Monday, October 31, 2016

The Mysterious Moving Grave





What better story to tell this Halloween than one about a grave that moves! Don't miss out on the Rafflecopter entry. Take it away, Bish









Thanks for letting me haunt your blog, Lee! Today I’m going to share a scene that was removed from my book The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. At then end, I’ll tell the “real” story.

Like any writer, I had to revise and edit The Bowl and Stone… a lot. I changed POV and tense more times than I care to admit. Whole chapters and scenes were ripped from the pages, each one tearing at my heart. But when three beta readers say the same thing, one has to take a serious look. This scene, along with others related to it, was removed because ultimately they made Sam and her best friend, Nick, look rather mean and petty, which is not what I intended. Here the friends are explaining about a grave they believe moves from place to place, to two tourist kids.

***

The Mysterious Moving Grave

     The two tourist kids were so annoying we had to tell them the story of the Mysterious Moving Grave. 
     "Once there was this really mean man," said Nick. "He was so mean nothing grew on his farm."
     "He was married," I continued, "and had three kids. He drank a lot and blamed them for his not being able to grow anything."
     "One night he got really drunk and went into a terrible rage. That's when he did it." Nick paused for effect.
     "Did what?" asked the thin, pale boy who looked like an albino salamander.
     "That's when he killed his wife and kids," he answered.
     "With a machete," I said.
     "Hacked all four of 'em to bits." Nick waved his arm like he was slicing something up. "Scattered their body parts all over his land. He thought it would make things grow."
     "Gross!" The girl covered her mouth with a hand and turned green as genip.
     "It gets better," I said. "He was caught and tried and they hung him right here at Gallows Point, which is where they hung all the criminals and pirates back then. Even though he was a bad man his brother wanted to bury him all proper, so he built him a small concrete tomb."
     Nick continued. "The problem is he's restless. He keeps getting out of his grave and wandering around Gallows Point with that machete, looking for the people who hanged him. People have heard him scraping his machete along the walls of the cottages, particularly the one you're staying in. And because he keeps climbing in and out of his grave, it keeps moving. Sometimes it's up near the road, sometimes closer to the genip tree."

The Real Story
Since we had to walk by the graveyard on an almost daily basis my best friend Jay and I kept tabs on a grave that appeared to move from the genip tree, up to the road, and back down to the tree. As children with prodigious imaginations, we made up all sorts of stories about it.

The truth is rather mundane. The grave did indeed appear to move, but not because a ghost was climbing in and out of the small concrete tomb. Back in the day the road past the graveyard was dirt and just wide enough for two Jeeps to pass. During the rainy season, usually the summer, the tall Guinea grass grew thickly along the side of the road, making the road appear narrower, making the grave look farther from the road. During the dry season, usually the winter, the grass died back, making the road appear wider, thus making the grave look closer to the road.

I don’t have any pictures of Jay and me as children. But here we are in our 20s in the windmill at Annaberg, a sugar plantation that has small but important role in The Bowl and the Stone.


OOOOooooooOOOOOOoooooo. Happy Halloween, everyone!



About the Book:

Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.

It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? 

As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.



About the Author

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.

Learn more about Bish:  Random Thoughts. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads


ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER DRAWING FOR THE BOWL AND THE STONE.




Tomorrow is November 1 and that means my Email Connect Message will be going out. I have a new Featured Follower for the month, and some interesting stuff about Amazon algorithms and titles. Don't miss this one.



Quote of the Week: (In honor of election week!)  "There is nothing further away from Washington than the entire world." Arthur Miller.

60 comments:

  1. And from something as simple as a widening road a scary story is born.
    Yeah, when all of your critique partners say the same thing, that usually means they're right.

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    1. Yup, I had to listen, much as I wanted to keep that scene, and related ones, in.

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    2. I'm always happy when my crit partners agree. It's when they don't that I'm left scratching my head.

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  2. Hi, Cheryl Lee & Bish!

    In 1990 Mrs. Shady and I vacationed in St. Croix. It was one of the best and most memorable weeks of our lives even though there were lingering signs of damage from powerful Hurricane Hugo which had struck the island the previous year. The Virgin Islands provide a unique setting for the eerie tale of The Bowl and the Stone. A child has a fertile imagination and is filled with wonder, curiosity and irrational fears. In addition a child's perspective is distorted. Have you ever returned to your childhood home and swore that the rooms had shrunk?

    Thanks for introducing Bish and her fascinating book, dear friend C-Lee!

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    1. Hugo... that was a bad hurricane followed just six years later by Marilyn. Both did a terrible lot of damage. But it's wonderful you went to St. Croix. Your visit helped the economy.

      Yes! I have indeed returned to a childhood home and remember thinking how small the rooms looked. I know it's because I had grown...

      Thanks for stopping by Shady.

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    2. Our family had a fabulous St. Croix, too. Such a beautiful spot on this planet. Bish was lucky to have so much time there as a child.

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  3. Save that little excerpt. You never know, it might fit another story.

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    1. Oh yeah... I have this habit of saving every little darn thing I write, Diane!

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    2. You never know, do you? Good advice.

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  4. A wonderful write for this Halloween, also then entire book sounds just marvelous. Thanks for sharing.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne. Glad you enjoyed the "wanna be" excerpt from my book. :)

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  5. Fantastic story! I love creepy stories like that. Happy Halloween! :)

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    1. Ha! Glad you enjoyed it, oh you who write lots of creepy stuff.

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    2. And this time of year is a perfect one for a good creepy story.

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  6. Deleted scenes are so fun! This one especially nice for Halloween.

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    1. And I wanted it to work so badly, but it just didn't fit...

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    2. Bish can use it for a post one day. Maybe an anniversary of her pub date.

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  7. I agree that telling that story to frighten some tourist children doesn't paint your protagonists in a good light. But I bet you can find a place to include the moving grave in another story! It's a great tale!

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    1. Perhaps someday it will show up elsewhere, Dianne. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Kids love to be scared. I know I did. I'm a scaredy-cat adult, but was an intrepid kid. :-)

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  8. A little change can sure bring on a spurt of imagination and a story is born.

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    1. Isn't it wonderful how stories are all around us?

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    2. I've always meant to write down exactly where the initial story idea came from. I can only recall the genesis of my first two books.

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  9. What a great basis for creating a story. Love it!

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  10. I've always believed some people will keep bothering us even from their (moving) graves

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  11. When the truth is disappointing, folks will always choose to remember and tell the scary tale. :-)

    Today, Mark Twain helps me on my blog with a tale of his spending a night in a haunted plantation in Hawaii.

    Love Halloween! Best of luck with the book sales, Bish!

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    1. I read your post and you managed to really set me up for tonights spookiness! Now even Hawaii holds terror for me. So much for next year's vacation on the beach. :-)

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    2. Yes, Roland, the truth is often rather ho-hum. Good luck with YOUR sales!

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  12. I'm glad you shared this deleted excerpt with us, Bish! I love to do that with my own. This was a fun look into your story and the mysterious moving grave.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed, Chrys, particularly since you read the final version!

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  13. Thank you both. Love that excerpt. True of children the world over I think. We are often on the mean side. Some of us grow out of it.
    How nice to finally get an explanation for that restless grave...

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    1. Hopefully MOST of us grow out of that mean streak.

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  14. Sad when a scene has to be sacrificed for story, but that's what blogs are for, right?

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  15. I absolutely love graveyards. Graving is one of my hobbies, and I've done a lot of volunteer work for Find A Grave, photographing headstones and creating virtual interments. Even when I don't have my camera, I still love walking through cemeteries. The coolest grave I've even seen was the grave of a Satanist who was kicked off his kibbutz, with a mosquito, a sword, and a skull on the stone. It was buried by weeds, dirt, and other things for decades, until it was discovered by chance and unearthed.

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    1. Oh wow! There's a story in that grave.

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  16. The truth is never as fun as our imaginations, eh?

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    1. Rarely. But the fun is in the imagination. Where would be without it?

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  17. What a great idea, to share a deleted section. I love this, Bish. It should be a sequel.

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    1. Thanks, Jacqui! In another completely different story, perhaps, but probably not a sequel.

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  18. Oooh interesting story! I like the book's outtake and the real story behind it all. :) Happy Halloween!

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  19. Great story. It may work elsewhere someday. You never know. A moving tombstone would be spooky. Glad there's an explanation.

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    1. There's almost always an explanation. If not, it's probably because we haven't found it yet. And that is the stuff from which stories are born.

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  20. Loved your story. Thanks for sharing it and your behind the scenes in general. Hope you enjoyed your blog tour.

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    1. I did enjoy the blog tour, Natalie. Thanks for stopping by to visit various blogs!

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  21. Hey Bish! I could just visualize you imagineering with your friend. What fun it must have been! A moving grave, no less. By the way, where is the pic of you two in your 20s? I'm eager to see! Your book sounds intriguing! All the best.

    Thank you Lee. :) I love your guest posters!

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    1. Alas, Vidya, I don't know what became of the picture. If I could put it into the comments, I would.

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  22. Great way to take a real event easily explained and turn it into a fascinating tale of mystery.

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    1. The thing is, Mason, as kids my best friend and I really did think it moved...

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  23. Well, I loved the story either way you tell it Bish. It must have been really exciting making up stories about that ‘moving’ grave, no wonder it almost made it into your book.
    Thanks for sharing this Lee, I’m a little late but Happy Halloween to you both.

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  24. We walked through a cemetery on our way home from school when I was a teen. I would walk tall like it was no big deal where I was. But if anyone was studying my steps, they would have noted that I never walked on a grave. If I'd seen a moving tombstone, I would have had a heart attack. Great story, Bish!

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  25. Great story. Thanks for sharing.
    Really creepy true stuff that's semi related-- there's a graveyard in Boston that has moved a few times. It was even a landfill at one point until a mayor wanted to clean up the historic district and found a bunch of tombstones under the trash. Among them? The families of the Handcocks, Franklins, and a woman who might have been Mother Goose.

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  26. Interesting and spooky post-- never knew about that type of lure

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