Tag Archives: Halloween

Oh! No! A Murder of Crows!!

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“Oh! No! A Murder of Crows”

A flock, a flight, a ‘murder of crows’,

Which word to use?

I’m in the throes!

~ ~ ~ ~

I am both terrified and fascinated by crows, and even used a particular ‘murder of crows’ in my latest novel, “Ghosts of White Raven Estate”.

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks and paperbacks are Sold!

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks and paperbacks are Sold!

Yes! That’s what a flock of crows are called, you know . . . a “murder”. But why?

I recently looked up the etymology of “murder of crows” and learned the term is used primarily by writers and poets (not scientists and/or botanists).

According to zBeckabee who posts on FunTrivia, The term “murder” was used to describe a flock of crows as far back as the 15th century, as published by the Oxford English Dictionary. (Here’s a spine-chilling version from 1475: “A morther of crowys.”)

The OED suggests this is an allusion to “the crow’s traditional association with violent death” or “its harsh and raucous cry.” If you’ve ever heard dozens of agitated crows in full cry, it really does sound as if they’re yelling bloody murder.

This usage, which apparently died out after the 1400s, was revived in the 20th century. The first modern citation in the OED comes from 1939, but the usage was undoubtedly popularized by its appearance in An Exaltation of Larks (1968), a compendium of “nouns of multitude” by James Lipton.” ###

Of course Edgar Allen Poe (the poet in residence of my ancestral hometown (Baltimore) uses crows in metaphors, as tormentors, and certainly as messengers; Alfred Hitchcock (my Fave author) uses crows.  And who doesn’t delight in the writing of Joyce Carol Oates and particularly her “Mudgirl Saved by the King of Crows“.

And, let’s not overlook crows at the box office. Oh! Yikes!! Crows don’t seem to fare well on the big screen if 2013 “Wrath of the Crows” directed by Ivan Zuccon is any indication http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070897/.

But enough about Ivan, more about . . . me!

Let’s take a read of how I used crows to torment-the-tormenter in my latest novel: From “Ghosts of White Raven Estate” this is our beloved anti-hero Father Vivenzio scrapping with the messengers of doom in my novel:

“His breathing quickened; he cautioned himself to not appear fearful. Don’t look over. Don’t look over. A lone howl, long and mournful, emanated from the shadows of the pine grove near the back of the graveyard. The exact source of the howling could not be determined.

The priest clutched at his robes and reached into his pocket for his handkerchief. He mopped his brow, patting the beads of sweat from his forehead. The New Orleans heat had been unbearable when he left the rectory that morning. But now, without the protection of his three-cornered hat, the crows might be attracted to the top of his shiny, baldhead, he imagined.

He scurried along Washington Avenue from St. Charles Avenue to Prytania Street. “How could any family live across the street from a cemetery? Even if it is their own cemetery?” Two hundred years of history. What secrets are enfolded in the history of the Calais family? He admonished himself for his uncharitable thoughts and shrunk down into his collar as a raven cackled in the distance. He did not feel inclined to run from the pack of dogs or cower from the crows and ravens cawing their contempt. This damned heat!

“What the . . .?” Father Vivenzio uttered stopping in his tracks. His eyes caught something strange attached to the cemetery’s wrought-iron fence. Something hanging on the gate up ahead? He stared at the object as he approached, trying to figure out what was hanging on the black iron bars. The object grew more distinct as he advanced. The realization of what it was struck him like a bolt of lightning.

” [Dear Reader: It’s a voodoo doll that has been left for the Good Father to find.]

What does happen to Father Vivenzio is revealed at the end – last chapter – no spoilers here.

But, aren’t you marvelously merry that you did the click! click! on “A Murder of Crows”?

Leave your “Hello” in the comments ~ I love having visitors!

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Amy Tan Thinks About #Death . . . Daily ~ Do You??

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In a recently broadcast public television production titled, “Boomers” celebrity novelist Amy Tan revealed that she thinks about Death “daily”.

Having lost her heroic father during WWII, Tan was raised by an overly stern mother with whom, as she tells it, “she had a close but volatile relationship  . . .  When Tan was 16, [her mother] held a meat cleaver to Amy’s throat and threatened to kill her in an argument over Tan’s new boyfriend.  Following this dose of ‘Mommy Dearest’, the pair did not speak for a year.

And you?  Answer the poll and then, please Dear Reader, tell us what brings the thought of Death a’clawing to your sweet conscience?

“Ghost Chaser’s Daughter” where Coyotes Bay At a Blood Red Moon

~ Halloween 2014 ~

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UK: http://dld.bz/dxAxY

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My #Blog ~ Conjuring Demons and Beasts for #Halloween

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And my ghost stories at  . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 

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For decades I have followed, and been followed by, the Garden Variety ghost: The Residual, The Poltergeist, The Hat Man, The Shadow, Doppelgangers – you know — normal ghosts! If I ever think I might be leaving ‘someone’ out of the mix I refer to True Ghost Tales http://www.trueghosttales.com/types-hauntings.php

Although I was introduced to Demons and Beasts while living on Tucson’s Sonora Desert when I was six years old, I have absolutely, and resolutely, avoided thinking about these malevolent forces from The Dark Side knowing that a) Seeing is Believing; b) Quantum’s theory of “imagine your reality; and clichés of that ilk.

My rare run-ins and near misses have invariably been with the Red-Eyed Beast. My playmate in Tucson was Linda deSoto. We ran up and down the neighborhood streets of Tucson, Arizona with all of the other six-year olds, traded the happenings at our houses, and probably attended Brownie meetings together. All of how we occupied our time slips into the blur of the past except for one story that Linda told me, which began with the announcement, “You can’t come into our house. My mother says so.”

This made me sad, and then after she explained, and her edict then made me more scared than saddened. There was a Red Eyed Beast in the house. The Beast caused the eyes of the photograph of the Virgin Mary that hung in the deSoto’s living room to glow red at night. Linda’s sixteen-year old cousin had witnessed the embodiment of The Beast and the priest had been called to exorcise the house.

For the next few weeks the Red-Eyed Beast was all I imagined. Its hooves. Its horns. Its hot acrid breath on one’s face, staring at them as they slept. A year later, after I was visited by the ghost of my grandfather, ancestral visits began to fill my world. We moved to a new neighborhood and I concerned myself with my own family’s ‘skeletons in the closet’.

The Ghost Chaser's Daughter -- available everywhere books are sold!!

The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter — available everywhere books are sold!!

It wasn’t until fifty years later, and after I enjoyed my first Amazon Best Seller that one of my readers approached me with her own Red-Eyed Beast story (The Red Eyed Beast of Bodie).

This is a small excerpt of how the Beast of Bodie came about in real life:

As the Sheriff moved to right his mother’s dining room chair, Ruth let out a piercing scream and bit down on her fist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She tasted blood. Did they see it? She pointed and Samuel gaped. She raised her arm, jabbing with her finger toward the threshold of the parlor – turned infirmary. There, pacing back and forth, between her and her husband, was a foul-smelling animal.

“Jesus Christ! What is that?” screamed Michael as he scrambled to scoot his chair backwards.

It hissed at Michael, and then turned its red eyes on Ruth.

“What the f**k!”

“Andrew!” Samuel admonished, as he rose very slowly, gauging the . . . the. . .

“Is it a black raccoon? The stench is killing me.”

It hissed again, and opened its mouth exposing razor sharp teeth. Glistening spittle hung from its jaw.

“It’s a wolf. . .or rather . . . a coyote!” Whatever it was it paced a line between them and the nearly departed. It lowered its head sniffing the ground, seemingly daring someone to challenge it.

Ruth wailed, “Oh My God! It’s drawing a line between me and my own husband.” Her breath now came in short, sudden gasps. What if that wild animal turned on Douglas! Is it a black raccoon?

“Samuel, Dear God! How did it get in here?” It was a raccoon, wasn’t it? The creature turned a belligerent stare at Samuel. Then, it moved its head in a circular motion, gnashing sharp fangs. It hissed at the Sheriff before staining the polished floor with snot. Its red eyes flashed in the candle light.

“No, it’s not a raccoon! It’s a God-damned reptile! Look at its tail!” Andrew screamed shrilly as he picked up his dinner knife – and held it as though ready to make a stab at the wolf-like beast.

“For Christ’s sake, Andrew. Pardon me, again, Ma. It’s got a wiry black coat!”

Eyeing the diners, the beast turned in a circle. If it were a Collie, or a Labrador, one might imagine it was about to bed down. But it wasn’t – and – it didn’t.

Ruth pleaded, “Samuel, please! Do something! It’s right next to your father!” as her son responded by unclipping the strap of his holster.

“I’ll take care of it, Mother. You and Malika get into the kitchen! Just back away slowly!”

At that instant, the beast bayed loudly. Douglas stirred.

Michael and Andrew traded looks.

“Samuel, I’m saying it’s not a reptile, in spite of its tail. Look down! It’s got hooves, for Christ’s sake,” screamed Michael.

“Michael, try to be calm.” Samuel directed. “Everybody be calm while I get it out of here or blow it away!”

As the beast paced, its hooves clattered on the bare wood floor. It hissed at the family.   Venom sprayed toward Michael, who held his hands up to protect his face. One of the three candles sparked, flared, and died.

Darkness loomed closer. 

~ ~ ~ ~

But what of Demons? The succubus and incubus (and Oh! So! much more) of The Underworld? Liza Phoenix does a wonderful job of categorizing the various Demons for us on her website http://www.lizaphoenix.com/encyclopedia/demons.shtml

But my curiosity about Demons tends toward ZoZo – the Demon of the Ouija world. You’ve experienced the demonic power of ZoZo, have you not? If not – be forewarned by reading about this malevolent force on Ghost Theory: http://www.ghosttheory.com/2011/08/25/what-is-zozo

Two encounters with ZoZo when I was a teen-ager asking Ouija to part the curtain to show me my Fate that convinced me what a ninety-six pound weakling I was when it came to the forces of Malovolence pacing on the Other Side of The Grave.

What about you? “Game” for a little playing with fire? Do YOU conjure Beasts and Demons? Do let us know!!

 

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#Free Read for #Halloween Season ~ The Red-Eyed Beast of Bodie

On Amazon in the "Ghost Chaser's Daughter" collection.

On Amazon in the “Ghost Chaser’s Daughter” collection.

 

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And my ghost stories at  . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 

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Ghost Stories And Tales of Terror

By Emily Hill ~ The Red-Eyed Beast of Bodie.

Bodie, California is a ramshackle ghost town of wooden buildings that lean toward each other; and dusty roads that warble into the unknown – the unknown world of tales of terror. The sparsely populated moonscape that is Bodie is replete with wide expanses of sagebrush-dotted land, coyotes that howl at a garish moon and disgruntled spirits that roam the night desert in search of a portal to the world of The Living.

I was wandering through an antique shop near Bodie a year ago, edging my way around and over, stacks of vintage magazines and equipment used for panning gold, Victorian style bassinettes, and over-sized pictures framed in ornate gold frames, heavy and overdone. A musky smell of objects long stored in the attics of the elderly hung in the air. Dust particles sparkled as they floated down shafts of bright sunlight coming through the stained glass windows of the shop. I found myself staring at a faded painting in a roughhewn frame – the type of painting that might fill the wall of a dining room of a turn-of-the century home. The subject of the painting was as interesting as it was disturbing. Cherubs dancing, as they curled lengths of ribbon around the ankles of devils – classic red devils with horns and hooved feet, waxed mustaches and tails. The scene took on an air of Spanish surrealism. And the story I was to hear was as bizarre as the painting that caught my attention.

The shopkeeper stood at my elbow, eager – it turned out – to share the tarnished history of the painting.

“Odd subject matter, isn’t it?” I solicited her opinion, curious about what she would offer.

“Yes, as odd as the story of how it came to be here.”

Are all writers naturally curious? I bit. “Really? Do tell!”

And she began. “Well, this is what I was told by Malika Browning’s granddaughter last year when she brought it in. Evidently it had been stored in the crawl space of her grandmother’s home for many years.”

Bodie had been a gold mining town during the California Gold Rush. The saloons were full, the dancing girls were generous with their charms, and the whiskey bit the lips of anyone who sampled. The cacophony of rinky dink player-pianos drifted out over the wooden buildings on Saturday nights and toward the home of Douglas and ­Ruth Browning. Mr. Browning was in the newspaper business. He and his wife settled in Bodie in 1859. It was back in 1919 when he lay dying that this incident occurred.

Douglas and Ruth’s son, Michael, was married to a Hungarian girl, Malika. Malika was superstitious and frequently sought out the advice of a Hungarian Shaman who lived on the other side of the rail tracks. She visited him against her husband’s wishes. That her father-in-law lay dying, rasping out his last breath, propped up on pillows on the day bed in the parlor was extremely upsetting to her. As her husband stroked his father’s silver hair and her mother-in-law cooed at the dying man, Malika decided that something must be done. So, she tiptoed around the house gathering candles and divining a plan.

That late afternoon as the sun fell toward the horizon, and the desert cooled, Malika’s brothers-in-law arrived – Andrew from Prescott, and Mathew from Phoenix. Andrew was an accountant – Mathew a Sheriff. Ruth and her sons took turns comforting each other and soothing Mr. Browning. He didn’t look good; his white hair matted, his skin molted. Mr. Browning’s eyes darted from one family member to the next, his eyes wide with the terror of knowing he was about to enter another realm. At each breath, the four family members braced themselves, waiting. But, Mr. Browning continued to breath

By early evening Malika began setting the dining room table. Surely they would all sit down and eat a proper meal, even if Douglas could not join them. But, what would compel her mother-in-law, husband, and the two brothers to leave the patriarch and have a meal together? Malika possibly recalled her own grandfather’s death and the rituals the shaman performed during the old man’s last days. And then, she knew what she must do.

She went into the big 1890s era kitchen and got out pots and pans. She stacked the china, and set the table with Mrs. Browning’s fine china. Malika also set out three white tapers, arranging the candles in a triangular pattern in the middle of the table. As she worked she cast worried looks over her shoulder, knew that death was creeping closer. Over the next hour, Malika hurried from kitchen to dining room, back and forth, busying herself setting out a very special meal.

It was a meal intended to fortify her in-laws for the days ahead. And, to whet Mr. Browning’s appetite, she encouraged the aroma of simmering bay leaves, onions, and veal. Malika chopped the veal and built a thick lamb stew one layer of fragrant ingredient at a time. Chop! Chop! Chop! Everyone in the house was taking notice, everyone.

Nightfall approached slowly and with it the unsettling rasp of Mr. Browning’s breathing. He remained alive – on this side of the living.

“Please, won’t you come to dinner?” Malika asked standing in the archway leading to the parlor. “We can gather as is the custom in my family,” she pleaded.

Ruth Browning patted her husband’s hand and placed it gently on his chest. The matriarch then led the way to the dining room. Her sons undoubtedly took turns to looking back, and cast furtive glances around the table. She sunk into her chair, facing Mr. Browning’s cot. She looked into the faces of each of her sons, before smiling at Malika. They began to pass around a basket of warm, yeast-fragrant bread.

Malika ladled the lamb stew, stirring up the onions and bay leaves, causing the paprika to swirl through the thick mixture. She handed the first serving to her mother-in-law.

“Thank you, dear. You’ve done a nice job. Even the candles are a nice touch.”

“Andrew, would you please light the candles?” And the youngest member of the family leaned over and held a match to each wick. The candles flared, and each flame burned strong and bright. Ruth watched in fascination as Malika bowed her head and began an incantation.

“What was that, Malika?” she asked.

“A prayer, taught to me by the Taltos. I prayed that the portal of the Upper World would open and Douglas’s journey would be made easier.”

“Oh, Malika…how sweet.”

Just then a bolt of lightning lit the desert floor creating an instant of daylight. Ruth yelped, and Mathew half-rose, reaching for his holster.

“It’s alright, Ma,” he said.

But it wasn’t. The fuses blew as a roll of thunder crept along the desert floor and approached the house. Then, the mourners were cast into sudden darkness – except for the illumination from three candles.

Ruth looked around the table at her family. How macabre. Her children’s profiles appeared grotesque to her. Each face was half lit by candle light and half cast in darkness – a contrast of good and evil – of heaven and hell – and so on.

Ruth Browning stood up, scraping her chair across the plank flooring, the leg of the chair caught in a groove. Then the chair clattered to the floor and the bereaved woman, soon to be widow, stumbled backward.

“Ma!”

But for the quick action of Mathew, she knew she would have taken a bad fall. Her oldest son had saved her.

“Thank you, Mathew. Michael, the fuse box. . .”

“Andrew, check on your father. It’s too dark. . .” Ruth peered at her husband who lay in the darkness of the parlor. Just beyond the glow of the three candles.

As the Sheriff moved to upright his mother’s dining room chair, Ruth let out a piercing scream.

She tasted blood as she bit down on her fist. Did they see it? She pointed and Mathew gaped. She realized that Andrew was staring at her instead of in the direction of her husband. She raised her arm, pointing to the threshold of the parlor – turned infirmary. There, pacing back and forth, between her and her husband, was a foul-smelling animal.

“Jesus Christ! What is that?” screamed Michael as he scrambled to scoot his chair backwards.

It hissed at Michael, and then turned its red eyes on Ruth.

“What the F**k!”

“Andrew!” Mathew admonished, as he rose very slowly, gauging the . . . the. . .

“Is it a black raccoon? The stench is killing me.”

It hissed again, and opened its mouth exposing razor sharp teeth. Glistening spittle hung from its jaw.

“It’s a wolf. . .or rather a coyote!” Whatever it was it paced a line between them and the nearly departed. It lowered its head sniffing the ground and seemed to be daring someone to challenge it.

Ruth wailed, “It’s drawing a line between me and my own husband.” Her breath came now in short, sudden gasps. But if that wild animal turned on Douglas. . .Is it a black raccoon?

“Mathew, dear God! How did it get in here?” It was a raccoon, wasn’t it? The creature turned a belligerent stare at Mathew. Then, it moved its head in a circular motion, gnashing sharp fangs before it hissed at the Sheriff staining the polished floor with snot. Its red eyes flashed in the candle light.

“No, it’s not a raccoon! It’s a God-damned reptile! Look at its tail!” Andrew screamed shrilly as he picked up his dinner knife – and held it as though ready to make a stab at the wolf-like beast.

“For F**k’s sake, Andrew. Pardon me, again, Ma. It’s got a wiry black coat!”

Eyeing the diners, whose meal it was interrupting, the beast turned in a circle. If it were a Collie, or a Labrador, one might imagine it was about to bed down. But it wasn’t – and – it didn’t.

“Mathew, please! Do something! It’s right next to your father!” Ruth pleaded with her son who responded by unclipping the strap of his holster.

“I’ll take care of it, Mother. You and Malika get into the kitchen! Just back away slowly!”

At that instant, the beast began to bay loudly. Of course it would disturb Douglas. It was obvious its intention was to upset everyone – including Mathew.

Ruth noticed Michael and Andrew trade looks.

“Mathew, I’m saying it’s not a reptile, in spite of its tail. Look down! It’s got hooves, for Christ’s sake,” observed Michael.

“Michael, be calm. Everybody be calm while I get it out of here or blow it away!”

As the beast continued patrolling, its hooves clattered on the bare wood floor. Once again it hissed at the family, this time causing venom to spray toward Michael, who held his hands up to protect his face. It seemed to be claiming the territory between Ruth and her husband. The fiend was winning. One of the candles sparked, flared, and went out, catching everyone’s attention. Darkness loomed closer.

Mr. Browning continued to take tiny breaths, the shallowest breathing possible for a living soul. Ruth wiped her nose on an apron in the kitchen and clutched at Malika, “What is it? Get it out of my house before it hurts Douglas,” she begged Mathew.

Malika cried out, “Ördög!” “Édes Istenem” Dear God, indeed! The evil Ördög is causing a visitation on my husband’s father who was suffering so much – but why?

Everyone turned. They stared at Malika.

The creature bayed, answering Malika’s prayer.

“Malika! What in hell are you God-damned chanting?” Michael demanded.

“Please, let’s not be cross with each other, children,” Ruth pleaded afraid of anything that would distract them from the stench-laden creature that was taunting them.

“It’s evil, from the Under World,” Malika was sobbing, her face contorted.

“It’s a god-damned racoon and I’m going to shoot it!” answered the Sheriff.

“Mathew! Are you nuts? You’re going to shoot that thing in mom’s house with dad laying there on his death bed?” Mr. Browning stirred.

The beast snarled, and the Sheriff backed away. As it became more excited, the devil-being emitted the smell of rotting meat. Andrew gagged and backed into the kitchen away from the sickening odor.. Then, a second candle flickered, no flare this time, it simply fizzled out. One candle remained as the family’s sole beacon. Mr. Browning now lay in complete darkness. The only indication of his waning life was the rasp of shallow breathing, somewhere beyond the meager light.

“Mother, where are the fuses? Michael asked. “This candle won’t last long and then we’ll be in the dark with this thing!”

Ruth began sobbing as the reality sunk in. Malika stood to the side biting her nails.

“I don’t know, for God’s sake. Your father would. . .know. . .” her voice trailing.

“Michael! Move to the kitchen with the rest! I’ll hold off this thing while you fix the fuse box,” instructed the Sheriff. Michael moved away from the dining room table and skittered into the kitchen.

Ruth shifted from watching Michael rummage frantically through drawers and cabinets to hoping that Mathew would not be forced fire the gun so close to her husband.

“I trust your judgment, Mathew,” she whispered as she coaxed Andrew away from the sink where he had just finished vomiting. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders.

“The fuses have to be somewhere close. . .logical,” Michael offered weakly looking over his shoulder toward the thing. It wasn’t coming closer, was it?

The Sheriff put his hand on his gun, but kept the weapon holstered.

“Michael, I’m sorry. I was praying, but I don’t know. . .” Malika offered.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“The shaman, the prayers we would recite…in. . .my father’s country.”

The last candle sputtered, as if joining in the conversation. And, then, it slowly dimmed, and went out. The family was left in total darkness with the Sheriff stumbling around the dining room table in the direction of the pacing beast.

“Son of a bitch!” he tripped on an over turned chair. The rest of the family cowered in the kitchen. No one rushed to his rescue. He, after all, was the one in possession of the gun.

In the absolute pitch black, the only illumination came from the angry, possessive red eyes of the monster. No one dared let it out of their sight. Then, in the pitch black, the eyes began to rise. The beast was levitating.

“Douglas!” Mrs. Browning screamed for her husband’s safety. Malika wailed.

“Jesus Christ!” It was too dark to determine who had uttered the epitaph.

“Please, pray everyone. Please,” Malika begged her relatives.

The creature’s eyes glowed like embers, hot, angry, coal-burning eyes, wanting to claim its prize. The Sheriff fumbled for the serrated bread knife and swiped the air toward the foul monstrous being. Nothing. He hadn’t stuck a blow at all. It was too dark – his depth perception was non-existent in the blackness. Something slapped against his face – in the dark. Bristles. His face stung, blood was drawn. The Sheriff turned to his right. Two angry red eyes floated directly in front of his face, he stumbled backward away from the rotting stink of death. He swiped the air again. The creature moved back, drawing the Sheriff further into the living room.

Moving around his father’s sick bed, the loyal son stabbed the air, again hitting nothing. The ferocious red-eyed beast swirled in front of him, emitting a piercing, mocking squeal.

Ruth screamed, and Malika cried even harder, covering her ears. The Sheriff imagined Andrew untangling from his mother’s grasp and sinking into a chair at the kitchen dinette.

“Andrew, where are you?” he hissed, impatiently.

“Over here! Just kill it, or something!”

There was frantic shuffling in the kitchen, drawers opening and shutting. The Sheriff couldn’t really concentrate on that now. He couldn’t take his eyes off of this, this – no longer did anyone believe that it was a raccoon. Something stepped on his foot, something possessing the weight of a horse, crushing it painfully. But it seemed that the beast was across the room. What pit full of imps had invaded the sanctity of his parents’ home?

Not sure whether he was backing this evil into the corner or being led to its lair, the Sheriff hoped for the former. And hope caught up with him just as the fuse box door slammed shut, and that tinny metallic sound reverberated through the house. Suddenly the lights came back on.

The Sheriff was blinded by the sudden glare and stumbled backward. There were no glowering red eyes floating before him. He spun around full circle just to make sure. His eyes passed over his father who lay perfectly still; his mouth gaping open, his wide eyes blind to the deep crevasse of death he had fallen into.

“Is it gone, Mathew?” Ruth whimpered.

“I don’t know.”

Her nerves shredded, she leaned on Michael and made her way back toward the brightly lit parlor to stand beside Mathew. There was a rustling sound from under the coffee table. She grabbed Mathew’s arm, and flinched.

The mother and her two older sons stared in disbelief as the bristled beast skittered across the parlor, suddenly on the move. It began dodging furniture and scattering the throw rugs. They trembled in horror as the shadowy creature scampered over the back of the sofa, clawing its way forward. It vanished into the landscape of the painting that I was now standing in front of.

Unless the shopkeeper has sold the painting that was removed from the home of Ruth and Douglas Browning I’m sure that it remains right where I saw it; in the antique store to the east of Bodie, California – a virtual ghost town. # # #

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Why Do Creepy Dolls Scare Us So Much? A Reunion (with Death) Maybe??

 

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And my ghost stories at  . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 

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As All Hallow’s Eve creeps closer, and the winds begin to howl, whistle, and moan we look at the traditions of Halloween with a shudder – but still fascinated, all the same.

 

My short, sinister story, “Dolls Watching” tells a tale of reunion – between college girlfriends, the present  and the past — and destiny.

Antique dolls arranged on the guest bed of protagonist, Cassandra, bear witness to the horrors of daily life in a desert ranch house that had been deserted after the tragedy of death.

Clocks tick, tock – tick tock – away the time waiting for the one person who has lived close enough to the other side of the grave to still have the ability to see . . . into the past.

And isn’t that what we expect of those creepy dolls that claw at our attention this time of year? Don’t they speak to us from their cracked porcelain faces and stained couture that spell out the ravages of time?

Wiki explains that, “Dolls have traditionally been used in magic and religious rituals throughout the world, and traditional dolls made of materials like clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.” Indeed! Some sources even go on to explain that dolls were originally used as Spirit Containers for the deceased. You’re an Egyptian maiden who wants her mother around for all eternity? Have your artisans fashion a clay likeness, conjure her spirit – and Voila! (well, maybe “Voila!” is not the appropriate Egyptian exclamation – but you get my drift.)

Have YOU been stricken, smitten, or out-smarted by a creepy doll? Oh, do tell!! We’ve circled our chairs and are waiting for you to tell us ALL about it.

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Chapters 2 – 3 ~ #Free Read Excerpt #Ghosts of White Raven Estate

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks are Sold!

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks are Sold!

USA/Kindle: Ghosts of White Raven Estate

UK/Kindle:  Ghosts of White Raven Estate

iBooks: Ghosts of White Raven Estate

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FOLLOW THIS BLOG! And my ghost stories at  . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 

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Now that my 2013 novel, “Ghosts of White Raven Estate” is published, I’ve chosen to introduce, in this blog entry, Chapters 2 and 3.  It gives the reader insight into the relationship between Victoria Calais and her sister, Evangeline; and the tension between them that reaches into Victoria’s life from beyond the grave.  

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Chapter 2

Where the Bones Are Buried

Victoria placed the marker ribbon at that day’s journal entry and closed the leather bound book. After rummaging to make room, she slid it into the top drawer of her writing desk and locked the drawer with the tiny key strung on the gold chain that she wore around her neck. Pushing back her chair, Victoria felt her way to the bedroom window and strained to see across Prytania Street toward the scene that just two months earlier she could easily make out—the Calais Cemetery and Mausoleum. The foot traffic along Prytania Street that day would have observed Father Vivenzio on his way from St. Ann’s Church to La Maison du Corbeau Blanc. The priest smirked, The House of the White Raven, or simply Corbeau Blanc—how pretentiously mysterious. He was practicing his lines aloud as he stepped gingerly: “Madame Calais, I want to ensure that your wishes for Victoria are met.” Thinking of a better approach, he started his speech anew. Father Vivenzio continued up the curved carriage drive. Lanterns affixed to the side posts of the wrought-iron gate adorned the entrance to the driveway. He avoided the cold stare of the alabaster lions. At that very instant a crow swooped down from behind the priest. Father Vivenzio heard the flutter of wings as the vagrant soared toward him. He winced, fearing that the bird would graze his ear. The terror of rabies clutched at him as the scavenger cawed loudly, landing on its intended perch—the lantern to the right of the carriage drive. “To Hell! To Hell!” The bird responded to the banishment by turning its head left, then right, and examining the priest with one eye, then the other. Its squawk sounded a call to arms, and four more crows swooped down. In horror, the priest rushed toward the porch. He scampered up the steps and pulled on the heavy cord, sounding the bell – that announced his arrival. The door creaked opened. There stood Jasmine, imposing, judgmental. Humph! Jasmine! The slave’s face was sullen, as she looked the priest up and down. She was the one woman in the Calais household who didn’t greet the priest with adoration. No sweeping gesture that he should enter. In fact, she usually left him to close the door on his own—unless Madame Calais was standing in the foyer upon his arrival. Then it was “Father Vivenzio! I’ll be tellin’ Madame that you’ve arrived!” All nicey-nice on those occasions!

* * * 

“Father Vivenzio! I’m in here! Do come in,” Madame Calais sang. “How is Victoria? Maybe she would care to join us?” the priest inquired of his generous benefactor. “I’m sure she would, Father. But first, I’m hoping I can confide in you. I’m concerned about Victoria and her loss of vision. The epidemic that nearly wiped out our family is undoubtedly the cause of Victoria’s vision loss. I have a lot to consider, and I may need your assistance planning a course for her future.”

* * *

Victoria crossed the parlor into the conservatory as Jasmine fell back where she stood silently in the shadows of the parlor. “Victoria, darling, sit down with me and Father Vivenzio and have some lemonade. I’ve barely seen you all day.” Father Vivenzio moved to the high-backed chair across from the two women. “If I may, Madame Calais. Shall I begin?” Madame Calais patted the sofa, and Victoria took the cue to sit down as the priest began speaking. “Victoria, your grandmother has made a very generous financial gift to the church. She and I agree that the funds that she has given at your mother’s behest would best be used to renovate the convent where you stayed when your family fell ill.” Victoria gasped. “Shall I continue?” Victoria nodded. Madame Calais held her breath as Victoria glared at the priest. Then she dropped her gaze to the cat. “Bon-Bon?” The cat was flexing her claws in the hem of the reverend’s cassock. “Bon-Bon!” Father Vivenzio looked down and snatched at his robe. “Bon-Bon! No clawing!” The priest stomped his foot at the cat. It raised its back and snarled before darting back to Victoria. He shrugged his shoulders at Madame Calais, grinning sheepishly. Suddenly, with the swiftness of a panther Bon-Bon bounded from Victoria’s lap and, in one wild leap, landed at the pontiff’s feet. The feline then made a mad scramble up the front of the priest’s robe, batting and snarling. The priest screamed, a girlish cry of distress. Madame Calais let out a shriek, matching the cat’s snarl to a pitch, causing Jasmine to rush in from the parlor. The matriarch jumped up. Her teacup clattered, breaking in half. Hot rooibos tea spread over the rug like a bloodstain. “Mon Dieu! Someone, grab the cat! Dear God, what’s got into her! Get her before she scratches Father Vivenzio’s face!” “I should take my leave. Really, I should,” promised Father. As Father Vivenzio left the estate and walked along the towering wrought-iron fence, his thoughts turned to the appointment waiting for him at the rectory. He chuckled as he quickened his pace. Approaching Prytania Street a pack of dogs began to bark and snarl at him from the grounds of the cemetery. Fear danced in tiny prickles up his spine as he imagined the fangs of angry dogs tearing at his garments, biting into his skin. His breathing quickened; he cautioned himself to not appear fearful. Don’t look over. Don’t look over. A lone howl, long and mournful, emanated from the shadows of the pine grove near the back of the graveyard. The exact source of the howling could not be determined.

* ~*~ *

Excerpt Chapter 3

Before the Epidemic

When Victoria awoke, Evangeline was standing at the bedroom window, looking out over the rose garden. Moonlight flooded the room, casting her sister in profile. Evangeline’s white nightgown was no more than a gossamer veil over her young body. Everyone in the Calais family was either tossing and turning or fully awake as it was too hot to sleep in the early autumn before the Yellow Fever epidemic hit. Every creature moved about under the bright glow of the harvest moon. Katydids sang. Beetles skittered through the warm earth; spiders dropped from stalk to leaf, anchoring their glistening webs; garden snakes slithered languorously through the dewy grass, and the spirits floated back and forth between La Maison du Corbeau Blanc and cemetery, catching up on family gossip. It was too hot for all of them. “Evangeline?” “You’re awake, Victoria?” “Yes. What’s out there?” “The night voices are murmuring. I can hear them.” “Whose voice are you hearing tonight, Evie?” Victoria asked, propping herself up on her pillow and winding her long hair up off her neck. “Grandpa’s. I saw him today.” “You did?” “Oui.” “What was he doing?” Victoria fanned her sheets as Evangeline continued to look out over the tea roses, flooded in light as though it were midday. “Sitting at his desk, doing his books.” She brushed her bangs away from her forehead and pricked her nightgown away from the curves of her body. “Was he happy?” “No, he looked sad. Victoria, he looked straight at me.” “Did he say anything?” “Yes. He said one thing.” Evangeline turned to face her sister. Victoria thought how much her sister looked like an angel at that moment. “He did, Evangeline?” She pulled her knees up to her chest, waiting. “What did he say this time, Evie?” “He said, ‘I’ll see you soon, mon cher.” “He’ll appear to you again?” “I don’t know, Victoria. I just got the sense it was actually a warning.” “Why do you say that, Evie?” Evangeline looked out the window and stared, for a moment, at the full moon that hung in the indigo sky before responding, “because as the vision faded, it was replaced by a death mask.”

* ~*~ *

I hope you’ve enjoyed THIS peek of ‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’.

Ghosts of White Raven Estates ~ on Kindle

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ on Nook

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ on Smashwords for iBooks

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•*¨* ♠ ☆ New Novel: ‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’ Parties its Way onto The Book Scene

FOLLOW THIS BLOG! And . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 
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This is a very exciting week for me, and I have All of You to thank.

☆♥*¨*• So, Thank You so Much!

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Where eBooks are Sold!

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Where eBooks are Sold!

‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’, my NewEST novel partied its way onto the eBook scene with Mardi Gras spirit!

I am so proud of the production team that helped me bring to my readers the first full-length novel that I’ve published in three years.  (‘The Jenkins of Baltimore’ another family-saga— with Civil War overtones—was my 2010 novel.)

‘‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’’ is a NaNoWriMo 2012 winning submission to the eBook world, published by the A.V. Harrison Publishing team of Linda Hope Lee, editor; and Kathi Humphries Design and New Media as contributing designer.

This wild-ride of a New Orleans Garden District 1800s family broke into the Amazon Kindle TOP 4percent within 48 hours of publishing; ranking 45,300 with dozens of sales around the globe!

‘Ghosts of White Raven Estate’ is available where books and eBooks are sold.

Kindle

Nook

 Smashwords for iBooks

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And, once again, Thank you for your support and encouragement over this past year as my newest novel took shape.

I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing the story!

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myBLOG ☆ New Orleans Is More to Me Than Beignets and Mardi Gras

My New Orleans Jazz club souvenirs, circa 1964

My New Orleans Jazz club souvenirs, circa 1964

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When I was thirteen my family moved from Southern California to New Orleans, Louisiana. I was transformed from a Surfer Girl (described thusly by an old boyfriend I looked up decades later) to a Southern Belle. It was the most exhilarating time in my life—and such a tumultuous time in the nation’s history. It was the summer of 1963.

My father had been hired by The Boeing Company to work at the Michoud plant in New Orleans. With the intention of arriving New Orleans in time for my sister and I to start school in September, my parents sped from California to Louisiana over a six-day stretch in our 1961 Plymouth station wagon. I remember the ‘are we there yet?’ laments over how long it took to cross Texas, and my parents looking for a house to move their three children (and our dachshund ‘Winkie’) into when we arrived. But, I don’t remember the motels and diners along the way. When we arrived in Louisiana my parents decided to settle the family across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans—in Slidell.

My sister started school without me that academic year. I didn’t register for seventh grade until after my paternity was established. To the Registrar I looked like a Creole (non-white) and was registered with the school district as a mulatto.  You see, schools in The South remained segregated as that school year began (and in spite of the Civil Rights Act). In contrast my sister, a blue-eyed honey blonde, undoubtedly fathered by a white man, was whisked into the eighth grade.

Upper right, me in elementary school, lower right, attempting to enter junior high in Slidell; plus high school graduation photo.

Upper right, me in elementary school, lower right, attempting to enter junior high in Slidell; plus high school graduation photo.

In spite of my rocky start I finally was admitted to Slidell Junior High two months into the school year and was enthusiastically accepted by the most wild, fun-loving clique a thirteen year old could hope for. Did I say wild? My social circle included kids from Southern families, military brats, and kids like myself whose dad’s had been hired during Boeing’s expansion. (Our school was ‘integrated’ by one black student four months into the school year. He was escorted through from class to class surrounded by six Federal Marshalls.)

Our first few years in Slidell we lived on the edge of a swamp, off Magnolia Road. Alligators, armadillos, and snapping turtles made frequent crossings to the wetlands through our yard. We rented from a Cajun family who invited us over every Sunday afternoon for a crawdad feed and lots of beer. I was thirteen when I started drinking.

I was fourteen when hurricane Hilda, a Category 4 storm, crashed into New Orleans causing widespread flooding, devastation, and death. The element of Hilda that I remember most vividly was the ‘train-barrelling full speed into the house’ eardrum bursting noise. Wrapped in blankets, and huddling in the bathtub, my siblings and I could NOT hear one instructive thing my mother was yelling at us as my non-plussed father snored in the other room.

I was fifteen when I got my driver’s license and keys to my dad’s 1965 Mustang.  I made a barreling beeline across the Lake Pontchartrain bridge to the jazz clubs on Bourbon Street. The bouncer carded me and my girlfriends at Al Hirt’s Club, so it was off to Pete Fountain’s which wasn’t as particular about who they let in to their club. That was also the year I discovered the Tarot card parlors in the French Quarter and was convinced of the authenticity of fortune telling. You see, I had a crush on a tall blond kid whose dad owned the radio station in Slidell. My swain was Blakey Adams. During my first Tarot reading the fortune teller—a Caribbean woman dressed in glorious color, bangle jewelry, and a headwrap told me that I was in love with a boy whose initials were B. A. (I swear to you, dear blog reader, this is true.) I was bowled over and was, of course, sold on everything that New Orleans had to offer—the marques, the lights, the alcohol, the jazz clubs—and the fortune tellers.

That love for The Big Easy has lasted now for fifty years – 1963 to 2013 – so why NOT write a novel that features mon amore—New Orleans.

☆  Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits ☆ is NOW available on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and iBooks.

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Macabre Death Scene Discovered by Author’s Sister at Shoal Bay, British Columbia

Death scene startles boater vacationing in British Columbia.

Death scene startles boater vacationing in British Columbia.

This afternoon my sister, who is vacationing in the remote area around Discovery Islands, British Columbia finally got into port and – after two weeks – was able to send eMails and reassure us of her safety just as a Pacific Northwest storm rolled in.

In her eMail was a photo-send taken at Shoal Bay in the Discovery Islands of a death scene with the skeletal remains of an accident victim.

I have posted the following news release on PR Log and will contact B.C. authorities for her as her communications are limited to text and photo sends from the isolated area around Discovery Islands.

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Macabre Death Scene Discovered at Shoal Bay, British Columbia

September 28, 2013:  A macabre death scene was discovered this week by a Des Moines, Washington woman vacationing at Shoal Bay, Discovery Islands, British Columbia.  Juliana Hale, a boating enthusiast located the accident scene while taking a walk with a friend to stretch her legs after spending many weeks boating in the British Columbia waters.

By all appearances, the skeletal remains of a commercial truck driver, sits behind the wheel of a rusted out rig which is now tangled in overgrowth and vines.

With minimum communication outlets available to her from the remote location Ms. Hale sent the photo to her sister, Emily Hill, when she reached the Powell River marina. Emily Hill ironically writes ghost stories under the banner, ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter (http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Stories-And-Unexplained-ebook…)’.

The photo was eMailed with the following note: “Hey Emily, Paddi and I were walking out in the woods at Shoal Bay a couple of days ago, and look what we found! Not sure of the cause of the accident or when it happened . . .”

It would appear that the accident occurred many years ago, but why it has not been discovered by authorities is a complete mystery; although Shoal Bay, British Columbia is an extremely remote area of the Discover Islands, British Columbia.

Shoal Bay, British Columbia authorities are being notified in an attempt to establish the legitimacy of the scene, according to Ms. Hill of Edmonds,

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☆ Trick or Treat ☆ My Halloween Free-Reads are at THESE locations!

In paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

FOLLOW THIS BLOG! And . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter
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I’m absolutely giddy! We are just days away from Trick or Treat season.

Exciting, isn’t it? The masquerade balls of Halloween dance in, Day of the Dead lurches forward dragging one foot behind, and we hear chains rattling and hounds baying in the distance as All Souls Day knocks at the doors of morgues and mortuaries.

Ghost Stories, howling winds, flickering candles, and specters that stand at the foot of your bed remind you that death is, well, a part of life.

My reading habits change this time of year – don’t yours? If your answer is ‘Yes!’ I have some treats in store for you:  A roster of all the locations where I have placed ‘Free Reads’ of my ghost stories and folklore this year.

So bookmark this page and come back often for news and nuances from the Other Side of The Grave.

If you are new to my writing and release-titles, I have published four sets of ghost stories under the brand, ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’.

My autobiographical eStory-sets are titled, ‘Ghost Stories and The Unexplained: Book One and Book Two; my torque-to-terror is entitled, ‘Ghost Stories From Beyond the Grave’; and my folklore tales in eBook format are entitled, ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’.

The four eBooks under THESE titles are available on Smashwords – the vendor for iBooks, Nook and Kindle [Mobi]; the PAPERBACK edition of my ghost stories is available on Amazon and Nook as ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’.

If you’ve ever wondered about the tone of my ghost stories now is the time to sample from the various storytelling styles that I’ve adopted over the past four years.

So! Here is a Smorgasbord of book excerpts, as a Treat to YOU for this season:

On Smashwords – Free! ‘Ghost Stories and The Unexplained: Book One’ six autobiographical stories to get you started on the full series.

On Wattpad – two selections:

* ‘Ghost Stories and The Unexplained: Story One’ only; and

* ‘Ghost Stories From Beyond the Grave: Grove of Terror’.

On BookBlog.com you have a second selection from

‘Ghost Stories From Beyond the Grave: The Red-Eyed Beast of Bodie’.

And, FlipSnack is Fun! There I have also posted ‘Grove of Terror’ if you’d like to see “flippin’ free!”

If you would like to purchase any of my iBook series they are available on Smashwords, or as a paperback on Amazon.

Happy Halloween! And . . .  leave a note that you stopped by!

Seeing your name here would be a Treat!

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