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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, October 24 2015
Ghosts, goblins and spirits in the stories we love

The topic of this month's Blog Hop, very appropriately considering how close Halloween is: Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? Have you used them in your own stories. 


Some years ago I was sitting in a college library scouring a number of promising books for an illusive detail I needed for a story I was writing and not finding it. As I sat there daydreaming or maybe brainstorming an entirely different plot came into my head. I jotted down a few notes, but then went back to work on the current project. The idea featured a writer, like me, sitting in a similar library when a book was placed on the desk in front of her and a man said, “Maybe this is what you’re looking for.” The writer looked up into the face of a man who looked like he might be a professor, dressed in jeans and a sport jacket over a turtleneck jersey. She looked back at the book he’d offered her and began to thumb through it, then realized it was the personal journal of the very man she had been researching. But when she looked back up to thank the man and ask him where the journal had come from, he had disappeared. As I fleshed out this plot later, I saw scenes in my head of this same man, sometimes in jeans, but more often in a kilt and occasionally in an old fashioned army uniform. Since that time, I’ve written four, almost five contemporary romances, two historicals and one mainstream, but you might say that this piper, for that’s what I’ve determined him to be, has haunted me and one day soon, I’m going to write his story.


    It's a Wonderful Life                         Ghost               Somewhere in Time             Brigadoon

In the meantime, I love stories that encourage a leap of the imagination. Stories that include ghosts or spirits and angels, or time travel, especially into the past. Who doesn’t love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, featuring Clarence the angel desperate to keep a disillusioned and discouraged man from taking his own life and thereby earning his wings? Or Ghost with Patrick Swayze with the haunting music and love that doesn’t die? Another movie that I have always loved was Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. When an elderly woman presses an old pocket watch into a young man’s hand, then disappears, that sends him on a journey of discovery, first to the hotel lobby where he finds a portrait of a young woman and eventually back in time to meet the woman in the flesh and fall in love with her. And my favorite stage play was Brigadoon with Gene Kelley. The mythical town that woke up for only one day every hundred  years, but came to life just at the right time for Kelly’s character to fall in love with a local lass.


I’ve read a lot of books featuring spirits that meddle in the lives of the living. Some folks enjoy the more macabre, but I like stories like Vickie Hinze's Seascape series set in a bed and breakfast on the coast of Maine. The inn was run by a widow, but the spirit of her dead husband lurks about determined to be a matchmaker for lonely hearts who come to the inn, sometimes to forget, sometimes to heal, and sometimes just to be vacationing in a picturesque old bed and breakfast at the beach.


But of all the ghosts I’ve met in books, the one that haunts me the most is the one that appears in the very first chapter of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The ghost of Jamie Fraser, who stands in the dark, in the rain, gazing up at Claire Randall illuminated in the window of the bed and breakfast where she is staying. At that point in the story, you don’t realize it’s a ghost, or who it is. It’s only as you near the end of the story that you realize that it was Jamie come from the past to see, if only briefly, the woman he loved with all his heart. It’s a time travel novel of course, but the image of that lonely man pining for the woman he loved across time was an image I have never been able to get out of my head or my heart. And I wasn’t disappointed when that scene was included in the series made for TV on Starz and it was exactly as I’d pictured it all these years since the book first came out.

Now that I've shared some of my favorite tiime travel and ghost stories, why not visit some of these other authors and see what kind of spirits appeal to them and what or who they've put into their own stories.

Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Rhobin Courtright                                  


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, October 20 2015
Good Sportsmanship and heroes

Last Sunday, I was parked in front of my television watching my favorite team come back from a deficit score to win against the Colts. It was great game with a lot of great plays and Tom Brady was in top form. But the play that I will remember most from that game was made by a lesser known player, Jamie Collins, a 6 foot, 3 inch, 250 pound linebacker. As the Colts lined up to kick the point after, Collins timed his leap perfectly to clear the entire front line of men and block the kick while still in the air. Not the sort of spectacular play one sees very often. But then, neither was the interception by Malcolm Butler to clinch this year’s Super Bowl win for the Pats. Or Brady’s lateral hand off to Julian Edelman who then executed a 51-yard pass to Amendola for a Touchdown. I love the Pats and Tom Brady, but believe me, those spectacular, unexpected plays are what I remember best.


But the real heroes in our sports crazy world are the ones you rarely hear about except in occasional local news coverage. Like a young woman named Meghan Vogel who modestly claims others would have done the same for her. When she saw a competitor collapse near the finish line in the state championships, instead of glancing at her fallen opponent as she passed by, she stopped to help the other girl to her feet and guided her toward the finish line, making sure the other girl crossed the line first.


Just recently on the evening news there was a heartwarming clip about 7 Olivet Middle School football players who decided that one of their teammates, who had a learning disability, should have his chance to make a touchdown. Without their coach’s knowledge, they put together a play to make that happen and Keith Orr carried the ball across the goal line to a standing, cheering crowd. Keith’s mother was asked how she felt about her son’s touchdown and she answered that she was excited, of course, but more than that, she was touched to know that his team mates had his back and he knew it. Where are stories like this when we keep hearing about bullying?

These stories are more numerous than you might think. Kevin Grow, who has Down’s Syndrome was allowed to play in the last two minutes of his fourth year with Bensalem High School after four years of faithfully serving as team manager. He was given the ball for a free shot and missed the hoop, but then in the remaining minutes of the game, managed to score 4 3-point baskets in less than two minutes.  Cornhuskers Rex Burkhead befriended 7-year-old Jack Hoffman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Burkhead wears a bracelet with Team Jack on it when he plays and he checks on his small fan regularly saying he wishes he could do more. (


The Cincinnati Reds auctioned off a one-day position as Bat Boy and then stretched their age limits to allow 29-year old Ted Kramer to have the position. He did so well, he was invited back and the joy on his face says it all. WWE star Daniel Bryan invited 9-year-old Bryan Connor into the ring to fulfill the dying child’s last wish and after winning his own bout, stepped out of the ring to go to Connor and tell him that he was his inspiration.


So, the next time you watch your favorite team play and cheer when they win, think of the hundreds of truly decent sportsmen and women with hearts of gold who make time in their busy star-level schedules to bring joy and inspiration into the lives of others. That’s who you should be admiring. It’s easy to be great when you are blessed with abundant talent, it takes heart and commitment to make the time to be great for someone else. 

Posted by: AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, October 13 2015
Excerpt from Trusting Will


Brianna Reagan married her high school sweetheart, and she was proud of him and his decision to fight for his country, but as the years and deployments went on, she realized that he enjoyed the life of a soldier living on the edge in a war zone more than he loved her. Then he was killed, and she was heartbroken.

But she’s put her life back together again. She’s happy and busy, she has friends and a great job, and she’s sure her eight-year-old son Sam is all the man she needs in her life. 

Then Sam joins Cub Scouts and Brianna meets his new den father.

   A tall, blue-eyed hottie full of charisma and swagger.


  Brianna Reagan stood beside her car with her cell phone to her ear, surveying a very flat tire.

 Come on, Sam. Answer the phone. Where are you?  Her son should have been in the apartment by now. The bus would have dropped him off ten minutes ago.

If she hadn’t tried to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store before heading home to meet Sam’s bus, she wouldn’t be where she was now. And just maybe she wouldn’t have had a flat tire at all. Sam. Where are you?


Relief washed through her. “Sam. It’s Mom. I got a flat tire and that’s why I didn’t get there in time for your bus. I just wanted to make sure you got home okay.”

“I came straight home, just like you told me to if you weren’t at the bus stop.”

“And you’re alone?”

“Yes, Mom. I’m alone.” Condescension and sarcasm dripped from his young voice.

“And you locked the door behind you?”

Sam sighed loudly.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I just want to make sure you’re safe. I’ll be home as soon as someone comes to change my tire.”

“How come you can’t change your own tire?” Eight years old and already Sam sounds like his father.

“I know how to change a tire, but I’ve got my work clothes on.” Why am I defending myself? “Never mind. Just stay inside until I get there and don’t let anyone in. Got it?”

Sam groaned “Got it.”

“There are fudge pops in the freezer. Why don’t you have one and get started on your homework?”

“Can I go upstairs and see if Mr. Cameron is home? I want to show him the new signs I learned.”

“Mr. Cameron is probably at work. But,” she added hastily to ward off another round of dramatic sighing. “You can go up and see if he’s there as soon as I get home. Okay?”

“Kay! Bye.” Sam disconnected leaving Brianna feeling oddly alone on the only deserted stretch of roadway between the grocery store and home.

She began hunting through her contacts for C.J.’s Auto Shop. The sound of a motorcycle pierced the late afternoon quiet. The rumbling grew, still out of sight around the corner, but loud enough to be either a big machine or more than one.

A nervous fluttering began in her stomach. Not all bikers were a threat. But still.

Then the motorcycle rounded the bend and began to slow. She relaxed. It was a North Carolina State Trooper. She shoved her phone back into her pocket and waited for him to reach her.


The big silver and gray bike pulled up behind her car and rumbled to a stop. The trooper swung his high-booted leg over the back of the bike and flicked the kickstand down. Then he unsnapped his chinstrap and removed his helmet.

Will Cameron!

Brianna swallowed hard.

That was something that had been glaringly missing from the list of things she thought she knew about Sam’s new idol.

He grinned as he approached. “Not your lucky day, I guess. Or maybe it is your lucky day considering I’m standing here.” Everything about him was overpoweringly masculine. Even the slightly overgrown hair that had been mussed by the helmet.

“I was just about to call C.J.,” Bree said, trying to ignore the effect Will had on her libido.

“Pop the trunk. I assume you’ve got a spare?” This manifestation of Will Cameron was definitely larger-than-life. He seemed taller than usual. And broader. Maybe it was the uniform. Or the bike. Or the fact that he was a trooper, and he was in rescuer mode.

“Of course, I’ve got a spare.” She pressed the trunk button on her key fob and the lid clicked open.

“Then I’ll have you back on the road in no time.”

He reached into the trunk, spun the big nut that kept the spare in place, then hoisted it out as if it weighed nothing. Which it didn’t. A fact she knew because she almost hadn’t been able to lift it enough to retrieve an important slip of paper that had managed to slide down underneath a week earlier.

The play of muscles rippling beneath the crisp fabric of his uniform shirt evoked the same breathless fascination she’d felt while watching him disassemble cardboard boxes wearing no shirt at all on the day he’d moved into her building. She wanted to look away, but couldn’t bring herself to do so. She wanted not to be impressed, but couldn’t manage that either.

This was not a man it was safe to fall for. He was a cop. And cops led lives almost as dangerous as soldiers. He might be an easy-going Cub Scout den father, but there was no denying the pure animal magnetism he exuded. That confident grin of his with a deep dimple in one cheek and an extra lift to one corner of his sensuous, kissable looking lips would charm any woman with a pulse. But she didn’t want to be charmed. Not now that she knew who he really was.


Available at:  AmazonBarnes & Noble, iBooksKobo and Google Play

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, October 06 2015
Prayers without answers


A long time ago, I was part of a prayer chain at my church. Whenever someone in the parish needed prayer the telephone tree went into action. Whether our prayers were answered as we hoped or in ways we never understood, we always did hear sooner or later. Although I did have one friend named Carole who said she felt a calling to pray at times for people or even outcomes she didn’t know. Driving down the road, she’s suddenly get a feeling that she needed to pull over and pray. She always answered that call and rarely ever knew who she was praying for or what.


In today’s world of interconnectedness, it often seems very much like that, except in a far larger way. In a brief Tweet or a status posting on Facebook prayers are solicited for everything from a missing child, to a shooting, to the loss of a soldier or the illness of a parent. More often than not, even when I do take a moment to answer that request, I will never know the outcome. This past weekend was rife with requests. A ship lost at sea with 38 souls on board, flooding in South Carolina, survivors of the shooting in Oregon and the families of those killed. And closer to home, a neighbor told me she’d just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Some of those prayers already have answers. The ship sank and people died in South Carolina, but many more were rescued even though they may have lost their homes and livelihoods.

I know that some of you will read this post and scoff. You don’t believe in God at all, or you don’t believe in prayer. Some of you once did believe, but when you needed God most, He seemed far away and not interested in your problems. I’ve been there. I know. I prayed for my husband’s cancer to be vanquished. I prayed for my mother when her mind was slipping away. I prayed harder than I’d ever prayed in my life when my grandsons were fighting for their lives. I even tried to bargain with God – offering my life in lieu of theirs. But that’s not how prayers work.

My husband died at peace, at home where he wanted to be with all his family about him, even his son who had been half a world away serving in the military just a few days before. My mother found unexpected enjoyment in the social life of the assisted living home where she spent the last two years of her life. There were blessings in both those events, but I am still struggling with why the innocent lives of two precious little boys were not spared, and I have to have faith that one day I will understand.


So, today I light my prayer candle and I ask God to bring peace and solace to the families of those who have lost someone they love, in Oregon, at sea in a hurricane, in the fighting in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world. For the parents of babies and children fighting for their lives in hospitals everywhere, for those who feel so overwhelmed and sad that they are considering suicide, for healing for soldiers who have been wounded in mind or body, for law enforcement officers everywhere who put on their badges this morning and went to work in spite of the vendetta being waged against them, for refugees, the homeless, addicts and the ill and those who care for them. I will never know, nor do I need to know if or how my prayers are answered. It is enough to talk to God and leave my burdens and those of everyone who struggles in his hands. I don’t need to understand the answers – I need only have faith. God does not bring evil into the world, but he does grant us the strength to cope with whatever mountains we face.

So, to those of you who do believe in prayer – take a moment right now to thank God for the blessings in your life and ask Him to comfort those who need Him most.


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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