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Dawn Colclasure

Dawn Colclasure, Author of The Yellow Rose Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author and co-author of over two dozen books, among them Burning the Midnight Oil: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 Tips for Writers: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion; On the Wings of Pink Angels: Triumph, Struggle and Courage Against Breast Cancer; A Ghost on Every Corner; The Yellow Rose and her latest novel, Faded Reflection.


Read an Interview at Highlighted Author!
              Writer Sanctuary
  Congratulations to Dawn for being in the 2013 Preditors and Editors top
ten in Other Novels Category for Shadow of Samhain and in the 2014
Preditors and Editors Anthology for Anthology for A Ghost on Every

2010 Top 10 Poet, Dawn Colclasure
Other Novels 2013 Top Ten P&E Readers Poll Anthology 2014

New Title(s) From Dawn Colclasure
Love is Like  Rainbow by Dawn Colclasure Songs of the Dead by Dawn Colclasure The Yellow Rose by Dawn Colclasure Shadow of Samhain by Dawn Colclasure On the Wngs of Pink Angels by Dawn Colclasure The Perfec Christmas by Dawn Colclasure The Ghost Group Book One by Dawn Colclasure Parenting Pauses by Dawn Colclasure The GHOST Group Book Two by Dawn Colclasure The GHOST Group Print, Books 1&2 by Dawn Colclasure A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure Faded Reflection by Dawn Colclasure Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited by Dawn Colclasure Fabulously Frugal by Dawn Colclasure Imprint by Dawn Colclasure Remembering Sunny by Dawn Colclasure  
Order the Love is Like a Rainbow Print Book Today!
Order The Yellow Rose Print Book Today!
Order the Shadow of Samhain Print Book Today!
Order the Parenting Pauses Print Book Today!
Order The GHOST Group, Books 1 and 2 PRINT TODAY!
Order A Ghost on Every Corner PRINT TODAY!
Order the Faded Reflection PRINT TODAY!
Order the Imprint PRINT TODAY!

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Love is Like a Rainbow by Dawn Colclasure Love is...

...a reminder there is still hope in this world.
...a gentle whisper to guide you and give you strength in hard times.
...a neverending bond that transcends death.
...a promise of forever when two people become one.
...a brand new day after life's most turbulent storm.
Love, romance and eternal devotion come to life and restrengthen a bond through the power of verse. With words written from the heart and speaking to the soul, Love is Like a Rainbow contains love poems to remind readers to "let love come in."

Word Count: 9970
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99

  From Plaid Earthworm

Love is Like a Rainbow by Dawn Colclasure ORDER THE Love is Like a Rainbow PRINT BOOK! (ISBN # 978-0-9844521-0-1)

Songs of the Dead by Dawn Colclasure
Dawn Colclasure’s dark poetry collection, Songs of the Dead (formerly named Topiary Dreams), is not only dark, but passionate. Anger, fear, hurt and betrayal run under the skin of this work and shine through especially bright in poems such as No Turning Back, Deep Within and I am Madness. Colclasure examines the dark side of human nature; murder, drug use, violence, insanity and isolation. But, beyond the tales of death and darkness there’s also a message of empowerment; the voice of someone who has taken too much, for too long and has finally had enough.

Songs of the Dead is a re-release of the chapbook originally published in 2003 and with more than twenty-seven new poems; it has more than earned the title “expanded”. Colclasure has a flair for prose, with lines such as “walk on the moon and hear the stars breathe,” (from Death Shows my Pain) and different poetry forms stop the reader from falling into a sing song rhythm of sameness and help to keep the collection fresh and interesting, page after page.

Word Count: 5700
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $2.99 


The Yellow Rose by Dawn Colclasure One day a gardener living on a tiny island discovers a surprise growing in his garden: A beautiful yellow rose that will never die. Every day he takes care of this perfect rose until men from a big city come to the island and convince the gardener to share the rose with the world. The men become very rich while the yellow rose becomes very weak. The greedy men want to destroy the rose since it can’t make them anymore money. Can the gardener save the special rose that he loves so much?

Illustrated by Allison Warner

    From Lillie Ammann
    From Lilyraines
Word Count: 3200 
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99 

The Yellow Rose by Dawn Colclasure ORDER The Yellow Rose PRINT BOOK! (ISBN # 978-0-9834027-1-8)

Shadow of Samhain by Dawn Colclasure

She called him the “dark man.”

Who is Jonathan, a man haunting Malissa Ratham’s dreams? What sort of secrets from his past does he try to keep buried? Everybody says the dreams are only dreams and nothing more. But soon Malissa starts acting strangely, knowing about ancient Druidic rituals and a history too mysterious to unearth. With the help of Jovin, an ancient Druidic spirit on a mission to stop Jonathan from his path of death and destruction, and Tessie Malkin, a psychic with an advantage over Jonathan’s power, Malissa must owe up to her past and walk between worlds to destroy an ancient curse…

…before it is too late

Word Count: 92300
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $5.99
Shadow of Samhain by Dawn Colclasure ORDER The Shadow of Samhain PRINT TODAY! (ISBN #978-1-61950-186-7)

On the Wings of Pink Angels by Dawn Colclasure

"You have cancer." These are words people dread hearing. But when worse comes to worst, push comes to shove, something wonderful happens. More people come together for support and encouragement. More people participate in "Race for the Cure" events, and more people discover an inner strength within themselves that they never knew they had before. On the Wings of Pink Angels offers a gentle hand through this difficult time, sharing stories that inspire hope, strength, gratitude and courage during a time when someone must fight for his or her life against breast cancer.
Word Count: 32000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99

The Perfect Christmas by Dawn Colclasure Lynn Johnson’s sister, Patty, visits for Christmas and all seems to go well until memories of an abusive childhood from the sisters’ past threaten the holiday cheer. Will the sisters be able to come together in the spirit of the holiday season in order to find the power to forgive and move forward in life?

Word Count: 4000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: 2.99

The Ghost Group Book One by Dawn Colclasure

There’s something different about Sarah Town. It’s brimming with ghosts—and some of those ghosts need help! That’s where the GHOST Group comes in—the Ghost Helpers of Sarah Town. The GHOST Group is made up of five 11-year-old team members: Jesse, Jenny, Ryan, Trent, and Cassie.

The Ghost of Sarah Travers is the story about Sarah, who Sarah Town was named after. Her ghost haunts what used to be her home, but can the kids help her find who she is looking for before the town skeptic brings an end to ghosthunting in Sarah Town for good?

The Ghost of the Crying Valentine has the Ghost Group solving the mystery of a sad ghostly girl haunting their school. Rumors about this girl ghost catch the attention of a TV show, and the kids lock horns with the show host as they try to help the crying ghost.

Word Count: 48700
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99

Parenting Pauses by Dawn Colclasure

Being a deaf parent isn’t just about not being able to hear anything—it’s more. From limited access to information in the medical establishments to daily challenges in dealing with discrimination and communication hurdles, the world of deaf parenting is one fraught with trials, fears and tribulations that no other parenting experience will offer. But at the same time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Deaf parents CAN conquer those trials, they CAN overcome those fears and they CAN work around those tribulations in order to make deaf parenting work.

Parenting Pauses will give readers, both deaf and hearing, an inside look into the world of one deaf parent, along with some tips and techniques learned along the way.

Word Count: 60844
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99
Parenting Pauses by Dawn Colclasure ORDER THE Parenting Pauses PRINT BOOK! (ISBN #978-1-61950-194-2)

The Ghost Group Book Two by Dawn Colclasure

There’s something different about Sarah Town. It’s brimming with ghosts – and some of those ghosts need help! That’s where the GHOST Group comes in – the Ghost Helpers of Sarah Town. The GHOST Group is made up of five 11-year-old team members: Jesse, Jenny, Ryan, Trent, and Cassie.

The Ghost of the Irish Setter is a “ghost dog” story where team member Jesse must come to terms with losing his dog, Lolly, after she ran away. A ghost dog that is an Irish setter seeks Jesse’s help, but when the rest of the GHOST Group join the case, it becomes a matter of life or death after Cassie and Ryan are kidnapped! Can the GHOST Group help the ghost dog? And can Jesse find out what really happened to Lolly?

In The Ghost of the Missing Hiker, a day of April Fool’s hijinks turn into another mystery for the GHOST Group. Meanwhile, the group's helper ghost, Adam, has some bad news for the team, and Jenny realizes she must accept her special gift and learn how to use it so she can help other ghosts in Sarah Town.

Word Count: 31700
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99

The GHOST Group Books 1 and 2 (PRINT) by Dawn Colclasure  There’s something different about Sarah Town. It’s brimming with ghosts—and some of those ghosts need help! That’s where the GHOST Group comes in—the Ghost Helpers of Sarah Town. The GHOST Group is made up of five 11-year-old team members: Jesse, Jenny, Ryan, Trent, and Cassie.

Four delightful and spooky tales to thrill and delight you:
The Ghost of Sarah Travers
The Ghost of the Crying Valentine
The Ghost of the Irish Setter
The Ghost of the Missing Hiker 

ORDER The GHOST Group in Print (ISBN: 978-1-61950-209-3) HERE!

A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure

There’s a ghost town then there’s a “ghost” town! A Ghost on Every Corner is a collection of stories from paranormal investigators who have done investigations in some of America’s most haunted cities. Read about the ghost haunting a restaurant in Galena, Illinois, or about a Gettysburg Battlefield ghost who follows an investigator home! There’s also Marilyn Monroe’s ghost haunting the famous Roosevelt Hotel, a ghost violently attacking an investigator at the Sallie House and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe’s adoptive father angrily pushing an investigator down the stairs! You’ll also get to read historical (as well as ghostly!) information about places such as The Alamo, Myrtles Plantation and the famous BirdCage Theater. Walk with investigators located across the country as they gather evidence about ghosts and go where no other would dare to tread!

Word Count: 110000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $5.99

A Ghost on Every Corner by Dawn Colclasure ORDER THE A Ghost on Every Corner PRINT TODAY! (ISBN: 978-1-61950-234-5)

Faded Reflection by Dawn Colclasure Laura Williams takes a chance on Carl Gunderson, and it’s the most fatal mistake of her life. Carl is convinced Laura is the wife that he murdered—or thought he murdered. Apparently, he hadn’t left her for dead after all. Now she’s back in his life—and this time, he will make sure he finishes her off for good.

Word Count: 65000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $4.99

 Faded Reflection by Dawn Colclasure ORDER THE Faded Reflection PRINT TODAY! (ISBN: 978-1-61950-273-4)

Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited by Dawn Colclasure

Writing from home can be a challenge when you’ve got one or more kids tugging at your sleeve for attention. There are days it seems like you can’t get ANY writing done, and looming deadlines mean sleepless nights and frazzled nerves. Take heart: Writing parents who have figured out this writing parent thing share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned in trying to find balance between writing and parenting. If you’re a freelance writer, commercial writer, author or journalist trying to figure out how to keep your writing career going strong and be a capable parent at the same time, check out Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited to get some tips and techniques on how to make it happen for you!

Word Count: 57337
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: 4.99

Fabulously Frugal by Dawn Colclasure

Want to repair bad credit? Start saving money? Find out how to live frugally without making sacrifices? This eBook will give you the strategies to make it all happen. Fabulously Frugal will help you solve your money problems and get you started on building up your savings!

Learn strategies for saving money for emergencies, how to spend less on home repairs or at the doctor’s office, be a savvy shopper who knows how to find the best deals, and afford everyday costs like transportation, school expenses and utilities. Additionally, money-saving experts share secrets in this book on how to get the best deals!

Money-saving strategies included in this book:

• How to travel on a budget
• Enjoy your passions without breaking the bank
• Celebrate holidays or special occasions for less

Fabulously Frugal will help you tackle your financial issues and share how to enjoy more in life for less!

Word Count: 26500
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $ 4.99

Imprint by Dawn Colclasure
A house never forgets. And for Maureen Boyd, neither does a vengeful ghost lurking within what she hopes to be a dream home for her new husband and children. After her son’s house-flipping company loses out on a deal, Maureen’s husband buys the house, and Maureen hopes that living closer to her son will help salvage their distant relationship. But living in a haunted house brings up dark family secrets her husband would rather keep buried, plus opening an old wound that Maureen’s long-distant relative could never forgive.

Word Count: 42630
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $ 4.99

Imprint by Dawn Colclasure ORDER THE Imprint PRINT TODAY!
 (ISBN# 978-1-61950-334-2)

Remembering Sunny by Dawn Colclasure Jeanie and Mara are two cousins who grow up together and share a dream of opening their own animal shelter one day. But that dream is put on hold when, at 18, Mara announces she is pregnant and that she's going to marry her boyfriend, Drake Preston. Jeanie knows Drake is bad news, but supports her cousin all the same. After Sunny is born, Mara can't imagine her life without her. Then tragedy strikes and the family pulls together in mourning. It is in her grief that Mara learns how to turn tragedy into triumph and bring hope to her life again.

Word Count: 10750
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99



Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion

I Loved

“Time passed you by,” said the judge.

“You let life pass. Without a grudge.

You let yourself be pushed and shoved.

What say you?” Said the soul, “I loved.

"I knew the warmth in my heart love gives.

You say I didn’t live. I lived! I lived!

I tasted the passion of love, its voice.

I let love move me, and by choice.

“I knew sorrow, I knew pain.

I let it hit me again and again.

I saw things in ways none other could.

I let love rule my life as it would.

“I opened my heart and gave my all.

This I’d do even after I’d fall.

I journeyed to the ends of the earth.

Knew the joys that came with birth.

"Faced each challenge with my heart so strong

Because love made it that way for so long.

Knew myself in ways I never would otherwise.

Saw true beauty in my beloved’s eyes.

“It was because of love I worked, helped and would create.

I would love first before I’d hate.

Love was there to make sure I’d give a helping hand.

Love taught me how to better understand.

“Love filled my heart more even after it burst full.

Because of love, my life was never dull.

No other feeling did as much for my life or make me feel so moved.

For this, I truly lived, because I loved.”

Back to Love is Like a Rainbow

Songs of the Dead

I’m the Only One Who Can Take You There

Push me now into your veins.
Push me softly, deep inside.
Let me take you far away
Where you won’t have to run and hide.

Forget your tears, forget your pain.
Escape from this world of despair.
Come to me, I will save you
I’m the only one who can take you there.

You don’t need to be afraid.
I will shield you in my arms.
No more sadness, no more pain.
I'll protect you from life’s harms.

Never fail you, always true.
And you enjoy the things I do.
You won’t find better relief anywhere
Because I’m the only one who can take you there.

Back to Songs of the Dead
The Yellow Rose

     “Hooray! A new day is here to work in my garden!” a gardener living on a tiny island cried out with joy one morning. The sun woke him up, and he’d just finished eating all of his breakfast.
     He got all of his gardening tools and went outside of his small hut to where all of his flowers, plants and fruit trees grew.
     He knelt down in one spot of his garden where he grew flowers. He used a small shovel to move soil away from the ground. He opened his hand and dropped seeds into the hole he had made. He covered up the hole with the soil. “That should do it!” he said, patting the soil down onto the ground. “Now you are at home!”
     He stood from the ground and walked through his colorful garden. He ran his hand through his black hair, looking up at the sun shining in the sky. What good weather for his plants to be growing in!
     He looked back down at his flowers. He checked on his many lilies, begonias, tulips and daisies. Every flower was safe and looked very healthy.

Back to The Yellow Rose
Shadow of Samhain


He awoke from a deep sleep. The white wall above should have been familiar to the person whose body he inhabited, but it wasn’t familiar to him. In fact, the daylight stretching across the white wall was unfamiliar to what he’d known for all these centuries. Such darkness.

He rose up in the bed, staring around the room. This was Malissa’s room. There was her desk by the window. Her dresser stood by the closed closet. And there, on her floor, sat her shoes.

They were all things that belonged to Malissa Ratham. So this was how she lived outside of the dream world.

He climbed out of the bed. The comforter and sheets felt so soft and warm, a far cry from the dirty blanket he’d slept with on the cold floor of a thatched hut. He examined the girl’s hands, smiling over how clean and perfect they looked. Even the nails on her fingers were perfect; she obviously didn’t bite them. He hoped she took likewise good care of the rest of herself; the last thing he wanted to worry about was tooth pain.

He walked to the closet and swung open both doors. The clothes inside consisted of blouses, skirts, sweaters and pants, all in feminine colors. All clothes that were typical of a 17-year-old female. He removed a denim, long-sleeved dress and held it in front of him. He’d have to get used to dressing like a girl. After all, that was the gender of the body he was in now.

But gender was unimportant. All that mattered was that he’d finally overpowered the girl whose dreams he’d inhabited. Now he was free to have his revenge.

He quietly removed the pajamas, grateful that they were at least a pants and top ensemble, then put the dress on. He added a wide brown belt around the waist, then located a pair of white stockings in the dresser drawer. He put these on then slid into the brown leather moccasins on the floor.

He walked out of the room and crept through the hallway, examining the faces in the framed photos. None of the children looked familiar, yet when he saw Jane’s face, he stopped. He stared at the wedding picture, looking at the man hugging Jane then back at Jane’s face. The face was that of an older Jane, but he still knew that face very well.

“What are you doing?”

He turned, then smiled. The girl with long blond hair looked exactly as Jane once had, when Jane had been fifteen years old.

“Where is Jane?” he asked.


He thought a minute then remembered. Jane had changed her name long ago. He looked at the girl again. “Janay.”

The girl scrunched her face. “Don’t you mean Mom?”

“Where is she?”

“At work.” She studied his face. “Malissa, are you okay?”

He walked up to the girl, smiling at her. She still wore her pajamas. “Fine.” He put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Everything is fine.” He leaned over to look the girl in her eyes. “Where does she work?”

The girl blinked in surprise. “At the fabric store. You’ve been there to buy stuff for clothes.”

He smiled, then turned to walk away. Finding the fabric store would not be a problem; the location was somewhere in Malissa’s memories.

As he entered the kitchen, he heard the girl say, “Can you take me to school? Malissa?”

He walked outside and down the steps. The October wind beat against him, blowing the long black hair in either direction. He moved a strand of hair from her eyes and looked around. This was the backyard; he saw a door to the garage, a tire swing hung from a tree, and bikes were parked along the wooden fence.

He walked to one of the larger bikes, then led it out of the yard through a gate. He examined the seat, the frame and tires. He recalled memories of how Malissa rode the bike in the past, pedaling the rectangular metal things on a rotating bar in the lower center. He climbed onto the bike and started to peddle it down the driveway, shaking as he adjusted his balance.

He searched the street signs as she pedaled, watching for cars and buses that passed by. He soon entered a busy town and steered the bike through the crowds of people walking along the street and sidewalks, the girl’s hair blowing in the wind. Everyone he saw wore a coat, sweater or jacket. Even though the denim was sufficient for warmth, he hoped being without an extra garment didn’t make the girl stand out.

The fabric store finally came into view. He parked the bike against the wall next to it, then walked inside. Only two other people were in the store today: Jane and a customer. Jane stood next to a swinging tray of assorted cloths, discussing one such fabric with an elderly woman.

He slowly approached Jane, eyes fixed on the woman’s face. The face Jane had now was calm and relaxed, speaking with this elderly woman in a soft tone of voice. Yet as he walked toward Jane, all he saw was the face of the frightened ten-year-old girl the woman had once been.

Jane finally caught sight of him. “Malissa? What are you doing here?”

He stopped in mid-step. He stared hard at Jane, the anger rushing through his veins.

“I have come back for you, Jane,” was all he said. The body may have been female, but the voice definitely sounded like it should have been male. It was his voice, after all.

The elderly woman stared at her. She took one look at the girl’s face, then gasped. She backed away, slinking back with one cautious step after another.

“Malissa?” Jane asked, her voice curious and her eyes never leaving the person she saw as her daughter as she put the piece of cloth back onto the tray.

“You thought you could escape me,” he said, still using his voice. “You were wrong.” He chuckled. “I have your daughter. And now I have you.”

The elderly woman stopped moving away. Her eyes fluttered and she fainted.

Jane looked to the woman, then back at him. She studied him for a few moments then took a step forward.


He threw his arms out at her and used his power to throw her back. She screamed as she toppled over the tray, then fell to the floor. Fabric sheets drifted down to her back as she groaned. She turned and looked up at him standing over her.

“Please,” she sobbed, her wide eyes trying to understand what was happening. “Please, Malissa. What are you doing?”

He turned and tore a metal bar off of a display rack. She heard Jane gasp, then whisper, “Oh, my God,” as he slowly turned back to face her. He gripped the metal bar with both hands and held it above him.

“No!” he heard Jane scream.

His gaze fixed ahead, Jonathan mechanically brought the metal bar down. He heard Jane scream, “No!” again, then all sound suddenly disappeared as he froze, holding the bar in mid-air.

Jonathan! a woman’s voice commanded in his mind.

The image of an African-American woman wearing rainbow-colored clothes and assorted jewelry came to him through some kind of link. The woman pointed directly at him as she spoke. Jonathan! Harm her no more.

He held the metal bar inches over the sobbing figure of Jane Ratham. His vision of the store in front of him—with the counter, cash register, assorted fabric displays and homemade clothing—all suddenly disappeared. A bright light shone in his eyes as something, some form, pushed him away and out of the body he had stolen.

Malissa felt herself returning to life within her body again, consciousness sweeping through her.

The air left her lungs for only a moment as she realized she’d been out of her body all this time, then she collapsed to the floor, releasing the metal bar as darkness overtook her.

Back to Shadow of Samhain
On the Wings of Pink Angels

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 by a variety of health and medical organizations promoting the message of breast cancer awareness.

You can visit the site here:

And here is the Wiki page:

Since its inception, businesses and charities across the globe have stepped up to do their part in the fight against breast cancer. Major corporations such as ValPak, Walmart and Lands End have participated in NBCAM in some form or another. They have distributed flyers and informational documents about breast cancer among employees and customers, created support groups to help those with breast cancer and created an in-house breast cancer screening program. Even the government has done its part in participating in NBCAM, by including a message about breast cancer on government employee pay stubs during the month of October.

Over the years, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been a month of challenges, inspiration, support—as well as controversy. A local breast imaging center in Eugene, Oregon started a “Make Time for the Girls” campaign during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2010. The idea of calling breasts “the girls” was met with a public outcry, spurring many residents to complain to their local newspaper about such insensitivity. Still, the campaign persevered. Another year when NBCAM rolled around, many people on Facebook shared a status update saying, “Let’s find a cure for ALL cancers, not just breast cancer.” The purpose of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to promote awareness and support for anyone fighting for their life against breast cancer. Yes, we do want an end to ALL cancers one day, but let us remember that this special month was not created to slight the other cancers, or even to dismiss the struggles of those afflicted with other cancers. Let us march forward with our pink ribbons spreading the message that the fight against breast cancer, and indeed all cancers worldwide, must continue to go strong.

Beating Time At Its Own Game: Life Begins With Cancer
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

The day after my biopsy, my husband and I drove to Las Vegas on a business trip, never thinking about possibilities. We stopped at the state line for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel. We shelled giant prawns for lunch at the Stardust buffet. We slid quarters into a slot machine—the old fashioned kind I like with spinning cherries that will surely triple my money and spill the winnings into a silver trough.

That was not a bad approach at the time. There is no reason to assume the worst, to project abject possibilities that may never come to pass onto the present. Denial is sometimes very useful. On the other hand, it often keeps one from examining one’s own behavior, one’s own motivations. I share this anecdote because it illustrates how thoroughly denial had become entrenched in my life.

I was raised in times that were not easy for women. Most of the barriers I faced were ones that couldn’t be seen nor acknowledged because I didn’t know they were there. They crept up silently on padded feet and, if I sensed them at all, I chose not to turn and face them.

This faculty for denial was intact and very healthy when I was diagnosed with cancer. By 3 p.m. that day, the picture was not so jolly. We had to return home so I could begin autogenous blood donations. The risk of AIDS in the blood supply was still high; my doctor believed that we should have my own blood on hand in case it was needed.

My first reaction was true to pattern. I reassured myself that everything was going to be just fine, that I wasn’t nervous, that cancer was not a terrifying word. Unfortunately, my doctor had not sounded especially positive when he demanded that we set a surgery date in that moment, over the phone.

My husband was also up to the task. “We won’t work today. We’ll just take off, have some fun and drive back tonight.” We were two peas in a pod. We’d both try anything other than just saying, “Gee, I’m scared.”

I almost went along with that plan. Instead, I used the time on the open road to meditate. In that time, I realized—sort of knew at a cellular level—that I had to do more than donate blood to myself and that cancer doesn’t just happen.

Back to On the Wings of Pink Angels
The Perfect Christmas

“Is she here yet?”

Lynn Johnson smiled. “You just asked me that five minutes ago.” She turned away from the potato salad she’d been stirring at the kitchen counter, and then sighed as she folded her arms at her son. “I’m sure she’ll get here soon. What’s up with the impatience?”

Her sixteen-year-old son smiled, showing white teeth that seemed to make his blue eyes sparkle. “I just can’t wait to see the look on her face when she opens my present for her.”

She nodded, and then walked over to him and put her arm around his shoulders. “It’s a special Christmas for all of us. I haven’t seen your Aunt Patty for ages. She’s always been too busy with her job. The globe-trotting newspaper reporter.” She swung her head around and nearly sang the last words.

“I’m proud of her, Mom; and you should be, too. Even if she’s not ever around in person, at least we get to have her articles.”

“Yes, and I’m proud of her, too.” She tousled his black hair. “Now go get your sister. It’s almost time to eat.”

She folded her arms over her chest again and smiled as she watched her son walk away, knowing she didn’t have to remind him to wash his hands before dinnertime. Andy knew what was expected of him. So did his sister, Lillie.

As she turned to walk back into the kitchen, Lynn caught sight of the snow coming down outside the dining room window. She frowned, walking over to the window and placing her hands on the sill. She stood there watching all the snow that just never seemed to allow a clear view of anything. The radio had said the weather conditions might cause a delay for incoming flights, but hadn’t Patty’s plane landed hours ago? She hoped the car her sister rented wasn’t stuck somewhere. Then again, she’d probably call on her cell if anything went wrong.

“We can’t eat dinner yet!”

Lynn turned from the window to see her fourteen-year-old daughter, Lillie, standing next to the dining room table, her arms outstretched. The only thing her hair had in common with her mother’s was the blond color; Lillie’s hair ran down her back, whereas Lynn’s was cut to shoulder-length. She had her mother’s green eyes, but her hips were a tad wider than Lynn’s. Still, Lillie remained active in sports, the sweatshirt bearing the emblem of the local tennis club proving as much.

“Aunt Patty’s not here,” Lillie continued.

Lynn smiled. “Don’t worry. She should be here any minute!”

As if on cue, a knock sounded at the door.

“See?” Lynn said, looking from her daughter to the door as she walked to it.

“It might be Dad,” Lillie mumbled.

“Think positive,” Lynn sang. “And anyway, why on earth would your father knock at his own door?”

Lynn didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, she unlocked the front door and opened it. Her eyes widened, she smiled and a squeal of excitement left her mouth as she jumped up and down at the sight of her sister on the porch. “Patty!”

“Sis!” Patty Everett exclaimed, holding out her arms to return Lynn’s embrace.
The two women moved away from each other. “Look at you, all covered with snow!” Lynn said, brushing snow off of her younger sister’s coat.

“And look at you, still as skinny as ever,” Patty said. She shook her head. “I don’t think you’ll ever lose that California girl image, no matter how far east you move or how old you are.”

“Every year I get older is a gift!” Lynn enthused.

“Speak for yourself; I’m not exactly looking forward to turning thirty-five next year.”

“Aunt Patty, you’re here!” Lillie said behind Lynn. Lynn moved away so that Lillie could hug her aunt.

“Lillie! So good to see you!” Patty gushed, hugging her niece.

“I missed you,” Lillie said, moving back to stand by her mother.

“I missed you too, sweetie,” Patty replied.

“Is that Aunt Patty I hear?”

The group turned to see Andy walking toward them, holding a wrapped Christmas gift.

“There you are, Andy!” Patty exclaimed, smiling and holding her arms out to hug her nephew.

“I’m so glad you made it,” Andy said, hugging her. “We were worried.”

“You’re lucky your house isn’t buried in all this snow!” Patty joked.

Andy held up his free hand. “Not on my watch!”

Back to The Perfect Christmas
The Ghost Group Book One

 Chapter One
The Creepy Substitute

Anybody who looked up Sarah Town on the Internet would see the words historical town. Jesse Wolf knew what a historical town was. His parents had explained it to him a couple of years ago when he’d asked why the town looked like it was—well, old. It was an historical town, they said, and that meant it was being preserved to look like it did when it was established back in the 1800s.

So maybe that was why walking through Sarah Town was like taking a step back in time to the Old West. Of course, Sarah Town wasn’t even in the west; but it had that look and feel to it, like pictures he’d seen of what the Old West looked like.

He could see it all now, as he looked out the window of the car he was riding in. The buildings made out of wood, just like the buildings in the pictures. The large and fancy writing on these buildings and signs that was the same as in those pictures. There were even posts in front of the buildings for people to tie their horses to.

He looked straight ahead this time to see the road in front of his father’s car. There weren’t any horses on the road, of course. There were cars. Everybody drove cars or maybe rode a bicycle. Some drove trucks.
In fact, there was a gigantic truck right there in front of his father’s car right now, coming straight at them.

Jesse stopped smiling and his eyes grew wide.

Wait a minute, straight at them?

“Look out, Dad!” Jesse cried, flying to the edge of his seat and gripping the sides of the seat in front of him.

He gasped and clung onto that seat for dear life as Mr. Wolf shook awake and swung the steering wheel to the right side. Jesse’s teeth chattered and his heart pounded in his chest as horns honked all around him and his father’s car spun in a circle on the snow-covered street.

Mr. Wolf got the car straight again and parked it on the side of the road. He turned around to look at Jesse. “Are you okay, son?”

Clutching the seat in front of him, his eyes still wide, Jesse breathed in quick bursts of air. He finally managed to let go of the seat as he slid backward. He rested his hand on his chest, feeling it move up and down with each breath. “I’m still breathing.”

Mr. Wolf sighed, wiping his forehead. “That was a close call.”

Jesse nodded, trying to relax. That was too close!

“I must have dozed off,” his father said, sitting straight in the driver’s seat again and switching the gears of the car. He pulled away from the side of the road and drove down the street. “I’ve been working so much, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jesse said as he let out a large breath of air. His dad’s working a lot wasn’t anything new. It seemed like he was working so much a lot of the time. Someone needed their door fixed or someone wanted to add another room to their house. His father was not the only carpenter in Sarah Town, but sometimes it seemed like he was, because people were always calling him to do one job or another.

This was good because it meant he had work. Some people in Sarah Town were not so lucky. Jesse frowned as he thought of his friend, Brian, whose father lost his job as an electrician two months before and hadn’t found another. They’d had to ask for help from neighbors and other people in Sarah Town to get food or go to the doctor. Not too long ago, he’d gone to Brian’s house with his mother and watched her hand Brian’s mother a big brown bag of food. Brian had looked a little uncomfortable about it. Jesse remembered how Brian didn’t like talking about getting food from people; he mostly wanted to play video games on the TV in the living room. Jesse started to think maybe it was a good thing that his dad worked, because he might feel the same way Brian did, if his family had to get food from their neighbors.

But what was bad about his dad working so much was that he was rarely at home. He was always working! And always working meant he didn’t get a lot of sleep, either.

Jesse looked down at his blue backpack on the seat next to him. He picked it up, then zipped it open. He had everything he needed for his first day back at school after Winter Break: his blue binder with all of its folders in it, pencils, erasers, pens, a ruler and a spiral notebook of paper. He was ready for his first day back.
Or was he?

A reminder flashed through his mind. A reminder of something else he was supposed to bring back to school with him. He gasped. “Oh, no!” he exclaimed, slapping his forehead.

“Something wrong?” his father asked.

“I forgot to make a New Year’s resolution,” he answered. “Our teacher asked us to write a paper during Winter Break about what our New Year’s resolution is. We’re supposed to turn it in today!”

“You can always work on it later.”

“I know, but I just wish I had it done already.” He’d always had his homework done before. How could he go back to school with an incomplete assignment now? What a way to start a new school year. He’d have to be sure he would stay on top of things and get his homework done. It wasn’t any fun working on incomplete homework during morning recess. That’s what anyone who forgot to finish their assignments on time had to do.

And now it would be his turn to miss morning recess so that he could complete an assignment.

He sighed as he looked out the window. Kids wearing backpacks were walking to school. They all probably had made a New Year’s resolution. He didn’t have a New Year’s resolution, so maybe it was a good idea to start thinking of one now. That way, he could start writing right away when it was time for recess and he’d get done faster.

What could his New Year’s resolution be? Learn something new? What did he want to learn? Maybe he could learn how to read a compass. Or maybe his mom could show him how to make those cheesy scrambled eggs he liked to eat for breakfast. His sister, Natalie, usually ate one of those toaster waffles. She thought eggs were gross, but his mother always told him eggs had protein in them, and they were a good way to start a busy day.

Back to The Ghost Group Book One
Parenting Pauses: Life as a Deaf Parent

Adventures in Reading (and Signing)

A common piece of advice given to parents: Read to your children. That’s a message I’ve taken as gospel and read to my children whenever I can. But because the parent in this case is deaf, and the children in this case are hearing, story time takes on a whole new adventure.

As a child, story time was different for Jennifer. It was like the rest of the world was gone. It’s only the two of us, exploring a world or just having fun with words. While I could not hear her repeat the words that I said during these times, it was still a bonding experience.

The common message behind reading to or with our children is that it should be an educational experience. It should be a time where the child can understand and pronounce new and longer words. Some other suggestions recommended by experts are to allow the child to participate in the storytelling by asking them to share their own ideas and to see exactly which words the child can and cannot read.

Listening to my children’s ability to read certain words or pronounce them correctly just isn’t a task that can be done for me. But this doesn’t mean story time is no longer an educational experience for them; it is. It also turns into a fun experience.

Because I can speak, I use sound effects as I read to my children. When I say that a bus is going through town, I’ll make driving noises and pretend I’m steering the wheel. If I say the wind is blowing hard, I’ll make exaggerated wind sounds. Sometimes, Jennifer imitated the sound effects I made. I didn’t know this by sound, of course, but by lipreading her and watching the expression she made.

Lipreading is a big part of what I experience during my children’s story time. Jennifer often grabbed the book to take over the reading and sometimes I didn’t see her lips to tell if she was reading the words correctly, but more often than not, lipreading her has clued me in to what she said. Sometimes, she repeated a sentence or asked a question, and that’s when we stopped reading the book to explore what she understood so far. Asking her if she understood the story can happen at any other time, though; sometimes, if I think she’s confused, we’ll linger over the pages, talking about what I just read. I’ll ask her questions like, “Do you think the bunny is lost?” or I’ll say simpler statements like, “He can’t find his mommy.”

Story time is also a great opportunity to teach my children the sign for something. If a picture in a book has simple objects, I’ll point to them, then show the children the sign for it. For example, if there is a cup, I will point at it, say cup then make the sign as I again say cup. We sign mommy and daddy for the appropriate images, and I’ll even try to squeeze in a signed sentence or two (as long as the sentences are simple, such as, “It started to rain.”).

Most of the time, these signing lessons aren’t always imitated on every try. There were times Jennifer watched me sign something then just turn the page. I still think nothing is lost. I think that on some level, and with enough repetition, they will catch on to the sign for certain objects. After all, once the story ends, we almost always turn back to different pages and I can sign things to them again. I’ll know that extra effort has paid off after they sign those words back to me.

After we finish reading a book, we top the session off with a little discussion about the story. I will try to sign things again, but the main goal here is to see if they understood what we just read and if they can remember things. I will ask them something like, “Do you remember when the bunny was being naughty?” or, “Did the raccoon eat the nuts?” They won’t always sign to me during this time, and they may not sign a single word, but as long as I can lipread them and get a straight answer, I let the lack of signing pass.

I don’t try to make using (and learning) sign language a major part of our story time. Not yet, anyway. Once the children are older, sign language will be a bigger part of our story time, and it may even allow us to create alternative storylines or endings for our fictional friends.

Meanwhile, all that matters is that story time is still a fun and educational time for all of us to strengthen that parent-child bond in a deaf and hearing way.

Back to Parenting Pauses
The GHOST Group Book Two

The Ghost of the Irish Setter
Chapter One
Close Call

If there was one thing that could be said about Deanna Foster, it was this: She was not much of a cook. Jenny winced at the thought, recalling the many times her mother had served something burnt or unrecognizable for dinner. Good thing usually her dad did most of the cooking or they ate takeout. “Not much” was putting it delicately.

Oh, sure, her mom could make toast—when she didn’t burn it. And she could also figure out how to get the microwave to work to nuke something for them to eat—on a good day.

But put her in front of a stove or tell her how to bake something in the oven, and all of a sudden, she turned clueless. You might as well have been trying to explain to her how to perform brain surgery; it was uncharted territory to her.

So of course Jenny had been surprised when she noticed her mother looking through a bunch of cookbooks, searching for some recipe or another. When Jenny noticed what kind of cookbooks they were, it all made sense: Cookbooks for Irish meals.

Irish. Of course. This was March, after all, and the St. Patrick’s Day Festival—a big deal in Sarah Town—was coming up. Every year, her mother made some kind of dish for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, and every year they all got to read about it in the newspaper the next day when people got sick or had to be rushed to the hospital from food poisoning.

Okay, maybe that last thought was an exaggeration. But, yeah, her mom and cooking just didn’t mesh. Still, her mom was never say die with that kinda thing. Proof: The many sounds of pots and pans clanging together in the kitchen for hours, the occasional screams of frustration or the sounds of crying and praying coming from behind the kitchen door.

Jenny frowned, looking down at the picture she’d been quietly working on the whole time her mom had been in the kitchen. She didn’t try to force herself to do something for the festival that she knew she wasn’t good at; instead, she did something she did know she was good at. She created art.

She held up the poster, admiring the picture she’d made. And it was a pretty good picture, too, she had to admit. She’d written Happy St. Patrick’s Day! in the center, drew a dancing leprechaun under that, then created a shower of shamrocks all over the top, with some of them circling the words in the center of the drawing as they came down around it.


Jenny looked in the direction of the sound as she placed her picture back down on the table.

“I’ve done it!” her mother declared, holding a plate of food in one hand and holding her other hand up as though she were praising the heavens. “Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes! The perfect dish for St. Patrick’s Day!”

Jenny winced. “Yuck. I’ll take Foods I Never Want to Eat for $200, Alex.”

“Well, eat it, anyway,” her mother said, walking over to place the plate of food onto the table in front of her. Jenny swallowed the puke that came rushing to her mouth at the sight of the disgusting food.

“This is the dish I’m making for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival,” her mother said, smiling. “And I need a taste tester.”

Jenny looked up at her. “Hey, Mom, why don’t you ask Dad to taste it for you? He’s the best taste tester in the world!”

Her mother didn’t say anything. All she did was heap that green and brown stuff up on a fork and hold it up to Jenny’s mouth.

Alarm bells screeched in Jenny’s head. Little people in charge of the Tasting Department frantically ran around, trying to control the chaos of impending doom. “Full alert!” one screeched. “Disgusting food about to enter the mouth! Batten down the hatches!”

“Taste it,” her mother encouraged. “Please?”

A knock sounded at the door. Jenny’s mother handed her the fork. “Here. I’ll be right back.” She turned around to walk out of the room.

Jenny made a face as she held the food up in front of her mouth. It smelled almost as bad as it looked! What excuse could she come up with to avoid eating this stuff? Tell her mother she was allergic to brown and green food?

No, that wouldn’t work. She wouldn’t be able to eat hamburgers or bacon in front of her mother again.

Maybe she could pretend the food she inched closer to her mouth was a nice juicy hamburger. Yes, that was it. Just a thick juicy burger with ketchup and lettuce and...

“Jenny! Cassie’s here.”

Jenny lowered the fork and let out a huge breath of relief. She hopped off the chair, ran from the table to leave the room, then ran back to where she’d been sitting to look up. “Thank you,” she whispered. She turned to run out of the room again.

“I smell food,” Cassie said, sniffing the air as she walked into Jenny’s house.

Jenny smiled at her friend. “And you just saved me from eating it, too. Mom’s practicing her dish for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival.”

Cassie frowned. “Are you guys Irish?”

Jenny shrugged. “How should I know? But I guess everybody's Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”

Cassie chuckled. “My house smells like bread. I guess both our moms are making something for the festival.”

“Do you think Ryan’s mom will make anything? I know they are Irish.”

Cassie laughed. “Ryan’s mom isn’t much of a cook. She’ll probably grab something from the bakery. Have you found any new ghost cases for us yet?”

Jenny frowned, shaking her head. “Not yet.”

“Well, maybe something will turnip.” Cassie laughed.

Jenny only shook her head. Why on earth was Cassie bringing up turnips? And why did she use it in a sentence that way?

“Get it? Turnip? Turn up?” Cassie asked. When Jenny only stared at her, Cassie placed her arms on her hips. “Well! We were talking about food!”

Jenny forced a laugh. “Oh, right. I get it. Funny.”

Jenny walked over to the table, ignoring the horrible food still on the plate, and carefully removed her picture as though she were Indiana Jones removing the idol from the pedestal. She hurried away with her creation, a chill racing down her spine as thoughts of a giant ball of corned beef rolling behind her tugged at her mind; she paused until her friend caught up, grabbed Cassie’s hand and pulled her into her bedroom. Only after the threat of eating disgusting food was averted did she turn to Cassie and sigh. “Phew! We’re safe!”

Cassie laughed. “What was that about?”

“You don’t want to know,” Jenny replied, shaking her head. She smiled, remembering her poster. “Check out this poster I made!” She held her creation up for Cassie to see.

Cassie looked it over, her eyes widening. “Wow! That’s pretty good!”

“Thanks,” Jenny said, smiling.

Back to The GHOST Group Book Two
A Ghost on Every Corner


The atmosphere in the pub seems calm. Bar patrons converse with each other, gratefully sipping their brews and reminiscing of times gone by. Talk about work holds the attention of customers seated along the bar, as the faint sound of country music plays in the background.

The jovial mood is broken when a stranger bursts through the door. Eyes wide and hands shaking, he recounts how he’s just driven along a certain stretch of road and encountered what appeared to be a hitchhiker. He picked up the hitchhiker, and they continued along the barren dirt road, making idle chit-chat. During the course of their conversation, the driver turned to see that his passenger had suddenly vanished.

Disappeared. Without a trace.

Instead of reacting with shock or alarm at this tale, the bar patrons shrug it off and go about their conversations. Only after some desperate prodding of the barkeeper does the stranger learn this kind of thing is common in their town.

. . . Because, you see, it’s filled with ghosts, and everybody has grown accustomed to spectral encounters.

By definition, a ghost town is a city or town that has been abandoned. Ghost towns are usually envisioned as places where you’ll find barely-there houses, vacant streets and rundown buildings that once served as places of business.

However, there are bustling cities and towns that are literally ghost towns. Haunted cities abound throughout the world, and it seems everywhere you turn in such a city, someone has a good ghost story to share. The only difference between their stories and what you hear around a campfire is that theirs are true.

Why are cities haunted? There are several factors that can cause a whole city or town to burst at the seams with paranormal activity. A town may be haunted because of unique variables. What may seem like a harmless, innocent prank that ends up going wrong can open a Pandora’s Box of ghosts and hauntings. Or, in cases such as the Bell Witch, someone might curse an entire town and thereby incite ghostly occurrences.

Another reason a town or city may be haunted is historical events. Cities such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Appomattox, Virginia, were the sites of battles that took the lives of many brave soldiers. Ghosts from the past still linger in such places, often seen in full uniform, reenacting the roles they played in history. Or the city may have suffered an outbreak of an epidemic disease that killed many of its residents, like the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1878.

A town or city may be haunted because of where it is built. Any city built on an ancient Native American burial ground is a prime candidate for being a haunted city. If it’s built on the site of bloodshed or where tragedy occurred, then it is also possible the whole city or town will be visited by ghosts.

From time to time, a city or town will be labeled haunted more because of urban legends and rumors than for actually having ghostly residents alongside the living ones. Another reason may be the presence of one or two famous haunted sites—the Amityville Horror house, for example. These are not the places you will find in this book. The towns and cities offered here are actual, bona fide ghost towns rife with ghostly encounters and haunted locations, with residents willing to share true ghost stories. Cities where it’s not uncommon to discover the woman standing next to you on the corner is a ghost.

It’s not just the residents of a ghost town who have spooky stories to share, however. Paranormal investigators are the folks who confront haunted cities head-on. They investigate reports and make it their mission to get the facts about just what’s up with these locations. The evidence they collect may prove a true haunting is taking place and add to the city’s credentials as a real ghost town.

One surprising thing about haunted cities is that there are so many of them. As a result, not all have been included in this book. If you don’t find a particular notably haunted city here, rest assured it will likely appear in a future volume. For that reason, the author welcomes contact from paranormal groups and residents of a haunted city or town.

Because paranormal investigators have shared stories in their own words, the occasional bit of jargon or ghost talk is included in their stories. A glossary of terms used by investigators is located in Appendix A. You will also learn more about their tools and equipment in Appendix B.

While it is the author’s wish to share stories straight from the mouths of investigators, this was not possible for every case. On the one hand, in some cases, several different witnesses needed to be interviewed and more research, and information gathered independently for a story. On the other hand, many investigators felt more at ease discussing their cases through interviews, and the information they provided was then compiled by the author. All stories originating directly from investigators are noted as such.

Some of the locations discussed in this book are private property, and exploring them without the express permission of the owners is trespassing. Professionals don’t trespass, and for those who are simply curious, we ask that you consider how you’d feel if strangers suddenly invaded your home without invitation, before you go exploring.

When this book was in the early stages, I was amazed to discover that there were so many stories associated with so many actual ghost towns. It made me wonder: What’s it like to live in a haunted city? What kind of ghostly encounters take place there? How do local residents manage to live peacefully and happily alongside their ghostly neighbors? This book helps uncover the answers to those questions.

Chapter 1
Tombstone, Arizona

Say the city name Tombstone and probably the first thing that comes to the minds of many people is Wyatt Earp and the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This Arizona city, founded in 1879, does indeed have a rich history of outlaw gunslingers fighting lawmen during the days of the Old West, but it is also widely recognized as one of the most haunted cities in America.

Aside from shootouts among the outlaws creating fear and anxiety among residents, there were also mining disasters, fires and lynchings. Violence and murder got to be so bad in Tombstone at one point that then-President Chester Arthur nearly sent the military to restore order to Tombstone.

Because of this violent and tragic history, it’s no surprise that many people today believe that Tombstone is haunted. The ghost of Marshal Fred White, who was accidentally shot by Curly Bill Brocius, a leader of the Cowboys, then later died of his injuries. White has been seen in front of what is today the Birdcage Theatre, where the shooting took place in 1880. The ghost of who many believe to be Virgil Earp has been seen crossing a road—though he never officially makes it to the other side. A ghostly figure who many believe to be the warrior Cochise has been seen playing a flute at the Cochise Stronghold State Park.

Ghosts have also been seen or made themselves known at various restaurants, motels, homes, bars and even Boot Hill Cemetery. Tombstone has been featured as a haunted city in books, TV shows and on various web sites. There is even a Tombstone Ghost Tour that will delight visitors with historical information and real ghost stories.

If you want to visit one of the most haunted towns in America, the city of Tombstone is definitely a ghosty town that will not disappoint.

Back to A Ghost on Every Corner
Faded Reflection

Chapter One

Her hands shook as she turned on the faucet. As the water poured down the drain, a shudder raced through her spine. For a moment, she was thrown back twenty years in time, when blood, her blood, went down a sink drain.

Pushing the memories aside, she cupped her hands under the water then splashed it onto her face. She knew her mascara was probably running now and her lipstick was probably smudged, but she didn’t care. She had to try to forget what she had just seen.

She looked up at her reflection in the mirror, directly into her green eyes. The images from the movie tugged at her, reminding her of how she’d gone through that exact same hell once upon a time.

She gritted her teeth, pushing that aside, too. “Stop freaking out,” she ordered in a hushed whisper. “It’s only a movie. It’s not real.” Sure, it was a movie, but it had been too much. She sighed. She should’ve suggested they see Goodfellas instead.

She threw water onto her face again, the force of her hands against her face reflecting her rage. The bastard was dead and buried. He could not hurt her anymore. He would never hurt her again.

He was gone, but the memories weren’t. The scar he’d left on her soul was still there, creating nightmares and horrific flashbacks.


She swung her head up, ready to scream out of instinct. The person who had called out her name was not her father, it was her best friend.

Laura’s gaze softened as she relaxed against the sink. “Hey, Karen.”

“Are you okay?” Karen asked, searching her face for an answer.

Laura looked back at the water running into the sink, feeling her face flush with embarrassment. When she had agreed to meet with Karen to see a movie on her day off from work, she hadn’t expected to freak out over some scene. The last time something had gotten to her about her past was almost a week ago, and that was only after a patient in the oncology ward had let it slip that her father beat her. She had not reacted to that situation as strongly as she did to something similar today, but maybe seeing the actual violence was what brought it on stronger.

“Fine,” she said, shaking water off of her hands before turning off the faucet. She straightened, pressing her hands against her face as she closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, visualizing a sense of calm running through her. Then she smiled and looked at her friend. “I just freaked out a little bit. That’s all.”

Karen sighed, shifting her weight. She studied her, and the silence almost made Laura feel uncomfortable. Then Karen finally spoke. “I’m sorry, Laura. I didn’t know that was going to be in the movie.”

Laura forced her smile to widen. “Hey, no worries,” she said, walking over to Karen and placing her hand on her shoulder. “I can’t expect you to read all the reviews of movies that just came out before inviting your ultra-fragile friend along to see them.” Laura shook her head at those words. “I’m fine. Really.”

Karen relaxed, almost grinning. But Laura could detect that wariness in her friend’s eyes.

“Okay, cool,” Karen said. “Come on, let’s go eat. I’m starving.”

They’d agreed to have lunch at a Thai restaurant and from that point on, everything seemed normal again. The mood had lightened, and Laura even relaxed as she laughed over a funny work story Karen shared. But after they got into the car and Karen started driving her home, an uncomfortable silence returned. Laura could tell that Karen still worried about her; it was all in the careful glances she’d shot at her every now and then at lunch.

But maybe Karen wouldn’t push the subject. Maybe she would just keep her thoughts to herself.

“Did you ever get counseling?”

Laura bristled at the question, but pulled herself in before responding.

“Counseling for what?” she asked.

“You know what,” Karen answered, “the abuse.”

Laura sighed, keeping her gaze straight ahead. “You know I did.” Now she looked at Karen. “Your parents were the ones who drove me to all those appointments.”

Karen nodded. “Right. That one psychologist was such an asshole.” She shot a glance at Laura. “What was his name again? The one who made fun of you for having nightmares?”

Laura frowned, looking away as the memory hit. “Zann.”

“That’s right, Dr. Zann.” Karen shook her head. “Man, what a creep.”

“And yet he went to Yale.”

Karen giggled. “So did we, but it’s not like we adopted a self-righteous attitude with everyone we work with.”

“Or in our care. I’m the one in nursing and you’re the one in computers. I work with people, you work with machines.” She grinned at Karen. “At least you can tell a computer off.”

Karen smiled at her before redirecting her attention to the road. “It’s good you can work with people. That’s like the number one way to have something happen in your day that could trigger something about the past.”

Laura tilted her head, considering this. “Well, I’ve been doing this for five years. It’s not like I’m not used to it.”

“But you’re still okay? Right?”

Laura remained silent, thinking back to last week. She’d only taken a few moments alone in the bathroom, practicing her deep breathing as she struggled with the memories flooding through her. She’d gotten through that episode well and she made it through today. “I’m fine.”

The conversation drifted for the rest of the ride home. But right after they settled onto the couch in Laura’s apartment, Karen decided to launch into another conversation that Laura really didn’t want to have.

“So, how’s the dating scene?” Karen asked with an expectant look on her face. She’d tried to sound casual, but the swift change in subject was too out-of-the-blue.

Laura laughed, shaking her head. “You’re amazing!”

Karen looked at her, dropping the strands of hair. “What?”

“You just went from talking about how I dealt with my past to asking about my love life—as casually as changing the channel.”

Karen grimaced. “Sorry. I was just curious. Unless you want to go back to talking about how you’re dealing with the past.”

Laura shuddered, shaking her head. “No, thanks.”

“So, apparently, you’re still dealing with it.”

“And in my own way.” She playfully hit Karen with a pillow. “And as to the dating scene, no comment.”

“No one new?”

“Nope, I’m free as a bird!” Laura proclaimed, holding out her hands with a false sense of excitement.

Karen shook her head, a look of disappointment spreading across her face. “You know he’s never coming back.”


Karen leaned closer. “Ron. That’s who.” She sat back on the couch. “The guy you fell madly love with, but who actually never made much of an appearance in your life.”

Laura pushed the comment aside. “I know he’s not coming back. It’s been three years. No email, no letter. Not even so much as a how have you been? on my answering machine.” She looked hard at her friend. “I know that, Karen.”

“But you still love him.”

Laura shrugged. “And he loved me.”

“He loved the idea of you.” Karen sighed, taking her hand. “Look, I know that was harsh. I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see you keep holding out hope that the guy you fell in love with will magically appear on your doorstep.” She squeezed her hand. “Laura, it’s time to move on. It’s been time to move on for quite some time now.” She frowned. “I know you still love him, but he doesn’t love you. And I want you to be with someone who does love you.”

Laura fought back the tears. She didn’t want to cry in front of Karen. She didn’t want today to be a day she’d be crying about her problems all over again.

Ron Halsbrook was supposed to be the guy she’d spend the rest of her life with. That was what she hoped for, anyway. It had been his good looks that attracted her to him at a rally, and the first time they’d made love made her feel like she’d finally found happiness with a man, instead of pain and fear. Laura frowned at the memory. That first time had been the only time. They’d never gone on another date and his messages on her machine dwindled to a big fat zero. Then he’d left New Haven, leaving her with no return address, and she hadn’t heard from him since.

And here she was after all that time, for three years now, still hoping he would make a re-appearance in her life. Three years she could never get back. She’d put her life on hold for nothing.

She came out of her thoughts as she realized Karen was hugging her now. She slowly placed her arms around her friend, becoming suddenly aware of the tears that had spilled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Karen whispered. “That was really mean of me to say. I’m sorry.”

“No,” Laura said, still hugging her. “No, you were right. You were right, Karen. It’s time.”

Jeff Carson leapt up the stairs leading to his floor, ignoring the wind as it beat against his workout clothes, tossing his sandy hair into his green eyes. He smiled at Laura as she came into view to his left.

Her red hair hung in a loose bun at the back of her head, strands of it tangled in the silver earrings dangling from her ears. She fumbled with her keys, leaning on her door as extra support for the overstuffed brown bags of groceries against her chest.

As he strode toward her, the bags slid from her arms to the ground.

“Dammit,” she muttered, letting go of the key to pick them up. She sighed at the sight of what was left of her dozen eggs.

“Having some trouble?” he asked, stepping up to her. He hurriedly bent over in front of her to rescue anything still edible, carefully placing her cottage cheese, skim milk, yogurt, and bag of frozen vegetables into one good bag and hoisted it and another into his arms.

Laura grimaced as she scraped the egg mess onto the torn bag. Jeff moved a strand of her hair to rest behind her right ear.

She looked up at him and smiled. “Thank you.”

The groceries restored to their bags, Laura stood in front of Jeff, fumbling with her key again. He stared at her, watching the little expressions of annoyance and confusion that crept across her face as she fumbled with her keys. Five years as neighbors and he saw her every day, but every time he saw her again was like seeing her in a new light. He was five years older than Laura, but the two of them got along well and they didn’t seem to have any major differences.

Not any personal differences, anyway; the physical ones did stand out. He was taller than her, and his build was more athletic compared to her small frame.

Finally, the lock turned and the door shook as it opened.

Jeff evaluated the doorframe as she went inside. “Better get that looked at. It’s not safe to have a bad front door.”

He entered the apartment and walked to the kitchen, where Laura busied herself with putting away her groceries.

“How long has it been like that?” he asked, setting the two bags he carried onto the white marble countertop.

Laura shrugged as she put her bran cereal into a cupboard. “A couple of days.” She closed the cupboard and went to the other bag, removing a head of lettuce, bag of carrots, and a plastic bag containing two peaches. “I was going to ask Simon to look at it for me.”

Jeff grimaced as he removed two cans of tomato soup from a bag. “Simon may seem like the new manager who could, but trust me, he couldn’t fix a door to save his life. I’ve had the misfortune of seeing his handiwork. You know, I could fix it for you sometime.”

“No, Jeff. It’s okay.” She reached into a cabinet beneath her sink to set two cans of furniture polish inside, turning her head to smile back at him. “Thanks, anyway.”

“Sure,” Jeff grinned.

“Hey, Jeff.”

He looked across the kitchen to see her wiping an area of her countertop with a washcloth. Had there even been a speck of dirt on there?

“Bring me those eggs?”

“No prob,” he said, hurrying to the egg mess outside the door.

“Um, Jeff, maybe take some cleaner with you?” Laura called after him, holding up a bottle of disinfectant.

But Jeff was already out the door and scooping up the mess with his hands.

Laura breathed heavily, gripping the armrest of the passenger side door of the car she rode in. A stream of lights from cars flew past the windshield and to her right.

“Everything’s gonna be perfect now, Laura,” the voice said. “You’ll see. Just stick with me.” A dry chuckle followed. “Everything will be fine.”

She closed her eyes as she braced herself against the seat, steadying her breathing. “Yes, Ron,” she whispered. “I know it will.”

“And you will always be mine.” The voice grew colder now, menacing as she felt an icy hand on her arm. “You will always be mine.”

She slowly opened her eyes, looking down at the hand on her left arm. Her heart froze as she saw the arm covered with rotten skin, maggots burrowing inside as white bone peeked from a small area of the wrist.

She slowly turned her head to the left, the sheets of light seeming to sweep past her as the car continued to speed along the highway, faster and faster.

A rotting corpse sat in the driver’s seat, one hand clenching the steering wheel as the face gazed only at her. The flesh was severely decomposed, the eyeballs missing and the head completely hairless. A series of worms slithered along the upper chest and a ball of smoke exited the back of the skull.

“Always mine!” it cried in a shrill voice. “Always mine! Always mine!”
Laura awoke, screaming.
Back to Faded Reflection
Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited


Writing and parenting are probably two of the biggest challenges to manage in a writing parent’s life. You want to have time to write, but you also want to spend time with your kids. You want to get out there to promote your work, but you also want to make sure your young children are being cared for while you’re out.

Many writers who are parents can tell you just how hard it can be to accomplish those things, as well as a host of other responsibilities attached to their writing careers. But out of these stories will emerge the hard-learned lessons that helped them make it all work. Each of these professional writers have figured out just how to manage being a writer while also meeting their responsibilities as parents, and they’re here to tell you that, yes, it CAN be done! Many of these writers have been at it for years and understand the importance of both jobs.

If you are a writer who is also a parent and you are struggling with how to find time to write, this book will share ideas on how to make that happen. You’ll also get a chance to read about these parents’ ups and downs, both as parents and as writers. The interviews in this book will introduce you to 27 writing parents from around the world who have “been there, done that” and are ready to guide you on your quest to be a successful writing parent. The essays included are from the former newsletter, BTMO Book Zine, and will share with you my own experiences in trying to make this writing parent thing work. I have done it, they have done, and you can do it, too.

Dawn Colclasure
Eugene, OR
October 2014
Back to Burning the Midnight Oil, Revisited
Fabulously Frugal

Part One:

Manage Your Money
Chapter One Take Stock of Your Financial Situation and Get Out of Money Trouble!

You want to live a frugal life and build wealth. But before you can do anything with your money or change your financial situation, the first thing you should do instead is take stock of where you stand financially. Are you secure as far as insurance goes? Do you have bad credit? What’s your worth? By answering these questions and sorting through your finances, you’ll have a better handle on your money and resolve any unfinished business. This process will also allow you to be prepared for financial crises such as your final arrangements and legal situations.

Taking stock of your financial situation is not as daunting as it may sound. You may feel that this task is too time-consuming or overwhelming, but if you manage this process correctly and allow yourself extra time to do it, the emotional relief will lift a burden from your shoulders. You won’t have to worry about your financial situation anymore because now you’ll have a better idea of where you stand. Take the time to work on the suggested areas of your financial situation included below in order to feel a greater sense of financial security. If you still feel it is too big of a job for you to handle on your own, ask a spouse or financial adviser to help out.

Steps to Taking Stock of Your Financial Situation

There are certain areas you will need to cover as you take stock of your financial situation. These areas will help you determine your net worth and figure out what sort of financial problems you’ll need to deal with now. As you work through these areas, write everything down, so it will be easier to figure out your situation at the end.

These are the seven items you’ll need to evaluate to determine your current financial situation.

Your Credit Score

What is your credit score? This score number, also referred to as your FICO score, will determine your creditworthiness. This score helps you to secure loans, buy property or obtain insurance. More on determining your credit score in Chapter 2.

Your Assets

Your assets are anything you own. These things have value in the case of bankruptcy or financial liquidation.

What do you own? Take some time to think about this and write it all down. Do you own your car or is it worth more than the remaining loan? Do you own or have equity in your house? Do you have a checking account as well as a savings account? You will need to include some other things in determining your assets. For example, if you have a CD or investment accounts like a mutual fund, this counts towards your assets. Be sure to make a list and include their current market value.

Your Liabilities

Your liabilities are amounts you owe. Some examples of liabilities include a mortgage, car loan, credit card debt and repayment on lines of credit. If you have other bills to pay, such as medical or student loans, include these and their amounts as well.

Your Expenses

How much money do you spend in an average year? You may need to go through old bank statements or credit card receipts to get this amount. Figuring out your annual expenditures will help you understand where your money is going and how to manage it better. You should start keeping track of all your expenses now. You’ll find out one way to do this in Chapter 3.

Your Insurance

Do you have insurance? If not, take care of that now. Medical expenses can be astronomically high nowadays—they even charge patients to ride in an ambulance. Having health insurance can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in medical bills. Look into what kind of insurance plan you qualify for. Talk with your doctor or ask friends what insurance plans are out there and how you can find one that is right for you. By ensuring you have insurance, you can feel confident that you won’t run into financial problems should a medical situation come up. Also, don’t forget other forms of insurance you need to stay financially secure, such as car, renter, housing, business.

Your Legal Documents

Have you drawn up a will? Have you selected a beneficiary? Who will have power of attorney in the event you become bedridden or can’t communicate? These are all items you should include when taking stock of your financial situation. You should make sure everything is legal, current and notarized. Additionally, keep all your legal documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, safely in one place. Having all of this together will help you avoid delays as well as costly legal problems later.

Your Net Worth

Your net worth is basically how much you are worth financially. In order to assess your net worth, compare the total of your liabilities to the total of your assets. If the amount of your assets is higher, then you have a positive net worth. If the liabilities are higher, you have a negative net worth. Don’t be alarmed if your net worth is negative. This is the case for a lot of people. Be happy that you know you have a negative net worth, because now you know it needs to be taken care of.

Get out of Money Trouble!

Now that you have taken the time to evaluate your financial situation, you have a better idea of what needs to be taken care of and where to go with your money. You’ll also be prepared for financial emergencies and start living frugally in order to have more control over your finances.

You may have realized there are certain financial messes that need to be cleaned up—and fast. You may need to pay off debt or clean up your credit report. No matter how dire the situation may seem, you now know what needs to be resolved and taken care of to enjoy a better money situation. If you have money trouble, now is the time to take action and fix it.

Are you ready to get out of money trouble? The first three chapters in this book can walk you through the process of fixing your credit and paying off debt. By taking steps to resolve those issues, you’ll move towards a positive net worth and be on your way to living frugally.

Back to Fabulously Frugal

Chapter 1

Maureen Boyd smiled. She kept smiling even as she saw the dirt, even as the dust filtered into her face from inside the house. Cobwebs decorated the corners of the room and so much dirt and grime covered the framed art piece over the fireplace, she couldn’t imagine what masterpiece it had once been. Then there was the gigantic hole in the wall that she was staring through as she stood atop crates against the side of the house. Maybe it was all a disaster, but that’s not what she saw. She saw new paint, new carpets, patched walls and clean windows.

“It’s perfect,” she said, already going over the changes she planned to make in her mind. Gone would be the old pictures and paintings, and most of the living room furniture, now draped with dirty dust covers. In their place would be family photos, candles, a nice area rug on the hardwood floor, and her own brand-new living room furniture.

She climbed down from the crates, her eyes fixed on the hole in the wall where she’d torn the old, ragged cloth away. She put her hands on her hips and took a deep breath, relishing the Northwestern air filling her lungs.

Maureen’s gaze fell on her husband Dustin, whose stance imitated her own. He wasn’t content, though, as his sour look showed.

“Perfect?” he asked. He shook his head. “It’s a mess, that’s what it is.”

Maureen shrugged. “We can fix it.”

Dustin shook his head, turning to walk away. Maureen’s oldest son, 21-year-old Clint, came around the side of the house, holding papers in his hand.

“Thanks a lot for doing this, Mom,” he said, smiling at her. “You’re really helping us out.”

She rested her hand on his shoulder. “I’m just glad it’s closer to you and your family. Portland is nice, but home is where all of my children are.”

He grinned, looking down at the papers. He showed them to her and handed her a pen. “You guys can sign the deed and I’ll take care of everything else. It’ll take a few months to get it into shape, but my company’s already on the job, so you don’t have to worry about looking for help.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Dustin said, appearing from behind Clint to take the pen and sign the papers. Maureen watched Clint scowl at Dustin’s back as he held the papers against the side of the house and signed them.

“I need to sign them, too,” she reminded her husband, wondering if he even heard her. It was so typical of Dustin to try to take control over everything. He might have done all the work in making sure they got the house, but Maureen was still the wife and should have her name on the deed, as well.

“Right,” Dustin scoffed. He moved away and held the papers up and gave Maureen the pen. After she signed her name, he took the papers and stormed off.

She smiled at Clint. He might have acted sour with his stepfather around, but she was glad he was here. The last time she’d seen him, he and his girlfriend had had lunch with them to discuss the move from Portland. Maureen was glad to live closer to him now, and glad she’d have a chance to see his girlfriend more often too. She adored Janie and hoped to call her a daughter-in-law someday. “How’s Janie?”

Clint shrugged, looking at her. “Same. She just got a job working at a hair salon, so that’ll be a help.”

“That’s good, tell her I said congratulations,” Maureen said.

“Here.” Dustin appeared and handed him the signed papers. “Thanks for everything. I’ll stop by on my lunch break tomorrow and check on the progress.”

Clint stared at him for a minute. “Okay, fine.”

Dustin turned to Maureen. “Let’s get going, okay, honey? Gotta beat the traffic.”

“I was hoping I could visit with Clint some more,” Maureen said.

“I can bring her over to your mother’s house, Dustin,” Clint suggested to him.

Dustin turned around to look at him. “Thanks, but she’s got some things to do.” He turned back around to smile at Maureen and hold her shoulder. “Got to get the kids their dinner and showers.”

Maureen stared at him and saw that usual look of dominance in her husband’s eyes. She also knew that tone of voice he’d used with her just now. Keeping him around Clint any longer was asking for trouble.

“Well, I... I guess I’ll visit with Clint later,” she said.

She smiled at him. “Bye, sweetie,” she said, kissing his cheek as she walked past him.

“See you later,” she heard Dustin say to him, then listened as he followed behind.

She climbed into the car and put on her seatbelt. She looked over to where Clint stood next to the house, watching them leave. She smiled at him and waved goodbye.

He returned the wave, but didn’t smile back. He was frowning.

Eight-year-old Ann took one look at the bathtub in her grandmother’s bathroom and flinched, clutching Maureen’s leg. “No bath!” she cried, whimpering.

Maureen sighed. They’d just arrived at Dustin’s mother’s house the day before and now her stepdaughter was throwing a fit about taking a bath. When they had lived in Portland, Ann had never protested taking a shower. But now she was going to take issue with getting cleaned? She knelt over to caress Ann’s back. “Sweetie, don’t worry, I know you don’t like baths,” she said. “It’s okay. It has a shower head in it. See?”

She pointed up at the shower head.

Ann tilted her head up to see the shower head, then looked again at the bathtub. She started crying, shaking her head.

Maureen turned. “Dustin!”

She looked behind her and saw Ann’s twin sister, April, frowning at them from a bedroom doorway.

“What’s up?” Dustin asked. Maureen turned to see him reach the top floor and walk over to them.

“She doesn’t want to take a shower,” Maureen said, pointing at the bathtub. “Because of the bathtub.”

Dustin looked in the bathroom, then tenderly knelt next to his shaking daughter.

“Honey, don’t be afraid,” he gently whispered, running his hand through her blonde hair and looking into her eyes. “It’s not a bath bathtub. It’s a shower bathtub. Remember when you took showers at our apartment? This is a shower, too, but it has a bathtub with it.”

“No, Daddy,” Ann cried, still clutching Maureen’s leg. She shook her head, tears on her cheeks. “No bath.”

“We won’t give you a bath, I promise,” Dustin assured her. “Just a shower. And April will be with you. She’ll keep you safe.”

Ann turned her head to look at the bathtub, then shuddered. She swallowed more tears as she turned to her father again and shook her head.

Dustin sighed, standing up.

“What are we going to do?” Maureen asked. “This is the only bathroom.”

He shook his head. “We’ll have to give her a sponge ba—I mean, uh. Wash her off.”

“Why is she so terrified of taking a bath?”

Dustin was silent a long time, staring at his little girl clutching at Maureen’s leg and crying as she looked at the bathtub. He sighed, shook his head, then turned to walk away.

Back to Imprint

Remembering Sunny

Chapter 1

I remember what it was like growing up with my cousin Mara. She and her mom and dad, my aunt and uncle, lived right next door to my mom and dad. So of course we were outside playing every day. Or, if the weather was bad, like it was a lot of times in that part of Illinois, we’d play inside or watch TV. There were many times we took turns spending the night at each other’s house or camping in the backyard of one of the houses.

My cousin and I were so close. It was almost like we were sisters. We were next door neighbors since we were toddlers so of course we ended up going to the same schools and getting the same kinds of jobs.

We were so close that it seemed like we could only hang out with each other and not get along with the other kids in the neighborhood very well. I remember the time Mara wanted to play with me on a day I was grounded and my parents wouldn’t let me go outside to play. Despondent, she wandered off and tried to play with a couple of kids across the street, who were on the front lawn tossing around a football. We knew these kids because we saw them all the time. Their names were Tony and Brian and they were about 10 and 12 years old. They always played together in Tony’s front yard. Mara and I never really hung out with them—like I said, we just hung out with each other—but now she wanted somebody else to play with and I guess she thought Tony and Brian would allow her to join them. I watched the whole thing go down at the big living room window.

“Go away!” Tony yelled at her, after she had asked if she could play with them. “You’re a girl.”

“Yeah! Girls don’t play football!” Brian hollered at her in agreement. I guess because he wanted to take after his older brother, he always agreed with Tony.

I remember how I had smiled as I heard those words. This was the time that Mara and I were going through a tomboy phase. We always wore jeans or jean shorts, much to our parents’ chagrin. They’d always somehow managed to get us into a dress for Sunday services, but the minute we got home, we tore off our dresses and put on jeans and a T-shirt. If only those boys knew that Mara already knew how to throw a football just as good as they could. Her dad taught us how. We could also wrestle, climb trees, go fishing and catch frogs in the pond. We did all the same things that the boys did and it was just as fun because we did these things together.

“I may be a girl, but I can play football, too!” Mara insisted, her blonde pigtails shaking as she hollered back at them. She positioned her fists onto her hips. “Let me play, too!”

The boys were quiet for a minute as they looked at each other then they got a funny look on their faces.

“All right, fine,” Tony said. “If you think you can play with us, then come and play with us.”

So she did and at first everything was fine. But then the boys kept tackling Mara to the ground and knocking her over a little too rough. She started to cry out at first but they didn’t seem to care. Then things got really rough, with Tony “accidentally” elbowing her in the ribs or Brian shoving her aside.

That’s when Mara got really mad and she started punching them in the face. Tony got it first then, when Brian tried to pull Mara off of him, she turned and socked him in the eye too.

“Ow!” Brian cried, reaching for his eye and crying.

I turned away from the window. “Mom! Mara is in a fight!” I called.

“What!” my mother exclaimed, coming over to the window. She and I both got a good view of Mara showing those boys something else this girl could do: Fight for all that she was worth. She swung her fist to hit Brian’s jaw before he could grab hold of her then she swung around to head-butt Tony away from her.

“Oh, no!” my mother cried, turning to run to the door. I ran right with her and followed as we rushed across the street to get Mara to let go of a headlock she had Tony in. Tony’s mother now came running out to help us break up the fight. Finally, they each pulled the two kids away from each other and I watched as my mother picked up the protesting Mara to carry her home. Mara turned to see me standing there watching her and she grinned. She raised her fist up in the air in triumph. This was our way of saying, “We’re fighters!”

Smiling, I did the same thing.

After that day, none of the other kids wanted to play with Mara—or with me, either, and that was probably because we were related and everybody thought that one bad apple spoiled the whole crop. It didn’t bother us, though. We had our own fun together and that was enough.

Mara and I did everything together as kids and then as teenagers, too. I remember the time she was scared with stage fright during a play but I started to act silly and she burst out laughing. Our drama teacher wasn’t happy but at least Mara was able to keep acting in the play. We took as many classes together as we could in high school and we often had crushes on the same boy. We even wore the same dresses to our proms. Fortunately, by then, we had our own dates and didn’t care for the other’s crush. And by then, we outgrew wearing jeans all the time.

By the time we graduated from high school, standing right next to each other in the group even though we had different last names with different first letters, we had already figured out what we wanted to do in life: Attend the same veterinary school, become veterinarians, and open a shelter to rescue animals. Mara and I both loved animals and often had many pets as kids, so by that time, we figured we’d do this huge thing together in which we both got to indulge in that passion.

Then Mara met Drake Preston and that’s where everything changed. That was also when I knew that something was wrong. I just had this feeling. Maybe it was because he was six years older than my cousin or that he seemed to be the kind of guy that had a chip on his shoulder. I just got this bad feeling about him, like he was trouble.

But Mara was in love. Young love, I guess. Eighteen and just out of high school. He’d pulled up in his big black car at the restaurant we waitressed at and since the moment he had stepped in, he caught her eye. Maybe it was his boyish good looks, his black hair greased back and the dimples on his cheeks as he smiled at her. He was dressed in a leather jacket, blue jeans and boots. I guess Mara was into that sorta thing. There was just something about him that she liked.

I tried to get Mara to forget about him but she was hooked. There was nothing to keep them apart. So I just put up with it. The both of us were planning to go to college together, anyway, and I figured that after we left town, they’d break up, like most people do. But that isn’t exactly the way it happened…

Back to Remembering Sunny