Ankou and Samhain #folklore

We’re moving ever closer to the night where we’ll have to light incredible bonfires to keep the ghoulies and ghosties away. Or, we can follow tradition and not light any fire and go to bed early to avoid the scary creatures altogether…

Samhain – the Celtic precursor to the modern Halloween – is full of fun folklore connotations. You can learn more about this festival over on

The Festival of Samhain marks the end of the year (Celtic calendar) and the beginning of the new year.

Why is this important?

Well, if you believe the stories about the Ankou

Ankou is the personification of Death in Breton mythology, making an appearance in the folklore of Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. He is the fae version of the Grim Reaper, he’s also known as the grave watcher, and often appears as a skeleton in a black robe, carrying a scythe. In Ireland he has a black coach pulled by four black horses which he uses to collect the souls of the recently dead.

As for the scary part pertaining to Samhain: according to Breton folklore collector Anatole le Braz (1859-1926):

“The last dead of the year, in each parish, becomes the Ankou of his parish for all of the following year. When there has been, in a year, more deaths than usual, one says about the Ankou: On my faith, this one is a nasty Ankou.”

In a short story by Wyndham Lewis, The Death of the Ankou (1927), a tourist in Brittany perceives a beggar to be the embodiment of the Ankou. (Another fun read, there.)

Of course, the Ankou is slightly different in my own writing. He can appear like a scary skeleton in a black robe, scythe and all. But he can also look quite civilized with an actual face and wearing a black suit (of any era).

I’ll be doing a proper post about Ankou and deathfae on my blog on Sunday if you’d like to know more.

In the meantime, why not take advantage of the discount running on “Once…” during October?


I hope you learned something new, got a good fright and perhaps even something new to read.


Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.

Connect with Ronel:

Amazon : Twitter : Pinterest : Google+ : Goodreads : Ronel the Mythmaker : Instagram : Newsletter

The Wild Hunt and Samhain #folklore

It’s that time of year where everything is eerie and the ghoulies and ghosties come out to play.

Okay, not in my side of the world where things are warming up and the sun sticks around longer than the night. But in the northern hemisphere… Ah, now there things are getting dark and dire as the time for the veil between worlds gets thinner and thinner as Samhain approaches.

Samhain? you might ask. It’s the precursor for what is now called Halloween.

If you want to check out the Celtic roots of Halloween, read this awesome article over on

Now that we know that during Samhain that which divides our world from the Otherworld is at its thinnest, we also know that spirits and whatnot can pass through to ours.

Like what?

The Wild Hunt, for instance.

Belief in the Wild Hunt was once widespread across most of Europe. Common belief held that it was led by a supernatural master (Odin in Norse lore, King Herla in Britain, Gwyn ap Nudd in Wales, etc.) with a special prey in mind (Odin sought the Fairy Wood Wives, Gwyn ap Nudd herded the souls of the dead to the Underworld). The Hunt generally comprised spectral huntsmen on horseback accompanied by a pack of fairy hounds (usually white with red ears). It could fly through the air, pound over the earth, or hover just above the ground during its hunt.

The Wild Hunt is called many different things and described in many different ways depending on time and place.

On the Isle of Man, a band of 13 hunters rode out on frosty, moonlit nights on the Manx Fairy Hunt, as described in Thomas Keightley’s The Fairy Mythology (1828).

“…he heard the cry of huntsmen, the thunder of horses’ hooves, and the trumpeting of horns. He wondered why the hunt was out at night in such frost. It crossed his path several times and under the light of the moon, he saw the riders as clear as day. There were 13 huntsmen on horseback, dressed in green…”

In the Highlands of Scotland, the formidable fairy Sluagh, is often described as the souls of the unforgiven dead. They would take to the air in a great flock, hunting mortal souls to join their number. They also enjoy shooting cats, dogs, sheep, and cattle with elfshot (poisoned darts). An account in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica (1900) describes a sighting of them in the Outer Hebrides:

“…on hearing the call, the dogs ran outside, and when the men had gathered their wits, they followed. In the bright blue night sky, they beheld a multitude of spirits with hounds on leashes and hawks perched on hands. The air was filled with music, like tinkling bells, mingled with the shouts of the sluagh calling to their hounds…”

Of course, the Wild Hunt was often associated with demons and witches as Christianity spread over the globe. Not that they were particularly sweet and cuddly to start out with…

Just like everything else, they’ve been relegated to the realm of fancy. But as recently as the 1940s, the Wild Hunt was heard passing by on Halloween near Taunton, Somerset.

In my own writing, the Hunt is slightly different. There are steeds (the spectral horses mentioned in folklore, though mine can take any shape it pleases) and the Pack (which can be the huntsmen or the hounds – they can take either shape at will). They can also manipulate the emotions of mortals and fae alike.

You can check out a short story featuring them in the Clarion Call Anthology FairyTale Riot! that will be released at the end of the month. I had loads of fun writing my short story.

I hope you learned something new, got a great scare and possibly a great read for the darker months ahead. I’ll be doing a proper post about FairyTale Riot! over on my blog on Sunday (with a review) if you’d like to check it out.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.

Connect with Ronel:

Amazon : Twitter : Pinterest : Google+ : Goodreads : Ronel the Mythmaker : Instagram : Newsletter

Halloween 1870s Style

Post by Doris McCraw


First, I’ll get my new story/promotion out of the way. I have a story in the anthology “One Yuletide Knight” that is now up for pre-order and will be available as an ebook on November 2, 2017 with the print version available shortly after. You can purchase it at: One Yuletide Knight

With October 31, Halloween, approaching, I thought it might be fun to look at how people perceived that date in the 1870s in what most would call the West. Below are some actual pieces from papers of that time.

Here we have almost an advertisement for the evening from the Atchison Globe from Friday October 31, 1879 issue in Atchison, Kansas


And this warning from the Lawrence, Kansas, Lawrence Republican Daily Journal of October 24, 1878. Seems mischief has been around for longer than we may have thought.


For the history of the day we can thank the Sedalia, Missouri, Sedalia Daily Democrat of Saturday, November 2, 1878. 



Of course no Halloween would be without the special events that take place. Here from Alden, Iowa issue of the October 10, 1879 issue, we have the following 

halloween fest

And finally this clip from a piece called “The Fairy Quest” from the Saturday, October 4, 1879 issue of the Republic County Journal of Scandia, Kansas.

clip from story halloween

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of what folks back in the 1870s thought about October 31 and Halloween. There are so many stories, and I’m sure each of you have your own. However you celebrate of not, enjoy the fall season and don’t eat too much candy.  I know I won’t be bobbing for apples like I did when I was younger, but I might have a piece of…

Doris Gardner-McCraw -Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here



Dressing Up Doggie – Halloween Costumes and Our Furry Friends

Gayle_Mary_reading eventThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Here’s a blog post similar to one I wrote for my own site last week. I hope you all enjoy it.

Today’s the day (or night) that goblins and zombies take to the streets. It’s the spookiest of holidays, and during this season, Americans love to spend money on their kids – including their furry ones. According to the National Retail Federation, the average amount spent on Halloween is about $75, on candy, decorations, and costumes.

Halloween Express lists the top 10 pet costumes. Those include Superman, Ghostbusters, bees, spiders, and lions. The NRF estimates people spend about $350 million on pet costumes, outlaying $1 for every $3 spent on children’s outfits.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $60 billion on their furry friends last year and will likely spend more than that in 2016. From sweaters and raincoats to sporting team t-shirts and holiday costumes, pet clothing is big business. Practical wear is just as important as fashionista statements, maybe more so. Booties to keep paws clear of snow and ice and life jackets for outings on the boat, clothing and outdoor wear remain popular with pet parents.

For a fun, informative article on pet fashion, visit

For a look at some cute pets in interesting Halloween costumes, see

The first year Cody came to live with us, he became a fireman for Halloween.

I bought holiday scarves for Sage, my blind springer spaniel, but that’s as close as I ever got to “dressing” her. However, one year I did dress Cody my cocker spaniel as a fireman for Halloween, complete with a red hat. He wasn’t terribly thrilled, but he sure looked cute!

Pets may not be very cooperative for playing dress-up. If you plan to take your dog trick-or-treating or have your cat participate in your Halloween party, make sure you “practice” prior to the big night. Also, make sure the costume properly fits your pet, and consider breed, weight, and measurements before purchasing, and ensure your pet can see, breathe, and drink normally with the outfit on.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers some important pet safety tips for this time of year. Find those at

Some people create their own pet costumes. For ideas, visit this HGTV website:

Have you ever dressed your pet for Halloween? Wishing you and your pet a safe and fun Halloween!


Gayle M. Irwin is a freelance writer and author living in Wyoming. She creates inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She’s composed several books, including the recently released Tail Tales: Stories of Pets Who Touched My Heart and Impacted My Life.  She is currently working on two more children’s pet stories, including a humorous book about a cat trapped in a school and an educational book about dog rescue. Learn more at



#Halloween, witches… and the wise?


This blog is by Nancy Jardine.

Being an author of Celtic/ Roman historical adventures, I’ve tended to write about the Celtic festival of Samhain (what became the Eve of all Hallows Christian festival)  at this time of year… but here’s something just a wee but different.

Hallowe’en stories of witches have been told around the firesides for many generations – and none more so than in the place where I live in Scotland. My village is Kintore, in Aberdeenshire, and one claim to fame is that Kintore was the home of a famous witch named #Isobel Cockie who met a sad demise in 1597.

From James VI’s Daemonology

There have been many great Witch Hunts in the past in Scotland but one of the greatest was the one of 1597. The witch trials took place all over Scotland and it’s believed that some 400 people were brought to court, around 200 of whom ended up being tied to the stake and burned as a witch (some male, though most female). The one consolation appears to be that the condemned was probably strangled first, though that can’t always be corroborated. BTW: It cost 4 shillings for “four fadome of Towis”  which I understand to be lengths of rope. Currently about 24 US cents! The hangman-Jon Justice (what an appropriate name)-  was paid about 43 US cents to execute each person.

Reasons for Isobel Cockie being hanged varied from stopping cows from producing healthy milk and making it poisonous; stopping a woman from being able to churn her milk into cream, butter or cheese; making people that she had ‘bad words’ with fall ill with fevers- some of the victims not surviving; robbing people of the power of speech and having the ability to return it via potions and drugs when pressed to do so; and other such instances.

a pamphlet of c. 1591

A particularly bad accusation for Isobel was encountering Thomas Makkie ‘Reader of Kintore’ one dark night. It’s said she laid her hand on the shoulder of his five year old horse and it promptly fell down and died. The ‘Reader of Kintore’ was an alternative name of the era for the schoolmaster (Thomas Makkie was Maister of the Inglis Scuill in Kintore) and as such would have been a respected worthy of the village and someone whose testimony would have been well received. Note: The school lessons were conducted in the King’s English (Inglis) rather than the local Doric dialect.

Dancing with the devil, and especially on Hallowe’en, was the most damning indictment for a witch but it appears that the bold Isobel Cockie from Kintore went one better than that. She was said to be part of a witches coven who met regularly in the nearby city of Aberdeen – 15 miles away and presumably nothing for a witch to fly, but a long walk to undertake for a dance! Isobel, also known as “Tibby” was dancing along with her fellow witch cronies at the Market and Fish Cross, also at the Meal Market, between 12 and 1 a.m. on the Halloween of 1595 betuixt tuell and ane houris at nycht, to the mercat and fishe croces of Aberdene, an meil mercet of the sam”.

The Devil was playing his ‘Trump’ (I kid you not, that’s what they called it – it was a form of Jew’s Harp) but ‘Tibby’ didn’t think too much of his unmelodious playing and snatched the instrument from his mouth, after which it seems she played it herself. In the quhilk danse, thow was the ring ledar, next to Thomas Leyis: and becaws the Dewill playit nocht so melodiousle and weill as thow crewit, thou tuik his instrument (Trump) out of his moutht, than tuik him on the chaftis therwith, and plaid thi self theron to thi hail cumpanie” My translation of ‘took him on the chaftis therewith’ stretches to she slapped him on the cheeks, but please don’t quote me on that one since it’s the only translation I can find, and although I’ve lived in Kintore for 28 years I still ‘canna ‘spik a’ Doric’!

Other reasons for being found guilty of witchcraft that year included murder by using magic; poisoning meat; making wax images to create a storm and removing body parts from the dead to use in witchly potions (fingers, toes and genitals being popular). More information can be read HERE.

So, why were so many witches burnt at the stake in 1597? Well, the answer is that was a particularly bad year but there were others nearly as dire before, and also, after that one. Witch trials had occurred more sporadically over the centuries but by the 1590s it became a serious cause for complaint.

James VI – Wikimedia Commons

The Scottish king of the time was James VI, the son of the famous Mary Queen of Scots. He is also the James known in more modern times to many around the world as having sponsored the translation of the bible which became known as the ‘Authorised King James (VI)  Version of the Bible’ of 1611. (NB- He also became King James I of England in 1603 and afterwards King of Great Britain)

And…James VI was very interested in witchcraft…

James VI’s curiosity about all things witch like was probably kindled after his visit to Denmark, the home of his young Queen Anne. In 1589, after a betrothal by proxy, the 14 year old Anne set out to sail to Scotland but it seems she ended up in Norway. On hearing of the plight of his newly betrothed, James VI set off himself to fetch her.

After a wedding in Oslo he spent around a month celebrating in Denmark and learning about all sorts of things of interest to him before they both returned to Scotland. Storms are a frequent occurrence in the North Sea but for some people of the time, natural weather systems were just a bit too ordinary.There were some who believed that witches’ spells had caused the winds to blow the ship off course- but which ship? Sources vary as to whether it was the ship Anne was on that was blown off course and ended up in Norway, or that it was the ship carrying both of them on their return to Scotland. Whichever, it seems a furore happened! Many were accused of the witchery. (Denmark being a country familiar to witch-hunts probably meant James VI had learned a lot of trial techniques while he was there.)

North Berwick with trials 1591

The North Berwick Witch Trials of 1590 implicated 70 people, some of whom were high born (5th Earl of Bothwell), and ran for two years. It’s documented that James VI was personally involved.

Being an avid scholar, he deemed the study of witchcraft and demonology a branch of theology. The interest in witch hunting continued for James VI and in 1597 he wrote a treatise in 3 books called ‘Daemonology’ in which he laid out the principles of Witchery (as he saw it) and the reasons for the church needing to be thorough in stamping out the practice. ) – p.s. there are some inconsistencies in the sites available on the internet with information on JamesVI.

But back to Kintore’s Isobel Cockie…It’s not documented where Isobel Cockie’s remains were interred after her burning at the stake but earlier this year (2016) some 900 skeletons were found under St. Nicholas Kirk in the centre of Aberdeen. This was the very place where those accused of witchcraft in 1597 were chained to the walls while awaiting trial. Is Isobel one of them? We’ll probably never know but no doubt detailed examination results on the skeletons will follow later.

I think on the Hallowe’en of 1597, the witches covens in Scotland must have been very quiet affairs!

Whatever, and however, you may be celebrating this Hallowe’en make sure not to play the devil’s ‘Trump’ (NB: statement not meant to be political) .  

Nancy Jardine writes about Celtic Festivals like Samhain (Halloween) in her Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures.

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The Maven





Posted by Kathy Waller


Once upon a time, a few days before Halloween, my friend ME called and said, “There are thirteen men under my house. They’re leveling it. For the second time in five years.” She then invited David and me to go with her and her husband to see the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center, on the University of Texas campus. The next day, I presented ME, via email, the following verse. It first appeared at Telling the Truth, Mainly and is making its annual reappearance here. Mr. Poe might be horrified, but since ME is my Muse, the end product was bound to be a bit quirky.


"Texas Speed Bump AKA - Armadillo" by Jason Penney is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Texas Speed Bump AKA – Armadillo” by Jason Penney is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


*Dasypus novemcinctus – The nine-banded armadillo*



To G and ME,
in celebration of their tenth trimester of home improvement,
with gratitude and affection
Forgive me for making mirth of melancholy


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of someone gently tapping, tapping at my chamber floor.

“‘Tis some armadillo,” said I, “tapping at my chamber floor,

Only this, and nothing more.”


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dry September,

And my house was sinking southward, lower than my bowling score,

Pier and beam and blocks of concrete, quiet as Deuteron’my’s cat feet,

Drooping like an unstarched bedsheet toward the planet’s molten core.

“That poor armadillo,” thought I, “choosing my house to explore.

He’ll squash like an accordion door.”


“Tuck,” I cried, “and Abby, come here! If my sanity you hold dear,

Go and get that armadillo, on him all your rancor pour.

While he’s bumping and a-thumping, give his rear a royal whumping,

Send him hence with head a-lumping, for this noise do I abhor.

Dasypus novemcinctus is not a beast I can ignore,

Clumping ‘neath my chamber floor.”


While they stood there prancing, fretting, I imparted one last petting,

Loosed their leashes and cried “Havoc!” then let slip the dogs of war.

As they flew out, charged with venom, I pulled close my robe of denim.

“They will find him at a minimum,” I said, “and surely more,

Give him such a mighty whacking he’ll renounce forevermore

Lumbering ‘neath my chamber floor.”


But to my surprise and wonder, dogs came flying back like thunder.

“That’s no armadillo milling underneath your chamber floor.

Just a man with rule and level, seems engaged in mindless revel,

Crawling ’round. The wretched devil is someone we’ve seen before,

Measuring once and measuring twice and measuring thrice. We said, ‘Senor,

Get thee out or thee’s done for.’”


“Zounds!” I shouted, turning scarlet. “What is this, some vill’nous varlet

Who has come to torment me with mem’ries of my tilting floor?”

Fixing myself at my station by my floundering foundation,

Held I up a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

“Out, you cad!” I said, “or else prepare to sleep beneath my floor,

Nameless there forever more.”


Ere my words had ceased resounding, with their echo still surrounding,

Crawled he out, saluted, and spoke words that chilled my very core.

“I been down there with my level, and those piers got quite a bevel.

It’s a case of major evolution: totter, tilt galore.

Gotta fix it right away, ma’am, ‘less you want your chamber floor

At a slant forevermore.”


At his words there came a pounding and a dozen men came bounding

From his pickup, and they dropped and disappeared beneath my floor.

And they carried beam and hammer and observed no rules of grammar,

And the air was filled with clamor and a clanging I deplore.

“Take thy beam and take thy level and thy failing Apgar score

And begone forevermore.”


But they would not heed my prayer, and their braying filled the air,

And it filled me with despair, this brouhaha that I deplore.

“Fiend!” I said. “If you had breeding, you would listen to my pleading,

For I feel my mind seceding from its sane and sober core,

And my house shall fall like Usher.” Said the leader of the corps,

“Lady, you got no rapport.”


“How long,” shrieked I then in horror, “like an ominous elm borer,

Like a squirrely acorn storer will you lurk beneath my floor?

Prophesy!” I cried, undaunted by the chutzpah that he flaunted,

And the expertise he vaunted. “Tell me, tell me, how much more?”

But he strutted and he swaggered like a man who knows the score.

Quoth the maven, “Evermore.”


He went off to join his legion in my house’s nether region

While my dogs looked on in sorrow at that dubious guarantor.

Then withdrawing from this vassal with his temperament so facile

I went back into my castle and I locked my chamber door.

“On the morrow, they’ll not leave me, but will lodge beneath my floor

Winter, spring, forevermore.


So the hammering and the clamoring and the yapping, yawping yammering

And the shrieking, squawking stammering still are sounding ‘neath my floor.

And I sit here sullen, slumping in my chair and dream the thumping

And the armadillo’s bumping is a sound I could adore.

For those soles of boots from out the crawlspace ‘neath my chamber floor

Shall be lifted—Nevermore!



Kathy Waller blogs at
Telling the Truth, Mainly
and at Austin Mystery Writers.
Her short stories appear in
AMW’s crime fiction anthology,
Murder on Wheels,
and at Mysterical=E.





The Spirit of Halloweens Past


This post is by Joe Stephens

I got home last night in plenty of time for trick-or-treating. Sadly, it was because my school’s volleyball team, which played amazingly considering they were playing through a tragedy (The head coach lost his son suddenly. The team took a double hit because one of their starters is the coach’s granddaughter and the child of the man who passed away.) lost out in the semifinals of their conference tournament. Be that as it may, I was there when the steady stream of ghouls, goblins, and superheroes came to our door.

Two of our seven trick-or-treaters, my adorable great-nephews. Sadly, Trenton is allergic to peanuts, so he doesn’t even get to eat most of his treats. We gave him a pear, if you can believe it.

Only they never came. We had a grand total of seven trick-or-treaters (not tricks-or-treatsers, despite what Charles Schulz said) four of our relatives and the grandkids of the people across the street. Nowadays kids seem to trick-or-treat by going by car to homes of people they know. I’m sure there are still neighborhoods where the kids go door-to-door, but it’s not like it used to be. And who can disagree? There are a lot of scary people out there. But back in my day, it was just a simpler time. We were more innocent, more naïve. And somehow, all my friends and I survived. Each year on whatever night trick-or-treating takes place (Does anyone else remember when it was just always on Halloween or am I making that up?) I am taken back to vivid memories from my childhood.

The first costume I can remember having was a Frankenstein’s monster outfit. I don’t remember where we got it–probably Arlan’s, which was as close as we had to a Wal-Mart back then. I loved the green mask and wore it all the time. Except at dinner–the mouth hole was too small. I got it because I loved the movie, which I saw when Mom and Dad let me stay up to watch Chiller Theater on channel thirteen one Friday night. It was scary but in a good way.

This isn’t mine, but it’s just like the one I had.

My favorite costume coincided with my best haul ever. I got a hard plastic Batman cowl for the previous birthday, if I recall correctly. It was adult size so I had to put a folded towel in the back to make it fit, but it looked amazing! I hadn’t planned to wear it for trick-or-treating, but it rained hard that evening. I didn’t want to miss out, so Dad pulled out an old dark poncho and I put on the cowl. I was toasty dry the whole time. And as a bonus, the weather kept all the wimpy kids at home. By the end of the evening, people were pouring their entire bowls in my bag because no one else had come. I was sick for a week!

My least favorite memory is tempered by a really good one. We had some neighbors who lived at the end of a short wooded walk. My cousins and I were nearly done with our rounds when we stopped there. I was last in line and, just as we entered a dark spot on the walk, somebody darted out from behind a tree and ripped my bag from my hands. It happened so fast I didn’t even get a glance at the person. I had a bag full of goodies and then suddenly I didn’t. I stood there, too shocked to even shout. When I finally got words, I told my neighbors what happened. They got a spare bag from their house and gave me everything they had. My cousins even split their haul with me. I ended up with as much as I started with. My cousins Jan and Joyce (known by our whole family simply as “The Twins”) were, and still are, wonderful and generous people.

So what are your most vivid memories of Halloweens past?

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.

ITS Cover ArtCheck out his newest book on Amazon

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

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Spirits, Angels and Halloween

Post by Doris McCraw


This may be a short post. Why? Well, it’s been a challenging year. Bad in many ways and wonderful in others. Sounds like regular life, doesn’t it? Most know I had in excess of $40,000 dollars worth of damage to my home in June. So far, thanks to gofundme I have had $1,700 to work with, along with the generosity of friends who added physical labor to get a least half of the damage personal property out of the basement. We won’t go into the lack of accountability of others like insurance, utilities, government. That is just what is. We’ve all experienced such events in our lives.

Now, I’ve had some pretty stressful days, but I also know, things do have a way of working out, or what goes around comes around. Here’s where the title comes in. As Halloween comes around, talk of spirits and angels takes center stage. This will continue through the new year. When life gets pretty yucky, it is the knowledge that things will work out that keeps you from doing injury to yourself or others. Doesn’t mean you don’t want to, but…


The other side of the coin is the wonderful things that happen. This Halloween, in fact today, my second novella is being released. Called Angel of Salvation Valley, it deals with the stuff life throws at us and the choices we make as we make life’s journey. I’m pretty happy, no proud of this story. It has angels, devils and a few other fun characters. I’m going to give away a copy of the novella to one commenter on October 21.


In the meantime, have a great week, month and year. Enjoy what life gives you and love and honor those who are making the journey with you. Follow your passions, for they seem to be the key to the joy we share with others.


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“NEVER HAD A CHANCE” , second in the Agate Gulch stories, in the Prairie Rose Publications “A COWBOY CELEBRATION” anthology

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HOME FOR HIS HEART the first in the Agate Gulch stories.

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Happy Halloween – Then and Now by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1As a kid, I loved all things spooky so Halloween was a favorite holiday. I grew up on a farm in Michigan so by necessity, our costumes had to look good over or under something very warm or incorporate a coat into the overall design. This led to some pretty creative costumes. We didn’t have a lot of money but fortunately my mother is a talented seamstress and put together some great outfits for us over the years.Me at Halloween 001

Our neighbors’ homes were too far away to allow us to walk. Instead mom drove us from house to house so we could beg for treats. We would dash into the cold, ring the doorbell, and scream “Trick or Treat” before shouting a hasty “thank you” as we rushed back to the warm car. Some people made us slow down so they could admire our costumes, others just smiled after us as we ran away.

Despite the hurried nature of our Halloween outings, I enjoyed the sound of the rustling leaves underfoot as we ran from door to door and the sight of bare branches reaching toward a full moon. Empty fields stretched in all directions, a reminder that the harvest was complete.

Today I live in a suburb of Atlanta and never know if it will be hot or cold come Halloween night. My neighborhood is small and wooded, but with lots of friendly neighbors so we’ll walMichelle, Dianna & I Halloween 001k from house to house to Trick or Treat as we have since we brought Willow home from China when she was a year old. She’s thirteen now and I think this will be her last year to go trick or treating, which is sad and I wonder if my mother felt the same way when my siblings and I few too old for this tradition.

There are no bare fields where I live now but we do have an owl that spends late summer and fall living in our backyard so I trust I’ll hear a mournful hoot or two as we wander from one lit porch to the next. The trees are not quite bare yet but there are lots of leaves to crunch underfoot.Willow Halloween 001

I’m sure Willow will get plenty of candy; she always does. My neighbors are generous, as is my daughter. She’s not much of a candy girl so I can always count of a snicker bar or two coming my way and, despite my diet, I will gladly accept.

On this spookiest of days, let me wish you all a wonderful Halloween filled with the activities and small touches that make this holiday special for you. And have a snickers.

You can learn more about me at:

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Autumn Delights

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I’ve always loved October. In our part of the world it’s when the trees put on their finest and each vies with the other to be the most outstanding. The result is a scene that is breathtaking, as with the naked eye you drink in the brilliant colors displayed on a backdrop of blue sky and white fluffy clouds. I often stand admiring the beauty around me and thank God for creating a world for us to enjoy and appreciate.trees

See fabulous Wisconsin/Michigan Fall Color HERE

In my childhood, at some point in early October, we’d bring out the rakes. Since we had a very large yard this was a chore and was given to us four children to do. We absolutely loved it! It was never work toraking us, but playtime instead. We’d rake up a big pile of leaves and throw them at each other; then rake again. We’d take turns lying on the ground while the others totally covered the lucky one with a mound of leaves. I can still remember the sound of the crispy leaves as they landed on me; the freshness of the cool October air; the laughter as we ganged up on one another. As a final treat, when we finally tired of playing in them, we actually raked the leaves into piles, put them in a wheelbarrow or wagon and deposited them at the curb in front of our house. That night my Dad would set fire to the leaves, but not before my mother wrapped potatoes, onions, carrots and seasonings in several firelayers of aluminum foil and deposited them among the leaves. We waited anxiously, helping Dad tend the leaves so they wouldn’t catch something on fire, but that never happened. This was the way we got rid of the leaves in the town where I lived. After a while of burning and tending, the leaves smoldered and went out. Then Dad would use a set of tongs to retrieve the foil-wrapped potatoes and we’d feast on them with cider and doughnuts for dessert. The next day, once the leaves were mostly ash, we’d help load them into bags and take them to the local dump. Dad always let us sit on the back of the truck while we rode and once he backed up to the dumping area we’d heave the bags into the pit.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To learn about how Halloween began click HERE

Just for fun Halloween Website HERE

Facts and pictures about Dia de los Muertos HERE

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Actually it’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) katrinabut since they are close and I’m back in the US, it’s Halloween. As a kid we really did it up right. We decorated the house with all sorts of pumpkins, bats, ghosts and witches. My mother was an artist, so she had some really fantastic ideas for decorating and costumes.


My siblings and I loved playing dress-up and Halloween was the most fun. Mom let us decide what or whom we wanted to be and then helped us create the costume. One of my very favorite costumes of all  was an evening dress with over-the-elbow gloves, my hair gowndone up in curls and a tiara. I felt like a movie star. Of course, I had to endure my hair done up in rags all night to get the curls and I may have stumbled once or twice over the hem, but I did win best costume in our school competition. I was about eleven at the time. The dress and gloves were from another era, when women wore evening gowns to go out to special events and my aunt gave it to us to play dress-up. It was lime green and I felt like Cinderella, very glamorous.

We generally had our cousins along to trick-or-treat with us and did we ever have fun! First, we had a light supper before my Mom and Aunt decorated a table with witches and pumpkins, cobwebs and ghosts. Mom usually designed a special cake that was something to behold. They served us cake; some red drink they said was blood, grapes for eyeballs and spaghetti for brains. At the time we were young enough to believe them and screamed in delight as we ate our “ghoulish” treats.

Then it was time to get dressed in our costumes and take off for a night of fun. Back in my day there was no fear of knocking on people’s doors, no fear of wandering around the town alone, no fear of being trckortreatabducted or hurt. We were just six little kids having a blast. When we passed our friends we’d all compare our bags of treats to see who had the most. We often walked a couple of miles if we didn’t tire out too much. At some houses we were invited in for cider and doughnuts and pictures. At others a wicked witch or monster handed us our treat. We screamed in delight.

Back at the house Mom, Dad, my Uncle and Aunt dressed appropriately and handed out candy to every little trick-or-treater that came along. Since our house was on a corner a block from town we got hit hard. Dad once had to go get a bushel of apples from a friend because he ran out of treats and the store was closed to get more candy.

When we returned home with our booty Mom and Dad would ooh and ah over the treasures we’d received. We were allowed to keep our bags in the closet in each of our bedrooms as long as we solemnly promised not to eat too much at one time. Yeah, right! One time my little brother began throwing up orange pumpkins and after that the fun was over. My Mother kept the candy and doled it out.

girlbikeI loved riding my bicycle in the fresh October air. By then gloves, a hat and warm coat were a necessity, but I roamed the streets of town enjoying the last delights of summer and began to eagerly anticipate winter fun. I’d ride my bike until I was so cold I had to go home or freeze. But the memories are worth it.

Later, when my own children had Halloween parties at school, I was the first to volunteer to help. I always dressed as something different (one year I was a grape, right down to the purple tights!). Carving pumpkins was something my kids loved and since we grew our own we had lots of fun decorating them. Those pumpkins, cornstalks, corn brooms and ghosts and witches decorated our house and it was hard to get the kids to let me take them down until Christmas came and I could lure them into visions of sugar plums.

I often took my children on long walks through the hardwoods in October. We had to wear orange clothing and talk loud, because it was the start of hunting season, and even though we walked on our ownhobgob property, one never knows who might disregard the “keep out” signs. The children picked up leaves that we took home and ironed between sheets of waxed paper, just as I did as a child.

I have many other wonderful memories of October. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear them!leaf


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

INZARED bookcoverkindle







Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders


Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer








Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Boook 2









13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing









13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook


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