Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Another True Tale for Halloween

Orange is my color.
It goes with everything fall: brown and gold falling leaves; a full, scarecrow moon; fat, friendly pumpkins; scary jack o'lanterns; and candy corn.  I love everything about fall!

So, what is it that I love most about the fall season?  Is it Halloween?  I can't say for certain, but I think it's the orange, organic, scent of possibility that floats through the air with all those leaves and spiderwebs.

Think about it.  For at least one night, we can dress up our wildest thoughts and let them roam free.

Oh, I know.  That isn't what All Hallows Eve is really about . . .  it's supposed to be about dressing up as a scary spirit so that the real scary spirits wandering about on that special night are fooled into thinking you are one of them, and won't grab you and take you down to . . . wherever it is they live.  But hey, in my book, the two thoughts go hand in hand.

Anyhow, I like weird and offbeat stuff.  My story, Chems, is one such example.  It's available for 99 cents on Amazon.  But there are a couple other stories here on the blog that are free ~ just click the links in the title bar.

I also know a few weird tales that are true.  One involves my hubby, Dude, and one of the places where he grew up in Indiana . . .

This particular house was an old two story farm house at the end of a long lane.  Even today, Dude and his family refer to this old rental as The House Back of the Long Lane.  It seems this house had some very odd tenants (I mean besides the Swann family, *wink*).

One night, when he was a teen, Dude came in from his after school job and went straight to bed.  It was late and all the other family members were already asleep.

Sometime in the night, Dude was awakened by an unknown sound.  When he opened his eyes, a creature in a long, black dress came floating up from the stairway landing outside his bedroom door.  It had black holes for eyes, and wild, Einstein hair as fine as spider's silk.  He blinked and looked away to convince himself it wasn't real, and that's when it began to float toward him, hands outstretched, long claws curved toward his throat . . .

He screamed.

His mom came running.

The thing floated up through the ceiling.

His mom said he should not, under any circumstances, tell his younger sister what he thought he'd seen.  Dude readily agreed.  In fact, he said he wanted to pretend it had never happened.

So a week or two later, he was pretty sure that it hadn't really happened . . .  right up until the moment his sister went upstairs to put the fresh laundry away and screamed as if she'd been set on fire.

She came running back down the stairs yammering about a horrid witch.

It was the exact same creature--she described it perfectly--only this time, the thing had been floating outside the second story window, looking in at her!

So there you go, until next time . . . What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?


Dude and Kathy, if I told this wrong, I apologize.  My memory isn't 
. . . what was I saying?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great Halloween book for middle grades and up!

My favorite Halloween tale is, of course, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.  Most kids have seen the video by a certain age, but the story is something else again.  Or could it be that I'm biased because I write scary stories?  Maybe.  All I know is, reading it brings a whole new understanding of poor Ichabod Crane.  Try it.  See what you think!  And then, move on to MY scary story for kids age twelve and up:
The Phantom Student 

In The Phantom Student, Jase and Stevie-girl must find out why a phantom is haunting Stevie. They think it is related to the new student, a boy who is being bullied because he has something called Tourette Syndrome.  

They've heard it said that evil never skips a generation, and on a dark and desperate Halloween night, the entire town will find out just how evil, and how deadly, bullying can be. 

Afterthought: The Phantom Pilot, book one in the Phantom series, is included in this volume!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Meet Erika M. Szabo - author of Birthright-Bestowed

Hi Folks,
Today I'm welcoming Erika M. Szabo, another 5 Prince author whose book, Birthright-Bestowed, the first book in the Ilona the Hun trilogy, will be released soon.

Read some of the early comments below, and then click on the lovely book trailer.  Also be certain to visit Erika's blog and website.  They are very unique, just like her!

Ilona the Hun trilogy by Erika M Szabo -- comments: 

“In the commencement of this book you are thrown into the unique world of this character and what an intricate mind boggling world it is.” 

“This is so different from the usual fare churned out by "ordinary" writers that I highly recommend everyone to take a look at something new and completely different.” 

“Eternal love triangle, ancient tribal secrets and special healing powers - a great combination!”

Erika'sAuthor’s note
Erika's notes:
I love to read stories that blend real life with the mysterious and magic. The inspiration to write Ilona’s story came from reading about my ancestors the ancient Huns and my experiences working in the medical field all my life. When I started writing Ilona’s story, I only had a sketchy outline in my head about Ilona working as an Emergency room doctor and had given the chance to visit her ancestors in the past. I played with some ideas at first, but soon I started writing – just for my own enjoyment - and the events and characters came alive and kind of developed on their own as the story progressed. Elza’s character surprised me the most; originally I planned her character as an older, wise, steady and reliable aunt. I guess she didn’t like her assigned role; she became a little younger and more alive. It amazed me, how much one accidental sentence could change the whole character’s value and personality while writing and developing a story. In my fantasy world, I blended the past and present into a fantasy tale with intriguing tribal secrets, magical heritage, love triangle and the exciting and dangerous life in a secret society.
Ilona is a descendant of the True Hun tribe, which means nothing to her, until her twenty ninth birthday. The True Hun society is secretive and complex, with strict and fiercely enforced rules revealed only to those who have come of age. Ilona is a rebel, who is determined to control and guide her own life. Resourceful and daring, she crosses the line, and breaks those rules. She must face the consequences, even as she discovers growing magical powers she could never have dreamed of, powers tied to ancient tribal secrets. The comfortable and uneventful part of her life ends as she enters adulthood by Hun standards, and her journey of self-discovery begins. Ilona finds out that her birthright is to become a Healer. This legacy is in her hands, and in her heart and soul. Ilona’s destiny as a Healer runs alongside her desires as a woman. She is secretly and hopelessly in love with her best friend, Bela, and he seems oblivious to her feelings. As Ilona grapples with this confusion, a dashing stranger explodes into her life. Will he break her heart, or bring true happiness? The barrier created by her insecurity kept others out, but also kept her caged in. She had to break the barrieity. Her unusual heritage forced her to open her mind and heart to the unimaginable. She had to learn how to save her life, the future of the Huns, as well as her own sanity.

Here's a little excerpt:
"He ever so slowly lowered his eyelids, tilted his head slightly, and touched my lips with his. Time slowed. Every fiber in my body absorbed that one short kiss. To me, it was as if we were making passionate love. The velvety touch of lips can mean so much… My mind concentrated on the kiss and everything around me disappeared. I felt woozy, and then realized I had forgotten to breathe, as usual. I sighed and looked up to see Bela grinning at me, ruining my happy bliss.
“I see I can still take your breath away!” he boasted.
“You weasel! Happy much?” I yelled at him, embarrassed. He gave me a shy smile, shrugging his shoulders and arching his eyebrows. I punched his chest playfully, yet my throat ached from the sobs I tried to hold back.
I knew I had to come back to reality; I wrapped all my feelings into a fury ball and buried them deeply. I could always fantasize about it later thanks to my vivid imagination. I could even make the memories bloom into an ‘Edward and Bella love story illusion,’ if I wanted to. Okay, scratch the fuzzy and sparkly vampire stuff, I thought, smirking inside."
Looks great, doesn't it?  Go here to read more:

PUBLISHER: http://www.5Princebooks.com

Afterthought: Also check out this lovely page she made for me!  http://www.allyoucanreadclub.com/annswann.htm

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry for the flub!

The publisher of my Phantom series, Cool Well Press, decided not to list The Phantom Pilot for Free.  I did not find this out until after I'd created the blog post, Goodreads event, Triberr post, Twitterpation (as my ed calls it) and FB campaign.  I am truly sorry if you went to download it and found it wasn't free after all.  I would never intentionally mislead anyone.

The editor said if you went to get your free copy and were disappointed, you may contact them directly at www.coolwellpress.com and they will give you a copy.  I'm just quoting here...

Again, sorry for any inconvenience.  As I said earlier, it's almost Halloween, I guess the "trick" was on me!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Introducing The Phantom Student!

The Phantom Pilot http://tinyurl.com/6uk5cp2 is the prequel to THE PHANTOM STUDENT which will be released Tuesday, October 16th.  Great Halloween read. It is also getting ★★★★★ in the early reviews.  I've added another preview of the book, just scroll down to read even more! The latest review of The Phantom Pilot says: What a brilliant story.  I loved it and so did my daughter!  Five Stars! 

October!  Yay!
The Phantom Student, part two of The Phantom Series, will be published on October 16th by Cool Well Press.  And as a surprise, they are including Book One, The Phantom Pilot, in the same volume.  Previously, The Phantom Pilot was only available as a digital book because it was novella length rather than novel length.  So now you can own both books in one volume, for one price!  I will post the purchase links as soon as they are available (it will be available through Cool Well Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble).  But for now, I will settle for teasing you with a new snippet each week.  Here is the introduction to

Book One, The Phantom Pilot:

What would you do if a phantom needed your help?  Would you run screaming into the night, or would you enlist the aid of your best friend and wade right into the ghostly fray?  Find out what happens when you read THE PHANTOM PILOT.


When a plane crashes behind Jason Lee’s house in 1969, he finds himself being haunted by the ghost of the pilot.  Unable to communicate with the phantom, Jase asks his classmate, Stevie, for help.  Jase thinks Stevie-girl is brave because he saw her entering the local “haunted” house alone.  Together, they discover a way to “talk” to the pilot, and they learn that his fiancée is the one whose spirit is trapped in the haunted house.  Now they must find a way to free her from the malevolent shadow-man who is holding her captive so that she and the phantom pilot can cross over to the other side, together.


I just finished reading THE PHANTOM PILOT and it was such a great book! It's a fast read and beautifully written. The characters are interesting and compelling and in Ann Swann's heroine, "Stevie," we meet a dynamic character who reminded me of a young Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games (sans the emotional instability and psychosis!). 
The book zips along and is exciting and scary at times and has a really great ending. I recommend this for all ages. Really looking forward to reading more of Ann's work!

“Ann Swann took me back in time! The characters were so easy to identify with. As a retired Jr High reading teacher, I would have loved using The Phantom Pilot as a class novel. So many teaching and learning activities could be used with this novel. I loved it and cannot wait for the sequel.” 

I loved this book. My son read it first and told me it was REALLY good! So I bought it for the Kindle App on my phone. From page one it was so hard to put down. It was very well written and the story line left me wanting more! I was so sad when I finished the book. I can't wait to read more books by Ann Swann!

Now, here is the introduction to the second book in the series, The Phantom Student (remember, both books are in this volume):

Evil never skips a generation. . . 

When Stevie and Jase befriend Derol Pavey, a new student with Tourette Syndrome, strange things start to happen.  The phantom of a little girl begins haunting Stevie.  But the little phantom never sticks around for long.  She seems to be showing Stevie something, but by the time Stevie and Jase figure out what she is trying to show them, it is almost too late.  They are forced to follow the little girl to school--the abandoned Crossroads Elementary School--where they discover that the phantom student has been trying to protect Derol who is being tormented for being different.  What goes around, comes around, and on a dark and desperate Halloween night, Jase and Stevie learn just how deadly bullying can be.


To us, 1970 was a time of beginnings, but to the country, it was a time of endings. National guardsmen ended the lives of four students at Kent State College.  A hundred thousand marched on Washington to end the war in Vietnam, and in England, Paul McCartney announced the end of The Beatles.  It was also the year Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both ended their lives through drug overdoses.  It felt as if the whole world was in turmoil.
            Our homeroom teacher said not to let the weight of the world stop us from being open to new experiences.  In fact she said it was more important than ever that we should be open-minded.  I wondered if she’d gone radical on us.  For a moment I thought she might pick up a sign and start chanting.
            Come to find out, she was simply prepping us for a new addition to our eighth grade class at Crossroads Junior High.  His name was Derol Pavey and he had something called Tourette Syndrome. 
Chapter One
            “What’s up?”  Jase’s voice was low, but then he was never very loud.  Guess that’s why we got along so well.
            I smiled up at him.  “Not much.”  I shifted my books from the crook of one arm to the crook of the other.  “What’s up with you?”
            Jase grimaced.  I could tell he wanted to say something. 

            I elbowed him in the ribs as we made our way across homeroom to our desks in the back corner.  “Why are you making that face?  What’s wrong?”
            “Nothing really,” he replied, his usually clear green eyes clouded and mysterious.  “It’s just that, well.  Have you heard about Janis Joplin?”
            That got my attention.  I loved Janis Joplin.  Jase had accidentally caught me wailing away to one of her records one afternoon when I was supposed to meet him in front of my house.  When I wasn’t outside, he just opened the screen door and came on inside.  He said he could hear my yowling as soon as his feet cleared the threshold.  After that, I always locked the front door before singing my Janis tunes.
            “What about her?”  I asked, a pang of unease settling in my stomach like the cherry pit I’d accidentally swallowed when I was about five.  Jimi Hendrix, who had electrified Woodstock only thirteen months earlier, had overdosed on a combination of drugs and alcohol just a couple of weeks ago.  And everyone knew Janis was every bit as wild as Jimi.  Maybe even wilder.
            Jase looked up as several other students entered the classroom.  “They found her in a motel room yesterday.  She overdosed, too.  Just like Hendrix.”
            I looked at the psychedelic pink and purple swirls decorating my notebook.  Snippets of my favorite Janis song, Piece of My Heart, swirled through my head in patterns very similar to the ones decorating my notebook.

              “Oh.”  My voice was small.  I couldn’t seem to say anything else.  Janis was a big star.  She wasn’t a friend or an acquaintance, but she was young and famous.  She shouldn’t have died.  She and Hendrix were both only twenty-seven years old.  I hated when people just up and died without warning.  It happened all the time in my little corner of the world.  I guess I thought famous people should be immune to death or something.  Irrational tears started in the corners of my eyes and began a lazy trek toward my chin.
            Jase reached across the aisle between our desks.  His hand was large and firm when he grasped my shoulder.  I’d taken hold of that hand on more than one occasion when he had to help me across a ditch or even the time I had to help him up after he fell down the stairs in the old haunted Taylor mansion.  But this show of concern right in front of everyone in the class, this was something altogether different.
            I shrugged my shoulder so he would take his hand away.
            He didn’t get mad or upset.  Jase didn’t get mad.  He understood me pretty well.  He knew I didn’t like to be the center of attention.  I smiled at him to let him know I appreciated the gesture of friendship, but I felt silly sitting there crying over someone who had caused her own demise by doing things that were illegal and stupid.

            Somehow, I’d identified with Janis, that’s why I’d admired her.  She succeeded even though she was differentmaybe because she was different.  It was as if she had taken her outcast image and made it larger than life.  I could never do that, even if I did feel the same way.  But I could relate to her, and I could admire her for it, and now she was gone, so I guess now I could grieve for her, too.
            I might have sat there wallowing in grief for the whole twenty-minute class period except that Derol Pavey chose that moment to make his entrance.

Continued from last time ...

When he stepped through the door and stood hesitantly in front of the class waiting for Mrs. Flint to acknowledge him, the excitement in the room was as thick as cream, but not nearly as sweet.  In fact, there was a sour feeling, as if every student had just run a dozen laps at P.E. and then skipped the showers.

            Mrs. Flint took a deep breath.  She’d tried to prepare us, but maybe that was part of the problem.  We could sense her uncertainty and it transferred to us as if by electrical current.  “Class,” she said.  “This is Derol Pavey.  He is the new student I told you about from The Philippines.” 
            Ahhh, so that explained it.   Not only did the kid suffer from something called Tourette Syndrome, he also suffered the dreaded curse of being from “somewhere else.”  His skin was a dusky bronze color and his night-black hair was shiny and razor-straight.
            He peered at us from eyes almost as black as his hair and then the oddest thing happened.  His left arm flew up and he barked like a hoarse dog.  Rarf.  Rarf.
            Mrs. Flint grabbed his arm as if to hold it in place, but that only made his other arm fly up.  His notebook hit the floor and popped open scattering loose-leaf paper everywhere.
            Susan Jansen and Juanita Silva were in their customary front row seats.  They immediately jumped up and began to gather the paper.  They attempted to stuff it back into the sprung clasps of the blue canvas-covered notebook, but Derol, still barking, suddenly began to pirouette like a stout canine ballerina.  Mrs. Flint was dragged around in a circle a time or two before she got wise and turned loose of his arm, but it was too late.  The class was in tatters, some giggled, others gasped in shock, and some of us simply sat in stunned and silent disbelief.
            Then as if summoned by magic, Mr. Terrance, the assistant principal, arrived and took hold of poor Derol and ushered him, still twirling and waving his arms, from the room.  We could hear them out in the hall, Derol barking and Mr. Terrance shushing. 
            Janis was forgotten.  Jimi was forgotten.  My sadness was forgotten.  Mrs. Flint flopped down heavily in her tri-wheeled teacher’s chair and mopped at her forehead with a crumpled Kleenex from her sweater pocket.
            “That didn’t go as planned,” she muttered.  Then she seemed to remember where she was so she leapt to her feet and clapped her hands together smartly.  “Class!” she said.  “Come to order. She motioned toward Juanita and Sally who were still clutching handfuls of paper.  Girls, bring me all that and let’s try and get back on track.”
            The two girls hurried to the front of the room and turned over their treasure.
            “Now,” the teacher continued.  “I must apologize.  I’m certain I could’ve handled that better.  Poor Derol.  I’m afraid I made things worse.  He really can’t help himself.  We must all remember that.”  She patted at her short, fluffy hair.  It was obvious to all of us that she had no idea how things had gotten so squirrely so quickly.
            “Going to be an interesting year,” Jase whispered with a wicked grin.
            I couldn’t help it, I laughed in spite of myself.

That's all for now, folks.  More next time.  Don't forget, THE PHANTOM PILOT http://tinyurl.com/6uk5cp2 is free this weekend, Oct. 13-15.  And THE PHANTOM STUDENT comes out on Tuesday, the 16th!