Saturday, November 28, 2015

Amusement Park or torture chamber?

 Sarah and Elijah begin to realize they're no longer in Ravenwood. Lights show up ahead, through the darkness. Lights beaming from a Ferris Wheel surrounded by the innocent booths and rides of an Amusement Park.

Sarah insists they are still in Ravenwood; Elijah is not so sure. Besides, nowhere in or around Ravenwood was there an amusement park; not a carnival nor a travelling fair. None that were advertised. And the crows, why are the crows still following them? Or are they leading them to somewhere--or away from somewhere?

As the dawn breaks, and the sun shows up the many shades of green in the grasses and trees--again, trees which Sarah still believes are the trees of Ravenwood--Sarah is eager to reach the sideshows, rides, and the Ferris Wheel. The child in her is excited. On the other hand, will there be clowns? Clowns are creepy and anonymous.

Why does a small child warn them of "the Devil's carnival"? What happens there? Why are there no crowds swarming around the booths and rides? The screams from the Tunnel of Horrors don't sound to be recorded sound effects--they sound so very real. What is going on?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Little white Cloud that Cried

(With apologies to Johnny Ray--anyone remember him--or was he too long ago?)

Another strange and spooky event that Aunt Emma speaks of happened "just down the road." Lady Parker-Jones of Beltenholme Hall throws open her beautiful gardens every Spring, for the annual May Day fete. The most recent fete, held a month or two before Sarah's arrival at Ravenwood, started out on the morning of a beautiful, sunny and mild, day. The Meteorologists forecast warm and sunny weather for the day before, the day of,  and the day after the big shin-dig.

As the guest celebrity was about to cut the ribbon and declare "...this year's wonderful event open..."
a strange, dark, cloud appeared overhead and simply hovered there.  Then it poured down rain. People ran for shelter, but the food and display tents collapsed; booths selling local produce floated off; for safety, electricity was turned off to the amusement rides--and the people flocked to leave the grounds and go home.

The cloud disappeared, but it was too late to get anything going again. The Meteorologists were puzzled. the cloud came from nowhere, stayed until the fete was ruined, then disappeared.

English weather is known for it's idiosyncrasies, but this appearance of a single, dark, rain cloud that stayed in one place while the sun shone all around, hovering over what should have been a happy celebration--simply inexplicable.

Who, or what, caused the phenomenon? And why? Did it have anything to do with Aunt Emma's "gentleman friend"--or his friend?


Monday, October 26, 2015

Strange Goings-on

Sarah's aunt tells of strange happenings--spooky events over the previous year. Were these events meant as punishment? Who caused them? One story told of a local teenage boy, Billy, a boy who had become troublesome and who liked to disappear with his ne'er do well friends. were they into drugs? Or were they simply aggravating, annoying, teen boys?

Off to meet up with his no-good friends one evening, he is attacked by a pack of, what he said were wild dogs. His clothes are ripped, his arms and legs a quite badly bitten. Scratched and bleeding, he is forced to admit the dogs were mere local runaways, domestic pets--none of them were large, and most were even miniature versions.

Where did they come from? And what made them attack? They showed up, did their dastardly deeds, and disappeared into the woods.

But Billy didn't meet up with his friends--and he stayed home every night after that. So, what force of nature caused that deterrent?  Good? Or evil---hmmm.

Monday, October 19, 2015

In the beginning there were four

When Sarah first arrives at Ravenwood Hall, she is given a small carved wooden box. It is locked, but she is given the key. It contains a notebook, old manuscript pages, and a worn leather pouch containing two tarnished, gold-colored medallions. They are attached to a thin leather thong which is threaded through crude holes. They are embellished with what appear to be intricate letters.

Are they coins? Buttons? Or simply roundels used as ornamentation--adornment for a lady's cape (or a gentleman's)? Sarah reads the ancient manuscript--well, she reads the transcription contained in the notebook. And there is a letter of explanation written to her by her father (who has realized his illness is taking his life quickly.)

The manuscript, written by her paternal ancestor, sets forth a story which is almost word-for-word, action-for-action, a description of the dream that has haunted her for the last ten years while in Texas.

One thing is puzzling. The story tells of a leather pouch, but describes the contents as being four golden medallions. The pouch in the wooden box contains only two.  What has happened to the missing two? And is the decorative design on the medallions merely a beautiful pattern--or is it indeed, fancy lettering? It is difficult to tell, the objects are tarnished

Does Sarah find what happened to the missing two? What is their importance? If the fancy design is lettering, what does it say? And why have they come to her?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Folly of Man

Everyone has quirks, the wealthy no less than mere men-in-the-street. One quirk of wealthy landowners over the last several hundred years--the building of ornate towers aptly called Follies. No purpose, except to show off what their money can do.

Ravenwood Hall has such a Folly--or did have. Sarah notices the tower when she first arrives at the Hall, late in the day . She glimpses the top of it along with the mellow roofs of Ravenwood. The setting sun lights up the lichen-covered slates with a rosy glow, and a haze softens the silhouetted chimneys and surrounding woods.

By the time the car stops outside the front door, the haze has thickened into a mist, Aunt Emma is there to greet Sarah, and the vision of the tower is forgotten.

The next day, when Sarah explores, she remembers the tower--but where is it? Aunt Emma doesn't know of any tower; did a tower ever exist? If it did, when? Evidently, if it did exist at one time, it must have fallen into ruins. But why did Sarah notice it last night? Imagination, brought on by jet-lag? Maybe her witch-ancestors are trying to tell her something?

Sarah's curiosity is seeded; she is determined to find out more about the mysterious monument. What does she discover? And what happens when the mist that greeted her on that day of arrival turns blue?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Not as bad as I thought

     Have you ever (and I'm sure you have) left several chapters of your work on one side and gone back to read through them after several weeks?  And when you did go back to read them, did you find they sounded perfectly fine after all? Much better than you thought, and needing little or no alteration?

     I did that with Ravenwood. After setting my middle (story, not beltline) on the right track, I intended to go back to the beginning and eliminate one or more characters. However, after reading the first three chapters with pleasure, I realize it's not as bad as I thought. In fact, the characters I didn't think should be there have shown me that they absolutely do have a part to play--so they stay

     One of the characters is a mysterious man-in-black (and it's not Johnny Cash.) His face is
hidden in the shadows of a dark gray "hoodie". He's wearing black pants, black shirt, and black shoes. When Sarah first sees him, he is at the airport having an intense conversation with Sarah's obnoxious seat-sharing-stranger (hmm, let's hear you say that five times quickly) the man she has nicknamed the Gingerbread Man.

     Does Sarah come across them again? Oho, yes she does. Do they mean her harm? At least one of them might. Which one? And where will Sarah meet them again?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rethinking. Removing, and Adding

"The Husband" has been on vacation for the past week. We didn't go anywhere special, so those of you housebound wives know that I didn't get any vacation! Anyway, I didn't get to write--I should say, I didn't get to use my fingers on the keyboard. I did quite a lot in my head, though.

You see, the posts so far have been teasing about the middle part of my story; the reason for doing so is that I wrote three to four chapters of the beginning third, but writer's block formed a wall I could not break through, so I decided to forget the first chapters--put them on the back burner--and concentrate on the middle, as if I were writing a new story that began when Sarah and her friend fell into the passage and entered the parallel universe.

Now, though, I have my middle "story" sorted, I have to go back to the beginning, delete a couple of characters who apparently don't belong, but add at least one who has intruded into my mental draft.

Those of you who have kept up with my other blog probably know that I won an award for the first chapter of this book, I was one of the five Finalists in a contest through the East Texas Writer's Guild in cooperation with Venture Galleries and Caleb Pirtle. If so, you may have read the first 1500 words, words that introduced a scene from four hundred years ago--a pregnant Jane Bulcock being taken, with several other alleged witches, to be tried and executed by hanging.

Present day nineteen-year-old Sarah Jane Bulcock, born in England raised from the age of nine or ten in Texas, travels back to England to help her aunt settle the estate of her recently deceased English father. Sarah's father, a descendant of the original Bulcock family, left Sarah with some intriguing items--items which will become important in her quest to find her way back to the present and so define her future--and change her mind about a lot of things...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Conflict--a rethinking

In the middle of the night--or rather, the early hours of the morning, I realized the chapter I've been working on doesn't have enough (or any) conflict. So I've been re-writing it and adding as much as I can.

So far, I have intensified Sarah's dislike of Elijah (he really is a rude, uber-male) and since she herself is a "Miss Bossy-Knickers" (according to him) she feels the need to stubbornly oppose any of his ideas or suggestions. She accuses him of being controlling. He says if he doesn't take the lead, who will--he knows more about Lancashire and Ravenwood than she does; however he also says he doesn't think they are in Ravenwood at all, now--Sarah says of course they are. We shall see who is right.

The producers of the argumentative shouting seem to have disappeared in a puff of smoke--or at least, a billow of mist. The only things in the forest clearing are three black crows, two of which show evidence of a tussle--feathers flying, They bumble off as our two friends (or non-friends, if you like) arrive in the clearing.

With Sarah hanging back, and Elijah crashing through the undergrowth, they are about to encounter, well, let's see, will it be Herne the Hunter (or Herne the Horned god?) Whoever they meet, will they be help or hindrance? Friend or Foe?

I'll tell more when I get Sarah and Elijah--well, somewhere out of the woods.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What Light Breaks at the End of the Tunnel?

During the reigns of Queen Elizabeth the First and King James the First, (of England, of course) it was a punishable offence to celebrate the Catholic Mass. It was dangerous to be known to do so, both for the Priest and the worshippers. So strong were those of the Catholic Faith, and so determined to continue to worship in that Faith, that they built “Priest’s Holes” into their homes (at least, those who could afford to)—secret hidey-holes where a Priest could be hidden away from the authorities. Some were so small a man couldn’t turn around—and sometimes a Priest would have to “lay low” for several days in such a hole while authorities conducted a search.

Passages, also secret, lead from some of these homes to neighboring houses, allowing a Priest access to other devout families. It was a dangerous time for Catholics.

Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Sarah and her friend Elijah accidentally fall into the hollow of an ancient oak tree while trying to retrieve the medallion stolen by a mischievous crow. This hollow tunnel deposits them in a passage man-made with rough-hewn stone blocks.

But the passage doesn’t lead to another house—so where do Sarah and Elijah find themselves? And to whom do the angry voices belong? Will they be involved in a fight—prevent a killing—form a friendship? And what happened to that medallion? Hmm, I shall have to keep writing to find out :-)

Is he good or is he bad?
Ooh, that Herne is quite a lad!

Herne the Hunter--Helpful, or Harmful?

There are many legends surrounding Herne; some depict him as good, a protector of the forests and the hunt. Some say is he a representation of the Devil--the mythical Horned God.  Others  describe him as simply another version of the Green Man.

In THE RAVENWOOD PORTAL, Sarah Jane Bulcock will encounter both. Which will she trust? Who will she follow? What will she discover in this Alternate Universe--a universe that holds the answer to a secret, a secret that will guide Sarah to her future--if she can get find her way back to the present.

What is the significance of the White Raven--and what powers does she  have? Can she and Sarah help each other find the peace they both yearn for?

Please keep following my journey in Ravenwood--I'd like to tell you more about the human characters who journey with me.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The White Raven--Princess, Goddess, Witch?

I am fascinated by rarities. My Ravenwood harbors a rare white raven. Sarah catches glimpses of it as she explores the woods around Ravenwood Hall. Her aunt is horrified when asked about it--the locals say such a bird is an omen of doom and death.

In fact, it is the black members of the Corvus Corax family--ravens, crows, etc., that are feared as being connected with evil. That is probably because of their fondness for carrion--and for mischief. They will steal anything bright, shiny, and round--even polished pebbles.

More fact: it is the opinion of those who haven't seen one up close, that the white ravens are merely albino versions of the bird; however, albino birds would have pink eyes and a pink beak. A true white raven has blue eyes, and a thick, white, beak--no trace whatsoever of pink among its feathers.

Why does Sarah think this White Raven of Ravenwood is stalking her? Why do three crows always seem to be in attendance when the white bird is seen? When will Sarah meet the legendary Green Man--and will he be able to answer her questions?

I won't tell you the answers to those questions--I will give you clues as my work in progress, um, progresses. Stay tuned, friends.

Monday, August 17, 2015

More facts, and a lot of fiction

In the shadow of Pendle Hill lie many small towns and villages, all with centuries-old houses, farms, barns, and buildings. They have names--Clitheroe, Roughlee, Trawden, Wycoller, Colne, Burnley, and Barley--and Cowark.

My Ravenwood Hall and Estate is located among them--fictional, of course. The inspiration for Ravenwood is historical Browsholme Hall, at least five hundred years old, and owned since the beginning by the Parker family.

My fictional family and its descendants, the Bulcocks, have owned Ravenwood since the 1600's. John Bulcock and his pregnant wife, Jane, were among the party of alleged witches sent to Lancaster for trial in 1612. In fact, however, the couple sent for trial was a Jane Bulcock and her son John--I changed the relationship for the sake of my story!

Browsholme has a ghost, and my Ravenwood has one. You will have to read the book to find out what it does, and who it might be. That area abounds with stories and myths of hauntings and surely descendants of the Lancashire Witches could be up to mischief to this very day.

And here's another Green Man...ooh, I wonder what he wants?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why the three crows?

Crows and their larger cousins, ravens, show up in my Work-in-Progress (hereinafter known as my WiP) THE RAVENWOOD PORTAL. A novel of the paranormal for young adults--and I mean young adults, not "old teens".

A mixture of mystery and myth, witchcraft and war, and yes Good versus Evil. Involving Sarah, a Texan who's English father has just died leaving her his English estate, Ravenwood Hall, and a young man she thinks she dislikes (because she forms an impression before she knows who he is.)

They fall, like Alice in Wonderland, into a parallel universe--a universe that shows Sarah where her future lies, and it's not where she originally wanted or planned.

A mysterious shape-shifting white raven, three golden medallions, a witch (who turns out to be Sarah's ever-so-many greats, grandmother) a hidden hoard of stolen Church plate, all come together to guide Sarah into making the right decision.

Come back often to see how the story progresses.

And, who knows--The Green Man himself might appear...