Mediums and Séances in Wild, Wild Ghost

Margo Bond Collins

Margo Bond Collins

I’m delighted to have Margo Bond Collins return to my blog here.  Margo and I have previously worked together on Come Love a Cowboy. She is addicted to coffee and SF/F television, especially Supernatural. She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and the women who love (and sometimes fight) them.  With this sort of background, you’ll understand she knows quite a lot about mediums and seances in the Old West.

Her story, Wild, Wild Ghost opens our anthology, The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly.


In my novella Wild, Wild Ghost, Ruby Silver, a new agent with the Tremayne PSI Agency, is a spiritualist and a medium who specializes in the exorcism of ghosts and other unwanted creatures of the underworld. Although the Agency, with its specialization in the paranormal, is fictional, Ruby’s classification of herself as a medium was not entirely unusual for the 1860s.

In fact, for all that the era is often cast as a time of scientific advancement, it was also perhaps one of the most superstitious eras the world has seen, and much of that superstition focused on the possibility of the living finding ways to speak to the dead. In fact, the term “psychic” can be traced to this era (beginning its existence as “psychical”).

Of course, the idea that the living and dead might communicate was certainly not new, as Odysseus’s trip to the underworld, Hamlet’s ghost, and Jacob Marley all show us. Nor were all examples of published accounts of ghostly interactions entirely literary—in 1727, for example, Daniel Defoe published his Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions, in which he gives at least partial credence to the idea of ghosts appearing to the living.SeanceImage

What was new was the idea of a structured reaching-out to spirits on “the other side,” generally through the use of a medium. Séances became increasingly popular in the second half of the nineteenth century, and by the 1860s, when Ruby shows up in Rittersburg, Texas, they would have been fairly commonplace. Thus the séance that Ruby and Trip hold in the novella might have been slightly scandalous among the church-going townspeople, but it would not have been so strange as to have caused much commentary among the people who had requested the Agency’s help with their troublesome ghost.


TGTBTGMockupWild, Wild Ghost

With everyone she loves in the grave, Ruby specializes in the dead.

When Ruby Silver traded in her demon-hunting rifle for a Tremayne Agency badge, she didn’t want another partner—losing the last one was too traumatic. But when a new case in the Texas Hill Country pairs her up with the slow-talking, fast-drawing Trip Austin, it will take all their combined skills to combat a plague of poltergeists in this German-settled town.

Excerpt:

Realizing that all the broken glass flying past him had been swept up into the whirlwind of glass around the woman, he dropped Demonio’s reigns. “Stay here,” he instructed. The stallion rolled its eyes at him, but nickered. Trip didn’t bother to tether the animal; his horse wasn’t going anywhere without him.

If exploding glass didn’t startle him, nothing would.

For that matter, neither did various ilk of ghosts and beasts. Demonio was steady, even if he had a tendency to bite strangers.

Was this woman really supposed to be his new partner?

When he’d gotten the telegram from the Tremayne headquarters back in St. Louis, he had laughed aloud. Trip knew there were lady agents—he’d even worked with one a time or two—but they had all been stationed back east. No lone woman in her right mind would want to come out here to work.

Not when there were plenty of ghosts to be exorcised in civilized places.

Safer places.

I guess maybe this one’s not in her right mind, then.

Might not be a bad idea to remember that.

He watched the glass-cyclone sweep up the dust around her, the cloud of dirt thickening until he couldn’t see the woman at all, and reconsidered.

If she can cause something like that to happen, maybe she’s plenty safe out here, after all.

As Trip made his way toward her, the glass-and-dirt devil rose into the air. He stopped to watch it ascend. Then, with a noise like a crack of thunder, it was gone. Trip had the vague impression that it had sped away toward the wilds rather than merely disappearing into nothingness, but he couldn’t have pointed to any particular evidence that made him think that.

Smoothing her hands down the sides of the painted horse’s face, the woman murmured something soothing in a tone that made Trip realize he had been hearing her voice all along, a soft alto hum rising and falling under the whipping and tinkling sound of the glass tornado, somehow more noticeable now in its absence than it had been during the strange events on the street.

The horse huffed out a breath, and the woman laughed. The sound of it sent an odd shiver up Trip’s back—not of anxiety, but of interest.

Don’t be stupid, man. You haven’t even seen her face yet.

And he couldn’t tell anything about her body under that horror of a dress.

Reaching up, she untied the bonnet from under her chin and removed it to shake off the dirt. A silken fall of blond hair cascaded out of it and down her back, and Trip stopped to stare, frozen by the glint of midday Texas sun off its golden sheen.

By the time he moved again, she had begun brushing off her skirt in sharp, efficient motions.

“Ruby Silver?” he asked when he was close enough to speak without shouting.

As she spun around, it occurred to him belatedly that it might not be a good idea to sneak up on a woman who could turn flying glass into a tornado and make it disappear.


You can learn more about Margo at http://www.MargoBondCollins.net and follow her on all the usual social media outlets (listed below).

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GHOST WRITING

TGTBTGFInalCover We hear an awful lot about ghost towns in the West, but maybe not so much about ghosts themselves. Have you ever seen a ghost? My own, personal encounter with a ghost was actually in Hampton Court, King Henry VIII’s favored residence outside of London. I was walking down the long corridor (known as the Haunted Gallery) and, just at the very moment a tour guide was saying it was haunted and some folks might feel a chill, I got such a chill I nearly jumped out of my skin. Let me make it clear: this was not a chill like one might get on a cold day; this was a true spine-tingler! Even my daughter, who was with me, looked at me and asked what was wrong.

On a ranch down in Texas a few years back, having attended a writer’s retreat, I decided to stay a few extra days before going onto a conference. The ranch was now empty and out of season, but the owners wouldn’t let me stay alone in the guest house—because it was haunted. They had to have someone stay in the building with me. A man had been hung somewhere on the ranch and his ghost walked the guestrooms. I was rather disappointed not to see the cowboy, actually, though I’m not sure what I would have felt if I had.

And that’s the thing—I think we like to hear ghost stories, and the idea of an afterlife certainly is appealing, but whether anyone truly wants to come face to face with the dead is quite another matter. The road I live on is said to be haunted—Whooping Hollow is named for a Native American killed nearby. I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering him, however…thank goodness…and I’m not sure what I’d do if he appeared. Living in a village founded in the 1600s, however, certainly makes one aware of the lives that have passed down these roads.

With Halloween just around the corner, as the catalogs coming through my mail seem to indicate from around July onwards (!), you may feel like settling down with some good ghost stories to get you in that seasonal mood. You’ll be encountering the ghosts only on the page, I promise. The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly brings together my favorite setting of the Old West with something very new and different for me—ghosts, or the paranormal, and, of course, there’s romance. Our anthology contains eight very individual stories, some from authors who normally write western romance, and some from authors who normally write paranormal. I thought that was an exciting idea, and I hope you do, too. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing the authors individually to tell you about their stories.

For now, keep both the Halloween costume and Stetson to hand, and a bowl of corn candy. And if you’ve ever seen a ghost, please comment below. We love ghost stories!TGTBTGMockup

 

Click to order now!

My own story is LONG A GHOST, AND FAR AWAY  Here’s the blurb:

When Lizzie Adams returns as a ghost to a life she led in the 1800s, she is surprised to find herself on a ranch in Wyoming, but delighted to learn she was married to a handsome and loving man. The reasons for her return become clear when she discovers how she died, yet the unresolved issues surrounding her death leave her unable to either live in the 1800s or return to her present life.

Colby Gates misses the wife he loved, yet a ghost is a poor substitute. Re-married to a woman he doesn’t care for, and with outlaws searching for buried gold on his ranch, the spirit of his wife is a further complication.

But perhaps if the questions surrounding Lizzie’s death can be answered, the two can be together.

For all time.

And an excerpt for you:

“OH! I do beg your pardon. What year are we pretending this to be now?”

Colby raised a brow in what looked like slight irritation. “It’s 1897.”

“Ah! Of course! 1897. That would explain a whole raft of things. No cell phones. In fact, no phones—”

“Well, there are phones, but not here.”

“I see.” Lizzie shook her head as if she would go along with this whole pretense. “And so I can’t phone a friend to collect me in their car because, of course, there are no cars.”

“Well.” Colby hesitated. “I’m afraid I have no idea what a ‘car’ is other than the car of a railroad train but, yes, there aren’t any. Or do you mean automobiles? We have them—”

“But not here,” Lizzie finished for him. Unable to help herself, she burst out laughing. Jason had really done a good job, and this Colby fellow was a really good actor. He stayed in his part throughout, gave nothing away. “Okay, listen….” She tried to take in a breath but the corset was really biting into her now. “Is there someplace we can go, is there someplace I can go and get the hell out of this corset or whatever the heck you call it, and then perhaps you can give me a cup of tea or something, and we can sort this out?”

“Elizabeth, there is something you should know.” His voice was strained, hesitant.

“There’s a lot I should know, Colby Gates, but what specific item have you got in mind?”

“I’m married. I re-married.”

Lizzie covered her eyes with her hands and sighed with the weight of the universe on her shoulders. “Okay, listen. Really. I don’t want to intrude on you and your wife, I don’t want to be part of this ridiculous farce any more, and I sure as hell don’t want anything more to do with Jason Beeme. Just let me go home, all right? Let me go home? Please? Pretty please?”

Colby blew out a breath and shook his head. “Elizabeth. Lizzie. I have no idea who Jason Beeme is, and this ‘farce’ as you call it, it puzzles me as well. I don’t know how you are here; I only know what I’ve told you. We were married, happily married—very happily married and then….”

“And then? What?”

“You…died.”

“I died. I’m dead. I see.” Hysteria was now setting in, and Lizzie couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped. “I’m dead, but I’m here, is that it?”

“Yes.”

“Soooo, like, if I’m dead, but I’m here, I’m a ghost?” This made her laugh out loud.

Colby didn’t answer. It was as if he hadn’t thought that at all, just been confused as much as she by the situation. He seemed to mull this over now.

“Am I now a ghost as far as you are concerned?”

His “yes” came out almost as a breath.

“Hmm. Well, I’m not a ghost, you’re not a cowboy, and this, for sure, isn’t 1887.”

“Ninety-seven,” he corrected her.

She looked him in the eye, nose to nose. “I don’t give a good flying…you-know-what, what year you think it is. I want to go home, and I want to go home now, so just let’s stop playing around with this shit and—”

“You never used to use such language.”

“Mister! Colby! Please stop! The year is 2016 and I can say whatever the hell I please. Women are liberated. We’re free.”

“But…it isn’t lady-like.”

“Well, excuse me! ‘Lady-like’! Okay, I’ve had enough now. Take me home, please.” She rubbed her face with exasperation; this whole sham was un-be-lieve-able.

“Elizabeth…Lizzie…you are home, you know that. Only now…now—”

“You’re married.”

“Yes.”

“Well, good for you. I’m glad. I hope you’ll both be very happy. So, just take me to my apartment on Washington Avenue in St. Louis.”

“I….”

She thought he was gagging as he rubbed his forehead.

“Lizzie: you’re in Wyoming. We’re on a ranch near Buffalo, Wyoming. You’re miles from St. Louis.”

Lizzie could feel her eyes grow big; she thought they might pop out of her head. “Wyoming? Boy, Jason really did a job on me. Brother, how long was I out?”

Colby shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. As I said, I don’t know a Jason, I can only tell you it’s 1897, you’re in Wyoming, you’re my wife—or were my wife—before you…you…died.”

Lizzie felt the breath was being pressed out of her, and if she didn’t get out of this barn, and out of the corset soon, she would, indeed, die for real. “Okay,” she said giving in, “I’m dead. But this corset is killing me, so can we go some place and let me take it off. Maybe your wife could help?”

“Sylvia is visiting her aunt over in Kelly. She won’t be back for a few days.”

“How convenient!” Ha! One less actor to deal with.

“I’ll take you in the house and we can sort things out there.” He offered her his hand, which she took, looking up into his pale eyes, and let him lead her out of the barn into chill air. The sun was laying its colors on the horizon and she figured it must be late afternoon, wherever she was.

“So, I’m dead,” she said conversationally.

“Well, you were. You seem very much alive at the moment, I have to say, but that’s quite impossible.” He stopped.

Lizzie glanced over at what was no doubt the house, a log structure of good proportion, with a lantern lit and glowing through a window. The last rays of the sun elongated their shadows, and for a moment, she tried to breathe in the cool air deeply.

“Impossible,” she whispered. “To be here like this.” She turned to him, the attraction so great suddenly she wished this wasn’t all some huge act laid on to fool her. “So, I’m dead,” she repeated once more.

“Yes. I think so.” There was a depth of sadness in his voice she couldn’t fathom.

“And how did I die, may I ask?”

Colby Gates stood stock still beside her and let her hand go. He turned to her in the fading light, and Lizzie could see him swallow hard as he removed his Stetson and brushed an invisible speck from its brim before replacing it on his head. Then he looked her in the eye.

“I shot you.”

Native American Slavery

 

headFellow member of Women Writing the West, Alethea Williams is the author of Willow Vale, the story of a Tyrolean immigrant’s journey to America after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. In her second novel, Walls for the Wind, a group of New York City immigrant orphans arrive in Hell on Wheels, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Walls for the Wind is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rogers Medallion winner, and placed first at the Laramie Awards in the Prairie Fiction category. Continue reading

NOT Happy Trails

Patti Sherry-Crews

Patti Sherry-Crews

I met Patti Sherry-Crews when we each had a story in the Come Love a Cowboy anthology, and we are continuing to work together on a second anthology for Hallowe’en as well as a third one for Christmas. We’ve bonded over the fact we have both spent time in the U.K.—Patti studied anthropology and archaeology at Grinnell College and the University of North Wales. Continue reading

NOT QUITE A COWBOY

I want to make this clear straightaway: I don’t believe, by any stretch of my imagination, that visiting a guest ranch gives me any idea whatsoever of the real life of a rancher. Imagine that a curtain is hung across a window and that curtain is worn a bit thin, or perhaps even has a small tear in it— Continue reading

Julie A. D’Arcy-The Shape of Destiny

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE BOOK--WITH RECIPES!--OF COME LOVE A COWBOY NOW!

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE BOOK–WITH RECIPES!–OF COME LOVE A COWBOY NOW!

Continue reading

Women Only!–Barrel Racing in Rodeo

HebbynewBioPicHebby Roman is the multi-published, Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. Continue reading

Dude for a Day: the Unique American Guest Ranch Experience

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE BOOK--WITH RECIPES!--OF COME LOVE A COWBOY NOW!

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE BOOK–WITH RECIPES!–OF COME LOVE A COWBOY NOW!

me (1)Patti Sherry-Crews’ studies at the University of North Wales in the U.K. led to her running an Irish and British Import store for fifteen years. This proved to be a great excuse for occasional buying trips abroad and reading books during the day. Continue reading

WHY WE LOVE COWBOYS

Fellow author from Come Love a Cowboy, Margo Bond Collins, is addicted to coffee (mmm…caffeine) and SF/F television, especially Supernatural (mmm…Winchesters). She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. Margo’s story in our anthology is titled Leaving Necessity and, despite the fact she is into vampires, ghosts, and werewolves, she knows a good man when she sees one–a cowboy! Continue reading

GRANT ME THE MOON

CLICK TO BUY!!

CLICK TO BUY!!

My next colleague from Come Love a Cowboy is best-selling, and Caroline150X150pixelsaward-winning author, Caroline Clemmons.  Caroline writes both historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends.

Her novella, Grant Me the Moon, takes place in and around Post City, Texas. Continue reading