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

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 Preview

The existence of ghosts dates back to ancient times. Having been sighted in Europe, Japan, China,  Canada, London, Germany, the United States and other parts of the world it’s a wonder some dispute their existence.  The non-believers, the ones whose perceptions tell them their brains are playing tricks on them hear the thumps around the house, they smell their deceased mother’s perfume, and they see objects move. Supernatural events that frequent their everyday lives. Yet, they refuse to believe their loved ones have returned. All things strange have  reasonable explanations they say. But they feel the ghost’s presence and the anxiety associated with the experience. Perhaps they refuse to accept their own fates, that they one day will live a parallel existence into the unknown.  

Liz Taber journeys into the unknown. Captured by an evil that plagued her family since 1885. It is there Liz finds the strength passed down to her through generations to combat forces the living fears. It is there she meets her fifth generation grandmother, Isabella Hay. A fiery spirit of Scotland. Together they battle Wilbur Savage, a psychotic child rapist and murderer in life, a deranged demonic being in death.  They must find a way to save future Taber children from the wrath of evil. To the non- believers who read this post, happy dreams. Don’t worry about the thumps in the night. There’s a reasonable explanation.

The Genealogist’s Guests. Coming soon.

New Authors, Fresh Voices

I’ve been working on my next novel The Genealogist’s Guests! You may ask yourself if you were researching your family history and your ancestors start appearing, in spirit form of course, what would it take to realize it’s not your imagination. When you hear the whispers, see movement, maybe a shadow, or a door opening on its own. Maybe your coffee has already brewed when you go to make a pot, or your computer is already turned own when you enter your office. Rationally, you may think to yourself there’s a perfect explanation, you left the computer on, made the coffee and don’t remember doing it, and the whispers are all in your head, but then what happens when your fireplace has a fierce fire built, your lawn in manicured, your evil ghosts, the menacing ex-serial killer ghost tries to kill you.  What happens when your neighbors find out your place is haunted, or worse it’s you that’s haunted. Here’s a little scene from the book:

George climbed back into his white Ford pickup truck. He looked back at Liz as he rolled along the driveway and as he faced forward he thought he saw a man in the tree line. He slammed on his breaks causing the gravel to stir. He captured Liz’s attention and she stood by her flower bed watching the peculiar way George moved around in his seat. George searched the tree line but didn’t see anything unusual. He saw Liz watching him through his rearview mirror. He threw the truck in gear and got on out of there. Liz searched the tree line herself and saw nothing unusual, except that it was a beautiful scene. In fact her acres looked as if someone had meticulously manicured it to a perfect setting. “How splendid,” she said. “My guest will approve.”

George wasted no time getting home to Margaret and when he charged through the door screaming, “It’s just what you said Margaret! She’s got some spirits over there. Saw it with my own eyes!” Margaret wasn’t surprised.

“Calm down George,” Margaret said. “We’ll help Liz. Now tell me what you saw.”

 

The novel is due for release in the fall 2012. Lot’s of work to do, next step get that book cover in the works. I’ve learned the hard way to hire someone to design the cover, along with editing. I self publish, not that I gave traditional publishing a good chance, I didn’t. The allure of self publishing and getting my works out to readers quickly excited me. I truly believe in the indies and have habitually scanned books on Amazon, reading those first chapters, searching for that fresh voice, that compelling story by the next best selling author-indie author. A huge variety of indie author’s works are now published through Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace to name a few, and more publishing companies are joining in on the fun. We, the indie’s are appearing on the New York Times best seller list and web blogs all over the internet. There’s real talent in the self publishing and I am excited to be a part of it.

New Fiction Exciting for Author

I’ve been writing The Genealogist’s Guests. A new novel I’m very excited about, mostly because it’s about ancestors, paranormal activity, or apparitions appearing through the handpainted family tree the main character has in her home office. Here’s a little of what I’ve wrote :

The whispers began immediately. The tree lit up
brilliant as the apparitions made their way to the kitchen, and in there chats
of company arriving in the spring began with enthusiasm. Liz wrapped her hand
with gauze fussing with herself for being careless. In the winter weather it
would take emergency personnel at least an hour to get to her. Aggravated with
herself she made her way to the staircase. She heard something downstairs and
froze, listening. Whispers, she
thought, there’s someone whispering down
there
.

Now Liz is expecting her family to visit from Virginia. After four years of waiting it’s all she can do to remain calm, but no worries she has other family there to support her.

Originally I thought about an October 31 release! Yeah, I’m still holding to that date!

Dare to Write and Share

I recently wrote and published, Compelled, by Ann Simpson, an intense story in a jail setting about a young couple’s encounter with a dangerous criminal subculture. It’s a crime novel, a romance, a drama, and is available at Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. Many published indie authors understand the work that goes into each of these, the writing, editing, book cover, formating, and marketing! While marketing I was drawn to the many first pages or chapters offered for view at Amazon, believe me one could spend hours just reading these excerpts from our fellow indie author’s works.

I asked a reader, a friend of a friend, what exactly grabs her attention when choosing a book to read. She said the cover first, then the first sentence or couple of sentences of the first chapter. If that grabs her she said she closes the book and looks on the back cover for a synopsis. If she gets that, I want to read this, feeling, she purchases the book. First impressions seem critical! And so I have decided to share an excerpt of my upcomming novel The Genealogist’s Guests, albeit minor changes with editing could happen,  I thought it would fun to share.

Coldness throughout the house couldn’t stop her.  The fire she set hours before was a mere hint of smolder that barely lit the large room outside of her small home office. Stacks of papers and books lay all around. A small lamp was placed on the floor to her right.  The sixty watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted onto the canvas from floor to ceiling.

The wind outside howled as the storm approached, and mother nature’s threat to cut power to Liz’s computer rushed her as she searched almost desperately for clues about Isabella Hay Taber, her third generation great grandmother.  The lights dimmed as the computer prepared to shut down, “No!” Liz held the monitor with both hands, “I haven’t saved it.” The sound of the computer tower’s hum went silent right after the click Liz heard shattering her pleas for just a little more time. She was close to finding out how Isabella came to Rhode Island from Saint Nicolas, Aberdeen, Scotland.

She looked over to her wall at the tree she painted, nearly three thousand ancestors smothered by darkness as the storm outside beat the wood siding of Rhode Island Colonial, a sturdy structure built in 1920. She stood in the darkness facing her family tree visualizing the names she had painstakingly wrote with the tip of a paint brush, Isabella’s name called to her, a feeling she couldn’t escape. Something about the young girl from Scotland who married her third generation great grandfather Edward Luther Taber sparked her curiosity but with the power out she would have to wait to continue searching for answers.

Liz purchased the twenty four hundred square foot home several years back with hopes of entertaining family who all remained in Virginia when she moved north. They said she was crazy for leaving but Liz had a passion for ancestry and she wanted to be near her ancestor’s graves, their old homesteads, and the towns they lived in, she needed to connect.  She especially liked the Town of Norwich, Connecticut.  A Dunkin Donut shop on Main Street served up a hot cup of coffee on cold New England days. Liz walked many a day down the walkways and roads surrounded by buildings built long ago. She laid her eyes on the Carroll Building built in 1887, and the Norwich Town Hall built in 1870, in fact the very ancestors she’d come looking for walked the same path as she and saw the same landmarks.

She closed the office door and tended to the fire incased in a brick mantle and mused at the size of it. It took up the entire wall leaving no room for cozy corners. She made the best of it and circled her sofa and chairs facing the fire. She’d sleep right there on the sofa to keep warm until the power resumed. She wouldn’t have minded a cup of hot tea but she was feeling tired and the idea of heating the water by fire seemed too much for her to do at the time so she settled for brandy. She never really felt lonely with all her dead ancestors occupying her time but situations like this when the power was out she’d allow herself to hope that soon someone from Virginia would come visit. She sipped her brandy and eventually fell off to sleep.

The storm continued through the night and the house fell silent except for the howling wind and rain outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the fierce fire she built. Adjacent to the room, the home office door was closed to keep the warmth in the main room she occupied. A hum of soft musical tones lingered in the background of the office.  The tree of many names was shadowed by darkness. Close to the base of the tree Isabella’s name was bright. The humming continued as the office door slowly opened and as Liz laid on the sofa covered with her favorite throw a woman wearing a black dress that hung to her ankles sat in the chair next to her. Her hair was pulled back in a neat bun, her face was aged but revealed a beauty that once was, and her adoring eyes rested on Liz.

Liz turned to her side and opened her eyes. She felt the unease and looked to the empty chair, she had an overwhelming sense she wasn’t alone. She closed her eyes and mumbled, Go back to sleep. She hummed a tune she hadn’t heard before and assumed she’d made it up in her brandy induced fog, then fell fast asleep. Isabella rose from the chair and hummed the same tune until her spirit reached her name on the handpainted family tree in the tiny home office where Liz called for truth about her ancestors.

Dare to share yours!

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