Thursday, December 28, 2017

Featured Author: Tanya R. Taylor

Welcome Today's Featured Author
Tanya R. Taylor !

Cornelius (The Cornelius Saga Book 1) 


Thirteen-year-old Mira is very unhappy at home. She hates the way her emotionally unavailable father treats her mother -- a woman who practically worships the ground he walks on.

But things are about to change.

One day, Mira and her brother Wade head out to explore a large, wooded area near their home. They are unaware that their innocent adventure would open up the bowels of history in a most uncanny way. Shortly after their exploration, an uninvited guest invades their personal space. Unsure of what to do, Mira turns to the one source that is bound to have all the answers--a rather unlikely source.

The Plot:

  • A Plantation owner / Slave master
  • Forbidden romance / Illicit affairs
  • Betrayal
  • A brutal history
  • An unexpected visitor
  • Paranormal activity

Welcome to the strange world of the Cullen family.

CORNELIUS has been called:


And a reviewer has said: "The very first instance of a haunted house story making me cry." 

Teaser (Excerpt): 

It was a day and age much like today where every town, generation and household held firmly its secrets—torrid improprieties they would protect to the end of the world. Yet some secrets back then were far too shocking and disturbing to contain—ones entangled with emotions of such intensity that would shock the very life out of 'innocent', reserved folk.
The year was 1861. The town of Mizpah was on the verge of the abolition of slavery. White people with a conscience and black folk alike prayed and fought long and hard for the day when all human beings were considered equal in the eyes of the law.
Cornelius Ferguson, only the wealthiest planter in all of Mizpah, didn't support the views of the abolitionist movement in that territory nor in any other for that matter. Negro labor was highly favorable for his pockets and he couldn't imagine conducting his plantation affairs by any other means. 
June 12th of 1861 was the day his life would forever change. It was the day a colored girl by the name of Karlen Key walked through his door. She was beautiful, literate, well-spoken — a rare breed and long-awaited trade off from another planter across the river. Cornelius had been anticipating her arrival. Germina, a rotund, elderly house slave with a few long strands protruding from her chin, met Karlen at the door and showed her where to put her tattered bag. Cornelius stood thirty feet away in the great room facing the entrance way, highly pleased and mesmerized by the new addition to his household. Karlen's eyes met his for a brief moment before she quickly lowered her head, made a slight bow and greeted her master. The twenty-one-year-old had no idea that her arrival at the Ferguson plantation would alter the course of her life and those around her in a most uncanny way.


Summer of 1965

"Wade! Mira!" Sara Cullen called her kids from outside the kitchen door. "Time to come inside and get yourselves cleaned up for dinner!"
Fourteen-year-old, Wade and thirteen-year-old, Mira were in the road playing 'bat and ball' in front of their yard with Monique Constantakis and her cousin Philip. Mira had just swung the bat for her turn to run the bases.
"Let's go!" Wade shouted to his sister as she considered one last run before heading inside. "If you don't come now, I'm leaving you and you'll be in big trouble with Dad." On that, he took off up to the driveway of their home and Mira, with a tinge of disappointment, handed the bedraggled, semi-splintered bat to Monique who was standing behind her.
"See you later," Monique said, visibly disappointed that her new friend had to leave.
"Yeah," Mira said before heading up the driveway behind her brother who had disappeared into the house.
The table, as usual, had been beautifully set for dinner. Sara Cullen was a true perfectionist and wanted everything to be just right when her husband of fifteen years, Michael, stepped into the dining room for his meal. She worshipped the dirt the man walked on and kept herself in the finest physical shape she could possibly manage. She was five feet, ten inches tall, and remarkably thin. Her hair was long, black and curly, and her features narrow. Michael Cullen was not the most attractive man in the world, but he carried big, broad shoulders and a six-pack most men would die for. Furthermore, he collected a handsome paycheck at the end of each week, lived in a nice neighborhood, and sported a two-year-old red Jaguar. Nevertheless, Sara—Head Nurse at Freedom Hospital—could not be accused of being with him solely for his money or his executive status at the State-run Gaming Board. They had met fresh out of high school when all they had ahead of them were nothing more than dreams and aspirations.
Mira sat at the table first though Wade had been the first to wash up.
"Wade! Where are you?!" Sara cried, as she hurried around placing the remaining items on the table. The boy showed up moments later.
"Where were you all that time?" Sara asked. "You know I like both of you to be seated before I call your dad out."
"I had to… brush my hair." Wade lowered his head slightly.
"That's a lie!" Mira blurted with a wide smile. "He had to use the toilet!"
"Liar!" Wade rebutted.
"You had to use the toilet! You had to use the toilet!" Mira sang.
"Now stop it - both of you!" Sara barked. "This is no time for games... and wipe that smile off your face Mira; I'm not playing!"
"Yes, Mother," Mira softly replied.
The children composed themselves and waited patiently for their father who emerged a few minutes later from the master bedroom.
"Kids…" Michael hailed straight-faced as he sat down.
Both children responded monotonically, "Hi, Dad."
Sara joined them moments later.
As was customary for the family, they all bowed their heads at the sound of Michael's utterance, "Let us pray" before diving into their meals.
From her chair, Mira watched as her mother talked and talked to her father while he engaged very little in the conversation. It was like that all the time and Mira was beginning to wonder why her mother even tried. What Sara saw in Michael that was so appealing and attractive totally eluded Mira. Michael was a brutally rigid man who, in his daughter's opinion, always seemed to wish he was somewhere else other than at home.
"May I be excused?" Mira asked fifteen minutes later, wanting to escape the drab, depressive atmosphere of the room.
"But you hardly touched your casserole," Sara said, noticing for the first time that her daughter had barely eaten.
"I'm not hungry."
"Are you all right, honey?" Sara asked, as Michael continued his meal supposedly unaffected.
"Yes, Mom. I just feel a bit tired and would like to lie down," Mira replied.
"You may leave," Michael said, not making eye contact.
"Well then…" Sara continued, "I'll cover your plate for you in case you get hungry before bedtime."
"Thanks Mom." Mira backed out from the table and retreated to her bedroom.
Approximately a half hour later, there was a light tap at the bedroom door. The doorknob turned slowly, then Sara walked in. "Are you all right?" She asked Mira who was curled up in bed with a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
"Sure." Mira sat up as her mother proceeded to the side of the bed.
She felt her daughter's forehead with the back of her hand. "No fever. That's good. Are you sure you're okay?" The look she gave was a combination of suspicion and concern.
"Yes. I'm really fine, Mom. I just wasn't hungry; that's all—I guess from all that running around earlier."
"I see." Sara got up. "Well, like I said… if you get hungry later, your food is right there covered in the refrigerator. Wouldn’t want you going to bed empty only to wake up all gassy in the morning."
Mira smiled. Her mother reached down and kissed her on the forehead. "I love you, sweet pea."
"I love you too, Mom."

"You wanna go by the canal today?" Wade asked Mira at the kitchen counter. An early riser, he had been up for well over an hour, but she had just gotten out of bed.
"Dad said we can't go back there—you know that," Mira answered, cracking an egg over a bowl.
"He's not here. Mom's not here. They don't have to know," Wade replied. "We can get our fishing rods, some bait, and maybe this time, we'll actually catch something."
"I don't know… the last time we got caught out there we almost got a good whipping. Dad's hand was itching. Luckily, he let us off the hook with a warning. Off the hook… got it?"
"Look! They're both at work. We'll only be gone for a few hours and will be back long before they get here. They'll never know, so we're not risking anything." Wade was adamant.
"I don't know, Wade," Mira said, pouring a little cream into the bowl with her egg.
"Why are you so scared?" Wade asked. "We've been to the canal dozens of times and only got caught that one time when dad pulled up out of nowhere. You think he's gonna drive all the way home from work today on a sneaky suspicion that we're at the canal again and bust us for not listening? Come on, Mira!"
"Okay, okay. We can go after I've had my breakfast. I suppose you've eaten already?" Mira asked.
"Yeah. I'm cool. I'll go pack the gear."
The canal was less than a block away. It usually took the kids a mere four minute walk to get there. Mira, dressed in a yellow and white striped blouse and red shorts walked quickly behind her brother, inwardly hoping and praying that their father would not pull up and surprise them while they were on the way to the 'forbidden place'.
"We need to walk faster," Mira said, now over-taking her brother. Wade silently caught up with her and in no time, they were at their favorite spot.
The canal was the only one in their neighborhood. It extended miles out to the sea. Several gated houses with boat decks surrounded it, except for a fifty-foot open area that was partially clear due to low, sparse bushes and a padded, gravel area kept in check by occasional vehicles driving through.
Mira sat down at the edge of the canal, her feet dangling against its rocky structure. Wade got the fishing rods ready before sitting next to her. He handed Mira a rod with bait attached and threw his out into the not-so-shallow water. For a while, they just sat there looking out into the water at tiny schools of fish swimming around.
"What's on your mind?" Wade asked, still looking straight ahead.
"What do you mean?" Mira glanced at him.
"You're so quiet. What're you thinking about?"
"You're the one lying now," Wade said.
"How can you say that I'm lying? Are you inside my brain, Wade Cullen?" Mira returned feistily.
"It's Mom and Dad, isn't it?"
Mira looked at him. "How do you know?"
"I know what's been going on. I can see it was getting to you. That's why you left the table yesterday, right?"
For a few moments, there was silence, then Mira finally answered: "I don't understand why Mom tries so hard to please Dad. It's not like he shows her he appreciates anything she does anyway."
"We've never known Dad to be a talkative person, Mira. He doesn't say much to us neither," Wade replied.
Again… there were a few moments of silence.
"I think his actions go beyond not being much of a talker, Wade. Dad can be so cold at times. I feel so bad for Mom when I see her trying so hard to please him all the time and he doesn't seem to be giving anything back to her. It's like she's in a relationship all by herself."
"Mom's used to Dad. They're just different people. She doesn't seem to mind when she's talking to him and it's obvious that he's not even listening. If she's not bothered by it, why should you let it bother you?"
"Because she's our mother, Wade. That's why. She deserves better than that," Mira answered.
"Better than Dad?"
"I think so."
Wade was shocked that his sister's feelings about the matter were that intense. "What are you trying to say, Mira—that Dad's not good enough for Mom? Don't you love him?"
"Sure I do. I love them both, but I can tell that Mom's not happy. She pretends that she is because she lives in this ‘perfect world’ that she's created in her head."
Wade's eyes were on the water again. "I think I feel something…" he said moments later. "Yes! I got a bite!" He reeled in the rod as quickly as he could while Mira's eyes beamed at the prospect of him making a good catch. By then, they were both standing and watching an average-sized snapper wiggle its streamlined body on the hook.
"Yay! We got one!" Mira exclaimed.
Wade unhooked the fish and dumped it into their mother's mini cooler.
"That's a good one," Mira said, watching the fish flop around in the cooler.
"Yeah. Let's see if we can catch anymore."
They both sat back down and re-tossed their fishing rods after Wade baited his again.
A half hour passed and there was nothing. Wade could now sense Mira's restlessness. "You wanna wait a little while longer to see if we'll get another bite?" He asked.
"Na. Let's not push our luck," Mira said. "We got a fish. Let's go fry it."

After turning onto their street, Mira's eyes hit the large property straight ahead at the end of the corner. "You wanna go see if any dillies are on the trees? We can eat them with our fish," she said excitedly.
"The Ferguson property?" Wade asked.
Since they would have to go past their house in order to get there, Wade said, "Okay. Let me take the cooler inside first."
Mira waited in the western side of the yard that was adjacent to the road. She was so relieved that the canal trip went well and was eager to season and fry the fish they had caught.
"Let's go," Wade appeared a minute later with an empty, plastic bag balled up in his hand. "Wanna race there?"
"Sure. Now!" Mira took off on her brother unexpectedly and knowing he had been duped, Wade ran with all his might to try and catch up to her. Mira had almost made it first to the edge of the Ferguson property before Wade's long legs finally caught up to her and overtook her. He was going so fast that he could barely cut his speed sufficiently before nearly slamming into the huge coconut tree directly in front of him. Mira laughed as she panted to catch her breath.
"You cheater!" Wade said after slumping under the tree.
"Don't blame me if I almost beat you here," Mira replied. "You always boast about being able to run faster than I can."
"Are you serious?!" Wade was flabbergasted. "I can run faster than you! Didn't I prove it again just now—even though you cheated, you little pipsqueak?!"
Mira advanced onto the large acreage and looked up at the dillies hanging temptingly from the large, outstretched tree branches of one of many trees that clustered the property. The Ferguson estate was comprised of approximately sixty acres of land which took up most of the road east to west, extending northwardly to the edge of another neighborhood. Wade and Mira had not walked even a good two acres of the land since they were old enough to 'explore'.
"This one's packed. You wanna climb?" Mira asked her brother. Wade was the official tree-climber of the pair since Mira was terrified of heights.
Wade got up off the ground holding his back like a man far beyond his years. "Okay. You know the drill," he said, handing her the bag.
As Wade climbed the tree, Mira readied the bag so that he could drop the dillies into it. In seconds, he was at arm's length from the nearest tree branch. It was laden with mostly semi-ripe dillies. "I'm gonna start dropping now!" He cried.
Mira opened the bag as widely as possible and positioned herself directly under her brother as he dropped the fruit one by one. As usual, the bag had missed a few of them and Mira was bending down picking up the ones that had fallen without bursting on impact.
"You can't run and you can't catch!" Wade laughed in the tree as he deliberately dropped some of the dillies while she was still stooping down to pick up the others.
"You're stupid for dropping them, Wade. You're really immature!" She snarled.
Deciding they had enough of them, Wade came down from the tree and snatched one of the dillies out of the bag. As he ate, he looked around at the large property and an idea struck him. "How about we explore this land? We've never gotten further than just a few feet in everytime we come here."
"This is private property, Wade. We can't just go exploring," Mira replied, thinking how slow her brother really was. After all, the large, lop-sided NO TRESPASSING sign sprayed in red was clearly visible on the fence.
"You're gonna let an old NO TRESPASSING sign stop you from walking through here? Have you ever seen the owners out here? Have you ever seen anyone out here?"
Mira was quiet.
"Right! That's because no one ever comes here. The place is abandoned. What's wrong with a couple of kids just walking through a vacant property with a bunch of tall trees and bushes on it? What can we possibly do to hurt the land?" Wade said sarcastically. "Come on, Sis. It'll be fun. We can pretend that we're real explorers or something."
Mira was hesitant whenever Wade presented ideas that could possibly get them into trouble. Then again… those types of ideas were the only ones he ever seemed to come up with. "What about the fish?"
"What about it?" Wade was puzzled.
"We have to fry it before Dad and Mom gets back home."
Wade looked at Mira in disbelief. "Why are you so darn scary, girl? How long do you think they've been gone? It's only been a few hours. Last I knew, they got off work in the evening and then there's traffic. It's barely noon yet."
"How do you know what time it is?" Mira asked. "You don't have a watch."
"I can estimate the time, Mira. Can't you, smarty pants?"
Mira shoved the bag of fruit at him. "Here then! You carry this." And she slowly headed out into the wooded area.
As they walked along a narrow trail, the children were fascinated by the size of the property. Trees of every kind imaginable seemed to inhabit it—pine, mangoes, bananas, avocadoes, plum, ginep. Wade and Mira stopped and picked what they wanted, adding them to the bag, and the apprehension Mira had initially felt about their so-called exploration had soon disappeared.   
"This is great," she said sucking on a plum.
"Awesome!" Wade agreed. "I feel like we're in the jungle or something. How long do you think it'll take us to walk the whole perimeter?"
Mira looked at him incredulously. "Are you out of your mind?" Do you think I'm gonna walk this entire property? I hear the Fergusons' land is more than a few miles long."
"I didn't mean we should walk the whole thing today. I was asking how long you think it would take us if we decided to," Wade explained.
"I don't know… maybe an hour or two." Then her eyes were suddenly affixed to a large house that they never knew was there. "Hey, look there!" Mira pointed straight ahead.
"Wow! That's huge!" Wade exclaimed, almost in slow motion. With heightened curiosity, he started running toward it.
"Wait up!" Mira shouted, careful to do so in a lowered voice as she had no idea who or what might be inside. "Don't go in there without me!"
However, old and dilapidated with broken windows showcased along the whole front view, the house was breathtaking.
Wade climbed the colonial-style porch, stopping just about a foot away from the front door. The only thing is… there was no door—just a ten foot opening where there, most likely, used to be double doors.
Wade looked inside. Grimy white tiles covered the entire front area as far as he could see.
Mira climbed the porch moments later. "Do you see anything?" She asked softly, feeling a bit of apprehension gradually returning.
"No," Wade whispered. "Is anyone in here?" He called out hoping not to receive an answer.
They stood quietly, both decidedly ready to take off in an instant if they heard even a crack. They waited for a few seconds… nothing. Then Wade said, in not so much of a whisper anymore, "Let's go in."
Mira grasped his arm. He was just eleven months older than she was, but in a case like that where they were entering the unknown, he could have very well been ten years older and fifty pounds heavier as she knew 'come hell or high water', he would protect her.
Before stepping inside, Wade looked at her, "You mind letting up a bit? You're squeezing my arm."
"Oh sorry," Mira replied nervously.
They walked inside together—eyes darting in all directions of the spacious interior. The white paint on the wall was chipped in several places and the dusty floor had been speckled with creature droppings and smudges of dirt and mud. There was no furniture in sight—just a large, empty space. Wade and Mira walked slowly ahead and entered a room that looked like an extension of the living room, only separated by an arched wall.
"Hello…" Wade called out again.
"Is anyone here?" Mira said behind him, voice breaking at the end.
They proceeded through the large front area then entered what looked like the kitchen. There was one row of cabinets still attached to the upper northern section of the wall with a few missing doors. Some doors were slanted due to rusty, broken hinges. There were three other sections of the wall where only the imprint of cabinets remained presenting a theory to the observer that they might have been cleanly extracted at some point by thieves.
"This place is a mess," Mira uttered, still holding her brother's arm.
"Yeah. You notice that just about every door around here is missing?"
"Let's go upstairs," Wade released Mira's grip. "Follow me."
"No way! You know I'm afraid of heights!" Mira whispered loudly.
"Just hold on to the rail. You'll be fine," Wade replied before heading up the long winding staircase.
Feeling that she would rather be with him than downstairs alone in the old, creepy house that resembled something from a horror flick, she took a deep breath in and decided to follow him. The ceiling of the house was extremely tall and as Mira carefully followed Wade up the stairs, she couldn't help but wonder how the owners ever managed to change a light bulb up there whenever necessary. As they climbed the staircase, the wood beneath their feet creaked and Mira had no idea how she would ever get back down.
They made it to the second landing and refusing at that point to look down over the rail, Mira trailed closely behind Wade who had entered one of the bedrooms.
"Wow! This room is huge!" Wade remarked, hurrying over to a large window on the western side of the room.  "Hee, hee!" He laughed looking down at the yard. "The second floor of this house must be at least a hundred feet from the ground!"
Mira quietly advanced toward the entrance of what looked like the walk-in closet. As she looked in, something immediately caught her eye. The floating image of a black woman was at the far end of the room. The apparition appeared relatively young with frazzled, black hair that hung tiredly just above her shoulders. Her face, rough and haggard, exuded a sadness that Mira could feel deep within her bones, and the thin, white dress the woman wore was drenched in what appeared to be blood around the mid-section where long trails of it had slid down to the end. Momentarily frozen by the sight of this woman, Mira's mouth hung open, yet no voice escaped. The woman's veiny eyes seemed to be begging, pleading… for something. Then her hand reached up toward Mira, re-enforcing what the little girl already felt was a cry for help. At that point, a blood-curdling scream escaped Mira's lungs and she darted outside of the room—Wade running behind her.
With a fear of heights that paled in comparison to what she saw in that room, before Mira knew it, she was at the bottom of the staircase and out of the house.
"What's wrong?" Wade called out to her in the yard. "Wait for me, Mira!"
She had run a good distance away from the house before even thinking of stopping.
"Tell me what's wrong!" Wade insisted after catching up to her. "I never saw you run that fast in my life."
"I know I shouldn't have listened to you, Wade. You're a jerk! We never should have come here," Mira blasted, walking hurriedly.
"What did I do?" Wade was confused.
"I don't wanna talk about it right now. I just wanna go home."

There are currently five books in The Cornelius Saga.  Book 6: The Lost Children of Atlantis will be released in early 2018

About Tanya R. Taylor:

Tanya R. Taylor is the author of several #1 bestsellers on Amazon. She has been writing ever since she can remember holding a pencil and published her first book titled: A Killing Rage as a young adult.

She has worked in the Financial arena and is also a seasoned ghostwriter. Her book Cornelius climbed to #1 in the Teen & Young-adult Multi-generational Family Fiction category. And her supernatural, suspense/thriller - INFESTATION: A Small Town Nightmare is a
multiple times #1  international bestseller.

Tanya writes in various genres including: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Mystery and Suspense.

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