In honor of Halloween, I'm making the Kindle e-book version of my children's novel, The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, FREE today (October 30-31). This is book 4 of my Haunted series originally published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. Book 4 can be read on its own. It's a spooky comedy/mystery suitable for ages 8+.
Haunted Book 4: The Ghost Miner’s Treasure, by Chris Eboch
Jon and Tania are traveling with the ghost hunter TV show again, this time to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, where the ghost of an old miner is still looking for his lost mine. The siblings want to help him move on—but to help him resolve the problem keeping him here, they’ll have to find the mine. And even then, the old ghost may be having too much fun to leave! It’s a good thing Tania can see and talk to him, because the kids will need his help to survive the rigors of a mule train through the desert, a flash flood, and a suspicious treasure hunter who wants the gold mine for himself.
FREE for Kindle Oct. 31: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009M8T33Q
If you stop by to pick up a copy, I appreciate "Likes" for the book's page or agreeing with the tag words (scroll down and click in each box, or simply paste the following list after "Your Tags": Ghosts, ghost story, mystery, adventure, gold miner, middle grade, action, spooky, paranormal, ghost hunters, children's horror, ghost stories for children, Arizona fiction )
Here's chapter 1:
“Many dangers you face on this quest. Many trials.” The old woman leaned over the table. A wisp of gray hair escaped from her bun and hung in her face. Light streaked through the dirty windows, making craggy shadows in her wrinkles. She stared down at the sticks and bones she’d tossed on the table, her mouth moving silently.
My stepfather, Bruce, stood across the table from her, leaning forward intently. She looked up at him and spoke. “What you seek is not easily found. There are those who would stand in your way. But you also have helpers.”
She looked around at the rest of us. I thought her eyes rested on my sister, Tania, as she said, “Some good luck.”
Her eyes met mine. “Some bad luck.”
I shivered. Did she mean I would have bad luck? Or that I was the bad luck?
“What do you advise?” Bruce asked.
The old woman shrugged. “You will go. You will do what must be done. It is meant to be.” Her eyes met mine again, intently. “But be careful whom you trust.” Cold crept up my spine, though the room was hot and stuffy.
Bruce leaned forward and asked a question. Mom shifted restlessly and took a step toward him. I glanced at Maggie, the pretty production assistant. She met my look and rolled her eyes.
My breath exploded out. It wasn’t really a laugh; I just hadn’t realized I’d been forgetting to breathe. I grinned at Maggie, suddenly lighter. I’d gotten caught up in the atmosphere of the dark room and the spooky old lady. But Maggie had reminded me that I didn’t believe in fortune-tellers. Bad luck happened, sure, but no old woman could predict it ahead of time.
Of course, a year earlier I hadn’t believed in ghosts, either. Things had changed when my sister and I started traveling with Haunted, the ghost investigation TV show run by my mom and stepfather. I hadn’t yet seen a ghost, but my sister had. I hadn’t believed her at first, but I’d changed my mind after seeing her possessed, and all the other strange things we had faced.
Still, believing in ghosts didn’t mean I had to believe everything. I didn’t even know why we were talking to this fortune-teller. During the filming of the last show, Tania and I had proven that Madame Natasha, Bruce’s “psychic” guest star, was a fake. In the process, we’d accidentally made Bruce look like a fool and hurt the show’s reputation. We’d learned our lesson there, and Bruce had sworn off psychics. But here we were.
Maggie touched my arm and bobbed her head toward the door. I nodded and followed her, Tania at my side. We paused outside, blinking in the bright sun. Maggie’s dark curls tumbled around her shoulders. Tania looked small and washed out next to her.
Maggie shook her head. “You’d think he’d have learned by now.”
“She’s different than Madame Natasha. More....” Tania bit her lip and looked back toward the door.
“Sincere?” Maggie asked.
“Creepy,” I suggested. “I mean, Madame N was a creep, but this woman is just spooky.”
“She does seem to believe what she’s saying,” Maggie said, “which is more than I can say for Madame Natasha.” She shrugged. “But what did she really say? Good luck, bad luck, nothing that can be proven or disproved. It’s generally a fair bet that some things will go right and some will go wrong. And of course a ghost won’t be found easily. We have yet to prove they even exist!”
I nodded, glad Maggie hadn’t noticed the fortune teller looking at me when she mentioned bad luck. Maybe it didn’t mean anything after all.
I wanted to smack myself. Of course it didn’t mean anything! I’d already decided that. If I wasn’t careful, I was going to turn superstitious.
“At least Bruce isn’t planning to use her on the show,” Maggie said. “He can’t stop himself from wanting to believe, but he’ll be more careful about keeping the show scientific.”
I nodded. I actually felt sorry for Bruce. It was hard to know what to believe. Sometimes I wished I could just believe the things I wanted to believe and not worry about it. But life is more complicated than that.
“So, can we look around the town while they finish?” Tania asked.
Maggie glanced left and right. The town of Vulture had one main dirt street, a few hundred yards long, and not much else. You couldn’t even drive through the town; you had to park in a lot by the entrance. A big wooden water tank and a windmill stood on top of the hill. Across the highway, a cluster of weird rock towers rose up in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.
“I don’t see how you can possibly get in trouble.” Maggie winked. “Though who knows, you’ve surprised me before. Go ahead, I’ll tell your mom. I’m sure we’ll find you.”
The old wooden buildings had been turned into stores, with a bakery, fudge shop, antique store, and a “general store” that sold T-shirts and postcards. “Some ghost town,” I said. “I thought ghost towns were supposed to be abandoned. This looks more like a tourist trap.”
“It really was an old frontier town, though,” Tania said. “In the 1800s. Maggie was telling me about it. I guess nobody lives here now, they just come in to run the stores. And on summer weekends and holidays they do shows. You know, guys dress up as gunfighters and have shootouts in the street.”
We looked at each other and shrugged. Maybe that would have sounded fun once, but now it seemed like kid stuff. We’d had a lot more excitement in our lives than watching grownups play-act and fire blank guns.
“Well, where do you want to start looking for the real ghost?” I asked.
Tania tipped her head to one side. “It wouldn’t take long to search the whole town. But first let’s think about what we know about him.” She closed her eyes. “Jacob Waltz was born in Germany around 1810. He came to America about 1840 and headed west. He tried gold-mining in California before winding up here in Arizona in 1862.”
She opened her eyes again, and I took over the story. “In 1869 he came into town with a sack of ore, almost pure gold. He went straight to the saloon, bought drinks for everyone, and bragged about the mine he’d found in the mountains. The newspapers picked up the story. For the next two years, Waltz lived off that gold and didn’t set foot in the mountains. He was probably afraid someone would follow him and find his mine.”
Tania nodded. “But when his gold ran out, he went back to the mountains with a burro to carry his riches. Two months later, he was back in town—empty-handed. He couldn’t find the mine again. He spent the next five years looking for it, with no luck. He died at sixty-six, penniless, in rags, half starved. Some said he went crazy.”
She looked sad, so I quickly said, “What’s the most logical place to look for an elderly ghost trying to drown his sorrows over losing his gold mine?”
We glanced down the street and looked at each other. Simultaneously, we said, “The saloon.”