How one mysterious sighting opened my mind to the impossible

mysterysightLeftover debris from summer storms accumulated in a pile in our yard, larger this year than most. Outside temperatures finally cooled to the point one can actually stand to turn the air conditioning off. Both were signs that it is truly Fall once more. My boys, including the biggest kid of them all, eagerly piled as many limbs and dried leaves as they could in our fire pit and soon the evening was lit by its merry blaze.

The activity caught the eye of Her Royal Highness. Leaving the couch she has assumed as her throne, she padded her way to the edge of the fire ring. The boys threw another pine cone or two on the pile, sending ash and embers in the air. Her Royal Highness was not impressed with this display and returned post-haste to a more cushioned viewing distance. It was one of those times I was reminded how very different she is from our late dog.

He was much more possessive of the great back doors than she ever has been. An errant snap of a branch or roar from a car in the distance would have sent him running outside with his hackles at full attention. He’d hold his ground in the middle of the yard and bark at least a half a dozen times before running along the length of the fencing to ensure that the perimeter remained secure. Only then would he return to our side with a huff, puff, and or snort.

Could we not sense the unseen danger? He would ask without words, our fireside evenings anything but relaxing. There could be squirrels out there, cats, or even worse, deer! Eventually, his doggy paranoia would grow too much and with another huff, snort, and ruff, he’d trot off for another inspection of the parameter.

dog watching out window

My dog took our protection seriously. When he wasn’t in the yard, we often found him on guard at the window.

Shortly after he passed, I remember staring into the fire afterward, listening to its pops and crackles, and thinking to myself how quiet the evening was without him. Motion caught my eye, a shadow against our fence. The shadow moved as the fire blazed, and I swear it was dog shaped. As quickly as I noticed it, the shadow shifted across the fence as if my dog running his defense of our perimeter one last time.

I know the light can play tricks on you and eyes can sometimes make something out of nothing, especially if there is something they really want to see, but this time of year I can’t help but wonder if there may be truth to some of the stories about things that go bump in the night. And maybe, just maybe, that’s not a bad thing. I’ve never seen that shadow again, nor heard a bark from a dog that was not there, but it was enough to make me ask what if and think about other impossible things.

I am a huge fan of paranormal stories in general, particularly so, this time of year. The thought that there may yet be mysteries out there for us to discover thrills me.

Two quotes, attributed to Albert Einstein resonate with me:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

As much as I miss my late big sweetie, I am in no hurry to learn the answer to the question of whether or not there is life after death beyond what I take on faith. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other mysteries to ponder or other discoveries out there to make.

Imagine if Einstein or other researchers or scientists had stopped their work just because everyone told them the questions weren’t worth asking, or the task, impossible to perform. This is why it is so important to maintain an open mind, to accept that there are things we do not know, and to challenge the things we think we do. While some ideas may prove to never be anything more than a good fireside tale, there remains plenty out there for humanity to discover if we are only willing to consider the impossible.

Related Reading

If you have a spooky story of your own to share or would like to share a bit of news that no one else thought possible, feel free to either submit it or the link in the comments section.


How can I support awesome #indieauthors?

background image courtesy of

background image courtesy of

How about a review or two (or three)?

Amazon recently changed its review policy so that fake reviews, or reviews in which someone raves about a book they’ve never read or product they’ve never used, more difficult to post. It is a policy designed to protect the reader / buyer (a good thing!) however, one of the side effects of their more stringent rules is it is now more difficult for independent authors increase their book’s exposure.

Why is that? 

Reviews matter, not just to other potential readers, but to marketing services and other press. Many sites won’t let an author even pay for an ad unless a book has achieved a certain quantity of ratings with an average star rating of 3.5 or higher. So tougher rules and more hoops potential reviewers have to go through mean greater difficulty for authors to gain the necessary number of reviews needed to play in the market’s big leagues.

The Fair & Foul received a few new positive reviews recently (thank you!) and knowing how very difficult it can be to gain these, I thought I would express my gratitude for those who have given me a chance by paying it forward and sharing some reviews of a few books I’ve read recently that might not be on your radar.

So without further ado

Descent (A Stone Mountain Mystery #1)Descent by Kristina Stanley (genre: mystery)

In Descent, author Kristina Stanley introduces readers to Kalin, HR manager at Stone Mountain Sky resort as well as several other individuals who either support or participate on an aspiring Olympic racing ski team. Before long Kalin finds herself promoted to Director and is placed in charge of human resources as well as security, a role that forces her to utilize her people reading skills to solve a different sort of problem. If that weren’t challenge enough, her boss expects results immediately. Specifically, the name of the person responsible for the death of one of the competitive skiers.

Told through several points of views, nearly every character is given a potential motive for the crime with clues scattered throughout. I found myself rooting for Kalin, not only to solve the mystery but also to succeed professionally as a director (the fact she has two different colored eyes like I do was a bonus). It is obvious that Ms. Stanley is very familiar with life at a resort her tale not only entertained me but also educated me on the world of competitive skiing.

This cozy mystery also includes romance, overly confident exes, small town gossip, animal lovers, and the great outdoors. Those who require high-speed chases, cloaks, daggers, or other gun play in their mysteries may be disappointed. As I am not one of those people, I found the book to be engaging and have since read the sequel, which I also recommend.

Oak and Mist (The Ambeth Chronicles, #1)Oak and Mist by Helen Jones (genre: YA fantasy)

I knew going into this story that it was about a young girl who enters a fairy-like realm, however, what I didn’t expect was the author’s style of writing which was as delicate and beautiful as the magical world she’d created.

Helen Jones has written a modern YA fantasy adventure and yet reads like a something you might expect from David and Leigh Eddings. There are all the elements I’ve grown to expect in the genre, which may or may not be a good thing depending on taste: a love triangle, cunning dark creatures, altruistic beings of the light, prophecy, lost heirs, and hidden artifacts of power, but the beautiful prose makes is what really sets it apart from other recent additions to the genre.

There were certain plot elements that confounded me such as the point of a family heirloom that burns the owner when danger is near but can be rendered useless with a simple touch or exactly how the artifacts of power are expected to work, but I am confident that these questions will be answered in later books. All in all, this is a very promising start to the series.

UnHappeningsUnhappenings by Edward Aubry (genre: Science Fiction)

I picked up this book before going on vacation, which proved to be great timing on my part as I wasn’t able to put it down.

The protagonist, Nigel Walden, is a fairly average guy, except for one small problem: things keep unhappening to him. It is a term he uses to describe the phenomena in which his memories don’t line up with the memories of those around him. He copes as best he can, accepting that he simply can’t form attachments with anyone or anything until the day he meets a woman asking for his help who not only knows all about his condition asking but seems to know more than she is telling about his future.

The author uses extremely short chapters to tell the story, which can be a bit of a distraction but does serve to keep the pages turning and the plot twists as Nigel learns more about the cause behind his affliction.

This is science fiction in the same vein as The Butterfly Effect  or the show Timeless and is a story as much about fate as it is about unforeseen consequences.

Update from last week: For those who read my post from last week, Hurricane Matthew did stop by for a visit, bringing with it several inches of rain as well as strong gusts. We experienced mild damage and had swamp-like conditions temporarily develop in the yard, but were otherwise unharmed. Thank you to all who reached out to express your concern. I am truly touched. My thoughts, however, remain with those who were not as fortunate as I was.

The aftermath of the storm. A hurricane story

Hurricane Matthew (2016)

Hurricane Matthew on October 4th, 2016. Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

There is a storm coming, and for once I’m not being metaphorical. It’s an actual blow you down and knock you around kind of storm. The kind of storm that gets named as if humanizing it will somehow make it any less dangerous.

This isn’t my first hurricane. That dubious honor goes to a storm known as Hugo. I was just a kid at the time and barely paid attention to the fuss made about the storm on the news. Why should I? It formed far away and was impacting people I’d never met. Going to school and playing with my friends were much more important.

The hurricane weakened as it came in contact with land. I was even less concerned. I went to bed that night thinking that while there might be a few gusts and a little extra rain, the next day would look much like the day before.

When I woke, I noticed that a neighbor’s tree now lay at an angle, its truck split in two. Branches that once reached out and up, not lay on along the street making it appear more like a person performing a yoga child’s pose than a tree. I saw then exactly what a few gusts could do.

But the storm hadn’t just fallen a couple of old trees. The air felt different, so very still and the sky took on an odd yellow, green, gray color. But the most notable difference was the lack of animal sounds. The storm, seemingly, had taken us all by surprise.

Building wrecked by Hugo

What Hugo’s aftermath looked like down the road in SC

We counted ourselves fortunate that there wasn’t more damage. Neighbors helped neighbors. Some offered use of chainsaws, while others helped remove debris. I started to wonder if the storm might actually prove to be a good thing as a party formed in the street in front of my house and several neighbors rolled out their grills to share food with the masses rather than have it spoil in unpowered fridges. No one wanted the hurricane, but at least we all were making the best of the situation. We’d rebuild. We’d grow stronger because that is what we do.

But the power was out and the power stayed out and soon the lasting impacts of the storm began to take their toll. All told, it took nearly two weeks for the power to be restored in the area. My mom, for reasons she hasn’t shared with us, but I suspect have something to do with finding us playing with lit candles without adult supervision, shipped me and my sisters up north to our Grandparents’ house to wait out the repairs like waifs fleeing from war.

I’ve experienced more storms since, some more memorable than others. Storms going by names like Fran, Floyd, and Bonnie. Names that always sound so sweet and unthreatening. It is easy to downplay their danger. Oh, it’s only a category 1 or 2. That’s not all that bad. It’s just wind and no real substance. These things never impact us. We’ll stay indoors today. Maybe stock up on an extra beer or two. And so we go about our day-to-day confident that we’ll be able to ride this storm out the same as we have a dozen times before.

Hurricane Hugo was considered a category 1 storm when its eye crossed over us. That single category 1 storm, which we nearly all ignored, was responsible for multiple deaths, rendered 50,000 people homeless, created damage costing billions, and was able to set back progress by decades, if only temporarily. Hurricanes should never be ignored. Hurricanes always matter.

Okay. You caught me. There is a metaphor here after all.

Matthew isn’t the only storm on the horizon. Another storm is coming. One that affects those in Kansas as well as the coast. But thankfully, while Matthew is imminent, we still have a month left to prepare for this coming storm. So, my American friends, take advantage of this time and take this storm seriously. Understand the potential impacts, on others as well as yourself. Research the local issues and the local candidates as much as the national ones. Stock up on pop-tarts and bottled water if that’s your thing. But whatever you do, don’t stay in your homes and think to wait this one out or go out there unprepared.

Never forget, the eye of a hurricane has two walls. While initial after party might be fun – we survived, can you believe it is finally over, I can finally talk to my family a/o neighbors again – the storm’s impact will last longer than you might expect. Elections always matter. So do your homework. And Vote.

No critter wants that litter, so best be on your way

Litter sign

Image by Wade Tregaskis, courtesy of

I was standing outside, miles from home, with a trash bag in hand. A liquid of questionable make-up was running down my ankle from where I’d accidently brushed a leaky corner of the bag with my leg. It was a perfect morning.

My hubby, a regular member of the local Rotary Club had volunteered us all for a service project on Saturday. All of us. Even her Royal Highness. Our task was to go to a nearby park and walk the trail, scooping up litter along the way. When we arrived, the volunteer coordinator gave my boys a grabbing tool, a pair of gloves, and draped an adult sized fluorescent yellow vest labeled Park Volunteer vest over Kiddo’s shoulders. Then we’d gotten to work.

Kiddo decided it was a contest. Little did the other volunteers know, but they were now locked into a race against the clock to gather the most amount of garbage. It was a contest Kiddo was determined to win. The boy ran down hills, jumped into the brush, and time after time returned with a bottle, can, or cigarette butt clenched in his grabbing tool’s claws as proudly as if the trash were trophy.

Other park visitors were quick to notice, coming over to thank my son for his service. I beamed with every compliment they bestowed upon my son as I clutched our trash bag, now made heavy through his efforts.

Another couple from the club met us on the path. They’d finished inspecting the next section and it was time to head back. We turned to follow with Kiddo still on the lookout for any scrap that might have been missed. LT, more eager than his brother to call it a morning, begged his father to carry him the rest of the way. In order to shield our ears from the full assault of preschool cries, Lamont scooped LT up, placing him on his shoulders while I took charge of holding her Royal Highnesses leash in one hand and the trash bag in the other.

The path narrowed as we rounded the corner to the final bit of stairs leading to the park’s exit and a group of women approached us. I glanced at Kiddo, once again off the path in search of loose trash, as I anticipated the comments that would surely come.

A woman screamed.

Not the reaction I was expecting. I looked over. I realized then I’d let the lead grow too long and in that split second of inattention, Her Royal Highness had decided to make new friends.

The woman screamed again, clearly not interested in Her Royal Highness’ friendship. The group parted and I saw they too had a dog in tow. Only her dog was not idly sniffing around as if she was annexing the grounds as was mine. Hers was on its hind legs as its owner tried to yank its leash up to heaven. The dog barked frantically, mirroring the emotions of its owner. I pulled Her Royal Highness back to my side as soon as I realized what happened. Her Royal Highness, bored by the exchange, came at once without complaint.

So… almost a perfect morning.

I started to head back toward the stairs, but the other dog’s owner wasn’t yet satisfied. Turning she shouted a number of things at me and mine not caring at all who heard her spew, including my children.

I could have returned her righteous anger with my own. The encounter was an unwelcome surprise to us both. I hadn’t seen her dog. Didn’t she see my children? We were doing our part to make the park better, for people like her to enjoy. If anything she should be the one apologizing to them if not to me for her extended reaction.

I could have, but I didn’t say any of those things. I didn’t say anything at all. Instead, I simply looked at the stairs in front of me and decided my enjoyment of the morning would not be ruined by a passing moment. I’d reach the top, dispose of my bag, and be on my way.

I know the bags of mental negativity are far less easy to get rid off once you let them weigh you down. I could see all to clearly their impact on her in her body language as she continued down the path and could hear how she still simmered over my lack of reaction to her words or actions as the distance between us increased. I knew I didn’t want that kind of energy.

She’d tried her best to hand her bags of negativity to me. To spread her anger like the litter we’d collected, but I hadn’t let her. I’d resisted taking anything more than this little scrap for the purpose of telling a story. After all, my hands were full. I realized then I felt sorry for her. Not sorry enough to share her burden, but sorry she wouldn’t have the kind of day I’d had, even if it there had been a scattering of litter along the way.

I felt a cool drip on my leg, reminding me of the mystery liquid, best left unexamined and my need to get home and take a long shower. It was definitely time to make our exit. Kiddo’s face flashed another smile before shouting he’d collected another wrapper. At the top of the stairs, Kiddo announced to the volunteer coordinator he was the day’s winner.

I smiled. He was a winner for sure, but it would seem, I’d won too.

Temptation makes victory taste ever more sweet

There they lay, within reach, and yet to do so was entirely forbidden. It would be so easy, I told myself. All I had to do was open up one of kiddo’s packaged snacks from the basket in the pantry and chew. All those delicious salty treats were mine for the taking. But I’d made a promise to myself to limit my carb intake, particularly over the next thirty days, as the scale had taken issue with my summer beach excesses.

“She’d started taking up a lot of bad habits”, I imagined its snide electronic voice justifying itself to my toothbrush and my towel as they discussed my morning routine. “You both just help her stay hygienic. I, however, am helping her make better lifestyle choices.” I am sure both towel and brush would roll their eyes if they had them, but that awful scale had a point. I had enjoyed my summer a wee bit too much and it was starting to show.

You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” – Simon Cowell
(Gee thanks, Simon)

It came to a head one Tuesday evening. There, on the table, were all the fixings for tacos which had become our weekly staple since the Lego Movie first introduced the children to the concept of Taco Tuesday. A pair of tortillas waited for me to add lettuce, beef, and cheese, with a dollop of yogurt just as I had done the Tuesday before and the Tuesday before that.

“After today I am going to limit my sugar and bread for awhile,” I announced to the hubby. “At least for the next thirty days.” Lamont looked at his own plate and agreed to support me by doing the same. We both were in the mood to change up the dietary cycle. We wouldn’t cut it out altogether, we agreed, as that was next to impossible seeing as both ingredients were hidden in way too much. To avoid them altogether would involve *gasp* actually reading labels. But we would try not to intentionally consume either.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy. I’d gotten into a habit of having a bit of ice cream in the evening after tucking the boys in their beds. A reward for successfully surviving another day. Suddenly I was out my reward. The cravings started to chip away at my resolve.

“Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson

Brilliantly (at least in our opinion), we decided to make our own dessert. We had plenty of plain greek yogurt in the fridge. Add a few berries and some honey and poof. Instant ice cream substitute. We even added a little cinnamon to give it a bit more pizzaz!

And other meal times took on a bit more excitement as we managed to break away from our weekly routine, replacing the stand-bys with things like zucchini pasta or eggs poached inside an avocado. This whole “sacrifice” wasn’t one.

Then my mom’s birthday came along with a visit by my sister. After a celebratory dinner, the smell of a fruit pie tempted my nose. A bit more of my resolve chipped away. But still, I remained strong, empowered by what I had accomplished before. There was nothing to this goal. Or so I thought until I entered the final days of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge.

Then the air began to change. Fall has arrived and with it will be the assault on my senses that is pumpkin spice. I do so love the smell of Fall. If you listen very carefully, you might yet hear the sound of my scale crying. If my resolve started out as a mighty oak tree, it is now only a splinter of its former self.

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” Franklin P. Jones

A friend of mine suggested I read Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art in which the author theorizes that our brains are somehow wired to resist completing goals. While I haven’t yet read the book (though fully intend to) I can’t help thinking he might be on to something. I was so close to writing End of Book Two in this current draft, and yet my characters keep drawing out the action. No matter how much I wrote, there was still more to do. More to say.

It was so very tempting to simply type THE END before the story is ready and short circuit the process. And if I did? Would it really matter? This is not my final draft. I’ll be rewriting an editing next. I could grab those chips as well. One small bag on day 29 isn’t going to make a difference in the scheme of things. Who would know?

I would.

And so, while my resolve may only be a splinter, that splinter wedged itself deeply under my skin. I can’t ignore it. I can’t make a move without feeling its pain.

And so, I stood fast over these final few days. What’s a couple hundred more words compared to the many I’ve written thus far? Certainly not enough to lose heart now. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until the words END OF BOOK TWO were no longer words in my head but words on a screen. Yes. You read that right. This draft is finished. Now on to round two.

I pull back from the pantry and fixed a salad instead. It might not taste quite as good to my sugar biased tastes, but victory continues to be more satisfying.

As a reminder, I will be on the air Friday, September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time. The link to follow is