North Carolina Legends

I’ve been mining the old ghost stories of North Carolina for ideas (there are tons of them!) and ran across the Brown Mountain Lights. This one is personal for me, because growing up, my family had a cabin at Brown Mountain Beach and spent so many wonderful times there. Full disclosure – I was never able to see them but lots of others did.

Brown Mountain is a low ridge in Burke County and host to a real and long-lived mystery. When conditions are right, mysterious glowing orbs can be seen to rise up off the mountain, hover and wobble about fifteen feet up in the air, and then disappear. There’s no denying that the lights are real. They have been observed by countless witnesses and photographed on many occasions. But what they are has still never been identified.

The Brown Mountain Lights have been observed for centuries, and multiple legends have arisen around the phenomenon. The Cherokee were aware of the lights, and according to some accounts claimed that they were the souls of Cherokee women searching for their men who had died in a great battle between the Cherokee and the Catawba that took place on Brown Mountain. Another legend says that the lights are the ghostly echoes of lights that appeared during a search for a murdered woman in the 19th century.

As for the lights themselves, many different possible scientific explanations have been offered, from swamp gas to the reflections of automobile headlights from the valley below. But every explanation so far has been easily disproved. The lights have been observed since long before automobiles existed, so headlights don’t work, and the lights were even observed during the 1916 flood that shut down all automobile and railway traffic in the valley below. The swamp gas theory fizzles out by the complete absence of a swamp on Brown Mountain. The X-Files even did an episode on the phenomena (very unsatisfying for those of us who spent so much time on that mountain as kids).

Appalachian State finally caught them on video in January of this year and you can watch it here – Brown Mountain Lights

Whatever their cause, people still flock to see the Brown Mountain Lights, but spotting them is never guaranteed. Reportedly, your best chance to see the lights comes on a dry, clear night in October or November, after all the leaves are off the trees.

Love to have you check out some of my paranormals anytime and I’ll keep checking out those NC legends.

    

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European Spooky

A lot of traveling by our writers this month –

Spent the first part of May in Europe, vacation and research for the 4thbook in The Conall Clan series. I’ve never been on a vacation like that and we had an incredible time. Could have been a little warmer and drier but hey, it was glorious anyway. Wish we’d had more time in Budapest, where the story I’m writing is set, but we saw a lot.

The old world was a bit of a surprise with the mix of of their solar panels on 300+ year old houses, and wind turbines. I admit it delighted me. We ate at a 900 year old fast food place-literally!-They built it to feed the Romans who were building the stone bridge. Brauts on a roll.

     

I could see lots of inspiration for some spooky stories.

     

      

The “spookiest” story I’ve written is Before You, but now I’m going to have to rethink that…

The Twilight Zone

I’m delighted to hear they are re-booting the series again. I have high hopes for Jordan Peele. This series left indelible memories for me and some episodes still haunt me – The Midnight Sun, Nick of Time, Five Characters in Search of an Exit, Time Enough at Last, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and Kick the Can.

 

 

I think part of the appeal is the fact the originals are in black and white. That and of course the sophistication of Rod Serling, with that cancer stick in his hand, no emotion on his face, as your tour guide for the trip into—“a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man … a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind … a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.”

A bar or two of the music can take me back instantly. And when I watch them now, I love seeing famous actors so much younger—Robert Redford, Jack Klugman, Donna Douglas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Agnes Moorehead and of course William Shatner.

It’s no wonder I write and love the paranormal. The Outer Limits was okay but never rose to the Twilight Zone level for me. In more than one of my books I’ve dropped the phrase – twilight zone or where is Serling. I’d like to hear which ones hover in your memory.

Love to have you check out some of my paranormals anytime and I’ll see you – in the Twilight Zone…

    

Not So Loving Spirits

I said I’d share another personal supernatural experience, so here you go. While last month’s was loving, this one isn’t. Thinking about it can still scare me.

I was working as a temp at a company the summer between junior and senior years in college, living in an apartment with three other women. I had the only 8-5 job, so I got up early every morning and dressed in the bathroom to try and not wake the other woman who shared my room.

It was a normal day. I got dressed and reached for the doorknob to open the bathroom. And couldn’t. I was filled with terror. There was something evil on the other side of the door. I couldn’t explain it, but the feeling was real.  I backed away from the door and waited, not knowing what to do.

Then it was gone. Of course I felt foolish, and quietly left the room to make my way to work. As a temp I used whatever desk was free on any given day. That day I got the desk that faced the wall. In fact, it butted up against the wall, so no one could walk past in front of me. I was using an electric typewriter (no computers in those days) and working away, when the electric cord wrapped itself around my leg three times. Now remember, no one could have done this. I had my back to the room, facing a wall. I froze. There wasn’t the terror of earlier but WTH!! I didn’t cry out, though that was my first impulse, and waited as I had in the bathroom. Then, the cord let go of my leg and everything was “normal” again. I didn’t play, I didn’t react aloud, so apparently I wasn’t any fun and whatever it was, decided to leave me alone.

Haven’t experienced it again, and hope I don’t. Occasionally when I write on a WIP that I keep putting away, a book will fall off of my bookcase, but it feels nothing like what happened that day. If I ever get that book finished I’ll see if “they” like it.

In the meantime I have written some scary spirits – Before You would fit in that category if you’re looking for that. Still want to hear your experiences. You never know when inspiration will strike….

 

Loving Spirits

Supernatural is our thing, right? So I thought I’d relay a different kind of love story for you this February. My grandmother (Momma’s mother) lived with us until I was 12 years old, and she had recently passed away.

I was in bed and heard something in the formal living room. Now the living room in my parent’s house was roughly a quarter of the house and as kids we were only allowed in there from December 15-31 each year. But there was a television in there (we were probably the first house in our town to have two televisions–Daddy sold them). My grandmother sat in the large living room every evening while the four of us were stuffed into a small alcove to watch the smaller TV. Anyway, I knew nobody should be in that room, but I was so sure I really heard something that I got up and woke Daddy to tell him. My hearing was very good, so he got up and checked. Nothing, no one else was in the house besides the family, so I went back to bed.

But the sound woke me up again and when I opened my eyes, my grandmother stood at the foot of the bed. I panicked big time, slamming my eyes shut. When I dared open them she was gone and again I made off for Daddy. Fortunately I had the world’s best Daddy and when I told him what was going on, he nodded. “That’s probably who you heard in the living room. She checked on you every night after you went to bed. What’s the problem?” His words put it all in perspective and I went back to bed. Did I tell you he was cool?

Anyway, that led me to write Wraith’s Heart all these years later–a ghost story from the perspective of the ghost. Boy, can I see Daddy’s influence there. 

I have another one I’ll share next month, but I’d love to hear about your real-life paranormal experiences. Most of the people I talk to have some sort of unexplained happening in their memory. Please share!

Resolutions

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Do you make them? Not me, not anymore. I did pretty good last year without them, so I’ll continue that way.

I have to admit when I get to the gym every January, I have to laugh. It’s always so crowded and the people are dressed so nicely, like they all got new exercise clothes from Santa. But after a couple of weeks, they all disappear and we have room again. Those of us that have been in Water Zumba for going on two years just squeeze together for those couple of weeks. I like that some of the regular participants I see weekly are in their 80’s and they’re in the pool moving like a boss to the music. I hope that’ll be me someday.

I lost 33 pounds last year between Weight Watchers (they call themselves WW now) and exercise, but I started before the beginning of the year. I like their mind set at WW, it’s not a diet, it’s a life style. So again, resolutions don’t help me. I will admit that I have friends that attend exercise and WW with me, so I feel a responsibility to show up. That helps me more than knowing the year has turned.

Even with writing, it is a job (the best I’ve ever had!) and I’ve always had a job so I don’t need a resolution to decide to write X number of pages a day. That’s the best part of my day.

Speaking of writing, thank you for helping to make the launch of Don’t Look Back my best seller of all time (so f ar). Book 2 of the Conall Clan – Family Ties comes out February 1.

But that’s my experience. What about you? Do resolutions help you? Do you set them, keep them? What works for you?

don't look back    family ties final

 

 

The History of Science Fiction

With the passing of Stan Lee this month at the age of 95, I got to wondering about how old the genre actually is. Talk about getting bogged down in research, you can go back as far as the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is 2000 BCE, but I wasn’t looking that far back.

Scholar Robert Scholes calls the history of science fiction “the history of humanity’s changing attitudes toward space and time … the history of our growing understanding of the universe and the position of our species in that universe.” In recent decades, the genre has diversified and become firmly established as a major influence on global culture and thought.

It was more personal for me. I learned to read by devouring Superman comics. Dick, Jane and Sally held no interest for me. Man, were those kids boring! So, on Sunday afternoons Daddy would walk to town on the train tracks with my sister and me togo to the drug store in downtown Hudson and look at the comic books. They cost 12¢ back then and I still have most of them, carefully preserved now in plastic. I know Stan Lee was Marvel and Superman is DC but I love characters in both universes.

220px-Action_Comics_1    Amazing_Stories_v11n01_1937-02_0000    Amazing story

I was always drawn to science fiction, with its endless possibilities. I admit I preferred Gene Roddenberry’s concept of a peaceful future to what I read in the pulp fiction of Daddy’s basement. Scary aliens didn’t entice me, but ET and Close Encounters were made for me and I’ve seen both countless times.

It’s what drew me to write Alien Embrace. A young woman who wakes in a hospital with no memory—where did she come from and why? Throw in a little of the ecological, and you’ve got the kind of story I go looking for.

Alien Embrace Cover 5 copy

Have you been a sci fi (never SyFy!!) fan long or do you gravitate toward fantasy or paranormal? Who are some of your favorite authors – Larry Niven, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ursula K. LeGuin, Sherri Tepper, Philip Dick, Jules Verne? Let me know, maybe there’re some out there I haven’t found yet!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be careful out there if you go Black Friday-ing!

Christmas Stories Rev 03 final copy