Author Appearance & Book Signing

Witches, Shadow People, and Ghosts, oh my! Just in time for Halloween!

On Friday, October 7th, I’ll be at Riverow Books for the final 2016 First Friday Artwalk event in Owego, NY from 6-8pm. I’ll have hot of the press copies of my latest horror release, No Rest For The Wicked along with copies of my murder-mystery titles, Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon and That’s What Shadows Are Made Of.

We’ll be signing, selling, and chatting it up for two hours and we may or may not have cookies.

Hope to see you there!

Movie Review – The Boy (2016)

Movie Review – The Boy (2016) Rated PG-13 : Directed by William Brent Bell

Starring Lauren Cohen, Rupert Evans, and James Russell

Greta Evans arrives at the home of a wealthy English couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire, to take on her duties as a newly hired nanny to their son, Brahms, so they can go away on holiday. There’s only one problem.  Brahms is a life-sized doll made in the likeness of their son who was killed in a fire years ago. At first Greta treats the doll as an annoying joke and does none of the duties assigned to her by the couple. Brahms quickly convinces her to follow the rules.

The concept behind “The Boy” isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination. There have been a lot of haunted doll books written and movies made. The doll in this one is, from my understanding, roughly based on Robert, a supposedly real-life haunted doll that is now housed in a museum in Key West, Florida.

brahms

Brahms the Doll

robert

Robert the Doll

There were some genuinely creepy moments in this movie, though it fell short of truly freaking me out.  But then, it is only a PG-13 so maybe they had to tone it down for that audience instead of the hardcore horror fans like me. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I can easily assume why things went the way they did and why the parents did what they did in part, but the ending was not a surprise and there were no twists that I wasn’t expecting.

Great potential, but terribly, terribly predictable.

Two Ravens out of Five

A Haunting We Will Go

It occurred to me this morning that I’ve not written a lot about living in a haunted house for the past twenty-one years. A lot of folks think I’m nuts when I say I always wanted to live in such a place, but they all think it’s like the movies; blood dripping from the walls, people being yanked out of their beds by the ankles, books flying around, cupboard doors slamming open, or being awakened by the ghostly wails or sobs of those that have died and refuse to move on. It’s not. In fact, it’s a bit dull.

My then-husband Roger and I bought the place back in 1995. It had been empty for three years before that. Our viewing was on a cold Monday evening in January in the dark with flashlights as our only guides. The place had been foreclosed on, and was now up for bids AS IS. Bids were due that Friday. Time was of the essence. We walked through the icy gloom of the place, the old wooden floors creaking and inhaling that ‘old house smell’ we were both partial to. Outlets seemed somewhat lacking, the wallpaper in the kitchen was horrendous, nothing appeared to have been updated since the 1970s or earlier. In the backroom was a massive chest freezer where any serial killer worth his weight in carving knives and heavy duty black trash bags could have kept four adult humans on ice rather easily. I don’t remember if we dared open that freezer for our viewing that night, but there was, indeed, something inside. We’ll get back to that later.

Upstairs we found four large bedrooms, the bathroom, (again, not updated in God-only-knows how long) and a good-sized linen closet. In total, the house, built in 1886, is over 3000 square feet. Plenty of room for us and our two children and certainly a lot more room than the single-wide trailer we’d been in for the past three years or so. We talked it over on our way home and into the next couple of days, eventually deciding we were going to bid and calling the realtor to let her know how much we were willing to pay.

Needless to say, we won the bid. Once we closed, we took two weeks off work to clean and make the place habitable again. Soon we were all settled in and looking forward to all the excitement that home ownership entails.

And then, it happened. We got up one morning to find the door between the kitchen and the backroom wide open. Nothing too mind blowing there. It’s an old house, nothing is level, and maybe the door didn’t get latched. No biggie. The next night Roger made sure the door was shut firmly and off we went to bed. Come morning, the door was open again. We exchanged questionable glances. Night came, the door was closed, locked, and tugged on to make certain it was secure. And off we went to bed.

Not more than an hour later as we lay quietly in bed, from downstairs comes, “Click, Sqqueeeeak.”

“Did you hear that?”

“Yeah.”

“You going to go check the door?”

“Hell, no.”

Roger and I were always into haunted and paranormal things. We visited cemeteries on a regular basis, we went into old, empty houses that we shouldn’t have been in, we used the Ouija board, and just generally found the whole subject matter fascinatingly. So, next morning when we went downstairs and found the door once more wide open, we knew exactly what to do. Roger stood in the doorway and said, “Okay, you’ve made your point. We know you’re here and we don’t care. You are welcome to stay, just stop opening this door, please.” That door had never opened on its own again to this day.

But, the door wasn’t our only experience. Once we were walking from the kitchen through the dining room towards the living room. At that time, the den was more a playroom for the kids than an office area. From the door of the den, a piece of fake fruit came rolling out right in front of us. I think it was an apple, maybe an orange. Either way, we figured it was one of the kids playing in there and being silly. Nope. Both kids were in the living room watching television at the time. The front porch light switch used to go on and off by itself quite a bit. It’s one of those heavy duty ones you really have to CLICK into place. You’d hear the ‘click’ and on or off would pop the light outside. The television would go on and off on its own from time to time. Most frequently was the sound of footsteps passing through the dining room and going up the stairs to one of the bedrooms. Many, many time I would be busy in the den or the kitchen and hear the distinct sound of the front door opening and someone coming in and heading upstairs. After so many years, you learn the sounds of your house, what’s normal, what’s not.

We had the house repainted and the porches repaired. The lawn that had been a hay field returned. One Saturday morning there was a knock at the door. The house was a mess, of course, and we were all lounging around in our weekend best. The woman said she had heard that someone had bought the place and was fixing it back up and said she was the daughter of the people who had owned it back in the 1970s and that she’d grown up in the house. She said she’d not been back since then and was sorry to intrude, but could she come in and see the place again. We let her in.

She was pretty emotional as she walked through, pointing out this and that while sharing her childhood memories of the place. And then she went upstairs and said in a trembling voice, “Oh, this is the bedroom Daddy died in.” She told us a little bit about her father and that his name was Herman(n).  She didn’t stay long but she certainly left a lasting impression. We didn’t tell her about our experiences, but for some reason we immediately felt that’s who our occasional, unseen visitor was. From then on, we always have called him Herman(n).

Despite it all, I’ve never felt afraid of whatever, or whoever, was doing all this. It was our ghost and we were happy to have him or her. My kids might say otherwise, but it’s never bothered me at all.

As for what was in the freezer. I’m still not sure what it was other than some sort of maybe aquatic creature, maybe a fish though the bone structure was less fish-like and more snake-like. An eel? A snake? I don’t know. It was nasty and by some miracle I managed to get the whole mess out of there without 1) falling head first into the freezer and having the door lock and seal on top of me or 2) throwing up.

Excerpt from “No Rest For The Wicked”

     The following is the the intro and first two chapters of my upcoming ghost story, NO REST FOR THE WICKED scheduled for release Fall 2016. Please note this novel contains some explicit sexual content. If that sort of thing turns you off, you may not wish to read further. However, it is intricate to the plot and to the hauntings you will learn about further in the story. The rest of you brave souls … read on.
August 1882
     She didn’t have to see it to believe it. She could hear them just fine. She’d suspected the truth for months. It was time to do something about it. She’d waited and planned long enough. Lucy looked up the stairs, gripping the top of the wooden balustrade with a firm, steady hand. Oh, yes, he was up there. He thought her so meek and submissive, but he knew as well as anyone who had not hesitated to shoot those damned Yankees point blank during the War. Yes, Beauregard Addams and his little trollop really should know so much better than to do what they were doing up there. You didn’t cross Lucy Addams without paying a price.
     She dried her palm against the folds of her dressing gown before pulling the revolver from Beau’s holster. Idiot, she thought, keeping his gun loaded and ready on the table at the foot of the stairs like that. He’d done it for years, though and now it would be his undoing. Her footsteps were silent and slow as she climbed each tread. Sweat dampened the brow above her hazel eyes, but her heart had gone cold and the color of her rage was icy blue and lethally calm.
     “C’mon, suck it,” she heard him order. “Suck it, my little slut.”
     Feminine moans and grunts of pleasure shuddered through the closed bedroom door as Lucy’s damp hand wrapped around the knob. She turned it oh-so-slowly. Lucy licked her lips.
     He had his back to the door as a dark-skinned woman knelt on the floor in front of him, naked. Beau’s trousers were pushed down to just above his knees. He’d not even taken off his waistcoat yet. Both of his hands held the kneeling woman’s unseen face against his groin as he rocked his hips back and forth faster.
     Beau moaned.
     Lucy knew that sound well. He was about to climax. Let him, she thought as a smile touched her lips and she raised the gun, aiming it at the base of his skull not ten feet away. Her husband’s ass flexed as he pushed himself into the other woman’s mouth and tipped his face towards the ceiling with a helpless groan that bordered on a yell.
     “Beau,” Lucy said just loud enough to be heard over the noise of his release.
     His eyes shot open.
     Lucy exhaled slowly and squeezed the trigger just like he’d taught her to do.
***
Chapter 1
     Twin, square columns painted ghost white and topped with massive cast iron planters stood guard on either side of an iron gate into which had been worked an impressive letter ‘A’. Vines poured from the tops of the planters and reached out in opposing directions. Their delicate stalks twisted along the top of the fencing to create a thick, tangled drapery of vines and leaves. Behind the fence, two more sentinels loomed tall and foreboding in the guise of ancient gray elms. Their yellow-tainted leaves shivered as the Harley and its two riders passed slowly beneath the entwined branches of the trees.
     Hidden further back stood the house. A ripple of fear stroked Grace’s spine and set the hairs on her arms on end. She hugged Eric’s sides just a little tighter. Bone-white with black shutters, the entire front facade boasted a two-story porch where thick, lathed spindles held aloft paint chipped railings. Half a dozen steps led up to a wide door framed by a fan window on top and glass side panels. Two more urns, like the ones atop the front columns, squatted empty on either side of the front door.
     As they passed beyond the elms, Grace turned her attention to the left. A single story room of some sort jutted out from the main body of the house. Solid-colored drapes prevented any chance of seeing what was inside. More of the familiar vines spread their long, greedy fingers around the corner and had worked their way halfway across the front, almost touching the narrow windows.
     The grounds were unkempt and ragged. Wisteria grew at random lengths over the porch while shrubs stood tall and jagged at the corners. In the center of the circular carriageway they now rounded, a scantily clad statue of a woman stood poised above a brier of roses gone wild with dead and withered blossoms.
     Eric pulled the bike to a stop behind a white compact car while lowering his boot-shod feet to the ground. The engine was cut. For a moment, silence rang in Grace’s ears. The house would easily accommodate both of their businesses, but for what price? Grace put her hands on her husband’s shoulders and swung one leg over the back before landing with a soft hop on the dry, Virginia soil.
     Both worked off their helmets before speaking.“What do you think?” Eric asked. At just under six foot Eric was a lean one hundred seventy pounds and towered a good nine inches over his petite wife. He hung his helmet on the end of one of the bike’s handlebars.
     “It’s huge,” she said.
     Eric chuckled.
     “Oh, stop it!” she mock punched him on the arm, “Men are such pigs.”
     “Oink,” he grinned and leaned in to give her a tender kiss. Eric looked every bit the bad-ass biker dude with an unruly beard, made even more so after the ride, and long blonde hair he kept pulled into a ponytail that, even when braided, reached the middle of his back, but Grace knew all too well he was nothing but a teddy bear inside. In their eight years together, she’d never seen him start a fight. He’d broken up a few, but he was never one to throw the first punch or deliver the deciding blow. Eric used his hands for making music and when they saw the ad in the paper for this property, it had sounded a perfect space to set up the private studio he’d been talking about for the past year.
     The front door squeaked open and a well-dressed, balding man emerged carrying a single manila folder, “Afternoon, folks. Welcome to Greenbrier,” he grinned like some seedy, used car salesman. “Couldn’t help but hear you pull in.” He thrust out his free hand to Eric. “I’m James, James Fletcher. Pleased to meet you.” He shook Grace’s hand, too.
     “Eric McLaughlin, and this here is my ol’ lady, Grace.”
     “Pleased to meet you both.” The realtor looked slightly uncomfortable. “Well, let’s not waste any time, shall we? Let me show you around.”
     “Lead on,” Eric replied as he reached back and took Grace’s hand. “C’mon, woman. Let’s see what this boy’s got to offer.”
     Grace gave him a little smirk that the realtor didn’t catch, “Stop,” she mouthed silently and was about to punch her husband in the arm again until Mr. Fletcher turned around.
“This poor place really only needs some T.L.C., you understand? It’s been empty for years,” the realtor said. His thin lips turned up in a grimace. Grace didn’t like it.
     “How come?” she asked.
     “The last folks abandoned the property nearly five years ago. Just up and left. Some sort of family emergency, I’m told.” Mr. Fletcher pulled the grand front door open and motioned for the prospective buyers to proceed ahead of him.
     Even before she stepped through the door, Grace’s nose crinkled. “What’s that smell?”
The front entry was generous, but not overwhelming. To the left and right doors, led into what appeared to be twin rooms on either side. In front of them a large staircase ran up along the left hand wall. A wide hallway running parallel to this staircase led to rooms lost in a murky haze of dust and cobwebs. Grace sniffed the air again. “Do you smell that?”
Eric and Mr. Fletcher both sniffed but shook their heads.
     “What’s it smell like?” Eric asked.
     She shrugged. “Like something burning, maybe? Or like … like when we went to Gettysburg.”
    Eric’s eyebrows arched, “Gettysburg?”
     “Oh, you know how all that cannon smoke smelled.”
     “Gunpow