My mother used to live close to Gettysburg, PA. near the old battlefield. I talked to her every day on the phone and she’d tell me about her previous night’s experiences. A few of these stories, I experienced when I was visiting.
Here is one I remember.
One night Mother had trouble sleeping and saw a parade of people walking through her bedroom. They were all dressed from different eras, and all were different ages. She slowly rolled over to look at her clock to make sure she was awake. There were men and boys dressed in Civil War military clothes and also women that looked about her age and were badly beaten. These women wore long dresses and aprons. There were bruised and battered children passing through in their short pants and calico dresses. Besides these older eras, there were others dressed in World War I, II or later dressed in camouflage uniforms. Some were missing limbs and some had half of their faces blown off. Some people were in one piece with not a bruise or cut on them. All of these ghosts walked into her room through the bedroom door (which was closed), across the room, and out the wall facing the front yard.
She told my brother and sister-in-law about it the next morning at breakfast. At the time, my brother worked at a college. At work, he talked to a professor of the paranormal and asked what was happening. He said that my mother’s bedroom was a portal from this world to the next and that these spirits were just passing through.
That year, I stayed there over Christmas. It was a nice vacation for me. Since my brother hadn’t any pets at the time, he asked me to bring my cat with me. Against all of my objections, I slept in Mom’s room, and she slept on the living room couch. I had the high light on since I was reading with my cat curled up at the bottom of the bed. I glance at the cat once. Not a hair on her body was moving. but her head was following something (or someone?) from the bedroom door to the wall that faces the front yard. I couldn’t see them. I suppose it was because the light was on, but I felt the presence. My cat and I weren’t alone in that room!
Thank you, Deb, for this exciting tale. You'll have to tell us more another day.
In downtown McKinney stands a tribute to North Texas history. When a new Collin County Courthouse was built, the old one became the home of the McKinney Performing Arts Center, and now provides live entertainment. Last year, the wonderful ladies that oversee MPAC provided me with a tour of the building.
The old courthouse, by order of the judicial system, belongs to the people of Collin County. Since it can never be closed off to its owners, the east door remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Its called the People's Entrance. An iron gate separates the foyer from the rest of the building when MPAC offices or theatre are closed, but the foyer with a water fountain, restrooms, literature, and media board are never closed to the public.
Ghost legends abound in many downtown McKinney buildings. Self-guided tours will take place during the McKinney Ghost Walk on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25 in 2014. During that time, the tale will be told of the sightings of the lady in white at the old courthouse. The courthouse was the site of the last public hanging. That, in itself, raises the eye of paranormal enthusiasts.
During my private tour, I learned the story propagated by local people of the lady in white. Frequent sightings keep the story alive. In 1890, a young divorcee, last name Winslow, was found hung in the courthouse. It was never proven whether she was murdered or if she hung herself. She lived as an outsider with the pain of isolation because of her divorce. She was known to play the organ.
At night, organ music has been heard coming from the second floor. The theatre is located there and houses a mighty Wurlitzer - Vintage theatre pipe organ. Different ones have spotted a woman leaving the organ as they entered the theatre, but when they follow her down the hall, she disappears.
Others claim a view of the lady in white overlooking the eagle on the east side. Back in 1890 when Ms. Winslow died, the courthouse had a clear view of her home site to the east near the cotton mill. Now the bank with an eagle statue on top hides where she used to live.
The second book in my YA ghost series will be released soon by 4RV Publishing. The title is A Ghost for Shelley. Shelley, the mean, all-country girl in the first book, Victoria and the Ghost, moves to Dallas. She and her dad clean the old Collin County Courthouse. Ridden with bitterness and guilt, Shelley adds fear to her list of emotions when she is visited by the "lady in white."
My first Weird Wednesday ghost tale wound its way to me several years ago when I first moved to Wichita Falls, Texas. Clara is certified as a ghost town about 30 miles northeast of town. On a lazy afternoon joy ride, my husband and I discovered Clara Cemetery, a well-cared for oasis in the middle of the sparsely-populated North Texas plains.
We entered the archway to the cemetery and walked the concrete paths to view graves marked mostly by German surnames. Set out in the middle of nowhere was this cemetery, a church, and a rectory. I researched the area. Many former occupants now live in nearby Burkburnett, Texas, and any children are bused into Burkburnett schools. I interviewed several such as Raymond Schroeder and Phoebe Todd. The North Texas historian, Dick Vallon, shared history on the area. The town once sported a post office, a school, a general story, and a bustling population.
What's more interesting than a ghost town in your backyard? I learned the answer; a ghost legend that sprang up from the area.
Clara, Texas was founded by a German, Colonel Hermann Specht. Texans gave him the title but he was never in the military. Colonel Specht was instrumental in moving Germans from several states to North Texas. His dreams were high, and he set about to make them come true. He named the town after his beloved wife, Clara.
Colonel Specht's life faced a tragic end. He traveled to visit his brother in Germany. World War 1 broke out, and he was stranded. He died for away from the land of his dreams.
A woman by the name of Dorothy Crowder probably started the ghost legend in her book "Tales of the Red River Valley." Here's an excerpt:
The ghost of Colonel Hermann Specht can be seen on foggy nights walking between the headstones at the Clara Cemetery. Specht's back is rigidly straight in a military bearing, but he has a distinctive limp as he drags his left leg behind him. He is over six feet tall. His clothing includes a Prince Albert coat with boutonniere in the left lapel. Specht uses a cane to support himself. His face is gaunt, his eyes sunken. When he turns to see who dares to follow him, he shows no animosity, only sorrow. For Hermann Specht was a man who had a dream which withered and died before it was born.
... Colonel Herman Specht's ghost came into being one October morning when a reporter from KAUZ-TV called to ask if there were any good ghost stories in Burkburnett. He was told, "no, not in Burkburnett, but there is in Clara."
And, so the story spread.
When I discovered it, my granddaughter, Victoria, was going through her rebellious teens. As I love to do, I asked myself, what if ...
What if a young girl sad from lack of friends and feelings of rejection, met up with a sorrowing old ghost. Had Colonel Specht still work to be done in Clara Cemetery?
And, so the story Victoria and the Ghost was born. It's an inspirational, paranormal YA.
At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl, loses her
mother’s love and copes with country isolation, no friends and no one who cares,
until she meets a ghost.
Well, that's my first ghost legend for Weird Wednesdays, and the one that sparked my interest in ghosts. Watch next Wednesday for the ghost legend that I explore in the sequel soon to be released by 4RV Publishing. It's titled A Ghost for Shelley.
If you have a ghost legend, you'd like to share on Weird Wednesday, let me know. See how to contact me under the "Who is Janet, and Where Can You Contact Her" page.
I'm excited to be one of several this week to show off Beverly Stowe McClure's new cover art. I'm loving it. I've read McClure's young adult Life on Hold and recommend it. In that book, she speaks with a teen voice. I'm thinking this new middle grade book will be more of the same excellent writing. McClure knows how to tell a story meant for young people.
A girl. A dream. An accident. A dream shattered.
Ten-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games, and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.
Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?
And now, to reveal the gorgeous cover.
Isn't that an exciting cover, so inviting to a reader.
Congratulations, Beverly Stowe McClure
Ten-year-old Kate Taylor wants to be the star of her basketball team, Angels, but when her tooth is knocked out at one of the games, her goal is in jeopardy. Even though the dentist replants the tooth, her mother, who is also her coach, refuses to let Kate play unless she can come up with a way to protect the tooth.
With the encouragement of her friends and teammates, Kate tries everything. She asks her sister, Zoe, how her boyfriend, Ray, protects his teeth when playing football. Zoe is clueless. Kate wears her friend Simon’s catcher’s mask to practice, but it’s too big and blocks her view of the goal. Kate stuffs cotton balls in her mouth and thinks she’s swallowed one. Nothing works.
To add to Kate’s problems, Emily, the new girl at River Bend Elementary, is great at basketball. Kate worries Emily will be the star of the team. On top of that, Simon, the school brain, as well as klutz, says he plans to join the Angels, even though boys are not allowed.
In the final game of the season, Kate faces a decision that will not only decide who wins the game, but whether she’s star of the team or not.
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
Beverly Stowe McClure is the author of picture books, early readers, middle grade and teen novels. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, both national and North Texas. A fourth generation Texan, she lives in the country with two cats, and a variety of wild critters.
Today, I welcome a wonderful online friend, Cheryl C. Malandrinos. She reviews books on her site. Her children's books are precious. Let me recommend to the followers of "Writing with God's Hope" blog her latest release, a beautiful Christmas book, just in time to purchase for that special little someone on your list.
Cheryl, tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me,
Janet. I’m a wife and stay-at-home mom who has been an avid reader all her
life. I’m the author of Little Shepherd
and A Christmas Kindness; the latter
written under my pen name, C.C. Gevry. The publisher recently released a
digital version of the book.
Tell us about your writing journey.
I had dreamed of
becoming a writer since childhood, but I didn’t pursue that dream until I left
Corporate America in 2004. Entering the Breaking into Print program offered by
Long Ridge Writers Group, I focused on article writing. After graduation in 2005,
I connected with Lea Schizas and the Muse Group. She started The Muse Online
Writers Conference, which is where I met an Australian writer who gave me my
first paid job writing time management and organization articles for writers.
This conference is also how I met both of my publishers. Little Shepherd came out in 2010, followed by A Christmas Kindness in 2012. I also have a picture book under
contract, currently titled, Macaroni and
Cheese for Thanksgiving.
I like writing time management tips, too. How neat that you started writing that way. Congratulations on the book you have contracted. Did you ever feel like giving up? And how did you
press through this?
I’m a stubborn person,
so giving up isn’t in my nature. Just tell me I can’t do something and I’ll
work twice as hard to prove you wrong. Rejections are tough. I think the
quickest rejection letter came within a week of my submission. That hurts.
Still no contracts from agents, either. In some ways it’s a blessing that I had
a tough childhood, because I learned to depend on myself and not let too much
get in my way. I also firmly believe that God has a plan for my life and that He
has called me to write. If that’s true, as long as I keep my heart open to His
direction, things will fall into place.
As for pressing through,
I give myself a day to whine after receiving a rejection, but then I forget it
and move on. I have numerous ideas in my head and several picture books
written, but not as much time as I would like to focus on my career because of
responsibilities at home and work. Time is too precious to waste worrying over
what happened yesterday.
Oh, Cheryl, I love that thought. Time is too precious. What gave you the idea for A Christmas Kindness?
The idea for A Christmas Kindness came from a desire
to encourage my girls to think more of what they can do for others than how
many gifts are under the Christmas tree. Jesus called all of us to have a
servant’s heart, so I hope this book reminds them of that, as much as our
volunteer work does.
How do you feel this book will encourage children, or did
you have something in mind like this when you wrote it?
Not only will A Christmas Kindness encourage kids to consider
others, it will show them that you don’t have to spend money to make a huge
difference in someone’s life.
Anything more you'd like to add?
When A Christmas Kindness was first published
as a softcover, it came out under my pen name, C.C. Gevry. My
original thought was that since it wasn’t a religious project and not part of
my “Faith-filled journeys for kids” brand, I needed the pen name. Later on, I
realized that both books are connected because they are set during Christmas
and are message-driven fiction. That’s why the digital version was released
this year under my real name, Cheryl C. Malandrinos. Eventually, the printed
version will be republished under my actual name, too.
Also, I have to mention
the lovely artwork provided by Caroline Mabey. Her illustrations are beautiful.
I am so thrilled she was selected to illustrate A Christmas Kindness.
I like the cover. Beautiful. Where can people find you?
Learning has come full circle for me. I guess I'm slow, but, as the cliché goes, I'm sure.
Five years ago, I wrote a manuscript with this tagline:
She’s addicted to overeating.
to control her.
But only God has
the power to provide
At the ACFW conference in 2008, I pitched this story to an agent and a publisher. Their responses were helpful, but the takeaway was that it wasn't ready for prime time.
I pitched it as an inspirational romance.
"What's your main character's goal?" the publisher asked.
"To overcome her compulsive overeating and prove she isn't insane like her dad."
"Then, it's not a romance, it's a women's fiction." PROBLEN NO. 1 - wrong genre
"We only publish romance." PROBLEM NO. 2 - wrong publisher
NOW, I'M WISER.
I pitch it to the agent.
"What's the length?" he asked.
"Too short for women's fiction." PROBLEMS NO. 3 - wrong length
The agent read my ten pages, and gave good feedback. I'll always be grateful for that.
He said, "Either, change the goal to hero and heroine finding love and publish it as a romance, or add 20,000 more words, and keep the same goal."
I prayed and made a decision.
Going through the entire work another several times, I added more drama, fleshed out scenes better, and took scenes from flashbacks to active time. Much better. Then I deleted unnecessary words. I was left with:
66, 000 words
In my inexperience, to add 14,000 more words, I needed another whole subplot, so I gave a fourth character three POV chapters. Now, I had it.
a little over 80,000 words
I pitched it several times after that without success, so I laid it aside.
In summer, 2012, 4RV Publishing released my debut novel. Then, in Dec., 2012, Pen-L Publishing released my devotion book for overeaters. I decided that would team up nicely with my fictional heroine who struggles with overeating, so I pitched it to Pen-L and started the process of rewriting the old story.
Thanks to five years of online courses, reading books, going to ACFW Conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Conference, and OWFI conference, I stored up a wealth of writing helps. During this period, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I read many books in my slow-reader style. In September, 2013, I attended the Immersion with Margie Lawson which improved my skill at putting the reader into the story and revving up the emotional impact.
I rewrote all fifty chapters. By the time I finished, the manuscript was 96,000 words.
PROBLEM NO. 3 repeated - wrong length
Only this time, it's too long.
I prayed and made a decision.
With my five years of studying, now I realize that I need to delete the extra POV chapters for the secondary character, and rewrite what happens in the hero's POV.
So, what did I learn in 5 years?
Go full circle. I don't require more characters. SOLUTION TO ALL PROBLEMS - deepen the emotion in your story
This weekend, I'm attending an "Immersion with Margie" Lawson, that is. I hope to learn how to make my writing POP.
This last week I submitted my sequel to Victoria and the Ghost to 4RV Publishing. While I wait with fingers crossed and a prayer in my heart for a contract, my mind still dwells on ghosts. The working title of my new book is A Ghost for Shelley. This story is based on a real life ghost legend in the old Collin County courthouse in McKinney, TX. My first story Victoria and the Ghost told of a real life ghost legend in a Texas ghost town, Clara.
What do you think about ghosts? Read my old post on "Are Ghosts Real?"
I've struggled with resentment over the years. Anger hoarded and hidden becomes resentment. Our emotion may not even be recognized by us. Resentment may drive us to overeating, overdrinking, overspending or many other addictions without us understanding the root cause.
Anger directed outward, we call conventional anger, which leads patients to shake their fists at God, hit their spouses, or yell at their bosses. Anger directed inward, we call depression.
"Love Hunger" by Minirth, Meir, Hemfelt, and Sneed
When I was younger, I suffered depression though I never realized it until my children were grown, and God healed me. God urged me to make amends to my children for all the yelling, and emotional outbursts they suffered during their growing-up years.
My oldest daughter caught the brunt of my inward-aimed, yet outward-driven anger. In her typical analytical view of things, she told me, "If that had been now, the psychiatrist would've put you on anti-depressants."
That's true, but back then, we didn't discuss mental illness in the same manner that we do today. Also, I must remember the definition for depression according to the book above.
I was an angry person.
I resented my sister-in-law that had the favor of my husband's mother. I was left out of family plans. I got angry, or as I preferred to call it, "got my feelings hurt" whenever I sensed my children, my husband or myself was slighted at church or in the community. I hated myself because I was fat.
The cause for our resentment isn't significant. God gives examples in the Bible where resentment can be understood, but still not approved. Think of Jacob's ten older sons who worked hard and longed for their father's love. Yet, the scrawny younger boy received that love, that favor. Look at the telling verse below:
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours Genesis 37:3
Joseph's older brothers deserved better. The father did them wrong. Yet, God refused to bless the ten because they allowed resentment to turn them into hard, angry men.
Look at the story of Mary and Martha. Martha worked away in the kitchen to serve Jesus and His disciples. The more tired she became, the more resentment tainted her thoughts. Finally, she let that anger explode to the Master. Look at this verse:
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Luke 10:40
The devil may find it harder to tempt a strong Christian to murder or steal, but he has way too much success weaving resentment into our hearts, and with that, he destroys our witness and perhaps even our souls.
In my inspirational YA, Victoria and the Ghost, Victoria faces her mother's rejection and her father's favoritism. Can she learn to allow God to change her resentment into love?
Have you ever suffered resentment? Why? Did you allow God to heal it?