Stealing Lincoln via SART On Demand

I have some great news to share, that I should have shared much sooner via my blog. My ten minute play “Stealing Lincoln” is currently a part of Script Fest 2021 through the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre. The play premiered several years ago via the Red Eye festival, but it’s been a while since it’s been onstage. It’s a virtual performance, but it’s so well done. I am thoroughly pleased. It’s an honor to partner with SART. They were my first artistic home on the campus of my alma mater Mars Hill University. I used to stage manage for them professionally, and I love going to see plays there. They have worked hard to keep the theatre going during the pandemic. I highly suggest you get a virtual ticket for Script Fest, and not just for “Stealing Lincoln.”

Tickets are available HERE. (The graphic said it’s available through November 30th, but the ticket button still works, so hopefully you can still get in if you haven’t seen it.)

If you want to read the true and strange case of the attempt to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body, I suggest this article. I didn’t make the story up, I promise you. This is why I love history so much.

Such a fantastic director and cast.
I love how they presented it.
It was also really cool to watch it on television.

While you’re there, check out the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre’s upcoming 2022 season.

#playwriting #historicalplays #absurdhistory

We Made it to 2022 . . .Now What?

Happy New Year! I haven’t updated in a while, naturally. Last time I wrote a blog, my family was still in the throws of Covid-19. I am happy to report that everyone made a full recovery. We are all still here, and we got to celebrate the holidays together. Grateful and thankful doesn’t being to cover it. We are still careful, of course, especially with the Omicron variant. Thank goodness for vaccinations, and for at home tests, although they are hard to come by sometimes and can be expensive. They do provide a level of comfort, though.

The family on Christmas Day.

Sadly, I didn’t do very much writing in 2021. Work and family matters took precedence. I am proud of writing more blogs, especially during the Halloween writing challenge, even though that turned into the weirdest story I’ve ever written in my life. I am also proud of my play Nancy, the story of Elihu Embree’s enslaved woman and her family. I look forward to sharing Nancy’s story more in 2022, and I hope I can finally find out what happened to her after Embree’s death. I hope she was freed. I also wrote a very compelling 7th edition of the cemetery play A Spot On the Hill. It was probably our most successful one.

Ubunibi Afia Short as Nancy.
Cast of A Spot On the Hill, photo by Osie Casey.
My spouse and I in the play this year. Photo by Osie Casey.

As far as 2022 goes, I’m not sure what my writing goals are. I feel a little scarred by the last two years. Don’t we all? I’m going to start small. There’s a Stranger Things fan fiction I really need to finish on Archive of Our Own. I also need to seriously start editing my dragon book with hopes of it being published in 2023. We haven’t had a Mountain Gap Books meeting in a while. Again, family matters, especially family health matters, took precedence. So, I’m not sure what our future publishing schedule looks like, but we’ll figure something out. My cousin got me a self care planner. (Self care, it’s a good goal.) I’ve put small writing goals in there, at least for January. I’m trying to take it a month at a time.

So, out with the old and in with the new.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year. I’ll be checking back in with updates. For now, I can check my first of the year blog off my list. Ah, yes, new year’s, the time of year Anne actually follows through with her “to do” list before she abandons it. But who knows, maybe 2022 will be different.

My fearsome foursome having a new year’s meeting.

#NewYear2022 #WritingGoals #HonestBlogging

Oct 31: All Hallow’s Eve

We’ve reached the end of my October writing challenge and of this story. As I type this, my black cat Duncan is on my lap, my Jack-O-Lantern is flickering beside me, and Rocky Horror is playing on the TV. I’m also eating way too much candy. So, it’s definitely still Halloween in this house.

Thanks for hanging in there through this challenge and this story. I had no idea when I started the places it would go. I don’t know if this is a comment about higher academia or what, but here it is. Also, I am very much a product of higher academia and have benefited from it. Still, I have seen the toxicity of it nearly eat my friends alive. Like everything, it has two sides to it.

My Jack-O-Lantern with a curious Katy cat.
Fall at the family compound.

Prompt, All Hallow’s Eve.

“One Year Later

Gregor finished his lecture. The students seemed utterly confused and a little frightened. It was his best lecture yet. They all filed out at the end of the hour, happy to be leaving, but especially happy to be leaving for their own Halloween festivities.

As soon as they were gone, Gregor reflected on that night a year ago. Dr. Hozier had been found guilty on all four counts of murder. It’d helped that he’d left a detailed account in his journal in his house. (Always the braggart.)

Now Gregor was a full professor, what he’d always wanted. That night 365 days ago seemed like a distant memory, except for one thing. Gregor looked around and removed a key from his jacket pocket. He used it to open a secret drawer in his desk. Inside that drawer was this pickled head of Richard, his former colleague and mentor. He’d kept it from the cops, lied about it. Why had he kept it? Maybe to remind himself of where he’d been, maybe to remind himself of what he was capable of.

Gregor smiled and closed the drawer. Outside his class, three students remained. “Man, Professor Jenkins is the worst,” one of them commented.

“I think he takes pleasure out of ruining our GPA,” the other bemoaned.

“I’m afraid I’m not going to graduate because of him,” the third added.

“Someone should really do something about him,” the first remarked. “But what?”

“I don’t know, but someone that awful, karma has it out for them,” the second ensured.

“He did survive the death of all his friends,” the third reminded them.

“That doesn’t excuse his asshattery,” the first replied. “Trust me, he’s going to get his.”

Gregor came out of the room at that time and the students scattered. Gregor smiled. He ruled with an iron fist. Out of the corner of his eyes, he thought he saw a flash of something. It looked like . . . No, it couldn’t be. It was his mind and the anniversary playing tricks on him. He could have sworn he’d seen Death. Gregor shouldered his bag, hunched his shoulders, and headed out into the night.”
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#writingchallenge #Halloween #spooky

Oct 29-30: A Cemetery & Devil’s Night

Happy Halloween! I’m a little behind, what with the ongoing Covid situation in my family compound. I’ll finish up the writing challenge tomorrow, on what is really Nov 1st, but I think it still counts.

The spouse and I got to go to a Halloween wedding yesterday. I was Nadja from “What We Do In the Shadows” and they were Ralph Wiggum from “The Simpsons” as Idaho. It’s a deep cut. (We’ve taken several Covid tests and only went because we are negative)

Just a reminder that I have spooky stories on demand via Haints and Hollers ebook. You can get it here. Also, you can enjoy some scary short stories in my eBook Comes In Threes. It’s available here.

Cover art by Jeanne G’Fellers.

Prompts, A Cemetery and Devil’s Night.

“Gregor did what needed doing, and then he walked into the Red Masque Ball with the most confidence he’d ever felt in his life. Gavin’s party was kind enough to let him borrow a mask, a Devil’s mask. It was eerily perfect for the task at hand. He soon spotted Dr. Hozier in his plague doctor’s mask. Hozier was a little surprised to see him, but he played it off.

“I suppose I should have stepped out into the solitude of the cemetery and called from there,” he quipped as he pulled Gregor aside. “Is the deed done?”

“Yes, and the proof is outside in Matt’s car, since you slashed the tires on mine.”

Dr. Hozier smiled. “Oh yes, I did do that. I also singlehandedly murdered all your competition. You should be thanking me.”

“Please come out and see the proof. I want this horrible night to end,” Gregor did his best to sound desperate.

Fortunately, Dr. Hozier complied. He followed Gregor out, gloating all the way. “My car’s on the other side of the cemetery,” Gregor explained as the noise of the party grew dim behind them. Say what you will about the Red Masque Ball, they were respectful of the cemetery.

As they walked, there was a noise, it was an odd noise, almost like fingernails scratching against marble. “What was that?” Hozier asked.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Gregor commented.

“How far to the car?”

Gregor smiled. “Just a little further. Wouldn’t be smart to park too close.”

Suddenly, Matt’s undead body lurched out from behind a tombstone. Hozier screamed and stumbled back. Dwight came from behind and Neil appeared at his side, boxing him in. “No, this isn’t possible! I killed you all!”

“You did, but I have brought them back,” Gregor proclaimed.

“No! This can’t be real!” Hozier tried to run, but zombie Matt held him fast.

“On any other night, no, but you forgot to take into account the power of this night, the Devil’s night!” Gregor grabbed Richard’s head and threw it at Hozier. The other man caught it.

Dr. Hozier looked down. At that moment, Richard opened his eyes and said, “Boo!”

Hozier screamed again. He dropped the head, clutched at his heart, and then fell down dead. Gregor looked up to see Death standing there. He waved at Gregor, smiled, and was gone, taking Hozier’s soul with it.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 27-28: An Old Church & Fancy Dress Party

Another short entry for today. There’s still a lot going on in my family. Halloween is usually my favorite holiday, but this year is less fun and truly terrifying for many reasons. I’ll try to have longer entries for the end of the story.

Prompts, An Old Church and Fancy Dress Party.

“The steeple of the Church of the Dearly Departed came into view. It was an old church, but a grand church. It wasn’t really used for religious services anymore, it was more of a party venue. And once a year, it hosted the Red Masque Ball.

Gregor pulled off into the woods, leaving plenty of space between him and the old church. He was near the cemetery, filled with crumbling stones. Through the trees, he could see everyone in their fancy dresses and masks. He needed to act quickly.”
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https://unsplash.com/@dannyg

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 25-26: Dearly Departed and Captured Soul

How are you all? Are you hanging in there, still along for the ride? I’ll be honest, I just figured out where this ride is going. Also, there are many things going on in my personal life right now. After a year and a half of trying to keep Covid at bay, it has found us at my family’s compound. Right now, I am negative and my spouse is negative, but my mom has it, my nephew has it, and my sister has it. Mind you, we’re all vaccinated, but also extremely immuno compromised, that’s why we’ve worked so hard to avoid it. My sister is currently in the hospital with Covid pneumonia, but she’s ready to fight. Tonight’s entry will be short. I am exhausted, for a lot of reasons.

I revived my Scar Disney Bound for the Halloween edition of the StoryTown Radio Show on Monday. We record before a live audience, so the costume plays.

Prompts, Dearly Departed and Captured Soul.

“Gregor wasn’t sure what his life was anymore. But here he was, driving through the night, with a decapitated but still animated head in the front seat and three moaning zombies in the back seat. He’d taken Matt’s car and loaded his colleagues in the back. Fortunately, the bike Gavin had leant him had contact info written on it. He was able to call Gavin and drive to meet him and his group. They had performed the same spell on the bodies of Matt, Neil, and Dwight, but some of their ingredients were running low, so the results weren’t the same.

“What’s wrong with them?” Gregor asked as his former colleagues lurched around.

“For starters, they’re dead,” Sheila remarked.

“They’re low on juice,” Gavin explained. “It’s like running on a low battery. We’ve captured their souls for a bit longer, but there’s not much there in terms of brain activity.”

“It’ll work,” Gavin decided.

Now here they were, all in the car on their way to the Church of the Dearly Departed.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 23-24: The Clocks Change & A Beautiful Scarf

The seventh season of my cemetery play A Spot On the Hill has come to an end. It was an amazing experience and the weather was perfect. I could not have asked for a better cast, and the audiences were so appreciative. Here are a few shots from the second weekend.

I also have another play, a ten minute play, set in a cemetery that is part of A Mourning Hollow. You can purchase the theatrical anthology through Amazon.

Prompts, The Clocks Change & A Beautiful Scarf.

“Gregor worked quickly in the dark. Did Dr. Hozier have to leave the power off? Of course he did, the jerk. It was kind of fun, though, it was like going back to his roots, working by the light of the Bunsen burner. It reminded him of when he first started, before Richard was his adversary, before any of this. It almost made him feel bad to hack Richard’s body apart, but it had to be done, and his zombiefied state actually made it less messy. 

He was dissolving a limb when the phone rang again. Gregor startled, but managed not to drop acid on himself. With a huff, he returned to the kitchen and answered the phone.

“Tick tock. Tick tock,” the familiar voice reminded him.

“I get it,” Gregor replied and hung up.

He returned to the task at hand and worked until his fingers were numb, but the minutes continued to pass by. “I don’t think you’re going to make it,” Richard’s head observed. Gregor had set it on a nearby counter.

Gregor had to stop. His hand was cramping. He, too, was fearful of the time. He stood to stretch his back, and his eyes caught site of the calendar illuminated in the candlelight. His eyes grew wide with realization. “No, we’re going to make it. And do you know why?”

“Blind optimism?” the head remarked.

“No, because time changes tonight!” Gregor pointed at the calendar. “We get an extra hour.” He looked down at the head, and for a moment he felt pity for Richard. He felt pity for all of them. No, it couldn’t end this way.

“Dr. Hozier doesn’t get to win,” Gregor decided. He recalled the last phone call they’d shared. He’d heard background noise. Lots of voices and a church bell? His eyes grew wide again. “I know where he is, Dr. Hozier. He left, after he killed the others, and he went to the Red Masque Ball. I doubt he even saw you. He doesn’t know you’re, well, this.”

Richard’s eyes grew wide, too. “He came here on a whim, thinking you’d realize my house was closer.”

“I say, we go to him and give him the shock of his life. Show him exactly the hell he’s wrought,” Gregor proclaimed.

The dismembered pieces of Richard’s body were left in the tub. Gregor found a beautiful scarf in a drawer and made it into a sling. He’d wanted to put Richard’s head in a backpack, but Richard had protested. He was claustrophobic.

“My mother’s scarf,” the head lamented as Gregor tucked it inside the makeshift sling. “She’d be glad it brought me comfort one last time.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Gregor remarked, very uneasy. “It reminds me you were human once.”

“If it makes you feel any better, my mother was a saint, so I doubt I’ll be seeing her again when I get to my final resting place.”

“Well, my mom was hell on wheels, so we’ll probably have eternity together,” Gregor sighed.”
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https://unsplash.com/photos/9dDJk8lvUwg

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky #weirdashell

Oct 21-22: Raven and An Unexpected Phone Call

Life got real busy last weekend, folks. So, I am a bit behind. Forgive me. I did get to learn about Victorian mourning customs on Thursday at our History Happy Hour. I knew some, but now I know so much more. It was fascinating, and disturbing.

Death tintype with eyes painted on. Terrifying. Thank you to the Pipitones for sharing their collection and knowledge.
On Friday night I was a generic Princess for a three year old’s Halloween party.

Prompts, Raven and An Unexpected Phone Call.

“Gregor stumbled back from the bodies of his dead colleagues. The night seemed so eerily still around him, and then suddenly a raven burst forth from the trees behind him. It swooped over his head and he screamed. Gregor probably screamed all the way back around to the front and into the house. He slammed the door behind him, turning every lock. It was so dark inside the house, too. Where had the moon gone? It had been swallowed up by the clouds.

“What is it?” Richard’s corpse asked.

Gregor could just make him and the bike out in the dim light. “It’s Neil, Matt, and Dwight. They’re - they’re dead!”

“Did you kill them?”

“No!”

“You haven’t succeeded at killing anyone tonight,” Richard remarked.

Gregor couldn’t believe they were having this discussion. “That’s not the point!”

At that moment, a phone rang. “My emergency line in the kitchen,” Richard commented. “No one has that number.” He finally sounded scared.

Gregor slowly made his way to the kitchen in the dark. He found the phone and answered. “Hello?”

“Those others were taking up your time, keeping you from the task at hand,” the cold voice of Dr. Hozier replied. “Remember, the clock is ticking. Tick tock. Tick tock.” Then he hung up, but Gregor held onto the phone until the busy signal beeped through.”
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https://unsplash.com/@quinoal

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 20 – Dead Leaves

As predicted, today was tiring, but it was also good. It was good to have a big school group back on site. I also gave a pretty awesome spooky tour this evening. I definitely got my steps in today, probably over 10,000. I’d like to thank the full moon for the spooky tour energy.

Full moon behind the courthouse.

Today’s prompt, Dead Leaves.

“Gregor begrudgingly found himself playing Matt’s stupid game. He was able to get outside eventually and check on the corpse in the bush. “Get rid of them,” Richard enforced.

“I’m trying,” Gregor whined. But Richard was right, he had to find a way to stop the game, or at least get out of it. Maybe he could lure them outside and lock them out?

Good fortune worked in his favor for once and soon everyone was outside, stumbling around the yard. They’d had a lot to drink. Gregor led them around the side of the house and then double backed to the front. He left them gleefully howling at the moon in the back yard. He wrestled Richard and the bike out of the bush as quickly as he could and made a beeline for the front door.

He was almost there, when he heard it, nothing. The howling had stopped. “They’ve stopped. Why did they stop?”

“Who cares?!” Richard whispered.

Gregor cared, or at least he was curious. He shoved the bike and Richard through the front door. He fell over with a clatter and a, “Hey!”

Gregor closed the door. And ran to the back of the house. It was clear why his coworkers had stopped howling. There, under the moonlight, on top of a pile of dead leaves, were the bloodied and very deceased bodies of his peers. Their throats had been slit.”
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#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

Oct 18-19: Black Cat and Moonlight at Midnight

I’m back! It’s such a busy two weeks with Halloween events. In addition to the play, I am doing macabre history tours through our historic town. Also, we have a big school group tomorrow, and it’s the first big school group we’ve had since pre-Covid, so I’m a little rusty. I know I’ll be worn out tomorrow.

I’m still finding ways to celebrate the season, that aren’t work related. I love the show Halloween Wars on Food Network. It’s a little different setup this year, thanks to the pandemic, but it’s still fun. They took away the pumpkin part of it, though, not sure why. I love watching the pieces of scary, edible art come together.

Prompts, Black Cat and Moonlight at Midnight.

“Gregor stashed the bike, and Richard, in the nearby bushes. He slowly crept into the house on high alert and ready for anything. He was still scared out of his mind, though, when the black cat came hurtling trough the air at him. The cat screamed, he screamed, and then someone . . . Laughed?

His jerky colleagues, the ones who had slashed their tires, came around the corner. Gregor looked down to see a Halloween decoration had been thrown at him.

“Real funny, guys.”

“You should have seen your face,” Matt cackled.

“What are you all doing here?” Gregor didn’t have time for this.

“I got a key to Dick’s place when he went out of town. I water his plants,” Matt explained.

“Yeah, we were going to scare him,” Dwight added.

“Why isn’t he with you? Did you kill him or something?” Matt asked.

Gregor tried not to look guilty. “No. After our outing, he had to go and meet Dr. Hozier.” Yes, he could go ahead and plant that seed, put all the suspicion on the real killer.

Dwight grimaced. “He’s the only person worse than Richard.”

“You look like hell, Gregor,” Neil observed. “Do you need a glass of water?”

“I’ve had a rough night, okay? Someone slashed the tires on my car.” He gave them all a pointed look.

“We didn’t do that,” Neil protested.

“Naw, man, we’re not assholes.” Matt picked the stuffed cat up off the floor. “Sounds like you ran afoul of some Yuletide pranksters.”

“Hey, let’s see what vintage Richard has in his wine fridge,” Dwight suggested. The party moved to the kitchen.

Gregor managed to excuse himself to go outside. “It’s the guys,” he told the corpse in the bushes. “Matt, Dwight, and Neil.”

“Oh, Lord, they’ll drink my good wine.”

Gregor rolled his eyes. “That’s hardly the worst of our problems.”

“Get rid of them,” Richard hissed.

“Well, obviously.” Gregor returned to the house to find a glass of wine had been poured for him. He was on a tight schedule, but he could also use a glass of wine.

He drank it down, contemplating how he could get rid of his colleagues. Just as he finished the glass, the power went out.

“That blows,” Neil remarked.

“Yes,” Gregor thought. “Now they’ll leave.”

The moonlight streamed through all the windows. It illuminated the house in a creepy glow.

“Guess we should head out,” Dwight suggested.

“Or,” Matt spoke over him, “we can play moonlight tag.”

“Moonlight tag?!” That was the most ridiculous idea Gregor had ever heard.

The elegant grandfather clock in the house struck midnight. “Come on, Matt, it’s midnight,” Dwight pointed out.

Matt smiled. “Even better.”
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Also, if you need even more Halloweenie goodness, check out this cool light show. https://youtu.be/SbK8lMi0CBk

#Halloween #writingchallenge #spooky

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