Monday, October 22, 2018

The Mysterious Abandoned House by Sarah J. McNeal #AbandonedHouseMystery

Haunted House

When my family lived in Luthersburg, Pennsylvania before we moved to North Carolina in 1952 when I was 4 or 5 years old and my sister was 5 or 6. Next to our house was an open field and, on the other side of the field was an abandoned house. My sister and I were curious about that house. We knew it was empty.

In those days kids were off the leash and allowed to explore. Everybody knew everybody else and were all up in their business, plus the village was barely larger than a football field before it became fields, forest, and farms. It wasn’t like a crime-ridden city—not even close. So parents allowed kids to have the freedom to roam, explore, and play unattended by adults.
My sister and I decided to go to the empty house and see what was inside. The door was unlocked. I don’t remember if we knocked or just walked right in unannounced. Inside, all the furniture was in place, but the paint was peeling off of most of the pieces as if it had stood like that for years. The dishes were all stacked in the cabinets like they might have been washed, dried, and put away long ago and never touched again. I opened a drawer and found it filled with flatware. The spoons, knives, and forks were sort of untidy in their arrangement, but still, it all seemed present. I do have to admit to a crime here. I stole a butter knife. I don’t know why, I just liked it and nobody lived there anymore, right?

While we were sorting out things in the kitchen, we heard footsteps upstairs. Our eyes met, widened with terror. I couldn’t seem to move. So we stood absolutely still like rabbits. There was a rustling sound and then footsteps again. Fear animated us. We scrambled out the door and ran all the way across the field until we reached the safety of our home and ran up to our room to stare out the window to see if anyone—or any thing might be coming after us. There was nothing except an open field and an empty house. We never went back to the house again and, as far as I know, no one was known to live there again. I will never forget that event for as long as I live.

Have any of you had an experience like mine? Have you ever gone into an abandoned house? Did you see anything interesting there?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Liberty Has Died

Liberty (October 6, 2018) Her Last Day In My Arms

Liberty has died. 

I found her under the desk in the spare room very sick and weak on Saturday morning (October 6, 2018) . She purred a little when I picked her up. Liberty had managed to escape death recently. With multiple visits to the vet for treatment, she managed to recover, but she was never the same. She had grown weaker in the days that followed and I knew I couldn’t save her this time. I did the only thing I could do; I kept her with me and held her all day even into the night because I didn’t want her to be alone when she crossed over. And because I knew that’s what she needed from me. I slept with her beside me, my hand still holding on to her. In the early hours, somewhere between midnight and 2:00 am she clinched my hand with her paw and pulled it close to her. Her claws dug into my hand, but I didn't care. And then she went still and crossed over into that place where she could be happy until I can join her and my other fur babies where we never have to part again.

Liberty Resting In My Desk Drawer

I’m going to miss the way that little six pound cat stomped into a room and her nightly forays running up and down the hall hollering loudly maybe just to warn any critters that might be about that she was in charge. I’m going to miss that persistent spirit of hers that demanded to be held whenever she felt like it, even when I was trying to work.

Liberty Sleeping While I Work

Right now I would love to hold her like that forever. I wanted her to stay and I did everything in my power to keep her with me, but Liberty had to go. The house is quieter and less lively today. It's just me and Lily now.
My darling Liberty is gone. My grief comes in overwhelming waves of sorrow and memories. I will never forget Liberty and I will love her as long as I draw breath on the Earth.

The Mobile I Made For Liberty

I made this mobile for Liberty to honor her. As soon as Hurricane Michael passes and the winds have gone, I'll hang this mobile from a limb of the Japanese Maple tree above her grave. I'm sadder than I can say, but I must take steps toward "normal" again for the sake of my dog, Lily. She needs me now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

It's Only Make Believe #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePub.

Vintage Western Romance
Fire Star Press/ Prairie Rose Publications

September's Theme: Creatures and Critters


A loud slap echoed through the house. June’s hand stung as she placed it back in the pocket of her dressing gown, part of her vast trousseau paid for by her parents.
Kit stepped back and rubbed his reddened cheek with his left hand while Snort, Kit’s dog, barked. June couldn’t help but notice the flash of his golden wedding band in the light of the dressing room. Her heart clenched at the sight of it. They’d been married only a few hours and now this…
“Hush that barking, Snort.” The dog quieted, but kept a sharp eye on June just in case. Kit glanced from the dog to June. “What the hell was that for, June? Did I do something wrong by trying to kiss my wife?”
“You bet you did. I thought you loved me and now…” She wasn’t quite sure how to say it to him now that she knew the truth. Honestly, she could barely believe what she had overheard at their wedding reception. How could she explain to him what she heard and express the doubts she had about his love because of it? Well, best to find a way because it seemed quite evident to her that he wasn’t about to leave her be until she did.
“You’d best tell me what this is all about, June, because I’m beginning to have doubts about your sanity and beginning to wonder about my own.” He cocked his head and narrowed his blue eyes at her.  If this is one of your cockamamie jokes, it isn’t funny—and please don’t tell me you married me just to spite your parents. I’m fairly certain your mother doesn’t think I’m good enough for you. She’s only spoken to me about four times in all the years I’ve known you. It’s a little late for second thoughts, June.” Snort began to pace between June and Kit as if to decide whose side he should take.

October's Theme: Autumn
Stay tuned...

Friday, September 07, 2018

I DREAM OF YOU #blogabookscene #fFireStarPress #PrairieRosePub #TheLastWilding

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub and #FireStarPress

September Theme: Critters

Here is my critter excerpt:

Kyle knew he wasn’t going to get out of there without taking a puppy so he knelt by the box and thought which one might suit him and he hoped Mia might like the dog, too. Without a doubt, Kyle believed he could tell a great deal about a person by the way they treated animals.

 He missed his dog, Wichahpi which was Lakota for “Star.” Rob had given him the dog years ago after he rescued her from two desperate men known for their cruelty. She had been a great dog and Kyle had loved her dearly. He gave her a Lakota burial to honor her and all she meant to him, but he thought he could never love another dog that way again. Deep inside, Kyle knew it was time to open his heart to another animal companion. Though he could never replace Wichahpi, surely he could find a puppy that would be a treasure to him even if it was in a different way.

Closing his eyes, Kyle placed his hand over the box of puppies and imagined just the right puppy for him would come up to lick his hand to tell him, “Hey this is me. I am the one you want and need. I am the one that will love you.” A few moments later, a puppy licked his hand and, when Kyle opened his eyes, he saw it was the little auburn female with a patch of white under her chin and pointed ears. She barked in her puppy voice to show him she liked him. He named her Shappa which was Lakota for “Red Thunder.”

“Ah, I see you’ve chosen the sweetest of the litter,” Joey said when he returned to the clinic.

Kyle sat on the floor next to the box holding Shappa in his hands. He grinned. “Actually, she chose me. I think she’s going to grow bigger than her mama. Look at these big paws.”

October’s Theme: Autumn

Diverse stories filled with heart

Thursday, September 06, 2018

I DREAM OF YOU by Sarah J. McNeal #TheLastWilding

For years I have written about the Wilding family in the fictional town of Hazard, Wyoming. The saga began in a time travel story with Joe Wilding and his adopted, part Lakota, brother, Banjo. I loved them so much I began to write about their children, and then their grandchildren. They were my family and my friends. I cannot see pictures of Wyoming or hear about the state without thinking of my Wildings.

I enjoyed having the Wildings help each other out of tough situations. Through these stories they counseled one another and shared their hopes, dreams, and burdens. They supported each other and fought for each other. And they had no problem speaking their mind when they thought a family member was about to derail.

And now I have come to the last Wilding story with their part Lakota cousin, Kyle Red Sky. He is the wisest of the Wilding clan and he has a special Lakota gift. I have written Kyle into several previous stories in which he has lent a hand to another Wilding in trouble. He has given wise counsel to his cousins on occasion, and he has warned them when he knew, in his mystical way, that trouble was coming.

And now, for my final Wilding, I am telling Kyle’s story. Of all the Wildings, Kyle is the most deserving of happiness. To make this last book special I have included scenes here and there in which each of the Wilding clan from previous stories shows up. I included Joe and Lola Wilding who are now the elders of the tribe. I wanted to let them all say goodbye. Kyle has always been dear to my heart and it was my desire to show his depth of character in this last story. I hope I succeeded.

I Dream of You
By Sarah J. McNeal
Fire Star Press, imprint of Prairie Rose Publications
A Dream…A Kiss… And Deadly Secrets
Kyle Red Sky dreamed of the woman with fire in her hair, but when she comes to town, something dark and dangerous follows her. He wants to help her, but she is reclusive, avoids men, and the scarf she always wears around her neck tells him she harbors a dark secret.
Mia Beckett is a survivor. Finally, she has found sanctuary in a small western town far from danger where no one knows her or her past and she intends to keep it that way. But she can’t forget the man she saw once in a dream who told her the paths they walked were destined to meet. However, when she meets Kyle Red Sky and realizes he is the man from her dream, she knows, if the dream becomes a reality, he may die.

Kyle kicked open the door of his mother’s former dress shop despite the sign that read, No Men Allowed. The raging fire upstairs in the private quarters made this an emergency, certainly enough to ignore that sign. Smoke began to fill the shop as he raced up the stairs calling out the name of the new shop owner. “Miss Beckett! Miss Mia Beckett, where are you?”
As he reached the landing of the second floor, he heard someone cough nearby. With the wet blanket wrapped around him he rushed toward the direction of the cough until he found the woman lying on the floor almost unconscious from smoke inhalation. As soon as he removed the wet blanket he wore and wrapped her in its protective layer, he scooped her up in his arms to carry her away from the flames and smoke. The scarf she wore fell away from her neck and her head lolled back against his chest to reveal a thin, straight scar that ran all the way across her throat from her left ear to her right. It wasn’t an old scar, most likely no more than two or three months in the past. She attempted to raise a hand as if to cover her throat and replace the silk scarf. He’d always seen her wear a scarf of some description or another around her neck since her arrival in town. Now he knew all those scarves were not her unique sense of fashion, but her desire to hide the scar. She was a woman attempting to keep a secret.
In a whisper he could barely hear, she said, “Please, don’t let them see.” And then she fell unconscious.
“You have my word.” He knew there was little chance she could hear his promise, but it didn’t matter.
Buy Link: Paperback       Kindle

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author who writes diverse stories filled with heart. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, Fire Star Press, and Sundown Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August Closes The Door On Summer

Here is comes, the end of August, and with it the end of our lazy summer days. Mixed with feelings of excitement and dread, kids are returning to school ready to share their summer adventures with their friends and classmates.

Grownups have to remember what day of the week it is once again and start setting their alarms clocks as they get back to their routines. It’s time to wake those children up and hustle them off to school. There is the rush hour morning traffic to work and the drive home to pick up the children at school. It’s time to get the kids to do their homework while preparing dinner and then off again to all those after school activities.

Though the heat of summer will remain for a while, our summertime is coming to a close. We have to reset our schedules, our activities, and our emotional interiors for the coming autumn. Soon, this summer will just live in our memories.

Personally, as much as I do not like winter (sorry Santa), I am looking forward to autumn. I’ve had enough crazy weather—the extreme heat, floods for some and fires for others, hurricanes, and tornadoes. I’m ready for that high atmospheric pressure and cool air that seems to motivate us to get moving again. Autumn is my favorite season. Theirs is nothing so beautiful as a forest dressed in colorful leaves, especially in the mountains. Hot tea or cocoa by the fireside with a good book—there’s nothing better except maybe the state fair.

Anyway, it’s been fun, August, but I’m ready for the next chapter.

What is the thing you think you’ll remember most about this summer? Are you looking forward to autumn, or are you already missing summer?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Monday, August 20, 2018


Some of you may be familiar with Blue Laws; and some of you may have never heard of them. Blue Laws were passed to keep people from working on Sundays or selling goods on Sundays, especially such items as alcoholic beverages in order to maintain religious standards. Blue Laws vary from state to state.

In my research of the life in Colonial America, I discovered just how strict some of these laws were, in particular the severity of the laws in New England. Here’s one that may astound you: A Blue Law on the books in New England in the mid-eighteenth century prohibited a man to kiss his wife on Sunday. 

I guess those lawmakers (men) thought it was work to kiss a woman and not pleasure after all. I have to wonder how well that law could have been upheld. Did the police invade homes and fields, and forests searching for couple who might be breaking the law? Can you imagine the outcry if such a law was enforced today? What about the invasion of privacy or the sanctity of marriage, or plain old freedom in the pursuit of happiness?

Postal clerks even today owe their Sundays off to the origination of Blue Laws. Not to grumble or anything, but nurses thought a Sunday off was a privilege...just sayin'. 

Here in the state of North Carolina the Blue Law prohibits the sale of alcohol from 2 AM and either 10AM or 12 PM on Sunday depending on county until 10 AM on Monday. 
Teddy Roosevelt

Gun hunting is prohibited on Sundays between 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. I guess that allows worshippers the chance to get out of church before they start drinking or killing things.

Prohibition on Sundays still exists in 12 states due to Blue Laws: Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Just so ya know, for those who enjoy road trips and alcohol, you can still drive to a bordering state to get some booze. Well, you probably already thought of it or did it I guess.

Is your state a Blue Law state? What is your opinion of the Blue Laws? Are you surprised that a state would allow revenue from alcohol sales to go to a neighboring state? Are you shocked that Blue Laws are still enforced in some states? If you were governor of a Blue Law state, would you try to repeal the Blue Law or would you work to keep it?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Hello August!

August from a French Calendar

When I think of August, I can’t help but think about the weather. We’re certainly having plenty of that already across our nation right now with monsoons here in the east, tornadoes in the mid-west, and draughts in the west so severe the forests have become a tinderbox for fires. Hurricanes are revving up off the coast of Africa and will soon be on their way to the Caribbean and North American continent. We’ve already had a few that have decimated Puerto Rico and Haiti. So much for the carefree life living on an island. And it’s HOT!—just in case no one’s noticed. Since we have so much moisture here in the southeast and heat retains moisture, we have those hot, humid days when your only hope for comfort is to sit in front of an air conditioner and dream of autumn breezes and high pressure atmosphere to revive our lagging energy.

August is also the last month for kids to enjoy the freedom of no school. As a kid I liked being able to stay up late and laze around reading and day dreaming. In my early childhood it was a great time for the neighborhood kids to get together and play and to go exploring in the woods. We built teepees beside the creek and waded around in the water to get cool. We built dams out of sticks and rocks to make the water deeper so we could luxuriate sitting in it. In my teen years after we got a TV, I liked to watch the late show with those old black and white movies from the 1930’s and 40’s. I loved the satin dresses and how men wore suits and fedoras. I loved Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in those big musical productions. I also liked the late hours of the night to write when my creative juices were freely flowing.

The family spent a great many meals either in the dining room with all the windows open or outside where the oppressive heat of the kitchen was dispelled to a degree by an occasional breeze. August is a mélange of good times and extreme weather mixed with the joy of freedom and the wicked pleasure of indolence.

What memories do you hold dear from the month of August? Was it your favorite month or your least favorite month of the year? Were you beginning to look forward to going back to school or dreading it? What was the activity you liked best in August?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Losing Liberty

Liberty in the Window

I thought I was going to lose Liberty, my 17 year old cat, this past week. She stopped eating and drinking and dropped her weight which wasn’t that much to begin with. She normally weighs 6 pounds. I took her to my veterinarian, Dr. Jack Miller on Tuesday (July 10th). They did blood work and examined her, but everything came back normal. They treated her with a bolus of fluid and gave her a couple shots to increase her appetite and decrease any inflammation.
After that, she acted like her normal self and still seemed able to remain active, but she still wouldn’t eat or even drink water. I was feeling desperate.
I took her back to the vet the next two days and each time they gave her fluids and medicine. She was beginning to look rough, uninterested in most activities, and just wanted to be held day and night. I know I couldn’t take her to the vet every single day of her life to get fluids and there was no way she could get any real nutrition.
On Friday I began to think about whether or not I should put her down if she didn’t improve over the weekend. The thought of losing her sucked out all my joy. I couldn’t even sleep or rest for thinking about what might happen next. I wrote prayers for her and lit a candle, hoping for anything that would bring her back from the brink.
And then something DID happen.
Liberty on Friday July 13, 2018
On Friday, she followed me into the bedroom while I made my bed and, while I was straightening the bed clothes, she started pawing at something under the dresser. Liberty had found one of Lily’s old dog kibbles…and then she ate it. I couldn’t believe it. I had been trying to get her to eat wet food believing it would be easier on her to start on something semi-liquid, but being Liberty, she decided she wanted a dried out old gross kibble that may have been under that dresser for quite some time. I was amazed, but not reassured yet.
A few minutes later, she went to her dish and ate her dry cat food ignoring the special high powered canned food the vet gave me. Then she went back for seconds and then she went to the water bowel and drank, and drank, and drank. I called the vet and his trusty animal nurse, Stacy, told me to just keep an eye on Liberty to see how she would do and that they would be open half a day on Saturday if anything went wrong.
Here it is, Sunday and now Liberty is eating her food including her favorite canned food of chicken and tuna (gross in my book) and acting completely normal. Crisis diverted.
I know that I’m not going to have Liberty forever, but the very idea of her starving herself to death when there was nothing apparently wrong with her was very upsetting to me. I may never know what happened (Can cats get the stomach flu?), but I am so very grateful for the excellent care the vet and his staff gave to Liberty and the kindness and generosity they showed me during this whole ordeal. And now I get to have more time with Liberty and enjoy her antics. It’s such a relief!

Diverse stories filled with heart

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

THE VIOLIN July Theme #BlogABookSceneFireworks Excerpt by Sarah J. McNeal

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

July – THEME: Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of  Summer
Here is my 4th of July Fireworks scene from THE VIOLIN

by Sarah J. McNeal

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner who died from downing, she realizes he is the man in her dreams.
She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he came to drown that day. Little does she know how her own life will be tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927.

Fireworks Excerpt: (John and Genevieve on a boat to watch the fireworks)

He slipped his jacket off and placed it around her shoulders. "Look up, Genevieve. Isn't it beautiful?"
A knot formed in her throat. She didn't know which was more beautiful, the sparkling array of diamonds on the dark, navy blue sky or the expression on John's face as he looked up toward the heavens. She nodded her head, too filled with emotion to form words.
A loud boom shook the quiet followed by a colorful shower of sparkling light that spread over the sky above John and Genevieve. Another boom and a different color of glittering lights shot over the sky, reflected on the glassy surface of the water. She inhaled the acrid smell of gunpowder mixed with the musky scent of the lake water. Although Genevieve had seen fireworks many times in her life, she'd never seen them this beautiful. The water and the sky became one as showering displays of colors lit the sky above them and the water reflected the fireworks around them. Their boat became a tiny island in a world of light.

Genevieve's heart swelled to overflowing. 


AUGUST  THEME: Alone Again, Naturally

Diverse stories filled with heart

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

HOME FOR THE HEART by Sarah J. McNeal—June #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePub@PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.
June Theme: On the Road Again
Here is my desperate fight or flight scene:


Lucy Thoroughgood has gone and done it now—fallen in love with Hank Wilding, a man she’s known all her life. He’s content with friendship, but Lucy’s heart has flown the coop and she knows she’s in love with the determined bachelor. When she visits him with a proposition—to let the orphans she cares for learn to ride his horses during the summer—he surprises her with one of his own. She must accompany him to the dancing lessons he’s signed up for.

Secretly pleased, she hopes that perhaps this arrangement might lead to more than friendship. But Hank’s loved hard and lost, with his engagement to one of the popular town girls going south two years earlier. He’s sworn to never lose his heart to another—including Miss Lucy Thoroughgood.

A teenage orphan, Chayton, could be the key to thawing Hank’s heart—but danger follows the embittered boy. Will Hank be able to give Chayton the home he yearns for—or will the boy’s past bring only sorrow to those he cares for? When a Lakota premonition becomes reality, Lucy’s life hangs in the balance. Will Hank have the chance to let Lucy know how wrong he was?


The crowd grew silent. Tension filled the air with nervous energy. Hank stepped forward with his hands raised. “Now listen to some sense, mister. I don’t care what you took from the house. You’re welcome to whatever you stole as long as you let go of the boy. He hasn’t done anything to hurt you. You let me have the old man and the boy, and I won’t try to stop you from leaving.”
A hollow laugh bellowed from the man. “Like you could stop me anyway. I’m the one with the gun. This boy belongs to me. He’s my son and he’s going with me just in case anybody gets any ideas of comin’ after me…sorta like an insurance policy you might say.” He squeezed Chayton’s neck with his arm so tight Hank thought the boy might pass out from lack of air. “He better learn to mind me though.”
So this is Stephen Grier. Hank glanced at Chayton. The kid is scared out of his mind. He forced himself to remain calm and to speak with quiet authority. “Turn him loose, Grier, or I swear to God I will hunt you down and end your miserable life.”
“You best back off Mister High and Mighty. Now I’m taking this boy, and these here goods what I found, and I might even take this broken down old man with me if you don’t shut your trap.” He pointed the gun at Hank just as Merrilee pulled up in Hank’s blue pick-up truck. The crowd gasped in unison.
There was no time to lose. Hank knew he had to do something or Grier was going to get Chayton. No matter what happened, Hank couldn’t allow him to do that. When Grier’s attention slipped from him to the truck, Hank knew it might be the only moment he had to act. He rushed forward toward Grier. A scream rang out from somewhere behind him. Grier turned Chayton lose and set the sights of the gun on Hank. Just as he pulled the trigger and a shot rang out, a blur of yellow flew across Hank’s vision between him and Grier. Oh God, Lucy!

July’s Theme: Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Diverse stories filled with heart