From Me and Mine to You and Yours

From C. R. Richards

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Have You Experienced the Unexplained? – Guest Post by Dunham Raynor

Paranormal Activity – An event or power that scientific laws cannot explain. Thought to involve unknown forces…

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A sudden chill along your spine as you stand atop a darkened staircase. Distant footsteps in the next room when you’re sure no one else is home. The eerie feeling someone is standing just out of your line of sight. Are these sensations products of imagination? Or is something unexplained waiting in the darkness? As a psychic hounded by the Dead, I can attest many supernatural phenomena are real. Others, however, can be credited to bouts of fantasy. I have the benefit of visual proof given to me by the Ouroboros.

If your inclinations tempt you to indulge in Halloween festivities this year, my dear reader, then be wary of the shadows. Heed my advice and search for the signs.

Signs of Paranormal Activity

  • Floating Ghost Lights or Orbs – Many a nighttime traveler glimpses ghost lights floating in the distance. They could be residual energy from a soul chained to our Earthly Realm. Or it may be a devilish will-o’-the-wisp trying to lead you astray. Trust your own lantern, Friend.
  • Shadow People – Have you ever fancied you’ve seen a human-shaped shadow just at the edge of your vision? Experts debate whether these Shadow People act as guides or have bad intentions for those who see them. I do my level best to ignore them.
  • Sudden Temperature Drops – Openings in the Veil between the afterlife and our Earthly plane cause a plummet in temperature. Life is warm. Death is eternal cold for those who don’t pass on.
  • Unexplained Feelings of Dread – Some souls are sensitive to the supernatural. Trust your instincts. They may just keep you from evil.
  • Disembodied Sounds – Hauntings usually occur when a ghost has a strong attachment to a place. You may hear footsteps or laughter from stranded souls trying to cling to their former lives.
  • Items Moving of Their Own Accord – Poltergeists are vexing. They rarely listen to reason and insist on clinging to a place or person that no longer wants them. Do not engage, as they can be extremely dangerous.

A warning, my friends: the list of signs I’ve provided is not comprehensive. We are in the season of monsters and mayhem. The safest place is in your bed, under the covers. Then again, if you are a kindred spirit and seek out the bizarre, Halloween is the perfect time to explore the fantastical. If you dare!

Dunham Raynor’s adventures can be found in his documented exploits, THE VENGEFUL DEAD.

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What Type of Halloween Fan Are You?

So, you think you’re a Halloween fan? Take the quiz to see how you rank in the Spooky Season Fandom. And don’t forget to put your results in the comments section. We’re curious to see how many hardcore Halloween fans are out there.

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Halloween Fan Quiz

Question 1 – Summertime is here, and you are thinking:

  • Does this beige shirt go with my beige shorts? (0 points)
  • Should I have hamburgers or hot dogs for the July 4th BBQ? (1 point)
  • Halloween is three months away. I better start decorating soon. (2 points)

Question 2 – I put my Halloween decorations up on this date:

  • Dude. I never take them down! (2 points)
  • Halloween decorations are for little kids. (Negative 20 points! Kidding. 0 points)
  • I love celebrating the season by putting my Halloween decorations up on October 1st. (1 point)

Question 3 – I ___ when Trick or Treaters come to my house on Halloween:

  • Shut the lights off and lock the door. (0 points, and shame on you!)
  • Usher guests into the Haunted Maze I built in my garage. (2 points)
  • Hand out awesome candy and make a fuss over their costumes. (1 point)

Question 4 – Halloween night is over, and you:

  • Start planning your next Halloween Party on November 1st.  (2 points)
  • Procrastinate about putting away your Halloween decorations until the weekend. (1 point)
  • Nothing. It was just another day. (0 points)

Add those points together, and see below for your results!

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Halloween Fan Quiz Results

Hardcore Hellion (6 to 8 points) – You are the Halloween Star of your neighborhood and everybody’s favorite house to visit. Well done!

Moderate Monster (4 to 6 points) – Welcome to the Fun Group! You are a Halloween Fan and are a blast to be around during the Spooky Season. However, you don’t go overboard. So many holidays, so little time.

Dead On Arrival (0 to 3 points) – You need a pumpkin spice and candy corn infusion, Stat!

Please share your results in the comments. I’d love to hear from my fellow Halloween Lovers!

My 2022 Spooky Season Recommended Reads

Happy Spooky Reading! N.Savranska @ adobe.stock.com

Nothing ushers in the Spooky Season for readers like a nail-biting, nerve-shattering whopper of a scary story. I’ve found three book series guaranteed to make your hair stand on end.

Avery and Carter Book Series by Shane Carrow (Nail-biter)

I promise you that the vampires and werewolves in this series aren’t sparkly! These classic monsters deliver terror. Both books are fast-paced and riveting. I stayed up way too late finishing the stories.

VAMPIRE ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

WEREWOLF ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Lance Brody Series by Michael Robertson Jr (Engaging, Heartfelt Characters)

Lance Brody was conceived in a graveyard…Thus begins the interesting life of Lance Brody. He’s a unique character who has a special relationship with the Dead. Forced to leave his hometown 24 hours after a terrifying personal tragedy, Lance begins a journey driven by his unique powers. I don’t want to drop spoilers and ruin the series for you!

DARK BEGINNINGS – Prequel. *Highly recommend reading this before Book 1.

DARK GAME – Book 1

James Asher Series by Barbara Hambly (A Thinker. Requires Patience)

Former spy for Queen Victoria, James Asher, has settled into a new life as a professor and married man. He returns home one night to discover a vampire in his house. The creature demands Asher help him find out who is murdering the vampires of London. His wife’s life is at risk if he fails. Summon your patience for this engrossing read. The book can be slow in places. However, the author masterfully incorporates historical details to make this an interesting read worth finishing.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT – Book 1

May your cider be hot and your reading spooky!

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What’s With the Bunny?

Bunnies, Bunnies everywhere! I confess I am an avid participant in the bunny decor madness this time of year. Who can blame me? Bunnies are adorable with their fluffy tails and floppy ears! Every time I see a cute image of the Easter Bunny, I can’t help but say, “Aww!” Kinda ironic since I’m seriously allergic to hare hair.

Bunnies evoke thoughts of new birth and springtime. Put a bunny, a chick, and a little lamb on a piece of paper, and you have yourself the perfect “Welcome Spring” greeting card. These images are a sure sign Easter can’t be too far away. Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Easter Bunny? The obvious answer begins with ‘chocolate’ and ends with ‘candy egg.’

                                                                                                                            

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Origins of The Easter Bunny

Popular theories suggest German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania way back in the 1700s brought the Easter Bunny from the old country. Their “Osterhase” was an egg-laying hare. Little tikes used to make nests for the Osterhase to lay its eggs. However, the American Candy Industry flipped the script and promoted baskets instead for holding their Easter-themed treats.

Great. Now I’m craving a chocolate-covered marshmallow egg, but I’ll settle for some wonderful seasonal reads instead.

My Top Suggested Readings for The Season

NOTE – We’re talking bunnies here, so it may be a temptation to read to the kiddos. I’ve included a suggested rating system to help you determine if these recommendations are little bunny friendly.

My Emotions Rating

Happy Bunny – Light, Uplifting

Raw Rabbit – Dark, A Bit Disturbing

Recommended Reading About Bunnies

  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (Happy Bunny)
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams (Raw Rabbit)

Recommended Reading About New Beginnings

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Mostly Happy Bunny, but a few darker spots)
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Mostly Happy Bunny, but Adult Bunnies only in some parts)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Happy Bunny)
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (Happy Bunny)
  • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (Happy Bunny)

On My Reading List

  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald

Have a Happy Easter and a wonderful Spring!

Move Over James Joyce – The Ladies of Ireland Are on It This Month

Each year as the calendar’s page flips to March, showers of green shamrocks and leaping loads of leprechauns spread across our social media feeds. And why not? Thanks to Saint Patrick, everybody is Irish in March.

Rock of Cashel (Irish Carraig Phadraig – St. Patrick’s Rock) – @Marek Stock.Adobe.Com

This month, however, is more than green beer and chocolate coins. March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and supporting other women creatives, I’d like to encourage you to explore the works of splendid Irish Women Authors.

Three Irish Women Writers to Read This March

  • Maeve Binchy – Circle of Friends
  • Tana French – In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)
  • Elizabeth Bowen – Death of the Heart

And Remember…

St. Patricks Day Doggie – @Williee Cole

May you have love that never ends,

Lots of money, and lots of friends.

Health be yours, whatever you do,

And may God send many blessings to you!

P.S. – may you have the wisdom and good fortune to read yarns by Irish Women Writers too.

My Top Three Favorite Messed-up Love Stories

Messed-up Love Stories juliamikhaylova – Adobe.Stock.com

Valentine’s Day honors LOVE with chocolates, flowers, and romance. Most of us celebrate in some way, whether it’s dinner with our honey, chocolate hearts for the kiddoes, or fluffy toys for the fur babies. Romance month is big business. Consumers have countless venues for indulging their sentimental side in February.

What about those of us who avoid the typical easy path to a happy ending? Hallmark movies just won’t do for us! We want tragedy, sweet suffering, and – dare I say – an unhappy ending sometimes. Here are my top three favorite tragic love stories with their film companions. Note: The book is always better than the movie!  

My Top Three Messed-up Love Stories

Cyrano de Bergerac by Emond Rostand

Brave soldier and romantic poet Cyrano has fallen in love with his beautiful cousin, Roxanne. Cyrano, a confident soldier with a keen wit, fears his large nose will stand in the way of his love for her. He remains too shy to express his feelings. Then the worst happens. Roxanne and Cyrano’s friend, the handsome Christian, fall in love with each other. Cyrano, standing aside for friendship, uses his own words to woo Roxanne on Christian’s behalf.

This story is a must-watch/read for anyone who has stepped aside for friendship’s sake.

Upcoming Film Cyrano starring Peter Dinklage (Releases February 25, 2022)

Death On the Nile by Agatha Christie

The original “Fatal Attraction” story. Boy meets girl. Boy dumps girl for her beautiful rich friend. Girl stalks boy and his new wife like a crazy person. Somebody ends up murdered. What I like best about this story is Hercule Poirot’s compassion for the crazy stalker. Having lost his own love when young, he tries to help her let go.

This story is a must-watch/read for Agatha Christie fans. I can’t wait to see Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot again.

Upcoming Film Death On the Nile starring Kenneth Branagh and Gal Gadot (Releases February 2022)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Following Jane Eyre through her life struggles could cover so many topics. People see her as plain and ordinary, including her abusive aunt. She goes through sickness, poverty, and heartbreak. Yeah. You guessed it. The story is a real tearjerker. We finally think Jane finds her place at last when she goes to work for Edward Rochester. They fall in love, but Edward has a secret that destroys their happiness.

Classic version: Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles (Released 1943) * I realize there are newer film versions but watching Orson Welles as Edward Rochester is epic!

Try something different this Valentine’s Day. Go for the messed-up book or movie. But, don’t forget the chocolate and tissues.

Are You a Neal Page or a Del Griffith?

Enjoying the 1987 John Hughes classic Trains, Planes and Automobiles is a tradition in my house on Thanksgiving week. Uptight Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. The worst happens when his flight is rerouted to Kansas and he is forced to travel with chatty shower curtain salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). Things go from bad to worse after the duo is robbed while sharing an awkward (but funny) night in a motel.

I belly laugh during this movie every year! Having spent over fifteen years traveling for work, I recognize both characters from my own experiences. If I’m being honest, I relate with control freak Neal. I’ve learned to travel light. The more stuff you bring, the more stuff you must carry through airports. BUT – I think all of us would like to be a little more like Del. He has a jovial charm and a kind heart.

So which kind of Holiday Traveler are you?

Your suitcase and belongings are:

A – Minimal, tidy, and individually wrapped like string cheese

B – Thrown into your bag like last week’s laundry

During the flight to your holiday destination, you:

A – Put your headphones on, lean back and pretend to be asleep like an antisocial hermit

B – Wake up headphones hermit and ask him all about his life whilst you are eating the sandwich you bought at the airport

After One Night’s Stay, your Hotel/ Motel Room looks like:

A – Nobody slept in the bed or unpacked their things. Housekeeping wonders if you’re a spy

B – A crime scene! All your stuff is scattered across every square inch of flat surface

Results:

If you chose mostly “A’s” then you are a Neal Page. Welcome to the Club, friend!

If you chose mostly “B’s” then you are a Del Griffith. I may not want to travel with you, but I want to be your friend!

If you ended up with an even “A” and “B” result, then Gobble, Gobble. Take it again because something went wrong!

Commemorating the Santa Fe Trail 200th Anniversary

Most folks living in North America learned about the Santa Fe Trail as children in school. Opened as a commercial route in 1821 by William Becknell and his party, the Santa Fe Trail grew to become a critical trading lifeline between Missouri and New Mexico. Our memories conjure images of pioneers riding across open country in covered wagons. Hollywood’s version of history also influences our perception of life on the trail. But it is the real experiences of travelers who dared journey on the Santa Fe Trail that I find the most fascinating.

Living in the Rocky Mountain West most of my life, I assumed I had a good understanding of the Santa Fe Trail and its history. I’d driven the byways in Southern Colorado and New Mexico often enough. However, while researching my upcoming historical fantasy novel, THE VENGEFUL DEAD, I came to understand how little I knew of what life was really like for the pioneers and traders.

Over the next few months leading up to the release of my book in 2022, I’ll be sharing interesting facts about the Santa Fe Trail and other locations from the setting of THE VENGEFUL DEAD.

If you’d like to learn more about the Santa Fe Trail and its 200th Anniversary (1821 to 2021), please visit https:/santafetrail200.org