my list of favorites. The Vanishing Woman is a mystery with romance, family-time, and forgiveness. What more could anyone want? Maybe some old movies? A train? Snow for Christmas? You got it!

To get this show on the road, I’ll introduce you to the back cover copy,.

The Vanishing Woman Blurb

A Christmas journey by train…

A mysterious lady in red…

A vanishing woman…

Tad Fowler has recently sold his programming business and plans to spend the holiday with family. Now supplied with ample money and leisure for a slow trip by train from Los Angeles to New York, he hopes to spend the trip daydreaming and reading mystery novels – and reconsidering his solitary, work-obsessed life. 

A chance meeting aboard the train derails Tad’s hope for a quiet, reflective journey. The woman he meets, Quinn Shepherd, immediately captures his imagination.  He discovers that Quinn is the traveling companion of her wealthy friend, Aubrey Borden—who has confined herself reclusively to her cabin.  

When Aubrey vanishes, Quinn comes to Tad for help. Together they face a real-life mystery: how can a woman vanish from a moving train?  

Has it gotten your attention yet? Wait, there’s more. We have several treats in store for you, dear readers: an intro from Kelly Dean Jolley, a tantalizing and nostalgic excerpt, the excellent talent of artist Syd Edwards, (Wait until you see his drawing on the front cover). and a giveaway. More about the giveaway later.

From the Author

I wrote The Vanishing Woman as a Christmas story, ultimately as a reflection on the season.  I hoped to write a tale that would stand in a relation to the holiday much as Dickens’ Christmas tales do. I decided to write a romantic mystery, one that was contemporary but tinseled by laughter and nostalgia. Once I decided to center the story on a Christmas train trip, I then decided the story should recall old movies, both mysteries and screwball romantic comedies, old movies that feature trains — and should recall old mystery novels, like A. A. Milne’s wonderful The Red House Mystery. The plot gradually became clear to me.  You might say that the story train begins with Alfred Hitchcock, the engine, and ends with Preston Sturges, the caboose, with some Milne in the middle, the sleeper car. It’s a funny, romantic, fast-paced and dialogue-driven story of a man and a woman, strangers, meeting on a train, and of the two of them winding their way to each other. 

The cover art for The Vanishing Woman is by my friend, Syd Edwards (who also did the cover art for Big Swamp).  The drawing is entitled, Wishes. I sent Syd an early copy of the book and he read it, and we talked generally about the themes of the book and about how they might be represented, but the remarkable drawing is ultimately all Syd.  Although the story centers on a contemporary train trip, it’s nostalgic and it makes reference to The Polar Express — and so Syd chose an older, iconic engine as the centerpiece of the drawing.  The drawing is a marvelous study in circles — and the circles too, reflect themes of the story.  

It’s Cover Reveal time! Look at this picture!

Drawing; Wishes by Syd Edwards

Absolutely stunning! Syd drew the perfect picture for this novel!

The back picture represents a scene from the book. We hope you like the cover and feel confident you will love the book. Get your copy today and settle in for a good read.

Here’s a short excerpt to get you started!

Excerpt

His best Christmas as a boy wafted back to him, his number-one Christmas present ever: an O gauge model train set:  The Polar Express. This trip would not reproduce that magic, of course, and it would lack Tom Hanks as conductor. Still, he felt a thrill of excitement gazing at the life-size train, a thrill reminiscent of the thrill he had that Christmas morning gazing at The Polar Express.

Sometimes, bigger is better——or almost just as good. Adulting isn’t all bad.

He took his wallet from his breast pocket. A quick look at his ticket confirmed his memory of his cabin number, and he walked along, jostling and being jostled in turn until he found the right car. He got on, pulling his luggage up behind him, and negotiated the narrow hallway, keeping track of the numbers, until he reached his cabin.

The door was open, and he pulled his luggage inside and plopped down heavily on the seat, a bit overcome by all the excitement and by the exertion of boarding. A gym——he needed to find a gym near Martha when he got to New York City. Over the last few weeks, as he prepared for the sale of his company, and did interviews with TV, magazines, and newspapers, he’d neglected himself, gotten too little exercise, and eaten too much junk. He hadn’t gained any weight; he was still his tall, slightly awkward self. But he felt a smidgen soft, and, breathing heavily as he was, he knew he was not in top form. He touched his chin, scratching the beard that had grown in the past few weeks. The beard he would keep; he liked it.

He looked out the window, stiffened, and his heart shook, ignited, and rocketed skyward, sans countdown.  

A black-haired woman was standing on the platform outside. He could see her in partial profile. She had on a severely fitted dress, red, cut in an old style, like vintage Hollywood, razor sharp lapels, a pearl necklace, and a red, alligator belt around her narrow waist. Her figure was a lyric of curves, a spatial rhyme. She had on red shoes, heels with a white toe box and counter. Unexpectedly, she turned, no, pirouetted, toward Tad’s window and he got a non-profile look at her. Tortoise-shell sunglasses hid her eyes beneath her red hat, but he could see her full lips, matching the color of her hat and dress. She had a strong chin above a long, beautiful neck. The Graces would have been clumsy beside her. She seemed unreal: for a moment his window seemed like a movie screen. She was a movie star, a creation of celluloid, and not an actual woman. He had never seen a woman who more deserved the description glamorous.

She embodied the full power of female fascination.

She continued her slow pirouette until her back was to the window; she seemed to be looking for someone.

And then she was gone.

Tad was too mystified by the whole experience to stand, to try to keep her in sight. He’d been reduced to statuary. His ears were occupied by his heart, a thumping that would have been deafening had it been external and not internal. He just sat there, astonished, awed, unable to do anything but bask in the afterglow of the vision.

This must be how Moses felt, next to that burning but unconsumed bush. A miracle.

Eventually, he came to himself and stood up, shaking his hands to redistribute his blood and then rubbing his eyes. Fanning himself with his hand seemed to help. 

Wow! This promises to be quite an exciting train ride! Any thoughts?

It’s Giveaway Time

Meryton Press is giving away two eBooks of The Vanishing Woman and the giveaway is worldwide. To enter tell us what you think about the excerpt and the cover. Share with us your favorite Christmas movie or book. What did you love about it? We want to hear from you. The giveaway ends Friday, December 1st, at midnight central time. Good luck to everyone!

Universal Buy Link

Amazon

Kelly Dean Jolley’s other book with Meryton Press.

Big Swamp is available on Amazon in eBook, Paperback, and Audiobook format.

16 Responses

  1. Suzan Lauder
    | Reply

    Wow! What a cover! And what a tease for the new book! Congratulations on your new release!

    • Kelly Dean Jolley
      | Reply

      Suzan,

      Thanks so much!

      Kelly

    • Syd Edwards
      | Reply

      Suzan.
      Thank you so much for the kind words!

      Syd

  2. Kelly Miller
    | Reply

    Congratulations and best wishes for your new release, Kelly! I enjoyed the excerpt, and that’s a lovely cover! 🙂

    • Kelly Dean Jolley
      | Reply

      Kelly,

      Many thanks!

      Kelly

    • Syd Edwards
      | Reply

      Kelly.
      Thank you so very much. I deeply enjoyed creating this work!

      Syd

  3. Glory
    | Reply

    Congrats on the new book. Love the pencil drawing look of the cover. It sounds like a good ride on a train & the thought of bringing back the old movies into it adds another layer to it.

    • Kelly Dean Jolley
      | Reply

      Glory,

      I enjoyed weaving the movie references in, some implicit, some explicit. I hope you enjoy them!

      Thanks,

      Kelly

      • David Drillinger
        | Reply

        As a train enthusiast for nigh on 65 years I am drawn to the romance of this form of travel. Throw in the movie romance/mystery/adventures, from Nick and Nora Charles to Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall, and I am thrilled. A mysterious woman in RED? “… his window seemed to be a movie screen….” Count me in!! All this BEFORE seeing the cover art would have me buying and reading. This artwork should completely pull in anyone simply walking by a book display. We just don’t see serious art, subdued, subtle, yet mesmerizing. Bookstores are full of splash and dash that screams BUY ME!! This book is going to whisper, “Read me … you can’t miss this ride….” Bravo to Kelly and to Syd.

        • Syd Edwards
          | Reply

          Wow, thank you for the compliment! I am overwhelmed by the response to the cover!

          Syd

  4. ELIZABETH FARLIN
    | Reply

    This cover is PERFECT for this story!

    • Syd Edwards
      | Reply

      Elizabeth.
      Thank you for the kind words. Considering how excellent Kelly is at conjuring visuals, it was harder to decide what to not include in the work.

      Syd

  5. Syd Edwards
    | Reply

    Glory.
    Thank you very much! I loved all of the movie references throughout the book. In some ways, it certainly made my job a lot easier.

    Syd

  6. Jan Hahn
    | Reply

    Love the cover! Looks like a classic film noir from the 1940s. Congratulations on your newest book!

    • Syd Edwards
      | Reply

      Jan.
      Thank you. You are the second person to mention the 1940s in response to this piece. I have a strong affinity for that era, I suppose it subconsciously spilled over.

      Syd

    • Kelly Dean Jolley
      | Reply

      Jan,

      Thanks! Yes, the cover’s great, and its look in line with the TVWs obsession with old movies and old books.

      Best,

      Kelly

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