Second in the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series.
Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone watches in horror as a friend vanishes into a painting at a posh Santa Fe gallery. Unable to find her by normal methods, the reporter must look for her via the astral plane. There she will meet her most frightening nemesis and defend herself on the Terror of the Threshold. Will it be the Mesoamerican deity who enjoys human snacks or the evil spirit she crossed paths with before? What she doesn’t expect is to land in an ancient civilization intent on keeping her–and her unproven powers. Part of this territory is inhabited by gentle people, flora and fauna that communicate telepathically. But the other residents are decidedly ruthless. Legend says the lost continent of Lemuria sank eons ago. Rachel’s visit must be brief or she could be caught up in the cataclysm. She employs crystal power to help her communicate with friend Chloe back home in New Mexico and to defend herself from cosmological attacks.
In Santa Fe, Chloe and soul navigator F Dominic Magellan search frantically for the body of their friend in its altered state. They must return it to the art gallery so she can reclaim it. That proves difficult when they run across someone, or something, who will do anything to stop them.
On the astral plane, Rachel has to multitask, coping with earthquakes and volcanoes as the end of the long-lost culture is set in motion, all while staging the rescue of her friend. Catching the red-eye home to the 21st century could prove difficult as she desperately looks for a way to escape a violent society. They must find Rachel’s silver cord or they cannot return.
Can Rachel become a successful astral-naut? Or will she be forever lost in the cosmos?
Contains: mild horror effects, profanity, humor.
Extras: Christmas Eve Canyon Road Farolito Walk, a ghost hunting assignment.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
In Lemurian Medium I delve into astral travel, the power of crystals and Mesoamerican deities. After a friend vanishes into a painting at a Santa Fe art gallery, reporter Rachel Blackstone resignedly searches the astral plane for her. She finds herself in a very different era on a continent destined to disappear into the sea. Well acquainted with research, I attempted to leave no stone unturned, carefully searching for details that would make the story feel as real as possible.
Originally I read about Lemuria in Shirley MacLaine’s book The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit. I even skipped the two chapters about it the first time. But the idea remained and one day I began studying the lost continent of the Pacific.
A bibliography is included in this book for further reading and study.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted the protagonist to be a reporter (write what you know), but I also wanted to have fun with the character and her best friend. Rachel Blackstone is a fact-based, cynical woman who wears shoes she can run in. She’s a junk food eater and prone to sarcasm. Friend Chloe Valdez kept one of her married names because it helps sell real estate in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chloe wears Santa Fe style and could be a model if she wasn’t one of the top-selling realtors in the City Different. This is a woman who likes high heels and high style–and she caters journalistic stakeouts. I like the fact that these two women are different and yet get along famously. The differences also lead to some funny moments.
At Rachel’s office I wanted her co-workers to be diverse and so there is Stella Dallas (yes, her mother liked movie queen Barbara Stanwyk) for whom the Chanel suit never went out of style. “Shorty” (who isn’t, short that is) is the magazine’s photographer when he isn’t hacking for information or reading comic books. Julian is the publisher, a journalist of some repute. He too is fact-based and has trouble believing some of Rachel’s encounters with the supernatural. She does too.That’s why she’s “reluctant.” And then there is John III, Julian’s nephew, who just can’t seem to get along with anyone. In a supportive role is Joseph a Hopi shaman who helps Rachel.
In this book I introduce two new characters: Dominic who is a soul navigator and helps Rachel and Chloe with ancient history and the former Father O’Brien who was asked to leave the church because he practices astral travel.
Lemurian Medium, Sample Chapter
by G G Collins
There was something malevolent about the painting. It was fleeting, but what? Rachel scrutinized it searching for the incongruity. While it looked much like the other works on display at the gallery opening, this one was off-putting.
The remainder of the exhibit was composed of the typical New Mexico landscapes—artfully done nonetheless—and adobe structures crafted with poetic lighting. They were not the same-o’, same-o’ paintings found in abundance in every gallery in Santa Fe.
The artist had a special gift like none she’d seen in years. This acrylic, however, was…well, weird. On the surface was a lovely scene of piñon trees and blooming yellow chamisa. The mountain crest, dusted in white, hinted at winter to come. An autumnal scene, it was lit with golden aspen cascading across the Sangre de Cristos in a way that was breathtaking.
It was the only vertical painting, tall, almost floor to ceiling while the remainder of the exhibit was horizontal landscapes.
God, there it was again! She saw it only momentarily. It was like a picture within a picture. For a second her body went cold with trepidation conjured by the spirit of another panorama, one quite foreign. It left an almost palpably bad feeling. In place of the southwestern landscape, she saw a tangle of green foliage. It looked tropical, but with a grotesque fundamental nature that threatened to suffocate the life from anyone entering. Yet, it was enticing and compelling. Rachel wanted to step into the painting. In this moment, she could see another dimension opening before her. The urge to enter was nearly overwhelming.
The painting changed again. Rachel blinked to be sure. A large mushroom, no, mushroom cloud, the type a volcanic eruption would make. In the foreground was the jumbled mass of plant life. It was sinister to be sure.
Rachel was repulsed and yet it beckoned. She lifted one foot, but before she could move further, she heard a wolf howling. She turned in the direction of the sound. It took her straight back to her living room a few months ago when she inadvertently summoned a spirit from the dark side. That night a wolf howled too; a wolf who didn’t belong there.
With no further lobo cries she returned to the painting. The otherworldly scene was no longer perceptible. The sensation she felt was not a great deal different from that of rubbernecking at a fatal car accident. One is drawn to it out of morbid curiosity but repulsed by the images.
“Hi Stella,” she said as her co-worker walked up.
Stella Dallas was the receptionist and administrative assistant to the publisher of High Desert Country where Rachel Blackstone worked as a reporter. Stella’s mother had been a great fan of Barbara Stanwyck and had named her daughter after her favorite movie starring the actress.
This contemporary Stella Dallas was an elegant woman. The Chanel suit never went out of style for Stella. Her classy mode of dress contrasted strongly with the rest of the staff who preferred denim and T-shirts. All, except for the publisher’s nephew, John J. Connor, III, who dressed for success, though no one was clear on what he considered successful. And yes, there really were three of them.
Rachel had been assigned to cover the opening at Spirit Vision Gallery. Since two invitations arrived at the magazine office, Rachel invited Stella to go along.
“What’s up?” Stella asked.
“Look at this painting and tell me what you see.”
“Is this a trick question?”
“No. I’m serious,” Rachel said. “What do you see?”
The older woman gave her a doubtful glance and proceeded to study the picture, her thumb resting on her chin with forefinger held lightly against her upper lip. “I see another fabulous vista. What do you see, Rachel?”
Rachel ignored the question. “Try changing your viewpoint a bit. Does that make a difference?”
“Dear, have you been hitting the sangria again? You know, that stuff can knock you on your backside in a hurry.”
“Amusing,” Rachel countered. “Humor me.”
Stella walked to the wooden bench in the middle of the viewing area. She sat, erect as a princess, contemplating the canvas. Rachel crept up so as to not disturb her concentration.
“It’s a multi-media painting,” Stella said. “It looks like there are crystals embedded along with some leaf impressions, and lots of paint ladled on with a palette knife. Other than that, I don’t see anything. What am I looking for?”
“Oh,” Rachel said, disappointed and relieved. “I guess it was nothing.” She wanted to tell her friend what she had seen, but with no corroboration it seemed absurd. Rachel felt foolish. “Maybe I will have some of that sangria.”
Stella flashed a beautiful smile and Rachel made a fast retreat to the refreshments. The mix of citrus and red wine was pleasant at first taste, but the orange peel had been in the brew too long and it was now very strong. She picked up a cheese puff with green chiles. Virtually everything in New Mexico contained chiles or was smothered in the succulent sauce. The pungent flavor made Rachel long for a green chile cheese burrito, but that would have to wait.
As she grazed her way down the table, Rachel observed the opening from a reporter’s view. She liked to thread the feeling of being there into every article she wrote. The traditional pure white walls of interior adobe buildings were made even more striking here because of the brilliant canvases which hung from them. Candles glowed softly on antique hand-carved tables. The flames cast moving shadows under the bright track lighting. Many of Santa Fe’s wealthy and prestigious were in attendance. The men wore everything from tuxedos to bolo ties and boots. Many of the women were attired in broom-stick skirts and heavily bejeweled in turquoise and silver for that—just right—southwestern look. Of course, the little black dress, forever fashionable, was represented as well—those women fancied diamonds and pearls.
When her eyes returned to Stella, Rachel noticed her in conversation with a man she recognized from the program as the artist, Angelo. To say the man was handsome would have been the understatement of the previous millennium. Angelo, the brochure gave no last name, was darkly attractive and quite tall—basketball player tall. His black hair hung to his shoulders. He was Spanish, if one could believe publicity materials. Dressed entirely in black, it made his presence felt in a room full of colorful hangings. But he wore the oddest thing: a headdress of sorts. It wasn’t the typical bandana a dancer might wear, nor as formal as a Sikh turban. It was less Bruce Springsteen and more Jack Sparrow. In the center, a jewel covered his forehead. The fabric was charcoal in color and the crystal ruby, at least in shade. Dangling from the left side was bead work and a feather.
Their chat seemed animated when Rachel first noticed, but something had changed, she could see it on Stella’s face. Stella frowned as she beheld the painting. The two were looking at the image which had reared its ugly schizophrenic head to Rachel earlier. While Angelo stood smiling slightly in a polite manner, his eyes betrayed something altogether different. Rachel could not tell whether it was anger or malice, but the growing uneasiness in her stomach suggested the latter.
The gallery atmosphere altered suddenly from one of polite murmured conversation and airs to that of the tense quietness of a funeral prelude. All of the sashay seemed to drain from the moneyed crowd. Rachel thought the gallery felt vacant, as if everyone had gone home, yet the guests remained.
She knew at that precise second something was wrong. Rachel glanced about the large room with the partial wall separating one side from the other. Time had stopped! No one spoke and upright bodies stood transfixed. Rachel sent the message to her brain to walk, but nothing happened. Panic welled within her. She wondered if everyone else felt it. Every person in the gallery had their back to her, except Stella and the artist. The others seemed spellbound by the wall art. All Rachel could do was watch in wonder and dread.
Stella’s body disclosed the shock as she saw what Rachel had seen in the painting. Her face registered the repulsion. She turned to the artist in question. Angelo continued to smile politely. There was no exchange of words.
Rachel felt urgency and despair. Her need to move, to protect, overwhelmed her, but she was completely helpless. Every muscle in her body was taut with readiness, but none would propel her into action. Internally, she quivered. Rachel noted, with uncharacteristic dispassionate scientific observation that movement and paralysis could not exist within the same body. Every alarm in her brain went off in a cacophony of premonition. Her mouth was dry. She had no ability to cry out to Stella, to warn her. Warn her, why?
With a swiftness that made Rachel want to strike out, had she been able, the lights went off, leaving only the candles to scatter scary shadows. Phantoms waved in pseudo twilight, displaying the likenesses of ordinary people caught in abnormal circumstances. The moving, uneven silhouettes grew ever longer as they appeared to reach upward, straining to escape.
It wasn’t all that unusual for the City Different to experience blackouts, even in the absence of a thunderstorm. The outages were an eccentricity one learned to live with in this whimsical mountain city. Rachel tried to rationalize what was happening. But this was no ordinary power interruption.
Across the buffet, past the candles flickering on the table and the hot-house geraniums sitting on the sill, over the faded chamisa blossoms, outside in the courtyard where the fountain bubbled innocently, and onto the folk art store next door where electric lights glowed warmly inside, Rachel began to understand. Streetlights burned away the night and it became obvious only this structure was affected.
Rachel’s eyes moved slowly back across the salon, her senses registering the stock-still bodies, the moment held hostage. The air was so powerful and hot, it crackled. Yet, no one but her seemed to hear it. She could feel tiny beads of perspiration covering her skin in eerie clamminess.
Some mystical zephyr blew out the votive nearest Rachel. And one by one each candle, like ducks in a row, breathed its last, leaving only a small grey plume of spent smoke. With every extinguished flame of hope she feared what was coming, because it could not be good. This was an evil squelch. The wail of the wolf confirmed it.
By the light of the last twinkling beacon Rachel watched, because she could do nothing else, as Stella, her expression reflecting horror and disbelief looked to Angelo for clarification. If he responded, Rachel could not hear him and an instant later did not care.
The howl of the lone wolf floated through the night air, momentarily getting her attention. When she looked back at the painting, there was no one.
Stella had vanished.
About the Author:
Collins uses a mix of mystery, fantasy, horror and other paranormal elements in her Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery series. One never knows what Rachel will be faced with next. It could be anything from an evil spirit to a man-eating Mesoamerican deity or an alien trying to steal government secrets. The learning curve is steep as Rachel tries to rise to each new challenge.
IS THIS AUTHOR DANGEROUS?
Working as a general reporter is one of the most educational jobs. Where most people specialize in a specific area, it’s the job of a reporter to ask questions, learn quickly and write even faster about many subjects. In one day, you can cover a fundraiser for MS research, meet an entertainer in town for a weekend performance and attend a press conference for a local brewery. The next day, it’s the new heart center at a hospital, getting a first grader’s take on saving a historical building and welcoming the new sharks at the aquarium.
The result of thousands of interviews, press conferences and performances is that journalists learn a little bit about many things. It was Alexander Pope who wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” He also authored in the same poem: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” That could be applied to reporters as well, many of whom rush to breaking news sites that could be the results of a terrorist attack, a landing hurricane or a bank robbery.
So is this author dangerous? Only to the characters in her book, or is she…?
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