Thursday, March 24, 2016

Live Author Appearance and Book Signing march 26th in Midlothian, Virginia

I will be signing copies of Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area and my collection of short horror fiction, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations on Saturday,  March 26th at 2nd & Charles 12244 Chattanoga Plaz, Midlothian, Virginia from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. I wil also be dong a giveaway of an Easter basket full of goodies and a gift cert from the store. You must come and buy a copy of one of my books and then enter to win. I will draw the winner fifteen minutes before 4:00, You must be there to win, or be able to get to the store same day to pick up your prize.


Supernatural Friday: Easter Legends and Myths

Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian countries, Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But in actuality, Easter has many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and with nothing to do with Christianity.

The word, Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian "Ostra" and the Teutonic "Ostern" or "Eastre." Both are goddesses of mythology that signify spring and fertility. Festivals for them were celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. Like the Easter Bunny.  The rabbit is a symbol originating with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the hare or rabbit.

The date of Easter is determined by the moon—symbolism strongly tied to the hare. Ever since the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to American folklore by German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure," of course after a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. If children had been good, then the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs. The children built their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys used their caps and girls, their bonnets, to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets came much later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.

The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of traditions particularly due to the relationship of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter, is derived from Pesach.

A Spanish festival commemorates the resurrection of Easter with colorful fireworks and booming cannons. Judas images often are shot at by the soldiers. Greeks would buy Easter candles and colored eggs for Good Friday, and on Easter, served the traditional lamb for dinner. They sometimes would do solemn processions wound through the streets, carrying lighted candles and holy pictures. A Bavarian custom concerned fashioning of little crosses and they would set those up in the fields. They also did Easter parades along with children rolling Easter eggs downhill for fun. In Tyrol, musicians woud tour every valley and sing Easter hymns. The villagers of villages they did this would join in, and after dark, light the way with torches.

Other legends connected to Easter:

Easter Bells: These were rung in France and Italy throughout the year, but never rung on the Thursday before Good Friday. The silence of the bells had to do as remembrance of the death of Jesus. On Easter, they were rung  as a way of telling people Jesus lived again.

The Cross: A symbol of Christian religion as Jesus was put on a cross, then was brought back to life.

The Easter Lily: The lily was a reminder to the Christians of how Jesus came back to life.

Easter Flowers These being daffodils, narcissus and tulips. Because bloomed late in spring, they became meshed with Easter as symbols.

Pussy Willows: Especially picked at Easter in England andRussia, people tapped each other on the shoulders with a branch of it for good luck.

Lambs: A symbol for Jesus as the Good Shepherd who would watch over them as they were lambs.

Rabbits: Rabbits are symbols of spring and new life (though I would consider lambs too, since born around this time), besides also the favorite animal of the spring goddess Eastre.


The Egg: A sign of spring and Easter, they are a sign of new life.

Chicks: The chicks are born from eggs and are a reminder of spring and Easter.


Enjoy two tales that are legends to do with Easter, too. Unlike pagan ones, these are more Christian in relation.

Legend of the Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend says at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Its firmness and strength got it selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. You will remain slender, bent, and twisted, and your blossoms in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints—brown with rust and stained with red. There will be crown of thorns in the center of the flower, remembrance for all who see this."

The Easter Lily

One of the most famous biblical references to the lily is the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies are said to have been found growing in the garden of Gethsemaneafter Christ's agony. It is said these beautiful white flowers sprang up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and distress. Christian churches at Easter by filling their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter lilies, commemorating the Resurrection and hope of life everlasting.

The pure white lily has also long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is seen holding out a branch of pure white lilies to her, announcing that she is to be the Mother of the Christ child. In other paintings, saints are pictured carrying vases full of white lilies that they give to Mary and the Infant Jesus.

Lilies had a significant presence in the paradise of Adam and Eve. Tradition says Eve left the Garden of Eden, shedding real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprang up lilies.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Supernatural Friday: What Haunts Your Nightmares? (Free Read from Spectre Nightmares and Visitations)

What scares you? What is your Boogyman? Does something live beneath your bed or within your closet? Is some specter haunting your dreams, turning them into nightmares? We all have something that scares us, whether supernatural or from another world. Some scary movies we just can't watch. Some books freak us out more than anything else. The commonplace becoming out of the ordinary? What frightens you? Reaches deep with your psyche and rip the screams from you?

I'm sharing one of the stories from the book, Spectre Nightmares and Visitations,  "What Happens in Chester, Vanishes." You'll need to purchase the print book itself to read the rest of the stories included in it. The download version has all, but the Lovecraftian horror tale,  "Dark Eyes." As an eBook, Dark Eyes" is separate. 

Book Blurb:
Many things scare us. But the most fearful things are those that infect our nightmares and visitations. Monsters from the closet or from another planet. Ghosts that haunt more than a house. Werewolves are not the only shapeshifters to beware of. Children can be taken from more than the human kind of monsters. Even normal things can be the start of a heart-pounding terror. Prepare to step beyond the door into Spectre Nightmares and Visitations.

Just tell yourself that they're only stories.

Enjoy the story "What Happens in Chester, Vanishes" from Spectre 
Nightmares and Visitations.

Okay, that’s weird.

The people that had just been walking and driving their cars in Chester Village Green a few minutes ago had vanished. The beautiful Chester Library and the other buildings stood there silent and empty of life.

Of all the strange things that happened in my life, this one beat them all.

My cell phone! Of course.

I took it out and tried to make a call to my mother in Powathan. It didn't work. And I charged it up fully last night. Now it lay in my hand like a broken toy. Whatever infected Chester had done something to it, too. Upset, I stuck it back in her purse. 

The silence felt so . . . unnerving. Nothing moved. Nothing made a sound. Not even a breeze. Nothing, except the noise my car made, loud in the unnatural stillness.

I felt pain from my arms and my hands. With a quick glance, I saw I was gripping the steering wheel so tight that the veins on the top of them popped up. Shoot, my skin gleamed ghost white. Another quick glance in the rear view mirror and I saw how pale my face was, too.

I decided to park the car. So many spaces to choose from, which one should I choose? A giggle rose up hysterically as I drew my car into one and turned the engine off. I couldn’t stop it.

“Oh, God, oh God, oh God,” I began to giggle, tears in my eyes.

The giggling passed, I let go of the steering wheel and just sat there staring out through the car window and unsure what to do next. 

Do I get out? Was it safe to do so? Maybe I was asleep and this was all a nightmare.

No, I remembered waking up this morning and having a cup of coffee and some yogurt. I pinched myself just to be sure.


Guess this is not a dream, Marisa.

"What happened here?" I said, letting the sound of my own voice give me comfort. "Is everyone else gone in the rest of Chester? Does that include the rest of Richmond, or even Virginia itself? Is everyone on vacation, or something?"

Like someone would answer me.

It looked like I wouldn’t have to worry about being late for work at the library today. Most likely my supervisor didn’t make it to work today either. Apparently, no patrons neither. 

Taking a deep breath, I got out of the car, leaving it unlock if I needed to get back in, and walked slowly up to the front glass doors. I found the doors opened easily and entered.

Okay, does that appear good or not? Why are you even entering the building, you idiot?

I swept my gaze around and found an empty circulation desk, a couple of books on it, one flipped open, along with another one lying under the scanner the library used to check books out. Another glance to my left caught other books lying on the floors or on tables, as if whoever had them had just dropped them, leaving them there like unwanted children. The silence bothered me. I began to imagine that the books were watching at me from their bookcases. Like they were saying, 'How dare you being the only human here?" 

Nothing more for me here, I bolted out of the place and ignoring my car, ran down Center Street to Route 10. Same thing there, too. Chester had become a large-economy size version of one of those collectible heirloom villages sold in gift shops, only minus the people, animals and vehicles. 

As I looked straight across the street at the Chester Fire Department, I saw that the bay doors stood wide open, bereft of the fire engines. All the buildings suddenly became ominous, like they waited to pounce on any unwary fools. 

Fools like me.

I made for the nearby shopping center. It was foolish of me to even have checked it out. Nothing there like everywhere else, not even breeze-tossed scraps of papers flittering across the empty parking lot. 

Deciding to be prudent, I headed back to where my car was parked. But like everything else in the madness it had vanished.

Maybe aliens came and took everyone away, like that episode in Twilight Zone.

Yeah, if it were that simple an explanation. 

I trudged like a drunken sailor back up Center Street to Route 10. 

I prayed. Whatever happened to Chester, please take me too. Being alone the rest of my life like this is something I don’t want to do

I looked up at the cloud-filled sky above. "Look, I admit that I prayed last night before turning in that I'd like to be alone, with no one to bother me and all, but I was in a blue funk after a day of full of crazy patrons and a smart-mouthed supervisor." I began to cry. "I would love to hear Mrs. Tilt right now yelling at me in her usual nasty way. At least it would be another human being."

Wait. Was that a sound? 

It came again. It came from Route 10. Like someone talking.

I ran on shaky legs and hoped that meant there another human besides me was in this god forsaken place. I dropped to my knees on the street when I found nothing but an empty street. I didn’t even notice the pain from my scraped knees. My mind had snapped at that moment.

I yelled, "Stop it, please stop it! If you're going to torture me, then just go ahead and kill me right now.”

I saw it then. Large and bright yellow, its siren screamed in protest as it barreled toward me. Instead of excitement, I found I didn’t care that this might mean I wasn’t alone anymore. 

I jumped up and opened my arms, welcoming my death. Within a second it slammed into me. Pain lanced through me, as the bones in my body smashed, flesh tore and my brain splattered within my skull.
"I didn't see her until too late," cried the young firefighter. "Suddenly there she was, like a ghost appearing out of thin air. The woman stood there like a deer caught in our headlights. The worse part is I swear she held her arms open like a woman welcoming her lover back." Tears welled up in his blue eyes and streamed down his cheeks. He looked up from his kneeling position by the body at the chief who had been with him in the engine. They had been returning to the station. "I'll remember hitting her for the rest of my life."

Chief Thomas frowned as he realized the silence all around them. "Hey, where's everyone else?"

The other frowned, confused. "What?" He got to his feet and looked around. There was only him and Chief Thomas and the fire engine. No vehicles, no people gawking at the accident. Even the station was quiet like a tomb. The broken body of the woman had vanished, her smeared blood that had painted the cement gone. "Oh God, what's going on?"

Childish laughter filled the silence. Looking up, both men saw a gigantic child's face peering down at them. Another larger face of a woman appeared next to the child's.

"Dinner time, dear," said the woman’s face. "Then you can come back and play with your town. And please flush that nasty bloody body down the toilet, then wash your hands. Didn't Daddy tell you not to kill your playthings, or he won't get you any more toys from another dimension?"

Find it as an eBook at Genre Connections Unlike the print version, one story in not included in the eBook version. Find the short story, "Dark Eyes"as an eBook HERE. And in trade paperback at Genre Connections-Print and at AMAZON.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Pets Can Come Back Too...Sometimes, Most Times, Okay, Definitely!

Why should humans be the only ones entitled to an after life existance? Not only are there human spirits, but phantom animals have been seen for centuries. Besides wraiths of the family pet who passed away there are legends of the Black Dog, Pookas, animals that predict a family's deaths (such as the black bird did for the Cox family of Cloverhill Plantation in Chesterfield, Virginia, phantom panthers and big cats, and others.

Apparitions of the infamous Black Dog has been seen not only in British Isles, but many other places in the world. They may be distinguished from normal flesh and blood black canines by features such as large or glowing eyes—sometimes only one—their ability to appear or disappear out of thin air or into and out of the ground, no head, two heads; or the ability to change their size or appearance. Though sometimes these ghostly hounds aren't always just black, but seen as white or brown beasts.

The Black Dogs go under many names depending which county you are in. In the north of England in counties such as Yorkshire and Lancashire, you will hear names such as Guytrash, Shriker, or Barguest; in East Anglia and Norfolk you will hear Black Shuck, Skeff, or Moddey Dhoo; and in the south of England you will hear names like Yeth or Wish Hounds. The origin of the word Guytrash is unknown, but Shuck can be traced back to the Old English Scucca, meaning Demon while Barguest may come from the German 'Bargeist' meaning “spirit of the (funeral) bier.” The demon association is sometimes emphasized by the title ‘’Devil Dog.” In the south, Yeth means Heath, while Wish, in a similar vein, is an old Sussex word for marsh. This name for the hounds is widely used in Sussex, but the origin also seems linked to the term Witch Hounds, which is also common. Whether there is any connection between the two is unknown. The names may only be referring to the fact that these dogs are often seen in wild country places. In many places, the dogs are seen as omens of death. To see one means either a portent of your own death or the death of a family member.

You don’t have to go to the British Isles to see one. There have been some of these beasts reported in Virginia. There’s a legend of one that has been seen in Goochland, big as a young calf as it roamed the county. Sightings of it have always been reported to be near the State Farm, at the entrance to Thorncliff, and also at Chestnut Hill Bottom. Unlike Black Shuck in England, this one has never portended the death of anyone. There have been no tales of this animal seen since 1900 though.

Often, like the traditional Black Dogs seen in Britain, it would appear out of nowhere, trot alongside someone on foot or horseback or in a buggy. Even though it looked fearsome and was very big, it didn’t harm anyone. Some, though, didn’t want the dog accompanying them and would shoot at the animal. The bullets would just pass through its body, frightening the shooters, while the dog just kept trotting beside them. You can read more of the Virginian Black Dogs in my book, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales at various places, including AMAZON .

Apparitions of pets have been seen, plus a favorite toy seen rolling or moving as if a paw or nose still prodding it, and there has also been recorded of the feeling of something rubbing against legs or the push of a cold nose into a person's hand. Even sounds have been heard--either out loud or on EVPs from a recorder. I myself have gotten the meowing of a cat, once at Ferry Plantation during an investigation, and this past August 2011 at the Byrd Theater. A ghost cat has been seen and heard at Ferry; the ghost cat at the Byrd was more of a surprise to me.

Speaking of dog or cat spirits seen and heard, other animals' specters have been, too. Like horses. There is a story I read that concerned a child, who when her parents moved to Germany at the air base would keep avoiding an spot in the corridor of their home. She told her mother  that there was a horse in the middle of it. The mother looked up and found that the block of flats that their flat was in a military stable stood in the same area during World War II.


Another ghostly beastie seen was an ape at  Athelhampton Hall in Dorset, England. The place had been built by Sir William Martyn in 1485. Tyhe family's crest had an ape sitting on a tree stump and beneath that was the motto: "He who looks at Martyn's ape, Martyn's ape will look at him." Really owning this ape, it had the run of the hall. When one of Martyn's daughters had been spurned by her lover, she went to commit suicide in a room, locking herself in. Unfortunately for the animal, it followed her into the room and was locked in, too. It was found lying by her side, starved to death. This ghost ape is said to be heard scratching behind the walls.

In Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, lays the tomb of famous author, Ellen Glasgow. After she passed away, it was discovered in her will a stipulation that her two pet dogs that preceded her in death be dug up from the backyard of her home and buried with her. There are those who claim to hear these two dogs running around and whining at the gravesite, late at night. Could Ellen be tossing them sticks to fetch?


Also in Hollywood is another dog legend, concerning one made of iron. It stands almost in the shadow of the pyramid. It came originally from the front of a store on Broad Street in the 19thcentury. A little girl would always come by and pet it, talking to it and showing her love for it as if it were a real dog. But one day she never came back. She had perished in an epidemic in 1892 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery. Because of her affection for the cast iron dog though, it was placed at her grave site. Eerily, it stands there to this very day, as if guarding her. There have been those who say that it moves occasionally, that they would pass it pointing in one direction and come back, to find it staring the opposite way.

On moonlit nights, rider less horses are heard, galloping around the Federal-style country house, Reveille in Richmond.Located on West Cary Street in Richmond’s West End is used now as administrative offices for the Reveille United Methodist Church since it was bought in 1951.  In Old House Woods in Mathews County, ghosts of horses and cows appear and disappear before people's eyes while two black headless dogs have been seen running through the woods.


Last is two ghostly animals tales set in the Great Dismal swamp in Chesapeake, VirginiaBoth involve ghost deer.


There is another local Indian tale told that is set in the Great Dismal Swamp of the Tidewater region. It is one of tragic love. There had been an Indian maiden, Wa-Cheagles, who happened to be daughter of the chief of one of two warring tribes in the area. For years she had an interesting relationship with a doe that she called Cin-Co, which meant guiding friend. It was believed that Cin-Co brought deer into the swamp each autumn. The doe would always lead her current fawn up to Wa-Cheagles to show her, at the edge of the forest near a pool of dark brown water. This was the only way for the squaw to meet with the doe as squaws were not allowed into the forest because the tribes believed this to be an evil omen. 

One year, Cin-Co appeared alone, limping. She walked back into the forest, doing it two to three times, until Wa-Cheagles overcame her fear and followed her. The doe lead her to her fawn that had a hoof firmly on a barely living rattlesnake. No doubt this reptile had bitten Cin-Co and was the reason for her limp. The doe was telling the Indian maiden she wanted her to care for her fawn, since the doe was dying from the rattlesnake poison. While there, Wa-Cheagles heard a moan and discovered an Indian brave from an enemy tribe with a swollen leg from a rattlesnake bite. If she attended to him, she must pledge herself to him. Both then would be hunted down, to be killed by arrows with tips laced with water moccasin venom.

But she went ahead and helped him, removing her beret and tying it around his leg. Using some snakeroot she found, she applied a poultice over the wound. Ready to leave, she saw that Cin-Co had died and the fawn had vanished. Upset, she went back to her tribe.

For three days, she would sneaked away to tend to the brave. On the third day, her father appeared in the clearing, finding not only her, but the brave too. He carried away Cin-Co’s carcass, giving them enough time to get away.

Wa-Cheagles and her lover stopped at Lake Drummond to rest. Just then three warriors from her tribe confronted them, determined to erase the curse from their tribe.

As the warriors drew back their bows to send their arrows flying, a dark cloud blotted out the sun and a loud rustling noise filled the air. A flock of wild geese flew around Wa-Cheagles and her lover. The geese settled en masse on the lake until not one inch of the water could be seen. Terrified, the braves dropped their bows and arrows and bolted. 

Just then, the “swamp spirit” rose out of the lake and strolled over the backs of the geese, approaching the two lovers. It told them that Cin-Co’s spirit had saved them. That Wa-Cheagles must continue the doe’s good work. The spirit magicked the maiden into a white deer, a small crimson spot on her forehead. Her lover became a charmed hunter. The spirit told them they would roam the swamp’s forest forever, side by side, protected from both animals and hunters by rattlesnakes.

To this day there are hunters and others who say they have seen the white deer and the Indian brave by her side. Whenever a hunter pursues them, a rattlesnake appears on the spot they had been sighted, hissing and rattling its rattle. 

Black Jack the hermit took off in his boat one Christmas Eve, his only companion being his faithful hunting dog. He rowed across Drummond Lake, went down Washington Ditch and landed near White Marsh Road. Both man and dog left the boat to hunt deer for their dinner. 

The Native Americans in the area claimed that white deer were protected by spirits. Jack’s dog flushed out a white buck, the biggest deer Jack had ever seen. The buck froze, and when he fired at it, the bullet pierced its chest. But instead of falling, it bounded away. The dog gave chase, but lost it. Jack began to wonder of the local Indian stories were true then.

Later, the dog found a red buck and this one dropped easily when Jack’s bullet hit it. He loaded the carcass in his boat and rowed for home. When it was almost dark, a blue-green light rose in the sky above the tree tops. Jack thought it was the moon rising, but then it zipped for his boat. It paused above his boat and illuminated the whole lake. Frightened, the hermit began to row faster. 

When he got to his cabin, he dropped the buck and gave an order to his dog to guard the carcass, then went inside to gather the things needed to clean and dress it. He changed his clothes, sharpened his knives and went outside. Both his dog and the deer had vanished! Grabbing a lantern, he searched and found small patches of blood in the snow trailing back to the lake’s edge. Stunned, he stood there, not knowing what to do. 

Just then a moan rent the air. Louder and louder it grew and sounding as if from the middle of the lake. He stared as the same blue-green light rose out of the water and over a giant cypress, covering the tree in its unnatural glow.

When the scream of a wildcat came, he jumped in his boat and raced downstream to the locks. He leaped onto shore and bolted to Captain Crockett’s cottage. It was midnight when he banged on the front door. Black Jack streaked past Crockett when he opened the door. For three hours he sat in the cottage, not speaking, due to both being frozen and the fear he felt. Crockett gave him a mixture of honey, swamp water, and moonshine, and it freed him enough to blurt out his strange story. 

The next morning Jack left, determined to find his dog and the missing deer. That night, Crockett dreamed of a white buck and the mysterious halo of light that surrounded its head. He awoke, knowing it to be a premonition of danger for Jack. So the next morning he traveled to the hermit’s cabin and found the door wide open and the fire out. Jack was not inside. He searched outside and found Jack in a kneeling position in a thicket. The hermit had frozen to death. No other tracks surrounded him, and Crockett saw no signs of a struggle.

It is claimed that since then, on Christmas Eve between midnight and two in the morning that Jack can be heard gibbering about the light and the deer. At break of dawn, his dog and the missing red buck can be seen where he was found. Hunters fire at a white buck, but never hit it. The deer and the dog vanish into the underbrush. 

The white deer that hunters shoot at and never hit could be the Indian maiden, Wa-Cheagles from the Indian myths chapter, except for their claim that it is a buck they saw and Wa-Cheagles became a white doe, protected by her warrior lover.