Marley Parker – A Compelling Mystery for Young Adults

“There’s simply no way of putting this delicately, Marley. I believe that you are in eminent danger.”

Marley Parker, a stunning young woman with a passion for uncovering the truth, is a journalism student at Greenbriar University. Her mother mysteriously disappeared when she was a young girl, leaving her sister and her to be raised by their father, Sheriff Tony Parker. As the novella opens, Marley is about to receive an award for Excellence in Journalism for a video report on a local girl’s disappearance. At the award banquet, wealthy financier Dean Cummings drops dead—the victim of poisoning. Suspects are many, but Marley Parker is on the case.

Marley Parker was Maria Sigle’s first young adult novel. Released in July 2014, the book is 208 pages, is available in print and digital formats, and retails for $9.89. It is a mystery with some supernatural elements. The second book in the series, A Rumor of Ghosts, promises to delve deeper into that theme. “I just love the idea of a series centered around a young, strong, beautiful female who seemingly has it all,” she told MysteriousHeartland. “Then once you dig deeper, you discover that what you see on the surface is a completely different story than what that girl actually consists of.”

In the beginning, Marley Parker seems to have overcome her childhood trauma and has it all—good looks, an influential father, a home on the lake, a promising future career, and a wealthy love interest. Over the course of the book, all these things will be tested, and Marley will have to fight for her life to hold onto everything she has, all while unraveling a mystery with connections to her past.

The author relied heavily on her own experiences to craft this tale. “Much like Marley, when I was 19 years old, I wanted to be an investigative reporter. When I was at Sophomore in college, I began working for a local FOX Television affiliate full time, as the sole on-air talent. It was difficult at the time, juggling full time school and a full time job but it was well worth it.”

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Shades of Gray: Nothing Will Keep us Apart

The following is an excerpt of a short story from my book Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today for only $2.99.

It’s freezing outside, Luke thought as he pulled his windbreaker tighter and walked along an old, empty boulevard west of the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg. His parents and he had moved to the city two days ago, and he thought it would be a good idea to wander the town and get his bearings. It was late in autumn, so the wind blew sharply and bit at his cheeks. The houses on either side of the street were all over a hundred and fifty years old, and emitted a pleasant, aged perfume he could smell even from out on the sidewalk. Grand porches stood empty as though not a soul was home.

The future was on Luke’s mind that afternoon. He would be starting school late into the year, and he had a hard time making friends. His was a military family, and his father had been recently stationed at Fort A.P. Hill, a few miles southeast of town. This was their third move in four years. His mother assured him this would be their last for a while, but he could not help but harbor doubts.

As he walked south past Kenmore Park, he caught a glimpse of a person standing beside an old maple tree. The figure, at first obscured by shade, slowly morphed into a young woman with long brown hair that was tied up in a delicate, black snood. The breeze teased the few strands of unrestrained hair neatly away from her eyes, and as Luke got closer, he noticed she was staring at him. He continued walking, knowing it was rude to return the stare, but he could not shake the feeling that there was something familiar about this mysterious woman. She smiled at him as he passed by. He felt a chill run through his body and he hurried toward Cornell Street.

Luke turned north down Cornell and then continued south on Washington Avenue. After a few yards, thick bushes marked the end of the residential neighborhood and a tall brick fence appeared on the right-hand side of the sidewalk. Beyond it, white, granite headstones peppered the sun-bleached field. The sea of graves stretched south and constituted the Fredericksburg City Cemetery and the much older Confederate Cemetery. Luke felt very alone, but he also felt drawn to the graveyard. As he neared the Confederate section of the cemetery, the strange feeling increased until every part of him tingled with nervous anticipation. Not even an animal seemed to stir. He opened the creaking, rusted gate, and stepped inside the cemetery.

Even the trees appeared dead as their long, barren branches sadly swayed in the autumn breeze. Luke speculated that they must have stood there at least a hundred years. He imagined women in black hoop skirts carrying parasols, and men dressed in top hats and black suits with coat tails, coming to the cemetery to mourn their loved ones. He was transported back in time at this place, and a sense of despair hung over the area, as if the cemetery itself longed for bygone days. All of that was gone now, and Luke stood alone under the chestnut trees among the faded gravestones.

He did not know what caused him to turn around, but when he did he was surprised to see that the young woman from the park was standing right behind him. He had not heard anyone coming, and he wondered how it was possible for her to have gotten there in such a short amount of time. She was wearing a long, white dress that was yellowed with age. Her skin was pale and moistened with sweat, as though it was the month was July instead of November.

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Hillary’s Data Debacle

As expected, Democratic Party data analysts are upset that Hillary Clinton threw them under the bus in a recent interview. At technology news website Recode’s Code Conference, she recalled:

“I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party… I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong.”

Her recollection was, of course, hyperbole. Data can’t simultaneously be poor, wrong, and nonexistent. Former DNC director of data science Andrew Therriault had a less generous way of describing it. In a deleted tweet, he called Hillary’s comments “f—ing bull—-.”

If the DNC’s data was so bad, why did it cause such a fuss in December 2015 when the DNC blocked Bernie Sanders’ campaign from accessing its voter file? If you recall, the DNC blocked access after a Sanders staffer was accused of accessing data gathered by the Clinton Campaign. At the time, the Sanders Campaign alleged being denied access to the voter database cost them “$600,000 in donations” every day. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, called the data “the lifeblood of this campaign.”

“The DNC database is a goldmine of information about voters,” according to CNN. It was built during Barack Obama’s two successful presidential runs, not to mention numerous gubernatorial, congressional, and senatorial races.

A presidential campaign shouldn’t have to rely on its national party for support anyway. Partisan political organizations have declined in power and influence over the past few decades. Hillary was right when she said the DNC is on the verge of insolvency. This article in Fortune is from 2013, but with $18.1 million in debt at the time, I don’t see how their situation could have improved much in three years.

Hillary shouldn’t be burning bridges with the DNC and its data analysts if she hopes to continue to be influential in Democratic circles. No one likes to have their efforts disparaged, especially if they’ve been meeting or exceeding expectations. Graciously accepting defeat, and responsibility for that defeat, will win more friends in the long run.

Hillary Plays the Blame Game

It’s been said successful people don’t blame others for their failures. That might help explain why Hillary Clinton had such a hard time running for president. In 2008 she lost the primary to a little-known, one-term senator from Illinois. In the 2016 primary, she barely fended off a challenge by the most radical mainstream candidate since Eugene Debs. And, of course, she ended up losing to a loudmouthed billionaire with no political experience and the most disorganized and controversial campaign in recent history.

One would think, after the dust settled, perhaps it was time for some self reflection. Introspection, however, is not Hillary’s strong suit. Lately, she took an opportunity at technology news website Recode’s Code Conference to expand her list of people to blame for her loss in November 2016. The list includes Russians, former FBI Director James Comey, sexism, WikiLeaks, Voter ID laws, the Democratic National Committee, the New York Times (!), and most bizarrely, Macedonians.

Even CNN finds Hillary’s claims hard to swallow. “Hillary Clinton’s list of who’s to blame for her 2016 election loss gets longer with every passing day,”

If Hillary did examine the real reasons she lost, she might look at Wisconsin, where Donald Trump won by 22,748 votes but where in 2012 President Barack Obama won by over 200,000. Hillary claims she didn’t take victory for granted, but Wisconsin shows otherwise. When asked why she didn’t bother to campaign there, she told Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel, “We thought we were doing really well in Wisconsin.”

This was part of a general campaign strategy that assumed the Democratic Party had a lock on white, working class Midwesterners. That constituency rallied behind Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. The revelation that the Democratic National Committee, chaired by Hillary friend and supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had actively colluded with the Clinton Campaign to undermine Sanders justifiably outraged his supporters.

Hillary just assumed they would rally behind her in the general election. I don’t think she realized how much railroading Bernie Sanders undermined her campaign. There are other factors as well, of course, but that is just the most apparent.

I’ve argued since the election that the Democratic Party’s continued inability to come to terms with why its candidate lost–why its message lost–will simply doom them to repeated failure. You learn nothing when you blame others, because you can’t control what other people do. You can only control what you do, and right now, that’s just a whole lot of finger pointing.

Civil War Ballads: The Fighting 69th

This song is dedicated to the Union Irish Brigade, which consisted of the 63rd New York Infantry, 69th New York Infantry, 28th Massachusetts Infantry, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, and 88th New York Infantry regiments. It was first commanded by Colonel Michael Corcoran, then Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, and finally Colonel Patrick Kelly. “The Fighting 69th” was recorded by the Dropkick Murphys for their album The Gang’s All Here (1999) and The Wolfe Tones for Across The Broad Atlantic (1993).

Regimental flag of the 69th NY Infantry

Come all you gallant heroes,
And along with me combined
I’ll sing a song, it won’t take long,
Of the Fighting Sixty Ninth
They’re a band of men brave, stout and bold,
From Ireland they came
And they have a leader to the fold,
And Cocoran was his name

It was in the month of April,
When the boys they sailed away
And they made a sight so glorious,
As they marched along Broadway
They marched right down Broadway, me boys,
Until they reached the shore
And from there they went to Washington,
And straight unto the war

So we gave them a hearty cheer, me boys,
It was greeted with a smile
Singing here’s to the boys who feared no noise,
We’re the Fighting Sixty Ninth

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Inside New Orleans’ Cemetery No. 1

Step inside New Orleans’ most fabled cemetery, final resting place for a Voodoo queen (and eventually Nicholas Cage).

  • New Orleans’ Cemetery No. 1 was established in 1789. It is packed with above-ground vaults, constructed due to the city being below sea level.
  • Voodoo queen Marie Laveau and the depraved Madame Delphine LaLaurie are rumored to make this their final resting place.
  • Some claim the ghost of Marie Laveau materializes on St. John’s Eve, and others say they have encountered her near her tomb.

Opened in New Orleans in 1789, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is one of the most famous cemeteries in the United States, if not the world. It is a Roman Catholic burial ground that replaced St. Peter Cemetery after a fire devastated the city in 1788. Located off North Claiborne Avenue between Iberville and St. Louis streets a few blocks from the French Quarter, its strange residents and aged, crumbling above ground vaults make this necropolis a popular tourist destination.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the final resting place for a veritable who’s who of New Orleans, including Etienne de Boré and Ernest N. Morial, former mayors. Actor Nicolas Cage even purchased a crypt there in 2010. Some of the more infamous-but-unconfirmed burials include voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and murderess Madame Delphine LaLaurie.

Many details of Marie Laveau’s life are up for debate. Officially, she was born on September 10, 1801, but some sources say she was born in 1794. In 1819, she married a freed Haitian immigrant named Jacques or Santiago Paris, who disappeared a few years into their marriage.

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RPG Maker MV: Mists of Tongass III

In Part II of our exploration of RPG Maker MV, we set up a “plot instigator” for our game Mists of Tongass. Our hero, Lucius York, discovered a letter from his grandpa explaining that he had been arrested for owing rent and sent to debtor’s prison. Most importantly, we learned how to create and edit events. Today we will be creating and fleshing out our town.

I don’t have time to create an entire town from scratch, but thankfully RPG Maker MV comes with several dozen premade locations. I chose “Forest Town” for the town exterior. Every building our hero will walk into needs an interior. Thankfully, there are premade interiors as well. You will need a Weapon Shop, Armor Shop, Item Shop, Inn, Tavern, and Jail interior at minimum. Oddly, there is no premade Tavern or Jail interior, but we’ll get to that later. There is also a magic shop on this map, but we won’t need that right now, so I will erase the bridge leading to that side of town.

How does our hero get from inside a building to the town exterior and vice versa? RPG Maker MV has also made that simple for us. RPG Maker provides several common events used frequently in a game. In event editing mode, simply right click on the map and scroll down to “Quick Event Creation.” The two we are most concerned with here are “Transfer” and “Door.” While in the York House, right click on the center tile at the bottom of the map and insert a Transfer.

A dialogue will pop up asking you to chose a location on the map. This is where our hero will exit the building.

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