Monday, May 31, 2010
My favorite ghost story...do do do do....
As you are reading this, I will be on a ship cruising around Alaska, so this is an encore blog posted on a fellow mystery writer's site several months ago. She asked if I could talk about something paranormal. Until last year, I laughed when people spouted off about weird things they blamed on the supernatural.
Well, I don’t anymore!
In 2009 I entered a paranormal mystery in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest against my better judgment. I hate contests. I only mention this to let you know where my mind was when I entered the ABNA. It was free, so I thought what the heck and I sent it off. I forgot about it until the day they were supposed to announce the quarterfinalists – March 16th.
I was nuts that whole day, checking the Amazon site at least every ten minutes. Finally at midnight, I went to bed, but when I woke up at 3:30 am, I HAD to check. Sure enough, there was an email from Amazon time stamped 12:30 am which made it March 17th.
Now here’s where it gets spooky. TALK DEAD TO ME is a story about four sisters who come together for the funeral of the fifth sister, fashioned after my own relationship with my four sisters, one of whom died many years ago. The dead woman, a loner all her life, and the heroine have been estranged for over nine years. At the funeral home, the ghost appears to the heroine to convince her to help her find her killer. I’ll spare you the details except to say, TDTM is a story about starting over, healing relationships, murder and mayhem. I made my ghost a wise-cracking, smart-mouthed woman (nothing like my real sister) who adds humor to the mix.
I sent out emails to all my relatives and told them to read the excerpt. I can’t tell you the chills I got when my nephew commented about how appropriate that I found out on the exact day his mother, my sister, had died twelve years earlier. I swear to you, in that moment when I realized he was right, I knew Theresa, my sister, had a hand in this. Knew she must have hexed the two people who reviewed my entry and bullied them into choosing it.
Amazon posted the first chapter of all the quarterfinalists’ manuscripts as a free download. To drum up reviews and send people for downloads, I guest-blogged on several sites talking up the contest. On one particular blog, I was responding to comments and I was telling a story about my sister before she died.
Theresa was 2 years older than me and we fought like cats and dogs growing up. It wasn’t until our older years that we finally developed a closer relationship (much like my characters in TDTM.) About a year before she died, she shared a secret with me, making me swear not to tell my other sisters. After she died, I was on the phone with my younger sister, who is still my best friend today, and somehow she managed to get me to tell her Theresa’s secret. At the precise moment I did, the lights in my house dimmed.
I kid you not. I was so freaked out, I have never told her secret again.
Now comes the “do do do do” Twilight Zone moment. Since it was a blog, there was an anti-spam word for that particular comment. My sister’s name is Theresa but we called her Tessie. My ghost is Tessa, and the anti-spam word was TESSE.
OMG! I’m a believer. And you know what? I think I feel closer to her now than I ever did when she was alive. It’s like I know she’s watching from heaven and telling me she’s okay.
I’m crying now just thinking about it, so I’ll end this and let y’all tell me about any spooky things that happened to you.
Oh, and TDTM never sold, although an editor at Berkley loved it but couldn’t use it because she was acquiring cozies. With my smart-mouthed ghost, gruesome murder scenes, etc, she would have had to change too much of the “good stuff”, she said. Instead, she offered me a three book deal to write a cozy series. The first one, Ducks in a Row, comes out in July of 2011. No ghosts in that one.
Now to explain the picture. My dear friend, the very talented, Sylvia Rochester, made this voo doo doll and sent it to me. Who says I don't believe in this stuff???
Okay, Wow me with your spooky stories. (I should say Wow my fellow blogmates!!)