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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Love's Own Time - A ghost, a love story, a time trravel tale like no other....


My latest release is a different kind of romance novel.  While I can't necessarily claim it to be unique it's not like anything I've ever read.  In Love's Own Time combines my own fascination with time travel, the paranormal, and romance into one story.  It's a contemporary romance or at least it begins that way.  It's a ghost story and a ghostly love story because the heroine falls in love with a ghost.   But it's also a time travel tale because, to be together, Lillian must find a way to time travel for any chance at a happily ever after.

How, readers may wonder, did I dream up this idea? Well, here's a little back story to explain the inspiration behind my latest novel!

            When I first moved to my neighborhood about five years ago, I wondered about the history.  I don’t suppose most people would wonder about the past in a modern subdivision with ranch style homes, just about the closest thing we have to suburbs in our small town but I did.  So once I got settled in and all the boxes were unpacked, I decided to determine the history of the land.  It didn’t take long once I got started.   Using some of the plat maps of the past available in the genealogy room of the local library I found most of what is now the Greenwood Hills subdivision was once a flourishing fruit farm outside town.  Just like any good history detective I used this information to trace it.  Local history buffs in the small town where I live will know Howard built the lovely old brick home on West Spring Street back in 1904 and although Howard died the next year, the house remained in the Speakman family until around 1920.  Since then, it’s had various owners but since it always reminded me of my childhood home back in St. Joseph, Missouri, I’ve always admired the house.  Of course, I found the connection intriguing.  I collected everything I could about the Speakman fruit farm and Mr. Speakman and although he’s all but forgotten (or unknown) to most Neosho residents today, he did a lot of amazing things for our town including Big Spring Park.  He was also at one time president of the Strawberry Growers Association.  Rumor or legend holds he built the house on Spring Street with the proceeds from one good strawberry season.

            Since I deal with imagination most of the time, I found myself wondering what might have happened if Howard Speakman hadn’t died at the age of thirty-five.  I imagined ways he might have improved Neosho and how things could have changed if he left descendants.  Before long I found myself – this happens to authors, an occupational hazard – writing a novel based on Howard’s short life and his fruit farm.  My story began in the present day when a young history teacher from Kansas City came to Neosho when she inherited the house from the grandfather she never knew.  Her mother warned her about ‘the ghost’ but when Lillian, my heroine met him, he wasn’t scary at all but charming.  By this point, I strayed far from reality but that’s the nature of fiction.  Out this week, In Love’s Own Time (Rebel Ink Press) is a romance but it’s hard to classify.  I’ve been telling friends and fans it’s a contemporary/time travel/ghost/paranormal/slipstream/historical romance because it’s all of the above at one portion of the story or another.

            Here’s the cover blurb – maybe it explains it best:


            There may be no place like home and nothing like love…..when history teacher Lillian Dorsey inherits a three story Edwardian brick mansion from the grandfather who banished her pregnant mother decades before, it’s a no brainer.  She’ll visit the place, see it and sell it.  Instead Lillian’s captivated by the beautiful home and intrigued by the ghost of the original owner, Howard Speakman.  Soon she’s flirting with the charming, witty gentleman who’s been dead for more than a century and before long, they admit it’s a mutual attraction.  Still, when she’s alive and he’s dead, any shot at being together seems impossible.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way….one afternoon while pretending to visit the past the impossible becomes a brief reality.  If they visited 1904 before, Lillian knows they can do it again and if so, she can prevent Howard’s untimely death.  With a combination of love, powerful hope, and stubborn will, Lillian bends time to her will and returns to the summer of 1904.  But Howard’s death looms ahead and if she’s to find a happy ending, she must save him from his original death.


            In Love’s Own Time is or will be available by Friday at all the major line book retailers carrying romance.  It's published - like a growing number of my novels by Rebel Ink Press!
Here's an excerpt, a scene between Howard and Lillian as they struggle to find a way they can be together:
    
            Howard didn’t hear her step so she paused in the doorway of the rear parlor to watch him,  hands skimming over the ivory keys with the easy skill of long practice.  Never musically inclined, Lillian couldn’t plink out the simplest tune on a piano but she admired anyone who could.  Somehow, in a way she couldn’t understand, Howard vented his emotions into the music, the sad notes resonating with his feelings.  Sadness, disappointment, and a touch of anger made the music his own.  Awed and moved Lillian said nothing until he finished playing, hands resting on the keys and gaze staring into the wall.
“Howard?”
He turned and now, having experienced him in the flesh, she noted how spectral he appeared.  His complexion was pale and although he was three dimensional, he was flat, like a cardboard cutout.
“Yes, my dear Lillian.”
What could she not to sound empty and silly after his magnificent music? She wasn’t sure but she said what she felt.
 “I’m so sorry, Howard, sorry it didn’t last.”
“Sorry doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.”
She wanted so much to touch him, to comfort him but she couldn’t.  “Your music said it very well.  Some men would smash things or kick a dog but you expressed what you felt in the music.”
His lips attempted a smile. “Well, it’s the Quaker in me coming out.  My father’s family was Quaker from Pennsylvania and Quakers are very non-violent.  As a boy I wasn’t allowed to beat my fists in rage or throw a temper fit so I learned to use music to express what I felt.” 
“You do it well.”
Rising from the piano bench, he bowed and settled into a corner of the small sofa.  “Thank you.  Now I’ve unburdened myself with music, we can move forward. So, explain to me about hauntings and time travel and the like.”
Lillian sat down, thoughts whirling like a windmill in a storm.   “I’m not really an expert but I did do some research when I went back to Kansas City.  There are three basic types of hauntings according to the experts.  There are residual hauntings where the ghost is nothing more than an impression, like a picture imprinted on a place showing the same thing repeatedly.   You’re not residual.
“Then there’s poltergeist activity but  it often centers around an adolescent and is characterized by a lot of physical activity, objects moving, things being moved, and noise.  Poltergeists rap on the walls, knock on floors, or tap on ceilings but they don’t play the piano.
“Last is what is called an intelligent haunting and the ghost is cognizant of who they are – or were – and can communicate.”
Howard listened but when she paused for breath, he wrinkled his nose. “At least I’m considered intelligent.”
“Well, yes,” Lillian floundered, facts jumbled together in her head like confetti.  The books she’d read, the programs she watched, and the information she gleaned congealed into a mess hard to separate into facts.  What she learned from self-proclaimed psychics, ghost hunters, and paranormal professionals now seemed vague and too simple.
“You do interact with me and you’re what's known as a full figured apparition but in every other way, you’re not like any of the ghosts I read about.  Most of the books mentioned intelligent hauntings are around because they want or need something or have unfinished business.  I read chapters about how people can help ghosts go to the light, which seems to be another way to say send them to Heaven.  Or how they resolve a mystery or reveal where the money was hidden but you don’t fit any of those, I don’t think.”
He crossed one leg over the other, pondering what she said. “No, I don’t suppose I do.  I believe if Heaven or hell were my intended destination, I would've gone but I don’t seem able to do so.  Nor do I’ve unfinished business except my life ended much too soon.  There was so much more I hoped to do, Lillian.   I built this home for a family, to find a wife, and I died before it could happen.  I suppose I’d call it unfinished business.”
“Yes.  However, short of telling you to move on to Heaven, I don’t see where any of the things I researched can help you.  If you want to move on from here then I’ll do what I can to help but I’d miss you.”
Tears clogged her throat and she fumbled the last words.  Setting Howard free to reach the hereafter sounded like the right thing to do but she didn’t want to part with him.  If he wanted to go, however, to be free after more than a hundred years, how could she keep him?  She swallowed a sob and waited.
 “I won’t leave you, Lillian,” Howard said, as he stood, moving across the room to stand before her. “As cursed as I’ve felt as a ghost, I couldn’t leave you, my love.  Earlier you said, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  It lies to us to find it.  What do you know about time travel?”
She wanted to cry, wail like an abandoned baby on a doorstep. “Even less than I know about ghosts.”
Laughter wasn’t the reaction she expected but he hooted.  Quizzical, she turned to him,
“What could be funny?”
“You’re much more of an expert than you think, Lillian.  After all, you have just returned from time traveling which is, I daresay, more than H.G. Wells or his Time Traveler ever managed to do.  Is time travel considered possible in your time?”
“Well, in theory only,” Lillian said, shaking her head. “There are a lot of books and movies but there’s some serious research.  Einstein, the scientist, presented a theory time is like a river but I’d need to refresh my memory on the rest of it.  I guess you’ve read Wells’ The Time Machine?
“Avidly.  The notion intrigued me although his fictional account is much more fanciful than what we just experienced.  I’d settle for returning to 1904, to my life.  I’d trade the Morlocks for the life I lived and adventure for domesticity.  You intrigue me with this Einstein.  Who is he?”
“He was one of the greatest scientists ever,” Lillian said, wondering just how to condense Einstein’s career and many discoveries into a nutshell for Howard.  “Sometime I’ll tell you all about him but for now, the important thing is he believed time was like a river.  He wasn’t much of a believer in time travel  at first but one of his colleagues at Princeton, Kurt Goedel, I think, came up with the idea time’s river includes whirlpools allowing time travel. Other scientists believe Einstein’s theory of relativity creates the possibility of time travel.  Most of his other theories were proven to be true so – as we now know – time travel is possible.”
“So it seems.  I also appear to be fading fast so bid me adieu, dearest.”
Before she could say a word, he vanished and was gone.
“Damn!” The aggravation would kill her if the suspense didn’t.  Love relationships were hard enough with a flesh and blood partner but Howard’s disappearing act was beyond difficult.   There must be some way, she thought, to cross the boundaries of time so she and Howard could be together and Lillian resolved to figure out how.
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