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TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: The Legend of Sara Jane Road

Gulping down the last drink of coffee, now cold, she motioned to the waitress for more and then scooted across the booth closer to the next table. There were five young guys gathered around the table next to her, all of them vying for the attention of just two pretty girls.

“Bet you guys have been down Sara Jane Road, haven’t you?”

One of the boys, rubbing his obviously full and slightly chubby midsection, smiled cockily. “’Course we have, lady. Everyone’s been down Sara Jane Road.”

Stirring some cream into her coffee, she nodded. “And did you see anything? I mean I’m sure you went down the road with your lights off and all. Did you see her?”

A kid next to him punched him in the arm. “Yeah, Keith, did you see anything.” There was a certain nasty, low tone to his voice. 

Keith blushed and Johana recalled there were other reasons one might take a trip down Sara Jane Road. The seclusion near the bridge could provide much desired privacy for a pair of young lovers. Boys¸she thought.

“Aw, c’mon guys. You know what I’m asking about. Tell me about Sara Jane Road. Tell me the legend.”

Excerpt, Dark Road Winding (The Urban Legends of Texas-1)

I have a vague memory of driving Sara Jane Road when I was a teenager.  We didn’t turn the headlights off and we didn’t see Sara Jane.  Still the legend exists and most of the folks I’ve asked from the “Golden Triangle” recall different versions of the story.  The most prominent one was of Sara hanging from the tree having killed herself in grief for losing her baby to the Neches River.  Still, there are many variations of the story and its impossible to know if any or none of them are true..

In 2007 the Port Arthur news ran an article about Sara Jane Road and reported that local historian and author W.T. Block’s mother was in fact Sarah Jane Sweeney Block.  Mrs. Block, however, never had a child die in the Neches River and in fact lived to be ninety-nine years old.

The Golden Triangle of Texas Beaumont

The inspiration for the characters in Dark Road Winding are rooted in my own family history as well as my husband’s.  Grandpa H.M.’s character was written in homage to two very special people.  First, my own grandfather, Henry Mel Hardin who departed this earth not long after I graduated high school.  Somewhere in my mind Grandpa H.M. looks a lot like my Pawpaw.   In the story, H.M. is an ex-con who spent most of his life in the federal penitentiary.  That didn’t just come out of nowhere either.  My hubby’s grandfather went to prison for counterfeiting and until his junior year of high school my husband didn’t even know he existed!  Still, when his grandfather was released back into society, he made his life anew, becoming a true springboard for my husband to get an education and to make something of his life.

The connections don’t end there.  The deceased matriarch of Johana Suzanne’s family is Mother Hall and she’s described as a feisty woman who did things her way.  I never met my Pawpaw’s mother, a woman fondly referred to as Mother Turner, but I’ve read and heard about her and I imagine she was quite a woman.

The characters and story I’ve told in Dark Road Winding are all entirely my own and a fabrication of my fervent imagination.  That said, I’ve tried to pepper the story with spices of my childhood and my family, all to give a flavor for my beloved Southeast Texas roots.  I hope you’ve enjoyed.

Calling all Texans!  I need your urban legends…

I’ll be looking for a good urban legend for my next book in this series.  So, if you’re from Texas, living in Texas, or just know an interesting ghost story that takes place in Texas, I’d love to hear from you.  Just comment below and tell me all about your favorite Texas urban legend.  Or, send me an email:  olivia@olivia-hardin.com

TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: Followers of Nefertiti

Queen Nefertiti is one of the most well-known of the Egyptian royals, mostly because of the beautiful bust of her which now resides at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. The 3,000+ year old bust presents Nefertiti as a woman of extraordinary beauty. Unfortunately, it is housed in Germany, despite multiple requests that it be repatriated to Egypt, something my husband, a museum professional, feels strongly about.

But in more recent news, archeologists have claimed to have discovered evidence of a possible hidden chamber behind the tomb of Tutankhamen, Nefertiti’s step-son or even possibly her son. Efforts to investigate this possible secret chamber are still underway, but there are some very interesting theories. To appreciate those, we must first know a bit about the Queen herself.

Nefertiti was the wife of King Akhenaten, and is believed to have been one of the only pharaohs’ wives to have wielded power nearly equal to the king’s. Her husband went to great lengths to display her as his equal. The two of them began a revolution of sorts by advocating the worship of a single god, Aten, instead of multiple gods. Egyptologist Dr. Christopher Naunten states, “They were closer to being Gods in their own right than any other pharaohs.”

Most of the pharaohs of the time before and after Nefertiti have been accounted for, but the queen’s body has never been located. Some evidence suggests she may have been buried in a place hundreds of kilometers away from the Valley of the Kings. The Armana tomb was made to house multiple burials, but her body has not been definitively identified as one of those that were there.

Still, there are reasons to believe that Nefertiti could have been buried in the Valley of the Kings. Some evidence suggests that when her husband Akhenaten died, Nefertiti ruled in his stead, possibly even dressing as a man for that role. So there is speculation that the hidden burial chamber was hers, and that when her son Tutankhamen reigned, he possibly assumed the goods and treasures from her chamber as his own. There is even a strange theory that the famous King Tut death mask was actually hers, and that the impression of her face was removed and replaced with that of the boy king.

I’d already created Red’s character for the Hotel Paranormal/ Lynlee Lincoln story, Escaping the Ashes even before I realized she would be Egyptian, so I was worried about her physical characteristics.  Red hair and fair skin.  Interestingly enough, there is evidence that some Egyptian mummies were naturally fair skinned and had red or even blonde hair.  So, I needn’t have worried.  Red could very well be Egyptian.

One last bit of trivia – when I began developing the part of Atreus in this story, I just intended that he would have been a slave of Queen Nefertiti. But when I began studying the tombs of the Egyptian royals, I came across the term ushabty or ushabti. These were small funerary figures placed in the tombs. Meaning “followers” or “answerers,” these were intended to carry out tasks for the deceased as they transitioned into the afterlife.

Happy reading, all!

 

TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

When one of my editors went through Shifty Business, she commented on how “real” the airplane scene was and how she empathized with Gerry. There’s a good explanation for that realism. I’ve felt it! My husband is a pilot and just before we were married he purchased a 1958 Cessna 172—a “classic.” Now the hubby is an excellent pilot, but we’ve had some events that make a person like me awfully nervous. I tapped into those when I wrote the flying scenes.

Also, the airplane Nicky flies is an “old straight-tail.” Any pilot will know what that means and most of them sigh with nostalgia and remember the first one they ever flew. I sometimes think all pilots must have started out in an older Cessna 172. It’s a much-beloved airplane, sometimes called the Impala of the skies: durable and easy to fly.

So my dear husband calls our airplane American Pie II. His Cessna came off the assembly line the same month Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper went out on the Winter Dance Party Tour which would eventually lead to their deaths in an airplane crash… an airplane called American Pie. It may seem like a bad omen, but that “beautiful old bird” took us many a mile. And the story about her name is always a fun one to tell, especially since the Big Bopper was from my region of Texas and Buddy Holly was from the hubby’s hometown of Lubbock.

Don’t you just love how small the world is sometimes?

The hubby and I sold that gorgeous plane a few years ago and I know that he missed her a lot.  Still, it gave us a lot of fun and adventure for about 20 years!

Olivia Hardin

TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: The birth of Twelve Steps

Post-Prohibition Era diagnoses of alcoholism were grim. Some believed it might be an allergy of sorts to which some were more susceptible.  Most medical and psychiatric experts believed the condition was incurable and terminal. Those with limited resources were resigned to state hospitals or charities like the Salvation Army.  If you had financial support you might get more aggressive treatment including the “purge and puke” method with barbiturates and belladonna.

Still most of the time those resulted in relapse and eventually death associated with the condition.  In the beautiful story, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when the doctor notes that the father’s death certificate will read pneumonia and alcoholism as the cause, the mother begs him to leave the word alcoholism off for her children’s sakes.  It’s a heartbreaking scene.

Eventually, though, a group of alcoholics, starting with Bill W. and Dr. Bob began to experiment and find success by applying the theories of The Oxford Society to their illness.  A Christian fellowship movement, The Oxford Society’s tenants were described by their founder as follows: “All people are sinners”; “All sinners can be changed”; “Confession is a prerequisite to change”; “The change can access God directly”; “Miracles are again possible”; and “The change must change others.”

Many of the beliefs of The Oxford Society were adapted for the problem of the alcoholic and although the two groups diverged in the later 1930s, many of the edicts of the twelve steps have some connective tissue to The Oxford Society.

I learned about Alcoholics Anonymous through The 75th Anniversary Edition of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Originally published in 1939, this book provides a description and definition of alcoholism as well as a step-by-step explanation of how the twelve step program works.  It then relates story after story told in first person by members of the group.  I can honestly say that listening to those accounts was a moving experience and I learned and gained more from The Big Book than I could ever have imagined when I started writing All the Wrong Reasons.  To find out more, please check out my A Pen and a Prayer blog post here.

Pamela Harju’s Sympathetic Strings Release Day Blitz

Pamela Harju

Release Day Blitz: Sympathetic Strings
Author: Pamela Harju
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 7th December 2018

Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

pamela Harju book cover

Blurb:

Her secret casts an ocean between them.

New Yorker Emily arrives in London lonely, desolate and with heavy emotional baggage. She only agrees to go out with Rowan – a heavily tattooed gentle giant and totally not her type – so he can introduce her to her new surroundings.
Rowan, who has his own bruises to heal, falls head over heels in love with the enigmatic American, but Emily has a secret that threatens to keep them apart…
Sympathetic Strings is a sweet stand-alone romance with realistic characters and a gentle touch of suspense.

↓Buy Links↓

Pamela

Author Bio:

Pamela Harju is the author of The Truth about Tomorrow, which won WriteIntoPrint’s Captivating Opening Contest in 2017. She spends her spare time with her dogs and travelling to see rock bands most people have never heard of. She loves tea, big old houses and tattooed men and is happily unmarried to her partner of many years. A native Finn, Pamela lives in the Irish countryside in an old cottage that’s always threatening to fall apart. She has a full-size dog agility arena in her back garden.

To find out more about Pamela Harju you can visit her at:

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Harju/e/B071HKSP6V

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pamelaharju

Website: https://www.pamelaharju.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14888448.Pamela_Harju

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pamelaharju

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TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: PMS and Football?

If you aren’t already familiar with my books, then you might not know anything about Trivia from Olivia.  But in almost each and every story that I publish, I include a strange, weird, obscure trivia or history snippet.  Hey, I’m married to a historian so it isn’t any wonder, right?

And in The Trouble with Holidays which is included in TROLLING FOR TROUBLE, my trivia was brought mostly by the hubby.

First, there’s PMS.  I was already dating the hubby when I decided to audit one of the history classes he taught at the local university.  I will never forget the day he lectured about PMS; the common aspect of many Native American tribes to be Polytheistic, Matrilineal and to have Sex-linked traits.  I explained the basics of what that means here in the story (read it to find out;-) but I just wanted you guys to know that I didn’t make it up.  The college professor who swept me off my feet about sixteen years ago used that in all of his United States History courses.

During The Trouble with Holidays Lynlee makes this comment about her job:
“I feel like the third string quarterback who gets put into the game at the end of the fourth quarter when we’re already winning two hundred and twenty-two to nothing.”

Originally I wrote 100-0, but when I mentioned it to hubby, he proceeded to tell me about the Cumberland vs Georgia Tech game that ended with a score of 222-0.  He thought he recalled the year of that game to be 1915, but it was actually 1916–still, pretty impressive that his brain can hold all of that “useless” information.

gt_cumberland_222_scoreboard

According to what I was able to find online, it appears that Cumberland College discontinued its football program, but that they weren’t allowed to cancel this particular game against Georgia Tech.  The internet provides lots of myths about the game, some of which have been debunked.  But I have to say the quote from the Atlanta Journal pretty much sums up what the game must have been like:

“As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, ‘Here he comes’ and ‘There he goes.’”

Oh, and one more fun fact.  The coach for Georgia Tech that year?  None other than John Heisman.

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1916_Cumberland_vs._Georgia_Tech_football_game

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/in-1916-georgia-tech-beat-cumberland-college-222-to-0-22745905/?no-ist

 

You can read TROLLING FOR TROUBLE and the entire Lynlee Lincoln Series FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Getting Cozy: How well do you know your favorite authors?

Are you a rabid reader?

Do you devour your favorite authors’ latest releases, follow them on social media and gobble up their newsletters?

Now it’s time to find out just how well you know your favorite authors!

We’re offering you a fabulous giveaway in the month of December! And all you have to do to enter is get to know us a little better.

Each weekday, one of the authors will post a question (along with a hint about where to find the answer). You can enter each day, just by answering the question on the Rafflecopter.

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The prize is just what everyone needs this time of year–cash for the holidays! We’ll award a $150 PayPal gift card to the winner on December 22nd.

We’ll each post once a week, so follow along to enter every single day for more chances to win!

Mondays: Visit Tawdra’s Facebook page for her question!

Tuesdays: Visit Vi’s Facebook page for her question!

Wednesdays: Visit Sylvie’s Facebook page for her question!

Thursdays: Visit Olivia’s Facebook page for her question!

Fridays: Visit Lisa’s Facebook page for her question!

Join us for our Facebook Lives on Mondays during this giveaway–and be sure to visit our blogger partners for special exclusive content–interviews, guests posts and excerpts.

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TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: Halloween, PMS and Football?

In my Lynlee Lincoln series, our favorite snarky witch lives in a strange sort of place that she affectionately refers to as “the mafia house.”  If you’ve ever wondered about that, the truth is that the mafia house really does exist… or at least it did at one time. The hubby and I looked at it about fifteen years ago when we were looking for a home in the Houston area. That house needed lots of love but I absolutely adored all the weird aspects of it. I mean, how cool would it be to have a bathroom with a hidden door to a crawl area with a floor safe, a peep-through window between rooms plus a huge bedroom-sized cedar closet? It was much bigger than we needed and already had a contract on it, so it wasn’t meant to be. Still, that crazy house remained in my mind until I had the dream that led to this story.

As a Catholic-girl, I was raised to know that the day after Halloween was All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation for us to venerate the saints. The day following was All Souls Day, which was to remember our departed loved ones and to pray for their passage into heaven.  Later, I studied Spanish and also Aztec history and I was fascinated by Día de los Muertos: the day of the dead. Today Mexico still celebrates this day by decorating graves and even leaving food for the departed to feast upon when they cross over into the realm of the living.

In this Trolling for Trouble I took a little dramatic license and chose to apply some of the beliefs about that day to All Souls Day.

And if you read Trolling for Trouble, you’ll also find out about PMS… but not the PMS you might be thinking.  I was already dating the hubby when I decided to audit one of the history classes he taught at the local university.  I will never forget the day he lectured about PMS; the common aspect of many Native American tribes to be Polytheistic, Matrilineal and to have Sex-linked traits.  I explain the basics of what that means here in the story itself, but I just wanted you guys to know that I didn’t make it up.  The college professor who swept me off my feet about twenty-one years ago used that in all of his United States History courses.

In that same story, Lynlee comments about the football score 222-0.  I wrote 100-0 in my first draft, but when I mentioned it to hubby, he proceeded to tell me about the Cumberland vs Georgia Tech game that ended with a score of 222-0.  He thought he recalled the year of that game to be 1915, but in actuality it was 1916–still, pretty impressive that his brain can hold such “useless” information.

According to what I was able to find, it appears that Cumberland College discontinued its football program, but weren’t allowed to cancel this particular game against Georgia Tech.  The internet provides lots of myths about the game, some of which have been debunked.  But I have to say the quote from the Atlanta Journal pretty much sums up what the game must have been like:

“As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, ‘Here he comes’ and ‘There he goes.’”

Oh, and one more fun fact.  The coach for Georgia Tech that year?  None other than John Heisman.

Check out Saving Grace by Vi Carter!

saving grace

Release Day Blitz: Saving Grace

Author: Vi Carter

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Dates: 25th of October

Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours

Vi Carter _ Saving Grace.jpg

Blurb:

Grace knows that the only way she can survive life is to bury her past.

But nothing stays buried forever…

It’s been two years since she lost so much. Two years since she started a new life, in a new college, with a new group of friends. Two years, and now her troubles are rushing back.

When Derek walks into Grace’s life, he makes her feel things she’d hoped never to feel again. The box she hid all her secrets in is opening, and Grace might not be able to keep it shut this time.

As each of her traumas resurfaces, Grace isn’t sure having Derek at her side is enough to save her. And if he’s not, Grace isn’t sure she’ll come out the other side fully intact.

If you like “The Problem with Forever” by Jennifer L Armentrout or “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover, then Saving Grace will feed your addiction for a romance with real-life struggles.

 

↓Buy Links↓

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CpDs6R
FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio:

Be Brave. Stay Strong. Do you..jpg

When Vi Carter isn’t writing contemporary romance books, you can find her reading her favorite authors, baking, taking photos or watching Netflix.

Married with one child, Vi divides her time between motherhood and all the other hats she wears as an Author.

Vi’s main goal is to give readers the same emotional ride that she got from reading Colleen Hoover and Jennifer L. Armentrout books.

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Website: https://www.vicarterbooks.com

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Haunted Musings

I grew up across the street from my high school.  There was an open lot adjacent to the baseball field and directly opposite our place… and at one time there had been a house there.  I have no idea what happened to the house, but the old concrete steps still remained when we were kids.  The Girls – that’s a descriptor for my 2 sisters and I; we were always just “The Girls” – anyway, The Girls and I along with some friends created this entire story about how the house had burned down and that a young lady had died in the fire.  When we walked along in the woods behind that vacant lot we found some shards of a mirror.  Well obviously the girl’s spirit was trapped in that mirror and so we couldn’t dare look into the glass because if she saw us she’d pull us in with her!

There was also this tiny little building out behind our neighbor’s home.  I remember one day The Girls and I snuck over there and went into that little “house.”  We weren’t supposed to be there, probably because the thing was falling apart and we could have killed ourselves playing in it.  However, in our minds we weren’t supposed to be in there because it was haunted.  In that little decrepit building we found a small piece of “Egyptian” artwork made of little stones glued together.  We were certain it was possessed of some power and we all ran from that little house in terror when we dropped it and a piece of it broke off.  We were convinced we were going to be “cursed” forever!

I can also fondly remember the year The Girls and I were going to make our very own haunted house.  I remember us stringing cobwebs along the front deck and going to all sorts of extremes.  But what I remember most was the look of absolute horror on my mothers face when she saw the little babydoll we had “tortured.”  We dripped fake blood all over the poor little thing and then drove a nail into her body.  I’m surprised we weren’t all put up for adoption shortly thereafter.

Needless to say, it never took much to spark up our imaginations and I guess its any wonder my imagination remains as twisted as it is to this day!