A Halloween short story…

Two years ago, my local newspaper issued a challenge to write a Halloween “story” on Twitter using only 128 characters. (Their designated hashtag took up the remaining 12 characters.) They published the top entries which included two of mine. So this Halloween, I decided to take one of the entries and expanded it into a 500-word short story.

The original tweet:

His fangs lock on the zombie’s neck. Growling, he thrashes his head as he saves me. Never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

The new short story:

It was a dark night. The moon hung high in the air as I took my evening walk. I had been pouring over the books for so long that I walk in the brisk air was just the thing to clear my head. Dexter, my Irish wolfhound, padded silently beside me. His ears twitched as he listened to the night sounds.

grave1My path took me by old village cemetery. It looked creepy enough in the daytime but now in the dim moonlight the bare branches looked like gnarled hands reaching down toward the graves. They shook slightly in the wind.

I smelled freshly turned earth which seemed odd since there had been no recent burials that I could recall. I stopped and surveyed the scene. It was then that I noticed the figure coming toward me. He walked with an unusual gait dragging one leg behind him as if it was heavier than the other.

Dexter gave off a low warning growl as the dirt on the nearest grave began to move. I stared in horror as a hand shot out from the ground. The dirt tumbled away as a figure arose from the grave. I took a step backwards, tripping over a large stick. As I scrambled to my feet, I grabbed it. Immediately, I liked the way it felt in my hand. I gave a practice swing like a batter warming up before the game.

When I looked back up, there were now three of them, one blocking my escape. Dexter sprang into action. His large paws hit the closest figure in the chest. The creature hit the ground hard. I caught a whiff of decaying flesh. The smell caused my stomach to lurch. I swallowed hard as I hefted my club over my shoulder. I swung with all my might at the closest figure. The creature grunted as the stick hit its chest. It reached out. A clammy hand brushed against my arm. Goose bumps prickled my skin. I swung my stick again, aiming higher. This time my aim was better. I hit the creature’s head with such force that it sailed through the air landing in the brush some distance away.

I turned my focus to the last creature, a mere three feet from me. Before I could move, Dexter bound forward, crashing into the figure. They landed on the ground. irish wolfhound grey dayDexter’s sharp teeth sank into its throat, his fangs locking onto it as if it was his favorite bone. Growling, he thrashed his head side to side, tearing the flesh.

“Good boy,” I whispered as my legs felt weak.

Dexter let go of the creature’s neck and lumbered over to me. He brushed up against my leg. My fingers curled into his rough fur. I patted the side of his body as I turned for home. As we trudged home, I remember my grandfather’s warning – never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

 

Blog Hop: Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirit

Today, Emily Hill stops by Into Another World on her Blog Hop. Just in time for Halloween, she is promoting her latest book, Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits.

I would like to thank Susan Leigh Noble for hosting the first stop on the ‘Voodoo Vision’ Blog Hop! (Each stop features an excerpt from a different chapter.)

Hop Stop No. 2 is hosted at ‘The Dan O’Brien Project’ Dan O’Brien

Hop Stop No. 3 is hosted at ‘Hunter Shea Author of the Dark and the Paranormal’

Hop Stop No. 4 is hosted at ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’ Emily Hill

So! Let me introduce to you my latest novel: Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirits

Synopsis:

COVER sq 16001853 New Orleans ~ As the frenzied drumbeats of Voodoo ceremonies vibrate throughout the city, Victoria Calais, beautiful ingénue and resident of New Orleans’ Garden District, is losing her vision.  A Yellow Fever epidemic has just swept the city, leaving her parents and sister dead.

As she goes blind Victoria is visited by a poltergeist that terrorizes the family priest, Father Vivenzio, a frequent (an opportunistic) visitor to the Calais’ estate, La Maison du Corbeau Blanc (The House of the White Falcon).

Unable to gain spiritual supremacy over the unworldly activity swirling through Corbeau Blanc, Father Vivenzio calls on Widow Paris, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.

The identity of Father Vivenzio’s supernatural nemesis is revealed at Mardi Gras during a wild carriage race through the streets of New Orleans!

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

1853 ~ Someone Is Watching

It all took place in the fashionable Garden District of New Orleans, where beautiful estates hide behind the screen of tree-lined boulevards. The year was 1853, during an era when family loyalties were guarded vigilantly, some even from beyond the grave.

* * *

Dusky afternoon sunlight streamed into the bedroom of young heiress, Victoria Calais, casting the room in a brooding hue that foreshadows an evening squall. Flying toward the Crescent City at that moment was the kind of storm that causes shutters to clatter, and the shadows of gnarled oaks to bob and weave across expansive lawns.

Victoria sat at her vanity, staring into her mirror but unable to make out her own reflection. Her fingertips, like the feelers of an ant, followed along the edges of each cosmetic item laid out on the embroidered runner decorating her vanity.

A gentle breeze rustled through Victoria’s bedroom, bringing with it the fragrance of rose petals, reminding her that she was not alone. Victoria stiffened and craned her neck squinting into a milky field of vision from heavy-lidded eyes.

“Hello? Who’s here?” She waited. Every instinct told her that someone was standing in the shadows of her room.

A tear rolled down her cheek. Dr. Faust’s diagnosis, delivered the previous day, had been devastating. Hysterical blindness was his prognosis. The diagnosis did not sit well with Victoria’s grandmother, Madame Calais, if her outburst was any indication.

Victoria remembered what life had been like during the weeks that Yellow Fever swept through New Orleans killing her parents, and sister, Evangeline and reached for her sister’s doll. She tugged at its skirt, causing it to fall over with a loud thunk, its porcelain head hitting the mahogany shelf.

“Meow!”

“Oh, Bon-Bon! Did I frighten you, my little pet?”

“Meow!”

Victoria turned toward the plaintive cry just as her cat bounded off the bed and pranced toward her across the richly woven carpet.

“Can you guide me back to my bed?”

Victoria followed the sound of the little bell on Bon-Bon’s collar as the cat scampered back across the room.

“Who understands what has gone on in this room better than you, my attentive little sentry.”

Victoria retraced her steps, her left arm wrapped around the doll.

“Are you there, Bon-Bon?”

A repetitious mew guided her back toward the bed, one carefully retraced step at a time.

Quite suddenly, Victoria stumbled forward, an unexpected lurch into the uncertainty that was her new world.

Bang! The doors of the wardrobe crashed shut.

“Hello! Answer me! Is someone there?”

Eerie silence hung in the air, as the room grew more chilled. Victoria scrambled to her knees looking around apprehensively as a voice called up from the bottom of the stairs. “Victoria! Are you up in your room still?”

“Yes, Grandmother!”

“What is going on? I heard something fall.”

“I tripped, Grandmother! It’s nothing! Bon-Bon was here to save me!”

“Oh, Mon Cher.” Madame Calais softened her voice. “Refresh yourself and come down, Victoria. You’ve been alone in your room all afternoon. We’ll have tea and discuss matters.”

* * *

After dinner that evening a sweeping storm ripped open the southern skies, causing rivulets to run down the side of the Calais home like the veins on the back of an old woman’s hands. In Victoria’s bedroom, shadows danced on the walls as pillar candles spit and flickered. A chill settled over the house, unusual for a New Orleans evening.

Victoria sat on the edge of her bed in semi-darkness. Candles sputtered, causing her to flinch as she sat through the evening deluge pounding at the shutters as she stared straight ahead, listening. She held tightly onto the doll that had belonged to her late sister moving her fingertips over the doll’s porcelain face with its dainty nose and rosebud lips.

“Evangeline is gone, and I am nearly blind. What is to become of us, Bon-Bon?”

The feline pawed at Victoria’s fingertips.

She swiped at her tears and squinted as a shadow passed under her bedroom door.

“Grandmother!” she called out. “Grand-mere?”

Silence loomed. There’s no one to talk to now that Evangeline is gone. Victoria peered across her room trying to blink away the veil preventing her from seeing what had been staring at her the whole time – an apparition wavering in the glow of the candles.

* ~*~ *

About the Author

Emily ~ Square jPegEmily Hill is an author of supernatural titles and the owner of A.V. Harrison Publishing – a coaching service for progressive authors. Her first novel, ‘Jenkins: Confederate Blockade Runner’ [paperback] was published October 2010.

Known as ‘The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter’, Ms. Hill was brought up surrounded by her mother’s Ouija board sessions, flickering candles, and Tarot cards. Emily spent her youth in New Orleans frequenting tea leaves readings and has always had an intense awareness and respect for all that exists on the Other Side of the Grave.

Emily’s first ghost sighting occurred with she was seven years old. Being alone in her house, after her parents had left for work, and as the apparition of her deceased grandfather roamed the house, made her forever aware of things that cannot be explained away in mainstream religious dogma or on scientific terms.

You can find out more information about Emily on her blog.

You can purchase Voodoo Vision: New Orleans House of Spirit on Amazon, Amazon UK or Smashwords. It is also discounted on Ganxy.

Planning a Trip to Disney World – part 1

I love Walt Disney World. It would be my choice destination for a vacation, and we would go more often but as those of you have gone (and stayed on property) know, a trip to Disney World in Florida is not a cheap, or even for that matter, a relaxing vacation.

35984130069Disney World is in Orlando, Florida and consists of four different theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhon Lagoon), a mini-golf course, four regular golf courses, a sports complex and a mega-shopping/entertainment center (Downtown Disney) in addition to fishing, sailboats, canoes, water skiing and whole bunch of other activities. There are 20 on-site hotels and numerous ones in the area. We always like to stay “on property” as it keeps you in a “Disney Bubble.”

My husband’s first trip was on our honeymoon. I had been numerous times as a child as my grandparents lived in Florida, which allowed us to go every so often. My husband and I went back for our five-year anniversary and had plans to return every five years. Then right before our 10-year anniversary, my son Jase was born. So instead of going in May or June like the previous two trips, we waited and went in December when Jase was 19 months old. His second trip wasn’t until Lexie came along. When she was 21 months and Jase was 4, we made another trip in December. (That is a wonderful time to go – great weather, low crowds, and it is decorated for Christmas.)

DSCN3051Our last trip was in May 2012. We had planned to go as soon as Jase got out of kindergarten. But a month or so before we went, my husband lost his job and decided to start his own business. He didn’t feel he could be away from his new endeavor so my mom stepped in and went with us. But my husband felt left out so we are planning a trip at the beginning of June 2014. We picked this time mainly because we will be at Disney during their Star Wars weekends.

Most people who have been on a Disney World trip know that there really is a lot of planning involved. Those newbies are often overwhelmed by the sheer size of Disney World and all it has to offer. So I wanted to write just a few tips to get any beginners pointed in the right direction.

1.) Buy or check out a guide to Disney World – This is a good way to get an overview of everything offered and is even helpful for those who haven’t gone in a while to find out about the new attractions or other changes. Both the Official guide or any of the unofficial guides are good. I personally like The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.

Another good option is to check out AllEars.net.  You can find some great information there but do verify pricing or menu items listed with the actual Disney website.

2.) Visit the Disboards This is a good resource for information that is coming from people who love Disney. You can learn A LOT from these people. But I will warn you that there are some “hot” topics that you will want to avoid such as how to cheat the system. There is no way to list all the “hot” topics, but it won’t take you long to find them.

3.) Make Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) – If you want to eat in a restaurant in Disney World – especially one that features character interaction – then you will need a reservation. Do not expect to walk up to a restaurant and be shown to a table. Many restaurants are booked months in advanced and the chance of a walking up and getting a table for the most popular places is very slim. Disney opens reservations 180 days BEFORE you arrive. DSCN2988I know, I know – how do you know which park you will be at that far in advance? This is why I said you NEED to plan. The hardest reservation to get is Cinderella’s Royal Table where you get to eat in Cinderella’s castle.

If you are interested in other activities such as an appointment for your little princess at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (a hair/nails and make up place for girls 3-12 years old) or a Pirate Adventure for your little pirate, then you will also want to make appointments for these in advance.

I have barely scratched the surface of the things you should know before you go. There is still Fastpass +, Photopass +, Magic bands and a whole lot more. I will be writing about visiting Disney World over the next few months as we plan our June vacation.

Today’s Featured Author: Yvette Allen-Tatum

Today, Author Yvette Allen-Tatum stops by my blog as part of her I Didn’t Know virtual book tour.

From The Author

 I Didn’t Know – Identifying, Confronting & Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse – the title is indicative of the subject matter.  In this book the author brings to the forefront the many faces of child sexual abuse; those of the victims and the abusers.  Yvette Allen-Tatum boldly confronts her past of child sexual abuse to demonstrate that TRUE deliverance is possible.  Yvette believes that we ALL (victims, abusers, enablers, nay-sayers, etc.) can OVERCOME the horrible effects of child sexual abuse.

This book proves that true healing is possible and necessary for us to become more than CONQUERORS through Christ Jesus.

As a community, we have to:

  • Identify Child Sexual Abuse –
    • We have to talk about it (raise public awareness)
    • Know the signs & symptoms
  • Confront Child Sexual Abuse –
    • Error on the side of caution – THE CHILD
    • Be quick to BELIEVE the victim and make all necessary inquiries
    • Studies show people are more apt to believe the innocence of the accused; this has to END
  • Overcome Child Sexual Abuse –
    • We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the WORD of OUR TESTIMONY

Book Description

i didn't knowI Didn’t Know is for more than just an audience of one. If you look to your left, look to your right, or directly in the mirror, you will see or know someone who has been sexually abused… even if you look in the mirror, and the person is YOU! More than the tragedy of sexual abuse is the tragedy of the silence of sexual abuse. It must be talked about. Our stories have to be shared; someone’s life is literally depending upon YOU to BREAK THE IGNORANCE OF SILENCE! “I Didn’t Know” brings to the forefront the many hidden faces of child sexual abuse. The author, Yvette L. Allen-Tatum, shares not only her story, but the compelling testimonies of others–everyone from the actual victim, to the offender, to those who standby by in disbelief and allow these heinous crimes against our children to continue. Our voices have to be heard, our children must be free or freed to tell the TRUTH: that someone touched them. Who can they run to? Will it be you?

About the Author 

YvetteAuthor, Teacher, Conference Host, Public Speaker, Encourager, Motivator, Ordained & licensed Minister of The Gospel, Radical for Christ, undercover Comedian and the list goes on

Yvette is a graduate of Grace Christian College where she earned her Masters of Divinity and a Bachelor of Arts in Theology.  She is also a graduate of University of Richmond, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Finance and a Minor in Leadership Studies. In addition, she has 30 plus years of experience in income tax preparation and bookkeeping.

As the Founder of Surrounded by Faith Ministries, Yvette has had the opportunity to touch and transform the lives of many women with the Word of God.  This mighty Woman of God has a prophetic teaching anointing which has enabled her to cross many boundaries.  As such, the Call of God on her life has broadened from transforming the lives of women to transforming LIVES with the Word of God.  While she still holds a passion to train and equip women in the life study and application of the Bible, her ultimate goal is to strengthen families.  To do so her platform is geared to men, women and children.

You can connect with Yvette on her website. Or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase I Didn’t Know on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Using Wattpad to gain readers

When I originally looked into self-publishing my first novel, Summoned, I was directed to Wattpad as a place to feature an excerpt of my novel. Sadly, I didn’t heed this advice because using Wattpad can be a great way to introduce your writing to millions of readers.

wattpadWattpad claims to be the world’s largest community for discovering and sharing stories. On this website, users can post their stories or read one of the thousands of new stories posted every day. Wattpad’s dedicated readers spend over 2 billion minutes each month on the site. Readers can collect stories into reading lists, vote for their favorites and share and comment with friends and writers.

From a writer’s perspective, Wattpad allows you to connect and engage over 10 million readers worldwide. It can allow you to share your work, build a fan base and receive feedback on your stories.

And the best thing – the website is totally free.

Getting Started 

To create an account, simply go to wattpad.com. Click the orange “Join Free” button at the top right corner of the screen. Follow the directions to set up your account. It takes only a few minutes to add your profile and link to Twitter or Facebook.

You can publish any story as long as it is a .txt file and not larger than 2MB in size. If you want, you can upload a chapter at a time. But remember you are giving this away for free so it is probably best to post just an excerpt or write something you intend as a self-promoting piece. Or since the first chapter or so is already free on Amazon, why not post it on Wattpad too? You can even post links for the readers to then buy your books after becoming ensnared by your prose.

I wrote my short story, The Search, with the intention of offering it for free. It is currently free on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and the Kobo store. Only on Amazon do you have to pay for it. Since it is already free elsewhere, it made the perfect candidate for Wattpad. (You can check out The Search on Wattpad by clicking here.)

I added it last week to Wattpad. Within three days (with no promoting of it), I had 20 readers. Two days later I was up to 31 readers and this was with very little promotion. Since then I have sent out a few tweets and Facebook posts on it.  People aren’t reading it in droves, but it is exposing my writing to more readers – ones that I hope will like my writing well enough to purchase my trilogy.

I think Wattpad can help authors find readers even if all you offer is what is already free on Amazon – the first 10-20% of your novel.