Category Archives: General

Brian Wilson

“String of Pearls” ~ A Non-Linear Writing Approach

By Paul Ramey

A few years ago I had the pleasure of encountering and totally devouring Brian Wilson’s SMiLE project. For those who don’t know, Wilson was the musical genius behind The Beach Boys, penning most of their hits and known for his soaring vocal range. By the late 60’s his evolution saw him holding his own against the creative powerhouse that was The Beatles, and his competitive nature drove him ever forward into experimental sounds and ideas.

SMiLE was to be the grand culmination of his musical journey, and surely his masterpiece. Then, a year and a half into the project, Wilson broke down, shelved the reels and reels of SMiLE pieces already recorded, and let the project fade into myth. Scattered bits of this lost masterpiece appeared in later Beach Boys albums, but without the cohesion Wilson had intended, those bits were little more than interesting songs.

In 2004, a much older and braver Wilson and his own band stepped back into the project, declaring that they’d play the entire mythical SMiLE album live – a monumental task considering that, not only had it never been released as an album, but had never even been finished. There is a wonderful documentary out there that records the process, as they discover what was lost and create the final pieces that had never been completed. I watched this documentary over and over as my fascination for SMiLE grew. Without SMiLE (or, rather, the legend of it and those scattered fragments), there would likely have been no Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, or ELO’s Out of the Blue, and countless works by others who’d heard the scattered remnants. And now this man who had lived in the long, dark shadow of his own unfinished masterpiece for over 30 years was finally going to pull back the curtain and dare to make the SMiLE legend real? It was mesmerizing to watch it happen, and I highly advise all creatives to seek out this amazing documentary, called Beautiful Dreamer.

Why am I writing about this? Because, out of absorbing Brian Wilson’s own musical journey and process came one of the most useful conceptual creative tools I’ve ever found, and I use it constantly while writing novels.

brian-wilson-smile-live-front2It is called the string of pearls. Wilson would record many segments of a song separately, with a general sense of order in mind. He would then take these separate pieces and string them together, and make a song (Good Vibrations is an obvious example). So instead of playing the song straight through, he’d move some pieces around and puzzle it together. I love this idea, and often do the same with my stories. My new novel-in-progress (the next Edgar Wilde mystery) has three “parts,” and I already have key chapters written in all three of those parts. I already have pearls at the beginning, middle, and end of the string, and I already know each one will find a final place somewhere in those locations because I already have an overview of how the characters and plot should develop. So instead of starting at the beginning and just writing forward, I hop around, going to many different places on my plot “string.” Then I drop down into a scene and capture that pearl. And those first pearls I capture inevitably inspire backward and forward within the storyline, so there’s a payoff there as well – one scene suggests the tone and momentum for those scenes leading up to and flowing forward. Eventually, all the pearls will be there, and will bump up against each other, and may even be moved around quite a bit before the process is complete. And finally, I’ll have that beautiful string of pearls Wilson was so fond of.

There’s another positive aspect to consider about this kind of approach. Whenever you hit a roadblock (and who hasn’t?), instead of beating your head about it right then and completely stalling your flow, you can put that “pearl” on a shelf and jump to someplace else in the story where the path is easy and clear. In the meantime, I find that those roadblock pearls tend to quietly work themselves out in the back of your head, and will be waiting for you later. So it’s not only freeing, but can also be very efficient, time-wise.

Do you write linearly? Do you write out the story in a direction, from start to finish? Consider instead exploring your entire string of pearls. You never know which one may be ready to be brought up from the creative depths.

 

Lavender Cover

LAVENDER ~ An Edgar Wilde Short

Free! Add to cart

Lavender is a FREE Edgar Wilde short story that falls between the first novel, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, and the second novel, currently in production. Parts of the Lavender short story first appeared in their original form as part of an Edgar Wilde contest run on Facebook during October 2013. Each week a new mystery “artifact” object was posted, with participants submitting their best guess as to what each one was. A new character based on the grand-prize winner would be written into the Lavender story being written by the author as the contest proceeded, as well as will continue as a significant character in a future Edgar Wilde novel.

Nine Muse Press and Paul Ramey heartily congratulate the grand-prize winner of the October 2013 Artifact Contest ~ Mr. Bryan Snowden!

New Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire Book Review!

Be sure to check out this wonderful new Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire book review by Bekah Shambrook!

http://bekahcat.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/book-review-edgar-wilde-and-the-lost-grimoire-by-paul-ramey/

Edgar Wilde Book Cover

Every brush stroke counts

There’s a great story about Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci. Those who knew him during his lengthy painting of The Last Supper recalled that the great artist would come into the room, sit quietly in front of his painting-in-progress for hours on end, then finally grab his brush, paint a line or two, and leave.

I carry this image with me when I’m writing sometimes, almost like a shield, just in case I arrive at the end of a writing session empty-handed. I’ve had many sessions where the only thing I have to show is a word changed, or a sentence moved. It feels like a painful, wasteful, unproductive process at the time, right?

But when you’re reading your published book a year or two later, and you see that special word popping on the page, or that cleverly-placed sentence spinning the momentum of your yarn, then you finally feel the payoff.

Treasure those days that seem unproductive ~ you may not realize it at the time, but you worked just as hard.

A Fond Recap of The Kentucky Book Fair

Forty softcover copies of my new novel, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, sat stacked on the table in front of me. It was the first time I’d seen that many copies of my book together in one place. Next to them were two similar stacks — novels by authors I had yet to meet. Around me were a few other authors, showing up a day early like me to get things ready for the excitement to come.

I did a 360, trying to imagine the Frankfort Convention Center filled with hundreds of authors — and thousands of potential readers. This was to be my first foray into the world of book fairs and book signings, and it felt like stepping into the deep end of the pool. The Kentucky Book Fair was a big deal. Frankfort had been the seat of the event from the very beginning, a full three decades ago plus a few, in which time it had grown from a very small local author appreciation event into a substantial fundraising event for local education and libraries.

I placed my one prop — a small, plaster replica of a New England cemetery grave marker — at the corner of my tiny table space. I stepped out in front, trying to visualize what it would all look like compared to the many seasoned professionals around me. I decided it would have to do.

1468692_10103799704932703_617224194_n

On the way out I met Kentucky Book Fair veteran Steve Flairty. We introduced ourselves and wished each other luck. He would prove to be a very welcome face throughout the event, giving me helpful hints while promoting his inspiring series of books about Kentucky Everyday Heroes at the table across from me.

I was bewildered to have been given the honor of participating at this year’s event, and as I drove home that afternoon I wondered which way the winds were about to blow.

1391900_10103799704388793_1338801244_n

The first day of the event was a children and young-adult half-day. Hundreds of kids would be shipped in from schools and brought in by parents. Carrying little ziploc bags of money, these avid readers soon found their arms weighed down with stacks of future literary adventures. One girl walked slowly down the aisle, picking up almost every book available along the way. Stopping in front of me to adjust her pile, I joked to her, “Don’t stop now!” Without missing a beat, she coolly responded, “I won’t,” as a copy of Edgar Wilde made it to the top of her pile.

The kids were sweet and shy, most approaching me as if I was the famous author I hope to someday become. Whispering their names to me, they waited patiently as I inscribed a wish that they enjoy my little mystery. I also discovered a bookmark black market, as a few eager boys grabbed some from my table and then spilled their entire piles right in front of me. “Can somebody get me a bag?” one boy yelled, reminding me of a field medic trying to save a wounded soldier on the battlefield.

By first day’s end I’d sold 21 copies of my novel, slightly more than half of my entire stock! If the next day — the main day — was anything like this, I was going to be out of books before the event was even over. But where the first day had a built-in audience of book-hungry children, and not very many authors to choose from, the following day was going to feature a full roster of almost 200 authors, among them media giants Rick Pitino and Sue Grafton. It was going to be a different kind of day entirely, and I had a strong feeling I was about to be left in the dust by the sheer talent and quantity of all the other impressive creators around me.

One of the most gratifying new friendships I made that day was with famed Kentucky artist and writer Robert A. Powell. He was promoting his new book, Demon at Clear Creek, and I was honored to be able to let him know how his pen-and-ink artwork had greatly influenced my own artistic development way back in the early 80’s! He also sat across from me, and proved to be another incredibly supportive author during the entire event.

I left that Friday reeling with excitement and gratitude over the positive response Edgar Wilde had received so far. But would attendees even notice my little young adult historical mystery in the midst of such diversity and talent the following day? Whatever the case, I’d been embraced by colleagues and devoured by young lovers of fiction. I slept very well that night.

537088_545277245548931_1596064771_n

I arrived Saturday morning pumped to sell. This was the big day I’d heard so much about — the main reason I’d come. I’d heard it was going to be elbow-to-elbow all day, and it did not disappoint. The Convention Center looked very different from the previous day as I strolled in, and I took a deep, anxious breath, soaking it all in. Vendors were everywhere, preparing for the busy day to come. Some meandered up and down the aisles, connecting with friends and making their own purchases before the doors opened at 9am. At my own table, authors Julia Watts and Meredith Towben had already arrived, and greeted me warmly.

541492_729730387055314_891655783_n

The next few hours were a blur of people and books, and endless talk about my novel, while copies of Edgar Wilde began to move. By noon I was down to only five copies. Nearby, special guest author Rick Pitino was signing copies of his newest inspirational tome. I believe I saw the back of his head a few times as fans milled close. I glanced again at my few remaining copies and waited. Across the aisle Robert Powell caught my eye and we shared a hopeful thumbs-up and a smile. In the stands my wife, child and parents sat. I raised updated finger counts to them as the stock continued to dwindle.

581541_545277282215594_272943091_n

There are few things so cool as watching that final copy of your first novel leave the table. As it happens, my final copy was acquired by another author when she realized how many were left. I scribed my final signature for her, closed the cover, and watched it go.

With three hours still left, I shifted my strategy to letting people know about my now sold-out book (I proudly informed them!), and how to purchase copies online. Luckily, I still had plenty of flyers and bookmarks on hand, and I distributed those to anyone who would take one. I could have left after that final book had sold, but I was set to push on ’til the very end, to do every single thing I possibly could in the time I had left.

523514_545277332215589_1180625360_n

A good thing, too! With maybe an hour or two left, Kay Harrod, a staff writer for the Frankfort State-Journal, stopped by to let me know she wanted to do an interview about my Kentucky Book Fair success! Kay had actually been a teacher at Western Hills High School when I attended there, but I’d never had her as a teacher. We made plans to do the interview later that week, and when the day came we ended up enjoying a two-and-a-half hour conversation over coffee and became fast friends. As I write this blog, the article is due to appear in two days! I’ll be back in Jacksonville, Florida by then, and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, I already know I’ll always treasure that special afternoon with Kay, getting to know a truly remarkable person.

Another of my high school teachers that I met by chance was Venita Bright, who I ran into at Capital Cellars, where my father, brother and I were celebrating how well the whole book fair event had gone. Venita and I ended up talking for quite a while about the many life paths we have explored, as well as those to come. Venita was yet another friendship I’ll hold dear and look forward to continuing.

There were others as well, too numerous to mention here but just as meaningful, and I hope they will forgive a lack of mention in this blogpost.

This year’s Kentucky Book Fair has reportedly turned out to be one of the most successful yet, with nearly $145,000 in book sales, and I am so honored to have been a part of it. But I got so much more out of it than just a great showing. This has been an unforgettable experience for me, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

**A big thanks to Kentucky Book Fair Manager Connie Crowe, who guided me through the application process and kept me current on how to make the best of this incredible event! Connie, you made it easy for a first-timer to really make it happen. Also to Leslie Thomas, who moved me in the right directions. THANK YOU!!!

1469982_545277415548914_1789785625_n

 

All photographs by Christina Ramey (except for the one featuring Meredith Watts and Julia Towben – photo by Ella Clem)

 

 

EDGAR WILDE CONTEST ~ Sixth Chapter

Chapter 6

 

“A razor sharpener? Wouldn’t a thunk it,” Amos turned the hollow glass object over a few times, pretending to give it a thorough examination. “Thought it might be some sorta fancy drinkin’ cup.”

“And it’s slightly more recent than Victorian,” Edgar said. “It’s actually made of uranium glass, which makes it a bit radioactive. It even glows bright green in fluorescent light.”

“Radioactive,” Amos enunciated each syllable as if his tongue were trying to avoid touching the word: Ray-dee-oo-ack-tive. “That is sure somethin’. Should I be carrying it around in my pocket, then? Can’t risk any o’ my digits fallin’ off, doncha know.”

“No you’re fine,” Edgar said, ignoring Amos’s nether-regions insinuation. “It’s not enough to hurt you.”

“Whew!” Amos leaned against the wall of the shed. “Where’s ye lovely companion this morning, then? Off bein’ purty somewhere? Ye gotta keep her attached to ye hip, son. Some whippersnapper’ll swoop in and snatch her up if ye not careful. Happened to me right after the war.”

“I’ll do my best,” Edgar said. “Amos, can I ask you a question?”

“Ye can ask me anything. Don’t know much, but let’s find out.”

“It’s not really my business, but I’m really curious — did you get a good look at that box you said Mrs. Stelton took from the cemetery administration building? Can you tell me anything about it?”

Amos’s good eye rolled toward Edgar and bore a hole into him. “Really can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Private affairs o’ people dead n’ gone. Shouldn’t be talkin’ about ‘em.”

“Yeah, but you’re asking me about all these old relics and you’re not being private about those. I’ve got queries posted all over the –” Edgar felt a weight drop in his stomach as the cemetery curator’s words began to echo in his ears. “Wait a second. Are you saying that these objects are from the deceased?”

“Son, all antiques belong to people no longer livin’. Ain’t nothin’ to it.”

“But, you’re actually talking about people buried here in our own cemetery. Amos, are you saying there are personal items of the deceased still mothballed up in the administration building?”

“Can’t say.”

“Amos, how much is up there? How far back does it go?” Edgar was practically salivating at the thought of such a potential local historical treasure trove.

“Don’t know.” Amos slid the razor sharpener back in his pocket and began walking toward the main building. “That Stelton woman opened up just the one o’ the cardboard boxes up theyah, found somethin’ that caught her fancy and made off fast as ye please. Wouldn’t have even let her open it, except she beat me upstairs. Ye know, fer as much heft as she got on her, she got herself some speed.”

“Was there a name on the box? Some sort of identification of ownership?”

“Don’t rightly recall.”

“But what made her choose that box?”

“I figured it was the first ‘un she came to.”

“Amos, wouldn’t you like to know who all these objects belong to? I can find out, if you just let me see the name that’s marked on that box. Can I go upstairs?”

Amos squinted toward the room in question, his face contorting in a storm of grimaces and snarls. Finally, his wiry, frail form collapsed in resignation. Without saying another word, he trudged toward the front entrance.

“Doncha be dawdlin’ now,” he said as his foot paused on the first step. “Go on up theyah and find yer box. Then straight back down. I got a heap o’ work waitin’ fer me still. Ye got five minutes.”

___________________

Edgar had never been to the top floor of the Cemetery Administration Building. As many times as he’d visited Corinthian there, they’d never had reason to go upstairs.

The hallway was thick with a suffocating blend of mildew and mothballs. Edgar felt himself grow slightly nauseated as the enveloping staleness invaded his lungs. Pulling at his collar, he pushed open the door to the top corner room, revealing a room full of old boxes.

“There you are,” he whispered, spying the one open box in the room. He could clearly see the dance of footprints in the dust — a few were left by a pair of high heels, but most came from a man’s worn boot soles. Cora and Amos, Edgar deduced.

Walking over to the box, he raised one flap and then another, looking for a name. Finally, he saw the label.

“I know you,” Edgar nodded. “You’re in section G, third row. You’ve been dead a long time, Bryan Snowden. What could your personal belongings be doing stored away up here?”

 

 

EDGAR WILDE CONTEST ~ Fifth Chapter

Chapter 5

 

“Ye say it was supposed to be worn by a hussy?” Amos Jones slowly sat himself down on the warped stair boards leading up to the front entrance of the cemetery administration building. “What kinda ornament is that?”

“No, it’s a posy holder for something called a tussie-mussie,” Shelby sat down next to him. “A ’tussie-mussie is a tiny bouquet of herbs and flowers, and the woman would put this aromatic bouquet into the holder, and then attach it to her hand to swing free, or else fix it to a blouse, using that chain and pin. She’d hold it close to her nose to remind her of her gentleman-caller. It’s really romantic, actually.”

“Yeah, but tell him the rest! It also was used to mask the stench of inadequate sewage drainage and horse manure that was common during the Victorian Age,” Edgar laughed. “Not so romantic after all!”

Amos pulled out the silver posy holder and brought it to his nose for a whiff. “Well I be. That’s gotta be lavender I detect. Imagine that — a hundred year-old lavender. Gotta say, I never thought to stick this thing close to my nose.”

“Whatever. I think it’s romantic,” Shelby pulled Edgar down hard beside her. “A lady likes to show favor. I think it’s elegant.”

“Anyway, Amos,” Edgar tried to steer the conversation, “that’s the answer to this puzzle. Have any more mysteries for us?”

“Got one more, since ye asked.” Amos grimace-smiled. “Weren’t gointa bother ye none, since ye done so much for me already. Ye’s kind to ask, though.”

“Let’s see it, then.”

“Meant to tell ye, yer granny stopped by and chatted a bit. Brought more vittles. That was right decent of her. Ye got a sweetheart of a granny. She sure can whip up a decent clam chowdah.”

Edgar detected a hint of bile creeping into his throat. Could Amos Jones actually be into his grandmother?

“Well, she’s pretty cool, I guess –”

“No, no! She got spunk, and mighty full o’ class as well. Bewitching is what she be. That’s the word, right theyah. Bewitching. Right decent to make a feller welcome around here. That Stelton woman only wanted to see what I was rummaging’ through upstairs.”

The mention of Cora Stelton made Edgar sit up straight. Cora had been a pain in Edgar’s side for as long as he could remember, and recent events concerning the forgotten St. Edmund witch trials — and a certain Lost Grimoire — back in the winter had not made her any more endearing.

“Cora Stelton asked about the stuff upstairs? What even made her even think to ask? Amos, did you show her all these antiques?”

“She asked about the upstairs first thing when she stopped by, which made me think to show her what I’d found so far. She didn’t want to know about it all, though. Didn’t even have the decency to pretend to be curious. She asked if she could borrow that dang box I found and then made her getaway, box an’ all, like a fox in a henhouse. Rudest woman!”

Edgar gave Shelby a glance, but said nothing.

“So what did you want us to help you figure out this time?” Shelby asked.

“Oh, right,” Amos dug into his pants pocket, and soon pulled out an odd, green-colored glass object. “Seen one o’ these before?”

“I haven’t,” Edgar said. “You found this upstairs as well?”

Amos nodded, glancing mischievously up toward the far window on the upper floor.

“Amos, you know this stuff isn’t yours, right?”

“Ain’t yers neither,” Amos rose from the stairs and began pacing. “Or that Stelton woman. Anyway, ye gonna get a shot o’ this one and go work yer magic? I got a plot to make ready and I ain’t gettin’ any more young.”

“Sure. Edgar, hold it steady and I’ll just take a picture of you holding it. That’ll give a better sense of it’s size.”

After Edgar and Shelby had left the cemetery grounds and were strolling by the many downtown tourist-traps that made St. Edmund a classic summer destination, Shelby finally allowed a deep giggle to escape her throat.

“Bewitching,” she leaned into Edgar and gave him a hard nudge. “Just think, Amos and your grandmother may have a need for that tussie-mussie yet!”

“There is no way that is happening!” Edgar cringed.

“But wouldn’t it be too cute? I can soooo see them feeding pigeons together, sitting in the park being all lovey-dovey on each other.”

“Not happening. And — a big eww for that disturbing image. Thanks a lot, Shelb.”

“Well I think he’s a right fine feller,” Shelby laughed, pleased with her spot-on imitation of Amos.

“Wonder what was up with Mrs. Stelton being so eager to rummage around up in that building, though,” Edgar said. “Really weird.”

“Edgar, do not even go there. She was just rummaging, probably looking for stuff for the Historical Society. Right? I mean, what else could it be?”

“I guess you’re right,” Edgar said. “It’s just — really weird.”

“You’re weird,” Shelby mocked playfully.

“You are the weirdest of the weird,” Edgar replied.

“You’re so weird, even weird people think you’re weird.”

“I’ll take that as sufficient admission of your being weird,” Edgar nodded, self-satisfied.

“Grrrr!” Shelby grabbed Edgar by the waist and began tickling him with merciless abandon.

 

EDGAR WILDE CONTEST ~ Third and Fourth Chapters

Chapter 3

“So what’s our new cemetery curator like?” Aubry Wilde stirred the simmering pot of clam chowder she’d been cooking for the better part of the morning.

“He’s nice enough,” Edgar said. “I think his accent is thicker than your chowder. He’s got Shelby and me tracking down some information.”

“Indeed?”

“He’s found some antiques in the cemetery administration building. He wants to know what they are and if they’re worth anything.” Edgar’s stomach rumbled as he watched his grandmother fill his bowl to the rim, then spoon a bird’s portion into her own.

“Oh, dear. I do hope he understands those things are not his to sell,” Aubry sat down across from Edgar and took a small sip of chowder. “What did he find?”

“The first thing he showed us turned out to be an antique page turner. It’s made of wood and beautifully carved. Look, here it is –” He passed his phone across the table. Aubry’s brow furrowed as she stared at the image.

“Well I do declare. What else?”

Edgar reached over and scrolled ahead a few pictures — Aubry smiled as a closeup of Shelby sticking her tongue out briefly filled the screen. Finally the picture of the second item froze into place.

“That doesn’t look pleasant at all. Have you found out what it is?”

“It’s a cork press, if you can believe that.”

Aubry nibbled her bit of chowder. “There’s just no telling what some people will do to try to make life easier. Is there actually a need for cork pressing?”

“Not these days. From what I understand, Victorian-age pharmacists mixed their own medicines, which they then had to bottle. A cork press allowed them to get the cork small enough to fit in the mouth of the bottle. Then the cork would expand again and seal it tight. Different-sized bottles required different-sized corks, which is why this thing has a number of spaces of varying widths. Anyway, he wouldn’t let us take the items with us, so Shelby took these pictures which we posted on the web for our friends to help identify. We’re actually about to go see Amos to let him know what we’ve found. I know Shelby will be relieved this thing isn’t a torture device after all.”

“I really should go introduce myself sometime soon,” Aubry stared out the window. “I’ve been unpardonably rude, I’m afraid. In the meantime, maybe you could take him some chowder? Yes, that would be splendid.”

“No problem, grandma. Just don’t give him anything that requires chewing,” Edgar laughed as he downed the rest of his bowl.

“Oh, Edgar –!” Aubry chided as she filled a container with soup. “Now take this, and tell him I’ll be by in a few days to pay my regards.”

Edgar held the hot Tupperware for a brief second before placing it back on the table. “Oww! Maybe I’ll let it cool just a bit before heading over.”

“Edgar, did Mr. Jones say where he’s from, or who hired him?”

“I didn’t ask,” Edgar replied, rubbing his hands together. “I figured the local government brought him in to replace Corinthian.”

“I’m sure that’s it,” Aubry replied. “It’s rather odd that they brought someone in from outside, though. Edgar, do be cautious about advertising those antiques all over the computer. We don’t actually know what he might stumble across in there. Mr. Harknell was the only inhabitant for so long; I don’t suppose we actually know what all is stored away in that cemetery building.”

“I understand,” Edgar said. “Do you have a paper bag to carry this chowder in, maybe?”

Chapter 4

Amos Jones ran his gnarled, arthritic fingers over what had turned out to be a cast-iron cork press. “Ye sure?”

“Pretty sure,” Edgar replied.

“Huh. Don’t sound worth much, I suppose.”

“Maybe you can re-cork half-finished wine bottles with it,” Shelby offered as she searched in vain for a place to sit. The dusty, seatless shed was clearly not meant for resting.

“No such thing as a half-finished bottle of wine,” Amos cackled. “Ye open it, ye finish it – that’s the respect ye pay a good bottle of wine. Anyway, appreciate ye sniffin’ this one out for me. By the by, I got another another one, ye know.”

“What – another antique?”

“Jest a little thing. A trinket,” Amos reached into the chest pocket of his overalls and pulled out a small piece of jewelry. “Looks sorta like a horn-a-plenty, don’t it?”

Shelby leaned close. “That’s beautiful!”

“Go ahead and hold it then,” Amos’s attempt at a smile looked more like an anguished grimace as he held the piece out for her. Shelby tried not to notice as she took it.

“There’s no pin,” Shelby said as she modeled it near her chest. “I thought it might be a brooch, but there’s no way to pin it on. It would be beautiful if it were, though.”

“It’s clearly made for a Victorian lady,” Edgar let his gaze linger as he contemplated a turn-of-the-century version of Shelby. “You know, we’ve got to get you some re-enactment outfits or something. You’d look amazing.”

“Thank you, kind sir!” she bowed. “We may have to arrange that — if you’ll finally let me help lead one of your cemetery tours. Now just let me get a picture of this–”

Resting the object on a relatively clean table, Shelby took a few shots, then handed it back to Amos.

“Almost tempted to let ye have this one, little lady,” Amos attempted another smile. “Aint gointa, but mighty tempted!”

“Thanks,” Shelby scowled. “That means a lot.”

“We’ll get back with you soon about this,” Edgar took Shelby’s hand as they made their way to the door. “Where did you find this one, by the way?”

“Up in the house, same as the others,” Amos motioned with his eyes to the top floor of the cemetery administration building. “Stuff’s everywhere up theyah, jest layin’ around. Thought someone had broken in when I first started explorin’.”

Edgar had spent many hours in the main building with former cemetery curator Corinthian Harknell over the years, talking about history, cemeteries, and everything else. The house had always been ready for visitors — so clean it looked like it had been frozen in time. Had Corinthian ransacked the place before he left? Or could there have actually been some sort of break-in? Without Corinthian around, they’d probably never know.

“Anyway, ye tell yer granny she’s welcome to bring over clam chowdah anytime she likes,” Amos held the Tupperware close to his chest. “I’ll surely be enjoyin’ this. Don’t get much good cookin’ these days. Mighty grateful.”

“She’ll be glad to hear it,” Edgar said as they turned to go.

“He’s really making himself at home, isn’t he?” Shelby said as they walked toward the cemetery entrance. “I guess he’s staying on then.”

“Yeah.”

“Feels weird, huh?”

“Pretty weird.”

“Well, I’ve got just the thing to cheer you up!” Shelby grabbed Edgar by his jacket sleeve and pulled him close. Swiping his top hat, she traded him with a long kiss. He was almost floating when she began to giggle, her kiss-perfect pout widening into a grin still pressed against his mouth.

“What is funny?” he tried to say through the smooch.

“I think,” she stepped back and placed Edgar’s top hat over her own strawberry-blonde curls, “that I would make a far better cemetery tour guide than you. Am I right?”

The contrast of black Victorian top hat with white summer cotton blouse and flowing purple and blue tie-dye skirt was too much. “I think I love you,” he whispered, pulling her close once more.

“I love you, too,” she playfully bit at Edgar’s ear. “But don’t think you can distract me.”

“Who’s distracting who?” Edgar said, his legs suddenly wobbly.

“All’s fair…”