Tuesday, May 8, 2018


If I could have one wish, I would be back in my mama's house. I loved her company.  She was a brilliant woman with a wicked sense of humor.  I think she knew me better than anyone, and for the most part, she was a delight. We spent many times in the car on the way from one place to another, discussing ethereal topics, her mind wandering as far as mine. She seemed to know no limits in her imagination and I found her a joy. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone as fascinating.  

I remember sitting in Grandma's kitchen when young, watching Mama cook.  She was a fantastic creator of food. Despite what you had in your kitchen, she would produce a delicious meal.  I asked her how she would feel if I died, and she answered, “I would cry for the rest of my life.”  That, to a paranoid kid, meant the world.

She was fixing dinner in a pressure cooker, leaning over to inspect the pot, and it blew up in her face.  I remember her consoling me in my terror, telling me that she would be fine as she was taken to the hospital.  I counted every second until she returned, her face wrapped in gauze.  Luckily, she suffered no real damage.

Another memory…she made wonderful donuts and shook them in a bag of sugar.  My sweet tooth raged as I watched.

When I was around 12, my parents discovered I could sing.  I hid it from them for a long time, letting them think that it was the radio. She was so proud and engaged a German voice teacher nearby to give me lessons.  She would sit in the car and read while I sang.

She was a voracious reader, everything she could get her hands on.  It tickled her when we girls shivered as she told us about Rasputin, the mad monk of Russia.  I’ve never forgotten the look on her face as she watched our reactions.

Mom was also a talented writer. I grew up reading her family anecdotes and thoughts on life. She was my inspiration that resulted in my lifetime efforts and recent publications.

She had a good work ethic, often leaving home in later years, traveling several hours away to make a sale.  She could sell clothes to a nudist and no one could resist her charm. I don’t think she ever met a stranger, no matter what race or nationality.  She had many friends and was a friend to them as well. 

My sisters and I were blessed to be her children.


Going through cassette tapes, I've found real jewels, most I'd forgotten. I'll be sharing many in the future from family gatherings over the years. Today, however, I'm in a playful mood. This particular recording was made before karaoke became popular. I still have the record with the instrumental sing-a-longs. I hope you enjoy it. I certainly had fun making it.

From 1973


Friday, May 4, 2018

Good day friends. I have been long absent due to family issues and a bout with depression. In an effort to revitalize my blog, I've decided to post remembrances relating to my family and the many people I've met along the way.

 We all look back on what we've accomplished, what we meant to do but didn't, and what we did but shouldn't have. With my sense of humor and belief in the good in everyone, I'll post the successes and failures I've experienced during my 75 years.

Postings will be on Tuesdays and Fridays with occasional meanderings when the mood allows.

Ship of Dreams was written shortly after my mother passed in 1996.


I have come home to my father’s house for the last time. My sisters and I are here to lay my mother to rest. She followed my father several years after his passing, dying on their wedding anniversary. There is a sense of regret that I did not have a chance to say goodbye to either of them. As with my father, Mother was cremated. Ashes seem such a poor representation of a person’s essence.
This is also my final visit to the house that has been my companion for many years. My grandparents owned the house until their deaths when it passed to my father. We moved to the house when I was fifteen, but I remember the many trips from North Carolina to Alabama where I spent every summer with my grandparents. My travels began when I was seven. Mom and Dad would put me on a bus seated behind the driver, who promised to watch me during the ten-hour trip. It was a great adventure.
As I walk into the house, whispers of past events and motion picture memories overcome me. The front hall, now devoid of its countless books, is covered with dust. The shelves are a silent testament to lifetimes of preachers, teachers, and philosophers. Going into my mother’s room brings instant tears. It is empty now, but I can still see her lying on the long, yellow couch, frail and angry that she should be so. Without her presence, the room, the house, seems lonely and forgotten.
There is a palatable sense of loss in three generations of joy, sorrow, everyday events, and whispers in the dark. I am surrounded by sounds of children running through the hall, music from the upright piano in the living room, births and deaths and the old ones who died when their time came. Mementos are gathered--books, an afghan I made for Mom years ago, and other small bibelots. Only unwanted items remain when it is time to leave. The house seems to be saying, “Don’t go. Stay a while longer.”
My siblings and I gather on the front porch, and our sister of the heart and a dear cousin are with us. Comfortable rockers, worn by many sitters, hold us close. Ashtrays and plant stands are friendly reminders of the countless evenings spent with family and friends and the shared camaraderie. We remember evenings sitting silently in the darkness, watching spiders spin their webs. Friends from across the street bring wine, and we sing, talk, laugh, and cry far into the night.
Time passes, leaving bittersweet memories. The house will always be a part of me, of my soul. All that I have loved resided here at one time or another. It was a safe harbor for a ship of dreams.

A safe harbor? A ship of dreams? Yes, but I, the house, am also a keeper of secrets held close in love. My walls have felt and absorbed your emotions and your dreams. You have meant so much to me, all of you. Your goodbyes touched my heart. Yes, a house can have a heart. Built of wood, brick, and mortar, it comes to life when a family moves in with all its hopes and human frailties. Sometimes, the house weeps, sometimes it rejoices, but it always revels in the human condition.
How can I respond to so many souls? Several generations of your family have lived within me--the earliest during the depression, raising their children in a simpler time, and the second, wildly passionate, finding humor and wonder in their children, watching them grow in the same passionate manner.
A life cut short, that of your sister, was the most sorrowful event in all my years with you. A beautiful child, she was torn from her family by a drunk driver trying to scare a little child by the side of the road. I can still see each of you in your pain and grief, trying to comfort each other. Your memories will remain with me forever--your mother who covered her child’s body so the younger sisters could not see her, the father running down the middle of the road toward his injured child, and the oldest daughter, in the days to follow, finding herself giving comfort, tapping into an inner strength she did not know she possessed.
I remember fondly the mornings with you girls and any visiting friends piled on your mother’s bed with cups full, brimming over with coffee and laced with the previous night’s conversations. Also remembered are your parents, sometimes driven by their own private hells, but always seeing their children as precious and unique. They were willing to sacrifice everything for you. Those sacrifices, given freely in love, negated any failings.
There were the happy times, the simple enjoyment of a family being together--poker games until the wee hours, discussions that covered everything, celebrations with neighbors that centered on scintillating conversation, and music--the father and oldest daughter providing the entertainment with their glorious voices.
And the funny things you did. One in particular comes to mind. Barbara, the oldest, ever seeking to shock, but always looking for approval, brought home several albums by Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts. The name of the group was kept from your father. Your mother shuddered, but to her credit, listened with an open mind to the crude jokes and sexual innuendos. She stood it as long as she could, and one night, after several drinks, showed her true feelings by sailing one of the records out the front door and into the bushes.
I will always love each of you. I wept silently as you walked through my rooms for the last time. I knew why you had to leave and watched your departure with a breaking heart. Your sorrow was mine, and if I had wings, I would have carried you back to happier times. You will always be the ideal by which all others are measured. Never again will I experience that pure joy in your lives, the love as I hold you close to myself.
Barbara, you called me a safe harbor for a ship of dreams. I say to you, “You have sailed your course, poorly at times, but always with a faith that has sustained you. I love you past caring and will hold forever, the vision of a tall, proud ship on its quest.”


Tuesday, January 2, 2018


 Today's post is THE SHADOW RISES by K. S. Marsden

The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1)
Author: K.S. Marsden
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Witches are real, and to be blunt, they’re all black-hearted, and evil. These are not wiccans; witches are a different breed that use magic with devastating effect.
Charged with stopping the witches, taking whatever measures necessary, there are witch-hunters, all reporting to the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC). For hundreds of years witches have been persecuted and when the powerful Shadow Witch rises again, they have their opportunity for revenge.

The best the MMC has to offer, the talented seventh-generation witch-hunting Hunter Astley has his own part to play. In his own way.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17972985-the-shadow-rises
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2CgDfk4
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Rises-Witch-Hunter-Book-ebook/dp/B00AWRN8YQ/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shadow-rises-k-s-marsden/1119501646?ean=2940046183108
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-shadow-rises/id921005166?mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-shadow-rises
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=5Xu8BAAAQBAJ
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476391


Yes, it's hard to believe that it has been 5 years since my debut was released!
It has always been an ambition of mine, to be a published author, and these last five years have been an absolute dream. (An incredibly steep learning curve, but still a dream).
The Witch-Hunter books continue to draw in new readers and are my best-sellers; and it is still the story that I get most excited about.

What prompted the Witch-Hunter trilogy?
Despite the fact that this series pegs the witch-hunters as our heroes, and follows the famous Hunter Astley; the story actually started with the bad guy.
I used to practise Wicca when I was younger, and I wondered what would happen if you had a bad witch. One that broke all the wiccan rules, and inflicted pain for the fun of it. I decided the witches in my story would be a different breed, distinct from their wiccan cousins, and not restricted by human morals. And my main antagonist had to be the most powerful witch in history, naturally. Magic without limits...
Once I had my bad guys, it seemed almost too easy to create the people that would stop them: the witch-hunters working for the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC).

A witch-hunter named Hunter?
Yes, I know it's cliche. I struggled to come up with a name for my main character. He's the best the MMC have at their disposal; he comes from a witch-hunting family, and has some ridiculous inborn skills to deal with fighting witches.

So, I used "Hunter" as a placeholder until I found a name that suited him. And it stuck. And he's enough of a pretentious git to pull it off.
It's actually a bit of a running joke in the series - Hunter's real name is George. Sexy, I know.

Fact vs. Fiction?
So... this might be a straight-up fantasy story, but a lot of it is based on real events.
The Malleus Maleficarum was a real book, published in 1487 as the guide for finding and persecuting witches, recommended by Pope Innocent VIII. (There's a lot of contention surrounding the "authors" and how legitimate the papal bull is, but I won't go into that here)
This book helped legitimise mass killings, persecutions, and the general witch-craze that swept the world.
Witch-hunters of questionable morals attacked people, regardless of gender or position. The incentive was often money, claiming the possessions of the "witch", or even to enact a grudge they were holding.
The most common "witch" was female, and if you were a woman with any ounce of independence, intelligence, free-thought, charm...

My Malleus Maleficarum Council is based on the premise that they quickly saw the damage that was being done by the ignorant general public, and immediately started working in secret. The MMC employs real witch-hunters, who track down real witches.
Until our modern-day Hunter Astley.

Why witches?

When I was looking for a new project to start writing, I knew that I wanted to do something in Urban Fantasy.
At the time, I thought the literary world was inundated with vampires and werewolves, and I wanted to steer clear of these popular tropes. I wanted something I could put my own spin on, something that felt like it was mine.
In the end, I nervously started fleshing out a story about witches. I've always been fascinated by stories of magic and wicked witches, and I started to put to use all the random facts that I'd gathered.
The fascination with witches actually comes from a long-running family joke that all the women in my family are witches, and that my nanna would turn us into a toad if we misbehaved. Y'know, the usual silly stuff.
It felt weird, taking something that had been a family joke, and turning it into a bunch of books for everyone to read. I'm just grateful that it went down well!

Mrs Astley
Even though Mrs Astley is just a background character - as Hunter's mother, she does little more than hang around the estate, and has nothing to do with witches - she is the one that leaves the biggest impression.
She is horrible to those around her. She doesn't intend to insult everyone, she just doesn't have a filter. She's very entitled, and thinks that the people around her will benefit from hearing her opinion.
A couple of fun facts about this character:
1) She doesn't have a first name. Well, she does, it is just never mentioned. Did you notice?
2) Her husband died five years ago (although it was never a happy marriage), but Mrs Astley has been kept company by Charles, the butler. Nothing is ever said outright, but they do play "chess" (amongst some of my friends "playing chess" translates into relations).


Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life - books and horses.
Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has two successful series under her belt.

Website: https://www.ksmarsden.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6905238.K_S_Marsden
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KSMarsden
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KSMarsden
The Northern Witch's Book Blog: http://thenorthernwitchbooks.blogspot.co.uk/