A Christmas Hanging

christmas-noose

A Christmas Hanging

A public execution is probably the last place you’d want to spend Christmas Eve. After all, that doesn’t seem like a very cheerful way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

Yet, here we are. More than half the town gathered together in front of the old stone courthouse. The gallows standing right next door to the park where the town Christmas tree was lit only a few short weeks ago. Believe it or not, today is a happier day than that day was. There hasn’t been a hanging in West Virginia in over one-hundred twenty years and this one won’t be on the books. There’s fewer than five hundred people in this town and we keep to ourselves. It ain’t nobody’s business what goes on here and we look after our own.

About four months back, a sweet little couple that goes to church with my wife and me had a baby. The cutest little boy you ever laid eyes on. One day while his momma was outside working in the garden, she left the baby in his crib to nap. Mind you, she was gardening just outside his bedroom window, which was open. She finished her gardening and headed back in the house only to find an empty crib. Understandably, she nearly lost her mind.

A search party was formed, family and friends were questioned. It was like the baby had vanished without a trace. As dark neared with no sign of the infant all of us here at the police department knew the more hours that passed the lower the chance of finding him alive. We tried our best to keep the momma’s spirits up though. We were all afraid of what she might do otherwise.

In the middle of the night, she woke up her husband, saying she heard the baby crying outside. She said maybe whoever took the baby had a change of heart and brought him back. He said she jumped out of bed and took off outside in her nightgown and bare feet. The husband thought she must have dreamed she heard the baby cry or hallucinated it in her distraught state. He got up, put on his robe and slippers and went after her. He flipped on the porch light before going out and saw the shadow of his wife on the ground in their yard. He went to her to comfort her and realized her throat had been slit from ear to ear.

We got there within minutes after he called. It was a mess. At that point, it was one of the worst things I’d ever seen in my career. We were searching the house for anything that might give us a clue as to what the hell had happened. Then we went in the baby’s room. We turned on the light and I’ll be damned, the little feller was sound asleep in his crib. Gave me chills like you wouldn’t believe.

All we could figure was the killer had broken in and put the baby in the crib, sneaked back outside and maybe played a recording of him crying to lure out one of the parents. Killed her when she ran out, then he took off.

We tried to contact bigger police departments for help. No one would even look at the file. They all said the husband did it, that the case was open and shut. They never even tried to help us. They all thought we were just dumb hillbillies. So when the next one happened we decided we would just handle it ourselves.

About three weeks later, the Gilliam twins were found down by the creek next to their house. A twelve year old boy and girl who were outside playing. Just like they did everyday. Thankfully it was a neighbor that found them and not the parents. Once again the throats were slit. We didn’t know why one of the them didn’t try to run. But the dad said they were like that, they wouldn’t leave each other’s side for anything. Once again, we questioned people and tried to find which direction we needed to look. There wasn’t much to go on. Nobody had seen or heard anything around town the day of the crime.

After a week of no progress, me and the rest of the sheriff’s department decided to hold a town meeting. We talked about bringing in an investigator from Huntington. But, the families of the deceased didn’t want to go through more questioning. We knew there would be miles of red tape only to be told there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue anyone. We told everyone to look out for each other and to keep their kids close. Everyone stayed on high alert and for a over a month things were quiet.

Then one day, everything came crashing down. Mary Kent was going over to Ms. Elmira’s house for the weekly knitting circle. Ms. Elmira, was one of the oldest ladies in town. She had been a school teacher for many years. Pretty much everyone in town had sat in her classroom. After she retired she kept busy having knitting and quilting circles at her home with other ladies. Well, when Mary arrived a little late, she walked in to see something out of a horror movie. There was Ms. Elmira, Katie Hassel and Mary’s own sister, Sarah Murphy. All three had been murdered. Blood was everywhere in the tiny house that was decorated with so much pink. Two of them were facing the door as if they had tried to get away, they just weren’t fast enough. What kind of pyscopath were we dealing with? It took three of us to pry poor, screaming, Mary off of her sister’s body.

One, two , three, I counted in my head. Did that mean a murder of four was coming? That our town folks weren’t even safe in groups anymore? I looked through files until my eyes crossed when I tried to read. I stood up from my desk to stretch my legs and decided to go over to the grocery store for a snack and bottle of pop.

The cashier was ringing up my Little Debbie and bottle of Diet Coke when a stock boy at the end of the aisle caught my eye. I didn’t recognize him and I knew everyone in this town. He looked up and saw me walking toward him, some emotion passed across his face but I couldn’t be sure of which one it was.

“Hi there.” I said trying to sound as friendly as I could. I didn’t want my uniform to be too intimidating.

“Hi. Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” The boy asked.

I was trying to figure out his age. Just to glance at him he appeared to be no more than twenty, but looking directly at his face his eyes seemed to sink in. And there was a roughness to his skin that could have put him being much older.

“Yes, I just realized you must be new in town. So, I thought I’d come introduce myself. I’m Sheriff Maxwell.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Derek.”

He shook my hand and the longer I looked at him, the stranger he looked. His hair was cut neatly but was greasy with flakes of dandruff standing out on his dark hair. His marked, rough skin was dotted with angry looking sores he had apparently been picking.

.

“It’s nice to meet you Derek.” I wanted his last name but I could get that from Mr. Dempsey, the store manager. “How long have you been in town Derek?”

“I moved here in July.”

I nodded.

“We don’t see many young people choosing to move in town. There’s not a whole lot to do. What brought you here?” I asked.

With my next breath, I gagged. I was hit by the odor of something rotting and sickening.

“What is that smell?” I asked, covering my face with my arm.

Derek smiled. “Oh, we tossed out some spoiled chicken earlier. The pack must have broken open in the garbage can.”

“Might want to get that out of here before customers start throwing up in the aisles.” I said as I started walking back toward the counter.

` As I was walking, I saw my reflection in the large round mirror at the front of the store that looks down the aisle. I watched Derek go back to stocking the shelves. It was very odd for me not to be aware of a new person in town, let alone for months. In the mirror reflection, Derek looked up at me and smiled. It was a twisted smile, there was no kindness or humor. It was a dark, evil look that I felt in my bones. It was almost like I could see under his skin. A slimy, red, bloody thing with sharp claws was living beneath that human skin. Jagged teeth rested in the mouth of a skeletal face with dull red skin stretched over it. I knew in my gut that this was our killer.

I talked to Mr. Dempsey and got Derek’s last name. Mr. Dempsey’s comments on Derek were simply, ‘he’s an odd kid, but he works pretty hard’. I started calling around checking out Derek’s past. He had been raised by his grandma who passed away about two years ago. His high school teacher said the same thing I’d heard from everyone else. ‘Kind of quiet but never caused any trouble’. I’d been at the job long enough to know to trust my instincts even if I didn’t yet have all the info.

I started stopping in the grocery store a few times per week. When I did, I’d always make a point to go say ‘hi’ to Derek. I was always friendly as could be. I didn’t want him to know I was onto him. But I wanted him to know that I knew who he was. His eyes always seemed to follow me wherever I moved in the store. I could feel his stare on the back of my head like a hot poker. One day he was ringing me up at the register and my little snack came to four dollars even.

“I’ve always liked the number four. It’s a good even number. I mean, I like all numbers, but four is one of my favorites. One, two, three,…four” He was taunting me.

I kept my face down until I could get a hold on my emotions. My blood felt like it stopped moving, frozen in my veins. But the anger from the pit of my stomach wanted to rise up, it urged me to grab him by the throat and slam him against the cash register.

“Ya know Derek, I must have questioned everyone in town about those murders we’ve had. But I haven’t talked to you.” I smiled at him.

His face stayed neutral then he smiled back at me. “Terrible thing, those murders. I can tell you where I was for each one. During the first one I was home asleep.The second one, I would have been here at work. And the third one, once again, here at work.”

“Do you know if you made any deliveries those days?” I asked.

“It’s possible, but you’d have to go back and check the schedule.” He was so nonchalant, not a trace of concern in his voice.

On my way out of the store, I glanced up into the mirror again. Once I again I saw the bloody, thing that lived under Derek’s skin. And this time, it winked at me.

I was up all that night trying to find a way to tie Derek to all of the murders. I hadn’t been asleep long when one of my deputies was banging on my door.

“What is it?” I asked rubbing my eyes.

“Four bodies.”

They were all laid out on Main Street. The bodies of four teenagers were scattered on the sidewalk right in the middle of town. They had tried to fight, they had tried to run. But in the end they had all ended up with their throats slashed. Blood had pooled and ran down the sidewalk like spilled red paint. One of the girls had gone up the stairs to knock on the door of an apartment to get away and had fallen backwards cracking her head open on the concrete steps. The killer had still cut her throat even though she was probably already dead. This was the worst thing I’d ever seen. A massacre, right out in the middle of my little town.

“Sheriff!” One of my men called out. I turned his direction and walked over. He was standing with boy and girl about the same age as our victims.

“Get them out of here! They don’t need to see this.” I grumbled.

“They’re witnesses. They saw everything.”

Back at my office I sat across from the two shaking kids. I knew their faces, and I could pick out their parents. But I didn’t know them well.

“What happened?” I asked.The boy started first.

“We were walking home from youth group. Melissa and I were walking a ways behind everyone else. A man crossed the street and walked fast until he was behind Alex, we saw him grab Alex.Then, Alex fell down.”

“Then everyone was screaming.” The girl, Melissa, chimed in. “I screamed.” She said, dropping her head.

The boy put his hand on hers for comfort. “When she screamed the killer looked at us. Then he grabbed the other girl by her pony tail and…we ran and hid until we heard sirens.”

“You did a good thing coming forward. How well did you see the killer’s face?” It was a lot to hope for that they could identify him.

“He was standing right under the streetlight. We saw him. It was the guy who works at the grocery store.”

A short time later Derek sat across from me where the teenagers sat only hours before. He didn’t put up a fight when I came to arrest him and he didn’t seem surprised. He was calm and as pleasant as he’d been every other time I had seen him.

“Derek, why did you do this?” I asked.

“I needed four.” He answered.

“Why did you leave witnesses?”

“I only needed four. They would have made six.”

“Why did you need four?”

He didn’t answer me, he just smiled. It was the same smile I had seen the first time I met him, when I knew something was wrong. And in that one smile, I knew, I wasn’t talking to Derek. This was something evil. I tried asking more questions. But he just sat there smiling, and soon the smell of rotting meat, the smell of death, began creeping through the room. This wasn’t spoiled chicken. This was him, that evil thing living under his skin. Using this poor boy’s body as a vessel.

We locked him up while the town decided what to do with him. We talked about sending him off somewhere more equipped to deal with him. But the families of the deceased wanted him dead. When he started tormenting our officers, we agreed. Every night, when they would do rounds, he would give the gruesome details of his kills and he would always count. ‘One, two, three, four.’

One night as he counted he said, “One, two, three, four, five.”

He looked up at the officer as he said the last. The officer’s heart stopped and he dropped dead on the spot. Whether it had been terror or evil that caused his death didn’t matter. We knew it was up to us to take care of this. The pastor agreed with us that death was the only way to kill this much evil.

A lot of ideas about how to do the deed were thrown around the room. We finally settled on hanging. Most of us men could pitch in to build the gallows, that way his death fell on us together; not on just a single man. We set the date for today, Christmas Eve. It might sound strange to some; but knowing this evil is no longer in the world, in our town, is a good Christmas present.

We still have a whole lot of unanswered questions about everything that happened here. But, you can’t get answers from somebody (or something) that won’t talk. And we can’t live in fear of who will be taken from us next. So, we’ll do what needs to be done. Like I said, ‘We take care of our own.’

I just hope like hell that hanging kills this thing. If it does, then maybe we can wake up with a bit of peace on Christmas morning.

 

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So They Say

panther2

So they say…

They say black panthers don’t live in this part of the country. But the people that say that don’t live around here. Ask any of the older people that live back in the the hollers. They‘ll tell you stories about hearing them at night; roaming hungry and fierce through the mountainside, screaming like a woman being killed. The older folks laugh when people say ‘they don’t live here,’ because they know better.

My daddy always kept us kids close to the house when it started getting dark. Other kids would be out running around the woods until they couldn’t see their hand in front of their face. Daddy would let us play in the yard until near bedtime. But he wanted us home, where he could watch us from his rocker on the porch with his .22 beside him leaned against the house. I didn’t really know why, but I knew better than to disobey him.

After a ten hour workday in the mines, Daddy would come home and work in the garden. One night, when I was about twelve, Daddy and I went out on the porch. His jeans and shirt were dirty from working in the garden and his red cap sat somewhat askew on his sweating head. Moths flitted around the light above the screen door and the sound of the frogs out in the darkness were a loud and steady background noise. Daddy slowly rocked back and forth in his worn old chair. He had a wad of tobacco in his jaw and stared out into the yard as the last bit of light faded.

I sat down on the floor of the porch beside him and looked up at him.

“Daddy, why do you get nervous when it gets dark out?” I asked him, wondering if he’d tell me.

He glanced down at me for a moment, eyes trying to discern if he should tell me or not. Then he stared back out at the yard. He spit in the can he kept on the porch (Momma wouldn’t let him chew in the house) and cleared his throat.

“I wasn’t too much older than you when my daddy and your uncle was makin’ and sellin’ moonshine. People got caught and arrested for it all the time. If they didn’t get caught makin’ it, they got caught carryin’ it. So my brother had the idea to make me carry it across the mountain. It wouldn’t be likely for anyone to stop a kid. If someone did stop me I was just supposed to say I was on my way to Papaw’s house or make up something. Daddy wasn’t sure about the idea but his friends in the next town said they’d help look out for me, so he agreed. Every Friday night after school I’d come home and load up my bag with jars of shine and start walking. It would take me a couple of hours to get to the meeting spot. Shine delivered and money in my pocket I’d start walkin’ home. I did it for a couple of years and Daddy paid me a little to do it, so I didn’t mind.”

He stopped talking and adjusted his hat just to give his hands something to do. He sighed and spit in the can again.

“I was walkin’ back, it was probably about eleven o’clock at night. There was a big full moon out, it was just huge and yellow and lit up the path. I’d always heard tale of weird things being out on full moons so I was always a little more watchful. But the closer I got to the house, the more relaxed I got. I had my empty bag slung over my shoulder and was shufflin’ my feet along, hummin’ some tune or other when I heard a sound that chilled me to the bone. I swear to God I thought somebody was being murdered not fifty feet from me. It was a painful, hair-raising sound. I didn’t know what to do. If a body really was hurt what could I do? I figured I’d end up getting myself hurt too. But I couldn’t just leave and not try to help. So I hollered, “Is anybody there? Do you need help?”. Nobody answered. By that time my stomach was one big knot. The hair on the back of my neck was standin’ straight up. All I wanted was to just get home. I started walkin’ again, just a whole lot faster. When I got to the house and stepped into the yard I had a strong urge to turn around. Up on the hill I’d just walked down, sitting pretty as you please, was a wampus cat. Black as pitch she was, if the moon hadn’t been so bright I’d never have seen her. Guess she’d been followin’ me the whole way home trying to decide whether or not I was a good dinner. I told Daddy about it the next day and he never made go on another run again.”

Daddy’s story had been scary up to the point he said wampus cat and I chuckled. I knew it was what most of the people around here called a panther, but the name was just so silly. It seemed strange for my dad to still be scared of something that happened that long ago. I took my own hat off and ran my fingers through my sweaty hair. I hadn’t been home from baseball practice long and hadn’t even changed out of my uniform.

“Dad, you’ve had run-ins with bears and rattlers and plenty of other things that could have killed you. Why did the panther get to ya so much?” I looked at him, puzzled.

He let out a long breath and I could tell he wanted to reach for the little flask he kept in his pocket but he didn’t. He always tried not to drink in front of the kids.

“Well I guess it’s cause your grandpa had an experience with one when he was a young man too. He and his brothers and sisters were in their room one night. It was a little bitty house and back then all the kids slept in one room. It was winter, so the more of them that could pile together the warmer they’d be. Anyway, on this night, a noise woke them up. They were used to animal sounds, but this was different. Not too many critters would be out in the snow and definitely not making that much noise. Strangest of all, it was walking on the roof. They all huddled up together and listened as whatever this thing was walked above their heads. Each step in the frozen snow crunched loudly against the tin roof. They figured it was some kind of monster and thought at any minute it was going to come crashing through the ceiling and eat them. Finally, it left, and the next morning they went outside and looked up to the roof. They saw huge cat paw prints across the top of their house where the creature had walked. There was more tracks down on the ground leading into the woods. Wasn’t but a few days after that some people’s dogs and small livestock started disappearin’. Grandpa said his daddy had a panther story too but I don’t recall him ever tellin’ me.” He stopped to spit. “Just seems a bit strange to me that the men in this family have all had encounters with an animal most people round here have only heard of. Feels like they’re followin’ us or somethin.” He chuckled “I know that sounds silly.”

I understood a little more of why Dad was so wary now. “Do you think I’ll ever run into one?”

“I hope you never do, Son.”

Years passed and I never forgot the stories Dad told. I never let his stories keep me out of the woods, but I did try to get myself home before dark most nights.

My dad’s land was mine now, but I wanted my own house. I built my house just a little farther up the mountain. I didn’t clear many trees when I was building. I wanted to be able to look straight into the woods. It was a pretty place and I miss it sometimes.

I lived there several years before anything strange happened. One night, I heard something on the deck. I figured it was just a raccoon or possum scrounging around. I flipped on the porch light and didn’t see anything so I didn’t think much more about it. That night I went to bed and dreamed there was an old woman in my room. She had long, white hair and her face was soft and kind. She was wearing a long white nightgown and she smiled gently at me. But as her smile kept growing bigger, I saw there were no teeth. Then, I realized she had no gums, just blackness in a pale white face. She began walking towards me. Her face started to change as she moved closer. The soft lines on her aging face turned hard, deep and menacing. Her long, silky white hair turned yellow and stringy. I watched her crystal blue eyes bleed to black as she approached the side of my bed. As she reached out her bony hand, I saw her fingernails weren’t human. Her nails were thick, brown and claw-like. She pinned my arm down.

My heart raced and I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or awake. I tried to push her arm off mine but she wasn’t weak as a frail old lady should be. She had the strength of several men. She leaned her upper body over mine, still smiling so I that I saw nothing but blackness. The blackness poured out of her mouth and took the shape of black beetles that ran across me and down under my sheets.

Surrendering to the terror, I screamed . I knew no one could hear me. I knew no one could rescue me. I screamed because it was all I had left. Then someone screamed back. Someone was screaming louder than me, fiercer than me. It was a sound of pain, anguish, and anger. I didn’t even realize I had closed my eyes until they opened. I saw it wasn’t the old woman screaming. It was someone or some thing outside. It was the scream of a panther.

. The old woman backed away. She was frantically trying to cover her ears. She backed herself against the wall of my room. Suddenly, she was just gone. The scream outside ended just as quickly. I didn’t know if I should I be relieved or more scared.

Some time later the adrenaline subsided and sleep took over. The next day I was left to wonder if everything I had gone through, had really happened. I’d never doubted my sanity, but I’d also never seen someone come out of my wall.

I’m not ashamed to admit I wasn’t looking forward to going home the next day. I made work drag on longer than usual. I also decided to stop by my buddy’s garage before heading home. The fluorescent lights in the garage were harsh as I walked in and Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing loudly.

“Hey Sam,” I called.

Sam didn’t look up from underneath the hood of his truck but he threw his hand up and waved.

“Get yourself a beer!” He yelled over the music.

I went over to the fridge and did just that. Sam joined me a minute later. He looked me over and wrinkled his eyebrows.

“You look like hell.”

I sighed, and took off my hat, working the bill over in my hands like my dad used to do. I told Sam about hearing the panther the previous night. I left out the part about the old hag. I just didn’t feel like hearing myself say the words out loud.

Sam nodded, “Yeah, every now and then you hear ‘em or hear about ‘em.” He sipped his beer. “You know we ain’t even supposed to have those things around here, they’re supposedly not native. My grandad always said there was a legend that if a woman’s husband died in a tragic way, that’s what she’d become, a panther. That’s why they sound like a woman in pain, because she has a broken heart.”

“Hmm” was all I could think to say. We talked about cars and finished our beers and I decided it was time to head on home. It was nearly dark and I was starting to think maybe I shouldn’t have killed quite so much time.

My driveway was long and narrow, winding up about half a mile through the woods. It was a nightly occurrence to see deer and turkey as I drove. My headlights shone on something laying across the road up ahead. I knew what it was before I got close, another downed tree. “Damn”.

I left the truck running and got out to see if I could move the dead wood. Sometimes big branches were deceiving. They looked heavy but were light and easy to move after being eaten away by years of rot and decay. Other times, the tree had fallen because it was too heavy for the roots to support it. Those were a beast to move. After a few of those I just started keeping a chainsaw in the truck.

It was too dark to tell much about the tree that had fallen. I tried to push it with my boot, it didn’t budge. I went back to the truck for the chainsaw. I looked the saw over the best I could by the light of my headlights and and started it. I breathed a sigh of relief when it started on the first try. I got the first piece of the tree cut and out of the way within just a few minutes. I was almost through the second when the saw started making an odd noise and came to a stop. Something had thrown the chain off track. I could fix it, but not in the dark. It would have to wait until tomorrow. If I wanted to get home, I was walking.

I’d walked my driveway more times than I could count. I had walked it in the daylight and a few times after dark. I never really minded walking the driveway. Nothing bad had ever happened when I had walked it. It was a long, uphill walk. I would arrive home sweaty and out of breath, that’s all. But after last night’s events, I wasn’t looking forward to walking it tonight.

I told myself I was being silly and to just think about something else until I got home. I turned off my truck lights, grabbed my flashlight and pistol from the glove box and started walking.

My footsteps crunched loudly in the dirt and gravel as I walked. A screech owl screeched and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I had a bit of a laugh at my own expense as my heart rate tried to slow back down. The flashlight covered a lot of ground in front of me but the darkness at my back seemed to follow me, threatening to swallow me up. I walked faster.

The faster I walked, the faster the darkness followed. Soon I was very nearly running. Something between a laugh and screech rang through darkness ahead of me and I froze. I wondered if it was another screech owl making his nightly calls. But I knew there was something slightly human in the sound. I knew it wasn’t an owl. The advancing darkness stopped when I stopped. It hung just at my back as I shined my light in front of me, trying to see where the sound had come from.

I was terrified to look into the darkness and see the old hag coming for me. If I ran, she could chase me. Maybe, whatever was following me, had gotten ahead of me. I could run into the clutches or claws of whatever had been behind me. I was trapped. Paralyzed by fear with no good options.

I wrapped my hand around my pistol but it gave me no comfort since I couldn’t see whatever was toying with me. My house wasn’t much farther ahead. I decided I would have to try to get there. With a deep breath I took a step, my feet were as heavy as if I were dragging them through wet cement. I concentrated on walking the best I could, one foot in front of the other.

The darkness followed me again as I walked. A hot breeze across the back of my neck made my hair stand up. Another hot puff of air on the back of my neck. I knew it was not a breeze at all. It was the breath of the thing following behind me. I swallowed hard but didn’t turn around. I just kept moving forward. A deep, guttural growl trickled from the blackness over my shoulder. I knew my end was near. I kept walking, waiting for the panther to take me down. I could see my porch light now, but it was still at least fifty feet away. I was going to die just outside my own house.

Then, an eerily familiar laugh came. There was no humor in it, only a sickening sense of malice. With another laugh came the hag out from under the shadows of my deck. The first thing I saw were her eyes. Her eyes were pools of emptiness in a pale, withered face. Her stringy hair seemed to whisper in the breeze and her black dress blended into the shadows so that it appeared she was simply a floating head and hands. Oh, those hands, so pale they were nearly gray. Her nails looked worse than I remembered, yellow, jagged claws. She had been waiting for me. Even if I’d driven up in my truck she could have taken me.

Before she could even begin to move toward me I felt a rush from behind. I braced for the impact and closed my eyes. If one of these things was going to kill me, I’d rather it be the panther. But the beast didn’t lunge for me. In one long, graceful movement, the cat sailed past me and landed within inches of the hag. She growled at the hag, then let out one of her screams. It was so loud and piercing, my ears were left ringing. With a leap, the panther grabbed the hag by the throat and started dragging her into the woods. The panther had saved me.

I’ve played the night over in my head more times than I can count over the years. I don’t know where the hag came from or why she was after me. I’ve got a hunch about why the panther saved me. There’s no family left around here to ask about it. When I was little daddy told me one of my great-grandfather’s was murdered. He left behind a wife and three little kids. The wife was so distraught she went missing only a few weeks later, leaving her sister to raise the kids. Everyone thought she drowned herself in the lake. When I remembered Sam’s story about the old legend it made a little sense. Maybe the panther that had followed all the men of my family was related to us. Maybe she was our protector.

I don’t live in the woods anymore. I moved a little closer to work. Still, when the subject of panthers come up, I hear people say “we don’t have those around here”. I just nod and wink. “Well, so they say.”

 

 

 

 

Three Witches in a Small Town (giveaway)

book cover

For those of you new to my blog or curious about my book this is a great opportunity! Three Witches in a Small Town is my first novel that won the Jan Carol Publishing Believe and Achieve Award and was published last June. I’m currently running a giveaway on Goodreads for a chance to win a signed copy! The contest winner will be announced on June 22nd.

Here is the description from the back: Three sisters are called home to their small town to learn the old ways of mountain healing and magic. Guided by their aging grandmother, the sisters embark on a path of self-discovery. Through good times and heartbreak, the sisters stick together and learn a new appreciation for their unique family heritage and one another. Witches, potions, romance, laughter . . . you will find them all in Three Witches in a Small Town.

I wrote the book in a very short amount of time and had all sorts of amusing (now) drama trying to get it submitted. That’s definitely a blog for another time! But I poured my heart and soul into it and couldn’t be more proud of it. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but one or two people saying they enjoy it means a great deal more to me than a person who didn’t.  So please check it out, enter the giveaway or order a copy as a gift. And let me know what you think!

Order or read my reviews on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Three-Witches-Small-Willie-Dalton/dp/1939289653/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462553344&sr=8-1&keywords=three+witches+in+a+small+town

Enter the giveaway: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/186592-three-witches-in-a-small-town

Like my Facebook page so you can keep up with my signings and giveaways! http://www.facebook.com/threewitchesinasmalltown

Just an update

It’s been a while since I’ve updated as usual. Things have gone really well since the release of my book and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the signings I’ve done so far. The feedback I’ve gotten on my book has just overwhelmed my heart and I’m so excited about upcoming events.

I have big plans for myself and I won’t allow myself to be disappointed. The things I can’t control might get me down sometimes but by hell I will make the best of everything within my power. God keeps showing me what he has in store for me and I’ve never known Him not to follow through. I just have to put in my part of the effort.

I attended a fabulous women’s conference today in Abingdon, Va. It was enlightening and entertaining and I made some great connections. Lulu Roman from Hee Haw was the guest speaker and she didn’t disappoint. She was hilarious and endearing sharing her life story with everyone. I even had my picture made with her. I tried to share it but my computer isn’t cooperating. It was good day. I needed a good day after a couple of days that weren’t so good.

I’m back in the swing of writing daily, if only I could be so diligent with exercise haha. Working on my new book is good for my soul and I’m starting to get to know my new characters which is always fun. It really is like making new friends. I can’t wait to see what all they have to tell me.

It all begins with a question

About a year ago my daughter walked through the house and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most people my age (late twenties) already have a career or are working toward their goal. I’ve been a massage therapist, helped run a health food store, nearly have my doctorate in naturopathy and for the last several years I’ve been a stay at home mom. Yet, I’ve never felt like any of that was “my thing” I was meant to do.  So when she asked me that question I really thought about it and an image came to mind. An image of me walking into a bookstore and seeing a book that I wrote on the shelf. It was the mother of all epiphanies, it was a peaceful knowing that writing was what I should be doing.

I’ve loved writing since I was a child. The time or two I thought of pursuing it seriously I scared myself away by reading how difficult it is to get published and I wasn’t sure I could handle any criticism that came my way, but I decided to push those fears away and see where it could take me. I set a goal for  myself to write something and get it published by the time I turned thirty.   A couple of months later my mom picked up a magazine that mentioned a publishing contest and said she thought I might be interested. The deadline was a little over two months away but I decided to try my luck. So nearly every single day for two months I wrote at least 1000 words and edited the entire book within one week. At times it was challenging but I loved the challenge and the story I created. I submitted it on the day of the deadline with many many prayers, only to find out they had extended the deadline by three more months! I was frustrated at how much more thought and review I could have put into my story in that time frame but it was done and submitted and I had to hope for the best.

December 1st, I was checking my email looking for a lost password to a site I rarely used and a message from the publishing company was waiting. I won the contest. I am not an overly emotional person, it takes a lot to get me excited. But I screamed and screamed, then cried. So now I am picking out cover designs, writing dedications, creating blogs and twitter accounts and in a few months I’ll see my book on bookstore shelves. If it comes out this summer it will be the best way to spend my 29th birthday I could possibly imagine. Dreams are attainable through hard work and faith and I’m so excited to see where this new journey leads. I hope you follow me on the adventure.