Without a Trace ebook is only 99 cents for a limited time!

Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.

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Without a Trace – out now!

Posted: April 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

Lily’s gone.

Someone took her.

Unless she was she never there…

A little girl has gone missing.

Lily was last seen being tucked into bed by her adoring mother, Nova. But the next morning, the bed is empty except for a creepy toy rabbit.

Has Nova’s abusive ex stolen his “little bunny” back for good?

At first, Officer Ellie James assumes this is a clear custody battle. Until she discovers that there are no pictures of the girl and her drawers are full of unused toys and brand new clothes that have never been worn…

Is Ellie searching for a missing child who doesn’t actually exist?

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FTiddx

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/without-a-trace/id1446543723?mt=11

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2UBiL0Y

Barnes&Noble Nook: https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/without-a-trace-carissa-ann-lynch/1130004493?ean=9780008324506


Posted: March 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

WITHOUT A TRACE, coming April 5th.

Preorder your copy here: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008324506/without-a-trace/

Chapter One

The Mother


I shivered as I stepped off the front porch and followed the well-beaten path down to the shady tree line. It was early, the sun playing peek-a-boo through the trees, and little wet kisses of dew were sprinkled around the yard like watery pockets of glitter. Such a peaceful morning, like the promise of a brand-new day. A beautiful day, in fact.

It was a rental property, but still, it felt like mine. Like the perfect place to raise my daughter.

Suddenly, the wind whipped through the trees, shocking the breath from my chest. It reminded me of what I already knew—looks can be deceiving.

Clouds bubbled up in the sky, the morning sun dissolving away like a figment of my imagination. As a flurry of cold air rushed around me and through me, I pulled my jacket tight against my chest and glanced back at our new house. It was a small log cabin, like something you’d see at a state park or campground. But the size was perfect for the two of us, and unlike my husband, I liked the coziness and simplicity of a single-family home.

Lily would be waking up any second now, and I didn’t want her to be afraid in our empty, new house.

How can I raise a daughter who is strong and brave when I’m so damn scared all the time?

I took one last look at the trees, at the once-soothing sunrise. Branches morphed into bony claws. They reached for me, gnarly and twisted, eager to pierce through my ragged flesh like broken bones…

Whipping around, I raced back toward the house. A low moan escaped from between my teeth as the house swayed from side to side, like one of those carnival mirrors. The distance between the front door and the tree line suddenly stretched, for what looked like miles…

My sneakers were squishy on the cool, wet grass, and as I slipped and slid across the yard, I imagined the mud was quicksand, sucking me deep down into the earth, consuming me whole…

Once inside, I locked the door and pressed my back against it, sucking in long, craggy breaths until they evened out. It only took a few minutes to still my thumping heart.

That’s better. Well done, Nova, I commended myself. Each time I panicked, it was taking fewer and fewer minutes to calm back down.

Hell, maybe after a few weeks of being here, I won’t have panic attacks at all.

Fumbling for a light switch in the kitchen, I stubbed my toe on Lily’s tiny Cars suitcase. It was still lying in the middle of the kitchen floor, next to my duffel bag, where we’d tossed our luggage last night.

In the light of day, our new kitchen looked different than it did last night. White paint on the cupboards looked yellowish and worn. The sink was rusty, and a slow drip of water ping ping pinged in the basin below. Looking around, I tried to imagine this kitchen as our own—baking cookies for Lily while she sat on the edge of the counter, kicking the backs of her heels against the cupboards below. Normally, I would make her get down because Martin didn’t like that.

But now Lily and I can do whatever we want.

And a rundown, drippy kitchen was better than any sort of kitchen we might share with Martin.

A scarred wooden table with four chairs was set in the kitchen. There were other modest furnishings, too—a chair in the living room, beds and dressers in both bedrooms—which was one reason I chose this place. It was the perfect getaway spot, out in the middle of nowhere, and we didn’t need to bring much to get started.

The refrigerator and cabinets were still empty and in need of a good scrubbing. We’d grabbed some fast food on the way to West Virginia, but I hadn’t wanted to stop at the grocery store yet.

All I wanted to do was get us here.

But now that we were, I’d have to spend the weekend making it as homey and comfortable as possible for Lily.

We’re doing this. We’re starting over. This is our home now.

For months, years, I’d imagined this moment. But then, it had just been a fantasy, a twisted version of hyper-reality. I never really thought I would leave. Even the night before we left, I’d expected myself to back out. To freeze. To panic and collapse in the middle of the street after loading our cases. But I didn’t. And it wasn’t until we were almost a hundred miles outside of Granton that I knew it was really happening…that we were leaving Martin for good.

My duffel bag lay sprawled open on the floor beside the table, from where I’d taken out my pajamas last night. We were so tired when we got here, to the point of delirium. It had taken nearly ten hours to reach Northfolk, the rising hills and winding curves of West Virginia making me skittery and afraid. I couldn’t stop checking the rearview mirror and my heart was thrumming in my ears the entire drive. During the daytime, it hadn’t been so bad. But at night, I’d imagined every pair of headlights were the angry, glowing orbs of Martin’s truck, chasing us up the wild, mountain roads…

Lily had handled the move so well, believing me when I told her that we were going on an adventure. With her mousy brown hair and cornflower blue eyes, she looked just like Martin. But, luckily, she hadn’t inherited his meanness, or his wild mood swings.

Lily was, by all accounts, a normal four-year-old girl. But that wouldn’t have lasted long, not while living with Martin. Eventually, his violence would have moved onto her, seeping into her pores and saturating her life with his poison.

She was innocent, so seemingly unaware, yet she’d already learned to fear her father and his unpredictable ways. And the way Martin looked at her…his eyes searching, evaluating her every move, it made me uneasy.

I’m taking her away from her dad. What kind of mother does that?

Emotions played tug-of-war inside me—I felt guilty for stripping her of her fatherly influence, but I was relieved—exuberant, even—to give her a fresh, safe start in life. During the drive to Northfolk, I’d been so focused on getting away, that the guilt hadn’t had time to settle in yet. And last night, I’d been too tired to stay up worrying. But now…now all those worries came rushing back at once.

What will I tell her when she’s older? Surely, she will remember Martin. Will I tell her why we left? How much memory can a four-year-old retain?

“I m-made the right decision,” I told myself, firmly, for the hundredth time this morning.

Pressing my face against the window pane, my eyes scanned the backyard. From behind a layer of murky glass, the branches no longer seemed murderous or threatening. Even the clouds were wimpy, less dark. It was ironic, really. After years of feeling claustrophobic, shut inside the house with Martin, now it was the outdoors that overwhelmed me.

Everything overwhelms me.

Again, my thought from earlier came crawling back: how can I raise my daughter to be a stronger, better version of me when I’m so scared of the world and the men that live in it?

Clutching the necklace at my throat, my fingers curled around the dainty silver cross that Martin had given me on our anniversary. The holy symbol should have brought me comfort, but all I could think about were his hands pressed against my throat, the crossbars digging sharply into my flesh as I struggled for a tiny bit of air…

Tenderly, I reached back and unclasped it. It seemed wrong to throw it away, but then again, I couldn’t keep it. It hadn’t protected me when I’d needed it to, and expelling Martin’s memory from our lives was my top priority now. Before I could change my mind, I carried the lightweight pendant over to the waste basket and tossed it inside.

I didn’t put on makeup this morning. There was no rushing around to make Martin’s breakfast, or to see him off to work.

No slamming doors or missing shoes or screaming.

No angry fists pummeling my body.

Most mornings, the air felt suffocating and dense. I’d wake up panting, a surge of panic hammering through my bloodstream and lifting me from bed. I was always afraid I’d oversleep, and sometimes I did. If Martin was late for work or didn’t have the things he needed in the mornings, he blamed it on me. And worst of all, he seemed to enjoy punishing me for my mistakes.

He must have been so angry when he realized we were gone. We didn’t take much when we left, just Lily’s suitcase and my bag. But he must have known immediately.

The first thing he probably did was call my cell phone, and from there, it wouldn’t have taken him long to find where I’d left it—on the nightstand next to our bed.

He can’t reach us here.

There was no note. No paper trails. I’d saved up small amounts of cash over the past year, so there wouldn’t be any need for ATM withdrawals. I had enough money to last us for a while, until I could figure out how to get some more.

Pinching my eyes closed, I couldn’t shake the image of his seething blue eyes, the angry caterpillar brows furrowing in anger.

He’s probably mad enough to kill me right now. To kill us both.

I could almost taste his rage from six hundred miles away. It tickled the back of my throat and burned the edges of my tongue.

Fear. I can taste that, too.

The fear I’d felt earlier was rushing back. My old friend Panic seized my chest, like a boulder pressing down on my belly, making every breath tight and controlled.

He might find us. What will I do if he does?

As I passed through the hallway, fingertips grazing the unfamiliar walls of the cabin, I thought I heard a muffled grunt coming from behind Lily’s closed bedroom door.

Nonono. He’s not in there. I’m only imagining he is.

I’d imagined his voice last night, too, before I fell asleep. The angry, breathy snores that he made while he slept. My body so accustomed to sleeping next to his, I’d lain against the edge of the mattress, curled into a tight little ball, despite all the extra space.

“One, t-two, th-three…” I counted out loud.

I read somewhere that counting helps alleviate anxiety. My lips silently formed the words, but the clenching in my chest remained. Suddenly, I was hurtling back to our house in Tennessee. Fear slithered in through the logs. Martin’s anger dissolving and sinking down through the rafters…

“F-four, f-five, six…” My skin tickled and crawled, my stutter rearing its head again, becoming worse, the way it always did when I sensed a confrontation coming. As I moved through the hallway, I fought the urge to look back over my shoulder.

Martin is not standing behind me. He’s not! I chastised myself.

The hallway tilted and swayed, then slowly, the buttery yellow paint dissolved. I wasn’t back home in Tennessee; I was in our new house, faraway from Martin.


“A-are you a-awake yet, Bunny?” My stumbled words a mere whisper through the heavy door.

Bunny. It was a nickname given to her by Martin, and I’d have to remember to stop using it. It would only serve as a reminder of him, and Lily wouldn’t need any of those, now that he was out of our lives for good.

Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, I nudged the bedroom door open. Soft sunlight streamed in through motheaten curtains above the bed. There was no Martin.

See? Nothing to be afraid of.

Lily, so tiny, was curled up beneath the blankets in a ball, unmoving. Like me, she was always trying to make herself smaller and unseen…

Lily had never been a good sleeper. She was prone to nightmares, but last night, she’d slept all the way through. Reaching across the bed, I slid the curtains back, welcoming more light into the room. The bright white heat was soothing, like a warm cloth across my face. I released a long stream of breath, relieved.

“Rise and shine, B—” I stopped myself from using the nickname again, squeezing my lips together. There were so many bad habits to break, and this was only just one of them…

I prodded the soft little lump in the middle of the bed. But Lily didn’t move a muscle.

Finally, I rolled the covers back, imagining her sweet morning smile and sleepy doe-like eyes.

I know they say you should always love your children no matter what, and I do, but for some reason, my heart just soars when I see her doughy cheeks every morning. She is always at her sweetest when she first wakes up.


A strange wisp of gray-white hair poked out from beneath the blanket. I stared at it, my mind not comprehending the strange bit of fur.

Tentatively, I rolled the covers down. Button-eyes stared back at me, black and menacing.

It was a toy rabbit, but not like the ones Lily used to keep on her bed in Tennessee. This bunny looked ugly and old, its limp arms and legs adorned with black, plastic claws.

I poked at the strange stuffed toy, shaken.

“B-bunny? Where are you?” I grasped the corner of the blanket in one hand, then yanked it the rest of the way off.

Lily wasn’t in her bed.

A deep guttural scream pierced the morning air.


MY SISTER IS MISSING is only 99 cents for a limited time!


A twenty-year-old local mystery that has never been solved.


A bone-chilling VHS tape depicting a horrific crime.


Neighbors with something to hide.


And a sister who is missing.


Emily has to find out the truth. But is her sister Madeline the victim…or the one to blame?


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My Sister is Missing – out now!

Posted: February 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

MY SISTER IS MISSING is out now in digital format!

My sister had a secret.

Then she disappeared…

Is Madeline the victim…or the one to blame?


My Sister is Missing Excerpt

Posted: December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Thrilled to share an excerpt from my upcoming novel, MY SISTER IS MISSING. Coming soon from Killer Reads…

My Sister Is Missing cover
Chapter One
That old saying, you can never go home again, tickled the edges of my memory and floated on the back of my tongue as I accelerated through the Bare Border welcome sign in my rented Honda Civic. The car was supposed to be the ‘luxury option’. Stupid me – I’d actually expected something fancy, like a Rolls Royce. The Honda wasn’t bad looking, but as soon as it hit 45 mph, the doors had begun to rattle and shake, the wheels threatening to tumble loose, and the peppery must of cigarette smoke from the previous driver was making my temples ache. In truth, I longed for a cigarette myself, but the last time I’d smoked was, well … it was the last time I came back home.
Nine years ago, I’d come to Bare Border for my sister’s wedding, but even then, I’d only stayed for the ceremony and reception. I didn’t visit with family. I didn’t stay overnight. I’d shared the champagne toast, made a clumsy congratulations speech, then ducked out before the clock struck midnight, Cinderella-style.
I didn’t want to stay in Bare Border then, and I don’t want to be here now.
But Madeline had asked me to come; not just for a visit, but to ‘stay for a while’, however long ‘a while’ meant. She wanted to talk to me about something, but not over the phone. My big sister had never been the mysterious type; in fact, she was pretty terrible at keeping secrets, or at least the old version of her used to be, the one I remembered from my childhood.
What do I really know about her now, besides the fact that she’s a mother, and happily married?
I don’t know what I was expecting when I passed through the entrance to my hometown – storm clouds and thunder? An ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach? The theme song to Stranger Things prickling my subconscious? What I found instead was a scene from a movie script, but not the creepy, menacing variety. The afternoon sky was a silk-screen blue, the sidewalk teeming with children on bikes, and tiny mazes of houses puckered out between the only buildings in town— Maggie’s Mart, the elementary school, the library, the post office, and a couple of fast food joints. It looked downright charming and quaint.
As I passed through the town square, I spied the bingo hall that also functioned as a church, creeping up ahead on my left – where my sister was married. From this vantage point, everything about my hometown looked the same as it always had, how I remembered it…
Maybe you can go home again, an annoying voice tickled my ear.
I think the expression means that you can go home, but it will never be the home you remember. Nothing is static; everything looks different through a child’s eyes. But in my twenty-nine- year-old periphery—nothing about Bare Border had changed.
But, then again, this was as far as I’d been in just under a decade.
Rundown storefronts and residential houses faded away as I navigated up the steepest hill I’d ever climbed in my life. Even though it had been a long time, I knew I had to speed up, or else risk rolling backwards.
I punched the pedal to the floor, revving the engine up the twisty incline, instantly shifting around the once familiar curves from my past. The Honda rattled dangerously as I gripped the wheel with both hands.
It’s not until I reached the top of ‘Star Mountain’, as the locals called it, that I realized I’d been holding my breath. I hadn’t tackled this hill since I was twenty years old, and when you’re twenty, nothing seems scary. But now it wasn’t the climb itself that gave me a jolt, but the drop off on either side of it. There was nowhere to go but down, down, down if you fell … and what’s at the bottom? I wondered. I’d never really cared to ask when I was a teen.
Thankfully, the road flattened out again, and right away, I was back on autopilot, taking a right on Painter’s Creek Road and then a sharp left on Knobby Pine. There were no more children on bikes, the old farm roads abandoned. Population: nobody cares. There were just too few to count, although that number had probably grown since I’d last come back.
A thousand times I’d made these turns—making the drive back and forth from my first job at Maggie’s Mart, driving myself to junior prom after Paul Templeton had stood me up, and my first wreck, when I’d T-boned Mrs Roselle. For the record, the accident wasn’t my fault – that woman always ran the stop sign on Lowell’s Lane, which intersected with Painter’s Creek Road.
My sister’s house, and the place where I grew up, was right up ahead, exactly where I left it all those years ago…
The trees opened up and there it was: the crooked old sign for the ‘Bare Border Inn’. It whistled back and forth in the wind as I turned down my sister’s driveway. The ‘inn’ was nothing more than a two-story, eight-room house that my grandparents used to run as a bed and breakfast back in the Fifties. To me, it had always just been our house, but my mom and dad had never taken down the sign.
This place has character. History. You can’t get rid of that, my mother had told me.
The bubbly vibrations of gravel beneath my tires welcomed me home for the first time in years.
I’d ripped and roared through town, but now all I wanted to do was slow down. I wasn’t ready for this reunion – the one between my sister and I or the one with my own childhood. Going back was like returning to the scene of a crime when you were guilty: it wasn’t advisable.
But I’m not a criminal. I have nothing to run from, right?
The house itself loomed like a ghoulish shadow, a black silhouette against a backdrop of crisp summer sun. Only, the sun was fading now, a gloomy dull film settling over the rickety inn…
The driveway was longer than I remembered, and the further I got down it, the foggier the air around the Civic became.
The inn was set back from the road in a clearing, thick woods surrounding it on two sides. Almost like an appendage, like it was a part of the woods, not the other way around. I could sense movement beyond the trees … barefoot children scurrying through the branches, keeping beat with the sluggish pace of the rental car.
These were the children of summer. Bees zipping, bird wings flapping, the rolling water of the creek – all part of their never- ending summer soundtrack. In reality, there wasn’t anyone moving through the trees, only ghosts of the children my sister and I once were. The sticky taste of cherry Kool-Aid still clung to my upper lip, mixed with the sweat and dirt from running in that muggy, marshy forest…
There was a pang in my chest – the concept of family was something I hadn’t thought about in a long time.

Reserve your copy: http://smarturl.it/SisterMissingEB

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How I got my agent!

Posted: December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

I haven’t made a blog post in so long, but I have a good excuse: I’ve been writing like crazy, and focused on getting an agent this year. I finally have one! I must have read a hundred “how I got my agent” stories while I was querying. So, I’m excited to finally share my story:

On Christmas Eve 2016, I wrote “the end” on a new book called PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS. With 10 novels published by small presses, a co-written book, 5 short stories published in anthologies, and a recent hit on the USA Today bestseller’s list, I finally felt ready to take a shot at getting an agent. When I first started writing in 2012, I didn’t know anything about publishing. It was embarrassing, really. But it didn’t take long for me to figure out that I couldn’t submit to any of the large independent or traditional publishers without an agent. And when I read the stats on how hard, and unlikely, it was to get one, it scared me a bit. But as 2017 kicked off, I was determined to get one.

At the end of January 2017, I started sending out dozens of query letters to agents for my new book. A query letter is basically a pitch for the book, a bio, and a request for them to read it. Writing one sounds easy enough, but it’s anything but, and every agent has different guidelines for how to approach them. There’s a format, and an art, to writing a query letter. And to be honest, it took me a while to get it right.

Over the next couple months, I received a lot of bites – agents asking to read the partial or full manuscript. But I also received a lot of rejections. Some of them were quite painful, and I’d be lying if I said that some tears weren’t shed.

By the time June 2017 rolled around, I was sitting on a big pile of rejections. And there was a THEME to them – my ending was too twisty and the story wasn’t commercial enough. I’d had my work ripped apart from the inside out, but there were good comments, too, so I felt like the feedback helped me be a better writer. All of that criticism just made me want to fight harder, write better, and be stronger. I never felt more like a REAL writer than when I was in THE TRENCHES, because it was in these up and down, struggling, lonely moments that I realized how bad I wanted it, and I also realized that I was going to write books no matter what the outcome was. I’m in this business for one reason – I love books and I want to write them, even if the only person who ever reads them is me. So, I couldn’t control what happened around me, but I could control my writing, and finally realizing that felt good. As Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “I loved writing more than I hated failing.” And that was so true in my case. I refused to give up.

Several of the agents had invited me to resubmit if I revised the book, so I got to work on revisions. But a month later, I was still feeling stuck. I felt like every change I made was making the story worse, not better. I was also way too close to the project. I needed distance from it, maybe permanent distance, and that realization was overwhelming, and disappointing, for me. But, finally, I decided to set PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS aside and start a brand new book. There is nothing harder for a writer than setting aside a book and deciding to do nothing with it, but I was going to stick it out.

I focused all of my energy into writing a brand new project, and in September 2017, I finished a story called WHO WE ONCE WERE.

This time, instead of sending it out to a ton of agents, I picked ten and sent out my queries, trying to personalize each one. I received a few quick full requests, and a couple weeks later, I got an email in my inbox: one of the agents loved the book. My eyes darted up and down her email, wondering: where is the BUT? Because, believe me, LOVE and BUT sometimes (and often) live in the same house. But there was no BUT this time – she wanted to talk to me on the phone. This is what aspiring writers refer to as THE CALL (with lots of exclamation points). I was actually holding a jar of spaghetti sauce when the email came in, and in an effort to sit it down with a wet shaky hand, it fell and smashed all over the floor. The kitchen looked like a murder scene, and I was grinning like the maniac responsible for the crime.

The next day, she called and offered to be my agent. But because I’d done my homework on agent etiquette, I knew that I was supposed to set a deadline and give her an answer by that date. This would give me enough time to notify the other agents who I’d queried, and handle the offer professionally. But what happened next was mind-blowing: over the next 10 days, I received 5 additional offers of representation. I talked to agents on the phone, and I even got to meet one of them in person. If I’m being honest, it was terrifying. But it was also very cool – getting to talk to so many knowledgeable and book savvy people who actually wanted to discuss MY book was an invaluable experience for me.

After months of getting gut-punched, you can imagine how rewarding that week felt for me. I wanted to bottle it up and keep it for all those weeks that were not so good. Even though it was exciting, it was also a stressful time. My head was spinning, and I couldn’t sleep all week, because I would have been happy/lucky to work with any of them and I had to choose. As many times as I’d daydreamed about getting an agent, I’d never once considered the fact that I might get multiple offers. I just wanted to pinch myself.

Ultimately, I had to go with my gut – and I had a “gut feeling” about one of the agents: Katie Shea Boutillier from the Donald Maass Agency.

I’d actually found Katie on MSWL Day, which is a twitter event where agents put up their “MSWL”, or manuscript wish list. I can remember thinking “she’s perfect for me” when I sent out that initial query. I also really admired her clients and her taste in books. Katie was funny and smart and enthusiastic on the phone. She knew more about my own book than I did, and she wasn’t afraid to make some suggested changes for the book despite the fact that I had multiple offers. I really respected that. She seemed interested in my career as a whole, and we just clicked.

Since signing, we’ve done revisions to WHO WE ONCE WERE and I’ve completed another new book called THE GIRL IN THE HOUSE. I hope you guys get to read them soon!

As Christmas Eve 2017 draws near, I can’t help but remember last year, when I stayed up all night on Christmas, painfully trying to craft a good query letter. I probably wrote a hundred of them before I sent one out.

I’m pleased with the goal I set for myself and accomplished this year, and I’m grateful to all of the agents who accepted (and rejected) my books. I’m also grateful for all of my writer friends, and for events like MSWL Day that help writers like me find agents, and connect with the writing community, in a way that I normally wouldn’t be able to.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings! With Katie by my side, I have high hopes for the future!