Thanksgiving is Safely Over Til Next Year. Thankfully.

We survived Thanksgiving. Kinda sorta. It was loaded with the usual turkey, cornbread dressing, oyster dressing, oyster chowder, pecan pie, banana split cake, pumpkin pie, and everything else the family could think to request. But a holiday around our house would be incomplete without sharing some vignettes. Consider yourself warned.

The massive influx of children with their noise and activity spread to the dogs. It got quiet (for the first time since six a.m.) around eleven at night. Just quiet enough for me to hear a metallic strumming sound coming from the other end of the house. Bring. Brinng. But it was dulled, almost like a harp strummed with the strings deadened. Bring. Brinng. Then a rapid, almost desperate bringbringbringbringbring. I was exhausted, but this sound was strange enough, and drove me crazy enough, to get up, trudge down the hall and investigate. It wasn’t hard to locate. A furious paced bringbringbringbringbring  drew me straight to the source.

Our blue heeler male was trying to dig through the metal grate door on the golden lab’s crate to get her out. Liberate her. Spring her from jail. Take her out dancing. Oh, just great. And that was totally sarcastic. She ‘s coming in heat. again. Muttered dark threats as I crammed Winter into his own crate for the remainder of the night. It’s pathetic when looking at a wiggling wet nose and pair of pleading black eyes peering at you from behind bars puts you thisclose to indulging in one of those “Neener, neener, neeeener” choruses as the latch snaps shut. Yes, exhaustion has the power to turn us all into strange folk.

We cheated and dined out while chasing down Turkey Day ingredients. I’m not proud of it, but I came close to running Hubby down with the wobble-wheeled shopping cart I got stuck with. All I wanted was to get things done and over with so we could go home. HE wanted to inspect every item. Weigh. Squeeze. Sniff. Compare. My left eyebrow went up when he tried to change the menu mid shopping trip. The other one joined it when he had the audacity to make suggestions for preparation.  As if a man who ordered spicy chicken at the Thai restaurant — then shook red pepper flakes atop it, and then nearly gave himself carpel tunnel wringing the black pepper mill before he thought it suficiently sprinkled, only to shake Tabasco sauce over everything as an after thought — had any business offering culinary instructions.

Heard the kids laughing hysterically. The kind of laughter that makes you smile and just have to go see what’s causing all that joy. As I neared the knot of children clogging the hall I heard the tortured gagging of a cat trying to rid himself of a fur ball. Nothing funny enough to warrant maniacal giggling. But then I noticed each gag had the strangest echo. Didn’t understand until Hubby stumbled past me in a rush, eyes watery, face a sickly green, doing some pretty impressive gagging of his own. Was I sympathetic? No. I joined the herd of laughing, pointing children hot on his heels.  He bolted inside the bathroom and shut the door, slamming it right in my grinning face.

Over the course of a few days, I noticed our grandson’s dog, Smokey, was spending an inordinate amount of time on his back under the coffee table, legs splayed like an overcooked turkey, wagging his tail. I couldn’t take looking at him like that any more, grabbed him by the back paws and slid him out from underneath it. Nearly screamed when his lips stretched in a grotesque pink stringing line from the bottom of the table to where I’d skidded him to a stop on the area rug. It took a moment, but as soon as I got over my shuddering fit enough to realize he hadn’t yowled in pain, I looked closer. Understanding dawned.

Proper methods for gum disposal would be the subject of the next family meeting, with the adamant declaration that stuck to the underside the coffee table is not one of them.

We had our traditional bonfire with marshmallows. We’ve done this often enough that I gather together a collection of water containers to place strategically around the fire pit. Invariably someone always catches a marshmallow on fire, and mistakenly tries to ‘wave’ it out in the air.  Next thing you know we’re diving for cover to avoid flaming marshmallow, slung to land God knows where. Hubby still moves pretty quick. But then a glob of flaming goo splatted on the back of a jacket is wonderful incentive.

But my baby sister took the cake when we talked about being thankful and needing to dismiss things that don’t really matter anyway. Our mother always encouraged us to live life, view it with wonder, and be our selves to the fullest. She’s even managed to do so from beyond death. When our mom died she requested a particular song to be played as her casket was wheeled to the waiting hearse. The most memorable part of the refrain is “If you get the choice to sit it out or dance . . . I hope you dance!” It has carried a special meaning for us ever since, her own continuing encouragement every time we happen to hear it. Baby sister posted a Thanksgiving message that ended with:

“Think I’m gonna go dance now. But I gotta warn you. I’m white and Baptist, so it might not be a pretty sight.”

I had to laugh. And all I can say is, “Dance, baby! Mama’s watching and loving every minute of it!” With that said, if you’re ever given an option, I hope not a single one of you ever stays in your seat.


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A Self-Published Romance Author Contest!! And Winners are READER’S CHOICE!

What, you say? A contest for self-published romance authors? With category winners covers in a Romance Writers Report advertisement? (RWR being the nationally distributed magazine of Romance Writers of America.) A contest judged by readers and not other writers?

What self-pubbed author wouldn’t love the opportunity to gain that type of national exposure?  (Plus, the Sizzlers have their heads together, working on a few other benefits for finalists and winners, so keep checking back!)

Many readers know some awesome self-pubbed works out there; authors with distinctive voices, a flare for plot, true story-tellers. All they need to succeed on a grand scale is exposure. So if you readers following the Sizzlers know of such an author, please point them our way because GCCRWA genius, Jamie (so glad she’s a chapter member!), suggested we do a self-pubbed contest and the idea took off. Since RWA recognizes self-published authors, and there’s an indie chapter trying to form, it’s the perfect way to honor these writers.

Even better it will be judged by AVID READERS of romantic fiction! (*Any reader interested in volunteering to judge, the requirements will be posted at within the next few days. We would love to have you.)

Yes, you read correctly; this contest is A Reader’s Choice Award! I’ll hush now and give you the deets!



Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest

. . . was created to recognize excellence in self-published, romantic fiction. Contest judges are avid readers of romance. Entries will be accepted for this contest from November 15, 2011 to January 5, 2012.

Following categories are included:

Short Story — (containing between 5,000 and 19,999 words.)

Novella —  (a word count between 20,000 and 40,000.)

Single Title Contemporary

Single Title Paranormal

Single Title Romantic Suspense

Single Title Historical

Single Title Inspirational

Young Adult

*Please note: This is a romance genre contest, so all entries must have strong romantic elements/plot lines. All heat levels are accepted in each category.

Eligibility and Entry Requirements

The Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest is open to members of RWA as well as non-members.

Entrants must be 18 years of age by December 31, 2011.

Completed entry forms and appropriate fees must be received by GCCRWA no later than 5p.m. CT, on January 5, 2012. All forms and fees received after the deadline will be returned to the entrant.

Entrants are required to check a box on the entry form indicating their acceptance of contest terms.

Entries to the 2011 contest must be original works of fiction that were released between Jan. 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Works that have been previously released may no be submitted.

After 200 entries are received registration will be closed, so please get your submission in as soon as possible! Finalists will be announced February 15, 2012, and winners from each category named at the 2012 Silken Sands Writers Conference. (Didn’t know about the conference? Check it out here )The awards ceremony will be held on the evening of Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Entry Fees
$20 per entry for RWA members; $25 per entry for non-RWA members.

There are a few more guidelines concerning multiple entries, so be sure to read the Rules when you check out the contest. Enter here

If you have any further questions, please email them to

So, what do you think? Are you as excited as I am? Entries started arriving within hours of the contest being announced, so getting your entry in soon is important! Maybe it will be your cover featured in an RWR contest winners ad!


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Phantasy Friday: NaNoWriMo; Complete With Interruptions, Special Ones

National Novel Writing Month commenced the 1st — and it’s not too late to join in! The goal is 50 thousand words by the end of November. It can be a complete story, or the beginning of a story for those who write long. And it’s very achievable at 1,667 words a day! If you write the typical 2500 word chapter, you can have it done early. You can write by yourself purely on an honor system, or hook up with NaNo writing buddies. There are online pep talks and everything. Well, almost everything. There’s nothing for what happens at my house.

I’m doing NaNo for the first time. And I actually took into consideration the need to write extra words every day to cover weekends I’m ghost hunting. But the main thing NaNo does is prove you can write a novel in a month. Rough draft it may be; but they’re all rough drafts at the start. Give it a try! And if you do, buddy up with me. You can find me as Runere.

HOWEVER— it’s as if there’s a great conspiracy to keep me from completion. Despite all the wonderful encouragement you get from NaNo and writing buddies, I feel compelled to point out there are things NaNo has no control over. I’m going to give you a condensed version of interruptions from my household. I swear, it’s like watching a movie only to have a commercial break leap out at you during the deepest, most exciting part of the film! Certain situations have arisen that have me leaning toward a murder mystery next year. A perfect murder. With no bodies found. Lots of life insurance to collect. It’s about a writer who just can’t take any more interruptions . . .

Sorry. Plotting moment there.

Writing at a good pace on day one. This is pretty cool! You know, if a person sets this goal for each day you really could write a book a month! Enter my word count at the NaNo site.

Second day, scene: a chase ensues in a dark New Orleans alley, sounds and scents amplified by terror. My heroine looks up to see the nightmare version of my bad werewolves. It’s thick lips bare bloodied fangs as it prepares to speak. *snarl* “I can’t get the damn microwave to work right.”

Poof. Scene gone with a jolt. Wh-what? He wasn’t supposed to say that! And what happened to that gravelly, raspy voice I devised for him? I lean into the screen and peer closely at the words, trying to reclaim the momentum.  Hubby’s voice repeats, “The microwave won’t heat my soup.” I twist my head around and glare at him (probably resembling Linda Blair in The Exorcist. More than a little). He recoils at the sight and tries to shut the office door. But it’s too late. I stomp in to investigate. Turns out hubby thought he should adjust the temp control. We’ve only had this microwave for ten years. Why did he think it suddenly operated differently? Sigh.

Third day: I’m in the process of laying an intricate trail of clues. I’ve made notes, and it’s pretty cut and dried, so when I hear Hubby hollering for the dog outside the office window, it wasn’t too much of a distraction. Until he yelled, “Dixie!” for the third time. That penetrated. Dixie is in heat. I walk her on lead. Not Hubby. She listens to him. (Yeah, right. Like a teenage daughter with the hormonal hots for a bad boy with a fast car!) That hump-happy hound was probably off fornicating with every male in a ten-mile radius. Since I’d be the one stuck taking care of any puppies, you better believe I left a cloud of papers fluttering in my vapor trail on the way out! Found her and dragged her back inside before she went behind a bush with Romeo. Or Cisco. Or Pancho. Or Duke. Or that one I’ve never seen before. Or that little brown dog that humps my leg.

Fourth and Fifth days: Ghost hunting! Loved both nights of it. Did I ever expect to use my experience as a maritime captain during ghost hunting? No, never. But it turns outs this house was supposed to be haunted by an old sea captain. Things were quiet until I asked questions about Celestial Navigation and using a sextant for taking sun and star shots. We got a LOUD response then!

Back to NaNo on Sunday night. Hubby tried to help by cooking. Took me two hours to scrub that burned pan. We had doctor’s appointments out the wazoo on Monday; but I stayed up later to write. Had a migraine; gritted my teeth and wrote five hundred words while trying not to be ill.

But something happened this week that made me shut the computer down. It was just too much. I literally stayed in shock for a full day. Still get a little wobbly in the legs if I think about it too long while walking.

I got the phone call informing me I’m going to be a great-grandmother in June.

Yep. Full mental shutdown.

But after the initial shock wore off (two, maybe three days later!), I got really excited. Not many people get the opportunity to actually hold a person who will live so far past them in the future. I can’t wait to hold him or her, wrap them up in loving arms. To whisper in their ear to treat him or her self with care and respect because there will never be another one just like them. I’ll whisper to be sure to walk their own baby down to that certain tree near the pond.

That tree will be grown by then and I’ll be long gone. But I want that later baby’s father or mother — the baby I held — to press tiny hands to the bark and tell that little person, “Someone believed in me so much that she planted this tree the day I was born. For you to hang your swing from.”

Hope they both feel the love, because that’s truly the one thing that never changes, never dies. I’m thinking an Oak.


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Phantasy Friday: Author Catherine Mann, and A Tale of Crazy Neighbors

There are people who leave indelible impressions, and I’d like to share a quick story about one. While celebrating Southern Sizzle’s month-long,  one year anniversary, I’d left comments for each of our daily guests as encouragement for visitors to lose their shyness and leave comments of their own. For the most part it worked, and I met and made some lasting online friends over the course of those weeks.

Prizes were graciously awarded by each blog guest to randomly chosen commenters, with winners announced the following day. Somehow, my name was selected and announced online as the recipient of two autographed books.  A chapter member protested–quite justifiably–that in the spirit of fairness and group image, it didn’t look right if one of our own members won prizes.

I realized I’d flat-out woopsied, folks. But because I’ve always made a point of donating anything I win in contests to a local Senior Center that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, I, regrettably, hadn’t considered how my winning something could be misconstrued. Embarrassed, I contacted the author with my error and the request to select another commenter, but her extremely efficient staff had already mailed the books. I returned them upon receipt with a written apology, explaining that though I was a (rabid) fan and appreciated them beyond measure, my fellow member was right and I didn’t feel comfortable accepting them. The author contacted me, concerned, and I explained the situation. I also explained the member who had protested felt horrible for doing so without talking to me first, going so far as to tell me she’d never have said anything if she’d known about the Senior Center donations. I was just relieved the author understood.

Do you know what that author did then? She shipped an entire box of large print editions to the Senior Center! I was so touched by her heart and depth of generosity that I cried.

That author was Catherine Mann—

and I am proud to say she will soon be guest speaker at one of our Chapter meetings. It had been planned for tomorrow, but scheduling conflicts (and her daughter finaling at a track meet!) have altered arrangements. Press releases inviting the public may expound her talent and success; notes and invitations to the writing community may laud one of their ranks. But none of them tell what a kind, conscientious, caring person Catherine truly is.  So, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share. If you can make the meeting when it’s rescheduled, I urge you to do so.  It’s an experience you won’t regret!

Since you’re here, I have a second story for you, and need you to post your determination: Did this happen, or did I make it up?


An aggravated “Don’t know if I should call the cops or not, Mom,” greeted me as soon as I fumbled the phone to my ear.

Relief washed over me. This child was alive at least, even if her voice carried that why-the-hell-was-I-woken-in-the-middle-of-the-night croak. She’s a grown child, but my mantra is I don’t care if you’re 32; get back in your crib where it’s safe!  I panic when the phone rings at 2am. I can’t help it. I’m paranoid.  I always expect someone to be wrapped around a telephone pole, upside down in a ditch, or kidnapped by terrorists.

Burglars I don’t worry about. Any that try her house would be classified as suicidal. She has two pit bulls who live to protect their mama. Even from the rare roach that may get into the shower. Screeching daughter once exited the cubicle so fast the  shower curtain fluttered perfectly horizontal, straining the rings on the rod.  Mako dove to her rescue, chomping, pouncing, snarling; splashing water everywhere as he annihilated the threat to his Mama. If the water spraying from the shower head made the bent, wingless, one-legged corpse circle the drain he killed it again.  All with Rachel sproinging up and down, then jumping from floor to toilet to floor and back, yelling encouragement, then sproinging some more, looking for all the world like an epileptic praying mantis as she tried to maintain enough towel coverage for modesty.

Back to the phone call. I could hear Deuce and Mako barking in the background. “What’s going on?” I asked her. I heard her stumble across the floor. She croaked, “Listen!” She must have thrust her arm out the door because the dogs faded and I heard a woman’s voice faintly wail, “You gotta help me! Help me!”

Her neighbor is a single guy with a rousing and varied love life, their houses separated by a lot with trees. But the neighbor’s is an older wood-floored home built on short pilings. You could hear two distinct sets of footsteps thundering back and forth through the house. “Dammit! Quit running! You gotta hold still!” a masculine voice panted. More thundering steps.

The dogs got loud again. Rachel says, “See?”

“No, actually I can’t. I can only hear it!” I snapped. “Are they fighting?”

“No. There’s no hitting or punching sounds, no angry exchanges, just her howling about it hurts and him chasing her. How am I supposed to sleep with that going on?” she griped. “Oh, wait! The front door just banged open! They’re in the yard now. I’m going onto the porch.”

The voices got clearer. “It burns! It burns!” was a feminine screech. Footsteps thudded in the grass now. A masculine warning sounded. “Stop running before you hit a tr– (audible thud). Aw, hell!” was a disgusted growl.

“You hit me! I can’t believe you hit me!” The shrill accusation dug into my ear even through the phone. I recognized the slur of alcohol.

“Well, unless I’m five feet thick, covered in bark and little green leaves, it wasn’t me!” the guy retorted. “Why do you keep running when you can’t see a thing?”

Did he hit her, Rachel?” I asked, worried.

“No. She ran full speed into that big oak. He’s helping her up now, being real careful with her. Carried her to the side of the house. What is he doing?”  A flood of sobbing, high-pitched curses filled the air. Rachel started snorting with laughter. “He’s squirting her with the garden hose! Spraying her down like she’s on fire. Oops! She got away again. He just slipped down in a puddle. You should see this!” (Wish I could. I wouldn’t feel so confused.) “There she goes, smack up in the middle of that azalea bush. He’s not even hurrying now. Just limping after her.”

The woman’s shrieks and curses suddenly muffled, I had to ask. “What’s going on now?”

“He has his hand over her mouth and is carrying her back inside.” There went the thundering footsteps again, fading to the far side of the house. “Hang on,” Rachel whispered. “I’m going to the other side of the porch.” Her report continued after brief rustlings. “He’s in the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator door.”

“What are you, a voyeur?” It just popped out.

“Mom. Really? Was that necessary?” (With that haughty tone I’m feeling defensive all of a sudden.) “He’s got something. A gallon of milk? What’s he doing with milk?” Footsteps pounding louder heralded their nearing the door. “She’s off the porch again. Oof! Bet that hurt. Dumb ass didn’t use the steps. Just ran off into thin air! There she goes, taking off across the yard again! He’s right on her heels . . . getting closer . . . getting closer . . . Caught up with her! What the hell? He’s pouring milk over her head!”

I could hear the woman crying now. “Stop it! Please, stop it!” sounded pathetic, and a little gargled.

Guess the guy ran completely out of patience because all but snarled, “You pepper sprayed yourself! I have to do this! Bet the next time I tell your drunk ass not to play with something, you listen!”

I heard Rachel try to smother a burst of laughter. I knew when she made it back inside. The dogs went up in volume again. Rachel was snorting laughing now. “My guess is his new girlfriend was messing with that pepper spray canister he keeps on the counter. Sorry I called you, Mom. I’m okay. You can go back to bed.”

I said the obligatory ‘I love you’s’ and hung up. Turned off the bedside lamp and laid down. Closed my eyes.

I opened my eyes and glared at the ceiling. Who am I kidding. After that, I’ll never be able to go back to sleep!

Hope someone gets some writing out of this!


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Phantasy Friday: Samhain; Night of the Witch, Day of the Dead

For practicing witches, Samhain is a time for taking inventory of life and getting rid of weaknesses and what is no longer desired. A time of bonfires, the names of those passed on written on flash paper, offered to the flames in mourning or memory. A time of the altar draped in symbolic black, with white glittered sticks representative of frost and autumn leaves laid respectfully before the God symbol (Yes, God is in Wicca), a time of celebrating the harvest with blessed cakes and wine.

In other faiths, burial places are mown, cleaned and whitewashed in a yearly celebratory ritual. Some merely leave flowers or other tokens to show respect or appease the dead upon completion of the task; others long-burning candles, lit to flutter against the darkness, a field of glittering points of light illuming the night. Still other cultures make it a day of family frivolity, eating picnics from spread cloths among the newly beautified graves.

I’ve put together a quick compilation of other events and practices attached to Samhain and it’s celebrations. Hope you lovers of the paranormal find some useful tidbit to apply to your writing!

Samhain and the Wild Hunt
Samhain is the night of the Wild Hunt, when furious ghosts of the restless dead ride the sky on phantom horses with a pack of spectral hounds, shrieking and making wild noises. Nothing has been able to inspire terror like descriptions of flying black hounds and hell-fire hooved horses with hideous eyes. In the medieval versions, witches joined the phantoms, the ghostly train led by pagan goddesses-turned-devils (by Christianity), including Diana, Holda, Herodias, Hecate and Berchta.

A Cornish version of the Wild Hunt, Devil’s Dandy Dogs, is the most diabolical of ghostly packs, hunting the countryside for human souls. The Sluagh, or the Host, is a band of the unforgiven dead of the Highland fairy folk. Diana’s train punished the lazy and wicked but were generous on occasion: if a peasant left out food for them, they ate it and magically replenished it before they left.

A bit skeptical about the Wild Hunt? You may want to take into account that in the English countryside it was reported flying over the terrain as late as the 1940’s.

Samhain is a time when the Cowan may celebrate with the Witch.
The word Cowan is an old Scottish term for a mason who has learned the trade without serving an apprenticeship, and refers to a person who has not been initiated into the Craft. While Cowans may not attend circles, or Esbats, the regular meeting of covens where magical work is performed, they may be invited to seasonal festivals, Samhain, or All Hallows Eve, being one of them.

Crossroads and Samhain
Since antiquity, the junction of roads have carried magical significance. From the Greek goddess of witchcraft, Hecate, goddess of the crossroads, who had animals sacrificed to her there on Samhain to encourage her blessing; to Ireland and Wales, where it was traditional on Samhain, the Druidic New Year, to sit at a crossroads and listen for the howling wind, which prophesied the year to come.

Samhain and Fairy Rings
A Fairy Ring is a circle of natural mushroom fungus growth on grass and turf. Inedible –and animals tend to shun the circles– the mushrooms have reddish, buff or tawny caps. Here it’s said fairies and witches meet to dance in the night. In Britain, fairy rings are known as Hag Tracks, supposedly created by the dancing feet of witches.

Superstition attached to fairy rings says to stand in one on a full moon and make a wish, and that wish will come true. If one wishes to see and hear fairies, fairies being beyond the awareness of the five senses, one can run around a fairy ring nine times under a full moon and gain that ability.

However — it’s dangerous to do so on Samhain and Beltane (May Eve), the two major festivals of fairies. Fairies may take offense and carry the mortal off to Fairyland.

The Cailleach Bheur of the Highlands
On Samhain it’s said the Cailleach Bheur of the Highlands, a lean blue-faced hag, a supernatural remnant of the Celtic goddess of winter, is reborn — and returns to stone on Beltane’s Eve, April 30th.

Bells and Samhain
Bells share a connection between witch and Church. Both ring bells to drive away evil, the resonance of bells purported to carry such purity that nothing untoward can remain in its presence. In early history, Church bells were rung on Samhain night to drive away evil or any demons that may be hanging around Church entrances, as well as to prevent witches flying over villages or towns. It was believed the vibrations of pealing church bells would upset witches’ balance, causing them to fall from their brooms or the backs of demons they rode upon.

Witches also believe there is power in sound, and ring small bells during ceremonies to increase power. Larger bells are struck, rung or caused to ‘sing’ to dispel negative energy. Cleansing of any site where magic is worked is necessary to ensure ‘an it harm none’.

Mayhap this Samhain will come your invitation, and you’ll witness witches dancing deosil (pronounced jestle, clockwise) in a circle of blessing around a bonfire, blue and red flames leaping high against the black curtain of night. Stumble across sacred symbols scribed in the earth by a silver, sharp-tipped athame. Know the honeyed taste of blessed cakes washed down by the heady flavor of blessed white wine. Smell sweet incense and breathe the bite of sage, the smudge of protection, healing and blessing. Hear the bells, the delicate handheld tinkling intermingled with the bold brass and iron strikes of Crone and Church.

I left out touch, you say? Oh, no. I merely left it til last. Here’s hoping you don’t feel the cold wash of terror that precedes the raking claws of the sweeping, night-bound Wild Hunt as it boils across the sky this Samhain. May you never cringe from the burning, slashing, soul-searing green glow that radiates from the hideous eyes of the Wild Hunt’s thundering horses and baying packs.

I know; they’re the Old Gods, and rarely considered now beyond the historical significance of a scholar’s page. But they sustained our peoples’ ancestors for centuries. That alone should earn them a small tug of the forelock and a whispered prayer of respect on their night; Samhain.

Halloween is upon us, folks! Happy Haunting!


Visit Runere at or friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Phantasy Friday: Season of the Witch; Healer or Halloween Horror?

“Star light, star bright,                                                  
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Get the wish I wish tonight.”

Sound familiar? It’s one of the earliest taught rhymes in childhood. And if you’ve ever said it you could be accused of practicing Witchcraft.

Yes, this innocuous little saying is one of the oldest acquiring spells known to the Craft.  I guess familiarity does breed contempt. Or at least greater acceptance. But then maybe our Foremothers had the wisdom to use simple knowledge rhymes as a way to live in society, yet remain faithful to their creed to practice in secret.

Has your Mother ever slapped your hand down for pointing, hissing under her breath it was rude? Another leftover protection against being accused of Witchcraft. Most witches ground themselves to gather power, delivering the ‘intent’ to the selected recipient via direct stare and an extended forefinger. Pointing. Rude indeed in that context. (That stare is where the term ‘evil eye’ originates.)

Witches and their abilities have carried weight down through the centuries, but it has been the simple Herbalists who’ve gotten short shrift of the situation. Our own Rita Bay offered the observation during a program on herbs and healers, that there was often no distinction made between a healer and a witch. It stuck with me. Many a wise woman and herbalist was condemned as a witch for no more than her knowledge of what nature offers man as curative . . . or poison. If a plague or contagious illness appeared in a village, the herbalist was called upon to treat it. If members of higher society died despite her best efforts, their families’ grief often led to an accusation of witchcraft. Condemned, she was usually immediately killed as there were few trials, and those there were, mockeries of the real thing. The saddest part is the rest of the village sickened and died, and the popular consensus was she’d leveled a curse on the town with her death. If anyone was wise enough to realize the only person capable of helping contain the sickness had been foolishly executed, you can be sure they kept that opinion to themselves. To do anything else might end with them accused of being the witch’s cohort!

White Witch, Dark Witch, Green Witch, Solitary Witch, Solitary Hereditary,  Gardnerian, and on and on. There are probably as many types of Witch in  the Wiccan religion as there are factions in Christianity; and by that I mean Baptist, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and others. If I left anyone out of either group it wasn’t intentional, I just wanted to convey enough for understanding.

But this is the Halloween season, the time of ghosts, black cats and witches; cemeteries, hauntings and skittering bats.  Now I’m not saying anyone is afraid or anything . . . but when dealing with the unknown can one ever be too cautious? I’ve talked to a few friends and they’ve offered a few situational spells to share. Some to beckon, some to chase away. Whether you believe or not, I hope you have fun reading them!

In Summoning a Ghost:
(For conversation with the dead, attend to ceremony;
Avoid the grave’s annoyance, by speaking always gently.

Earth, bone,
 And winding sheet,
Let this spirit
 Come to me–
Yet send it
In peace,
Or not at all.

(If it come, it should be offered white wine, not red; and knelt to, from pity.)

To be said when passing a cemetery:

Knit your fingers, hold your breath,
Say to yourself this verse for death:

Keeper of bones
I know thy face,
But I shall yet
Outstrip they pace.



To protect against ghosts, demons, goblins or plain old criminal riffraff, here’s an inscription to be written over a doorway:

Who comes to me I keep,
Who goes from me I free
Yet against all I stand
Who carry not my key.

And after long hours spent trick or treating, of being caught up in the frightening illusions of the night, here’s a soothing spell to ensure little ones sleep free of nightmares!

Against Evil Dreams

The nightmare will toss its cold black mane
And gallop on ebony hoofs from your pillow, away
As far as the moon, if you will say:

Thou evil thing
Of darkness born,
Of tail and wing,
And snout and horn,
Fly from me
From now til morn.

Then think of the fire that burns by day:
Sun in his glistening chariot, Drawn by foam-white Stallions, out of the sea.

Just ten more days til Halloween! See you next week with a post on Samhain practices and rites!


Visit Runere at or friend her on Facebook @Runere McLain. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Phantasy Friday: New Orleans Voodoo; Requests and Tributes to Marie Laveau

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1

Halloween is the time when everyone’s thoughts turn to the occult. Maybe only in the form of scary costumes for children, maybe a few remembered snatches of hushed family conversation about an unusual–and unexplainable–incident, maybe throwing a worried look over your shoulder in the dark, no matter how determined you are not to do so.

It’s possible something deep in the human psyche renders Halloween a time you’re more susceptible to something oppressive in the room, or a misplaced cold draft that caresses the skin to produce a fine shiver. The sensation of being watched by the unseen. Or maybe it’s the way the hairs on the back of your neck prickle for no observable reason. Candles and cobwebs. Ghosts and goblins. Tricks and treats. Samhain (pronounced Sowen), the night the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest, and spirits are reputed to walk freely upon the earth.

Ooooo! Shivers! I love Halloween!

I promised today would be Voodoo info day for Phantasy Friday. And lucky I am to live so close to New Orleans, Louisiana. After all, who’s better known than Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau? Or the fact New Orleans herself  is touted as one of the most haunted cities in America, the City of Spirits. And yes, the ‘spirit’ part can be taken two ways, because Bourbon Street is definitely Party Central! I understand some of the girls from the writers group are planning a trip to New Orleans in the near future. So this is for them. Just in case they decide to stop for a visit with Marie Laveau. C’mon, Sayde Grace! Ask Marie for her blessings on your new book VOODOO, I DO. I dare you!

Okay, playful poking at friends is over. Down to business.

Have you ever wondered how to –properly– make a request of Marie Laveau? Well, I’ve got a couple of quick etiquette tips if you’re planning a visit to her crypt in St. Louis Cemetery #1. Especially propitious right now, since the Halloween season is considered one of her most receptive times.

One way is to knock three times on her tomb before making your request. But be warned; once that request is granted, according to folklore you must return to her crypt and mark three X’s, side by side (and totally against the law!) on its surface in chalk or with a red brick chip. Or you may also leave her a money gift (coins only!), candles in powerful Voodoo colors of white, red or black, cigars, alcoholic beverages, fruit, flowers, or hand-made items that will please her.

Gifts and tributes left to Marie Laveau and Marie Laveau II at her tomb.

Pennies stacked in payment for Marie's services, and the obligatory three X's marked side by side on her crypt (totally against the law!) in chalk or with a red brick chip during a return trip to acknowledge a request granted.

Another way, if you feel inclined to ask for her help with a problem — making money, finding love, or hurting an enemy — is to make your request to her aloud, and stack three pennies on her tomb as payment for her services.








But I’d offer a word of caution though.

Be very, very careful what you wish for  —-

—– the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is always listening.


Here’s to haunting you all month, folks!



Visit Runere at or friend her on Facebook @ Runere McLain. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

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