WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH: Blog Double-Header!
Today we bring you a sneak peek of not one but two (with link provided below) companion blogs: One over at Philadelphia Writers' Conference (where I am Registrar) and one for PFI below. Individually, each sister blog for Women in Horror Month [February] will behold something special:
An excerpt, fun cover peel, and teaser of package offer [BELOW] & over at PWC [same link provided]; you will find a Women in Horror header with cover tease and a craft blog on novel revision feels from me (during my time in the dumpster fire of 2020).
I wanted to give my followers and friends at both places something exclusive as a Thank You. Philadelphia Writers' Conference took me on as a Flash Fiction Master Workshop Instructor because of my branding beginnings with two literary flash and poetry mags and initiatives that I hold close to my heart: PHILLY FLASH INFERNO (my creation) and THE SCARS AND TATTOOS PROJECT: Stories on our Skin: (started with my writing friend and Scars creator, Elaine Palliatas-Haughey).
I realize now that some of PWC followers are coming to PFI second, and vice-versa, what fun! Or "What Hell!"(Bad inferno jokes are required from us, sorry).
Here is my excerpt (*blog format does not reflect perfect book format), a chapter in Part II: Hauntings, followed by your link, directly to PWC:
POLYGON #29, Catt Colborn, SAMPLE CHAPTER:
The Past: Jane Has a Sleepover
Jane was watching her
mother after she finished the incantation, putting away her safe items: the
garlic mixture, the sea salt, and the holy water. Claire stowed the glass
containers away next to each other inside a wooden box, branded with an iron
symbol. She shuddered, watching her Aunt Fanny, meeting her mother, both so
close to the door, and Jane thought, it was one thing to brag about
living in a haunted house and quite another to sleep in it.
mother came closer again, and Jane let a quiet breath escape from her lips, as
her mother closed the lid to the wooden box on the nightstand and latched it.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with me in my room or with your Aunt Fanny
in the master just for tonight?” Claire asked.
shook her head with soft covers pulled up to her chin. “I’m fine,” she chided
herself. She hated that box. She hated the fact her mother and aunt danced
around her bed; shaking the jars like oyster women at the docks, after the
morning haul. And haul it was, dragging
her here from the Italian countryside and protecting her from a strange
grandparent, Uncle Percy’s ghost, and devil knows what other skeletons she
needed protection from in Polygon #29. “Sooner or later, my other mum will
return from her travels, and you will all want privacy, and I will have to face
the ghosts all by myself anyway,” she finished.
Fanny leaned against the doorjamb and craned her neck towards the nightstand and said, “You did the ritual, my dear, so they should not bother you.”
Jane placed her finger on the iron symbol, caressing the edges. “What’s this?”
Claire and Fanny looked at each other, and then Claire wrung her fingers, and replied, “A seraphim protection symbol. It’s also a locking spell, so a supernatural being cannot open it and mess with the contents.”
garlic mixture is the worst of it, you know.” Jane said, smacking her lips
together, contorting her face. She also thought how maybe the ghosts had
distaste for her. She had been there for two days, and they didn’t make their
presence known, much like her other mum.
Claire was leaning against the doorjamb with Fanny but she moved closer to the circle again. “Here,” Claire started, while pouring some water into a glass on the nearby side table. “Swish this and spit it into the basin on the stand, and then carefully hop back into bed. I will wait.”
Jane threw the covers to the side, jumped out; doing
as her mother commanded, before jumping quickly back under the covers
again. “Much better,” Jane said.
Fanny unfolded her arms and nodded to Claire. “Seems like you are ready, Jane. I will be downstairs in my study, doing my research if you need me,” Fanny said. She curled a forefinger towards Claire outside the door. “Sister, may I have a few words with you before I retire?”
Claire nodded and followed.
Jane listened as she heard the entire conversation with Fanny’s deep voice, echoing in the barrel-vaulted ceilings, “I will be finding the remedy to perfect the tokens this very evening.”
Claire clenched her fists at her sides. “But you memorized how to do the rituals, correct? Just in case I don’t live through the win—”
Fanny blocked the words with her hands. “Don’t finish that statement. I dare not think of it. Why don’t you let me help you with Mary’s spell—”
Claire cut Fanny off now with a hand raised near Fanny’s breastbone. “No, that’s not how I want my daughter to see me for the rest of her time on Earth and as guardian dare not think of it for her, if you truly love her as much as you say.”
jaw dropped, heavy like their words. She stared at her oddly tall aunt, still
in her cloak with rabbit fur lining from her nightly escapades to god knows
where. Fanny nodded and slowly turned away from the open door, before
disappearing. Her large boots, thumped down the grand staircase. Jane clamped
her eyelids tighter on each thump that sounded as if it would crack the marble.
I’m glad she’s gone. Now it’s Mother’s turn.
The footsteps faded and the teenager’s eyes relaxed to tiny slits, fading softly into her down pillows. “Perfect, I’m ready now,” Jane, whispered to her mother.
Claire blew a kiss to her daughter. Jane returned it and Claire slowly closed the door behind her. Jane heard her mother’s heeled slippers, clicking down the hall for seven seconds. She almost rolled onto her back.
Something broke the light underneath of her door twice.
She raised the covers even more until they were touching her cheekbones. Her hot air from her nostrils turned cool as if she were out on the front stoop in the snowstorm. She heard two sharp thumps in quick succession, like the padding of tiny feet.
Jane wiped the beads of cold sweat off of her forehead, letting the coolness of the sheets begin calming her to sleep. But there was a bounce on the bed on the other side of her, and it felt as though something dropped and snuggled in behind her, and then again, her back thrust forward, and she grabbed the end table next to her to hold on. Her cold breath fogged the iron symbol on the wooden box.
They were like stacked spoons in a tea cabinet drawer.
dared not turn to view them, whether she could see them or not. “Sister,” it
whispered in her ear.
Jane did not hear the scream rise from her throat but felt her tonsils vibrating and the pain of her own nails, digging into her palms. She saw her mother’s image, rushing through the door. “Jane!” her mother’s face called, but Jane did not hear the words, frozen in time. “Jane! Are you okay?” her mother’s lips mimicked again, shaking her by the forearms until the ringing stopped, and the second hand clicked on the antique clock.
Claire shook her head. “Oh, dear,” she started, pointing.
“I did not realize the small lace train on your nightgown must have dragged
through here when you stepped over to rinse your mouth.”
room was quiet again. “How can it be more still than before?” Jane asked. “It
is eerily silent now.”
Claire rubbed Jane’s forearms; Jane knew they were filled with raised hairs and tiny bumps without looking. “They never liked adult’s scolding them,” her mother stated.
Jane took a deep breath. “Mother,” Jane started, teeth calming from their chattering. “How come you are not afraid of them?”
Jane looked to a corner and swore she saw something in a rocking chair. “I’m so afraid, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to them like you. Can they really hurt me, Mother?”
“My family is usually notorious for hurt. I wish I could promise you better outcomes from them all, Jane. But your sisters I love and will never forget. They are the strongest of us, or so Fanny claims. She thinks they could help us.”
Jane pinched the bridge of her nose and bowed her head. “I don’t think I can shut an eye again tonight,” she whispered into her chest.
Claire put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “How about you sleep with me tonight, like I suggested earlier. So I can watch you and you can watch me?” Claire hugged her daughter tightly and searched her eyes. “Maybe when we all get used to each other then we will be like any other family. We will most likely get sick of each other.” Claire lifted her chin and continued, “And besides, your Auntie Fanny said that she might have something to control the ghosts. How about we wait to hear from her tomorrow?”
Jane nodded. “Good idea,” she answered.
Claire broke the circle of salt with her bare foot this time and grabbed her daughter by the back and led her to her bedroom next door. As Claire closed the door, she saw two small humps, snuggling back to front under the covers through the tiny slit. She blew a kiss to them. They were like two little teaspoons, left stacked in a tea cabinet drawer.