This week I’m thrilled to feature a guest post on writing by friend and fellow author, Diana Kirk. She is the author of Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy. Her smart, thought-provoking essays can be found in Nailed, Thought Catalog, and Five 2 One Lit Mag. She lives on the coast of Oregon with her husband and three boys where she trades real estate and stories at tiny coffee shops.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Finishing. The word itself and the act itself. To finish means you need to start and in between you need to work hard and persevere. Persevere is a word I’m thinking of tattooing on my wrist, but I’m also considering simply writing “Finished.”
Because I love projects that are finished projects. The feeling of completion is so satisfying to me that if it’s a success almost doesn’t matter. Every trip I’ve taken abroad has been a project, every business I’ve started, a project, my marriage, my kids, my writing…all projects with outcomes. Some obviously not so definable as raising a human and whether they are successful. I think if my kids are confident and laugh at themselves heartily, they will be successful adults. But when are you finished? I don’t know. I’m in the work hard and persevere section of parenting these days.
Children’s writer Margaret Dilloway shared a post this week on Facebook stating Meyers Briggs personality tests are bunk. My letters describe me to perfection. An ENTP is The Visionary, extraverted intuition with introverted thinking.
“ENTPs are fluent conversationalists, mentally quick, and enjoy verbal sparring with others. They love to debate issues, and may even switch sides sometimes just for the love of the debate. When they express their underlying principles, however, they may feel awkward and speak abruptly and intensely.”
The article might be correct about Meyers Briggs being bunk because The Visionary is not known for finishing. The Visionary is known for having ideas. Triangulating information into possibilities. My friends and family have all received these late-night texts from me…
“We should buy a sailboat to share. We’ll sail to the tip of Baja, you sail back.”
I can only imagine my cousin sitting on her couch, watching a vampire show and rolling her eyes at my weird texts rolling through.
Visionaries are not known for finishing. They’re delegators, they’re farmers planting their ideas in the minds of different people to see if they’ll sprout up or become something interesting. They’re not ones to finish a thing.
I have a lot more ideas than I actually follow through on. I guess you’d say that’s not finishing. I once started a business grey importing RVs to Canada. I only did it once then bailed from stress. I had a knitting business, I used to sell soup at campgrounds to American Snowbirds in Mexico, I’ve brokered real estate deals for percentages, pitched movie scripts to agents, tour guided through Detroit. I simply like doing stuff, trying to do stuff. Finding the interesting quadrants in life.
Which is why I’ve been thinking about the word Finished this week. The more I look at books from an author standpoint, after formatting a manuscript, editing, book covers, distribution, publicity…I see that really, a book Is a lot about finishing. It’s not always about the best writing, or the best cover or the best anything. It’s about finishing a damn project from inception to completion.
This entire idea came to me from a question posted on a writer’s forum I follow. A woman asked the question about writing her mother or her family in a memoir. How would they take it? How do writers do this? I wanted to answer her but I just couldn’t because what I’ve seen is that if you worry so early on in your project, whatever it is, if you worry about your friends and family, you’ll never finish a thing. Because after you write that beautiful piece you’re so proud of, you’ll submit it to reviewers and one of them will take offense. Then your editors will argue about the validity of a different part. Whether it should be put in your book. Then one of your reviewers for this golden book will not understand your book. They’ll tell you to rewrite sections you don’t want to re-write. Then publicists will take your finished book and twist it into something you don’t feel deep in your guts. But maybe you actually are the person they’re pitching. You tell yourself it’s just a part of who you are. They’ll sell you as something more interesting than you feel. Then strangers will read your book and some of them will not understand your chapter two. They’ll tweet about it and you’ll just sit there with a vodka tonic…not really worrying about your mom anymore. By the end, you’ll just need a mom.
So maybe “Finished” is a heavily undervalued and yet beautiful word. I’m obviously not finished with life so perhaps tattooing it onto my wrist isn’t the best idea but maybe…it is. Because the word isn’t weighed down with a numerical scale of success, it isn’t populated on Twitter, it doesn’t reek with anxiety. If you did the stuffs and you never gave up, and there’s a set moment in time of finishing, then you’ve succeeded. Maybe finished means success. Maybe it should be the sexiest word ever. If anything, it’s definitely a check mark in that life resume.
I finished a book.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017
Just a few more days until the release of Secrets & Shadows! If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do it here.
Today I want to introduce three more of the wonderful authors whose books are included in this young adult box set: USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin D. Van Risseghem, International Bestselling Author Sophie Davis, and International Bestselling Author Siobhan Davis. Check out their books and give them a follow!
Kristin D. Van Risseghem
USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and she probably has way too many of both.
In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold! Her book, Swords & Stilettos, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Zoe Jabril needs to devise a kick-ass plan to save the world ASAP. Otherwise, Armageddon starts the day she turns eighteen—and if that happens, everything is going to hell. Literally.
She could be any other 17-year-old attending parties and checking out cute guys–except she discovers her best friend is a Guardian Angel and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, both sent to protect her from the demons who want her dead.
Now Zoe has to deal with growing feelings toward the Nephilim, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. And she’s under constant attack from Demons, trying to stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite Angels, Nephilim, Fairies, and Werewolves to battle evil. Then she has to control newly found talents if she’s to prevent the devil from escaping Hell.
Connect with Kristin on her website, www.kristinvanrisseghem.com.
“Sophie Davis” is the pseudonym for two best friends, roommates, and now writing partners. The pair met at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in 2005 and instantly bonded over their love of great books and bad horror movies. After they graduated, when one longed for the ability to read minds so she wouldn’t have to study for the bar exam, a Saga was born. When the Talented Saga went on to be an internationally bestselling series, the girls decided to throw caution to the wind and follow their shared life-long dream of being writers.
The duo currently lives in Washington, D.C. with a poodle and a rescued mutt. The pups are their faithful companions–with frequent social media appearances–as the girls navigate the world of Indie Publishing. Their book, Talented, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Block it out.
Impossible for Talia Lyons. When you’re a Mind Manipulator, it’s hard enough to block the thoughts of others, let alone your own.
Block it out.
The pounding, siren-ready world Talia inhabits as she trains with her fellow Hunters. The physical demands. The emotional toil.
Block it out.
The secrets that Talia’s boyfriend is hiding. Talia’s unbidden feelings of frustration and annoyance toward her teammate, the Casanova of the compound. The wondering why she cares what he thinks.
Block him out.
Ian Crane. The man behind the bloodshed marring Talia’s memories of her murdered parents. The man she’s determined to kill.
Block it all out. Focus.
Talented is an emotional raw, Dystopian Romance about the life of a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, and what happens when a heart is torn between love and rage.
Connect with them on their website, www.sophiedavisbooks.com.
Siobhan Davis writes emotionally intense young adult fiction with swoon-worthy romance, complex characters, and tons of unexpected plot twists and turns that will have you flipping the pages beyond bedtime! She is the author of the Amazon bestselling True Calling and Saven series.
Siobhan’s family will tell you she’s a little bit obsessive when it comes to reading and writing, and they aren’t wrong. She can rarely be found without her trusty Kindle, a paperback book, or her laptop somewhere close at hand.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Siobhan forged a successful corporate career in human resource management.
She resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons. Her book, Saven Deception, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
The truth doesn’t always set you free.
I’ve fallen hard for an alien, but he’s harboring secrets. Massive secrets that threaten the very essence of humanity. How can I give him my heart when his race plans on taking my future?
Sadie Owens has been slowly dying inside. Bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day. Trapped in a life she hates, she relies on only one person–herself.
Despised by her family and betrayed by an unscrupulous government, Sadie dreams of a different life. When she is chosen to participate in the government’s new social experiment, she is ecstatic at the prospect of spending six months in Thalassic City, the shiny new city under the sea.
Immediately drawn to Logan Chandler, Sadie is captivated by the beautiful boy with the ocean-blue eyes. Logan seems to embody everything that has been forbidden, but he isn’t all he appears to be.
Confused over Logan’s true intentions and concerned with best friend Jenna starts transforming in front of her eyes, Sadie partners with newcomer Jarod in a bid to uncover the government’s real agenda. The truth is more shocking than anything she could ever have imagined.
When Sadie finally understands why the Saven walk among us, will it be too late to save her heart and the human race?
Connect with Siobhan on her website, siobhandavis.co.uk.
Thanks for reading!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016
I’m continuing the countdown to the release of Secrets & Shadows, coming November 30. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can do it here. Today I want to introduce three more of the amazing authors whose books are included in this young adult box set: New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Susan Stec, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Laxmi Hariharan, and International Bestselling Author Kelly St. Clare. Check out their books and give them a follow!
From driving a food wagon onto construction sites during her hippie days (peace, love, and a sparkling marijuana-induced smile) to working as an investment banker, Susan Stec finally found her niche, writing what she loves to read: fantasy and horror. She lives with her husband (who is perfectly normal) and three King Charles spaniels (also normal) on 50 acres of woods, fields, and streams in upper Michigan. Her book about fairies, The Other F Word, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Even with wings, you can’t fly away from fate.
What would you do if you found out everything you’ve ever known was a lie?Amidst bullying, homework, and friends being injured, the fairy, Dekram, and her friends discover something strange going on with their classmates. On the advice of Dekram’s father, they begin to investigate. When they find students sneaking into the human world, it’s obvious there’s more to the story than they realized.
Drugs. Destiny. Destruction. Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is for certain: Dekram’s whole life is about to change.
Laxmi Hariharan is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Her stories intersect paranormal action-romance with mythology and are set in a near dystopian future. Her book, Chosen, the second book in the Many Lives Prequel Series, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.Here’s a description of the book:
His family is being held for ransom by a deadly mastermind.
Vik never should have left his family, but when his father brings his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same.Vik thinks things will be better now that he’s gone. He’s met the love of his life, his future looks bright, and then everything is shattered.
Now, his family’s life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them.
Kelly St. Clare
When Kelley St. Clare is not reading or writing, she is lost in her latest reverie. She can, quite literally, drift past a car accident while in the midst of her day dreams, despite the various police sirens and chaos.
Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unraveling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: to write stories she would want to read.
A New Zealander in origin and in heart, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband, a great group of friends, and some huntsman spiders who love to come inside when it rains. Their love is not returned.
Her book, The Retreat, is included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Earth was ruined. Humankind destroyed. And it’s old news.
Romy’s life is simple–for a genetically enhanced space soldier: pick up space junk with her four friends, and stave off the invaders fixated on stealing Planet Earth.
It isn’t much. But it’s temporary–only another 850 years to go, give or take. Then the 4000 space soldiers can reinhabit their beloved homeland once more.
When her crew tangles with a gulp-worthy alien mothership, Romy’s return to Earth is brought forwards at hurtling pace. And what she finds on the ground defies everything she’s been told.
Strength comes from the unlikeliest of quarters.
As does leadership.
…As does betrayal.
Connect with Kelly on her website: www.kellystclare.com.
Thanks for reading!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016
Secrets & Shadows launches November 30! Today I want to introduce you to three of the amazing authors whose books are included in this box set: USA Today Bestselling Author DelSheree Gladden, USA Today Bestselling Author Angela Fristoe, and International Bestselling Author Rhonda Sermon. Check out their work, give them a follow, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Secrets & Shadows!
Native to New Mexico, DelSheree Gladden and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing, and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist. DelSheree has several bestselling young adult series, including Invisible, which was part of the USA Today Bestselling box set, Pandora. The Date Shark Series is her first contemporary romance series, and the first book in her upcoming new adult series, The Ghost Host, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Everyone thinks Echo Simmons is crazy, but being The Ghost Host isn’t just a YouTube hoax like people think. It’s the only way to control the ghosts haunting her…at least until the FBI shows up asking questions.
The first eighteen years of Echo Simmons’ life have been less than ideal. On more than one occasion her parents have considered committing her. They don’t believe she sees ghosts or that they harass her on a daily basis. So when a rogue ghost begins tormenting her, they’re the last people she’s going to tell. Her best friends Holden and Zara are doing their best to help, but ghost attacks are only the beginning of Echo’s problems.
Handling the ghosts by giving them a voice on YouTube through her webshow has been her saving grace—even if her parents think it’s all a hoax—but that gets a little complicated when the ghost of Madeline Crew reveals a little too much about her previous life and the FBI shows up at her door wanting to know how she gained access to long-buried government secrets.
It just keeps getting worse from there. Madeline’s message to her great grandson sparks a strange connection between Echo and Malachi, which leads to Georgia, secrets, mistakes, love, lies, and life changing revelations.
Connect with DelSheree on her website, DelShereeGladden.com.
Angela grew up in Alberta, Canada. She dreamed of becoming the next Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall, until she realized she wasn’t all that keen on the outdoors or animals. Instead, she went into education and focused on elementary education and helping struggling readers. Her passion for writing grew gradually after being ignited by The Hunger Game and Twilight crazes. Angela lives on Vancouver Island with her family, where she is pursuing her Masters degree while continuing to write and serve as an instructional coach. Her award-winning book Waken, book one in the Woods of Everod series, will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Confronting the truth could kill her.
After years of abuse and eventual abandonment, Janie wants to forget her parents ever existed. Moving to her mom’s hometown of Everod doesn’t make that easy. Then she meets Tristan. The emotions he ignites within her are almost enough to make her ignore all of the weird things he says. Almost enough to ignore the way the entire town seems ready to pounce on her as if she were fresh meat.
Almost, though, isn’t enough when Janie finally discovers what the town is hiding. The people of Everod have been waiting for Janie and if she hopes to survive, she’ll need to confront the truth of who and what she really is.
Connect with Angela on her website, AngelaFristoe.com.
Rhonda Sermon lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband and two children. Her debut young adult urban fantasy novel The Midnight Society was a finalist in the Young Adult category and overall runner up in the The Strongest Start 2012 Contest hosted by TheNextBigWriter.com.
Rhonda was determined to write a book which teens and their parents would all enjoy reading. A book filled with adventure, magic and history. Not only does Rhonda’s book offer abundant action and suspense, but it also tackles the themes of family, friendships, first love, betrayal, sacrifice, loyalty, the devastation of war, fighting for the greater good, and promises to leave readers thinking hard about what truly matters in life. Rhonda has created believable and engaging characters. There are interesting and unexpected plot twists from beginning to end. Nothing and no one is as they seem.
On the good days, she adores writing, on the challenging days, it’s still awesome. Her two ragdoll cats can often be found helpfully walking over her keyboard, chasing her mouse or generally complaining loudly about the lack of priority their needs are being given.
The Midnight Society was originally released as Timesurfers, and will be included in the Secrets & Shadows box set.
Here’s a description of the book:
Her life is a carefully manufactured lie. It’s kept her safe and hidden until now. Witness protection has a protocol for every threat – except magic.
Fifteen-year-old Cate is seeing things. A ridiculously charismatic boy just appeared out of thin air, disarmed a bomb at a busy bus stop and then vanished again. Everyone around her was oblivious because they were frozen like statues the entire time.
Cate has stumbled into an invisible war in a realm filled with dark magic and time travel. She is now being stalked by not one, but two dangerous wizards.
When her brother disappears, a terrified Cate is forced into the brutal world where she must risk her life to search for him. Can she overcome the devastating and potentially deadly betrayal to find him?
Connect with Rhonda on her website, www.RhondaSermon.com.
Thanks for reading!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2016
I was introduced to Mike Nettleton by Carolyn Rose, who shared her ghost story earlier this fall. When I heard he too had a spooky tale to share, I asked him if I could feature him on the blog. Check it out–it’s a great story.
Mike is the author of The Shotgun Kiss and co-author with Carolyn Rose of Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor, Deception at Devil’s Harbor, The Hard Karma Shuffle and The Crushed Velvet Miasma. He and Carolyn also collaborated on a collection of short stories called Sucker Punches. More on these books and what he’s up to lately on the website www.deadlyduomysteries.com
Mike grew up in Bandon and Grants Pass, Oregon. A stint at a KSOR, a college radio station in Ashland(The big SORE, flinging 5 watts from the top of the science building), led to a multi-state radio odyssey with on-air gigs in Oregon, California, and New Mexico under the air name Mike Phillips. In 1989 he returned to the Northwest and in 1994 joined KEX Radio in Portland where he hosted news and talk shows. Retired since 2011, his hobbies are golf, pool, Texas hold-em poker, and acting and doing tech work in community theater.
The Shotgun Kiss
Neal Egan, former police detective turned golf hustler, can’t escape from the gravitational pull of his beautiful ex-wife Desiree Diaz, the daughter of one of New Mexico’s most prominent men. When Dez becomes the prime suspect in the brutal shotgun slaying of her current lover, Neal is drawn into an investigation that promises to end badly.
Neal faces crazed and violent bikers, the Mexican mafia, and a sleazy television host exploiting the case to jack his ratings. On top of that, an angry golfer who has discovered Neal’s pedigree threatens to blow the whistle and destroy his primary source of income.
With the help of his friends—a roly-poly lothario private investigator, an eccentric audio expert and information broker, and a gifted computer hacker—Neal follows a trail that leads into the dark world of methamphetamine labs and internet pornography. When he discovers the dirty secret behind the homicide and confronts a crazed killer, Neal nearly loses his life, his sanity, and the love of a woman who could be his salvation.
(Originally published as Shotgun Start, 2011. Revised and re-released, 2013)
Available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo.
In the mid-eighties, I took a break from on-air gigs and partnered with Rick Huff, a longtime friend, in an audio production and copywriting business. Initially, we operated out of the studio of KHFM, a classical station in Albuquerque housed in an old stucco building in a residential neighborhood. In exchange for free rent on the studio, we handled their commercial and promotional production needs. This made it necessary, on a regular basis, to conduct our outside business evenings and even late at night and into the wee hours.
One morning about 3AM, having procrastinated our way into panic mode over an upcoming deadline, we sat, swilling cold coffee and trying to invent a creative way to sell furniture, cars or fast food. I disremember which. We’d been bouncing ideas back and forth, none of which sounded promising. Rick sat at his desk facing the door to the office. I was sprawled across the client chair facing him.
“So what if we had a singing and tap-dancing avocado to sell the guacamole burger,” I said, (Or words to that effect, depending on what we were trying to flog). Rick’s face went ashen, his eyes bulged out of his forehead and his mouth dropped open. He pointed at me, but no words came out of his mouth.
“Hey, it’s not that stupid of an idea.” I protested.
“M…M…Mike, turn around. “She…she…she’s right behind you.”
I felt ice crawl up my backbone and into my neck. Swiveling the chair, I caught a glimpse of something: dark cloth; flesh tones; long flowing hair; flitting away down the hallway. Rick rose from his chair and careened after whatever it was. As if magnetically drawn to him, I followed. Strangely, I felt no fear. Whatever it was didn’t radiate threat.
When we arrived in the lobby, we saw her standing near the glass door, hovering an inch or two above the floor. Middle-aged, petite and Hispanic, with flashing eyes and long dark tresses, she wore a dark gauzy dress and a multi-layered lacy top. Her lips drew back in a sly smile and in the wink of an eye, stepped through the solid wall of the building as if it was made of smoke. We bustled outside, but didn’t see or hear any trace of her.
Later, when we’d worked up the nerve to tell others who worked in the building what we’d seen, we found some of the old-timers had also spotted the apparition, usually late at night. Since the building wasn’t old enough to account for the kind of clothing she wore (it definitely felt like 19th or even 18th century garb) we theorized that another house or ranch had once stood on that site and she returned regularly to check up on the current status of the property.
Although we continued to brainstorm well after midnight, we never caught another glimpse of our female Fantasma of the Madrugada (ghost of the early morning).
Thanks for sharing your story, Mike!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
At a recent book festival, I had the pleasure of sharing an author table with Carolyn J. Rose, a mystery writer living near Portland. Not only is Carolyn hilarious, she is a fellow Firefly fan and Wildcat, and she likes ghost stories. When she told me about her own encounter with the supernatural, I begged her to write a guest post for my blog. If you like mysteries, I highly recommend her Subbing isn’t for Sissies series. I’m currently reading No Substitute for Murder, which is about a substitute teacher who finds a body in a classroom. Carolyn’s writing is wonderful, and I absolutely love her sense of humor.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the popular Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, No Substitute for Maturity, and No Substitute for Myth), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries (Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and The Devil’s Tombstone). Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and projects written with her husband, Mike Nettleton (The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor, Deception at Devil’s Harbor, and the short story collection Sucker Punches).
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She’s now a substitute teacher in Vancouver, Washington, and her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking.
I grew up in the Catskill Mountains in a tiny community my mother referred to as a hamlet. Bearsville is a mile or so from Woodstock, and a mile or so from what we called “forever wild” lands preserved by the state. That part of New York is famous for the tales crafted by Washington Irving, and my grandparents shared them all with me—the story of Rip Van Winkle and those chilling events in Sleepy Hollow. I had no trouble believing thunder echoing from the mountains was the sound of Henry Hudson and his crew bowling. I was certain those ancient hills were populated by all manner of ghosts.
But I never saw a wisp of a spirit. Never heard a whisper from a wraith. Never detected the swish of a ghostly garment.
Until I joined VISTA and moved to Arkansas in the early 1970s.
During my second year in service, another volunteer and I rented an old house in Benton, a small city south of Little Rock. The house sat on a hillside beyond the home of the owners, a family that raised rodeo stock—goats, steers, and several bulls including a mammoth Brahma that once stuck its head through the window screen and into the living room. The house had three bedrooms, two along a short hallway, and one tacked onto the rear that could be reached from the outside, through the kitchen, or from the bedroom I used. That third room was narrow and without heat, so we used it only for storage.
Someone else, however, apparently used it for more than that.
More than once I woke in the night to see a strip of light at the base of the door. The first time that happened, I assumed my roommate had gone into the room for something and left the light on. I got out of bed, opened the door, and turned off the light. The second time I made the same assumption. After the third incident, I asked her what she’d been looking for in the back room late at night.
When she denied being in the room for days, I checked the windows and outside door. All locked. I checked them again before I went to bed. Still locked. Later, when I woke to find the light on, I armed myself with a letter opener and checked again. Still locked. And no evidence anyone had broken in.
The next day I stacked boxes in front of the outside door, moved my dresser to block the door from my bedroom, and leaned a broom against the locked kitchen door. I woke up deep in the night to find the light on. I listened hard, but heard no sounds of an intruder. I considered the possibility of an electrical malfunction, then ruled it out because the light never came on during the daytime or evening. That left a possibility that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I pulled the sheet over my head and eventually fell asleep again.
A few days later I came home in the afternoon to take a bath before heading to a community meeting. (It was summer with triple-digit humidity matching triple-digit temperatures. Darn few places had air conditioning, so we made liberal use of baths and showers.) While I was soaping up, I heard footsteps pass in the hallway. I called out to my roommate. No answer. The footsteps returned, coming the other way. I called again as they passed the door. No answer. I splashed off the soap, threw on my clothes, armed myself with a toilet brush, and burst forth. I saw no one. I found the outside doors all locked.
The next day the dirt disappeared. My roommate—more of a homemaker than I was—had swept the kitchen but, while searching for the dustpan, realized she was late for an appointment. She leaned the broom against the wall and hurried out. When she returned, the broom was back where we normally kept it, and the pile of dirt was gone.
Not long afterward, my roommate woke from a nap and found a woman standing nearby—a woman wearing a sunbonnet, a floor-length dress, and an apron. A few days later, I caught my first glimpse. She seemed to prefer to materialize in the kitchen in the early morning or late afternoon. Sometimes she appeared as little more than a faint image, like one retained after you stare hard at something and close your eyes. Other times the image was sharper.
We asked the owners of the house if they knew they had a ghost. They exchanged sheepish glances and admitted they’d heard stories about the house before they bought it and had it moved to their property. They hadn’t realized the ghost would come along.
Since then I’ve seen the Gurdon Light, and experienced a moving cold spot in a house in Eugene. If there’s a haunted tour in a city Mike and I are visiting, we try to work it into the schedule—Savannah was especially eerie. One sultry July night, we walked by the light of the moon through the Gettysburg National Cemetery on the anniversary of the Civil War battle. So far I haven’t caught a glimpse of another ghost, but I’ve written several onto the pages of Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and The Devil’s Tombstone, a trilogy of mysteries set in the Catskills.
Thanks Carolyn! You can connect with Carolyn via her author page on Facebook, and don’t forget to check out her blog and her website, DeadlyDuoMysteries.com!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015
Today I’m thrilled to introduce Sheri Levy, author of Seven Days to Goodbye. Sheri has a wonderfully spooky post to share with you all.
After dropping out of college to marry her high school sweetheart, Sheri returned to school at night, worked as an aide with mentally handicapped children during the day, and earned three teaching credentials. When her two children entered school, Sheri taught Special Ed for sixteen years, and then a Family Learning Program. After retiring, she began writing. Her first magazine article, Heaven Scent, published in the ClubHouse Magazine, gave her the confidence to write her YA novel, Seven Days to Goodbye. Sheri continues to tutor students once a week, enjoys time with her two brilliant grand boys, and walks and trains her two Australian Shepherds. Her other favorite activities are swishing her toes in a sandy beach, enjoying music, movies, reading, and chocolate chip ice cream.
At the young age of seven and nine, my brother, Scott, and I loved the adventure of sneaking into each other’s bedroom when we were supposed to be sleeping. My room was in the corner of an L shaped hallway and directly to the right was his bedroom. Straight ahead led to our parents’ bedroom and in the middle of the hallway was a bathroom with a wide, square window which let the moon act as a night light and add weird shadows.
If the television conversation blared back to our rooms, we knew our parents were in the den. The only way they could check if we were playing was to walk through Scott’s room, or through the kitchen and the living room and enter the L shaped hallway.
We’d giggle about being so clever, and then get real quiet, and listen for Dad’s voice through Scott’s door, “I hope you’re in bed.” Scotty would rush back, and slide under his covers as Dad opened the door, pretending to be asleep.
One night we got distracted with whatever game we were playing. Light footsteps echoed in the hallway and we panicked. Dad was going to catch us out of bed. Our parents never spanked us, but being in trouble made us feel bad. Scott shoved me. “You look!”
I shook my head and said, “No! You go.”
He folded his arms across his stomach and dug his chin into his chest. “You’re the oldest. You go.”
While only moving our lips, we argued about who was going to check. We crept closer to the open door. I’d duck to the side and push him. Neither one of us wanted to peek into the hallway.
Being the one who usually gave in, I stepped an inch at a time toward the opening. I took a deep breath, slinked to the middle of the door, and lifted my head. A full moon shined through the bathroom window, casting an eerie light on a gigantic figure standing in front of the bathroom. His shoulders touched each of the walls, and his head almost banged the ceiling. This monster didn’t move or say a thing.
I let out a blood curdling scream and froze. I trembled and couldn’t stop shrieking. Tears slid down my cheeks.
In seconds, his arms wrapped around my body, holding me in a firm hug, and said over and over, “Sheri, it’s me. It’s Dad! Sheri, look at me. You’re safe!”
I hyperventilated. I gulped air, and cried some more.
Minutes seemed like hours until I stopped shaking and could breathe.
My brother had crawled under the bed.
That wasn’t the last time we snuck back and forth, but it was the last time Dad ever snuck into the hallway.
Seven Days to Goodbye
What do you get when you mix together a week on Edisto Island with a puppy raiser and her best friend connecting to guys for the first time, protecting a loggerhead turtle’s nest, finding her service dog relating to a young boy with autism, and agonizing over what comes next. You get the ingredients for Seven Days to Goodbye.
More information on Sheri’s stories can be seen on her website, www.sherislevy.com, and on her author page at Barking Rain Press.
Check out the beautiful cover for her book and read an excerpt!
Here is an excerpt from Trina’s first meeting on the beach with a young boy, Logan, who has autism:
I called to Logan.
He did a one-sided skip toward me.
“Do you want to practice calling Sydney?”
He nodded and his eyes rose for a moment.
Logan clapped and bounced.
I patted his shoulder and said, “Stand. Don’t move. Then Sydney can listen.”
After a couple more hops, his hands grabbed his shorts and squeezed. He gulped short breaths of air and then shouted, “Syd-ney.”
He started to clap and then put his hands back on his shorts and said, “Come.”
Sydney raced to Logan.
I said, “Good boy, Sydney.”
Logan’s eyes caught mine before he bowed his head.
I finished saying, “Logan, you did great.”
Logan held a treat in front of Syd’s face. “Good doggie. Good Syd-ney.”
I tingled inside. This was a perfect example of Sydney’s talent. I stretched taller, seeing the happiness in Logan’s face. “Can I hug you, Logan?”
Thanks for joining me today, Sheri!
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015