Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Story of the Jack O' Lantern

The story of the Jack O' Lantern 🎃
The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.”
According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”
In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack's wandering soul.
In the 19th century, when a lot of Irish immigrated to the United States, they brought the Halloween tradition of using vegetables to scare the spirits away. In America, the Irish discovered a new vegetable, the pumpkin, which is harvested in the fall, and began using it to do the work of scaring the evil spirits. They also were much better suited to carving than turnips or potatoes.
It was also used as a cautionary tale, a morality tale, that Jack was a soul trapped between two worlds, and if you behaved like he did you could end up like that, too. 🙁
The story also helped explain ignis fatuus, a natural phenomenon that occurs in marshlands and bogs—such as those in Ireland’s countryside—producing flickering lights as gases from decomposing organic matter combust. Also known as fool’s fire, fairy lights, will-o’-the-wisp, and eventually, jack-o’-lantern, it often seemed like “a floating flame that would move away from travelers, If you were to try to follow the light, you could go into a sinkhole or bog, or drown. People thought it was Jack of the Lantern, a lost soul, or a ghost.”
As Ireland began the process of nationwide electrification in the 1930s, the tale of Stingy Jack started to fade. “The minute the lights came on, a lot of the stories lost their potency, and people’s imaginations weren’t running as wild,”
But by then, the tradition of jack-o’-lanterns had already taken root in the New World, showing up in early American literature and media. Writer Nathaniel Hawthorne referenced one in his 1835 short story “The Great Carbuncle,” and again in 1852 with “Feathertop,” about a scarecrow with a carved pumpkin head. According to Cindy Ott, author of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, the first image of a pumpkin jack-o’-lantern is likely one that appeared in an 1867 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” first published in 1820 and republished in 1858, propelled the pumpkin into American culture like never before. In the short story’s climax, the Headless Horseman chucks an uncarved pumpkin at Ichabod Crane, who is never seen again. But most images of the terrifying villain portray him holding a fiery jack-o’-lantern, which helped the story become a perennial Halloween favorite.
“The legend is considered a Halloween story, probably because it was one of the first internationally well-known horror stories. The pumpkin became associated with that element of fear, and that’s why the jack-o’-lantern comes out, because it’s with the galloping Hessian [soldier], the Headless Horseman, whatever you want to call him.
As more Americans began to celebrate Halloween, the jack-o’-lantern emerged as its most iconic image. A review in the Atlanta Constitution described the 1892 “All Halloween” party at the home of Atlanta mayor William Hemphill in glowing terms: Never in the annals of Atlanta society has a more unique and brilliant entertainment been given, with decor showcasing all sorts of smiling lanterns made of pumpkins, cleverly carved with faces.
The carved gourds have come to serve as much more than mere decoration. Despite their often fearsome look, jack-o’-lanterns now symbolize a welcoming sense of community. “At Halloween, you don’t go up to someone’s house unless they have a glowing jack-o’-lantern.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Now Available in Print! GLADIATRIX, a Dark Sci-Fi Romance

Now Available in Print!

Dark Sci-Fi Romance
Word Count: 53.2K
$3.99 e / $9.99 p

Captain Rylee Crockett, a member of the Galactic Force, is well-respected among her peers, and damn good at her job. Despite the hurdles of being a female captain, she has a loyal crew who see her as strict but fair, and with the newest additions, her crew makes her the best ship in the fleet.

     She’s especially curious about the newest expert on board. Dr. Beck Graham, a xenobiologist who specializes in alien species, specifically the Purej, who the Galactic Forces have been fighting for some time now. When Rylee’s ship is ordered to provide backup for a warship in the middle of a battle with their alien enemy, a mistranslated communique is intercepted, and Beck helps her decipher its true meaning. She fears they’re being set up for an ambush, along with everyone else ordered to assist.

What was thought to be proposed peace talks with the Purej is not at all the situation they find themselves involved in. Rylee’s ship is overtaken, and she awakens alone on an unrecognizable planet, and is soon taken to an arena where it is kill or be killed. Every confrontation becomes a fight to the death, gladiator style—against alien creatures, or other Galactic Force members—purely for their enemies’ entertainment.

If Rylee lives through this, she vows to get her revenge for the devastating number of crewmen she’s lost. And for the man who had given her a glimmer of hope when it came to being loved.

Warning! Contains ancient weaponry, oxygen masks, hostage taking, bad translations, revenge, a top-of-the-line spaceship, a demotion, and two people refusing to give up hope, until they're forced to take each other's lives.

Excerpt and Buy Links

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Six on Sunday - GLADIATRIX, a Dark Sci-Fi Romance

Six paragraphs from GLADIATRIX, a Dark Sci-Fi Romance

1. She shoved her hands underneath the wall fountain, then rubbed her face with the cold water. It helped to rejuvenate her. She took a deep breath and met her own gaze again. “Concentrate. Anchor yourself. You’re taking nearly two hundred crewmembers on what could be a one-way ticket to hell. The last thing you need is to be distracted.”

2. The claxon abruptly cut off in mid wail. The echoing quiet was unnerving. Once she was able to readjust herself to the overwhelming calm, she caught the faint sounds of explosions and muffled booms echoing in the distance. Someone was firing on her ship, and judging from the repercussions, her ship was firing back. Although she didn’t know for certain who was attacking them, she had an idea who it was, but she’d have to wait until she reached the bridge before she could confirm.

3. “What good would it do? How many years have you been in the GF, Lieutenant? How many commendations have you garnered? How many times have you been forced to think on your feet in a life-or-death situation? And I’m sure the rest of us will agree with me that this is a life-or-death situation. It’s also true Captain Crockett may not have the answers, but there’s a chance she just might. I’m betting she knows this ship better than all the rest of you combined, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.”

4. She shook her head, hoping to clear her vision. Swiping her eyes with the back of her arm, she saw his face was wet from his own tears, when Beck’s head lolled onto his chest. She knew without having to check that he was out of it. From what she could see around them, more figures floated in the weightlessness, put into a sort of stasis by the mist. Whatever the toxic cloud contained, it was dangerous, and she prayed it wasn’t lethal.

5. They continued to look out into the arena, but nothing moved and nothing appeared. Rylee took the momentary lull to check on the rest of her crew. She didn’t dare ask who had been with them who’d died. Right now she couldn’t deal with that knowledge. She needed to keep her head in the game and check on the survivors. She needed to give what words of comfort she could to those who were wounded, and words of encouragement all around. It would be small comfort to them, but she felt she needed to make the effort, if for no other reason than she was their captain, and they depended on her.

6. Rylee was swept up by her crewmen, all of them unabashedly shedding tears as they exchanged hugs and slapped each other on the back.  She had difficulty accepting the sudden surge of people welcoming her, when a pair of steel-strong arms she instantly recognized literally swept her off her feet and crushed her against his chest. Rylee threw her arms around the man’s neck and buried her face in his shoulder as they held each other for several long, wonderful seconds. When he finally released her, he stepped back, and she realized he wasn’t going to kiss her. She debated whether to kiss him instead, but something restrained her.

Buy Links

Saturday, October 22, 2022

New! FOREVER, TIVA, a Horror Romance by Linda Mooney Writing as Gail Smith

Horror Romance
by Linda Mooney writing as Gail Smith
Word Count:  14.2K
e / $6.99 p

In a post-apocalyptic world, Tiva is running for her life when she stumbles across three survivors who save her from a horde of those things, whatever they are now. The creatures aren’t people anymore. They’re…infected. Struggling to find food, she soon realizes luck was on her side when Russ and his crew welcome her into the safety of their warehouse.

It seems not many survivors remain in what’s left of the world, so they figure they’d do better to stick together. Besides, Russ hasn’t known the love of a woman in a long time, and he and Tiva immediately feel the connection.

As the days pass, the crew takes turns keeping watch for the undead. Russ and Tiva vow to be there for each other should they get bitten. If the inevitable should happen, it wouldn’t be much of an afterlife, wandering aimlessly and killing innocent people.

Will Russ and Tiva get their happily ever after? Or are they destined to be undead like the rest of the world?

Friday, October 21, 2022

Check Out Bloodlink, a YA Vampire and Paranormal Mystery by Raye T. Watson

Blood Poem by a Murderous Vampire

Of all my character, Morsa is by far, the most villainous and violent. She is the main antagonist in my new novel, Bloodlink. I tried not to show a lot of her because her nature tends to lead some rather gory and graphic scenes, which I generally tend to avoid all together. But it does make her an interesting character to write. Not much is known about her past, but some of the other vampires suspect she was never human. She often speaks in a soft silky voice, trying to seduce others to follow after her, but as much as she seems to want followers, she will not hesitate to kill another vampire and drink their blood to make herself stronger. If she wrote a poem, I imagine it would be something like this:

Through boarded windows, moonlight peeps
In fractured light, the night life creeps
In the chamber of death, I make my home
Until I snatch it
If only it had known.

Silly thing, let us play
While the sunlight flees away.
There is such fun to be had.
Let me kill you
And make you sad.

Why should I let you live
When sweet blood you do give
Me? But oh, what tastes! Delicious! Divine!
When your blood
And life are mine.

You say I’ve lost my humanity.
You say I’ve lost my sanity.
But what is life lived on a lead?
To be kept in check
And to a sole master heed.

Weakness is found in foolish men
Who think they can bind me in this fox’s den.
But fools know not want power is
Or isn’t.
No man can make me his.

I’m a power beyond control
Beyond age, beyond all.
I do as I like and take what I see.
But if it’s a game you want,
Cat and mouse, you and me.

I’ll hide, and you find me.
Death will follow,
And all life will wilt and turn hollow.

I’m much better than that insolent whelp.
Someday, you’ll see, I’m trying to help.
But you’ll lock me away. Say that I’m dangerous.
No, Sir.
I’m just that spontaneous.

I just want to play with my bite and their blood.
Does that make me too hard to be loved?

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the madden mind of my most wicked vampire. I loved being able to take this opportunity to guest blog today. Thank you so much, and happy hauntings!

by Raye T. Watson

Genre: YA Vampire and Paranormal Mystery 
Publisher: Knighted Phoenix Publishing
Date of Publication: August 2, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-958797-04-4
ASIN: 1958797049
Number of pages: 421
Word Count: 188,536
Cover Artist: Raye T. Watson

Tagline: Sometimes, in a world of darkness, it’s the secrets that keep you sane.

Book Description:

Katelyn Phillips hates the Greatlee Wood, the small forest near her home in Effingham, England. She just wants to forget the uncomfortable feeling of being watched whenever she sees that line of trees and move on with her life like a normal person. But when she wakes up one night numb and dead, the forest becomes the least of her worries.

Now she’s lost all connection with the outside world as she fights for control of her mind and the lust for blood. But she’s not alone.

Aidan O’Conner, the superstitious Irish fellow with centuries of experience, is willing to help. Together, with his family and friends, they teach Kate what it means to be a vampire and how to manage her newfound powers, but there are some secrets they are not so willing to share. Like why the door at the end of the hallway is always locked? Or why the manor they live in was half burned down 20 years ago? And how does it all tie into the ghost tale of the Armuary Phantom?

Can Kate uncover the truth and protect her new surrogate family, or will these secrets and deceit cause her to lose trust in everything, including herself?

Amazon      Lulu      Apple      BN      Kobo

Something is wrong. I’m finally waking up. I can almost feel my consciousness slip into focus, but I still feel like I am floating.

I pry my eyes open, and I can see I am lying in a bed, but I can’t remember how I got there or when I’d gone to bed. Had I been hallucinating? Is Ryan okay?
I put my hand to my head, or I think I did. I can’t feel it. I can hear movement, but I can’t feel anything. I frown, realizing the floating feeling hasn’t gone away. It isn’t really like floating; it isn’t as soothing. It’s just... nothing.

That scares me.

My eyes pop open, and I sit up, feeling like my heart should have shot to my throat. This isn’t my bed. This isn’t my room.

It is dark in this room, but I can see it fine. Moonlight filters in through the window to my left and helps define the room. I am in a four-poster bed in a renaissance style room. It’s as big as my living room. It is beautiful, but how did I get here?

I hear the rustle of the bed covers and look down. I can see my hands on the covers, but as I grip them, twist them, and throw them away from me, I still have no sense of their weight or texture. I rub my fingers and hands together, but nothing.

I can’t feel... anything!

Alarmed and panicked, I take in air through shallow and quick breaths as I kick away from the things I can’t touch. In the process, I fall backward over the side of the bed and hit the floor with a thud. I wish I could say that it hurt. But without the bang that resonated in the room as I hit the ground, I may not have known I’d fallen at all.

What is wrong with me? Tears of fear fill my eyes. Fear as intoxicating as poison burns inside me, and I begin to cry, too scared to think. I crab crawl quickly away from the bed, as if it was the thing that made me this way. I crunch against the far bedroom wall, which stops me from going any further. I turn and run my hands along the wall, but it’s the same as the bed. Without my sight, I wouldn’t even know it was there. Terror grips me, and I curl up in the corner and hug myself, but it doesn’t help. It’s as if my whole body is filled with novocaine.

Before too long, I can hear footsteps outside the room I’m in. They sound like they’re coming toward me. They are going to find me. I don’t know if I want them to or not.

About the Author:

Raye T. Watson grew up in Northern California near the capital of Sacramento where she continues to live with her family. She is the only girl and second oldest of four children. She graduated Brigham Young University – Idaho with a bachelor's degree and a minor in English. She enjoys learning and being a jack-of-all-trades.

As a kid, she actually did not like reading as a kid because her reading level was slight below average compared to other kids in her grade, but she loves most anything with a story: movies, TV shows, video games. But books were too boring to bother with. When she was 11 years old, her older brother tried to get her in a newer series about a young boy who learns he is a wizard and had to take an invisible train to go to wizarding school. She was not interested. But this book had a movie coming out, which he was very excited to see, so their parents took them to see the first Harry Potter movie. Watson was so enthralled with this magical world, she read books 1-4 before the second film was released in theaters. And thus, her love of reading was born.

Watson had always loved creating her own stories, whether it was creating new characters to fix the TV show plotlines during the commercials or playing games of make believe with her younger brother, but once she started reading, she began to write. None of her written stories ever got far, but she dreamed it all in her mind. 

In early 2010, she got her first glimpse of what would become her debut novel, Bloodlink. She’d always loved vampires and the spooky thrills of Halloween, and having finished the Twilight Series and Dracula, she began to define her own kind of vampire.

In the summer of 2012, she met the lady who would become her best friend and fellow author, Charity Mae. Watson and Mae swamped stories during their first meeting and have encouraged each other’s writing ever since.

Watson continues to write to this day and enjoys drawing and painting in her free time. She created the cover art and title page art for her book and hope to publish more art and books in the years to come.


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