Monday, 30 January 2012

If You Could Turn Back Time...

I am in the middle of Stephen King's excellent new book 11:22:63, which I can thoroughly recommend, by the way.
It is his first venture into a time travel story and he delivers with his usual flair and excellence. I have to be (almost) physically prised away from it and, at well over 700 pages, it will be a few days before I reach the story's destination.

For anyone unfamiliar with the premise of the story: Jake Epping is given the chance to go back in time and prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. He decides to do so, knowing that every encounter he makes, every event he changes along the way, will have repercussions and will change history for all time.

Not the first time this type of 'What if...' scenario has been tackled of course. To cite just one example: many books have been written - and conjectures made - about how the world would look today if Germany had won World War II (or WorldWar I for that matter) but, as you might expect from a master storyteller, Stephen King provides his own unique slant.

So - a little challenge for you. If you had the chance to step back in time and change one key event in history, what would it be? How would the world be different today? Would there be any downsides to your proposed change?



Sunday, 22 January 2012

Do You Have a Kindle edition on Goodreads? Act before Jan 30th!

I have just learned that from January 30th, Goodreads 'will no longer display book information that comes from Amazon'.

As a result, warning notices are appearing on ebooks on their site stating, 'This edition is in danger of being removed from Goodreads.' It then invites the reader to rescue it.

Anyone can do this. You don't even have to be the author, but I would urge anyone with ebooks on Goodreads to check their titles NOW. I did and found one of mine had the warning notice posted on it. It took just a couple of minutes to 'rescue it'.

I am indebted to Angela Korra'ti for this information. More details can be found on her blog:
http://www.angelakorrati.com/2012/01/21/heads-up-to-all-authors-with-kindle-edit\
ions-and-to-goodreads-users/

Monday, 16 January 2012

Haunted Wales (1)



The Derelict – but not quite deserted - North Wales Hospital, Denbigh
A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview, whether living in Wales, with its wealth of legends, myths and mysterious places, gave me ideas for my stories.

Let’s just say, that it never hurts – as a writer of paranormal fiction – to live in a location so steeped in history and the supernatural.

This year then, I intend to take you on a trip around a few of the most significant of these and what better place to start than right on my doorstep – Denbigh.

The North Wales Hospital - also known as Denbigh Asykum – is a vast, imposing building standing out in its solitary and neglected position in the countryside, just outside the small market town of Denbigh in North Wales.

It is said that it stands on  ground cursed by witches who were once tried and executed there. It is said their restless, evil spirits still roam that lonely place…

Stone built between 1844 and 1848, the North Wales Hospital was the first psychiatric institution of its kind to be built in Wales and was then known as The North Wales Lunatic Asylum. It was considerably extended over the years, culminating in a capacity of 1500 live-in patients and1000 staff by 1956.

Here were performed many groundbreaking procedures for the first time: malarial treatments, insulin shock treatments, use of sulphur based drugs and later, the controversial electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and personality changing prefrontal lobotomy treatments introduced in the early 1940s.

Major reforms of the National Health Service over many years led to its eventual closure in 1995 and the building has been crumbling ever since. It is now in a dangerous condition and should not be visited by anyone as their safety cannot be ensured. It will be demolished and redeveloped, turned into offices and houses. They’ve been saying so for years, so it must be true. Right?

Of course, that is not to say that it is empty. The wind whips through collapsed rooves and whistles along vast, meandering corridors. Paint peels from walls and the many wards have long been stripped of anything of value. Its warped windows bang shut. Glass shatters from rotten frames. Pigeons and other birds make nests in its rafters. It’s a playground for the local feral cat population.
But they are not alone. Not according to armies of paranormal investigators who have set up camp there.

A team of fans of the paranormal who travel around the UK investigating possible hauntings, have reported their evidence on their fascinating website ‘Totally Haunted’ http://totallyhaunted.co.uk/denbigh-mental-asylum.php See what you make of the sounds they captured.

With so much notoriety, it was inevitable that the producers of the UK TV programme ‘Most Haunted Live’ should choose to pay it a visit and, in October 2008, they performed a special week long investigation there. Their presenter, Yvette Fielding, produced more than her usual quota of trademark, bloodcurdling screams as unexplained bangs, crashes and unusual sounds and sightings sent viewers scurrying for cushions to hide behind. Black magic, witches’ spells, curses and a ritual cleansing are just some of the phenomena that saw Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe, their resident parapsychologist, reaching for his latest techno-gadget. You can capture a flavour of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFYDJcEl5X8&feature=related and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgihHtaX89A&feature=fvwrel

Sadly, ‘Most Haunted’ was axed by Living TV in 2011. I really miss that show. Great fun!

As for the hospital; is it ,or isn’t it? Are there any haunted places, or are they just echoes? Memories of times and events locked into a location and stored for posterity. Will we ever know for sure? In a way, I hope not. It’s nice sometimes to keep a little mystery…

Meanwhile, as they say in all the best crime shows – and paraphrased at the end of each episode of ‘Most Haunted’ :

“Don’t have nightmares. Sleep well…”

Monday, 9 January 2012

Fearless, Fast-Paced Fiction: An interview with Susan Swift/Suz deMello

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Sue and discover why she has two identities and about her work both as a writer and editor.
 Catherine:  Welcome Sue. I am intrigued. You write under both names. I understand this is a result of writing books in two distinct genres. Can you tell us more about that? Would you advise other authors to do the same?
Sue: Whether an author takes a pseudonym is both a personal and business decision. Some authors, anticipating an uncomfortable level of celebrity, take a pseudonym before publishing. I never reached or thought I’d become famous, so I didn’t bother. I published first book under the name Susan Swift, but realized after my first book signing that the shorter, the better.
 
So I started to write using Sue Swift. When I branched off into erotic romance, I wanted to enable readers who might be uncomfortable with a high heat level to easily distinguish the erotica. So Suz deMello was born. I occasionally use Thalia S. Child as a name when editing just for fun… l like having alternate identities. Maybe I should have been a CIA agent!

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Sue: I’m not one of those writers born with a pen (or a computer keyboard) in her hand. I came to writing rather late, as the result of taking a friend’s class at a local community college. “Writing for Publication” was a real eye-opener in regard to the business of writing. At the time, I was mired in an uncomfortable career as a trial attorney, and when I realized that writing could be an alternate career, I jumped at the chance. I consider myself very very lucky.
I started writing my first manuscript when taking another writing class in late 1996. We were supposed to be keeping a journal, which didn’t interest me, but writing a romance did. Romance is the largest fiction genre and I figured that I had the best chance of creating a career in that genre. So I wrote the manuscript that eventually became Walk Like A Man, one of my most successful books, in late 1996. I sold my first book in 1999, and have been writing and selling at a steady pace ever since—an average of a manuscript every year since 1996.

Catherine: In addition to writing, you are also an editor. How and why did you get into that?
Sue: After I divorced, I had a vicious case of writers’ block that still hasn’t let up. As you can imagine, that makes writing difficult! The economic collapse was just beginning and I couldn’t get a job in my former profession, law. I knocked around doing one job and another, including working as a Starbucks barista and teaching English to toddlers in China, until I discovered that online publishers are greatly in need of good editors. Though I didn’t major in English, I have a feel for the language and am meticulous, which are prerequisites. As I said, I’m very, very lucky.

Catherine: If you were told you could either be a writer or an editor, which would you choose and why?
Sue: My muse has gone AWOL, so it’s editing, I guess.

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Sue: I’m revising a BDSM story for (hopefully) resale and finishing a vampire historical, a follow-up to Temptation in Tartan, which will be published by Ellora’s Cave next year.

Catherine: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Sue: Read books on craft, take classes, get a critique partner who’s a better writer than you are. Stories are like diamonds. They start out looking like a lump of dirty rock. Cut away a lot—most new writers think each word came from God, but trust me, it didn’t. After you’ve cut and trimmed and tweaked, polish your story until it shines.

Catherine: If you could be anyone at any time in history, who would you be and why?
Sue: Wow…tough one. I believe we live in a wonderful time, when most diseases, poverty and hopelessness are on the run. We enjoy advances in health care that were unimaginable two centuries ago, and if we have the will, we can eradicate all the traditional ills for everyone. I love history, but I know that past peoples (and some folks right now) had pretty rough lives. I wouldn’t want to live any time in the past, for purely practical reasons.

But the best is yet to come. I’m not sure that I want to be anyone other than who I am, except maybe me living in Venice with a cool boyfriend I adore and who adores me.  I’d rather be someone in the future, just to see what’s going to happen 

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today, Sue. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your books? 
Sue: I have a couple of websites and a blog:
And people can befriend me on Facebook
And follow my reading picks on Twitter@ReadThis4fun.

Here’ the blurb and an excerpt from Seducing the Hermit, a book Sue wrote during and after a cruise to Alaska:
 Deejay Valerie Percy rejects the phony life she's led in L.A. and travels to remote Takinsha Island, Alaska, determined to start over. She looks for a fuck-buddy, an accessory she considers more important than mascara. She wants a warm, outgoing man to laugh with her, hang out with her and shag her silly.
She doesn’t think she’ll encounter any difficulty in Alaska, where the odds of men to women are twenty to one. But as locals say, the odds are good, but the goods are…odd.
She falls for Fisher Chugatt, a loner who rejects any relationship. But Cupid has other plans for this couple, and so does Valerie. She doesn’t waste any time, seducing Fisher within a few hours of arriving.
Hot anal sex in the shower, hummers on the couch and a spectacular encounter beneath the Northern Lights seal the deal in Valerie’s mind. In love with Fisher, she wants it all: home, husband, babies…his babies. But Fisher can’t banish shadows from his past that prevent him from committing to Valerie.
***
Chapter One
flamboyant, flam-boy-ant: (adj): vivid, bright

Fisher Chugatt eyed the woman on the ferry approaching Takinsha Island and realized that she embodied his most recent “word of the day”.

Though he’d spent most of his life on the remote Alaskan island, his brief foray into the world convinced him that the education he’d received in Takinsha’s small high school had been inadequate. Thus the words of the day. Every morning, Fisher worked on The New York Times crossword puzzle, which always yielded something new to learn.

Ms. Flamboyant wore ankle-length, zebra-print jeans that revealed fuchsia socks with fake fur trim. Her short, thin-soled boots would be useless against the fearsome Alaska winter. Her more sensible gear included a fuchsia and black parka, fuchsia gloves and a matching knitted hat. She tugged off her hat by its cutesy little pom-pom, revealing shoulder-length blonde hair that whipped in the wind.

Yes, Ms. Flamboyant was definitely a babe. A hot babe.

She shoved the hat into her pocket then stripped off her gloves, exposing ridiculously long, fuchsia-painted nails. Fisher chuckled to himself. They wouldn’t last.

No wedding ring. His pulse quickened.

Was flamboyant related to flambĂ©? This woman was definitely hot, scorching hot, and Fisher wouldn’t mind a little Female FlambĂ© occasionally warming him up through the long Alaska winter.

Stop, he told himself. Chances were this girl wasn’t Valerie Percy, the woman he’d come to meet. The new station manager and disk jockey was most likely a hardened Hollywood type, not this slender, wide-eyed blonde. This female was probably just another day-tripping tourist, here to see the orcas, eagles and bears.

Too bad. He raised his gaze to the woman’s eyes and grinned.
***
Valerie Percy smiled at the tall, dark hunk standing on the boat docked by the Takinsha Island pier. He leaped from his boat to the surface of the wharf, agile as a sleek, sable otter. The man must have antifreeze in his veins, since he wore only khaki shorts and a faded black T-shirt in the cool Alaska summer. His skimpy clothes showed off one hell of a body, golden and muscular.

She shivered inside her sweater and parka. A southern California girl, born and bred, she could tolerate heat rocketing into the nineties or even triple digits in the summertime. She’d learned that in this part of Alaska, a temperature of seventy degrees Fahrenheit was unusually warm. She bet it was only in the sixties today, despite the August sunshine.

She shivered again then remembered, You chose this, didn’t you? You wanted a change. When her company RadioWorks USA had acquired Takinsha Island’s only station, they’d offered her big bucks to move from L.A. to manage the place since the previous owner was nearing retirement and unwilling to stay on for much longer. Bored and restless, she’d jumped at the chance.

The ferry bumped against the dock, and she went below to get into her faithful V.W. Bug and drive it off the boat. Packed with her belongings, Old Faithful had somehow crawled from Los Angeles all the way to Bellingham, Washington, where Valerie had boarded the Alaska Marine Highway, the ferry system to Takinsha.

She crammed herself into the small car, crowded with boxes and bags. Digging the key out of her purse, she started O.F. and slowly drove out, rolling and clattering over the ferry’s metal bib.

When she emerged into the thin sunshine illuminating the dock, a box slipped from the top of the stack in the front seat. It fell, jamming the brake. “Shit!” She pumped furiously at the pedal, but O.F. kept rolling along the crowded dock.

Dammit, she couldn’t stop her car. Images flashed by her panicked eyes. Tourists jumping out of her way, cameras swinging like misshapen pendulums. Fishermen swearing as they dodged O.F. The crunch of crab pots and assorted other gear she couldn’t identify, not when it was being crushed beneath Old Faithful’s tires.

The tall, dark hottie she’d seen from the ferry turned, his eyes widening. Just before the bug rolled into him, he leaped onto the hood of her car, shouting, “Jesus fucking Christ!”

Scrabbling for a grip, he grabbed a wiper. It broke off in his hand. Swatches of angry red flagged the hunk’s furious face. He spread his hands on the window, plastering himself along it as best he could, bending his knees onto the hood so he wouldn’t lose a leg.

Old Faithful bumped into the side of a battered red pickup.

“Shit, shit, shit!” Screeching with dismay, Valerie dug her hand between two boxes to grab the brake below. Something snapped, probably one of her acrylic fingernails. She didn’t care. Thankfully, the car had stopped before it could inflict much more damage to the truck and dock, to say nothing of the hottie.

She slumped back into her seat, panting. Tracks of sticky sweat oozed down her chest under her sweater. Damp pools soaked her armpits. Fumbling in her pocket for a tissue, she wiped her forehead with a shaky hand.

Hearing a tap, she jerked up her head. A tanned, impassive face waited outside the driver’s side of the Bug. The hunk appeared to have calmed from his previous fear and fury, so Valerie started to roll down the window. She struggled with the cranky handle, which had stiffened from cold during the week-long ferry trip.

“Hi,” the hunk said in a conversational tone of voice. He didn’t smile, but his eyes glinted. “You wouldn’t happen to have car insurance, would you?”

“Oh my God!” Valerie shoved the door open, whacking his midsection. He fell back with an “Oof.” She exploded out of the Bug. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

He rubbed his belly. “I’ll live. Tell me—are you always so accident prone?”

“Oh no.” Valerie opened her blue eyes wide, hoping for an earnest expression. “Normally I’m a very good driver.”

“Of course.” His smile didn’t reach his cool, dark gaze. Damn. Her innocent routine hadn’t impressed him. He leaned against the side of her car with an easy, masculine grace. “But have you noticed that everyone thinks he or she is a good driver?”

 She gaped. Had she just been insulted? “Uh, uh, I guess you’re right.” She searched her memory. “I can’t think of anyone who’s ever said he’s a bad driver.”

“Precisely my point.” He scrutinized her car, his slightly narrow, Asiatic eyes lingering first on a scrape in the door and then on the twisted antenna. He walked to the front where he no doubt noticed the dents in the hood.

“They’re not my fault,” she said defensively. Besides, he had a lot of nerve. His old clunker was hardly an advertisement for its owner’s good driving habits.

The hunk tipped his head to one side like a curious raven. His long, black hair, tied neatly at his nape with a leather cord, shone in the sun. “Did I say something?”

“Uh, no. And by the way, I have excellent car insurance. With a good driver discount.”

“That’s…remarkable.” His eyebrows lifted. “Can you reverse a little? I’d like to see how my truck—”

“Oh, of course.” Valerie hastily climbed back into Old Faithful and turned the motor back on. O.F. edged back with a jerk and a pop.

This was great, just great. The man was obviously a local. Lacking a wedding ring, he was a prime candidate for the position of fuck buddy, an accessory she considered even more essential than mascara. But he seemed to have formed the opinion she was a goof, and with good reason.

Still, the odds were in her favor. Twenty to one. At least that was what she’d heard from other women on the ferry, so maybe he’d want to hang out with her anyhow.

Valerie brightened as she searched for her insurance information. After scribbling her name and that of her insurance company on an old gum wrapper, she peeked out the window again.

Hot Stuff was bending over, checking out the side of his truck, giving her a view of his nice, tight ass. Ooh baby.

When he straightened, she got out of the car to hand him the paper. “By the way, I’m supposed to be meeting someone here. I think the name was…” She frowned in thought. “Fishman or something. Do you know someone named Fish, uh, man?”

This time he gave her a real grin, one that gleamed against his dark-golden skin. “Lots of fishermen around here. Maybe we can pin it down to a species. Sure it wasn’t Shrimper, or even Halibut?”

Was he making fun of her again? “N-no. But it was a fishy name. Um, just for the halibut, can you stop teasing me?”

“But you’re so entertaining,” he murmured. “I’m Fisher,” he said in a clearer tone. “Fisher Chugatt.”

Well, hell. Foot-in-mouth disease had struck. She wanted to sink into the pilings of the dock.

“Welcome to Takinsha Island, Ms. Percy.” He smirked at her, extending a hand.

His warm, strong grasp made her wonder if the rest of him would feel as fine. Losing her wits momentarily, she managed to say, “Oh, uh, you can call me, umm, Valerie. Won’t we be working together?”

“Yep. If you leave the radio station standing,” he muttered.

“What?” Had he insulted her again?

“Yes,” he said in a louder voice. “I keep the equipment in order. I understand that the new owners sent you. You’re the new station manager and will be handling part of the deejay work, right?”

“Right.”

“Follow me to the station. I think my truck’s drivable. I guess I can get into it using the other door since you stove in this one.” He nodded at the driver’s side.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry.” Could matters get worse?

“Don’t worry. I can pop it out again.” His keen gaze again swept O.F. “Your car’s probably okay. V.W.s have the trunk in the front, don’t they?”

“Uh-huh. The engine’s in the back, so it’ll be all right. I don’t care about another ding in the bumper.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you don’t.”

Valerie winced. Had she turned off a total hottie who was also a coworker? What if he told everyone on the little island she was a ditz? She’d have a dimwit reputation before even a single day had passed.
***


Monday, 2 January 2012

Brinda Berry's Whispering Woods

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Brinda whose bestselling YA Paranormal story, ‘The Waiting Booth’ (part one of the Whispering Woods series) is published by Etopia Press.
 If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

A missing boy, government agents, an interdimensional portal...
Mia has one goal for her senior year at Whispering Woods High--find her missing older brother. But when her science project reveals a portal into another dimension, she learns that travelers are moving in and out of her woods in the most alarming way and government agents Regulus and Arizona are policing their immigration. Mia’s drawn to the mysterious, aloof Regulus, but it’s no time for a crush. She needs to find out what they know about her brother, while the agents fight to save the world from viral contamination. But when Regulus reveals that he knows Mia’s secrets, she begins to wonder if there’s more going on than she thought...and if she was wrong to trust him...
 Catherine:  Welcome Brinda and congratulations on ‘The Waiting Booth’ which is, I believe, the first in a series called ‘Whispering Woods’. Can you tell us more about the story and why you decided to write a series?
Brinda: The Waiting Booth is really a YA adventure story with a side of romance. The main character, Mia, places a lot of importance on family and is determined to find out about her missing older brother. She’s also not a typical teen in that she’s hidden the fact that she’s a synesthete. Actually, what teen is typical? None! She has a condition that affects the way she senses our world and it’s a handy tool when it comes to portals. The Waiting Booth is the first in the series. If you look at my library, you’ll find that I love reading series. If I find a character and world I like, I’ll follow it to the end. 

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Brinda: I think I’ve made up stories in my head for a very long time, but I wrote my first manuscript in my late twenties. After a disappointing round of query letters to agents and publishing houses, I put writing aside for many years. I started writing again a couple of years ago.

Catherine: You made a trailer for ‘The Waiting Booth’, which is excellent, by the way. How difficult was this to do? Do you need to be technically savvy?
Brinda: Let me first say that the final trailer was simple. I did create many other versions that were more difficult to produce. Maybe the learning experience was necessary to get to the end result.  I used online software called Animoto to produce the final one. The result seemed more professional to me. Others I tried using were Movie Maker, Splice, iMovie and Film Director. I believe I can make a trailer within an hour or less using Animoto. You don’t have to be technically savvy to use it. The most time consuming part is finding the right images to use. I purchased my images from Bigstock photo. I’ve used their site for years because the prices are reasonable. I think I paid $5 each for pictures. I also used some pictures I had taken. My niece is featured in the middle of the trailer.

Catherine: How do you work as a writer? Do you spend a long time plotting and planning, or are you more of a ‘pantser’?
Brinda: I am more of a plotter, but I believe you should be a panster during writing or your story may become stale. Let your muse have some privileges. I do plan out plotpoints and chapters.

Catherine:  Tell us more about ‘Whisper of Memory’ which is the second in the series.
Brinda:  I had a terrific time writing the second book, ‘Whisper of Memory’. In this book,  Mia knows that she has certain goals and she’s going for them. She’s also experiencing some new emotions with a boyfriend in the picture. It was fun to write about things like weapons training and winter formals—a deadly combination. 

Catherine: I’m looking forward to reading it. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Brinda: I think the best thing you can do is find a network of resources. You may be the best writer in the world, but you can always learn more about writing and the industry. I think the internet has opened up so much to new authors that no one has an excuse to be ignorant.

Catherine: Very true. Now, if you could be anyone at any time in history, who would you be and why?
Brinda: Would it be terribly vain if I said I like being me in this day and time? We have so much opportunity and good health. You’ve stumped me on this question, Catherine.

Catherine:  No problem, Brinda! Thank you very much for joining us today, Brinda. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book? 
Brinda:    FACEBOOK ,   TWITTER ,   WEBSITE/BLOG

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘The Waiting Booth’:
 Hi, Mr. Taylor. Mia here?” Austin entered without waiting to be invited in.
My dad stepped aside and looked up at me expectantly as I was taking the last few steps. I hoped that Austin wouldn’t breathe a word about what was on the pictures. I sure didn’t want my dad to be paranoid about leaving me alone during the week while he worked out of town.
“Dad, Austin’s helping me with my science project. Come on up.”
My dad had always liked Austin. If he ever found out that Austin had hit on me, that would change in a heartbeat. For crying out loud, I even thought about Austin like he was a brother. That he’d tried to kiss me sent the ick factor into the stratosphere.
We bounded up the stairs as quickly as possible without alerting my dad to some urgency in the air. I closed the door behind Austin and proceeded to move my computer mouse to bring the screen back in view.
Austin looked at the picture as he sat at my desk chair. “And this was the one at the end of your driveway?”
“Yeah,” I answered, hoping he would tell me he knew the guy, and he wasn’t some ax murderer roaming my woods.
“Pretty good pic,” Austin muttered. He clicked to zoom in on the face. “Still…it’s hard to make him out.”
“Do you recognize him or not?”
“Nope. Can’t say I know him. It’s not like I know everybody. It’s a big school. And he might not even be a college student. I can barely tell anything about the second person.” Austin clicked the forward and back buttons in the photo software program. “Why are they only in one frame?”
“I guess they’re really fast. I have the timer set to take a picture every six seconds after motion activation.”
He nodded. “Let’s go down and take a gander. Maybe they dropped something. Or maybe we can figure out why they were down there.”
Austin led the way out of my room while I covertly studied him. If I tried to forget that he was like a brother to me, I could see that he was good-looking. He was a little on the lanky side, and that made him look younger to most people. His dark hair always hung into his eyes, which made him seem a little derelict. His new sword tattoo covered about two inches of his right forearm. I had tried to talk him out of it, but he had grinned and said that I’d want one exactly like it.
He looked back at me as I stood there and smiled a I just caught you checking me out grin. I wasn’t really looking at him like that, but I felt myself blush and quickly found something else to focus on as I followed him out the door.
We left the house and took Austin’s car to the waiting booth. He drove an old black Jeep that was still minus the shell since the weather was warm enough. We jumped out to examine the area. On the same side of the drive as the wooden structure, saplings tangled with briars and brush as far as the eye could see. In the years before I was able to drive myself to school, my dad had kept the area fairly clean and bare with the aid of a tractor. Now, this area had become overgrown and weedy.
In the middle of the stalks of high grass, a circle of flattened brush marked where the people in the photo had been standing. “Holy cow, you’d really have to be dragging something heavy to make this dent in the ground.” I gasped, suspecting that the marks were new and the people in the photo had created them.
Austin walked around the flattened circle. “This is too weird. See how the grass swirls in a pattern? Maybe that dude had set something down here.”
“He wasn’t dragging anything in the picture. Maybe I need to look at it again.” I estimated the diameter of the circle to be about five feet across. I caught my breath as I felt a reverberating tickle pluck my spine like a tightly wound cello string. Avoiding the circle, I walked into the brush past it to see if I could find more evidence of the intruders. Nothing.
The weather had been fairly dry with no rain this month, but I bent to look for footprints. I started feeling silly, because even if I found footprints, I wouldn’t be able to tell anything from them. I shivered, trying to rid myself of the willies.