Tuesday Tales: From the Word STORM

Welcome to the last Tuesday Tales post of 2022. It’s so hard to believe another year has passed. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Today’s word prompt is STORM. Since I know you’re all on the edge of your seats, anticipating what else Selma will reveal, here you go. Enjoy!

Anca’s heart went out to the grandmother she’d never known who must’ve suffered so horrendously. Had Hester’s presence in the house made things worse? Before she could ask, Aunt Selma continued.

“While Father did his best to make her happy and somehow coax her back to being the girl he married, eventually, her volatile nature, as destructive as any tropical storm, was too much for him. I was ten when he divorced her, moving himself and Cole Enterprises’ head offices to New York City, giving her Cole Cottage and Black Swan, and providing her with a healthy allowance, as well as a staff to look after us and the house. Despite the fact that it was hers, we never returned to New Orleans, almost as if by throwing his gift in his face, she could show how much she’d come to hate him, herself, and us. Love and hate are both sides of the same coin. When Russell turned twenty, he enlisted in the army, unable to deal with the oppressive nature of living here, with Mother’s fits, accusations, and tantrums. She went ballistic, accusing him of abandoning her just as her mother, her father, and Rafe, my father, had done. She terrified me, running through the house, breaking, and destroying everything she could, setting fire to the photographs, Russell’s clothing. Nothing could stop her, not the staff, not even Hester.”

Anca swallowed. “I know you don’t mean the parrot. I heard it belonged to your mother.”

Aunt Selma shook her head. “Actually, the bird didn’t belong to either of us.”

“Then was it the ghost’s fault—and yes, I do believe there is one.” She bit her lips. “I haven’t seen her, but I’ve heard her. Did she fuel your mother’s delusions?”

Aunt Selma nodded. “Good. It’s about time you opened yourself up to the truth. Hester has been here for over 300 years, sharing this house with countless generations of Coles. She’s managed to live peacefully with them, usually by not letting anyone know she was there. To my knowledge, she’d never manifested to anyone until the day my mother attacked me. Before she could hurt me, Hester appeared. Mother fainted. The servants who hadn’t seen the ghosts found me cowering under the table and took me to the neighbors.”

Anca gasped. So much violence, so much misery. No wonder Aunt Selma had never shared this with her.

That’s it. Stay safe, have a Happy New Year’s Eve, and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word STARS

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. With Christmas less than a week away, I’m sure some of you are scrambling to get things done just as am I. Let me take this time to wish all of you a wonderful holiday. Enjoy time with your friends and family. I know I will.

I’m continuing with Selma’s story.

Anca reached over and touched her aunt’s arm.

“I know what you’re thinking, but you could be wrong. You told me that not every soul stays behind because it’s in pain. Some are tied to this plane because of unfinished business. Others are lost because of the suddenness of their passing. Everyone knows plantations thrived because of the free labor of slaves stolen from their homes, but not every plantation owner or overseer was a Simon Legree. There could be many reasons why the place was ‘occupied’ as it were. Some could’ve been soldiers who died during the Battle of New Orleans in 1814; others might have been both soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the Civil War, and you can’t discount the Yellow Fever epidemics which claimed thousands.”

Aunt Selma shook her head. “For years, I tried to convince myself of that, but there was something that ate at me. Had I embraced the Goddess then, I might’ve understood more.” She sighed. “My grandmother died shortly after my mother’s birth. Distraught, my grandfather entrusted the sickly infant to Seraphine, a woman who dabbled in the religion of her ancestors. While voodoo itself need not be dark, there are those who delve into that side of it. Still the child grew strong, healthy, and beautiful. The difference in her didn’t show until later.”

She wanted to beg her aunt for more details about the sickly infant but sensed that she needed to wait. When Aunt Selma told a story, it was a lot like watching the stars come out at night. You had to be patient. First, the planet Venus would appear, and then, one by one, the others would shine their light into the darkness. In a similar way, she dropped the main point and then slowly added the details, drawing amazing pictures with her words.

“My brother, Russell, was seven when I was born. My birth was a difficult one that changed her, almost as if I’d drained the joy and life from her. She aged, her hair turning white almost overnight. She became a vicious shrew prone to bouts of jealousy, fits of anger, days of deep depression, delusions, and paranoia. The only time she was ever content was at Black Swan. The place somehow rejuvenated her. My father didn’t blame me, but I knew deep down that Mother resented me, although it wasn’t until the end that I understood why.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

Welcome to Tuesday Tales’ December picture prompt post. I’m continuing with my paranormal romance, slowing things down to whet your appetites for more. Since this is picture prompt, here’s my picture.

Aunt Selma smiled. “Everyone controls some kind of energy, Anca, but they don’t realize it or understand how to use it.”

“What was your father’s talent?”

“His ability lay in his unswerving knack of getting the best deals he could and making money, a modern-day King Midas, if you like. The Great Depression destroyed a lot of companies, but Cole Enterprises never faltered.”

“He must’ve been able to tell when someone was lying or trying to swindle him,” she mused aloud.

Aunt Selma smiled. “Yes. I’m sure he could read people as well as you can.”

“What about your mother? If everyone has power, what was hers?”

“Sadly, my mother was a tortured soul. She hated it here in what she called a barren wilderness, but she had a way with plants, an incredible green thumb like no other, managing to grow the most beautiful gardens in the area, herbs and flowers that should never have survived let alone thrived here. I inherited some of that magic, but for many years, her gardens flourished as if she were still tending them.”

“Did she make elixirs, too?”

“No, but she did use some of her herbs for teas and cooking. Mom disliked New England’s weather,” Aunt Selma continued, “and we usually spent the winters at Black Swan, the family’s plantation outside of New Orleans, converted into a hotel a few years after my birth. While she seemed to blossom there, I disliked the place. It was filled with dark energy. Had I been older and more attuned to the Goddess, I’m sure I would’ve seen hundreds of displaced souls struggling there.” Her forehead creased. “I don’t like to believe that something as good and pure as magic can be manipulated for evil purposes, but something bad happened there. Everything burned to the ground shortly after mother died, almost as if she were the chain holding who knows what in place.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

IWSG Monthly Blog for December 2022

Welcome to this month’s IWSG blog. Wishing all of you the happiest of holidays. So, far, this year appears to be almost back to normal, and let’s hope it stays that way. While I still wear my mask in certain places and crowded stores, make sure my shots are up to date, and try to keep my distance from others even outdoors, this holiday I will get to spend time with loved ones and friends. I hope you all will, too.

This month’s question is a surprisingly complicated one. December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

For me, the holidays are both. Decorating and shopping for gifts takes time–although I still do a surprising amount of that online. My elderly mother’s health has deteriorated, so I’m spending more time with her. Since I will be doing the meal this year, and our eldest son will be home for the holidays, that will add to my day-to-day responsibilities, but after COVID, whatever family time we can get is a bonus. My middle son lives in Norway, so our Christmas visit will be limited to Facetime Christmas Day, but our daughter and grandchildren will be here and that will make the holiday bright.

I’m grateful my husband has recovered from his surgery and although he still tires easily, we will go away for a few days between Christmas and New Year’s.

So where does my writing come into all this? I’ll have stolen moments to work. Honestly, since the surgery, my writing time has been erratic. It’s as if my muse is overwhelmed and needs a break, so I plan to give her one and start fresh in January.

So, wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I’ll see you in 2023. Check out other posts here.https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Tuesday Tales: From the Word SPIDER

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. Wow. Only 15 days until it’s officially winter and 19 until Christmas. I find it so hard to understand why time flies so much quicker as we age. Physics tell me it’s exactly as long as it always was, but my reality says otherwise. This week, our word is Spider which inspired me to share this with you. While I’m not a fan of spiders and webs. I like this legend.

This week, I’m continuing with my paranormal romance.

Anca shook her head. “Before your surgery, you said that you should never have made that promise, that you were afraid … What promise? What frightened you?”

Aunt Selma licked her lips and leaned back in her chair, looking older than her years.

“I was scared I would betray my oath and do more harm than good.”

“It doesn’t matter now. It won’t change anything. You can explain it all to me another time.” There was no point in upsetting her when nothing would change. “Did Walt mention that you’d be moving in his home for a little while until you can manage stairs?”

“He did, and I look forward to recuperating there.” She sighed. “But as much as I hate recalling those early days, you deserve to hear the truth. Life is a lot like a spider, building intricate webs to catch her prey. Hester’s family and ours were nothing but momentarily blips on that gossamer web, but we weren’t the only ones trapped there. Sir Walter Scott was right when he said, ‘what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.’ Our families and others have been deceiving people for centuries, many of us simply to survive. The past with its ignorance and cruelty didn’t accept those who were different well.”

Anca dropped into the chair beside her. “I don’t understand. Isn’t Hester’s family ours?”

Her aunt shook her head. “Yes and no. Let me start with my history and then perhaps you’ll understand. During WWII, my father was a logistics officer for the U S Navy. He visited several cotton plantations in the south, and that’s where he first saw Mother. Althea was a rare beauty with midnight hair and the deepest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. There was something hypnotic about them … He was ten years older than she, but they fell hopelessly, madly in love. He describes her as a friendly, outgoing girl, the life of the party, but somewhat skittish, like a new colt. Within six weeks, they married, and Russell was born less than nine months later. When the war ended, he brought her and my brother back to Salem and returned to managing Cole Enterprises.”

Anca chuckled. It seemed as though this generation wasn’t the first to anticipate their wedding night.

“If your father was the Cole, then he was the one who controlled magic?”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday tales: From the Word STINGY

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. December is almost here and there are only 26 days until Christmas 2022. Where did the year go? This week, our word is STINGY and I’m continuing with my paranormal romance.

“Aunt Selma, I told you before the surgery that I’m not leaving you again. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. As soon as you’re on the mend, I’m going to be working at the clinic with Walt, making use of that degree of mine.”

Her aunt’s eyes lit up and a wide grin split her face. “That’s wonderful! The Tanners and Coles together in partnership again. Hester must be so pleased. She’s waited such a long time for this.” She sobered. “Well, if Colby and I can’t go south, we’ll do our best to have a good time here.”

Anca wasn’t sure what her aunt meant by “partnership again.” Had the families been involved in commerce in the past? And if they’d been successful, would that have fueled the hatred others had for them?

“Walt says you can travel, but he wants you to wait until December, and as for Christmas, maybe I can get a cheap flight down for a visit. You’re going to Aruba this year, right?”

“Yes. We’ve rented a small cottage with a view of the ocean. You don’t have to be stingy. I’ll gladly cover the cost to have you come and visit us. At one time, I thought Colby and I might … might be more, but it didn’t work out that way. The goddess knows what’s best. We just have to be open to her. He’s a good man and a good friend.”

Anca smiled, all the love she had for this woman who’d essentially given up her own happiness for others filling her.

“He is and he cares deeply for you, but I’m sure you know that.”

“I do, and I feel the same way.”

“Love is a beautiful thing … at any age.” She took a deep breath. “Elise mentioned that I look like Russell Cole, my grandfather.”

Aunt Selma cocked her head. “Elise’s brother was Russell’s best friend, but I see more of my father than my brother in you. Both were good men.”

“Then why haven’t you told me about them? I asked you about photographs…”

“And there are none, Anca. Sit. I suppose it’s time for you to know the whole story.” She took my hand in hers. “They were all destroyed. That time in my life was filled with sorrow, but if things are to go as they must … my hands were tied.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

New Covers and a Deal That Can’t Be Beat

Hello. I hope you all enjoyed yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebration. For the holiday season, I’ve put together a book box of the first five Cocktails for You series with their brand-new funky covers. At $9.99, it’s a 50% savings over purchasing these eBooks individually.

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Tequila Sunrise

She left him in stitches before pulling a Cinderella and disappearing. Ten years later, she wants a second chance.

Champagne Cocktail

She wrote a nasty letter to Santa, not expecting he would send a life-sized elf to her door with an offer she can’t refuse.

Buck’s Fizz

She’s determined to control her own destiny and not be a bargaining chip in her father’s business empire.

The Tipsy Pig

A socialite, a lone wolf, a snowstorm, and a pig with a taste for dandelion wine—the perfect recipe for disaster or romance?

Make Mine a Manhattan

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word TURKEY

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. After gorgeous late fall temperatures in the 70s, it snowed last week. Considering we’re just a little more than a month from Christmas Day, it was bound to happen. Hubby is back at work, no worse for the wear and tear, and things are slowly getting back to normal.

With that in mind, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends. It’s been another difficult year, but I’m sure everyone can find something for which to be grateful. I know I can.

This week’s word prompt is TURKEY. I’m continuing with my as yet unnamed but revamped paranormal romance. Thanks go out to my good friend Vicki for this perfect picture to match this week’s scene. This might seem as if it’s coming out of nowhere, but the turkey was mentioned in a scene at the very beginning of the book. What goes around, comes around. Enjoy!

“How did things go last night?” Aunt Selma shifted in the chair.

“Very well. Several people came by looking for you and your elixirs, including Elise Melrose.”

“Ah, yes. I forgot to mention that she would be coming by. The poor thing is so stressed. Such a sad event. It breaks Hester’s heart as well as mine. There’s a case of premixed Number 27 in the storage room. I wish there were more I could do for her, but she’s resistant to the goddess, and belief can’t be forced any more than you can talk commonsense to a turkey.”

Anca blinked. “Turkey? What turkey?” Was the anesthetic from yesterday still befuddling her aunt’s brain?

“If I didn’t know better, I would swear it was the same one who’s been pestering this property for as long as I’ve lived. The old tom is the patriarch of that small rafter that lives near the family cemetery. At one time, I thought he might be a reincarnated spirit, but if he is, he was a stubborn old fool before and has remained that way. I had Colby trap him and take him and a few of his hens into the woods a good ten miles from town a couple of weeks ago, and wasn’t the same stupid bird right back there the following week? I was going to ask Hattie to see if one of the ghosts could help, but we’ve all been so busy. That bird is a nuisance and just won’t learn his place. Who knows, maybe one of the hunters will shoot him this year and have him for Thanksgiving dinner. It would serve him right. All I’m trying to do is help him.”

“You mean like you’ve tried to help me?”

Aunt Selma sighed. “I suppose I do, although that wasn’t all your fault. Have you met my guests?”

If it wasn’t her fault, whose was it? There were days when she probably was as dunderheaded as that turkey.

“Yes.” No need to remind her that I’d mentioned that last night when I’d come by. “They aren’t what I expected.” She searched for the right words. “For documentarians and cameramen, I thought they would be more scholarly,” and less thuggish. “I … I wanted to check something on the computer, but—”

“Did you forget the password? I don’t think I changed it. It should be CCottage **13.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. I still have no new name for this piece, but it’s coming along. This week, we have a picture prompt, so our scenes are limited to 300 words. I’m continuing with my paranormal romance with its comedic scenes. Here’s the picture I chose.

Aunt Selma was sitting in the recliner. Beside her sat Trisha Lattice, a member of the coven, dressed like a gypsy. Trisha claimed to predict the future, but with the treasure hunt looming over her, Anca was afraid to ask about hers.

While her aunt’s face was still pale, she wore a cotton-candy colored nightgown with a matching turban. Each of her fingers bore a ring, and large hoops hung from her ears visible at the base of her headdress. She was reading the newspaper while Trisha turned over tarot cards.

“Good morning, Aunt Selma, Mrs. Lattice.” Anca hurried over to the chair and gave her aunt a quick peck on the cheek. “I can’t believe how good you look.”

Aunt Selma chuckled and set aside the paper. “Appearances can be deceiving, but I’m in far less pain than I was. Isn’t it a shame that they decided to tear down the original Cole Shipping offices? I’d hoped to convince the town council that it could be saved. The building looks sound enough, but apparently the underpinning is too weak to sustain it.”

Anca’s ears perked up. If there was a treasure, it could be there.

“Did you say the original building? The one on Water Street?”

“Yes.” She showed me the condemned building sandwiched between two larger ones. “Of course, it wasn’t the one Hezekiah used. He simply worked out of Cole Cottage. Trisha, why don’t you go to the cafeteria and get coffee. I want to talk to Anca about last night, and we would just bore you. Take your time. I’m fine.”

The woman pursed her lips and nodded. She’d probably foreseen this in her cards.

“Anca, you let me know when you leave. We want to make sure the priestess has all the company she needs today.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Happy Book Birthday! Unforgettable Christmas Miracles (The Unforgettables Book 28) Kindle Edition

IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND CHRISTMAS IS ALL AROUND!

Just in time for Christmas reading, the ABB is adding another fantastic box set to its incredible lineup. Read on for a taste of what’s to come in Kindle Unlimited tomorrow and for advanced purchase now!

At this time of year, the fortunate rejoice with family and friends, but there are some who will have to rely on fate for their Christmas blessings. Enjoy stories of how these people find romance. Immerse yourself in their happiness as they delight in their newfound joy on that special day.

Celebrate the season with ELEVEN New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Authors as they spin a variety of romances – second-chances, romantic comedies, smalltown, paranormal, historical, beach-theme love stories, and more – in this Unforgettable Miracles of Christmas collection.

Mimi Barbour: Christmas Is For Everyone – Blizzards, puppies, and lost people. Ginny rescues an old man from freezing and his handsome son saves her and her son from being evicted. Will these strangers discover the true meaning of sharing at Christmas? A smalltown, caring family romance.

Rebecca York: Christmas Captive – His life was in her hands. Was it attempted murder or a boating accident? Psychic nurse Hannah puts her life at risk by investigating the conniving relatives who want to inherit the comatose man’s fortune. A paranormal romance.

Leanne Banks: The Billionaire’s Holiday Proposition– Falling for her had not been in his plans. Would she believe him? A billionaire romance.

Rachelle Ayala: Nick’s Christmas Ride – Nick Jolly’s antique convertible turns into a wild ride when his best friend and secret crush, Hayley, chooses three social media starlets for his Christmas-promotional dates. Two irascible Texas Hold’em playing ancestors, three social media narcissists, an old-time fiddler, and a flying car seems kind of normal for Nick Jolly and Hayley Brockman’s unexpected Christmas Creek romance. A fun romantic comedy.

Stephanie Queen: Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas – What chance does a poor smalltown girl have at a romance with a rich big city boy? Julie and Jack had a special connection a long time ago as kids, but does he remember that time? The magic and charm of the small-town Christmas rekindles their connection, but would her small-town life be enough for the billionaire? A smalltown, second-chance romance.

Josie Riviera: Candleglow and Mistletoe – Their unexpected attraction kindles something as warm and sweet as a holiday candle. But the weight of their pasts could turn the promise of their love to ashes. A smalltown, sweet and wholesome romance.

Susanne Matthews: Forever In My Heart – There’s nothing Michael Branscomb won’t do for his brother, including marrying the woman his twin wronged, but will Callie give him a chance? A contemporary marriage-of-convenience romance.

Traci Hall: Mistletoe Christmas – West Coast – Fireworks ignite when a retired Navy officer inherits a seaside cottage, accidentally burning down the deck his first day only to be saved by a sexy firewoman and the station’s dog. Set in their ways, can Mistletoe over the holiday be the miracle they both need? A contemporary military romance.

Dani Haviland: Chasing Christmas – Only love could be sweeter than freedom. When Samuel arrived to ask her to join his tribe, rescued slave Annie thought her life couldn’t get any sweeter. But it did. 18th century American Native historical romance.

Taylor Lee: Reckoning – Christmas Finale – Nothing will keep Cal from marrying Scarlett, the beautiful blonde media sensation. But the crooked Attorney General is going to try. Romantic suspense.

Nancy Radke: The Bend In the Canyon – His wedding was scheduled in two weeks. Only a miracle could bring them together. A sweet, western romance.

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