Haunted Story Time!!: Haunted Hotel Showcase Entry “Nature’s Call”

Would you dare to stay at the Thornewood, a seven story, 666 room hotel from the 1800s? Well, if you ask the protagonists of the stories and illustrations submitted for my friend Jolene Haley’s Haunted Hotel Showcase, the answers are numerous and vary by circumstance.

Today, my entry for this showcase: “Nature’s Call” has been posted and I wanted to share the story with all of you!! Here’s an excerpt:


She couldn’t contain the desire within her anymore like an animal wanting to break free, and that was when she found him. Sophie Roberts traveled to the Thornewood that day of her own accord, ignoring the stares and whispers following her out of town. She knew the stories, heard of them from the gossips in surrounding towns on her walks for water and supplies. The dead and unnatural not only lived in the infamous hotel in the middle of the New England countryside, but also controlled it. The beings were always driving out or imprisoning its living tenants in a war of violence and seduction that shook everyone to their very cores.

They said the 666 rooms were the cause of the chaos; the seven stories didn’t alleviate the evil within. Minor case studies of flying chairs escalated to vampires and werewolves raping the women and wives that occupied their spaces, the legends of mummies dragging witnesses of murder to their graves to bury their secrets and even a case of a dancer transforming to dying flesh and bones after teaching children how to do the waltz. She was always seen bribing the parents beforehand so they could be alone for a few hours and to keep them from knowing the truth.

If only the living stopped building rooms at 600, or less…

To read the rest of the story, click here!!

Thank you Jolene for another awesome showcase and it’s so great to see these starting up again!! Jolene, along with Kristen Jett from writing website Pen and Muse, helped put together other various writing showcases in the past including 12 Days of Christmas, Spring Fling and other horror themed showcases like Dark Carnival and Haunted House. If you would like to check out the other stories and illustrations from this showcase, you can check out the participant list here or Jolene’s website to scroll through for the stories that have no direct link on the participant list just yet.

Have a Happy Halloween!!


Scenic Fall Drives: A Writer’s Break and Playground

View of North Adams from Mt. Greylock (most of the leaves changed by now)

Growing up in New England all of my life, one of my favorite delights when fall comes around with the changing leaves. The world transforms from hot, sticky and cramped inside with the air conditioning to cool or mild, colorful and even magical as if you were living in a colorful painting.

Yesterday, my parents and I took a scenic drive for leaf peeping. Even though I was tired because of staying up too late (I blame college and the transition from finishing school to job hunting), I needed the breather. It was fun to get out of the house for a change and just take a drive unplugged, disconnected and listen to my own music on a CD player (or, in my parents’ case, sports radio revolving around the Patriots). Even the best writers need a day, or at least a couple of hours, away from the computer screen and the onslaught of writing articles, emails and so on.

Quilt-like patches of fall colors in the Berkshires

We went up as far as Brattleboro, VT before we turned back. A few times we pulled over so my Dad and I could take pictures with our cameras (that’s right, no cell phones. We’re old fashioned that way). Even though I do take photos on my phone now, especially when I was in college, I still use my Nikon Coolpix L20 camera.

At one point, I even opened my notebook to write down about this row of rocks I saw on the edge of some wooded area we drove by. I just found that different, and who knows, might be useful in a story down the road.

Nature is good for the soul. I remember at one point after lunch in North Adams, we stopped somewhere else in the Berkshires, and something interesting happened. The breeze picked up, and I felt lighter. Relaxed, calmer about things. There was even a moment when we were in Vermont, I had the window down slightly so a small breeze came in. I closed my eyes with the sun shining against my face. I felt peace.

No matter your job, period of life you’re in and so on, you have those moments where nature is the best medicine. Your playground to feel happier again and get away from the bustle of the city. That’s why I tell family and friends I could never handle living in New York City, where a lot of publishing jobs are found. The noise, congestion of traffic and so many people would be a difficult environment. For those who love that, more power to ya!

Myself outside Mt. Greylock Visitors Center

But, I need natural settings once in a while, especially when my life gets hectic. A scenic drive during Fall in New England was just the refreshing touch I needed. So take a break from that computer or phone screen. Go on a hike with a friend or small group. Go on a long drive knowing where you want to go, or just let adventure take over and see where you end up.

Is nature an option for taking a break? How does nature or long, scenic drives help you feel better or refreshed?


Speaking to Us: Advice, Critics and Wisdom for the Heart

“Put down the writing advice guides that don’t speak to you and hold tight to the ones that do. You don’t need to follow all the wisdom you encounter, only that which makes you feel wiser.” – Jordan Rosenfeld, A Writer’s Guide to Persistence

I felt inspired to write a post, today, after coming across this quote in A Writer’s Guide to Persistence.  The words literally jumped out at me after finishing this latest chapter, Chapter 12: Increase Your Craft. The quote wouldn’t leave me be!

When I started to take writing more seriously, I did a few things: started following publishers of the books I loved on Twitter, subscribing to many different writing websites for advice, looked at book after book that stood out to me for a clearer vision of my path and, of course, subscribed/followed writing magazines like Poets and Writers, Publishers Weekly and Writer’s Digest, to name a few. I also received emails about certain genres to keep up to date on what’s selling.

But I’m going to be honest here. Part discouragement with the job search and other things lately and part impatience and stuck, I have grown to dread the daily emails I get. Yes, I can always unsubscribe at anytime that’s what they tell you when you first give your name and email address. Some websites give out free ebooks which I have downloaded on to my flash drive.Yet, I never touched them. Maybe glimpsed them, but that was it.

Plus, you sometimes compare yourself to those writers who have a hot book right now.

I think back on my two earliest publications in college for some reason: a poem in my community college’s literary magazine and the sudden publication of a short story that was part of a writing showcase. I never thought my work would mean something, or that someone would recognize it enough that it deserved some kind of publication. Yet, that’s what ultimately happened. I still felt strong emotions though: undeserving, cocky.

Maybe it comes from my modesty in wanting others to have the same success as I do or the attempt at keeping arrogance and a big head from sprouting when these unexpected things happen to you. That feeling has come about with college papers, too. When I got my first C on a paper in a comparative literature class, I was visibly insulted. I started to feel entitled. I always did well with writing papers and usually got A’s or B’s; yet that C really shook my confidence, and ultimately, my attitude. Then there was the instance of a professor who thought my writing was “not useful,” when I signed up for a fiction writing course.

Creatively, the poem surprised me in the community college literary magazine, and that was my very first semester! Then, I felt arrogance creep in when it didn’t happen again. That feeling also returned during my final two years of college: never got published in that lit mag either. I NEVER forgot when I went to that meeting to help pick out entries when one of mine showed up and when the girl asked to continue reading, not many raised their hand. I also glimpsed the girl next to me check no for my entry, which disgusted me. Who was this person to judge my work?

I think all of us, artists or not, have this feeling come up now and again. At times, we can’t take some criticisms and sometimes one could get a big head when they see their work recognized. We also try to listen and follow all the different kinds of advice we get, and are hard on ourselves when it doesn’t feel exactly right. I think that’s what I’m wondering about now ever since I read chapter 12 of that writing book today.

I follow and subscribe to all of these things, but am I really getting something out of it? Is it really FOR ME, or just to make myself look good? “Hey look at me I follow all these things! I do take my writing seriously!”

Every once in a while, you need to take a moment to really think about what matters most. We will always have detractors, critics and so on who will never understand, or like, our works. We also will take advice from some outlets we follow, and dump the others that don’t apply to us.

We can’t do every single thing. That would, and does, overwhelm us. We can only do what we can, take from what we know in our hearts to be real and true. Advice doesn’t just apply to the writing guides we look at, but also to those who take the time to look at our work. That doesn’t mean we should take everything personally or to heart. It’s just one’s opinion. I know I have taken criticism personally at times, and with those instances in college, it was never a reflection on me. I just felt it was because no one saw what I did.

Maybe that was the point. Some don’t see it, but others do and get something out of a written piece. It should be an experience to grow wiser, as Rosenfeld points out in the quote I shared. Take what will make you stronger and humble, not weaker and cockier.

There are many voices in the world with many upon many stories to share. We just have to remember our own matters too.

Do you check out and follow many writing guides or magazines? Which ones have benefited you? Which ones have not? What do you do when ego appears once in a while and clouds your thinking?

The Second Instagram Adventure: Why Am I Doing This Again??

Main social media brands - Illustration
Main social media brands – Illustration including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube (Courtesy of freerangestock.com)

So as some of you know, social media and I have a love/hate kind of relationship. I don’t have Facebook and refuse to get one, and I only utilize Twitter. The others…I don’t even bother or care. That’s how much of an old-fashioned goofball I am. I really do wonder sometimes if I skipped some phase in life where you’re hooked on all these forms of social media…or maybe it’s just maturity and wisdom beyond my years.

So here I am, on a Friday afternoon as I wait for leaves to start changing, praying and sending thoughts to those in the path of Hurricane Matthew and tweaking my resume thanks to some encouragement from alums from a post I wrote on LinkedIn, getting instagram again. (I might save the idea of LinkedIn to help with career stuff for a later post so stay tuned for that!)

So, why did I get instagram again? Well, one of the new tools on instagram now is called Instagram stories. Like Snapchat, the photo or video disappears, but only after 24 hours, kind of like Periscope videos. I know I sound like a dummy here but that’s what comes to mind haha. I guess it’s easy to assume that most young people are tech savvy and have all these accounts. When, in reality, they don’t. Or, they did, but for a number of various reasons got rid of an account. I did check out instagram accounts around cats, though along with a few others…like David Archuleta’s.

It’s because of that 25 year old goofball that I got instagram again, thanks to an instagram story he shared today of him whistling. WHISTLING. Absolute silliness!!

I only saw screenshots on fansites, so I wanted to see the video for myself and voila here I am back on instagram again. The short video was adorable and made me face palm and shake my head, but that’s just how I am with stuff he does sometimes. Again, back to the idea of maturity when someone acts silly and you sometimes roll your eyes at said silliness. It’s all in good fun though!!

But, as they say, with age comes wisdom. Now being 23, perhaps instagram could be used as an opportunity to show nature photos that I take sometimes and maybe inspire people. For those who know me well, and have seen all the posts on this blog, I write A TON. On Twitter it comes out as numerous tweets and can be hard sometimes to break what you wish to say down to 140 characters.

But I think a positive can be found here.

During my final year at Smith, I participated in this photography workshop, run by a woman named Amanda Herman, for a few weeks in between the craziness of classes, work, friends and the like. One of our assignments was called an Instagram essay where we displayed a photo and told the story around it. I wish I could recall the person who was mentioned during that meeting that does things like this but his name has, sadly, slipped my mind. That’s what the chaos and stresses of life can do to you sometimes. You forget things. But I loved the experience and it really helped me to love myself better, especially after the self-portrait assignment where I kept fussing over getting the perfect picture. Whereas, I just focused on ME, and it came out beautifully.

Anyway, that is one positive thing, no begrudging either. I could probably also link to my blog from there, too, like I do through Twitter and LinkedIn. Will have to figure that out, though. But at least the link is on my profile haha.

So here we go again. The fight with the social media craze while trying to see opportunity and a way to utilize the platform without going overboard. Wish me luck, and thanks Archuleta for getting me back in there again XP.

How do you utilize instagram as a writer? What has changed for you since you first got an account? If you don’t have one anymore, why?

NOTE: I will add the instagram link to this blog when I am ready, might need a little time on that.