Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And...PIVOT!



Many times in my life I have found circumstances taking drastic, sometimes emotionally devastating turns. The first time I remember this happening in detail was December 1981 - January 1982. Within the space of these two months, my college roommate committed suicide, I was in a horrific crash involving a tractor trailer, and the man I had been dating since high school broke up with me by sending an invitation to his wedding.

For two weeks after I lay on the bed wondering what had I been doing so wrong that God felt the need to crash my world down around my ears. In haste and fear I threw myself into a relationship with more downs than ups. Then I spent two years rectifying the mistakes made in my overwrought mental condition.

Since then these upheaval collisions have only happened twice more: when I left my job in technology to go work for my husband's family business back in 1995, and in early 2015. Unfortunately that particular episode is still ongoing, and while I think I see the exit tunnel, things are still whirling around me like a sand storm.

When I am unsure where to go, or what decision to make, there is only one direction I turn: my faith. It has sustained me when everything and everyone else deserted me, and I give my Higher Power, who is God, all the credit for keeping me sane and focused when much of my life is burning down around me.

We are heading into the holiday season. Regardless of which faith you adhere to, this is the time to focus on others instead of our own selfish desires. If, for 31 days, we can all put our political, religious, or monetary problems on the shelf and bring out the damn Elf. Remember those who need us most: animals still suffering in animal shelters around the country. Take time and adopt, don't spend thousands on a pedigree animal. There are special pedigree animals waiting at your local shelter, I guarantee.

So what is my point? I guess the point is, we have to be flexible when it comes to life, learn to roll with the winds and to replant when the storm is gone. That's where I am right now, replanting. Taking the good and discarding the bad; consider it early Spring Cleaning. Is this where I wanted to be so late in life? Hell no! But it is the life I have, and I want to enjoy every minute remaining to the fullest extent every day.

This December, do a little cleaning of your own. Take all those negative posting people off your Facebook. Life is too short to always be miserable. Learn to tweet, and give inspiration to yourself and others each day. Lord knows we all need inspiration. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, or nearby hospital to hold premature babies as they grow and adapt to this big, scary world.

I guess the point of all this is to say, don't stay in your season of defeat. Stand up, dust off your pants and keep walking. Who knows what is waiting just up ahead?



Don't forget to check out my newest release: "Welcome to the Family", available on Amazon.com, BN.com, and The Wild Rose Press website.
https://www.amazon.com

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Welcome to the Family"



Now Available from The Wild Rose Press - Meet the Devlyns. Not your everyday relations.

EXCERPT:



Silence then reigned in the limo as Sean stared at the scenery flying past, remembering the first time he’d made this particular drive. When Cassie at last relented and took him to meet her father and brothers, they’d been together almost a year. The trip ended up being a nightmare. The only plus side was the stronger bond he and Cassie built when everything was said and done. It was the trip which created the foundation point of their agreements.

The Devlyn men were whacked, especially when it came to Cassie.

Kevin was eldest, the only brother with whom Cassie maintained a cordial relationship. He was also the most straight laced of the three brothers. After leaving the service, Kevin got his law degree and worked for the family business as chief counsel. Just like Cassie, his relationship with their father was complicated; typical oldest son. Kevin had cleaned up more than one mess left behind by Martin or Greg and was badly scarred himself from the process.

Middle son Matthew was a high functioning Autistic and frequently became a pawn, easily swayed by youngest brother Greg. It was Greg whose neck Sean wanted to wring, along with Martin himself. It was they who ruined relationships between the siblings.

Greg was an evil, vile, sorry excuse for a human, and those were Martin’s words not Sean’s. Ever since childhood, Greg’s vendetta against his only sister brought havoc into their lives more than once. Doctors said he was a borderline psychotic, but Sean knew he’d crossed the border long ago. Martin eventually dismissed him to West Coast operations to keep distance between Cassie and her chief tormentor, but family and business still brought him to Atlanta more than Sean would like.

One part of that first meeting fiasco kept replaying in his ears, the speech her father gave about why Ferguson wasn’t good enough for his only daughter. He still could hear the derision in the man’s voice as he’d sneered, “The only son of a mid-level bureaucrat thinks because he talks a privileged, na├»ve, innocent girl into falling onto her back for him, we intend to accept this nobody into our family? I would sooner wallow in the mud with animals than know my grandchildren will be fathered by a damn Irishman!”

That was the only meeting he’d had with all the male members of Cassie’s family at one time. They left shortly thereafter and hadn’t returned since, or at least Sean hadn’t. Cassie occasionally stopped by to see her father, but at their Atlantic Station headquarters never the house. Though eventually Kevin did make amends, the other two brothers, Greg and Matthew, still didn’t speak to them. It bothered him that they were taking out their disapproval of him on Cassie. She didn’t deserve it. But what aggravated him the most was the damn hold they had on her that kept one finger always in her business; she didn’t know how to say no to the group of them.

The limo slowed as they took the Vinings exit off the freeway. Winding past the quaint Village center, they turned right, over the Chattahoochee River and into the exclusive, hidden neighborhoods on the northwest outskirts of Atlanta. At last they pulled up to a large stone entrance with an exquisite wrought iron gate overlooking the Chattahoochee River. The driver keyed a number into the key pad and the gates swung open.

“Welcome home,” Joe quipped.


“Shut the hell up,” Sean muttered. Joe smiled in return.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Haunted Halloween Hop - Part Five: Love Across Time



Sean swept Cassie into his arms and out the door into the formal gardens where the band held court. Lanterns hung from every tree and the smell of fall in the air mixed with the tang of salt water from the nearby marsh. She stared at him with hunger, drinking in every detail of his face.

"What... how are you here? You're supposed to be in..." Cassie whispered into his neck as they twirled slowly around the dance floor.

"Another place? Well let's just say my commanding officer pulled a few strings to put me on a resupply flight to Warner Robbins. A short hop by helicopter and here I am, all yours for the next few hours."

"But what about my ghostly admirer?"

Pulling her tight against his chest, Sean murmured against her ear. "I've heard the story of the Major and his widow before, though Linda might not appreciate knowing that her childhood home is haunted. We Irish have a different idea about shades than you Americans."

She whispered again, this time letting her lips run lightly against his warm skin. "You're also a hopeless romantic my love."

He shuddered in her arms at the touch of her breath in his ear. "Guilty as charged."

As they continued their slow waltz around the yard, the rest of Savannah faded into the distance, and for that moment in time, it was just the two of them, eyes locked upon each other, knowing that too soon the dawn would separate them for who knew how long. Each imprinted the other's features for future memories, inhaling deeply of the scents of the night.

Her signature scent of lavender and roses; his Bay Lime aftershave mixed with a healthy dose of pure male; the tang of the river, the breeze across the marsh bringing the salt of the nearby sound. The fall signatures of smoke and cinnamon and harvest. Each mingled in their senses to paint memories filled with emotion.

By small measures both became aware of two other forces following them. Sean looked deep into Cassie's eyes, and both smiled gently in mutual agreement. They paused briefly in their pattern and allowed themselves to be transported, through Johan and Constance, to another time, another All Hallows Eve, at the Spivey home.

Music spanned the bridge of time, a waltz now a waltz then, bringing together those separated by more than distance. Dancing to a tune know only to their hearts, the night became a blur of color and sound. When they found themselves back in the house, the early rays of dawn were beginning to creep over the marsh.

When Cassie awoke the next day, body sore and heart content, she rolled over to find only a warm spot with the lingering scent of Bay Lime. If not for the excess of men's costume clothes spread around the room, she might have dreamed the entire evening. But a note on top of the pillow bore her name.

"Cassie - You looked so lovely asleep I couldn't bear to wake you. The time is running away from us, but I wouldn't have missed last night for the anything. I love you, my beauty. Write often, pray more, and if all goes will I'll be home before spring."

It was signed "Sean".

She sat up and looked around before realizing she was in her hotel room back on River Street. Her dress from the previous evening was missing, though Sean's rented costume was in several locations around the room. Wracking her brain as hard as possible, she couldn't remember leaving the Masquerade at the Spivey's home. When pressed, none of the girls could remember seeing Cassie or Sean after they went outside. They had taken a cab back to the hotel when it got late, assuming they had missed connecting.

Cassie spent the day on her own, avoiding the rest of the festivities around the city. As she gathered her book to head to a quiet corner, an envelope fell out. The archaic writing matched her previous notes from Johan.

"Thank you dearest Cassandra and thank your noble warrior for us as well. Constance and I have been reunited, and my long penance on earth alone has ended. Farewell my friend, and may God bless and watch over you.      Johan."





I hope everyone has enjoyed my little short story. For more of Sean and Cassie's story, be sure to grab a copy of "Welcome to the Family" on November 9th.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Break In the Action



Sorry to interrupt the Hop, but sometimes real life intrudes on our writing!


The Conclusion to Cassie's Ghosts will be posted tonight. In the meantime, don't forget that Sean and Cassie's story will continue in "Welcome to the Family", a contemporary mystery which will be released by the Wild Rose Press on November 9th. Be sure to check it out!




Thursday, October 27, 2016

Haunted Halloween Hop - Part Four: A Love for Eternity




She wasn't certain which frightened her more, the sudden appearance of a ghost who was a complete stranger or that said apparition claimed to know her. He was an officer, with great powdered wig and ceremonial sword. Other than being transparent, he appeared as alive as the plants growing all around them.

He frowned every so slightly. "I'm sorry to have distressed you Cassandra. I don't mean to. I've been watching you attend this function for years, and your friends' parents when they were younger than you are now. I've been attached to this house for centuries, even before they found and brought my uniform home."

"Your...uniform?" Cassie managed to say the words despite the gigantic lump in her throat. "Who are you?"

"I am Major Johan Von Richter, Colonial soldier, friend of LaFayette and Washington, husband to Constance Spivey Von Richter. My wife is your friend's many times great-aunt. That's why I'm here, I died here. Constance was heavy with child, and I stayed to watch over them and I never left. But tonight I have need of a special favor which requires your assistance."

"Me?"

"Tonight is the one night of the year when the lines between the living and the dead are blurred. Constance, when she died, she didn't know I hadn't follow the light. She awaits in the afterlife without me."

Cassie blurted out, "That's horrible! Why can't you just go on your own, now that your family doesn't need you here any longer?"

Johan smiled in defeat. "You only get so many opportunities to take that path, Cassandra. And tonight, after many years, I may succeed, if you will help me. Constance can come to earth tonight, on All Hallows Eve, as it was in our time, but only for a short time. I can follow her back when the clock strikes twelve. However, we have one request: to dance together one last time in our physical forms before eternity."

Cassie frowned. "You want to use me to dance with your dead wife, by letting her take over my body? No way, I saw that freaky horror movie when I was sixteen. She takes my soul and I become some brain sucking zombie. Gross. Find another way."

He stared at her for a long moment, his cool eyes appraising her. "You are just like her, you know that? She said you would object."

"Let me speak to her. She sounds like the obviously intelligent one of the two. Perhaps between the two of us we can figure something out. What's wrong with dancing the way you are?"

"What's wrong with wanting more? We didn't have a lifetime together. Barely time enough to conceive a child. You are married to a warrior, you know the life of uncertainty that comes with the military."

Cassie felt her spine straighten as the mention of losing Sean grabbed her heart. They'd only been married three years, but lately it seemed both of their jobs were conspiring to keep them apart. Sean was about to depart for a long tour in the middle east, and all she knew was her heart was breaking. But..she realized she was only part of an equation.

"If Constance 'lives to dance' in me, whose body will you be 'waltzing along' with tonight?"

Johan smiled, completing the wan ghostly sadness that surrounded him. "It was supposed to be a blindfolded surprise. He neglected to tell me you were this difficult."

The faint whiff of Bay Lime crept from her back, as familiar arms wrapped around her waist. Lips, as familiar as her own, pressed gently against the nape of her neck.

Spinning around, confusion clouded her cornflower blue eyes as she looked at the tall, brown-eyed Irishman standing in a kilt and uniform, a cocky grin along with a tilted head completed the impossible.

"Sean?"



HAUNTED HALLOWEEN HOP: http://casimclean.com/aba-halloween-hop/






























Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Haunted Halloween Hop - Part Three: Masquerade


The house was one of Savannah's finest examples of Southern living. Candles lit every square inch of the mantles and tables, reflecting deeply polished mahogany and Georgia marble to every corner. Laughter filled the hallways, as ladies in silk and taffeta gowns swished against handsome gentlemen wearing 18th Century worsted wool and military colors. Cinnamon and cloves scented the air, and a chamber ensemble played in the back yard.

Cassie and her friends had attended the Masquerade ever since college. The theme never changed, Oglethorpe's Savannah, but the cast of characters was constantly being updated to include the latest movers and shakers along the coast. The highlighted entertainment this year was a psychic who was guaranteed to help you make a connection with the other side.

This year Cassie felt watched, not in the usual sleazy drunk frat boy way that most of these events ended up, but as though someone watched over her shoulder, a chill breath on the back of her neck. More than once the scent of Bay Lime drifted through the air. With Mike and Wendy as her bodyguards, she steeled herself against the nerves inside and started looking for her mystery date.

Moving through the rooms and crowd, catching snippets of conversation here and there, none of which could be added together as clues to her admirer. While there were several handsome young men dressed in the Colonial blue uniform of the time period, British red dominated the night.

In an attempt to get a breath of fresh air, Cassie burst through a doorway into what she thought was the front porch but turned out to be the solarium. Only a few people occupied the space, but all seemed to drift away quickly once the three girls appeared.

Mike threw herself down on the chaise. "Well I've seen no one in Wedgwood Blue, whatever the hell that is. Can we go now? My feet are killing me. These moccasins have no support."

Wendy threw her arms around Cassie and hissed at her partner, "Stop it Michelle. I refuse to leave my dearest friend alone with an announced perv stalking her. Now stop being such a downer and go grab us drinks. We'll wait right here."

Complaining with every step, Mike left to find an available bar as Cassie drifted to one corner of the solarium to study a uniform on a mannequin. A card on the table announced it belong to a Prussian prince who had come to fight for the Colonists, only to die on Halloween on Bay Street as he searched for his wife, who was sick and housebound. His murder was never solved, and his widow, who survived the malaria which had consumed the area with a late burst of summer, had him buried in the cemetery, where she joined him some sixty years later.

"Isn't it tragic, that he would die so close to home? His poor wife, how she must have wept." Cassie's face was somber as she looked at the well-preserved artifacts. "Worse is that no one was ever caught."

Wendy shrugged. "I imagine that happened a lot more times than not back in those days. Without forensics and evidence such as we can collect today, you practically had to catch the person in the act to get an honest conviction. Listen, I've to pee like a racehorse. Tell Mike I'll be right back, OK?"

"Sure thing." Cassie watched Wendy leave then returned her attention to the uniform. There was a small portrait of the prince hanging beside the exhibit. "What an interesting picture. Hard to see what he truly looked like."

A small gust of wind blew through the closed room, raising goosebumps on her arms, and a prickling sensation started on her neck, as if someone were breathing onto her skin. Part of her wanted to run away, while the rest wanted to turn around and see if there really was anything to be afraid of.

Just when she'd worked up the courage to turn, a cultured French accent spoke directly into her ear.

"I'm much more handsome than my portrait. You however, look lovely in the gown I picked out Cassandra. Very much like your mother."

Cassie spun around quickly, only to gasp at the sight awaiting her.

A ghost. A real live ghost was standing in the solarium staring at her like he knew her.