After an eventful weekend, (thanks Hurricane Nate) I'm happy to report that all are well here at Seven Sisters Farm. No hens, roosters, biddies, ducks, ducklings, goats or pigs were harmed. The Siberian Husky, Chihuahua and angry parakeet are doing well too. I won't lie, it was a frog-strangler and the winds were incredible but we've seen much worse. Nate was nothing compared to Irma and Harvey yet we feel incredibly blessed to have survived such an ordeal relatively unscathed. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and the well wishes.
As promised last week, I'm sharing a snippet from my new title, Halloween Horror: A Halloween Short Story Collection. In it there are nine original, new stories and one of my favorite but classic stories, Being With Beau. The excerpt below is from the story Maarta's Baby and it's a real scream.
Maarta had never actually seen a goblin but fancied she’d heard one near her mother’s house when she was a small child. Looking out the window now, into the darkness, she wondered if anything looked back. The moon illuminated the fresh blanket of snow that covered the ground around the cottage. It smelled cold and fresh. For a second, she believed she could see a shadow—yes, there! Just there at the edge of the wood! She stared hard and avoided speaking but didn’t see anything else.
“We must build up the fire, Enid.”
“I am warm, mother.”
“We need more light, daughter. We must build the fire.” An unmistakable chill swept over her soul. The urgency grew by the second.
“Mother, we need more wood, and it’s hot in here.” As if he agreed, the baby began to cry again.
“Can’t you stop crying for once, Kristof? If you don’t stop, I’m going to give you to the goblins!” Enid’s little mouth fell open, and as if he understood his mother, the boy quieted and cried softly. A shudder went through Maarta’s body, and her ears began to buzz.
“Mother, don’t say that. Come sit with me and tell me another story. A happy story—please!”
Another wolf howled, this one very near to the house. The hair on Maarta’s arms rose, and she clutched her daughter’s hand as they stepped away from the window. She didn’t want to go outside, especially if there were wolves about, but they needed the wood if they were to keep the light bright through the night. One basket was all she needed. She prayed that Conrad had cut and stacked it already. Maarta leaned over the crib and stared down into the face of her unhappy son. “Be quiet, now, Kristof. I will feed you when I return. I must go out and gather wood. Be good for your sister.”
“Mother, do not leave me here by myself. What if the goblins come?”
She smiled at the child, happy to see that she took the stories seriously. “Then give them what they want, Enid.” The girl whimpered at her answer, and Maarta squatted down in front of her and hugged her. “Hush now. Are you a baby like Kristof? I will be just outside. I will hear the goblins if they come, I promise you, and I have your father’s ax to protect us. Now go, care for your brother.”
The boy wailed loudly again as if he too protested. Maarta covered her thin body with a coat of furs, wrapped her boots and left the cabin.
Just a few minutes away, that’s all I need. Just a few minutes!
The snow crunched underfoot, but her feet were warm in her deerskin boots. She walked to the white clump of wood, which she recognized as the woodpile. Unfortunately, Conrad had not cut the wood, so she would have to do it.
So like him to think of nothing but himself.
If she ever doubted his unfaithfulness, she didn’t anymore. A man who loved his family would never leave them without wood on a cold night. He might as well have sentenced them to death.
The baby howled in the cabin behind her, but all else was silence. Maarta felt the sensation that she was being watched. There was no time to waste! As she chopped wood with her stiff fingers, tears rolled down her cheeks. She had done this—there was no one to blame but herself. Maarta had married a man who did not respect her or her people or her ways. That would change now. She would go home, home to her parents if need be, as soon as she could. She would have to prepare—in secret, of course—but she thought she would remember the way.
Then she heard rustling in the wood and heavy clumps of snow hitting the ground. Yes, there it was again! Rustling and a strange snorting sound! It didn’t sound like a wolf or a bear. Maarta listened carefully and imagined she heard talking, two men talking. No, it must have been three or more, talking in low tones in a language she did not recognize. Foreigners here! She hunkered behind the woodpile and waited, the ax in her hand. Wolves howled, their shrill calls piercing the chilly air. The sounds of breathing were all around her, and whispers—so many whispers! Their voices demanded something of Maarta, but all she could do was fall to her knees and whimper.
And she heard another sound. Kristof’s cries echoed through the woods, and she heard the voices getting louder. Oh no! Are they near the house? Enid will be terrified!
Grabbing her wood and stuffing it in the basket, she began to run toward the cottage with all her might. The cold stung her lungs and her legs felt like stones, but she pressed on. She had to get inside and latch the door. The thick latched wood would keep strangers out. And she had the ax. As she ran, Enid’s name on her lips, she tripped and landed on the ground with a loud thud. Pain shot through her head, and her eyes refused to open.
And then she slipped away, into blackness. As she moved in and out of consciousness, she heard the voices again, and the screams of a child. Was that Enid? The footsteps circled her, the wolves howled, and the deep grumbling of voices filled her ears.
Then she heard nothing.
Leave your comments. Tell me what you think!
Which is kinda crazy since I just hired a talented narrator, Dara Kramer to bring the GCP's story to life. However, with some renegotiating, (Thanks, Dara!) I am definitely working with Tantor and the lovely and talented Dara will be working on Wife of the Left Hand, the first book in the Sugar Hill series. I'll have big news on audiobooks in the next few months. You guys lucked out!
And on that note, just a reminder that The Ghost Lights of Forrest Field (Gulf Coast Paranormal 6) will be out in November. The next book in the Return to Seven Sisters series, All the Summer Roses comes out on the 15th and Halloween Screams, my short story collection comes out on October 30th. It's my goal to continue to release books in the Gulf Coast Paranormal and Return to Seven Sisters series every six to eight weeks. I want to keep faithful readers happy! But I am facing a dilemma and I need your help. I can squeeze in another first book in one of two new series but I'm wondering which. Which do you think?
I absolutely love both these series! Each will be four books but I can't choose which. I need your help.
Help this writer pick her next series,
My completely overworked but extremely talented editor, Lady K, we'll call her, completed All the Summer Roses (Book 2 in the Return to Seven Sisters series) and kindly made it available for pre order. Release date is October 15th so you'll get a double dose of me next month because Halloween Screams comes out on October 30th. I love that!
Speaking of which, I have to confess, I've discovered that short stories are a completely different animal than the novellas and novels I typically write. To be effective, they have to be succinct and you know me. I do like to tell a story, and a backstory...and a flashback. LOL But I am excited about this set of stories. It took me a couple of days to write each one and I think each story is something special. Naturally. I fell in love with one particular story so much that I plan on making it into a novel next year. More about that later.
I had such a great response to the idea I posted on my Facebook page (if you're not there, please check it out) that I'm moving ahead with my Lost Camelot trilogy. Queen Guinevere as a vampire? Holy smokes! Of course, there will be lots of glimpses into the past and a battle for the men she loves, Arthur and Lancelot. Here's the description I posted on FB.
King Arthur is dead and the dream of Camelot has ended. Guinevere thought her life was over, that she would spend the rest of her days in a convent or hidden away in Avalon but she couldn't have been more wrong. Cursed by Morgan LeFay, Queen Guinevere is banished from Avalon and must face the ages alone, hiding in the shadows as a vampire. Through the centuries, she's watched Arthur and Lancelot return over and over again but her love for them both has kept her away. Until now. Morgan LeFay has returned with an ominous threat and once again Guinevere is forced to make an impossible choice but one she cannot avoid. Supernatural forces are arrayed against the once powerful queen but can she overcome them and settle an ancient score?
But, it won't be available until February. I plan on releasing her on Valentine's Day! I can't wait to tell this story and I hope you love it.
For all my ghost story lovers, I'm not leaving my ghosts behind. I'll always have a spooky tale to share with you.
All my best, Monica Leigh Bullock
So the next book in this series, The Ghost Lights of Forrest Field will release in November and that's all the Gulf Coast Paranormal books for this year. Next year, there will be six more with new ghosts, maybe some new team members and of course, much more of Cassidy, Midas, Sierra and Joshua.
Sometime around the first of the year, I'll release the next Gulf Coast Paranormal Trilogy (Volume 2) and that will have all three of the last three books. That book will be available in paperback too for all my tactile readers. (Hey, there's no shame in that.)
And of course, I'm writing on Halloween Screams: A Halloween Short Story Collection. In fact, next week I hope to feature one of those short stories here, so you can get a peek at one of the spooky tales that will be inside the book.
I'm working hard to keep you entertained. And I'm happy to oblige. Till next week!
As many of you know, I lost my brother last month. He was an amazing person one of those rare gentle souls that leave us all too quickly. To say I will miss him is a horrible understatement. Understandably, I took some time off and as a result have shifted some book releases around. I know you're okay with that, many of you have written me, sent cards and I am so grateful. Thank you for all the little kindnesses you sent our way.
Believe it or not, I'm already writing the next one, The Ghost lights of Forrest Field but it's not up yet.
I've sent All the Summer Roses (Return to Seven Sisters Book #2) to my fabulous editor. She's working on that and I hope to have it ready for release in late September, early October. It's a continuation of Carrie Jo's story and I hope you enjoy it. After the loss we all suffered in the last Idlewood book, I know it's been a shaky transition.
Hopefully, you'll be happy to hear that Carrie Jo will head back to Idlewood to help Rachel solve one last mystery concerning Angus. That one will be titled Christmas at Idlewood and I'm not sure about the release date on that. And I'm outlining Beyond Seven Sisters, that's the continuation of Muncie and Calpurnia's story. I'm dying to know what happens next! Just like all of you.
And in case that wasn't enough, I'm writing this!
My first ever short story collection, this one has a Halloween horror theme! Called Halloween Screams: A Halloween Horror Short Story Collection, it is available for preorder and will release on October 30th, just in time for Halloween. One story in particular, Maarta's Baby is a particular favorite of mine. These are all my stories and they are all original. Hopefully, they'll scare a few of you.
I think that's it for now. Excuse any typos as I'm writing this on the fly. Hugs to all of you. I'll share more details as I progress through my writing to-do list.
Monica Leigh Bullock
And all the glorious ghost stories...
Every year I pull out my favorites, Henry James' Turn of the Screw, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and a few others and get my spooky on. I love the creaking doors, the lady in white and even the beautiful vampires with their sparkling eyes.
This year, I'm writing a few spooky tales of my own--an anthology of short stories with a Halloween theme. I have thirty titles selected, basic plots created but I'm not sure how many I'll complete before Halloween. My first short story is called Maarta's Baby. It's set in Medieval Germany and naturally it involves goblins. I thought it would be fun to offer you, Dear Reader something besides ghosts once in a while.
I'm also very excited about beginning my new series, The Belles of Desire, Mississippi. Five girls live in a rotting old plantation, one girl disappears? Set against the backdrop of an old home and small town life in the 1940s, I'm hoping you will fall in love with this trilogy. Other series continue too but I have gotten behind a bit on publishing since the passing of my little brother earlier in the month.
Thank you, to everyone who sent me cards, emails, messages of condolences. It really meant so much to me and my family to know that you cared. My Viking brother is gone now, his battle with MS is over but I look forward to see him again one day on the shores of Valhalla.
As I said at his memorial, "Han var den bästa av oss."
He was the best of us.
Keep the fires burning bright, brother. I will see you again one day.
My journey into self publishing or independent publishing, whichever you prefer, really began in 2008. It was a total fluke. While searching for work, I stumbled upon an online conversation about getting paid for writing. I thought that was "novel" idea, pardon the bad pun and began to do more research. Like you all, I'd seen the scams, "Work at home. Become a millionaire." But there was nothing scammy about what I saw. People were writing all sorts of things, books, blog posts, articles, you name it. And although it was my heart's desire to write a book, I didn't have the confidence to do that yet.
You see, I'd heavily invested in my own skin care and cosmetic business, had a notable level of success but then lost it all when I failed to meet a quota. It was financially and emotionally devastating. I never wanted to be there again. And although they called us "Independent Sales Directors" we were anything but. As a director in this Fortune 500 company, your success depended largely on the success of others in your unit. I spent my time constantly recruiting women to build up my team. I invested in others (which I don't regret) but no matter how hard I tried, I could not maintain the momentum. I felt like such a loser. The economic downturn killed my business and I couldn't fix it. It was a hard lesson to learn.
I can't imagine doing anything else. In fact, I never will. I love telling my stories and because I'm an indie author (Yep, #PoweredByIndie) I can write what I want when I want. I am so grateful for that kind of freedom. I love waking up, grabbing coffee and sauntering to my desk. I love that I don't have to depend on the skills of others to succeed now. I love that nobody can throw me out of the writers club. I love it all. Even the editing. I love this life.
When I explained to the ER nurse how it all happened, (Stepped wrong. Fell on my own ankle. Broke ankle.) he was less than impressed. In fact, my injury was so humorous--and boring--that a few other nurses piped in to offer their suggestions for a "better story." Some of the suggestions were, "I tied up with Rhonda Rousey," and "I miscalculated during my black belt test," just to name a few. They had a good laugh. I had a good laugh but naturally, it got me thinking. And not just about my broken ankle.
My nurses were great but they were completely wrong. I don't need a better story. I like my story. I like that I "took one for the team." Of course, I'd rather not have a broken ankle but at least I earned it doing something I love--spending time with my kids. It was worth it. No, I'm not sailing around the world or getting lost on some tropical island with a coconut drink in my hand but I like where I am now. I like who I am. So although I'm all for a better story, when it comes to writing at least, I like the life I have now. I am very grateful for it. Wouldn't trade it for the world.
It's going to take me a while to heal. I'm told a total of twelve weeks (we'll see about that) but I have my keyboard. I'll get some writing done. I'll let my family wait on me hand and foot. (Yeah, right.) I won't do much Pokemon hunting but at least I have Snorlax now.
Whatever that is.
When Nefret, the mekhma of the Meshwesh, leads her people back to their homeland of Zerzura, everything changes. Forced to make a deal with the determined Queen Tiye, Nefret abandons her tribe and the man she loves to obey the queen’s command. As she takes her place at the Egyptian court at Thebes, she quickly realizes that fate is not through with her yet. A new enemy with a beautiful face is revealed, and Nefret--now Nefertiti--must fight again to keep her place at Amenhotep’s side.
I know many of you are waiting on Seven Sisters Book 6 - THE SUN RISES OVER SEVEN SISTERS. It's well on its way! I will finish this book by the end of the week and then it goes to the editor. So it should be soon, y'all!
I'm also working on a new series called The Sugar Hill series and you can get a sneak peek of the new cover on my Facebook page.
Here's a link to THE KINGDOM OF NEFERTITI. Please leave a review! It helps so much!
I'm a true blue Southern girl who loves living on the Gulf Coast. When I'm not playing the trumpet or hanging out with the people I love, I'm probably daydreaming.
It's really what I do best.
Gulf Coast Paranormal
Haunted Case Files
The Haunting Of Joanna Storm