Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ghostly Portents

It's October once more, that season of Halloween thrills and frights. Fortunately, English history is rich with ghosts. Of all such spectral encounters, however, I think the spookiest may be those involving ghosts said to appear as harbingers of death.

Occasionally, these ominous appearances come in the form of a fateful animal. Arundel Castle in Sussex is the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, and the appearance of a white owl at the castle windows is said to herald the imminent death of some prominent resident or member of the Howard family.

Similarly, a sinister black dog with glowing eyes--the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles--pops up again and again in English folklore, particularly in East Anglia, where the hell hound is known as "Black Shuck" or just "Shuck" (the name may stem from the mythology of Viking riders, from an Old English word for "demon," or from a dialect word for "hairy"). Such an otherworldly dog is particularly known to haunt Leeds Castle in Maidstone, Kent. It is seen roaming the halls and disappearing into stone walls just before a resident of the castle dies.

The south front of Leeds Castle, shrouded in fog (photo by Ian Wilson).
The dog's presence is thought to date to the fifteenth century, when Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, was imprisoned in the castle to await trial for witchcraft and necromancy. Despite the ominous implications of the spectral dog's appearance, however, the ghost once reportedly saved a woman's life. A member of the Wykeham-Martin family, former owners of the castle, was sitting in a bay window when she saw the dog. Leaping up, she narrowly avoided tragedy when the window masonry where she'd been sitting collapsed.

Another old castle has an even more fanciful ghostly omen--the Dun Cow of Warwick. This magical giant cow was said to have run amuck until it was killed on Dunsmore Heath by the equally legendary Guy of Warwick. (The Victorian philologist Isaac Taylor believed that the tale of the Dun Cow likely commemorated an Anglo-Saxon conquest of the Dena Gau or "settlement of the Danes" near Warwick.) Whatever the origin of the story, the appearance of an actual dun cow is now said to foretell the approaching death of a member of the Earl of Warwick's family.

But not all ghostly omens come in animal form. Perhaps the most spectacular specter of all is the horse-drawn hearse--manned by a headless driver, no less--that was said to enter the gates of the now-ruined Caister Castle in Norfolk just before the death of a family member. The ghostly hearse would circle the castle courtyard seven times. I'd think that sight alone would be enough to guarantee a death, if only from sheer fright.

Alyssa EverettAlyssa Everett's newest regency romance is A Tryst With Trouble, the story of an arrogant man's man and an outspoken spinster who must join forces to solve a deadly mystery. It joins her first two regencies, Lord of Secrets and Ruined by Rumor. Alyssa hopes you'll visit her website and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, where she promises not to spam you.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

2 Unrelated Posts: ~Windows Tech Scam ~New Release

Today, I'm shortening my originally planned post about an anthology my critique partners and I are self-pubbing (see below) to talk to you about hacking.
Windows Tech Scam. Computer hacking to be precise. Last week, and again today, Windows support called me and told me that they had information that my computer was corrupted.
While I had them on the phone I instant messaged with my son who does computer security work for the Defense Department. After laughing and telling me windows is a program not a company (I knew that), he told me about the scam.
A technician from windows support calls to tell you about your corrupt computer. They walk you through getting to your Event Viewer to see all he error messages. They ask you to download software so they can remote into your computer and delete the error messages and 'fix' things. They go on to try to sell you software to protect your system.
I'm certain you've seen several red flags here. I've helped you a bit there. In addition you have given them credit card information and what you don't see is the software they download into your computer to do even more havoc.
Here is a great article and video from Wire.Co.UK that explains the entire scam. The scammers call randomly. When they called Jerome Segura they didn't realize they had reached a senior security researcher at anti-malware company Malwarebytes.
* * * * *
New Release. My critique partners and I have put together a holiday anthology that will be available on Amazon early November. We are excited that Sharon Sala has graciously offered to write the introduction. Here is the information about the book.
The magic of Christmas is in the memories we hold dear and those precious treasures that remind us of the past. 
Join us as our Timeless Keepsakes take us on five remarkable journeys that heal old wounds, remind us of days gone by, play matchmaker, sweep us back in time and prove that love can conquer all. 
Available November 1, 2013
Mistletoe and Magick ~ Ruth A. Casie
She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.
Christmas Spirits ~ Lita Harris
A widow’s everlasting love is renewed by the memories of the holiday season.
Granting Her Wish ~ Emma Kaye
She doesn’t belong in his time and he doesn’t belong back home. Could they belong to each other?
Letter From St. Nick ~ Nicole S. Patrick
She’s trying to save her home and he’s never had one until now. Can an unexpected gift lead their hearts to the same place?
Secret Santa ~ Julie Rowe
A nurse grieving the death of her twin brother receives an usual gift at the staff secret Santa party: the bullet that killed him along with a message of hope and love.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

To Defy a Duke

I simply love making opposites attract in my books, and you can't get more geometrically opposed on the social scale of things than being a wealthy duke in need of a wife and an impecunious young woman hiding away in a ramshackle cottage on that duke's estate.

I just adore this cover. What do you think?

The duke's path might never have crossed with Athena's but for the fact that he fell from his horse after several days of carousing with his friends prior to returning home for his mother's house party, during the course of which he's expected to choose a bride from the oh-so-eminently suitable young ladies assembled there. The moment Eli opens his eyes and sees the goddess who rescued him from his fall, it's definitely if not love, then at least attraction at first sight. Athena gets his attention, even if that wasn't her intention.

Eli can't possibly marry Athena, not without breaking his mother's heart, but at least he can try and solve her problems for her. To do that he must discover who she's afraid of, and what she's hiding from. Where is her husband, and why is he leaving her unprotected? Perhaps, if he can't have her for his wife, Athena might agree to become Eli's mistress...

To Defy a Duke - now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all good etailors.