Our Tucson yard is often full of wildlife, mostly birds and lizards, but we do get the occasional bobcat wandering through the place, as well as troupes of Javalina parading outside the north wall. We call them pigs, of course they are not porcine but wild peccary that love to dance quite noisily under a full moon beneath the guestroom window. I’ve been noticing a new addition to our livestock—a very cute chipmunk that dashes about. A couple of days ago I discovered a hole under the brick fire pit at the back patio and knew that something had moved in. This morning I opened the living room slider and saw said chipmunk playing at the base of the fire pit. Ah ha, the new resident confirmed. I opened the screen. Chipmunk freaked and made frantic blind dash straight into the pool in a splashy belly flop. I dropped the rugs I was carrying and ran to get the short-handled scoop net to fish out the chipmunk, but he was struggling for his life in the middle of the pool. I sprinted to the side yard, pulled the 10-foot net pole off the wall, and back to the pool. Poor terrified chipmunk was about done when I dipped the net under him. In my excitement I flipped him out a foot or so above the cool decking. He lay stunned on his belly, legs spread wide like a flying squirrel, and completely soaked. I retreated into the house to give him some recovery space since I felt responsible for his mad dash in the first place. In a couple of minutes, chipmunk regained himself and zipped away into the side yard.
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The Story . . .
Ever wondered what a teen queen would do if she were forced to leave her perfect life in Seattle for the ghost capital of Montana where her parents intend to live their dream instead of hers? Ele O’Neill lets everyone feel her pain about living in a haunted theatre without phone or wifi. But a cowboy ghost is determined she behave like a proper young lady until all hell breaks loose and Ele learns first love can be wonderfully thrilling but extremely dangerous, especially with a ghost.
My new book with The Wild Rose Press, GHOSTLY ACTS, a multiple award-winning paranormal YA romantic thriller, is available at fine retailers worldwide in eBook and paperback TODAY June 6, 2018. An audiobook edition is coming soon.
Story Behind the Story . . .
Every story I write begins in my dreams, imaginings, and often reflects some facet of my experience. The setting of my story GHOSTLY ACTS was inspired by my husband, who grew up in Montana and whose ancestor rode with the Vigilantes of Virginia City. We visited the Ghost Capitol of Montana where I researched the history of the Vigilantes and the Innocents gang. Story bones began their skeleton dance. But no one interestingly motivated emerged to tell this story.
My son was a successful AP junior in high school, on the swim and water polo teams, worked as a lifeguard and, as a working actor since he was six-years-old, active in school and community drama productions. Mid-year my husband was transferred and we moved to the new job location. My son knew no one at his new school and spent all his free time driving sixty-five miles one way back to his old school and friends. There had to be a better answer to this family problem that would keep our boy off I-5! Our son’s solution was to graduate the new high school with honors a year early and, as a seventeen-year-old, matriculate at Montana State University. A motivated storyteller had emerged . . .
One demand that my son has always had is–don’t put me in your stories. So, to find another storyteller I started the What If Speculations. I didn’t have to look far as my extended family has been blessed with a smart, athletic, kind, talented young woman with megawatt star power. I wondered if such a teen queen suddenly had to move from her kingdom to the Ghost Capitol of Montana so her parents could live their dream, and was without friends, academic stimulation, family support focus, and in her case, no tennis, how would she act? What would she do especially if there were real ghosts haunting her and her family?
Wow! Did I put Miss Electra (Ele) O’Neill through hell! I’m not sorry and I don’t believe Ele is sorry either. She stepped up with solutions–most unusual ones–to her problems many, except for one: is there any real future in loving a ghost?
It’s all fun!
In Virginia, there’s a group of beautiful old cemeteries near the Alexandria Veterans Cemetery with grave markers of honored dead that date back to the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, and modern conflicts. This is not a sad, forgotten place. Its tree-lined paved paths between the different graveyards are often busy with walkers, runners and dog owners giving the pups a run, or saunter as the sultry weather dictates. Whenever we visit Alexandria we accompany the granddogs and their parents on a happy stroll through the cemeteries.
Today, just a week after Memorial Day and despite the subsequent torrential rain, many tombstones still were festooned with bright flowers, American flags and other red, white, and blue decorations. The most lasting decorations are the wild strawberries growing around the tombstones, a delightful organic contrast to the mylar pinwheels and balloons and silk flowers. Speaking of recent weather havoc in the cemeteries, not even the tombstones are safe as this picture shows a huge branch that the wind broke out of an ancient oak and knocked down several tombstones.
But there are other dangers lurking in the cemeteries that most wouldn’t expect. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you know what I mean when I say DON’T BLINK when you encounter one of these, weeping or not!
It’s all fun!!!
Tomorrow is D-Day–GHOSTLY ACTS Drops Worldwide!
I took this photo of some of my novels that are on the shelf in my official office. I love this room with bookcases full of favorite books and mementos. My grandmother’s Navajo baskets and rugs are on the floor and my mother’s western art collection decorate the walls. There’s a heavy desk that I bought in 1978 and have moved a thousand times. My husband converted the closet into a printer center with paper and supplies storage. The other side of the closet holds my old tech collection–slide projector, screen, dozens of full carousel trays, my first computer, scanners, audio equip and other old techy stuff I must be saving for something. This is the library and an office because my desk and books are there, but I don’t write in that room so full of old stories and memories.
If I don’t write in the beautiful, well-equipped office, where does this writer’s magic happen? My playroom is a large, light-filled bedroom with a window seat on the front of the house overlooking the courtyard patio. This is where my particular brand of magic happens. I have all my favorite creativity jumpstarters around–my piano, sewing machine, paints and canvas, a big worktable with space for my laptop and any project, audio equipment, and trophies and tiaras that jog happy memories of creative success and make me laugh.
And no, that is not a giraffe growing out of my head. Of course, there’s a story about that. I bought a three drawer chest at a local import store and went to the outside loading dock to pick up the chest. My son and husband were stuffing a seven-foot headless wooden giraffe into the back of our SUV that they’d salvaged from the dumpster. They intended to use it for target practice. I couldn’t see shooting up that beautifully hand-painted whimsical sculpture. Even headless, it really spoke to me. After I got the piece home and cleaned up, the giraffe insisted it needed a head. I bought a giraffe puppet online, pulled it over the neck stump and tied a scarf around the “join.” Perfect! I stood my magnificent creation in the corner. Pancho the Airedale immediately nosed him up and had to be shooed away lest its long legs are covered with chomp marks.
I sat at my play table each day, writing like the wind and admiring my clever salvaged giraffe muse until I realized . . . Hey, giraffes have caramel colored spots, not black stripes or brushy black manes down their long necks. The wretched thing had lied to me, led me to believe it was something that was tall, long-necked and dined in treetops. I’d saved from a dumpster and bullets, bought a $45 giraffe puppet head for a freaking ZEBRA and created a Chimera! I may not admire my Chimera the way I used to in my ignorance, but I sure do laugh. The interesting thing is I’ll walk into my playroom and find Chimera in a different spot or turned toward the wall or even lying on his side on the floor under my play table. Today he was standing on the window seat, giraffe head peering out the tall, arched window at the Mesquite treetops and striped zebra butt–mooning me.
It’s all fun! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmelinda