Happy Halloween-My Space Ship Experience

Posted by Mary Ricksen | 12:00 AM | 17 comments »


    It was a bright, moon filled,  night. My younger sister followed me through the cherry trees in South Hero, Vermont, on Keeler's Bay. She followed me everywhere, luckily she knew enough to not tattle on little every thing I did. "You talk, you walk, home." I'd told her several times. But this night was different.
     The shadows  were dark as we passed the empty camps. Nearly the end of a summer on Lake , we never expected any thing to scare us, let alone stun the entire length of Grand Isle.
Nested between the shores of New York and Vermont, lay the place we spent most of our childhoods in summer.  
     "Hurry up, JoAnn, mom and dad, are gonna kill me because you stayed out so late." I urged her to run.
    "No they  won't," she grinned. "I'll pretend I fell down and you had to take care of me until I felt well enough to walk." She gestured to her leg, where she'd scraped herself on a pricker bush of some kind. "All it takes is a little blood. They'll believe me, you know how Dad can't stand the sight of it, he'll pass right out."
     "Stop that you little twerp. You'll get an infection and it will be all my fault!" I smacked her hand as she tried to make the small cut bleed again, as we finally left the orchard.
     Suddenly, she stopped. Her hand in front of her, she pointed in the direction of the camp we'd rented for three months. Her mouth dropped and she stuttered. "Lu, lu, look at that!" She said.
     I glanced where she pointed. I couldn't believe my eyes. Over half of Keeler's Bay was covered by a strange sight. Owners and renters on the shore were outside and looking up at the sky.
Many of my relatives stood and stared among them.
     "Holy shit," I yelled. "What the heck is that?" I couldn't believe my eyes, up above the Bay and hovering over the camps was a ship. It was huge. Lights blinked all around the outside of it. "Hurry up, everyone's outside and staring up at it. It's a space ship." We ran as fast as we could.
     For some reason we weren't scared, not at all. Instead we raced to the steps of our rental cabin and hollered for our parents. My sister screeched. "Mom, Dad, everybody come out, there's a UFO hovering over us."
     "Yeah right, " our older brother used his, your stupid voice.
     "No look, I swear the whole Isle is almost covered by it. Everyone is out here, listen." I insisted.
     "There's a lot of voices out there Joe, I think we should see what's happening." My mother wiped her hands on a dish towel and headed out the door. My father right behind her.
     "Oh my God, it is a space ship." My mom, Ruth, had been looking for Aliens to abduct her ever since I can remember. She'd stand on the lawn and speak to the heavens. "Come and get me." She pleaded. I still don't get her logic, to this day. But, so far no one had taken her.

     The lights flashed in brighter and the sound of something revving up filled the air. Dozens of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, relatives of my mother, and neighbors all talked at once. "I can't believe it." Reverberated among the dozens of people who now stared at the huge structure.
     I could see what looked like metal pieces crossing under the air ship. It must have been the size of a football field. Gigantic! Everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over the sight. All of a sudden the sound of it's engines grew to a frightening pitch. We couldn't hear each other talking. The lights lit with a renewed speed until they circled the outside of the craft in a continuous flash of light. Then before I knew it, the vessel shot across the shy like a gun shot. So fast one couldn't follow it with your eyes, so bright and loud, you didn't want to. But, couldn't stop. It hung in the sky at a distance for a moment, then shot off into a cloud gone from sight.


     The sudden silence and return of the night was even more pronounced, now that the glowing thing had disappeared in the distance.
     We read about it in the local paper the next day. There were tons of sightings all over the area, from New York, to Vermont, people talked about it. For years to come we all remembered that night, and talked about the ship from the stars that no one could explain. Of course, the event was referred to as a mass hysteria thing. The official word was there was no space ship sighted. None of the explanations the authorities gave ever convinced any of us who were there that night.
     And though she has since stood out on the front lawn and begged the Aliens to come and get her, no one ever took my mother on their space ship. But, if you ask her to this day, she'd be the first to tell you she's still waiting.



Here are a few pictures from my vacation in Italy this summer. We spent a week in Treviso, a small city near Venice. They had the best cappuccinos ever! Here is a view along a section of the old city walls.

Below is the Porta San Tomaso, one of the gateways through the walls of Treviso. There’s a funny story about this gate, which was built in the 16th Century. It is named after St. Thomas Becket and should have a statue of him, but the designer’s name was Paolo, so he put a statue of St. Paul on the gate instead!

We also visited the cathedral in Treviso. It was spooky in the crypt! They have a museum with artifacts going back to Roman times. I love old buildings and ancient history, so I was in heaven there.

We took the train into Venice for a day. I wish I had taken better notes, but I think this is on the Grand Canal:

And so is this:

 Here is one of the many bridges over the smaller canals connecting the islands that make up the city:

And this is the Doge’s Palace. I would have liked to visit it, but the lines were way too long! I wonder if a winter visit would mean shorter lines…? (I’m the one in the red shirt with my back to the camera.)


 What an amazing place Venice is!! I hope to return some day.

None of this has anything to do with my new novella, A Lady's Lesson in Seduction, but I'm giving away a free download for either Nook or Kindle to someone who comments on this blog.

Once a notorious rake, Camden Folk, Marquis of Warbury, is now consumed by desire for only one woman: beautiful young widow Frances Burdett. And the Yuletide festivities at his country estate present the perfect opportunity for seduction…
 After her brief and unsatisfying marriage, Frances Burdett swore never to become tied to another man.  Then a passionate kiss under the mistletoe reawakens longings she thought buried forever. But can she give in to the pleasures of the body with a rogue like Cam—without losing her heart?

In keeping with the posts about Halloween and Autumn, I'm sharing a few things about The Stone Mountain Tour of Southern Ghosts. Stone Mountain National Park in Stone Mountain, Georgia hosts a story-telling tour for Halloween. http://artstation.org/tosg/southernghosts.htm

Storytellers come to share their stories and guides make sure visitors don't miss a story or get lost. I serve as a guide. This is not my best look, but it's my costume.  Notice the fall color beginning to paint the trees.

The 3 ladies are part of the tour. The 2 ladies in yellow tell stories. The other is a guide. The young man tells stories and is as cute in person as he looks, his accent is delightfully southern, too. 

The barn area is dark, so I had to lighten the guitar playing storyteller, also very Southern. Tonight threatens to make me need a cape. More photos will follow here and on other blogs. Fall means I get to play with the ghosts of Stone Mountain.  How cool is that?

An excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life,  Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 EPIC eBook Award Finalist:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” 
~ Anne Frank
(Image by my mother, Pat Churchman. If you look closely you can see my daughter Elise as a child and her little friend, James, peeking our from behind the trees.)
“A cold autumn wind blew as my younger daughter, Elise, and I scurried about the garden in the last of the light to gather in our treasures. She heaped great orange Cinderella pumpkins into the wheelbarrow and picked the rest of her pink and blue Indian corn. Beams of sun touched the crimson cockscomb flowers just coming into full bloom, an antiquated variety that I seeded late and coaxed through our wet summer. (Cinderella Pumpkins, image by Elise taken this fall)
The vibrant color of the plumes stood out against the grayish black clouds like a king’s velvet robes. This wealth will quickly dwindle if the temperatures dip too low tonight. The weather is quite cool here today. Forecasters are calling for the chance of frost tonight, but only if the gray blanket covering the sky clears and bright cold stars come out. Then maybe Jack Frost’s chill breath will silver the hoary earth.
I must get myself to the garden and pick the last of the orange persimmon tomatoes–truly the most luscious variety in the world–and the heirloom lima beans, called Christmas limas. These beans are mottled a lovely wine color and very tasty. Perhaps I can get our dog, Mia, to help me. But I doubt it. She takes no interest in vacuuming or dusting either, just wants to know when its time to eat.
I have this wild hope in the back of my mind that maybe I will wake up one day and find the house ordered and gleaming, all put to rights while I slept. I suspect this delusion comes from my having read The Elves and the Shoemaker too often, and other fairy tales. I have also seen too many Disney movies.”
(Colorful maple tree near green rye field on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley, image by Elise)
***Shenandoah Watercolors is available from Amazon in kindle and now paperback with lovely photographs taken by my family.
***For a seed link to the Christmas Pole Lima Beans click HERE.
***For a seed link to Cinderella Pumpkins click HERE
***For a seed link to my favorite Orange Persimmon tomatoes click HERE.
After your initial purchase you can save the seed.

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 9:45 AM | 9 comments »

Good morning everyone,
As you know, I like to inform my friends and fellow writers about new writing opportunities, and today is no different. I have recently heard about a new program that Amazon Kindle is promoting. It's called Kindle Serials. http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=5044445011
This is an exciting new venture for them, and what happens is that your book is purchased by the reader for $1.99 and they get the first installment immediately, followed by the next installment either, a week, two weeks, or a month later. Not a hundred percent sure, but then I believe the book will be included in their regular program, at a higher price, which means double promo and double opportunities.
Sound interesting? I believe they are looking for submissions, so go to their guidelines and check it on out!
Now, I believe that Stephen King did this once, and some other well known author too, but I'm not sure why people would not just want the entire book to read at their own time and enjoyment. But, I believe the reader thinks they are getting it as soon as the writer's ink is dry, so that may hold some appeal, and seem more intimate that way. I, for one, would like my book already written because I'd be afraid that I'd freeze up knowing I had to have the next installment done the following week. But I'm a pantser, so that would be a scary thing.
What do you all think?
Ready to give it a try?

The First Signs of Winter

Posted by Judy | 9:18 AM | 14 comments »

The First Signs of Winter
As some of you may know, I’ve recently moved from Florida to Boise, Idaho. I looked forward to being with my family, and it has been wonderful being near beloved children, nieces and grandchildren. What I wasn’t looking forward to was enduring a winter.

Yesterday was the first real rainy day since we arrived in Boise in July. It felt quite cozy inside the house while cold rain spread across the valley. When I went outside to do errands, I looked up at the foothills and there, at the highest peaks, was snow. Guess what! It was beautiful.
This got me to thinking about the importance of setting in a book. Where we place our characters and their reactions to it are tremendous indicators of character--things we can build on.

I write fantasy for children and I love creating a challenging world for them. In one of my stories, the hero is confronted by a huge, hairy spider, guarding the cave of the mystical Man of the Mountain. Because I, myself, freak over spiders, it was difficult to write the scene where the spider entraps the hero’s companion and how the hero must save him. But I used the setting to bring out the hero’s character and his growth. (Other scenes were easier! LOL)
As the writer, we need to make a character’s response to a setting be true to his/her own experiences. For instance, in a romance, if a woman grew up in the crowded city and has always wanted to live in the country, where she could feel freer, a HEA ending, showing her on a ranch with the man she loves has tremendous impact on the reader. Not only is the heroine satisfied by the romance but she is in a setting where she can thrive. I realize I’ve made this overly simple, but I’m sure you get my point.

Have there been particular books you’ve loved because of their settings and the impact on the characters?   

Adventures in Sadness

Posted by Pamela Varnado | 12:32 PM | , , | 13 comments »

In the spring, I smell the roses.
In the summer, I frolic in the cool waters of Lake Lanier.

In the fall, I watch tree leaves burst into picture perfect fits of orange, purple, and yellow.

In the winter, I crawl under my bed and stay there. Why?
Because of imbalances in the brain, some people constantly feel sad or depressed.  While I don’t fall into that category, during the Northern solstice, or when the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, usually around December 21st or 22nd, I often wake up feeling blue, for no reason whatsoever.

The gloom and doom is referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to Wikipedia, SAD is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year.
It’s frustrating to feel sad for no reason. There are plenty of good reasons to feel blah and plenty of good ways to celebrate it. I could eat ice cream all day, watch a depressing movie or listen to a sad song over and over. But SAD doesn’t care about reasons. It just wants me to feel, well, sad. I know exactly when the ole killjoy has stolen my happiness.

Here is my number one symptom. I spend hours gazing out the window at the neighborhood kids building snowmen. “How sad I feel,” I say to myself. “They’re having so much fun and all I can do is sit here and cry.”
You see what I mean, no reason whatsoever for the gloom. This year, I’m determined to keep SAD away. I’m a firm believer in being proactive and have learned all the symptoms, like munching out on carbs, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. Getting plenty of light therapy and exercise will be my first weapons of choice.

I’ll fight the battle until my body develops special powers and emits beams of sunlight.
 P.S. To see if you may be a candidate for SAD, I invite you to take the first ever, SAD detection quiz below. You must answer each question.

The Sad Quiz

 Which TV slogan excites you most?
 -    Time to make the donuts.
 -    Yo qyiero Taco Bell
 -    Lucy charms, they're magically delicious.
 When people talk about experiencing an “Ah Ha” moment they?
-          Are often burying their head under the covers.
-          Are often dreaming of eating pounds of chocolate cake and Butter Pecan ice cream. 
-          Are often sitting in the dark watching reruns of Cold Mountain.  

In the spirit of Halloween, can you identify the scary movies these lines of dialogue are taken from? Warning: if you know all three you may be watching too much television.
-          “Have you checked the children?”
-          “You’re gonna need a bigger boat."
-          “I see Dead People.”

 Spedunking is a type of exercise involving.
-          Shooting basketballs into tiny hoops.
-          Jumping off bridges wearing nothing but speedos.
-          Huh? Spedunking? What’s that?

 If you answer at least one question correctly, you are a candidate for SAD.  
  Submit your answers to me via the Pony Express.


A Rainbow for Monday Morning

Posted by Nightingale | 10:03 AM | 4 comments »

Since Mondays can be blue, I decided to share this lovely rainbow.

I thought I'd share a bit of my WIP.  Do you like the title?  It's a sequel to Sinners' Opera, which will be released by Double Dragon Publishing next year.  My current release from DDP is available at:  http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-978-4   I don't have a cover for Sinners' Opera yet, so I'll share the cover for Gemini Rising.

Chapter 1

            In six months, the pain should have subsided.

Yet grief and sorrow still gnawed at her heart.

Isabeau navigated the darkness along the path to the log cabin.  Minutes ago in the lighted barn hall, the hands on the ceramic watch she’d bought on sale pointed to nine o’clock.  In her jewelry box at home were three reminders of a life lost—two diamond watches and a ceramic Tag Hauer sport.  Now, she never wore any of them.

By eight, her mother would have would have tucked Eroica into bed.  She’d stayed too long with her horse, grooming and petting the white stallion.   On her twelfth birthday, a van company delivered a surprise.  The driver told them her father had won a contest, the prize a beautiful Andalusian horse.  The first of many gifts—most cloaked in a veil of deceit—from a godfather kept secret from Isabeau arrived.  To her jumping up and down delight.  In her wildest fantasies, she’d never expected to own such an expensive horse.

The five-acre property had a two-acre paddock.  For a month, Isabeau fretted that Bianco slept outside.  A barn was hastily erected.  The sandy area built for her riding had weathered the years.  Tonight, with moonlight sparkling silvery on the white arena, her ride with Bianco had been magical.   In those minutes in the saddle, she had melded, body and spirit, with her horse.

When she reached the cabin, Isabeau would steal into the room where she’d spent her childhood to kiss her own daughter’s soft cheek.

A month ago on October 11th, a miracle was born.  Isabeau intended to breast fed her little Libra, but the baby had bitten her nipple, drawing blood.    Knowing who—what—Eroica’s father was, Isabeau decided to bottle feed a vampire’s daughter.  As Lucien St. Albans had predicted, Eroica looked like a female reproduction of her father.  She had his silken blonde hair, his captivating blue eyes.  Isabeau had rejected all Morgan’s calls, hadn’t opened his emails or the snail mail letters that arrived once a week.  He was trying to seduce his way back into her life.  If she’d heard his lilting voice on the phone or read the same cadence in the emails, she’d have lost her battle against him.

But God it hurt.

The swish and sway of the pines in the November chill drove home to her that tomorrow she’d drive back to Charleston.  She and Eroica would be alone in her echoing Orange Street house.  Her friend Kirsty would babysit any evening, but, except for the hours spent at LifeGen earning their living, she hated to be separated from her miraculous daughter.   Isabeau refused to touch the small fortune Morgan sent as child support.  That money belonged to Eroica and would, one day, pay college tuition and settle her comfortably for life.  She didn’t dress her daughter at the expensive children’s boutiques as her father would have done, but shopped at sensible department stores.

Isabeau’s life centered on Eroica—and the genetic puzzle of vampire DNA.  She longed for the state-of-the art lab behind Rover House, abandoned now for months.  In fact, she yearned for the idyllic life she’d shared with Morgan.  She’d been a princess, living in a fairytale spun by her beautiful lover.  But this was the existence Fate had dealt her—with help from her own hands.  Oh, but tonight she wished he were here to whisper promises—whisper madness—in her ear.

A shadow materialized from the trees.  Her heart chugged over a beat of fear.  She halted in her tracks, a shiver rippling the hair at her nape.  Who—what—lurked on the path ahead?  Her mother wouldn’t leave the sleeping baby.   Strangers didn’t notice the dirt and gravel drive to the cabin.  She would have called, “Who’s there?” but her dry throat tightened.
For a free read Vampyre Hunt, visit my web site at:  http://www.lindanightingale.com

Monday was one of those rainy, dreary days but right before sunset the clouds pushed out and the sun poured through the valley. Its brilliance revealed a glorious rainbow. It was huge, arching the Lizard Creek Valley, spanning from mountain top to mountain top and vibrant with color.

Sitting in my living room, I watched it appear and wondered at the sight. I deliberated stopping what I was doing (watching a sitcom)

and running for my camera to snap a picture, but I foolishly decided to wait a minute more until a commercial aired. Before a minute passed the colors, which were more brilliant than I’ve ever witnessed in a rainbow before, faded away. The clouds moved back in, fog rose in the valley and soon the valley below and the mountains disappeared. I'd missed the moment and doing so sadden me.

It seems each year slips by faster than the last. Maybe because we’re busier. The world indeed is growing smaller and our circle of friends grows larger. Relationships take time to nurture. We have to give of ourselves in order to receive. That isn’t a bad thing. A truly rich man or woman has many friends.

However busy we are, it is important to remember to take time for ourselves and enjoy
the world the around us. If we don’t seize the moments, opportunitites, and events when they present themselves, they're forever gone.

After numerous years of writing, I am thrilled to announce my first release as a debut author under the pen name, Josie Riviera. "Seeking Catherine" is a novella, Tudor romance. Check it out on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9cka84m

This is a short, sweet novella. (no sex) Sensual content. Approximately 58 pages. He’s hurt her in the past. Can she trust her heart to him again? After all, they were childhood sweethearts, planning a future together in Tudor England during an age of chivalry. Headstrong and proud, Catherine Sudfield remembers everything about Stefan Boswell. She didn’t care about his poverty, his drunken parents, nor his lack of nobility. The restless Gypsy rogue’s powerful good looks and promises of love were more than enough to satisfy her youthful dreams. But then Stefan left without a word and Catherine was bargained away by her uncle to a brothel. Sometimes, bonds between a man and a woman, however young, are meant to last a lifetime. But two guarded, wary lovers may need an extra dose of Gypsy magic to chase away any lingering doubts after five long years.

Do you sometimes feel you're shouting into the wind? How do you make yourself heard? Here are some excellent quotes. If these don't work, I suggest barking loudly as that gains a response from our dogs. Although, in their defense, once I get them calmed down the dogs make excellent listeners and hang on my every word as if it really matters. And that may be the key. Listening works best when it's reciprocal. With some individuals, that ain't ever gonna happen. Am I a good listener? Are you? Well, I can be...
"It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear." ~Dick Cavett
(Dogs don't want to hear what they don't want to hear either)
"Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request." ~ Phillip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield
"Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom." ~ Chip Bell
"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them." ~ Ralph Nichols
"Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen." ~Ambrose Bierce
(Cats may not look like they're listening, but little gets by them. They are, however, easily bored.)
"The best time to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust." ~ Josh Billings
"An actor’s a guy who if you ain’t talkin’ about him, ain’t listening." ~ Marlon Brando
"I’ll defend to the death your right to say that, but I never said I’d listen to it!" ~ Tom Galloway
"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen."~ Ernest Hemingway
(Ducks are friendly and very conversational)
Thus far, all of these insights are from men. In fact, almost the entire collection I found are male quotes. Perhaps men have a greater need to be heard, or maybe they lack the art of communication that comes more naturally to women. Here's a good one from the female perspective.
"I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention." ~ Diane Sawyer
And another successful woman says:
"To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly." ~Betsy Sanders, Former Senior Vice President & General Manager Nordstrom
***To truly be heard, you may need a good dog.
“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn't a dog.”  ~Charles M. Schulz

Out in print now at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press—available in eBook on Nov. 2nd—historical romance novel, Kira, Daughter of the Moon! 

A beautiful Scots-Irish healer in the rugged Alleghenies finds herself accused of witchcraft. With the terror of the French and Indian War fresh in her mind, can Kira love a white warrior?
Set among the superstitious Scots in the rugged Alleghenies, the story is an adventurous romance with a blend of Celtic and Native American flavors. Although written to stand alone, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the long-awaited sequel to my award-winning historical romance novel, Through the Fire.
BlurbLogan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family. 
Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay--and anyone else from getting too close. Now that he's back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft. And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.~
“My secret in exchange for yours.”
Tantalizing.  He was drawing her into his snare, but she couldn’t resist asking, “How do you know I’ve a secret?”
“To begin with, you’re hiding in a tree.  What from, a wild beast?”
“Near enough.  You.”
He smiled.  “Was I to think you a large red bird, or overlook you entirely?”
Drawing her remaining shreds of dignity around her like a mantle, she said, “This isn’t one of my best hiding places.”
“Indeed?  Where are the others?”
“That would be telling.
The strengthening breeze tossed the branches around them as he considered.  “You never could keep secrets from me, Cricket.  I’ll discover them and you.”
An assertion she found both disturbing and oddly heartening.
His lips curved as if the deed were already done.  “Why were you hiding?  Am I so very frightening?”
“Oh––I feared you were some sort of warrior.”
The humor faded from his eyes.  “I am.”
***Royalty free images