Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Yes kiddos, it’s that time again! I feel lucky to have been invited to become a member of the blog chain with this multi-talented group of writers. Some may even have super powers, just go check out Elana’s blog (http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/ ), she posted before me. And H.L. Dyer will be next (http://hldyer.wordpress.com/).
The topic for our blog chain posts is different each time, and we take turns coming up with a question. As Elana said before me, we are getting closer to the time when we will have to pick, but luckily, she’s gonna have to come up with something brilliant before I do (but not too brilliant….then I’ll just look bad when I have to choose a topic).
Sandra (http://ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.com/) started this one, and she gave us a super hint. It was a video clip from The Princess Bride (check out her blog, it’s there). “As you wish.” Is definitely something that every woman would LOVE to have their man say to every simple request. So here’s the question:
What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday wishes?
Now, I must admit (not for the first time) that I am a bit impulsive. I also have an imagination with a mind of its own. When I read the question the first time, I just skimmed it and then my imagination answered in lots of visuals. There was Gerard Butler doing my laundry, next he was mopping the kitchen floor, then he was cooking dinner. Each time I asked him to do something he would reply in his lovely Scottish brogue,
“As ye wish, Princess.” (okay, I threw the “Princess” in just so that I could imagine the “r’s” rolling off his tongue).
Now what does it say about me that I would fantasize about Gerard Butler doing my laundry or cleaning my house? Sad, isn’t it?
But then I read the first post by Sandra. Oops, I misunderstood the question.
Okay, I’m sure that most people agree that they read fiction as an escape from their life; being able to imagine yourself in a different time period, a different location, maybe even hob-knobbing with super natural beings. Whatever genre you read, or write for that matter, it’s usually because that’s what or where you’d like to be, at least for a few minutes of your day.
I think one wish for my writing would be that it takes the reader to another place. Whether you journey with Margaret to eighteenth century Scotland, get inside the head of Kathryn who is haunted by a young boy, or travel through the Veil with Gerard the Gede (***sorry Voodoo Priestess if that reference offends you), I want my readers to relate to my characters and experience emotions right along with them. I want readers to care about what happens to my characters. I think I want what most writers want. What do you think?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I had their pictures taken for the second thing I am thankful for, my husband Kel (the biggest OU fan around, if you hadn't guessed).
Right after having this taken, I took them to see Twilight. All three teenagers have read the book (another thing I am thankful about...they all WANTED to read something). I haven't taken them all to the movies in years. It was really great.
The next thing I am grateful for is my Mom. She is the best friend/Mom anyone could ask for. She taught me not to sweat the small stuff, and that everything always works out in the end.
My friends are right up there on the list. I don't have friends that come and go. A few of my friends have been a part of my life since we were eight years old, and a few have only been around for seven or eight years, but I love them all dearly (I'm not usually mushy, so don't expect this kind of post often).
I also wanted to add that I am thankful for my kid's health. A few months ago, my oldest, Tiffany (upper left), suffered a knee injury. We found out a few weeks ago that she has a genetic birth defect (maltracking patella) and now must wear a brace. Her femur never developed the groove for her knee cap, so her simple strained knee won't heal. I took Tessa (lower right) to the Orthopedist this morning, and she has the same problem in both knees, just like her big sister. The way I see it, this is such a small thing compared to so many Mother's out there. My son's teacher comes to mind. Her teenage daughter is battling cancer right now ( http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kayceeevans ) . My prayers go out to her and her family this Thanksgiving.
So when you think that things are bad, or you ask yourself "why me?", just stop and be thankful for the blessings that you do have, and just know that there will always be those out there that have far bigger worries and problems than you do.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to be appreciate what you have!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
When I met Michelle, we were instantly awed by the similarities to our historical romance novels...thank God they were both completed BEFORE we met, or there could have been questions about how those similarities took place.
I really liked her....until now! I have been procrastinating for days about writing this post. In fact, in an attempt to avoid this post, I have outlined and started rewrites on the ghost/paranormal romance, and even started trying to decide how to start my next historical romance (which has been outlined for a while). All this has taken place in the last three days.
What could be so bad about this post? Well, according to Michelle, who is in the process of unpacking from a move, this would be a "fun post"... fun like a root canal?
Let's just move onto the dreaded question:
Share a favorite poem, quote, joke, anecdote, or anything of the sort that deals with writing, writers, the publishing industry, or the other strange and unusual tidbits that belong to our little world.
I don't do poems, and I usually only quote myself, my kids, or my grandmother (she told me the day before she died "Be good...if you can't be good, then be good at it!"). Jokes seem to lose the finer nuances when you read them, opposed to hearing them, so I guess anecdote is what you guys are going to get.
I mentioned in a previous post that I got to meet my favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, at a sci-fi convention this summer ( http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/07/diana-gabaldon-and-time-displacement.html ).
What I didn't mention, was my reaction when I saw her! Um, I came across as the crazy fan from hell. I ran up to her, and said,
"I'm here! I told you on your blog I'd be here, and here I am!" To which she smiled that tolerant, oh dear God it's a stalker, get me out of here, smile. My friend Lisa was mortified. I just chalked it up to me and my big mouth and shrugged it off.
Now moving on to my next "I don't care what you think about me" story. This just happened today. I pulled up to get gas at the local station. As I got out, a motorcycle police officer pulls up at the pump next to me. I instantly see this as a research opportunity, since the hero in my paranormal romance is a police officer. Here's how that went:
"Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?" I said, while peeking around the gas pump.
The man looked up suspiciously, and answered warily, "Sure".
"How long would it take an officer to become a Lieutenant?"
He just looked at me, so I went on, "I'm writing a book, and I made my main character a Lieutenant, but I'm worried he's too young for it to be believable."
"Oh, okay." He responded, like he was asked questions like that every day.
"About fifteen years, depending on whether there is an opening."
Well, that doesn't work for my book...."What if it's a small town? Is it the same?"
"Oh, that's a whole different story. It could take a whole lot less time, if officers move or retire, could be as little as eight years."
"Cool! Thanks, that's perfect. Small town it is!"
So there you have it, not only do I have a thick skin, I'm not afraid to look like an idiot. In fact, I think I look like an idiot on a regular basis! It's how I roll.....
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?
Do I need angst to produce good work?
That seems a bit subjective to me, since most writers would like to think that every time they pen something that it will be considered good at the very least. I will say that had it not been for angst, I would not have started writing again (it was a very hard time in my life). Now whether what I wrote was good...let's just say it was, um, a start.
This question came at such an interesting time for me. October is my favorite month of the year. I get so excited, and by the end of the month, I was riding high http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/10/happy-halloween.html . So many good things happened last week, that it was inevitable that once November started, it would be a supreme let down.
Enter my fall state of depression. So many people say that fall is their favorite time of the year. In Oklahoma fall comes late. The leaves are just now turning. November marks the beginning of a melancholy period for me. I wouldn't say that I journey into a downward spiral of depression that requires medication, I just tend to become far more subdued than normal.
That being said, it is about as close as I come to having a serious case of angst. And NO! I don't write anything well while in a mood that tends to lean towards gloomy. I get complacent, I have to use my energy to function at a normal level. It's as if some of my spirit drains along with the green in the leaves and the grass. I hardly feel creative.What emotions drive you as a writer?
Hmmmm, this is a head scratcher for me. I never thought of any emotion driving me. The creative juices start flowing so fast I had to have an outlet. I controlled the emotion that I was pouring into my work by my song selections. As so many before me in the chain have admitted, listening to certain music often sets the tone of the written work. Whether it aids in the mood or makes those emotions stronger using auditory stimulation is anybody's guess. That is only one tool that a writer can use.
Drawing on a past experience, or an emotional scene from a movie, even feelings evoked from a favorite book, are all things that a creative mind can draw on. I do try and feel the same emotions that a character is feeling. It makes it easier to share that with a reader if you are putting yourself in the character's own mood.
This question has been my favorite so far. It came at such a great time. To be able to reflect on the swing of emotions that we all feel from time to time has been an eye-opener. It also forced me to write, which I haven't done at all this week.
Even though October is over, I still have ghost stories that I could share, and I will try and round up a few for my next post. Until then, you should really go to the beginning of this chain and follow it. The members of the blog chain are all far more talented at conveying their thoughts on this subject, and I must say that it really sucks to have to follow them!
The chain started with Archy http://archetypewriting.blogspot.com/ , Elana was before me in the chain http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/ , and Leah follows my post http://leahclifford.livejournal.com/ .
Friday, October 31, 2008
It's finally arrived! The kids all have their costumes, candy has been purchased to hand out, and I have some exciting news to share before I head out for the evening.
First, I received an email today that my story came in first place for Kat Harris' ghost story contest. You can go here: http://ndnforum.com/blogs//index.php/2008/10/31/a-load-of-bull?blog=5#more700 to check it out. Very unexpected in a GOOD way!
My second bit of news is even MORE exciting, for me at least. I hadn't said anything, for fear of jinxing my chances, but I can't keep this to myself, at least today, of all days.
A while back, I submitted an application to join a local paranormal research group. It was a three page application, BTW. I don't think I've ever filled one out that was so detailed for a job, much less a volunteer position. They receive hundreds of applications, so my chances were slim at best. Then the email came...they wanted to interview me!
On Wednesday night, I donned my make-up (this is only done for VERY special occasions), my daughter straightened my hair...who knew it was so long??? I put on my best "casual" attire and drove to the meeting place. I was to be interviewed by six of the members. Nothing like walking into an inquisition!
Of course I talked WAY too much, not sure if it was nerves or just my lack of control over my own mouth. I thought it went well, but they explained that I was the first interview, and they had a few others scheduled. The position they needed to fill was for an investigator/researcher and someone to write articles for their monthly newsletter on urban legends and local folklore. HELLOOOOOOO, I write, it's what I do!!!!
I left the almost two hour long interview and tried NOT to get excited. It did go well, but it would be Friday before they would be letting me know anything, and even if they liked me, I would not be a member until I had gone on a few investigations. They want to see how potential members click with the group as a whole, and probably want to make sure that you wouldn't run screaming at the first sign of anything paranormal. After that, potential members are on a 90 day probationary period.
Let me interject something here. You may be thinking that this seems a bit extreme. It's not. This group has been on a national TV program (Ghost Hunters), they are regularly featured on a local news station here, host their own paranormal convention every summer, and have requests from homeowners and businesses to do research and investigations by the bucket load. It's a BIG deal.
Wednesday night, after I had been back home for about an hour, the call came...EARLY. They liked me!!!!! I will be going on two investigations, one in November and one in December, and I will find out by the end of the year whether I have earned a permanent position.
Told ya it was COOL stuff! Hope you all have a great Halloween, and I'm sure you haven't heard the last of my ghost stories!
Friday, October 24, 2008
So many times, choices we make affect our lives. Often it has a negative impact, but other times, the far-reaching positive impact to our lives is phenomenal. I've had a few people that have come into my life that instigated changes that made me who and what I am today.
Joining a "New Age" type group after the beginning of my paranormal journey, which you can follow by starting here: http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/10/and-paranormal-journey-continues.html , I met some GREAT people, just like I have blogging. Marlene had the biggest impact. I love her dearly. If not for her, I would have never started writing again. Our lives have taken different turns and we don't talk often, but I think of her a lot.
Another member of the group was MJ. He lives in Missouri with his wife and kids, and he LOVES ghosts. So much so, that he was a member of a paranormal group here in Oklahoma. This group is pretty cool. They have one of the longest, if not the longest, on-going investigations in a single location. They have a lease on an old hospital that has been vacant for decades. Web cams are set up, along with streaming audio, that you can see and listen to 24/7 on-line here: http://www.researchwebcam.net/ .
On Saturday nights, they have walk through investigations with their team. You have to be a member, or be approved to come. MJ made the trip down one weekend about four years ago and surprised me by getting me an invite too!!!
The drive was about an hour long, and I made it right before dark. It was late in the summer, so the weather was gorgeous. The building is large, imposing and CREEPY! The location is kept secret to try and avoid more trespassers than they already have. The police are diligent about patrolling, and they do arrest and prosecute, so you guys keep that in mind if there are any buildings like this in your own area.
I won't bore you with the play by play, but the place was amazing! There were four of us, MJ, his brother-in-law, myself, and a member of the group who walked through after we arrived. It is mostly dark, they do have a few lights and the web cams set up, but other wise we used flashlights. It has a basement, and five floors. We used the stairwells and even got to go up to the roof. The most active area is the old administration area. Active seems like an understatement.
While in the two adjoining rooms off of the lobby, we had a three inch wood screw going flying over our heads and hit the wall in front of us TWICE! We had glass (there is glass littering the floor from all the past vandalism) thrown and hit the member with us in the calf so hard that it left a red welt. I was standing in one room, with my back to the door watching the three men. Something tapped my arm and I'll admit it, a squeal escaped my lips, as I jerked, a piece of glass fell from my sleeve. Unfortunately, MJ was recording, and he let EVERYBODY listen to that later!!!! So much for being a fearless ghost hunter.
Later, we were assaulted with the strong smell of flowers in a room on the second floor. We stood in the room, and you could feel COLD air swirl around us. Cold like a freezer cold, and it was in the temperature was in the high 80's . The guys had me leave the room and stand in the dark hall, but the smell left them and followed me, along with the cold. They then made me come back and stand in the room ALONE, in the dark, and same thing. IT WAS SO COOL!
I had the best time, and would love to go back one day. I do have other stories that I will share, so check back often this month!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
How many times have you read a second or third book in a series, only to become bored, or shake your head wondering why an author even bothered to write a series? This is SO not the case with the Tairen Soul series.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tommy’s birthday was great; he had to go on a treasure hunt to find his birthday present. We had a cook-out and invited a few friends. His birthday cookie and cupcakes were quite fitting, considering my theme this month. Speaking of the theme this month, I have one heck of a story for you today!
To follow from the beginning of my ghostly stories, go here: http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/10/and-paranormal-journey-continues.html .
By now, I’m sure you realize that yes we did bring something home from our stay at the haunted Crescent Hotel. I’ll also take this time to tell you that the stories you are getting this month are not even close to the whole story, just a sampling of what I think are the more interesting events that have taken place over the last six years.
Since I mentioned my son, Tommy, at the beginning of this post, those of you keeping up will know what an evil genius he is. Go here http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/10/ever-had-ghost-hitch-ride-with-you.html if you are unaware of what an arch-villain my son has the potential of becoming (Literal Dan’s son ain’t got nothin on Tommy, just compare: http://literaldan.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-son-arch-villain.html ).
But alas, Karma has a way of evening out the world. When Tommy started telling us that something was in his closet, we just laughed and shook our heads. We weren’t falling for his tricks again. This went on for weeks. You had to give it to the kid, he was tenacious. Bed time came with the whining and complaining, I made a production of closing his closet door each night. It was mirrored, the kind that slides open. He even went so far as to come and get me to show me how the door was mysteriously open on more than one occasion.
Tommy spent the night at a friend’s house one weekend. After putting the girls to bed, I went by his room and closed his closet door, just out of habit. I shut the door as I left. A bit later, I took some clean clothes to his room, cursing the fact that I had closed the door as I struggled not to drop them. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and found his closet door open! Okay, I admit I was more perplexed than scared. I told Kel, he came in; shut the closet door, and then the bedroom door, just as I had. About an hour later, he went back and guess what he found? The door open again! To this day, we can’t explain that closet door, but we did start leaving it open at night, so it wouldn’t open by itself and scare Tommy.
Okay, here’s the story that may get me in trouble with my husband. Monkey Toe Momma ( http://mommahasmonkeytoes.blogspot.com/ ), DON’T READ THIS WHEN YOU ARE ALONE!
By now, we were fully aware that our house had issues. I was okay with this. In fact, I had embraced the paranormal. I had made several trips to a few cemeteries, armed with tape recorders and digital cameras (not that I really needed to go anywhere to find ghosts).
One night, shortly after going to bed, I started seeing weird shadows on my ceiling. Sitting up in bed, I looked down the hall through our open bedroom door, to check for any kids who could be causing them (I learned not immediately to blame paranormal happenings on ghosts when you have so many kids running around). No sign of them, so I laid back down. Watching the ceiling, the shapes seemed to form across the room above a window, moving up to the ceiling.
“Do you see that?” I whispered to Kel.
Lifting his head, he grunted “See what?”
The shadows were gone.
“I saw a shadow over in the corner.”
He laid his head back down and I continued watching. A few minutes later, there above my window, a dark shadow formed, working it’s way up to the ceiling.
“Right there, look!” I whispered again.
Up goes Kel’s head off of the pillow and the shadow disappears again!
“There’s nothing there Terri, go to sleep.”
By now, I am getting pissed. I know what I saw, and whatever this damn thing is, I’m not imagining it.
“Prop your pillow up, and when I poke your leg, just open your eyes and look, okay?” I whisper again.
“Fine, but then I want you to leave me alone so I can get some sleep.”
The room goes quiet. I wait impatiently for our night-time visitor to reappear. I didn’t have long to wait. As soon as I saw the black shadow taking form, I poked Kel. No response. I poked him again, as I watched this thing form into a thick black mass. It snaked up the wall, and then onto the ceiling. You could clearly make out the form of a head, followed by shoulders. As it slid across the ceiling towards us, I frantically poked Kel’s leg and whispered, “Do you see that?”
“What the hell is that?” He didn’t wait for a response from me. That thing was sliding closer to us. It was now over the foot of our bed, on his side, and gaining ground. Soon it would be directly over Kel!
“LEAVE!” Kel yelled, raising his arm and pointing his finger at the dark entity.
I will never forget the sound of his voice, nor the aftermath. The shadow slid backwards. It followed the length of the wall across from us, turning the corner, going toward the door. When it reached the door, it went down, and slithered under the top of the door frame, hugging the wall the whole time, then was gone.
“What the hell was that?” Kel repeated his earlier question.
“I don’t know, but I’m glad you saw it too.”
Then I got the giggles. Kel was not amused.
“I don’t think that’s funny.”
“You thought I was crazy, didn’t you?” I said between laughs. I was just relieved that he had seen what I was seeing, and knew that I was not imagining it.
I rolled over as soon as I could control the laughter.
“What are you doing?” Kel asked.
“I’m going to sleep.”
“You’re what? How can you sleep after seeing that? What if it comes back?” Kel sounded a bit alarmed.
Needless to say, Kel spent another sleepless night standing guard against the paranormal beings that had taken up residence in our home. I think I was deep in slumber within a few minutes. I will admit, that was the only time I’ve ever seen anything like that. Kel will admit that he hopes to never see it again.
Last time I told you not to bother leaving the light on….maybe I was wrong about that.
Until next time (oh yes, there are still more stories to tell), you guys have a great weekend!
Friday, October 10, 2008
If you have been following my October ghost stories, then you’ll know that my son, whose thirteenth birthday is today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOMMY!!!), pulled one over on my husband and myself, making us think that we had brought home a ghost from the Crescent Hotel ( http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2008/10/ever-had-ghost-hitch-ride-with-you.html ). That’s where I left off, so I will continue from there.
Things calmed down (my nerves) once Tommy had taken credit for frightening (yes one-eyed Dan, I’ve seen Frighteners, cute movie) us into acting as though our house contained the portal to hell. Speaking of portals, did you know that if a ghost follows you, let’s say, to your house, he/she opens a “portal” or lights a path for others to follow? Just a tid bit for later down the road.
Although I was no longer alarmed, I was curious (okay, obsessed) about what had happened to me when I went to the Crescent Hotel (keep up people, that’s been explained here:
I started my research, which is helpful as a writer, but when you just obsess about a place, or ghosts, or the history of a hotel, friends and family start to shake their heads and roll their eyes when it’s the only topic that you seem capable of discussing. I’m sure I was rambling on about some obscure fact that I had found one night, and my husband just kept looking above the entertainment center. There’s NOTHING there, and it was so obvious, that it started to annoy me (I thought he was either rolling his eyes, or tuning me out). Here’s about how that conversation went:
“Ahem. Hello? What the heck do you keep looking at?”
“Well, you keep looking at nothing a lot.”
“I don’t want to talk about it, let’s go to bed. Now.”
I’m not gonna argue about going to bed, quite the contrary. It was HOW he said it, constantly looking eight or nine feet up the wall. It was creepy. He stood up, and actually took my arm to steer me out of the living room.
“Whoa! What’s going on? Why are you in such a hurry to get out of here?”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it, and I mean it.”
Can you say warning bells going off?
What the heck?
So I did what I do best. I pestered him. All the way to the bedroom, and then once we got in bed. I never let up. I finally got my answer, but was unprepared for it.
“ALRIGHT! I saw a man staring at me. It was like half his face was coming through the wall? Happy? Now I don’t want to talk about it.”
I think that was one of the few times that he shut me up. I didn’t know what to think. Like any sane person, I wondered if he was just yankin my chain. Maybe he was tired of hearing about this theory or that theory. Off to sleep I went, deciding to gauge his demeanor in the morning.
With the dawn, came the realization that not only had he not slept, but he was a nervous wreck. Whatever he had seen really rattled his cage. I, on the other hand, was checking the walls, high and low, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything. Of course, I didn’t see a thing. Just my luck.
Fast forward a week or so. I was sleeping soundly, when he shakes me awake, whispering in a desperate voice, “We have a visitor.”
“What the hell. Who’s here? It’s not even five yet.”
“A VISITOR!” He whispered more urgently, raising his eyebrows up and down.
Still in a bit of a stupor, it finally hit me! A GHOST!!!!
I stared across the dining room to where the computer sat in a corner, looking for any sign of a ghost. A mist, a blurry figure, just anything (cause you know, by now I had studied up on this stuff). NOTHING! I was so disappointed. That is until I stepped into the dining room and ran right smack into the coldest pocket of air I’d ever felt in my house, right under the vent that was blowing HOT air.
If anyone had walked in and seen us, they would have hauled us off in straight jackets. Here we were, in our PJ’s, walking around the dining room with our hands out in front of us, like we were playing some drunken game of Marco Polo. That cold spot moved around for a few minutes, and then was gone. It was great!
I finally went back to bed (I like my sleep, and even ghosts won’t keep me from it for long….you’ll see an even better example in posts to come). The next week or so was again, uneventful….UNTIL my son had a friend over. We’ll call his friend “D”.
Tommy and D were sitting at the bar on the dining room side. I was standing on the other side of the bar in the kitchen. They were to my right. In front of me on the bar was a plastic cup, half full of water. As I stood there talking to them, this cup slides to my left a few feet, then off of the bar, and slams into the wall across from the bar (about three feet) and hits the floor, water going everywhere.
I remember looking at the cup, then the bar, and then the boys. Their eyes were the size of saucers!
“Was a cat up here?”
The boys both just shook their heads “no” in unison.
“Hmmm, that was strange.”
All I could come up with. What the heck do you say when that happens? I shrugged and walked off. This was six years ago, and every time I see D he brings up the cup flying off that bar!
I’d like to say that my story ends there, but alas, this was just the beginning.
I’ll share with you the story about the dark shadow and the closet ghost next!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
It's that time again, time for the blog chain to commence! This group of writers is fantastic! You will find most have messy desks (which makes me feel so much better about my own), and they have some quirks that I share, and some that I just shake my head at! Here's the question this time:
What kind of quirky habits or rituals do you have regarding your writing? (or regarding anything else, if that is more fun.)
After following this chain from Mary http://marylindsey.wordpress.com/ , who started it (BAAAAAA BAAAAAAAAA), all the way to the last one to post, Elana http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/ (the only one WITHOUT even a desk to mess up), I have to say that YES, I have a messy messy desk, but no sheep like Mary. The only real quirk I have while writing is that I MUST be listening to music. Each major scene in The Crichton heir has a song that I played over and over while writing it. I called it “my mood music”.
I also have ADD (I dropped the “H” years ago, with so many kids, I don’t have the energy to be hyper too). The way my brain works is CRAZY. I start one thing, then another, then another, often forgetting what I was doing to begin with. I have to make lists if I have a lot to do, and I have to stick to them. The only way that this helps when I am writing, is that if you know anything about ADD, then you know that another "quirk" is hyper-focusing. YES, I will hyper-focus until my eyes feel like they will pop out of my head. Whether it’s research (I will spend HOURS and HOURS researching one thing.) or reading a book, or even writing. When you get in the “zone” everything else disappears.
Now, in keeping with my October theme, this post wouldn’t be complete with out a little ghostly tid-bit. Here’s where I start to get REAL quirky (my daughter just calls it WEIRD). Ghosts don’t scare me. Oh, they used to, as you can see from my previous stories. However, once you realize that fear comes from the unknown, and you spend hours and hours researching paranormal topics, not only on the web, but interviewing people, and even speaking to psychics (yes, I believe in them too, but not all…another post would require my thoughts on the charlatans that defraud grieving people), you realize that REAL people pose a far greater threat than the dead ones.
My beliefs would be considered quirky I suppose. I KNOW that ghosts exist, without a single solitary doubt. I’ve seen too much, heard too much, and felt too much to ever doubt the existence of them. Now here’s where things get subjective. I believe that ghosts are individuals who have died, but have not “crossed over”. They are stuck between this plane of existence that we live in, and the next, the one that our spirit moves on to (most people would call it heaven).
There are many things that keep a person “stuck”. Some die suddenly and often tragically. They are not even aware that they are dead, and become trapped. Others know they are dead, but led such a “sin-filled” life, that they are afraid to cross over, afraid of what may await them. Then you have the ones who just loved life so much, that they refuse to move on, clinging to a world they are no longer a part of.
Whatever caused the ghost to remain trapped, there are times when they can and do interact with the living. Oh, and they CAN travel. That I do know for a FACT, which I will go into a bit in my next post. I have even HEARD them speaking. NO, the voices in my head are my characters, I actually heard one on a tape recorder that was VERY loud, and VERY clear, and kind of attitudal, if you ask me. Again, that story will be coming up this month too.
Ghosts can be found in many places. Of course, there are cemeteries, you can pretty much bet that somebody is hangin around there (I have a really good picture of a guy that was doing just that….he was dead of course, and we didn’t SEE him when we took the picture, he just ended up in it), then you have hospitals. Now, I can tell you that OLD hospitals can be an interesting place to visit. I was invited on an investigation that I will post about later that was in an old abandoned county hospital, and let me just say that it’s hard to duck and dodge things that someone throws when you can’t see the person throwing them! Ghosts can also be found where they died (like a hospital), could be a house, a street where an accident took place, pretty much anywhere, but they do have the ability to “hitch a ride” so to speak. So you just never really know if you have a ghost looking over your shoulder while you grocery shop, or watch a movie, or even typing at your computer.
I will continue with my own personal experiences soon, but be sure to check out the next to post in the blog chain, Leah http://leahclifford.livejournal.com/ .
Monday, October 6, 2008
I left off on our drive AWAY from the Crescent Hotel, which BTW, was featured on Ghost Hunters, the show on Sci-Fi (not our drive…the Crescent Hotel). Actually, so was Carroll Heath, our tour guide, but this was three or four years AFTER my experience there.
We drove back to the cabin we were staying in, which was so nice! They were new, sat on the edge of a mountainside and overlooked a beautiful lake. I felt fine, even after scarfing the McDonalds we had stopped for. It was our last night there, and I wanted to stay up late and see if the raccoons we had been told about would come to the back door to snack on the assortment of goodies that we had left for them. Hubby went to bed, while I read in the living room. It had one of those dimmer switch lights, which I had turned down low, so as not to disturb Kel.
Suddenly the lights went out! I rolled my eyes and got up, turning the dial a bit higher, cursing dimmer switches. About two minutes later, out they go again. Gritting my teeth, I felt my way back to the switch, and turned the darn thing ALL the way up. I sat back down, and picked up my book, but before I could read a full sentence….you guessed it, out go the lights. Third time’s the charm for me; I just left the stupid thing off, put my book down, and awaited the raccoons.
Now, after reading my previous story, you may be smacking yourself on the head, wondering why I didn’t run screaming out the door. I seriously thought it was a malfunctioning light. I am NOT an alarmist, and although I do have an imagination to rival most, I only use it when I write. That, and I so wanted to see the darn raccoons!
I wasn’t disappointed, two HUGE raccoons showed up, sitting on their hind quarters, clutching pieces of bread in their tiny hands and eating their midnight buffet. I got Kel out of bed to watch them, and I was surprised how BIG they were…I think they were extremely well fed by the guests.
The night ended with no more odd occurrences, at least none that I noticed. We both got up the next morning, dreading the long drive back to Oklahoma. While I finished packing in the bedroom, Kel was loading up the truck outside. I was busy, and didn’t even realize that I could hear the fan running from the bathroom vent, until it suddenly clicked off. I remember standing at the end of the bed and looking towards the bathroom thinking Kel must have somehow snuck by me. I called out to him. No answer. I turned and went out of the room, through the living room, and out the door. Sure enough, there was Kel, loading the truck.
“Did you leave the fan on in the bathroom?” I yelled to him.
“Yeah, sorry, I forgot to turn it off.”
“Was it on a timer or something? It just clicked off.” I replied, shifting my weight from one foot to another, not wanting to go back in alone.
Seeing my discomfort, Kel left the truck and came over. I followed behind him back into the cabin. He went straight into the bathroom. The switch was off. There was no timer.
“Are you sure you didn’t turn it off?” He asked me, after fiddling with the switch a few times.
“Of course I didn’t! I told you that I was in the bedroom packing when I heard the switch click and the fan stop.”
He just shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and continued to get ready to leave. I shadowed his EVERY move! I was NOT going to be left alone in that cabin by myself again. Yes, now I became a chicken, a big one, I think I clucked a few times for good measure.
I breathed a sigh of relief once we got on the road. I even relaxed a bit, which was hard to do driving through the mountainous Ozark region. I am scared of heights, and some of the drop-offs next to the highway were pretty steep. I tried to ignore the beautiful scenery and read some more, at least until Kel just about ran off the road!
“What the hell?!” Kel said, while straining his head to look behind him into the backseat of his truck.
It was my turn to look at him as if he had lost his mind.
“I just saw a man sitting in the back seat, Terri. I swear I did, but there's no one there.”
Mmmhmmmm. Some vacation! We were both coming back not only paranoid, but now Kel was seeing things. Bad sign. No more vacations for us for a while.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we were both happy to be home, and glad to see the kids (we already had his, mine, and ours BEFORE we were legally married). By the time we dropped into the bed, it was late that night, the kids were all asleep, and we were exhausted. We always left the light on in the bathroom, so that it illuminated the hallway. It wasn’t as bright as the hall light, and the kids often got up in the night.
I was almost asleep, when the house was engulfed in darkness. I could feel Kel jump out of bed.
“It was probably one of the kids just going to the bathroom hon.” I said, from the comfort and security of my side of the bed.
“I’ll just check on them.” So off he trots down the hall, first turning on the bathroom light. I watch from my bed. Our room was at the end of the hall, which gave me a full view of the nightly bed check; first the girl’s room, then my son’s.
Finding them all snug in their beds and asleep, he then proceeded to examine the light switch in OUR bathroom. At this point, I get up. The longer I watch him trying to turn the switch half on to see if it could be done, the more nervous we both get. We start to discuss the lights from the cabin, then the exhaust fan, and then of course the man in the backseat that wasn’t there came up. Within a few minutes, we had convinced ourselves that we were screwed with a capital “G” as in ghost, boogey man, poltergeist, and any other word that may or may not contain a “G”.
I was so upset that I actually called the ghost tour place and left a frantic message on their recorder, claiming to have “brought something home with us” and “not knowing what to do about it”.
Needless to say, we slept little that night. By dawn, I was overjoyed at the sight of the glorious sun. The light swept away the fear that had gripped us both, not only fears of the unknown, but fear for our children. Hey, who hasn’t seen Poltergeist, or Amityville Horror?
That afternoon following snack-time, the pantry light was left on. Any parents with small children know what a battle it is to get them to turn off lights after they have turned them on. Kel lined them up and asked them who had left the light on. Being in total “parent mode”, we looked at my son with confusion when he started laughing. Had he lost his mind? What the heck?
“Did you turn on the pantry light, Tommy?”
“No, I turned OFF the light.” He responded between giggles.
“What light?” I eyed him suspiciously.
“The bathroom light; last night.” He said between laughs. Like that was going to make up for NOT turning….WAIT! Did he just say last night???????????
Okay, I’ll admit it, I wanted to KILL him right then. That little turd turned off the bathroom light the night before. Our “ghost” was an eight year old boy, not only that, but he KNEW! He had heard all of it! He was worse than a ghost, he was EVIL I say!
Talk about feeling STUPID! Yeah, we did.
You might think that my story would end there. If only it had…
Until next time, keep the lights on and avoid ghost hang-outs, you might have uninvited house guests…I did.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
It was Saturday, October 4, 2002. The weather was beautiful, much like it is today. Kel and I decided to arrive at the hotel early, so we could get our ticket to the ghost tour and have time to look around. At this point, I didn’t know much about the history, but boy was that going to change!
Here’s where it gets REAL interesting. Around 1937, the hotel was bought by Norman Baker, formerly of Muscatine, Iowa. Baker opened the Baker Cancer Cure Hospital. He sent out flyers in the mail (I actually have an original…Ebay is so cool), advertising his 100% cure rate for cancer. Having guaranteed his cure, when patients started dropping like flies, he couldn’t very well cart them out in broad daylight, now could he? OF COURSE NOT!
Now, this is but a small bit of info on Baker, but believe me when I tell you I have books on the man and mountains of research. He was interesting to say the least. From his days in vaudeville, to inventing a compressed air organ, the Tangley Calliope, to owning his own radio station, he was an entrepreneur, but one with a God-complex.
Okay, I digress, not all of that came from the ghost tour, in fact, very little. As we sat in the hall, our tour guide, Mr. Carroll Heath, regaled us with stories of the many reports of hauntings over the last few decades. The playful spirit of Michael, a brick layer who fell to his death while building the Crescent, to a little old lady that likes to move your suitcases against the door in the middle of the night, the Crescent seemed to have any number of Victorian aged gentlemen and ladies, along with Baker’s unfortunate patients.
While sitting and listening to these stories, I was engrossed. I never took my eyes off of our guide. The heat in the hallway seemed to become overwhelming, and I found myself using a pamphlet to fan my face, which felt flushed and on fire. I started feeling a bit lightheaded when we stood to take the actual tour of the hotel, beginning in the basement where the autopsies were done. I went to our guide and asked where the closest restroom was, simply to splash water on my face. He directed me to the fourth floor. I told him that I would catch up, but he insisted on waiting with the group right there on the third floor.
Here’s where things get a bit blurry. I made it up to the restroom, which was thankfully right off of the stairwell. I splashed water on my face. I do remember that, but not much else. Time seemed to stand still. I would have sworn I was only in there for a few minutes…Kel said it was closer to TWENTY! I climbed down the stairs, clutching the rail for dear life. When I made it down to the group, we proceeded to the lobby area. I told Kel that I needed to leave. He agreed, since he had developed a stomach ache. He went to go find a restroom, and I located the tour guide (No, we actually hadn’t eaten anything yet, so it wasn’t something we ate, and I didn’t have an upset stomach…yet).
Mr. Heath was by the stairs, and as I approached him, he said “You can’t stay.” I was a bit taken aback. “No, I was just going to tell you that my husband and I were leaving.”
He placed his hand on my arm. “You are too sensitive. Go.”
Okay, on my weirdness scale, that was off the charts. Too sensitive? WTF did that mean? So thinking about that, I went to sit in the lobby. When I reached the fireplace, I was overwhelmed by dizziness again, and practically rushed outside, knowing I was either going to pass out on the way, or before I reached the bottom of the steps leading to the parking lot. I have never in my life passed out, and I didn’t care for this feeling. I sat on the bottom step, with my head resting on my knees, hoping that Kel would find me there.
Here’s where things got really messed up. I remember him coming out and I felt like I needed to RUN to the truck. I had tunnel vision, another new concept for me. I felt like I was dragging him to the truck, I couldn’t get away from that place fast enough. Only problem is, that’s NOT what happened.
Next thing you know, I am bailing out of the truck, and violently vomiting (Kel’s description). He came around, really not knowing what to do. I sat on the floor of the front seat, refusing to get all the way back into the truck. I do remember most of this, although I have holes in the actual order of events that Kel has had to fill in. He finally got me back into the truck.
I tried to get Kel to write out his version, because he is such a great story teller. He told me that I was the writer, so I should tell it. I have had to go ask him for verification several times. Now here’s his wording about the rest.
I looked zoned out – looking straight ahead like I was hypnotized. He backed the truck out and asked if I was alright. “I’m burning up.” I replied, which shocked him, since the temperature had dropped into the 50’s. About ten seconds later, my teeth are chattering and I say, “I’m freezing”. I was still staring straight ahead and hadn’t looked at him, which he said scared the hell out of him. He turned to me as we were in front of the hotel and said “Terri”. No response. He raised his voice and once again said “Terri!” This time I turned and looked at him. He said it looked like I had swallowed a light bulb and it was stuck in my throat. An eerie pale white glow came from the inside making me look like you would imagine a ghost would - glowing. He said it was freaky. He is the logical type, and he was completely baffled as to what could cause that and it alarmed him to say the least.
“Just go. We must leave.” Was all I said in response.
After turning onto a residential street away from the Crescent Hotel, I said “Honey, I’m hungry, let’s get something to eat.” Like nothing had happened. He said it was freakin weird. That was the first sign that he had seen that I was “myself” since the ghost tour had started.
We drove through McDonald’s, went back to the cabin, ate, and I never felt ill, or abnormal again. I would like to say that nothing else happened, but I’d be lying. That I will save for the next post!
Friday, October 3, 2008
As so many out there, I was always interested in ghost stories, witchcraft, etc while a teen. I read every Stephen King book I could get my hands on in Jr. High. The school library actually had quite a few books on the history of witches/witchcraft…I read those too. My mom kept telling me that those books were going to “warp my brain”. Hmmmm, maybe they did! Either way, I thought that stuff was cool, but I was safely on the sidelines. I didn’t have any ghosts in my house, or anybody else’s that I knew, and no coven of witches hanging out in MY neighborhood. Then I grew up and moved past any interest that I had in all that “hocus pocus” stuff.
Fast forward to 2002. I’m planning a trip to Eureka Springs to get married to my second (and current husband). He had picked this beautiful cabin in the Ozark Mountains to stay in. While researching the area, I ran across the Crescent Hotel. I guess you could say that my journey would start there, although I wasn’t aware of that at the time.
The Crescent Hotel reminded me of a smaller, scarier version of the Stanley Hotel (from the Shining). It was built in 1886 and has a history that is unparallel by any hotel as far as a gruesome past. They also offered a GHOST TOUR!!!! How exciting is that? I was so there. I made Kel (hubby) PROMISE that we would take the ghost tour.
Our trip was actually six years ago to the day! Today is my anniversary. I didn’t even realize that I was telling this story on the exact date until I had almost finished! I did however; remember it was my anniversary…unlike SOME people who shall remain nameless (KEL). That’s another story though, and actually very amusing.
I will post tomorrow about that fateful tour (I just heard the Gilligan’s Island theme song start in my head) and the consequences, because, yes, there were LONG reaching consequences for making the decision to place ourselves in a situation that we had no idea could spiral so far out of control.
See ya then!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Elana Johnson posted before me, here's her link:
The question this time is:
How do you as an author choose or create your story-world and give that setting authenticity?
Now, when this chain started, I thought, "Cool! this will be easy."
Uh, not so much now. After following all of the wonderful writers that are members of the "chain gang" (listed to the left on my blog), I realize it's true....YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE SMARTER AND BETTER THAN YOURSELF.
Boy have I done that, and now the pressure is on. These writers are all further along than I am (good for me, huh?), in both the writing process, and the understanding of how that process works. Okay, I suppose I should quit procrastinating and answer the dang question, so here goes.
I didn't choose Scotland. I simply SAW a location that my character stood in. I saw the surroundings, the green sloping hills, the steep cliffs that led to a sea inlet. Waves capped in white foam crashing against the rocks. The constant wind blowing inland. And of course the castle to her left. I saw how it seemed to balance on the edge of those cliffs, looking rugged and weathered. The one tower rose above the structure, a winding staircase visible through the dilapidated walls. I knew this had been the home of Margaret, although it was merely ruins now. The crescent shaped cove that it over-looked became the name for her home, Crescent Cove.
Then started the research. I looked and looked at castles. All over Europe. I found some of the most beautiful, fairy tale castles in Germany and Austria, but that was not what she had showed me. I searched Ireland, knowing it had been on the coast. I looked at castles in England, and still no luck. Then I moved to Scotland. I found a few that were close, but just not right.This went on for weeks. Then I found it...Girnigoe Castle.
Now, if I had had any doubts, which I really didn't, as to whether this had been the home of Margaret Sinclair, my "fictional" character, those doubts would have been thrown from the high cliffs onto the sharp jagged rocks below as soon as I found the history on the castle.
The castle was built by a Sinclair, and had remained a Sinclair holding, even to this day. Since Margaret was a Sinclair, I knew I had found my location.
In the last three years, I have bought and read any books, fiction or other-wise, that I could on Scotland. I have fallen in love with the land and people there. Their history is a troubled one, but yet they remain a proud people. The Scots even helped form a lot of traditions here in the states, some good, some not so good.
Now, as far as my book, I couldn't make my time period work if I had used Girnigoe Castle, seeing as how it was destroyed BEFORE the 1700's. I know, I know, creative license and all...but when writing historical romance, you can only use that license every so often, and it better not be too far off the truth. Therefore, Crescent Cove was born (but it's really Girnigoe Castle).
I will also admit that I am forever learning Scottish terms (see my post about Scottish curse words), and descriptions of the locale. My goal is to one day visit Scotland, so that I can do research on a whole new level. There is a lighthouse about a mile from Girnigoe that houses a Sinclair genealogy museum...how cool would that be????
I suppose that I have rambled on enough for now. Leah Clifford is next, you can find her blog here: