House of Madness by Sara Harris Book Tour and Giveaway :)

House of Madness
by Sara Harris
Genre: Paranormal Thriller

Can You Ever Truly Put the Past Behind You?
Tim and Adelaide Smithfield are haunted by memories of loss too raw to forget, and too painful to remember. Their 11-year-old daughter, Michaela, has her own set of sensory processing challenges, not to mention an overwhelming sense of guilt that she might be at the root of her parents’ problems.
The sprawling ranch house on the outskirts of the quaint West Texas town of Big Spring promises a fresh start for a young family on the verge of collapse.
But the house is haunted by memories of its own… and a guilt that West Texas’ famed thunderstorms can’t wash away.

Somehow, Addie was out of the hamper and on the floor of the pink and blue bathroom. The light was on and the crying – oh, the crying. Loud, painful wails that seemed to be filled with fear and dread. That doesn’t sound like me. Am I making that noise? “Mom? Oh Mom, Dad!” Michaela fell on the floor beside her. “Mom, are you okay?” The cries seemed to quiet when Tim joined them. “Honey?” Addie had her hand over her ears. “The crying, make it stop.” “Adelaide!” Tim pulled Addie’s hands from her ears and wrested her into his lap like a child. “There’s no crying. None. There are no sounds.” “Yeah,” Michaela agreed. “The light just came on and that’s how I found you.” Michaela paused a moment. “I guess you had the perfect hiding spot. I’d been in here once looking for you when the light was still off.” Sure enough, Tim was right. The crying had stopped. Addie opened her eyes. Michaela’s beautiful heart-shaped face came into focus. Tim’s chest was strong and warm. She sucked in a shuddering breath. “Michaela,” Tim whispered, “go push the mattresses down for me. They’re propped up against the wall there. I’m going to help Mom to bed, okay?” “Can I go unpack my room when I’m done?” “Yes. If you’re not scared to go all the way to the back of the house by yourself.” “Seriously?” Michaela clucked. “Of course I’m not scared.” Exhaustion clung to Addie’s bones as she lay in the fetal position in the middle of the California king. Tim snuggled up behind her and pulled their thick blue comforter over both of them. “Are you okay, Addie?” For once, she didn’t hesitate or dance around the usual I’m fine or yes or what makes you think that. “No Tim, I’m not. I’m not okay.” “You’re just tired. It’s been stressful. What with the move, and with looking for a teaching job if your book doesn’t sell and all?” He nuzzled her hair. “And it will, Addie. A Heart on Hold is a great book. Tomorrow I’ll get your writing nook all set up, so you can start on book two in the series. What’s the title going to be again?” “A Heart Broken,” Addie sniffed. Art imitating irony. Talking about books, something she could normally do all day, just wasn’t what was on her heart tonight. “It’s not the tiredness, Tim. It just all happened so fast. Could I have done something different?” Emotion clogged her throat. Tim rubbed her back. “How about going to see someone? Like we talked about?” “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” The sounds of the new house were amplified in the silent dark. The overhead fan whipped the air like an airplane rotor and gave their room more the feel of a hotel than an actual house. Water heaters, air conditioners –normal little noises she hadn’t had the chance to get used to yet – creaked and groaned like unwelcome guests overstaying their visit. Cars zipped down the highway, their lights casting an eerie glow on the far wall of the curtainless bedroom wall. Like two glowing yellow eyes seeking and searching, but finding nothing, moving silently along their way into the blackness. “Tim?” “Hmm?” “You didn’t answer me.” Tim adjusted on the mattress, a sure sign he was in uncomfortable territory. “Addie, I think what happened . . . well, it’s over. We just need to move on from it.” “You’re dodging.” He exhaled loudly and turned completely on his back. The half-inch between them, where their bodies were touching just moments before, felt more like a mile. “I think you should talk to someone, yes. Something isn’t right.” Addie buried her face in her hands. She wanted to cry. She wanted to let the cleansing tears soak her cheeks and leave their salty streaks as a reminder of the pain in her heart that refused to heal. A badge of her emotion. Perhaps even a sign that she was healing, that she was moving on. Accepting the pain, dealing with it. Thinking. Remembering. But those tears just wouldn’t come. “Mother!” Addie shook her head. “Sorry, Mack. I didn’t sleep well last night. What?” “Are all Ritchie’s bad people?” “I suppose it would depend on the person.” Addie’s stomach rumbled. A couple of donuts were left in the box. Neither had equally dispersed sprinkles, so it’s not like Michaela would be eating one. Addie took a deep breath and chose the most smashed of the two before she continued. Time to put the past to rest. Time to be normal. Addie chewed the pastry and swallowed the bite. It tasted like sawdust. “Do you think Ritchie is the name of a bad guy?” Michaela nodded. “Ritchie is mean. I don’t like anyone named Ritchie.” Adelaide said a mental prayer for any of Michaela’s future classmates who had the bad luck to be named Ritchie. Michaela folded her paper towel in half, then in half again. “Ritchies slam doors. And they don’t like dogs.” Addie glanced at Tim. He must think he’s the only one among us who has a mind that operates halfway decent. “Well baby, don’t judge all Ritchie’s just from one.” Michaela shrugged and stacked the pepper shaker on top of the salt. “I don’t know. You’ve always said anyone that doesn’t like dogs can’t be trusted any further than you could throw them. And I don’t think I could throw Ritchie very far.” Addie tried to conceal a laugh, but it escaped anyway as a snort. Sometimes, Michaela’s thought process was so entirely off the wall that it came full circle and made a bit of sense. Tim, however, wasn’t laughing at all. “Who is Ritchie, Mack? Someone in one of your classes at school last year or something?” Mack stared at her dad. A deadpan stare that had proven to give parents of non-autistic children the creeps. “Ritchie gets mad. He likes to slam things.” An icy breeze brought goosebumps to Addie’s arms.

Sara is a mother of four, animal lover and advocate, and conservationist. Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Lonesome Dove are among her favorite shows/movies and books. Sara holds her B.A. in History and is the author of the historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, from 5 Prince Publishing and recently debuted into the children's book realm with Chunky Sugars (5 Prince Kids), written for her own chunky baby.

 I began writing the House of Madness when I lived in the actual house I wrote about.  Everything was so strange in that house -- from the steel reinforced windows to the multiple safe rooms in the house.  This story was so spooky that, as I wrote it, I slept with the lights on for three weeks. 

Several of these spooky elements were real - including the little girl, Michaela, talking to the French speaking ghost in the closet mirror. Only this happened when we lived in Italy, which was really bizarre. I would think any ghosts living in the mirror in Italy would speak Italian?

People often ask me if I believe in ghosts. I have to say no - with all the spooky occurrences that have happened to me during the course of my life, if I actually believed in ghosts, I would never sleep with the lights off again! Hehe! 

My most memorable ghostly occurrence was in Galveston, Texas. We were staying at one of the most haunted places on the island, the Tremont Hotel - room 333. My family and I checked in after hours, put the do not disturb sign out like we always do, unpacked, had a pillow fight, opened the TV cabinet and pulled out the television and positioned it to where it faced the beds, then went out on the town. We arrived back to the room about midnight to a spotless room. We asked the front desk if they always tidied rooms after guests checked in. They said housekeeping left at 5, and nobody would have come in the room without out consent with the do not disturb sign on the door. I wish could have brought that awesome ghost home with me!

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