#AtoZChallenge Who Are the Ghosts in My Attic? Daisy.

old kettle on the stove an abandoned houseThe rain fell in big, fat drops outside my bedroom window. I stretched and rolled over, convinced that my headache would never end. My head had been pounding most of the day and although my curiosity compelled me to stay up and wait for my next ghost, listening to the sound of the rain tap lightly against the window was lulling me into a drowsy state. Since sleep would likely be the only reprieve from the throbbing in my head, I didn’t fight it.

The soft patter of footsteps in the hallway brought my focus back to the bedroom and away from the dream I’d been having of sitting on the beach digging my toes in the sand. I groaned. Anyone else may have feared the possibility of an intruder but I didn’t have to open my eyes to know what lurked outside my bedroom door – a ghost.

“Go away,” I complained. I flopped onto my stomach and pulled the pillow over my head as the sound of footsteps grew closer.

When I dared to peek out from my makeshift hiding place, I realized that my ghost was having fun turning my reading lamp on and off.

“Stop that,” I said, less than amused by the antics.

“Naughty, naughty, get out of bed,” said a voice so strong that I tossed aside the pillow just to confirm that she was indeed one of the dead.

A plump woman in her late forties stood at the foot of my bed with her hands on her hips. I sat up to get a better look. I was pretty sure she was one of them but her presence was so much brighter and solid that I could barely see through her like I could the others. I rubbed my eyes, deciding that I must still be dreaming.

“Do you plan to stay in bed all day, you lazy good-for-nothing? There is work to be done.”

“Work?” I said. “It’s night and I’m tired. Plus, I don’t feel well. Can this wait until tomorrow?”

“Complain, complain. Get your lazy butt out of this bed or I will see to it that your punishment will be remembered.”

“Who do you think you are ordering me around like that?”

Suddenly the blanket and sheets vanished, pulled onto the floor by some unseen force. I gasped and jumped out of bed standing on shaky legs.

“We must prepare for the banquet this evening. No time to waste. Everything must be perfect or you will be out of work and I will see to it that you never work again.”

I shuddered. I didn’t dare ask how she meant to do that. So far, I found this ghost to be the most annoying and obtrusive, not to mention, just plain rude.

“Off to the kitchen with you then.”

I gave my bed one final wistful look as I rubbed my aching head and made my way down the main staircase and into the kitchen as I’d been ordered. I was already counting down twenty minutes in my head until this spirit lost her mojo and went back to where she came from.

I flipped on a switch bathing the kitchen in fluorescent light. I felt a little silly standing there in my nightgown in the middle of the night. I waited for further instruction from my ghost but there was no sign of Madame Bossy Pants. I was about to give up and go back to bed when there was a loud clanging sound of pots and pans on the other side of the kitchen. A dish flew through the air and smashed into the wall behind me, just missing my head by about an inch. I shrieked.

“There you are. Doing nothing again! Get to it. We don’t have all day.”

“But I don’t work here,” I whined, bracing myself for another flying plate. “I live here.”

The woman materialized in front of me again, hovering several inches off the floor. She studied me a moment and I wondered if the truth was finally starting to sink in.

“It’s all wrong,” she shouted as she gave up on me and started circling the room. “This is terrible and it’s all your fault.”

Three more plates flew toward me in quick succession but by some fate I was able to dodge them.

“If you calm down, perhaps we can work it out?”

“I’m ruined and it’s all because of you.”

“What did I do?”

“If you could be on time just once and do what I ask of you like all the other servants then none of this would have happened.”

“You must be Daisy.”

I remembered my grandfather telling me a story about her that had been passed down to him but I couldn’t remember the details. I had been a little girl at the time and as far as I had known, Daisy was someone my grandfather had made up. The only part of the story that stuck in my mind was how others had feared the woman. Now I understood why.

The dishes came faster now. I sank down against the back of the island counter hoping to find protection as fragments of porcelain rained down around me. Great, now I was going to have to go shopping for dishes.
Was Daisy insane, I wondered? The other ghosts had known I wasn’t one of them but Daisy was too wrapped up in vengeance to acknowledge that I wasn’t the source of her misery. According to the clock on the wall, Daisy was exceeding her twenty minute time limit as well. Just my luck that the craziest ghost would also be the strongest.

When the assault on my crockery finally subsided, I dared to peek around the corner. Daisy stood with her hands covering her face, a diminished version of the bright entity that she’d been earlier.

“It’s over,” she said softly as I stood up to face her. I took two careful steps in her direction. “It’s all over.”

“What happened, Daisy?”

In a puff of smoke, Daisy vanished and despite my efforts to remain calm, the sudden reaction made me jump a little. It was as if someone had taken a big breath and blown out a candle. I called her name a couple of times but eventually I gave up. Daisy was gone.

“Well, that was the oddest encounter yet,” I said turning in a circle to assess the damage she’d left behind. I had a lot of cleaning to do in the morning thanks to this ghost but for now, my bed still waited where I would find warmth and comfort and hopefully a reprieve from the ever growing headache. After meeting Daisy, however, I very much doubted my dreams would be peaceful.

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Click HERE to check out posts from the other A to Z Blogging Challenge participants.

The October Challenge

writerSome of you may remember last year I attempted to complete a blog challenge created by Jane Ann McLachlan. I think I made it about halfway before I went crazy and aborted the mission. Well, October is right around the corner and Jane is presenting the challenge again. When she emailed me, my first reaction was no way, Jose, but I went to her blog anyway and I read the details of this year’s challenge. I reconsidered. Maybe I could do this? Maybe I could even have some fun with it?

Last year, the challenge was to write a blog post every day for the entire month of October and each numbered calendar day corresponded to that year of life. This meant we spent a lot of time reminiscing about years of life that honestly, I don’t remember very well, especially early in the month. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything memorable when I was a year-old, really.)  I struggle to blog to begin with so I felt as though I was grasping at straws a bit on that one. And teen years? Well, I just didn’t want to go there age-by-age.

This year, Jane’s challenge still focuses on memoir writing but I like the changes she’s made. For starters, instead of posting every day, we will only post on the odd days. This gives us not only a chance to catch our breath, but also the opportunity to spend a day enjoying the posts of other challenge participants. Great! Not only that, but each week has a theme where we will focus our memories. These include Childhood, Relationships, Secrets, Roots and Wings, and Gratitude and Regrets. Ooooh boy. I’ve already got a few ideas floating around in my head for these and I’m looking forward to sitting down and playing with them.

Want to join us? This challenge is a great opportunity to stretch your blogging muscles, whether you write memoir or not. Fiction is welcome, too. Want to spend a month getting to know the main character from your latest book? You can do that, too. Your memories don’t have to be real and whichever creative way you wish to express them is welcome.

As a matter of fact, if you’re interested in signing up to participate (why not?), I recommend that you visit Jane’s blog to read the details.

And then, join me on Tuesday as we get on your mark, get set … and go!

C is for Characters and Connections

masks

When I was young, I developed an infatuation with the theatre and I decided I wanted to be a scriptwriter and actress when I grew up.

As a matter of fact, you might remember an earlier post about my first venture into writing which happened in fourth grade when myself and a couple of girls from my class decided to create our own play one day on the playground. I’m not sure what prompted us to do this. If memory serves, it was Melissa’s idea so maybe her parents had taken her to see a play recently and this inspired her to create her own? Maybe it was something we had talked about in class? I don’t know. It seemed like fun so I went along with the idea. I was always big into make-believe.

Our fourth grade teacher was impressed enough with our efforts that he allotted class time for us to perform our play in front of everyone. I don’t remember what our play was about and I don’t remember how big of a part I had in it but I do remember quite clearly falling in love the day I stood in front of the class even if I wasn’t sure exactly why I felt this way.

That moment sparked something inside me and ignited an obsession to write. I wrote pages and pages – all plays. In my mind, I fantasized about performing in front of my peers again although the other girls in my little group went back to jumping rope or playing tag on the playground, their careers on stage short-lived. There wouldn’t be any more plays performed in fourth grade.

It didn’t deter me. I kept writing. I kept imagining.

When the opportunity presented itself later in high school to study theatre with a small group locally, my parents agreed to let me go for it. I was always a quiet person so I’m not sure that many people believed I had much hope on the stage but I was determined enough to give it a try. As it turned out, I surprised us all, myself included.

I joined the group with big expectations … and a lot of fear. After all, the other kids in my group were far more outgoing, a little bit older, and certainly more experienced when it came to being on stage. Aside from my brief stardom in fourth grade, my stage credits went to torturing parents as my friends, cousins, brother, or anyone else I could coerce into engaging my obsession and I performed whatever I had come up with for the day.

I learned a lot about the theatre, not just acting but what goes on behind the scenes as well. And of course, the experience would not be complete without actually performing something. Our director chose a series of monologues written by students around our age called Sometimes I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night and assigned us each a character with our own history and experience which we as actors helped to create and develop. My character, Lisa, was the youngest of the bunch and the most naive.

Unlike most plays that tell a story and the characters interact with each other, our series of monologues meant that each actor had her own space on the stage and when it was our turn to speak, we took over the audience.

I suppose I could have been terrified and sure, on opening day, a part of me was. Family and friends would be attending. We’d made posters and shared them across the community. The newspaper wrote an article about us. When the curtain opened, there would be people occupying those seats, a lot more people than my fourth grade class. Those people had paid money to watch us perform so they’d have bigger expectations than a group of kids getting out of a math lesson. My director had her doubts that my quiet personality would fill the stage and so did I.

But you know what? Something magical happened what I stepped onto that stage. When the spotlight hit me, I came to life. I wasn’t nervous anymore. I wasn’t me anymore. I was Lisa and when I spoke about my loneliness and fears of the dark, the audience responded and I felt a strange connection that I’d only just hinted at before. By the time the spotlight went down after my first monologue and I sat in the darkness, I couldn’t wait until the spotlight returned to me so that I could continue to share my connection between Lisa and the audience. By the end of it, I’d impressed my director, my cast members, and the family and friends who’d come to see me and I’m pretty sure I’d done my part to satisfy the members of the audience that didn’t know the quiet Stephanie behind Lisa.

I’ve never stopped writing but every once in a while, I wonder to myself what keeps me going. After all, 90% of what I’ve written has never been shared and probably never will be. Being on the stage is very different from writing a novel but essentially storytelling is the same. The basic drive is bringing to life characters that will make the audience feel some sort of connection. On the stage, that connection is immediate. In a novel, I won’t know when you gasp or laugh or feel sad but I can hope that emotions still exist on the page. There is a dialogue that exists between the writer and the reader. In some way, our worlds come together and we share some common bond, even if it is only temporary.

Which books do you think have most successfully created connections with readers?

Six Sentence Sunday – Naked Problems

This is an exceptionally exciting Six Sentence Sunday for me because not only do I offer you six sentences today, but I’m offering you the whole book this week! It doesn’t get much better than that.

First things first, to see a list of all the Six Sunday participants, click HERE. You won’t be disappointed.

And of course, I couldn’t leave you without six sentences from Ghosts Don’t Wear Silk Stockings.

Brianna just wants love and happily ever after, but of course it isn’t going to be that simple. Along the way she will have to endure ghosts and learning the secrets of a family curse…

***

“What’s going on?” His forehead creased in concern. Apparently it had never occurred to him before that she might have a life of her own that didn’t involve being naked with him. She squirmed in her seat wishing she hadn’t thought about being naked. After all, Jake was dead in her apartment, an apartment that just went up in a puff of smoke. That was a bigger problem than the gooey mushy feeling of her insides every time she looked at Dan.

***

Ghosts Don’t Wear Silk Stockings is making its way onto Amazon as we speak. Click HERE  to purchase the paperback. I’ll supply the kindle link soon! In the meantime, be sure to enter the giveaway on Goodreads HERE for your chance to win a copy.

Click the link on the right to connect with me on Facebook and scroll down for another link if you would like to follow me on Twitter. I’m always grateful for the company. 🙂

Can I Get a Ghostly Drum Roll, Please?

cover imageI know you were starting to think it wouldn’t happen and honestly, so was I. I’ve gone back and forth on this one a lot.

Today, I am ecstatic to announce that the release of Ghosts Don’t Wear Silk Stockings is finally upon us…

January 7, 2013 is the big day so mark your calendars!

Yay! Yay! Yay! 🙂

The book is available to add to your Goodreads ‘to-read’ shelf today. Click HERE. I am giving away two free copies of the paperback on Goodreads as well. You can enter the giveaway HERE.

In the meantime, Happy New Year! I wish everyone a joyous new year of health, happiness, and reading pleasure.

I leave you with the blurb for Ghosts …

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Brianna Halloway longed for an ordinary life of marriage and happily ever after but her path to Mr. Right always seemed to end in disaster. When she meets Dan Parker, everything feels like it is finally falling into place. He is tall, dark, handsome, and his own brand of delicious evil. Dan has a hold over Brianna that she can’t shake. The day that he asks her to marry him should be the happiest day of her life but there is one catch; Dan Parker is not human and a moody ghost named Greer is determined to stop Brianna from making a mistake. Will she choose to trust Greer or will she follow her heart to what she is certain will lead to an immortal life of happiness?

In the meantime, Brianna’s ex-boyfriend Jake has returned from the dead determined to make her pay for choosing Dan over him while a seemingly harmless old woman at a bookstore appears to hold the key to answering the secret of her problems. Even her ordinary family harbors a secret curse that will affect her in ways that are impossible for her to ignore. Brianna must endure losing her job, her apartment, and dealing with her violent ex before she can choose to give in to Dan’s temptations or walk away.

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See you in 2013!