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Archive for September, 2019

Madison Michael: Where I get my inspiration…
Monday, September 30th, 2019

I have been blessed to be surrounded by incredible women my whole life. My mother is one of three sisters. She had four daughters who had four daughters. So in my family alone, the estrogen factor was significant. And I am not exaggerating when I say that these are all accomplished and educated women. With sisters, aunts and nieces (not to mention a wonderful cousin or two) you would think I didn’t need girlfriends.

You’d be wrong. While I had girlfriends growing up – some of whom I remain friends with today – it wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I learned the true value of friends.

I moved away from home at age 26 and discovered the meaning of loneliness immediately. I lived in Boston – vibrant, young and exciting – but I explored Faneuil Hall, the Common, the Garden and everywhere else, alone. I worked with only eight people and they were men. I missed the women in my life until I met a few wonderful neighbors, just in time to move again. The process repeated.

I have found that it takes a while for women to develop true friendships. They need to find common interests and build rapport, then history. But I kept moving before I could make all that happen. I left New England with one friend – a lifelong friend, a true blessing in my life.

My career took off from all this movement and my husband was definitely wonderful company, but I know you’ll understand when I say that a job and a husband cannot replace a girlfriend.

After six years, I was finally blessed. I joined a huge company full of interesting people and I stayed in North Carolina, then California, long enough to forge friendships with amazing women. These are friendships that have outlasted our jobs, built now on history, mutual respect and admiration and the fact that they are empathetic and fun, really fun.

Recently, I spent time with 11 of them, and I was inspired to start a new romance series where my heroines are loosely based on my friends. The plots will be fictional, but the inspiration for my characters will come from these loving, generous, remarkable women. For example, my friend who walks a mile twice a day – rain or shine – to feed a stray cat that has come to love her. Or my dear friend who loves Broadway Theater, travel, romance and has friends across the globe. There is an amazing woman from Italy who left her home and family for the man she loves, while another married her high-school sweetheart. There are two who actually owe their happy marriages to introductions I made. All are smart, funny, quirky, and relatable.

The series – tentatively titled The Double Dare Romances – will offer glimpses of their stories occasionally, but mostly it will offer a hint of who these women are to me – supportive, kind, a family without the biological roots. Their strengths, and their quirks, will be lovingly conveyed through my heroines.

I hope you will enjoy the stories inspired by the wonderful women in my world. The series will be available mid-year 2020.

While you wait for this great new series check out my Beguiling Bachelors series. Bedazzled is the first book in the series and is only $.99 or free if you have KU.

A Chance Encounter Can Change Everything…

Keeli Larsen is second-guessing her decision to support herself as an independent jewelry designer. She has no money, no friends, but she knows she has talent…

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Cynthia Capley: Shopping During the Regency Era
Sunday, September 29th, 2019

During the Regency era, merchants allowed aristocrats to purchase products even if they didn’t pay back money owed for years. Shop owners hoped that once it was known that an aristocrat or well-known person had purchased a particular product from their shop, sales would follow. The emerging middle class was eager to own the same items being consumed by the upper classes. There were also more products available for purchase as a result of industrialization.

Many of the streets where people shopped during the Regency—Piccadilly, Bond and Oxford, among others—remain busy shopping areas today. A few stores in these shopping areas have been in existence since the eighteenth century. Piccadilly has been home to Hatchard’s Book Shop since 1797, and Fortnum and Mason since 1707. Other shops remaining from the Regency era are Locks for hats, Floris for perfumes and the Berry Brothers Wine Shop.

Research is important if writing in a historical era. Some of the shops listed above have never been renovated, providing insight as to how stores were laid out and decorated in the seventeenth century. At Floris, they have archives of orders placed by notable people such as Queen Victoria. Their Limes perfume, which has been selling since the 1700’s, is still available for purchase. These stores provide a way to experience the past through scent, their furnishings and samples of items created in the past.

Jane Austen’s World, “Shopping in London During Jane Austen’s Time,”

Jennifer Kloester, “Shopping,” in Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (Illinois:,Sourcebooks, 2010)

The Perfume Society, “Floris”,

About the Author

Cynthia Capley is working on her first novel set during the Regency era. She enjoys writing stories with strong characters that triumph over challenges to achieve their happily ever after. Cynthia lives in the Pacific Northwest where the rain and numerous coffee houses make the perfect writing companions. She lives with her husband and a menagerie of pets and likes to spend time playing fetch with Natasha, a tortoiseshell-colored cat with an attitude.


A Prescription for a Rested Brain…
Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Before I started writing, many years ago, I didn’t consider myself a particularly crafty or artistic person. I crocheted a little, never deviating from a pattern. I did some needlepoint and embroidery—again, always following the instructions to a T.

Then I started writing, and all my hobbies fell away. I was a writer. I was creative. The more I wrote, I swear, the more my left brain talents began to atrophy. Math? I was a straight-mathlete throughout college, and now? Dear Jesus, don’t show me a tenth-grader’s homework. Can’t help there.

Still, I thought writing was my ONLY talent. Until, I accompanied my mom to her art group meetings, and decided I’d try something crafty. Suddenly, I’m painting (not well, but not putridly either); I’m making jewelry; I’m collaging, doodling… If it involves color, I’m there.

Now that writing is work (hey, it’s what pays the bills, so yes, it’s work), I have to do something else to wind down. Sometimes, art and jewelrymaking takes too much brainpower, so I needed another hobby. An outlet that didn’t require me to prep a thing, didn’t require me to count stitches. I found POTHOLDERS.

I know, it’s damn weird. But finishing up one of these suckers while I watch some mindless boob tube show to let my brain relax is sooooo soothing. And I found it by accident. I bought a grab bag of arts and crafts supplies at the local thrift shop, and inside the bag was a small plastic kid’s loom. I remembered having one when I was little, and feeling nostalgic, I went online, found some nice cotton loops, and made my first potholder. Then I discovered they have metal, “grownup” potholder looms that are twice as large, and I had to have one. See the potholder below? It’s the second I’ve made on the new loom. Pretty isn’t it? For this one, I didn’t follow a pattern. I just put colors next to each other that I liked and repeated the pattern once I got to the middle. That’s all the thinking it took.

So, tomorrow AM, I’ll be back at it hard, editing for a friend. I hope to wrap her story up tomorrow, because I have another last minute edit job arriving. I’m hoping that, by Tuesday, I’ll be writing my own dang pages, but in the evenings when I’m ready to let my mind rest, I’ll be sorting through my stash of cotton loops, making myself happy with color combinations that please my loopy brain.

So, I shared my weird hobby. Do you have something you love to do that fills that “resting brain” prescription?

Puzzle it out!
Friday, September 27th, 2019

This puzzle gives you a hint of what I should be doing today. Instead, I’m torn between cleaning up words for a friend and watching Descendants 3 with the munchkins. I can’t do both…

So, have fun with the puzzle. Nudge me to work faster so I can do what this pic hints at! And oh, the color makes me happy! Do you think I can find one in yellow?

Pamela K. Kinney: Ghosts on the Mind
Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Fall is here and with October close, that means Halloween will soon be here. And with Halloween, comes the thought of ghosts. Though with paranormal reality shows, phantoms are thought about the rest of the year, too. They haunt right alongside us, around us, and in places you never think would be haunted. They can be where the least you expect them. And spirits are not “trick ponies,” they will not perform on cue every night or day, so invisible, they might still be there, leaving you a feeling of being watched or even dread. Though the dread may be unintentional, as the phantom may not be evil (though there are times a bad one may be there), but your own psychic attention will hit you like that.

What are spirits? Where did the words come from?

In traditional belief, a ghost is the soul of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestations, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: The mode of manifestation in photos or seen by the living’s eyes can range from an invisible presence, shadow people, translucent or wispy shapes, and orbs, to realistic, life-like visions—solids. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as a séance. Paranormal investigators use equipment to find proof of paranormal activity and to contact phantoms. In other words, find proof of life after death.

The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships, and even ghost animals have also been recounted.

The English word ghost continues Old English gást, from a hypothetical Common Germanic *gaistaz. It is common to West Germanic, but lacking in North and East Germanic.The pre-Germanic form was *ghoisdo-s, apparently from a root denoting “fury, anger” reflected in Old Norse geisa “to rage.” The Germanic word is recorded as masculine only, but likely continues a neuter s-stem. The original meaning of the Germanic word would have been an animating principle of the mind, capable of excitation and fury. In Germanic paganism, “Germanic Mercury,” and the later Odin, was at the same time the conductor of the dead and the “lord of fury” leading the Wild Hunt.

The synonym “spook” is a Dutch loanword, akin to Low German spôk. It entered the English language via the United States in the 19th century. Alternative modern words included “spectre” (from Latin spectrum), the Scottish “wraith” (of obscure origin), “phantom” (via French ultimately from Greek phantasma, compare fantasy) and “apparition”. The term “shade” in classical mythology translates Greek σκιά, or Latin umbra—in reference to the notion of spirits in the Greek underworld. And “haint” is a synonym for ghost used in regional English of the southern United States, and the “haint tale” is a common feature of southern oral and literary tradition. As for “poltergeist”, that is the term for a German word, literally a “noisy ghost,” for a spirit said to manifest itself by invisibly moving and influencing objects.


Another widespread belief concerning ghosts is that they are composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material. Early beliefs were that ghosts were the person within the person (the person’s spirit), most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person’s breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist. This belief may have also fostered the metaphorical meaning of “breath” in certain languages, such as the Latin spiritus and the Greek pneuma, which by analogy became extended to mean the soul. In the Bible, God is depicted as animating Adam with a breath.

In many tales, ghosts were often thought to be deceased people looking for vengeance or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. The appearance of a ghost has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death. Seeing one’s own ghostly double or “fetch” is a related omen of death.

“White ladies” were reported to appear in many rural areas and supposed to have died tragically or suffered trauma in life. White Lady legends are found around the world. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé. They are often associated with an individual family line, as a harbinger of death. When one of these ghosts is seen it indicates that someone in the family is going to die, like a banshee.

The stories of ghost ships have existed since the 18th century. The most notable of these is the Flying Dutchman.

Ghosts can also be angels and demons. In some paranormal circles, it is believed that demons are non-human, while other spirits who did terrible things (like murder) but human and passed on without benefit of being forgiven, are not.

With a new ghost book released last month in August, Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle 2nd Edition: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations, in which the first edition sold 5,000 books, enabling this to not only go into a second printing, but letting me add new stories and ten new photos of ghostly images to the original stories (plus a new cover), it is clear ghosts are a hot item nowadays. Plus, Williamsburg has become synonymous with not just history (particularly, Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War), but haunting. There is even a hashtag, #hauntedwilliamsburg on Instagram and Twitter for it, connecting to many, many posts and photos! If that isn’t enough, there are many ghost tours, from those by Colonial Williamsburg itself, t those by various companies. Two mentioned in my book, is the Colonial Williamsburg Shields ghost tour (I am not sure this one still exists) and one of my new stories has the oldest ghost tour in Williamsburg, The Original Ghost Tour of Williamsburg, which also now has a tour in Historic Yorktown, along with an extreme murder pubs tour and the Haunted River Cruise of Jamestown Island.

The most haunted house in Colonial Williamsburg is the Peyton Randolph House. This is one of the few original buildings still standing when Colonial Williamsburg took over the area.

Several accounts of phenomena at the Peyton Randolph House includes the shattering of a mirror and the sound of heavy footsteps. The first haunting is that of a young soldier who stayed in the structure when the Peachy family owned it. At the time of his stay, he attended college to advance in his studies.

Unfortunately, he fell ill. When this occurred, he was cared for the best that he could be, but he eventually died because of the devastating illness. Today, several accounts attest to the fact that the spirit of the young man still lingers in the structure. Many have stated that they have seen the apparition of a male, while others have said they have heard footsteps that seem to be quite heavy. Another ghost seen is an older woman who is dressed in a white, flowing gown. Then, there is a little girl who was thrown down the stairs and killed after her ghostly best friend, Elizabeth, grew angry with her. Doctors claimed that superhuman force would have been required to cause such a death. Another ghost supposedly hangs around in the upstairs bedroom.

Another story is told of a ghost of a woman who seemed very agitated and wanted to warn guests of impending danger. A woman named Helen Hall Mason stayed for a friend’s wedding at the house in 1962. She stayed as a guest of its owner at the time in the oak-paneled room, which was on the second floor toward the back of the house. Sometime during the night, Mrs. Mason woke up and saw a woman standing at the foot of the bed, appearing very nervous and wringing her hands. At first, Mrs. Mason thought that it was the hostess of the house . . . until she noticed that the woman’s dress wasn’t modern. A scarier thing—moonbeams went right through the woman. Mrs. Mason mentioned what happened the next morning. She didn’t feel threatened by this woman but felt that the woman was trying to give a message of warning to her. The hosts said that Mrs. Mason’s story matched that of other stories over the years. Not much is known about this ghost, except that she might have been a servant.

Other tales of hauntings permeate this place. One of them concerned a two-year-old girl who was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom. She woke up screaming for her mother. The child mumbled about a man in white standing in a corner, but the mother saw no one there. Some years later, a man sleeping in the same bedchamber saw a transparent male form standing in a corner.

Another story tells of Williamsburg employees who saw a man in blue Colonial attire. Thinking he was one of them, they went to talk to him. He vanished when they approached.

An interpreter was alone in the house when she felt something trying to push her down the stairs. It terrified her, as she felt it was evil. There was also the tale about what happened to security guard Pedro Jones. He was getting ready to leave when he heard groans emanating from the basement. He went down to investigate. The door slammed shut on him, locking him in. He couldn’t get out and suffered being down there until his boss knocked on the door. That’s when the door mysteriously unlocked and Jones was able to get out.

Have you a true ghost story to tell? What kinds of fictional or nonfiction ghost stories do you like to read this time of year?

Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle

In this 2nd edition, go deeper into ghostly history as you tour Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown in the Historic Triangle. Visit haunted Jamestown Island, where Captain John Smith and the first English colonists settled. Stroll around Williamsburg and follow the same footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as they walked along Duke of Gloucester Street. Tour ghostly historic Yorktown from the colonial era through the Civil War. Take side trips to the towns and counties nearby that put the finishing touches to the history of the whole area. You’ll hear odd noises and see apparitions, but above all, be prepared to get to know the ghosts of the Historic Triangle and its surrounding areas. They’re dying for you to hear their stories.

Buy Links:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Schiffer Publishing, Indiebound , Target, WalMart.

An excerpt from the “National Ghost Hunting Day 2017” from the Peyton Randolph House chapter in the book:

While the tour guide told some of the ghostly stories to the group, things began to go crazy. The filming and the tour stopping allowing us to investigate each spot had turned what is usually a two-hour tour into a much longer one. As one of the tour guides told stories about the house, I wandered over to the front lawn. I began getting the feeling someone wanted me to draw closer to the home; however, we weren’t allowed to do so on the tour. The medium told me she felt frightened, that someone didn’t want her there. That’s when I saw the dark clouds on top of the left side of the roof, below the chimney. Not in the air, but on the roof itself! The thing grew thicker and more abundant.

I said, “Does anyone see that dark smoke on the roof?”

Carol peered from behind me and said, “I don’t see anything.”

But the medium turned to me. “You’re not going crazy, Pam. I see it, too.”

Not long after that, it vanished. I did shoot several pictures, hoping that it might appear in one of them. It never did. I got orbs in some of the images and what I called the weird purple paranormal lines in one. These only appeared in a few photos I’d taken with this camera over the years. This night, I got three, and even something in a lower window of the house lit up.

The guides led us around to the left side of the house, where one of them told a few stories to the group. I stayed on the street and took a few more pictures. Another guide remained with me. In one photo, I caught something in the second-floor window by the tree to the right. I asked the man if there was anything in the hallway near the window. He looked at me and said, “No, you got something.” Later, at home and on my laptop, I enlarged it until I saw with excitement that a woman with a long nose and her hair up stood at the right side of the window. It was obvious that she wore a colonial gown only rich white women wore during the 1700s. There was another figure on the left side, wearing what I think might be another dress, but it had no head! The woman on the right did not look happy and looked down on the group. I wondered if she was Elizabeth “Betty” Harrison Randolph, as she’d been in the photos of others who had taken pictures of the house. Later, Carol had made a closer photo of the image for me and sent me a link to a portrait of Betty Randolph twenty years before she died. My ghost appears to look just like the woman.

About the Author

Author Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written award-winning, bestselling horror, fantasy. science fiction, poetry, along with five nonfiction ghost books ever since. Three of her nonfiction ghost books garnered Library of Virginia nominations. Her newest ghost book release is Virginia’s Haunted Historic Triangle 2nd Edition: Williamsburg, Yorkton, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations, with extra new stories and ten new ghostly images added then was in the first edition. She is working on a seventh ghost book set in the Surry to Suffolk area of Virginia for Anubis Press. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner-up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. Her latest novel was her first self-published venture, an urban fantasy, How the Vortex Changed My Life, and in the future she will have a science fiction novella released from Dreampunk Press, Maverick Heart, plus a true ghost story of her, “Cavalier Hotel,” in the true ghost anthology, Handbook for the Dead, published by Anubis Press. Pamela and her husband live with one crazy black cat (who thinks she should take precedence over her mistress’s writing most days). Along with writing, Pamela has acted on stage and film and investigates the paranormal for episodes of Paranormal World Seekers for AVA Productions. She is a member of both Horror Writers Association and Virginia Writers Club.

Connect with Pamela K. Kinney on her Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads.

Open Contests & a Giveaway!
Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Just a reminder! I have some open contests & a giveaway—some closing in the next couple of days, so be sure to enter now!

  1. A Puzzle, a Contest, and a Nudge! — Win an Amazon gift card! This one ends Saturday morning!
  2. Flashback: Hook (Contest) — Win a free book! This one also ends Saturday morning!
  3. Quincy Down Under Giveaway! — FREE READ
  4. Series Title Help! (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
Michal Scott: Taboo or Not Taboo
Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

I’m not a real opera buff, but there are certain operas I listen to over and over. I love Carmen because that’s all we studied in my fourth year high school French class. Tosca is near and dear to my heart because a co-worker who was an opera fanatic walked me through the elements of the libretto and score. Die Fledermaus is light and fun and Willie Stark an awesome three dimensional examination of a flawed conflicted man. Because of my fascination with myths and legends, the four operas in Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle are particular favorites.

This past summer, I listened to Live at the Met performances of the entire Ring. In one of the between act discussions I learned of a contemporary African-American adaptation of the first opera, Das Rheingold. In that version of the opera, the sought-after gold is James Brown’s first gold record. This inspired me to try my hand at an adaptation of my own. My version would be set during the Reconstruction/Gilded Age.

Imagine my surprise and dismay as I grappled with the issue of incest in the second opera, Die Walkure/Die Valkyrie. Incest? Really? Yikes. But how on earth could I have been surprised after all the times I’ve listened to or seen this work performed? Had the beauty of the music and the splendid interpretations of the artists somehow pushed the issue to the background? Or had my attention instead been focused not on the taboo, but on an injustice highlighted in the story?

I read an article that explained Wagner intended to set true love in the taboo of incest against the immortality of society’s support of loveless arranged and abusive marriages. How could I not side with Sieglinde’s search for true love? How could I condemn her for finding it with her brother Siegmund when her husband Hundig is such a pig? Wagner’s critics and audience agreed. Die Walkure/Die Valkyrie met with tremendous approval when it premiered in 1870 with only one contemporary critic insulted by the absence of morality in the storyline.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a taboo as “a prohibition imposed by social custom or as a protective measure,” “something that is not acceptable to say, mention, or do,” and “a prohibition against touching, saying, or doing something for fear of immediate harm from a supernatural force.”

As noble as Wagner’s intent is/was, I couldn’t bring myself to emulate it in my story. I’m not saying Wagner felt incest shouldn’t be taboo. Come on. Who of you out there isn’t creeped out any time you hear Donald Trump’s quote about Ivanka, “If she wasn’t my daughter, I’d date her” or that picture of teenaged Ivanka sitting on daddy’s lap? Shudder. Double ick.

I admire Wagner using his art to force his audience to think about why they railed against incest but didn’t have an equal amount of outrage about marriage as a tool of oppression. No guts, no glory, right?

Using a taboo to throw a spotlight on the hypocrisy of a societal practice is an integral part of Die Valkyrie‘s story. If I want to craft an adaptation worth telling, worth reading, I had to find a way to use a taboo to focus on an issue of injustice. I found my answer in my setting. The taboo in my story wouldn’t be incest but miscegenation.

Anti-miscegenation laws were only one of the vehicles used to control non-Whites everywhere in the United States — and especially the newly freed Blacks — during the Reconstruction/Gilded Era years. It wasn’t until 1948 that a ban on interracial marriage was struck down for the first by the California Supreme Court (Perez v. Sharp) and not until 1967 were bans on interracial marriage declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court (Loving v. Virginia). Miscegenation would be the perfect taboo to use in my story about the struggle of African-Americans to survive and thrive in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

I don’t know if my story will have the power and beauty of Wagner’s or any of the works other artists have crafted to enlighten as well as entertain, but at the very least I hope my story will celebrate the triumphs of former slaves and African-Americans born free who claimed their share of the American dream.

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…


Pastor Morton’s wagon pulled away from Harvest Home’s front porch only after Mary bolted her cabin door.

She lit the kerosene lamp then waved goodbye to him and his passengers through the window. The lamp remained on the sill, not in welcome but in warning.

Its glow flickered over the revolver she kept nearby. She’d been taken by surprise in Weston. She’d never be taken without a fight again.

She gave the gun barrel a pat then skipped toward the kitchen, a spring in her step. A hope in her heart. The refrain of Good Night Ladies played happily in her mind.

Good night ladies. Good night ladies. Good night ladies, we have to leave you now.

Home at last, she’d see if meeting Eban meant this night would be good.

Since her ordeal, her sex rivaled the Chihuahuan Desert in dryness. Yet Eban’s gaze had summoned the fragrant flow that even now moistened her core. Could it be her body had finally healed? She swayed, dizzy with expectation.

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