Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dead Celebs

Do you believe in ghosts? I do. I grew up in a house where a little girl haunted it. Swear. Things happened in that house all the time. Radios would go on and off, lights would flicker at all hours (my parents had the electric checked and nothing was wrong). Things would disappear and be found in the most random of places. I'll never forget when my dad's boots went missing (favorite pair of cowboy boots), only to turn up weeks later on the front porch...or the time when the cordless phone went missing (this was when cordless phones forts came out, those of you who have never known a life without a cell phone or even the now dated cordless phone, our phones used to be connected by a chord into the wall--oh geez, now I'm dating myself. Anyhoo, ghosts--yep, I believe in them.

They even sort of follow me (no, I'm not entirely crazy) but when we lived in our home in Point Loma (San Diego) my youngest's was a baby and had all the baby toys with lights, bells, etc and I am telling you those toys would go off at all hours! Our dog Java would watch the ceiling and bark at nothing when he'd look around at whatever was in the room (granted, he might have had some issues, but I swear he saw something from the spirit world).

So, now that you know I am into the paranormal, I thought I'd see who else is. My fascination with worlds beyond our own has obviously been there since I was a kid and it is what inspired me to write books like The Archangel Agenda with Jen Greyson, Hear No Evil with JR Rain, and The Dead Celeb.

I realize this post may be six weeks past due considering that it would probably be better fitting for a Halloween post. However, The Nightmare Before Christmas has done pretty well...Hmmm...I think I'll watch that this weekend. In spirit though of the holiday season, I thought I'd give readers some chapters of my favorite ghost story (The Dead Celeb). Check back over the next week and I'll add chapters on a regular basis, and give some more ghostly tidbits and where this Dead Celeb idea came from.

Have a great day!

Cheers,
Michele
PS: The Dead Celeb in it's entirety and the novella leading to The Dark Portal (Flight 12) can be found on Amazon, iTunes,Nook, etc...


CHAPTER ONE

MY NAME IS EVIE PRESTON and I hang out with dead rock stars. Oh, and the occasional dead movie star or two. I’ve learned quite a bit about those who live on the other side over the past few months. For instance, they aren’t all ghostly and transparent. Oh no. The ones I see are almost always in full- color and 3-D except when they exert, ah … certain energies. Then they go a bit hazy. Oh, and they prefer to be called spirits.

Yeah, I know … I sound completely insane. Like, “commit me” insane. But honestly, I am not crazy. Believe me, the first time I saw Bob Marley in my place (well, technically not my place, but I’ll get to that) in the Hollywood Hills, getting high and singing “Buffalo Soldier,” I thought I was either dreaming, hallucinating, or, yes, completely nuts. Thankfully, it was none of the above. In fact, Bob is a very real, very dead guy who likes to hang out with me, along with a handful of other deceased, famous rock musicians (and a few who never quite made the charts, one of whom I’ve recently developed feelings for—more about him later). So, not only do I hang out with dead rock stars, I also think I am in love with one, or at least in lust… which makes me totally screwed up. But I am not crazy. I swear.

Before I go any further, though, I need to take you back a few months to the day after my twenty-eighth birthday. Welcome to Brady, Texas—population 5,500—and, according to the sign on the main road into town, “The Heart of Texas.” Truth be told, the signs were everywhere. Signs, that is, telling me to get the hell out of Brady.
I was at Mrs. Betty LaRue’s place. Her house smelled of Tide, home cooking, and mothballs. Betty was comforting me over the dismal turnout of my Mary Kay presentation—my latest attempt at becoming an entrepreneur—which she’d kindly hosted.

We were drinking apple-cranberry tea, with her Lhasa Apso,
Princess, curled in a ball under Betty’s chair, and my dog (of indeterminate breed … possibly part-coyote and part-lab, with a dash of border collie in there), Mama Cass, across my feet. I loved how Betty always let me bring Cass in the house. My dog went everywhere with me, but not everyone was as gracious about her presence as Betty.
“I really thought this would go much better,” I said, bringing the warm cup of tea to my lips.

Betty smiled sympathetically, the fine lines in her eighty- something face creasing deeper into her skin, “Oh, honey, I don’t know what happened to my girls today. I am so sorry. I thought there’d be at least ten of us. They all love my snickerdoodles. But you know how some of us old gals are; we forget things.” She twirled a yellow-white wisp of curled hair around her finger. The rest of it was pulled up into a loose bun (or chignon as Mama calls it). She’d obviously been in to see my mother that morning for her weekly hair appointment.

I nodded. “It’s okay, Betty. Thanks for hosting anyway, and the cookies were delicious. Three isn’t such a bad turnout.” Thing was, only Betty bought anything. Her friends, Margaret and Hazel, came for the cookies and samples. “And I made about ten dollars, so that will buy me a couple of meals. You’ll love that anti-wrinkle cream, by the way.”

Betty ran a hand over her face and laughed sweetly. “Child, ain’t nothing gonna work on this face now. And I’m proud of these lines. I earned them.”
I laughed back. “So you only bought the cream because you felt sorry for me?” Cass’s ears perked up and she lifted her head to peer at me.

Betty sighed. “Evie Preston, I have known you since you started kicking up a fuss in your mama’s belly.” She winked at me. “I’ve watched you try so hard to be exactly what your mama and daddy wanted, especially after all that bad business. And there was that unfortunate situation with—” She paused. “What was his name?”
She brought her cup to her lips, her hand shaking ever so slightly. I sighed, knowing exactly what bad business she was referring to. As for the unfortunate situation, he was the star quarterback my senior year and the lucky recipient of my virginity. Sadly, he was also the jerk who then decided to share the news with the entire town. Thank God my mother was able to intercept that little tidbit before it reached my father’s ears.

Betty waved her free hand in the air as if to brush the painful thoughts away. “I know you were hoping to be a good Texas girl and marry a good Texas boy and have babies and run a family like your folks did, not because you really wanted it,” she said, shaking a finger at me. “But because your parents wanted it for you. And now, my dear,” Betty leaned over and gave me one of her rare, stern looks. “It’s high time you stopped pretending and started living!”

“What do you mean?”

“You got a God-given talent. You need to get out there and do something with it.”
She tried to set the tea cup down on the side table and almost missed. I grabbed it and set it down for her. Betty beamed at me. “Thank you, honey! Always so polite.”
I looked down at my dog, licking the unpolished toes peeking out of the only pair of high-heeled sandals I owned. “Fact is, Betty, I know I’m good, but there are a lot of good musicians out there.” I dejectedly twirled the ends of my long, baby-fine hair. Mama always said God hadn’t been paying close attention when it came time to give me hair. It was stick straight, dark brown, and silky. I couldn’t do a darn thing with it, except put it into ponytails.

Betty waved her hand again. “Nonsense!” Placing her hands on the sides of her chair, she slowly pushed herself up to a stand and ambled over to the white brick mantle. She grabbed an envelope and handed it to me.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Your birthday was yesterday, wasn’t it?”

“You remembered?”

She frowned. “I may be old, Evie, but I don’t forget birthdays. Especially when they’re for people I care about.”

“That is so sweet of you.” I was flattered and grateful someone seemed happy to have me around.

“Oh honey, you know you’re one of my favorite people. You got spunk! Had it since you came out ass-backward, showing the world what you thought of it.”
“Thank you, I think.” I couldn’t help smiling. Betty was the only one I knew who spoke the truth without holding back. She didn’t tiptoe around stuff like my family. Tiptoeing was what we did best.

“Open it! I don’t have all day. It’s about time for my nap.”
I tore open the envelope and found a check inside for five thousand dollars, made out to me. I gasped.

“Betty! What…” Cass jumped up, her huge ears pricked forward, tail wagging, watching me like a hawk. “It’s okay, girl.” She lay back down but still alert.
“I was twenty-eight once too, you know, and I had dreams … big dreams.” Betty’s blue eyes glazed over for a moment. “I wanted to be a movie star, and I could have, too. I was damn good, like you are at what you do, and, believe it or not, I used to be good looking.” She winked at me again, but there were tears in her eyes. I knew about Betty’s dreams from long ago. I also knew there was a part of her life that hadn’t been so good.

“But then my folks, like yours, had other ideas and I decided to play by their rules. I don’t regret it … well, maybe I do a little. Thing is, young lady, you can sing like a nightingale and you can play the guitar like nobody’s business. You need to get the hell out of this town before you wind up like every other girl here—knocked up, changing dirty diapers, and cleaning up after some idiot male who spends his nights with a beer in one hand and a TV remote in the other.”

I frowned. I’d already seen almost every girl from my high school graduating class living the life Betty had just described. The lucky ones skipped town and went to college. I hadn’t been quite that lucky for a variety of reasons. I had the grades and the desire, but life had other ideas. On the positive side, which is where I like to go, I’d at least not had the misfortune of marrying some guy who didn’t appreciate me, expected his dinner on the table when he got home from his shift at Walmart, and wanted his wife and children to obey, just because he said so.
“Betty, I really do appreciate your vote of confidence but still, I can’t accept this.” I held the check towards her.

“Yes, you can, and you will. Go live your life, Evie Preston. Pack up that van of yours, your guitar, and Mama Cass, and head west. You sing your heart out in every bar, every cafĂ©, every church—I don’t care where you go, but go and sing. I know one thing: you have what it takes to be a star. Forget all about them cosmetics you’re trying to pawn…”
“Mary Kay,” I interrupted. “It is a really good line. Mama swears by it.”
She frowned and waved that hand at me. “Just forget all that, because you and I both know it won’t get you nowhere. That kind of thing is for people like Shirley Swan up the road trying to make an extra buck to take care of those four kids of hers. Take the money, cut your losses, and run. You gotta stop living for your mama and daddy. You didn’t cause what happened and you can’t never change it.” She shook her head vehemently. “Go on and live life. Do it for me. Humor an old woman, please?” Her blue eyes watered, the creases crinkling as she choked back emotion.
How could I refuse after a plea like that? I tried one last time, for the sake of courtesy. “But my daddy—”

Betty dabbed at her eyes with a kerchief. “He’ll get over it. And your mama is gonna secretly be cheering you on. It’ll be hard on them, but this’ll be the best thing for all of you.” She sighed heavily. “Especially you, Evie. Trust me.”
So I did. I trusted Betty LaRue.

The next day I packed up my 1974 VW bus, a suitcase of clothes, my Rosewood Gibson acoustic guitar, and Mama Cass. I pulled out of my parents’ driveway while Daddy waved his arms wildly in the air, yelling, “You’re gonna ruin your life out there, Evangeline!” (He’s the only one who ever calls me by my full name.) “Los Angeles isn’t the city of angels. It’s a city of heathens and devils!”
I knew he was just scared. I’m pretty sure if I looked closer, I’d see tears in his eyes. But Betty was right. This was something I had to do.

I could see tears for sure in my mother’s big hazel eyes, the same color as my own, as she mouthed, “I love you.”

I rolled down the window, choking back my own sobs. “I love you, too! I’ll call. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

With blurred eyes, Mama Cass’s head in my lap, a Patsy Cline cassette in the tape deck (thank God for eBay—you have no idea how hard it is to find cassette tapes these days), I headed west to the City of Angels. For the first time in sixteen years, I felt like I could finally breathe again. I was leaving behind the only two people I knew who I had never been able to heal even a little bit, and I didn’t think I ever could.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cooking by the Book

The first book that I ever had published was MURDER UNCORKED. It wasn't the first one that I ever wrote, but it was the first one that an agent wanted to represent and that was sold along with two other books in the series. If you've read about Nikki Sands and her eccentric friends on the vineyard solving murder mysteries, eating great food and drinking wine, then you know that first book turned into a series of seven with two short stories as well. Readers of the series also know that there are recipes and wine pairings in the books.

Readers have asked me through the years if I would put the recipes and wine pairings in one compilation. I have now done that and am happy to say that it is permanently free on Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc. You'll find the recipes from all of the books and you'll also learn where the ideas came from and some of my personal journey while writing each book in the series. The best part is that it is FREE! I've also made MURDER UNCORKED permanently free! If you have a Kindle and want to receive the books free, please e-mail me at michele@michelescott.com and I'll send you the PDF. Hope you enjoy!

Cheers,
Michele

https://www.books2read.com/u/mdK7K5

https://www.books2read.com/u/bOr6KQ

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Imagination

Remember when you were a little kid and you could play all sorts of games, fantasies, adventures that you created in your head? I sure do. I can remember playing Charlie's Angels with my friend Jill...there were only two of us, so we pretended a third one was there. We just imagined her. I can also remember going out on riding trails with my friends on our horses and we could create some amazing adventures about cowboys and Indians, and being bad guys...or good guys. We had a blast! I feel grateful that my imagination has continued to inspire me. I may not play dress up with my friends any longer so-to-speak, but I create pages of stories that I have so much fun doing.

Thinking about imagination and writing...and childhood, got me thinking about a program I developed several years ago and worked with kids in schools. With the season's chill upon us and many families finding themselves indoors over the next few months, I wanted to share with you an idea to help any little ones you have in the house that might spark their imagination. If you've got kids who like to create stories, and I think most kids do, then this is a fun exercise you can do with them. This is really geared toward the little ones. I'll add some exercises over the month for older kids who are aspiring writers that you can share with them, or even use yourself.

So, with the little ones I worked grades pre-K-1st I made worksheets that we later turned into a picture book (get out the crayons).  The story I made up was...If I were an animal, I would be a (blank...they'd fill in the blank), and on that page they'd draw that animal in any way they wanted to. The next page was: My name would be (blank). I'd go on an adventure to (blank), and I'd meet a (blank). You get the idea. Each sentence was a page for them to fill in the blank and draw their picture. It opened them up creatively and they were learning how to spell words. It's a lot of fun and if there are so many ideas you can do. You can create a holiday book, an alphabet book, a book about their favorite thing to do... If you want any ideas or further help in doing this with your child, feel free to e-mail me a michele@michelescott.com and I'd be happy to help you and your child(ren) create their own story, which can also be a pretty neat gift to give to their other parent, grand parents, teachers, etc...

On a side note, for your kids ages 8-11 who love to read, I want to share with you that my children's book The Clover Siblings and the Evil of Desmal is now permanently free on iTunes, Nook, Kobo, etc. It's still showing $2.99 on Kindle, but I am working to get that changed to free as well.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season and that you take time for your family and friends! Many Blessings!

Michele
To check out The Clover Siblings and where you can download for free, visit:

https://www.books2read.com/u/47kNk8

Friday, December 2, 2016

Conspiracy Theories

Let's face it...we're living in some very different times. There's a lot that feels unsettling these days and so much divineness around the world that I think many people are questioning their values and thoughts. I know that I certainly am and as a writer my brain is running rampant with all sorts of book ideas.

However, the book I want to write about today was the first book that I ever wrote--COVERT REICH, and the reason I wanted to blog about it is that for a book I wrote twenty-five years ago, there are some messages in that book that in a weird way I see taking shape in our real world today--maybe not to the extent of what I fictionalized a long time ago, but still...there's some messages that I put in the book that I think if we looked around today we'd find evidence of some of the scary plot I created way back when.

The premise of COVERT REICH is: A sect of the US government has devised a plan to rid society of those they feel are "undesirable" within the culture.

I developed the idea when my oldest son Alex was born. He was six weeks preemie and spent two weeks in the hospital. It was a very difficult time as a young mom to see him in an incubator where I could only touch him through gloves that I put my hands through on the side of the incubator. He was hooked up to all sorts of monitoring machines and receiving medication for his under developed lungs. This was obviously very upsetting for me, but a nurse showed me an infant that had been addicted to drugs and his mother had given birth and left him for foster care. This baby had no fight in him. He was pretty still every time I looked at him. My son, on the other hand did his share of crying, moving around, etc...and although it upset me to see him struggle and not be able to hold him, the nurse explained to me that he'd be fine because he had a will to survive, and the baby who was detoxing from drugs did not have the same survival skills. That disheartened me a great deal.

Two weeks later, my son was big enough, healthy and strong enough to come home with his monitors (I'm happy to say that he is a very healthy 25 year old now) and because I needed to be at home with him, I decided that I would try to pursue my dreams of being a writer. What would I write about? Well...I knew I always wanted to write thrillers and mystery because that's all I ever pretty much read.  As I was coming up with ideas, I watched a Sixty Minutes program about drugs, the impoverished, the government and the belief of their involvement in keeping the poor addicted to drugs, and also the sterilization of welfare recipients. Combined with Alex's stay in the hospital and seeing some very sick infants, along with that news story, I found my what if... and three hundred and some odd pages later, I had written my first book. I had originally titled it COVERT WOMB and when I finished it I went on to write more books.

A few years ago that original storyline, which hadn't been published kept nagging me to take another look at it. So I did and with the help of my Yoda (my editor Mile Sirota) we went back through and reviewed, polished and I self published it on Amazon where I've now sold a lot of copies.

More and more COVERT REICH reminds me of my beginnings as a writer, but lately it's made me think again about humanity and where we are in this day and age...do we love our neighbors? And, if we don't, shouldn't we? We sure need to. Hatred, discrimination, prejudice, paranoia, manipulation and divisive words and actions will lead is away from positive growth and inclusiveness. In fact, it has the potential to lead us into a downward spiral of destruction.

In the hopes that each of us will reach out to one another in a loving manner with kind actions and words (especially during this holiday season), I'm placing COVERT REICH on sale for .99 for the month of December. Any royalties received on that book for this month will go to Oxfam.org, which is a charity I believe in. I hope you'll check out the book.

Many blessings to all of my readers, your families, friends, and to all. Here is a link to the book on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/zposlwj