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.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Editor Appreciation Day


“Good evening.” Oliver smiles, taking a sweeping bow. “It is my great pleasure to present the talented and lovely Lori Graham, Senior Editor of the Crimson line of The Wild Rose Press. Lori, my sweet, how are you on this most enchanted evening?”


Lori: Ah, my sweet Oliver, the stress of my day is fading away now that I am sitting with you.

Oliver: The pleasure is all mine. May I pour you a glass of Francis Ford Coppola’s deep red, my dear? Unless you would like Sharon to serve you something else? We’ve reversed roles for this hallowed event.


 Lori: I am content as long as you keep my drink from becoming empty.


A vampire serves drinks from behind the sleek mahogany bar. Music from The Godfather eerily drifts from hidden wall speakers. Standing candelabras flicker on either side of the crimson settee, and a log crackles and snaps in the hearth. Looking devilishly handsome in a flowing black cape with blood-red interior, Oliver escorts the lovely Lori Graham into his parlor where crimson roses, a bottle of deep red wine and chocolates are laid out on the coffin coffee table. The raven clock gongs thirteen times, announcing the witching hour.


Oliver: Your wish is my command. As we embark on the spookiest night of the year, there is nothing I enjoy more than drinking a glass of red before a crackling fire while reading a good thriller. As senior editor of a romantic suspense line, what do you look for in one of these chilling manuscripts?


Lori: I am looking for something that is unique and keeps the reader guessing. This “guessing” can come through a variety of methods - - maybe it is the identity of the villain. Maybe it is the reason behind his villainy.


Oliver: As a reader of spine tinglers, I rather expect certain things in a book of my favorite genre; otherwise, I’m not above burying the book in the mausoleum. Casting the coffin coffee table a wicked wink, he continues. The first thing I look at is the setting. New Orleans, reputedly one of the spookiest cities in the world, draws me in every time. After all, with the haunted mansions, land of voodoo and all the ghosts roaming the French Quarter, there are a million storylines that an author could create. Then after creating the setting and an intriguing storyline, there are the characters. I have to connect to the hero, heroine and villain or villainess. Last but not least, I want a satisfying closure. Tell me, Lori, as an editor, what do you look for in a crimson manuscript?

Lori: First, let’s look at the technical side. I am looking for an author who controls the story and not the other way around. Characters often have the ability to take a story in circles without the resolution needed. So the author needs to set the stage and guide the characters. From the plot standpoint, I am looking for emotion. I would like to feel, hear, smell, etc. the emotions of the characters. But I would also like to have my emotions pulled, touched, tweaked, singed.

Oliver: But of course, my dear. What character traits do you look for in the hero, heroine and villain/villainess

Lori: The villain needs to be creative. For this character to come up with something unique, he/she needs to think fast and thorough. For the heroine, I am looking for a woman who knows her own mind. Yes, there needs to be something for her to work on but there is nothing worse than a whiny female. (Excuse me, Oliver, but my drink is getting low.) Basically, I don’t want a heroine who is annoying. The hero is so much easier to define. Really want an alpha male—a man who is strong in his own beliefs. Yes, I like a nice physique – who wouldn’t. J But what I want more is a man who knows himself and is comfortable in his own skin. I want him to be able to protect me, keep me safe and yet not be afraid to wrap me up and comfort me. Oops, did I say me all of those times?

Oliver winks. You did, but that’s quite all right. Allow me to fill your goblet so that your cup runneth over. Now, if you had to pick one pet peeve, something that turns you off in a heartbeat when reviewing a manuscript, name it, grin.

Lori: “See Spot Run” writing. I want to see a variety of sentence structures, along with depth (creating many levels).

Oliver: On the flip side of the coin, what makes you shout with glee enough to offer a contract?

Lori: Writing that makes me tingle. Again, that control factor. I want to “feel” those kisses, “feel” the need to run from the villain.

Oliver plants a kiss on Lori’s lips with a wicked grin. Speaking of winners, I understand that you are offering a smashing prize for the grand drawing tonight when the clock strikes midnight. Before I sweep you into my arms for a spin around the dance floor to Henry Mancini’s The Waltz, do share, my sweet.

Lori: I would love to offer a free critique to an aspiring author. What phase are you at? If you only have a synopsis, I would be glad to tell you what I think and give you some pointers for fleshing it out. If you have the full manuscript done, I would be glad to review the first six chapters. I won’t do an edit, mind you, because that is what line edits are for but I will give you some suggestions and a short question/answer time. J I would also like to offer a challenge. It is one thing to write a full-length romantic suspense novel, but can you write a shorter length? As Oliver can attest, Sharon is a master of both lengths.

Ah, Oliver, it is getting really dark outside, will you maybe light a few more candles…that’s it, darling, you are the sweetest thing…
Sharon slinks out from behind the bar with a bottle of bubbly. Oliver smoothly plucks up the bouquet of crimson roses and a box of wrapped chocolates from the coffin coffee table. Together they present them to Lori with a sweeping bow.

In honor of Editor Appreciation Day at TWRP, we salute Lori Graham as NUMBER ONE EDITOR SUPREME. We love you, Lori!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oliver Presents: The Visitor


A full moon cast the cemetery looming high above the haunted mansion in an eerie glow. The dark woods surrounding the estate whispered with a danger so palpable, screech owls flapped their wings in fright. On Hallow’s Eve, the spookiest of nights, the visitor felt a presence as he scurried through the leaves and up the stone steps. A werewolf howled, its keening wail echoing through the thicket. Looking over his shoulder, certain he heard footsteps, the visitor yanked the hangman’s noose, the clanking of the dome in the bell tower so loud it rattled the windows.

Dressed in flowing black cape, the butler opened the door. You rang?

The visitor followed the butler to the parlor in silence. Blood-curdling screams rang from the walls. A funeral dirge played on the organ where no one sat. With a screech, a bat soared from the rafters and landed on the visitor’s shoulder. The butler beckoned his guest to be seated in one of the wing back chairs in front of the coffin table where goblets of deep red wine await. When the raven announced the thirteenth hour, the butler introduced the visitor.

Good Evening. On this most thrilling of nights, allow me to present Tony-Paul De Vissage. Tony has a chilling ghost tale to tell, followed by a sample of his work. Take it away, Tony.

ShortStory: Identity Theft (included in my anthology Sweet Sips of Blood, released this month by Vamptasy Publishing (UK) http://www.vamptasypublishing.co.uk/#/sweet-sips/4552635837:

Identity Theft

 

What was that?  Everett Stead glanced furtively over his shoulder as he heard a rustle behind him.

Nothing.

He forced himself to relax.  His imagination was getting the best of him.  For days now, he’d had the eerie sensation of being watched, was certain someone was following him though so far, he hadn’t been able to prove it.  No one lurking outside his flat.  No faces seen too many times to be a coincidence.

It started the evening he picked that toff’s pocket.  The gent had stumbled out of an alley and blundered right into him, practically begging to be robbed, so Ev obliged.  He didn’t wonder what a gentleman was doing in an alley.  From the cut of his suit, he was well-off, so Ev figured he’d been getting a piece.  Since Ev hadn’t had any in quite a while, he took the hand-tooled leather billcase out of spite, relieving Mr. Alexander Kuprin of five hundred quid in cash, his driver’s permit and one Visa Platinum credit card.

 The last was more than he’d expected and in the coming weeks, with the expertise of the career-hacker, he’d taken the information he had and gotten a lot more on Mr. Kuprin and put it to good use.

 Ev was an identity thief, one of the best, never caught and never even suspected.  He stole information, used it to advantage, then dropped it and went on to bigger and better prey, and that was why he’d never gotten caught…until now.  Because he was convinced somehow, he’d slipped up and that feeling he kept getting was a certainty someone was on his trail.

Maybe it was a good time to use his own credit card and take a trip to regions having no extradition to the UK.

He never got the chance.  As he walked past yet another alley, hands reached out, encircled his neck and jerked him into the darkness.

“Got you now, Kuprin!”

Fear sent adrenalin splashing.  He flung his attacker over his head, dashing him against the wall but the man recovered and whirled, raising something defensively.

A stake?  No!  Ev had one moment of scalding horror as it descended…

“Finally.”  The thief’s murderer sighed as he looked at his companion who’d stood by watching the entire episode.

“Get his head off, set the body on fire, and Lexei Kuprin’ll be the history he should’ve been five hundred years ago.”

The deed was accomplished with the swiftness of experts in doing just that.  Then, they strolled back onto the thoroughfare, blending into the crowd.  It would be several minutes before anyone saw flames or smoke and they’d be long gone by then.

Someone had noticed, however.   He’d been following Everett Stead for a fortnight, ever since he realized his wallet had been lifted, watching and waiting for the right moment to strike.  Berating himself for being so careless, he’d seen the others after the thief and stood back to let Nature take its course.  Gliding like a shadow into the alley to view the damage, he allowed himself gloating satisfaction as he watched the body burn, its severed head a flaming briquet a few feet away.

 “Serves you right, you little bastard, for stealing a vampire’s identity.”

 Hurrying to keep his appointment with the expert forger working on his new identity, Mr. Alexander Kuprin wafted into mist and left the alley, blending with London’s fog.


 


His mind was so befuddled with his blasphemous thoughts, Damien hadn’t paid attention to where he rode.  Just let the horse have its head.  Now they broke from the forest and found themselves in a man-made clearing, butts and limbless poles of trees stacked clumsily about.  At that moment, his horse stopped and the wind shifted, bringing a scent of decay and burnt flesh…and Damien knew where their location.
            The plague pits. 
In his distraction, he’d unconsciously guided his mount directly to the last place he ever wished to be.  Not that he could see much of it at the moment. While he was riding alone in a self-induced fugue, the sun’s last rays had long ago winked out through the trees’ shielding branches.
            Now he was alone.  In the dark.  At the edge of a charnel pit.
Got to get out of here. Damien pressed a rein against the horse’s neck, urging him to turn.  The animal balked, instead giving a chest-muffled nicker.  He touched ribs with his heels, pulled on the reins now.  The creature refused to move, legs stiffening.  This time, the sound it made was a protest, sounding almost…frightened?
            ’Tis the scent of death here.  How could anything living not be affected? Nothing to do but lead it, then. Damien slid from the saddle, walking to the horse’s head.  He gripped the bridle at the bit, stroking the fine Barbary muzzle and whispering some soothing nonsense.  And then, he raised his head, and did something he hadn’t intended.  He looked out across the pit.
            Nothing could’ve prepared him for that sight.  Not the woodcuts of Hell in the family Bible.  Nor the threats of Damnation Pere Gervaise heaped upon them at services.  Not even his own most secret nightmares.
            The hole was nearly fifteen feet deep.  It must have taken laborers a goodly time to dig it.  Dirt lay in high heaps around the sides, silhouetted like low mountains in the dimness.  It extended a fair fifty feet, more a gorge than a pit but to Damien’s horror-struck eyes, it appeared a valley into Hell.  How many bodies can this hold? A good number of la Croix’s population, to be sure, for beyond it was a mound of the same size, piled high with tamped dirt and beyond that another, testimony to how many were already buried here.
            The bodies in this one were still uncovered, a fresh layer, though the wagoneer and his helper would be back soon, pouring lamp oil over the corpses and tossing lighted faggots to send these unfortunates to their Reward.  Sometimes the flames would leap so high, they could see them at the chateau, tinting the sky a lurid red.  Like the flames of Hell, Maman would say and cross herself.  Damien pushed thoughts of his mother out of his mind.  He didn’t want to think of her right now.
            As the bodies burned, those under them, already reduced to human charcoal and cinders, would burn again, transformed into even finer ashes rising with the smoke to float away on the winds.  And when the pit could hold no more, it would be covered over by that waiting dirt.
            The horse snuffled again, an odd little choking deep in its chest.  That brought Damien out of his grisly regard.  He reached up, patting the dark neck.  “Quiet, now.  ’Tis all—”
            What’s that?  Whatever else he was going to say died away as he saw something move.  At the far side of the pit.  It seemed to have simply appeared.  He’d swear it wasn’t there a moment ago.  Hunched over, a dark, unwieldly shape, picking its clumsy way among the bodies.
            A survivor?  Some poor soul not yet dead, awakening to find himself covered by his friends and neighbors’ corpses.  Now stumbling over them in half-mad terror?
            The shape halted, bent as if peering at one of the bodies, and reached out.  The hand dropped and the dark form moved on.  It went a few more feet, then hesitated again.  This time, it seized a body, wrenching it from under another.  For a moment, it seemed to embrace the corpse it held. 
Is it actually kissing its neck?  Damien felt his throat clog in revulsion. 
The body was tossed aside, disgust in the movement.  It fell with a liquid thud.  The thing moved on, peering this way and that, searching for something it didn’t find, coming closer to where Damien stood. 
            The horse threw back its head, short, sharp squeals bursting from its throat.  It began to back away, pulling the reins from Damien’s hands.  He reached out to catch them, and the creature below him raised its head.
            Holy Mother!  It eyes were glowing.  Red as coals. And they were looking straight at him.  At that moment, the wind swirled into the pit.  It stirred the thing’s cloak, making it flutter away from the thin body.  For a moment, it looked like…
            Wings.
            Lord God, save us!  They are wings!  Now unfurling, great dark sails dwarfing the creature’s body.  Flapping as if preparing to take it airborne.
            The horse was moving again.  Backing frantically, Damien following.  It reared, and he felt the burn of leather across his fingers as the reins were jerked out of his hand.  He turned to make a futile grab for the flying straps but the animal whirled on hind legs, galloping wildly back into the safety of the trees.
            There was a sound behind him.  Something landing with a thump.  Damien spun around.
            The creature stood before him, eyes still glowing.  He could swear he saw flames flickering within them.  It collapsed its wings; once more they were merely clumsy shreds of cloth.  Then, it took a step toward him.  Hand curved into claws reached out.
            Damien didn’t run.  He knew now what the creature was and also there was no chance he could escape.  The priests told of such night-demons and of their incredible speed and powers greater than any mortal’s.  What had they said of ways to overcome them?  He couldn’t remember.
He could see the thing gathering itself for a leap.  It would be on him before he could run.
            And was.
            He barely had time to reach into the pouch at his waist, fingers scrabbling for the rosary tucked there.  Thank God I didn’t toss it away!  He thought of that irony as the creature launched itself.  Damien thrust out his arm, crucifix dangling from the string of beads wrapped around his hand.
            The creature ran directly into it.  With a scream it recoiled, falling backward so quickly it appeared to have been tossed by the holy object.  Perhaps it had.  It fell on its back in the dirt and Damien was upon it, pressing the cross into its chest through the filthy rags, one knee on its belly to hold it down.
            It gasped and struggled and a smell of rot and filth floated upward from the rags. Blackened flesh appeared under the edges of the crucifix. Damien swallowed and fought the urge to gag.  He forced himself to touch the creature, catching one flailing wrist and pinning it to the ground.  He was surprised at how light it felt, at the frailty of the body beneath his.  He thought if he pressed harder with his knee, it might actually crush the bony chest and go through.
            Suddenly, it stopped fighting.  Blinking, the red glow faded and it lay still.  For a moment, he thought it had died.  When it spoke, he was startled.
            “If you’re going to destroy me, go ahead.  Oblivion is better than the existence I now suffer.”  The sound was deep and hoarse.  Rusty, like a gate hinge grown solid with age suddenly being wrenched open.
            “What can you know of Oblivion?” Damien asked.  “You’re le sansmort, aren’t you?”
            There was a faint nod.  Another wafting of that frightful smell.  Damien swallowed, gulping back his disgust.
            “Oui, I’m le sansmort but what good does immortality do me?”  Damien couldn’t believe the whine in the creature’s voice.  It sounded so…human.  So full of self-pity.  “What pleasure is there in feeding on corpses?”
            “Why bother?” Damien surprised himself by laughing at that.  “There’s an entire village only a short distance…”
            “A dying village. No one has strength to invite me in.  I can’t get to them, so I hunt among the dead, disgusting as that may be.  Bah!”  He made a spitting motion.  Damien shrank back without releasing his hold upon the bony wrist.  “Blood thick and drying…solid in their veins…and if I find one still holding a spark of life… ’Tis too mixed with pus to be palatable.”  He shook his head.  “Go ahead.  Destroy me.  I no longer care.”

Author Bio:

A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage's first movie memories is of viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula's Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless--and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires. 
                                         
This was further inspired when the author was kidnapped by a band of transplanted Romanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South.  Having never seen a human who wasn’t frightened of them, they offered to pay his way through college if he would become an author and write about vampires in a positive manner.  He agreed, and continued to keep in touch with his supernatural  mentors.

Though the author didn't begin writing horror--or any other genre--until after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from a well-known Southern University (and a second in Graphic Art), that one particular interest--and the promise made to his mentors--survived a liberal arts' education and the scorn of friends and family.

Eventually that first story--a short story about the hapless vampire Clan Andriescu--was published.  A voracious reader whose personal library has been shipped more than 3,000 miles, Tony-Paul has read hundreds of vampire tales and viewed more than as many movies.





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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oliver Presents a Halloween movie

Sharon scurries up the stone steps to the DeVeccio mansion to watch the Halloween movie on Chiller Theater. A hunter’s moon hangs low in the dark desert sky. In the distance, a wolf howls, its eerie wail echoing through the night. The wind whistles through the Ponderosa pines, sounding like the wise old whispers of the Paiute Indians buried thousands of feet below in the windblown sand. Reaching the door, she yanks on the hangman’s noose. The dome in the bell tower rattles the mansion.

Oliver answers, holding a candlestick. You rang?

As they walk through the long corridor to the parlor, ghostly footsteps echoing in their wake, organ music grinds off the wall. Candles flicker in the parlor, illuminating the swords above the bar. Hot buttered popcorn and chilled  chardonnay are laid out on the coffin table. Masks from Uncle Carlow’s chamber line the wall, a werewolf with glowing red eyes, the bloody head of Frankenstein and the Evil Jester with a demented smile. Sharon takes a seat on the burgundy settee. When the raven clock announces the thirteenth hour, Oliver takes a sweeping bow.
Good Evening! On this ghoulish Saturday night on Hallow’s Eve it is my great pleasure to present
MASK OF THE BETRAYER
Produced by TRIAD PRODUCTIONS and written by SHARON ANN DONOVAN. Grab yourself a big tub of buttered popcorn and get ready to scream.

When the whispers in the night, the whispers of her lover, are the whispers of a killer, will Margot escape before she becomes the next victim?

Deep in the foothills of Red Rock Canyon, a serial killer stalks. He leaves his signature—a skull mask on the corpse. But when the homicide cop realizes the crimes are the reenactment of a case never solved ten years ago--all fingers point to Michael DeVeccio. And when Margot realizes she is married to the killer, her life becomes a living nightmare.

MASK OF THE BETRAYER VIDEO TRIAD PRODUCTIONS
Second place winner YOU GOTTA READ CONTEST
Mask of the Betrayer
Book one in the Mask series
Filled with so many twists, turns and surprises, you’ll be
hooked from the first chapter.
ISBN: 978-1-936167-06-7

BARNES & NOBLE | Mask of the Betrayer by Sharon Donovan | NOOK ...
www.barnesandnoble.com/.../mask-of-the-betrayer-sharon-donovan

AMAZON KINDLE


Sharon DonovanRomantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith
My website
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oliver Presents Hywela Lyn

A full moon glints through the barren branches of the trees in the haunted cemetery. On Hallow’s Eve, the spookiest night of the year, she rises from the coffin in search of her missing jewels. Tormented shrieks ring through the cemetery.  Shrouded in a long, flowing gown, she drifts toward the mansion where she once lived. Passing the pet cemetery adjacent to the family graveyard where centuries of horses are buried, a colony of screech owls peer down from the willowy branches, green eyes glowing in the dark. Scurrying up the thickly wooded path to the mansion, the sound of ghostly hooves galloping past echo her footsteps. 
Wandering up the stone steps, she walks straight through the closed mahogany door. Oliver stands in the corridor, holding a strange looking candlestick. He bows and bids the striking woman a good evening. She doesn’t answer but  drifts into the parlor as if she didn’t see him. Oliver thinks it strange but follows her and finds her seated on the deep purple settee. Long tapers flicker on the coffin table, casting an eerie glow on silver goblets of mead. Staring accusingly at Oliver, the woman holds up a ruby necklace.

When the screech owls shriek, Oliver announces his guest.

Good Evening. With great pleasure, I present the one and only Hywela Lyn. She has risen on this most sacred of nights to tell a ghostly tale, followed by an excerpt of her latest book. He kisses her on both cheeks and presents her with a goblet of mead. Take it away, my lovely.

Nanteos Mansion

















THE GHOSTS OF NANTEOS
One of my favourite places is Nanteos Mansion, near where I used to live in Wales. The name means 'Valley of the Nightingale'. I used to keep my horses at the stables and spent many a happy hour soaking up the atmosphere of this historic house, built in 1738.The Mansion has its share of ghosts and an interesting history. Late at night the stables would ring with unearthly screeches, like souls in torment. Actually it was nothing more sinister than a colony of screech owls nesting nearby. (Or so I was told.)

A short distance from the house itself is a little copse used to bury the Powell family’s pets. Some of the inscriptions are quite touching and the owner of the stables, which, when I was there, had been sold as a separate entity from the Mansion, swore he’d heard ghostly hooves galloping past, late at night.

Many legends name Nanteos as the one-time resting place of the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus and his disciples are believed to have drunk from at the Last Supper. The cup, known as ‘the Nanteos Cup’ was apparently brought back from the Middle East in AD 63 by Joseph of Arimathea, who settled at Glastonbury Monastery in the west of England. When the monastery was dissolved in 1539, a number of monks fled with the Holy Grail to Strata Florida Abbey, in the Aberystwyth area, and from there to Nanteos, where the cup passed into the hands of the Powell family. The Grail was famous for its supposed healing powers, and water poured from it was highly sought after as a cure for various diseases.

I’ve actually seen the ‘grail’, or what was left of it The owner of the house (and the cup) a Major Merrilees, eventually moved to Herefordshire, taking the Nanteos Cup with him. It is understood that it currently resides in a bank vault somewhere. It is a small wooden vessel (5″ diameter, 3″ deep) in a very poor state today, due to pilgrims’ biting large chunks out of it, over the years, in order to aid recovery from their ills. Although the Holy Cup is not at Nanteos anymore, there are still ghosts to be found in the many rooms of the mansion.


The old stables at Nanteos
Horses and voices were heard in the stable yard at Nanteos on two consecutive nights at about 4.00am, but as soon as the listener peered into the yard the noise abruptly stopped. (The picture above is the arched entrance to the cobbled stable yard.)


One of the ghosts said to haunt the mansion is the spirit of Elizabeth Powell, the late wife of William Powell, who wanders the hallways looking for her lost jewellery. The story goes that her husband William Powell dearly loved her and showered her with jewels. She could not bear to be parted from her treasured jewellery and dreaded to think what would happen to them after her death. Knowing that she was dying, she rose from her death-bed and hid her jewels. Later that night she died. Today her ghost, shrouded in a long flowing gown, still wanders like a lost soul searching for her hidden jewels. It is said she will haunt anyone that dares look for her treasure.

Parties were often held at Nanteos. One evening the house was full of guests, an army officer present went to dress for dinner. Climbing the stairs to his room he met a striking woman in evening dress, holding a strange looking candle stick. Thinking sh
e was one of the guests he bowed and bade her good evening. The lady did not answer but carried on down the stairs as if she had not seen him. He thought it strange but continued up to his room. 

On returning to the party he gazed around looking for the lady. Eventually he asked if anyone has seen this woman. Immediately, he was taken to one side and told never to speak of the lady with the candle stick or there would be a death in the family. That night, the Lord of Nanteos died... and the strange candle the lady had carried was found a week later in a dusty shelf in a corner of the Silver Vault Room.

A phantom horse and carriage is also said to pull up to the front entrance in the middle of the as a forewarning of a death.

The most eerie sighting was from the front door, and was that of what was thought to be smoke in the inner hall. The witness stared in disbelief as the smoke transformed in a figure dressed in a long flowing dress. She began coming towards the front door, terrifying the onlooker so much that he ran to Aberystwyth, not daring to look back.




The highlight for 69 Christmases at Nanteos, was Gruffydd Evans's beautiful harp playing every year in the Music Room. He was a relative of the Powell family and lived to a grand age of 92. He is buried at Llanbadarn Fawr a small village near Aberystwyth. On a still, peaceful night he can be heard playing his beloved harp deep in the Nanteos wood.

My favourite story is a rather sad one. One of the windows on the bottom storey has been boarded up for many, many years. The story goes that the lady of the house was watching her husband ride up the drive towards her, when the horse spooked and threw him, killing him instantly. She could not bear to look out of that window again and ordered it to be boarded over and so it remains to this day. She mourned for him the rest of her life and they say his ghost still rides up the drive at night. I like to think she rides with him now.



I have just re-released my story about Terpsichore, the Greek Muse of Dance.  It's actually quite a light fantasy tale, but it has its dark moments, like this one, which features the 'Ellylldan' nasty little goblin like creatures of Welsh folklore.

EXCERPT FROM DANCING WITH FATE

The glowing red sparks appeared a few hours before dawn. Terpsichore looked across to where she could just make out Myrddin, lying close to the fire, apparently asleep. She stood and wrapped her brat around her shoulders. What unearthly lights were these? In the name of Hades, she had never seen anything like this before. She watched them as they advanced and retreated, advanced and retreated. They seemed to beckon to her. She walked forward a few steps. This was not natural. She sensed evil, but of a kind she had never come across before.

She tried to turn her head, to look away and move back to the fire. Some force compelled her to keep staring at them, to move forward. Further and further from the campfire she wandered. The air grew chill and she pulled her brat more closely around her. The flickering lights gyrated in a wild dance, inviting her to follow them. Dawn was approaching. In the dim early morning light, she could make out demon faces, red glowing eyes, hands outstretched, with flames at their fingertips.

She recoiled in horror. Somewhere in her subconscious, she knew she was in deadly danger, but still she moved forward. They summoned her to follow and she could not help but obey. She tried to call to Apollo, and her father, but her mind was numb. She could reach no one on Olympus.
“Myrddin!” No sound came from her lips. Still, a strange unearthly power obliged her to walk forward toward those eerie, mesmerizing points of light.

The ground grew soft beneath her feet. Cold mud oozed between her bare toes. The further she walked, the deeper the mud became; eventually, she realized she was up to her waist in chill, muddy water, and she was powerless to turn back, or even to move any more.

“Zeus, oh, Father, please help me...don’t desert me now.”

For the first time in her eternal life, she knew fear. These creatures of nameless evil had her trapped. They would drag her down to the underworld and she would never see Olympus or her family again.
Then strong arms encircled her, swung her round.

“Cora, look at me.” She gazed into two pools of azure blue, filled with concern, and a pale face set in resolve. Still she had an irresistible urge to look at those weird, flickering lights. She turned her head, and at the same moment, there was a flash like lightning. The ground behind her burst into a wall of blue flame. It blotted out everything, engulfing the demon lights and the hideous forms that a moment before had lured her onward.

“Look at me. Look at me...don’t look back again.”
     
Before she could reply, he swept her up and carried her back toward the campfire.
Eos in her chariot had started her journey across the sky and the pearly light showed their camp and the two horses grazing nearby. Never had anything looked so welcome. Never had Terpsichore felt so safe in a man’s arms. 

Available from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53249

Also available from Amazon in Kindle Version

and in Print
Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England, with her long suffering husband Dave,  although her heart remains in her native rural Wales, which inspired so much of her writing.

A keen animal lover, she has two horses. a rescued Jack Russell and two 'ferel'  cats.

Her  first novel, a futuristic romance released by the Wild Rose Press was followed by a sequel 'Children Of The Mist'.  Lyn is working on a third story in the series.

She is a member of The Romance Novelists' Association (UK)


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oliver Presents P. L. Parker

A full moon pulsates in the midnight black sky. Shutters bang against the decaying 300 year old mansion where evil lurks behind every door.  Looming high above the manor where murder and mayhem took place, witches lurk in Salem’s Lot. An owl screeches in the woods, its warbling slicing through the night. The medium scurries up the cracked steps to the mansion and knocks three times.

Donned in black satin and an evil smile, Oliver opens the heavy chamber door. It creaks on its rusty hinges. Kissing the medium on each cheek, he escorts her into the parlor.

In the flickering candlelight, willowy spider webs hang  from the four corners. Mold and rot seep from cracks.  Piano music escalates to a heart-pounding crescendo, followed by blood—curdling screams. Oliver gestures to the dusty and ripped black satin settee, beckoning the medium to be seated. Silver goblets filled with deep red wine are laid out on the coffin table. When the door bangs, Oliver introduces his guest.


Good Evening. With grand pleasure, I present  the lovely and mysterious P. L. Parker. She is here to tell the legend of this manor, followed by an excerpt of her latest work. Take it away, my dear.

The Returning

As she neared the front door, prickles of awareness raced up her spine.  She could sense the ancient evil lurking behind the shuttered windows, oozing through the cracks and holes, tainting the air with its putrid emanations.

The edifice was old, three hundred years or more, and decayed beyond repair. The new owners of the property wanted to rebuild—something modern and fun, and the old building was scheduled for demolition.  But whatever was in this place kept the workers from beginning.

Why did I agree to this! It was said that the house had once been the residence of a malevolent witch or hoodoo woman who’d practiced her trade with vengeance on the surrounding population. The history of the house seethed with tales of murder and mayhem and few were brave enough to venture too near.

She drew a deep breath, steeling herself for the next step. Her lips twisted in a wry smile. I’m here to force the entity to leave! A medium with some following, she’d agreed and took the new owner’s money before she’d researched the place. I needed the money, she mentally defended herself. And now it was gone and her only recourse was to do the job she’d been paid to do.

Sweat ran in rivulets from her forehead, palms grew slick with moisture. Heart pounding in her breast, she reached for the door handle, twisting it before she had a chance to change her mind.


The door grated open with a rusty moan. Stepping into the shadowy interior, she waited as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Huge spider webs hung from the ceiling fluttering in the slight breeze generated by the open entryway. Dust covered the rotted furnishings spiraling in small whirlwinds as the dust motes caught in the puff of circulating air.  But it was the knowledge the entity was very near that caused her heart to freeze.  Foul secretions permeated everything.  Her tongue swiped lips suddenly dry. Already afraid, sheer terror surged in a blinding rush.

She felt rather than heard the entity’s wicked laughter, thrilled by her rush of emotion. It lives for terror!  She opened her senses, seeking the source of the being. Not upstairs. Not in the rooms leading off from the foyer. Below…in the basement.

I can’t do this! Bitter bile rose in her throat causing her to gag. Again, the entity drew from her fear! Hideous howls of pure glee raged through her mind.

It’s just stupid stuff made up by lazy workers, the new owners said. Just a bunch of old wives’ tales stirring the pot!

She knew better.  She’d been in the presence of evil before, but nothing had prepared her for that which lurked in this dreadful place. Compelled by a force not her own, she stumbled down the long hallway, drawn to a small door at the far end.

This is the entrance to hell! For long moments she stared at the door, every fiber of her being quaking with fright. I wish Maman were here! Maman was so much stronger that she would ever be. Maman would not have been so foolish.

With shaking hands, she gripped the handle, gasping as the door banged open. Broken and rotted stairs led down into the darkness below.  She stepped on the first step. It groaned beneath her weight. Then another step.

Don’t go down there or you’ll never return, the voice of her long dead Maman hissed.

Blood pounded in her veins loud enough to hear. I have no other choice, Maman!

You do! Run before you are lost!

She reached the bottom of the stairs. The darkness seethed with the entity’s evil presence. Rage, hate, murder, corruption hit her with full force, destroying the last reserves of strength and will.

Too long have you been away, the entity’s words slithered through her brain.

She bowed low. “I am here, Master.”

Taking a deep breath, Gemma offered in a trembling voice. “Food sickens her and
sunlight burns her skin. She stays abed most days and only ventures out in the eve.”

Lord Alric’s face grew grave. “How long?”

“A week, perhaps more.”

“And ye didst not think to advise me?”

Gemma twisted her hands in agitation. “Lady Chloe forbade me. She said it was a passing thing. I knew not what else to do!”

Gruesome memories long denied flooded Lord Alric. The last hours of Lady Isabet’s life had been horrific and he was want to forget any remembrances of that night.

Striding from the hall and running up the wide stairway, he paused at the entrance to Chloe’s chambers.

“Find Gavin!” he roared. Throwing open the door, he marched in, not knowing what to expect.

Bathed by the soft light of a single flickering candle, the room was a myriad of dancing shadows and dark corners and only the logs snapping in the fireplace broke the blanketing silence.

A lump formed in Alric’s throat. Willing his feet to move, he approached the bed, fearing what he would find. Chloe reclined on the bed, hands crossed on her chest, looking like nothing more than a newly dead corpse. Cast in the flickering light, her countenance was angelic and virginal, not the face of evil as he’d imagined. As he watched, she stirred and, yawning, opened her eyes. For a brief moment, red shimmered in their depths, but just as quickly, it was gone. Startled, she jerked upright, eyes wide with shock.

“Papa!” she gasped. “Ye frightened me.”

Smoothing her soft cheek, Alric murmured. “Gemma said ye be unwell. I came to see.”

“‘Tis nothing.” She smiled, swinging her feet over the side of her bed.

“Ailments never affect ye. I’ve yet to see a child so healthy.”

Chloe stood up, gripping the bedpost as she swayed. “I’ve not been myself,” she admitted, shivering in the drafty room.

Bio:

I love paranormal and as a result, it's the perfect genre for me. I started seriously writing about 5 years ago and have since published five novels, Fiona, Riley's Journey, Aimee's Locket, Absolution and Into the Savage Dawn, one short, Heart of the Sorcerer, and two free reads, Prophecy's Bride and Songbird. I am currently working on a sequel to Into the Savage Dawn and have another manuscript, The Chalice, a SciFi story, which is on the merry-go-round of finding a publisher.  Recently, I contracted with Willow Moon Publishing for another short story, Will-o'-the-Wisp. I am a mother of grown sons, a grandmother to my darling Tannis, and wife to my best friend and soul mate, Jack.

Patsy

P. L. Parker
Romantic Adventure at its Best

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oliver Presents Mary Ricksen


Thunder and lightning crash and collide in the blood-red sky, splintering the night into brilliant white light. 

A werewolf howls, its keening wail slicing through the cemetery looming high above the haunted mansion. Spooked by the pounding echo of her own footsteps, a Veiled Lady races up the stone steps to the mansion and taps on the heavy mahogany door.

Oliver, dressed in black tails and top hat, flings the door open. It creaks open on rusty hinges. Smiling manically, he extends his arm.

Right this way, mademoiselle.

The Veiled Lady and Oliver enter the parlor.  The doors that have parted disappear into the wall. Dark, flowing drapes shroud odd shaped windows, and black tapers in sterling silver holders flicker in the dark paneled room. Oliver seats his guest on the black rose settee. Frozen concoctions swimming with strawberries in crystal flutes await on the coffin table. When tapping hammers out a tune on the wall, Oliver kisses the Veiled Lady with a wink and a smile.

Good Evening. It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely and enchanted Mary Ricksen. Mary has a ghostly tale that will send shivers skating down your spine. Take it away, my pretty.

Many years ago my sister and I used to play this game. We would lie in bed late at night and play when we couldn’t sleep. The old, Gothic, Victorian house, my great grandmother lived in creaked and groaned all over and we never knew what was house or what could possibly be ghost. The odd shaped windows and doors that opened into walls added the mystique. You had to be sure both feet were well away from the edge of the bed.  Better safe then sorry.

The idea of the game was to guess the tune. We would tap out the music on the bed while hearing it in your head. I don’t know how we did it, but we always guessed right!

I really hated the room we stayed in. It was all dark corners and deep closets. Shadows were so dark; one had to feel your way out of the room. But every time we visited we ended up in the same room.

Dark, thick, heavy curtains lined the windows. Not a speck of light got in when they closed.  Wood pineapples were on each of four posts on the old cherry wood furniture.

We stayed on the third floor. I don’t know why because there were four bedrooms on the second floor. And we were the only ones visiting her. The only ones up there. Alone. My cousin used to tease us telling us how great Uncle Snidely had died up there and he watched his heirs all the time. She told us about him and showed us his picture. We were primed!

No night lights allowed, we were big girls.

One very stormy night at Great Gram’s place we lay there tapping out songs. Thunder boomed and lightning knocked out all the street lights. After one particularly loud boom I realized I had to take a pee.  My sister ran to the window to look and I jumped outta bed and ran. The tile floor chilled my feet as I walked on little squares. I picked up the seat and quickly did what I had to. Flushing the toilet I ran back down the dark hallway to our room.

My sister was talking. “I still can’t understand what you’re trying to have me guess.” She sounded flustered.

“What are you talking about?” I jumped on my bed closest to the door.

“Very funny, I’ve been trying to guess the song, but you keep tapping out nonsense. I told you I give up and still you keep tapping. What was the song you were trying to have me guess?” She asked.

“I just got back from the bathroom, I haven’t been tapping anything.” I chuckled. “What you been playing our game with a ghost or something?”

Her voice quivered. “Did you just say you just came back from the bathroom?”

“Yes.” Now I was getting scared.

“Well I have been trying to guess what song and you, well I thought it was you, were tapping away like crazy. I had no idea what you wanted me to guess.” She jumped on my bed as a loud peel of thunder ripped the skies.

“Someone was here, something, oh man, something was playing our game with me.” She shivered against my side.

Just then we heard it. In the silence between lightning strikes. Tapping. Tap, tap, tap…

“AAAAAHHHHHH!!” We screamed in unison.  Both of us jumped up and ran outta that room so fast our feet flew! Screaming the whole way we yelled. “AAAHHHHH!!”

My great grandmother appeared at the end of the hall. “Girls, what’s wrong?” She hugged us close.

“Ghosts.” We wailed in unison. She calmed us down and urged us into her huge high bed. Between breaths we told Gram what happened.

“Oh that wasn’t Uncle Snidely. We have no one in the family by that name.” She laughed and we laughed.

We got under the covers with her and snuggled. Warm and secure we felt foolish. Until she closed her eyes and sighed.

“The only person it could be is Uncle Frankie, he loved music.”

Mary Ricksen
Mary loves Vermont and North Carolina in the mountains. Rows of corn and cherry trees
were playgrounds in the summer. She loves animals, horses, cows, and critters who live in the wild. Small town life is her future haven after big city madness. She made up her mind that someday she'd be back in the country, even in just in her books.
Love, happiness, a little bit of magic, and a hunky hero with a happily-ever-after
ending is her favorite thing to read or to write. Especially if they are time travel!

MARY'S BLOG
MARY'S WEBSITE 
www.maryricksen.com
Purchase her books from her Publisher's
SITE
The Wild Rose Press
Mary M. Ricksen
"Know that love is truly timeless"
Secretary - Chapter: Florida Romance Writers
Tripping Through Time   ISBN#1-60154-392-1
You Gotta Read Reviews-Absolutely wonderful! An excellent
first novel.  Rated:You Gotta Read!