Hearth Fires (The Haunted Series #1) is a brand-new story collection written by Veronica Cline Barton and myself. The title touches on a comforting and ancient concept concerning the social and needful center of the home. ‘Keep the home fires burning.’ Hearth fire is also a direct translation of the word “focus” in Latin.
Before humans enjoyed the modern convenience of central heating and a fully equipped kitchen, the hearth was paramount to heating the home, cooking stews, roasting wild game and baking bread when the weather turned cold. The central fireplace was also a gathering place of verbal storytelling and tradition, where the house sprites and spirits first made their presence known…perhaps after a mug of a different sort of spirit?
A sacred fire was set to herald a celebration, Harvest being one of the most important, one that often came with blessings and great joy. A warm hearth is also a quiet celebration of life and physical safety, as the outside world is sometimes dangerous, unforgiving and brutal.
During the research phase for my creative thesis about the Picts, I also discovered that an ember from the hearth or village fire was carried in a burn-proof container from one place to the next as a symbol of warmth, life and prosperity.
This has been a difficult year and we all crave comfort to sustain us and bring us home.
Right before lockdown I had the pleasure of traveling to San Jose, California with my husband.
I met up with a cozy mystery writer, Veronica Cline Barton and Emmy R. Bennett, a fantasy writer who both reside in California. We toured the Winchester Mansion together and enjoyed our last remaining days of freedom before the seams came loose in March of 2020.
I don’t do bucket lists, but if I did, the Winchester Mansion would have been on it and it should be on yours too, if not only to experience an architectural masterpiece filled with art glass, and priceless woods. It felt different than expected, as the city has grown up around what was once wilderness.
The mansion is a Victorian monolith formed of gingerbread turrets, hallways, windows and doors to nowhere filled with tales of ghosts, mania and myth. A few times during the tour I felt something beside or behind me and I quickly snapped a photo, hoping to connect the dots. I am adding some of those unretouched photos here.
The oddest thing about my trip to one of the most haunted places in America, the spot that had the most energy of all was next to the roses and snapdragons in the flower bed with a clear view of the spirit bell that Ms. Sarah Winchester rang every night before and after she reached out to the commune with the spirits.
Perhaps these vibrations are merely part of the energy cycle of nature, a cherry-blend curl of smoke in an empty room––just a fond memory or blip in our collective consciousness?
Regardless of what you believe or do not believe, I know from personal experience that our world is a mysterious place and some things cannot be explained with logic, religion or science. They just are and do not need or seek our permission to exist.
Enjoy the photos and thanks so much for pre-ordering Hearth Fires. It’s truly a unique story collection that speaks of the Ouija in one form or another. Enter an alternate and suspenseful reality that you’ll only find here. Travel to far away places like Scotland and Paris from the comfort of your hearth and home, Hearth Fires.
Watch my social media pages for upcoming Instagram shows, a YouTube and podcast interview with Shawna and Renee, the dynamic duo behind The Red Bra Project and come have some Halloween fun with Dr. Summer Watson of Kore Women and myself to celebrate the season. Take care out there!
Until next time, find your Peace, Love, Hustle then Read or Write. Xox
Cover photo courtesy of © Roy Rena