I love this time of year. I love the colors, the frosty crisp smell in the air, the holiday traditions, all of it. Even my hair has taken on its autumn pelage and gone darker. I don’t know if it’s a redhead thing, a trick of light, or just a peculiar trait for a peculiar person, but people comment on it every year and have my entire life. It’s as predictable as the changing seasons. I heard “Hey your hair is darker all of a sudden” just last week. It was the first of many such comments to come. And come May, it’ll be, “Hey your hair is lighter. Did you dye it?” Nope. It just is.
It’s been busy around here (good grief I say that a lot). I’ve been lucky to have several guest blog posts coming up. Of course I’ll give the links as they go live, and after they’ve had their run, I’ll post them here.
In the meantime, I’m taking part of Drea Beacraft’s blog hop – my first ever blog hop. What’s that, you wonder? Think of all those WebRing links on the bottom of webpages you’ve visited. It’s pretty much the same thing. One blog leads to the next, that leads to the next, that leads to the next, and so on. The theme is Halloween. If you’ve stumbled here, I can’t seem to get this catchy little button to work as a link to get you moving through the blog hop, so try this:
In honor of the hop, I’m offering up goodies!
The first is an ebook copy of Dreamscape (18+ content warning: erotic romance)
A Love Waits in Unexpected Places t-shirt. (Comment below and the winner will be randomly chosen.)
You get a ghostly bit from Dreamscape.
You get a fun peek at a Halloween bit from my four-year-in-the-making unnamed Magnum Opus (the MO if you’ve never been here before). So far this is a 5-book series. The way it’s going, my kids will publish my 25-book unnamed series posthumously.
LOL I crack me up. 😀
Dreamscape Excerpt. In this scene, the rehabbing of the old mansion continues. Dr. Lanie O’Keefe and her best friend Lexie are clearing the cellar that appears to be intentionally piled from floor to ceiling with debris. At this point, Lanie doesn’t know the ghost of Jason Bowen plies her synapse as she sleeps and rides her dreams to the days leading up to his murder 120 years before.
Frustrated by a skeletal armchair with its rotted horsehair cushions and sharp uncoiled springs jutting out in every conceivable direction, Lexie asked, “How did Ben’s brother figure this cellar would be ready to go on Monday?”
Lanie answered from somewhere on the other side of the stack, “We’re almost done. Monday will be tight time-wise, but if I can get most of it out they can rake the floor before the cement comes. Remember, Ben said to leave the heaviest stuff for them.” Loaded up with two broken apple crates, a base to a kerosene lamp and the other leg of the footstool she found in the past hour, she set them on the top stair and said on her way down, “Why do you suppose it’s stacked with garbage like this?”
“I’m wondering that myself. This is nuts!” Lexie pulled hard on the last word, and the spring that was entwined around the handle of an old milk can tore from its mooring and freed the chair. “Take that, you sorry son of a gun!”
Gun. Lanie started. The word sparking a memory, she turned to her friend in the process of dragging the heavy, rusted milk can toward the stairs. “Lex?”
“I want to tell you something before Pete comes back.” She looked up the stairway to be sure they were alone. Pete was busy hauling the junk from the stairs and sorting it into whatever pile category was best. So far, most of it was slated for the scrap man’s pile. “I’ve been dreaming of Jason Bowen and the house for the past two nights.”
Lexie sniffed. “Yeah? That’s not unusual for you. It’s only been how many years?” She sneezed loudly from behind the pile, once, twice…
Lanie waited. She never heard her friend sneeze less than three times in a row. Predictably the third followed. “Bless you!”
The traditional sneeze wish was met with a gurgling honk somewhere behind a broken window shutter speared by an old corn broom. “Ugh. Thanks. I’m gonna give myself whiplash sneezing like that.”
“So you’ve been dreaming like always.” By Lexie’s calculation, Lanie had been dreaming this stuff for twenty years. “And?”
“Yes, well in this one dream he opened a desk drawer and showed me a gun.”
“That’s odd. You haven’t dreamed of guns before have you? For what purpose?”
“No I haven’t, and I don’t really know why. He also told me that his wife was cheating on him with Richard Mason.”
Lexie shook her head. Armed with details from the Historical Society, Lanie’s imaginative dreams had taken a definite direction. While she did think her friend’s peculiar dreaming bordered on bizarre, she only ever believed they were just dreams, a subconscious relating of facts and fancy gleaned from life. Still, Lanie believed her dreams were portents of something greater, and since they were friends these dreams deserved her respect as did Lanie’s desire to talk about them. Trying not to sound like she was indulging a fantasy, she said, “Well, we guessed that might be the case, didn’t we?”
“The desk has this trick drawer that a hidden drawer opens into. That same desk is upstairs and it does have a secret drawer. I opened it like he showed me.”
Lexie froze. These dreams got more and more peculiar as time went on. “Did you find the gun?”
Removing the broom and shutter, she finally accessed the milk can and dragged the heavy thing across the hard-packed dirt floor. “Holy shit!”
“What? Lex, what’s wrong? Are you okay? Do I need to get my kit? Lexie answer me!”
“I found your gun, and the person it might have been used on.”
🙂 I hope you enjoyed that little teaser. If you’re interested here are related details:
And now, a never before offered peek at the unnamed MO — a bit I may or may not keep in the series. I haven’t decided. I warn you, it’s unedited. The following is the chatter in my head in its pure form. Sometimes my characters force these moments on me. LOL
The Story of Stingy Jack and How he Tricked the Devil ~
Settling onto her father’s lap with her popcorn ball, Aggie asked her elder cousin, “So what story are you sharing tonight Maddock?” It was difficult biting without front teeth, but the six-year-old’s incisors gave it their best.
Until that moment he hadn’t decided. Maddock leaned close. “I’m thinking the story of Stingy Jack…do ye know that one Aggie?”
Thinking her snaggle-toothed grin as adorable as Maddock obviously did, Connor laughed. Aggie looked up at his face with a happy grin. “Is it a funny story Dad?”
He winked at Maddock, and gave her a hug. “Wait and see.”
Maddock chuckled. “So once there was a blacksmith named Jack. Everyone from miles around called him Jack ye see, for this was in the days when no one used last names…”
Aidan leaned to whisper to Liam, “I thought Jack was a farmer.”
An accomplished storyteller, Maddock used the moment to his advantage. “Aye, he was a farmer too. And a good one at that because he could shoe his own oxen.” He met the eyes of the children around the fire. “Now, Jack had a wonderful sense of humor and loved playing tricks. He found it great fun to paint a white stripe down the back of his neighbor’s housecat, or bore a hole in a water bucket.”
The children laughed.
“But Jack never harmed a soul. Besides that, he was a very careful man — careful with his beasts, careful with his craft, and careful with his coin. Some say too careful with his coin. While he wasn’t a stingy man in his business, he was a stingy man in the pub.
Well, one evening when the animals were bedded down, and the coals of his forge banked well, Jack grew thirsty and thinking a pint might do him good, he headed straight to the pub. But who do ye think he met there?”
Aggie and Mac asked at once, “Who Maddock?”
His eyes were bright when he addressed the twins, “The devil himself!”
Liam whispered to Aidan, “Didn’t the devil meet Jack on the road?”
Maddock coughed. “Aye well, the devil gets around, no?” So, Jack sat himself down at a table and had several pints of stout ale. Desiring another, he opened his purse and found only enough coin for the drinks he’d had.
Now the devil saw all the empty glasses that sat before Jack, and thought he’d be an easy soul to take for his own. Pulling up a bench, the devil sat beside Jack as he turned out his pockets looking for coins he’d left at home. So busy he was, he didn’t realize at first just who now sat beside him. The devil said, ‘Ye look troubled laddie. Can I help ye?’
‘I had a long and thirsty day. I worked the iron and I worked my fields. Now I’m too tired to go home for more money, but it’s thirsty I am.’
The devil stroked his pointy beard. ‘I’d like to help ye laddie, but I dinna help unless there’s something in it for me.’
Jack pretended to be confused and befuddled by drink. Taking notice of the pointy beard, he looked at the floor and saw the cloven hoofs. He knew who the devil he was talking to!”
Chuckles and giggles went around the fire at the play on words.
“Now, Jack was in the mood to play one of his tricks. He knew this creature could turn himself into any form he wished and he thought a moment before saying, ‘I’d sell my soul for once more coin to buy another pint.’
Well, no finer words could be spoken to a devil out hunting souls. He said, ‘Ah, there is something I can do for you after all laddie. I’ll turn myself into a coin so you can buy your last drink, then I’ll change myself back and your soul will come with me to Hell.’
Jack scratched his nose, then he scratched his chin, then he picked up his empty glass and drained the last drop from it. He licked his lips looking wistfully at the jug the barmaid carried. Then meeting the devil’s eyes said, ‘I’m in the mood for a good bargain such as that!’
In a flash, the devil changed himself into a gold coin. And just as fast, Jack grabbed it up and stuffed it into his wallet!”
Aggie was wide-eyed. “Couldn’t the devil get out again?”
Maddock chuckled, “Oh no, ye see inside that wallet was a copper sator square.”
Aggie turned to her father. “I don’t know what a sator square is, Dad.”
“It’s a very old luck charm honey.”
Maddock nodded, “Aye, and it bound the devil inside Jack’s wallet for ten whole years.”
Aidan whispered to Liam, “Didn’t Jack trick the devil up a tree?”
Narrowing his eyes at the pair, Maddock continued, “At the end of ten years Jack opened the wallet and said, ‘Ye won’t be taking my soul to Hell will ye? Make your vow devil, tis the only way I’ll be releasing ye.’
The devil laughed, ‘Damn my eyes you’re good. Yes, ye have my word on it!’
With that Jack released him. So years and years passed and eventually Jack grew to be an old man. One day the devil appeared and said to him, ‘I’ve been a watchin’ you since the day you released me Jack. So ye love playing tricks, do ye?’
Jack chuckled, “Aye. As long as they bring harm to none, I do.” He’d always loved a good prank, ye see, but was always careful not to hurt another in the process. That’s a good way to be no?”
The children nodded.
“Well, do ye believe it, the old devil laughed! ‘I like tricks myself’, says he. ‘If I canna make ye stay with me, at least come for a visit. We can discuss the fine art of trickery and maybe I’ll get some new ideas.’
Jack thought a moment. He was an old man with nothing better to do. He no longer worked the forge and farm. That hard work now belonged to his strong sons and grandsons. As long as he didn’t have to stay to in Hell, he might enjoy listening to the devils exploits now and again. Especially in the fall when his old bones ached and the heat would feel good. He said, ‘Alright. If I don’t have to stay, I’ll visit ye.’
Reaching into his pocket, the devil pulled out an ember that would never burn out. He handed it to Jack who promptly dropped it on the ground.
Blowing on his singed fingers, Jack tipped his head to the ember and asked, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’
“Alive or dead, your soul canna see to find its way unless I bring ye myself. Carry this with you and for one night each year you’ll be able to find your way to my world and back.”
‘Fair enough.’ Jack told him. Taking an old turnip from the field, he carved out the center and then whimsy took him and he carved out eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Placing the ember inside, he made the little lantern’s face glow.
Understanding lit Aggie’s eyes. “Jack o ‘lanterns!”
“Aye, and every year you’ll see Jack walking at night with his smiling lantern lighting his way to Hell.”
Aggie gave Maddock a great gap-toothed smile.
It’s never been shared with another soul.
I hope you enjoyed that despite grammatical insults and head hopping.
Think of Dr. Leonard McCoy: I’m a creative writer Jim, not an English professor!