Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

As Autumn Shelley walked at a brisk pace through the dark streets of London, an eerie fog crept over the city. From deep in the woods, a werewolf howled, its piercing wail slicing through the night. The full moon skittered across the dreary sky, casting an eerie light on the headstones in the graveyard. The streets were quiet and deserted, not a soul stirring. With thoughts of Jack the Ripper haunting her subconscious, Autumn was spooked by the echo of her own footsteps as she scurried to her destination. She spotted it, the haunted mansion high on the hill, a black iron gate surrounding it. Bats flapped about the bell tower, eking and screeching as they peered at her with their beady black eyes. From deep in the woods, an owl hooted, its warbling echo frightful. Her heart racing, Autumn tore up the rickety old steps and yanked the rope chain.

Oliver cranked the heavy oak door open, rusty hinges creaking. He stood there grinning, red eyes blazing. And when he smiled, his razor-sharp fangs glowed in the dark. “You rang?”

The shifter Oliver escorted Autumn down the long, dark corridor to the parlor where organ music cranked out the Werewolves of London. An eerie whistle snaked through the corridor, the air dank and musty. A mouse scampered in front of them, twittering as it vanished into a crack in the wall. From the parlor, the candles burned, the smell of vanilla potent.

Upon entering the parlor, a cold draft filtered through the room. Sharon, costumed in black witch’s pointed hat and black flowing gown, stood over a bubbling cauldron, steam billowing as she stirred it. Her guests were all seated, drinking from silver chalices, nibbling on finger food. Dracula and the Three Brides of Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger, Phantom of the Opera, The Veiled Lady and Jack the Ripper.

Sharon: Welcome, Autumn. We are thrilled you are our guest of honor this evening. Would you care for a glass of Moscato?

Autumn: (pulling a cobweb out of her hair) “Thanks, I’d love some.”

Sharon: Most excellent. And here comes Oliver with two glasses of our favorite red and some of his special Hummus on Pita bread.

Oliver’s red eyes glaze over as he places the silver chalice in front of Autumn. Then he spreads a dab of Hummus on the bread and feeds it to Autumn. From inside the walls, the skeletons rattle their bones and a woman screams loud enough to wake the dead. The pet bat soars through the room, flapping its wings before perching on Autumn’s shoulder.

Sharon: So, perhaps now would be a good time to tell us about your new book. What is the title of this most bewitching read?

Autumn: Mmmmmm….hummus on pita bread! My favorite! Oliver, you shouldn’t have! Oh, sorry, my story. Um, yeah, the title of my little ditty is “Blood Moon”. (glances nervously at the Count)

Sharon: But of course, it’s dealing with the paranormal? Evil chuckle rolls from the back of her throat. As if there’s any other genre on this most bewitching of nights!

Autumn: Oh, it’s so paranormal! And sweet. And sexy! (realizing too late she has the attention of the veiled lady..)

Sharon: taps her long green fingernails on the coffin table, snatches up a piece of the Hummus laced bread, sips from her silver chalice. But surely you have a copy of the book with you? I have a superb idea. Why not read us an excerpt. Oliver, command the ghost playing the organ to play the theme from the X Files while our guest reads.

And as the candles flicker and the organ plays in the background, the bat securely perched on Autumn’s shoulder, she clears her throat and begins.

Kate rescues what she thinks is a stray from a rainy midnight highway and gets more
than she bargained for in the form of shifter, Logan Turner. Suddenly she finds herself
at the center of a war; protecting Logan from harm, his kind from extermination and
her heart from him…

She didn’t hear the door open or the footsteps approach. All she knew was when she
looked up, he stood before her, wrapped in a blanket. He didn’t look happy.
They stared at one another for a full minute. Kate began to wonder if he could talk,
if maybe he was more canine than human. She looked down and realized she gripped
the paring knife in her hand. She looked back up at him, and slowly lowered the knife.
He continued to assess her with the most penetrating blue eyes she had ever seen
on a man.

“Uh, hi. I’m Kate. Kate Barrister. I, uh, found you last night. You really shouldn’t
be up, ah, eww, this is awkward.” She looked away.

His penetrating gaze made her tongue tied and more than a little concerned she had
done a really dumb thing. He continued to stand silently in front of her. Kate was
beginning to get nervous as well as embarrassed. A million thoughts rushed through
her head, all some sort of variation on
‘he really is a killer and I should have let the bad guys have him.’

He cocked an eyebrow as though she had spoken out loud. Oh great, now he’s a mind
reader? “Uh, do you, I mean can you talk? Do you…?”

“Understand the words comin’ outta my mouth? Yeah, I saw that one.” His face was
impassive, his tone sarcastic.

“Okay, well, you can talk. That will certainly make things easier. I’m Kate Barrister.”

“You’ve said that once already. I got it. We’ll get to the formalities in a minute.
What I want to know right now is, do I have any pants?"

Dracula and Jack the Ripper stand up and applaud, bringing the mansion down as the other guests thrust their hands together. The shackled chains from within the walls rattle as the skeletal remains howl, “Let us out!”

Sharon: Lovely. We all want to run out and purchase our copy. What a bewitching tale! Do tell us about the characters, Kate and Logan? But first, more wine?

Autumn: Definitely more wine. Hmmm, let’s see. Our heroine Kate is still getting over the loss of her parents in a tragic car accident when she comes upon a stray in the middle of the road. As a veterinarian, Kate is prepared for emergencies so she does what any woman would do, she takes him to her clinic where she learns that not everything is as it seems…

Logan has a mission and a limited time to complete it. Shifters have been disappearing for years, but recently many have died from strange illnesses. The only person who may be able to help is the daughter of a vet, but will she be willing to help?

Sharon: And wherever did you come up with the plot for this most intriguing read?

Autumn: I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and it seemed the perfect setting for my set up. Most of my work is character driven, they dictate the story to me. I had a general idea about conspiracy and secret laboratories, but even I was surprised at some of the interesting turns my characters made on their journey.

Sharon: Do you write anything other than paranormal?

Autumn: I’ve dabbled in poetry since I was a child, and I have an interest an intense interest in two specific historical periods (Europe 1300-1700 and America 1750-1774) but they are a bit further down the road. Some of my characters are shy and need the proper encouragement before they are ready to meet the dawn.

Sharon: Tell us about your most interesting Halloween costume or masquerade.

Autumn: Halloween is a big deal at my house. I was in love with the parties thrown by Roseanne Barr’s character ‘Roseanne’ so it’s what I aspire too. Halloween is too big for the house, so I hold it (currently) in my garage. I decorate with my ‘theme’ for the year, put out the cauldron and the dry ice, crank up the tunes (X-files anyone?) light the torches and beckon to the little tricks-or-treatsers. Last year I went all out in the purple witch’s dress, hat, boots, etc. This year our theme is vampires. I’m thinking of re-creating a scene from the bar of my favorite t.v. show. If any of your readers can guess the hottest new vampire bar, I’ve got a free copy of ‘Taming of the Wolf’ with their name on it.

Sharon: What spooks you and do be specific.

Autumn: (glancing around to be sure she knows where Krueger is) Um, what spooks me? (swallows) um..people who are too normal to be normal? You know, the ones with the perfect outfits and matching socks. Hair that’s never out of place, yards that are never messy and smiles that are never quite genuine. (see’s Krueger by the punchbowl and sighs in relief) yep. The Normal’s scare me.

Halloween Myspace GraphicsThe organ grinds to an ear-splitting crescendo just as the ghost of the headless horseman gallops through the room. The candles glow an eerie shade of blue and then go out, a cold draft hurling through the room. Drac and the guests keep right on drinking and cackling, not in the least shocked to see the ghost of the headless horseman. But then the candles come back on and the ghost is gone.

Sharon: Autumn? Is there something wrong with your drink, dearie? You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost.

Autumn: I’m not sure…

Sharon: What an enchanting evening this has been. I just have one more question and then you can float about and socialize with Drac and the boys. Do tell me your favorite Halloween superstition?

Autumn: (smiles faintly) Favorite All Hallows Superstition? I light a candle to commune with my ancestors, receive their guidance and send them my love.

Sharon: And of course, inquiring minds want to know. Where can we purchase your books and get in touch with you?

Autumn: I would love to hear from everyone and can be reached at or my blogs:

And of course, everyone knows they can get a copy of ‘Taming of the Wolf’ at

The raven clock screeches out the witching hour. The werewolves howl as the light of the full moon spills through the windows.

Sharon: Thank you so very much for being our special guest. Now go grab some more wine and snacks. But first, here comes Oliver to grab you for a dance. Oliver swirls her around and around to the Monster Mash.

Autumn Shelley grew up roving the hills and valleys of Southern Missouri. There she
developed an obsession with all things unexplained: ghosts, Bigfoot, “The Spook Light”,
as well as the obligatory vampires , werewolves, witches and full moons. She currently
resides in central Texas with a husband, 2 geriatric heelers and one very nosy Westie.

Halloween Myspace Graphics

Friday, October 30, 2009

Midnight Treat with Becca Simone

On the eve of Halloween, thunder and lightning clash and collide as the storm rages through the moonless sky. A streak of lightning splits the sky open just as a clasp of thunder erupts. Shutters bang in the howling wind and pellets of hard rain beat on the windows of the haunted mansion. Deep in the woods, a werewolf howls, its keening echoing through the graveyard.

Hello and welcome to The Haunted Mansion! And on this very special eve of Halloween, as we venture closer and closer to the spookiest night of the year, Becca Simone is here to chat with us about her latest release, her Halloween inspired short story,
Midnight Treat.

So grab a big tub of hot buttered popcorn and get ready to scream. And here comes Becca now, making her way up the rickety steps to the manor on the hill. Enjoy the show!

Dressed incognito, Becca Simone raps at the haunted mansion door three times with her blood red fingernails. With a groaning creak, Oliver swings the door open. The pet raven screeches once, then flaps its wings and soars in with Becca.

Oliver: You rang? He grins a beguiling smile

Becca: Oh. My. God. I’ve died and gone to heaven, you big stud. If I wasn’t a happily married woman…

Oliver, costumed as Zorro, extends his hairy arm, but not before flexing his biceps. His double edge sword gleams in the muted light of the candelabras. Then with a roguish wink, he escorts Becca to the parlor. An eerie whistle snakes through the long dark corridor. From the organ, the music plays. Thriller by Michael Jackson. As they enter the parlor, gargoyles stand vigil, holding flickering vampire candles. Sharon sits in waiting, costumed as MadamDe Sade, red brocade dress and beaded filigree mask.

Sharon: Welcome to the Haunted Mansion, Becca. Come have a seat and we’ll chat. Oliver, do bring us refreshments.

From the walls, the skeletons rattle and shake. A woman screams bloody murder. Then manic laughter echoes, sounding as if it’s coming from the final circle of hell.

Sharon: What an interesting costume. Tell us about it.

Becca: I’m dressed as Marie Antoinette because my heroine was dressed as Marie at that fateful costume party. There were two Maries at that party—and the hero got a bit confused. (Becca looks around, eyes narrowed) There aren’t any other Maries here, are there?

Sharon: "So, Becca, first of all, let me congratulate you for your release of Midnight Treat. You must be so thrilled. Tell us about your debut book and how you came up with the setting, story plot and characters.

Becca: Well, I love the idea of mistaken identity. A friend of mine once went to a costume party where another woman was dressed up in the same costume. Her friends kept mixing them up. I knew someday that snippet of info would morph into a story. In MIDNIGHT TREAT, my heroine, Cassie, thinks she’s rented a one-of-a-kind costume. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it will turn out), her sexy and flirtatious neighbor from upstairs is wearing the exact same costume. The men at the party are hanging all over her, while shy Cassie tries to blend into the shadows and disappear. Later, she’s upstairs in her apartment and falls asleep in her costume. My hero, Josh, is dressed as Zorro, and he’s climbing the fire escape on his way to the lustier Marie’s apartment. He sees Cassie through her window, thinks he miscalculated the floors, and heads inside. Cassie decides not to tell him he has the wrong floor and wrong Marie. This is an erotica, so you can guess what happens next. J

Oliver appears, Whiskey Sours on tray. He presents them along with apple slices and peanut butter dip. Then his eyes glaze over and he stares at Becca. “If I might be so bold as to have your autograph, Ms. Simone?” he stabs himself with his Zorro sword and draws blood. “Crimson is my favorite color. Sign it in blood.”

Becca: Unbutton your shirt so I can sign your chest.

Oliver breaks into an engaging grin and obliges. Your wish is my command.

Sharon: So let’s talk about Zorro. I’ve recently written a book with Zorro as a main character. I personally love the Zorro sword. Why did you choose it?

Becca: I wanted my hero to be dressed in something sexy and romantic, but also a bit intimidating. And the thought of Zorro climbing a fire escape in the rain, on his way to a sexual tryst was just too appealing. Josh used the Zorro sash and sword to his advantage—and Cassie’s!—let me assure you.

Sharon: And without giving anything in your story away, let’s talk about this fantasy to do something naughty, something out of the norm. Do dish with us, Becca. Is this a secret fantasy of yours which inspired you to write about it?

Becca: Secret fantasies are called “secret” for a reason, Sharon. Nice girls don’t kiss and tell. We just write about it. But like I said, I love the mistaken identity theme, of my hero or heroine trying to be something they’re not.

Oh, here comes Oliver with dessert, homemade apple pie. He sets it on the coffin table, cuts it with the greatest of ease with his Zorro sword and feeds it to Becca. Then he waits to be complimented.

The manic laughter and organ continue to rattle the walls.

Becca: There’s just something about warm apple pie that makes me think about sex. Remember the American Pie movies?

Oliver chuckles

Sharon: Let’s talk about Halloween. Do you have a favorite costume or a masquerade party that stands out in your mind? And favorite decorations? D├ęcor?

The ghost from Halloween past floats through the room.

Becca: I was always one of those lame people who decided on a costume at the last minute. Nothing very creative, I’m afraid. But I do love wearing masks. It’s amazing how much more out-going and outrageous we can be when we wear a mask. It’s fun to be someone else for a while.

Sharon: If you’ve ever visited my blog, you know I adore superstitions. Sharon’s black cat leaps from the rafters and lands on Becca’s lap. Tell us, Becca. Do you have any superstitions you’d like to share?

Becca: I’m really not very superstitious. In fact, I’ve been known to walk under ladders, just because. I do believe in karma, however, and what goes around comes around.

But suddenly the raven clock howls and the witching hour ends.

Sharon: Just one more question. What can the wee ones expect to get at the Simone residence on Halloween night?

Becca: Full-size candy bars, of course. Because any candy other than chocolate just isn’t worth eating.

Thank you so much for being brave enough to venture forth into my haunted mansion. Tell readers where they can buy Midnight Treat and get in touch with you.

Becca: Midnight Treat is available on my website,, and at The Wild Rose Press, and

Oliver appears as Thriller blasts on hidden speakers. Dressed in Becca’s favorite costume, a briky, he grabs her and takes her for a spin around the ballroom dance floor.

Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!

Becca Simone’s short story, MIDNIGHT TREAT, released September 18, from The Wild Rose Press. It’s her first published work of fiction and she can’t be more excited.

It's mistaken identity gone erotically awry during a Halloween costume party.
Josh Panetti breaks into an apartment Halloween night, thinking he’s fulfilling the sexual fantasy of a woman he just met at a costume party. Instead, he’s broken into Cassie Snow’s place. Cassie immediately realizes his mistake—she’d seen him at the party with her sexy upstairs neighbor. She should tell him he has the wrong apartment and the wrong girl. But she’s always the wrong girl. Would it be so terrible to be the right girl for just one night?


She, Cassie Snow, was smack dab in the middle of another couple’s naughty fantasy.
Zorro hooked his hands under the frame and tugged upward. She gasped. He was
coming inside! He swung his leg quietly over the windowsill, his foot touching carpet.

“You told me you were on the fifth floor,” he said as he swung his other leg inside and unfolded to his full height. His voice was deep and raspy. His white teeth flashed in the dim light as he grinned.

Oh. My. God. Zorro was in her apartment.

“I, ah—” He must have seen her through the window and thought she was the other
Marie. Again. Her insides fluttered with possibilities.

Tell him! He stalked toward the bed like a wild animal hunting its prey. He eased
the sword from its sheath and leaned over her, holding it above her face. She, Cassie
Snow, was smack dab in the middle of another couple’s naughty fantasy. Her eyes widened
and need pulsed between her legs. Tell him he’s in the wrong apartment!

“You said you like to be scared,” he growled, right before he clamped a hand
over her mouth and pressed the back of her head into the pillow.

He held the long silver blade in front of her eyes. “Make a sound and you’re
dead. Understand?” She nodded and immediately stilled. She knew she should tell him
he had the wrong girl. But she was always the wrong girl. Was it so horrible that
she wanted to be the right girl for a change? Was it so wrong that she wished, just
for one night, to be someone else? Someone who acted out naughty role-playing?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Chilling Tale by Mary Ricksen

Silhouetted in the blood-red sky, the ghost of a moon drifts through the night, shedding an eerie glow on the haunted mansion. An invisible presence looms about the manor, palpable enough to slice through the fog-misted night. The wind chimes tinkle in the wind, sending prickles skittering down Mary’s spine. And when she hears the thundering of footsteps behind her, she pauses, her heart in her throat. Nothing. Then she guffaws, a bitter chuckle spewing from her lips. Silly fool. Just the sound of her own footsteps spooking her. But when something brushes her leg, she screams loud enough to wake the dead. Then she spies him as he rustles through the dry leaves before slinking into the dark of night. A black cat. Another superstition. She’s doomed. Why oh why had she agreed to come to the haunted mansion tonight of all nights to tell a ghost story? She’d been having signals and vibes all day, hadn’t she? So why had she come? She frowned. Because Sharon made her, that’s why. Then she breaks into an engaging grin. And because the hunky butler Oliver will be at her beck and call all night. Taking a moment to adjust her witch’s hat and dab her lips with scarlet war paint, she yanks the rope to announce her presence. And when the creaky old door opens on rusty hinges, and Oliver grins, his eyes glinting with madness, Mary tosses all caution to the wind and saunters into the vestibule.

“Madame is waiting for you, Ms. Ricksen,” Oliver took her hand in his, fingers intertwining. “Allow me to escort you into the parlour.”

So enthralled was Mary, she didn’t even flinch when she walked through spider webs, when a hairy wolf spider crawled down her arm or when the pet raven swooped down the spiral staircase, his massive wings flapping before perching himself on her shoulder. She just gave Oliver’s hand a little squeeze and put a little va boom in her walk

Sharon, portraying the Mysterious Veiled Lady, dressed in black satin with a bustle skirt, sat in between the Two-headed Lady and the Howling Werewolf. Casting Mary an evil smile, she patted the seat next to her.

Sharon: Do have a seat here on the sofa, dearie. There’s plenty of room. Oliver, do bring Mary a strawberry delight from Duncan Donuts. She’s about to tell us a ghost story about her mother and we don’t want her mouth to get dry. So Mary, now that you have all our attention (the (werewolf screams as the silvery light from the moon spills in through the double hung window)

Do tell us this bewitching story of your mother’s special powers which you’ve inherited.

Mary slugs back the strawberry drink Oliver hands her and then demands something stronger. Three martinis later, she’s so ready she stands atop the coffin and clears her throat, commanding silence.

My Mom and the house she loved too much.

My mom is fey. I believe it has always been passed down on the matriarchal side of
the family. My mom had fiery red natural colored hair, naturally curvy it was one
of her biggest prides. It's white as snow now. She has misty morning green eyes with
flecks of amber in them. She loves the color Kelly Green and tends toward the Irish
side of her ancestry. She was a flirt and hung out at the USO. My father saw her
and fell in love before he even spoke to her. He always had this strong sense of
needing to take care of her. They always owned beautiful homes. My father worked
hard for the government and he had to change where we lived frequently to move up
the corporate ladder.

They were living in Virginia, my mom loved that home. It had five bedrooms, (six
kids), lots of bathrooms and a huge yard where my mother grew plants in an almost
magic way. No matter what she put in the ground it bloomed and grew as if just to
please her. When she put the house up for sale she would kick everyone out and even
comb the rug so the house looked immaculate when potential buyers would come.
That house loved my mother too. Nothing broke and the many time she was alone with
us on my fathers business trips, she was always safe and snug.

So she finally sold the house and trustingly she left with us all to go be with my
father and never worried the closing would go well with their lawyer there. At the
last minute the people demanded my parents come down $10,000 or they would back
out. My parents were blown away. What rats? In the end they had to take the deal,
heck they were already moved. My mother stewed, and smoldered about it, for weeks
and then she broke down and decided to make a spell. She didn't do it often, all
she could do was negative things and she had to be very emotionally charged. Boy
was she.

She lay in bed that night and left her body, she traveled back to her old home in
Annandale, Virginia, and walked the still empty house. Putting unhappiness and depression
everywhere, she cursed the home and it's occupants. She traveled back into her body
and satisfied, fell asleep. There would be no happiness for those crooks in my mother's

Eventually as time passed, so did her anger and she forgot about it. It was three
or four years later that she heard from one of her old neighbors. The woman asked
if she could give my mom's phone number to the people that owned the house now. They
needed her help. It seems that the people who first bought the house divorced within
six months and every family since and I think there was three of them, all ended
in the same boat. That's four divorced families. The woman who owned the house said
that it was full of anger and hate and it was contagious. She and her new husband
began to fight the minute they moved in.

My mom went back to the house that night. She walked it and did the best she could
to suck back up all the negative vibes she'd left behind. Then went back home. The
couple went on to have three children and still live in the home today. I have inherited
some of her abilities and I can't do good spells either. I once tried my hand a crystal
scrying. I used the best full of windows natural rainbow crystal ball available.
I saw a friends face and it turned to a skull, he was dead in month, so I stopped
that. And there was the scary incidents with the Ouija board as a teen. So I don't
do anything any more. Not a good idea.

When Mary takes her respective seat on the sofa, the vanilla-scented candles flicker before turning blue. Then they zap out. A cold draft filters through the room and the werewolf howls. Then the candles come back on. From inside the walls, the skeletons rattle. The organ cranks out the funeral dirge just as a big hairy spider crawls out of its web.

Sharon: Hmmm. Mary. Very interesting powers you have inherited from your mom. Now this ghost story is the perfect example of a voo doo curse, I’d say. When did you first realize your mother had these powers that be?

Mary: No not Voo Doo, it’s more like a Celtic witch kind of thing for my family. My Mom worried about hearing the Banshee wail. She lost her first husband and heard it when he passed.
She is a quarter Abenaki Indian and it was said the women were healers and foretellers, in that part of the family. But we never saw anything off. She was our mom and to us they were stories.

Sharon: And did you find these peculiar, a bit out of the norm? Were you and your siblings ever frightened by these powers?

Mary: My Mom talked about these things like she talked about her first boyfriend, or her other family tales. My brothers didn’t even listen and my sisters sense things sometimes, but that’s it for them.

Sharon: Hmmm. I foresee a best seller here. Do dish, girlfriend. Any chance of that?

Mary: It would have to be about my mother and her soul mate. Which is my father and his control would make it sad even though they totally loved each other My Mom changed for him.

Sharon: That gives me chills, all those families facing turbulent love affairs the moment they set foot in the home, all due to your mom’s curse. Hmmm. Remind me to stay on the good side of her. Oliver, do pack some treats for Mary to take to her mom when she visits, and put a nice bow and card on top.

Sharon: And what other things could your mom do when she was…ah…fired up and charged?

Mary: My Mom is 85 and very frail. She has a whole bunch of stories. But she didn’t really look at herself as a witch. She could throw a mean slipper.

Sharon: When did you first realize you’d inherited the power, Mary. Sharon blesses herself as Mary’s penetrating stare seems to burn a hole through the veil shrouding her face.

Mary: I first started to play with the Ouija board with my best friend, when I was a very young teen. We had some crazy things happen and our parents took it away. When I first moved into my own apartment at 20, I was disillusioned with life. I knew I had to test the limits. I tried Wicca, but it wasn’t for me, even with my respect for nature. I started to learn about crystals. I read all about different religions and I opened my heart and mind to learn about all kinds of things.

Sharon: And do you think you’ll ever call upon or be called upon to perform your gift again? And if so, would you dare and scrye?

Mary: Not in a million years.

Sharon: Mary, it’s been a truly bewitching tale. As I’ve often said, the legends and lore have some merit or they would not have been passed on from generation to generation through the centuries. You are a gift. With your gift of story telling, you’ll go far. Good luck to you, my friend. And give your mom a big hug for me.

Mary: Thank you Sharon for having me. I will give my mom your best! Thank you so much for the compliments you are in the wrong costume, you should be dressed as an Angel. Oliver has been so kind; he only tried to bite me once. Then he seemed to snap out of it and began to act like a, dare I say, Butler, but I was taken aback when he started to sound a bit like Lurch. Remember him? Well I do have to leave, the Headless Horseman is waiting for me. Have you seen the head he caries. He’s rather handsome don’t you think?

Ta, Ta. I’ll see you at the ball Sharon, Oliver? Mary waves grandly to the room and leaves.

You can learn more about Mary Ricksen on her website at:

And purchase Tripping Through Time

Have a ghost story to share? Tell us all about it. We love to hear them!

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight with Barbara Edwards

From the deepest thicket of the woods, she appears at the haunted mansion on the hill.The full moon hangs low over the dark dreary sky. A coyote howls and a raven screeches, its throaty cry foreboding. Thunder explodes and a streak of lightning illuminates the graveyard next to the haunted mansion.

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! In keeping with the spirit of ghosts and goblins and the full moon, the Halloween party sizzles! Today’s featured guest is Barbara Edwards. Barbara is here to chat with us about her Halloween-inspired book Ancient Awakening!

Here’s a blurb and excerpt. But first, a little about Barbara.

Barbara Edwards is a native New Englander who lives in a Victorian Gothic built in 1872 with her husband, a Belgian Sheperd and a very quiet ghost.

Blurb: In Ancient Awakening, Police Officer ‘Mel’ Petersen investigates a death only she believes is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her.
Her neighbor Stephen Zoriak is a prime suspect. Steve worked for a major pharmaceutical
company where he discovered a bio-weapon so dangerous he destroys the research. He is exposed to the dangerous organism. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help her find the truth. In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find the real killer and a love that defies death.

Legend gave him many names, but the wide halls of his mountain retreat no longer
echoed with countless worshipers. He could have ruled the world had his ambition
not died with the passage of time. The endless whispers were from the cold winds
and the few praying priests. He didn’t care that he couldn’t remember his real name
or birthplace.

For an eon he’d regretted the loss of softer emotions. Love had been the first feeling
to die, along with the woman who had insisted he would never harm her. He couldn’t
recall her features just the merry tinkle of her laughter and the bright smile she
had greeted him with every morning. He licked his lips. She’d tasted sweet.
Fierce need flared in his gut and he sniffed the air. Outside his chamber a single
acolyte in long brown robes waited to escort him. His mouth curved with a mirthless
smile. The silent servants had ignited the flickering wall torches. Shadows jumped and shivered in the drafty halls like nervous virgins.

Sharon: Let’s have a warm welcome for Barbara Edwards. Barbara, welcome to the Haunted Mansion!

As the bell in the bell tower tolls out the witching hour, Barbara is escorted down the long dark corridor by Oliver, costumed as a knight. The bats flap their wings in flight as they screech out a welcoming chirp. Torches flicker as they enter the parlor, revealing Sharon, costumed as the Queen of Hearts.

Sharon: Welcome, Barbara. Come have a seat if you dare and Oliver will serve refreshments. Tell me about your costume.

Barbara: First let me thank you for inviting me to this fascinating placed. I’m formally dressed as a world famous author, a role I’d love to have in real life.

Oliver appears, sporting a tray of martinis above his head. With a sweeping bow, he places a perfectly chilled gin martini with a touch of vermouth in front of Barbara. He smiles a beguiling smile as he fusses with the chips. “Shaken, not stirred with two olives.” His eyes glaze over and he yanks off his armor. “If I might be so bold as to ask for your autograph, Ms. Edwards?”

Barbara: I’d love to sign a copy of Ancient Awakening for you. Let me prick my finger and draw a drop of blood to write with.

Sharon: Did you forget about my dirty martini, Oliver? But then the raven clock screeches and the interview commences.

Sharon: I love the sound of your book, Ancient Awakening. It sounds full of intrigue, love and my favorite, legends. Tell us about the premise and the characters.

Barbara: ‘Mel’ is a common-sense cop and Steve a scientist who deals in facts. Both are sensible people who don’t believe in the supernatural until evil comes alive in their backyard. The New England village of Rhodes End is located on the conjunction of magnetic ley lines that draw paranormal activity. Normal people live normal lives unaware of what happens around them.

Sharon: What inspired you to write paranormal?

But before Barbara can answer, a woman’s chilling scream shatters the windows.

Sharon: Oh, it must be your ghost. Did you bring it along? LOL As we were saying, tell us why you like the paranormal?

Barbara: I grew up next to an old cemetery with crumbling gravestones, gloomy pines and scary shadows. We played there during the day, but ran from it at night. I was always aware that things hid in the dark. Writing about my nightmares helps me sleep better.

Oliver appears with fresh martinis and chocolate mint ice cream. Scooping up a vampire spoonful, he feeds some to Barbara, his glowing red eyes gleaming through his armor.

Sharon: Oliver adores dressing up and Halloween is his favorite holiday. Do share a favorite ghost story with us. Or better yet, tell us about the ghost that haunts your Victorian Gothic home.

Barbara: I’d rather call him a shade. He appears as a silhouette wearing a visored hat and heavy coat at exactly 3:35 am in the living-room. He is facing the door. I don’t know if the last owner saw him since she died and we purchased the house from her estate. I think he’s the original owner who worked as a conductor on the railroad. I haven’t tried to talk to him.

Horrified, Oliver passes out cold, his heavy metal armor smacking the hardwood floor with a resounding thud. The skeletons from behind the walls cackle loud enough to wake the living dead.

Sharon: Get up, Oliver. We all know you went to acting school and you did not impress Barbara and she will not give you mouth to mouth. Now quit showing off and go away. So Barbara, how about superstition? And legends or lore? As a native New Englander, you must fancy quite a few.

Barbara: I love history and New England is ripe with wonderful tales. The original new world vampire family was dug up and burned by the neighbors not far from here.

Sharon: strokes her black cat. Ohhh. I love it! I certainly hope you don’t have any aversion to black cats, do you?

Barbara: Not at all. I love cats. My current cat is a calico that brings me dead mice, snakes and other nasty gifts.

Sharon: So does sweet Freddie here. So what is next for Barbara Edwards? Another Black Rose?

Barbara: Yes. The next book about Rhodes End continues Mel and Steve’s story with the addition of a werewolf and a girl who sees auras.

Sharon: And we’ll be looking for it. What was your favorite Halloween party and costume and did it have any bearing on your writing?

Barbara: Last year I dressed as a gypsy and read Tarot cards. Any event can be used in my writing, especially where emotions are stirred. People reacted very strongly to my readings and want me to do it again this year.

Sharon: I would love to have my cards read by you some time. I enjoy tea leaves and fortunes so much, so long as they’re good. LOL

The raven clock screeches and the hour is up.

Sharon: Just one more question, Barbara. What can the wee ones expect at the Edwards home this Halloween?

Barbara: I’m wearing a Black Widow spider outfit and decorating the porch with a huge spider week. Spooky music will play softly as they climb the stairs to get dark chocolate bars.

Sharon: I love it! Well, thank you so much for coming to the haunted mansion, Barbara. Where can we purchase Ancient Awakening and get in touch with you?

Barbara: Ancient Awakening can be purchased directly from or you can visit my website to read more and click the buy button. I also have a blog for Barb'Ed Comments

But then the organ music grinds and Oliver grabs Barbara for a spin, knocking her into the cobwebs. He sings the words in her ears,
“Halloween, Halloween Oh what funny things are seen Witches hats, coal black cats, broomstick riders , mice and rats…”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

True paranormal story told by Candace Morehouse

‘Twas the week before Halloween and all through the village, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Out to explore the beauty of nature one crisp fall day in the White Mountains, Candace Morehouse became disoriented. She allowed her writer’s mind to carry her away to another place and time. Candace was always mesmerized by the castles, vineyards and majestic mountainsides of Germany, and she found herself leaving Arizona to venture into the Black Forest.

Before long, she was in the deepest thicket of the woods, far from civilization. A dark shadow fell over the forest--and with a shudder--Candace realized nighttime had set in. The wind swooshed through the mighty pines, sounding like the wise old whispers of the ancient Mogollon Indians who populated the grounds thousands of years ago. But suddenly, shivers danced down Candace’s spine. And when she heard blood-curdling screams coming from deep in the thrush, her heart caught in her throat.

Bathed in the eerie glow of the full moon, busy little dwarves hammered and pounded, chiseling beautiful cuckoo clocks out of the barks of pine. In the distance, werewolves howled and witches cackled, their blood-curdling cries slicing through the forest. Over the pummeling of nails, the dwarves kept right on working. But as Candace moved in closer, she heard them chattering amongst themselves and her blood ran cold.

“Beware,” the tiny man’s scratchy voice echoed in the wind. “Tis the witching season when one clock will be snatched up by the werewolves and witches that come out during a full moon. And with the powers bestowed upon them by the Mogollon Indians, they cast a wicked spell on a clock.”

“Indeed so,” another little man screeched. “And that clock will haunt its owner. It will cuckoo precisely three times, even though the hands of the clock will show a different time. The witches and werewolves of the Black Forest play this trick to frighten a person out of their wits. And we are the only ones that can break the spell with our chanting.”

Captivated by this mystical legend, Candace moved closer, her feet crunching dry twigs and pinecones. The dwarves stopped hammering and gawked, their wrinkled little faces twisted into gasps.

“Who are you and what do you want, mere mortal?”

“I’m Candace Morehouse and I have one of those haunted clocks. Please help me. Can you break the ancient spell so I can sleep at night?”

“Sit a spell on this pine stump and tell us your tale of woe,” a tiny bearded man gestured with a gnarled green fingernail. “And we’ll help if we can. But first, we need to hear the entire story.”

Sucking in her breath, Candace began to tell the tale of the Haunted Cuckoo Clock:

“A couple years ago my folks took a trip to Germany. My dad loves going there and exploring his ancestral roots. Of course, shopping for gifts for their brood of kids and stepkids is always part of their trip. Especially for me they brought back an authentic cuckoo clock manufactured in Germany’s famous Black Forest region.

“I was tickled pink. I’ve always wanted a cuckoo clock, and this one features a delightful tune and a cute little boy and girl that dance in and out of the doors. I put it up in my Mesa home (much to the chagrin of both my son and my husband, who hated hearing the cuckoo noise). A few months later I moved up to my current home hear in northeastern Arizona. Of course, the clock came along with us. Unfortunately I didn’t pack it correctly for the move and when I hung up in my kitchen, it never worked right; it kept stopping at will. I got tired of starting it back up again so I let it hang as a decorative object.

“Some months later I was all alone working away doing my freelance writing. It was a blustery, gray, gloomy sort of day. The wind was blowing and a chill was in the air. As I was sitting in the living room at my laptop typing, all of a sudden I heard the cuckoo clock strike three o’clock in the afternoon. I got immediate goose bumps. I glanced at the clock on my laptop and noted it was exactly three o’clock. The cuckoo clock tick-tocked several times, then abruptly stopped. When I went into the kitchen to look at it, the hands were pointing at a completely different time.

“I got so freaked out I had to leave my house for a while. I told my husband the story when he got home that night and he pooh-poohed the whole idea of a haunted clock. To this day, I still think something paranormal was going on. After all, what are the odds that a malfunctioning clock would suddenly strike exactly on the hour even when it wasn’t set to that time, start out of the blue, and then stop and never do it again?

“Perhaps it has something to do with the ancient Mogollon Indians who populated this area thousands of years ago…”

“Indeed so,” the little man stood, excitement gleaming in his eyes. “You have a haunted clock. And we can break the ancient spell but it must be done before the clock strikes midnight tonight.”

“But,” Candace stammered, fear blazing in her eyes. “I’m so far from home and I’m lost. I can never…”

“Hush up and listen,” the bearded man took charge. “Drink this, dearie.”

“What’s this?” Candace peered at the blood red liquid in the silver cup the size of a thimble.

“Tis shiraz, m’dear. Drink up and you’ll be home.” He then proceeded to hand her a clove of garlic he snatched up from the floor of the forest. “Then rub this on the face of the clock. It’s been sprinkled with root of the pine. As you are rubbing the garlic into the face of the clock, you must repeat the chant three times.”

“What chant?”

“Spell of the ancient druids begone. Now drink the …ah…” A wicked chuckle spewed from his lips, “…shiraz and off you go. But you must never enter the Black Forest again…or else….”

And as Candace disappeared from the deep dark woods of the Black Forest, the mournful wails of the werewolves warbled through the mighty pines.

Beware haunted cuckoo clocks and have a happy Halloween!

To learn more about Candace Morehouse and purchase her books, visit her at:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Haunted Mansions of Wales ( Hywela Lyn) 2 - Gregynnog

At the beginning of October I commented on one of Sharon’s Halloween posts that I've only had one really eerie experience. It was some years ago when I was attending a writing weekend at an old mansion in Wales, Gregynnog. Various halls have occupied the site since the twelfth century and it was the ancestral home of the Blayneys and the Traceys from the fifteenth century. The house, a very large, mock Tudor building, was given to the University of Wales in 1963 by owners and art-collectors, Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, the granddaughters of Victorian tycoon, David Davies of Llandinam.

Some years ago, I attended a writing workshop at Gregynnog. We were told there was a legend that the house was haunted by a lady whose family used to own it but who lost their money and had to leave. Apparently she returned to the house after she died because she loved it so much. I felt nothing but a warm, welcoming presence, not cold or frightening at all. I slept soundly at night and enjoyed exploring the house and grounds, and writing in the large, comfortable music room.

The gardens were mostly formal, and extend to 700 acres, although they used to be considerably larger. There was an interesting statue of a huge hand in a secluded area, not far from the house I took a photo of a friend standing beside it, and he took one of me. When they were printed the one of him was fine, nice and clear and sharp. The one of me, taken seconds later, with the same camera, showed a mist in the bushes behind me and the shadowy figure of a lady in a long flowing dress. It wasn't easy to see unless you looked really hard, and it was another friend who first spotted it.
The figure eventually faded over time, although it was still visible once you knew where to look.

I’ve kept it in an album with several other photographs. Strangely enough, when I went to remove the photographs to scan some of them for this article, and see if anyone reading this could see the lady, that particular one had disappeared. It still hasn’t come to light. Is that a coincidence do you think, or something more...supernatural?

I would add that I’m not the only one who has had strange experiences regarding this beautiful old house.

I came across this, on the website ‘Ghosttheory’:

Sports reporter Gavin Grosvenor wrote that he believed he had encountered the spirit of the Davies sisters at Gregynog.

He said: “One cold winter evening near the hall my friend and I felt the presence of one of the Davies sisters. “We had stopped on a small bridge near the entrance to Gregynog Hall, known locally as Squew Bridge. It was a cold night but we decided to stop for a cigarette while hanging our legs over the side of the bridge.

“To this day I have no idea why I looked down into the river below but when I did I noticed the reflection of the moon on the water through an overhanging tree branch had created a very clear outline of a woman.

“I have been known to have vivid imagination so asked my friend whether he also saw the shape of a woman. He agreed it was definitely the shape of a woman in a long dress.
Before he could finish his sentence there was an inexplicable strong wind which seemed to come from nowhere.

“Minutes before the evening had been calm and quiet but now we could hardly hear each other for the screeching cold wind which seemed localised to the bridge.” Gavin and his friend quickly headed for home.

“With the wind screaming into our faces to the extent that tears were almost in our eyes we picked up the pace and just thought the person behind us was walking their dog and had been caught in the same bad weather. “As we approached the hill I looked behind and noticed this person had no dog. “No big deal I thought but I double taked and what I saw next will stay with me forever. Not only was this person not walking a dog but this person appeared to have no legs. There was also something eerily familiar about this person’s shape. It was the same shape we had both seen reflected in the water.” They picked up pace, but the spectre just followed suit.

“The wind was still strong and by now the spectre was within touching distance. Before we reached light we looked behind again. There it was. A faceless shape of a woman wearing clothes from over 100 years ago.

“I don’t know why but we both agreed afterwards that we had seen the ghost of one of the Davies sisters and it had wanted us to stay away from her former mansion home.”

Tom, the house manager, stated that he walked out of the outside office block, to go into the house proper, and had to walk past the windows of the old Edwardian laundry room (they were still used at times, but were obviously barred to guests. One evening, at one of the windows stood a burly white haired woman, with her hair up in a bun and wearing some kind of an apron. “She just stood and looked at Tom sternly, and as he was the overall boss at Gregynog, he marched round to the laundry room to see who she was, and to get her out of there.

“Needless to say the room was totally deserted.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lori Graham stars in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Costumed as the austere Nurse Ratched, Lori Graham walked at a brisk pace toward the Oregon State Hospital. The high-pitched keening of a flute floated through the crisp fall night. An eerie crimson light seeped from the floor of the mental ward, casting willowy shadows on the cracked pavement. A macabre atmosphere shrouded the grounds of the insane asylum, the muffled screams and manic laughter echoing through the hills. The wind rustled through the surrounding oaks, mimicking the hushed whispers of the demented trapped within the walls of the institution.

A little thrill hurled through Lori, knowing in just a few minutes, she’d come face to face with the casting crew of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Getting into the role of the rigid Nurse Ratched, a strong woman with great disdain for her charges, an evil smile curled Lori’s lips. What fun, a Halloween masquerade to commemorate an all star production. The cool breeze rippled through her crisp white uniform as she scurried up the rickety steps to the makeshift hospital. Sucking in her breath, she yanked on the rope to announce her presence, her heart palpitating with eager anticipation.

The heavy mahogany door creaked open with a jarring squeak, rusty hinges groaning in protest. Oliver stood there, portraying the once rambunctious Randle McMurphy. Blood oozed from the scars of his recent lobotomy, madness glinting in his eyes. Strands of red hair spiked upward in wild disarray, a fresh scar across the bridge of his nose. Giving his best Jack Nicholson imitation, he twisted his lips into a cock-eyed smile. “You rang, Nurse Ratched?”

With a wicked wink, Oliver extends his arm, leading Lori down the long, dark corridor to the parlour where the other guests await. The sound track from Thriller filtered through hidden speakers, the chilling lyrics the perfect ambiance. The scent of cranberry candles mingled with the smell of the birch wood log in the hearth. Entering the parlour, there they were in all their glory, the raucous and rowdy inmates of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Sharon floated about the room, costumed as Nurse Candy, chatting with Chief Bromden, Billy Bibbit, Dr. Stivey, Charles Cheswick and Rub-a-dub George. Martini stood off to the corner, hallucinating. Sharon rushes to greet Lori and the group gathers around the crackling fire.

Sharon: How are you this evening, Lori?

Lori: I am doing well but am a little concerned that I can keep up with the collection of characters gathered here.

Oliver materializes, shuffling his feet, carrying out his role to pure perfection. With a malevolent grin, he hands Nurse Ratched a chocolate martini, his specialty. Then he places a plate of warm tortilla chips and salsa on the table. Never losing eye contact with the nurse of his nightmares, he methodically dips a chip into the dip and feeds it to Lori. “I made this just for you, Nurse Ratched. What do you think?”

Lori: Although I find your offering very kind, a little angel food cake goes much better with a chocolate martini. You do make a fine drink, sir, and in order to properly participate this evening, I may need another.

Sharon: Ah, that can be arranged. That will be all, Oliver. You’re taking your role a little too seriously. Now that we’re all comfy with cocktails and appetizers, let’s chat a bit about who we really are behind our masks. Lori, these are all my friends and they are all wanna be suspense writers. So who better than the senior editor of the Crimson line of The Wild Rose Press to advise them. Can you tell us a little about this genre and what you look for when reviewing a suspense manuscript. What makes your skin tingle when you know you have stumbled upon a thriller?

Lori: There are so many ways to answer this question. First and foremost, I like something that makes me think. But thinking about a manuscript can take several forms. One way is a storyline that is action packed and always moving—maybe terrorists, kidnappers, running from something. Another way is for there to be twists in the plot so that I can’t figure out who did it until the very end. If I can figure out in the first couple of chapters who killed the heroine’s best friend and why, I lose interest.

Sharon: What specific character traits make or break the protagonist, antagonist and villain? What makes each unique?

Lori: Boy, Sharon, you ask some tough questions so I sure hope I do well on this test. J I know it sounds trite but reality is what I look for, especially reality combined with consistency. For example, let’s say the heroine comes across really strong in the beginning, but along the way, she can’t make decisions. That would be a manuscript that doesn’t work for me. I want characters that I feel I understand and can sit down at a table for some real conversation. I don’t want characters that shift from positions of strength to weakness and don’t recover. This does not mean that the heroine can’t be comforted and wrapped in the heroes arms when she discovers the killer has done something unspeakable but she shouldn’t become a whiner. The hero is larger than life. Isn’t it funny how much we expect from our heroes—strong but gentle, funny but serious, aggressive but not... handsome but…well, heck, handsome is a given. As far as the villain…humm, imagine fog. It is there, it is real, it is every changing, it floats, it hides things…that is what the villain needs to be. More than anything though, the characters have to stand up to real life and make me feel something.

Sharon: Good answers. Now I’m sure there are times you get the same old storylines, told over and over with what an author feels is a fresh twist. What is this fresh twist you hope to find in a submission? What haven’t you seen that you would like to see portrayed in a novel?

Lori: You know when I first start as an editor, I used to answer this question. I really don’t any more. I have discovered that every time I put an author in a box, they blow it up. I think there are some old standards that readers will always read because they love them. The trick is to change up the scenery, morph the characters, add a new dimension. With this as well as your characters, go with your gut.

Sharon: I’m all for that! Now The Wild Rose Press only accepts stories with a strong romantic platform. Would you like to see the company segway a bit into some other genres, say mainstream and women’s fiction?

Lori: Truthfully, right now, I think we have our hands full with what we have. I love that so many publishing houses put out every kind of genre there is and maybe someday we will expand to that. We have surpassed so many of our goals that who can say where we will be five years from now. For now though, I want to focus on romance and do it well. I think there are areas of romance left to be tapped and in today’s world, I also believe romance will never die.

Sharon: Amen to that! You know I’ve recently done a blog on Skhye’s Ramblings sharing my research on suspense novels. Thrillers have always been my passion, ever since Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and Rod Sterling’s Night Gallery. And who could forget all those classic cozy mysteries as Murder She Wrote, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, and Magnum P.I. Now it’s on to Cold Case and CSI. So as a senior editor of a suspense line, I’ll bet you have some memories of old television shows, movies or books that linger in your mind. And if so, which ones and why? Do the feelings they evoke in you influence what you want in a suspense manuscript? There must be something intangible that literally screams off the pages of a good thriller. What is it?

Lori: Oh boy, I don’t have any new ones to add to the list you put up there, except maybe Mannix, Columbo and Kojak. I loved shows like that and am thrilled to have cable TV so that I can find them today. As a little girl, I devoured any book I could get from the library. My favorites were the Nancy Drew mysteries and when I ran out of them, I tried the Hardy Boys. Phyllis Whitney and others soon followed. I am not into the road filled with gore that some thrillers follow because I believe you can do so much more just messing with the mind. I mean come on…if you weren’t sitting on the edge of your seat for Hitchcock’s A Room with A View, you weren’t really watching. No gore, just the anticipation of what might be. From the shows out today, I have to admit I love NCIS.

Sharon: Isn’t that the truth. Who didn’t love Nancy Drew. And I agree. The old suspense scenes in Alfred Hitchcock were so palpable simply by playing on the imagination.

Just then, Oliver pushes out a silver caddy filled with goodies. With a glazed look in his eye, he unveils his culinary delights to Lori with a sweeping bow. Choosing the biggest of the caramel rolls, he feeds it to Lori. “Consider this succulent treat payback for the lobotomy you ordered, Nurse Ratched.”

Lori: Ooo, now caramel goes quite well with chocolate so another one of those martinis if you don’t mind, my dear fellow.

Oliver smiles. But of course. Your wish is my command!

Sharon: All right, Oliver, go shake up another batch of martinis so we can finish chatting with Lori. Maybe she’ll save you a dance later.

Oliver shuffles away, but not before blowing Lori a departing kiss.

(Right back at ya, Oliver.)

Sharon: Did I tell you Oliver is one of the characters in my current project? He seems to be creating quite a stir although all he does is annoy me! So what is your favorite Halloween memory?

Lori: This one isn’t a scary one. One of my very dear neighbor ladies made popcorn balls every Halloween for the town kids. (I come from a very small, rural town.) I used to love to go to her house for cider and a popcorn ball. It became kind of a gathering place for the kids on Halloween. We would play while our parents stood around and talked. I wish times like that could still happen today.
Sharon: Isn’t that the truth. The good old days. And what about decorating. Do you go all out in keeping with the spookiness of the season?

Lori: You know, this is the first year I haven’t. When my kids were around, my house was always decked out for every holiday—from 4th of July to Christmas and everything in between. My two older sons are at college now and my daughter is too cool for things like that. So it just doesn’t seem as fun any more. I imagine those decorations will come out again once I have grandkids but I am hoping that is a ways down the road yet.

Sharon: Well, it’s just about time to mingle and dance and have more of Oliver’s…ah…dare we say treats! But before the dancing begins, I must ask. I adore legends and lore and traditions. I collect them and am very superstitious. Can you share a favorite superstition with me?

Lori: I don’t know that I personally have one. Isn’t that strange…I have never really thought about that before. I remember all the ones when we were kids—step on a crack, break your mother’s back. (Didn’t we all stamp our little hearts out at least once, just to see what would happen?) I love the black cat ones…oh but wait, I have one. I love the ladder ones…wait, I did that over the weekend. Then there’s the salt…oops did that this afternoon. I guess I’m in big trouble.

Oliver grins as he hands Lori a fresh chocolate martini.

Sharon: Do you like to see ancient legends and superstitions work their way into a storyline?

Lori: If it is done well and the author has done the research, yes. I think about anything that is well done can make it into a manuscript. Whether it is a legend or an intimate scene between hero and heroine, don’t just stick it in to say it’s there. Research, know your stuff, build on it.

Sharon: Thank you, Lori. You’ve given us plenty of beneficial information for submitting that suspense novel. Any last words of wisdom? And where can authors submit suspense novels to The Wild Rose Press?

Lori: Don’t be afraid to try something new and give your character’s some room. Just make sure you know what you are talking about. Don’t try to make your hero an agent for the FBI if you don’t know the first thing about the FBI. Have some fun with the learning and give your characters the depth of that knowledge. You will be surprised where they take you.

You can submit through our website. Another word of advice is to always, always check out the submission pages. Every house is different in how they want things submitted and if you follow those guidelines, you will get a much better review of your work. The website is and the email is If you want to ask a question, please don’t hesitate to email me at Keep in mind, I won’t take submissions through that email or even look at a partial but I will answer a question.

Another tidbit…sshhhh…it’s a secret. There will be a special submission call coming out for Crimson the first week in November. Big doings…and you’re the first to know. I can’t give you the details because I have been sworn to secrecy but you are definitely going to want to check out the Wild Rose blog site. November is Crimson Rose month so it is all about us for the entire month of November. Woo Hoo. Anyway, check us out for those details and then plan on joining us for the November chat session because we’ll be talking even more about it. (I think I am being watched so I have to stop now.)

I see Oliver coming back and I am so parched. Oh Oliver…

Always one to accommodate, Oliver freshens Lori’s drink.

Just then, Martini cranks up the stereo, the chilling lyrics blasting through the parlour. Grinning an evil grin, Randle McMurphy scoops Nurse Ratched into his arms and they do the Monster Mash until they drop…


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The hunter’s moon hung low in the dark desert sky. From the deepest thicket of the woods, a coyote howled, its piercing wail slicing through the silence. The wind swooshed through the Ponderosa pines, sounding like the wise old whispers of the Paiute Indians buried thousands of feet below in the windblown sand. The bats circling the bell tower screeched, foreboding an eerie warning of things to come.

She saunters up the rickety old steps to the haunted mansion on the hill, black gown billowing in the breeze. Using the lion head door knocker, she raps three times, announcing her presence.

With a croak of rusty hinges, the door swings open and Oliver stands there, costumed in a black leather kilt and black leather cowboy hat. His eyes gleam and his pearly white fangs break into an engaging grin. “You rang?”

Extending one of his bulging biceps, he escorts the witch down the long dark corridor to the parlor. A mouse twitters and a bat screeches as it flaps its wings. Bones of previous guests line the walls in between the fiery red eyes that gleam then vanish into the void. From the parlor, organ music grinds out a spooky instrumental to the accompaniment of blood curdling screams. They enter the parlor where the Queen of Hearts sits in her throne, standing candelabras flickering. Hello and welcome to Week Three of my Halloween blog! Today’s special guest is friend and fellow Wild Rose author


And she is here to chat with us and read us an excerpt from NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE,


But first, a little about Skhye:

"I'm a Texan that believes men do look best in kilts. Unfortunately, my husband disagrees. I blog about reference books at I hold a BS in geology. Writing lured me away from finishing my thesis in (bioarchaeology) anthropology. Archaeology just dislikes the way we authors misconstrue fact. But the sacriledge is so enjoyable. Still, there's nothing like scratching around in the dirt looking for fossils or potsherds. I'm so detail-oriented that I suffer from an adrenaline rush when told to make a map.

I guess the easiest way to describe myself is as a person who finds nature incredibly pleasing and intriguing. The same about
reconstructing human prehistory and history. Yes, I am certifiably geek. I write cross-genre paranormal romance as a way to focus my academic interests in an attempt to write something capable of entertaining the masses. Let's just say, writing fantasy is a challenge."


A demon stalks Druidess Aron MacKintosh, trying to use her to gain control of the timeline in present-day Scotland. Time plows toward Samhain when the doorways open between the Now and the Happy Otherworld. She finds herself in a strange alliance with an unusual time guardian, Cowboy. The duo struggles to defeat the demon. If Cowboy can't earn her trust, the integrity of the timeline could be endangered. Only Cowboy's charm and southern idea of chivalry has what it takes to leave an ancient evil bound NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE.

Sharon: Welcome, Skhye! Now before we chat and get too comfy in these nail-back thrones, I promised the beasts you’d read to them from Naked on the Staircase. And a witch is a witch is a witch….so go to it, dearie!

Oliver delivers a witch’s brew, a dark green liquid with mint leaves floating about. Skhye takes it down like a witch and takes center stage. She clears her throat and it comes out in a croak as she reads to the vampires, dragons and ghosts in the rafters.


"Don't sweat the small stuff, Aron." Cowboy threw the knapsack's wide flap open and glanced sideways at her.

Her eyes widened like a kid in sugar heaven. He plucked out a M68 grenade, his choice for her given it wouldn't detonate until impact.

"These are jawbreakers." He placed the elliptical explosive on the counter and grabbed a stun grenade—a lightweight M451 explosive proving essential in blinding and disorienting bystanders with bright flashes of ligh t and high-pitched sounds. "That's your ultra-sour gummy bear." He placed the M451 beside the M68. "And here's your run-of-the-mill red hots." He pulled at one AN-M14 — an incendiary grenade capable of burning at 2,200 degrees Centigrade for half a minute. He set the cylindrical explosive next to the others.

She reached for them.

Too fast. He grabbed her wrist. "Hold on, Lara Croft. You gotta learn the rules or
your teeth will rot."

"Who's Lara Croft?"

Nice twinkle of jealousy in her eyes. "A heroine in a story who lives and dies by

She stared at her reflection in the mirror and rolled those baby blues. Laughing would only tick her off. "If you don't learn to brush your teeth, you'll wish you had. I'd hate for you to loose an arm." Or kill his heart if she died using an explosive improperly. Talk about blood on one's hands.

Her reflection's gaze locked on meet his. "Please spare me the analogy. Do these all blow Its to bits?"

"No." Revealing the grenade she had been using gave her a four to five-second window
before detonation was not what he preferred to do. Babes shouldn't be airbrushed nor maimed. Women with curves and limbs rated right up there with breathing to men. She scowled at him.

"Calm down." He pushed her arm back to her side and rooted around in the bag for the bomb ranking numero uno with terrorists.

Smooth and rough surfaces bumped into his hands. He shoved them aside. "What you've been using was all I had at the time. Although the Soviet RGD-5 is exceptionally successful, I'd say you're risking life and limb dancing with it in your pretty little hand."

"What?" she squawked like a goose.

Gods, he despised cranky geese. With the luck he'd run into lately, any second, she would change into a goose like in all those Celtic tales he was forced to read. Or were those swans? He shook the thought from his head, placed the SGD-5 next to the other explosives on the counter, and locked his gaze on Red's ruby lips. A man would be a fool to let her play with the grenades. Her sweet small nose could be sliced off her face in a nanosecond. "The projectiles it sprays an area with aren't kind on soft skin or anything living."

Her disgusted mask drained of color. "You mean shrapnel? I wasn't thinking of flying dirks back then. Not to mention, I never saw one scrap of metal."

True. He hadn't thought of shrapnel at all. For some reason, It turned into tangible preserves during a grenade explosion. But not one bit of metal landed in the deluge. He scooted one side of his butt onto the cold stone countertop. "You know." He met her gaze. "Something's odd here. It can attack us here or in the blister armor but never do we see one remnant of the grenade after it has exploded inside It."

Red's gaze widened then narrowed with intrigue. She grabbed the SGD-5 and tried to cram it in her pocket.

No luck with those form-fitting jeans

Purchase your copy of NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE in paperback (anthology with SACRIFICIAL HEARTS) HAUNTED HEARTS at:

in e-format


Druids, magic, time travel. They're all present in Naked on the Staircase. The title of this book intrigued me, but by the time I'd finished reading I understood why the author chose this intriguing title.
The entity is a mysterious being whose identity is not solved until the last few pages, but its very existence holds the story together.
Naked on the Staircase is well written with intrigue, mystery, magic and time travel,
ingredients that work well in a fantasy novel. The interaction between Aron and Cowboy was excellent and the background of the story was skillfully woven into the book.I enjoyed reading NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE and would like to read more of Skhye Moncrief's novels." Orchid: LASR

From inside the cracked walls of the mansion, the skeletons applaud. A bat screeches and perches on Skhye’s shoulder.

Sharon: Excellent. Bravo! What an enchanting read and one I must have one of the pet bats liberate. Are you ready for more brew, dearie?

Skhye: With this chilly ambiance? Of course! *rubs arms to stir up some heat*

Sharon: rings her vampire bell. "Oliver, we’re ready for our steaming green tea with mint leaves, corn curls and candy corn. Do serve them up." Oliver appears with a sinister smile. With a sweeping bow, he presents the steaming brews and snacks and winks seductively at Skhye. He whispers to her that the ingredients are as ordered, green blood with frog legs floating, fingernails of vampires and candied toads. Skhye winks. “Perfect mixture. You must have called my doctor! They’re making me take EVERYTHING these days for Lyme Disease.” She shoots Oliver a sinister grin. “I think I’ll take you over to Skhye’s Ramblings to be my little pet!”

Sharon: Go away, Oliver. Don’t you know you can’t fool Mother Nature. I’m the Queen of Hearts and still hold the power to turn you into a toad and sell you to the gypsies. Now tell me, Skhye, tell me what inspired you to write this book of druids, magic and time travel, the perfect Halloween-inspired ingredients, I might add.

Skhye: Sharon, the gypsies live in my neck of the woods. Oliver will be cared for on my watch. *rolls eyes contemplatively* Oh! Oh, you asked why I mixed all these crazy topics together in my time-travel series… Well, one just can’t write about one aspect of earth life with time travelers and make a story real for the reader. It’s best to incorporate as much as culturally possible. And I fancy the process challenging and fun.

Sharon: And how does a cowboy fit into the mix?

Skhye: He’s an ex-Legionnaire assumed dead but saved by the Hood (bad joke for brotherhood) in his induction into The Cause (time guardianship). Heck, if a good-looking man is going to die, why not save him for a higher purpose. Like--*eyeballs Oliver*--selling him to the gypsies where he’ll become the preferred stud!

Oliver grins and plants himself next to Skhye, tips his leather cowboy hat and takes hold of her hand. Then he pops a candied toad into her mouth.

Skhye: I see he’s well-versed in magic!

Sharon: Tell us about the Time Guardian Tales.

Skhye: A war wages among the Gods. Two Celtic time-travel orders from the future intermarry as soul mates to safeguard history. Paradox is but a stolen heart away. Open the door to a new reality where legend becomes history and destined love defeats timeless evil.

From the inside walls, a woman screams bloody murder. “Let me out! Let me out!”

Sharon: Oh, don’t mind her. She didn’t much care for my last book. And The Queen of Heart gets even. Isn’t that a good motto, Skhye dear?

Sharon: With your background in archaeology, I have to ask. As the charismatic Oliver escorted you through the corridor, you no doubt noticed my art gallery of bones. With your sharp eye, which bones might they be in your expert opinion and to what species?

Skhye: Definitely, human. Homo sapiens sapiens. That’s anatomically modern human. And you did mention bones of previous guests in the opening. Should I feel threatened? I guess good help is hard to come by… I do NOT see any spare ribs. Uh, I once worked on a Maya skeleton whose rib was erroneously marked “spare rib” on the bag. Ahhhh! Talk about science gone awry!

Sharon: Let’s dish about Halloween. What is the most interesting or bizarre costume you ever dressed in?

Skhye: I usually scare people the most when I dress like myself— and talk. Bwah ha haaa. I remember the year I had this great idea to staple leaves all over a garbage bag to wear as a bush. But I didn’t think folks were as big a naturalist as I was! LOL. I’m actually thinking about buying a medieval dress. I said thinking. I don’t make frivolous purchases and can’t justify the cost with a child. But she was asking me what I was going to be when we go trick-or-treating. Talk about scaring one’s mother. I have to come up with something now!

Sharon: And how do you decorate your house and yard? And how will the the wee one be costumed this year?

Skhye: We do the pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, potion bottles, skulls (gotta have bones after working in a bone lab 2 years), and candy corn!

Sharon’s black cat leaps from the organ which is now playing the funeral dirge and lands with a heap on Skhye’s lap. Skhye scratches the kitty. WITCHYS WIKKED GRAPHIX

Sharon: That’s Freddy Krueger and he loves to come out and play on Halloween.But just then the raven clock screeches and the witching hour is over.

Sharon: Dearie me. Time travel does indeed fly when you’re having fun. Skhye, thank you for being with us on this special day. Where can readers buy Naked on the Staircase and get in touch with you? I know you mentioned it earlier (wicked chuckle escapes her lips) but that was before they drank the witch’s brew. So tell them again please.

Purchase your copy of NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE:

in paperback (anthology with SACRIFICIAL HEARTS) HAUNTED HEARTS at

in e-format

Oliver appears as the Gredorian chant plays on the organ. He thrusts his leather-clad hips and removes a chain from around his neck. He lassoes the witch close to his hairy chest and takes her for a spin around the ballroom. As the woman shrieks in delight from behind the walls, the ghostly figures vanish into the night. Skhye’s definitely getting more details to add to one of her paranormal romances!