Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Haint in the House

posted by Nancy

Today's guest is a debut author and one of my buddies from Georgia Romance Writers, a past president who has sometimes been mistaken for my twin (and vice-versa). This only happens at National, not in Atlanta, where we're both known much better, so be warned if you think you see either of us in Orlando.

Although Maureen Hardegree concedes to having all the usual baggage of a middle child, she is NOT a ghost handler. She does, however, believe in connecting with her inner teenager and in feeding her active imagination—it likes Italian food and chocolate. When she’s not writing, she’s working on costumes for the Northeast Atlanta Ballet . . . or doing the bidding of her husband, daughter, and cats Pixie and Turnip Ann. Welcome, Maureen!

We love call stories in the Lair. Will you share yours?

My offer took place via e-mail! I’ve been published with BelleBooks since 2005 in their Southern Stories Collections and Mossy Creek Hometown Series, but hadn’t yet made the leap to a sale in novel-length fiction. When Bellebooks expanded to the Bell Bridge Books imprint, I noted that they were looking for YA. I believed Haint Misbehavin’, which won the Children’s/YA category of the Sandy Writing Contest as A Ghoul Just Wants to Have Fun in 2007, would be a good fit for their YA line. I changed the title because I wanted something that reflected the story better, and I knew Deb Smith liked a good pun. Besides my ghost is truly a haint (Southern for ghost), not a ghoul. I also revised it extensively, cutting it down and giving the sister relationships more subplot thanks to some suggestions from contest judges and editors.

I also felt comfortable querying editor Deb Smith about my middle grade YA in the fall of 2008 because we’d worked well together in the past. She liked the partial enough to pass it onto Deb Dixon, who asked for the full in January of 2009. I saw Deb Dixon at a Georgia Romance Writers meeting in the spring of 2009, and she told me my manuscript was toward the top of her YA to-be-read pile.

In the meantime, I’d started a different book, which I’d hoped to sell to Harlequin American. In June of 2009, I had an e-mail from Deb Smith in my inbox about Haint Misbehavin’. My heart pounded as I opened it, expecting a rejection. Having almost sold several times to other publishers with several other books, I keep my expectations low. ☺ I think my daughter can attest to the squeal of joy that forced her from her bed that morning. It was similar to a recent squeal I let out when Deb let me know also via e-mail that Bonnie Bell’s Lipsmacker Lounge was going to offer a review of Haint.

Tell us about Heather, your heroine, and her friends.

Heather, who will be a high school freshman in the fall, wants nothing more than to be perceived as normal. Since pre-school, she’s been plagued with the nickname Princess and the Pea because she’s hypersensitive and often breaks out in hives. Actually, she has two additional goals for the summer: one is to have her popular older sister like her and the other is to gain the positive attention of the hottest lifeguard on the planet—Drew Blanton. She gets along with her younger sister Claire, who’s a bit of a ditz. Her older sister Audrey finds Heather an embarrassment and doesn’t stop her popular friends from making Heather their favorite object of ridicule. Heather’s best friend is Tina Wilson, who can’t keep a secret and is a boy magnet. Tina’s popularity hasn’t rubbed off on Heather, unfortunately. During the course of this story, Heather reluctantly befriends geeky altar boy Xavier Monroe.

How does life change when you can interact with ghosts?

For Heather it means constantly having to hide her ability so that no one else knows. When ghosts are around, she’s on edge. She doesn’t want her weirdo status to expand exponentially. It means seeing or feeling entities as she goes about her regular life, which can make shopping at the mall or sunning at the neighborhood pool complicated. It also means having to put someone else’s needs before her own.

What's keeping Heather and Drew apart?

At the beginning of the book, Drew doesn’t even know who Heather is. As the story develops, what keeps them apart is her reluctance to stand up for herself and that he sees her as the funny girl sidekick, not as girlfriend material. During the course of the series, I’ve set up a love triangle. Will Heather ultimately get together with Drew or with geeky altar boy Xavier?

Here's a video peek:

Wow, how cool! Would you like to share an excerpt?

Sure! Here’s a sample:

“We’re playing. Now.” Amy sounded as miffed as Audrey does when someone leaves two Pringles at the bottom of the canister. I swear I don’t do it on purpose . . . most of the time.

The little girl balled up her fists like she wanted to hit me, and then, I swear to God, she levitated off the ground. My heart drummed in my chest.

There had to be a logical explanation for it. I must be having a sunstroke for real. I felt my forehead. My skin was sweaty, but normal, except for that tingle I feel just before I erupt in hives. I backed up to gain a little perspective. Amy followed. I don’t think heatstroke manifestations can do that.

That left me with three options. I was insane, I was still in bed sleeping, or this Amy girl was playing some kind of cruel trick on me.

She looked real; she wasn’t all filmy, so she had to be real, right?

I steeled myself and focused on her arm. Slowly, I extended my pointing finger. My skin cooled, then crawled as my fingertip touched her sleeve, which suddenly lost its substance, yet remained three-dimensional. I poked right through her like she was some hologram, but no hologram was dimensional.

Oh, my, God. I was crazy. My pulse sped so fast I could barely hear anything else. I stumbled back away from her, dropping the jar of dead beetles.

If I wasn’t insane? Then this kid who could levitate and turn translucent was magic, or she was dead.

My legs no longer worked. I was stuck, planted just like the vines that surrounded me. I tried to swallow, tried to remember how to breathe. “What are you?” I managed to croak.

“I done told you, I’m Amy.”

She levitated higher—as if I needed any more convincing of her ghostly nature at this point. Her little ankle boots rose nearly a foot off the ground. She came eye to eye with me, only her brown eyes didn’t reflect back my image.

The elastic in the waistband of my underpants started to itch, and then I felt the two metal hooks in my bra and the elastic in the bra band rub against my skin along my rib cage, like it always did when I was nervous. I started scratching the top of my head, then at the bumps rising on my neck.

The temperature of the air around me turned frosty. I rubbed my itchy arms against the chill. “I’m not sure what you are, Amy. I’m not even sure that I’m awake. For all I know, I could still be in bed, and you’re some bad dream. But just in case I’m wrong, could you please go away?”


I prayed that if she was truly a ghost that she wasn’t like Geneva’s, who according to my aunt, was bent on sticking around. “Why not?”

She shrugged. “I wanna play Hide and Go Seek.”

Okay, this had to be a dream. Ghosts in movies don’t play cheesy kids’ games. They wanted to go toward the light or something like that.

“If you don’t play with me, Heather, you’ll be right sor-ry,” she sang.

That’s when one of the galvanized wires training the grape vine closest to me pinged and dropped its burden like someone had snapped it with cutters. The whole vine arm with its spurs and large leaves slumped, nearly touching the ground. It was rust, not Amy, because Amy didn’t exist, because I was in bed having a nightmare, because fate wouldn’t be so cruel as to stick me with a whiny kid ghost after years of trying to live down a nickname from preschool that wouldn’t die.

What do you do when you're not writing?

Well, I can assure you I’m not cleaning my house unless I’m stuck on a plot point or company’s coming. ☺ I spend a lot of time at my daughter’s ballet studio as a costume committee chair. While she’s in dance class every day after school for a couple hours and most Saturdays, I’m often in the company sewing room altering costumes for the next production or fitting dancers. The pre-professional Northeast Atlanta Ballet performs an average of three full productions each season, and the company owns their costumes and most set pieces. Last year we did four productions, but that’s highly unusual. During productions, we perform up to six shows in a weekend plus two school shows for students from title one schools.

I’m there at the performing arts center working in the Green Room, fixing costume issues, helping dancers into and out of tutus, making certain all costumes and their headpieces and other accoutrements are accounted for at the end of each show. Who knew learning to sew in high school would lead to this? It’s a big commitment, but I’m happy to make it for my daughter. Plus, I’m around the audience I hope books like Haint Misbehavin’ might appeal to. I hear how the girls talk to one another. I learn what music they like, what their biggest conflicts are. I’m immersed in YA culture with a bunhead slant, you could say.

What's next for you?

I’m working on Book Two in the Ghost Handler series Hainted Love, which takes place during the family vacation to Jekyll Island, Georgia. I have another short story “Sister Knows Best” included in Book Eight of the Mossy Creek Hometown series Homecoming in Mossy Creek that’s coming out in the fall. I’ve been working on a novella and have also been revising another novel that I’d like to send out soon.

As to ballet, this dance season includes The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Little Mermaid with pieces from Anchors Away and Paquita. So I’ll probably look at some of those costumes over the summer to see what repairs can be made prior to fittings. The ballet season follows the school calendar, which means I have a lot more time during the summer to get projects finished.

Maureen is giving a book to one commenter today, so tell us: What's your favorite ghost story? If you could talk to ghosts, would that be a boon? If so, what would you ask?


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, way to go on the chook! He knows lots of Aussie slang now. He'll fit right in.

Maureen, I love that you're so involved with the ballet. I LOVE ballet. Were you a fan before you got involved with the company? Do you get a lot of professional ballet in Atlanta? I'm away from a major capital city at the moment so miss going to the ballet. Most recent I went to see was La Bayadere with the Paris Opera Ballet and that was mind blowing!

Love the sound of the book! I must confess I had no idea what a haint was - but I know now. Congratulations!

We've got Deb Dixon coming out to our conference here in Oz in August. Can't wait to meet her and do the GMC workshop.

Anonymous said...
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Christine Wells said...

Hi Maureen, welcome to the lair! Nancy, thanks for bringing Maureen to chat with us.

I love "YA with a bunheaded slant". Always a great thing when you can call your chores/mom duties part of your research, isn't it? I admire anyone who can sew because I have trouble sewing on a button. I thought it was very feminist of me to refuse to learn when I was a teenager, but I regret it now! Although I do have boys so no least, I don't think so!

Loved the excerpt! There's so much YA out there that sounds fresh and new. Need to get my hands on some of it. Hope to see you with your 'twin' at National this year!

Virginia said...

Welcome to the lair Maureen! I really enjoyed your excerpt the book sound fabulous. I love to watch ballet it is so graceful. I will let you do all the alterations though because I do not like to have to alter anything. Give me a new piece of fabric and I will work with that but not altering. I even hate hemming a pair of pants but usually have to because I am so short. I will even piece a quilt but please no altering. Favorite ghost book would have to be Spirited Away by Cindy Miles. I would love to read your book because i really enjoy the YA books.

Helen, congrats on the rooster, what are you two doing today?

Helen said...

Well I am back I posted that first one read the blog and was just about to write my post when the phone rang so the GR and I ended up down a Barbara's for a cuppa LOL then I had to get dinner so here I am.

This story sounds good I must say I haven't read any ghost stories but one of my favourite movies is The Ghost and Mrs Muir. I am not sure whether being able to talk to ghosts would be a boon or not but if I could I probably would ask about family that have moved to the other side.
Thanks Nancy for inviting Maureen today

Have Fun

Gillian Layne said...

Maureen, I love your cover! I'm a big coward, so I'd just as soon avoid ghosts, but your story sounds like fun.

I've heard about "ghost" stories around this area for a long time. Here's a link to a pretty famous hotel a couple of hours away; they give ghost tours and everything.

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, I adore the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. And isn't Rex just gorgeous in that? I wouldn't mind him haunting/hainting moi!!!!! I always cry at the ending - it's so beautiful.

barb said...

Hi Maureen
Loved the excerpt.. sounds really good... don't have any tales about ghosts though I know about dance costumes as my son and his wife have an online dance costume shop and sell to dance studios. I often get asked to help sew something when visit them.

yes I had Helen and GR for a cuppa and GR behaved himself

Mo H said...

I liked ballet, but didn't go to any live performances prior to my daughter getting into it. I remember watching Gesley Kirkland and Mikail Barishnikov (apologies for misspelling!)in the Nutcracker on TV and being mesmerized. When my daughter started as an apprentice I purchased Ballet for Dummies, so I could get up to speed.
We do have a lot of ballet here. Atlanta Ballet is a professional company in town. I took my daughter to see them do Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a spectacular show.

Glad I could add something to your vocabulary, Anna. There's even a paint color in the South, called Haint Blue. Supposedly, if you put it on your doors and shutters, it'll keep the haints away from your house!

Mo H said...

My co-chair on the costume committee and I have taken moms with button-sewing skills and taught them how to use a machine. I swear the new machines are a breeze. And if your sons want to dance, the ballet world would appreciate them so much. We have one young man in our company currently. I guess the stigma gets to the boys. But I have to say if they dance, they get their choice of pretty and toned girls--like the beer commercial. :)

Thanks for having me!

Yes, my twin Nancy will be a national, I think. I will be helping my sister with her newborn and toddler.

Mo H said...

Congrats on the rooster, Helen!

Mo H said...

Glad you liked the little sample. If you want to read more, we have the entire Chapter One and part of Chapter Two on All you have to do is type Haint Misbehavin' in the search box.

As to your hatred of sewing, have you tried Wonder Web for your hemming needs? It's a tape you position, then iron. Requires no sewing whatsoever. And there's also fabric glue!

Mo H said...

I love The Ghost and Mrs. Muir! When I was a little girl, there was a TV show based on the movie, which I assume was based on a book. I also liked Casper the friendly ghost. Anyone remember that?

Me, too, on the asking about family on the other side!

Gillian Layne said...

Oh my gosh, Maureen, you're MO, from Wet Noodle Posse! (bouncing in my chair) You wrote On Grandma's Porch!

This is why I should never read blogs before six in the morning. I don't process well. I'm so glad to see you again!

Mo H said...

Hi! The idea of staying in a haunted hotel scares me. Odd that I write about ghosts. Maybe I'm trying to make them less scary.

Mo H said...

That's pretty nice of you to help your son with all the tulle, lycra, and sequins.

Glad you enjoyed your cuppa with Helen and GR. Exactly what is cuppa? Coffee?

Mo H said...

It's so good to cyber chat with you again! Gillian was one of our regulars at the Wet Noodle Posse.

Deb said...

Hi, Maureen. When I was in college and taking Children's Lit., we had a list of required books to read. One was The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright and the other was Wait 'Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. Here's the scene: alone in my dorm room, 11:00 on a Friday night, no one around, the phone rings. (A friend, wanting to know if I wanted to go get a burger.) Good way to creep yourself out! I've since read the books again and laugh about having the bejeebers scared out of me.

Nancy said...

Helen, have fun with the rooster!

Nancy said...

Hi, Anna--Deb Dixon's workshop is fabulous. I think you'll love it!

A friend once took me to the ballet at New York's Lincoln Center for my birthday. It was toward the end of Baryshnikov's career, and he danced a comic role as the devil in one of the ballets. I was so pleased.

When I was studying in England, some people in our group took the train into London to see Nureyev--who sprained his ankle ten minutes into the performance and had to give way to his understudy. They never did get back to see him do the whole show.

Nancy said...

Christine, I used to sew a lot. In high school I made some of my clothes, but I haven't done anything like that in years. Suit jackets are a bit beyond my skill level. I did once make a Halloween costume for the boy, but now that he's past all that, I don't have any reason to haul out the machine. I've seen pictures of Maureen's costumes, though, and they're gorgeous.

Nancy said...

Virginia, I sympathize with the hemming. I usually have the opposite problem, especially if I go to a consignment shop. Jacket sleeves often have been shortened for more petite women and don't hit my arm in the right place. I used to have that trouble with slacks, too, but now that the style is to cut them long so people can wear them over high heels, which I don't generally wear, things work out better for me.

Do you do much sewing?

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen--The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was a TV series here for a while, back in the 1960s, I think, starring Hope Lange and Edward Mulhair, maybe. It was inspired by a movie.

Don't let the GR run you ragged. He has been in kind of a mood lately, according to Sven.

Mo H said...

Loved your scary story! I had the beejeebers scared out of me recently. Maybe a month ago when the nights were cool enough to keep the windows open. I woke up because I thought I heard a woman screaming repeatedly. My daughter, who is 15, also heard it and ended up sleeping with my husband and I. He went outside with a flashlight and his trusty pocketknife, checked to make sure our neighbors houses weren't broken into, searched the backyard and the property line that meets the woods. He found nothing. We figured it had to be an animal because the screaming would stop and start. The sound was different than cats mating. I google the sound and worry that we have a panther, which haven't been in this part of georgia for at least a hundred years. Then one morning as the sun's coming up, I hear it again. I see something in the backyard. It was a red fox!

Nancy said...

Gillian, I once took a ghost tour in New Orleans. I was kind of nervous about it because I have a low creepiness threshold, but it was an RWA group that ended up being around 40 people, and we were so giggly and chatty that it defused the creepiness effectively.

Nancy said...

Barb, how cool about the online dance studio! And the sewing. A friend made me a beautiful evening gown for RWA in Atlanta, but my own sewing skills have pretty much atrophied.

Nancy said...

Maureen, you learn something every day! I've lived in the South all my life and did not know there was a color called Haint Blue. Interesting!

Mo H said...

Good morning, Nancy!

I'm so jealous that you not only can spell Baryshnikov correctly, you got to see him dance live. :)

Nancy said...

Deb, I laughed at your story. A YA novel creeped me out like that, too. It was Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising. I started it sitting in the loo (hope that's not TMI) one night, and all the house lights were off except in there and in the bedroom, and I read the last line of the first chapter, and a chill literally ran down my back.

I looked at the dark house, looked at the book, and summoned the dh to walk me to bed. Which he thought was funny but did anyway.

It's cool that you took Children's Lit. That's what he teaches, though I don't think he's taught those particular books.

Deb said...

Maureen, did you know rabbits scream when they are caught by a predator? Could it have been that? Bobcats also sound like a woman screaming.

Deb said...

Nancy, I knew your husband taught at the college level, but didn't know it was Children's Lit. I took mine in 1984 and have taken a couple of updates since. I met YA author Carol Gorman in one class; she was renewing her teaching certificate!

Nancy said...

Maureen, that's a great story about the fox! When I was in college and was home for the weekend, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of breaking glass. My parents always left a light on in the kitchen, so I wandered in there to see if something had shifted in the drain rack. Nothing.

While I was in there, my mom called out to me and asked if I'd heard something. She'd heard it, too. Together, we went through the house--not that big a chore since it was a 1950s ranch--and found nothing.

Concerned that someone had broken into the basement, which had big windows, she called the police, who came and looked around the outside and found nothing. My dad slept through all this, by the way, which was unusual.

We looked around outside the next morning--nothing. We never did find out what made that sound.

Nancy said...

Deb, how cool that you met an author in class!

Nancy said...

Maureen, I admit I googled the spelling. :-)

I was delighted to get the chance to see Baryshnikov dance. I don't know nearly as much about ballet as you do, but I do enjoy it.

Barbara Monajem said...

Hi, Maureen! Congrats on your release. I loved the excerpt. I can't think of a favorite ghost story, but I think maybe yours will be it!

As for what I'd ask a ghost... Hmm. I think a ghost would be a great help with historical research, especially medieval or earlier. I suppose that might mean learning to speak Old English or Ancient Greek or whatever, though. Or would a ghost have learned modern languages while hanging around waiting for whatever ghosts wait for?

Fun stuff!

Mo H said...

Spooky about the glass breaking noise. In my research on ghosts, I found something interesting--not to creep anyone out--but a faint whispering sound you might hear at night could be a ghost or ghosts.

Nancy said...

Barbara, interesting point about ghosts and the language barrier. Lois Lane used to get sent back in time periodically (and Superman often had to retrieve her), and they always had some reason she spoke the language--kind of lame sometimes, but a reason!

Mo H said...

I didn't know rabbits screamed. Interesting. I knew about the bobcats, and that's what I thought it was--until I googled the sounds and it sounded more like a panther. If you google fox sounds, you'll hear what I heard. I swear it sounds like a woman screaming.

Nancy said...

Maureen, that is kind of creepy about the whispering thing. I think I'll just tell myself it's wind. :-)

Nancy said...

Rats scream, too, as I discovered when our golden retriever mix caught one in the yard some years back. Thinking it was a squirrel--and not really thinking so much as reacting--I interrupted her and then thought, oh, geez, am I going to have to get a shovel and finish this? Lucky for me, she'd completed her task before I came along. All I had to do was dispose of the result.

I hope that's not too gross for a Saturday morning. Maggie, who was our Mighty Huntress, has since gone to the Happy Hunting Ground in the sky, but she sent a lot of rats ahead of her.

PJ said...

Hi Maureen! Love the excerpt! This is a story I'm looking forward to reading and will be sharing with the teen girls in my life as well.

Kimberly Cates wrote a wonderful contemporary called Picket Fence that has a young ghost.

Cindy Miles has a novella in A Highlander Christmas anthology with a very sigh-worthy ghost hero. I *loved* that story!

Mo H said...

Good to see cyber see you! Interesting question about how the ghost would speak. The ghost in my story quickly picks up on the lingo and gestures once she's interacting with Heather, but Amy still speaks for the most part like she's from the era she grew up in, the early 20th century. If I were writing about a greek ghost, I'd have him have picked up on English, but I would focus on words that came from Greek as much as I could.

Mo H said...

Glad the story appeals to you! I will have to read Picket Fence and Highlander Christmas! They both sound great--especially Cindy Miles sigh worthy ghost!

Nancy said...

Hi, PJ--Those both sound lovely. Highland ghosts make me think of Lynn Kurland's wonderful Stardust of Yesterday, which sort of started the boom in ghost story romances back in the late '90s. It won a double RITA, best paranormal and best first book, I think.

I miss the ghost romances and the time travels, though some of the devices used for HEA were kind of hackneyed as the books multiplied, sort of like the explanations for Lois Lane's language skills.

Mo H said...

Interesting that rats scream, too. I have to admit that even though I know we should appreciate all creatures, I'm not so appreciative of most rodents. Maybe that's why I have two cats!

Caren Crane said...

Maureen, welcome to the Lair! Trust that I will never confuse you with Nancy. I know each of you for the lovely individuals you are. *g*

(Helen, please make the GR behave today! He needs the discipline...)

Maureen, your enslavement to the costumes makes me really glad I was in orchestra and NOT in home economics learning to sew! I am useless with a sewing machine, so no one will ever expect me to sew anything on except a button. My plan is working!

As to ghosts, I am a bit old fraidy cat and have no desire to converse with spirits. The thought scares me to death and has made me tremble in bed many nights in my lifetime.

That said, as a child I was fascinated by the Bell Witch. The Bell Witch is a very famous ghost from colonial days in Tennessee, where I grew up. The entity known as the "Bell Witch" haunted the family of John Bell in Robertson Co., TN, in the early 1800s. The entity's tricks and taunts were witnessed and written about by many people outside the Bell family.

To this day, no one can explain what happened to the Bell family or why. There are many people who are fascinated by the Bell Witch and have forums, meetings and events centered around the Bell Witch. The story always scared me to bits because it deals with real people and the events are detailed in historical records, not just in folk lore.

Here is a link to a nice summary of the story of the Bell Witch.

Thank you for joining us today, Maureen, and I hope the middle school kids adore your ghost story!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey! Helen, he's back with his "Other" girlfriend! Snork. That GR, he's got a favorite woman on every continent. Snork.

Maureen, welcome! Your books sound so fun. That angsty freshman year, arrrrgh. :> I'll look forward to seeing them soar off the shelves for you.

Nancy, great interview. Maureen, I have to say I think it's cool that you got your "Call" by email. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, forgot to say about ghost stories. Hmmm. My house is haunted and frequently has a cold spot on the stairs. My husband's grandma comes to visit my boys now and again, tho' she's been dead since '67. :>

I've had a few run ins, but fortunately, unlike your heroine, I don't see them coming. Hahah!

PJ said...

I miss the ghost romances and the time travels

Nancy, have you read any of Veronica Wolff's books? (She debuted in 2008) I've enjoyed her time-travels immensely, especially Warrior of the Highlands.

Mo H said...

Hi! Good to cyber see you, too! I understand about the ghost stories scaring you. I started reading a nonfiction book about Ghosts that I had to put down because it freaked me out too much. I've heard of the Bell Witch. Spooky!

Mo H said...

I hope the books fly off the shelves, too. Baby's got to have pointe shoes! :)

Mo H said...

So cool that you've actually had encounters! I thought I saw my grandmother's ghost as a young teen, but no one in my family believed me.

Nancy said...

Maureen, I'm not generally appreciative of anything that wants to take up residence in our house uninvited. We live in an old house in an old neighborhood, which pretty much guarantees some kind of rodent issue in the winter. You can't hate a rat for being a rat, but you don't have to love it, either.

Nancy said...

Caren, I always envy your ability to put links in comments. I don't seem to be able to remember how from one time to the next.

I don't really want to converse with ghosts, either. If I found myself doing so, though, I'd probably ask a history question of some kind.

On our "to do before the boy leaves for college" list is visiting Gettysburg, which is said to have a number of ghosts. We plan to go in the daytime.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I'm glad I did not know this about the cold spot on the stairs when the bandits were at your house last summer. I have an overactive imagination despite my resolve not to be superstitious.

Nancy said...

PJ, I hadn't seen those. Thanks. The TBR pile thanks you, too.


jo robertson said...

Hi, Maureen, welcome to the Lair. Your YA sounds intriguing and clever. How great that you get to hang around girls that age! They're so delightful.

Congratulations on getting the rooster, Helen!

Hmmm, ghost stories. One of my favorites has always been REBECCA. Can we consider that a ghost story?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: Jeanne, I'm glad I did not know this about the cold spot on the stairs when the bandits were at your house last summer. I have an overactive imagination despite my resolve not to be superstitious.

It's kind of like that cold spot on the steps in the Lair leading to the writing caves. Not always there, so very surprising when you hit it. Grins.

Mo H said...

I love Rebecca! Sure, we can consider it a ghost story. Do we have any other Daphne DuMaurier fans out there?

Nancy said...

Jo, I have to confess that I have not read Rebeccaor seen the movie.

I know, dreadful. *hangs head, scuffs toe*

Nancy said...

Jeanne said: It's kind of like that cold spot on the steps in the Lair leading to the writing caves. Not always there, so very surprising when you hit it. Grins.

Oh, thank you, Duchesse! I so needed that image. Now I'll be very fast on the stairs. Cabana boys with trays had best watch out!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, how interesting about the paint color!

Mo H said...

I wonder if there are other paint colors touted for their supernatural properties.

Should y'all paint the cabana and the writing caves haint blue to protect Nancy? :)

Nancy said...

Maureen said: Should y'all paint the cabana and the writing caves haint blue to protect Nancy? :)

A distinct possibility, though I suspect I'd be protected mainly from my own imagination.

At one point, blue was a popular kitchen color because it was thought to repel bugs.

Cassondra said...

Hi Maureen!

This concept is absolutely BRILLIANT, and I love the sound of your books! I'm finding that *I* love to read a lot of the YA out there. It's unpredictable. Fresh. Maybe I'm jaded, but it's so hard to find fresh in the adult market nowadays. So many writers, so many brilliant paths people have gone down, and then trying to write one's own.

It's always a pleasure when I find something I haven't seen before.

I particularly love the southern twist. I grew up hearing about how certain houses were hainted. (How fitting that your guest appearance with this book follows yesterday's Christine Wells blog on slang--much of it southern).

So even your title appeals to me.

And congratulations on your forward-moving success!

Cassondra said...

Wooohooooo Helen!

Got him back from Lime!

Nancy said...

Cassondra, I also have trouble finding something really different in the adult market. I sometimes wonder if that's because the market resists the truly new and different. It's nice that YA is more open.

Cassondra said...

Virginia said:

I will let you do all the alterations though because I do not like to have to alter anything. Give me a new piece of fabric and I will work with that but not altering. I even hate hemming a pair of pants but usually have to because I am so short. I will even piece a quilt but please no altering.

See...I'm this way too. I can sew--learned from my mom, who made all of my clothes when I was a kid. And I WOULD sew. Except sewing clothing involves ripping out seams and re-doing for proper fit. Which is, I suppose, altering in a way, and I won't do it. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT. I am good with details, but not tedium, and that, to me, is tedium. Blech. I admire Maureen all the more because she can do this, and if I lived closer, I would be hiring her to alter things for me if she'd do it. ;0)

Cassondra said...

Oh, a screech owl sounds like a woman screaming, and it's EEEEEEERIE in the middle of the still, moonless night with the windows open.

The worst thing I ever heard was a bobcat though. We don't have them around here usually, but when I was a little girl, you'd see one just every now and then. I've heard them scream at night a couple of times and you talk about hair standing on end...OMG.

Nancy said...

Cassondra, having been first a town kid and then a city dweller, I've never heard a screech owl or a bobcat. We do occasionally see owls--and there was an eagle in our neighborhood for a week or two--along with lots of squirrels (known to our canine contingent as "uppity squirrels"), rabbits, the occasional possum, and chipmunks.

Lots of songbirds, though we pulled in our bird feeder because the seed falling on the ground was drawing rats. Ugh. We have bird houses up, and one of them is occupied. But you just don't see the wildlife in the city that you do in more rural areas.

Sitting on the dh's sister's porch in Colorado, we've seen deer, hawks, and a fox. At his folks' house, elk, hummingbirds, and a fox, and we've seen raccoons at his brother's place. They all live in the Front Range outside Denver, but that area is rapidly becoming built up now, which will cut down on the wild population.

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Maureen! I love ghost stories. I frequently watch all of the ghost/paranormal shows on TV: Ghost Hunters, A Haunting, etc.

My best friend when I was very young had a ghost in her house. I never saw or heard it, but sometimes her dog would stare at "nothing" and the hair would go up on his back.

Nancy said...

Gannon, that dogs staring at nothing thing is creepy. Herself does that from time to time.

When my mom was dying, she mentioned seeing people in the room no one else could see. She seemed to think they were really there. I was sorta glad this didn't happen while I was there.

Mo H said...

Hi, Cassondra,
Glad my southern ghost appealed to you!

Mo H said...

Hi! I'm so glad you're interested in ghost stories. And dogs staring at nothing is creepy. I think I use that in chapter one of my story before the heroine sees the ghost for the first time. My cats stare at nothing all the time! It can be very creepy when they stare at something behind me!

Mo H said...

I used to hate tearing out seams, too. It doesn't bother me now. What bothers me is a dull seam ripper!

I suspected bobcat or owl, but the sound wasn't quite right. Never would have thought it was a fox until I saw it, then heard the verification on some website!

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Helen! What the GR! He's a "two pot screamer!"

Loved the excerpt, Maureen! And can I just say that my Mom and I are big fans of the Mossy Creek series!

I have a 16 year old niece who will LOVE this book!

We are big believers in ghosts in my family. We lived in a haunted house in England. We kids would be in bed upstairs and my Mom would come to the bottom of the stairs and yell up at us to stop moving the furniture around. We would be sound asleep. My youngest brother was only three when we moved there so he was stuck at home while my other brother and I went to school. Mom would walk by his room and hear him talking to someone. She would peek in and see him playing on the floor with his trucks and ask "Who are you talking to, Brian?" He'd say "John. He's right there." He'd point to the rocking chair in his room that happened to be moving. Mom chalked it up to his imagination. His imaginary playmate named John. The week before we were to leave England we were invited to our landlord's home for tea. As we were leaving his house, my brother, now 6, pointed at a framed photo on the sideboard and said "That's John." We were all stunned, but none so much as our landlord when we explained who John was to my brother. Seems Brian's imaginary friend wasn't so imaginary. Our landlord's brother owned the house we rented before he died, in the house. His brother's name? John.

The funny thing is that Brian won't talk about it now. And the other brother and his wife are actually paranormal investigators in their spare time.

Nancy said...

Louisa, what a cool story! Kinda creepy, but cool.

Mo H said...

Very cool story about your brother's imaginary friend. For this series, I made up rules for the ghosts, and one rule is that imaginary friends are ghosts!

I hope your niece likes Haint Misbehavin' as much as you and your mom like the Mossy Creek series!

Mo H said...

Thanks so much for having me. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Lady_Graeye said...

My favorite ghost story would have to be "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." I love that story. It's an oldie but a goodie. I also like the movie "Ghost." Ahhh, I cry everytime I watch it.