Monday, June 25, 2018

Itching To Get Ahead

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The word “itch” amuses me. It is almost crying for a consonant or two at the beginning. Which. Witch. Hitch. Much better.
However, we are burdened with this word; a word that brings back memories and initiates thoughts. In my youth it spent much of its time sharing a sentence with the word mosquito. In summer it somehow managed to dampen a trip to a local Alberta lake by conjuring up warnings about “the itch.” Still, there were other lakes that didn’t carry the stigma or the itch. So, we had a splashing good time.
Our move from the west to Ontario introduced us to the idea that a mosquito bite placed second behind the dreaded black fly bite. What? It seems the black flies in the east are far more aggressive. I cannot remember hearing much less experiencing a black fly bit. Especially one that leaves a looonie-sized itchy welt.
These painful option leave me itching. Itching for more time at our favourite places on the planet. Just yesterday we reminisced about the wonderful days we spent walking the miles and miles of footpaths in England. Stopping to watch the sheep or cattle. Yes, occasionally keeping out a wary eye for a bull among the cows.

Tempting indeed. However, the fine Ontario weather is upon us. Best wait until perhaps October to pop across the pond and enjoy the and chips...bitter…peaceful rolling hills of the countryside.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ghost Stories Now and Then by S. L. Carlson

Ghost Stories Now and Then by S. L. Carlson

Do you believe in ghosts? Should you believe in ghosts? The idea of ghosts has fascinated me my whole life. Ghosts have been around for as long as there have been people.

I’ve never been keen to see one, but I have sensed and heard them. I don’t like to acknowledge them for fear of an introduction. Ignorance-Ignoring is bliss. Still, it’s hard to ignore a mixer turning on and off by itself. So when something like that happens I spin and point my finger to the air, and in my strongest ghost-scolding voice, say, “Stop that! Not funny!”

A house siding contractor went into our basement when we weren’t home. He had no business down there. I only figured it out when we returned and he looked pale, asking if our house was haunted. I laughed and mentioned our doorbell ringing at odd hours with no one there (even when we’re by the door to “catch” anyone). He mentioned a door slammed when he was inside. (Why was he inside, anyway?) Even though there was no breeze, I suggested the wind did it. He said there were no windows opened. Well, yes, there were, but not in the basement! Good, old ghost.

The Great Lakes have thousands of ghost stories, as well they should from the many untimely deaths on them. One told in the Milwaukee Journal, January 24, 1895, is of a man named Bill who died en route to Buffalo. When the ship arrived, the entire crew felt the vessel was now unlucky, so didn’t sign on for the trip over to Cleveland. The mate shanghaied a new crew. As they neared the boat, they pointed to the ship’s mast. The mate recognized the figure as Bill. The new crew, drunk as they were, fled. Finally other crew members came. The ship never made it to Cleveland. It sunk off of Dunkirk with all hands.

One more (of the thousands): On November 28, 1966, the Daniel J. Morrell broke apart in the middle of the night during a storm on Lake Huron. Watchman Dennis Hale was in his bunk when the ship cracked. He grabbed his life jacket and ran on deck in only his shorts. The ship had buckled. He ran back to his bunk for his pea jacket and made it into a lifeboat with three others. As the waves crested the raft, the water turned to ice on them. They lay in the lifeboat. Dennis was in the middle. The other three froze to death in the night. The next day he washed up on rocks, but too far to swim in the freezing water. He started to eat the ice from his pea jacket when a translucent man in white hovered over him and told him not to eat the ice or it would lower his body temperature and he’d die. The following day the same vision occurred. He was rescued, given last rites because he was so near death, but lived. As the sole survivor of the sinking, it took more than twenty years before he told the rest of the survival story with words of ghostly advice.

F.Y.I. There will be ghosts in my book coming out in September with BWL, Escape, War Unicorn Chronicles, Book 2. Find my other books here:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Getting Through the Rough Times by Victoria Chatham

For writers, writing is usually a compunction, something they have to do, like breathing. Even before I really knew what I was doing, I wrote.

Yes, I’ve joked about my writing with crayons on the wall not being appreciated by my family (for obvious reasons) but making my mark by writing something, somewhere has, for me, always been a tangible expression, like prehistoric handprints on the wall of a cave, of my being here, on this planet, now. The now has shifted considerably over the years from childish drawings and weirdly shaped letters, to short stories about ponies and dogs, to prize-winning essays at school and onwards and upwards.

image courtesy of Shutterstock
Writing, as an art, was something I took up when I learned calligraphy. It came out of an art class where we were encouraged to illuminate the capital letter of our first name or surname. I chose V for Victoria, not H for Hammond as I was then. I liked the look of the letter V, and very early on also liked the fact that Victory and Valor both began with V. They seemed strong words to me then as they do now.

Combining the art of writing with the craft of it was something that came a lot later. Although I loved English classes, both literature and grammar, writing in my family was a serious business. It had to impart knowledge and instruction and, consequently, fiction and fun writing didn’t enter much into my education. However, at age thirteen I read a book whose title now escapes me although I can see the cover clearly. Anyone who remembers Douglas Fairbanks, or maybe Douglas Fairbanks jnr., would recognize the look of the handsome pirate wearing a bandanna, an open-neck shirt and swinging from a rope on some ship or another. If you’ll pardon the nautical pun, it opened up a whole new horizon for me.

I wrote short stories which friends enjoyed and encouraged me to 'send to a publisher.' I showed one short story to a well-respected children's book editor who suggested I submit it to a long defunct UK short story magazine called The Argosy. It was rejected but I persevered. After all, I had many more stories to write. However, my family was far less enthusiastic than my friends so I kept writing mainly for myself. When I started writing novels, erroneously thinking writing chapters would be like writing one short story after another, I very quickly found a whole new world within the writing world. 

But getting stuck in the writing is also part of a writer's life. It happened to me more often than not in the early days but books like Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg helped a great deal. 'How To' books from the Library were replaced with Google searches for ideas to jumpstart my work all over again. Tools like doodling with words and going for walks, listening to music, or washing the floor all got tested.

So, what does keep me going when the words won’t come, or won’t come in the way or order that I want them to? My best tried and true trick is to stop writing. I return to my favorite books, the ones that have left vivid impressions over the years and have had me sobbing my socks off or laughing out loud. My favorite go-to read is Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. I know that when I’m done reading it, I’ll go back to my writing with more energy and enthusiasm and then everything seems to flow again.

Victoria Chatham

Friday, June 22, 2018

Life 101, 102 or 103 (pick a class, any class)

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Life 101, 102 or 103 (pick a class, any class)

Summer’s here! The mosquitoes have arrived in waves and they’ve drunk enough of my blood to give Dracula a week-long hangover. I wonder what he takes for a hangover? Not Eno, I bet, maybe hair of the dog or in this case, hair of Hazel or George.
I also wonder what horrendously foul mood God (or Mother Nature, the big guy, dudette, cosmic teddy bear, Buddha, he, she or it; insert as appropriate to your beliefs) was in when he/she/it decided to invent winged vampires whose only purpose in life was to suck your blood. Couldn’t he have invented something more benign to feed the geckos?
            Which reminds me of my wife’s latest muse. She suddenly, out of nowhere, informed me that she thought gum was the most useless invention ever. Who in their right minds would invent something that you chew, chew, chew but never actually eat? What a nasty trick to play on your stomach, she said. She then challenged me to think of something invented by someone that was of less use than gum. I’m still working on that one!
            So who is the inventor of the (according to my wife) most useless thing ever invented? I think it was probably a dentist whose business was failing. Kinda like the story of the small town in the US where there was a spree of broken windows. Nothing stolen, so just vandals they thought. A few days later they arrested the local glazier! Genius, eh? Like the guy who reported to the police the theft of his duffel bag full of marijuana!
            Life and people make no sense at all sometimes, like the guy that decided to set the cruise control on his RV so he could go make a coffee, with the inevitable result. He was compensated over twenty million for that brainstorm because it didn’t tell you in the manual not to leave the wheel whilst the RV was on cruise control and we got the ridiculous list of dos and don’ts on any product you buy. Like, caution this hot coffee is hot! Man, good thing they told me that, I’d never have known.
            Or explain to me how a package of frozen cauliflower has to read “gluten free”. Isn’t it always?
            Or how a packet of peanuts has the caution “may contain nuts”.
I know now you’re wondering what’s the point of this blog. Well, it was my 60th birthday yesterday. I can start collecting a pension and get discounts on my meals. I remember back in my twenties when I thought I had figured out life, the mysteries of the universe and how they got the caramel in the Caramilk bar. I’ve learned so much since then that I now realize I knew nothing back then, but I know even less now as I’ve forgotten most of what I learned anyhow. Age does that, you know.
In the end somethings just never change and the universe is a wonderful place, full of bizarre riddles. Damn, there’s another mozzy on my arm.

Frank Talaber
My webpage

Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues).
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).
Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps. (My facebook short story page)

Twitter: @FrankTalaber

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Purchase Through Amazon

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It's a Man's World...Unless You're a Praying Mantis by Stuart R. West

No science here! Click for humor and suspense!
And you guys think you have it bad!
Pity the plight of the poor praying mantis. Gather around for a little science lesson...

The other day my wife and I are sitting on the back deck. She's tending to a potted plant and says, "Hey! A walking stick!"

"Kill it," I scream, because everyone knows sticks shouldn't walk, a mutant aberration of science gone awry. And because everything I know about science I've learned from cartoons.

Upon further exploration, my wife says, "No...wait... It's a praying mantis."

Which is even worse. "Squish it! Get rid of it! For God's sake, destroy the beast!"

"No," says my wife, "praying mantises are good. She'll eat the bad bugs."

Hmm. "What in the world makes you think it's a female?" I ask.

She rolls her eyes, says, "There's a huge difference between male and female praying mantises."

I reached deep into the darkest pockets of my useless and dusty stored facts and plucked out something horrific. "Oh, yeah! It has a head, right? Because after the mantises procreate, the female eats the male's head."

"That's not the difference I'm talking about, but, yes, they do that."

"But why?" I knew the females feasted on heads, just couldn't figure out their motivation. "Are the females tired of a lifetime of male oppression? Are they into weird insectoid, extreme S&M and get carried away? Do they hate males?"

At this point, my wife's not a firm believer in the adage, There's no such thing as a stupid question. "They're just bugs doing...buggy things."

Ever the scientist, my wife gives it more thought. "I imagine the males' head is full of protein and good for the eggs. Mantises only mate once, then it's off with the males' head."

"'re saying that the male kinda just hangs out, has sex once, then at the peak of his short life, he gets his head eaten?"

"Pretty much."

"...No wonder they pray all the time." 

For more strange science (not really) and weird wonders of the world (or at least a spooky lil' Kansas town in the sixties), check out Peculiar County by clicking....wait for it...RIGHT HERE! 
A World of Weird Awaits Just One Click Away!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Go Gently Book 3 in The Conrwall Adventures by Nancy M Bell

Click on the cover for buy links.

As promised here is the third book in The Cornwall Adventures. Laurel is worried when Gramma Bella disappears and heads to Cornwall to figure out what the heck is going on. She teams up with Coll, Gort and Aisling again. Gramma Bella is as impetuous as ever, much to Sairie and Laurel's chagrin. There's lots of Cornish magic and myth running through this story too. For those of you who wonder what happens afterward, I have good news. WIld Horse Rescue which is Book One in the Wild Rose Adventures finds Laurel back in Alberta with Coll visiting for the summer. Some readers have wondered which young man Laurel prefers: Coll or Chance. You might just find out in Wild Horse Rescue. Of course, young ladies sometimes change their minds.... Wild Horse Rescue releases in September 2018.

But back to Go Gently. Here is an excerpt to tempt and tease you....

Laurel Rowan paced the weathered front porch scanning the range road for the rooster trails of dust Chance’s truck would throw up. She heaved a sigh and leaned on the thick log railing letting the wind blow through her hair. Impatiently, she straightened up and whirled around. Snatching her large bag off the bench by the wall she rummaged for her cell phone. Chance was never late, why would he pick today of all days to not show up on time.
Her pony tail swished behind her as she stalked over to the post at the top of the stairs and leaned a hip against it. She glanced at the cell phone screen before starting the call to check how many bars were showing.
“I’m just turning in the lane,” Chance answered before the phone barely had a chance to ring.
The sun flashed off the windshield as the blue pickup came around the last bend at the top of the small coulee. Dust settled as he stopped in the yard. Laurel tossed her phone back in the bag and looped it over her shoulder before she jumped down the three shallow steps. Waving, she ran lightly across the grass toward him. Chance stepped out of the cab and removed his hat, slapping it on his thigh. The November sun slanted across the prairie, highlighting his strong features and intensifying the blue of his eyes.
“Where’s Carlene? I thought she was coming with us.” Laurel glanced at the empty cab.
“She changed her mind.” Chance shuffled his feet and dropped his gaze.
“What do you mean…changed her mind?” She pressed him for more information.
“Dang it, Laurel. I told her I didn’t want her to come.”
“What? Why would you do that?”
He mumbled something she didn’t catch, slapped his Stetson back on his head and climbed into the truck.
Laurel yanked open the passenger door, threw the bag onto the seat and swung up into the high cab. She fastened her seat belt and turned toward the boy behind the wheel. He’d stuck sunglasses on his face and she couldn’t read his expression.
“C’mon, spill. What’s up with you?”
“Ain’t nothin’, let it lie, will you.” Chance started the truck and slid it into gear.
“It is so something. You think I can’t tell when something’s bothering you? You and Carlene have a fight?” Laurel poked him in the arm with her finger.
“Leave off, I’m trying to drive.”
“You tell me right now or I’m getting out right here.” She made a show of reaching for the buckle of the seatbelt. Strong fingers closed over her hand, stopping her motions. Startled, Laurel looked down at the tanned hand that covered hers before meeting his gaze. The truck rolled to a stop as Chance engaged the clutch. She swallowed hard, discomforted by the intensity in his face.
“Don’t be an idiot.” A dark flush coloured his cheeks under the day old stubble. “Ever since you got back from England last year, you’ve been different somehow. I never know what you’re thinking any more…” His voice trailed off and he released her hand. Dipping his head so the brim of the Stetson threw his face into shadow, Chance released the clutch and allowed the pickup to gather speed.
“Oh, okay, I guess.” Laurel rolled the window down, using it as an excuse to look away from the boy she’d known all her life who was suddenly a stranger. “I thought Carlene wanted to come and meet Gramma Bella. I just know I’m going to find her today.”
“If we find her, there’ll be plenty of time for Carly to visit her with you. What does your dad think of all this, anyway?”
She hesitated before answering. “Dad doesn’t exactly know where I’m going today. He thinks we’re just going into Lethbridge for the day.”
“You think that’s wise, Laurie? Your dad’ll be madder than a wet hen when he finds out.”
“Don’t call me Laurie,” she protested. “You know I hate that name.”
“Okay, Laurel, what are you going to tell him when he finds out? And he will,” Chance continued when she opened her mouth to protest, “Mister Rowan is not a stupid man and you, missy, couldn’t keep a secret if you tried.”
“I don’t know, but Mom is on my side…and I can so keep a secret, so there.” She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him.
He snorted in disbelief. “Can not.”
“You still didn’t tell me why you came by yourself.”
“Leave it alone, Laurel.” Chance slowed at the end of the lane and glanced both ways before pulling out onto the paved highway.
“C ‘mon, spill it.” She poked him in the ribs hard enough to make him wince.
Flashing her an angry glance, he sighed and shook his head. “Fine. I told her not to come so I could spend some time with you. Alone.” His jaw clenched.
“What?” Laurel struggled to process his words and the meaning behind them.
“We used to hang out together, now it’s like you don’t have the time of day for me anymore.”
“That’s just plain stupid and you know it.” Heat rose in her face. “We spend tons of time together, we still belong to all the same clubs. I just don’t get what you’re so fired up about.”
“You used to be over at our place all the time. Seemed like I couldn’t turn around without trippin’ over you. Now I never see you unless you’re with Carly.”
“I guess maybe I just grew up a bit. You always acted like you were mad at me for trailing behind you. One of your friends called me your buckle bunny last spring. I’m nobody’s buckle bunny.”
“Yeah, I straightened Ty out about that. You never let a bit of name calling bother you before, though.”
Chance quit talking and concentrated on the road, but Laurel was pretty sure he still had something stuck in his craw.
“All you ever talk about to Carly about is that guy in Cornwall.
“He’s my friend!” she defended herself.
“Friends with benefits?”
“Are you freaking kidding me? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Get your mind out of the gutter, Chance Cosgrove.”
“The way you carry on when you get an email from him, you can’t blame a guy for thinking it’s more than just friends.”
“Shut up, Chance. Just shut up.”
Laurel scrunched down in the seat as far as the seatbelt would let her and refused to look across the cab at the driver. The vehicle slowed as they went through Lundbreck.
“Do you want to stop for anything? This is the last place before we head north into the mountains.”
Laurel shook her head, still refusing to look at him. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the rise and fall of his shoulders as he shrugged. Once out of Lundbreck he picked up speed again. At the junction of Highway 3 and 22 Chance turned north on 22. The road wound its way through the towering mountains, the poplar trees were bare of the brilliant gold leaves, leaving only stark branches showing against the blue green of the conifers. Usually, Laurel loved this drive but her annoyance with Chance soured the experience. It was the last time this year she’d be able to go this way before the National Parks closed the highway at Highwood House.
Chance seemed as disinclined to talk as she was. She plugged her mp3 player into the dock and set it to play to break the awkward silence. No luck with getting a radio or cell phone signal this deep in the wilderness.

* * *

Two and a half hours later Chance pulled the pickup into the parking lot by the Shell in Bragg Creek. “Where do we go from here?”
Laurel pulled the crumpled envelope out of her pocket and smoothed it out. The return address was a bit smudged, but it was still legible. “It’s on White Avenue, number one-thirty-two.”
“Do you know where that is? What street are we on now?” Chance craned his neck to read the street sign. “We’re at Balsam Avenue right now.”
“No idea, I should have brought a map. There’s the post office, let’s ask there.” Laurel opened the door and slid down out of the truck. “Are you coming?” She turned to look at Chance.
“Nah, I’ll just wait here.” He switched off the truck.
“Suit yourself.” Laurel shrugged and turned her collar up against the wind whipping through the tiny parking lot. She ignored the surge of irritation. Chance had a burr under his saddle, that was for sure. What was so difficult about coming with her to the post office? And what was with his acting jealous of Coll. Reaching her destination, she pulled open the door and banished all thoughts of Coll and Chance. Today was about finding Gramma Bella.
There was no one waiting so Laurel smiled at the lady who was sorting mail behind the counter.
“How can I help you?” The woman set the bundle of letters down and came to the counter.
“I need to know where White Avenue is and how to get there from here.”
“Where are you parked?”
“Over by the Shell station.”
“Go out onto Balsam and turn right, at the stop sign turn right again. Then take the first right, that’s White Avenue. What address are you looking for?”
“One-thirty-two. I think my gramma lives there.”
“What’s your grandmother’s name?” The woman peered at Laurel intently.
“Bella.” She shuffled her feet, unnerved by the directness of the post mistress’ stare.
“Humph, Bella never mentioned having a granddaughter. Fact is, the woman never talks about her family, come to think of it.”
“So, she does still live here?” A thrill of excitement spiraled through her as she waited for the response.
The woman nodded. “Her place is just outside of town. Follow White Avenue out past the old trading post and along the river. Just as you go up the hill, there’s a point of ground that sticks out, the driveway is on your right before the crest of the hill. Be careful turning in, people drive way too fast on that stretch of road.”
“Thanks,” Laurel called. She almost raced out the door, the ratty envelope clutched in her hand.
“I got directions,” she announced when she re-joined Chance.
“Where do we go from here?’ He turned on the ignition and slid the shifter into first gear, the clutch still depressed.
“Go out onto Balsam, which is right there, and then turn right at the stop sign.” She pointed at the busy corner.
The truck reversed and after Chance made the right turn, he glanced at Laurel. “Which way now?”
She consulted the notes she scrawled on the back of the envelope. “Take the first right, it should be White Avenue.”
They stopped at the four way stop and waited their turn. “Yeah, the sign says White Avenue. So far so good.” Chance made the turn after the large truck coming down highway 22 went through. “Look for street numbers, will you, Laurel.” The narrow road was hemmed in with tall spruce and fir and still looked a bit the worse for wear from the huge flood of June 2013. A number of damaged houses were up for sale.
They passed the Barbeque Steak House. “We’re at fifty. There was a sign on that restaurant we just passed.”
“Keep looking, I hope we’re going in the right direction,” Chance sounded doubtful.
“There was no other way to go, this road started at that four way stop.” Laurel continued to watch for street signs. Another restaurant was on the right. “Bavarian Inn, seventy-five White Avenue. The post office lady said to watch out for an old trading post, it must be further along.”
“Look, there’s the river.” Chance pointed ahead where the thick growth of trees thinned out.”
“There’s the trading post.” Laurel bounced with excitement as the pickup rounded a wide curve in the road. The land rose sharply upward on the left, the road ran beside the river on the right.
“This is where they filmed a lot of that old TV show, North of 60,” Chance remarked.
“I didn’t know that,” Laurel said. “Okay, when we get to that bit of hill up ahead, the driveway should be on the right part way up. Lady said we can’t miss it.”
Half way up the hill a gate stood open at the end of a short drive. Chance pulled in and let the engine idle. “Now what? Are you sure this is the place?”
“The address is right,” Laurel said.
Chance killed the engine and turned to look at her. “Do you want me to come with you or would you rather do this on your own?”
Laurel swallowed; her mouth suddenly dry. “What if she doesn’t remember me? Or doesn’t want to talk to me? Maybe we should just go home.”
“I didn’t drive almost three hours for you to turn tail and run, Laurel.” Chance glared at her. “C’mon, I’ll go with you”
Feeling like a hundred elephants were sitting on her chest, she got out of the truck and came around the front to join him.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Not really, but let’s do it anyway.” Laurel found it hard to get the words past the lump in her throat.
Three broad shallow steps led up to a small porch. Laurel raised her hand to knock, but hesitated. A hundred doubts racing through her thoughts. She half turned to run back to the truck, but then whirled back and knocked loudly on the red painted door.
Chance moved nearer until his shoulder touched hers. The contact was reassuring and helped calm her anxiety and steady the racing of her heart. They waited a moment or two, but there was no response. Laurel knocked again and stepped back a pace. After a few minutes of silence, she looked up at Chance and shrugged.
“She must be out.” Laurel’s voice wavered a bit.
“Maybe,” Chance agreed.

And a tiny bit more from a bit later in the story:

“What do you think, Chance? She’s kind of an odd duck. I wonder if I should call Sarie, or Coll. They should know if Gramma Bella is back in Penzance.” Laurel tucked a foot underneath her and half-turned toward Chance.
“Sure, go ahead and call Coll, if that’s what you want.” His lip curled and a frown darkened his face. “Why not call the girl you met over there, Ashleen, or something?”
“I could, I guess. I might call her anyway. What’s wrong with me calling Coll?”
“Nothing, I guess,” he muttered. “If your gramma really is in Cornwall, what are you gonna do?”
“I don’t know, this is getting more complicated by the minute. I was counting on her being home when we got there. I can’t tell Dad, he’ll go postal when he finds out I’ve even been looking for Gramma.”
“Can you talk to your mom, then? Will she understand better?” Chance took his eyes off the road long enough to glance over at her.
“Yeah, I’m gonna tell Mom as soon as I get home. She’ll know what to do.”
“You wanna stop and grab a sub or something in town before we head out?”
Laurel nodded and Chance pulled into the small plaza by the gas station. After a quick meal, they headed toward Pincher Creek. Chance seemed disinclined to talk, so Laurel was left alone with her thoughts.
It was dark by the time Chance dropped her off. She waved good-bye before taking the steps in one leap. The lights were on in the kitchen and her dad’s office. Laurel pussy-footed down the hall past the open door of the office. In the kitchen, Mom was chopping vegetables at the counter.
“Hey, Mom.” She grabbed a can of pop from the fridge and sat down at the table. “Can I help with anything?”
“Nope, I have everything under control. Did you find what you were looking for in Lethbridge? You were gone longer than usual. You and Carly lose track of time?” Anna Rowan pushed a lock of hair off her forehead with the back of her hand.
“No, actually, we didn’t go to Lethbridge.”
“Was there something in Medicine Hat you wanted?”
Laurel shook her head. “We didn’t go to the Hat, either. It was really weird, though. Carly didn’t come, it was just Chance and me.”
‘Is Carly sick or something?” Mom caught her gaze across the kitchen island.
“No, Chance asked her not to come. He said he wanted it to be just him and me. And he got all prickly every time I mentioned Coll’s name. What’s up with that?”
Anna laid the paring knife down and came to sit at the table beside Laurel. “Why do you think he’d do that?”
“Beats me, we’ve been friends forever, and the three of us always do things together.”
“I think Chance is interested in you, sweetie. Has he asked you to go out with him?”
“No! I mean, I like him and all, but not that way. It’d be like kissing my brother or something.” Laurel made a face and grimaced.
“Just keep it in mind, that maybe the boy sees you as more than a friend now that you’ve all grown up a bit.”
Laurel nodded and snagged a banana from the bowl on the table.
“So, if you didn’t go to Lethbridge or the Hat, where did the pair of you go?”
“Chance drove me up to Bragg Creek.” She watched her mom’s face carefully for her reaction.
“What did you find in Bragg Creek? What made you want to go there?” Anna frowned and got up to move back to the counter, avoiding looking directly as her daughter.
“I went looking for Gramma Bella, I know she’s not dead,” she blurted out.
“Your father and I never told you she was dead, where did ever get that idea?”
“Mom, look at me. You both let me believe she was dead, not just moved away. When I was visiting Sarie, I found a bunch of letters from Gramma Bella to her. The return address on the latest one was Bragg Creek.”
“I wish you’d mentioned this before and not gone haring off to find her on your own.”
“I didn’t think Dad would let me go if he knew where I was going. Mom, what did they fight about that upset things so badly that she moved out and nobody ever mentioned her again?”
“I’m afraid that’s something you need to ask your father about. Now tell me, did you get a chance to speak to Bella?”
“She wasn’t home. The neighbor lady said she went off to Cornwall in a big hurry about two weeks ago.”
“Cornwall? You’re sure the woman said she went to Cornwall, not London?”
Laurel nodded. “Ally, the next door neighbor, said Gramma Bella got a call from Sarie that someone was in trouble, and then she left in a big hurry.”
“Hmmm, I wonder…Bella vowed she’d never set foot back in Penzance. She believed the ruckus and embarrassment she endured when she left would never be forgotten. She never wanted to run into Daniel Treliving ever again.”
“Daniel Treliving? That’s Gort’s uncle. I don’t blame her, he was a real jack ass.”
“I didn’t realize you knew him, what was he like? Is he really as nasty as Bella made out/” Anna stopped stirring a pot on the stove and leaned a hip on the counter.
“I never really met him, but I did see him sometimes. He was Gort’s guardian, but he treated him like crap. Used him for a punching bag, so Gort would hideout at Sarie’s or Emily’s. But Gramma Bella doesn’t have to worry about seeing him, he’s dead now.”
“Are you sure? When did you find this out?”
“Coll emailed me about it, and so did Ash, and Gort too when he was feeling better. He’s living with Emily and Coll now.”
“That’s very interesting. I wonder who is in such trouble that Bella would throw caution to the wind and take off for England.
“Ally said it was Vear Du who was in trouble.”
Anna’s face went white and gripped the counter hard enough to turn her knuckles white. “Are you sure?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
“As sure as I can be.” Laurel swallowed hard. “I know who he is, Mom. I know Vear Du is my grandfather. Is that what Dad and Gramma fought about? Is that why she moved away and I never saw her again.”
Anna nodded and wiped a tear from her cheek. “Since you’ve discovered that much, I’ll answer your questions as best as I can. But you should still talk with your dad about this. Your father was devastated when he found out the truth. All his life he believed D’Arcy was his dad, and in a way he was, in all the most important ways. It came as a real shock when he learned he was the son of some weird magical being.”
“Was he mad at Gramma for not telling him sooner? When did he figure it out?” Laurel tried to put herself in his place and couldn’t.
“He found out when you were pretty young, I thought he was going to bring the house down he was so angry.”
“Is that when you found out?”
Anna shook her head. “Bella told me before I married your father. She thought it wasn’t fair to let me marry him without know exactly what I was getting into. It took your dad a while to get over that too. Me knowing, and not telling him.”
“Mom, Aisling invited me to spend Christmas with her family, are you okay with that? I’ve been saving my money to pay for the plane fare since I got home last time. I didn’t know Ash was going to ask me to come for Christmas, though. Can I go? I really want to find Gramma Bella, too. If Vear Du is in trouble maybe Ash and I can help him somehow.”
“Let me talk to your father about all this and I’ll let you know what he says. Leave it with me for a bit, okay.”

That's all for now, but I will leave you with some lovely pictures of Cornwall with credit to Frances Watts who takes marvelous photos. Next month I'm planning to feature The Selkie's Song where you meet a young Bella and Sairie and of course the odious Daniel and the heroic and oh so handsome Vear Du, the Selkie.

This is Nanjizal Bay and the slit in the rock known as The Song of the Sea which plays a part in the story.

The following photos are taken by Frances Watts and are near and around Land's End, St. Buryan, Carn les Boels and the Cornish Coastal Path.

Itching To Get Ahead

Add caption The word “itch” amuses me. It is almost crying for a conson...