The Man in the Tunnel

 

 

A long, dark, quiet, tunnel that runs underneath the mountains.  Two girls having fun taking pictures. They see a man approaching slowly from the other end of the tunnel but don’t  give it much thought, until he’s right next to them. He’s mumbling incoherently and the only word they catch is “jail”. It’s the same pattern of speech over and over, in spite of their attempts to ask him if he’s ok.  He’s bigger than they are and not many people are around, so as he steps closer they know their best option is to get out of there.

They calmly gather their things and excuse their selves away from the man. He watches as they head down the tunnel. As they approach the center of the tunnel, the lights overhead go out, leaving them in total darkness, save for the literal, distant light at the end of the tunnel. Daring a glance behind them they see the man is still in the tunnel and they can’t tell if he’s following or only watching.  A fit of laughter overtakes them at the ridiculousness of the situation, and laughing is better than crying in panic.

Finally out of the tunnel and safely in the sunlight the friend decides to call the police to have them check on the man in the tunnel in case he’s lost or truly dangerous. Only to discover there’s no signal and then the realization that at some point they are going to have to walk back through that tunnel.

That was my Saturday afternoon folks!

 

What a week.

What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been! I got word from my publisher that the manuscript for my new novel “The Dark Side of the Woods” has been accepted! YAY! I am so excited to see that story come to life. Of course, with the excitement comes a bit of anxiety as well. This book falls into the young/ new adult genre and I’m curious how it will be received.

Just following that news was a trip to Charleston, SC with some of my best friends. When I say best friends I mean lifetime, could blackmail me for eternity kind of friends. We drank rum on the beach and laughed until we cried, we shopped and dressed up for a fancy dinner at Husk, one of Charleston’s top restaurants. It was perfect and we are already making plans to go back.

I’m not usually a beach person. It had been ten years since the last time I went. I don’t get a lot of inspiration from the ocean but it quiets my mind. Sometimes that’s needed too.

And then yesterday, I had to lay my sweet tortoise shell cat, Munchkin, to rest. I’m not sure what happened to her but after she didn’t come home for dinner or breakfast, I knew. A walk in the woods confirmed my fears and I carried her home through the thorns and leaves to bury her in a corner of the backyard. I’m going to fix a sweet little garden for to rest in with a headstone, maybe plant some catnip and hang a birdhouse in the tree above her. Twelve years is a decent life for a cat but it’s never long enough.

Even though my heart is broken I have wonderful things to look forward to in the coming months and five rambunctious foster kittens who know that I need extra love right now as much as they do.

The three of us crazy ladies outside of Husk. I’m the one in the middle.

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My sweet Munchkin.

Mountain Mother

lake-tomahawk

The mountains are our mother, ever fixed and strict. She teaches us the hard lessons, the pain of birth and death. She makes us earn the roof over our head and the food in our belly through the sweat and blood of a hard days work. She teaches us the unfairness of life by the crop destroying heavy rains and drought.

She sings us to sleep with her gentle winds and distant calls of whipporwhills. She teaches us gratitude when we can sit in the porch rocker at the end of the day and simply be. She teaches us to persevere just as the tiny creeks flow and carve out deeper trenches through the ancient rock that is her foundation.

She gives us rich soil and woods full of herbs to heal what is broken. And when all hope is lost, she reminds you to turn to the Creator of it all.

We grow up saying we can’t wait to get out from under her watchful eye and her scolding switch. When we leave, we find nothing can bring us comfort like she gave. And so, we return. No longer taking for granted her little joys and lessons we once would have scoffed or overlooked.

Those who leave and never return were never hers to begin with. Not truly, for those of us who go back through all our generations know this where our blood started and this is where it will someday end. We will one day feed her with our blood and bones just as she has fed us.

She is our mountain mother who has watched over us with her bowed back and worn hands. She has sacrificed for us, she has let us tear the coal from her body and the trees from her dress so we could live. And as any mother, she loves us, she holds us tightly to her protective breast and when we leave, she lets us know we will always have a home back here with her.

 

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

Houses Hung With Memories

Change is inevitable, so is death. I try to accept them both with grace.  It’s with a sad sense of acceptance I drive past places that once meant the world to me, realizing memories is all they now hold. Each year there are fewer chairs around the family table and life moves on.

abandoned house

 

Houses hung with memories

Rooms with nothing left to show

Pieces of love left forgotten,

Of a time not so long ago

Emptiness casts a shadow

Over what were once happy times

Stories etched within the wood grain

Some of them yours, some are mine

If these walls could talk

What would they say?

Would they speak of happier days?

Of laughter ringing through the rooms,

Of children out to play

Or would they stand cold and silent?

Holding on to the sadness and the loss

From having been too long in the quiet

Life once thrived within these walls

They held love and tears, sure and true

But new turns to old

And old must die

To make room for the new

Lets not forget the memories here

Of family and friends, never alone

The good old days, when all of us were near

When this empty house was once a home

 

A Day of Inspiration

cumberland gap I’ve been busy lately.  Busy writing, busy selling books (or trying to), busy planning for Christmas and as always busy looking for inspiration.

A few weeks ago I woke up in need of inspiration. I’ve learned I get my best ideas when I get away from the house and get outside. I checked my phone to see it was going to be a beautiful, warm day, a true rarity for southwest Virginia in December.  My husband agreed to my spontaneous Sunday adventure so off we went to Cumberland Gap.

Cumberland Gap is only about an hour drive from our house and if I had it my way I’d live right downtown. The little town is simply adorable and incredibly rich with history. We did some hiking along my favorite trail and although I had forgotten how much of the walk was uphill, it was exactly what I needed to refresh my desire to write. In fact there is one particular spot along the trail that gave me the idea for the book I’m currently working on.

There must be something special about that one area to inspire an entire book. I told my husband as I stood there I wasn’t sure if the story was coming all from my imagination or if secrets of the land were revealing themselves to me. Either way it’s a pretty awesome feeling. Ever since our walk I’ve been writing like crazy.

We were very lucky that day. The weather was so lovely, some animals came out to enjoy the sunshine as well. We walked right by some deer that were eating among the leaves and made a path around a tiny little snake getting warm on a sunny rock. I always consider animal sightings to be a wonderful thing.

Along the trail there are many other incredibly beautiful places; a little wooden bridge where you can stand over the water flowing down from the mountainside, an old salt cave, and the hand built iron furnace.

Once hiking has made you good and hungry you can walk into town and eat at Angelo’s, a fabulous little Italian restaurant with a charming, cozy atmosphere. It’s one of my favorite places to eat, ever.

We have to take inspiration where we can get it. There are a few places where I always know I can find my muse hanging out. If you have a place that makes you feel that way, appreciate it and go there whenever you can.

Guest Blog by Blake Gardner- The Tea in All of Us

The Tea in All of Us

There is probably a need for introduction. I’m Blake Gardner author of Inhuman Emergence: Innocence http://amzn.to/1MCaGKd you can find it here on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. Willie was kind enough to write a blog post for my new blog about her writing, which you can find on my site Inhumaseries.com/blog

There’s a little tea in all of us. It’s the special kind of caffeinating intoxicant that you might find anywhere. I haven’t always been one for tea. I’m American after all, the land of the coffee bean. The culture of tea is not an immediate jolt of energy for a tired morning commute, but one of relaxation.

Why do we drink caffeine to rouse ourselves? It may be more a part of your routine than you think. You need all that brain activity now, you depend on it. But is it beneficial for your workday or daily activities to have excited neurons?

The sense of urgency in our days results in so much stress. To rush is to be careless. Tea is so much more than waking up. It relaxes, and one should not only enjoy it when you wake but in the evening. It’s mild enough to still have a calming effect.

Is your energy drink really waking you up? Do all those chemicals and herbal remedies help you with your day? Have a cup of tea. There’s no better way to become more centered than a nice green tea or a rich earl grey.

With so little time for leisure what better way to unwind than with a cup of tea or four and breathe deep. Ive come to end of my blog with the realization that even if you can’t seem to find quiet, or peace, you can find inner peace within a cup of tea. There is also caffeine in it.

Quick trip to Hot Springs

hot springs

The snow nearly did me in, I nearly gave up on ever getting out. Valentine’s Day weekend Josh had planned a short getaway to Hot Springs, NC, one of our favorite little places. Of course once we learned of the dreaded snow coming our way we decided it was best to reschedule. Thankfully the inn where we had reservations was very understanding and moved our spot to this past Sunday. We figured surely two weeks away was plenty of time to get past the icky weather.

So as the days passed we realized we were still very stuck up here on our mountain. The only option on a possible way out was to start digging. Keep in mind we still had well over a foot of snow covering at least half of our quarter mile long driveway. Not only that but our driveway is pretty steep in places so while shoveling downhill isn’t so bad you do have to walk your tired self back to the top.

The first day we decided to see what we could get done I was very optimistic. The second day I was still determined, until the car got stuck, then refused to crank. The third day, the day we were supposed to be leaving, I looked out at the driveway and all the snow that was left and I felt defeated. I agreed to try anyway even though my muscles ached from the days of work before. I couldn’t see how we could clear enough to get out and if we couldn’t get out we had put in all this work for nothing. Then as I shoveled I got angry and imagined throwing breakables at a wall. Of course I also told myself how ridiculous that would be since I would only have to clean it up later. A few seconds after that I was nearly in tears, a combination of exhaustion, frustration and PMS. I was done. Josh finished up the last bit of shoveling and we came in for a break. After a while he decided to see how far the car could make it and I went to take a shower. I wasn’t very hopeful at that point. I got out of the shower and had a text to pack my things, the car was off the hill.

We stayed at the Iron Horse Station in Hot Springs. It is an gorgeous old building with a restaurant on the first floor and an inn on the top. The whole building is charming and has been beautifully maintained. The inn is very simple but so charming. The halls are lined with antique furniture and quilts decorate the exposed brick walls. The room was small and basic (no phone or tv) but the sheets and bedding were excellent quality and were very lovely. The restaurant served some of the best food I’ve had in ages and everyone in the town is so friendly. After dinner we walked across the railroad tracks to the Hot Springs resort for a nighttime soak. The tubs are covered but are outdoors, we followed the path of lanterns to a fire pit where we sat while our tub was filled. The smell of the wood smoke, the hot water, the cool air on the walk back, it was all perfect! And so very needed after what we went through to get there.

The next morning we stopped in a couple of the small shops in town. Hot springs is a very small town and most businesses are in walking distance. The hardware store has just about anything you could want, and next door is a small store that carries outdoor clothing, natural groceries and books by local authors. It’s my dream town. I would move there in a second!

After we left we drove into Marshall, NC which is only about twenty minutes down the road. Marshall is another adorable little town with cute shops. Last time we were there we stumbled upon a coffee shop called Zuma that we really enjoyed, so we had a late breakfast there again we weren’t disappointed.

North Carolina has such a great energy, the people seem happier and appear to invest more in themselves and their community. I hope to spend more time there as often as possible.  We had a wonderful trip it was worth the effort of getting off the driveway and even the walk back up the driveway when we got home.

It’s like The Shining up here.

So I’m terrible at updating apparently. But since I’m going on day 6 of being snowed in I figured I could manage to write an update of some kind.

We have at least 18 to 20 inches of snow that has fallen since last night. It’s absolutely beautiful to see it blanketing the ground and hanging from the trees; but I would have enjoyed it more if it had made its appearance in December. I like being home, but I also need the option to get out of the house and go somewhere if the mood strikes. Being stuck on top of this mountain with no hope of getting off until some of this melts has nearly made me claustrophobic. Ok it has definitely made me claustrophobic. I never thought being snowed in for several days would really bother me that much but scenes from The Shining have rolled through my head a few times. haha

On the bright side I have gotten a fair amount of writing done on my new novel. I’m very excited about the story even though the task of starting another book is daunting. I try to just take it a thousand words at a time. I don’t make an outline or plot, I just start writing and see where the characters take me. This one is quite different from the last and I can’t wait to see where it leads. Meanwhile my twelve year old Russian Blue climbs my head and lays across my computer any time he sees me working. Cats believe in making things challenging and encourage procrastination…unless it’s feeding time of course.

It is time for me to…

The card chosen for this week is “It is time for me to…”

It is time for me to work on my new book and not feel guilty about neglecting the house for an hour or even a day.

It is time for me to drink tea and plan my garden for spring.

It is time for me to get up early and practice yoga every day so I can honor a promise I made to myself.

It is time for me to learn to play the fiddle I’ve had for two years.

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?”  Jane Austen

What is it time for you to do? Stop waiting and do it!