One great thing about attending the public school system in NYC as I grew up was all the museum trips I took. The Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium were annual stops. Yet none of my school trips had taken me to Hamilton Grange even though it was designated a national historic landmark in 1960 and put on the national register of historic places in 1966. I didn’t discover the Grange until I did an internship year in seminary in 1982.
Coming from a seminarians’ meeting at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, I decided to visit my aunt who lived on 141st Street and Eighth Avenue. Instead of going down 145th, I walked along Convent to 141st. A sad-looking house caught my eye. It sat behind a locked black gate nestled between an apartment building and an imposing church. On my right was a statue of Alexander Hamilton. I later learned the house had been where he lived from 1802 until his death in 1804.
All I knew about Hamilton—he was on the ten-dollar bill, had founded the New York Post, and was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr. Decades later, thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, I’d learn the sad circumstances of the song, “It’s Quiet Uptown.” That day, however, only the house and not its owner’s history intrigued me. It looked so out of place with the Harlem I knew: cracked concrete sidewalks, bus exhaust, fish frying from a small hole-in-the-wall shop on St. Nicholas Avenue, my aunt’s Drew-Hamilton housing projects down the hill. Yet the Grange was part of the original Harlem Heights, the suburb to which the New York swells retreated from the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan. Why had the school system never taken me there?
Fast forward to 2012. I now worked with St. James Presbyterian Church two blocks down the hill from the Grange. On my strolls along Convent, I stopped and peered through those gates. No longer troubled by the holes in my public school education, I enlisted my history-inspired romance-loving writer’s muse. I drafted an erotic ghostly encounter with Hamilton entitled Permission. Was I channeling the ghost of Maria Reynolds three years before Lin Manuel Miranda penned “Show Me How To Say No To This”?
When the Grange was relocated to St. Nicholas Park, I snapped a picture of the vacant site. In my writer’s eye, I continued to see the house fading in and out Brigadoon-like in that location and penned an equally erotic ghost story entitled “10,000 Midnights Ago”. In 2018 I got to visit the Grange, read the placards the National Parks Department created, snapped pictures, took notes, fed my muse and revived my ghost stories. Both will now have a home in my Haunted Harlem series of novellas.
Uptown was never quiet for me, but for Alexander Hamilton, it was. In the quiet of those rooms, I heard for the first time how quiet uptown could be.
All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived as “Poor Butterflies:” women still longing for – but deserted by – the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, she fled Harlem for Brooklyn, severing ties with both her mother and with the man who broke her heart, Winston Emerson, the father of her child.
Six years later, Anora returns to make peace, but a malignant spirit manifests itself during the homecoming, targeting her mother, her aunt, Winston and their little girl. Determined to stop the evil now trying to destroy all she loves, Anora must finally turn to Winston for help. But will their efforts be too little too late?
I unlocked my apartment door and gestured toward the bedroom. He carried Cammie inside, laid her down on the bed then stepped back and watched while I helped her into her pajamas. She blinked awake.
“I didn’t brush my teeth or say my prayers.”
I kissed her temple. “Missing one night won’t hurt.”
She pouted. “Promise?”
She looked at Winston from beneath half-lidded eyes and smiled at him.
“You pick me up tomorrow, okay Daddy?”
He shook his head. “No, baby. Mommy will bring you to Grammie Angela’s straight from school. I’ve got to go get our pumpkins.”
“Oh, okay. Pumpkins and party and Sammy,” she whispered and turned over, already asleep.
“Night, night, baby,” he said then kissed her.
I walked him to the door, resolved to say good night and for once not mean goodbye. I didn’t want him to go.
“Stay.” I laid my head against his chest. “We can sleep on the Castro.”
His shudder was rewarding.
“If you only knew how long I’ve wanted to hear you ask me. Jesus.” He laughed, a shy embarrassed sound that gladdened my heart. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.” He took a deep breath. “We shouldn’t. Not tonight.”
“Because I’m not sure we’d be doing it out of love.” He looked at me with a question in his gaze. “I don’t want us to make love because we’re afraid.”
I frowned, my heart heavy, my spirit desperate to disagree, but unable to.
“Okay.” I sighed, but still clung to him. “Not tonight. But soon. And for the rest of our lives.”
“Soon. And for the rest of our lives.”
He cupped my face in both his hands then kissed me in our mutual agreement. Equal parts of nervousness and desire quivered in my belly. I liked the sensation, felt warmed as I imagined what soon would be like.
Though never fully realized by the founding fathers, Rockwell imbued their aspirations in his Saturday Evening Postcovers, especially in his illustrations of FDR’s Four Freedoms. I can’t look at that series and not hear the words to songs of equality like “The House I Live In” or “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” Innocent as those covers seem, Rockwell was saying here’s how the world should be for everybody. Ironically, the Post’s policy wouldn’t extend that equality and respect to black people. Blacks on their covers had to be depicted in subservient positions. Rockwell left the Post in 1963 and accepted commissions from Look magazine where he could portray the flipside of the Post’s America. But sometimes Look found his work too controversial to publish, too. Fortunately, that didn’t happen often.
Criticized for his choice of subject and called a hypocrite and a lying propagandist, Rockwell painted the truth being shown nightly on TV news and revealed daily in newspaper stories about the Civil Rights struggle. I was a kid in the 60’s watching Americans of all races and creeds and religions marching in the streets, being doused by fire hoses and having police dogs turned on them because they believed all people are created equal and deserved to be treated that way.
Rockwell’s 1960s work asked Americans, “Which side are you on?” in the same way Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley and Gil Noble did in their network broadcasts. Sixty years later, these works are asking us the same question. Sixty years later, I hear us answering it in peaceful demonstrations being held all over the world, in paintings on the plywood of boarded-up Manhattan storefronts, in legislation passed to combat police brutality, in court decisions upholding LGBTQ rights. People are answering, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you must become the law of the land.” Despite authorities and administrations trying to divide us, people are answering and choosing to be on the right side of history because “the time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In the 1960s, Rockwell used his work to confront and encourage. May we use our resources to do the same today.
All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived as “Poor Butterflies”: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, Anora fled Harlem for Brooklyn, severing her ties with her mother Angela and with the man who broke her heart, Winston Emerson, the father of her child.
Six years later, she comes back to Harlem to make peace, but a malignant spirit manifests itself during the homecoming, targeting her mother, her aunt, Winston and their little girl. Determined to stop the evil now trying to destroy all she loves, Anora must finally turn to Winston for help. But will their efforts be too little too late?
He nodded thoughtfully. “Why not? Self-hate has bedeviled people of color all over the world for hundreds of years. Being looked down upon because you’re not White, accepting you’re incapable of self-determination because you’re dark and not light is being confronted everywhere. The independence movements in Africa. The Civil Rights movement here. Why wouldn’t it be challenged in your mother’s house?”
I’d listened to sermons about the devil, sung hymns and praise songs to put him in his place. But I’d intellectualized all that. Those were metaphors for the evil humans did. But what if that metaphor represented real energy, energy that had agency, agency that needed to be combatted?
“Come on.” Winston picked up a tray. “Let’s put the pumpkins in the windows. I need some physical activity to balance all this intellectual speculating.”
I took the other tray and followed him into the parlor. We placed a pumpkin on each sill of the bay window then lit the candle inside.
Cammie was right. They weren’t at all scary. Their grins glowed with welcome.
We ascended to the second floor and repeated our pumpkin placement and lighting ritual in each window.
“Winston, if Diana’s spirit is trying to help us, why did she attack you, Elizabeth and my mother?”
“When were they attacked?”
I shared with him my mother’s lame excuses for her broken wrist and the bandage on Elizabeth’s forehead.
He pursed his lips then firmed them. “I don’t think Diana’s spirit attacked them or me.”
“But you said the cold—”
“Is Diana shielding us from another presence, a presence that made the shutters close in her bedroom, that made the cabinet door hit me.” He tucked his empty tray beneath his arm. “What if the cold is Diana’s love, but the energy that attacks has its source in someone else?”
Last summer, the owner of the first publishing house I joined, Liquid Silver Publishing, died. I hated hearing the news because she was a wonderful person to work with. With Liquid Silver, I’d sold, gosh, maybe twelve books and several novellas/short stories in anthologies. It was a good company to work for because they were fair, honest, and they paid on time. With her death came the problem of what to do with the books they still had on the docket. I recently received rights back for all of them. I also received rights back for the one non-erotic book I’ve written, Burning Bridges, written as Anne Krist. What to do, what to do…
I’ve only recently explored the adventure of self-publishing. It’s exciting and scary all at once. Exciting, because I am more in control of my own fate—responsible for quality and timeliness and marketing. Scary, because I am more in control of my own fate—responsible for quality and timeliness and marketing. It seems everything is a double-edged sword. What if I take charge of my own destiny (fun) and screw everything up (scary)?
With Burning Bridges, the book of my heart, I was happy to take the risk because I love the book so much. Reading through to edit and make necessary changes was actually a pleasure. Hubby designed a new cover that I (surprisingly, because I loved the first cover) like better than the first. Uploading the book went off without a hitch. So far, so good.
But when it came to marketing, I was kind of stuck. Do I market the book as new or revised? Should I even mention that it was out before? Anyone looking at the website—or even Amazon, since they can’t/won’t tell their marketplace vendors to remove images and offerings of older versions—will recognize the difference in cover art. And the book already has reviews. Do I use the old reviews in marketing the updated book? None of these questions had I considered before jumping into republishing. (To answer, I decided to use the old reviews in marketing, I noted that the book is republished on the copyright page of the book but don’t make a big deal of it in ads, and I use only the new graphic in messages and marketing.)
Since Burning Bridges, I’ve republished two other books, both written as Dee, and both paranormal: PassionateDestiny and Your Desire. They also have new covers (I think hubby outdid himself!) and have been updated slightly with re-reading/editing. I have about seven or eight more to go if I am to match the books I had on Liquid Silver’s site. It’s a daunting task! As I am repubbing, I’m putting books on Kindle Unlimited. If you are member of KU, I hope you will check them out.
So, is republishing books a PITA or fun? It’s a mix. If I had gone to one of my other publishers—assuming one of them would have accepted the books—it would have been so much easier. They would have taken care of cover art and editing, and I would have had help in marketing. But so far, I kind of like the idea of taking the reins of control for my work. I have found formatting for paperback is a bit of a pain but nothing that can’t be dealt with. The fun comes from reading my own work again. I don’t usually read a book of mine once it’s published. After reading Burning Bridges, Passionate Destiny and Your Desire, I kinda sit and say, “Did I really write that? It’s pretty darn good.” That’s the most fun part! I hope folks will take notice of my marketing and agree!
Burning Bridges: mybook.to/BurningBridges
Letters delivered decades late send shock waves through Sara Richards’s world. Nothing is the same, especially her memories of Paul, a man to whom she’d given her heart years before. Now, sharing her secrets and mending her mistakes of the past means putting her life back together while crossing burning bridges. It will be the hardest thing Sara’s ever done.
Passionate Destiny: https://tinyurl.com/sxy5sfh
When Margaret Amis-Hollings inherits an old house in Virginia, she never suspects she’d be sharing it with a very loving ghost. Or that her interest would be divided between her spirit lover and the very live man who’s renovating the place. Suddenly her life is intertwined with a soldier from a previous century and with his descendant, Aaron, who has a secret concerning her home. Is it coincidence or the power of a past love that makes Aaron want to share her life, as well as her destiny?
Your Desire: https://tinyurl.com/whkqtjf
Your Desire. A mysterious shop appears in town for one reason: to bring the spice of passion and the thrill of love to one special person. Magic is in more than the item purchased—it’s in the heart of the buyer, often hidden, usually surprising. And after enchantment takes hold? The store fades from sight and memory, only to reappear somewhere else. Maybe in your town….
About Dee S. Knight
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex.
After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website (www.nomadauthors.com). Fortunately, Dee’s high school sweetheart is the love of her life and husband to all three ladies! Once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.
People often ask where writers come up with ideas. I usually can’t pinpoint what exactly will spur story ideas, but here’s an example. The other evening, I was mowing the lawn. I got started late, and it’s getting darker earlier every night. My backyard backs up against a wooded area, and the sun had gone down. It was getting darker with every pass, but I wanted to finish. I was walking along, eyeing the forest when I heard a noise. Something was moving fast. I snapped my head around just in time to see a deer go tearing by, between me and the house. I mean, this thing was moving. Deer are usually very graceful, even at high speed. This one was not. He was so close to the ground, he looked like a torpedo, and he was getting ahead of how fast his legs could go. He stumbled, kind of bounced off a rise in the terrain, and shot across the neighbor’s yard back into the woods. Holy crap, did he startle me.
That’s when the questions started. Where did he come from? The forest, for sure. What would have happened if he’d run into me? It would not have been a pretty sight. Deer are not small animals. I was mowing with a large, very noisy piece of equipment. What compelled him to run across the open grass, instead of staying in the tree-line? Deer tend to move in herds. Where were his buddies? Were they out there lurking, too? What else was in there? Had something scarier than a human with a lawnmower made him run for his life? What was scarier to a deer than a lawnmower? Those thoughts all tumbled in my head. The dusk… The crickets chirping nearly as loudly as the lawnmower… The complete disappearance of the deer… Yeah, I didn’t make it for another pass. I quickly ended my mowing task for the night.
I finished the rest of the yard the next day, much earlier in the evening. Would you believe that deer came back? Or maybe it wasn’t him, because this animal was as bold as can be. He moseyed out from the trees, looked at me with my monster mower, shrugged, and started having dinner. He was out in the open, nibbling on grass and leaves the entire time it took me to finish my mowing job. Yes, the questions started again. If he’s so calm around me tonight, was there some kind of predator out there the night before? Why’s he so calm now? Can deer have multiple personalities? What if deer stopped being so timid? What if the deer rose up? Questions, questions, questions… That is how writers come up with ideas.
As you can probably guess from the direction of my thoughts, I tend to write a lot of paranormal romance. My latest is Haunted Hearts, a ghost story. I don’t remember what spurred this story idea, but it was probably a squeaking floorboard or my love of Ghost Hunters or a gust of wind. Anything can generate an idea, but I’m saving that deer. That’s definitely a shifter story.
Does a ghost from the past want the man of her future?
Callie is thrilled when she inherits a house in the small town of Shadow Valley. The house is old and creaky, but she’s not afraid of hard work. Unfortunately, no matter how many repairs she makes, the strange noises won’t go away. Cold spots appear. Lights flicker. Footsteps sound down the hallway. Her nerves are soon so frayed that she resorts to calling the one person in town she hasn’t been able to get along with, bullheaded police chief Carter Landry.
Carter doesn’t have time to investigate things that go bump in the night—although, with Callie, the idea is tempting. He’s busy working with the governor’s task force on a major case and dealing with a rash of petty Halloween crimes. He knows that Callie’s house isn’t haunted… no matter what town legend says.
Still, when her distress call comes in, Carter is quick to respond. He may not believe in ghosts, but someone is intentionally scaring the sassy blonde. And he doesn’t like it. As he investigates, the friction between the two of them ignites into passion… and the strange occurrences in the house subside. But could Carter’s presence be the reason? Callie fears that her sexy cop may be the one the ghost has wanted all along.
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.
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.
It’s a question I’m often asked, especially since my novels cross genres—contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and supernatural romantic suspense.
The answer is simple:
I believe in ghosts. Have I ever seen a ghost? Yes, and no.
I’ve sensed spirits, more than once, in more than one old, abandoned building. When the hairs on the back of my neck and on my arms rise, and there’s no chilly air to explain it, I know I’m in the presence of something supernatural. I’ve caught fleeting glimpses out of the corner of my eye of . . . something. A figure, a shadow, a presence that, when I turn to try and focus on it, evaporates like vapor. More than once I’ve not been alone when this happens, and my companions have had the same experience.
So yes, I do believe in ghosts, or spirits, or whatever your preferred term is. I think there are at least two kinds of hauntings: residual and intelligent. Residual hauntings are shadows of people who lived in a time past (or perhaps in the future). These apparitions are like black-and-white frames from an old movie. They are visible, or can be sensed, but keep playing over and over in an endless loop of whatever they were doing or experiencing when they were alive. You cannot communicate with residual hauntings. Over time, they gradually fade away and eventually disappear.
Intelligent hauntings, however, I believe are spirits who are trapped between this life and the next. They are stuck here, in our conscious realm, for whatever reason: a child or other person dies but does not know they are dead; a person died with some unfinished business here in this realm; they are confused, and don’t know how to “cross over.” Some of these intelligent hauntings can be communicated with, under the right circumstances. Some, angry because they’re trapped in between, can be dangerous (like poltergeists).
“How, since you work in scientific research by day, can you believe in anything paranormal?”
That’s an easy answer as well. There actually is a scientific theory, in quantum physics, of parallel universes. We may well be existing in our own conscious realm alongside those who have passed, who lived long ago, or have yet to be born. In my mind, the quantum theory explains it. Just because we don’t fully understand how it all works doesn’t mean it isn’t the way things are.
“Are your love stories between ghosts? Or between real human beings?”
No, my love stories are between very real, very human, very flawed individuals who all have issues of their own, whether inside or out, they need to resolve. They meet in some location where spirits are trapped. Sometimes they have a hard time believing in the paranormal, but one way or the other, the spirits make believers out of them. And in their quest to free the trapped spirits, they also happen to fall in love.
“Why romance plus the ghost story? Why not just write about hauntings?”
Another easy answer: because I believe in true love, and I believe in a happily-ever-after. I know most people would like to think it can be reality (thus the popularity of the romance genre), but not everyone is lucky enough to find their special soulmate. I married mine over forty years ago and have never looked back.
Also, because these are the kinds of stories I like to read: heart-melting romance laced with the thrills and chill of the supernatural. I couldn’t ever find enough to read, so I started writing my own.
In my newest release, ELECTRICITY, my heroine, Mercedes Donohue, is an electrician who fled her home in Atlanta with her teenage son after a particularly bad divorce. She’s returned to Massachusetts, where she was born and lived up until her teens, when her adoptive parents moved to Atlanta.
My hero, Daniel Gallagher, is also an electrician who works on the same team as Mercy. He has avoided any serious relationships since his fiancé was killed in a car wreck twelve years ago, after stubbornly refusing to take his advice, driving off in a terrible storm. He’s not getting involved with another stubborn, independent woman ever again.
When Mercy joins the team, though, she short-circuits his plans. The electricity between them is simply too strong.
Their first big job together is an old mental asylum, which has its share of secret tunnels and lingering, tortured spirits. Neither Mercy nor Daniel believe in ghosts, so there’s no problem, right?
The spirits of Gravely Hall figure out a way to make them believers.
She’s an electrician starting over with her son. New job. New town. New life.
He’s a coworker who’s interested in more than her ability to run conduit.
The building they’re rewiring was once an insane asylum…but it appears some of the patients never left.
Mercedes Donohue pulled up roots in Atlanta when her marriage imploded. She’s come back to New England, to the place where she was born. Mercy’s focus is to stabilize her teenage son’s life—he took the breakup pretty hard—and to establish her place, gain the respect of Progressive Electrical’s team.
She never expected so many sparks to fly so soon, both on the job and after hours.
Daniel Gallagher has been alone since his fiancé’s death. He’ll never feel that way about any woman again, and certainly won’t try with another independent, strong-willed one. Then Mercy short-circuits his plans.
Although the asylum closed its doors over thirty-five years ago, it seems some of the patients never left . . .
If you like a heart-melting romance laced with healthy dose of supernatural thrills and chills, you’ll love Electricity.
Mercy had gotten to the very last wire when the lightning struck.
At least that’s what it felt like. A burst of blue light momentarily blinded her, and a deafening crack pierced her brain. The force of the jolt blew her backwards and set her ears ringing.
The next few seconds slowed surreally. Dizzy and confused, Mercy, ladder and all, careened away from the wall in silent, slow motion. As if in a dream. No pain, no fear.
Then she landed, flat on her back on the floor, the impact rattling her jaw. Pain shot through her then as the ladder bounced off her chest once, and then settled heavy on top, pinning her to the dust-laden tile.
“DAMN it!” Mercy’s oath blew out with the last of the air in her lungs.
“What the holy hell?” Conner was standing over her in seconds, yanking the ladder off with one hand. The other two men raced over, and Daniel dropped to one knee to hold Mercy down by one shoulder.
“Don’t try to move till you’re sure nothing’s broken,” he muttered.
“I thought you said we were off at the main, Bro! Holy hell!” Jacob was wild-eyed, shoving Conner with one of his gloved hands. “You tryin’ to get us all killed?”
Mercy felt as though a horse had just trotted over her ribcage, squashing one breast under each hoof. The back of her head throbbed even though her safety helmet had protected her from a possible concussion. Her breath was coming in short, shallow bursts. “Let me up, Daniel. I’m okay,” she barked through clenched teeth, wrenching her shoulder from under his grip and sitting up.
She could not, however, feel her left hand. She stared down at the blackened fingers of her glove. Were there still operable digits under the leather? Or just charred stumps?
As though he’d read her mind, Daniel locked a strong hand around her wrist. His eyes flashed to hers once before he said, “I’m going to see what’s going on under here.” Slowly, he pressed on each finger of the glove. “Hurt?” he asked.
Mercy shook her head. “No. They’re numb. Or gone. I can’t feel them at all.”
Daniel sucked in a breath and said, “Not unusual to be numb for a while.” His eyes slid toward hers again, and she hoped he couldn’t see her fear. His gaze was steady, intense. “I’m gonna cut the glove off. Stop me if it hurts, okay?”
Mercy watched, holding her breath as Daniel wielded a pair of snips from his belt and began clipping away at the wristband of her glove. He worked methodically, gently, cradling her hand on his knee the whole time. Once he’d opened the entire back of the glove, he turned her hand over and did the same on the palm side.
He took a deep breath as he slid the cutting tool back into his belt, then raised his eyes to hers. “You ready?”
Mercy swallowed and nodded. Daniel grabbed the edges of the leather and gently worked the covering free.
She let out a whoosh of relief when she looked down on five fingers, only slightly reddened, complete with intact fingernails. They were still numb but began to tingle as she flexed her knuckles.
“Good gloves you got there,” Daniel mumbled. He flashed her a narrow gaze. “Forgot to use your tester first, huh?”
Mercy snatched her hand away, fury flaring in her chest. “I used the damned tester on the main feed, and on the first three fuses, like I always do. How the hell was I supposed to know there was more than one source to the freaking panel?”
About Claire Gem
Contemporary, Romantic, Soul-Freeing
Claire is an award winning-author of supernatural suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing. Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards.
Claire loves exploring the paranormal and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from Duke University’s Rhine Research Center. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.
A New York native, Claire now lives in Massachusetts with her husband of 40 years. When she’s not writing, she works for Tufts University in the field of scientific research. She is available for seminars and media interviews and loves to travel for book promotional events.
Since I live in a 200-year-old house, I’d have to say I do. In fact, I think these “sprits of the past” are the ones who helped me bring my new novel Lacewoodto life.
They didn’t haunt me by moving things or slamming doors, yet somehow I know they’re here. They have to be. People lived in this place. Had babies here. And died here.
Wondering about the lives they lived was the initial spark that got me started on this novel—along with one other strange occurrence. I began noticing sycamore trees while driving to work. Suddenly, they were everywhere…stretching their ivory white limbs up to the sky in the distant fields. Most people would ignore this sudden fascination, but being an author, I knew it was the prodding of my writing angel (that’s what I call her)—and I don’t ignore the writing angel.
After doing some research, I discovered that sycamores have quite a history—all the way from the Bible to the American Civil War. I also stumbled across a reference that referred to sycamore trees as lacewood.
Lacewood sounded beautiful…like the title of a novel. This was wonderful news, because I usually struggle with a book’s title long after it is completed. The bad news was…that’s all I had.
Staring at a blank computer screen brought to mind the image of a house beyond a gate that was deserted for some reason. I decided the house must have secrets—but I had no idea what they were. From the beginning, I envisioned a portrait on the wall with a second portrait missing. Unfortunately my writing angel didn’t tell me who the portraits were of or why one was missing…
Back to the house I live in. I searched for years for “just the right house,” and finally bought the one I still live in (even though it only had an outhouse at the time). After doing some research, I discovered it was owned by a Revolutionary War captain, whose family was among the original founders of the town of Gettysburg and surrounding county.
Many years later, while visiting a local cemetery, I noticed the last name of the former owner listed as a middle name of one of my ancestors. I soon found out that my grandmother’s kin married this man’s kin, so that this wonderful house that took me so long to find, belonged to someone in my own past.
Random chance? Or grand design?
If you read Lacewood, you’ll get a glimpse of how the spirits of the past seem be the ones directing us all along…
To learn more about Lacewood, watch the 1-minute video trailer here. The Launch Week price of $3.99 ends on June 23.
A love story that spans centuries…
Two people trying to escape their pasts find a connection through an old house—and fulfill a destiny through the secrets it shares. Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.
MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.
Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.
The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.
A powerful and poignant tale that vividly conveys the heartache of war, the tragedy of loss, and the fulfillment of destiny…even when souls are separated by centuries. Lacewood takes readers on a journey that connects the past with the present—and the present with eternity.
Turning in a circle, Katie studied the room again. Faded wallpaper curled and peeled above the dusty wainscoting, but the walls themselves appeared sturdy. On the far side of the entryway, and dominating the wall, stood a mammoth fireplace with an ornately carved hearth. Her attention was immediately drawn to a painting of a woman in nineteenth century dress that hung prominently over the mantel.
“Who is she?”
The sheriff turned to the dusty, sun-bleached portrait in the heavy carved guilt frame. “One of the previous owners, they say.” He shrugged. “The family history kind of got lost with the house. Everyone around here calls her the Widow of Lacewood.”
Katie stood spellbound. The woman was clothed completely in black, but the magnificence of the gown gave the impression of sophistication and class. Her chin was slightly elevated as if to project strength, yet there was more than a hint of sorrow and pain in her eyes.
“She looks so sad.” Katie spoke without removing her gaze. “And so young. How could she be a widow?”
The sheriff had already started to walk away, but he turned back and glanced at the painting. “Not sure, but they say she never remarried.”
Katie’s heart suddenly struggled to beat. The anguish in the woman’s eyes kept her riveted. She could see the pain. Feel a heart ripped apart. Something was missing that could never be replaced. Katie had felt such loss before. In a way that’s why she was here.
Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day.
She is a three-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.