Journalist Christine Christian awakens in the basement of an unfinished house, a nasty bump on her head. But as she tries to recall what happened, is it short-term memory loss, or something else that has her upside down? With no evidence of foul play, and no body, Deputy Delmar Johnson can't officially open a case. But on his own time, he begins to follow clues. When he has a conversation with the missing woman in a lucid dream, he fears for his own sanity, and fears more than ever that the missing woman has been slain, and that she may have met her demise in Milford-Haven.
Each book in the Milford-Haven series features a real lighthouse, so I visit and research lighthouses quite often. Sadly, almost every single one was built because of a maritime disaster, so it’s no surprise that many are considered to be haunted. In some cases, the tales of strange occurances, sounds, smells and sights are well documented. In this novella, journalist Christine Christian is drawn to visit four Central Coast California lighthouses. Researching them was fascinating, and in my book I did include some of the “tall tales” I heard. But I also wrote some dream-like experiences that fit with the specifics of the surroundings. I wonder whether you’ll be able to tell which are from my imagination? Will you have visions of your own, if you visit these iconic locations? And now, welcome to the Point Vicente Lighthouse in Los Angeles . . .
When I was about seven years old, my parents built their dream home, never imagining they would soon be moving overseas. During construction of the house, I used to prowl around the framed rooms, trying to imagine what the finished structure would be. To this day, I love walking through unfinished houses, so I couldn't resist creating the Clarke House in the Milford-Haven series. In other books, we see the beauty of it. But in this one, I called upon one frightening memory. In front of the fireplace, the hearthstone was still missing, and I peered down into a black hole leading to the still-dirt basement. That's the memory that popped up when I wrote this chapter for Chris Christian..
California's Central Coast, where my Milford-Haven series is set, is beautiful in every season. But seasons in California are more subtle than in many other parts of the country, so the Prologue is rich in specific detail. The Prologue also takes the reader immediately into the strange paranormal world of this particular book, quite different from others in the series. It's almost Halloween, when strange things can happen . . . and do.
Tense and depressed during the holidays, Zackery Calvin unexpectedly unlocks a life-long secret that also begins to unlock his heart. Cozy up with a cup of Christmas tea and let your mind journey to the sumptuous Calvin Estate overlooking the gorgeous coastal scenery of Santa Barbara, not far from Milford-Haven.
It might seem as though people with wealth and privilege have relatively few problems. But this can be an illusion. In the case of Zackery Calvin, his apparently charmed life includes a secret that has been an unknown source for confusion, depression, and an inability to create a lasting relationship. This year, just in time for Christmas, he’s made a mess of things with two different women, alienating them both, and he now finds himself marooned in an ocean of opulent decorations and engulfing loneliness. Then something strange happens. A letter arrives, its intention to return a lost key ring. But Zack has no idea what the beautiful little key might unlock. Nor can he know how his life will change, once this secret it revealed. The trusted family majordomo does know the secret, entrusted to him years before. What he doesn’t know is if or when to reveal it. The appearance of the key ring seems to be the trigger. But is he correct? Will he help or hinder the path of the young man he’s known since earliest childhood? If there are secrets that come to light during your holidays, I hope they bring only blessings.
Intuition, foreboding, and faith create unexpected connections as an artist in her studio feels guided to create an unexpected painting, whose subject is an adventurer caught in a storm on the side of a mountain.
Each of us experiences some sort of evolution when it comes to celebrating the holidays. Miranda Jones still enjoys the Christmas traditions her parents started, and this year she’ll be joining them for a special trip to revisit favorite childhood traditions. But she also wants to create her own traditions in her new home, Milford-Haven. She invites over the small group of friends she’s made during her few months since moving to the Central Coast, honoring and including them by asking each to bring a favorite dish. Sally, a restaurant owner, brings her “Christmas eggs,” Kevin, a construction worker, brings sausages, Samantha, head of the Environmental Planning Commission, brings a beautiful fresh fruit salad, and Miranda makes her signature “Watercolor Pancakes” (the recipe at end of book). Sharing the preparation of the food is a prelude to sharing what really matters—the sense of connection, community, and mutual support. Each of these characters is on a journey to find a more evolved sense of home, and this cozy, cheerful interlude reassures and uplifts their spirits, while filling their bellies to capacity. Small celebrations like this have always been important to me, and they’re still among my favorite events to plan for my core group of friends. I hope you enjoy something similar during your holidays.
Can a young woman with a promising future in the big city find happiness in a small, coastal town? Book One of the Milford-Haven Novels, based on the author's own hit BBC Radio Drama, introduces the beautiful coastal town Milford-Haven and its several residents, including protagonist Miranda Jones. An ambitious young artist whose paintings are beginning to succeed in the competitive art world, she is also on an internal personal journey to establish her own sense of spirituality and purpose. Author Mara Purl is a former soap opera celebrity from Days of Our Lives, as well as a former journalist from the London Financial Times and the Associated Press. Through her novel series she has established a loyal following in the Women's Fiction genre. Short stories appear as prequels to each novel, extending the five-book series.
Are sea otters as cute and clever as they seem? Miranda Jones is as captivated by their sweet faces as she is spellbound by their antics. She can hardly wait to interact with them on her kayaking expedition off California’s Central Coast. Yet nothing could be more surprising than the controversy they’ve caused in the sun-drenched Santa Barbara waters, nor more disturbing than the vehement hatred they seem to inspire among local fishermen. Are the otters really so adorable? Or is there more at stake . . . When Otters Play?
My irritating character "Mrs. Lime" surprised me by showing up again in this novella. No matter where protagonist wildlife-artist Miranda Jones goes, Mrs. Lime seems to follow. This time, as usual, she refuses to follow the recommendations of the experienced mariners around her, and do as she pleases, which puts humans and animals at risk. We know she has no manners, talks (or screams) too loudly, and wears an obnoxious color. Yet her devoted husband protects and cherishes her. In this story, we do find out more about this apparently unsympathetic character. And for sure, we have some more laughs at her expense!
Three years of research went into the writing of "When Otters Play," all of it fascinating. One great privilege was working with the director of the Sea Otter Rescue Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She took me "backstage" to observe not only the professional care given all the rescued otters, but also the tender regard for this fellow creature. Theirs is a practice of both head and heart, and I wanted to make sure to bring both into my story. In this excerpt, we see my fictional Director handling a rescued baby. They are so cute you just want to take one home! But preparing them for a healthy and safe next chapter of life is the real goal. I hope my readers enjoy this precious little one as much as I do!
Is the heart a better navigator than the head? Artist Miranda Jones has followed her heart to a new home in the beautiful California coastal town of Milford-Haven, and now begins to map her emotional and professional life from a new perspective. An extensive Los Angeles research trip takes her from the Palos Verdes peninsula to the Mojave Desert, and from A Doobie Brothers Concert at the Hollywood Bowl to the Angeles Crest National Forest. Meanwhile her Milford-Haven friends have adventures of their own: Samantha Hugo plunges into a search for the son she gave up years earlier; restaurant owner Sally O'Mally suddenly encounters the highschool man she lost. Each woman wrestles with her own core issues while balancing demanding careers with the attentions of interesting men. Though the book stands alone, it is also Book 2 in the critically acclaimed, award-winning, Amazon best-selling series, a multi-generational Milford-Haven saga. Based on Purl's BBC Radio drama Milford-Haven U.S.A.
Each Prologue of the Milford-Haven Novels picks up the thread of the ongoing mystery. Deputy Delmar Johnson is part of SPU -- Special Problems Unit -- and has been assigned to the strange case of television journalist Christine Christian who, though missing, may just be on overseas assignment. With no body and no evidence of foul play, the case is indeed a "special problem." But Del has an intuitive connection to the case that makes it hard for him to categorize, contain, or dismiss. This storyline began in my radio drama "Milford-Haven USA", but took a much darker turn because the wonderful actress portraying Chris Christian passed on suddenly. I continued the storyline in the novels partly to honor her memory, but also because it's a way to process an event that actually happened in the ongoing life of Milford-Haven.
Can a hummingbird dream? Artist Miranda Jones thinks so. Sensing the tiny injured bird that wings its way into her world still lives, she paints the creature’s dream-garden and seems to reach into his very heart. She reached into her own heart to create a new life for herself in Milford-Haven.
The setting and the tone of this story is idyllic and even a bit magical. Based in part on a real experience I had, I remember so clearly the beauty of that day as my friends and I enjoyed lunch in a spectacular garden overlooking the ocean. And then something bad happened . . . and it transformed into something transcendent, as you’ll see in this novelette. What didn’t happen in real life was the arrival of "Lime Woman" -- a bossy, intrusive pill of a woman who barged into my story, startling me as much as she startled my protagonist Miranda.. She seemed to arrive of her own accord and I had no choice but to let her walk all over my beautiful, peaceful story! But my author-self knew enough to trust that she actually belonged, even if I’d have loved to kick her out. Comic relief . . . dramatic tension . . . extreme contrast . . . she serves all those purposes. She had me laughing, then my editor laughed out loud, and soon my readers decided she was a “contrarian favorite”. See what you think of “Mrs. Lime.”
We've all had experiences where hope tried hard to triumph over reality, right? In this case, a nice guy named Will was really hoping to share his love of Milford-Haven with a vivacious, attractive, smart woman. Trouble is, he begins to discover Randi is more interested in "being seen" in swanky locations than in taking in the natural beauty of the Central Coast, or in getting to know her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Have I ever experienced dating the wrong guy? Ohhhh, yeah, I could share some stories. But I won't. Why? Because truth be told, I'm grateful to anyone I ever dated. Each experience gave me a chance to learn something, and made me a better writer!
The narration in this story, while remaining in third-person, delves into the POV or Point Of View of the hummingbird, as though he were a character in the story -- which he is. Because I have a non-talking creature's stream of consciousness, the story is categorized as science-fiction/ fantasy. But I believe a hummingbird does possess intelligence and perspective. Can the intelligence of animals on our planet be categorized according to size? If so, a whale would be smartest (you might enjoy by story "When Whales Watch") and a tiny creature like a hummer might be least intelligent. Yet I believe "intelligence" resides in Mind, just as many of our programs now reside in a Cloud. If so, a hummer can download just as effectively as any other, and perhaps with a dash more of whimsy?
I believe that at the heart of every work of women's fiction is a journey toward "home"---whatever that looks like, or means, to each of us. My protagonist Miranda Jones has an experience that mirrors my own: glimpsing a place during her travels that she intuitively knows is where she belongs. When she moves to my fictional town Milford-Haven, everything starts to "click" for her, and fall into place. Since this prequel novella introduces the whole saga, this theme of finding her home is a key-element.
Though most of my stories emerge while I'm awake, occasionally I get a "visitation" from a night-dream, or a waking-dream. It's as though I get information ahead of time that prepares me for what's about to happen. Since I find this to be a fascinating phenomenon---one that many other people have also experienced---I wanted to include it in this story.
Can whales watch the humans who watch them? Miranda Jones is convinced they can and do. She’s looking forward to her day of whale-watching off California’s Central Coast. In preparation for a painting commission, she’ll be photographing the migrating gray whales. Yet even while the boat plies the coastal waters, she senses a presence below the waves, one that speaks to her heart.
The drama and tension in this story is so extreme that it needed some comic relief. And who better to fill that bill than "Mrs. Lime" who, once again, has appeared to harass protagonist wildlife-painter Miranda Jones? "Lime Woman" -- self-centered, self-involved, bossy, and ill at ease on these adventures her husbands insists they must undertake, is only human. And her favorite method of communication seems to be shrieking. But in this tale . . . she has good reason. I was surprised when she reappeared in this story, but now I'm sort of expecting her in the next novella.
Every expectant mother has moments of intimate joy at the prospect of the new life she carries. It was a unique challenge -- and a distinct honor -- to understand and share with readers the heightened insight whales can share through their echo-location. Humans can come close to sharing this too, now that we have ultrasound technology. But this moment of the father scanning his unborn progeny, then transmitting that image to his mate, the mother, was a moment of magic, intimacy, and joy that gives readers an insight into this extraordinary species they couldn't otherwise have. The research I did was extensive, but began with my own experience on a Greenpeace voyage to save whales. I feel the whales spoke to me as I wrote this story.
Whale watching can be one of the most thrilling adventures anyone can experience. In my story, the whale watchers expect to see gray whales during their annual migration along the California coast. To their great surprise, they see instead a pod of sperm whales, who normally stay in much deeper waters. These two species are quiet different. The grays are bottom feeders whose baleen sifts and allows them to gather krill. The sperm are toothed whales and skilled hunters. The males are also highly protective of their mates, and this aggressive behavior can be triggered if they perceive a threat. That's part of what makes this story so exciting!
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