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

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This is Why She Rides a Motorcycle

Without a doubt, motorcycles and the people who ride them elicit strong positive and negative reactions in many people, including perceptions of freedom, rebellion, power, danger and excitement. They also represent a brotherhood—and sisterhood—of strength, unity and camaraderie.

As an author of romance novels who enjoys giving her characters motorcycles to ride, I’ve done research on bikes, talking to friends who ride to get the facts and details right. As a writer, my watch word is curiosity. Very simply, I wanted to find out why bikers are fascinated with riding. Too, nothing intrigues me more than speaking with someone who’s passionate about what they do. For this post, I did exactly that, spending time talking with a woman who’s been riding bikes—all kinds of bikes—most of her life. (And who was gracious enough to educate a non-rider like me. Many thanks!)

Meet Joan Sorce, motorcycle lover. She’s also a real estate agent and a mother of two.

Joan says she’s been crushing on motorcycles since she was a child, and for years, she rode dirt bikes and street bikes with boyfriends and family members. When her son was about ten years old, she began riding dirt bikes with him. It was something they enjoyed together for about five years, until her son outgrew it. Then, she bought her first street bike, a 250 Kawasaki Ninja in bright yellow.

What does she love most about riding? “It’s like a moving meditation,” Joan explained. “I’d liken it to yoga. That may be a strange comparison, but it’s true. It’s very freeing, and uplifting,” she said, smiling, and her eyes got a faraway look in them. I could tell she was visualizing it, and at that point, I almost could too. “I put on a lot of miles by myself after a hard day,” she continued. “It’s my way of relaxing.”

Little Scoot (L), Mama Lou (R)

Joan owns both a Harley Davidson Sportster 883L, and a Harley Davidson Street Glide. These she affectionately refers to as Little Scoot and Mama Lou, respectively. Little Scoot is a blue, lighter weight bike with a smaller engine than Mama. Mama Lou is 800 pounds of big and beautiful in an ice blue flip color that changes to purple when the light hits it. It’s customized for Joan. “Customizing your bike really showcases your personality,” she said. “I didn’t really understand that at first.” She’s also interested in maybe getting a rat rod someday.

DID YOU KNOW? A rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates the early hot rods of the 1940s, 1950s, and early-1960s.

 

 

How does she decide which one she’ll ride? “I love them both, but it depends on what mood I’m in. Little Scoot is lighter, because it doesn’t have any bags. (Bikes with bags are a.k.a. ‘Baggers’). “It’s good for short trips. Also, it depends on how hot it is outside, because there’s already a lot of heat coming off Mama Lou’s engine.”

Joan is big on safety. “As much as I enjoy riding, there’s a lot to be scared of. There’s a lot going on, including the rules of the road, shifting, turn signals, and negotiating threats. For example, the other day I was out riding, and there was a two by four piece of wood laying on the road. You have to be aware of hazards like that, because a car could hit it and it could kick up and hit you.”

“Riding the bike is all about control. When you slow down, you lose balance. It’s also harder to maneuver. Parking lots and sudden stops present challenges. When I first bought the Harley, I would practice figure eights in an empty lot just to get the feel of the bike.”

What’s her biggest tip for new riders? “Know how to drive a stick. Gain confidence, and experience. Start on a dirt bike in your yard. Riding dirt bikes was early training for me. It enabled me to know how a bike would respond to different terrains, like grass, mud, and gravel. The Department of Transportation offers courses. I’ve taken them twice, because simply, I don’t want to die. I’ve also taken professional rider courses, which were well worth the few hundred dollars.” Riders can also take part in ‘bike rodeos’, which are often run by police officers, to improve their skills.

DID YOU KNOW? The first motorcycle was built in 1885 in Germany. Read more here.

Joan is also a big fan of helmets, but she wasn’t always. “Pennsylvania is a no helmet state,” she explained. “I used to wear a non-DOT helmet, also known as a ‘brain bucket’. Not anymore. Tragically, a good friend of mine was in a bad bike accident. She suffered a severe brain injury because she hadn’t buckled her helmet.” Joan’s eyes turned somber. “I promised her husband that I’d always wear mine. And I do, although, truth be told, I hate wearing one. But it’s the only head I’ll ever get. I bought it for comfort. It’s considered a half helmet.”

Though Joan is an experienced rider, has received many hours of instruction, and does everything she can to ensure a safe ride, she’s still suffered a few accidents. Several years ago, a deer ran out in front of her on a stretch of country road and hit her bike. The fact that Joan was able to keep the bike up when a nearly one hundred pound animal rammed into it is huge – it speaks to both her skill and presence of mind.

“Besides scaring the hell out of me, the deer dented my fender and scratched the bike (Mama Lou) up pretty good. It was like I was watching it in slow motion, the whole thing. The deer was laying on the fairing!” And, she added with a rueful grin, “I had deer shit all over me.” Yikes! After that, Joan was able to straighten out the fender and ride home. (What’s a fairing? I had to look it up, so I’m assuming you may not know either: Per Wikipedia: “A motorcycle fairing is a shell placed over the frame of some motorcycles, especially racing motorcycles and sport bikes, with the primary purpose to reduce air drag.”

Unfortunately, she had another accident only a few weeks prior to the writing of this post. A car hit her in a parking lot, and even though it was at a low speed, it knocked her to the ground violently. She’s still severely bruised in her abdomen area, and angry, rightfully so, that the driver was so careless.

After both accidents, Joan had the courage to get back on her bike and ride, something she loves. And something she doesn’t want to lose. I applaud her for that. “I can’t let my fear beat me,” she said. “If I sell both my bikes what will I do? It would be like losing my identity. It’s not just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.”

Joan loves to ride all year round, weather permitting. Once again, deferring to safety first, she has heated handle bar grips. “Literally, this can mean the difference between life and death. If your fingers get numb, you can’t respond as quickly as you need to.”

Joan is anxious to explore more of the country on her bike. “There’s so much beauty in America that you can see from a bike that you’ll never see from a car. It’s just not the same. Being on a bike allows you to go places you’d never be able to in a vehicle.” What’s her most memorable ride to date? “I’d have to say West Virginia. The switchbacks, and the views, are amazing.” She’s planning a tour of the United States, and says she’ll go by herself if she has to. In particular, she wants to ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway noted for its scenic beauty that stretches through North Carolina and Virginia.

“In addition to riding being relaxing, and the amazing beauty I see while on the bike, I appreciate the camaraderie with other bikers,” she said. “Once, when I was out on the little bike, I’d run out of gas. Some other bikers stopped and helped me. They understand. They’ve been there before.”

Many bikers take part in group rides, organized for charitable causes. Joan is no different. “I enjoy the ride, I enjoy socializing. Often, I’ll catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time.”

She’s ridden in various organized rides, including the Brotherhood Memorial Ride, is coming up on Sunday, August 20th, and for which she hopes to be healed enough to take part. (See Spotlight on the event below) Located in Zelienople, PA, proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, and was started in memory of fallen firefighters. Other rides she’s been a part of include Chaps for Charity, sponsored by Pizza Roma, located in Cranberry Township, PA, and Riding for the Cure, held each July, which promotes breast cancer awareness. Also in August, she plans to take part in a ride honoring the Veterans Traveling Wall Tribute, which will visit Butler, PA on August 24th – 27th. She’s also taken part in the Big Mountain Run and Mountain Fest, both in West Virginia. These bike rallies also do bike runs during the 2-3 day events.

Everyone has seen bikers extend a hand to one another as they pass on the road. What’s it mean, I asked? “It means, ‘I get it’, I feel the same way you do,” Joan explained. “Not everyone waves, but I always do. I especially like to wave to kids. They’re always enthralled by my bike.”

As a lover of motorcycles and riding, one thing Joan doesn’t care for is that often, people stereotype a female biker. “I’m not a lesbian, and I don’t have any tattoos,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t have anything against those things, it’s just not me. Sometimes it can be frustrating, that bikes are my thing. People either get it or they don’t. Basically, I just don’t fit the mold.” Again, her eyes shone, with the content of someone who’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, and doing exactly what she’s meant to do. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

DID YOU KNOW? The “Gremlin Bell” is thought by some to be a supernatural protector against evil spirits that haunt the roads looking for bikers to harm. Others believe it’s simply a tradition of kindness between riders and friends. Read all about the legend here.

SPOTLIGHT ON BROTHERHOOD MEMORIAL RIDE, Sunday, August 20th

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Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Reynolds, volunteer fireman and co-chair of the Brotherhood Memorial Ride. Ian Walker is also co-chair. Paul, who’s been a volunteer fireman for 25+ years with the Harmony Fire District, says the event is close to his heart. “The event is in its eighth year, and along with my co-chair, Ian Walker, we’re looking forward to another great event this weekend. I’m proud to say that many people have told me it’s one of the best organized rides they’ve been involved in. So many people generously help plan the event. We’re happy to have riders of all ages, and the safety of our riders is the most important thing to us.”

Paul says his favorite thing about the event is the reason for the ride – to honor all public safety and emergency workers, including firemen, policemen and emergency responders. Proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, as well as the Zelienople Skate Park.

The ride begins and ends at the Zelienople Community Park. Registration is from 9am – 11am. $20 per bike, $10 per passenger. Food and refreshments will be served at the park following the ride.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com
All Rebecca’s books available on Amazon
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This is Why She Rescues German Shepherds

If you’re part of my Mailing List or my Street Team, you know I’ve been working on a special article about German Shepherd rescues. I’ve always been an animal lover, and I was inspired to learn more about rescues when I created the character of Tan, the German Shepherd rescue in THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series.

One of my favorite things to do as a writer is to talk with people who are passionate about what they do. It’s contagious! I’ve talked with an expert, and heard from many of my readers, who’ve shared their amazing stories about German Shepherds. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read them all!) Through it all, I’ve learned, enjoyed, and discovered, sometimes shedding tears, and other times, laughing out loud. But it’s all touched my heart.

I want to thank all of these generous people, who shared their time and experience with me about these truly majestic animals, enabling me to make this article possible.

Without further adieu, this is why she rescues German Shepherds…

Linda Lamek Healy, with 2 of her rescues, Roman (L) and Saber (R)

The dogs were barking happily when Linda Lamek Healy, long time German Shepherd, and all around animal lover and Foster for Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue, answered the phone. She asked me to hold on a minute, and with a few simple words, calmed and quieted them. Instantly, I was impressed with her easy, yet firm manner, and I knew I would have the pleasure of talking with an old hand.

Indeed. Linda, a retired social worker, has been rescuing dogs since she was a child, bringing home strays, and she’s been around German Shepherds just as long. Linda explained why she loves the breed so much. “They’re very loyal, protective, and make people feel safe. Even the calmest one, if they sense a threat, will protect their owners if they are in trouble.”

Linda knows this firsthand, as one of her precious ‘pack’ protected her when she needed it. When she rescued him, Roman had been terribly abused, and suffered health problems from over breeding. But she was able to nurse him back to health. One night, sensing trouble, he shot through her screen door to chase a burglar who was trying to break into her Jeep. Mission accomplished! Way to go Roman!

“I’ve been in love with Shepherds forever,” Linda said. Such a special breed of dog needs just as special of an owner. “They’re bigger dogs, they require patience, and I feel, a more experienced owner,” she explained.

She’s been fostering dogs for Heidi’s for four years, and currently, she’s fostering seven. In addition, she personally has four dogs. Wow! “I really feel it’s what I was meant to do my whole life,” she said.

“The dogs are my life,” Linda said, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the labors of love she performs daily for these amazing animals. “It’s very fulfilling. I foster a lot of senior dogs with medical conditions, such as mange, malnutrition and hip displaysia. Many have also been abused.”

Her day starts at 5am, and usually, Linda has the dogs settled for the night around 7pm. Over the course of the day, she feeds them, brushes them, provides medical care, and cleans, vacuuming and mopping floors several times a day. “Because I’ve fostered so many dogs, and with the veterinarian’s guidance, I’ve learned so much about the dogs’ medical needs. If it’s possible, we feel they’re better off at home, versus in a dog hospital.”

As one can imagine, the condition many of the dogs are in when they get to Heidi’s is heart wrenching. Many are sick, have been abandoned, abused and severely neglected. Enter the Foster – an angel in disguise, who accepts and cares for these animals at what may be the lowest point in their lives.

Saber, when Linda first rescued him
Saber, after Linda nursed him back to health

Linda feels blessed to share many success stories, which she does routinely on her Facebook page. Saber is one such success story. When he came into her life, he had no hair on him except for on his ears, and weighed a mere 49 pounds. Now, he’s a furry long hair, weighing in at 87 pounds.

Linda snuggling with her ‘pack’
Linda and friend, with Saber

A lot of love, hard work and planning goes into each and every one of successes like these. Over the last year, Linda had fostered over fifty dogs, caring for them until they’re ready to be adopted. Obviously, getting them to that point is often expensive, as veterinarian bills, medicine and food is costly. “I go through 120 pounds of food a week,” Linda explained.

To offset that cost, Linda sets up a table weekly at one of the Pet Supermarkets in St. Petersburg. Donations to Heidi’s Legacy are gratefully accepted, and customers receive a discount on their order. It also enables Linda to get some of the high quality food she so desperately needs for her fosters.

As well, Heidi’s participates in, and hosts numerous fundraising events throughout the year. One such event is the annual Gulfport’s Get Rescued event, sponsored by the Gulfport Merchant’s Association, which was just held in late February. As one of the largest animal rescue events in the state, all profits benefit participating non-profit rescue groups. “Not only is it one of the most important fundraisers for Heidi’s all year, financially, it serves to raise awareness, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

Thinking of adopting a rescue? Linda explained Heidi’s application process is rigorous. In fact, some of the organization’s volunteers devote their time exclusively to accepting applications and screening applicants. Part of the contract includes Heidi’s ‘following’ the dogs. “We want to see pictures and progress. And fortunately, some of the owners are close by, and I get to see the dogs in person,” Linda said.

“Depending on the condition they’re in, some fosters stay only days,” Linda said. “Others, I’ve had for months. I have a good instinct about the dogs, and about which one will go best with which person.”

According to statistics posted at Heidi’s, “between 6-8 million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters in the United States each year. (HSUS estimate)

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

BECOME A FOSTER – Clearly, being a Foster is a huge commitment, and Heidi’s, as well as shelters in your area, are always looking for reliable, caring Fosters.

The bottom line for Linda? “There’s always a dog I wish I had room for.”

ADOPT A RESCUE – Straight from Heidi’s website, because I can’t say it any better: “Make Adoption Your First Option! A simple solution to the national pet overpopulation problem…yet effective. If we all adopted just one, there would be very few to save. And talk to others about adopting dogs instead of buying them. Adopting instead of shopping will save thousands of dogs from being euthanized in shelters every day. Every dog bought in pet store or from breeder means another dog in the shelter dies. Sadly, a dog is put down approximately every 9 seconds in the United States.”

MAKE A DONATION – Monetary donations are always needed, of course, but many other items are needed as well. Linda explained. “We always need dog food, used linens, old bedspreads, sheets, towels, paper towels, Clorox, Laundry detergent, Pinesol, Lysol, vacuum cleaners, mops and other cleaning supplies.”

BE A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER – Plan for the care of your pet. Who will take care of your dog if you can’t? Think beyond the immediate; don’t make an impulsive decision. Get a pet that makes sense for your circumstances and lifestyle. For example, if you’re older, getting a puppy may not be the best choice. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Training, exercise, good nutrition and keeping an ID tag on your pet at all times are also very important. Above all? Love your pet, and you’ll be loved in return.

SHARE THE LOVE – Enjoyed this post? Please share it! Follow your local rescue organization on Facebook and other social media. Share their posts! You never know where it will lead. <<Follow Heidi’s Legacy on Facebook>>

MORE ABOUT HEIDI’S LEGACY DOG RESCUE

From Heidi’s website, www.heidislegacydogrescue.comHeidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue is dedicated to rescue and placement of unwanted companion animals. Based in Florida, Heidi’s Legacy has helped thousands of companion animals find loving forever homes. These are wonderful loving animals that often only need love, compassion and training to make them an incredibly awesome family member and best friend.

Heidi’s Legacy was established in 2002 as an all breed rescue in honor of Heidi, a marvelous German Shepherd that was abandoned by her original owners and left to die in the country. Sadly Heidi died shortly after her arrival with us but we have dedicated our lives to saving others just as lovable and just as deserving as Heidi was. Read Heidi’s Story.

Founded by Lori Hoffman, Heidi’s Legacy is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization staffed entirely by volunteers that LOVE and RESPECT animals. If a life can be saved, we will do what needs to be done. Our goal is to save as many lives as possible so they can enrich the lives of their new adoptive families as they do ours.

STORIES FROM MY READERS ABOUT SOME AWESOME GERMAN SHEPHERDS

I want to thank each and every one of my readers who took the time to share their stories and pictures about awesome German Shepherds that have touched their lives. Some are happy, some are sad, all touched my heart. You put the cherry on top of this post 😊 Without further adieu, I invite you to read on!

HONDO – story shared by Debby
We had a German Shepherd called Hondo. He worked with my husband and was a state police canine. I am not sure what you would like to know, but Hondo had many quirks and loved his job.

He was a state police dog and was very intelligent and quite quirky. He made up games when he was bored. He would run and jump and try to catch dust from the air reflected by lights. When he was outside, he would run from one of the fence line to the other. leaving a gully in between two built up mud areas at each end. My own dog would come in with her feet wet but Hondo would be covered in mud. He was very possessive of the cruiser and hated to let anyone in. I actually think he would have helped someone rob our house though. He was an excellent tracker and found a four year old boy who had been lost for almost a day. He found many bad guys as well. In fact, he liked that so well, he had to go back to training because what he would do is go into a warehouse and find the guy and bite him and then come back to his handler. The bad guy would think he was safe and the dog would leave. They sent him back in to search and he did the same thing. He did that so many times that the guy gave up. Another time, he was set to guard a prisoner in the cruiser. The prisoner tried to escape and Hondo grabbed him and pulled him half way into the back seat. The guy was yelling for help. He promised not to move after that. He was an amazing dog. He lived with us and was very loving but not when he was in his cruiser. When my husband dressed, he would wait at the door.

DESTINY – story shared by Colleen C.
My family had a long haired German Shepard named Destiny. She was a very loving and protective member of our family. The most interesting thing about her was that she loved to play soccer! That dog would use her paws to bat the ball back and forth and run forward! I had never seen anything like it. She loved playing with that ball daily. Very talented!

BUDDY – story shared by Ryan Jo Summers

I have a bittersweet GSD story. My family had two when I was young, though they both died before I could form any strong memories of them. I knew some from the local police force and admired them as incredible, beautiful animals.

I spent many years as a veterinary technician and working in a boarding kennel, later buying my own boarding kennel. I was privileged to know several great shepherds when I could borrow them from their owners.

My bittersweet story is this, going back to late 1980’s. I was working as a vet tech at a Michigan clinic. An older couple brought in their new GSD puppy, Buddy, for his first vaccines and check up. He was a lovely black and tan pudgy bundle of fur. He was going to be an enormous dog when he matured. His owners were smaller in stature and strength. They carried Buddy in a plastic tote bag. The vet and I advised them to start training Buddy now to walk on a leash and develop manners, as he would grow quickly. Oh, they couldn’t put a leash and collar on him, they insisted, he was too small. Might I point out he was already, at six or seven weeks old, a healthy and stout fifteen pounds at least. We gave them literature about training puppies and reminded them he would grow and needed to learn manners while he was small. Oh no, they insisted.

Three weeks later, Buddy and his parents returned. This time he was in a basket, and barely staying inside. He wanted out. He was a robust 25-35 pounds now, and growing fast. He had no manners yet, fighting us over being held still for exam and vaccines. Again, we both urged the owners he was growing, and going to be a big boy. Now or never.

Three weeks later, Buddy came back on a leash, and fighting it. His owners hated it. It was horrible. Dreadful. He yanked them all over the sidewalk and waiting room and exam room. He had no clue what any commands were when the vet and I tried basic obedience words. Again, we implored the owners to enroll him in obedience classes. No, those were cruel places, can’t have that.

When Buddy was six months old, he dragged his owners in and we had him neutered. The hope was to settle the rambunctious pup down.

Two months later, Buddy returned. His owners wanted him euthanized, put to sleep. Aghast, I asked why. He was rowdy and never listened to them. They could not walk him or handle him or do anything with him.

I begged to take him, stating I could work with him. I offered to buy him, how much did they want? I implored them to reconsider.

They were firm, he was out of control and needed to be put to sleep. I begged the veterinarian to not go through with it.

Alas, the form was signed, the money paid, the owners left and the doctor and I sadly put a healthy, friendly, outgoing, rawboned, beautiful, intelligent Shepherd youngster to sleep. His only crime was having stupid owners.

That was nearly thirty years ago and I still remember Buddy. I still see him, cute as stuffed bear, riding in that plastic orange polka dot tote bag. I remember pleading for his life to owners who had ignored six months of pleading from the vet and I. I remember the rage and helplessness I felt as I held this great animal and watched his young life slip away for no reason whatsoever.
Ever since then, in my storied career of working with dogs and people, I have retold Buddy’s tragic story, and used it as an instrument to urge others with similar breeds to train early, train consistently, and educate themselves as much as possible. I knew one gentleman, who after I suggested he research the origin of his breed, was amazed and finally understood why his Labrador Retriever was always finding balls and sticks to bring back to him. I would like Buddy’s short life and unfair death to be useful to help others avoid the same fate. Knowledge is power, and sometimes knowledge is a life-saver.

DUKE – shared by Beverly Laude

My childhood friend & neighbor had a German Shepherd named Duke (popular name back in the 1960’s for a GS). An elderly lady from a very prominent family in town came to their house to visit.

When she went to ring the doorbell, Duke decided to snap at her. When he did, his teeth got caught in the lady’s girdle. We watched the whole show from across the street & were ROFL.
Duke was notorious for things like this. Thanks for reminding me of fun times with Duke!

PRINCESS – shared by Linda
I grew up with German shepherds. Actually crawled into their den and played with the 6-9 pups (according to the year, the number was never the same) when we were “pups”, my brothers and I.

We were raised on a ranch in Montana, back in the days when a ranch was a ranch, and next to the foreman’s house, there was an old dog hutch, that used to be on the back of a pick-up, where the two guard dogs slept. Their straw bed was changed when the calves’ was, and it was always an event when the bitch bore her pups. She also accepted us toddlers as part of her pack of pups, and we would squirm in the straw bedding with those delightful puppies whenever we managed to slip Mom’s distracted surveillance. She must have had a helluva time getting all the dust and straw out of our clothes and our hair!

My little brother, always the one to taste something new, even ate dog food, the dry crunchy kind, with them to be like Princess. He showed the puppies how, I guess, and Mom would certainly had fits if she’d known! He would have been between two and three years of age, and I between four and five, since this was the time period when our youngest brother was born, keeping Mom busy…

Can remember her once recounting, also, about a time after sunset, when she was taking a quick walk along the path/road in front of the foreman’s house, and heard an almost silent thumping gallop coming at her from behind. Realizing that our German Shepherd guard dogs might not have recognized her at once, she stopped and started speaking softly, “Good boy, nice girl” to them as she turned around slowly. As soon as they realized who she was, they immediately stopped the hunt-mode and started bouncing and wagging. However, she always said that they would probably have downed her silently, no fuss or barking, just business, if she hadn’t spoken. Excellent guard dogs! So loyal to family!

JOE – shared by Pat Moore

We had a stray German Shepard that took up at our house. Our sons were about 10 & 13. They were outside playing under our oak tree. They named the dog Joe. I was washing dishes and looking out the window that looked out over the back yard. Our neighbors (lived up the street) had a German Shepard that they kept on a thick chain. When I looked I saw their dog at the back of our yard. He saw the boys and charge them. Joe jumped up and attacked the other dog (who was bigger than he was). I ran outside at the same time an insurance salesman jumped out of his car in our drive-way. He grabbed the boys baseball bat (sitting next to the garage door). He attacked the dogs to get them away from the boys. He drove off the other dog. I was so thankful (sending up prayers the whole time) that he saw what was happening as he drove down the road.

I doctored Joe and made sure there weren’t any serious injuries. He had a lot of blood on him but it was from the other dog. Needless to say, Joe had a home for life. That afternoon our neighbor came down & demanded we pay the vet bills for his dog. My husband told him there was no way. That his dog had charged our children. If it hadn’t been for Joe he would have hurt the kids. He also told the neighbor that he better be glad we weren’t filing a lawsuit against him for endangering our children when he had a vicious dog on the loose. Furthermore, if the dog had hurt our children we would be owning everything he owned. The man left in a huff, never spoke to us again. No big loss there. It wasn’t long before we noticed their dog wasn’t there anymore.

When we had to move we gave Joe to my mother’s friend. She was a widow and she wanted Joe for protection. He lived out the rest of his life as her companion and “lap dog”. He slept at the foot of her bed and no one was allowed near her unless she told him they were ok. My children are now in their 40’s and we all still love that dog and have fun feelings for his protectiveness. I thank God he was with the boys that day. The other dog only saw the boys & didn’t see Joe. He was laying about 3 feet from where the boys played.

BRAVO – shared by Natalya Khamone
I had a gorgeous German Shepherd named Bravo. We had him as a puppy when I was about 5 years old and he grew old with us. I loved that dog. My favorite memory of him was on a hot day when my dad would spray him with the water hose and he would run across the yard trying to hide but he secretly loved it. A minute later, we’d see him run across the yard to hide on the other side but held his head up in the air as the water sprayed him. One day, Bravo stepped on a nail in the garage and was limping for days. I remember laying on the floor crying because I felt so bad that he was in pain. He was such a loyal dog. When I was a teen, Bravo was getting too old and sick. My father gave him to a cousin and he told me he went to a house with a bigger yard so he would have more room. I never knew what became of him but I will always hold him in my heart. German Shepherds are the best, most loyal, honest animals on this Earth!
German Sheperds are wonderful pets. Also I found that strays are even more protective than most pets.

‘BOY’– shared by Vicki Burton
Many year ago, as a private investigator, I visited a residence out in the country. These folks had several dogs. All were happy, healthy, and well-fed except one; the shepherd. He was chained in the sun with no shade, no food, and no water. You could count his ribs. I cried. Later that day, I went back and asked these people why the dog was treated so. They just looked at me as if I’d just sprouted a third eye in my forehead. The woman told me I could have him if I wanted him. I loaded him up in my little compact car and traveled over 30 miles to my home in another city. I fed him, and fed him, and fed him. He gained weight. I bathed him almost every night in the bathtub. He had full run of the house. Unfortunately, he was a problem child. When I entered the house after a long day at work and called his name, he would cower and pee on himself and whatever piece of furniture he was on. But we managed. I can say that I gave that boy a few good years in life.

MINCA, HONEY AND OREO – shared by Steven Epstein
I went out for coffee and there was the North Shore animal league truck with all these dogs and cats on it. Since Killer died 2 days before my wife was heart broken. I went on the truck (December 9, 2015). I walked to the back of the truck and I locked eyes with this beautiful gorgeous adorable puppy named Minca who was 9 weeks old. She looked at me with her huge puppy dog eyes. Another man was debating whether to adopt her but I jumped right in and said to the assistant please give me the papers to fill out. I paid for her and brought her home to meet the wife and my other dog Oreo, who is a pointer pit bull mix age 7. They hit it off right away and 13 months later are the best of friends. We renamed Minca and call her Honey. She loves the name and responds on command! Honey is a German Shepard, Ridgeback, Dachshund mix who came from the Cayman Islands. She was born October 1,2015.

Enclosed are a couple of pictures of Honey and my other dog Oreo.

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

This is Why She Writes Paranormal

It’s my pleasure to welcome fellow paranormal romance author Tracey Wood today. Her inspiration for writing paranormal stories may surprise you. Read on…if you dare.

tarot-1775322__340My mother brought me up as a single parent. She split from my father when I was a small child. My Nana passed away when I was three or four, and my mother took it very hard. She suffered with very bad depression for a number of years and never really got over it. When I was around eight or nine, my mother started to dabble with a ouija board and tarot cards.

I don’t know if it was connected, but I began to see things in my bedroom. It might have been a child’s imagination, but I really did see toys lift and move, on their own. I had a heavy fairy-tale book that sat on the top of a box of toys at the side of my wardrobe. I saw the book lift, move forward, away from the box, then it dropped to the floor.

My mother came rushing into the room because the noise was so loud. I told her what had happened, but she did the normal, parent thing. She didn’t believe me! This happened a few more times, and on the last occasion my mother was just coming to check on me and was about to open my door when the bang, of the book falling, happened. She opened the door and looked at me. I was looking at the book which was over the far side of the room. She looked from me to the book and back again. I wouldn’t have had time to get back into bed, and she knew it. She asked me if I was all right, to which I nodded. She asked if I was sure and I nodded again. I wasn’t scared; I was puzzled. Unlike other occurrences, this didn’t scare me.

tunnel-1820225__340On a number of occasions, I saw a dark shape of a man standing watching me at the end of my bed, and I was literally frozen with fear. Looking back, I can still see the dark shape, and it is something that will stay with me forever. He was wearing a tall hat; I could see the shape of it, but I never saw any facial features or clothes. By standing how he did, he seemed menacing and I think this is what scared me the most. I ended up sleeping with the light on and again I don’t think my mother believed me.

Other things happened which I can probably put down to my imagination. But I would probably say that the reason I write paranormal stories is because of my own experiences and my mother’s interest in the paranormal. I have always been interested in things that do literally go bump in the night!!

midnight-angel-coverMIDNIGHT ANGEL by Tracey A. Wood

After almost losing her life in a vicious, bloody attack, Kat Shaw, a thirty-something divorcee, discovers that there are such things as monsters. And the predator who attacked her is not human. She starts to develop unusual skills that have murderous consequences. And she becomes an unwilling witness to multiple, brutal murders, seen through the eyes a killer. Thrown into a battle of Good vs. Evil, she falls in love with two men who are not what they seem. While her attacker stalks her and continues to murder the innocent, she has to find the inner strength to take on and fight the demons from hell—to protect her family and friends while also trying to save her life.

MEET TRACEY WOOD

tracey-a-woodTracey A Wood lives in Staffordshire, in the United Kingdom. She has been married for over thirty years and has two children. One of her boys lives at home due to being disabled; the other has flown the coop. She has three cats that are her babies, and she talks to them all of the time. Funny thing is they don’t answer back.

She loves snowboarding, skiing, jumping out of aeroplanes and bungee jumping. Well, that is when other people are doing it. She prefers to have her nose in a book or to be writing one. She also loves to people watch, which her husband is always telling her to stop doing. She has a job that she enjoys and works full time. Although if she won the lottery, that might change! She also has a very good imagination.

In 2014, she decided to take the bull by the horns and send her manuscript to Soul Mate Publishing. She feels so privileged to have her book published, as this is the first one that she has written. It has made her dream of being a published author a reality. Her philosophy is, life really is too short to wait, you’ve got to go for it. She is still working full time and is also working on another book in her limited spare time. Her favourite saying is ‘Everything happens for a reason’.

Her books are fast paced and centered on a female lead who finds an inner strength after being thrown into situations that are beyond her control.

CONNECT WITH TRACEY

Website: http://traceywood.wix.com/tracey-a-wood

Blog: http://traceyawoodblog.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TraceyAWood.Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/traceya_wood

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+TraceyAWoodAuthor

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/traceywood16121/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/tracey_a_wood

READ ON FOR AN EXCERPT FROM MIDNIGHT ANGEL

The park was empty at this time of night. All the children had gone home hours ago. The nights were getting colder and the evening air bit through my clothes, making me shiver. A light dew clung to my hair and skin as the darkness closed in around me, shrouding me from the main road.

After a long day at work, I made my way along the manmade path. It was a good shortcut taking fifteen minutes off my journey. I would soon be home, safe and warm.

What to have for dinner? Hmm. Pizza! Yeah, I’ll dial a pizza. Treat myself. Why not?

Happy with my decision, I carried on my way.

Pulling my jacket collar up around my neck, I tried to beat the cold and the shiver running up my spine.

A sharp pain shot through my head, stunning me, and suddenly I was flying across the path. My forehead hit the ground with an audible thump. Another powerful flash of pain. Black blotches blurred my vision as I tried to focus on my surroundings.

I attempted to get up, but something struck my back, flattening me to the ground. The wind rushed from my lungs. I couldn’t move! A heavy weight sat on my back, holding me down. I struggled to draw enough air into my lungs. Something sharp penetrated my back, then my arms and the top of my leg. It was pure agony!

What’s happening? Have I been stabbed?

Tucking my flailing hands under my body, I attempted to get up, a silent scream trapped inside me, but the weight held me in place.

Snaking my body, I wriggled across the compact soil of the path, attempting to pull myself forward. It was no use. I couldn’t even get to my hands and knees.

My clothes were ripped from my back as the onslaught continued.

The pain slowly dulled, even though I was still at the mercy of my attacker. My heart pounded with fear as this predator snatched at my body. I was shaken violently from side to side. My gut told me my attacker was male. He was dominant, strong, and overpowering.

Oh God, this can’t be happening. No, please. I don’t want to die!

Glancing around frantically for a weapon, I realized I still had my keys in my hand. Without thinking, I slashed them behind my back with as much force as I could. They bit into something soft. Warm fluid flowed over me.

I had hurt him and possibly made him angrier. This unseen person was going to do the unthinkable. He was going to violate me, rob me of my life, or both. I desperately needed to get away from this monster. But how? I couldn’t fight back. Damn it; I couldn’t even move.

Nausea washed over me as my body weakened, my life draining away. A dark mist clouded my mind, consuming me, consuming my thoughts. I was going to die here in a lonely, dark park in the middle of London. I would never see my family and friends again.

Why? Why? I want to live. Help me; please help me, someone!

As if this monster had heard my silent plea, the shaking suddenly stopped. The weight lifted slightly, and I could breathe. Relief washed over me.

Had the attack finished? Did he think I was dead?

I lay still, faking death, struggling not to take deep, gulping breaths. I fought the panic pumping through my body.

I became aware of a stroking sensation on my back, a light caress. Small strokes, followed by a sound I could not identify. The strokes became harder and the noise louder. A wet, squelching sound.

What is that?

My head spun with confusion and panic as I strained to locate my attacker. I saw a movement from the corner of my eye. I turned but couldn’t focus. It was too dark, and I was in shock.

Warm liquid ran down my back, arms, and legs. Blood. My blood, but there was no pain, still no pain.

In a moment of clarity, I knew I had to move. To get away before my attacker struck again.

 

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

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Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Pinterest

Damsel in Defense: On a Mission to Empower

didEmpowering ourselves and others is something I believe in strongly, and that’s reflected in the books I write—as an author of romance, many of my characters are on a journey to empower themselves. Because many of my readers are women, and because I’m a woman, an innately curious writer, and a single mother of a teenage daughter, I’m thrilled to share with you more about Damsel In Defense, a company specializing in personal protection products to keep women safe.

Their mission? “To equip, empower and educate women to protect themselves and their families. Independent Damsel Pros are not only arming others and experiencing financial freedom, but also offering empowerment and healing to those affected by assault.” #becauseofdamsel. (www.damselindefense.net)

Both Senior Damsel In Defense mentor Theresa Testa Zamagias and Junior mentor Kristy Gilbert generously shared their time to talk with me and answer my questions.

Theresa explains that she got involved in Damsel In Defense “by accident” about seven months ago when she attended her cousin’s presentation, who is also a Damsel In Defense mentor. “I sat in the audience, paralyzed, nauseous. I’d just moved my twenty-one year old daughter to Florida to live alone in a ground level home. And I’d given her nothing for protection.”

Theresa Zamagias, exhibiting Damsel In Defense products.
Theresa Zamagias, exhibiting Damsel In Defense products.

After the presentation, she bought her daughter just about everything in the catalog! She now works as an Independent Damsel Pro part time. “It felt very natural to become involved with Damsel. I want to help people, because that’s who I am. It’s a way for me to give back, and empower women.” As well, her daughter’s friend was raped in her first year of college, making her involvement extremely personal. “I jumped in head first. I couldn’t get enough information.” One of her go to resources is the book, The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, the nation’s leading expert on violent behavior. She said he stresses our ‘sixth sense’. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right.”

Theresa, who works full time in commercial real estate, explained that she frequently speaks to real estate agents about what Damsel In Defense offers, and why it’s especially important for them. “Agents are often alone at open houses, and they never know who they’re going to meet. Sadly, that makes them prime victims.”

Unfortunately, crime statistics are increasingly disturbing. A violent crime occurs every 26 seconds. 1 in 3 women will suffer domestic violence, and 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape. (www.damselindefense.net)

What can you do to help protect yourself and your loved ones? Both Theresa and Kristy shared their TOP SAFETY TIPS:

1. When walking through a door, never have phone in hand. Have keys and choice of protection in hand, always look around, and be aware.
2. When you’re pumping gas, lock your car. Most women put their purse on the front passenger seat, and because you have your back turned to the car, thieves can easily steal it.
3. When you go to the grocery store, lock your purse into your cart using the child seat belt.
4. Change your routine. For example, take different routes if you jog daily.
5. Have your pepper spray ready to use and accessible, versus it being at the bottom of your purse.
6. Know your surroundings.
7. Back into a space so you can get in and pull forward quickly, versus having to back out.

But above all, the most important safety tip? Be aware. “It’s your best defense,” Theresa explained. “We’re often so distracted by our smartphones, for example.”

“As a mentor, sadly, I’ve heard many tragic stories about violence,” Theresa said. “I’ve also been privileged to hear many stories about triumph over violence and assault. One in particular sticks in my mind. Recently, I had a booth at an event, and the woman who was next to me listened to me talking to people all day about the Damsel In Defense products. She was so excited about them and the mission she joined as an Independent Damsel Pro the very next week. She’s a great person, spending lots of her time volunteering, including at her church. About a month after she’d joined Damsel In Defense, she was alone at the church, when a homeless man high on drugs charged her and began demanding money. A police officer’s wife, she has a permit to carry a gun concealed—but she didn’t have it with her. She used her Sock It To Me® striking tool, hitting the tops of his hands, and yelling ‘Get away from me!’ The man ran off, and she was able to get away safely. Needless to say, I was relieved she was able to protect herself. It gives me such a sense of fulfillment to give people a sense of security they may never have had before. In essence, empowering others empowers me. And if I can help one person, I’ve accomplished my goal.”

Theresa explained more about why she feels Damsel In Defense is so unique. “The two co-founders, Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes, don’t put profit first. They’re very personally invested in the company, which started only five years ago, and already has 17,000+ mentors nationwide.”

The company is also faith based, and communicates that through their mission, which states: “Our hearts and eyes are wide open for where God will take us next.” A portion of all sales is donated monthly to local, national and international charities, including the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, an organization working toward safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse and sexual assault, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and Wipe Every Tear, an organization committed to bringing hope and healing in the lives of women trafficked in the sex trade.

“The products are top quality, and they come with lifetime warranties,” Theresa said. “What they offer covers the entire spectrum for digital, auto and home security and protection for women, men and children. In fact, the husband of one of the co-founders was so invested in getting behind the products, he volunteered to get pepper sprayed, just so he could personally attest to its effectiveness! (That’s love in my book.) “So, as you can see, it’s very easy to get behind, and believe in Damsel In Defense.”

stun-gunimagesA cool bonus? All of the products are fashionable, and come in a wide range of colors and patterns. For example, the Daphne concealed collection of purses allows women to carry their lethal and non-lethal protection in style. Some of the most popular products include the Sock It To Me® striking tool, Hardcore® pepper spray, and the Gotcha® stun gun. The pepper spray is top of the line, and can spray up to sixteen feet. As well, it contains a UV dye, which won’t wash off an assailant for up to a week. The assailant can’t see it, but a police officer can detect it with a black light—making identifying a criminal easier.

Theresa explained she’s never without one of these protection items, and often has all three. Too, she always has one or more on her key chain, readily accessible, no matter where she goes. “Knowing that I have protection changes my confidence. I feel like, ‘I got this’, and that empowers me,” said Theresa.

Well said. As is the message Damsel In Defense shares in their Facebook video—the company is offering “Healing to the hurt, Opportunity to the oppressed, and Hope for the helpless.”

After speaking with Theresa and Kristy, I realized how much I could learn and empower myself and my daughter. I’ll be hosting an Empower Hour soon! I’ll be in touch to let you know all about it. Oh, and I’m thinking the heroine in my next story might just be carrying a stun-gun. In pink, of course!

img_1461
All the special women in my life! From L to R: My daughter, Megan, me, my mother, Mary Ann, Penny & Kay, 2 long time family friends

I’d be grateful if you’d take a moment to share this post with the loved ones in your life. A huge thank you to Theresa and Kristy, and to all the Damsel In Defense founders and representatives for carrying out this vital mission, every day.

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 🙂

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 🙂

Goodwill Hunting – The White-Tailed Deer, That Is

deer-1210019__340

When I first began writing professionally over fifteen years ago, I freelanced, writing copy, articles and profiles for people and companies all over the country. I’m proud to say that one of the very first magazine articles I wrote was about my Dad, and his love of deer hunting. Since it’s opening day of deer season in my neck of the woods, Western PA, and because I grew up in a hunting family, I started thinking about my father, who’s never really far from my mind, and who passed about nine years ago.

He was an avid outdoorsman, and for him, hunting was not only a sport, but a time honored family tradition steeped in memories, rituals, as well as his deep respect for nature and creation.

My father was an amazing storyteller, and so I think I like to think I inherited just a little of that from him. And indeed, a lot of great storytelling is part of the enjoyment and experience of hunting. I still remember the tales I heard and enjoyed many times over, sitting around the kitchen table with my family.

When I gathered information for the article, I gave him a list of questions, which he completed by hand. I feel so blessed to have this now! I was going back through his notes this morning, and came across this passage:

“Hunting is much more than harvesting a deer. A true hunter applies his skills to everyday life. He hunts or seeks the truth in everything. He seeks a genuineness in relationships, honesty and reliability in everything he does. From the first time I stepped into the woods as a young boy, I sensed there was something reverent and something linked together.”

And so it is for me. While I’m not a hunter, I deeply respect and appreciate his philosophies. I too seek out and revere the perfection and harmony of nature, by going camping, by hiking in the woods, and by tagging along with my boyfriend from time to time while he hunts. For me, these experiences bring my Dad closer.

And, as I get ready to release my third novel this week, I know he’s proud of me for following my passion, just as he pursued his while he was alive. Here’s looking at you, Dad!

I invite you to read the article here: Hunting the Whitetailed Deer: A Lifetime of Memories.

I hope you enjoy it.

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

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

Saturday, October 8th – Steel Town Paranormal is in the House!

autumn-218804__180On Saturday, October 8th, starting at 3PM, Steel Town Paranormal will proudly present “An Evening in Haunted Harmony II” at the Harmony Museum in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

The event will take place during the annual Harmony & Zelienople Sleepy Hollow Festival. Proceeds will benefit Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley.

A huge draw for the event is not only the guest speakers, but the guided ghost walks through town.

I also invite you to join me, where I’ll be signing books for the very first time and hanging with STP, all of their guests, and lots of other cool vendors!

The Psychic Vincent Sisters, featured speakers for the event, were recently featured on an episode of the show, Six Degrees of Murder, on the cable channel Investigation Discovery. The Vincent Sisters will be discussing their work and conducting a gallery reading.

Also speaking at the event is Patty Wilson, who has researched and written about the paranormal and the history of Pennsylvania for over twenty years. She is affectionately known throughout the Keystone State as The Ghost Lady of Pennsylvania.

Drake Bowan, a paranormal investigator with 14+ years of experience, will also speak at the event.

img_4077Learn more about a ‘day in the life’ of a paranormal investigator in my article, ‘Ghost or No Ghost? Spotlight on Steel Town Paranormal’ I interviewed founders Steel Town Paranormal’s Chris and Melanie Durish, and some of the things they told me gave me goosebumps!

For more information about Steel Town Paranormal, their events and investigations, visit their web
site
, and follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms series  ~ coming this November ~ Join my mailing list & be entered to win FREE ebooks monthly , receive deleted scenes & other cool stuff 🙂

Ghost or No Ghost? Spotlight on Steel Town Paranormal

stonehenge-1314998__180Since the dawn of time, people the world over have been fascinated with the paranormal. That which is ‘beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding’ strikes a chord in many of us for different reasons—from the delicious thrill we get from hearing, or telling a ghost story, to seeking the truth and an understanding beyond ourselves. Many of us have even experienced strange occurrences at one time or another we couldn’t explain, be they strange intuitions or dreams. And perhaps some of us, up close and personal sightings and/or communications with spirits.

So it’s no surprise that paranormal investigation, or the study of paranormal activity, popularized in recent years by shows such as Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Witness and Ghost Hunters, has in fact been going on for centuries, across cultures, religions and civilizations. Myriad literature, including the Bible, references ghosts. And people from every walk of life have embraced the supernatural in the form of demons, angels, fairies, prophets, gods, apparitions and other phenomena, via rituals, stories, practices, traditions and belief systems.

cmd-img_4023Today, many paranormal investigators seek to provide proof of paranormal activity by gathering evidence, aided by technology, and by following the scientific method. One such team of investigators is Steel Town Paranormal (STP), a non-profit organization based in western Pennsylvania dedicated to the research and investigation of the unexplained. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with the organization’s co-founders, husband and wife Chris and Melanie Durish, and paranormal investigators.

Since 2004, Chris and Melanie have been investigating the paranormal. Growing up, Chris didn’t have any profound paranormal experiences, but has always been fascinated with the unknown. Melanie on the other hand, has experienced the unexplained most of her life. While growing up in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, her parents added on to their house. “I believe that may have ‘stirred’ up spirits, both good and bad,” Melanie explained. “I believe there is a portal there, in the original part of the house. I’ve experienced things such as being touched, hearing Indian drums, and hearing my name being called.”

Melanie explained that she is very sensitive to the energies of spirits. What she told me next had goosebumps chilling me, even on the hot, humid day I spoke with her and Chris. “Recently, I stayed at my parents’ house overnight, as it was closer to work for me,” she explained. “That night, I slept in my old room. At one point, I felt the bed shift, as though something, or someone, was sitting down on it. I also felt covers being pulled off me, and a voice saying, ‘There’s a body in here.’ The spirit was talking about me.”

She grinned, but added, “It still spooks me, even though I’ve been experiencing it all my life. I do ask my angels to protect me.” Melanie has also felt something ‘crawl’ up her, “maybe a cat or a dog,” she said. She’s also heard growls.

As paranormal investigators, attempting to communicate with spirits is key. Chris and Melanie explained one way they attempt this is through what’s known as a ‘dowsing session.’ These ‘L’ shaped metal rods, also used to divine water, help them determine the spirit’s yes or no answers to questions they pose. “All spirits have different ways of answering yes or no,” Melanie said. And it’s up to the paranormal investigators to figure it out. For example, sometimes crossing the rods may mean ‘yes.’ Melanie explained the spirits require a great deal of energy to communicate, and after fifteen to twenty minutes, the spirit may become tired, and no longer able to communicate. Last year, in her parent’s house, they were able to communicate with a Native American girl using the rods.

Chris and Melanie and their team also use a host of other equipment to try to record paranormal activity. This includes a wide variety of photographic, CCTV (Closed circuit television), audio and EMF (Electromagnetic frequency) equipment. None of it is specific to paranormal investigations. In fact, Chris specifically avoids any equipment promoted as such.

Often, when the STP team is contacted to do an investigation, one of the first things they do is research the history of the site where activity is being reported. This helps them determine how they’ll approach the investigation, how they might best be able to get results, their preferred choices of equipment, which team members might best be able to contribute, and so on.

However, there are times when STP has specifically not researched the history of a site, in order to independently validate their findings, and see if what they’re experiencing is the same as what others have experienced. In other words, they want to approach the investigation completely unbiased. An investigation they went into ‘cold’, so to speak, was at the Grove City Area Historical Society in Grove City, PA.

One thing I was especially interested to know when I spoke with Melanie and Chris was, are you afraid during investigations? (I know I would be!) “Not usually,” Melanie said. “But I was during the investigation at the Grove City Area Historical Society.” The STP team set up in the basement, and she could see, via infrared, the dark, six foot shadow of a man. “There were three of us down there, and all of us felt something getting right in our face.” As well, by using EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, and a digital recorder, they were able to record things not audible to the human ear, but that they were able to pick up on after the fact, when they reviewed their footage.

Afterward, they learned that the previous owner of the building, who was at that time in his fifties, lived there growing up. He recalled his mother hating to go into the basement to do laundry because she was afraid, and felt a presence.

After nearly thirteen years as a paranormal investigator, Chris explained that it is in fact, quite rare to experience true paranormal activity. “Maybe ten percent of the time it’s real,” Chris said. And, as Steel Town Paranormal has been featured on Travel Channel’s Paranormal Challenge and Biography Channel’s My Ghost Story, Chris can attest to the fact that investigations are, in his experience, often not as they appear on television. In fact, he feels this might be the biggest misconception people have about the paranormal.

“Much of what we do is tedious, painstaking and may yield no results,” Chris explained. “That includes hours of watching footage and listening to recordings. That tedium is a love hate relationship. It can be boring, time consuming to set up the equipment, but the payoff is in the ten seconds you actually get something. That’s why we love it, why we continue to do it. At the end of the day, you just never know. And it’s what keeps us coming back for more. Too, we’ve traveled to some really interesting places we never would have otherwise, including Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky and the Moundsville Penitentiary, located in Moundsville, West Virginia.”

monochrome-1459863__180STP has also conducted investigations at local landmarks, all located in Pennsylvania, including the North Country Brewing Company and the Old Stone House, both in Slippery Rock, the Harmony Inn, the Harmony Museum and Museum Gift Shop, both in Harmony, the Hotel Conneaut in Conneaut, and the Hotel Saxonburg in Saxonburg.

While Melanie is very sensitive to the energies of spirits, Chris is not. Both take a scientific approach to their investigations, which is a major shift in the modern study of the paranormal. They gather evidence—to prove, and disprove. Much of that scientific approach centers on energy. “It’s basic thermodynamics,” Chris explained. “Spirits need energy in order to manifest themselves, to maintain their characteristics, emotions and communications. To get that energy, spirits sometimes draw on both people, and equipment. When they do, it’s not uncommon for equipment to fail, and for people to feel dizzy as a result.” As well, to obtain that energy, for paranormal activity to occur, conditions have to be perfect. “That includes lightning-399853__180atmospheric conditions,” Chris said. “We’ve seen an increase in activity at Melanie’s parents’ house during a new moon, give or take three days, versus a full moon. As well, we believe the sun may have more powerful an effect on conditions than the moon. Solar storms, or eruptions on the sun, create more electromagnetic energy. All of this natural energy enables spirits to manifest themselves more easily.”

Chris and Melanie speak at numerous events throughout the year, and depending on the audience, can gear their presentations more toward storytelling, or more toward the scientific aspects of the paranormal. Always, though, they promote education and awareness. “I strongly encourage people to be aware of ways in which spirits may be trying to communicate with us. There’s so much going on in our world, in our lives, all the time, it’s easy to be distracted and miss it.”

What questions do they hear the most about the work they do? “Are ghosts real? What is a ghost?” Chris said. After talking with them, I’d have to say the answer is…yes!

On Saturday, October 8th, Steel Town Paranormal will proudly present “An Evening in Haunted Harmony II” at the Harmony Museum in Harmony, Pennsylvania. The event will take place during the annual Harmony/Zelienople Sleepy Hollow Festival. Proceeds will benefit Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley. A huge draw for the event is not only the guest speakers, but the guided ghost walks through town.

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The Psychic Vincent Sisters, featured speakers for the event, were recently featured on an episode of the show, Six Degrees of Murder, on the cable channel Investigation Discovery. The Vincent Sisters will be discussing their work and conducting a gallery reading.

Also speaking at the event is Patty Wilson, who has researched and written about the paranormal and the history of Pennsylvania for over twenty years. She is affectionately known throughout the Keystone State as The Ghost Lady of Pennsylvania.

Drake Bowan, a paranormal investigator with 14+ years of experience, will also speak at the event.

For more information about Steel Town Paranormal, their events and investigations, visit their website, and follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

Join me at the October 8th ‘An Evening in Haunted Harmony II” event, where I’ll be signing books and hanging with STP, all of their guests, and lots of other cool vendors!


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

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