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Writing means different things to me. I'm a storyteller, a book editor, and a songwriter. For me, it's like breathing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strange lights in the Lake Havasu skies

There are a lot of strange sightings here in Lake Havasu City, Arizona of the people variety, but recently there have been strange lights spotted in the night skies. I always stare up into the night sky wondering about distant planets and hoping to see something of interest. I am bummed that I keep missing these weird sightings, but one local man was able to photograph them.

http://lukephillips.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/close-encounters/#comments

So far, there has been no explanation as to what these lights are. A UFO expert is supposed to visit and investigate. The military is staying quiet, but they did say they haven't been flying in the southern part of the skies (where the lights were spotted). This area has a history of strange lights in the sky. I guess UFOs like to fly above the desert.

Has anyone else ever seen strange, unexplained lights in the sky?

I saw something strange in the night skies in New Jersey once. It had to be about thirty years ago when I was a teenager. I was sitting in my darkened room listening to rock music and staring outside my window. Not sure why I was doing that. I may have been waiting for my friends to show up so I could sneak out. Anyway, I saw these red lights moving in the sky in erratic movements, not a smooth straight line like an airplane would fly. I never said anything, but other people saw them too so I guess I wasn't hallucinating. At least not at that moment. Hey, it was the late 70s.

I am not sure what to make of it, but the lights do appear to be something paranormal-- kind of like a giant, fiery worm that belongs in a Sci-Fi flick. So far no abductions have been reported. I wonder if I have to worry about that.

Kelley
http://www.kelleyheckart.com

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tucson Celtic Festival Book Signing


A beautiful sunny day greeted me on Saturday morning for my book signing at the Tucson Celtic festival, but it could have been about ten degrees cooler. A desert rat, I am accustomed to hot weather in the summer, but not in November. I felt sorry for the people dressed in traditional Scottish wear made for the damp, cold Scotland climate, not for desert heat. The hot weather must have made people really thirsty because they ran out of most of the ale by mid-afternoon and by the condition of some of those I spoke to, I think they were the ones who drank all the ale. It made for an interesting day, that's for sure.

This was my third year attending this particular Celtic festival. I enjoy the scenery every year of men striding about in kilts. Even the security officers wear black Utilikilts. Yummy. Oh, and the solemn, commanding mountain range was a beautiful sight to look at too.

This year I signed with best-selling author Amanda Scott. For those not familiar with her, she has written at least fifty books from regencies to Scottish historical novels so you can imagine how nervous I was to be sitting next to her. In fact, I almost cancelled this year because I thought with the sagging economy and Amanda Scott's presence my sales would be lower than previous years. In the end, I decided to attend if only for the promotional opportunity and the chance to meet a best-selling author. I was not sure what kind of person Ms. Scott would be. I wondered if she would be a diva. Well, she turned out to be a really nice lady and I was glad I decided not to wimp out and miss the festival. She even signed a copy of one of her books that I had bought, but had not had the chance to read yet.

It started out slow for me and at first more people approached Amanda making me feel invisible, but things eventually picked up for me. One technique that always works well for me is to hand out bookmarks to people who dare to glance my way. I learned this from another author and it works wonders. I ended up selling more books than previous years and a few people came up to me saying they read my first book and had to have my second book. A couple of them even bought my third book. I was thrilled and Amanda leaned over and said, "That's when you know you are on your way." Cool. I expect more sales will come from all the bookmarks I handed out. Some people were thrilled to know that my books are available on Kindle, which made me happy to know that e-books are gaining popularity.

It turned out to be a wonderful way to spend a Saturday sitting there selling books, watching men in kilts, meeting some fans (even if it was only three or four), talking with a best-selling author, watching men in kilts…

Kelley

Friday, September 26, 2008

Writing Meaningful Sex Scenes in Romances

One thing I have struggled with as a romance writer is trying to write sex scenes that have some significance and are not just thrown in to spice up the story. I like to keep my romantic scenes sensual and not graphic, preferring to leave something to the imagination. After all, a reader wants to use their imagination, right? This has proven to be a challenge because I do not want to write purple prose, but I have managed to avoid this by keeping a balance between the two and avoiding terms deemed too flowery.

Sex scenes like any other scenes should reveal something about the character. Is she shy, bold or somewhere in between? Does he prefer to have control or does he like it when she takes control? Humor is something I like to add to these scenes sometimes to show how characters will react. I recently wrote a sex scene where the bed broke. I think readers can identify with the characters more if reality steps in to the love scenes. It is not all perfection as in life it is not all perfection. By writing scenes where the hero and heroine are most vulnerable, it reveals something about their personality.

The way men and women think in the bedroom are different too. Ladies, how many times do we want our man to stay awake after the coupling only to have him role over and start snoring? Or, what about the man feeling frustration because he still cannot figure out how to please his lady? The time period a story is set in also makes a difference in how characters will act, but I think the above scenarios have been happening in bedrooms for centuries.

It has taken me some practice, but when I write sex scenes between my hero and heroine, I think about each character and pull pieces of their personalities into the scenes. Well-written romantic scenes can reveal a lot about a character and add to the story.

Kelley
http://www.kelleyheckart.com
http://www.myspace.com/phantomqueen3

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Review for Ravenwolf


I received a wonderful review from Historical Novel Reviews Online and I wanted to share it on my blog. As an author, it feels good when a reviewer understands what you are trying to convey to the readers. I am so stoked! Here is a clip:


RAVENWOLF

Kelly Heckart, Earthling Press, 2007, $15.95, pb, 390pp, 1587496569


"It might be easy to categorize this book as fantasy because of its supernatural elements or as romance because of the explicit sexual content and story of lovers in jeopardy, but the lovely writing and incorporation of well-researched Celtic history and mythos elevates the book to something beyond either clich├ęd genre. Below the sensual surface, the book seems to touch on themes of balance and unity between genders. Women are empowered in the story with the depiction of powerful female goddesses, but Heckart carefully avoids the trap of choosing one sex over the other by emphasizing the need of each to come together as a balanced whole.
The story will be entertaining to most and fascinating to anyone interested in Celtic history and myth." -– Amanda Yesilbas

Historical Novels review online

To view the entire review, click on this link:
http://historicalnovelsociety.org/hnr-online.htm

For more info on Ravenwolf, visit my website at http://www.kelleyheckart.com/

Slainte!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Contest on Kelley's Enchanted Grove


Hi all,

In honor of the recent Freya's Bower release of In the Gloaming: An Anthology of Faerie Stories, I thought I would do something different for entering this contest. To enter the contest to win a coaster set featuring the faery art of Amy Brown, all you have to do is read this short excerpt (posted below)from my short story, The Enchanted Meadow, and tell me the color of the warrior's eyes by joining by Yahoo Group at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kelleyheckarts_enchantedgrove/message/62
and putting the answer in the message box. The contest runs to the end of May.
Good Luck!

Kelley
http://www.kelleyheckart.com/
http://www.myspace.com/phantomqueen3

Excerpt from The Enchanted Meadow:
She studied him, admiring the confident way he commanded his men even as he faced the unknown. He stood regal and powerful, the blue warrior marks he earned shadowing the austere planes of his handsome face. Long, golden-copper streaked hair plunged down his back in a wild tangle. She yearned to run her hands through his thick mane again.

As if reading her thoughts, he glanced back at her tree, his bright blue eyes darkening to a deeper hue in the shifting light, his face softening from its usual hardness. When he looked in her direction, he let slip his true feelings he hid from his warriors. Her heart sang with compassion for him.

She felt herself blush at his penetrating gaze. His eyes awakened that feeling of familiarity in her again, but she still could not place it. If she escaped her prison, she could go to him now.

Frowning, she thought how she hated the tree that felt like a tomb. The world beyond the tree taunted her with its bright autumn colors, a world so full of life and freedom. She could not bear to look upon it any longer.

To help her bide her time, she thought about their coupling. Her body flushed at the memory. She recalled how wonderful his muscles had felt beneath her touch and the way he had kissed her, caressing her secret places with his skillful tongue, making her moan and quake. A twinge of desire flickered inside her at the thought of having him touch her again tonight.

When they discovered another missing cow, they would have to stay. At least she hoped so. She continued to hide some of their cattle to keep the warrior there so eventually he could help her escape.

At first, she only wanted to use him to help her escape, but now her body trembled with affection for the golden warrior. After he rekindled what had been dormant for so long inside of her, she began to yearn for him and his tender, passionate touch. Could she let him go? And if he should eat of the apples….
Purchase link for In the Gloaming: An Anthology of Faerie Stories:http://www.freyasbower.com/content/view/368/77/

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Reviews for In the Gloaming: An Anthology of Faerie Stories


Faeries come from all cultures and countries and range in appearance from lovely to terrifying to looking like an everyday person. Some are benign, some malevolent. Based on actual faerie lore, this anthology incorporates the work of five spectacular authors who have penned tales of irridescent ice beings, fey men who love you into forgetfulness, frightening creatures who wear caps of human skin, enchanted lovers from a long lost era, and the land of faerie dreams.

Step into the world of glamour where the beautiful, the dreamy, the vicious, and even a bit of the sexually bizarre will captivate you--but beware of the fey’s beguiling ways!

This anthology is a fabulous collection of Faerie stories by Cora Zane, Esmerelda Bishop, K.M. Frontain, Nita Wick & Kelley Heckart.

"All of these authors did a superb job in writing such vivid adventures that I felt I was right there in the middle of it. In the Gloaming was a quick read, I would recommend this anthology for faerie and non-faerie lover alike! 5 Delightful Divas."
Reviewed by Eliza Knight at Dark Divas

"In the Gloaming is a collection of amazing stories written by five very talented authors. Each story is so unique and well written. From finding true love to defeating evil, there is something for everybody in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I know others will too."Reviewed by Beth Senters at PNR reviews

Rating: One whole champagne bottle plus a flute!"In The Gloaming really is a superior set of tales."Reviewed by Nutty Nana at Cocktail reviews

Purchase link for In the Gloaming http://www.freyasbower.com/

Slainte!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

In the Gloaming: An Anthology of Faerie Stories is now available!

In the Gloaming is now available. I am thrilled to be part of this anthology with four talented authors. The heat levels range from tangy to spicy so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Happy reading,
Kelley

Blurb:
Faeries come from all cultures and countries and range in appearance from lovely to terrifying to looking like an everyday person. Some are benign, some malevolent. Based on actual faerie lore, this anthology incorporates the work of five spectacular authors who have penned tales of irridescent ice beings, fey men who love you into forgetfulness, frightening creatures who wear caps of human skin, enchanted lovers from a long lost era, and the land of faerie dreams.

Step into the world of glamour where the beautiful, the dreamy, the vicious, and even a bit of the sexually bizarre will captivate you--but beware of the fey's beguiling ways!

Anthology authors:
Cora Zane
Nita Wick
K.M. Frontaine
Kelley Heckart
Esmerelda Bishop

"In The Gloaming really is a superior set of tales." Reviewed by Nutty Nana at Cocktail reviews

Purchasing link:
http://www.freyasbower.com/content/view/368/77/

Slainte!
Kelley

Kelley Heckart, author of Historical Celtic fantasy romances Available now! Of Water and Dragons, Ravenwolf, White Rose of Avalon http://www.kelleyheckart.com/ and http://www.awe-struck.net/
Join my Yahoo. group! http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kelleyheckarts_enchantedgrove/

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Research mode

I am now in full research mode, my brain trying to absorb all that I am reading. After reading Warlords and Holy Men, I have moved on to Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This is to prepare myself to write the second book in my Dark Goddess trilogy. As I read, I am taking some notes and have compiled a timeline so that I can link important events. Though I am only writing about a certain area and time period, I want to be well informed about everything going on at that time. The research is actually interesting because I love learning about history, especially the Dark Ages. The time period I am writing about is especially turbulent as Christianity fought to make its mark on the people of northern Britain and Scotland (Alba). I find that exciting to learn about and write about. My only problem with some of the research sources I read is that most of the material is influenced by Christian monks because they were the ones who put everything in writing. The pagan people, the Picts and Celts, were an oral society so I have to read between the lines on some of the information and rely more on archaeological evidence.

I am finding Bede to be a great source for the history of Britain even though some of his views have been criticized and I know some of his writings are biased toward Northrumbia (English), but it is interesting to read about the events of a long lost time through the eyes of someone who lived in that time period. I am getting closer to the actual writing process and I cannot wait. It is always exciting to start a new book, but I want to make sure I am prepared first. My fingers itch to start writing and my brain is whirling with ideas, but I have to hold back until the research is done. I am an impatient person so this is not easy for me. I hate that lull between books because I have all this creative energy that is ready to burst, but I know I will be thankful that I took the time to do the research and I am sure the readers will appreciate it too.

Kelley

Writing Update

I have been very busy writing and am thrilled that I have finished the prequel to Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf. The title changed to Night's Daughter, which is another name for the Greek Erinyes and Roman Furies. After tons of research, the story came together for me fast, which pleased me because I wanted to have it finished before February. This story takes the reader back to ancient Crete and Anatolia and is a new twist on the conflict between the Titans and Olympic gods. The mysterious Tuatha de Danaan of Ireland are also introduced in this book and their origins are revealed. Night's Daughter is scheduled for release in early 2009 by Awe-Struck.

While I was finishing Night's Daughter, I took a break to write a short story called The Enchanted Meadow. This story will be in an anthology from Freya's Bower titled In the Gloaming: An Anthology of Faery Stories. I am very excited about this because this is my first anthology. The release date for this is March 2008.

Currently, I am working on the second book in my Dark Goddess trilogy. The first book, Cat's Curse, is scheduled to be released in early 2009.

Anyway, that's what I have been up to lately.

Kelley

My new release--Ravenwolf

I am very excited about this latest book, the sequel to Of Water and Dragons. This was not a planned series, but the characters had more stories to tell. Ravenwolf was fun to write and is more of an adventure romance, incorporating body switching and a trip to the Celtic underworld. Since this was not a planned series, I approached it differently by making each book a separate story so they can be read together or separate.

Currently, I am working on a prequel to these books, which is set in ancient Greece and Antatolia (Turkey). The working title is Goddess of the Flame and is a different twist on the conflict between the Titans and the Olympic gods. I did tons of research for this book, studying not only Greek mythology, but also pre-Hellenic, Egyptian, Anatolian and Sumerian myths. I hope to have this finished by February 2008.

Stay tuned!
Kelley

Monday, January 21, 2008

History know it alls

One of my pet peeves in the writing world are other authors who think they know everything about history. Usually they claim to be historians or hold some fancy degree in some irrelevant subject. Normally I just brush them off and go about my business, but an article in the newspaper caught my eye and raised my ire. The way I look at it is there are two kinds of authors: historians and storytellers. Guess which one I am? I am not trying to say that it is okay to get lazy on research when writing about a historical period, but no one can possibly know everything.

This article is titled Life's a blur: When biopic movies blend fact and fiction. It talks mainly about movies, but the same information can be applied to books. It seems no matter what story is told there are always people who will pick it apart with their annoying fact-checking. Don't they have anything better to do? I feel if I have to shorten a timeline to make the story move faster then I should be able to do that without being criticized for it. It's called 'fiction' for a reason. I do what it takes to tell a compelling story. If I wanted to tell a detailed story about a historical figure then I would write a boring history book.

A couple of phrases stood out to me in this article. One is "The best biopics transcend their subjects." The other phrase is "No one is a reliable narrator of a life, not even the person living it." This is so true and some people will do right by remembering this. I don't even remember every detail of my own life. How can someone write a perfect story about someone else? It's just not possible. Why can't certain people just enjoy a book or a movie? Unless there is some major anachronism, just enjoy books and movies for what they were meant to be for--pure entertainment.

Everyone has their own way of doing research. I would say do your best to read as many sources on the subject as you can and don't rely only on the internet. Even reading respected sources on some subjects are iffy. The time periods I write about are hard to research, but I find whatever I can and then compare notes. I don't believe everything I read on the ancient Celts because the Roman writers were biased and called them 'barbaric' when archaeological evidence proves otherwise. Even the classical Greek writers were biased. I try to read between the lines and come to my own conclusions. I am proud to call myself a storyteller.

To read the entire article click here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2007/11/23/ST2007112300970.html

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Overcoming writer's block

Well, it is happening to me right now--the dreaded writer's block. I am trying to work on a prequel to Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf and I am finding myself just staring at the computer. It seems my Muse has abandoned me. One of the reasons I think this is happening is because I am writing in a new setting. I usually write stories set in Britain, Scotland or Ireland. This story is set in ancient Crete and Turkey (Anatolia), which are totally different from the British Isles. Even after tons of research, I am still trying to capture the feel of these places and I am just getting stuck. I put on some Mediterranean music to help me get in the mood and it helped a little, but my mind keeps wandering back to Scotland. Eek!

Trying to force myself to write is not working either. What I might try is free writing in a notebook and see what happens. Someone suggested this on a another blog. The other reason I am having problems writing is that I have been dealing with health issues and basically feel crappy, but I think I also might be using that as an excuse not to write.

I think it is the computer. It has to be the computer gremlins. They are blocking me and scaring away my Muse. So, I think I will try writing in a notebook for a while and see what happens. Hopefully, my Muse will return to me soon. This is driving me crazy even thought I know it won't last long. I really want to get this story finished because I have another trilogy I need to work on.

Must...take...deep...breaths and relax. The more I think about it, the less I get done.

Where oh where is my Muse?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Disappointing Reviews

I know I have talked about this before, but it never ceases to raise my hackles. The first advance review for White Rose of Avalon was disappointing. I feel that this reviewer had preconceived notions about the story and allowed that to influence her review. I understand that I have taken a chance by taking a well known tale and re-telling it in a unique way, but the story stills stands on its own. I have to accept that some people just want to read the same tale over and over again and not welcome a new twist. That seems to be the way it is in the world anyway. We are nothing but drones that blindly follow every new fad without having an original thought. It's really kind of sad.

Okay, now I have vented and I feel much better.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Writing Update

Wow. It's been so long since I have posted on here. I have been busy. I have done 3 book signings at Celtic festivals in Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV and a faery festival in Phoenix, AZ. They were so much fun. Love all the guys in kilts. So hot! I also sold a lot of books. I had requests for audio books. These requests were from guys (of course). The really cool thing is I have been making some contacts. There is a very strong possibility that I will be attending Coppercon27 in September possibly as a guest on one of the panels. I will also probably do a reading (something I have never done and am scared to death to do). I will have to practice reading on my husband and my dogs. Lucky them!

Between all of this, I edited two books that are coming out this year--Ravenwolf (coming out September 7, 2007) and White Rose of Avalon (coming out November 16, 2007). For more info on these releases, please visit my website at http://www.kelleyheckart.com Plus, I have started researching my prequel to Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf, tentatively titled Goddess of the Flame, and working on the revisions to Cat's Curse, book one of my Dark Goddess trilogy set in 6th century Scotland. I have to stop and catch my breath after all of that.

Plus, I have been dealing with some health issues so it hasn't been easy, but things are getting better. That's why I neglected my blog for so long. I had to do the important stuff first.

Well, things are heating up here in Havasu. It's supposed to 120 next week for the July 4th holiday. This is the time of year when I get more writing done because I want to stay inside my air conditioned house.

Stay tuned!

Making Revisions

I have been busy revising a manuscript so I can re-submit it to a publisher. I don’t want to mention the publisher’s name because I don’t want to jinx it. I am sure every writer has encountered this at least once--an editor loves your story, but...some revisions are requested before they will accept it. Drat! You don't have to do them, but how bad do you want to to be published? Another publisher might accept it the way it is so that is the choice that needs to be made. I chose to make the revisions or at least give it a try.

Revising a manuscript is never fun, but by taking it one step at a time, it can be done pretty easily. The first thing I did was read through the ms again (on paper) to refresh my memory with the story (since I had already moved on to other writing projects) and I made notes where I could make changes requested by the editor. Then I inserted the changes into the computer and now I am re-reading it on the computer and making adjustments as I go along. After I do this, I will read the ms again on paper. It is better to print out the ms and read it that way then on the computer. If I have to make more adjustments, I will note that on the paper copy. It sounds like a lot of work (it is) but it needs to be done right. I don’t want to re-submit work that isn’t the best I can do. I may have to read the ms a few more times before the ms feels right.

Patience and tenacity are qualities that a writer needs to have. I am still working on the patience part.

Being a published writer can be boring and unglamorous. The big reward for all the hard work comes when the ms is accepted and published in a book format. That's when I can breathe a sigh of relief, rest (not!) and get to work on my next writing project.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Outlines: Do you have to use them?

I am working on my fourth book and I am on my sixth manuscript revision. Yikes! I guess that isn't so bad, but I thought I had the story down and then it changed on me. That happens a lot when I write. I start in one direction and the characters pull me into a different direction. That is why I work with a rough outline and not one set in stone.

Is is better to work with an outline? Some authors swear by it and it is probably a more organized way to work, but each writer has their own way to write. My brain seems to work better with a rough outline so I have a basic idea of what I am going to write. Once I start writing, the story may pull me in a different direction. I keep notes on what I am doing and this helps me to stay organized.

This story is turning out to be a good one, but I am not finished yet. The editing process is even more time consuming than writing the story. A story is not finished to me until I 'feel' it is finished. Pretty weird, huh? But that is how I work.

A writer should use the technique that best works or him or her.

Hopefully Cat's Curse will be finished at the beginning of next year.

Interview at Romance Junkies

I was recently interviewed by Romance Junkies. It was a fun interview and here is the link to it: Interview with Romance Junkies

For a writer, the promotion never ends and interviews can help get an author's name out there. I am grateful to all of the sites that help promote authors.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Writing Funk

I am in a writing funk. I just can't seem to get myself motivated. My brain is fried from all the research I have been doing. Does this happen to other writers?

To help my motivation, I turned on some music, which actually helped. If you get in a writing funk, listen to music that is emotionally moving. It really works. I was able to get some work done that way, but I am still not working as fast as I usually work. It is as if my brain is stuck on pause.

I think it is time to take a break and give my mind a rest. This usually happens when I do too much research. It is time to free my mind up with some 'pleasure reading.' That is a good way to open up the mind to creativity.

Yikes! I hate when this happens.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Book signing at Tucson Celtic Festival

I just had a book signing at the Tucson Celtic Festival. It was a fun way to spend the day and sell some books.

I met some wonderful authors. Lauren Royal (she writes historical romances) was my booth mate and she was so nice. I really learned a lot from her about having a successful book signing. I thought you were just supposed to sit there and wait for people to come over to you. That is not how it is done. Lauren had bookmarks and she would ask people if they wanted a free bookmark. That would bring people over to us and it helped sell books. Lauren’s website http://www.LaurenRoyal.com

Author Jude Johnson and I were corresponding online and I finally had the opportunity to meet her in person. She is the author of Dragon & Hawk and she was there in the Welsh booth. Jude’s website is http://www.scorchedhawkpress.com

I will be doing more of these Celtic Festivals. The next one is in Mesa, AZ in February.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Doorway by Kelley Heckart

In the spirit of Samhain, here is a short story I wrote in honor of the original meaning of Halloween.

The Doorway
By Kelley Heckart

32 BC:

Mist covered the ground, swirling up around the stone altar that stood as a silent sentinel beneath the massive oak trees. A full moon illuminated the sacred grove revealing a woman lying motionless on the altar, and seven robed figures moving sunwise around the altar.

Beneath the hoods, their faces hidden in shadow, seven pairs of lips moved in chant. The beautiful and haunting voices melded together, floating as if borne on wings up through the trees and into the night sky.

The woman waited in anticipation for the cold blade of the dagger to pierce her heart, sending her soul on a journey to her next life. Her dark hair was streaked with gray, framing her gaunt face and her blue ceremonial robe hung on her diseased body. This body would not house her soul much longer. She was honored to leave the world in such a way. Without fear, she clutched her favorite brooch in her hand.

One of the figures broke from the circle and stood before the altar. The others continued to chant.

Long, ringed fingers reached beneath the robes and came out clutching a bronze dagger.

“On this eve of Samhain when the veil between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living is thinnest,” the gruff voice rumbled. “We send our sister from this life to the next. May her journey be filled with wondrous light.”

The chanting grew louder and faster. The dagger arced down toward the woman. Just before the whetted dagger reached her chest, a bright blue light appeared, opening like a doorway and enveloping the woman. The blue light vanished and the stone altar was empty. The woman was gone.

****

With lights flashing and siren wailing, Officer Duncan Murray rushed to a call he had just received—a 211 in progress.

It was Halloween and a full moon filled the night sky. He thought to himself that this was probably the first of many calls he would answer tonight.

Fingers gripping the wheel and adrenaline rushing, he sped along the winding, tree-lined road that passed the creepy mental hospital. He shivered when he saw the white ghostly figures of the lions that guarded the entrance.

The moon passed behind clouds, causing instant darkness.

She appeared out of nowhere in front of the speeding police car. With no time to stop, he heard the sickening thud and his car skidded to a stop near the entrance to the mental hospital. His heart pounding, he called for an ambulance and informed dispatch that they would have to send someone else on the 211 call.

Jumping from his squad car, he knelt next to the broken woman. The flashing lights of the squad car reflected the look of shock on his beardless face. He searched for a pulse, but there was none. Her wrist was cold as stone like she had been dead for hours. How odd, he thought. His trained eyes scrutinized the body, noting the strange blue robe.

A man appeared from between the white stone lions that guarded the entrance to the mental hospital. He wore a rumpled blue coat and he mumbled something.

Duncan turned to the man. “Do you work here?”

The man nodded. “As an orderly.”

Do you know this woman?” Duncan asked in a voice filled with authority.

The man stared in shock at the woman’s body, shaking his head.

The flashing red and blue lights on the squad car cast an eerie light on the whole scene.

“I s-saw this woman walking through the h-hall. I didn’t t-think she was a patient, but she l-looked crazy to me.”

What makes you say that?” Duncan’s eyes shifted to the woman.

“Well, look at her. S-she is wearing that strange blue robe and s-she kept muttering some gibberish to herself.”

“What sort of gibberish?”

The man thought a moment before giving his answer. “Something like Sow-in, Sow-in.”

That wasn’t gibberish, Duncan thought, his eyes shifting back to the woman’s body. That was the Celtic word for Halloween. A strange feeling crept over him.

The man continued his story. “I tried to stop her and s-she looked at me real w-weird like and I couldn’t move...like I was paralyzed.”

The man’s story sounded really weird, but Duncan had a feeling that the man told the truth. For some odd reason, Duncan thought back to the stories his Grandma used to tell him about his ancestors in Ireland. She told him that one of his ancestors was a powerful Druid priestess and that the Druids were known to make human sacrifices on the eve of Samhain to bring balance to the world.

“I guess w-we will never know the madwoman’s s-secret now,” the man muttered to himself.

The poor man was in shock. Duncan was feeling a little shaken up himself. He leaned against his car for support.

This place had always given him the creeps. According to old legends, the area used to be an ancient burial ground that even the Indians stayed away from. Supposedly it was still haunted. He didn’t believe in ghosts so he couldn’t understand why he suddenly wanted to leave this place.

The radio in his squad car squawked and Duncan reached into his car to answer it.

The sound of approaching sirens echoed through the night.

“Uh, Officer?” The man stared past Duncan’s shoulder at the spot where the body lay. “The b-body is gone!” he shouted.

His mind in a whirl, Duncan knelt next to the spot where just moments before a woman’s body had lain. He stared up at the moon now free of the clouds, his blue eyes dazed. He had just received disturbing news over the radio. The officer who answered the 211 call in his place had been shot and killed.

Something on the ground caught his eye, gleaming in the splash of moonlight. He bent down and picked it up, his hand shaking. It was a golden brooch with intricate spiral designs—the brooch that had belonged in his family for centuries, the brooch that was buried with his Grandmother.

A chill crawled up his spine.