LIVING THE DREAM, Part 27: Ashes from The ‘Camp’ Fire

4-24-19

Hiawassee, Georgia

On April 1, around midnight, I tossed a match onto the April Camp NaNoWriMo 2019‘ kindling with a new book idea, a mixed genre of horror and suspense titled SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING CURSED. On Monday night of this week, I typed those two, magical words, ‘THE END’, validated my project by copying and  pasting the entire draft into a space provided on my Camp NaNoWriMo page, and downloaded the Winner Certificate that Camp NaNoWriMo spat out. After typing in my name, book title, and the date, I emailed the certificate to myself to print at the library in town.

Speaking of book ideas, have you ever wondered what inspires some authors’ wack-a-doodle stories? Well, I don’t know how Stephen King or Willow Rose get theirs, but SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING CURSED hatched at a Dairy Queen in Canton, Texas, three years ago when, as we started inside for a bite of supper, I caught the words, ‘occult investigation’, on the car parked next to ours.

“Hey, babe, reckon this place is haunted?” I asked my husband on the way in.

Seeing one other couple in there, I assumed that the car I saw was theirs. Bashful soul that I am (NOT!), I struck up a conversation with them as I dispensed my iced tea and Jeff’s water and, in a not-so-subtle fashion, ferreted out the truth: that the car I saw beside ours did, indeed, belong to them.

“I couldn’t help being intrigued by the words on your car,” I began. “Are y’all ghostbusters?”

The couple exchanged wry smiles.

“In a manner of speaking,” ‘Rick’ admitted. “People who suspect that evil spirits may have invaded their homes call us in to get rid of them.”

“No kidding? As a matter of fact, you might be interested in something that recently happened to my husband. Sometime during the night, he sees writing on the door jamb in our bedroom. Of course, when he looks closer, it disappears. What could be causing that?”

Well, as the four of us plowed through our burger baskets, drinks, and Blizzards,  ‘Rick’ and ‘Kara’ explained how they went about banishing spirits from people’s homes.

“What people don’t realize is that the spirit world is real,” she stated. “And, of course, the ones who draw attention to themselves are usually evil.”

“What causes them to show up, in the first place?” I asked her, as chill-bumps prickled my arms.

She shrugged.

“Could be a lot of things.  Astrology books or New Age music, souvenirs from countries known for voodoo or blood sacrifices. Even ‘dream-catchers’ that people hang in their homes. Ouija boards, for sure.”

“Yeah,” ‘Rick’ added. “People bring home Shiva statues from India, beads or ‘worry’ dolls. They are potential ‘portals’, too.”

. “And,” Kara inserted,  “all too often, the people who give them as gifts are clueless of their potential.”

Jeff and I eyeballed each other. He gulped.

Uh-oh, I thought, remembering the ceramic mask and Aztec calendar from Mexico that hung on our walls at home, a handmade doll I received from a Mexican ESL student, and some beads languishing among Jeff’s souvenirs.

“If we have any of that stuff, what should we do with it?” he asked.

“Move it as far away from your home as you can.  Burn it, if possible, or leave it out on the curb. And, while we’re at it, keeping it out in your garage is not enough as it is too close to your home.”

“What if we have never had problems with it, in the first place? Should we toss it out, anyway?”  I asked, as my teeth began to chatter and my heart whammed like a jackhammer on crack.

“If you’re in doubt, text us pictures of it. After all, it’s far better to be safe than sorry,” ‘Rick’ cautioned.

Before we parted company with them, ‘Kara’ and I hugged.  Jeff and ‘Rick’ shook hands. We all promised to keep in touch.

“Hey,” I said, breaking the quiet that had settled over us between Canton and Terrell.  “Meeting them has given me a book idea. Something Borrowed, Something Cursed will be about a bride-to-be who receives an antique ring from her future sister-in-law to wear as her ‘something borrowed’.

The next day, I snapped a picture of the doll that my student had given me. The one I had displayed among my other keepsakes on the top of our computer cabinet.

“Hmm…looks like a ‘worry doll’ to me,” ‘Kara’ advised. “I’d ditch it.”

So I chunked it into the pile.

In Something Borrowed, Something Cursed, a horror story, a bride-to-be receives an antique ring from her future sister-in-law as a loaner to wear as her ‘something borrowed’. She stresses that she wants it back before the couple leave the church. But when the  bride tries to return the ring, her sister-in-law is nowhere to be found. After their honeymoon, the newlyweds soon suspect that the ring serves as a portal to the paranormal, when her husband’s personality turns scary, and her sister-in-law and his brother suffer bizarre deaths within hours of each other.

As with my debut novel, FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS, its sequel, BY HER DAUGHTER’S HANDS: Secret Sister, Deadly Daughter, I have learned to allow my characters to struggle and suffer at the hands of their antagonists. Although their hearts break, they always rise to the top. and the stories end happily.

Really, they do. I promise.

Two nights ago, around 9:30 p.m., this wild-and-crazy ‘ride’ slid to a stop, one week ahead of schedule. Now, as soon as I edit and revise this post, I plan to shift gears and resume self-publishing BY HER DAUGHTER’S HANDS: Secret Sister, Deadly Daughter, the sequel to my debut novel, FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS. 

Have any of you ever experienced ‘phenomena’ that you cannot easily explain? If so, I’d be interested to read about it.

Stay tuned for more of my LIVING THE DREAM posts, as well as posts with other themes.

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