Search

MYSTICAL MUSINGS

Rebecca E. Neely, Author ~ Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

Tag

books

Spring Time, Sewer Lines and Storytelling

It started on Mother’s Day.

Or I should say, it stopped.

My sewer line, that is.

I bought a house a few months ago, and as a proud new home owner, I was on still on the honeymoon, filled with ideas about improvements and projects I wanted to tackle.

Enter TAG. I now know him, and I bet, if you own a home, you do too. He’s an unwanted guest that will not be denied. Many years ago, my father, a wise man, as well as a home and business owner, told me about his visits from TAG. (a.k.a. Turd Above Ground)

That night, his words came back to me with haunting clarity.

After having a relaxing day at home, reading the book my daughter had given me as a gift, and eating dinner with her and my boyfriend, I told him about some water I’d found earlier that day on the floor of my basement, near one of the floor drains. Or, rather, the evidence of it – a sopping wet throw rug I keep in front of the washing machine. At the time, I’d gotten my flashlight, checked the ceiling. It was dry. Had it come from the washer? I had no idea, and I was in the middle of making dinner, so I forged ahead, figuring I’d ask my boyfriend about it later.

My boyfriend is a general contractor who possesses an uncanny ability to fix things. When I told him about it, he raised an eyebrow in his calm, knowing way, almost as if he knew something I did not. He instructed me to flush the toilet, and run water in the bath tub.

Minutes later, he yelled to me from the basement. Stop! I ran to join him, while my brain tried to process what I was seeing erupting from another floor drain. Denial is a funny thing, isn’t it? Was that rusty water, I asked, almost as if I said it aloud, I could make it so.

No. It was TAG.

Unmitigated horror filled me as the seriousness of what was happening hit me. This was bad. Running upstairs to escape the smell, I located the home warranty information I’d been given at the closing, and called the 800 number, pushed the appropriate numbers to get me to the correct menus (you didn’t think I talked to a person, did you?), and placed my service call.

At this point, I feel it necessary to clarify that I’m not squeamish; I’ve raised a child, I’ve had numerous pets, and I worked in my family’s restaurant business growing up. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I have, many times. But this situation was proving beyond my capabilities.

Over the next few days, I learned more about pipes, sewer lines and plumbing than I’d ever wanted to know. I listened to my boyfriend’s advice; however, this particular problem was beyond his fixing scope, unfortunately. He was, however, at my side every step of the way, and for that I’m eternally grateful. I Googled and You Tubed my way through the internet, reading and watching more information than I’d ever known existed on the topic. Opinions and prices varied wildly on issues such as root killers, pipes and camera videos. My mind raced. I couldn’t sleep. What if I had to replace it? I knew it could be thousands of dollars and take days to repair.

Captain’s Log, Day 1

I had to leave work to meet the plumbers the home warranty company sent. They snapped on their black nitrile gloves and went to work, their big metal snake shimmying and rattling to some unknown tune. Again, the smell was so repulsive I fled. Thirty minutes later, I was told I had tree roots growing in the line, and guess what? The home warranty doesn’t cover it. Big surprise. I was told the line was open, to get it camera scoped, and that the roots would come back, a common occurrence in the spring time. I paid the fee and they departed, leaving me to clean up a mess I’m not sure I can properly describe in mixed company. That was the low point. The substances I cleaned from the floor and the walls, along with the creatures–yes, you read that right–made my skin crawl.

Worms. Did I mention some of them were alive?

Shudder.

And the smell. An unholy, godforsaken, dehumanizing smell emanating literally, from the bowels of my home, seemed to permeate my nose, my mouth, my very skin. If I’d showered for three days, I don’t think I’d have felt clean. Suffice to say, it was Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank prison through the tunnel all over again.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 2

Since I was price shopping, I called a local company. The woman on the phone told me proudly that they didn’t charge by the hour, but by the job. That sounded promising. I needed a camera scope, I said. They did that? Great. See you tonight.

I came home from work, and evidence that the line still wasn’t clear greeted me from the basement floor.

Plumber No. 2 snaked the line yet again, scoped it with a camera, and announced the alleged ‘good’ news. Since the line was in pretty good condition, I would able to put in a liner – to the tune of $9,500. Did I say the low point was cleaning up the floor? I burst into tears.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 3

The drain is open. I’m taking short showers, and checking the drains constantly, creeping up on them, afraid of what I’m going to find. All is well. For now.

Enter plumber No. 3, an old hand who both my boyfriend and I had used at different points in our lives. I’d wanted to go to him in the first place, but the home warranty dictates that their contractors must be used. My boyfriend had spoken with him over the course of this ordeal, and filled him in about what was going on. Did I mention I hadn’t slept well in three days?

I called him. He chided me, telling me I should’ve called him in the first place. Plumbers apparently have egos. Who knew? Bewildered, sleep deprived, and sick with dread about what fixing this might cost, I tried to explain the events of the last few days and found myself groping for words. Phrases like, ‘raw sewage’, ‘home warranty’, and ‘digging it up’ punctuated the conversation. We agreed on a time for him to come that evening.

It occurred to me was living in some sort of alternate reality; office admin by day, plumber whore by night.

Plumber No. 3 came. He observed with an experienced eye, asking few questions, except for me to run water, flush the toilet, and the like. He eyeballed the drains, which mercifully, were clear at this point. And pronounced, in not so many words, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

I hugged him and praised all higher powers. Truly. He gave me a few suggestions about maintenance, and we emerged from the basement, friends and comrades, our bond forged indelibly as we each of us soldiered on in the war against TAG that every home owner wages.

I’ll bear the scars from this battle proudly. I earned them. And because, at the end of the day—wait for it; you knew it was coming—shit happens.

So, what have I learned, and why am I blogging about this? Common sense, in the form of an older, experienced plumber, will win the day. I still love being a homeowner. And about TAG? My father passed about ten years ago, and in the moment of crisis, his words came back to me. He used to make us all laugh so hard, and I almost felt like he was there with me, commiserating. So, thanks Dad!

Also, this blog is for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed, uninformed and intimidated by repair men, not to mention short on cash for serious home repairs. You are not alone. Also, this is for anyone who wonders what writers do in their spare time. <grin> Collect experiences!

And, I am a storyteller at heart. I sincerely hope I’ve been able to entertain you with my folly. And who knows? As upsetting as the whole experience was, it’s replete with emotion and strife, perfect for me, as a writer, to tap into when I want a character to suffer, say, by finding themselves in a deep, dank hole in the Earth, clawing through dirt, and coming up with . . . worms.

“May your lines be clear, your position always upwind, and TAG never darken your door.”
–A Brand New Proverb

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

The Crossing Realms series ~ The Keeper, Book 1 and The Watcher, Book 2 available on Amazon

Advertisements

The Strange History of Abandoned Talcott Hall

It’s my pleasure to welcome fellow paranormal romance author Claire Gem today. She’s sharing a fascinating ‘story behind the story’ about abandoned Talcott Hall – which, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I have a thing for abandoned buildings! Read on to learn more about the history, mystery and horror of this creepy psychiatric center, which inspired Claire in her upcoming book, SPIRITS OF THE HEART.


talcottfire“Please tell me the smoke isn’t coming from Talcott Hall.”

I spoke these words in a frantic phone call to my sister, Terri DelNegro after seeing a post from a mutual friend on Facebook that said, “There’s smoke billowing over the grounds of the old Psych Center.” Terri is also my cover designer and dear friend who lives in the town where I grew up—Middletown, N.Y.

In that town are the state grounds of an abandoned mental asylum, one I was intimately familiar with as a child. You see, my father, who suffered from alcoholism, was an inpatient more than one time in that facility. In the 1960s, alcoholism was considered a mental illness, not a compulsive behavioral disorder. Back then, illnesses such as epilepsy and diabetes also labeled the patient “insane.”

My earliest memories of the Psych Center are of visiting my father on Sunday afternoons, where he and my mother sat at a picnic table under the shade of giant maple trees while my younger brother and I fed peanuts to the squirrels. Only about six or eight years old at the time, I never understood why my mother cried every time we visited him. Or why Daddy couldn’t come home with us.

talcotthallHaving haunting memories about this place even after half a century had passed, I felt compelled to write a novel set on the grounds of the Middletown Psychiatric Center. Many of the buildings have since either been razed or repurposed, but there are still a few hulking buildings remaining. One of these is—or was—Talcott Hall.

A monstrous, intricately designed brick masterpiece, the building was a thing of beauty encasing what must have been, for those trapped within, a house of horrors. During Talcott Hall’s heyday, mental health treatment still consisted of procedures now looked upon as torture, including hydrotherapy (soaking in ice cold or scalding hot baths) and electro-shock therapy. Lobotomies were still common practice, though none of record were performed at this particular facility.

Talcott Hall was the building reserved for the least tractable, most violent patients. There were bars on the windows, and steel cages encased the external fire escapes. The patients who were admitted to Talcott Hall, in all likelihood, were never going home.

Two weeks before that frantic phone call, I had spent an entire day with Terri, who is a professional photographer as well as a brilliant graphic artist. We drove around the grounds, discussing the plot of the book I’d begun writing. She snapped over a hundred photos that day—most of them of Talcott Hall. The tall chain link perimeter kept us from getting too close. But we could feel them, both of us: the ghostly vibes emanating from that lonely place, even from a dozen yards away. In this video by Antiquity Echoes, glimpses of the interior of the asylum clearly speak to its haunting qualities.

And then, mysteriously, Talcott Hall caught fire and burned to the ground.

Well, not exactly to the ground—the sturdy exterior was constructed of brick and iron. But the morning after, Terri sent me videos of bulldozers scooping what was left of the stately old building into a heap that billowed gray smoke for days.

I was heartbroken.

I’d been in the exhilarating, early stages of crafting SPIRITS OF THE HEART, which centered around Talcott Hall and the ghosts trapped within. Suddenly, it was gone. My muse had gone up in smoke. The fire was labeled arson, but no one was ever charged. I put the manuscript aside, unsure of whether or not the story would ever come to fruition.

Until the day I knew it had to. Talcott Hall must be resurrected, I decided, in my book. And its fiery fate would become one of the most terrifying moments in the novel.

Was it coincidence that Talcott Hall burned down two weeks—to the day—from the day Terri immortalized it in photographs? I don’t believe so. I also don’t entirely believe it was random arson, especially since the building had sat empty, its windows all broken out, with vines winding their way up its edifice and hawks building nests atop its turrets, for over twenty years.

I believe the fire was a sign. I believe it was my ghostly muse tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear: “When Talcott Hall goes down, it must go down in flames of fury.”

In Spirits of the Heart, it does.

Many thanks to Nick Elia of the Middletown Fire Department, who took some amazing photographs of the fire, and granted me permission to use them in promoting my book.

You can read a sneak peek at upcoming release, Spirits of the Heart, HERE.

Available for pre-order NOW!

SPIRITS OF THE HEART – A Haunted Voices Novel

spirits_of_the_heart7_very_lt-grey-1An addiction counselor and a security guard struggle to reunite a little girl and her father—two spirits trapped within the walls of an abandoned mental asylum.

Laura Horton returns to her hometown to start her career with the Alcohol Crisis Center. But her homecoming is jarring. Her old friend moved out unexpectedly, so Laura’s new roommate is the friend’s intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.

Miller Stanford works nighttime security for the State grounds. He’s a man with a shattered past. His Dad destroyed their family with alcohol, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is an addiction counselor—a sexy blonde one, to move in and start watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees them too—Greta, a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. When Laura starts digging into old asylum records, she reveals a horrific cover-up. Can Laura and Miller unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?

MEET CLAIRE GEM ~ Strong Women, Starting Over ~ Redefining Romance

claire_2516Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.

Her paranormal/romantic suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her latest release, The Phoenix Syndrome, won the women’s fiction division in FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

CONNECT WITH CLAIRE – FIND OUT ABOUT ALL OF HER BOOKS & MORE!

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Pinterest

My Top Ten Powerful Posts This Year

img_1875Today, I’m celebrating what I consider the TOP TEN powerful posts on my MYSTICAL MUSINGS blog in 2016. I met and interviewed some fascinating people this year, who graciously allowed me to ask all kinds of questions about their passions and expertise, and I came away from the experiences a more educated, enlightened and learned person. Plus, I had a blast! In other posts, I connected and explored memories and passions of my own. As an author, a writer, a storyteller and a blogger, It’s always an adventure sharing what I’ve learned and discovered with readers, and hearing your comments and feedback. It’s a journey that I want to be on, and I look forward to another great year. Thanks so much for joining me!

What powerful posts have you written, or read this year?

Here’s looking at you! Happy holidays, and Happy New Year!

If you’ve read my posts before, you know I cover a wide range of topics, from tattoo artists to paranormal activity.  Here’s a few of my favorites from this year:

Storytellers and Tattoos: For the Love of Art

This is the Reason We Connect with Tribal Tattoos

Goodwill Hunting – The White-Tailed Deer, That Is

This is Why They’re Fascinated by Fossils (and more)

Ghost or No Ghost? Spotlight on Steel Town Paranormal

Soulful Silver & Why I Love It

Mystical Movies: Why The Magic Isn’t Only in the Making

If You Believe It, You’ll See It: Celebrating Abundance

Empowered and Encouraged: Visitation Dreams with my Father

 50 Shades of Green – Healing Crystals, That Is

Rebecca E. Neely is an author of romance, the paranormal and suspenseful kind. 🙂 Visit www.rebeccaneely.com

Join Rebecca’s mailing list & monthly, be entered to win a FREE e-book ! You’ll also receive deleted scenes & other cool stuff 🙂

Celebrating THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms Series

the-watcher-1-1_830x1250I’m celebrating the release of THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series this week, and I’m thrilled to finally be sharing Dev and Meda’s story.

Today, I’m talking about writing, and sharing inside info about hero and heroine Dev and Meda.

Here are some questions I’m asked frequently:

What was it like writing THE WATCHER? Writing THE WATCHER was the most challenging story I’ve written to date. It’s the longest story I’ve ever written. As well, Crossing Realms is my first series, and writing the second book in a series is a challenge all its own. I wanted and needed to continue the quest begun in Book 1, as well as build the foundations for Book 3, AND weave Dev and Meda’s tale. I wouldn’t consider the books stand alones; you’ll enjoy the series more if you start from the beginning.

Why did you pick New York City as Meda’s initial locale? I love New York City. I’ve visited Manhattan several times, and I love the vibe of the city, the energy, the architecture, the character. It’s teeming with life, and even though there’s so much happening there, as I put it in the story, Meda is able to hide in plain sight. Plus, Dev needed a little quest to get him and his Harley going. 🙂

Where did the inspiration for Tan come from? Ah, Tan. I walk almost every day around town, and there’s a dear old lady who likes to sit on her porch who I pass often. She’d call to me as I went by, and we’ve become friends. Her dog was named Tan. 🙂 He was a mutt, really old, and his back legs would often give out from under him if he tried to stand too long. A total sweetheart! She loved him, and he loved her. I always adored the name Tan. It’s so simple and sweet. I decided I would use his name a long time ago, and I chose a German Shepherd because I’ve always wanted one, and because he could be a protector of Meda.

What’s up with Dev? On the surface, Dev Geary seems pretty simple, pretty straight forward. As he puts it, “He’ll get in, rock his Compulsion, and get out. Boom. Done.” Famous last words, right? Indeed – he’s anything but simple. Guilt, darkness and a need for revenge haunt him, and complicate his life and his relationships. However, there might just be a woman who’s ready to take him on…

Find out more in THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series, out now on Amazon!

Missed THE KEEPER, Book 1? It’s on sale for 99 cents until December 3rd!

Join my mailing list & MONTHLY, be entered to win a FREE ebook! You’ll also receive EXCLUSIVE sneak peeks, offers & sale info!

Put some paranormal in your life. Go on. I dare you.

THE WATCHER- The Inside Scoop on the Characters

Meda regarded him silently. “What is ‘Dev’ short for?”

“Devlyn.” He laughed half-heartedly. “It means brave. Or misfortune. Take your pick.” And that just about sums up Dev Geary, former Keeper and reluctant Watcher. This hunk and his Harley will take on the human realm in the seven days he’s been given to save his clan—and conquer the very thing that killed him.

tw-dev-teaser-graphic1

I enjoyed the challenge of crafting Dev. He’s a bit of an anti-hero—he’s belligerent, hell bent on his own agenda, an opportunist, a unique blend of strengths and vulnerabilities. His catch phrase and philosophy on life is to be ‘between the inches’, or to embrace his death wish. It’s a fine line between thrills and terror, and it’s the only place where he can feel alive, free from the darkness that lives inside him. Free from the secrets and shame he suffers.

Combine all that angst with some super human powers, and you’ve got yourself a hard ass hottie, fiercely determined to guard and rescue humans. The irony, and the beauty of his character is he doesn’t realize he could use a little rescuing himself.

Enter human Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, who might just be of some help in that area—and his quest. But she too, harbors a few secrets.

And the clock is ticking. That kind of pressure is bound to bring out the best—and the worst—in both of them. Will bravery, or misfortune win the day? Find out in THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms series, available for pre-order now on Amazon!

ffcontestbadge300x250

Catch up with me today at Fresh Fiction, and don’t miss a chance to win a Kindle!

Join my mailing list & MONTHLY, be entered to win a FREE ebook! You’ll also receive EXCLUSIVE sneak peeks, offers & sale info!

Put some paranormal in your life. Go on. I dare you.

Cover Reveal for THE WATCHER, Crossing Realms Series Book 2

fb-party-cover-the-battle-in-the-steel-city-continues-1

Hello! Thrilled to share the cover with you for THE WATCHER, the second book in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series! And even more excited to share Dev and Meda’s story with you on November 30th!

the-watcher-1-1_830x1250

The battle in the Steel City continues…

Look for THE WATCHER, coming November 30th from Soul Mate Publishing! Pre-order available soon ~ stay tuned!

COOL CONTESTS  ALL MONTH LONG – KEEP SCROLLING!

Hell bent on avenging his own death, former Keeper Dev Geary eagerly accepts when the Watchers task him with returning to the human realm to discover the secret for rendering Similitude—the very thing that killed him.

But to succeed in the seven days he’s been granted, he’ll need to work with the one human who wants nothing to do with him, and who he can’t help falling for—Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, and maybe, the key to his mission.

With the clock ticking and the Betrayers barely a step behind, can Dev overcome his demons and find the answers the clan so desperately needs, with Meda at his side? Can love find a way, or will he be forced to abandon her and the clan, leaving them all to face imminent destruction?


tw-dev-teaser-graphic1


ALL KINDS OF COOL THINGS HAPPENING THIS MONTH!

  1. ALL NOVEMBER LONGI’m counting down to the release of THE WATCHER, and kicking it off with a contest at Fresh FictionGrand prize is a Kindle Fire! I’ll also be giving away books 🙂 Click here to enter!
  2. NOVEMBER 7th – Catch up with me at Coffee Time Romance’s Book Brew with the Coffee Crew! I’ll be posting throughout the day, sharing sneak peeks, excerpts, the inspiration for the Crossing Realms series, and, you guessed it, giving away more books! Stop by, chat and enter to win!
  3. WEEK OF NOVEMBER 14th – Catch up with me during the ROMANCE WRITERS GONE WILD event on Facebook. A week long romance reader’s paradise! Join over 100 romance writers for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways, with a specific day dedicated to your favorite romance genres, and all without leaving the comfort of your home. And, you guessed it, I’ll be giving away even more books!

 Join my mailing list & MONTHLY, be entered to win a FREE ebook! You’ll also receive EXCLUSIVE sneak peeks, offers & sale info!

Put some paranormal in your life. Go on. I dare you.

Moby Dick, Melville and Me

humpback-whale-431904__180My torturous relationship with Herman Melville continues.

Over the weekend I went to see In the Heart of the Sea, with a friend who wanted to go. ***No worries, no spoilers here.

I first read Moby Dick when I was a senior in high school, or rather the summer before I was to become a senior in high school. I was in Advanced Placement English, and Moby Dick was on the assigned reading list. I read it, good student that I was, but despised Captain Ahab and Melville by the long, long end. I dutifully wrote my paper on the whale and turned it in, but truth be told I was more interested in the guy sitting next to me than I was in the imagery, symbolism and other deep meanings in a story that had bored me to tears.

All that changed this weekend.

The movie has been on my mind since I saw it a few days ago, and the imagery, the meaning, the symbolism I could only grasp at as a teenager hit home for me: contained in the ‘heart’ of the sea, in the movie, in the book, in us there is love, hate, life, death, the frailty, and fortitude of the human spirit, the cycle of life, joy, mystery, misery, strength, weakness, even cruelty – Ron Howard expertly captured it all In the Heart of the Sea, as did Melville in Moby Dick.

As a writer, it brought to life for me the struggles of a young Melville, and his fervor in researching a story that lived and breathed in his soul. His arduous task of telling a tale – writing it by hand – that, little did he know would influence generations to come, his admission that he felt he was not a good writer, and his desire to make his mark, to bring his passion to the page, impresses me so that I have new respect for Melville, and Moby Dick, so much so, I feel the need to revisit the story that pained me so in high school.

Once again, I find it to blessedly be the case that books do not change, but we, as readers do. Therein lies the beauty of appreciating and understanding different things during the different seasons of our lives, and in our ‘hearts.’

Please share – have you read Moby Dick? Seen In The Heart of The Sea? What’s been your experience?

Rebecca E. Neely pens stories with a paranormal flair, and of course, romance. The Keeper, Book 1 in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series, is available now on Amazon.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑