Halloween, Ghosts and Dreams

On Halloween we dress up in costumes of monsters, celebrities and ghosts. But for me, ghosts aren’t just something I think of on Halloween. I tend to think a lot about ghosts all year long, because I often write about them in my books.

In my Mortician’s Daughter series, Riley’s life is overrun by the dead.  Some of them follow her dad home from the funeral home. Others just show up. They usually need her help with something. In the first book in the series, One Foot in the Grave, Riley manages to help a young woman get justice and put the man responsible for her death away.  In the second book, Two Feet Under, Riley is faced with an even scarier ghost, one who is a murderer.

So, why my fascination with ghosts? It may date back to a dream I had as a child.

I was thirteen and I woke up that morning with sunshine spilling through my window.  But the memory of a dream I’d just had made breathing difficult. There had been no sunshine in the dream.

It was spooky, but even more strange and sad.  Like an old movie, I could still see it playing in my mind.  But unlike a movie, my memory came with all five senses.  The smell of wet earth and the scent of a storm brewing somewhere close by.  I could feel the wind hit my face, blowing my blonde hair across my eyes.   Tombstones, aged and cracked, littered the ground around me.  All was silent—deadly silent.

A small group of people stood quietly by a gravesite.  All wearing black.  Even the sky held a dismal shade of sadness.  There seemed to be no color in the image—no joy, all drab and gray. I stared at the faces of those grieving people. Did I know them?  Yes, but . . . vaguely.   And from where?

Immediately, my gaze shifted to the casket. The tiny polished box carried the only color in the scene.  A bright pink ribbon rested on top. My gaze shot back to the people again. They weren’t crying.  For some reason that seemed odd.  They needed to cry.  Cry for the child who obviously lay tucked inside that casket.  The child who would never run and play and who would never know life.

I studied the faces of the people again, trying to remember where I’d seen them. How could I know them when they looked so out of place?  Like people from old pictures.  People from another time, another life.

And then came the realization.  The woman dressed in a thick black wool coat, hugging herself against the cold and staring at the casket with empty emotion, was my grandmother, but younger.  A lot younger.  The woman was now in her sixties. But yes, I remembered seeing her younger face in family photo albums.

Then, I recognized the other people.  My mom and dad when they were young.   My grandfather and one of my uncles.  My gaze shifted from one person to the next.  This was one weird dream.

Then my gaze returned to the casket.

Who had died?   Part of the answer came with the next cold whisk of wind:  A baby.  A baby girl.

I wanted to tell someone how sorry I was.  Emotion built in my chest.  A crazy thought hit.  Someone needed to cry for the child.  I stood back from the crowd, not really present, but somehow still there.  I felt the odd sadness.  But why weren’t they crying?

Then my grandmother, my mom, dad and uncle were gone.  As if they’d vanished into the air.  I saw the casket being lowered into the gaping chasm.  Abruptly the dream changed and I saw the gravestone.  It simply read, Our baby girl: Christie.

Christie?  CHRISTIE?  That was my name.  How could the baby have my name?  That’s when I’d woken up.  My heart still thumped against my breastbone at the memory, and I had tears in my eyes.  Not wanting to be alone, I went and found my mom cooking breakfast.

I told her about the dream, about the casket with the pink ribbon and seeing my name on the gravestone.

Shock hit my mom’s face.  “What is it?” I asked, but was almost scared to hear her answer.

“It’s just weird, you’d dream about that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your grandmother got pregnant a few months after your dad and I were married.  It was a girl.  She only lived a few weeks.  You were named after her.”

The spookiness tiptoed up my spine as chills skittered up my neck.  I looked at my mom. “Why didn’t anyone cry?” Suddenly, I wanted to cry.

Mom answered, “Your grandma told everyone no tears.  She said she couldn’t handle the tears.  We weren’t allowed to cry.”

I dropped down into a kitchen chair and asked the question burning inside me.  “How could I have dreamed this?”

“I’m sure you heard the story,” Mom said.

“When?  When could I have heard the story?   I swear I never knew about my aunt before now.”

“I don’t know, but you had to have heard it.  How else would you have known this?”

How else?

To this day I think about that dream.  I think about the little girl, my namesake.  Did I really hear someone tell that story and my mind simply played it back to me as a dream?  Or did the spirit of Christie somehow visit me?  Did she need me to know about her?  Did she need someone to cry for her?

Now do you understand why I often write about ghosts? There’s a part of me that believes in them.  What about you?  Do you believe in ghosts?

 

 

TWO FEET UNDER

A few weeks ago, I told you about how busy I’ve been. Yup, I’ve had multiple deadlines, so I’ve been writing A LOT. My family is trying to remember what I look like because I’ve been locked in my study for so long. But I’m making headway.

So, I’d like apologize to you about Two Feet Under, the second book in my Mortician’s Daughter series. It was supposed to be released on Oct. 1, 2018, but I had to delay the release by a few months. I had a really busy summer with a Christie Craig romantic suspense release, and I had to finish In Another Life, my CC Hunter book coming out March 26, 2019. But don’t worry, I’ve been working overtime to get Two Feet Under finished so you can read all about Riley and Hayden. And believe me it is worth the wait. I’m can’t tell you how excited I am about this book! And I’ll be posting the first chapter on my blog and website soon. Then, once I have an exact release date in Dec., I’ll announce it here, on my blog. To everyone who pre-ordered it, thank you and please be patient. You’ll have your book soon.

Riley has accepted that her special gift is to help dead people with their unfinished business.  But she never thought she’d be tasked with helping the spirit of a convicted criminal who died in prison.  He may lead her on the scariest mission yet, but helping him could mean saving the life of a child.  The convict’s daughter needs a liver transplant and the one person who could still be a match is his brother…who also happens to be a gang leader.

Hayden’s not happy that Riley’s discovered who he is and is seeing him sick and unconscious in his hospital bed.  This feels like as good a time as ever to cross over and put all of them out of their misery….but Riley is in danger.  She’s visiting some of the most dangerous spots and confronting some of the creepiest low-lifes in town.  For her, he’ll need to regain his strength and fight to keep her safe.

But dealing with other people’s problems still can’t keep Riley from her own.  Her dad’s drinking has gotten worse.  And she’ll soon learn it’s because he’s been keeping a huge, horrible secret that will change everything she believes about her family and her mother’s death.

You can pre-order now.

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y7a7cnt3

Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y94w97ka

I hope you’re all going to read my Mortician’s Daughter series. I actually wrote it with my Shadow Falls fans in mind. Riley is a really great character and she reminds me a lot of Kylie, but she has her own unique struggles.

Just wondering…how many of my books have you read?

Girls’ Night Out!

Do ever have a girls’ night out?  When you and other girls spend some girl-time together?  It could involve dinners out, chick flicks, or chocolate sundaes.  But almost always, it involves lots of laughter. It can be sisters, girlfriends, family or a mix.  However it plays out, there is just something about surrounding yourself with other girls, talking girl stuff, doing girl stuff, and celebrating our girl power that’s so rewarding.

 

Well, I recently set up a very special girl’s night out.  My mother and stepfather came visit me in Texas from California.  So I planned a night out.  A whole night.  We left hubby and stepfather at home and my daughter, my granddaughter, my mom  and I took off for an excursion and adventure.

I made reservations at a nice Marriott.  We were going to get pedicures, but my mom had just had one, so we skipped that and went the shopping.  We bought pajamas, panties, sweats, and a toy.  After shopping we went to the movie and dined out.  Leaving the movie we spotted one of those camera booths.  And you know we had to do it.

First question.  Could we all fit?  Answer.  No.  Not really.  But that didn’t stop us.  We piled in.  Put in our money and laughed so hard we cried.  When we were finished there were actually people standing outside who said.  “I think you girls are having too much fun.”

Then we went to our hotel and we laughed some more.   We laughed about silly girl stuff.  We ate chips in bed.  And we stayed up watching television.  The next morning we ate breakfast out and did some more shopping.

If there’s such a thing as too much fun we had it.  And our memories included four generation of girls.  If you haven’t had a girls’ night out, plan one.  They are good for soul.

Do you have girls’ night out? What do you like to do?

Winner!!!

Wow, thanks to everyone who participated in my Take Your T-shirt Off Test. It helped me a lot. The winner of a Born to Read t-shirt from last week’s blog is Michaela Duve. Michaela, please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and tell me your t-shirt size and your postal address.

 

The Take Your Shirt Off Test

I’ve been a very busy girl. Like nose-to-the-grindstone and no-more-nose-left kind of busy.  The type of busy that when you finally catch up, you still feel that antsy gotta-keep-going feeling.  It’s as if you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be still, to not be under the gun.  Yeah, that’s been me.

I finished my second book in my Christie Craig Texas Justice series.  Of course, it was running late, and then I had to go back in and cut the word count before I could send it in. My books are always running long these days.  I blame it on being Southern.  It can take a Southerner fifteen words to say something that a Northerner can say in five. (I envy them a bit.)

At the same time, I got my copy edits on my March 26th release for my young adult thriller novel, In Another Life.  For those of you who don’t understand what “copy edits” entail, it’s when someone (a copy editor) reads your book and makes corrections on both grammar stuff, typos, missing words, and they’ll mark anything that needs tweaking.  As in “You said she spoke to her dad, but she really just listened to a voice mail.”  Yeah, it was something I changed in revision and didn’t correct in the following scene.  It’s an oops, and we writers appreciate our copy editors for finding those errors.

So, an author has to go through all the changes a copy editor makes to confirm they agree with those changes.  Then they need to address anything she agrees needs to be changed, like the voice-mail thing.

That said, there was one comment this copy editor wrote that gave me pause.  And here’s where I’m going to explain the title of this blog.  In a scene where the hero and heroine go swimming, I have the hero pull off his T-shirt,  i.e.  He crossed his arms, reached down and caught the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head.

When I saw that sentence marked, I wondered:  What’s wrong that that? Her comment explained that boys don’t take their shirts off that way. Only girls.  She wrote that girls take their shirts off that way and boys reach over their heads, grab their shirts by the back of their neck, and pull it off.

I’m like . . . uh . . .  that’s not true.  There isn’t a gender specific way of removing a shirt.   I’m mid-ponder on this when in walks in my hubby.  I look up.  He’s wearing a T-shirt. Perfect. I’m like . . .  uh, “Take off your shirt.”

Of course, he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.  “Uh, what?”

“Just take off your shirt,” I say.

“Why?” he asks.

“It’s for the book,” I explain.

Now you know he thinks all my heroes are based after him, so he smiles and follows my order.

Much to my dismay, he reaches over his head to the neck of his shirt and pulls his T-shirt off.  I’m shocked.  “Why didn’t you grab it from the hem and pull it over your head?” I ask.

“I don’t know.  It’s just how I take my shirt off.”

First of all, I was disappointed that obviously I haven’t paid enough attention to guys removing their shirts.  LOL.  How could I have missed this?

So I do what I always do when something puzzles me.  I Googled it.  And duh, I found articles on the subject trying to explain this phenomenon.  Basically they listed five reasons.

  • Hair
  • Boobs
  • Guys copying other guys
  • Flexibility
  • How the clothes are made.

But you know you can’t believe everything you read.  So I wanted to test this theory more, so awkwardly, I called my son and requested he take his shirt off, then I called my daughter and asked her to get my son-in-law to take his shirts off.  (Hey, they are used to their mama doing crazy crap.)  Much to my dismay, they all used the tug-the-shirt-over-their-neck method.  Now I want to test this theory more, but I don’t know how walking up to men, other than my hubby, and asking them to take their shirt off will be received. So I’m asking you to do it. Do the test with a boy/man you are comfortable with and ask them to remove their shirt.  One person who leaves me an answer will win a Born To Read T-shirt.  Sizes are limited. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.)

And here’s one of the articles I found about this.

https://www.seventeen.com/life/friends-family/news/a41810/have-you-realized-guys-take-their-shirts-off-differently-than-girls/

Hope your October is turning out to be a good month!

Happy Reading!

CC

Questions, Anyone?

A few weeks ago, I asked you to leave some questions that you’d like to ask me if you ever met me at a book signing. So, I thought it would be fun to answer a few of those questions for this week’s blog. If you think of any more questions you’d like me to answer, leave them in the comment section and eventually, I’ll answer them all.

Paula Bell asked: My question would be do you ever have writers block and what do you do for it? I have never been to a book fair or festival. A friend and I are working on that. I hope sometime soon I’ll happen.

CC: Well, Paula, I don’t really believe in writer’s block.  You see writing is my career, my job. My dad was a plumber and he went to work every day. I know there were days he didn’t feel like it, but he still went. He never claimed to have plumber’s block (no pun intended). He did his job, and I do mine. I don’t always feel like writing, but I make myself write. Because even if the writing isn’t that great, I can fix that later, but I can’t fix a blank page.

 

Shauna Tramutolo asked: Is there any chance of there being another book for the Shadow Falls gang? I would really love to know where they all went and what human college was like for them as supernaturals.

CC: Sorry, Shauna, but I have no plans to write another Shadow Falls book at this time. That’s not to say it will never happen. Heck, I’m old enough to have learned to never say never. However, right now I’m busy writing my Mortician’s Daughter series. I started this series with my Shadow Falls fans in mind. While Riley has different problems in her life, she still reminds me a lot of Kylie. I also release my first stand alone book This Heart of mine, which is my most personal book yet. I drew on the experience I had when my husband had a kidney transplant and all the ways it impacted our lives. I also tossed in a young romance, some mystery and a touch of woowoo.

 

 

BN100 asked: Would ask you how you prepare for festivals and book signings.

CC: Mostly, I just want to make sure I get the word out about the event, so people turn up. I also want to be certain I’ll have enough books to sign. Then I get ready to have fun.

Shania N. Soler asked: If I were to ever get the chance to meet you in person I’d probably ask a million and one questions about Shadow Falls and all its characters and the dynamic world in which you’ve set it in, though the first question I think I’d ask would be: What first inspired you to start writing?

CC: First of all, I’m dyslexic, so reading and writing were difficult for me when I was growing up. So the thought of becoming a writer never occurred to me. But I did enjoy making up stories. I’d head off to my favorite place in the woods and weave all sorts of stories in my head—some went on for days.

Then, in my early 20’s, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. My hubby asked me what I wanted to do, and I said that I wanted to be a writer. Being the great man he is, he told me I should “go for it.” So I took every writing class I could, studied my favorite authors and wrote every day. It wasn’t easy and took my many years and lots of hard work to get where I am today.

Kira Moericke asked: I’d probably ask how you come up with such clever sass (that everyone loves) in your characters, especially the sass in Della.

CC: Oh gosh, Della has always been sassy. When she first popped into my head, she already had an attitude. But really I just think she comes from the sassy part of me that I tend to keep under wraps. With Della, however, I had to open that up and let my sass run free. Once I did, it was a bit like Pandora’s Box, it’s hard to box it back up. But that’s okay., I kinda like it. Now, my hubby may have a few reservations…

As I said, leave any questions for me below and I’ll answer them in a future post.

 

Winner!!!

The winner from last week’s giveaway is Angie. Congratulations, Angie, you’ve won a copy of This Heart of Mine and a cool Shadow Falls bracelet. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com with your postal address and I’ll send you your prize.