Holiday Movie Countdown #1

It’s that time of year again, folks! Thanksgiving is barely more than a week away and December rolls by so quick it’s almost impossible to keep up. Last year I had just moved to a new city and was feeling awfully homesick throughout the season. Now I’m a little less home sick, since my husband finally grew on me ;p and the holidays have been pumping me up with lots of cheer. This infused my current mission. As you might have guessed by the title, I’m on a quest to watch as many classic & cheesy holiday films as possible! And since I barely saw a handful last year due to poor timing, and realizing there really are too many to see in one week, I’m starting way early this time.


Christhanksgiving Movie Countdown #1

Ernest Saves Christmas - We started the season right, with some good old Ernest. I grew up watching this recent classic on a recorded VHS tape, complete with early 90′s commercials intact. And it’s just as charming and kooky as it was when we were little, turns out. The picture was a lot less fuzzy this time around…

Great Quotes:

Ernest P. Worell: Ahh, smell those Christmas trees. You can keep your ‘Channel’ Number 5, just give me a whiff of the old lonesome pine. That symbol of brotherly love, that centerpiece that all mankind gathers around to share the cranberry sauce shaped like a can.


Ernest P. Worell: What we have here is a failure to accumulate.


Film Studio Gate Guard: [advances toward’s Ernest’s truck to see what is under the tarp in back] I’d better have a look.

Ernest P. Worell: [disguised as a snake rancher, referring to the venomous “snakes” under the tarp] Careful, now… them be “pisin”!

[lunges at the guard, who gasps and winces]

Ernest P. Worell: “Pisin” snakes! One minute, you be a strappin’ young man like yerself, an’ the next…

[imitates a snake’s fangs with his fingers]

Ernest P. Worell: SNAP!

[swipes his “fangs” at the guard, who again gasps and winces]

Ernest P. Worell: Yer dead meat!


White Christmas - The moment Bing Crosby began singing…

I cried like a baby, lol. Hear me out before you think me overly sentimental. I grew up visiting my grandparents and one of the movies we absolutely had to watch was White Christmas. It was their favorite, which makes sense with them being from that generation. Grandma told me that while she was an Army RN overseas during WW2 they sang White Christmas. It was one of the last movies I watched with her during one of our last Christmases as well. But seeing all the song & dance, the good early 50′s feels and good will for “an old pal in the army” made my night.


Love Actually- The first time I watched this, I had borrowed it from my first college room mate and watched it on laptop in my top bunk, surrounded by Christmas lights. It’s not the best holiday or the best rom-com. In fact it’s equal parts cheesy and classic Britt, but it’s hopeful and sweet and let’s face it, way better than any American ensemble romance film made since. And I’d like to add, the girl who sings this song sounds better than Mariah Carey ;)


The Nightmare Before Christmas- I literally just watched this movie on Halloween night. But as the title implies, it is a multiple holiday movie. The best part is I got to watch it with my niece who sang every word to every song. Which, you know, makes her awesome!


While You Were Sleeping- I couldn’t begin to tell you when this became one of my holiday movies. Maybe because they used to show it on TV this time of year? This lovely twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale features 90′s nostalgia, young & sweet Sandra Bullock and Christmas plus New Years themes. It’s bending the rules a bit by not being a strict Christmas movie, but in my book it counts!


You’ve Got Mail- Here’s another rule bender, but as part of the movie takes place during Christmas combined with the chemistry between Tom & Meg, and you get magic.


The 12 Dates Of Christmas- I typically avoid these “Hallmark”-ish, “made-for-a-certain-audience” holiday films. But a former roomie of mine thought otherwise. She was so into these types of films and chick-lit novels she did something extraordinary, partly converted me, lol. Because of this, tonight I took a chance on some cheese and actually loved it! I hated the teeny-pop intro song. Fortunately they didn’t stick with one genre in their soundtrack! The repetition sequence of each time-jumping “12 Days” was a little annoying after a while, but they story managed to stay fresh. And besides one or two overly dramatic moments, it was well done, but more importantly quirky and fun.

And I’m pretty sure this is the first thing I’ve seen “Zach” Gosselaar in since his Saved By the Bell days…


This concludes Part 1 of our holiday movie marathon! Woohoo! And while some of these may be more obscure, I’m working my way up to the bigger guns ;) Sorry but I just can’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life any other day but Christmas!

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Other Days: Anthology Edited by Jessica Augustsson

I am understandably excited to share this update with y’all. You might recall a ghost story I was working on in the last few months, if you’ve been keeping up with my Tuesday Teasers. Now I’m proud to announce the release of “Other Days” an anthology edited by colleague and friend, Jessica Augustsson. I first discovered Jessica in early ’12 while searching for an editor for my sci-fi novella, Qeya. Since that first project, I’ve seen the value of her impeccable sense of pace and taste in the art of storytelling. She is one of those first-class, rare editors who not only cares deeply about the craft, but the people. Without her, my writing would not be what it is today.

“Other Days” is a cumulative project spanning continents and the realm of speculative fiction. If you’re looking for stories that go above and beyond your imagination, look no further!


READ IT TODAY

Visit the following links to read in both ebook and paperback formats:

AMAZON ~ AMAZON U.K.

To learn more about Jessica Augustsson, please see her webpage at: www.jessedit.com


EXCERPT

I cannot remember what I am or who I was before. I am different from the ones who talk and take. Not that I can’t talk, you see. But it has been so long since I needed to know how.

My memory of her is fading now, like paper worn too thin. Eventually it will crumble to dust like the others. But some memories are vivid and clear to me still. From the start the girl learned to look and listen rather than talk and take. Her eyes found my hiding place, could see through the wooden wall. Rather than screaming as she should have, the child spoke to me. It had been so long since anyone had spoken to me. She asked me questions I couldn’t answer.

In the beginning was the most obvious, “Are you a ghost?”

“No,” I replied. I most certainly am not a ghost, not like the ones they invent.

So she pretended I was her special imaginary friend and called me Una because she thought it pretty and I have no name. When she gave me a name I began to feel more solid and less fluid. Instead of fading easily from wall to wall I found I must squeeze tighter between. And the creaky old house became less scary, she told me, less alive. So for a short time I knew happiness. A dangerous feeling.

The family moved away soon after. I heard the father’s whispers to the mother, concerns for their only child. Even her teacher at school had expressed concerns.

“She needs children her own age, Maude,” Father insisted the night before they left.

“Adele is fine. She has not been so happy since the diagnosis. For heaven’s sake, Harold, it is only an imaginary friend,” Mother pleads.

I told my little friend what her father said. She cried about it with her tiny hands pressed against the painted wood over my heart. I told her to pry it open so she could hide her special things inside for safekeeping. She begged me to come out of the wall and come with her and I tried. The struggle sucked me back deeper, so I couldn’t even tell her goodbye, couldn’t speak to her this last time.

Her screams pierced and stabbed the walls as they dragged her away forever.

I mourned.

No matter how many times this happens I cannot fade my sorrow and pain away with my shape.  They linger sometimes like a cold spot in the air. After a while, the others make me feel alive, even if they never learn to look. And they always leave, sometimes because they see their little children talking to empty corners or because I am not careful enough to fade quietly through the walls of their house.

For the first time in a long one, I felt angry at the wood that bound me, at the others who gave me such foolish hope. I forgot how to take shape after this. For years I slept and no family came to share my roof.

I forgot the little girl’s name, but I never forgot the name she gifted me.

Una.

Occasionally, I would hear the others who dared lingered outside the house begin to speak of strange things.

“They say he went missing a week before he was murdered in the house…”

“She broke her neck on the front steps three days after moving in…”

“…haunted…”

“…ghosts…”

All of this is ridiculous, of course. Ghosts are dark spirits that thrive on the fear of the others. I had seen haunted houses advertised on television during Halloween—places where chandeliers flickered and rattled, doors opened and shut on their own. I was honest when I told the little girl who had named me Una that I was not a ghost.

Still they always left. No families came to look or claim my home. The only live souls I saw were the children who threw rocks at the windows, and dared one another to enter the “haunted house.” And eventually this ceased too.

The house had grown musty, filthy and fragile. It was a very old house, added onto and polished every generation by families I only saw as candlelit shadows in my memory now. So dead and peaceful was it that I too forgot I was still alive.

Until they opened the front door.

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Hooked on Star Wars

Hope this makes you smile as much as I did while watching it!

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NaNoWriMo #1

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442Hope All Hallow’s Eve was a smash hit for everyone! Tonight I’m bucking down to work on my NaNoWriMo attempt while my husband plays Skyrim. Between that and hot cocoa it doesn’t get much better. But I’m reminded in just dredging up the courage to write that being real and personal is exhausting. It’s far easier for me to write an urban fantasy adventure about kick ace heroines than it is to pull from real life. But here goes nothing. I’m going to attempt to write from the heart and bring y’all along on the adventure with a trail of bread crumbs.


“Write what you know.” — Mark Twain


“One miserable week of feeling sorry for myself later, I dreamed about home. But it wasn’t the home I knew in the present, rather the way it was when I was little. More trees filled our land and we had fewer neighbors. Yet instead of walking through the dream as a child, I was just unspectacular adult me. And something was calling me home, calling me to that mysterious back field with the chest-high grass. I had come back home with a group of family friends but ran to the back field alone.

That was when I felt it watching me, a presence I couldn’t see even though I knew it was there. The ghost never said anything or appeared, but I stood looking and waiting for it to show in the wind at any moment.

I woke up to the sound of the front door opening, more than a little creeped out, my arms covered in goose bumps. Something pricked at the back of my mind.

Am I late for something?

I sighed and stared up at the light peeking past my curtain rod and shining on the glow-in-the-dark stars I’d stuck up there in junior high.

Oh yeah, you got fired yesterday, Gwyneth.

… to be continued

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Happy Hallow’s Eve!

Starting the holiday spirit early!

Savor the lovely darkly frighteningly fun moments today

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

(published 1845)

  Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by Horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked, upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

[This version of the poem is from the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. It is generally accepted as the final version authorized by Poe. Earlier and later versions had some minor differences. Source]

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Tuesday Teaser

Featuring…Vynasha! To help get me in the spirit of revisions ;)

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 With a sudden wind and sweep of terror, the candles that had lined either side of the hearth were quenched with a low hiss. Exhaustion and hunger were forgotten in the blink of an eye as her senses came back to life. Unseen eyes burned into her back. She realized then they had been watching her for some time and with a sigh, lowered her head in defeat. A sudden wind broke through the stuffy heat causing beads of sweat to fall down her neck. With an equal sweep of terror, the candles that had lined either side of the hearth were quenched. The draft blew into the fireplace, dashing embers to pieces and tossing ashes up in a cloud that burst and then scattered through the room. She cringed from a terror that was due more to the sparks singeing her cloak than the monster hunting her. She scrambled back on her hands and knees to avoid the black cloud billowing towards her.

It was her fear of fire that became her undoing, her knowledge of what it could and had already done to her. She stumbled over unfamiliar stone steps, until her fingers eventually found something hard, sharp and ringed by thick fur. Her scream died in her throat as she stood and twisted to meet a high-set pair of luminous golden eyes.

Those intelligent, animalistic orbs were too similar to those belonging to the creatures that had haunted her on her journey through the endless forest. She could still see their glowing green eyes when she shut her lids and hear their cries as they had stalked her long into the night, desiring her flesh. Now she was faced by a terror far worse than a pack of hungry wolves.

With no other alternative, she raced back into the dissipating ashen cloud until her hands were braced against the shoulder-high hearth. The beast’s golden eyes, the only part of it she could see, pursued her with growing fury. But she had not come all this way for nothing and was not about to be eaten for dinner by a wyld animal. After taking in several deep breaths, she reached into the edge of the dying fire and gathered a fistful of hot ashes. Had her hand not already been damaged by injuries inflicted on her a lifetime past, she would have screamed from the pain. Instead the golden eyes disappeared and the massive shadow outlining the beast’s form let out a strangled and deafening roar when she threw the ashes into its face. Her heart clenched painfully and she gasped in wake of the beast’s vile breath. She coughed and choked as she decided not to wait for the creature to recover. She had no wish to feel its teeth rip her to pieces.

Without thought she ran around the ashen cloud masking the beast and down the way she had come. This must be the great evil Wolfsbane had warned her about. He had told her it waited for someone to come and wake it. Yet it was almost as though the creature had been waiting for her.

Her legs were weak after so many endless days spent traveling the wilderness, with little nourishment remaining in her aching belly. She was so weary and wondered why the cold hadn’t simply taken her when it had the chance. She should have been dead many times before this night. Whatever forces were at work, whatever it was that wanted her to remain alive, Vynasha sensed she mustn’t give up now. She must honor it.

She heard the pounding of the creature’s heavy limbs tearing upon the floor with every scrape of its claws. Unbroken roars echoed her flight over the blood red carpet of other trespassers. The hall was black as pitch without the light of the fire and candles now. It wasn’t long before she felt the creature’s hot breath high above her neck, keeping pace with her every step. Her heart pounded as she pushed harder and barely missed colliding with a thin, stoned column. She pivoted to avoid one agony, only to feel the rip of sharp clawed hands sinking desperately about her waist and then she knew no more.

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“Untrivial” Things

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I made a promise recently to only post things on this site that are honest. So here goes.

This year has been insane. Any of you who know me well personally can attest to some of the madness that has been my life. Some of it I brought onto myself, like the getting married bit ;) Still others were out of my control. Like my medical issues the last two months and then more recently my sudden career change. It’s made me feel more than a little like a fish out of water. And also made me deeply regret ever saying, “Gee, hopefully the rest of this year will go smoothly.”

FYI to any of you looking for a silver lining, it’s not always a good idea to expect God to make your life suddenly easier. Because He’s not in the habit of that. Not that it’s outside His control, but there’s this thing called free will and just the way of the world that tends to rule out many outcomes. I will say this much. That through everything, I haven’t felt more loved or looked after than these last three or four months. I’ve been reminded of what’s most important in life.

This year has also taught me that it really is okay to struggle through change. While not always fun. Okay, almost never fun, change isn’t something to fear, rather something to embrace. I was told once by a very old friend of mine that we’re kind of like oak trees. We grow really fast on the outside in sudden spurts. Then we stop growing for a longer time. Even though you can’t see the change happening, we’re growing on the inside to accommodate for the sudden change.

I won’t say that I want things to be easier, or even better the rest of this year. But I do hope that maybe we can take a breath and let our hearts and minds catch up on the inside.

Thanks to all of you who have been so wonderful. And to those of you who have read or plan to read my books! That brings me a different kind of joy, to hear from you and to get to know you. So please don’t be shy. Share your thoughts, opinions and wishes.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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Tuesday Teaser

Today’s teaser comes from revisions to a little project I’ve been working on the side with Jessica Augustsson. Stay tuned for future posts about this special anthology!


DSCN4784_2The little girl who named me sat on her stool and pressed her hand to the wall, where my hand pushed through. Our fingertips brushed together. A smile crossed her too solemn face.

“Una? Why don’t you come out of the wall and meet my mommy and daddy? I tried telling them about you again and they told me to start playing a different game. Why won’t you meet them?”

Pain pricked my solid heart. Ever since the day she started speaking to me it had begun to beat more steadily again. “I cannot fade away. The walls are my home.”

Confusion and frustration crossed her miniature features, a smaller prettier version of her mother. “But Una, how will we ever really go to England together if you can’t leave home?”

“I cannot fade away.” I didn’t know how to be solid like the others. Every time I had tried, whatever tied me to the walls closed a tighter grip round me instead.

“No!” She pushed away from the wall, stamped her foot. She was angry with me. I couldn’t blame her. “Una, you just haven’t tried hard enough! Why won’t you try?”

Before I could open my mouth to answer, her mother entered the room with fear in her eyes. “Adele, darling, who are you talking to?”

“I’m talking to Una, mother. Can’t you see her? I want her to come out of the wall and move with us, but she won’t try like she promised!”

Mother smiled and glanced my way with some amusement. I always wondered what would happen if Adele’s mother actually tried to look. Even now as she knelt onto the rug and took her daughter’s hand in her own, she saw with unseeing eyes. “I think…maybe I can see something.” She pretended to stare and I desperately wished she would want to see. It wasn’t the first time I found myself wishing it was my hand Mother was holding too. I wished in vain.

“Come downstairs, darling,” Mother said with a shrug and sigh. “You’ve spent enough time cooped up indoors.”

“No! Not without Una!” Adele kicked and hollered until Father came rushing upstairs and into the bedroom.

“Do not argue with me this time, Adele!” he shouted, “We’re leaving now.”

“Harold!” Mother cried, pulling at his arm in vain.

“It’s for her own good!” he growled.

“No! No! Una! Una!” She cried and her hand reached out for me. “UNA!”

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Scarlett, Sequel to a Classic

Click on the picture to Read My Review

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While I went through a rough patch last week, I rediscovered a good old-ish classic. My mother’s copy of Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley (thanks for letting me “borrow” Mom;) includes illustrations of this beautifully controversial sequel to Gone With the Wind.

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Tuesday Teaser

Today’s, or rather tonight’s teaser features a current re-write. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it by the end of this year. Sometimes the best writing is revisiting past stories, like opening up an old book. It’s like turning the pages of an old friend and breathing life back into it.


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Emrys walked around to the tall horses to speak to the hunched over man seated behind them. “Couldn’t have met us sooner, eh Cutterworthy? This forest is crawling with Gwyllion. And don’t even get me started on the bogwrens…”

“Bogwrens?” Amie echoed as she came round to stand with him.

“Oh aye! Foul little devils stalked us from the moment we made it through the outer veil.”

Before Amie could challenge him the elegantly garbed driver tipped up his top hat with a gloved hand

“Kip yer chide, boy! Can’t you see this poor child has been through enough?”

Emrys crossed his arms over his chest and mumbled under his breath.

“I must ask you forgive me, miss!” Cutterworthy addressed to her. “So sorry to have kept you waiting. Though I trust the honorable Emrys kept you in good health? Your uncle has been most anxious to see you.” His pale brown eyes twinkled brightly in his grizzled face.

Amie managed to shut her gaping mouth and inclined her head to the carriage door. “I’m going to Henry’s place in that?” There was no doubt this was the mysterious man’s doing. It sat right up there with his cryptic letters and her father’s old stories. Insanity must run through the family. She glanced over at the brooding Emrys and amended her theory.

Not just the family, then. Something in the water?

The man laughed and eased back in his seat. “Aye!” he said. “’Tis the idea, miss. Least those were my orders from the Master. You are the Lady Jessamiene of Wenderdowne, are you not?” Even his horses stood quietly and inclined their heads towards her then. Amie blinked dumbly back.

Emrys sighed heavily, “Just play along, lass.”

“Shut up,” she hissed at him, then grinned up at the driver. “Whatever Uncle Henry says. Anything’s better than jumping trains and running through the woods with him.” She thumbed at the tall man in question.

Emrys stared at her with a slant of his mouth. “Wasn’t entirely unpleasant.” He winked. She blushed and clenched her fists while he ran a hand down one of the horse’s necks. “Enough chatter. Word will have got to the other side of her arrival and I’m not taking any chances on them popping up.”

“May you get what’s coming to you, boy,” the driver said with a mad chuckle.

Emrys shook his head but called back, “Same to you, old scale back.” And without another word he turned and headed for the other side of the road into an even blacker forest.

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