Archive for April, 2016

A Review of Blackwork

Blackwork (A Needlecraft Mystery, #13)Blackwork by Monica Ferris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is about the quickest that I’ve read one of this series for quite a while. The story just pulled me along and I found myself wondering when Betsy would finally find the clue that would allow her to solve the murder.

Things I loved about this book: Jill was back among the cast! She is probably my favorite character in the series, so any time she puts in an appearance, I’m happy. This time, she was actually almost her old helpful self, rather than simply showing up to be the mother of a cute child.
Godwin’s new boyfriend is a treasure! I really hope that Rafael sticks around for a while.
Conner! Oh, my goodness! I really want to get to know this man better.

Regarding the story itself: I was a bit ahead of Betsy in solving the crime. Certain things happened that, as a writer, I recognized as being clues where a “normal” person might not see them as such. I really liked that the characters were shown to have faults – like the entire misunderstanding of the Wiccan religion. I can’t speak to whether or not the portrayal of Leona’s faith practices were accurate, but I liked that we don’t see the “good people” immediately being only, entirely understanding of it. I also liked that Betsy learned more about Leona’s faith and grew as a character as a result.

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Camp NaNo Review – Week Three

Words this week: 7,223
Total Words: 20,389

As you can see, my prediction from last week was quite correct: I reached my original word count goal on Thursday. However, I had increased my word count goat to 25,000 words, so… I still haven’t quite won. That’s fine, because the story isn’t complete either. It’ll probably take most of that last 5K to get the story finished.

What I learned this week was that outlining helps. Even if that outline changes after you write, it gives you an idea of where you’re going with the story. I also learned that… it can be very freeing to write a story out of sequence. The scene I wrote on Thursday was the epilogue for my story and it was a lot of fun!

My best session was on Sunday evening, both in relation to word count and in terms of words per minute. I wrote 1909 words in about an hour. That’s actually really good for me. Part of that was the same thing that had me writing so much today: a mini-self-challenge. On that night, it was the 5K weekend and I needed those words to reach my goal. Today, it was Full Moon Madness, so the goal was 3K words in one day. So… word goals like that really give me a kick in the pants.

At the end of Thursday, I had just under 5K words left to reach my word goal. Today… well, I wrote three thousand words, so I’ll probably finish tomorrow! I’m excited, because I’ll not only reach my word count goal, I’ll reach the end of my story!

The last line I wrote (also the last line of the story): “Whatever the future held, I knew that I would be all right.”

My favorite line was: “I don’t suppose a shovel to her face would solve my problems?” (It’s just too funny, partly because I know he’d never actually do something like that.)

My favorite scene was… well, the epilogue. All of my dares in that one place. It was too much fun to write!  Read it here.

A Review of The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A-Z of Fantastic Beings from Myth and MagicThe Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A-Z of Fantastic Beings from Myth and Magic by John Matthews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest: I didn’t read this book cover to cover. It’s simply not that sort of book. It calls itself an encyclopedia and it means it. It has magical creatures from all manner of mythologies – various cultures, including those well outside the ones normally found in such books.

Other reviewers have noted inaccuracies. I will agree with them and point this out: like any encyclopedia, this is not intended to be your sole reference. It’s a good starting point. It’ll give you a name of some magical creature that you can use for a story (in my case), but it’s up to you to dig deeper and get more information. It’s definitely NOT an art-book. There are no pictures in it. However, for what it is, it’s a great compilation and I’m glad to have it in my collection. In fact, I might have to seek out the other books in the series.

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Review of The Cross and the Lynching Tree

The Cross and the Lynching TreeThe Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Long Review is long…

I read this book as part of a Lenten Study at my church – it was a study that was carried out throughout our district (to the best of my knowledge, it didn’t go higher than our district, but it may have done). In any case, that study was the sole reason that I began reading this book. However, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to no simply read this book, but to speak to others about it as part of that study.

Certain points came up during our studies and when I was reading on my own. Niebuhr is quoted as saying something along the lines of people can’t reach the perfect love of Jesus, so the most we can hope for is to strive for justice. While I agree with this statement, as far as it goes, I was raised in the United Methodist denomination. As part of that, we’re meant to strive for perfection. We’re supposed to be constantly working towards expressing the perfect love of Christ in all we do. Whether we can actually reach that level of love that is immaterial. The point is to keep working at it. If we just look at it and say, “We’re just people. We can’t reach that level of perfect love” then we give up. Even if you can’t reach that far, giving up without trying means you don’t go nearly as far as you truly can. That’s why we’re taught to strive for perfection.

The first chapter of the book provided a basic overview of the history and introduced the idea that the Cross of Jesus and the lynching tree weren’t so very different. Although this was a new idea to me, it was perfectly clear once I saw the parallels laid out through the use of African American Spirituals and the lyrics of Blues songs. Jesus was, in a very real way, lynched.

The second chapter was, as I said in my update directly after reading it, basically, “How Niebuhr got it wrong.” Although Cone praises Niebuhr in some places, he makes it very clear that, when it came to lynchings and what needed to be done in regards to them, Niebuhr missed the boat.

The third chapter was the most educational for me. I learned about Emmett Till and his tragic death. It placed the entire Civil Rights Movement into a new context for me. I had never read about this young man or the horrible tragedy that befell him. The Civil Rights Movement just… seemed to have started, as far as my education had taught me. This chapter taught me that there was a moment when people realized that something had to be done. This was that moment and finally learning about it was mind-blowing for me.

The chapter also discussed the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. His courage in the face of the threats he received are an inspiration. I never realized that he went to each event knowing that he might be killed. I never imagined that he was fully aware that he stood a good chance of being assassinated. That he would act as he did – to try to make the world a better place – in spite of that knowledge… Wow! Just wow!

Reading this chapter the same week that we’d done the reading in the Bible that mentions Simon of Cyrene was also interesting, since he is also mentioned here. While I had heard of Simon of Cyrene… I did not know where Cyrene was. I remember seeing a movie depicting the Easter story and I remember Simon being forced to carry the cross for Jesus. That Simon was white… the real Simon was most definitely not. It’s very interesting what Hollywood will do to stories, if they feel like they can get away with it.

The third chapter was probably my favorite of the five chapters in the book. However, the next chapter was probably even more powerful, because of the literary quotes that appeared throughout it.

The fourth chapter explored literature by African Americans. I had never heard of Countee Cullen before reading this book, I’m sad to say. He is an author that I will seek out soon, since I want to read more from him. W.E.B. DuBois and Langston Hughes are both authors that I was familiar with. I found it very interesting that Cone used DuBois so extensively and yet said that he wasn’t a great poet or good storyteller… that just didn’t seem kind to me. Similarly, Cone focused on two poems by Langston Hughes that Hughes came to regret later in his life. Why chose those poems, rather than ones that the author felt were more telling of his true beliefs.

The literary quotes that appeared throughout this chapter made the image of the lynching tree even more powerful and, in many ways, really disturbing. The capacity that people have to bring pain to others is horrifying. I think that’s one of the reasons why people try to forget this chapter of American history. However, forgetting about it won’t help matters. As has been said, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” We need to remember our past mistakes – and the lynchings discussed in this book were among our worst mistakes – so that we can learn from them.

The final chapter looked at the womanist view of the cross. Learning about what had happened to women during that period of history was distressing. Not only did they have to worry about the husbands making it home safely and the possibility of caring for their children when they’d lost their husband. They had to worry about physical assaults on their own person. The song “Strange Fruit”, which we listened to as part of our book study, was haunting and sad and also made me angry. I wasn’t angry in the way the author seemed to imply, however. I was angry at the people that caused such pain and suffering. I was angry at the people who still think that what happened to African Americans wasn’t a bad thing or doesn’t need to be remembered.

The final portion of the book was the conclusion, where Cone ties everything together in a tidy bow. It reviews each chapter, but it also looks forward. It mentions that the “War on Drugs” was basically targeted against African Americans. Some laws (selling fake drugs gets you the same jail term as if it were real; the three-strikes law as applied to people caught with small amounts of drugs three times) are simply unjust. What can be done about such things? Raising awareness is a good thing. Once awareness is raised, people need to work for change: petition to change or overturn unjust laws that target any one group, etc.

The other thing I learned as a member of the United Methodist denomination is something called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. It’s a method for theological reflection where you use scripture, tradition, reason and experience to come to theological conclusions. That means, when looking at matter like what I read about in the book, I use those four tools.

Reading this book, Cone gives me information in the place experiences that I could never have for myself. However, I can also draw on my own experiences to fill in some of the gaps. I’ve felt prejudice – even if it wasn’t racism. I know what it’s like to be hated for things that I have absolutely no control of, (even if no one ever tried to kill me over it). I’ve felt the fear to speak out against those people who might hurt me because of hate – that need to keep my head down, not look them in the eye and just nod and smile. Going forward, I’m going to try to be more courageous and not keep silent when I should speak out against things that I see as wrong.

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Camp NaNo Review – Week 2

Words this week: 6564
Total words: 12866

In spite of trying to be better about planning what I would write each day, there were still a few times that I sat down to write with no idea where to start. That’s something that I need to work on next week. The days where I did plan ahead were the days that I had the least difficulty writing.

However, that said, at the rate I’m going, I fully expect to finish the story next week. In actual fact… I have already written the end of the novel! It’s something that I’ve done with nearly every novel I’ve written. I reach a certain point in the story, usually about the midpoint, where I can guess where I’m going well enough to write the end. At that point, it becomes a signpost that I just keep working towards.

Looking ahead to next week, I’m feeling much better about things than I did last week at this time. I think writing my end last Tuesday was a big reason for that. My characters are still surprising me, so I don’t expect that to change as I begin Week Three, but I’m feeling loads more confident about both the writing process and my story itself.

My best writing day (by word count) was Sunday evening, when I wrote 1413 words. My best sprint happened on Thursday afternoon, when I wrote 681 words in half an hour.

The last line I wrote was: “On the other hand… what would I do about Elayne?”

My favorite line from last week (because it brings up something from an earlier section of the story): “Do we want the place to be destroyed in another explosion?”

My favorite scene (because it’s just so typical of Keenan) was:

Tristan frowned and nodded thoughtfully. When he spoke, it was in carefully measured tones. “Tell me,” he said, “do you know of the Death’s Cloak Spell?”

“I’d heard of it,” I admitted. After all, he’d spoken of it to Nicolae in my presence. I frowned, my brows drawing down low over my eyes. “It gives anyone over whom it is cast the appearance of death, right?”

He nodded. “Would you know of any potions that would have such an effect?” he asked. When I blinked at him, he smiled. “I’ve read only enough about potions to know that there are some that mimic the effects of spells. Is there a potion that would place someone so deeply asleep that they would appear as if they were dead?”

“Yes,” I said, frowning. “There are… a few.” He nodded, silently asking me to go on. “The Briar Rose Unguent is applied to something sharp and, when it pierces the flesh, the victim is rendered asleep. They can only be awakened…”

“With a kiss?” Arthur supplied, smirking.

I shook my head. “That’s the Snow White Brew,” I said. “To awaken someone dosed with Briar Rose, they need to smell a freshly plucked wild rose or… rose water made from such.”

Tristan blinked. “Fascinating,” he said. “Are there any others? Ones where the person is, perhaps, less obviously merely asleep?”

My brows furrowed and I nodded, dropping my gaze. I knew that I could lie, but it would be a simple matter to check my words and know that I’d lied. “I’ve heard talk of a potion,” I said, my voice faint, “it’s a nasty piece of work that places the victim in a state like death: Star Crossed Lovers’ Draught.”

“I would like you to brew that potion for me,” Tristan said, his gaze locking on mine. “Would it be a difficult thing for you to craft?”

“The ingredients are a bit dear and specialized,” I said, scowling. Then, I shook my head. “Once I’ve got them, though… it shouldn’t be too great a challenge.”

“Excellent,” Tristan said. He waved across the room and said, “Tell Jakob what you need and he’ll see to it that you have the supplies you need.”

A Review of Fairyopolis

Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies JournalFairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal by Cicely Mary Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another one of the little fantasy books I have on my shelf for reference purposes. While it’s not really a great resource for that purpose, it is a fun little book. There are little fun things through the book – a bit of fairy wing, a page with fairy dust on it, postcards, maps, tickets, etc. All of it relating to the story that Cicely Mary Barker wrote this journal during a vacation one summer when she encountered fairies.

As I said, it’s not great as a reference book. However, it would be a fun book to read with a younger person who is interested in fairies. It would also be a great way to introduce such kids to fantasy artists, such as Cicely Mary Barker. I’m really glad to have it as part of my collection.

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Camp NaNo Review – Week 1

 

Words this week: 6302 words

Total Words: 6302 words

 

My characters never quite do what I expect and they always completely ignore my outline, which is why I’m not the sort of person to write an especially detailed one.  This project was no exception.  Keenan and his fellow characters took the story off in their own direction almost from the third day of writing.  However, I think I’ve figured out what’s going to happen next and how to keep the story moving in the direction that I want.

One thing that I need to keep in mind for this week is that I really need to plan ahead.  Before I sit down to write each day, I need to decide what I’m writing and where I want the story to be when I’m finished for the day.

I’m nervous, but hopeful, about next week.  I’m a full third of the way through my writing, so my word count is great.  However, there are things that I’ve planned as happening that aren’t even close to occurring.  Some things may never occur and that will be fine.  However, other things really need to happen, so… yeah, I need to steer Keenan towards those things.

It’s incredible to me that, even after having Keenan in my imagination for over twenty years, I’m still learning things about him.  This last week, I learned that he’s the sort of person to panic if things don’t go how he’d anticipated.

I had a couple of big successes last week.  I got a lot of words done at the Tuesday night write-in hosted by our region’s ML.  That was the most words I wrote in a single day (1336 words).  My best word count during a sprint was the following evening, when I wrote 799 words in just twenty minutes.

The last sentence I wrote was: “They [Keenan’s parents] were important citizens in North Lake, even if the Berklians who occupied the town didn’t think so.”

My favorite line (because it is so typical of Keenan) was: “Just one time, it would have been nice for things to work out the way I’d planned.”

 

My favorite scene:

“Can you get us inside?”  That was the first challenge and it was one of the things that I needed Nicolae there for.  The man knew every opening charm in existence.

“Phillip set his hand on a panel,” Bartholomew said, his ears pinning.  “An opening appeared and he entered it.  From there, it’s fairly straight forward, but I’d bet that entrance is keyed to him as the Lord Elder.”

“Then we just need to trick it,” Nicolae said, his voice soft.  He began rummaging in his bag.  This was the moment of truth.  Whenever Nicolae was about to do magic, it was a gamble, because he was constantly experimenting or using lost spells.  Sometimes, they worked just as he expected.  Other times, they worked… but not how he’d thought they would.  Every once in a great while, they didn’t work at all.

I watched as Nicolae rummaged in his bag.  “I have just the thing,” he said, his voice faint.  It was a sign that he wasn’t quite as certain as he was trying to act like he was.  After a moment more of rummaging, he pulled out what looked like a metal tuning fork.

“What’s that do?” I asked, shaking my head.

He grimaced.  “According to my research, it makes it impossible for anything to block your path,” he said.  He struck the thing on the wall of the tower and then frowned.  He looked as though he was trying to figure something out.  Then, he grinned and set the wand end of it against the door.  Then, with his other hand, he reached for the door.  His hand passed straight through.

“Right,” I said, mirroring him.  My hand also passed through the door.  I ducked inside.  Raanan hurried through behind me and then reached through the door to drag Nicolae inside after us.  I heaved a sigh as he tucked the tuning fork away in his bag once again.

There were stairs prominently as we entered the tower.  Nicolae took a step towards them, but Bartholomew appeared in front of him.  He thumped his foot in a threatening manner – as threatening as a rabbit can be, anyway.  “Not this way,” he said.  “It’s a trap.  They’ll crush you.”

Nicolae stopped and looked from the stairs to me and then at the rabbit that was angrily thumping at him.  “Well,” he said, ducking behind me.  “Lead the way, Keenan.”

I stifled a chuckle and nodded.  “Show us the way, Bartholomew,” I invited.  Bartholomew appeared a few feet to the left and began hopping along down a corridor that I hadn’t even noticed.  I fell into step behind him, with Raanan and Nicolae close behind.

We entered a room and the door slid shut behind us.  Raanan gasped and whirled to face it, immediately tense.  “It’s an elevator,” Bartholomew said, hopping over to the wall near the door.  “Phillip set his hand over that blue crystal and the elevator went to the top of the tower.”

There were a fair number of crystals of many colors on the wall. I looked at Nicolae and arched a brow.  “The blue crystal?” I said.

Nicolae hummed and drew a book out of his bag.  “It’s keyed to the aura of the present Lord Elder,” he said.  Then, he grinned at Raanan.  “Phillip is a warlock, like me,” he said.  Then he set his hand over the blue crystal.  There was a low hum and we could feel movement as we rose to the top of the tower.

After a moment, the movement stopped and then there was a hiss as the doors slid opened.  I smiled and waved into the room.  “Behold, the promised land,” I said, glancing at Nicolae.  He looked like a kid in a candy store who had been told he could have as much as he pleased.

“Don’t touch any of the jewels,” Bartholomew cautioned.  “Everything else… go for it.”

“I will,” Nicolae breathed.  Then, he began gathering books off one of the shelves. I had to hand it to him.  He wasn’t greedy.  Anyone else might have taken every book they could.  He was very selective: taking only the things he wanted.

Leaving Nicolae to his work, I headed off in search of the Mystic Key of Master Ezra.  I crossed the room to a rack of keys and frowned.  “I’ll bite,” I said, looking to Bartholomew.  “Which one am I after?”

“The pretty one with the stars on it,” Bartholomew said, affecting a lisp.  He fluttered his eyes at me in an overly flirtatious manner that made me laugh.

That was, of course, just what he wanted.  I shook my head as I grabbed the key and tucked it away in the folds of my cloak. Then, I turned back to Nicolae.  “Now,” I said, arching my brows at him.  “The next trick is getting out of here with everything.  The Vault’s got to have a way of keeping its contents from being removed.”

“My research said there was a book,” Nicolae said.  He crossed the room to a large book that was already opened.  Lifting a pen out of an inkwell, he began writing hastily in the book.  “It’s a ledger – Merlin’s Ledger.  You basically need to sign things out.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the idea of signing out things we were stealing.  I waited until Nicolae was finished.  Then, I stepped over to it and took the pen.  Following his example, I wrote my name and the item that I was removing from the Vault.  For the reason, which Nicolae had written as “research” for himself, I wrote, “Sorry, Phillip.”

Then, I set the pen aside and turned to Nicolae.  “Ready?” I asked.  At his nod, I looked at Bartholomew.

Going off to Camp

CNW_Participant_Banner

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

 

For the months of April and July, the people who created National Novel Writing Month have challenges called “Camp NaNoWriMo”. For those two months, participants are asked to choose a writing goal – it can be anything and any kind of writing: short stories, scripts, biographies, etc. Rather than the strict 50K on a new novel that happens in November, the Camps offer you a chance to sign up for something more flexible.

This year, I’ve decided to write the last two sections of my novel, A Tangled Web. For April, I’m working on the final section. For July, I actually plan to write what will, ultimately, be the first section. When all is said and done, I’ll have a novel that is over 80K. It will be my longest piece of fiction yet and it will feature one of my oldest characters.

I first “met” Keenan when I was just twelve years old. At first, I just role-played with him. Then, when I was in college, I began writing original fiction. I had a series of very short stories featuring him on a Geocities page. I also played him as a character on GaiaOnline.

For the last several years, I’ve been trying to write out his story in novel format. I got a good start on it one summer many years ago. However, my energy fizzled out before I reached the end of the story. Since then, I’ve been trying to find the inspiration to re-write that novel. This year, I’ve finally gotten that inspiration. In January and March, I wrote the two middle sections of his story. Now, I’m writing the conclusion. I know how the story ends. It’s just a matter of actually writing it.

This year will be the year that I finish Keenan’s story. Next year, I will edit it. My goal is to have it published – even if only in a non-traditional fashion – by the end of next year.

A Review of Arthur Spiderwick’s Guide…

Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around YouArthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I’ve previously noted, I’ve been working my way through my collection of fantasy reference books. Of my collection, this one took me the longest to read so far. However, that’s because there is so very much information contained inside it. It also has some really amazing artwork. It’s a companion to the Spiderwick Chronicles series (which inspired a movie that I never got a chance to watch). Reading this book makes me want to look up the other books in this universe. I also think that, with its grounding in folklore, it will be a wonderful reference for writing my own fantasy stories.

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The Poor Orphan Stories

It’s that time of the month: WriYe Blog Circle!  Here’s the topic for the month of April:

 

Trunked Novels
Have you ever set a novel aside? Was it finished or unfinished? Why did you abandon that novel? What would it take for you to go back to it? 
Trunked novels are something that I think all writers have.  They’re those stories that we start and never finish.  We set them aside to get back to “later”, when the mood hits us to continue that story.  I don’t actually call them “trunked novels” when I refer to my own.  When I drop a story, I use the term “orphaned story” to refer to it.  In fact, I have a folder on my memory stick with that name.  It’s where my abandoned stories get filed.

Just like the abandoned child that the term “orphan” normally refers to… my stories do sometimes get pulled out of that folder and finished.  They find forever homes in some universe in which I’m writing.

My reason for abandoning a story can vary wildly.  Sometimes, it was just a random plot bunny that I followed for a while and decided… I had no idea where the story was going.  Rather than fighting with it, I shoved it into my folder of orphaned tales.  That’s the sort of story that I’ll never get back to… ever.

Other times, I’ll start writing a story and realize that it’s either a story I’ve written before or read before.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time reinventing a wheel, so the story is placed in the folder with other abandoned tales.  Sometimes, if I can think of a creative twist to put on the story, I’ll go back to it and finish it.

Finally, I’ve had some stories where… I’m just not ready to finish them yet.  I’ve started stories and had something happen that made the story “too real”, so I had to step back from them for a time.  I’ve had other stories where I’ll reach a point where I’ve written myself into a corner.  Until I can find a way out of that corner, the story gets put into the abandoned story folder.  These sorts of stories are nearly always finished.  I’ll do the right research or talk the plot out with a friend or… I’ve just had enough time away from them.  Then, I dust them off and finish them.
Bonus: Post an excerpt of your trunked novel.

This excerpt is from a short story that I wrote two years ago as part of a challenge on the WriYe board.  Technically, the story itself is finished, but it’s a short piece that… I could build out to something much more.

 

Kate had always been a bit of an anxious person.  Her mother had told her that she’d grow out of it, but she never had.  If anything, she’d become more anxious.  At night, she’d lie in bed beside Alex, listening to every tap and creak and groan in the old house.  She slept poorly as she imagined hundreds of possible explanations for the sounds.  It seemed like, no matter how farfetched an idea might be, her mind latched onto it.  The normal creaks and groans of an old house became a threatening tornado or intruders creeping up the stairs.  During the day, she’d be cleaning or reading and have to stop to check on something.  She’d forget whether or not she’d turned off the stove or locked the door.  Otherwise, she would call Alex and make sure that he was all right.

 He was incredibly patient with her.  Perhaps that was why they’d been married for so long.  If she woke him in the night, he would soothe her fears away.  Then he’d go and check on things, just “to be certain”.  He’d always return to bed to tell her that the cat was playing or she must have heard the house settling.  “Old houses make noises, my dear,” he would say.  Then he’d hold her until they were both asleep.

 A creaking floorboard startled her out of her thoughts.  Her breath caught in her throat as she looked upward, towards the sound.  Her brows furrowed.  Something was moving around upstairs.  What could it be?

 Tense, Kate grabbed an umbrella from the stand by the door.  Then she made her way up the steps.  She scarcely dared to breathe as she followed the sounds up to the second floor and then up into the attic.

 She nearly jumped out of her skin when an old sewing form slid across the floor.  Then she heard a familiar chirp and looked at the metal base.  “Tony,” she said, almost laughing with relief.  The cat must have been exploring the attic and knocked into the form when he saw her.  The form shifted again as Tony bounded forward to rub against her outstretched hand.

 “You scared me half to death,” she said, her tone almost scolding.  She couldn’t stay angry at him for long, though.  She chuckled as he scampered down the steps, back to the main part of the house.

 She had just turned to follow him when she heard a voice.  Tensing, she whirled around.  A mirror was hanging on the far wall.  The voice sounded as if it was coming from… the mirror?  How was that possible?