Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine. What's not to love about getting dressed up and lots of candy? As a teenager/young adult, I fell in love with hayrides. Only one problem: most of the time, the ride went down to the local park that was all decorated for the haunted trail. Not my favorite. I don't do scary. As I was writing Jessica and Chad's story in An Unexpected Legacy, I was trying to figure out how she was going to overcome some of her reluctance to go into a relationship with him. And this scene popped in my head. Combine one of my favorite things with one of my least favorite and have him be a protector. Bingo. So, I thought I'd share one of my favorite scenes from Legacy with you today as I gear up for fall and Halloween and snuggle weather. Enjoy!
Around fifteen climbed aboard the old farm trailer.
Jessica decided to sit at the front and Courtney sat to her right. They perched on the hay bales and pulled a blanket over their legs as everyone else piled on.
Chad strode up and pointed to the spot to the left of Jessica. “This seat taken?”
She shook her head and he sat next to her, the scent of his shampoo wafting over her as the breeze blew her way. He leaned back against the railing and his arm brushed against hers.
“So, what all is involved in a haunted hayride?”
Courtney leaned forward. “I think there’re guys with chainsaws and silly masks that jump out and try to scare you as you ride through this park they’ve got decorated with tombstones and stuff.” She waved her hands in the air as she described everything, almost knocking Jessica’s hat off. “It’s silly, but fun.”
“Chainsaws?” He raised his brows.
“They’ve taken the chains off. It’s more for the noise-factor. To make you feel like you’re in a horror film or something.” Courtney laughed. “I love it. That’s why I organize the mysteries and horror novels, and Jessica is in charge of the romance section.”
“Do you work at the library?” Chad gave a confused little frown.
“We own a bookstore together. But it would be all cookbooks and romance novels if it were just Jessica. She doesn’t do mysteries or horror.” Courtney play-punched Jessica’s arm.
“I hate it.” Jessica gave a little shrug.
“Then why are you here?” He focused his attention on her.
“I like the hayride part, there and back. The ones we went on in college, I would hide behind Courtney when the haunted part was going on. And I wanted to come to the bonfire. There’s just something wonderful about singing praises to God with the stars above and the air nice and cool while your front gets toasty from the fire and your back freezes.”
“Wow.” He laughed. “Doesn’t that sound inviting?”
“Okay. So I’m weird.” Jessica threw her hands in the air.
“I don’t think so.” He shook his head, one side of his mouth going up in a half-grin.
She quickly looked away before he could see the blush she knew was creeping up her cheeks.
“Everyone ready?” Randy called out.
All the Young Professionals cheered, and the truck jerked to a start and rolled down the driveway and out onto the county roads.
The cool night air made Jessica glad for her fleece jacket. She tucked several strands of hair back under her hat to keep them from blowing in her face. It was several miles to the haunted park, but the group around Jessica stayed fairly quiet. Several people down at the other end of the trailer grew boisterous; their laughter and jokes carried above the crunch of the wheels and the engine of the truck. Courtney spoke in hushed tones with Amber. Mary and Garrett sat on the left side of Chad and held hands.
The truck slowed and made a right turn into a local park. Fake spider webs hung in the bushes on either side of the entrance, and a man in a lab coat and crazy hair jumped up onto the trailer. Jessica shifted a bit in her seat. She really did hate stuff like this, but despaired being a party-pooper.
“Just wanted to give you guys a head’s up as to what’s about to happen.” Lab-coat guy’s voice was rough and gravelly. “This is a haunted trail you’re about to embark on. This close to Halloween, the ghosts and goblins come out to play. There might be monsters and murderers, vampires, or any other ghoulish creature you can think of. I have no control over them, so if they decide to join your ride, well, enter at your own risk!”
Several of the guys laughed.
“Watch out for any weapons they might use. Chainsaws might not have a chain on them, but they can still burn you. Don’t touch the creatures and they shouldn’t hurt you ... much!” The man rubbed his hands together, let out a creepy laugh and jumped off the trailer.
Randy inched forward, and Jessica held her breath.
“You okay?” Chad whispered in her ear, sending a shiver down her shoulder.
“Sort of.” She inhaled shakily.
Just then, the first chainsaw started up right next to the trailer, and Jessica jumped, bumping into Chad. He put his arm out to steady her. As the masked creatures crept and pushed closer to their hayride the farther they drove into the park, she snuggled into his arm that remained around her shoulders. A scene set up to the left revealed another man in a lab coat supposedly working on a dead body, fake blood all over the stark white of his costume. To the right, creepily-masked guys leaped out from behind tombstones in a phony graveyard. Jessica knew it wasn’t real, but when the guys with chainsaws jumped up on the trailer with them, she closed her eyes and buried her head in Chad’s shoulder.
“It’s okay,” he murmured as he rubbed her arm.
Her friends laughed and shrieked as the chainsaws roared and other creatures moaned and growled. The trailer kept moving forward, and her heart galloped in her chest as one of the machines revved close to her head.
Courtney laughed to her right. Some of the guys taunted the actors as they scared the girls. Chad’s arms made a welcome safe haven, and she pushed down the guilty nudge for letting him hold her this way.
After what seemed like an eternity, she heard the last chainsaw cut off, and silence hung on the air. She slowly lifted her head and looked around to see everyone laughing with one another, several of the other girls also with boys’ arms around them. Her hat had fallen off somewhere along the ride and Chad handed it to her. She brushed a strand of hair out of her face and sat up.
Chad studied her.
“I’m sorry about that,” she whispered, wishing she could hide under the trailer.
“I’m not.” He reached up and gently moved another strand of hair off her cheek. “You okay now? You were shaking pretty good there for a while.”
Thankfully, it was dark enough he shouldn’t be able to see her blushing. “I’m fine.” She straightened her jacket and refused to meet the stare she knew Courtney was giving her. Jessica would never be able to live this one down.
Author note: I never got to snuggle into a boy during one of these hayrides like this, but I do remember hiding under a blanket one time! Anyone else hate being scared or do you love going to things like this?
Interested in reading more? Here's the link to the rest of the book.
Special thanks to those who took time to read my story last week. And even more to those who passed on that they enjoyed it. That is the BEST part of being an author!
I might even do something like this again in the future. Stay tuned.
Now, for what you've all been waiting for. The answers to the scavenger hunt questions, right?
#1. What's Cassandra's favorite dish? Shrimp scampi
#2. What kind of ice cream does Cassandra want? chocolate with ALL the toppings!
#3. How many balloons did Cassandra's roommates blow up? 30
#4. What's the name of the main characters in Cassandra's book? Mykal and Fern
#5. Is Cassandra's hair curly or straight? curly
Did you get them right? The ones who sent them to me did!
And the winner of the drawing is ......
My youngest reader (that I know of), Abigail P! Abigail, I'm going to get with your mom to find out which of my books you'd like an e-copy of, and what kind of ice cream I need to send a gift card for. Enjoy!
Today, I'm interviewing a sweet author I had the pleasure of meeting back in June at the writers' retreat I attended. Her name is Candace West Posey, and her first book has just released. She's an Arkansas girl with a heart for God and stories, so read on to learn more.
Candace, congrats on the release of your first novel. When did you first decide you might like to be an author?
Thank you so much for having me, Amy! I’ve always loved to read. L.M. Montgomery and Janette Oke were my earliest influences. When I was twelve, I wrote my first short story “Following Prairie River.” I knew then I wanted to write stories.
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your novel? Where did the original idea come from?
My grandpa and granny were the first storytellers in my family, and they told me so much about their family history in the Ozarks. Lane Steen wandered into the valley of my imagination with a purple bruise across her cheek. What happened to her? Over the next year, I followed her through the fictional town of Valley Creek and wrote her story. The stories my grandparents told me had a huge impact on the story, especially my great-grandmother’s history. She had a physically and verbally abusive step-mother and a father who abandoned her when she was around twelve. Her strength to overcome inspired me.
You talk about the influence of your grandparents, but what about your parents? We're both preacher's kids, and I know that's played a huge influence on my story ideas and the way I look at life. Do you find the same is true for you? How did that background shape your creativity?
Absolutely! Being a preacher’s daughter enabled me to know people from many different walks of life. Every life is a story, and I’ve seen the Lord’s hand in so many people’s stories throughout my life. Also, my parents still teach me so much, and their gentle influence flows through characters like the preacher, Edith, Lorena, and Mr. Wallace.
Nice. You started out writing poems and short stories and plays. Was it easy to transition from that to writing a full-length novel?
The transition really wasn’t that hard for me. I had doubts and a lot of dry spells, but I was excited to try this new adventure of writing a book! I wanted to see if I could really do it.
Do you still write any of the shorter prose? Is the shorter or longer easier in your opinion?
I haven’t written a short story in a while, but the reason is that I rarely have the time. It’s hard to say which is easier—shorter or longer prose. Both challenge me in different ways. If I had to choose, I’d say longer is harder.
One final question that I ask all my authors: Can you share something with us about you that very few people know?
Sure! When I was fourteen, I started working at a flying service—crop dusters. I worked there through high school and college, until I was twenty-eight. It was one of the best experiences of my life!
Whoa! I love watching crop dusters. The crazy patterns they fly always fascinates and terrifies me. Thanks for sharing!
If you'd like to know more about Candace and her new book, Lane Steen, keep reading.
How can Lane let go of the past when she is forced to confront it?
Kidnapped by her father at two years old, Lane Steen never imagines she is living a lie until a new schoolteacher, Edith Wallace, comes to Valley Creek. Yet Edith is more than a schoolteacher. She is part of the past—a past hidden in a mysterious dream that has haunted Lane since childhood.
At sixteen, Lane yearns to escape from her embittered father’s hatred that engulfs her home. The schoolhouse is Lane’s only escape. Carefully, Edith works to earn Lane’s friendship, but love and trust doesn’t come easy for a heart plagued by hate. But then the truth shatters Lane’s world.
The truth sends Lane on a turbulent search into the past. Leaving Valley Creek behind, Lane reunites with a family she cannot remember—a family that surpasses her wildest dreams.
Despite her newfound joy, her hatred for her father only deepens. Although she desires to experience the faith of her family, Lane can’t cast away one thing she holds closely: the hatred that helped her survive.
Digging into her father’s unbelievable past, she confronts the story behind her father’s ruin. Will she always be bound by hate?
Yet something even stronger binds her. Something stronger than her family, something stronger than her will. She is bound to Valley Creek, the place of her stormy childhood, the place of the man she loves, but more importantly, the place of God’s calling. Ironically, she finds love, purpose, grace, and forgiveness in a place she’d sought all her life to escape.
Interested? Click here to purchase.
Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. When she was twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” Since then, she has dreamed of writing Christian fiction. Over the years, she has published short stories as well as poems in various magazines. Since her teenage years, she has written many church plays. In 2018, she published her first novel Lane Steen. By weaving entertaining, page-turning stories, Candace hopes to share the Gospel and encourage her readers. She currently lives in her beloved Arkansas with her husband Aaron and their son Matthew along with two dogs and three cats.
Connect with Candace at:
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
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