Monday, October 31, 2011

Meet our Guest Roma Calatayud-Stocks

A new Latin Renaissance - Past – Present – Future

By Roma Calatayud-Stocks (Author of A Song in My Heart –

Inspired by the diversity of Latin music from across the Americas and Spain, we produced (Minnesota Orchestra Volunteer Association and Casa de Esperanza) a concert “Latin Renaissance” at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in 2002. The show featured the music of Latino composers from the late 1800’s to the present, and it featured Mexican waltzes, Argentinian tangos, Brazilian sambas and bossa nova, Cuban danzas and boleros, as well as an amazing cast of performers. Almost ten years later, we are seeing a new kind of Latin Renaissance in the Twin Cities and perhaps also across the United States steeped in music, art, film, dance, and literature thanks to the efforts of leaders of the Arts community, the Mexican consulate, and the public at large.

As the Twin Cities gets a glimpse at the first ever Latin Film Festival this fall, a series of Latin performers graced the concert hall of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Last Tuesday, Latino-infused, Chicago-based company Luna Negra Dance Theater founded by Cuban-born choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, whose dance performances have been described as “haunting, haunted, and hypnotic” (Chicago-Sun Times) presented a series of dance sketches with a “theatrical bent but as with the other works on the program what stood out was the dancing itself -- strong, nuanced, well-integrated into the performers' bodies.” (Star Tribune)

The tribute to Frida Kahlo titled “Paloma Querida” (“Beloved Dove”) caught my attention as four dancers dressed in distinctive costume portrayed the various faces of the legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954), as the Chicago-Sun Times notes:

“the youthful, passionate incarnation in a red velvet robe; the “indigenous” Frida in a folkloric costume; the gender crossing Frida, dressed in a man’s suit; and, the yearning and damaged Frida in a corset like costume.”

I chose four of Kahlo’s paintings to illustrate these images and her amazing and tremendous talent. Kahlo who has also given inspiration to my music ("Frida") for her thirst and passion for life despite tremendous health challenges, as well as her incomparable ability to possess strong, artistic, yet vulnerable human qualities has made her an inspirational figure throughout the world.

Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress:

Self Portrait – Mexican folk style of painting:

Self Portrait with Cropped Hair Frida:

The Broken Column:

On October 28, Mexican born and Grammy-nominated Latin jazz singer Magos Herrera appeared on stage to promote her new album “Mexico Azul,” which gives tribute to legendary Mexican songwriters and the classic cultural films of the 1940’s to the 1960’s. During her performance at the Ordway, Magos mesmerizing interpretation of Alvaro Carrillo’s (1921-1969) famous song “Luz de Luna,” originally written as a folk-ranchera style piece is sang with a fresh contemporary perspective. Now, under Herrera’s smooth vocals, the piece took on a jazz sound. The new arrangement performed by an ensemble of international musicians is reminiscent of the music of Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927 –1994).

The lyrics by Carillo: “Yo quiero luz de luna para mi noche triste para cantar divina la ilusion que me trajiste ... (I want the moonlight for my melancholy night to sing the divine illusion you brought me..for since you left me I have not had the light of the moon...)

From Nov. 3-13, 2011, the Minneapolis and St. Paul Film Society will showcase more than 30 Latin films beginning with Gabriel Figueroa Flores (Mexico), photographer and director, and son of the celebrated Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Figueroa Flores film A Portrait of Diego: The Revolutionary Gaze (Un retrato de Diego: La revolución de la mirada) is the story of one of the greatest Mexican painters of the 20th century. Known for his enormous frescoes depicting Mexico’s cultural and political history. Diego Rivera (1886-1957) who married Frida Kahlo in 1929, is also credited for the Mexican Renaissance; and his work and legacy is as popular as it was during his lifetime.

Along with José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rivera initiated a mural movement that spread across Mexico and into the United States from the 1920’s to the 1930’s. This documentary film of Diego Rivera was released in 2007 to commemorate his death in 1957. Next month, it will showcase at Minneapolis’s St. Anthony Main Theater.

And if you want to see Figueroa Flores’s photography collection a “unique collection of palladium-platinum prints” (Photography at the Center), you will have that opportunity on Friday, Nov. 4.

And finally, in two days, it will be Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) a festival rooted in Aztec traditions. On this day family and friends gather to honor those who have left this world, and many celebrants create ofrendas (offerings) for the deceased that contain their pictures, flowers, and other important mementos of their lives. To see the young people's ofrenda's, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has an exhibition to commemorate this ancient celebration.

Through music, art, dance, film, and literature, a new Latin Renaissance seems to be taking place across the United States, as contemporary Latin artists bring to the present the historical works and legacies of dozens of artists from the past, while projecting an artistic future with a new sense of creative expression, interpretation, and inspiration embedded by the rich cultural traditions of all of the Latin cultures.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Glenys O'Connell says: Enough of Hallowe'en Horror - Let's Have Some Romance!

While I love a well crafted horror story, aka, Stephen King, I can't write the stuff. But I do a good line in murders – that's why I have Romance Can be Murder as my tag line. For example, the heroine of Judgement By Fire is a reclusive wildlife artist, Lauren, who is being stalked by an increasingly threatening unknown lover. She has two powerful men in her life – but how can she trust either of them when one could be her stalker?
In Resort to Murder, police detective Ellie Fitzpatrick risked her life to confront and arrest a serial killer. But Ellie has also got on the wrong side of a gang of thugs who discredit her so she's suspended from duty, her stellar career crashing and burning. When a biography of her serial killer, The Sunshine Slasher, claims the convicted man is innocent and more murders occur, she has to decide if there's a copycat killer or if she has been instrumental in a colossal miscarriage of justice by arresting an innocent man. Her return to duty brings her into conflict with Liam Reilly, the lover she believed had abandoned her when she was disgraced. When it's obvious she's the next on the killer's target list, can she rely on Reilly to help her stay alive – or will he turn his back on her again?
So, enough of the horror of romance! Because this is, after all, a blog about romance and love, I want to tell you a couple of true stories that came my way recently.
The first is about a lonely young church minister. His parish was in a rural Ontario village and as there was no manse, his lodgings were in the village tavern. Recognizing the young man's loneliness, the sage tavern owner told him: "A man isn't meant to live alone!"
Transferred to a new parish, he picked up a copy of the newspaper to fill in some empty time on a Saturday afternoon. There, on the entertainment page, was the picture of a beautiful young vaudeville actress – yes, this happened over 50 years ago! – and the young minister was smitten. He immediately wrote to her, but received no reply. It seems the young lady was used to getting lots of letters from smitten young men.
But undaunted, he wrote again, and again. He told her of his life, and how her picture had lifted his gloom. And eventually he told her he loved her.
Finally, intrigued, she took pity on him and replied.
After an exchange of letters, they met – and the rest is history. The minister and his wife just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
The next story is about a young boy who had a crush on a little girl in the same grade at public school. Despite the teasing of his classmates, he finally worked up the courage to ask if he could walk her home. But he had blackboard cleaning duty that day, and so she told him: "No, because my Mom says I must go straight home." She saw how disappointed he was, and added: "But I'll walk real slow."
She did as promised, and he hurried through his chores and managed to catch up with her, walking slow.
Romance blossomed,  and they married after graduation.
Fast forward through 64 years of marriage and the little girl, now an old woman, is on her deathbed. The little boy, now a very old man, leans forward and kisses her, tears in his eyes. With her last strength, she reaches forward and puts her arms around his neck to draw him near.
"I'm going straight home to God," she says with a wink. "But I'll walk slow."

Despite her somewhat murderous taste in literature, Glenys O'Connell is a sucker for a sweet romantic story. You can read excerpts of her work at or email her at

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Chris Redding Talks About Scary Stories

Chris Redding

I like scary stories. Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce. I’m not a diehard horror fan, because I think there is too much gratuitous grossness in them. But give me something that makes my skin crawl and I’m all over it.

So of course when I stumbled upon I was in hog heaven. There are scary stories right in my state.

There is supposedly a ghost of a little boy in Atco, New Jersey. You can only see him at midnight and you have to do some things to actually get him to appear. I have goosebumps just reading it. Not sure I’m brave enough to go there.

In Mount Holly, NJ, there is a former prison now operating as a museum. Apparently the Boston Strangler once was held there before he committed those crimes. I think the story about who designed it was also interesting.

And here’s one about where the Bruno Hauptmann trial took place.

I actually have some person ghost stories. I had a friend in junior high who had a ghost in her house. The family named him Luigi. I definitely felt a presence in the house, but there was no threat. He would open doors for you.

Another time I was taking a short cut from school to work through Ridley Creek State Park in Pennsylvania. It was a bright sunny day. I’d never taken this route and thought it would be enjoyable. It was until a crossed a bridge over what I think was a reservoir. And all of a sudden I had this sense of terror. I knew people had died on that bridge. I never investigated further and I never crossed that bridge again.

Years later, my family and I took the haunted tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. They tried to make it spooky, but to me none of it was scary until we entered a state room. I turned to my husband and said that someone died there. Sure enough the tour guide said that it was rumored that someone died in that stateroom and that a ghost haunted it.

I hope that’s enough scary stuff to get you through your day.
Thanks for stopping by.

You just can't hide from the past...

Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where nothing ever happens. Just the kind of life she has always wanted. No one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security.

Former partner and lover, Trey McCrane, comes back into Mallory's life. He believes they made a great team once, and that they can do so again. Besides, they don't have much choice. Paul Stanley, a twisted killer and their old nemesis, is back.

Framed for a bombing and drawn together by necessity, Mallory and Trey go on the run and must learn to trust each other again―if they hope to survive. But Mallory has been hiding another secret, one that could destroy their relationship. And time is running out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Haunting Memory by Vonnie Davis

I was ten when my paternal grandfather passed away. On the day of his funeral all the younger grandchildren were ensconced in the care of two neighbors at my grandparents’ home. These ladies cooked and readied a meal for the extended family, while we cousins, all around the age of ten, played hide-and-seek in the large house.

It was my turn to be “it” and after counting to ten, I went in search of my five cousins. I ran upstairs and looked in the bathroom. One was hiding behind the door draped in Grandma’s old chenille robe where it hung from a hook. Four more to go.

I opened the door to my grandparents’ bedroom and peeked inside. My shoes felt glued to the spot. My heart pounded in my ears, and heat flooded my body. There in front of the chest of drawers was my grandfather. He had the top drawer open and was rummaging through the contents as if hunting for something.

“Grandpa?” I whispered in disbelief at what I saw.

He turned to me and held a finger to his lips as if telling me to be quiet. When I say he, I mean someone the same height and size as Grandpa. He had the same facial features and yet he was transparent. Not see-through, but swirling pale-gray mists within the outline of his body.

As if he knew I wouldn’t start screaming, he turned his attention back to his task of searching for something in that top drawer.

I slowly stepped back into the hallway and closed the door. What had I seen? I’d heard vague references to ghosts in school, especially around Halloween. But my family was super religious and never spoke of such “pagan” things. Heck, we didn’t even own a television in 1958.

So, I did what any normal kid did in that era. I ran for the closest adult. I charged into the kitchen and told the neighbors that I’d seen Grandpa upstairs going through his things, hunting for something. One woman ushered me to the sofa in the parlor and made me lie down while the other made a cold compress with some foul smelling herbs to calm my overwrought sensibilities.

When the family returned to my grandparents, one of the neighbor ladies took my mother aside and told her what happened. My mother took my hand and marched me outside for a long heated discussion. I was not to embarrass her. I was not to create a scene. I was never to speak of this foolishness again. If I did she’d spank me there and again when we got home.


I’m no dummy; I kept my mouth shut.

Still, although I've rarely mentioned it since, I’ve often wondered about that incident over the years. Exactly what did I see?

What do you think?

Remember when Halloween was all about the kids?

Remember before Halloween was an opportunity for grown-ups to act bad and dress in very inappropriate outfits?

I do. I remember Halloween when the big event was to wander the streets of our small town, bag out for treats. I remember huddling with other kids on the corner to compare treats. "Old man Swanson is giving popcorn balls again. Yish." "Go to the schoolteacher's house. They've got good stuff."

I remember one year, when I was about 8 or 9. The house down the street from us was always rented out. It was a 2-story Victorian, and the top story had access to the cupola, where we would occasionally see lights on at night. Cool.

So my sisters and I go up to the top-floor apartment. Kids in those days had no fear (at least, growing up in a small town, we had none). We tromped on up the stairs and knocked on the door. "Trick or treat!"

Two schoolteachers lived there. (In hindsight: were they gay? I have no idea. They were young and pretty, that's all I remember).

"Okay," one of the ladies said. "Before you get a treat, you have to do a trick."

This totally flummoxed us. We had never been asked to do a trick before. After much stammering and prompting, it was discovered that my elder sister could perform a cartwheel, which she did to much applause. My middle sister did a tap dance--to much applause.

Now it was my turn. What could I do? I had a dreadful stammering problem, so recitation was out of the question ... or was it? We had been given an assignment in school to memorize a poem. Some people tackled The Highwayman, or Paul Revere's Ride. Not me. I found one I really liked...a lot. To this day, I remember that poem.

I stepped up, clasped my hands in front of me, and said:

They walked down the lane together
The sky was studded with stars.
They reached the gate in silence.
And he lifted down the bars.
She neither smiled nor thanked him
Because she knew not how.
For he was just a farmer's boy
And she was a Jersey cow.

Then I curtsied and held out my bag.

We got a lot of loot from those schoolteachers, once they got done laughing and clapping ...

Now that's what Halloween is all about!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Bess McBride Talks About Cemeteries

You know the old saying, writers don’t die, they just stop writing...

Thanks to Barbara for having me on the Roses of Prose blog today. When I asked her if the blog had a theme this month, she said scary, spooky. I’m not sure I can write to spooky or fact, I hate scary stuff. I avoid all scary movies, and will switch the television station if something scary comes on.

However, I do have a fascination with cemeteries. When I was a young misguided adolescent, I spent many an hour wandering through Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Not that wandering through Forest Lawn Cemetery isn’t a lovely thing to do, but I was supposed to be in school. However, I was new in town, had few friends, and the one friend I had spent the hours with me wandering through the cemetery. I haven’t seen the cemetery in years as I moved away the following year, but at the time it was a wonderful park-like setting. It was bright and sunny, and nothing ever scared me there.

I continue to have a fascination with cemeteries. I don’t ditch school any more to wander through them, but I found a calling in doing my family genealogy some years ago, and I must say that has led to wandering through many, many cemeteries over the years. I’ve enjoyed them all, even when none of my relatives were buried there. The inscriptions on the stones bear witness to the lives of those who are buried thee, and the people who loved them.

One cemetery in Iowa caught my imagination such that I wrote a story around it. It was a wonderful cemetery set on a hill above rolling cornfields, filled with wonderful old tombstones and old fir trees that rustled in the wind. The book is called “Across the Winds of Time,” and was just released from the Wild Rose Press. It’s a combination ghost story and time travel. I couldn’t quite decide which, so I’ll let the reader decide.

But no, in case you’re wondering... There is NO way I’d be caught dead in a cemetery at night. Uh uh... NO way!

Bess McBride
"Romances for the Shy Girl in All of Us"

Monday, October 24, 2011

When I Was a Kid...

I'll miss Halloween this year. Not because I'll be on some other planet, but I'll be tucked upstairs at our temporary digs. We can't see or hear the outside door. No one will even know we live up here. IF it's not TOO cold, we might sit outside for awhile and hand out candy. I really do get a kick out of seeing the kids in their costumes. I think my dog, Rusty, enjoys it as much as I do. If the little ones aren't afraid of him, he gets in a few good face lickings before I can pull him back.

I miss how Halloween was when I was a kid. I have memories of getting home baked goodies - brownies, cookies decorated like jack-o-lantern faces and gingerbread. And all flavors of popcorn balls. There would be the occasional house with a witch at the door who would invite you in for some witchy brew. We'd have to take pillowcases for our collection bag, there was so much. Then when we'd get home, my cousins and I would have to fight off our mothers to keep them from stealing their favorites. That was all part of the fun.

But before I was too old to go out trick or treating, things started changing. Some kids were sickened by purposely tainted cookies. Razor blades were found in popcorn balls. People started handing out more and more packaged candy - some of it the yucky hard kind. We weren't allowed to go into neighbors homes because the scary stuff was really scary and not pretend scary anymore.

When my son was little we started throwing Halloween parties for the kids to cut back on the dangers of door to door trick or treating. We would take him to a few houses he knew then to the party. Malls began having trick or treating - store to store candy collecting.

Maybe Halloween is like I remember it in small towns across the U.S. I was raised in a city that grew to a sprawling, dangerous metropolis faster than I went from tiny one to youngster. I like to think somewhere Halloween is filled with pretend scary, brownies, popcorn balls, caramel apples and frosted cookies.

Is it big city or small town Halloween where you are? Do you steal the best treats out of your kids bags?
Brenda can be connected with at:
You can find Sleeping with the Lights On wherever e-books or print books are sold.
Look for her upcoming releases:
Tattoos, Leather and Studs coming in Nov 2011
An Elfin Secret and On the Way to the Snow Ball (anthology) in Nov 2011
Honey on White Bread coming Jan 2012
The Morning After coming summer 2012

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Hi, Margaret Tanner here. It isn’t Christmas, but I thought this story would be relevant because it does have a spooky element.
            “Will you show me around? The softly spoken stranger asked.  Ash did not move from his lounging position. Who the hell is this idiot, asking me, the leader of the Mongrels street gang, to play tour guide?

            “Do you know who I am, mate?” He dragged on his cigarette and purposely blew smoke into the man’s face.

            “Yes, I know who you are.”

“Then p…off, while you’re still able to.”

Ash surprised himself by not punching the man’s face in, but something about this stranger, a nagging sensation dredged from somewhere deep down, stilled his hand.  Maybe I’m being generous because it’s Christmas.  Had they met before, in the days before drugs and crime banished him from the world of ordinary people?  An undercover cop perhaps?

“If you’re a cop and they find out.”  He jerked his finger towards the pinball parlour. “You’re dead meat.”

“I’m not a cop.  I’d just like you to show me around your world, Ashley.”

How the hell does he know my name? Now nineteen years old Ash had lived on the streets for six years. Feels like sixty sometimes.  Housebreaking, mugging, selling his body to gutter crawlers, he had done everything short of murder to get money for a fix. How many thousands of dollars had he injected into his veins over the years, before he got himself off the hard stuff?

They headed towards the railway yards where the graffiti artists displayed their work. “Merry Christmas,” he stumbled over the words.  “Peace on earth.” He gave up the struggle. “Haven’t tried that.”  He tossed his head so the several ear studs he wore were shown off to their best advantage.  “Can’t write much and I don’t like drawing.”

He stuck his hands into the pocket of the leather jacket he recently stole from a department store.  He would probably end up selling it after a few days, depended on how things went.  Christmas meant plenty of money around, and people got careless over the holidays.

“I solicited here sometimes.” He jerked his thumb towards a poorly lit toilet block. “Good place to roll people too.”  He waited for the stranger to condemn him, but he didn’t.

“You could pull yourself out of his hell, Ashley.”

“Nah. What’s the use?  It’s not such a bad life.”  He wasn’t having some soppy do-gooder feeling sorry for him.  He hated the life but wouldn’t admit it on pain of death.  What else could he do anyway?

“Tell me about your parents.”

“Don’t have any. When me mother died I cleared off.”  Hatred that had lain dormant for years surfaced, but he pushed it aside, trying to think of something to say or do to shock this nosy stranger.

They passed shops adorned with Christmas decorations, and a fat old Santa ho-ho-hoed his way along the street as they headed towards the sleazy nightclubs where young girls plied their trade.  He waved to Brooke who opened the passenger door of a white Mercedes.

“She used to be my girl once.”

“You don’t mind if she goes with other men?”

“Nah, why should I?”  I could kill some of those old sleazebags, but Brooke lived on borrowed time, so would her clients if they weren’t careful.  He snickered inwardly because she had a deadly STD.

A heavily pregnant girl limped up to them.  Her arms and legs were matchstick thin, her skin drawn so tightly over her cheek bones the blue veins stood out. One of her eyes looked swollen and black.

“Here, get yourself something for Christmas, Mel.” Ash dragged a crumpled ten-dollar note from his pocket and shoved it at her.

“You could help these people,” the stranger said again.

“Listen, if you’re a cop or one of those do-gooders, I’ll…”

“You’ll do what?”

“Kill you.”

“But you haven’t taken a life before.”

“Yeah, well there’s always a first time. Don’t think it makes any difference to me if it’s bloody Christmas Eve, same as any other night to me.   I seen you somewhere before. Dunno where, but a long time ago.”

They wandered along the beachfront.  “Poor old bugger.” Ash pried Keith’s fingers from the empty sherry bottle, buttoned up the old man’s gaping coat and re-arranged the newspapers over him.

“Got bad lungs, night air will kill him one day.  I don’t want cops swarming all over the place.” Ash excused his act of kindness.

They traveled all over Ash’s territory. Brightly lit streets with Christmas carols blaring out from loud speakers, along dingy alleyways where addicts lounged in doorways or negotiated with pushers.

“Want me to steal us a car?”

“No, I prefer to walk.”

At Greasy Sam’s they stopped to order hamburgers.  As they waited in the cubicle, the stranger started nagging him again.

“You’re the only one who can help these people, they trust you.”

“Why should I?  Anyway, who are you to tell me what to do?”

“These people are suffering.”

“And what the hell would you know about suffering?  Have you ever been hungry and cold? Repeatedly stabbed by some pimp like me?  Seen your friends die from an overdose?  Watched your old lady being bashed?” The hatred that had poisoned his system for years spewed out, as the stranger listened without interruption. Ash shook with emotion by the time he finished, and he felt almost light headed with relief.

“Promise me, Ashley, that you will help these people, because I can’t.” The stranger stared at him with sadness and regret etched into his face. “I can only stay a short time.”

What intense eyes he had. Ash blinked several times.  A roaring sound almost ruptured his eardrums.  He remembered where he had seen this man before.  In a picture hanging inside a church he was vandalizing.  At the last minute something stopped him from lighting the match that would have burned the place to the ground.

“Remember me now, Ashley?”

“No.  You can’t be the same man because… All right, I’ll try to help these people, but leave me alone.”  He hardly recognised his own voice because it sounded so fearful.  I’m losing my mind.  It can’t be the same man.

“I am the man,” the stranger said, spreading his hands on the table.

Ash closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look at the nail holes, but he vowed to help the street kids. When he finally glanced up he was alone.  What a relief, he’d been hallucinating. That bloody plum pudding he had stolen must have been contaminated.  He was suffering from food poisoning, seeing people who weren’t even there.

Sam plodded up wearing his usual glum face. “Where did your friend go?” he sniveled. “You’ll have to pay for both hamburgers if he doesn’t come back.”

 If you would like to check out my books, my website is:


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Curious Old Buildings

Those of us local to the area would drive northbound down the highway near Liberty and see this creepy old building on the east. I remember making the trek once with my father and asking him, "Dad, what's that?" His answer, "I'm not sure. I think its an old school."

I had all kinds of ideas about what went on in that place. It was too far away from my home to investigate its history thoroughly and frankly, back then, I didn't know how to approach strangers and ask for insight on a curious old building. It was easier (and more fun) to let my imagination take control.

Well these northbound trips led to another discovery up in Atchison, Kansas. Yes, I know, haunted Atchison. I lived there for a little while before it became "Haunted Atchison" and the ghost stories abounded. There were all kinds of tales and everyone had an experience of some sort to share.

This too stayed with me, one building in particular, which I know as "The Old Witch's Home" an old Victorian complete with a tower room. Now, the house I lived in wasn't exactly "spirit free", but that Victorian grabbed my attention. I asked my friend to tell me about it.

The legend I heard was an old woman lived there with her cats. She died there with her cats. No family, no friends...and no one to care for the hungry cats. Cough. There was no electricity in several rooms and the house had been unoccupied for years. Still lights came on in the tower window. Strange noises were heard on many a night.

Years later, a friend of mine worked on that house when the owners put some attention into restoring it. He didn't know the history, but had a story to share. "That house--I was painting when all I heard was insane purring. I looked to my buddy, asked if he heard it. Sure enough. We looked all over and no one could find the damn cats."


Both buildings impacted me. I've always been fascinated by the paranormmal, but these two edifaces and their curious history fed my imagination. So much so that a decade later I pulled them into my paranormal writing. You'll find them in IMMORTAL HOPE and the continuing Curse of the Templar series.

Despite countless hours searchinng, the strange old building remained nameless and historyless. So I gave it a new history--the facade of the Knights Templar's American Stronghold. Beneath that crumbling brick you'll find a maze of stone works, a breathtaking temple, and sacred secrets hidden from mankind. The Victorian in the story belongs to my heroine and in its age-old walls, a treasure is hidden. A relic Azazel will kill to possess. In the caves near Atchison, where rumor says Satanic rites take place, battles between evil and the most holy occur at the gates to Azazel's realm.

I would learn this year, when I flipped on the news a few months ago, that my Knights stronghold was, in fact, The Odd Fellows' House. Long story very much summed up, it was owned by a secret society and the collection of property and buildings offered aid to its members and their families. The building I chose to work with was a hospital for widows and children. Very much alive with ghosts and part of the property is now incorporated in a paranormal tour. Ill be visiting that tour. Speaking to the attendees.


The old Victorian? It too is part of a paranormal tour in Atchison. And those tower lights that occasionally flipped on... Well, the tower room is still not wired for electricity and still that eerie light glows.

Maybe its a witch. Maybe it's the ghost of a lonely old woman. Maybe it's her cats, many who fed off her body.

Or perhaps, that unexplainable illumination is indeed, an immortal knight taking refuge from battle and nursing his dying soul.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Scariest words start with S

Did you ever notice that the scariest words start with S? Take S-s-s-spooky. Just the word sends shivers down my spine. So I took that idea and made a list I find scary.
10. Spook is another name for a ghost, but where ghost conjures up cute images like Casper, in my mind spook is the sheet-clad figure shifting through shadows.
9. Swamp is the site for slithery, slimy, sucking muck. The victim always stumbles into the swamp, tries to escape and sinks.
8. Sarcophagus is more frightening than a simple tomb or crypt. Picture the stone lid sliding aside for Dracula to ease out in his nightly hunt for blood.
7. Shadows move and shift in the darkness. Shadows conceal the evil things we strain to see. Shadows appear in places they don’t belong. Shadows dog our steps.
6. Shape-shifters are more terrifying than werewolves since they can assume any form.
5. Skeletons are a Halloween favorite to hang outside. They rattle in the wind. Or make a click-click-clicking noise as they sneak along the hallway of the old mansion.
4. Skulls are skinless, eyeless, sometimes toothless shapes, all that remain of the place considered strong enough to protect our brains. Skulls remind us of their past humanity.
3. Snakes are slithery and slippery. Asps hiss.
2. Stake is not exactly scary until you put it in the context of killing Dracula or staking out your enemy on an anthill.
1. Samhain (pronounced Sow-een) is the Druid or witch celebration of the holiday we renamed Halloween. Samhain is the time when the curtain between worlds is thinnest and allows the creatures from the other side to come into our world. Souls, demons, incubi, ghosts can roam freely and do. Fear they will not return is the reason for November 1st to be called All Souls Day and a day of prayer in many religions.
I’m sure you can think of more s’s. You’re welcome to add them to my list.

Barbara Edwards writes paranormal romance.
Ancient Blood, Book Two Finding Rhodes End Series-blurb
Lily Alban escapes a murderous stalker, but his vicious attack leaves her with the ability to see auras. She finds safety in the tiny hamlet of Rhodes End where a stranger stands out like a red light. Try as she might to deny her growing desire for Cole, she seeks his help but soon discovers the man she loves is not a man at all.
Werewolf Cole Benedict resists his attraction to Lily. A botanist researching the healing herbs to find a cure for Lycanthropy, he’s determined to protect Lily from her stalker as well as himself even in human form, but instinct takes over when he changes to his inner beast.
Together they must use their extraordinary gifts to catch Lily’s stalker before he attacks again, but revealing their secrets to one another could destroy their growing love or save them both.
Buy link for Ancient Blood

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ghostly Voices, Ghostly Touches

Laura Breck
Happy October 20!

Here's something you may not know about me. At one time I worked for the local bishop's office of a national church. As part of my job, I traveled to other bishops' offices throughout the region to assist the office staff in setting up their computers.

The Duluth, Minnesota office was at that time located in a beautiful old mansion right on Lake Superior. Instead of paying for a hotel room for me, they offered to let me stay in the house. I agreed, but a couple of the staff warned me the house was haunted.

I laughed it off, but these mature, conservative people (lay and cleric) swore that it was true, and told me about many of the strange happenings in the house. The worst had always occured when someone stayed overnight.


So, I asked if I could bring my hubby and teenage son along, The staff all thought that would be a very good idea.

The house was amazing. Old and dignified, it boasted hardwood floors, dark wood paneling, mega-fireplaces, and a fantastic view of the big lake they call Gitchi Gummi (Yes, I'm a Gordon Lightfoot fan.)

We stayed two nights without incident, even though we remained alert, oversensitive to paranormal activity. I've always said, those who believe in spirits, see them. Those who don't believe, usually don't. I'm a skeptic. If a book falls off a shelf in another room, it's just a book falling off a shelf. It's not Herman Melville reminding me I'd never finished reading his book.

The next morning, I'd just stepped out of one of the upstairs showers and began dressing when my son's voice from the hallway asked, "Can I get the shampoo?"

"Sure," I said, and pulled on my robe. When I opened the door, he wasn't there. I shouted for him, but there was no answer. I walked back into the bathroom to put the shampoo back in the shower, and glanced out the window.

There on the lawn, one floor down and about fifty yards away, my husband and son walked back toward the house from the lake. There was no possible way he could have been in the house just seconds before.

I remember screaming, turning in circles, looking out the window, then screaming somemore. I dressed extremely quickly and ran out of the house barefoot. It took a while for the guys to get me calmed down. As we packed to go home, I made sure one or the other of my men stayed right beside me.

What I heard – I don't know. It was my son's voice. We'd only brought one bottle of shampoo, so it made sense that he'd ask for it to use in his bathroom. But why would a spirit ask for shampoo? Was he playing a joke? And do spirits take on other people's voices?

An even spookier occurrence rattled me a few years later. I worked in the business office of a long-term care facility. One of my favorite job duties was to talk with the residents about their financial concerns regarding their rent.

I loved chatting with these lovely folks, walking with them around the facility, and dancing with them on Friday afternoons when the polka band played. Some of the residents and I became very close. It felt almost as if I had a half-dozen grandmas and grandpas.

One winter evening, I worked late. Isolated in my basement office, I had all the lights on and the hall door open, but the place remained deadly silent. Suddenly feeling the creeps, I turned on my radio and took a moment to watch the snow flutter down in the darknes outside my window.

I jumped a foot when I felt the stroke of a hand on the back of my head. When I swung around to see which co-worker was brave enough to play a prank on me, I found… no one. No one in the office, no one outside the door in the long hallway.

It was hard for me to breathe, and my case of the creeps grew to epic proportions, rattling my knees and sending shivers through me.

Within seconds, I had shut down the computer, donned my coat and boots, and jogged out of the building. At home, I didn't tell my hubby about it, probably because I'd talked myself into believing it had just been my imagination.

The next morning, back at my desk, I printed the midnight reports. On there, I found the name of one of my "grandmas." Deceased. She'd passed away at nearly the same time I'd felt the touch of a hand, smoothing down my hair in a caring caress. I closed my eyes and took a moment to say goodbye.

Do spirits linger a while after leaving our bodies? Do they take a few minutes, hours, days, to say farewell to their friends and loved ones?

I hope you enjoyed my scary-but-true stories, and it was nice to revisit them after all these years. I still don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe these two incidents had to be some kind of supernatural phenomenon. Definitely not anything that can be explained away easily.

Have you ever heard disembodied voices, or felt a phantom touch? I'd love to hear about it!

Secret Vegas Lives
Scandalous L.A. Desires
both available from Red Rose Publishing

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Favorite Monsters....

by Amber Leigh Williams

Okay, it's getting on toward Halloween and I just have to get something out of my system. So here goes....

*sigh* Sorry. I simply cannot properly prep for Halloween without doing the Monster Mash.

Today I want to continue the ghoulish October theme by counting down my favorite team of monsters! The truth is I don't like to be scared out of my skin so I'm not talking the really scary monsters like Freddy Krueger or that crazy kraken thing in the more recent Clash of the Titans. I prefer my monsters more, well...cuddly and furry....

#7 - Merrie Melodies' Rudolph
He's more furry than cuddly, but still - who can forget the classic 1946 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hair-Raising Hare" with the big hairy orange monster in white sneakers? It isn't known to many people that this tough guy later became known fondly as "Rudolph" and then even later - continuing the cuddly and furry theme - "Gossamer." Above all others, this is the Looney Tunes episode that stands out most in my childhood, particularly the scene in which Bugs gives Rudolph a manicure, complete with mouse traps. Did anyone else want to give ol' Gossamer a hug when he ran screaming away from our clever wabbit?

#6 - Monsters, Inc's Michael "Mike" Wazowski
This might or might not be the Pixar junkie inside me talking, but there was nothing more funny in 2001 than Billy Crystal's green, one-eyed monster Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc. His harassed, fast-talking character was so lovable, in fact, that Disney decided to include him in hilarious follow-up cameos in the movies Finding Nemo, Cars, WALL-E, and Toy Story 3 as well. Great news to Mike Wazowski fans everywhere: it was announced recently that a Monsters, Inc. prequel is in the works with Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi all reprising their roles. (And yes, that noise you just heard was yours truly squeeeing....)

#5 - Hellboy's "Red"
A must-watch on Halloween is Guillermo del Toro's 2004 adaptation of comic book hero Hellboy, played by Ron Perlman. There are many things I love about Hellboy (or, as his on-again off-again girlfriend Liz likes to call him, "Red") such as his love for fuzzy kittens...his sarcastic quips...but most of all his drive to be one of the good guys despite the fact that he was built to be bad - very, very bad. Maybe it's simply his devotion to Liz that I find irresistible, but Red is one monster I dare anyone not to like. And speaking of sequels, the third Hellboy movie is in early planning stages. Can't wait to see how Red and Liz are faring with twins :)

#4 - Predator's Predator
While all the other romance fans were going to see the latest Twilight film in theaters, this nerd was going to see the new Predator movie.... This will probably be the scariest monster on our list. I never would have thought I would enjoy watching Predator, but the epiphany came during one of the many movie nights me and my future husband enjoyed during our eight-month courtship. (By the way, if you're looking for excuses to cuddle, a Predator movie is definitely recommended!) I have to say, though, that I much prefer this bad boy with his helmet on.

#3- Star Wars' Chewbecca
Okay, technically he's a Wookiee - but c'mon you gotta love him! Not only does Chewie co-pilot the fastest spaceship in the galaxy alongside Han Solo, he was named one of the "Greatest Sidekicks" in film history by Entertainment Weekly. (Yep, there goes that nerd alert again.) As it happens, Han and Chewie's relationship is one of my personal favorite bromances in the entertainment industry. Little known fact about Chewie: his full name is derived from the Russian and Ukrainian word for "dog," which is fitting considering that George Lucas's inspiration for the character was his own dog sitting up in the passenger seat of his car.

#2 - The Vampire Diaries' Damon 
He's not furry, but he's incredibly cuddly! I only recently admitted to my obsession with The Vampire Diaries television show and it all revolves around actor Ian Somerhalder and his delicious portrayal of vampire Damon Salvatore. Here's another bad boy doing good things.... When we first meet Damon, he's the deadly antithesis of his good brother, Stefan. Of course, the series plot slowly but surely turns all that on its head and, with the motivation of his love for heroine Elena in the driver's seat, he's fighting those vampire tendencies for the greater good. He's also by far the *ahem* sexiest monster on the list and could be beaten by only one other monster/hero.... 

#1 - Disney's Beast
He was the first Disney prince to bicker with his heroine onscreen, but since he's cursed to be big and hairy for a lifetime it's easy to forgive him. Beauty and the Beast is still one of my favorite fairytales. It really put to rest all that stereotypical rich and handsome hero business. The beast might just be Disney's lone antihero, a character catalogue that I find just as enticing as the romantic plotline. Funnily enough, in Disney's adaptation, the Beast doesn't have a real name. Would it perhaps be a bit too analytical to call him Prince Harry? :)

The fun continues here with you! Who did I leave off my list? Who is your favorite monster and why? (And apologies for getting the Monster Mash stuck in anyone's head!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Shivery Halloween Tale

I love ghost stories, stories about creepy old houses, stories that make you yell, "Don't open that door! Are you crazy!" So, I thought, what the heck. I'll write a short, shivery tale for the Halloween season. I hope you enjoy it!


By Jannine Gallant

Amy Whittaker sat cross-legged on the pink, wool rug, surrounded by stacks of photos and letters. Her great-aunt’s personal life strewn helter-skelter, an eighty-nine year accumulation of keepsakes to be sorted. With a sigh, she pushed a long strand of dark hair behind her ear and rubbed one throbbing temple. The sooner she finished the task, the sooner she could leave the dreary old house tucked into the shadow of the mountain and head back to her apartment filled with light and laughter. After spending a couple of nights in this mausoleum, she actually appreciated her noisy, messy roommates.

The clock on the mantle clicked and whirred before striking a single chime. Amy nearly jumped out of her skin. “Good God, I’m losing it,” she mumbled.

Maybe she should have left the endless boxes of crap for the realtor to look through before putting the house on the market. But mixed in with cast off doilies and knick-knacks was bits of family history, and she couldn’t hand it all over to a stranger, even if her brother called her a sentimental chump.

A huge yawn popped her jaw, and she rubbed gritty eyes. If she had half a brain, she’d give up for the night and go to bed. But she’d promised herself she’d finish sorting this final box first.

What she needed was a major injection of caffeine. Pushing to her feet, she stepped across the piles and headed toward the kitchen. A lose shutter slapped against the house with a rhythmic thump as she waited for the coffee to drip into the carafe. Her skin prickled, and she took a deep breath, trying to steady jangling nerves. It was just the wind. The local weather channel had predicted a storm rolling in after midnight.

The coffee maker gurgled and hissed. Grabbing a cup from the cupboard, she poured a stream of fragrant liquid and took a gulp. Warmth flowed through her, and she wrapped chilled fingers around the delicate porcelain. No insulated mugs for her great-aunt. She was strictly old school.

Aunt Margaret and her damn journals. Amy eyed the pile of notebooks stacked on the kitchen table. She’d wasted too many hours reading them. The old biddy had an opinion about everything, and some of her comments about the neighbors read like a Jerry Springer episode. Then there were the mentions of Farley. They began in the earliest journals, back when her aunt was barely in her teens, and continued to the very end.

Farley tried to lure me into the woods, but I was too scared to go… I nearly fainted when Farley appeared at my mother’s afternoon tea for her garden club wearing a bloodstained tunic. Thank heavens the women didn’t see him… My fiancé is dead, shot in some French town I’ve never heard of. If it weren’t for Farley, I’d lose my mind… Farley doesn’t approve of Mr. Hintz, though our friendship is innocent enough… The local children got more of a fright than they bargained for this Halloween. Damn, Farley! I’ll have some explaining to do to their parents…I’ve been feeling poorly for over a week now. Farley’s been visiting more often than usual…
Who in the world was Farley? Margaret Whittaker had never married. There was absolutely no gossip about a man in her life. None. Shouldn’t there have been someone in all those years? If it wasn’t for the journals, Amy would have gone on believing her great-aunt was the prim and proper, starched and pressed, retired librarian she portrayed to the community. Obviously there’d been more to the woman than she’d let on.


Amy spun on her sneakers, sloshing hot coffee over her hand. She dropped the cup, and it shattered on the checked linoleum. Heart pounding, she pressed her stinging fingers to her chest and backed up against the counter.

A flash of orange fur flew down the narrow back stairs. The cat stared at her through round golden eyes, blinked once, then minced around the puddle on the floor and plopped his butt down in front of the food bowl.

“Jesus, Max, give me a freaking heart attack, why don’t you!”

The cat twitched its tail and chomped dry food. Amy glared at the supercilious little beast. She had half a mind to dump him at the local animal shelter, but she’d promised her aunt…

The shutter slapped against the siding as a gust of wind shook the window panes. Amy shivered and ran her hands up and down her arms. It was cold in the house. Hopefully nothing was wrong with the furnace because there was no way in hell she was going into the basement to check. The place was full of dirt and cobwebs and probably mice. A shudder shook her.

Enough stalling. Grabbing a handful of paper towels, she cleaned up the mess of broken porcelain, and then took down a second cup. After filling it, she headed back to the parlor. She was nearing the bottom of the box. A fat scrapbook caught her attention, and she lifted it out from beneath a pair of embroidered pillow cases.

Not a photo album. The Whittaker Family History was inscribed across the front page in her aunt’s spidery handwriting. James Whittaker arrived in America in 1620 aboard the Reliance…She flipped pages chronicling the lives of her ancestors. Aunt Margaret had tried to interest her in genealogy, but history wasn’t Amy’s thing. As a nurse, she cared more about the living than the long dead.

A parchment scroll, rolled and tied with a ribbon, was tucked between the binder’s rings. She pulled it out and flattened it on the rug. At the very top was James Whittaker, at the bottom Amy and her brother, Matt. Her gaze scanned up the list of names and dates, zeroing in on a familiar one. Farley Whittaker born September 17, 1839 killed September 17, 1862 at Antietam. He’d died on his birthday. A chill slithered down her spine.

Was the Farley her aunt had repeatedly mentioned in her journal a relative descended from the Civil War hero? She didn’t remember a Farley at any of the boring family gatherings she’d been dragged to in years past. All her cousins, second cousins, and cousins once removed were older, and most of them male. They had no use for a skinny, tag-a-long girl in the hard-hitting football games they organized. Amy had usually been stuck in the kitchen with her aunts, drying dishes. The women had gossiped while they worked, and she was nearly positive the name Farley was never mentioned.

She shut the scrapbook and laid it in the keep pile. Enough. She could barley keep her eyes open. If she didn’t get some sleep, she’d be worthless tomorrow. Staggering to her feet, she walked around the room, turning off lamps. Extinguishing the last one plunged the room into darkness. Feeling her way along the furniture, she stepped into the hall and saw a light glowing from the kitchen doorway.

Didn’t I turn it off? With a shrug, she headed toward the back of the house. A floorboard creaked beneath her foot, and she moved a little faster. Old houses gave her the willies. She’d take a condo with modern conven—

A crash on the front porch sent her spinning around. The fine hair rose along her forearms. Maybe the cat… No, Max was inside. Halloween was only a few days away, and Aunt Margaret had mention neighborhood kids daring each other to run up on the front porch of the scary old house. If one of them had broken something… Straightening her shoulders, she marched toward the front door. Grabbing the handle, she twisted the lock and flung it open.

Dead leaves skittered across the porch in a gust of wind. The moon gleamed behind a haze of clouds, casting a feeble glow over the yard. Peering into the dark, Amy snapped on the outdoor light. Nothing. The bulb must be dead.

“Is anyone out there?”

Her words were swallowed up in the night. Heart thumping, she stepped through the doorway. Pattering feet scrambled from behind a broken planter, shattered on the porch floor. Eyes glowed green low to the ground. With a snarl, the raccoon raced down the steps.

Amy grabbed the railing for support as her pulse raced wildly. First the cat, and now a dammed raccoon… When she was certain her legs would support her, she turned and walked back into the house.

A man stood in the hallway, his broad shoulders silhouetted in the light cast through the kitchen doorway. His eyes were dark holes in a pale face. The front of his blue tunic was drenched in some dark liquid.

Amy swallowed, and then quietly shut the door behind her.

“Hello, Farley.”

If you enjoyed my shivery tale, you can find buy links to my books on my website at

Monday, October 17, 2011


Have you ever wondered why Halloween is so popular? Could it be that maybe for one day we all can dress up in costumes and pretend to be someone were not? Children love pretending to be characters from Batman, Ninja Turtles, Pirates, princesses, ballerinas, to super star diva. I know my children when they were little wanted to wear their costume around the house before, during and after Halloween. It wasn't only Halloween when they loved to pretend to be something they weren't. I had a whole trunk full of costumes they would dive into all year round.
As adults, are we all that different? When given the opportunity, would you like to pretend to be someone else for a day? I confess I do. I suppose that's why I'm so excited to use my pen name.  I feel like I have two different lives. One where I'm a wife, mother, medical professional with one identity; the other where I have this obession to be an author. So do I peel off my scrubs when I get home and adorn my costume to become this super writer... (It's not really a costume, just my pajamas). Yes, I do! Well...probably not really a super writer...not yet...working on that. But I do enter another world, a world I create. For a few hours each day, I do become a different person. I live inside this different world. Can I leap tall buildings on a single bound? No, but I can do mutiple things at one time, write, promote, answer emails, update Novel Works... If I'm needed back in the real world I have a couple of safeguards, my phone and my dogs. If I'm needed, I know. Well, most of the times. I have been accused of ignoring my phone. My dogs, though, I can't ignore.  
Now I have a name to go along with this personna of mine. Carrie James Haynes. I have always wanted to use a pen name. Besides, I've had this name ready since before my first book was published. Carrie James Haynes. A nice ring, don't you think? I think it sounds like an author. Does my pen name mean anything? I'm not sure, probably not to anyone else. Out of all the names I could have created, why Carrie James Haynes? Mainly, I like it. The issue really isn't the name, but that I'm getting to use it. It's like donning a costume- this new identity of mine. One of my friends asked me if I was going to let anyone know that Carrie Jame Haynes was really me. I laughed. I'm not keeping it a secret. If you google Carrie James Haynes, my name pops up. So it's not a secret identity. But what a pen name means to me is freedom. Kinda a license to create. Hiding behind a name. So in essence Carrie James Haynes is a character that I have created. And, yes, I have begun to talk about her in third person. 

So what prompted this pen name after all this time? I decided to publish a manuscript myself and perhaps it gives me the courage to try this new adventure. Will it succeed? Only time will tell, but I'm having fun with it. Could it be I like the control? Could be. I haven't felt I've had any control on my writing since I began trying to get published. Ah, but, I do miss an editor!!! I thank my FB friends for finding me someone to do my cover. I hadn't a clue what I was doing making a cover. So happy with Graphicx Z. Love my cover. Love my story. 

Whispers of a Legend, Part One- Shadows of the Past is only the beginning of the legend. It's not what I normally write. I've had it stuck back in my closet for years. One of the first pieces I attempted. I didn't even try to do too much with it. So this is perfect for me to try out. And the best part for everyone, Shadows of the Past is FREE. Hopefully by the end of the week, it will be on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, etc... Right now it's only on Smashwords

Still, don't forget about OCTOBERFEST WITH BOOKS. The contest is still going on. If you're here, so easy to enter. Follow out blog. Love to have you. I promise you the least you can get is a copy of Shadows of the Past.

Also, this week on Novel Works, I have Crescent Moon Press coming in. Great week ahead. So much to do, so much going on. All good! 

You will find Jerri Hines' next release, The Judas Kiss, out this coming January with Whiskey Creek Press. A historical romance. She's excited because it’s the first in the Tides of Charleston series. You will find her other books, Dream Walker and Patriot Secrets, at most ebook stores. Follow her on Facebook- Novel Works is her fan page where I recommend books, authors, blogs… She's also on Twitter @jhines340. Don't forget the contest rules on her blog. Don't pass up the chance to win! You can also find her first release under her pen name, Whispers of a Legend, Part One-Shadows of the Past. Coming soon to Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Angel, Devil, Heaven, Hell

What about all this paranormal stuff, huh?

You might be surprised to learn that the Christian market has some similarities – namely, the spirit world. The only difference is the Christians own it, according to the Bible. Christ, himself, said the spirits are “subject to us.”

I remember reading one Christian author’s novel in which two demons were hovering over a church, discussing how they planned to wreck havoc on it by throwing all kinds of temptations at the pastor in hopes that he’d succumb. They chose different torments for church member, trying to do right in the eyes of the Lord and be a good witness for Him. As the story unfolded, that’s what these demons did!

The spirit world is alive and there is a battle raging in the heavens. The prize? The souls of mankind.

I know of another author who writes about fallen angels – demons, really – who weren’t really evil, like Satan. They’d just been confused at the time of Satan’s mutiny in heaven….or something to that effect. So here they are on earth, commanded to do harm, except they have a conscience and cannot bring themselves to follow through with their ill-intended orders. Interesting concept.

Actor John Dye
Years ago, Guideposts considered publishing a series of novels about angels having relationships with human beings. Maybe on the order of Touched By An Angel (I love those reruns, by the way! My favorite is the compassionate Andrew, the angel of death and I felt sad when I'd heard the actor, John Dye died suddenly last January. But I digress. I’m not sure if any of those novels made it to print. But I’d heard that’s what the then editorial department had been seeking in the way of ideas.

According to the Bible, angels can take any shapes and forms. They have appeared to man and woman alike (example, the Virgin Mary -- the angel Gabriel appeared to her, telling her she would give birth to the Messiah). In the Old Testament, the archangel, Michael, fought with Satan’s host so the prophet Daniel’s prayers couldn’t reach God’s ears. Michael did eventually win that one. So there are bad angels and good angels. The latter are what the Bible describes as “messengers of God.” One of the apostles wrote that we should be kind to everyone we meet, serve them, because we might be attending to God's angels and not even know it!

Funny…I’m always watching for angels.

But, let’s remember, that there are bad angels (demons) too. How to know the difference?

Well, let’s say you’re riding the bus to work and you sit down beside a kind-faced woman who reminds you of your grandmother who always gave you sound advice. (Demons only look ugly and scary in Hollywood movies.) You begin confiding in her for some reason and this woman subtly suggests that if you’re so miserable and stressed you should leave your job and your husband and kids and go off and make a new – happy – life for yourself. After all, you’ve got to look out for “number one” and all that.

So all day long, her voice rings in your memory. Such a sweet lady she was – and she really seemed knowledgeable about relationships and the world. She knew exactly what irked you about your spouse. She knew just what you went through with those darn kids who never seem to listen to a word you say!

What sort of angel do you think she might have been? Let me tell you, she’s not one sent from God!

Only Satan’s band will suggest destruction – destruction of a home, a career -- children's lives. I have a friend whose mother left him when he was a boy. She divorced his father and ran off with another man. It was traumatic for my friend and he's had relationship issues ever since. 

God's angels will lift you up so you're somehow able to weather your frustration and anger. (I’m not speaking to abuse in the home. I’m talking about everyday irks and irritations.) God's angels will speak truth in a positive way, not a destructive way. 

The important thing to become aware of this spiritual dynamic. Know, too, that the spiritual battle will never cease – not until Christ returns. It could be any day! In the meantime…watch out for those angels!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Favorite Halloween Costumes by Alison Henderson

I don’t remember many of the costumes I wore as a child, but one stands out—the turquoise fringed cowgirl outfit I received when I was five. In the late ‘50’s and early 60’s, Westerns filled the television screens of America, and I loved every one I was allowed to watch. I still remember perching on the red leather ottoman in my grandmother’s den every Saturday morning with my brother and sister watching Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Trigger. I also loved the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Paladin, Bonanza—well, you get the idea.

My turquoise cowgirl outfit had white fringe on the skirt and vest, along with a couple of silver-colored conchos. Of course, I also had a pink cowgirl hat and a double holster with pistols. They might have been cap guns, but I wasn’t interested in the noise; I only cared about the look. And let me tell you, I had THE LOOK. I was Annie Oakley. I wore that costume as long as I could squeeze into it, which was many years because the skirt had a highly elasticized waist. My mother was obviously thinking ahead.

I had even more fun with costumes when my daughter was old enough for trick-or-treating. She’s a girl after my own heart, a born romantic—as evidenced by the fact that she dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara at age three! Like most girls in her generation, she went through her Disney Princess phase. I bought a Cinderella costume when she was in first grade, but the next year, when she wanted to be Jasmine from Aladdin, I decided to try sewing one. Minnesota is just too cold at the end of October for gauzy harem pants. The resulting costume was a resounding success and the first of many mom-created masterpieces.

My favorite (and I think hers, too) was the cream brocade Guinevere dress, complete with purple cape, that I made the last year she trick-or-treated with her friends in middle school. It had an elaborate bodice and long, fitted sleeves that ended in points outlined with gold trim on the top of her hands. I really pulled out all the stops. That dress still hangs in her closet more than ten years later, and I hope it brings back as many fond memories for her as it does for me.