I used to walk around our small town, oh, six, seven years ago, every morning before I began writing. I’d get up, throw on my tennis shoes and walking clothes, and take off down the street in front of my house. If it was sunny, I’d wear a hat; if it was raining or cold I’d wear a hooded jacket.
Sometimes I carried my ipod plugged into my ears to listen to music…often my own brother’s songs he’d recorded or jams we’d recorded together. Those jams are precious to me now because my sweet, talented brother passed away this last May after a long and cruel battle with cancer.
Sometimes I listened to nothing but the houses, woods and ponds I passed and my own thoughts. I had two routes. A short one that circled around my immediate neighborhood and lasted about a half-hour and a longer one that went across Main Street and meandered up a narrow road that ended at the top of a hill by a hauntingly beautiful cemetery. A very old cemetery that stood above my small town like a lofty sentinel. Our town looked like a miniature village far below me filled with tiny cars and even smaller people scurrying around. The graves inside this cemetery were very old and ornate. Mausoleums, angel statues and skeletal trees dotted the landscape. It is an eerie place. What a view, though.
It was on one of these walks up past this cemetery one cloudy, cold morning in November that I first began thinking of The Woman in Crimson. I had imagined a towering mansion backed up against thick woods across the street from the cemetery…a stately mansion that had stood since the civil war days and was now a bed and breakfast.
What would happen, I thought, if that bed and breakfast was haunted by something that wandered the cemetery and the surrounding lands; something that had once been a woman–I’d call her Lilith, because the name means night demon–a powerful witch perhaps, or a vampire, from the civil war days? What would happen if that creature suddenly awakened after a long sleep; remembered who she’d been and that the house across the street had once been her beloved home? A home she desperately desired to have back? She’d need blood to grow stronger and she’d begin taking it from humans wherever she could find them around the cemetery and house.
And to top it off…now there was a man and a woman, Caroline and Adrian Stone, living in her home, running it as a common inn, and the man looked just like her long lost soldier/lover from centuries before.
What would she do?
Try to get back what she’d lost so long ago…her home and her lost love.
Except this man had a wife who loved him as much as Lilith had ever loved her soldier. Perhaps more.
So in the end, the courageous wife has to fight to save her husband’s life when the vampiress tries to take him back for her own. It’d not only be a horror tale but a real eternal love story. A dangerous, deadly love triangle. Of course dead drained corpses would show up all over the place bringing the bed and breakfast’s tranquility to an abrupt end until the proprietors and some of their special friends find a way to stop Lilith from haunting and killing. If they can. If they live long enough.
I wrote that book in the winter months that followed and called it The Woman in Crimson. I gave it to a small publisher the first time around. But now, five years later, when the full rights returned to me I have self-published it because three years ago I discovered self-publishing and my world changed. For the first time in my forty-four year writing career and after publishing twenty-two novels, I can finally make a good living doing what I love most…writing my stories. The Woman in Crimson has a stunning new cover by Dawne Dominique and is available in paperback at Create Space, eBook http://tinyurl.com/qaayfzp and Audible audio book http://tinyurl.com/qycgva9.
Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt.
Willowwind is a lovely Civil War era bed and breakfast that sits on a hill above an ancient cemetery filled with Civil war graves and strange stone sculptures made long ago by a woman once feared to be a witch – perhaps once murdered by the townspeople for being one.
Willowwind is run by a loving couple, Adrian and Caroline Stone, and welcomes guests every weekend.
But since Caroline’s beloved father, Edward Winter, died and was buried in that cemetery, Willowwind is also haunted. Haunted by a long dead Civil War era vampiress, Lilith, who believes the man, Adrian, is her reincarnated soldier/lover and will do anything to have him, body-heart-and soul, for her own again, no matter how many she must kill to have him. But Adrian’s wife, Caroline, along with the help of the ghost of her dead father, will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In the distance on the edge of the cemetery a smear of crimson fluttered. Almost against his will, Adrian moved toward it. There was too much white all around. It hurt his eyes. The red was an oasis drawing him in.
He staggered, feeling dizzy, and stared down at a grave marker. The snow was so deep his boot had rammed into the stone. “Ouch”, he muttered under his breath.
He was at the top of the cemetery, near where they’d buried his father-in-law. There was nothing but ice-covered trees, gravestones and the crumbled statue. New snow and ice blanketed the grave and the caved-in earth beyond it. The thing was, he didn’t recall the journey. How’d I get here? he thought.
Just as confusing, the sun wasn’t in the same place as when he’d left the carriage house. It was further along in the sky, which was odd. That high up the freight-train wind whipped past him and churned the snow into a translucent froth.
He was so cold he could barely move, as if he’d been outside for hours. His skin itched. He was experiencing wooziness, worse each second, as his gaze swept across the void toward the house so far away with its illuminated windows and promise of safety and warmth.
Behind him a voice whispered, “I am not dreaming. You are real flesh and blood―but I believed you dead. Where have you been and…can you tell me what has happened to me?”
Adrian spun around, and there was a woman in a tattered scarlet gown, barefooted, her skin the white of the dead…a statue who moved. Her expression was one of confused despair.
“Where is the world?” she moaned. Her pale hands were around her face just like in that famous picture his wife liked so much; the one where the person is silently screaming.
“It’s still here,” he assured her, his heart racing as he fought the swift wave of vertigo. The taste of fear made his mouth dry. Panic made his left eye tick. “It hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Her bloodless lips moved into a cynical smile as if she didn’t believe him. “No…my world?”
“Your world? There’s only one world. This.” He spread his hands out in an inclusive gesture. He was about to ask her who she was and what she was doing out in the cold with so little clothes on, but when he looked again she was no longer there. Gone. Quick as that.
He rubbed his eyes. Still no woman. “You’ve been out in the weather too long,” he chided himself sharply, “and a frozen, sorrowing man can see anything in a cemetery.” Even ghostly women with sharp teeth.
The strange thing was the woman in red had somehow seemed familiar, as if he’d met her before. He felt as if he was losing all sense of reality. Muttering under his breath to keep the doubts at bay, he trekked home.****