Haunted?

Maybe.

It’s what got me dreaming crazy stuff and eventually writing paranormal stories. I have plenty more fiction stories to share but right now I’d like to share a real one. At age thirteen I had my first paranormal experience. It’s true.

Every weekday after school I’d go to Pop’s house. He was an elder neighbor up the hill. I did my homework at his kitchen table.  I can’t even remember how this routine came to be. He’d fix me a big cup of hot tea with milk and sugar. It tasted so good. I was a quiet teen at the time and Pops just made me feel safe. Just before dark I’d walk down the hill back to my house.

I still drink tea with milk today.

One day I woke up with an awful feeling about Pops. I wanted to stay with him. Sadly, I went to school and when I returned home I found out Pops had passed away. I knew it,  somehow, I knew something was wrong with Pops. I was devastated.

Days later at the funeral, Pops’ thirty two year old daughter said we were taking Pops by the house one last time, before we go to the cemetery. There I am in the fifth car behind the hearse carrying Pops and when we passed his house there he was sitting on the front porch waving goodbye.

I knew then I’d miss him forever. After the funeral we all went to Pops house. I was sitting in the living room when his daughter said, “I don’t want to scare anyone but when we brought Pops by the house he was sitting on the front porch waving goodbye.” I was scared, really scared.

I stood up and walked to the screen door. I remember leaning my head on the screen as I looked out at the front porch chair. He wasn’t there. I burst through the screen door, ran off the porch and down the hill to my house. I’ll never forget Pops, and I never returned to that house.

I didn’t grow up in a house telling ghost stories, it wasn’t my imagination. I think if you are attached to someone emotionally they never really leave and they always say goodbye. They will be waiting until we join them in the afterlife. Anyone else out there have a real ghost story to tell?GenealogistsGuestsFINAL

It’s the story I wanted to write

I published The Genealogist’s Guests! Currently at Amazon’s Best Sellers in Psychic Suspense top 100. It feels wonderful to be in Amazon’s top 100 anything! I must say, I am anxious to hear what readers think. The Genealogist’s Guests, is a paranormal, a mystery, an intense story about incest, rape, and a curse that keeps one family silent for decades. That is until Elizabeth Ward hand paints a family tree and opens a portal to the afterlife. One of the pros of self publishing is that I wrote the story I wanted to write. Maybe, just maybe t will get into the hands of many and people will break their silence.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Genealogists-Guests-ebook/dp/B00FO03UZ8/ref=zg_bs_7130640011_80

Baby steps toward publishing

I’ve sent the first ten pages  of The Genealogist’s Guest off for an initial manuscript critique. I felt this was the next step toward publishing. I should get some feedback soon. Meanwhile I’ve been working on the book blurb, and staying under 150 words, and not revealing too much is a challenge. I updated my profile on some social networks, yes I can’t help but visit. I learn about marketing, publishing, and writing book  blurbs. Here’s what  think will be the final draft.

It began decades ago …

A woman in fear of losing her family remains silent about her knowledge of sexual abuse unknowingly opens a portal to the underworld. Secrets must be told beginning with the real reason her fifth generation grandfather killed Wilbur Savage in1887, or the family will suffer.

Secrets haunted them all …

But vengeance is family strong when ancestors return to save one of their own. Genealogists Liz Taber is plunged into the underworld to face demons who rely on their victim’s shame and fear to conceal their immoral crimes against children, even in death.

She must destroy them … before they prey on the next generation.  

 

Chapter Update

Liz Taber, the lone occupant of the colonial revival on a five acre wooded lot sat at her desk in the quiet space. Through the door behind her the living room echoed endless space.
Why didn’t you turn the lights on in there? You always set yourself up for the creeps.
She did and now she thought something or someone was on the other side of the doorway watching her. This is not the first time her hair has stood on the nape of her neck.
It will pass.
Stacks of papers and books were scattered all around her, a lone lamp on the floor to her right. The sixty-watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted on the canvas from floor to ceiling. She heard a thump outside the window, and then a slow drag.
The wind.
She had been there for hours at her computer searching for clues. Another crash against the house, sounded like the deck furniture. Liz shot a glance at the window and grabbed the desk but kept her grip on the familiar oval-shaped mouse. She slid her index finger across the round surface, wet from her clammy palms and clicked on the database. She hoped to find her fifth generation grandmother.
The list of passengers on the ship California appeared on the monitor. A short list, maybe fifty names. Light from the lone lamp flickered. She searched for the surname Hay, and found one, Isabella. The light flickered again.
Not now.
She wanted to save the website to her favorites tab, but the computer’s hum went silent.
“Fine, just fine,” she sighed. “I’ll find her later.”
She pulled her robe across her shoulders and stood for a moment staring at her hand-painted family tree. The room brightened with each flash of lightning, exposing Isabella’s name. All her ancestors seemed to draw her in as she stood before them each night, but none as hypnotic as Isabella. The feeling of someone watching her from the darkness passed.
She closed the office door leaving her family tree on the other side and faced the living room. Lifeless, she thought as she paused and stared. A fire dwindled on the other side of the room. The nights alone in the large house got scarier with time and losing electrical power didn’t make living alone any easier.
She kindled the fire, poured herself a brandy, and sipped as she lay back on the cream-colored sofa. A tear trickled from the corner of her eye, like every other night. The memory of her husband’s death, the silent rage.
I can’t go back.
The storm continued through the night, the house quiet aside the howling wind outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the generous fire. Adjacent to the room, the home office door slowly opened. The spirit of a woman wearing a white dress eased into the room and sat in the chair, her eyes rested on Liz as she lay covered with her favorite throw.
Liz turned to her side and peeped at the empty chair. She blinked and took in a deep breath.
Go back to sleep, no ones there.
She drifted back into her dream, humming an unfamiliar tune.
The spirit of the woman rose from the chair and hummed the same tune. Her ghostly orb hovered above the wood plank floor and moved delicately across the fire lit room. She entered the home office where she reached her name on the family tree and disappeared.
Liz woke up and lifted her head from her pillow and immediately looked to the empty chair.
“Goodness,” she said aloud. “Get a grip.”
Through the curtains specks of dust floated about in the strands of light that reached across the living room leading into the kitchen. She gazed toward the granite countertop where her coffee pot sat empty. “You should have purchased the generator,” she told herself. She rose from the sofa and headed for the staircase. She passed her home office and saw the door wide open. She was sure she closed it tight. Liz stood at the doorway of the office and stared inside, the room now darker than the main room, her desk covered with notes unorganized and scattered not only on top of her desk but on the floor as well.
She moved around the piles of paper and opened the drapes exposing the daylight and when she spun around to face her office, the family tree shimmered. Liz swept her hair away from her eyes and smiled at her masterpiece. It was as if her ancestors reached from their graves and shined through the branches of painted names representing their place in time, their lives.
“Nice work Lizzie,” she gloated.
The truck’s tires rolled on wet pavement, a splash of water, and an annoying screech, “It’s time to get out of here,” she said. She sprinted up the stairs leaving the office door open. Inside, the branches of life on the family tree glistened as the fall leaves of the red maple outside the window slowly lifted upward as droplets of rainwater fell to the ground. A peaceful moment, but on the other side of the tree, across the long and narrow yard the electricians prepared to fix the broken link between their massive electrical plant and Liz’s house.
Randy Sullivan, a lifelong Rhode Islander, peered at the property. Not a large man, but his piercing eyes intimidated most people. He stood behind the truck and watched Liz leave the house.
“Perfect,” he sneered.
Liz powered her Honda CRV and gradually rolled out to the main road. Randy loathed her living alone just as his mother did when she left. He was twelve when he found his mother and begged her to let him come with her. “No,” she had said to him. “Your father will come searching for you, go away!” His rage over his mother festered until the day he killed her. Liz, he decided will be his next victim… of many. He had watched her for weeks after following her back from Norwich one Saturday. She was as she usually is alone and vulnerable.
He sucked on his teeth and hollered to Danny. “I’m going around back to check the lines.”
“Watch for dogs,” said Danny. Randy glimpsed back at him and snickered at the way he struggled to get the toolbox open.
“That ought to keep him busy,” he said.
He worked his way around the back of the house peeking into each window until he reached the open back door. “Ah, Ms. Taber, you’re slipping,” he whispered, and entered through the kitchen.
It was eerie, the silence. The refrigerator, clocks, the creaks in the flooring was void of sound. He told himself to turn around, go back.
Underneath the aroma of flowers from a vase nearby he caught the scent of paper, mounds of must and ink, and beyond that the familiar stench of death.
The office door moved with a vexing creak, without support or reason. The door continued to creak as it closed off the small room. The sound of each creak louder than the one before, creak, creak, creak, until the walls vibrated and suddenly the door stopped. Randy just stood still, legs shaking.
“This isn’t possible,” he said.
He finally turned to run like hell and as he did, the door swung wide open. He glanced back in enough time to notice the door didn’t recoil, as if someone or something held it against the wall. He begged his legs to move as he stood staring. The door slammed shut. He sped out the back door, turned the corner and saw Danny by the utility truck. Run, run, he repeated in his mind until he finally gained his voice back and screamed at Danny, “Let’s go!”
Danny had a big smile on his face as he watched Randy run toward him, he asked, “What’s wrong? Did you find the dog?”
“Get in the truck!” Randy screamed.
As he ran to the truck a man stood over in the tree line. He wore gray slacks pulled high up to his waist, and a jacket cut at the hip. Randy knew from his attire he wasn’t from this time or this world because he seemed… he’s a damn ghost!
He screamed again, “You dumbass get in the truck!” He rushed Danny, and in one swoop shoved him in the truck and pushed him over to the passenger seat. Randy looked back at the house and over to the tree line, he saw nothing but felt imminent danger as he spun the wheels of the truck leaving a ladder behind splattered with mud.
Back in the house, in the small office, Ed Taber’s hand painted name glowed until it faded next to his wife’s name, Isabella Hay, on Liz’s family tree. The whispers between the couple ensued, “Where were you Ed?” Isabella asked. “I was in the field Isabella.” The lights came on, the clock ticked, and the back door closed.
A few miles away Liz continued her drive until she reached the town of Norwich. She rolled the car window down and took a deep breath. The Thames River to her left reminded her of her research and the passages she read about the settlement of Norwich. She thought of the Church family, and having seen gravestones with the name Church on the same site as her ancestors, she wondered if there were connections. She would have to do the research she thought and grinned as she told herself, why not, it is possible she’s a descendant of someone who corresponded with the enemy. After all, she did have an ancestor who spied for the Confederates during the Civil War. She asked herself what compelled them to do such things.
She burst out with a nervous giggle, “Shoot Lizzie what compelled you to leave Virginia.”
As much as she tried to forget her husband’s awful crimes, his pedophile acts revealed to her closes friends and neighbors as he lay on his deathbed haunted her to this day.
The rushing water of the Thames River headed for the Long Island Sound. Liz headed for the coffee shop on Main Street. She parked and began her walk in the past. The town of Norwich never disappointed as it is rich with history. She bumped shoulders with a young lad and said, “Excuse me.” He mumbled something and scurried on disappearing into the distance. She didn’t notice as she continued to walk down the uneven pathway. That he faded away. Nor did she see the ghost of many integrated with the living in clothing from another period. Nevertheless, they were there.

It’s almost time

It’s almost time.  I will launch my newest novel into the saturated indie book market. It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure. I had originally planned to publish The Genealogist’s Guest many months ago. A paranormal minus the romance. It’s a dark fantasy, an intense, maybe disturbing  read. A fiction, after all how many ghosts do you see floating above the wood plank floor? Here’s an excerpt.

“Margaret can talk to the dead.” He sat back amused at the expression on Liz’s face. “It’s true,” he said. “In fact if I know Margaret well enough we have a spirit with us now.”

 

I started out with a simple plan, woman unknowingly opens a portal to her ancestors by painting a family tree. A little extra, they protect her from harm. Problem, her ancestors are not the guests she planned on, and she seeks help to rid them of her household. Easy, right? Another excerpt.

The sound of Isabella’s cries awakened all the others. “It’s happening again,” she whimpered. “Ed, he took my son.” Isabella’s pain, a pain only a mother could feel had nearly crippled her in 1885 when a stranger took her only son at age seven.

 

Ah, so the ancestors bring with them the knowledge of a curse on the family that all started with the rape and death of a seven year old boy decades ago. My simple plan just got complicated. Am I disappointed? No. The story took off, building layers of entertainment. I had no control. The subject of rape, incest and dark secrets that plagued this fictional family for years had to be told.

Dark Fantasy? I couldn’t pull off a romantic, endearing, lift your spirits up novel if I locked myself in solitude for years. Not even if I jumped into one of the many wonderfully written novels so pleasantly lifting any end to the story doesn’t make sense. Why end such bliss?

There you have it, my niche.

So, what’s taken me so long? Social websites. Yes, but with good motivation. I joined groups on Facebook and Goodreads, and followed other authors on Twitter. I briefly adventured into book review sites. I’ve spent hours reading about them, joining in on conversations, obtaining resources, learning about marketing. Shh, don’t read that word again!

As said, the bookshelves are saturated. I’ll narrow my niche down using keywords, such as paranormal, ghosts, underworld, ancestors and of course dark fantasy, and hopefully find readers interested in this genre I seemed destined to write.

I’ll post on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, etc., announcing the launch. I’ll keep talking about it, but (that bad word I don’t want you to read) isn’t my niche. I’m an introvert. I’m not going to be as outgoing, informative, web site savvy as others. Joanna Penn (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/ ) and Melissa Foster (http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/)  come to mind. In fact, during the time I spent on social websites my instinct screamed, get your ass back to your novel! Did I waste my time? No. I’m amazed at all the indie author support.

I said it somewhere about a year ago, now is the time for indie authors to get their works out. A year later, if you’re looking to write a novel and self publish now is the time to join social networks on writing and self publishing. Seriously, you’ll need to keep abreast of this fast growing market.   

What happened to my story, my dark fantasy? It became. Yes, it grew into the story it is today. I’m beside myself with joy. Here’s a blurb I’m working on:

The secret haunted her…

 A woman obsessed with fear remains silent about her knowledge of sexual abuse opens a portal to the underworld. They came through her hand-painted family tree. A horrid curse threatens to destroy the family if they fail to reveal their secrets beginning with the real reason her fifth generation grandfather killed Wilbur Savage in 1887.

The secrets haunted them all until….

I wanted to write this story, publish it fast and move on to the next novel.  If I had it would not be the same story. It wouldn’t have been as good. I know this now after a year of meddling in other author’s adventures and lessons learned, that I’m not that author who can write and publish novels in six months or less. Hence, my first novel, Compelled, I wrote it very fast, thirty days to be exact, and hastily published it, without tapping into the true writer I yearn to be. My lesson learned.

I’m finishing up The Genealogist’s Guest, reviewing, revising, resting on it a bit, preparing to launch it onto the masses. I wanted to do that yesterday, however, knowing it’s easy to publish, harder to get noticed. The success of my second novel will be determined by the readers and word of mouth. My task? Reach them. Yikes!

 

The Genealogist’s Guests A Peek at Chapter 1

 

Liz Taber’s wish for guests is about to come true, and she gets more than she hopes for when her dead ancestors use her art as a portal from the underworld. She discovers a family secret that began in 1885 after a brutal rape and the murder of a child.

An evil entity plagues the Taber family dating back to the fatal event which to this day returns from the depths of hell to seek revenge.

Liz’s journey begins with her obsession of ancestry research. When her dead ancestors visit from the other side they bring trouble with them, Wilbur Savage. Liz must choose, does she keep the secret that’s plagued her family across generations or expose the ugly truth to save the Taber children.

 

Chapter 1

Liz Taber, the only occupant of the colonial revival standing on a five acre wooded lot, sat at her desk in the quiet space. Through the door behind her a larger room loomed. She shifted her eyes and peeked over her own shoulder. “Why didn’t you turn the lights on?” she asked herself. “You always set yourself up for the creeps.”

Stacks of papers and books were scattered all around her. A lone lamp on the floor to her right. The sixty-watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted on the canvas from floor to ceiling. She heard a thump, just outside the window, and then a slow drag. “It’s just the wind,” she told herself. She had been there for hours amid the hum of her computer searching for clues.

Another crash against the house, sounded like the deck furniture. She shot a glance at the window and grabbed the desk but kept her shaky grip on the familiar oval-shaped mouse. Then slid her index finger across its round surface, wet from her clammy palms, and clicked on the database.

 A list of passengers on the ship California appeared on the screen. The lights flickered. It was a short list, maybe fifty names. She searched for the surname, Hay, and found one. It was Isabella. The lights flickered again. “Not now,” she begged, but the tower’s hum went silent. “Fine, just fine,” she sighed. “I’ll find it later.”

Liz pulled her robe across her shoulders and stood for a moment staring at her family tree. Flashes of light brightened the room repeatedly exposing Isabella’s name and each time it reached out to Liz. She whispered, “Why did you travel alone Isabella?”  

She closed the office door leaving her family tree on the other side and faced the living room. It was lifeless she thought as she paused and stared at the space. A fire dwindled across the room adding to the dense feel of the room. The nights alone in the large house got spookier with time and losing the lights didn’t make it any easier. 

She kindled the fire and poured herself a brandy and sipped as she lay back on the cream-colored sofa. A tear trickled from the corner of her eye as it did every night. The memory of her husband’s death, the sorrow, loneliness, and the way her friends avoided her. They cut ties with her after his death, and it hurt her more than she ever admitted. She began studying her family history, burying herself in search of the past. It was several months before she learned her husband left her a small fortune, enough to buy a home and live a modest but comfortable life. She dropped her married name reverting to her maiden and started fresh.  “I can’t go back,” she told herself.  

     The storm continued through the night and the house was silent aside the howling wind outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the generous fire. Adjacent to the room, the home office door slowly opened. Covered with her favorite throw and dreaming of a house filled with people laughing and sharing Liz was unaware that next to her a woman wearing a black dress sat in the chair. She had her hair pulled back in a neat bun. Her face was aged but revealed the beauty that once was, and her eyes rested on Liz.

     Liz turned to her side and looked at the empty chair.  She blinked and took in a deep breath. “Nothing is there,” she said. “Go back to sleep,” she told herself.  As she drifted back into her dream, she hummed an unfamiliar tune. The spirit of the woman rose from the chair and hummed the same tune until her translucent stature reached her name on the family tree and disappeared.

     The storm passed while Liz slept and when she woke she raised her head from her pillow and immediately looked to the empty chair. “Goodness,” she said aloud. “Get a grip.” The electricity had not resumed and the fire returned to smolder. She gazed toward the kitchen and on her granite countertop her coffee pot sat empty. “You should have purchased the generator,” she told herself. She rose from the sofa, folded her throw and placed it over the arm of the empty chair, and headed for the staircase.  

As she passed her home office, she saw the door was open, wide open. She was sure she closed it tight. Standing at the doorway of the office looking inside, the room now darker than the main room, her desk covered with notes, unorganized and scattered not only on top of her desk but on the floor as well. “Now Lizzie,” she ridiculed herself. “You get yourself a journal and organize this mess.” She moved around the piles of paper and opened the drapes allowing the daylight in and when she spun around facing her office, the family tree shimmered. Liz swept her hair away from her eyes and smiled at her masterpiece. She felt as if her kin somehow reached from their graves with open arms and shined through the branches of painted names representing their place in time, their lives, “Nice work Lizzie,” she gloated.

     She heard the tires roll on wet pavement, a splash of water, and an annoying screech, “It’s time to get out of here,” she said. She sprinted up the stairs leaving the office door open. Inside, the branches of life, her family tree glistened as the fall leaves of the red maple just outside the window slowly lifted upward as droplets of rainwater fell to the ground. A peaceful moment, but on the other side of the tree, across the long and narrow yard the electricians prepared to fix the broken link between their massive plant and Liz’s house.

Randy Sullivan, a lifelong Rhode Islander, peered at the property. Not a large man, but his piercing eyes intimidated most people. He stood behind the truck and watched Liz leave the house, “Perfect,” he sneered. Liz powered her Honda CRV and gradually rolled out onto the main road.

Randy loathed her living alone just as his mother did when she left. He was twelve when he found his mother and begged her to let him come with her. “No,” she had said to him. “Your father will come looking for you, go away!”  His rage over his mother festered until the day he killed her. Liz, he decided will be his next victim. He had watched her for weeks after following her back from Norwich one Saturday. She was as she usually is alone and vulnerable.

He sucked on his teeth and hollered to Danny. “I’m going around back to check the lines.”

“Watch for dogs,” said Danny. Randy looked back at him and snickered at the way he struggled to get the toolbox open.

“That ought to keep him busy,” Randy said. He worked his way around the back of the house peeking into each window until he reached the opened back door. “Ah, Ms. Taber, you’re slipping,” he whispered, and then entered through the kitchen.

     It was eerie, the silence. The refrigerator, clocks, the creaks in the flooring was void of sound.  “Turn around, go back,” he told himself. Underneath the aroma of flowers from a vase nearby he caught the scent of paper, mounds of it, and beyond that the stench of death.

The office door moved, just a little, and without reason. There was no breeze or movement from anyone in the house to support its ability to move. The door continued to creak as it closed off the small room. The sounds of each creak louder than the one before, and then suddenly it stopped. Randy just stood there, “This isn’t possible,” he said. He finally turned to run like hell and as he did, the door swung wide open. He looked back in enough time to see the door did not recoil, as if someone or something held it against the wall. He begged his legs to move as he stood staring at the door, and then it slammed shut! He dashed out the back door where he saw Danny by the utility truck.  Run, run, he repeated in his mind until he finally gained his voice back and screamed at Danny, “Let’s go!”

Danny had a big smile on his face as he watched Randy run toward him, he asked, “What’s wrong? Did you find the dog?”

 “Get in the truck!” Randy screamed.

As he swiftly made his way to the truck, he saw a man inside the tree line.  He wore gray slacks pulled high up to his waist, and a jacket cut at the hip, with a vest and white shirt. Randy knew from his attire he wasn’t from this time or this world because he seemed… He’s a damn ghost!

He screamed again, “You dumbass get in the truck!” He rushed Danny, and in one swoop shoved him in the truck and pushed him over to the passenger seat. Randy looked back at the house and over to the tree line, he saw nothing but felt imminent danger as he spun the wheels of the truck leaving a ladder behind splattered with mud.

Back in the house, in the small office, Ed Taber’s hand painted name glowed and then faded next to his wife’s name, Isabella Hay, on Liz’s family tree. The whispers between the couple ensued, “Where were you Ed?” Isabella asked. “I was in the field Isabella.” The lights came on, the clock ticked, and the back door closed.

A few miles away Liz continued her drive until she reached the town of Norwich. She rolled the car window down and took a deep breath. The Thames River to her left reminded her of her research and the passages she read about the settlement of Norwich. She thought of the Church family she had read about, and having seen gravestones with the name Church on the same site as her ancestors, she wondered if there were connections. She would have to do the research she thought and grinned as she told herself, why not, it is possible she is a descendant of someone who corresponded with the enemy. After all, she did have an ancestor who spied for the Confederates during the Civil War. She asked what compelled them to do such things. She burst out with a giggle, “Shoot Lizzie what compelled you to leave Virginia.” The rushing water of the Thames River headed for the Long Island Sound. Liz headed for Dunken Doughnut.

She parked and began her walk in the past. The town of Norwich never disappointed as it is rich with history. She bumped shoulders with a young lad and said, “Excuse me.” He mumbled something and scurried on disappearing into the distance. She didn’t notice as she continued to walk down the uneven pathway. That he faded away. Nor did she see the ghost of many integrated with the living in clothing from another period. Nevertheless, they were there.

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