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Marked – My Thoughts

I haven’t done a “book review” in a while. I put that in quotes because I don’t consider it a review. I don’t really go through the good and the bad of books that much. I simply share some thoughts about books. I don’t consider myself a book reviewer, but if you are an author and have self-published some books, reach out to me because I am willing to help other Indie authors. I know how hard it can be to get reviews.

Alright, Marked is the first book in the Hous of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast. I started reading these in high school when a friend of mine let me borrow her copy. She was also the one that told me I should read it considering my other literary interests (Twilight).

Unfortunately, I only get to the third or fourth book when I couldn’t go any further. See, my friend had lent the books to another student as well, but that student had one of the books and then moved to Las Vegas taking the book with her. So, 10+ years later, I mentioned these books to my mom and she started giving them to me for Christmas. (I love my mom, for she enables my book addiction.)

*SPOILERS ARE BELOW*

The House of Night series gives a new take on the world of vampires. A young woman, Zoey Redbird, is marked with a crescent moon on her forehead, which immediately causes her to become an outcast amongst her family and friends. She has to get to the school, otherwise, she will die, but her step-father and mother want to pray the vampire away.

She escapes and goes to her grandmothers, and long story short winds up at the House of Nigh school with a gash in her head and her mark already colored in. This makes her stand out amongst her new classmates.

This entire book takes place over just a few days, the days leading up to Samhain. She easily makes friends with what would probably be considered the outcast group, but she also, sort of, forced into joining the dark daughters.

Of course, any good book has to have an antagonist, and that would be the leader of the dark daughters, Aphrodite, or as Zoey’s group of friends so lovingly call her, “Hag from Hell.”

The Zoey is determined to fix the problems within the school because Nyx has chosen her. She also wants to knock Aphrodite down a peg, which does accomplish, to an extent, by the end of the book. There are plenty of other problems that she will have to face, I’m sure, but she is off to a great start.

I’ve read a few reviews on this book, it has a four-star rating on Goodreads, but some of the most negative ones talk about the way the book is written. People seem to have a problem that the style of the book is very informal. There are “asides,” colloquialisms, and slang throughout the book. I suppose, for some, that might be a problem, but that’s part of the reason why I love the book so much.

I can’t speak for other authors, but I like writing because I can break the rules. I like to take liberties that some people may find as wrong, but there is nobody saying that you can’t. That’s what draws me into the writing of the Cast’s. It is very easy to get lost in their book, at least for me. The books are meant to be young adult, and I think that writing plays very well into that genre.

Anywho, I think you should give it a read. I will be doing one of these for each of the books. But FYI, the book I am currently reading is Psycho, so that will be the next “My Thoughts” post.

“You know how it is with cats: They don’t really have owners, they have staff.”
― P.C. Cast, Chosen

FYI:

Make sure you grab your copy of Loved by Death here. I am going to make it available, soon, on other sites as well.

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Alcatraz – California

Today we will travel to the West Coast all the way to California. We are going to visit Alcatraz.

Alcatraz is considered one of the most haunted places in America. Some of the most notorious criminals of all time served time in Alcatraz, including Al Capone, Arthur “Doc” Barker, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Alcatraz was created in order to break the most rebellious criminals. Back in 1933, the US decided they needed a max-security, minimum-privilege prison to house the worst of the worst criminal. If an inmate broke any of the rules, they would be sent off to what was known as the “strip cell.”

Before going into the empty cell, they were stripped of all of there clothes. The only thing inside was a hole for them to use as a bathroom. The empty metal cell stripped the criminals of any humility or hope that they have had. It’s no surprise that there are quite a few spirits that can’t move on from this place.

Cell 14D was the room that they were sent to for their punishments. Visitors to this room say that it feels cold as if more than one spirit is left in that room. It is believed that there was a man who died while being held in the room. The guards found him strangled to death on the floor. Rumor has it, that the night before he was found, he screamed that a yellow-eyed creature was trying to kill him. If you don’t find that scary, maybe you should give cell 14D a visit.

Visitors to Alcatraz often say that they hear crying and moaning when traveling through cell blocks A, B, and C. A psychic once said that they felt a malevolent spirit called Butcher in this area as well. Would you like to take a guess at what the prison records showed about a man named Butcher? In the 1940s, an inmate by the name of Butcher was assassinated.

If you visit the showers, it is said that you can hear banjo music. Al Capone spent his last years locked up in Alcatraz and strummed along with the prison’s banjo band. Because he was afraid that he would be killed if he played his banjo out in the open, he would practice it in the showers.

Alcatraz is sure to give you the creeps if you go for a visit, but don’t miss out on other haunted places in San Francisco. In fact, it is said that San Francisco is one of the most haunted cities in the US. If you are planning to visit any time soon, think about taking a ghost tour.

Boggy Creek Monster – Arkansas

This week we are going to take a trip to Arkansas. This ghost story doesn’t have to do with spirits or ghosts. Instead, it’s a creature.

The residence in Fouke, Arkansas have long been fascinated with the Boggy Creek Monster. Fouke is a small town about 150 miles from Little Rock. It is believed that the creature was first spotted in Fouke. According to different stories, the Boggy Creek Monster stands around seven to eight feet tall, walks on two legs, and weighs about 300 pounds. His body is covered in long, thick hair.

The first sighting was reported back in 1834. People started to report seeing a large, hairy man roaming around. The sightings if Fouke became more frequent in the 1900s. Residents saw it over 40 times during 1997. Most people believe the creature to be nocturnal, but one hunter said he saw it in daylight in the Sulfur River.

The Boggy Creek Monster has even been the subject of four films, at least. The first was The Legend of Boggy Creek in 1973. The movie focused on Bobby Ford’s encounter with the creature. This introduced millions to the creature.

The encounter that the film is based on originally occurred in 1971. Bobby and Elizabeth Ford said that the creature attacked their home on the night of May 1. Elizabeth said that the monster reached through their window, but Bobby and his brother, Dan, chased it away. The monster would return shortly after midnight and knocked Bobby to the ground. They took Bobby into Texarkana to St. Michael Hospital to be treated for large gashes over his back. He was in shock when he first arrived. While they could find blood a the Ford home, there were three-toed footprints close to the house, scratches on the porch, and the window and siding were damaged.

There are a lot of people who believe that all sightings of the Boggy Creek Monster are misidentified black bear sightings. While black bears aren’t bipedal, they do somethings rear up on their hind feet. Some can weight 400 pounds and stand around six feet tall.

If you plan on visiting Arkansas any time soon, make sure you keep an eye out for the Boggy Creek Monster. You don’t want to end up like Bobby Ford.

 

Writing Tool – Meditation

This week I am bringing you another writing tool. This isn’t something you have to buy, and it doesn’t require a lot of thinking. In fact, it requires no thinking. The less thinking the better!

Our writing tool this week is meditation. By now you should have heard about how amazing meditation is for your health. Indeed, it can reduce anxiety, stress, blood pressure, and it can increase productivity and improve relationships.

Today we are going to discuss how meditation can help you become a better and more authentic writer. Meditation helps the writer to connect with their true self, which ties back into my preaching on writing your truth.

Meditation creates a blank slate for your mind. It clears out blocks that have been keeping your words inside. It pops the cork out of your wine bottle of inspiration, so to speak. If you don’t believe me, the next time you find yourself staring at a blank page for hours on end, go meditate for ten minutes. Go back to your work, and you will find that the words that were once lost are now flowing like a stream of water.

You’ll find that you aren’t preoccupied with the typos that you write or the words you are saying. You will know that you can fix that later on. You will simply be focused on getting the story out on paper. Once it’s out, you can do anything you want with it.

Writing has the power to become meditation, as well. When you get lost in the words and forget everything around you. Once you finish that last sentence and your mind returns to the world, you may feel this fog lifting. You may even feel a bit confused or disoriented like you just wrote up from a nap.

Now, meditation can be intimidating to some. Thinking about sitting for several minutes not thinking about anything can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are millions of different resources online to help you get started meditating. There are even more videos that you can watch on YouTube that will guide you through the meditation. Guided meditations are my personal favorite. I find it easier to clear my mind when I have a voice or music in my head. It keeps me from getting distracted. That’s not to say I don’t find my mind wandering, or my cat rubbing my face, but you learn how to move past that with practice.

To help you out, I’m going to share a few of my favorite guided meditation videos.

Meet Your Muse: This is a short ten-minute meditation that will help unlock your muse.

Writer’s Block: This is 30-minute meditation that will help you work through your writer’s block.

Unblocking Creative Flow: This is 21-minute meditation that helps to get your creativity freely flowing.

Expanding Creativity: This is a ten-minute meditation that will help you to get your creativity flowing. It works much like the last one, but it is shorter when you don’t have as much time.

Get Unstuck: This is 13-meditation to help to get you out of your creativity funk and getting the words flowing again.

There are many more, but these should help you get started. Making mediation part of your regular everyday routine will help you in a million different ways.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

“And there, hidden amongst the pages was a new world, waiting to be discovered.” ~ Alexandra Domelle

The Fox Theater – Arizona

This week we are going to take a trip down to Tucson, Arizona to the Fox Theater. This Theater has a very haunted past.

Tucson, Arizona has quite a few ghost stories, but the Fox Theater is the one that people talk about the most. The Fox Theater opened in the 1930s as a Vaudeville and movie house that entertained the town of Tucson. It closed in 1974 as the downtown area began to decline.

The Fox Tucson Theater Foundation started to restore the building in 2000 and then they reopened in 2006.

There are quite a few spirits that are believed to haunt the halls of the theatre. One of them is a man roams around the lobby and entrance of the theater asking for spare change.

 People have said that a man has asked them for change, and for those who went to give him some, would see it simple drop to the floor. 

There is also a young girl who giggles and plays in the upper and lower lobby. There are also some people who have claimed to have seen a shadowy figure lurking around the projection room. Some of the people who have worked in the booth have seen strange movements and experienced unexplained lights and noises.

Unfortunately, this has caused quite a few people to quit their job.

There is one spooky story that has been around slightly longer than the theater. The tale states that a man died in 1929 during the construction of the theater. There is an arrowed stone decor that faces the wrong direction around the stage that symbolizes this accident.

If you are interested in learning more about this haunted theater, or other haunted areas in Tucson, they have regular ghost hunts that you can be a part of the next time you are in town.

Being Vulnerable is Being True: How to Be Vulnerable in Your Writing

Sorry, I missed last week, but my Mom and I were planning a surprise 50th birthday party for my Dad. To say the least, I was a bit preoccupied. But the party went over well, and I think he was pleasantly surprised.

We’re going to jump right into things today, though. We are going to be talking about another aspect of writing your truth. Specifically, being vulnerable.

Writing is very much an intimate act. It is one way to express yourself without having to talk to a person face-to-face. For an introvert, writing is the perfect way to communicate feelings. That is if you are willing to.

Vulnerability scares the crap out of people. So often, people view vulnerability as being weak, which it isn’t. Vulnerability is one of the strongest things that a person can show.

In order to show vulnerability, you have to understand yourself. We’ve done activities to help you find your truth, so use that to learn about you. Who are you really? Not just the good, happy parts, but your dark parts as well.

Over the years, I have become more of an open book than I ever thought I could. That being said, I’ll faster write down my deepest, darkest secrets than say them out loud. But, if you ask me directly, I will likely tell you the truth if I feel you have any reason to know.

So the first thing I want you to do is write about a dark, vulnerable moment in your life. I want it to be a moment that actually happened.

Write out this moment like you would write a story. Be descriptive to the point that you relive the emotions from that time. Put all of those emotions on the paper. Let them spill out.

Allow yourself to emotional purge before you begin writing something that is emotionally charged.

This is a great way to wrangle your vulnerability and emotions so that you can write something cohesive. This is a good journalling exercise. Start writing out your emotions around the scene and let them escalate how they will. This will purge the raw emotions that were hiding right under the surface giving you a clear place to start. Nobody wants to read something where they have to weed through emotional ramblings.

Write out your actual emotions. In any scene you write, whether you write in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person, there is going to be emotions. Write the emotions you would feel if you were in that situation.

That’s the only way something is going to come off as genuine. Yes, you will have to put yourself in other people’s shoes, but you were going to have to do that anyway.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to read a story about a gangster who suddenly gets hit with guilt and decides not to rob a bank and gets an honest job instead. (zzzzzzzzzzzz)

Now, if you want a gangster to turn his life around, give him a reason to do so. Give him something that makes him want to change his way. You have to break him down into teeny weeny vulnerable pieces and then put him back together as a better man.

That’s the kind of story a person wants to read.

Don’t shy away from awkward emotions. Negative emotions can be tough to express, but then you have the positive ones that are just as awkward.

This may be something some people won’t have to worry about. It all depends on the types of things you write. But I’m talking about love scenes. Depending on how intimate you get in your writing, you could be facing some of the most awkward scenes that a writer has to face.

Now, I will talk about writing sex scenes in a later post so I won’t get into the logistics of it here. This point simply ties back in with the last one. Be honest with those scenes. What do you feel (you know what I mean) when you write those scenes? If it doesn’t create some sense of warmth inside of you, then it won’t in your readers. You need to back up and punt.

Alright, that’s it for today. Take these four tips and see what they can do for you in writing your truth and being vulnerable.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

The Golden North Hotel – Alaska

This week we are traveling all the way to Alaska, Skagway, Alaska.

In 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon and this set of the Klondike Gold Rush. Around 100,000 prospectors ran to this territory with the hopes of striking it rich. A lot of these people traveled to the Skagway area of what would become Alaska. This area provided them with a more direct route to the gold.

In 1897, the population of Skagway was 700. In 1898, it boomed to around 10,000. This made the town Alaska’s largest city, but this was short lived and it was back down to 1800 in two years. The influx of people created problems like lawlessness, disease, chaos, and death. This created the perfect time for ghost stories.

In 1898, the Golden North Hotel was built. This was during the height of the gold rush and served as a place for 1000s of prospectors to stop for refreshments and rest each week. It was these people that would end up creating this ghost story. Our tale begins with the prospector lovingly known as Klondike Ike who traveled to this lovely little town with his fiance Mary. Mary stayed in room 23 of this hotel while Ike took the 500-mile journey to find gold.

There are a few variations of this story from this point on. The first says Mary fell ill with pneumonia. Another said she became distraught with worry when Ike didn’t return when he was supposed to and locked herself away in her room. The third says that she hid away because she ended up getting involved with some ruffians. Whichever is true, nobody really knows. No matter how the story really went, Mary died while she was waiting for Ike to return from his adventures. There are some versions that said the hotel staff broke down the door to her room, finding her dead in the dress she was going to wear to her wedding.

Believe she continues to haunt this hotel. The stories from those who say they have seen “Scary Mary” vary widely. There are some who say they have seen a spectral woman roaming around the hotel, or sitting in her room waiting for fiances return. Others say they have heard strange noises or felt sudden breezes of cold air. Some people who stayed in room 23 said they woke up in the middle of the night feeling like they were choking.

There is yet another ghostly event that is said to have happened at the Golden North in room 14. The staff and guests have said they’ve seen mysterious lights that look like sparkles or twinkles, and others call them orbs. Where these lights come from is not known, but they aren’t threatening.

The hotel itself closed in 2002, but the building and sign still remain. Unfortunately, curious ghost hunters can no longer visit the rooms to try and experience their history. The floor plan says that room 23 was on the third floor in the northwest corner. As of today, the building is being used by Frontier Excursions & Adventures.