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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Paranormal Accounts from The Shenandoah Valley and Mountains

These excerpts are taken from Supernatural Tales,The Virginia and West Virginia Mountain and Valley Folklife Series by late Shenandoah Valley author and historian John Heatwole. Mr. Heatwole interviewed many inhabitants of Brock’s Gap and wrote up a wonderful collection of stories included in his series. He said, “The Brocks Gap section of Rockingham County is rich in folklore of all kinds. It is an area in the northwest part of the county isolated by the North Mountain range.”
The following spooky stories are a great source of entertainment while snug inside next to a warm hearth, but not so much fun if you find yourself out on your own in the woods and hollows after dark.~
“Frank Caplinger lived across the road from the old Caplinger Chapel near the Criders Post Office in western Brocks Gap. In the evening Frank would sometimes hear pews scraping on the floor of the church on the other side of the road. Each time he walked over to check on things he would find the building empty with no signs that anyone had been there.
Once Frank was crossing the German River on the old suspension foot bridge; he was going to the post office on the opposite bank. As he entered the bridge he looked up and saw a strange man sitting on top of the cable frame, still and quiet. When Frank neared the other end of the bridge he looked back and the figure had vanished. It was impossible for the man to have scrambled down and run out of sight that quickly.” 
“Other folks remember strange lights on the mountains or in the cemeteries.  Harrison May recalled: ‘We’d see lights up in the Caplinger Cemetery every so often. When we got there to check there’d be no lights anywhere. Guess they were just spooks.’”
Moonlit Night
“When Nelson Whetzel was a young man he had an interesting experience while walking home from work one evening. In Brocks Gap in earlier times the only things to light ones way were the stars or the glow from a lamp in a neighbor’s window. 
As he walked Nelson heard a horse coming up the road behind him.  Nelson stopped for a moment, thinking, ‘Good! I’ll have someone to talk to.’ But the sound of the horse’s hooves stopped when he did. He called out, asking who was there in the pitch-black.
No answer came and Nelson began uneasily walking again, this time a little faster. The sound of the horse picked up pace to match Nelson’s. He stopped a second time and the sound of the horse ceased to be heard. Nelson started trotting and the sound horse’s hooves were heard at a trot behind him, close on his heels. He grew very frightened and began to run as fast as he could.  The galloping horse seemed to be so close, Nelson thought he felt the breath on the back of his neck.
Up ahead Nelson saw the lighted windows of the cabin belonging to George and Mat Smith. He was so terrified that he hit the Smith’s front door at full force. He knocked it down and went right through the structure, knocking down the back door as he exited. The Smiths blinked at each other in wonder and amazement. They saw no phantom horse follow Nelson through their home.
Immediately after his encounter with the doors Nelson noticed the sound of the pursuing horse was gone, however, he ran on home as fast as his feet would carry him.”
*That tale reminds me of the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Scary!
“The Roadcaps lived in a two-story log cabin just down the road from Gospel Hill Mennonite Church. All of the girls of the family shared a room upstairs.  One night one of the sisters, Peggy by name, went to the bedroom alone.  There she saw a woman sitting up on the iron headboard of one of the beds.
The woman didn’t say anything or move toward the frightened child, just sat there and looked at her. Peggy was rooted to the spot in fear but able to find her voice and call to her father to come to her aid.  There was something in her voice that demanded immediate attention and she heard his heavy footfall as he hurried up the stairs. As her father neared the room, the woman vanished into thin air.  Peggy never entered that room alone again.
The children of the Roadcap family loved to play on the banks of the little Shoemaker River near their home. Once they came running home and told their father they’d seen a woman all dressed in white walking along the opposite bank of the river from where they played. They’d never seen her before and being shy had not spoken to her but only observed her progress.
Their father listened thoughtfully and then told them they had seen the spirit of a young woman who had died years before of a broken heart. They were told they would probably see her again and that she would do them no harm. They were to behave as they had before and refrain from calling out to the spirit.
They believed their father. There were not that many people living in those parts and the children knew them all. They promised not to disturb the apparition if they encountered her again. During their childhoods they witnessed her strolling along the river on several more occasions.~
That story reminds me of the novel, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which was a very intriguing BBC mystery/thriller starring Tara Fitzgerald. I saw the film on Netflix and highly recommend it.
***If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the one I wrote entitled:
***John Heatwole's books are at Amazon, but may only be available as used copies.
Posted by Beth Trissel
For more on my work please visit my Amazon Author Page

Thursday, September 26, 2019


Dear Friends,

With great sadness I announce the sudden passing of our friend and blog member Vonnie Jane Davis. She passed away on September 18, 2019, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Vonnie was so desolate after the passing of her late husband Calvin, I believe they are reunited in peace.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

National Bluebird of Happiness Day ~ by Judy Ann Davis

                      September 24th is National Bluebird of Happiness Day!

For years I have tried to entice bluebirds to our yard. They were considered quite scare in our Central Pennsylvania region, but they have now begun to reappear.

Bluebird Nesting Box
Since I dabble in woodworking, especially in designing and constructing birdhouses, I made and hung a bluebird house on a portion of our wire fence once used as a dog run for our Dalmatian. Houses have to be mounted 4 to 6 feet above the ground and need to face cleared open land. Each house should also have a predator guard around the entrance hole to keep creatures from accessing the nest. (See the picture of guard on my bluebird box.)

I was thrilled the last two years when a pair decided to nest in my house. I was likewise disappointed two years in a row when the nasty sparrows chased them out into our neighbor’s yard.

The symbol of a bluebird as the harbinger of happiness is found in many cultures and may date back thousands of years. It is the most universally accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, hearth and home, good health, new births, the renewal of springtime—and the list goes on and on. In North America, the Iroquois believed the bluebird’s call could chase away Sawiskera, the spirit of the winter.

There are three species of these colorful North American birds. The Eastern and Western bluebirds have a reddish brown breast which contrasts with their predominately blue plumage. The male mountain bluebird, however, is entirely blue.
Here are a few of my other birdhouse creations. Although I have now moved on from designing and making birdhouses and other woodcrafts, I still tinker with my band saw, drill press, and woodworking tools to make a few things that I sell when I attend festivals to sell my books. Writing consumes most of my time these days.

Here's wishing everyone today a very joyful and productive day.

                            Below is an "Awesome Amazon Giveaway." Please feel free to enter.



Friday, September 20, 2019

The Dress My Mama Made For Me--by Laurean Brooks

On last month's blog post I wrote about an embarrassing experience on my first day of school--namely the way I was questioned and vetted by the first-grade teacher to ensure I met the requirements to start first grade at Palmersville School. On this post I'll relate another embarrassing experience in third grade.

My mother made all her daughters' dresses until we reached junior high. After that, generous neighbors gave us bags of clothes outgrown by their slightly older daughters. Because Jewell, Ruthie and I were small for our ages, this worked out great.

A couple of weeks after starting third grade, Mama created a sash dress for me, made from blue and white checkered gingham. From the bodice to the waist the material was a solid sky-blue. From the full waist to the hem, the material was blue-and-white-checkered. Mama made the waist billowy by gathering yards and yards of material together and stitching it to the bodice. The sleeves she also made from the checkered material. Lastly, she added a checkered sash.

Mama made all her creations on an old treadle machine because she preferred it to an electric one. The trouble was, her treadle machine made long stitches. Those who sew know that long stitches will easily pull apart when tugged on. (You will understand why I mentioned this if you keep reading.)

I wore the blue-and-white-checkered dress for the first time on “School Pictures Day.” I was so pleased with it that I preened in front of the mirror that morning, admiring the pretty sash, the billowy skirt, plus the white nylon ankle socks that went so well with the dress and with my shiny patent-leather shoes.

We had our pictures made in the gym that morning on the stage with the curtains as a background. After another class, followed by lunch, we went outdoors for recess. In those days, school playgrounds had long, tall slides, monkey bars, see-saws, and swings. I loved the tall slide for the adrenaline rush it gave me as I sped down it at lightning speed.

This particular day I was climbing the ladder behind Kemp, waiting for him to land at the bottom. I had just sat down when a gust of wind swept my skirt up. Unbeknownst to me, when it floated down, the hem of my dress caught on a protruding nailhead at the top of the slide.

Wheeeee! I pushed off, speeding down the slide when a ripping noise reached my ears. Uh-oh. My rapid descent ripped the skirt from the top of my dress, inch by inch, all the way down. I could hear and feel it tearing apart, but there wasn't a thing I could do except ride it out.

When I slid to a stop at the bottom, I turned to look up behind me. My once billowing skirt was stretched from the nail at the top of the slide to the bottom of it. I held a death grip on the three inches of material still attached to the top part of my dress and cried.

A helpful classmate climbed the ladder to the slide and freed my skirt from the nail. I stood up, my face burning and my cotton slip in plain view for everyone to see, and clutched the three inches of skirt material still attached to the top of my dress. A classmate named Sherry helped me gather the yards of material together that once was my skirt. I grasped it tightly at the waist while Sherry ushered me to our classroom.

Mrs. Richardson's jaw dropped when she saw my predicament. Sherry explained what had happened since I was still sniffling. The teacher exclaimed, “Good Heavens! Sherry, take her to the home ec room where Miss Easterwood can get one of her students in sewing class to mend Laurie's dress.”

The girls in the home ec class gasped when Sherry and I walked into the room. A few laughed, but Miss Easterwood tried her best to not look shocked. Sherry explained how it had happened. Miss Easterwood jumped up and led me to the kitchen. “Let's get your dress off, first. You wait in here while I get one of the girls to repair it.”

I was still sniffling when she left me in the kitchen, closing the door between it and the sewing room. It seemed I was in the kitchen for an hour when one of the girls from home ec finally appeared, holding my dress up for inspection. She smiled. “See? It's just like new.”

I thanked her through my tears. The skirt was bunched in places, but Mama could fix that. And I saw a rip on the sleeve I hadn't noticed before. She had attempted to fix it, but it was in a place that could easily be seen. The nice girl pulled the refurbished garment over my head, helped me button it, and tied the sash.

The dress I adored that morning was now a symbol of humiliation. I would like to proclaim that I never wore it again. But, I did. Since I had so few dresses, I wore it every week until I outgrew it. And each time I put it on, awful flashbacks occurred. Flashbacks of zooming down the slide with the sound of Rip-rip-rip! behind me.

After the “hanging dress” catastrophe, I took extra care when I reached the top of the slide. I always tucked my skirt beneath me, before I shoved off and slid.

You didn't think I'd let a dress, hung-on-a-nail-at-the-top-of-the-slide, conquer me, did you?

Moral of this story: "When you reach the end of your skirt, grab what's left and hang on."

 “A stitch in time saves nine,” could only apply if we changed "nine" to "nine-hundred."

Do you like sweet romance in a simpler time during the late 60s and early 70s? This story warms the heart as it shows how misunderstandings can cause heartbreak and separation. Don't worry; my stories always have Happy Endings.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Secret Identities of Authors by @JoanReeves

It's going to be a great day!
Let's start the day by talking about popular authors and their secret real identities, none of which is really secret given the internet.

Most readers know that many authors write under pseudonyms. Writers do this for various reasons.

Category romance publishers like Harlequin and Silhouette required it. That way publishers owned the name, and it kept authors in their "stable" so to speak.

Why Pseudonyms

Other reasons for pseudonyms generally were for the following reasons:

1. Many times, traditional publishers made authors take pseudonyms if their previous sales under a different name weren't as good as the publisher wanted.

With a new name, a publisher could launch the author as "a new name in fiction" or something similar, even though the author in question may have written and published dozens of books.

2. If an author wanted to write in a different genre, the publisher often required her or him to publish in the other genre under a different name for marketing purposes.

The thinking was that a known romance author would alienate her readers if she published horror or mystery, or that those genre readers wouldn't give her a chance if she was known to be a romance author.

3. Sometimes, authors prefer to use a pseudonym to protect their privacy. Taking a pseudonym in this age where privacy and security are relevant concerns is certainly understandable, but often futile given just about any tidbit of information can be found online if someone is determined to find it.

4. Sometimes, authors who wrote fast couldn't get publishers to accept their work unless the "excess" was published under a pseudonym. That was back when there was a stigma attached to fast writing.

The general opinion was if you turned out work really fast then it probably wasn't very good.

Publishers didn't realize, or didn't care, that authors were trying to support themselves on their writing. More books meant more income and a better, more stable, cash flow.

5. Sometimes, authors just don't want to have to defend what they write to their neighbors, church friends, their kids' teachers, or even relatives.

Many times, a pseudonym is used for a short period of time and then abandoned. This happens because one name becomes predominantly successful so the others aren't used or publishing contracts expire, lines fold, etc. There are many reasons why names get abandoned.

Secret Identities Revealed

Readers may find themselves wondering what happened to some of their favorite authors like Billie Douglass or Owen West or any of the other popular genre fiction writers.

In actuality, Ms. Douglass is doing just fine living her writing life as Barbara Delinsky, and Mr. West is living quite well as Dean Koontz.

For your entertainment, and for you masters of trivia, here are some popular pseudonyms by well-known authors.

* Amanda Ashley is the fabulous Madeline Baker.

* Mystery novelist Jill Churchill is Janice Young Brooks.

* Candace Camp is Lisa Gregory, Kristin James, and Sharon Stephens.

* Janet Evanovich of Stephanie Plum fame wrote under Steffie Hall.

* Diana Palmer is Susan Kyle.

* Amanda Quick, Amanda Glass, Jayne Castle, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, and Stephanie James are all Jayne Anne Krentz.

* If you're a true Nora Roberts fan, then you should know that Nora (real name Eleanor Wilder) has written as J. D. Robb, Sarah Hardesty, and Roberts Smith.

* The aforementioned Dean Koontz wrote as David Axton, Brian Coffey, K. R. Dwyer, John Hill, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Own West, Aaron Wolfe, and, oh, yes, Leigh Nichols and Deanne Dwyer.

* William E. Butterworth III is, of course, W.E.B. Griffin, W.E. Butterworth, Webb Beech, Edmund O. Scholefield, Patrick Williams, Alex Baldwin, Walter Blake, James Douglas, Jack Dugan, John K. Dugin, and Blakely St. James as well as Eden Hughes and Allison Mitchell.

* If you think that's a lot of names and authorial identities to remember, take a look at Spur Award Winner Robert Vaughan who has written more than 250 books and used, I believe, 35 different names.

* Even Agatha Christie published under the pen names Mary Westmacott and Agatha Christie Mallowan.
In real life, Louis L'Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore so he edited his name and became a literary phenom.

So think about this. Maybe that new author you're reading is really just an old favorite in disguise.

As for me, I've written all my books under Joan Reeves. You can find all my books listed on my Amazon page.

However, I once wrote 3 newspaper columns with 2 of them under pseudonyms.

* * * * *

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Take My Advice by Bea Tifton

Yesterday I was repotting a plant I’d just bought. I gently massaged the roots before I put them in the dirt. The thought flickered through my mind that I wasn’t sure who had first told me to do this. I thought about all the things I knew how to do and where I had learned them. The practical living things. And that led me to advice. 

Advice comes from so many sources, people we love, people we hate, strangers, advertisers. Do this. Don’t do that. Buy this. Avoid that. We’re bombarded. And, I am willing to admit, I’ve given my fair share as well, both solicited and unsolicited. 

I had a friend who lost her mother. She said the thing she missed most was picking up the phone and asking for advice. Her mother just seemed to know so much about so many things. My mother and I are very close. I hope we have many years left, but I know I will bitterly miss her when the time comes to say goodbye. And one of the reasons is her no nonsense advice and her exhaustive realm of knowledge. How do I get this stain out? What do you think I should plant in that corner of the yard? The purple shirt or the burgundy one? 

When I started teaching my mentor gave me the best teaching advice I ever received. “Say yes whenever you can, but mean it when you say no.” That’s good advice for any area of life. 
I’ve gotten great advice that I didn’t follow. When I was in my 20s I worked as a clerk in a medical library.  The librarians thought I had an affinity for the work and tried to convince me to go to library school. Nope. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and I didn’t want to go to grad school. Fifteen years later? Yep. Masters in Library Science and a profession I love.

Sometimes good advice comes from complete strangers. Here’s a sampling of some words of wisdom that have helped me.

Don’t overstay your welcome:
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”  Benjamin Franklin

Be who you really are:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

And the most important advice of all:
“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.” – Cowboy Proverb.

Have you ever gotten some great advice? Spectacularly poor advice? Given some? Leave a comment below.